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.