Friday, 6 April 2018

Yet another Nepalese quilt....

Well, everyone now knows I cant resist a quilt, and once more I have proved it. On my first full day in Kathmandu I succumbed. During a very very wet walk around Thamel, the main shopping area in Kathmandu, Nepal, I popped into the WSDO shop (women's Skills Development Organisation). I am very aware of how lucky I am to be born into the country and the culture that I am, so I cannot resist any opportunity to offer any assistance to women who are not as fortunate as I am! And shopping really does help :)
This particular shop features weaving and handmade products made by women in Nepal, and last year I brought one of their rucksacks in Pokhara. It is one of the nicest and best quality items I have ever brought, so I couldn't resist another peek, and a chance to shelter from the thunder storm! So after a short and soggy browse, I chose a small bag to go with my rucksack.... and then I saw the quilts! Well technically they aren't quilts as they aren't 3 layers, but I refuse to be picky as these are gorgeous!

It is billed as a block printed hand embroidered quilt (double size 200 x 220cm) and here are some pictures of my new treasure!
Full throw on the bed in the hotel
What do you think?
Centre medallion pieced, and block printed.

The sage green in the middle appears to be biased strips woven and hand stitched in place. All of the black areas are block printed - and it is immaculate.
 more block printing in the borders.

I cant even tell where the block printed border begins and ends! Anyone would think that these ladies had a Screen sensation screen printing  unit, but they don't. It's all done the old fashioned way, and all for sale for about £22.Well it would have been rude to say no! What a bargain, and what an addition to my collection.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

A busy first day in Kathmandu

So Deborah and I have arrived in Kathmandu in Nepal, and it has been a whirlwind! We left the UK on Monday evening, and arrived in Kathmandu (via Delhi) Tuesday afternoon. A terrible flight left us exhausted with little over 2 hrs sleep in a 24 hr period, but after a night of unconsciousness, we were ready to explore this fabulous city once more. This time last year, my friend Deborah and I were here before we headed off for our Himalyan trekking adventure. This year we had much less strenuous activities planned. After checking in to the beautiful Hotel Shanker which is now fully recovered from the damage during the 2015 earthquake, we had a very filling tea of momo and Dal Bhat and bid a hasty retreat to bed at 9.30pm! We certainly know how to live!

The stunning Hotel Shanker in Kathmandu

Momo - steamed chicken dumplings

Dal Bhat - a traditional Nepalese main meal of lemtil Daal, Mutton curry, curried vegetables, rice and extras :)
 We actually slept though breakfast, which was fine as we were still full of last night's dinner. We had arranged to meet up with our brilliant guide from our trek last year, Dawa Geljen Sherpa who has looked after us so well as we made our way up the Himalayas. We met his young son Kunjang and had a lovely catch up at a place called Nepali Chulo that served more fabulous momo :)

After that we planned a visit to the National museum, only it was closed on Wednesday (boooo) and so we headed to the Garden of Dreams. Despite the heavy rain and thunderstorms, this is a real haven of tranquility in the middle of Kathmandu, and well worth the 200 rupees entrance fee.

After this we braved the hectic heart of Kathmandu - the shopping area of Thamel. It is a maze of narrow streets, criss crossed with prayer flags and full of pedestrians, cars and speeding bikes. It is truely mad, but full of wonderful shops, as well as sounds and smells!

 As it was, less than 24 hrs after arriving in Kathmandu, I brought my first quilt! It just goes to show you can take the girl out of her sewing room - but not the sewing out of the girl! As it is, you will have to wait to another day to see what I bought on day one! :)

Monday, 19 March 2018

Getting started in quilting

I get a lot of questions over social media, and some of those questions are asked a lot. One of those questions is - where do I start in quilting? Well that is very much the same as "how long is a piece of string?" Everyone is different, but there are some basics to get you started.
Obviously some of these depend on what type of quilting you want to do. If it is machine sewing that takes your fancy, then you will need a sewing machine. I wrote a piece here about choosing a machine. You will also want a walking foot to help you quilt through multiple layers. A quart of an inch foot, or the ability to move your machine needle to get the perfect seam allowance, is also vital for getting started. If it is hand sewing, then a needle and thimble is a good start.
Next invest in a rotary cutter, ruler and mat. The best rotary cutter is the 45mm version for cutting multiple layers of fabric. A self healing mat (A3 and A2 are good sizes because a fat 1/4 sits easily on it). The mat helps with the cutting, protects your rotary cutting blade and protects your table.

Now is the matter of rulers. Which to choose! The best one to start with is a large 24 x 6 or 6 1/2 inch ruler. This will enable you to trim fat quarters into smaller manageable pieces.

Once you have had a play with these, you may consider getting different shapes - squares are useful. My most commonly used sizes are 6 1/2 inches and 15 inches. Then triangles, half square and equilateral.
General tools - pins, scissors, stitch ripper are all vital tools.

So that's tools covered.
Sources of education. Well YouTube is a mine of information that just wasn't available when I was learning to quilt. This is a massive free resource, and here are some links I found that could get you started.
Shabby Fabrics - a great introduction leading you through the process from the very basics.
Missouri Star Quilt Company - Jenny is a superb teacher, easy to follow and full of quick and easy tips.
Eleanor Burns - Quilt in a Day - this lady got me enthused back in the 90's when she had a TV show on Sky, and I learnt a lot!
Just Hands On TV - Access to the fabulous Jennie Rayment  whenever you need it.

All of these resources are packed with inspiration and tips for mastering piecing, blocks, applique and finishing.

So this should be a good place to get started, and before you know it, you will be away!