Saturday, December 31, 2011

A new year!

I've been enjoying all the 'wrap up' posts on people's blogs, especially the blogs that have wonderful mosaics of the writer's achievements over the past year.  I haven't photographed everything I've made in the last 12 months, but here are a couple of my favourites:

I made this simple scrappy quilt to feature some fabrics my daughter gave me - blogged here.

This hourglass design is so sweet, I'm going to make it again some day (well, it's on the long list!) - blogged here.

I haven't taken photos of all the small things I've made this year.  I've made lots of bags, purses, ornaments and runners.  I think a big photo session is needed!

I had a lovely Christmas with my daughter, although it was quiet with just the two of us it was also pressure free and very relaxing.  We had a family get together a few days later that was full of noise, food and fun!

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve - I'm here with my daughter and a niece and nephew, and I am sure I will be in bed before them.  I do like to make a few New Year's resolutions, in fact I try and make six monthly resolutions as I find that going 12 months is a bit long for me.

  • Blog more regularly!  I've had such a long break from blogging and honestly I think that I just got a bit overwhelmed by work getting busy and getting my daughter home from uni for the summer holidays and having another person in the house again, lovely as it is.  
  • Improve on my 'start a project' and 'finish a project' ratio.  It's so easy to start things, and much harder to finish them!  I made this a resolution last year, and I did improve, but there's still a way to go.
  • I'm going to perfect some of what I see as the more difficult bag making techniques.  Using buckles, stiff interfacing, professional looking straps, zipped pockets and metal catches.  I love making bags, but I tend towards 'safe' patterns, this year I want to challenge myself.
  • Destash WIPs that I will never finish.  I made a start on this in 2011, but there is still some projects that I really have to decide to either finish or pass on to someone who will, or throw them out.
  • Perfect machine sewn binding.  I usually machine sew one side and then hand sew the back, but I want to be able to neatly machine sew both sides.  
  • Get more adventurous with free motion quilting.  I have a handful of basic designs that I use over and over - it's time to expand on these.
There's also some projects that I want to make this year, particularly quilts that I am really excited about.  It's minutes away from the end of 2011 so I will document them another day.  

Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year's Eve and a fabulous 2012!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Things got busy...

I've just done our local Christmas market.  Lots of fun, lots of birdie ornaments and LOTS of work.

I'm doing another market this Sunday, and trying to restock in a hurry!

Meanwhile, check out this lovely post by one of our local Horsham bloggers.   Let's go Moerkabout took some great photos at our market, and she's such a sweetie to mention me!

I have bad blogger's guilt for not posting for a month, making for the markets has consumed all my spare time.  And I've been to the city to move my daughter home from Uni for the summer holidays.  And the day job has been Hard Work and Long Hours lately.

Regular transmission will commence soon!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

WIP it up

I'm not great at WIP posts.  I love to show a finished project, and I actually rarely take photos of anything I make before it's finished.  I'm trying to change all that...

One thing I've really noticed about my making is that I tend to make about 4 or 5 quilt tops, then quilt about 4 or 5 quilt tops.  I rarely make a quilt all the way through without taking time out to at least start another quilt  along the way.  But once I'm on a roll with the quilting process, I finish up a few at once.

I'm in a quilting phase at the moment.  I have no idea why.  Every year I participate in our local crafty market stall, coming up on the first weekend in December, and I really need to get my Christmas ornament sewing going.  But I feel like quilting!  I'm trying to do a bit of the ornament sewing, then let myself do some quilting, to try and keep it all together.  Hmmm.  I've actually nearly finished up all the quilt tops lying around here (we'll ignore a couple of very old quilt tops hanging in the wardrobe).

So here are some pictures!

This is a wonky stacked coins design that I've made using lots of reds and a pop of yellow here and there on a deep blue background.  You can see that I've stippled it using a matching blue thread.  This picture shows my quilting set up, I use a Horn sewing cabinet with my machine on it, and my dining table behind the cabinet and an ironing board set up to my left lowered to the same height as the cabinet.  This way the whole quilt is supported as I quilt.  I am no expert quilter, but I find that ensuring that the weight of the quilt (especially when it is full of pins and quite heavy) does not drag over the edge of the table really helps keep my quilting even.

You get an idea of the mix of fabrics I've used for the 'coins',  these few include Aneela Hooey's 'Sherbet Pips', Denyse Schmidt's 'Picnic and Fairgrounds', Laurie Wisbrun's 'Tufted Tweets', Kei 'Honeycomb' and some 'Dr Suess'.  I must admit, I am a fabric geek and love studying up on ranges as they come out!

I've called this one 'Wonky Coins From My Stash'.  I love thinking up names for my quilts, and try to use either the pattern name or names of the fabric ranges I've used (or sometimes both!) in the name.  I used  the 'Wonky Stacked Coins' pattern from 'Block Party', a book I recommend for anyone interested in modern quilting.  It's got lots of gorgeous quilt patterns in it, and is written around a 12 month virtual quilting bee so is a really interesting read too.  

This next quilt is taking quite some time to finish.  It's made using a layer cake of Sandy Gervais' 'Giddy'.  Although I am really not a hearts and flowers girl, I adore her Valentine's ranges, they are so much fun and cute without being overly sweet.  Red and pink are a huge favorite colour combination for me too.  The pattern is by Red Pepper Quilts and is called 'Take One'.  The quilt top was pretty quick to put together, and I quilted each end with a pebble design.  

I decided to use straight line quilting a quarter of an inch either side of some of the rows of squares (similar to the type of straight line quilting that Rita uses herself) but then I discovered that my blocks were slightly uneven, which made the quilting a mess.  That didn't stop me, I quilted the whole quilt and then decided it looked awful.  So I'm ripping it out row by row and stippling it.  That's also why it's already got the binding on it.  Slow going, but I'm halfway there now and it looks so much better.  

I'm calling this one 'Take One Giddy Quilt'.  

I used Kate Conklin's 'Through the Trees' pattern to make this third quilt.  It's a free pattern available on Chasing Cotton's blog.  It's a fantastic quick and easy pattern, using the stack and slash method and I had a great time picking fabrics and making it up.  I've used a variation on the classic stipple to quilt it, it's sort of a 'cloud' pattern.  I'll try and get a better photo of the quilting once I've bound it.  

 I've used fabric from my stash here too, Joel Dewberry's 'Modern Meadow', Denyse Schmidt's 'Hope Valley', Rosemary Lanvin's 'Spa', Victoria & Albert Museum's 'Grand Tour' (by David Textiles), Lizzie House's 'Castle Peeps' and the multi-coloured floral print on the cream background is from Sanae's 'Arcadia'.  Told you I was a fabric geek!

The 'Arcadia' print was the starting point to choose fabrics for this quilt.  I picked out the brown, turquoise and orange from it, and came up with this cosy mix.  The cream is a Spotlight Prima fabric.

I'm still thinking about binding.  I think a brown would be nice, to frame it all, or the turquoise, although I suspect this would be much harder to match.  I don't have enough of any of the fabrics I've used left to use as binding.  Anyway I generally prefer to use something I haven't used in the quilt.  I'm also stumped for a name for this one.

It's a good feeling to be finishing off a few quilts, however now I really need to get moving on making some things for my market stall!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

If you've found your way here from Amy's Creative Side and her amazing Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome!  This is my little bit of the interwebs where I share my creative life.  I am contributing to the BQF for my first time and I am so happy to be part of it.  I've really enjoyed past Festivals, there are so many great quilty people out there!

The quilt I'm showing is Call Me Crazy.   I made this one a couple of years ago, and I still love it!  It's a pattern by Weekes Ringle and Bill Kerr pattern that was published in the American Better Homes quilting magazine a few years ago.  I love their patterns and have their book Quilts Made Modern which I regularly flick through.  Gorgeous!

I love using fresh cut grass as a backdrop for quilt photos - even if it means getting out on my nature strip to take photos and giving all the neighbours something to wonder about.

As you can see, the bars are all crazy pieced with tone on tone fabrics.  I have to admit, it took me a very long time to do this piecing, I found it really challenging and some of my pieces of fabric finished up much smaller than I intended!  The crazy pieced sections being all the one colour means you can't really tell that I've sewn and trimmed some of those strips into minuscule bits!  All the reds came out of my stash, at the time it used nearly all of the reds in there.  I've since rectified this you'll be pleased to know!

I quilted the bars with wonky straight lines, and then stippled the border and sashing.  It is fairly tightly quilted.

The creamy background fabric is a star pattern that I really love, it's very warm toned.  After trying a heap of different reds for the binding, I tried the navy which is a splodgy hand dyed type print, and I love it.  I think it really frames the reds and cream nicely.  The backing is a Spotlight fabric, I like the way it matches the binding.

As I was taking these photos, Wombat came over for his usual pose on the quilt.  A wattle bird started squawking at us, and then swooped down from his tree at Wombat.  I was standing just near him and had to duck in a hurry.  I've been swooped by magpies and plovers before but never a wattle bird.  I am extremely paranoid about birds so I got quite a fright and had to grab the quilt and retreat inside (with Wombat following close behind I might add).  Fortunately I had some chocolate on hand to soothe my nerves.  Anyone reading from outside Australia might be interested in this link to 'common swooping birds'.   Although they are only acting in the way nature intended, they can be quite scary and for the few weeks that they are active they make walking in some areas like running a gauntlet.  I'm glad I got a decent photo because I was not going out there again tonight!

Pop over to Amy's to see some of the other gorgeous quilts in the Festival.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A few days off

It's Melbourne Cup day next Tuesday, and I've been lucky enough to get the Friday and Monday before this public holiday off.  I'm working towards a Christmas Market I always participate in - have to have made plenty of 'small stuff' for my stall by the first weekend in December.  It's a fun market that I've been doing for a few years now, my daughter comes along and helps me out and we always have a good time.  Unfortunately the weather here is not being very co-operative today, so no pics yet of what I've been making, so I've  delved into the archives for a quilt photo or two, and found this really old one that is a bit different for me.

This is a really simple design, based on a traditional Courthouse Steps block.  I made it to challenge myself as I rarely use black fabrics, either solids or plains.  The blocks are about 7" square at this stage.

It also uses much busier patterns than I usually choose.  The fabrics were mostly from Spotlight, with a few out of the stash.  I got them pretty cheap, as I wasn't convinced that I'd like anything with so much black in it.  After I'd made all the blocks up, I got my quilting girlfriends to check it out as I really didn't like it.  How to calm it down, but still embrace the 'busy' look?

We all agreed that sashing it with black gave each block room to be themselves.  Once I'd finished the quilting, my sister saw it and fell in love, it lives happily on the back of their red couch.

The back uses one of my favourite cheap Spotlight fabrics, that yellow daisy row print.

I quilted it with what I call 'wonky tartan' lines, wavy lines up and down, and then across, the quilt to make a big tartan type design.  It's still busy, but the sashing has really calmed it down.  I love the movement and the light and shade created by the addition of the yellow prints.  

Time to get back to the sewing machine!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonky Crosses

I love the modern wonky cross block.  It's such a fun block, quick to make and very versatile.  There are lots of instructions for making this block on the interwebs, I used a tutorial from Carla's (Lollyquiltz) beautiful blog.  To me there seems to be less waste with this pattern - important when you are using up scraps.

My first wonky cross quilt is this green one.  I won a stack of fat quarters in country style plaids from Homespun magazine about eight years ago, and used up some of them in this quilt, along with some cream homespun and some scraps of Valorie Wells 'Sole'.

I made the crosses all different sizes, but kept them straight (well fairly straight!).  I used a wool wadding, which gave the quilt a reasonably high loft.  It also made it a really snuggly warm quilt.

This close up shows the quilting, a 'scribble' design.  Not perfect, but good practice!  This quilt used up the last of my 'Sole' fabric, I'm glad to have used it but would love some more!  Isn't that always the way with favourite fabrics?

Probably my favourite colour combination (if that's possible!) is red and pink.  I had a pile of scraps from other quilts in these colours, so I revisited the wonky cross block and made up lots of red, pink and white blocks.  Although I loved the simplicity of this colour scheme, I thought it needed a little bit of zing, so I added a handful of blocks with aqua  in them.  

This time I also made the crosses at wonky angles.  Not too much, just a slight wonk.  Sometimes 'less is more'.  This time I used my old favourite wadding, 100% cotton 'Warm and Natural'.  I quilted it with wonky lines running the length of the quilt.  

I hadn't realised before I blogged these two quilts that the first is warm colours and the second is cool.  The red and pink quilt is over the back of my couch at the moment.  The green quilt is dragged onto my bed on cold nights.  I haven't finished with this block yet.  It's a great scrap buster, and I've got a pile of yellow, light blue and cream scraps in the sewing room, left overs from other quilts.  Time to get my wonk on!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sweetwater Hometown

I have to admit to being a complete layer cake addict. Usually, a layer cake is 42 ten inch squares of fabric from a fabric line, encompassing the complete collection. It's such a great way to get your hands on the whole line of fabric without having to pay a fortune, and personally I find layer cakes easier to use than jelly rolls. Right now I think I've got about 8 of them waiting to be turned into something fabulous. I bought a Sweetwater Hometown layer cake quite some time ago. It's a gorgeous, contempory line, and I love the story behind it told on their blog here.

I was having a bit of a guilty moment over all my layer cakes, and I decided to try some random improvised blocks. I've added some solid grey, blue and cream to help stretch the layer cake.

I've got quite a few more blocks to make, but they are a great easy thing to just run up after dinner. Basically, I stack two squares together (say, a red and a cream) and rotary cut each side so I'm left with a rectangle in the centre, then change over the centres so that the red centre is with the four cream side strips. Then I randomly add a piece of one of my solids, and sew it all together again, perhaps cutting off some of the patterned fabric in the process. These offcuts I then add into another block. It's all very random and fun!

Obviously, all my blocks are different sizes so I'm not sure how they are going to go together. Perhaps I'll make four large blocks the same size with all of them, then add wide sashing? Or perhaps I'll sew them all together and whatever odd shape the end up I could sew into the centre of a larger background (like a medallion quilt)? I'm not going to worry about the finished quilt for now, I'm having too much fun making these blocks!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Linen & repros in there...and a cat as well

I had an idea. I wanted to pair some reproduction fabrics, which I have a small collection of, with some modern fabrics, which I have a...err...larger collection of.
I chose some purple, cream and dark grey repros, and paired them with some modern fabrics including some Sew Chick by Benartex and Momo. I love purple but I think quilts made with lots of purples often turn out a bit 'novelty' for my taste.

During my photo session, Wombat decided he would like to investigate. This wicker chair belonged to my great-grandmother and is over 100 years old, I'm so lucky to own it.

I used Kate Conklin's 'There's a Square in There' pattern. The background and sashing is a cream linen/cotton blend. It was quite slippy to use, but worth it I think! I also pieced some random strips of the fabrics used in the blocks into the sashing to add some interest.

This picture of the quilt before I quilted it shows all the blocks. The background isn't as dark as this.
I stippled it in a large meandering pattern. I find it hard to keep a large meander really even across the whole quilt so this was quite a challenge!

I was taking pictures in another part of the garden and turned around to find Wombat on my chair. He must think that I've left it there just for him to sit on, he looks so content.

There's more photos of this quilt on flickr.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sometimes I buy fabric with no plan

That title should really read 'Often I buy fabric with no plan'! I just loved Lizzy House's 'Castle Peeps' fabric when it first came out and ordered some half yard lengths. When they arrived, I realised that (again) I had not thought out how this fabric would fit into my stash, and how I was going to use the fantastic novelty type prints. The little castles and people needed to be used in largish pieces so that they could be really enjoyed - they are so sweet.

I was browsing the interwebs one day and saw Kate Conklin's 'Sea Views' pattern. Straight away I thought of my lovely peeps fabrics, bought Kate's pattern online. I added a couple of other prints and some solids to my peeps fabric and started piecing as soon as the pattern arrived in my inbox. It's one of the fastest quilt tops I've ever made.

Aren't pdf patterns that can be emailed to you one of the best ideas ever?
I had the top finished and ready to be quilted for a very long time. I just couldn't decide on how I wanted to quilt it. Eventually I decided to meander some wavy shapes across it.

I think I should have put more quilting into it, but as it is quilted so lightly it is a very soft quilt.

Kate's patterns are so easy to follow and this pattern suited the gorgeous quirky peeps fabric really well. I used a solid block in the bottom section of the quilt to show off a row of castles, which was simple but very effective. I have to admit this is one of my favourite quilts.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Blogger's Block of the Month

I've decided to join in the Blogger's Block of the Month, a quilt along being run by Jackie of Canton Village Quilt Works. Each month a different designer will post a block on their blog. Jump over to Jackie's blog to check out the details.

The designers are using Kaffe Fasset prints. Over the years I've collected a small stash of left over Amy Butler and other modern floral style prints, and I've decided to use some of them. I find that often sampler quilts can look a bit busy for my taste, I'm hoping that by keeping my pallette fairly muted it will help the quilt to look more tranquil.

I really like this first block, it's up on Sherri's blog and was easy to put together. I'm looking forward to the next block.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Denyse Schmidt for Spotlight and Joanne's

Like most modern quilters, I love Denyse Schmidt fabrics. I have quite a collection of Hope Valley, and a few nice pieces of Katie Jump Rope. I am also a lover of her Greenfield Hill collection, which was darker in tone and not as well liked amongst her fans.

Denyse's second range of fabrics designed for Spotlight in Australia and Joanne's in the US has just come to my local spotlight, and I was lucky enough to score a half metre piece of each.

Winding Road Blue Colourway

I think my favourite is the green and blue acorn, far right in the above photo. They are all really usable prints, easy to mix in with the rest of the stash. And it is so nice to be able to purchase locally some fabric from a modern designer.

Winding Roads Burgundy Colourway

I also bought some of her first range for Spotlight and Joanne's, Picnic and Fairgrounds. I've made some purses and bags with it, and used some in an as yet unfinished Stacked Coins quilt. Lovely stash builder!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Quilt for a friend

Early this year, my daughter was returning home via Brisbane then Melbourne from a holiday with her father's family in England when flooding hit our area. There was no way of getting her from Melbourne to here as all the roads were cut by water. My gorgeous friend in Melbourne rescued her, collecting her from the airport, giving her a place to stay and a hot meal or two, and then getting her to the train the next day once they started running again.

I wanted to do something special for her so I made this quilt. I called it 'Betty's Split Hourglass'. I bought the fat eighth pack of Betty Dear (by Darlene Zimmerman for Robert Kaufman - I tried to link to it but they don't have the collection up on their website any more) ages ago - it's really not my usual fancy but I just fell in love with it. When it arrived I realised I didn't have a thing that went with it, and so I'd have to use it as a bundle. It sat and waited for inspiration to strike for some time. I knew it would look beautiful in my friend's home, she has a mix of colourful vintage going on that is quite fabulous. I paired the prints with Vanilla Emma Louise. The split hourglass block seemed to 'fit' the vintage feel of the 'Betty Dear'.

I free motion quilted it by stippling it, and added some straight lines around the border which I think really frames it. I don't often put borders on quilts but I think this quilt needed it. I pieced together scraps of the 'Betty Dear' to make scrappy binding.

I gave it to my friend on a trip to Melbourne a few weeks ago, and she loves it!

Sunday, August 14, 2011


I thought I'd start my online diary by explaining the story behind the quilt I've used as my background. My daughter is in her first year of university, meaning that she has left our country home to go and live in the city 200 miles away to study. So I am living alone - I really miss her soooo much, and it's taken some adjusting too. For Mother's Day, she gave me three fat quarters of the beautiful Far Far Away II fabric by Heather Ross.

I decided straight away that everything I was doing was going on hold whilst I immediately made them up into a quilt, with some of my other most favourite fabrics. I cut random lengths of fabric into either 3" or 6" high pieces and sewed them together like a mad woman, then sewed these rows together to make this quilt. I used random, crooked straight line quilting and then bound it with Kei Honeycomb dots. A quick run through the washing machine and it was made within three weeks, which is definately a record for me!

This quilt is really special to me. It meant so much to me that my teenage daughter chose fabrics she thought I would love (which I do!). Setting out to make a snuggly quilt to use on the couch just for me was also a whole lot of fun! And it helped me to realise that whilst I miss her, I'm so proud of her and pleased that she is starting to make her own way in the world. And me, well, I'm learning to enjoy my freedom and expanding my own horizons. I've wanted to start a blog for a while now, so this will be a great place to record my adventures as a sewist!