Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Dog quilt

I am afraid my quilting days are coming to an end.  My Inclusion Body Myositis is making it increasingly difficult to sew, particularly hand-sewing,   My right (non-dominant) had is getting weak and I find it a bit difficult to thread needles and tie knots, mainly because my index finger has no power and cannot grip things.  So I am trying to finish off various UFOs before I have to give up completely!

I began this quilt last year and it has sat in the top of my wardrobe waiting for a binding.  I was making it at the same time as I made the patchwork dogs for my great-nephew and great nieces.  In fact, I have a second top in the same design and hope to do something with it next.  Over the last few days I have managed to get the binding on to this one although I am uncertain what will happen to it.  It should have black felt eyes in each dog but that means fine hand-stitching and I am not sure if I can do that any more so in the meantime it is an 'eyeless dog' quilt.

The second dog quilt is more of a problem.  As I am determined not to buy any more fabric I need to piece the backing from my stash.  Then this morning I suddenly realised that I no longer have any safety pins!  This is because I offered my 'wet work' supplies to a local craft group several months ago.  Unfortunately at the time I was not well enough to stand over them and the next thing I knew they had walked off with vast quantities of stuff I did not want them to have including all my rotary cutting equipment, a box of batik fabric that I was using, all my bobbins and goodness knows what else.  I got some of the things back but after this length of time, I cannot ask for anything more.  The moral of this story is only ever to allow people into your studio when  you are there to supervise!  And also to make lists of what is 'for sale' and what not.

Today I have sent a friend off to buy me some 505 adhesive spray (being an aerosol shops are not generally happy to sell it on-line).  I generally use this for smaller items and these are only laptop size.  And I am also asking myself how difficult I would find it to do up the safety pins, even with a grapefruit spoon!  So watch this space.  If I find I cannot put the sandwich together I can always pass the top and backing to my sister but she has rather given up textiles in favour of painting over the last couple of years.  I would normally quilt this by machine, outline quilting the dogs and then free machine quilting the background.  I have been able to piece simple shapes on the machine this year but have no idea if I can still do more difficult work.

I know I am not the only one in this situation.  So many of we quilters are getting older and lots of people are beginning to find the techniques difficult because of 'old age' complaints!  For that reason I thought it was worth doing a post.  Just think about what is involved in the various techniques we use.  I have decided that for machine work you need two good hands and a good right foot!  Do comment if you have any advice on this somewhat depressing subject.  Now you know why I have turned to blogs about textiles I have worn and other elements of my family history.  Typing is a much simpler skill and if you make mistakes they are easy to correct,.

Thursday, 1 June 2017


Can you remember what you wore for swimming in your childhood?  Having found a few photos I realise that the nature of ‘bathing costumes’ has changed incredibly in my lifetime.  I think a lot of it is because of the arrival and development of nylon and stretchable fabrics as it seems that in the 1940s and early 50s we wore knitted costumes.  I can still remember how prickly they felt. 

In New Zealand we spent a lot of time in the water or playing on the beach/lakeshore.  This meant that we wore our ‘togs’ as they were called, for long hours in the middle of summer.  Having two sets was wonderful because it meant you could take off the wet one at lunchtime and put on a dry one when you went back to the beach in mid-afternoon.  Even so, I think I was almost a teenager before I had two sets.  As our family holiday house was just across the road from the best beach on the lake shore at Taupo, we just used to wear a shirt and shorts over the top and take them off after we had crossed the road.  No wrapping ourselves in towels to change discretely in our family!

At some point in the 1950s woollen costumes gave way to cotton that had been given some shape by rows of shirring elastic stitched into the wrong (under) side.  I can remember being very pleased when this gave way and the fabric did not cling properly because it meant we could have a new costume.  I think we wore this type until the early sixties.  I had photos taken in 1960 that show my friends in this attire but unfortunately they were destroyed in our house fire so I am not able to provide an illustration.

You can see from the photos that rubber bathing caps were also worn when we were younger.  My main memory of them is that my sister had a red one which attracted a wasp, back in the late 1950s when wasps first appeared in New Zealand.  We all know that wasps like red and my poor sister was forced to spend a long time keeping still in the water as we could not get it to move away.  I remember that they became a fashion item in the sixties and many adults had bathing caps with rubber 'petals' or even flowers attached to them.  At some point we abandoned wearing them altogether although we did wear them when swimming in swimming pools.  It was probably a rule related to hygiene.  At least if you had a bathing cap, you could put your wet costume inside it and then wrap the whole thing in a towel to carry home.

I cannot remember when we started wearing proper ‘stretch’ fabric but it must have been in the sixties.  The same goes for two-piece bathing suits.  I think I was grown up before I wore anything approaching a bikini!

And why was what we wore called ‘togs’?  I do not really know but it was definitely a New Zealand word as when I moved to Australia I had to unlearn it and learn to say ‘bathers’.  Then I came to England and it was ‘bathing suit’.  Swimming costume was always a term I associated with my mother’s generation.