Sunday 31 August 2014

If you can't join 'em, beat 'em

I went into my favourite dress store last week to enquire about a gorgeous dress in the window. On discovering that although it was a simple shape and sleeveless, so it would need a long sleeved T shirt or sweater to complete the outfit, it was £249 - I decided it might be time to do a bit more dressmaking!

Having recently treated myself to this new Vogue pattern I ransacked my fabric stash to see if I had anything suitable. It had to be 2 way stretch and although I didn't have enough fabric to make the single colour version, by combining two different jersey fabrics I could make the contrast view B.

I'm pretty pleased with the way it turned out and will definitely use this pattern again.

Next time I think I'll make the sleeveless version - it'll be great for winter worn over a polo neck sweater!

Thanks for reading! Love Linda

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Day out and latest printing project

We had a lovely day at Attingham Park again a few days ago. It's a local National Trust property we often visit. We took Amelie but she's not impressed by grand houses so granddad entertained her with football in the grounds while I did a whirlwind tour of the house and its treasures. The stewards are always keen to regale anyone who's vaguely interested with all the history but because of pressure of time I did my best to politely evade them.  I whizzed from room to room and I never expected this photo to turn out so well because the light levels are kept really low to protect the paintings and other treasures

They record the prized cattle of the estate - makes me think I should do something inspired by the excellent beasts who inhabit the field opposite Laura's house!!

The glass cases in the same room house an extravagant number of exotic birds from the day when it was considered acceptable to catch and stuff rare and sometimes endangered species.

I've been working with my altered book again this week. No birds for the moment - I'm focussing on plants and fruits now.

The leaves have been printed using compressed sponge and acrylic paints. After the paint dried I added  a wash of watercolour and love the way the colour sits in the bubbly shapes made by the sponge. I'm thinking I may ask Laura and Jamie to print some of these pages for me in a larger scale. They would be brilliant made larger than life size!

The technique works just as beautifully on fabric as DMTV members will see from this week's video. I'm having great fun stitching into this right now and will let you see the finished piece very soon.

Thanks for reading - love Linda x

Sunday 17 August 2014

So much for good intentions

I had every intention of spending the whole weekend in my workroom cooking up something new and fantastic. We have some very exciting exhibition opportunities planned for the next year and it's not too early to start getting to grips with new work. Unfortunately everything conspired against me. The garden was the worst offender. Never turn your back on courgette plants for a week in August!! What should have been tender little fingers of deliciousness had so loved the warm weather and frequent showers they'd swollen to mammoth proportions and me being so mindful of waste had to make soup. Lots of soup! The freezer is beginning to groan with it all but we'll be glad enough come autumn. As an antidote to the time spent slaving in the kitchen I did finally make my escape to start a new altered book.

Now I know those of you who were raised by parents who discouraged scribbling in books will surely not approve of such defacement but I make no apologies. I love to take an existing book and make it my own. I was never the sort to write notes in the margins when I was a student so I'm not sure how I've become so liberated.

I'm starting by eliminating all the stuff I don't want to keep - the modern photographs and the text. The pages are a soft creamy colour so I've added a squirt of yellow ochre to my white gesso and applied it in a rough layer thick enough to almost obliterate the original images and words. The hint of ochre will also suggest age.

Some of the illustrations are gorgeous and will be kept. Pomegranates are one of my favourites, beautiful to look at but in my experience, very difficult to paint! I don't mind a hint of text remaining visible but will consider adding more paint and/or gesso as I work through the book.

Many images have been cropped to fit the page layout or they've been framed in a little box, but I plan to fill in any gaps created by the labelling and extend the images by drawing into them. The gesso will provide a lovely surface for the drawing.

Being impatient to make some progress, I couldn't wait for individual pages to dry before moving onto the next - hence the improvisation with the water pot and gesso tub. Note to self - make sure to move pots before they glue themselves to the acrylic!!

I'm looking forward to filling these pages with lots of drawing and painting - I hope you'll drop by again soon to see how that goes.

Linda x
PS I can't even begin to tell you about the cucumber situation - he who gardens presented me with 10 yesterday! Needless to say we are having Raita with everything and anyone who pays us a visit leaves with at least one. My poor mother left with 2 this afternoon and she doesn't even like cucumber!

Monday 11 August 2014

Another show done and dusted!

After all the hard work and preparation Festival of Quilts is over for another year! I actually feel about 10 years older this morning but I expect that will pass after a good night's sleep! As ever, we had a great time meeting friends old and new on the stand. Laura and Jamie had created lots of new fabric designs especially to launch at the show and once they've printed more stock they'll be available in the fingerprint online store.  That's a serious looking Laura first thing in the morning getting everything ready for another busy day.

The TV you can see waiting to be switched on in the photo above showed a selection of videos to give an idea of what a subscription to DMTV is all about. I hope those of you who signed up during the show really enjoy what we do! We're always happy to receive suggestions for future programmes -  can't promise we know enough about all subjects but we'll do our best to include them if we can!

Don't I look relaxed and happy to be there? It's that swan thing - you know what I mean, serene and calm above water but feet going like the clappers under the surface!

I took very few photos of the quilts at the show but the luminous quality of this winner of the Art Quilt category, sponsored by Madeira caught my eye. It's a diaphanous Pojagi style piece made by Merce Gonzalez Desedamas. If the image is less than sharp it's because the delicate layers were constantly wafting about under the air con!

Laura took advantage of the quiet time before the show opened each day to take more photos so pop over to her blog if you'd like to see more.

Rather a brief post today but I'll be back once the dust settles! Thanks for reading - Linda

Friday 8 August 2014

Tired but happy

It's the end of day 2 at Festival of Quilts but strangely we feel less exhausted than we did yesterday. I could hardly string a coherent sentence together last night but today I think we're all on a high meeting up with so many lovely people we only see once a year. To top it all, he who gardens had a birthday to celebrate and being at a busy show is probably not the best way do that but, thanks to our friend Susan from Liverpool he could enjoy a special cake. Yes, that is a slice of Terry's chocolate orange bedded deep into a swirl of butter icing and to really set the teeth on edge there's a dollop of nutella hidden inside the sponge - that girl knows her stuff with a cupcake!

Thank you Susan - I ran out of time and failed dismally in the cake department this year so you saved me!

He didn't do so badly on the present front either - the collection of completely unnecessary but somehow irresistible objects is growing!

He has way more musical instruments than I have sewing machines now but hey, who's counting, it keeps him happy and this is not a competition.

Back to the more serious matter of the exhibits! This amazing piece could not fail to catch the eye! I'll show more of the fascinating detail tomorrow once I've caught up on what I hope will turn out to be a good night's sleep. I've barely had a wink over the past few days with all the worry and excitement! Bye for now - Linda

Monday 4 August 2014


Laura just emailed to tell me I should have spelt troupes as troops. The first being a dance combo and the second a term for an army. I think I'll leave things as they are - sounds much more like us!

Anyway, no time to worry about the odd spelling error today, I'm far too busy pinning price tickets on things and stuffing cards into bags ready for set up day on Wednesday!

Hope to see lots of you over the next few days! Linda x

Sunday 3 August 2014

Sustaining the troupes

If it's really true that an army marches on its stomach our troupes should be OK next week at Festival of Quilts.

I've been baking all day and if you've ever wondered what 84 bread rolls look like - pretty much like this! That should keep the wolf from the door while we're on the stand. It's a pity the biggest event of our year happens in August when the garden is producing so much stuff. I picked over 2 kilos of dwarf beans today and had to deal with them right away. Luckily I know of a Madhur Jaffrey recipe that freezes beautifully. Gujarati Style Green Beans is in her original cookbook from the BBC TV series back in the eighties. It's absolutely delicious so I recommend you seek it out if you have a glut to deal with as I do every summer.

While the bread was doing its thing of course there's no need to watch it every moment so I was bobbing back and forth to my workroom. As queen of the last minute I did manage to finish quilting this miniature version of my quilt, "The Messenger'. I've free motion quilted it on my favourite Husqvarna Mega Quilter machine using Madeira rayon threads and then mounted it on a canvas panel so it can be displayed on the stand at Festival. Only a couple of days to go now and still so much to do - I'm trying not to panic!!!!!

Hope to see lots of you there - Linda