Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

I had a quilting marathon and then a long holiday

I've been away having a grand old time in New Zealand with family and the time just whizzed by and now I have tons of catching up to do. I even prepared a couple of posts to publish while I was away but that never happened.
Thanks to the friends who emailed me to check that I was ok, I appreciate the kind thoughts of my blogging friends. My apologies to anyone waiting for panel nine of the vine quilt, I'll get to it soon, I promise.

I rushed the quilting on the Animal Alphabet quilt before leaving so I could gift it to the birthday girl and I managed that bar the binding which was done over there. Here's some progress shots from before the trip.
I spray basted two battings (wool) to the top to stitch around the applique first. After that was done, the bottom batting was trimmed away. In future, I'd not spray baste the bottom batt as it pulled away badly during trimming. I had to baste another batt to make up for the mess, I used a Quilters  Dream  Orient that I had in the cupboard.
After quilting through all the layers,washing the quilt and blocking it, I tried out these laser levels and my big square rulers to square it up and mark the edges for trimming. It worked a treat and I'll be doing this on every quilt from now on. It pays to have a couple of large trestle tables to do it on if you can't crawl around the floor.
Here's the back of the quilt. I didn't have enough of the animal fabric so I framed it with a plain white and I actually like it better I think as it shows off some of the quilting on the borders plus it makes the quilt reversible. 
I took the wrong camera battery with me so these are the only photos I have of the finished quilt which I took on the i pad.

I had no sewing prepped to take away with me, I haven't done any since I got back either. I did play around with wool and knitting needles though. I hope I get my quilting mojo back soon.
I was busy while away, I spent two weeks with family and caught with my Mum who as some of you know has Alzheimer's and is in a home. We took her out for a Yum Cha lunch and a look around the shops. I think she enjoyed it and the little ones did too. I can see the deterioration in Mum which saddens me immensely, she was quiet and subdued, no doubt due to the drugs she's on. She's not the Mum I knew.

I then bought the two youngest girls back to Australia for two weeks holiday. Afer that, I took them back home and stayed for another seventeen days. I sure do miss them all and would seriously consider moving there but the timing isn't right yet.
Here's one of my favourite photos taken at Darling harbour. The conversation between Sophie and her Dah was very deep and meaningful about the poor quality of the chocolate icing on the donut. Chocolate appreciation runs in the family you know.
Ella and Sophie. 
Now that I'm back from my break, I hope to catch up with you soon.

Monday, August 27, 2012

A is for adorable

There's a young lady that's been saying she can't wait for her animal quilt. She is a real quilt lover and appreciates anything you give her. The family have a strong appreciation of all things hand made.
I'm going like the wind on this one to get it finished. The top is together and it's been spray basted with two wool battings to give a trapunto effect to the applique.
The wild and woolly yak's are my favourites I think.
I've been with my head down over the machine slowly stitching for days now. It's slow going to stay neat around the edges when one is free motion quilting. It's like colouring within the lines. There's no backing attached at this stage but I'm having no issues with fluff going down into the machine and I think that's because of the Supreme Slider I'm using on the bed of the machine.
The hardest animals to do were the unicorns, I really thought they needed to look magical. I found some fabric at the local quilt shop that had bling and now they look just right.
I'm on the home stretch with the stitching and then I need to cut away the bottom layer of batting, add some eyes to the animals and baste the backing on before free motion quilting can start. I'm hoping the finish this one before the end of next month so I can deliver it in person.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why it's good to be able to draft blocks

This is not my quilt but I wish it was. Jan over at Bemused kindly gave me permission to show these photos from her 2012 Tokyo quilt festival photos Thanks Jan. You can click on these for larger views.
I'm fascinated by the block and also the setting which is very clever. At first glance, I see the colours and the circles then I see the grid that's been overlaid on the blocks.
Upon closer inspection, this has even more layers, check out the light value of the half blocks surrounding the outer edges of the quilt that serve as a border but tie in with the main blocks.
Look even more closely and there is a square on point right in the center to bring the eye back . They were achieved by the effective use of value and in the four outer points, light values were used in a quarter of the circle.
Here it is again. Now take another look, (you may have to click on the photo) and see if you can pick that there is yet another element not so obvious. On the two diagonals of the quilt, another quarter of each block has a different  colour arrangement in the corners. This time they are as a square as opposed to a  triangular section. Clever I tell you! Even the sashing isn't just a straight strip.
The block is easy to draft so I had a go at playing with the pattern. Only the block in the bottom left of the photo is accurate, the others were a failure because of the troubles that dividing the block and doing the white sashing gave me.
You can see the different shape of the sashing in two corners.
The Japanese quilter appliqued the blocks and I suspect that they were done in quarter sections. Even the sashings were appliqued. I did mine mostly by machine with the smallest amount of applique at the very end. It took a lot of trial and error but I finally worked it all out and what a satisfying exercise that was. If there was enough interest, I could do a run down of my process. I may or not do the quilt but it was fun testing it out.
Remember my Candied Hexagon quilt? I hand pieced all the blocks in this quilt from a pattern in a magazine that's no longer available. The pattern was not accurately printed in the magazine but I had no problems until it came to the border. I got there with a bit of fudging but it reminded me of something very important.
Always do a test block from any pattern before committing to cutting for a whole quilt. Some magazines have testers that test blocks but they rely on the printers to get it right so don't assume they got it right.
Unfortunately, Australian quilting magazines have a reputation for having many patterns that are printed incorrectly.
The same goes for books.  I like to check on google for any errata for books I may have purchased. The first printing of Freddy Moran's houses book had every single template wrong and the correct ones were made available via a download on the Internet.
I have a piece O' Cake book, Applique Delights that had the same issue.
If you are thinking of making Linda's red and white school house quilt from this magazine, please go visit her blog, Quilts in the Barn for some important pattern corrections. In fact go and visit anyway, she has written this great blog post about that experience.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Announcing a winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the Small Pieces Spectacular Quilts book giveaway. I used the random number generator to choose a winner at 7 p.m Australian time.
Congratulations to Alice from Piecemeal Pieces  in Italy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Small Pieces Spectacular Quilts giveaway

I was thrilled to be invited to be part of the blog tour for this second book written by authors Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms. I own their first book and loved that so I knew this one was a must have.
The book starts off with some wonderful examples of antique quilts and there are lots of tips and tricks throughout the rest of the pages that make sewing small pieces a snap.
All the quilts are ones that I'd love to make but there are two in the book that call my name.
As it happens, they're both string pieced but with different methods.
The cheddar background in "Go With The Flow" is dynamic don't you think?
I also love the cover quilt, " Pumpkin Peel" which is a clever variation on two patterns I'm familiar with, Orange Peel and Double Wedding Ring.
I thought it would be fun to try and do a variation of the Pumpkin Peel pattern. I started by thinking that a doll quilt size would be a great place to start. The block for one quarter of the quilt is close to forty inches which is bigger than I wanted to go.

I decided to try shrinking the elliptical pieces to see if they looked workable and settled on a 60% reduction. That looked great but it also shrunk the seam allowance.
I made some new templates out of plastic, excluded the seam allowances then used a quarter inch brass wheel to redraw them.
I like to use a tearaway vilene for paper foundation piecing which I prefer over paper. I can see through it and it does come away easily with small stitches.
You may not have noticed but I roughly drew some guidelines following the angle of the arc so that my strip piecing wouldn't go wonky. I didn't actually use the lines for stitching, just for angling my seam allowance on the strips if I needed to.

Here's a tip if you do use paper. The ipad is a great little tool to have next to the sewing machine as it acts like a mini light table so you can check the pieces are lined up correctly.
I'm loving the rhythm of paper piecing and it's looking pretty good to me.
I'm thinking by now that if I do just the small arcs instead of the double arcs as in the pattern, that would keep the quilt small.  I'll cut the background about 22" -24" which would be the size of the doll quilt I'd want. As you might know, red is my favourite colour so why not use it for the background?
Then again, I love the cheddar too, what would you choose?
Before I make that decision, I'll carry on and mark my seam allowances on the front ready to applique the arcs to the background. Here I'm using a Clover chalk pencil.
What if I make a couple of the bigger arcs and see how they look attached the the smaller ones? I'm not finished playing just yet.

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on August 19th.

There's still a few stops on the blog tour for a chance to win a copy of the book plus I've included all the blogs that have participated so far. There are lots of  tutorials, reviews, tips and fun interpretations of featured projects to check out.

First stop, Sew Mama Sew
July 31 ~ Wonky World
August 10 ~ See How We Sew

Aug 20 ~ Amy's Creative Side
Aug 29 ~ Supergoof
Sept 3 ~ Quilts in the Barn
Sept 11 ~ Stitch This/Martingale
Sept 17 ~ Quilting with the Past

In addition, Mary Elizabeth has ten giveaways on her blog that is open until the September 25. Go here to enter.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Animal Alphabet

My sewing room looks like the jungle these animals came out of. I don't have a free surface in the room after pulling out fabrics to audition. The floor is littered with the paper off the back of the fusibles and I don't have the motivation to clean it up just yet. Maybe when I've finished fusing I'll get to that.
The pattern is Animal Alphabet from Don't Look Now.
I hope these made you smile. They'll come to life when the details are stitched in later.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

More about the red and green

I always think of winter as hand quilting season and I usually have some grand plan to do lots of it and it just never seems to work out that way. I haven't done a lot more on the Coxcomb quilt because the marking has been difficult. I should have  marked it before basting but I hate doing that and never have. If only we had professional markers these days.
The background is 1/4" lines and inside the trapunto wreaths, a 3/8" grid is done on the diagonal. The 3/8" grid will be repeated on the outer side of the border to tie it all together.
The rule is that no matter how careful lines are drawn with a ruler, marking will always go astray. I  knew that but did listen to myself?
I bought myself a lifesaving tool which is now one of my favourites. The June Tailor marking grid has slots every 1/2" and I love it.
I've nearly finished marking the whole background and I'll go back and mark the 1/4" lines as I go. I found out it pays to put masking tape on the sides just so that the ruler won't shift as I mark but it's important to remove the tape after a session or it will be hard to get off.
I'm using the Berol hand washable pens that I wrote about here.
If you adore red and green quilts like me, you might be interested to know that a kind blogger has pointed out that the quilt this was based on is listed for sale again. 
when you click on the main photo, you can scroll through close ups of them all. Go here for a look, how big do you think the background grid quilting is on it?
Meanwhile, I'm still plugging away at my vines, it's a slow process. Have you seen Dorothy's? Go have a look, she's doing it in different colours, it's gorgeous.
 Until next time, Janet

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Treating myself

I made a bag or two. It's been ages since I had some real quality time on the machine and making bags is such a good way to use up a bit of stash. I promised myself that I'd get back to making the lunch bag from Pink Penguin. I love this free pattern, there are no zips, no hardware and the steps are oh so simple to follow.
The hardest part is stopping at one, it's so much fun thinking of different fabric combinations.
For my second bag, I thought I'd change it a bit and make a bigger size that would accommodate my knitting. It worked out so well by just adding a couple of inches to the height and width and making the handles a little longer. I kept the trim at the top the same width.
There is one change I make to the pattern and that is to overlock or zig zag the side seams of the drawstring cover. If you don't, the seams inside have raw edges.
You can see the size difference when they pose together. You can never have enough bags you know.

We had a glorious break from the wet weather yesterday, it was so sunny and warm that we used the opportunity to go for a drive.

The car pointed itself towards Balmain near Sydney where we stopped to pick up some treats from that Masterchef star, Patissier Adriano Zumbo.
Really we went to treat ourselves to the tarte au fruit de la passion. In English, that's a citrus passion fruit tart which you can see on the platter in the middle. It's to die for, that's all I need to say.
I kinda got carried away and decided to get some other equally famous goodies for the freezer although I'm not sure they'll make it that far. The blueberry and almond tart is not my favourite.
I have been ruined, who knew food could taste this heavenly. Healthy eating plan starts next week.
The  V8
8 layers of vanilla
Vanilla crème chantilly
Toasted vanilla brulee
Vanilla water gel
Vanilla ganache
Vanilla macaron
Vanilla dacquoise
Vanilla chiffon cake
Vanilla almond crunch
The happy birthday
Flourless chocolate biscuit,
chocolate sabayon mou,
ultimate chocolate brownie,
caramel mouse,
milk chocolate chantilly
cocoa nib nougatine with a White chocolate and Passionfruit glaze.

Next stop was to Quiltsmith where I got lost inside the store because I have to look at everything you know. I did get some some green fabrics and this little pile which are for a quilt in my head that is nagging at me. I've been overloaded with inspiration lately and have sewing mojo to spare. Does that happen to you too?
Thankfully, these treats are calorie free.
Despite fighting the urge to start something new, I'm trying to keep the blinkers on and have been nibbling away at this simple hand piecing project. It's nearly a quilt top.
My apologies if I didn't reply to all comments on my last post, some of my emails have disappeared and I can't get them back.
Until next time, thanks for dropping by, Janet