Sunday, January 18, 2015

Really Busy

In my recent post I mentioned how an off the cuff comment regarding the busyness of my design made me reassess what I was doing.  To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee (refer to google and Wikipedia if you don't get the reference), "You call that busy?  This is busy."

Of course, you'll recognize my version of Bonnie Hunter's 2014 mystery quilt, Celtic Solstice.  It's back from the longarm quilter.  A close up photo does the quilt more justice

The pattern is busy.  There are 49 blocks.  Half have 32 pieces in them and the others have 42 individual pieces.  And then there is the piecing in the borders.  About 2000 pieces all up.  Don't ask me how many seams, but that is lots and lots of cutting and sewing  (if Bonnie is reading I just want to say I am not whining).  Somehow or other I made more bits than required so I used some on the back

I am very pleased with the outcome, even though my quilt could also be described as busy.

As far as the original "busy" quilt, I am still making more of the 3" hourglass blocks.  The advantage of a design wall is that I can fiddle around with the setting of my blocks before sewing and get a better perspective.  I think this is a better outcome than previously.

It also solves a problem I had at the border. Advice and opinions sought and welcomed.

Finally, I became a primary producer recently with my passionfruit vine reluctantly giving up its precious crop.  Not before I threatened it with being replaced by a more co-operative species.  Still, it was delicious and I expect next year the vine will yield more fruit.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Happy Birthday

A few months ago my sister was looking at my pile of quilts.  It's been a while since I gave her a quilt so I asked her to choose one as a gift.  She couldn't make up her mind between two, but finally she chose Coco's Midnight Garden. 

Then and there I decided to give her the other one for her birthday.

It's a floating four-patch I made some time ago and blogged about here.

To find the post myself I had to trawl back through time.  I knew I'd written about the quilts, but I had trouble locating them.  While I was revisiting old posts I noticed that some of my photos were not like I had originally positioned them.  Some were sideways and some were at the edges of the page.  Many had "faded".   It's official.   Gremlins live inside my laptop!

Anyway and in spite of the internet goblins,  you can see my quilt before it leaves for its new home.  I  labelled it and wrapped it.  Check out the birthday card.

When I saw it, I couldn't resist buying the card.  It is perfect.  All you little sisters out there will identify with me.  Finally, we get to have the last say.

Friday, January 9, 2015


The blocks were all up on the design wall, as you do.

Then my critic walked by and casually offered "It looks a bit busy."

It's not a good picture and I'm sorry about the poor light etc but there is no other picture of the arrangement to show you.  I managed to use a few of the many, many hourglass blocks  I had made previously and was feeling pretty smug.  That was my first mistake.  Smug and design are not a good mix.

Self doubt crept in.  Then I read Audrey's posts.  There are three, all about value in scrap quilts.  I commend you to read them.  Afterwards absorbing her posts,  I felt that I needed to do some tidying up.   It was time to suck it in and remove all but the red/pink hourglass blocks.

Starting to look more controlled but was I losing the scrap nature that I was after?  As well, in spite of having around 400 little hourglasses, there wasn't enough of any one colour range.  It would mean that more of them would have to be sewn.  Not such a delightful concept.

Perhaps adding some more control would improve the quilt.  Still scrappy because lots of different fabrics were used, but not haphazard because some rules were being imposed.

Now the nine patches were all yellow and cream instead of a range of colours.   I'm not sure that scrappy nature of the quilt has been enhanced.

 I do know that the original concept of using up my orphan hourglass blocks has been abandoned.  I find myself sewing lots of nine patch blocks and having to add to an already vast quantity of 3" hourglasses.  My helper meant well...

Before I go I thought I'd show you something I bought just yesterday.

Aren't they cute.  If you aren't able to enlarge the photos they say "A Handmade Gift for You" and "Sewn with Love".   They won't replace labels but I think they will make a nice addition to a couple of quilts that I am giving away.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Out of the Blue

Sometimes you get lucky.  That was what happened recently.  I met a woman who mentioned that her grandmother left her a quilt that her mother had made for her.  That is, she was in possession of a quilt made by her great grandmother.  A little persuasion was all she needed to show off her quilt.

No-one else in the family wanted it.  Really?!!

Imagine the work that went into this beautiful quilt.  Hand quilted.  Heavily.  And well.

And then to see the quilt signed and dated.  I always do that now.  If you don't, you should.  It was wonderful to see evidence on the quilt of when it was made and by whom.

The label was embroidered by hand.

The colours are not accurate.  The red is fairly stable, although there is evidence that the quit has been washed - a small bit of red has crept into the white.  The tan was originally a green but the dye was a "fugitive".

As I said, you can get lucky.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Holy Fabric

No, that isn't Batman's Robin making a statement.  It is the fabric I used to make lots of fussy cut 5/8th" hexagons.

The repeat is less than 14" across and 6" wide so that only 20cm (8") fabric has produced eight different fussy cut flowers.  Yippee.  Much better than some fabric where a hexagon can be cut every 60cm due to the pattern repeat.

 I don't do that.

 Any more.

A 5/8th" hexagon cut from template plastic is useful to try to cut the exact same piece of pattern 6 times.  A permanent marker guides me to place the plastic so a pencil line can be drawn on the reverse of the fabric.  After a while the black lines get confusing so I have to wash them off.

I have discovered that ethyl acetate (nail polish remover without the acetone) does a great job of removing the permanent black marker.  Next problem: how to remove black marker without also removing nail polish!

Since I have a basket full of white gloves, I have been using them.  You could just as easily wear washing up gloves I suppose.

It is hoped that the  fussy cut flowers will appear somewhere in "Hexagonia" .  Yes, It has been in the dark recesses of the quilterie cupboard, but recently it has seen the light of day while I have been travelling.

Friday, November 28, 2014


How about this fabric.  I bought it in London.  Some of it is from designer Zandra Rhodes.  Do you remember her from the 60's and 70's?

I've just come back from 2 weeks in England.  At this time of the year the conversation contains references such as "rather damp" and "quite chilly".  Nevertheless I had a great time travelling the length, not quite the breadth of England.  From Berwick-on-Tweed in the north to the Isle of Wight down south.

Not many quilt references sadly.  You can't drag people off to quilt related things and get away with it every time.  So I save my kidnapping for the must-see occasions.

On returning home, though, I caught up with all the lovely blogs and decided that I must do something about the state of my sewing space.  No before photos.  Just too awful.

I always start at the bookshelf.  Very easy to sort and tidy, although the shelves seem to groan under the weight these days.

 Rather than emptying the bookshelf I added to it.  I brought back Kaffe Fassettt's newest book.

 The pictures are great but I rarely make his quilts.  To be totally honest,  the instructions are baffling.  Am I the only one, or does anyone else find reading the instructions like wading in heavy treacle?  After all this time and so many books I am surprised that the editors aren't capable of making the instructions clearer.

 I also came across these two second hand books and bought them for 3 pounds each.  Bargain.

Throwing out books is difficult.  But this time, the plan was to be ruthless and throw out unloved magazines and ugly fabric.  If you look at the blogpost title, it isn't a typo.  I didn't actually do much throwing out at all.  It appears that I brought in more than I put out.  So I figure I was less than ruthless in the end. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Should Have Known

Were you wondering what happened to all those 3" hourglass blocks I made?  Probably not.  By the time I made over 400 I got bored.

When I came back to them,  I decided to put them together and get some idea of what the quilt might look like.


Because I discovered something that you, no doubt, already knew.  The point at the corners of each block is very bulky.  Eight seams meet there.   Of course I should have known better and made sure that the seams butted together correctly or "nestled".  Needless to say, I wasn't enjoying putting them together.  More than 400 blocks.

Too many to undo and fix.

So the new plan is to incorporate them into another quilt top.  One day.

Still quilting for my deadline.