Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Calm before the Storm

You all know I'm talking about Xmas being the storm...don't you?

The opportunity to get away for an evening - without children - and spend a few hours participating in a Xmas related mystery project at my favourite patchwork shop (The Country Yard) was too good to pass up (even though, if you are a regular reader, you'll know I'm not a huge Xmas project person, OR all that big on small fiddly projects).  As this happened on a Friday night, coinciding with their regular once a month Saturday stitching, meant I scored a bonus get out of jail free card - and stitched away to my hearts content on Saturday too!  Bliss.

So what did I get up to?

Well, the mystery Xmas project was a felt stocking kit. 

Beautiful box

With everything that we needed inside
 Blanket stitch, back stitch and french knots are all within my abilities, and while the stockings are smallish - a few chocolates or lollies will fit nicely inside (or a pair of glasses as another participant discovered - and she was going to make one for her husband and I came up with some other suggestions of what he could fit inside, which she ignored but, hey, it was getting late and I was eating chocolate and drinking coffee past my bedtime) - they weren't too small to cause warnings on my "this is too fiddly" antennae.

There were spot prizes and a team relay challenge - involving Hershey's kisses and oven gloves, but we won't go there!  There may be Facebook pictures - you have been warned.  Needless to say, a lot of fun was had by all, and I seriously recommend taking advantage of such activities at your own local shops should you have the chance.

I came home with some new fat 1/8th bullets to add to my collection
and scored a decorated hand towel for travelling the furthest.
Of course, no evening would be complete without a small amount of shopping - so I added to my small Xmas stash a new pattern book - some delightful Gail Pan stitcheries and projects.

Saturday was my project day, and after much thought and procrastination, I had brought along my feathered stars.  I made pretty good progress considering it has been such a long time since I did anything on this that I couldn't remember any of the sizes, and had left my pattern instructions at home.

All fitting together so far.

I had cast my eye over quite a few odds and ends that desperately needed to come home with me - thread and needles being particularly necessary, the charm pack and fat quarter were just willing add ons, and I bought the rest of the background fabric I need for my modern double wedding ring quilt that has been on hold for several months waiting for this fabric to arrive.

You do not want to know how much this bundle cost :o)
I also collected my Viewers Choice package for my Berries and Bluebirds quilt.  A runner kit, scissors and thread!  Thank you Kerryn for being so generous!

My large scissors are well over twenty years old - so I'm well overdue for a new pair.  So exciting!  I don't know if I would ever make this particular kit - but I have no qualms about adding the fabric into the stash... very useful!

OK, the rest of the week has been slowly filled with machine quilting.  Remember, I had talked about Imogen's quilt - a group project that I was asked to be the quilter for. 

The batiks and blocks in this quilt just turned out stunning, so the pressure was on to come up with some quilting designs that did the quilt justice.

I decided in the end to frame the applique blocks, using the angle of the stars to form an onpoint square, which cut though the applique in some places. 

Inside the frame I am using a pebble and swirl filler pattern...

I am using the thread I purchased from the Auckland Festival of Quilts - which is running very nicely through my machine, and while it has quite a sheen on it on the spool - it tones down a bit once quilted, and is looking very nice.  Having a built in thread stand on your sewing machine comes in handy for these large cones.

That's my life all caught up for the moment - two more weeks of school/work left before Xmas school holidays - hence the need for the calm!  After a night and day away, I now feel like I can approach the rest of the crazy season with some level of inner peace - well, that's the theory, and I just need to remind myself (repeatedly) that everything will be fine.

Friday, November 21, 2014

The Final Chapter

For me there is no better place for a quilt than a bed.

As Dad came to visit over the weekend, I asked him to send me a photo of his quilt on his bed... so now I can imagine him all snuggled up underneath it.

He is loving his new quilt, and appreciated how easy it is to make his bed look nice with minimal effort.  While the quilting community is slowly gaining momentum in NZ, it will be some time before quilting in general becomes a household name.  After all, the first quilt I ever saw was the first one I made.  What a long way we have all come!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Just playing

I didn't feel in the mood for much yesterday afternoon, so instead of actually doing something constructive, I perused the stash, to find a suitable backing for the applique quilt I am going to quilt next.  This dandelion and bee print picked up nicely on the different neutrals and will work well with a light thread in the bobbin.  All my new threads got unwrapped and joined in the audition.  Looks like I did a good job with the thread selection!

With my head poked into the magic fabric cupboard, I finally started pulling fabrics for a scrap busting quilt that Charlotte has been making.  I'm sure she won't mind me stealing one of her photos.

It's a Scrapitude block... and you can read more about it  here.

I knew that there were fabrics in my cupboard that while I don't hate them, they just haven't fitted into my aesthetic style over the last few years.  These piles have just sat there looking sad.

The neutral pile...

The green and blue pile...

And as I started to look at these fabrics... I pulled out some feature fabrics that I thought might help to pull the whole look together.  Quite liked this one...

So I pulled the reds that I have... not many.

And added in some browns.

Now I have an enormous pile of fabric on my floor.  Too much to actually take a proper photo of it.  But what do you think.  Would you just stick to the blue/green/neutral bundles... or would you add in the red/brown/bird print too?

Saturday, November 15, 2014

I'm BACK! Grab a cuppa!

Where have the last few weeks disappeared?  If I am not regimented and post on a weekend... somehow it ends up being a new week... and sometimes even a new week again.

I've been plugging along quilting the Baby Bunting Quilt.  I had hoped to have this finished in time to exhibit at the Waimate North Agricultural &Pastoral Show last Saturday (think lambs, cows, horses, produce, floral, hand crafts and baking competitions), but by Wednesday I knew that it wasn't going to happen.  So over the last week I finished up the last of the quilting and the scrappy binding - now just the threads to cut, and a little bit of hand applique to tidy off the bit that I missed with the machine.

The stipple quilting has made the applique and star points pop - plus provides a lovely all-over texture.

I also disappeared off to The Auckland Festival of Quilts with Charlotte and Mathea... a mere three hour one way journey (time for lots of girl talk... and oh, the range of topics discussed!)  We walked and walked... looked and looked... and shopped and shopped.

I took a series of random photos - mostly to remind me about something in particular rather than showcasing the gorgeous quilts that were on display.

I really liked how this double wedding ring quilt included this applique border.

I really like this somewhat Hawaiian applique style  - stylized pohutukawa pattern.

It also had some wonderful quilting.

While I'm not usually a fan of diamonds, I did quite like this log cabin like arrangement.

And this one also had a great quilting pattern in the background space.  It can be hard to fit daisy like flowers together, but filling up with pebbles seems to work well.

 And I don't think I even took a photo of the rest of this quilt - but was fascinated by the precision quilting... computer aided I am sure.

A variation on a disappearing nine patch block.  This had a really interesting setting.

A nine patch sliced somewhat off centre... very clever!

This panel was just interesting...

Combining both machine and hand quilting.

I still gravitate somewhat towards the low volume backgrounds... also the soft colour variations in the feature areas.  This one very cleverly had a graded colour wash of plus shapes - something not noticed until viewed from a distance.

Similar but different...

Check out Charlotte's blog  here for more FOQ (really, do you think this abbreviation will catch on... after all, how would YOU pronounce it?) pictures (of some actual full quilts) plus more links to other blog photos.

In the shopping basket I have some new thread to try... plus a new (unphotographed) quilting ruler.

 And what's a quilt show without some new random fat quarters?

Adding to the wee random collection I had purchased from The Country Yard at their exhibition a couple of weeks ago...

Random + Random = a new wee bundle.

Ahh... love these soft soft colours...

Sunday, November 2, 2014

On the agenda

As one project comes to an end, it is a natural progression to start thinking about what is going to appear on the agenda next.  Something new and exciting.

Just not quite yet.  I have a couple of projects that I have committed to... the Baby Bunting Quilt which I was commissioned to do for a baby due to appear in December, and quilting a top that was a group effort - made by my old Friday stitching group (only old in that now that I work 5 days a week, I am unable to attend) from stash of one of our members who passed away - with the intention of donating the finished quilt to Hospice in her honour.  So really, I am not free to pursue my own creative dreams yet.  But when I am... watch out... I have plenty to get off my mind!

This week has been spent blanket stitching around my applique shapes.  Somehow I managed to miss this one!

And today I started the FM quilting - just stippling, but exactly the look I wanted.  This is my Ronan Keating thread... (you quilt it best, when you quilt nothing at all...) a very fine polyester Wonderfil thread, that practically disappears, but leaves all that lovely texture.

All the background fabric areas are quilted the same... it really makes the applique and star points pop.

Even though I started this quilt with no intention of keeping it... I could SO keep it!  Although what I'd do with a cot size I don't know, and NO - there will be no more babies in this household!  But with my queen sized quilt obsession... I could do four blocks with different applique patterns in each, set in a four patch with sashing and corner stones... and the beautiful applique around the outer border.  This would come out to about 85 x 80".  Maybe one day :o)

We've also been making progress in Nadia's room.  With a very clever husband, it only took a day to knock up a headboard - it finished off this view of her room.

The angle to the left shows that every thing has a place... and it's just a matter of someone putting all those things back into their right place to keep things tidy.

And the mirror did get hung...

Just a bit of a close up of the headboard... made from off cuts of our lounge-room laminated flooring - with a timber trim.  Fab!