Goodbye Regretsy

Well that’s it, the end of a crafting era…it’s a sad day! Yes, Regretsy, the hilariously funny site “…where DIY meets WTF”, will be closing its doors and becoming an archive on the 1st of February.

If you never browsed Regresty, you’ve missed a treat. The site owner’s simple premise was to scour Etsy looking for the ridiculous (or bizarre) dressed up as worthy craft and, frankly, poke fun at it. It worked well. If ever I needed cheering up, I knew I’d find something there to make me smile, or more likely have me in stitches. It wasn’t always ridiculous products that were featured, sometimes it was the verbose descriptions that bore no relation to what was being sold, or the simple fact that a product was not in the least bit hand made and was in fact obviously sold by the million.

One of my favourite ‘faux pas’ quilting pieces, would (I sincerely hope) have mortified the maker had she realised…it was a set of table mats in black and red fabrics that unfortunately had been assembled in such a way as to form a swastika!  (It was a bit like a rail-fence pattern.) Something I won’t forget for a long time.

So today as I was browsing the live site for the last time, I wondered what else I might see that I won’t forget. It didn’t take me long to find it. In fact it was an article posted on Tuesday. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not commenting on the quality of the craftsmanship here, just pondering one of life’s big questions: ‘crochet knitting salad scarf’…WHY?!!!!  Now that’s one maker with a wild imagination! Love it 🙂

Goodbye Regretsy, so sorry to see you go. It was good while it lasted 🙂

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The Quilter’s Block Bible, Celia Eddy

Fancy A Read?

Last week I showed you Denyse Schmidt’s book Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration, which I love to look at for inspiration, so this week I thought I’d take one off the shelf that’s great for traditional patterns.

The Quilter's Block Bible, Celia Eddy, laying on a quilt by Stephanie Boon 2012

Celia Eddy’s bible

I’ve had Celia Eddy’s Quilter’s Block Bible for a number of years now and I wouldn’t be without it; I think it’s the best laid out book on the subject I’ve come across.

It’s a really easy to use layout that’s divided into sections depending on how many patches are in each block, or whether they’re stars, hexagons or whatever. Each block has a double page spread devoted to it and, as well as information on when the block was designed and who it might be attributed to, you get a clear diagram of what shapes make up each one and how many you need to cut (no sizes given).

2 pictures on each page show the individual block and how it looks when four are combined.  Sometimes, alongside these there are diagrams of interesting variations you can make by setting the block on point or with and without sashing.  There’s even a visual symbol guide (a pair of scissors!) to illustrate the difficulty of piecing each block.

The Quilter's Block Bible, Celia Eddy - detail

Designing patterns

I really believe this book would be invaluable to any quilter, new or seasoned! Although there isn’t a lot of eye-candy in the way of pictures of sumptuous quilts there’s a comprehensive section on techniques including drafting and making templates, as well as sewing the blocks.

I referred to the book a lot when I was planning traditional quilt patterns, like the lap quilts I made using the Ohio Star block or Jacob’s Ladder and it would be indispensable if you wanted to make a sampler quilt.

But the best thing about this little gem is the price! The original cover price was £15.99, but you can pick it up an Amazon today for about the same price as half a metre of quilting fabric – bargain!

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Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration, Denyse Schmidt

Denyse Schmidt, Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration

Reading over a cup of tea = happy!

I have rather a lot of books, apparently. It’s one thing people remark on when they come round for the first time, but I don’t usually think of myself as having that many really. The ones I do have I go back to again and again and I tend to let go of the ones I don’t, which are usually novels. I don’t collect them indiscriminately (like some people I know, but I’ll mention no names. No, not even Kim’s dad!).

If you look through my shelves you’ll find areas of strong interest, so there are naturally lots of reference books in fine art, crafts and gardening, but you might be surprised to find a few on psychology and feminism, and philosophy too, amongst others!

I’m sure any creative person has lots of books, whether to read or browse through for inspiration. How can you fall in love with a subject if you don’t! Which got me thinking, I wonder what’s in your library?  Which books are special to you and why? I thought I’d share some of mine in a new regular series ‘Fancy a Read?’. I’ll share some of my favourites or some that I can’t wait to get my hands on (there are plenty of those!) and perhaps you could recommend some to me in the comments section?

So, here goes!

Fancy a Read? Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration, Denyse Schmidt

Denise Schmidt Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration

Bold designs by Denyse Schmidt

What a lovely Christmas present this was! I’d had my eye on it since I first saw it on a Waterstone’s bookshelf in 2012. There’s a lovely cafe in our local bookshop and I’d ‘borrow’ it over a long cup of coffee every now and again just to sit and ogle the sumptuous photos!

The book includes 20 of Schmidt’s big designs – all a modern take on a traditional block or theme. Each quilt is introduced with a little bit about it’s inspiration and design, sometimes even giving you the name of the original design and quilter. In the back of the book there’s a list of places where you can see historic quilts, though disappointingly these are all in the US! There’s also a list of inspiration and historical reference though, and it’s possible to get hold of some of them on Amazon (one of them was £1200+ *gulp*!!!!)

I’m never going to make the quilts in this book, I’m too independent (and I like to think creative!) to do that, so the patterns aren’t that interesting to me, but I do read them through and they seem very clearly written along with useful tips and design ideas. There’s a section on techniques, which is useful as it’s always good to find as many ways as doing something as possible, so that you find the best method for you or the project in hand.

I suppose being an artist accounts for why I find this book a rich source of inspiration, rather than instruction. I love the little details in her designs, the ‘odd’ or ‘misplaced’ print in an otherwise perfectly uniform design, the juxtaposition of colours and scale. The designs are eminently repeatable (which is why the patterns are included I’m sure!), but there’s something distinctly Denise Schmidt about them that I love. The only disappointing thing about the designs is the quilting itself. A lot of them are machine quilted in a regular overall ‘s’ design, which doesn’t add much to the quilts at all and feels very ‘manufactured’, taking away a lot of the charm and individuality. But, essentially, I guess this book (and these quilts) is about the design piecing (the patchwork), rather than the quilting – and in that aspect it excels!

This is definitely one book that will be on my work table a while and on and off the bookshelf for years to come!

Published by Abrams, 2012

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Serendipity

USPS priority mail bag

A long way from home!

It’s not everyday an envelope like this lands on my doorstep. Then again it’s not everyday I win a stash of fat-quarters.

I’ve never won anything like this before (I’ve ever won anything before!) so you can imagine my excitement when I got an email from Kristy at Hopeful Threads to say I’d won their Contemporary Cloth giveaway of 25 Valori Wells fat quarters. Stunned disbelief gave way to big grins!

When I discovered the name of the stash was ‘Nest’ I felt it was meant to be!  It coincided with me naming this new site ‘Dawn Chorus’ and seemed to be some sort of ‘sign’ (I don’t believe in such things really, but you know what I mean!).

 

 

Let’s have a peek at them shall we?!

 

The stash of Valori Wells fat quarters from Hopeful Threads

Orange is my favourite colour!

Valori Wells fabric with birds in five colourways

Little robins perhaps?

Large folksy bird motif on Valori Wells fabric

Large scale and very folksy 🙂

Paisley style Valori Wells fat quarter

My favourite I think – spot the birdie!

Valori Wells stash of 25 fat quarters

I can’t wait to delve in!

 

 

To celebrate my good fortune I plan to make something from this wonderful gift to give away to one of my readers too. More details next week 😀  In the mean time go and have a look at Kristy’s site Hopeful Threads, she’s doing some amazing stuff that you could join in too.  Finally, thanks also to Sondra from Contemporary Cloth (fabric to make you drool!) for her speedy despatch of the stash. Just can’t believe how lucky I am!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

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Vintage Sewing Box – a quilter’s dream!

A vintage sewing box is a desirable thing for any quilter and I coveted one for a long time. My first sewing box was given to me when I was about 11 years old and would definitely be in the vintage category now. It was a bright orange plastic affair, a bucket shape with a white lid and carrying handle – unmistakably 1970’s. Orange was (and still is) my favourite colour. The sewing box was given to me for my birthday by my parents and I remember the thrill and pleasure of organising the interior tray with wooden reels of thread and packets of needles and pins.  I had an embroidery kit of one of those cutesy kittens on pre-printed purple fabric that I kept in the main compartment. When I finished it I hung it on my bedroom wall with so much pride. It’s funny how these memories stay with us, the little things – they’re so vivid in my mind it’s as if I could touch them. I don’t know what happened to that particular vintage sewing box; was it broken, or put in the loft when I left home and then thrown away by my parents when they moved home themselves? Who knows. But I replaced it with a round woven sewing basket that I picked up in a charity shop. It had a lovely dome-shaped lid with a woven ring to lift it off and a quilted lining inside that had gone mouldy had to be removed (it stank!). I had it for around 20 years, but I don’t know what happened to that one either!

A Proper Vintage Sewing Box

Some years later I was still coveting a compartmentalised sewing box: a 3 tier cantilever sewing box to be precise. One sunny day I happened to be wandering about a quaint village with a friend, not too far from home. In Porthscatho, on the south Cornish coast, we happened on a little corner shop called The Sea Garden. The shop’s owned by a textile artist called Christine who blogs at The Mermaid’s Tale. The displays in the tiny windows caught our eye, but it was, of course, a little wooden vintage sewing box that sung to me, so we just had to go inside. I insisted. There were several painted, 3 tier cantilevered sewing boxes on the shelves and each one was slightly different. Different sizes, different colours, but there was one that looked pretty special to me.

1940's Wooden Vintage Sewing Box painted cream and blue, made in Germany.

It was love at first sight!

I fell in love with it and it was one of those rare occasions where an object just refused to let me leave without it. And, I had some unspent birthday money burning a hole in my pocket…

1940's German wooden vintage sewing box, painted cream and blue

The trays open like secret compartments!

That sort of thing doesn’t happen to me very often. I enquired about it and was told it was vintage 1940’s German with it’s original paint finish. I scoffed at this last piece of information since there were several other items around painted in exactly the same blue… and there were obvious traces of pillar box red beneath it. I couldn’t care less if it had been made yesterday in Truro, I still loved it and I was convinced it loved me too and was desperate to come home for a play!

Spools of thread in a wooden vintage sewing box.

Mmmmm, quilting thread!

Organising my threads and sewing notions inside the tiered trays took me right back to childhood: it was a wonderful feeling. These little bits and pieces fill me with possibilities, but holding them, arranging them, is a pleasure in itself. I couldn’t help adding some wooden cotton reels and vintage perle thread to the trays to really take me back.

Fabric lining in wooden 1940's German sewing box.

Very pretty!

I realised I didn’t especially like the unfinished wood inside the trays and decided to make some removable fabric linings. I ummed and aahed over lining it with paper, or even painting it, but if it is in some kind of original condition it would be a shame to change that. So, removable fabric linings it would be. I didn’t have any vintage fabric, but found a lightweight upholstery fabric that has an old-fashioned vintage appeal. It makes me smile when I look at it, so much prettier than bare wood.

For a hand quilter (and sometimes hand piecer) this is the perfect type of sewing box. It holds just enough supplies to carry about the house with me, so that I can sit and sew wherever the best light is. It’s one of those rare objects that’s useful, connects me to warm memories and to so many quilters that came before. I know I’ll cherish this gift (a gift in so many ways) for years to come.

Tell me about your sewing box: I bet it’s special to you in some way?  I don’t think I’ve come across anyone that doesn’t have a sewing box story to tell! So, what’s yours?

If you hand quilt or hand sew you might enjoy reading Sore Fingers: A Thimble Issue or How I Learnt To Use A Quilt Hoop too. Why not sign up for my fortnightly newsletter and receive lots of inspiration direct to you inbox, including exclusive stories and articles like this one? It’s completely free!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com