Thursday, December 29, 2011

Stitching and stuffing

I had a terrific Christmas and I hope you all did too. I must come back and show you the books that I got from Santa, he's the best!
I love the week between Christmas and New Year because I get to relax and enjoy my stitching again while the house is still reasonably clean and tidy. I get to dream about what I can tackle in the coming year and set some goals which usually last only a month.

You may remember this drawing I did. It's for the hand quilting and trapunto on the Coxcomb and Currants project.
This is my second try at tackling the stuffing of the shapes before the quilt gets put together and no, I haven't finished all the applique yet. I'm pleased to say that this time, I had a lot more success than the first go where I slit the muslin and stuffed the shapes and got distortion on the circles. It looked yuk.
I'm using a different method to the one in my tutorial. This time, I drew the design on the front of the background. I layered and basted some fine cotton muslin on the back of the block and thread basted the two layers together.

I then proceeded to baste all around the drawn design using a neutral coloured thread and stitches a little larger than my hand quilting stitches. I stitched inside the lines. I then stuffed the shapes from the back with yarn and a trapunto needle. Just in case curious minds want to know, it took me four evenings in front of the telly to get to this stage. The excess muslin has been cut away and the block pressed on several layers of a towel.
The photo below isn't showing the colours accurately but you can get an idea of what it looks like so far with the blocks.
Ignore all the yellow pen, that will all be gone at the end when the quilt is finished. You can read about the pens I'm using here that have been tested by moi.
In the antique quilt, the stems aren't corded but I decided to go ahead as it just looked more pleasing to me
Happy New Year to you all, lets hope the year brings us all good health and happiness. See you in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hearts for Christmas

We didn't drag the Christmas tree and the boxes of decorations out this year. We're going for the minimal look since we won't be here for the big day and will be with family.

I saw Kviltstinas tutorial for these paper hearts and when I next  went out shopping, happened to come across a string of the red plastic teardrops for a couple of dollars.
Then I went on a mission to get some white twigs from the discount store in town to hang them off. Twig trees seem to be all the rage at the moment.
I also picked up the vase as well at the same store and voila, fast easy Christmas tree and now I don't feel as grinchy with just our nativity set out. I'm loving it.
Pop on over to the Celebrate Hand quilting blog for a look at some Christmas quilts. I've tried to load the blog on my sidebar and it just won't give me up to date posts for some reason. I'm loving belonging to this community of hand quilters over there.

I just have to tell you know in case you didn't know. Check out this link,  Just Takes 2 if you love  red and white quilts. I can't resist, I'm signing up for this new exciting project for next year.

That's it from me until after Christmas. I want to say thank you for visiting with me and I hope you all have a lot of love, peace and joy these holidays.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

The week before Christmas

For little Miss Ella who is a petite four year old but is a size three. I didn't think I had it in me to make clothing anymore. I have another dress to make after Christmas. It's pure coincidence that the colour scheme is the same as the quilt on my last post. Apart form some quilting, that's about it on the sewing front.

We took a trip into Sydney on the train yesterday, mainly to soak up the sights and sounds and to visit that fabulous book store, Kinokuniya.

Best thing I saw all day, was a man who took the time to buy a meal for a homeless girl and have a chat to her. It warmed the heart.

Worst thing I saw was the price of the turkeys and hams at David Jones food hall. Everyone knows it's where you go when you are a purveyor of fine food, lol.
Check the price out.
I loved the old fella that remarked to his wife that if that's what Christmas costs, they could only afford to have it every five years.
It was great fun to see the animated Christmas scenes in the store windows.
I found an even bigger  reindeer in the store! It's yours for $5,500.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What was I thinking?

You may remember this top I made last year that I wrote about here.  I basted it up this weekend using Sharon Schamber's method that I've used before quite successfully.
The links to the how to videos are on this post. if you haven't seen them before.
Once I had it basted up, I attached the quilt to the planks of wood from my old basting frame because I had this bright idea that I might like to learn how to quilt in a frame. The frame quilters over on the blog Celebrate Hand Quilting have inspired me.
It might be a bit of a grand plan but I thought if others could do it, maybe I could teach myself. I'm using Quilters Dream wool so it'll be easy to needle.
I have now taken over the lounge which is OK because we're going away for Christmas day anyway so no visitors are expected.
So here's what I was thinking.
I'll be able to quilt through summer.
The top won't get dirty from being flung around.
The quilt will stay nice and straight.
I'll be humble about my stitches and not worry about how big they are. I'll aim for even and be happy if that's how they turn out.
It's supposed to be quicker as there's no constant readjusting of the hoop.
I've only tried frame quilting once years ago but I didn't get to do any thumb quilting. A minor hitch, surely.

Here's the reality.
I can only stitch as far as my arm reaches and I can't turn the quilt.
The thumb thimble I have is bulky, heavy and I don't like it. I may have to wait for my new thumb thimble I ordered.
I can't use my quilter's spoon underneath the quilt, I may have to poke my fingers with the needle.
I feel out of my depth and comfort zone but I'll give it about 20 hours and if there's no improvement, I'll go back to the trusty hoop for this one. Wish me luck and I'll report back later on.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Lovely things

Aside from quilting, I do enjoy doing hardanger when I can find the time. I haven't spent much time on it this year but made these two decorations for a Santa swap for my sewing group. I'm promising myself to make more decorations for next year since these were so much fun to do. I say that every year but I've already ordered a couple of things so there will be no excuses.
I was blown away by this lovely lot of goodies that arrived in the mail last week from Tara over at Sew Unique Creations as a thank you for sharing something of mine. It was a big surprise and thrill I can tell you. Thanks a million Tara, I love it all to bits.
The book is a wonderful read and makes me think that maybe my quilts I make for family do have stories attached to them.
This book is a Christmas gift to myself that arrived in the mail today. It is truly inspiring to read about Martha Skelton and her quilts, I'm going to savour it slowly and make it last. What an amazing quilter, I'd love to be like her.
I'm not doing any Christmas sewing, the time has gotten away from me but I am plugging away at some hand quilting because summer has left Sydney so I'm making the most of quilting weather.

I'm going to put the next Trailing Vines quilt panel on hold until January just because of time restraints. I have no idea how many people are downloading the pattern or how many have made a start or going to make a start but I'm sure nobody has made the two panels yet. I'll be working on my next one after Christmas and hope to put more information up as well at the same time.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Put some fun into Christmas

I've been reading a couple of blog posts about tacky Christmas decorations. I know it's all in the eye of the beholder and I really like quirky but really these are different, check out the price tag! I dare you to find something funnier.
If you love them, here's where you can find them.

Friday, December 9, 2011

You may need these

Sometimes you just need a home made biscuit to have with your tea or coffee. The store bought ones are just not going to satisfy the need. If I have extra calories, I'm sure gonna make them worth having.

I know the Americans call them cookies but we call them biscuits and the American biscuit is more like our scone, how confusing! Even more confusing is the whole way butter measurements differ. I'm darn sure nobody squishes butter into a cup to measure and we don't have sticks of butter either, we're not woosies, we call it a block, lol. and it is a block of butter.
If you love the flavour of spices then you should have to make these white chocolate gingerbread cookies.
I got the recipe off Susan here. These are seriously good and the recipe makes a ton which you American friends need cause you have that whole mammoth baking marathon experience thing going on right about now that we don't.  I do admit that I used two eggs not one and I got my butter weight sorted over at I have no idea what shortening is in the recipe but I used butter.
Next time, and there will be one since DH said these are a keeper, I'm going to try golden syrup instead of molasses and maybe mixed spice instead of the ones in the recipe. I just can't leave a recipe alone, I usually muck around and start tweaking them.

My next must have is my little early Santa gift to myself. It's a needle threader, needle holder and has a couple of other doodacky type bits attached to it. It just may cut down on the frustration when the quilting thread seems to be bigger than the eye of the needle but really it's probably my aging eyes.
I checked out this video before buying. Click on the arrow in the picture.if you want to see it.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

I'm still here.

I didn't forget to blog, I just had to stay off the computer, doctors orders. I've had problems with my shoulder and neck which is slowly improving with treatment thank goodness. It has seriously cut my sewing time down too. David's been falling apart like Humpty Dumpty as well but he's nearly been put back together.
I wanted to share this beautiful Jacaranda I saw on one of our excursions out, it's one of the largest I've come across, the width of two houses. I think my new phone takes quite a good photo.
Ive been on extra Nana duties and did get the Christmas cake made last month with some help as you can see. I'm going to miss little Beth, she's been here most days and now the family have moved to another state.
Little random pieces of stitching has been happening from time to time, some hexagons, not a lot but it all adds to the pile.
I have managed to spend some evenings hand quilting. Summer hasn't got going yet, it's very late for here and we've had some cold weather. If it continues, I may even get it done, only two thirds of a border to go.
It's time for a coffee and a read of my new book, it's a great one and a must have for a lover of red and green quilts like me.
Hopefully I'll be back soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Take your time tuesday

Whoops, I nearly got caught out and forgot about Take Your Time Tuesday. I'm getting in by the skin of my teeth here but that's OK because Tuesday is just starting on the other side of the world.
Kristen over at So Happy set this idea up to celebrate all that is handmade with needle and thread and so that we can encourage and motivate each other.

This cute pincushion (or tree decoration) is made from a free tutorial over here. Once I got started, I went off on a tangent with my own changes. I haven't finished yet, I think I'll undo the bottom and put something inside to weigh it down a bit. It does stand up nicely but it topples easily being so light.
Instead of the felt circles on the top, I stitched french knots with different weights of Perle thread. It's a great size too, it's just a little smaller than my hand.
 I spent some time today making some Pomegranate jelly, also inspired by Kristen. Actually, I'd made some yesterday but it was a big fat fail. Not to be beaten and knowing that homemade and handmade is the best, I had another go with a different recipe.  Success people!
I'm not a big jam eater myself but I do like plum jam and this is a little like that, a bit tart. Besides, I couldn't resist the beautiful clear glow and colour of it plus the thought it would make a nice gift.
Pomegranates aren't in season and given that they would cost around four or more dollars each anyway, I found a recipe using Pom's 100% pure juice. If you make it, follow the recipe exactly. I did warm my sugar before adding it and I sterilised my jars so that I don't need to freeze it. I got the thumbs up from DH who is the jam lover in this house.

Today is the 15th of the month which means the next panel of the Trailing Vines quilt is available for download. Just click on the Trailing Vines page underneath my header. I'll try and get some more photos on Flickr in the next few days of this panel.

Monday, November 14, 2011

More applique and testing new marking pens

I've made some progress on my Coxcombs and Currants quilt and the more blocks that get added, the more I love this quilt.
I have had a couple of enquiries about making the block available but I've lost the emails so if you'd like a copy, please email me and I'll be happy to send it to you. My address is available in my profile on the side bar, just click "Janet" and put "coxcomb block" in the subject line and let me know.
I'm so mad keen to keep going that I decided to draw up the design for the hand quilting and trapunto planned for the plain squares.
I do have the fabric marked but it's hard to see in the photo above so I pinned the master pattern up for you to see.  
I decided to mark my quilting design as I go so it won't be such a tedious job later on. These are the new pens I'm using. They're quite safe to stay in the quilt long term and will wash out completely after the quilt is finished.
I wrote about the washable Berol pens here and was thrilled to see they've bought the coloured ones out. They're made in England and I purchased them on EBay for a great price and the postage was excellent too.
I test all my marking pens before using them and I thought you might like to see how.
The test piece on the right has been steam pressed with a really hot iron, and the one on the left has not.
I plunged the samples into cold water, left them for five minutes and you can see the colour coming out quite well except for the dark blue.
The photo below shows the samples after I plunged my fingertips in and swirled the water a few times. The ink has dissipated into the water. Except for that dark blue.
These are the samples after drying and pressing. It's hard to make out but every bit of ink has washed out except that dark blue which is very faint in both pieces. The blue is a fail. The fabric with the pin is the steam pressed one. As you can see, steam pressing made no difference to how the ink washed out.
I'm very confident about using these pens, I had more trouble with the red fabric bleeding on a couple of blocks so they're going to get another bath with some colour remover.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Good and bad, sweet and sour

What a week!  I disappeared of the blogosphere there for a bit to energise myself and spend time with family but at one stage I couldn't access my blog or anything associated with it due to a message from Google that I'd breached terms of service. What ... ..???
Don't panic if this happens to you, just follow the links from the message and reset your password.

I had a wonderful surprise which came in the mail last week, this sweet little doll quilt from Kathie over at Inspired By Antique Quilts. I'm so happy to have received a random act of kindness (RAK) after admiring it on her blog. Thanks so much Kathie, it's a special treat to have something from your heart and hands.
I love the all over clam shell quilting that her friend Lorre did and I'm still looking at all the fabrics so I can't hang it up just yet.

I've had a few lemons in my life this week too, it must be the law of opposites.
Thinking along those lines, I decided if life is giving me lemons, I'll make strawberries to balance things out. Even better, I made strawberry pincushions.
The pattern and kits are from Heather Bailey and are a lovely size to pop in the sewing bags I have all over the place. They're quick to make and great to look at and use. They're so addictive that I'm now thinking that they'd make great Christmas tree decorations.
If you're a hand quilter, have you linked up to Caron's celebrate hand quilting post yet? Lots of lovely quilts to visit there.
Another fabulous way to promote hand work and give each other motivation for those long slow burner's is to visit with Kristen over at So Happy to register your interest at having a place to show your progress and help each other along each week.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

It's that time to share again

I'm talking about Amy's blogger quilt festival. It's a good chance to see the quilts that may not necessarily be prize winners in a contest but are prizewinners in a personal sense.
I'm sharing the Licorice Allsorts quilt I made last year for one of my granddaughters. The pattern is from Kaffe Fassett's book Quilt Romance.  I have to use some older photos because this one doesn't live at my place. I do have visiting rights so I was happy to give it to a very special person.
The grandkiddos play musical quilts and swap them  around with each other because they're a sharing lot but this one doesn't get shared apparently.
I used Anchor variegated perle cotton to quilt it which didn't take long at all and Quilters Dream Orient batting. I used acrylic circle templates for all the quilting designs which was a breeze to mark.
The fabric on the back is one of my favourite Kaffes called big blooms.

Thanks to Amy for organising this inspiring event and also to the sponsors who offer prizes
Click on the logo below to go and be inspired.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011