Monday, July 20, 2015

Eye Candy

Last year in March I went to Melbourne for the Applique show at Castlemaine.   It was a wonderful exhibition and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Afterwards I went to "Threadbear", the local quilt shop owned by Corliss Searcy.  What an experience that was.  In spite of owning more fabric, books and patterns than anyone has a right to, I was bedazzled and bought even more.  In particular, I saw a quilt called "Beamish Scrapbag".  I visited the Beamish Museum in 2010 with my mother and I liked the name so naturally I bought the pattern. 

After 18 months of diving in and out of this project I have finally finished the applique centre.

It is about 26" square and is to be surrounded by multitudes of pieced elongated hexagons and tiny quarter square triangles.

 The other notable purchase was a book.  Publishers are so clever.  The best picture in the book is always on the cover.  Don't you find that?  If I don't like the cover picture I can never find anything appealing inside the cover.  On the other hand, so often the best picture is on the cover and the rest of the book is just disappointing.  That goes for quilt books and others.  My new book is no exception.

It is really just eye candy,  or so I thought until I met Pam at the Sydney quilt show .  She was wearing a beautiful cardigan she had knitted in a similar pattern.  She kindly sent me her pattern and it is on the ever increasing "to-do" list.

One of the reasons it takes so long for me to finish projects is that I am always distracted by other things; many of them patchwork related!  For instance, the 3" stars, that are slowing growing in number.

But don't they look cute?  I know some of you don't start a project until the current one is finished, but regrettably that just isn't me. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Warning! Warning!

They are contagious and they're highly addictive.  Read on at your own peril.

What I'm talking about is 3" finished stars.

I am hand piecing them.  No background fabric has been chosen for them yet, but it will be the same for all blocks, not scrappy.  There is already a lot going on.  The little motifs fit perfectly under the template and then it's fun to hunt for  a complimentary coloured fabric for the contrast.

Drafting the pattern was slightly tricky.  I used Jinny Beyer's advice and folded a 3" piece of paper to get the right size for the star segments.  At 3", accuracy is mandatory.  Who knows how many will make a nice sized quilt.

I've been preparing a few at a time and sewing them in the evening in front of the telly.

Three more for tonight.  You have been warned.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Every Quilt has a Story

It's true.  No quilt is made without at least some drama.  Here is a story of a quilt I first saw 9 years ago.  I work part time in a patchwork shop and get to see lots of quilts; some from beginning to end, others only at a particular stage.

Renee* first came to the shop with 9 dresden plate blocks she had pieced by hand.  The fabric came from her husband's boxer shorts and the quilt was intended as an anniversary gift for him.  There were 9 blocks to represent the 9 years they had been married.  Being fairly new to patchwork she was unsure of how to proceed.  After a short discussion Renee enthusiastically bought a couple of metres of Kaffe Fassett white with jacaranda spots. 

Today, nine years later,  Renee returned.  I immediately recognized the quilt top.  After so long (including a trip to Fiji) the quilt was slightly faded, but still appealing. 

Renee had recently dug out the quilt top and was determined to finish it.  She came looking for border fabric and we discussed the eventual quilting.  It is still intended as a gift for Graeme*, but he is no longer her husband.  He has left Renee and their twin boys.  I felt sad that the happy quilt is now a symbol of broken lives.  Renee said she wanted to give Graeme something to try to make his life a little happier.  I sincerely hope that life brings lots of happiness for everyone in that family.

* names have been changed.

Friday, June 26, 2015

Never Too Old

Finally I found the binding I had made for my Bonnie Hunter Celtic Solstice months ago.  Admittedly I was distracted and was never going to attach it until after the recent show.  Now it's on.

I'm not lovin' it but I'm also not removing it. 

I have always cut my binding 2.5" wide but just recently I have started cutting them 2.75" wide. 

The reason is that I have always struggled when turning the binding to the back of the quilt to sew down.  I found that the binding had to be pulled and coaxed to cover the stitches used to attach it to the front of the quilt.  Not much fun, especially when we are talking about the usual 360" of a largish sized quilt.

So now, when I attach the slightly wider binding, I also move the needle to the right about 25mm.  

 Excuse me for changing units from imperial to decimal, but I am using a Bernina 440 and I think everything on it is decimal.

  I always use a walking foot to attach the binding and I can line the edge of the quilt up with the edge of the walking foot to achieve a nice binding width.

Another long standing method I have recently changed in attaching the binding relates to the corners of the quilt.  I always stopped 1/4" (or however far from the edge I was sewing) from the corner. Made a little reverse stitch and cut the thread.  Then I turned the quilt, folded the binding up and down again to make the mitre. 

It's so much easier and more likely to be successful if I stop the sewing at 1/4" (or however far from the edge I am sewing) pivot the quilt 45 degrees and sew right to the corner.  Then I cut the thread, turn the quilt and flip the binding round as before.  It always works out nice and neat, front and back.  Not like before when it was a dicey proposition.

Seems like you can teach an old dog new tricks.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

A Litany of Errors

Are you still there?
Yes, it has been a long, long time since I last posted.
I've been busy.  It seems that's not a popular statement...but it's true.
My time has been spent hand quilting this:

I call it Delilah's Stare.  My contribution to the recent special Red &White exhibition at the Sydney Quilt Show.  You may have seen it earlier.  I started it in February 2012 and you can see its progress by clicking on the labels on the right of this blog under "red and white quilt".

Progress is the wrong word.  Quilting came to a halt as I was distracted by other quilts.   That happens.  When the NSW quilters guild announced a special red and white exhibition I thought I ought to pull the quilt out and continue my hand quilting.  About forty 5" blocks had already been quilted.   How hard could it be to quilt the other 75 blocks and 4 borders.  So, in the wee hours of February, 2015 I confidently entered my 90 sq" quilt into the exhibition and forgot about it.

At the time, I thought the cut off date for the  exhibition  was July 10th, but I was wrong. In March I learned that it was actually June 10th.  In a matter of seconds, I lost a month's quilting time!  Now my attention was focused on finishing the quilt and avoiding serious embarrassment.

There was a small problem but I thought I could overcome it.  Dear Coco, our incontinent poodle, quite likes keeping me company in my sewing corner.  She often curls up prepared to stay with me for many hours.  Well, you probably know what is coming.  She had laid down on my red and white quilt and there were 2 nasty yellow stains that had been left who knows how long ago.

Being the lazy quilter that I am, I use safety pin basting if possible.  Washing the quilt with safety pins in situ didn't seem like something real quilters would do.  So I removed the safety pins and thread basted my quilt.

Are you still there?  The story behind the quilt is long, but may be salutary for you.  Keep reading...

Then I submerged the quilt in cold water and watched as the red colour ran through the quilt.  Yes, I had pre-washed the red fabric.  But it still ran.  A few colour catchers and a few hours later, the red was safely contained in its correct place.  I couldn't tell if the yellow stains were gone but I just crossed my fingers.

I threw the quilt over the line to dry.  Don't do that.  Now I know better.  The wet weight tends to drag the quilt down and distort it.  Anyway.  Once dry I started back on the quilting.  Every 5" square took about 90 minutes.  The same for both the plain and the churn dash blocks.  I couldn't quilt more than 3 a day before my fingers and eyes gave out.

Then I noticed that I was running very low on needles.  I use Piecemaker size 12 quilting needles.  Only those will do.  And I didn't know where to buy them.  Dear Janet from quiltsalott came to the rescue and sent me a packet she had lying around while I waited for a new supply to travel from California to Sydney.

Are you still there?  I know I am being long winded, but finishing "Delilah's Stare" was a long process.

As I got closer to the border I noticed that on 2 sides the wadding didn't quite reach to the edge.  I honestly don't understand how that happened;  of course I had to patch some wadding before I could quilt there.  Each border took a week to quilt.  After washing and binding the quilt I put the label on at 3pm on Wednesday 10th June.  Just made the deadline.

The show was last week.  It was certainly an achievement to get that quilt hung and I have to thank my family for going without my usual attention while I quilted my fingers to the bone.  I have learned a lot, most importantly: do not enter a quilt into an exhibition unless it is close to finish or finished.

You can view quilts in the exhibition here.

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.