Friday, 28 August 2015

'Dolly Mixture' house restored

The dolls house I sold on eBay about a month ago went off to its new owner about a fortnight ago in a rather big box, and she sent me some photos of it yesterday.  This is how it looked before it left me - completely unrestored, although I had given it a gentle clean (apart from the battery box on the back, which I didn't know how to get into!)

I rescued the house from a charity shop in Wrexham during one of my lunch breaks when I worked for the council.  This is what I wrote about it on eBay - it had seen better days, but luckily no one had covered it in sticky backed plastic (like the first dolls house I started restoring!) or overpainted the 'flowers' on the front.

This pretty little house has been on my restoration list for nearly 20 years and I'm just not going to get it done, plus I need the shelf space for my other dolls houses.  While is is similar to some Triang and Gee Bee houses, please note that it is not by either of these makers.  The maker is unknown, but dolls house collectors call this type of house a 'Dolly Mixture' - they were UK made by some manufacturer, but we don't know who.

The paintwork all seems to be original, and the 'flowers' up the front haven't been retouched. A few windows have lost their latches (see photos). The roof ends have come loose and at some point someone has attempted to tape them back on, leading to some roof damage, but it would be a straightforward repair, as the wooden guides inside the roof have just come loose and could be reglued. One room upstairs, with flooring in a very pretty dolls house paper which looks c 1940s. The back wall has a rather basic electric light, with a switch inside the house and a battery box on the back - I don't know if this works and the battery box would need a good clean out and probably adapting to take a modern battery system. Other than the roof, restoration could be mostly a touching up job where the nail heads are visible, if you don't like your houses looking too freshly painted.  The damage to half the front barge board (partly broken off) could be rebuilt with modelling paste and painted, or a new strip of wood attached.

I wondered if the use of cardboard for the roof and the rather odd assortment of hardboard and other woods might point to this being immediately post war? It is known that UK toy manufacturers had their supplies of wood limited immediately after the war. If anyone knows more about this house, do let me know.

It has gone to another dolls house collector who found traces of red paint on the roof, so she has restored the roof to its original colour.  Doesn't it look nice now?  I'm happy it has gone to someone who appreciates it and has done such a nice cleanup and restoration, but with a light touch.

Monday, 24 August 2015

A new pattern for the Great Northern Quilt Show - 'Maru'

'Maru' is a variation on the quilt I teach as 'Japanese Circles and Squares'.  I've been asked for a pattern for a while now, so I will be launching it at the Great Northern Quilt Show at Harrogate in just over a week.  It is ideal for large scale prints with big motifs and a lot of pattern variation in the centre, while the background to the circle is a great place to use up darker scraps from your stash.  It takes a little more planning to arrange your fabrics for each block but is quite quick to make once you get going with it.

Dryslwyn Dreams and Today's Quilter magazine

There's going to be a new quilting magazine soon - Today's Quilter - by the publishers of Love Patchwork & Quilting mag.  My 'Dryslwyn Dreams' quilt pattern will be in the first issue.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Sashiko demo next Saturday at Kaleidoscope

I will be doing a sashiko demonstration at Kaleidoscope books at Milngavie on Saturday, from 11.30, to promote the Yuza and Shonai Sashiko course I'll be running there monthly from October. We still have a handful of places on the course at Kaleidoscope, because we are now running it on Wednesdays as well as Thursdays - Thursday only was over subscribed! We need to have one date change too, from 27th & 28th January to the following week (3rd and 4th February), as it looks like I will be going to Japan in January, taking a tour to the Tokyo Dome for the quilt show with Arena Travel - more about that coming soon!

Places for the course (either day) at Kaleidoscope need to be booked direct with Susan at Kaleidoscope and will cost £45 per class.  There are 8 classes in total on the course.

I will be bringing fabric and sashiko fabric and thread with me for the course students to buy in advance of us starting, but if you are already signed up but can't make it, please let me know and I can arrange to send the fabric out to you.  The idea is that you can then cut out the pieces for the course and overlock or zigzag the edges, to stop them fraying but also so everyone can identify their samples easily in class (the overlocking thread can be any colour, because it will disappear into the seam allowances when the sashiko samples are sewn together at the end of the course).  The photo above shows samples made by one of the students on the 2014 - 2015 Loch Lomond sashiko course - sorry, I can't remember who made these!

I have just one place left for the course at Edinburgh Patchwork, and for that course I am taking the bookings and organising the course myself.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Steampunk kitchen lights


We had a couple of enjoyable days with our friends Jan and Keith - Jan is the Region 2 rep for the Quilters' Guild of the British Isles, so there was much catching up about Festival of Quilts and other quilty topics, while Keith and Glyn were into discussing coach building camper vans.  After they left today, Glyn started on the kitchen, in a small way, with the new light fittings.  These are two handmade copper plated aluminium alloy with 'Edison' filament vintage style bulbs for a steampunk look.  They are replacing two 1970s brass ball eye spotlights, so the holes left in the ceiling were quite big and the new lights have been mounted on circular wooden plaques to hide the holes (can guess what these are?*)  The other kitchen lights are two original vintage electric wall lamps from the White Star Line shipping company, in brass and copper (think Titanic), on either side of the kitchen window.

This is one of the old lights. 


When Glyn removed the first one, we could see that the kitchen ceiling is actually a false ceiling.  There is another older one about 10in above it, covered with polystyrene tiles.

It was a bit of a revelation.  I had often wondered why the ceiling inside the pantry/boiler cupboard seemed higher than the rest of the room.  Now we know.  Before this false ceiling was added, the ceiling would have sloped for about a foot right around the edge of the room, the same as inside the cupboard.  The brick slip 'tiles' seem to go right up to the edge of this original ceiling, so these must belong to kitchen makeover #1, which seems to be 1970s or late 1960s, while makeover #2 is from the 1980s or early 90s when the (now rather dilapidated) oak kitchen was fitted.  We are now debating taking down the false ceiling, as it could look rather attractive with the slope around the ceiling edge visible, plus it would give a little more space above the top storage shelves.  It will be a messy job but should be worth it.  We would have to get those polystyrene tiles off too.  Having the higher ceiling will give the room more of a vintage kitchen feeling.


I wonder what other secrets and mysteries we are going to uncover as we do up this house?

* The circular plaques are small chopping boards.

Igeta (or hashtag) quilt block

'Igeta', the kanji character used to write the word 'well' 井 in Japanese and Chinese, is one of my favourite motifs.  It is used a lot as a textile design, especially for kasuri (ikat) woven fabrics.


I have made several quilt block designs with igeta and various more complicated variations in 'Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match' (2007) and 'Japanese Taupe Quilt Blocks' (2010).

This all over igeta quilt design and the red and black quilt at the start of this post were in 'Japanese Quilt Inspirations' in 2011, with the red and black one also appearing, as a top only, in 'Japanese Quilt Blocks to Mix and Match'.

It's a great design.  Missouri Star Quilt Co. have released a version of it on Youtube today, although they call it a 'hashtag' design, which works with a layer cake.