Wednesday, December 22, 2010

2010, not quite finished

I've been pushing to get 64 blocks sewn.  In the end, only 36 made it.  I'm still not sure about the setting, but here is the block with sashing

There are nine large pieced blocks that are just over 17" square. 

This time of year can be full of deadlines, so I have decided to let go of this one.  There are 365 days in 2011 so I can finish my blocks then.

From today on I will be having a computer free holiday and the sewing machine is going for a service.
Of course, that won't stop me from some quiet applique and quilting.

May I wish my friends who celebrate Christmas a happy occasion.  Those that include Boxing Day in their diary, enjoy the leftovers and to my friends who follow the Gregorian calendar, I would like to wish a Happy New Year.  To everyone around the world I am sure you agree with the sentiment that we should always strive for harmony and consideration for each other.

Finally, thank you for coming over to "quilterie" to see what I am doing.  I have so enjoyed this little pastime and hope to continue on in 2011,

all the best,


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hearts and Hands

A quilt from the Collection of the York County Heritage Trust in Pennsylvania has had a pattern drawn from it.  It is called the "Hearts and Hands"quilt and it was assembled in 1937/8 using circle motifs stitched in 1880 by women from the Loucks family.  Strangely enough, the delay was due to the women becoming more interested in needlepoint than quilting.  Recently, I dug this project up and this week I have done a few more motifs

 These little circles are 13cm in diameter (or just over 5").  There are 18 points.  49 more of these blocks are required.

The sunburst blocks are alternated with these pretty little applique blocks, also 13cm in diameter.  Only 41 more of these to go.  I was distracted by these 4" blocks in the meantime.

Cute, but they'll probably end up in the orphan box.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Wearing my Detective Cap

I've been following Wonkyworld quite closely in recent days.  He has an album quilt that is remarkable, particularly for its dense quilting.  Back in 1996, I made a Piecemakers Calendar quilt that I echo quilted

around a few of the blocks.

For complicated reasons I can't  show you the whole quilt

but here are 3 of the 12 blocks.  If you haven't seen Bill's quilt at Wonkyworld, you won't be disappointed by visiting his blog.

On another note, I have picked up the project that Faye has been working on.  I hadn't sewn anything on it for quite some time and when I decided to do a few more blocks, I wasn't sure which background homespun I had previously used.  Fortunately, I had a piece of background with its  selvedge  and a applique  block.  Luckily for me it was just a matter of comparing the little hole pattern made on the selvedge from the manufacturing process.  Now I have written on the pattern AND  on the fabric in case it takes a few more years to get back to this project.

I hope that if you click on the photo you will see that the fabric on the roll matches the fabric with the applique.

Finally, I thought I'd share with you a quilt that took a long time between start and finish.  It is a blue "Seven Sisters" pattern and I made it hard because every single blue patch is from a different fabric.
 There are 18 full blocks and 6 half blocks on this quilt and it is hand pieced.

As you can imagine I have a big stash of blues now.  I had this quilt machine quilted because I didn't want to attempt to hand quilt the white-on-white fabric.  I don't know for sure but I bet it would have increased resistance because of the paint.  This quilt now lives with my niece and her husband.

While it looks like I haven't been particularly busy, there is a new block #4 over at the cherry tree group and I have machined pieced a further 10 blocks and only have 34 more to go!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Projects in Common

While inspecting the posts of my fellow bloggers I saw what Faye has been working on.  It struck a chord.  Ages ago I bought the same pattern

Applique is so much fun and these little blocks seemed so portable.  I began to work out that if I did one a day, it would only take me ... you know how it is.  I don't know how long this project has been in the cupboard.  Faye's is much more imaginative.  I basically just copied the pattern colours.  Perhaps one day I'll get it out and actually work on it.  There are only 117 blocks and I have already done 15 so it would only take me 102 days to finish them all.  Just kidding!

As I said, I love applique, and also hand quilting.  I can't remember the last time I hand pieced a straight line.  The sewing machine is so seductive.  It's fast.  Projects move along at a rapid rate.  This weekend, I made 20 blocks and now there are only 44 more to whizz up.  Not showing it properly until the quilt is complete.

I've also been working on my Beyond the Cherry Tree quilt.  My latest block is over here.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

36 Hours in Melbourne

This week I was in Melbourne for 36 hours.  For non Aussies, Melbourne is pronounced "Mel bun".  Weird, eh? but if you say it like that, it will demonstrate your worldliness, particularly to Australians. Here are my photos
and a close up
The quilt is a decorator prop in a store and that is why there are items of clothing scattered around.  My next photo was of a wonderfully decorated cupcake but it must have been too much.  After only 2 snaps, my camera battery gave up.  You will have to imagine how beautiful it was.

I love blogland.
I love how you see so many wonderful quilts and get terrific technical tips.
I love how we virtually meet up with quilters from around the world to exchange ideas and points of view.
But I love it best when I actually get to meet someone from blogland.

24 hours into my "Mel bun" trip I met Linda from the well known Quilts in the Barn.  If you haven't visited, I suggest you rush right over to see her blog (but come back to me afterwards, won't you?).
Sadly, the camera was out of action, so you will just have to take my word that she is a classy lady with plenty of style.  Linda, it was a pleasure to meet you.

We went on a personalized shop hop.  When I say personalized, well a shop with patchwork fabric was the only requirement.  And somehow, without me quite realizing it,  I came home with this

Lots of gorgeous fabric, some of it with no project in mind.  Best of all was the fat quarter in the foreground.  When I unwrapped it, I discovered a beautiful gift from my new quilting pal

Two handmade coasters, meticulously made.  Thank you again, Linda for a lovely day spent together.  I look forward to returning the favour when you come to visit in Sydney.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Going in Circles

In September, 2007 I started a project in a class with Carolyn Konig, a Victorian based teacher.  It was a 9 block Georgetown Square.  About February, 2010 I came to the conclusion that 9 blocks were too ambitious.  Lots of curved piecing (even by hand) doesn't pull me in.  I already had 4 blocks so the quilt was revised to a 5 block, on point design with a green spot sashing.  Much more manageable.  November, 2010 revealed not much movement on this project.

Back to the design wall.

Perhaps a 4 block setting with a flying geese sashing would be nice.

Actually no.  8 flying geese in, I decided not to use them.  They are now waiting for a project to go around them.  Instead I went with this

My apologies for the crinkled look but I don't want to iron these little b...abies until they are completely secured by borders.  Working with curved pieces also means working with "off the grain" patches.  It took 2 years to choose a centre for the blocks and in the meantime the stars distorted.  I have reworked 3 out of the 4 central circles and will soon do the final one.  Now this project is becoming more manageable.  A suitable  border and it will be complete (except for quilting, ha!).
Click on the photo to get an idea of the sashing.

I certainly don't want it to end up in the unloved category because it will have been left too long.

Like this one.
I didn't realise how purple it became.  Now it is called "The Purple Quilt".  Can you tell I have no feelings for it?  Nevertheless, it is one less on my list to do.  Head over to this blog to see what else I've been working on.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

A long Gestation

Here is a project started a long time ago on a trip to Darwin, perhaps in 1996/7.  I had great fun buying the fabric from "Frangipani" fabric shop which has since moved to Tasmania.  A friend showed me an easy "floating four-patch" technique that I just had to try and in a flurry of excitement  this quilt was born.  There are 169 blocks and it is 1.75 sqm (70sq").
When I got to the border, I wanted to do something different so I appliqued a curved border.  It wasn't quite right.

So this quilt spent many seasons at the back of the cupboard.

After seeing the "Trick or Treat" quilt in "When the Cold Wind Blows" by Barb Adams and Alma Allen I thought the applique in the setting triangles might work.  On it went and the quilt was ready for some custom long arm machine quilting.  Thanks to Verna, the quilt was almost ready.

That was more than 12 months ago.  I knew what binding I'd use.  I just didn't feel excited by the quilt any more.

Yesterday, I needed to clean up the floor in my sewing area and it seemed like the time to finally finish this quilt.  No name, no label.  It is an unloved reminder of why projects should not languish at the back of the cupboard for any length of time.
On a lighter note, here is a picture of some strips cut for my next project.  1.5" strips of warm stripes and cool spots.
Halfway through cutting, I realised I might have more strips if I'd chosen warm spots and cool stripes.  What the heck!  It's done now.  Fingers crossed for a quick finish so that this project doesn't end up in a  dark cupboard.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Two Bindings and a Quilt

This week saw a lot of snatched time sewing a baby quilt that is winging its way to Finland as I write

I used my walking foot to quilt in the ditch and just continued on with the pattern on the white background.  I have just bought a book on free motion quilting and one day I hope to be more creative.  Until then, this will do nicely.  The magical plastic container full of thirties 1.5" strips seems to be as full as ever.  It featured when I posted about "Muffet's Way" a quilt with hundreds of thirties strips.  So it seems as if there is enough material for another project to emerge from this box soon.

If you look closely at the binding of this quilt, you may notice that it is 1" short.  At 11.30 last night I knew the quilt shop would be shut so I just went ahead and used a "different but similar" fabric.  This is a PATCHWORK quilt after all.

My husband refers to this part of the quilt as "the dog" - in a nice way.  He is in my good books even though he dropped my tin of  pins all over the floor.  As soon as it happened he raced off to his shed and returned with this
It is not an antenna, although I suppose it could double as one.  It has a magnetized end that quickly picked up the pins.  Not a new idea, I know, but I can't help but think I may be able to match Karen for nifty suggestions, by revealing that he bought it at a car parts shop!  And it was cheap.  Apparently men regularly drop screws and screwdrivers and other metallic bits down into the engine of their cars.

Finally, I come to the second binding.  I took the binding off  the old and loved quilt.  There has been lots of fading
I patched the damaged border and replaced the binding.  I even put on a label.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Philosophy of Knots #1

This is the post you write when you have done no sewing worth reporting.  I have spent the weekend about an hour north of Sydney at Pearl Beach.  This is why there has been no sewing
and this
However, there has been ample time for thinking.

We all know there are good knots.  They are necessary for starting and finishing.

Bad knots are an interruption to my sewing trance.  They have lead me to examine the science of knots.   I think it is worthwhile to classify bad knots into two subgroups; those that can be unravelled and those that have to be cut out.

Knots that can be unravelled are generally caused by using thread that is too long.  It is tempting, especially when the eye of the needle is small to attempt to reduce the number of times you thread the needle.   I like to use size 10 and 12 needles and consequently I cut my thread  too long and I get frequent knots.  During the action of sewing, the thread twists and turns on itself and eventually a knot is formed.   It's difficult to change bad habits and make my thread shorter so  I've found two ways to deal with knots.

The first is useful in simple knots ie. those knots that have single loop extending out of the knot.  Pull gently on one side of the knot.  If the loop doesn't move, then change the pulling action to the other thread.  Generally the knot will pull itself out without further effort on your part.

With more complex knots, insert the needle into the densest part of the knot
and tease the knot apart as much as possible.  It won't collapse at this stage, but then the first strategy above can be applied.

Of course, you may have your own infallible way of dealing with knots.  I'd love to hear about your techniques.   They don't get enough attention in the literature, considering we all suffer from knots...right?  This is only the first installment on knots.  More will follow regarding complex knots and their unravelling unless I get a chorus of complaints.

Now, where was I?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Progressing Backwards

Do you ever have periods where nothing feels right?  I have been making hexagons and my wrist doesn't like it.  I turned to the hexagons because my #2 Cherry Tree block is giving me a headache.   If you know the pattern, you're probably thinking I get headaches pretty easily.  It's a simple pattern and here is where I am up to:
I am going to undo some of the leaves to get a nicer join with the stem.  My fault.  I used freezer paper and decided it didn't matter which shaped leaf went where.  My red leaves on the right are too bulky at the stem junction compared with the green leaves below.  So I want to adjust them.  But not today.  Does that happen to you?  The disappointment of getting things wrong often pushes a current project into the cupboard.  Luckily Sharon set up a  blog and I won't put it in the cupboard for too long.  It won't be alone because it will be with #1
Here is something else that has made it into the temporary cupboard because of my bad mood
There are 3 borders on and the 4th will have to wait.  The photo isn't very good however I hope you have noticed that I lined up the pattern of the border nicely.  But it takes a good mood to get that right, so I'm not chancing it and mucking up the final border.  And so, into the cupboard.
I have a little project up on the design wall for a baby quilt required by next Saturday (ha!)
Do you recognize the little strips left over from a previous project?  I thought I would use them in log cabins but they will do nicely here.  And it's quick.  Here is a snap of the spiderweb quilt
I have named it "Muffet's Way".  I don't have a picture of the entire quilt.  It is taking a summer holiday away from home, but will return next year.

So this is a post with plenty of photos but not much progress.  I wondered whether I should share my bad mood with you but I do have a button on my sidebar declaring "I took the Process pledge"  and that process also includes backwards progress as well as forwards.  I know I will wake up tomorrow feeling better and I hope that includes my aching hand.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

A Little Bit of History

This morning the rain has stopped.  There was loads of washing, including this old quilt:

I put it in the machine on delicate, and then put it on the fast spin cycle.  I also put a couple of colour catchers in.  They worked their magic.

This is the first quilt I ever finished.  I smile whenever I think about it.  I saw it in a magazine, promoted as quilt in a weekend.  I started it while I was making my sampler quilt and only ONE YEAR LATER it was finished.  It is hand pieced and hand quilted.

I bought a cheap fabric for the back and the colour ran through to the front.  I didn't (and still don't) like the border fabric but was persuaded by the owner of the fabric shop that it was a good choice.  It needs to have the binding replaced as it has worn through in a few places and there is a hole in the top left corner that I noticed as I hung it out.  This is the back:
My kids use this quilt all the time.  It is usually left in front of the TV but sometimes it makes its way to a bedroom.  Now I notice that there is no label.  This quilt is an honest, utility quilt that deserves a little bit of TLC.  That will be my next project. Promise.

On another note, I went to an antiques fair with my mother this week.  We enjoyed all the exhibits but  one in particular caught my camera lens.  The exhibit involved a dozen or so mannequins with dresses from bygone periods.  This was my favourite and I thought you might like it also
Can you guess what was being exhibited?  The dress was stunning and the underskirt was handquilted silk.  Here is a closer look.

 This was a display about watches!!!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

When Life Deals You Scraps

what can you do?  Well, if your scraps are less  than 3/4" wide you can't use them in a string quilt.  But you can roll them into a ball
and knit them!
Thanks to Melinda for providing all the scraps.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Old Block, New Quilt

I am joining in the fun and participating in the Bloggers Quilt Festival 2010.  This is my first, so bear with me as I tiptoe along.  Here is my entry:
It is special for a number of reasons. 

Mainly, because it is finished.

I don't know about you, but whenever I finish a quilt project I have a certain satisfaction.  During the process of making the quilt it often feels like a gruelling task.   I have to push myself to continue on when I get to hurdles that require unstitching or revising my design etc.  Often the project gets stashed away into a dark corner where no one goes.  It may never come out...

So when a quilt is finished it is a cause for quiet celebration within.  It's not scaling Mt Everest, or discovering a cure for cancer, but it is solid evidence that I have persevered. 

What I have discovered is that there is no quilt that doesn't present me with problems, whether they are design,  stitching or time lines.

Another reason for this quilt being special is that I gave myself a few rules when planning it.  Simple block, on point, contrast in scale and value,  darker blocks towards the edge.  I am happy with the way it worked out.
Finally, I quilted this more quickly than usual.
It can take several years for my quilts to finish being hand quilted.  I'm always keen as mustard after they have been basted but then the long process starts to drag.

This time it was different.   I counted down every block.  It seemed to speed the quilting up that way.  The setting triangles had a different quilting design that made them more interesting.  I tried a few different designs in the border and eventually settled on something simple, reflecting the blocks.
Well, I am off to view all the other quilts in the Festival and I would advise you to do the same.  It's sure to be good!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cherry Trees Rule, OK

I have been distracted by applique this week; in particular the Beyond the Cherry Trees album quilt. This is my first completed block
For more details regarding the new group blog that Sharon has started for all those making (or just interested in) the Beyond the Cherry Trees quilt head over here.
Meanwhile, I have been tidying up my sewing patch (again) and came across this:
It is made up of a simple block, resembling the first round of a courthouse steps block.  I love scrap quilts and I have decided to cut the pieces for the blocks from each fabric left lying around the sewing patch before I put them away.
Of course, this has slowed down the tidying up process considerably, but made it more enjoyable for me.  The remainder of my sewing time is spent quilting the spiderweb quilt, now about 4/9ths completed.  Progress on basket blocks has slowly ground to a halt.  Sadly.
Well, must go and tidy the sewing patch.  Wink, wink.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prairie Points

This post should really be titled "What I Now Know about Prairie Points".  I have used them twice.  Once, last century with this which was hand appliqued and hand quilted:
and again with this recent quilt

For future reference I need to remember a few points:
1. I will always need more prairie points than expected.  My big quilt measures 56" x 76" and has 162 prairie points made from 4" squares  (approximately  0.6 prairie points/inch.  It required 1.75m (68") fabric.
    The baby quilt measures 36" x 46" and has 109 prairie points made from 3" squares (approximately 0.6 prairie points/inch.  It required a bit over 80cm (32") fabric.
     Seems like a good way to chew up fabric
But there is still plenty of this range left for more baby quilts.  This is the second one I have made from my "Sweet" fat quarter collection and here is what is left for another day:
2.  If hand quilting, put the prairie points on before doing the border or last couple of inches before the edge.  If machine quilting, it is probably best to add them prior to quilting.

3.  Don't bother doing fancy tricks at the corners as I did for the first quilt.  I thought it looked empty so I added 1/2 sized prairie points that did not really add to the quilt.

4. However, corners are important.  Line up the prairie points so that they end nicely at the corner.  This means fudge the points before the end if necessary.

5.  At corners, to keep things neat, turn the last prairie point the other way so loose corners are tucked in against the previous prairie point.

6.  Use a steam setting on the iron when pressing prairie points, particularly for the second fold.  Otherwise the point will keep springing open.  Note to self: watch out for steamed fingers.

As for the baby quilt, I used my walking foot to quilt most of it, but got adventurous with free motion quilting in one spot.  I won't point it out but I wish I had stayed with the walking foot.

This post has been full of lessons for me, not least of them how to spell prairie!  Now I am off to hand quilt where I have more control of the stitching.