Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Don't tell them you saw me...

I don't know about you, but I've found Bonnie's mystery quilt  surprisingly addictive.

So much so that I've been sneaking away from guests; vanishing  between courses; going to bed early (yawn, "aren't you tired?")  to cut and piece as much as possible.

Well, I haven't been too rude so  I've still got a way to go.

I have an idea about how all the pieces go together, but I don't want to be a spoilsport.  If you want to see a possible solution have a look back here

Bye for now.  I'd better get back to the entertaining.  People will wonder why it takes so long to stack the dishwasher.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Red Herring

December is such a busy time of year.  I think hardly anyone in the western world is not affected by a sense of urgency to have everything complete and tidied up before the end of the year, before the festivities, before normal life shuts down.

It is with that same desire to finish as much as possible that quilterie has been burning the midnight oil.  Another block  has been completed from the BTCT quilt:

Lori's Cheddar Cheese and Crackers quilt-along previewed here has also been put together.

Notice that the 2011 challenge fabric makes an appearance in the bottom right hand corner.  If you think I have not been following my own challenge I will write about my success (or not) when I present my 2012 challenge.

Finally I would like to explain the post title.  First though, I will warn  those doing the Orca Bay  mystery quilt with Bonnie Hunter

Spoiler Alert

In her Part 6 clue, Bonnie practically dared us to reveal what we thought the pattern was, so I am throwing in my idea of what we are making:

You can see that I am not 100% sure so I haven't actually sewn the block together.  I do like it though and I hope that this block does feature.  Whatever it turns out like, I have already decided to call my quilt "Red Herring",  since it is so obviously not reminiscent of an Orca whale, or even Orca Bay.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Birds and Fishes

When it was pointed out out that the "Beyond the Cherry Tree" quilt has been going two years I found it difficult to believe.  I am at the stage of the quilt where there is no turning back.  Seventeen blocks complete; three almost complete and five more to go.

Not every block appeals.  A few feel distinctly odd so I have made a substitute block.

It's a block from the presentation quilt for William A Sargent.  I like it because there are cherries, a vase that is similar in proportion to other vases in the "Beyond the Cherry Tree" quilt and the birds are recognizable birds.

My week has also seen more revealed of the Orca Bay Mystery quilt over at Bonnie Hunter's blog.  I have had my foot down hard on the sewing machine pedal.  It's great using the Easy Angle ruler by Sharon Hultgren;

Bonnie recommended it and I have found it makes short shrift of all that piecing - 700 little triangles added to the 350 HSTs since Saturday morning.

I have fiddled around with the blocks trying to imagine what Bonnie has created, but I still can't make it out.  I will be happy with the result no matter what.  There is space appearing in my 'brown' drawers and I have also cut up small scraps I was saving with no real purpose in mind.  It really feels like Christmas!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In the Beginning

Inspired by Nicky's post I thought I'd tell you about my first encounter with quilts.

Back in 1994 I had 4 children ranging from 7 to 3 years old.     Early morning band practice meant getting all the kids ready for the day, hiking up the highway, depositing a son by 7am. and then treating the other children in tow.

Bribery was the order of the day and (I'm not proud to reveal)  the other children  became weekly breakfasters at the golden arches.  Close by was a quilt shop.  "The Quilting Bee" may sound like a cliche to you, but to me it was a revelation.  I stared through the windows every Wednesday morning, taking in the details of the beautiful quilts that I could see hanging.

Finally, in 1995, when the youngest spent 2 days at pre-school,  I returned during business hours and asked innocently "Given my circumstances, do you think I would have enough time to quilt?"  The owners, Pam and Noni, looked at each other and replied "Of course".

The world, for my family up until then was BQE - before the quilting era. 

Noni proved to be a marvellous teacher.  She took us through an 8 lesson course that included drafting patterns, quilting,

applique, curved piecing (sorry, I fail at that still)

and many more lessons and tips.   Noni moved to Melbourne (lucky them) but I recently bumped into her in Sydney.  It felt like running into my kindergarten teacher.  I was so excited.

Now we are in the QE - the quilting era.  Long may it last!  I'd love to hear how you came to patchwork and quilting.

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Mystery Deepens

Part III of Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilt "Orca Bay" was published Friday night Sydney time.  Too late to actually sew it; more of a bedtime gift.  I drifted off wondering how I was ever going to sew 350 HSTs before the next clue on Friday 9th December.

I shouldn't have worried.  It's Monday afternoon  and here are 350 2"squares ready to show:

After a slow start with my usual technique (cutting oversized squares, pressing sewing lines, cutting the diagonals and then trimming) I reluctantly decided there must be a better way.  I have never even contemplated sewing large amounts of HSTs before so I have never needed a stream-lined technique;  that's not the way I make quilts.

However, Bonnie gives clear instructions on how to use the Easy Angle ruler and I found I could make 50 HST at a time without raising a sweat.

I also tried adjusting my sewing machine on an angle with 2 small doorstops.  It  allowed me to see the sewing line much easier. And I used a guide for sewing.  With my fancy machine I am able to shift the needle over to the right to adjust to a perfect 1/4" seam.  There is a first time for everything. Right?

So I hope all my new adaptations  mean I won't struggle as much to achieve accuracy.  I should have tried these tricks years ago.  I am puzzled that I didn't, but I have an unexpected bonus from taking part in the "Orca Bay" mystery quilt.  Head over here to see more posts from others doing the same quilt.

I pulled out another UFO that has me scratching my head somewhat.  I started Lori's from Humble Quilts "Cheddar Cheese and Crackers" quilt before I began writing  my blog.  Not having much use for small quilts I chose to make mine bigger.  Big mistake.  It's not finished more than eighteen months  later and when I look at it,  I can't work out where all the pieces are supposed to fit.  Not as big a mystery as Bonnie's quilt, but still a mystery.