..rendered wordless

September 19, 2011

I was planning my ‘winter of finishing ‘ campaign and contemplating a response to Anita’s post way back in June

.. and then nothing.

I wasn’t expecting it.


Mainly because I haven’t finished anything for months.

Also the usual question of priorities not least about which quilts I really want to make or even finish .

Yesterday though, I finished this little quilt to send to Japan.

I nominated this as the back but effectively front and back are the same single piece.

I was hoping that it could be alright for an elderly person or a baby.

Effie is sending this lovely quilt. So cute.

Thank you Margaret Smith for doing the lovely binding.

There are so, so many quilts to like.

I am going to try to focus .. on quilts I really would want to live with.


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.

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!

Time for a Catch Up

June 10, 2010

Thank you friends, for hanging in.

I’m home again with ‘Nurse Betty’ the labrador who is keeping me company as I recover again from a winter malady which hit with vengeance after the excitement and running around at ‘Patchwork’s’  sale .

The enforced being still, now that I’m feeling a bit better, is allowing me to catch up on many  ‘sit still’  jobs and pleasures that I’ve been rushing too much to take the time for. Things like sorting the box of newspaper  recipe clippings, catching up on three years of journals and even ringing friends.

I’ve been doing some extra work at each of my three part-time jobs  and it’s meant that a few things have had to give but it’s encouraging me to be a bit more efficient…perhaps.

Now’s the time for a bit of a rambling catch up post.

Three weeks ago after visiting Mum in South Australia, I rushed out the door and left my hand sewing and knitting (the knitting is another  story which I will return to on another day) behind and they won’t be retrievable for a while. Disaster.

To assemble another kit.. for survival?

My new kit is in the little box (complete with labrador hairs-I really can’t complain about faithful ‘Nurse Betty’).

Thinking about my ‘kit’ came at a good time because I was struggling hand piecing on two different projects.

On the Medallion quilt I have been using a lovely soft piece of Yuwa fabric and equally lovely but very tough and resilient piece of , I think, ‘shabby chic’ fabric.  I’ve washed and tumble dried the fabric but it is still tough to ‘needle’.

The other project is a simple cot quilt with five nine patches of pin wheels and plain blocks ‘flying pin wheels’ I’ve been calling them. They will have four large plain blocks between them.

The project has stalled because after a busy weekend piecing the pin wheels (months ago now)  I developed an alarmingly large bulge, some type of joint inflammation, at the base of my middle finger.

The tough fabric is the blue Kona fabric. I had planned to use the blue fabric for backing as well and to do  hand quilting in the large plain blocks. I just couldn’t see how I would be able  do it if even the piecing was causing trouble. The seams were also much thicker than with the Vancet cottons I’d used previously.

It was very soon after this experience that I was really interested to read this post in Jan’s wonderful blog.  Kona  is a brand I had not previously used, and I’m pretty sure my blue is of the older thicker style!  Should I continue to avoid it for hand piecing projects or was my technique or choice of  tools letting me down? Would it be a choice between  a strong resilient quilt or me? !

Increasingly have become more concerned by the texture  and ‘feel’ of my fabrics when choosing fabrics for hand piecing or hand quilting  projects.  I look for fabrics that  seem of good quality with a lustrous surface and even warp and weft threads, but that are not too thick.

I can’t find the beautiful lustrous  plain dyed Vancet cottons anymore. If anyone knows anywhere these can be sourced I would be forever grateful.
The Lecien plain cottons ‘feel’ and look nearly as  good . The  P&B plains I’m sure are of good quality but  they are a bit tougher (probably stronger and it may be a good thing!) and for me at the moment to be avoided  in 2 layers -they are perfectly fine if the quilt will be machine quilted or i used in one layer, either on the back or on top but not both. Phew.

The Liberty lawns may not wear quite  so well but they are so wonderful to work with because of their softness, lustre and the unusual and multi-colour variations they bring to a project  even  when used in even small amounts . I think that the thread in the fabric is of very good quality and very strong but they may fade a little more readily than other fabrics  so I’m trying to reduce my use of them a little. If anyone has information or  an opinion about this I’d love to hear it.

In my ‘carry around with me for any spare minute’ box I have, besides the lavender sachet and the old Christmas card that were already in the box

  • Aurofil thread (I quite like Select also and it is a bit easier to thread).
  • Clover seam ripper
  • I’m using #10 Clover gold eye sharps  although I usually use my favourite #11 Bohn milliners needles but they at the moment my local stores are out of them. I’m not sure yet which are better for the tougher fabrics until I can compare them directly.
  • 3 glass head fine Clover pins
  • a little old thimble of that belonged to a great-aunt and a bank  tellers rubber thing for my thumb to help pull the needle through (I love this)
  • little KAI embroidery scissors

The first night I used the Clover needles I snapped 4 of them! This has now stopped so the pressure I’m exerting must be less.

The other favourite things I use and again I love to hear what others use and love are

  • YLI quilting thread
  • Jeanna Kimble betweens- either 10 or 11
  • Olfa ergonomic cutter
  • Creative grid 61/2 and 121/2 inch rulers
  • pilot pencil with 2H or HB leads
  • I have got a really nice mechanical pencil which come with white or green little cylinders of  markers which are great for marking quilt tops but they are in S.A. and I can’t remember what they’re called.

I use a 14-inch hoop for quilting but haven’t tried anything else yet. The times I’ve tried not using a hoop the results have been pretty ordinary.

Since my night of snapping Clover needles I’ve been trying to concentrate on my technique. I tried for about three days to use a technique described by Jinny Beyer in one of her books although I’m not sure if I could work out how to do it correctly from the diagrams.  I’m back to the old ways but I think I’ll keep trying.

I think my quilting technique is OK but I am experimenting with different sorts of batting. In the past I have liked 60% wool 40% polyester batting or Hobbs Heirloom batting for hand quilting. I’ll try some Quilter’s Dream Request batting next on Janet’s recommendation.

more little topsI’ve made a few more items, all from the same Burda pattern I’ve been using for the last year. The detail is fun to play with and always takes me longer than I expect.

My hexagons have been languishing for ages and Sarah’s post has prompted me to action. My hexagons won’t qualify either for official Hexagon  Wednesday but I’ll do unofficial Odd Hexagon Thursdays. I now have 90 but I think I’ll need another 90 or so… a lot more because I want to make the quilt without borders and just use hexagons.

The quilt was inspired by one made by Kerry Dear for Quilter’s Companion magazine about 3 years ago. I noticed tonight that Janet from Quiltsalott has made a quilt very similar to the original one from the magazine.

Oh, and this quilt is now finished and over the chair. It’s hopeless but I just can’t throw  ‘Nurse Betty’ off when she’s doing all she can to help!

Pratima has made the most stunning quilt and very kindly credited one of my quilts for inspiration. I am really so delighted to think that one of my quilts has been part (and probably a very small part because the quilt is soo.. much better than mine)  of the inspiration for Pratima’s border.  It has been lovely that some of Pratima’s friends have been dropping by and I thought it would be fun and only fair to  credit then, a few of the very direct sources of inspiration for this very same quilt.
Lyn has made some of the most beautiful free form log cabin quilts based on a fat 1/4 of fabric in the middle as the centre, and my quilt looks very much like this ‘Baby Birdsong Quilt’ of Effie’s, doesn’t it?  Effie’s inspiration was from Lyn and the wonderful fabrics particularly the lovely central fabric designed beShannon Lamden woops although Shannon’s fabrics are always so gorgeous this lovely piece of fabric was actually designed by the equally wonderful Lara Cameron !

I have also been inspired by many more experienced quilters and their quilts! The medallion quilt I have been slowly working on has taught me so much.  The ‘log cabin’  ‘house tops’ in the Gees Bend books are genius!

My inspiration to do the quilt as a ‘quilt as you go’ project came from Adrienne M.

Not particularly for this little quilt but some of the ‘master craftswomen artisans’ quilters in our local area are so kind and generous with their time knowledge, patterns,  books, advice and generally sharing their quilts (intellectual property).

The quilts that these women  make (in our area at least they are all women), I believe should be as valuable as fine furniture.

For more inspiration from one of these artisans , I have taken some photos of ‘Robbo’s’ gorgeous hexagon quilt. Do have a look.

Many of the beautiful old quilts in the books I love have been made from kits or designed and drawn even by someone else. They are made individual by the workmanship and fabric choices . Sometimes when the fabrics are the same it must be the way they are looked after! In my house that would be a fail.

In a contemporary example in the fine arts here the latest winner of one of Australia’s major fine art prizes Sam Leach assures us, somewhat controversially I might add, that there is a great tradition in the arts of drawing inspiration from the work of others. Some details in this article….

Anyhoo..Effie’s Alice inspiration..

I couldn’t resist the little piece of ‘Alice’ fabric because of this quilt of Effie’s. It was the embroidery and applique! It made me do it! After playing around with mainly my pieces of fabric at home ( for about three days!) I came up with this selection (with the gingham for Alice’s skirt)

I know that my quilt will be very different. Sometimes I won’t even like what I end up with, sometimes it won’t even come close to the charm of it’s main inspiration and sometimes I can add something of my own, take it in a different direction and be happy.

Effie has made up another little kit of fabrics now that we are out of ‘Alice’ with this lovely selection of fabrics I love the selection and I can identify it as pure Effie!