Monday, October 27, 2014

Small and Intimate

My local friendly quilt shop, The Country Yard, hosts an exhibition each year, inviting customers to display quilts that have been made from items purchased from them.  Kerryn's house is the venue, a lovely old farm house, which showcases the quilted items beautifully.  It's not a large and blowsy exhibition with millions of quilts of all different genre - it's small and intimate... casual and friendly, a time to catch up with friends over a cuppa and a nibble...

I've exhibited quilts for the last three years... and desperately wanted to get my Berries and Bluebirds quilt finished in time to exhibit this year.  Nothing like a little bit of deadline pressure!  Yay... I did it!  My green thread arrived last Thursday, and I quilted the green border Friday afternoon.  Then the outer printed border was quilted over Saturday and Sunday in a feather design in the same thread.  Monday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons were spent binding, and Friday afternoon cutting threads.  All ready to be displayed on Saturday.

It was such a delight (and totally blew me away) to have my quilt chosen as the Viewers Choice this year! You can find more photos on The Country Yard's facebook page here.

I also exhibited the Japanese Ladies quilt which I sold to raise money for Dylan's ski trip for school.


It was such a fun day.  Thanks to the lovely ladies at The Country Yard for making it such a successful event.  Now... what can I finish for next year???

Sunday, October 12, 2014

End of Holiday Roundup

Well, as Sunday rolls around, with back to school and work tomorrow; checking through The List, I achieved some of my goals for this holidays.  Woohoo!  Unfortunately I never did catch up with the washing pile - it just seemed to get bigger no matter how quickly I tried to fold it, and the floor got vacuumed several times, but never mopped.  I swapped around my room and cleaned one of the windows... but never quite got everything tidied away or that other window cleaned.  We didn't finish Nadia's room renovations, but I have paint, and will finish the furniture repainting another time.  Perhaps Christmas?

Some of the smaller projects did get finished for her room - after looking all over for a pretty mirror, I ended up painting the ugly orange varnished wood one that she already had - and applied some pretty chipboard 3D scrapbooking stickers to make it pretty.  On the schedule for this afternoon is to get hubby to hang it (I do know my limits).  We also made up a small Kaisercraft chipboard/cardboard drawer unit which I painted and decorated with pretty papers.  This is supposed to be the new home for all her hair ties and clips.

There were a few new things I wanted to buy, and was lucky to find this purple bedside table and funky flower rug... we are getting there!

On the quilting list, I wanted to get the applique border quilted on my Bluebirds and Berries quilt, and the quilt top constructed for the Bunting Baby Quilt.  Woot!  Finished the quilting on the applique border today - and didn't run out of thread!

 When I started quilting, I kinda forgot that the bottom border was wider than the other three borders.  It took forever to get this border half quilted (using the vine as the dividing line) and I really despaired of getting this finished.  But once I got used to weaving in and out of the applique, and changing between the different quilting elements - it sped up heaps, and I could get half a side done in a day.  So pretty much eight days of quilting dedicated to this!

The ruler is there to remind me that the side and top borders are 8" (looks like a quarter inch has been taken up in the quilting)... and the bottom border (shown side on) is 10".  Now I just need to wait for the thread to arrive which I'll use for the narrow dark green border and the outer printed border.

I haven't quite finished the Bunting Quilt construction (would have if I hadn't added the extra applique) - but I've made good progress with getting the applique stems attached.  On the top vine I started on the right hand side and attached one side of the stem all the way around to the other side; then coming back I am up to the black spot almost in the middle.

And I've attached one side of all the stems on the bottom border.

I had another Amy Gibson Sugar Club BOM day, and worked on this lovely block.  Not the easiest to construct - well, more not the easiest to press nicely - there are a few lumpy seams hence the ripple in the photo on the right.  But it is a lovely looking block.

Right, that's me for another week.   Catch you next time...

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Beauty is in the focus of the camera

Quilting has resumed... two sides of the applique border are completely finished, the other two are half done.  Whew... so far the thread is holding on - hopefully enough to get to the end of the last panel!  Although I wasn't prepared to risk it - more thread is on order!

I've started hand stitching down the stems on the Bunting Quilt.  Working with a large applique like this is awkward.  I like to work on the stem and leaf placement together to ensure both are nicely balanced - but you do end up with a lot of unattached bits.  It is not practical to shift something so large to the ironing board, neither was it practical in this situation to pin every leaf.  My solution this time was to iron on the floor on the carpet!  I was very careful to apply just enough heat to tack it down - not enough to cause major damage to the carpet underneath.  [Although with wool carpet - I'm not sure what it would do?  Shrink?  Definitely do not try doing this with nylon carpet - I'm sure that would be a disaster.]

Once it was tacked, I shifted my table top ironing board onto the floor, and gave it a better press - enough to adhere to allow the hand stitching to occur without causing any bits to fall off anyway.  Once I've finished hand stitching, I'll give it another press, and again from the back - before I start machine blanket stitching.

I've also been working my way through the list of jobs I wanted to get done during the holidays.  Clean my bedroom windows... turned into strip the bed... turned into change the whole room around and vacuum all the corners and skirting... perfect time for a new quilt on the bed - Lola's Medallion.

I haven't had this one on yet - and it's been about a year since it was finished.  On the one hand I kinda hoped I would sell it... but on the other I didn't want to.  Looks like this one is going to stay with me.

And just to show that cropping is a wonderful tool!  I still have plenty of mess to sort through, but that will be a job for tomorrow.  At least there is a clear path to get to bed tonight!

And I still only got one of the windows cleaned.  Typical!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

What a difference a few days makes!

After pulling some weird muscle in my back this morning (no twisting, so no FMQing), I've spent the day recuperating, but also getting the applique shapes fused and cut out for my Bunting Baby Quilt in little bursts throughout the day.  I decided to add a narrow 2" finished border to both sides, a 4" border to the top, and an 8" border from a different fabric on the bottom.  This achieved two things - one was to add extra length to a square quilt - because we all know that cots are rectangular and it makes it much more practical.  It also meant that if the quilt becomes a wall hanging at some stage in the future, the darker fabric adds depth to the bottom, helping to give a bit of perspective to the whole arrangement.

The quilt now measures 40" wide x 48" long.  The applique is just sitting there at the moment - no gusts of wind please!

 I love the fact that the applique gave me extra places to add even more fabrics - more pinks, more oranges, yellows and greens... I think I've delivered on the pink and girly request.

I really like this border, and would love to have it on a queen sized quilt sometime... I'll have to add it to my already extensive list.

I've also been reading and am on the last book in the Fever series by Karen Marie Moning.  I started reading this author through her Highlander series... modern/historical romance crossover, with a bit of the supernatural/fae thrown in - humorous... sexy... big braw Scottish men with all their (extremely large) bits in the right places.  The series (which could easily be read as stand alone books but also interlink if read in the right order) ended rather suddenly without a satisfactory conclusion.  Then I started on her next series, expecting something similarly light and enjoyable.  The Fever series is set in modern times in Ireland, where the dark Fae escape imprisonment when the faery walls come down, and take over the world - killing and causing havoc.  It's a bit dark and troubled... but I'm looking forward to finding out how it all finishes.

Well, that's week one of the holidays over and done with... roll on week two!

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Wheels of Design Keep Turning

{where one thing leads to another, which leads to another... which leads to another}

The baby quilt I'm making started with a fabric - the bunting...

 Which lead to a bundle...

Which lead to a design - an 18" block... crying out to be enlarged into a 36" quilt...

Which lead to a central square large enough to fit some applique...

Thank you my Gail Pan Bluebirds & Berries quilt for offering some design assistance... it's always handy to reuse patterns for something else

 Which lead to something that started to look a bit like this - all glorious 36" of it!

And those 8" finished corner squares got me thinking that they were big enough to fit some applique in them too... in fact, the large background triangles were a decent size too...

Hello library books... (that I got out yesterday!  Timing!)

And inside the Hand Quilted with Love book by Sarah Fielke, there was this pattern... check out that applique border... wouldn't it a version of look fab around my star?

Of course, this wasn't part of the original plan, and I don't have enough background fabric to squeeze out any sort of border.  But, with a bit of imagination and some artfully placed stems... I can see it!  Can you?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning

OK, so really today is the first day of the holidays (edited to add, it really was morning when I started this post - somehow turned into afternoon by the time I got to the bottom).  I have a huge agenda... cleaning, decluttering, redecorating, sewing and quilting.  I know I do best with a list... but I've been putting off writing this one, because there is so much I want to achieve.  Partially because last holidays were so sucky (remember, storms, no power, all roads blocked so no fabric shopping), and nothing really got done. Partially because I'm just sick of the way things are at the moment, and it's time for a change.

First up the redecorating plans.  Tied up with Nadia's birthday, we decided to redecorate her bedroom.  We have a small house, and when we shifted in five years ago (I know, unreal aye?) the smallest person in our family fitted best into the smallest room.  She had a lovely twinkly light fitting and pink striped curtains.  A nice girly bedroom that I could still live with - not being the pink girly type myself. 

Does anyone remember the shelves and the small gremlin?
Then we decided to put both the kids in the larger room with bunk beds, and the small room turned into a studio/computer room... that lasted only a short while because it didn't really work having the two kids in the same room.  Then Dylan moved into the small room, taking his charcoal curtains and orange spaceship looking light fitting, and I moved my studio into the larger room with Nadia.  It stayed like this for quite a while - before my studio moved into the converted garage outside, and Nadia took over the whole large bedroom and proceeded to make a complete mess.  Finally she decided earlier this year that she wanted to move back into the small room, where she had some hope of keeping it clean.  This was just wishful thinking on her part - she makes a mess wherever she goes :o).  After all this jiggling around - Dylan had ended up with the pretty light and pink curtains... and Nadia had the spaceship and the charcoal ones.

This photo was taken on her birthday... 

...I think it's time she had a big girl room. 

It's slowly changing... there's a new light and blind, with some filmy white net curtains, but I'd like to get the rest of her room sorted over the break.  I actually have a whole list of things I want to achieve in her room.  Watch this space.

On the sewing front, I managed to get half of the quilting finished on the first applique border.

Then I started on the baby quilt applique - well, choosing fabrics for the key elements... one of the best things about fusible applique is that you can make changes right up to the last minute.  For those of us who are visual designers, it's the perfect technique.  I needed to cut the pink star points to assess just how pink it was going to be.  Even though it is destined for a home somewhere else - I still have my pink limits :o).

I quite liked didn't hate the pink on pink... but maybe just a little bit too much pink?

And I quite liked the deep blue basket with the pink rick rack... but maybe too bottom heavy?

Finally a compromise...

A last little note about stem making tools.  I'm not huge on specialty tools, but I love my Clover bias stem maker.  This is size 9, which makes a 1/4" stem (I think) which I use for just about everything.  I cut a 3/4" strip and feed it through the gadget, using the iron to set the shape as it emerges - folding the two edges under nicely - all ready for a bit of hand stitching.
OK, I'm off to start that list.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Begin as you mean to finish

Saturday, Day One of the Holidays... sewing.  Yes... I could get used to this.

Today was my appointment with friend and colleague Karen, as we plod our way through Amy Gibson's Beyond the Block 2014 Sugar Club BOM programme.  Karen has amazing sewing powers... although has only dabbled in patchwork previously.  Completing the BOM blocks each month gives us new techniques to learn and discuss, in a very casual learning environment.  I'm using the leftover yardage from my Japanese ladies quilt - a cross-range selection of Bonnie & Camille fabrics, with Moda Bella Feather as the light neutral, and a Moda Weave mid beige as the darker neutral.

This month it was our first foundation paper pieced block.

Although I know this is probably something that improves with experience, I hate it when after all the angst and fiddlyness of paper piecing... you still end up with joins that don't quite meet.  This was after the "pin like heck" technique.

Just as a refresher... this was our first block...the one that almost drove me to drink.

And the second...

Whoops... and this is the "do as I say don't do as I do" third block... still unfinished from last month :o)

I've also spent some of my time after work this week quilting the applique border on B&B.  Remember I thought I might do some "doodling" quilting... but was a bit apprehensive about jumping in.

I started with a strategically placed feather... [I'm using a mid grey Aurifill thread that blends with both of the backgrounds that I used.  I didn't want the quilting to overwhelm the applique - it's subtle, and that's OK.]

Then repeated some of the filler patterns I used in the other applique blocks... clamshells, open clam echoes, pebbles...

the odd weirdo spiral with feathers... and then some plain spirals...

It is slowly filling up (and I do mean slowly) - but I am seriously doubting whether I'll get this finished before the end of October.