Sampler Blocks

May 24, 2011

I still haven’t  caught up with  Civil War blocks schedule. If I am able to do just two blocks in the next couple of days I’ll do a big Phew!

I also tried some sashing and I think I will use the Denyse Schmidt ‘Library Stripe’ blue. Originally my thought was to just put all the blocks together but I do prefer the blocks with a ‘frame’.

It will help to know the sashing because some of the blues I’ve used are a bit are standing out a bit and look ‘wrong’ with this fabric. I’ll leave them for now but if they are still standing out at the end I’ll change them.

The ‘Sampler Class’ has been really fun.

We’ve all been choosing sashing at the same time as we all decided on sashing rather than butting the blocks or having setting blocks.

Lyn has put some photos on the shop blog but I thought I would put a couple of larger photos here.

The class participants have chosen all of their block layouts, sashing; everything themselves, and for a couple it is their first ever patchwork. I think they have done an amazing job and the quilts and tops will be even better when they are finished.



Mary’s -choosing sashing with some blocks

Half of Theofani’s quilt top

Definitely 2011 is Sampler Year!


May 8, 2011

My mum as been very ill and in hospital for the last 8 weeks…and again I just stopped blogging.

My sister in Adelaide has been wonderful doing so much visiting and work talking to doctors and such. I  been travelling and trying to help.

As usual the needle is my friend and comfort as we sit bedside.

It is just great to be ‘told’ what to do and not have to think so the  Civil War Blocks have been a godsend!

Also I have done some real ‘sew play. Dustin Cecil has organized the collaborative add-a-border block swap group where we add to foundation blocks started by other people. I really love this type of challenge, being given a fabric; a shape; a block (civil war) and working on it.

The original 6 inch Friendship Star was by Dawn Derrick

The second starter block was by Dustin Cecil

I have not been keeping up very well with bloggy things but have been inspired Pratima’s  Trip Around the World quilt  is just the most gorgeous quilt I’ve seen for ages!

Finally I’m on to the last border of my epically slow Medallion quilt.  I’ve used greens in the 2nd last border and I’ll try to take a full photo when I finish the last border .

Modern Relief -once the deadlines were halted, I’m embarrassed to admit, so did I.  I’ll keep moving slowly, as I usually do without a true deadline and I’ll give it somehow.

This little thing looks little more than a concept plan, but believe it or not I have spent some time drafting and rethinking my plans for the featured remnant of fabric.

I purchased the last 60 cm of this beautiful piece of fabric by Megumi Sakakibara

Yes, that’s right-just little nine patches of random fabrics is what I came up with!

Tomorrow I finally give away the 2 year Beanie. Hopefully I can get a photo!

Thanks for still being around, Kathy.

March 18, 2011

My words are inadequate as news of tragedy and courage filter to us from many parts of the world.


This fabric was the first of my collection, bought about five years ago not with a  project in mind but because I loved it.

It has now finally found its way to a feature place in the Civil War Quilt blocks.

Like most of my favourite fabrics it made its way into my medallion quilt as the setting triangles in a border with another Japanese fabric, the green and purplish-red flowered Yuwa.

So, so many of my treasured fabrics are from Japan.

Thinking of Japan. Thinking of the Japanese as I sew their beautiful fabrics.

Hoping that the courage of the brave, brave engineers and workers at Fukushima will be rewarded with good fortune.


sampler temptation

March 6, 2011

Anita of Blooming Workshop has designed what I think is a genius Sampler.  Do have look at it a here. I really don’t think you could go wrong with the design because so many of the features of the design work to unify the look of the completed quilt. …so  much temptation and I would have succumbed already but I had just started another new  Sampler project.

I have been reading about some of the history of the American Civil War and in particular the history of textiles of the time on Barbara Brackman’s  ‘Civil War Quilts’ blog.  The  blocks appearing on the  Flickr site are all so interesting and beautiful and different and intriguing that  I belatedly started to play along.  It didn’t take much to tempt a partner in crime Ms ‘speedy pieces’ to start  it as well. True to form, Ms speedy has done about 6 blocks in 4 days. I started  few days earlier so I had a head start.

I really like  the fabrics designed by Denyse Schmidt and love the way they work in quilts. …so I was looking for a …little project  to use some of the Greenfield Hill range.

(A shirt out of ANY of the voiles this would be gorgeous wouldn’t it ( think the green floral)? I’ve become so quilt obsessed, however, I hardly care what I wear.

I found myself googling to find out if Greenfield Hill was an actual place?

Yes, an historic district near Fairfield Connecticut.

What part if any the district would have played in The Civil War?

Apparently ‘ The New England state of Connecticut played a relatively small, but important role in the American Civil War, providing arms, equipment, money, supplies, …’ Wikipedia

The hospital in Greenfield Hills looked after soldiers  afflicted with smallpox during that war.

My recent history education is quilt and textile driven. I’ve learned  bits and pieces about the history of the Amish, the Mennonites , the life in the southern cotton plantations, the westward migration and life in America, England and Australia, particularly for women in the 1800’s.  Northern England, Wales and Provence, India and Africa  have also featured-anywhere with quilts and textiles- so it’s not just about the sewing is it?

Then there is colour and cameras, computers and programs!

“I’d just use Adobe Illustrator..” a family member innocently replied 2 weeks ago in response to the question “how would you put a picture of a block in a Word document (for hand outs)?”  And I innocently embarked on the slowest learning curve ever.  (PS  happy to share any of the block measurements from the sampler quilt with diagrams)

It really is fun doing a ‘sew along’ with so many quilt driven benefits. The applique block  is really slowing me down but I was able to draw it out really quickly,  if you don’t count the 2 weeks it took to get to this stage!

I’ll put my blocks so far on Flickr.

Thanks for dropping in.


A Sampler Sampler…?

January 30, 2011

My sewing room is a complete mess.  I am now spilling into adjoining areas and Phil mentioned something yesterday about a ‘suite’. One of the reasons for this is I’ve been engaged in some extreme  ‘sew play’ in the last week since Lyn suggested I take some classes in making a Sampler quilt by machine. Initially  I was reticent because I have not made one successfully. My first quilt was great fun and I learned a lot. It was a Sampler but I don’t like the way it looks. I think  Samplers can be tricky. Anyway the challenge is underway and I’m really enjoying it. What makes a successful Sampler?   I’ve  seen  some wonderful Sampler quilts in books, in the shop, on the web ( I loved this one -a piece of art) and I’ve tried to work out some ‘rules’. It seems to me that there must be something quite strong unifying the work for a Sampler to look great. The tricky thing is that this (or these) element/s may be very different in each quilt. Some of the things that seem to work to create a unified ‘ whole’ are

  • strong unifying theme e.g. an era; a story; style of fabric
  • block design suiting the style and era of fabrics
  • unifying colour scheme
  • sashings, posts and borders helping to pull things together
  • balance of colour values consistently across the blocks
  • similar shapes and size of pieces within the blocks and of the blocks
  • similar colour value across the quilt minimizing the effects of different shapes and styles within the blocks (think Kaffe!)

There must be so many more and maybe I’m overthinking this, but it’s a start. Please if anyone has other ideas, let me know.

I’m hoping that the participants in the class can learn a lot but especially make a quilt that they really love and have fun while they are doing it.  I expect that all the quilts will all be very different; as different as the people in the class. I thought I would make up one top and a few different blocks in different styles as examples  of the completely different ‘looks’ which are achievable  even when making the same blocks.   I am now sure I have eclectic tastes because I  could not choose which of the styles I like best…. so I worked on them all for a while until I was in a complete mess. I continued on with the ‘Wedgwood’ top because it is the easiest. It seemed to call for big simple shapes and I’ll use white borders and posts with little bits of blue.

(This will not be a practical quilt for our ‘lifestyle’ which has recently slipped to ‘ animal farm, anything goes’. One of our lovely customers,  when she saw me choosing the white,  described  a Punch cartoon in which a woman was showing some people around her house and when it came to her bedroom she commented “it was a bit chilly so I threw some more dogs on the bed” . The customer and I had never  met but she certainly had some insight.)

relaxing just after a bath

In ‘stormy sail boats’ I’ll keep the colour values fairly medium/dark, with a very restricted colour range. Hopefully this will enable me to have a range of different blocks, some simple, some complex  and there will be  lots of triangle sail -like shapes. I do have a potential sashing in the  ‘ocean highlights’ drawer which may be called upon. In the last very scrappy version (which is really fun), I plan to put in a range of solids and a huge variety of scraps and solids.  Is it a mid 20th century style sampler? I’m not sure but I’m choosing blocks popular then. The values will be pretty ‘medium’. Anyway back to the ‘work’… By the way, one of the participants came in on  Thursday and chose these amazing fabrics for her Sampler. It will be  fun!


January 13, 2011

I noticed in the last post that I called those brightly coloured fabrics ‘scraps’.  It’s true that I don’t really love them and I’m happy to use them. I cut them up with no problem.  I can sew them up quickly and don’t care too much if  I make a little mistakes. They are expendable.

Most of my fabrics are not scraps in the sense that I want to use them up! If the pieces are very tiny and precious I might use the ‘s’ word..  A project has must be  ‘good enough’ for  precious  fabrics to be used.

In fact these fabrics are my ‘collection’.

I am working on explaining this to Phil!

At the end of each post I’ll post  a photos of some of my favourite fabrics.

This year some good friends that know my  tastes very well have given me some lovely treasures

Carolyn and Adrienne (‘Patchwork’ co-workers)  managed to make visits to the V&A Quilt exhibition and gave me the two lovely wrapped pieces of fabric. I don’t think I’ll even be able to unwrap them for a little while.

Effie gave me the two beautiful lovely pieces at the bottom of the photo. These were ordered from the V&A and I adore them!

Not quite fabric treasures from Christmas

Effie organized for her mum to crochet edges around  different pieces of  her friends favourite Liberty  print fabrics to make handkerchiefs for Christmas (in return Effie cut out for her mum all the pieces for a quilt).  Such a lovely idea.  Apparently it took Effie’s mum a little over an hour to do all the edging for each one!

This year Effie’s mum also hand quilted  this vintage quilt top in the ditch for her. What  treasures?;  the quilt and Effie’s mum. I must take an ‘after’ photo (of the quilt, not an amazing  Mum!).

Effie also found this absolutely fantastic tin (She knows me well: as she said ‘ not too many flowers’) to replace my slightly battered ‘take with me hand-sewing things’ box.

I am developing a three -part fabric  stash.

  • The ‘collection’, to play with , look at and stroke and use carefully in small pieces
  • Other pieces of fabric that I love that are not  so precious ( I  will  probably be able to replace them)-  basic beautiful fabrics like the Kei spots, solids in beautiful colours
  • Those fabrics I’m happy to use (don’t love but probably quite like)

I am absolutely certain though, that it is not at all difficult to make a very beautiful quilt that you can treasure and love out of very basic fabrics, left overs, opportunity shop second-hand clothes.

I just try to at least ‘ like ‘ most of the fabrics before I start, and judge each little piece of fabric on its merits without prejudice. Most of my fabrics are in the first two categories now  which is why there is always the temptation to buy for new projects!

Is there any one else out there that occasionally gets a bit ‘queasy’ when they see a piece of fabric?  I try not to use those.

what’s on today?

January 10, 2011

Phil and I had a quick trip to Jamestown and I was able to visit Charlenes, the lovely local quilt shop.

It was easy to find  a few  lovely fabrics to add to my collection.

These souvenirs for my collection were among the very oldest stock available apparently, and are in no way representative  the  large range of stock available.

The very next day I was on to this

These pieces are for the quilt my sister and I started. It was her first fabric choosing effort and I found she was very attracted to a bright vibrant, scrappy  style!

We’d had both stalled with the  collaborative effort so I decided to slightly change the way I was working and took out (from my potential scrap stash) the stripes,  the blues and bluey reds, the plains and the pieces with a lot of white and have very happily used all the other pieces I have here.

I have about 23 blocks in Melbourne  10 in Adelaide and now 16 here so we’ll put them together and I’m sure it will still be vibrant colourful and scrappy.