Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Patchwork hints,helpful things and favourite books

My on line business Green Star Quilts is seven years old this year. It doesn't seem that long since I left my career job as a community nurse for local children in Lincoln and set off into the world of the professional quilt maker. Some of you may remember the quilts I made to hang on the public health notice boards at work, fabric stored so much better than paper leaflets... so there was the Even Chickens Get Blue one to illustrate Post Natal Depression... sorry, not a great photo....

 the A Sparkler Gets As Hot As An Oven one to remind parents about the dangers of fireworks on bonfire night.... with leaflets about firework safety....

 and the Christmas home safety one with the rejoiner not to leave candles near cotton wool beards.... the labels around the edge all had fire safety advice on them....

A favourite with the children was the Save Your Families Life With a Smoke Detector, which was made with the traditional the house block. I had so much fun making those quilts! The fire safety advice  balloons were supplied by firemen in yellow braces who came to deliver them at the surgery, a nice surprise for all the staff!

So Green Star Quilts was started and I wanted to share with you some of the things which have helped me along the way. I have amazed myself at my passion for the right tissue paper and cardboard boxes for packaging, my detailed knowledge of the Royal Mail postal charges , keeping accounts, tax returns and the list goes on... Advice was that I should start with a business plan, but I started with this book...

Professional Machine Quilting by Carol A. Thelen
Although I don't have a long arm quilter system I found this book so inspirational about how to run a business. Carol gives loads of great advice about customer care, order forms, time saving and organising your day, things that could be applied to any business and so generous and helpful, so thank you Carol !

The next book was this one, very battered now, it has been through a leak in the sewing room roof, the pages stuck together with damp and carefully prised apart, it is my book to turn to for star patterns.. I think it is out of print now, so it is greatly treasured...

The Block Book by Judy Martin
A life saving find was temporary spray fabric glue, so no sign of nips or tucks, ruckles or wrinkles for me! Along with quilters' safety pins this has saved me hours of unpicking... 

505 spray fabric glue
A good selection of sharp scissors, big , small and tiny and one pair of little forceps with blunt ends for poking out corners without a sharp point going through the fabric and making a hole... yes I've done that too!

Free Motion Quilting by Angela Walters and roll of drafting paper
 The best present ever was  a huge roll of dress maker's drafting paper, printed in inch squares. This was given to my by a friend who had moved into a house which used to belong to an elderly dress designer in London and the paper roll was found in a cupboard. There is enough paper for me to draft designs and patterns for ever and until I can no longer hold a pencil and sew a straight seam. This roll of paper is the bed rock of Green Star Quilts and I am so grateful for my luck in being given this.

Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkinson

This is my favourite book for using up scrapes from the sewing room. Amanda is so generous on her blog ( click on the word blog to visit her) and hosts a link up for lots of other bloggers too. I hope you enjoy her blog as much as I do. She has endless good ideas for using up scraps of fabric too precious to part with. Talking of scraps, I wanted to show you a quick way to join wadding pieces. Wadding is one of the biggest expenses in my business and I save every scrap and join bits together to keep costs down. Here is how to do it and I know you can buy special tape, but that's expensive too....

So, set your machine to the wiggly line stitch and set the stitch length to about 3.5. Cut the edges of the wadding straight with a rotary cutter. Holding the edges together but not overlapping, machine down the joining line so that the stitch swings from the edge of one piece to the other:

 Below you can see the stitching wiggling from one piece to the other. It doesn't need to be really firm, just held together like tacking. Your quilting will keep it all together when you stitch through your quilt sandwich. I normally use white or cream cheap thread, but have used red here so you can see clearly.

Lastly I must thank husband, a man of many skills who transformed my sewing room one summer into a warm and lovely place to work with a swing of his ladder and a swipe of his paint brush....

and made it into this:

Green Star Quilts sewing room

Have a lovely weekend, it is freezing here today, I am back in vests and socks after a few days of sandals and summer skirts, I hope you found the tips helpful,

Kind regards,


Monday, 12 May 2014

Trains Lorries and Bubblecars

This week I have started Toby's quilt. Toby is keen on wheels and at although only a little boy he joins the other members of his family who are also very keen on wheels, mostly attached to vintage motor bikes. The quilt will feature all sorts of transport and here it is, the top nearly finished, hanging on the design wall.

Toby's quilt by Green Star Quilts

When I say design wall it sounds grand but it is made from an old flannel sheet sewn together in four layers. It is such a useful part of the sewing room and allows me to step back from the quilts. Its often possible to see things that need to change, things not balanced, colours that are not happy together and templates that I have put on the wrong way round!

Now you will be impressed with my train design, not stitched down yet but totally accurate in every way....

appliqued train design

I must confess that I have called in my train expert.... so husband, a bit of a steam train buff drew this:

Husband's train drawing
and then I converted into the applique design. I must be sure the wheels connect up properly too I'm told. We do see steam trains in Lincoln throughout the year, the Oliver Cromwell  steams into the station to the delight of lots of children and many grown ups too.

The Oliver Cromwell at Lincoln station in the evening

A bit different from the train at the funfair, they don't seem to paint trains pink often, or write barbie on the side... shame really but a possible colour for our proposed new high speed train HS2!

Barbie train at the fun fair

I must just show you this lorry which brings a fairground ride to The Common twice a year too...

Beautiful artwork and I hope the daughters drive this enormous lorry too...

 Here in Lincolnshire we also have the jewel in the crown of retro transport. The Bubblecar  Museum at Clover Farm near Boston in the south of the county. You can read about it here and there are lots of photos too. The mini caravans and the picnic baskets are so sweet ! Does anyone remember Bubblecars on the road?

So that is my retro wheels tour. I will show you the finished quilt next week. I hope all your wheels join up correctly too over the next few days, thanks for reading my blog,
Kind regards,