Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Quilted ribbons

Over the weekend, I got another set of instructions ready and posted, and got stuck into my DQS9 quilt. I stitched down the appliqued ribbons using matching high-sheen threads (Mettler poly sheen, it's beautiful). I use a buttonhole stitch on my machine.
Then I quilted around the appliques using the same threads - but matching Bottom Line in the bobbin. When sandwiching, I added an extra layer of plain dark homespun under the quilt top, to minimise the risk of any bearding. I've not had troubles before, but figured it couldn't hurt - though I'm not sure if I'd bother again.
After I'd done that and stabilised around the edges, I drew in 2 more ribbons and quilted them, using the same threads again. I quilted the ribbon outlines, and decided they needed a bit more, so quilted a wavy pattern along them.
Then it was just a case of Emming (McTavishing) the background. For this I used the charcoal Bottom Line thread, which blends well into the background.
Without natural light, it's hard to photograph the quilt and show both the natural colours and the quilting texture, but I tried!
Tonight I hand-sewed the binding to the back, and all that's left to do is add the label, but I want to photograph it front and back first.
Next on my long list is a quilting job - once I fix one of the blocks. I'm hoping to get that done tomorrow evening. Well, in all honesty, I'd hoped to get it fixed and sandwiched, and dtart the quilting tonight - but I got my nose stuck in a book!

Saturday, 28 August 2010


A short while ago, I happened to comment on Valori Wells' peek of her new flannel range Bliss, saying how pleased I was to see the elephants, because my elephant-mad sister was about to have her first baby. I was absolutely delighted when Valori emailed me back, offering some of the sample yardage, and only a week later, a beautifully-wrapped parcel arrived with a whole yard of the blue elephant fabric!
Then, the next day, there was another delivery. Sarah gave birth to tiny baby Edward. Just 2 days before his due date, and he weighs only 6g less than James did at birth - I can't believe he could ever have been that small!
So after a visit to have a cuddle with my first nephew...
..I pulled out some coordinating flannels from my stash. I love the way Valori's ranges all work with one another. Bliss will be shipping around October, and is available for preorder at the Stitchin Post. I know I'll be getting more!
But for now, I can't wait to get started on Edward's very special first quilt. Congratulations Sarah and Peter!

And a special thank you to Val!

Friday, 20 August 2010

Beach quilting

I've spent all night working on instructions for one of my quilts to go in a magazine early next year. The deadline is next week though, and it's hard work. This quilt was clearly never designed to be a pattern, and was made on-the-fly (admittedly this did result in several things I would change if I made it again - some of which I'm at least getting the chance to correct in the pattern.

So I haven't had ther sewing machine on at all. But since pattern-writing isn't that exciting to look at, here are some photos of the beach quilt I started quilting a few nights ago, before putting it aside for other things.

I start with some stabilising quilting close around the edge, and any quilting in-the-ditch around borders, or between segments.

First-up I did the reef. I started with a beautiful variegated Rainbows thread from Superior; it changes colour every inch, and has soft (but not pastel) tones of pink, purple, green and yellow. Sometimes I need to change threads for the reef and seawed, but this time I did it all in the one thread. I used a teal bottom line in the bopbbin which is nicely visible from the back, and blends nicely wiht the ocean background and doesn't show through on the front.

In some places I stitch slong the lines of the prints; around fish, the seaweed, coral forms etc.. This shows where I stitches along the main branches of a bunch of seaweed. I could have used green here, but keeping this thread has helped to blend the reef together better.

In this bit (above) I quilted randomly around most (but not quite all) of the coral formations.

In some places I add quilted seaweed that doesn't exist at all in the prints - a blending exercise. In others I extend the existing seaweed.
After the reef is done, I add swirls through the water in matching threads, going around the fish, mermaid, etc..

The sky got wavy wind-lines on matching blue, and for the sun I quilted firey points in bright yellow (I'd already quilted in-the-ditch around all the points).

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

DQS9 - Preparing to applique

I've put the beach quilt aside for a few nights and have made a start on my DQS9 quilt. I cut a square of the background fabric and laid it out on the cutting mat. Then, with the design next to me, I used some coloured thread to decide which ribbons whould be lime and which raspberry, and marked this on the sketch.
Then I used my flexible curve ruler to mark out the ribbons on the background with a Clover fine white marking pen, which is easily erasable with either water or heat. Once I was done I realised that they finished too low on the background, and decided to use the markings as rough guides only, and started placing the pieces on about an inch higher than the markings.
I used the flexible ruler to measure the length of each ribbon to the decorative end, added an extra 2 inches in case, and marked this on the sketch as well. Then I ruled the ribbons on the Lite Steam-a-seam 2, first those for the lime fabric, then those for the raspberry. I added the finials as I went, using a mechanical pencil to draw (and re-draw) the shapes. The ribbons are 1/4in wide.

I cut the shapes from the rest of the fusible web and seprated those going on the lime form those going on the raspberry fabric. Then I realised I'd forgotten to mirror my design before transferring it to the fusible web! So after having been so careful to draw on the correct side of the backing, I went and remarked the ribbons on the other side. This meant the fusible layer moved a bit more on the removable backing than it should, but ultimately didn't matter.

After pressing the fusible web to the fabrics along the bias (to give them flexibility for even curves) and cutting them out (using the rotary cutter and ruler along the length to keep them nice and smooth, and sharp scissors on the curves) I removed the second backing and roughly laid them on the background. I adapted the design as I went, but followed roughly my guides for weaving them over and under each other.
I laid a doubled-towel on my cutting table, and put the background fabric over that, so I could keep it all flat as I worked. I used my Clover mini-iron to attach the ribbons, starting from the finials and working backwards to the left edge. Because of the weaving, I worked on several at once. I managed nice, smooth curves on most of it, but needed to lift a few sections to reposition them to my satisfaction - they were only lightly and quickly pressed to start with. While still warm it wasn't too hard - but you don't want to do it too many times, as the edges of the fabric start to pull apart slightly.

Steam-a-seam 2 is supposed to be positionable without pressing and usually is, but it didn't work for me in this case - but I hadn't expected it to - partly because I was working with the other side, but mainly because I was pulling it quite hard to create the curves.
Then I added the extra shapes, and it's ready to start appliqueing. I have some lovely matching silky mettler threads and will use a small buttonhole stitch. I'm trying to decide how I want to stabilise it for the applique - I'd rather avoid fusible interfacing, but want to keep it supple and avoid puckering/bubbling.

I'm thinking of adding a plain black layer of cotton homespun between the top and the batting to minimise any bearding. I'll applique before sandwiching.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Designing DQS9

I finally pulled out the fabrics for my DQS9 quilt this week.
I've had the design idea for ages, and drew it up during a boring meeting about a month ago. I had a pretty good idea of which fabrics I'd use, but did pull out a few options for each colour in case.
I'm just starting to quilt my latest beach quilt, then this is next on my list. It's bound to change a bit in the execution, but this is a good starting point.

Quilting job

Just before we went away, I sandwiched this lovely quilt made by Kayscha, and started on the quilting.
This weekend I've finished it off.
It's 50in square, and to go with the soft, feminine fabrics I quilted a swirls and feathers pattern. It's all done freehand.
As I went, I discovered new ways to combine the swirl and feather elements, including my new favourite; feathering one side of outer ring of a swirl:
I took a few quick photos, but it was very overcast and threatening rain - though now it's lovely sunshine which would have shown the quilting much better.
I like this pattern; it quilts up reasonably quickly and has lovely texture.

This quilt is now folded ready to post back  - and it will most likely cross paths mid-route with the next quilt she's sending me!


The first name I drew was What Comes Next from Canada, who wins the Tula Pink fabrics, and a copy of the magazine.

So I drew a second name from the Australian entrants for the remaining fabrics, and the winner of those is Ursula.

Please both contact me with your postal addresses and I'll get them sent this week. Thank you to everyone who joined in my extended month of giveaways.

Coming soon, some actual quilty progress!

Saturday, 14 August 2010

A panda...no, a polar bear...no, a Koala!

Playschool this afternoon was disrupted by some barking form Shadow and Cocoa, and James running in to tell me, "There's a panda...no, a polar bear...no, a koala out there!"
As much as I'd love a panda in my garden, I was pretty sure neither of Adelaide Zoo's two most famous residents had escaped!
We found this little fella (I couldn't see any sign of a pouch) right inside our patio.
He investigated the furniture, spa (covered), bbq and us, before ambling down the garden, exploring as he went.
I quickly removed the two dogs, who were clearly making him a bit uneasy, and he seemed quite unperturbed by our presence - and it was impossible to keep James and Eleanor quiet and moving slowly!
He sat for a while at the bottom of the garden...
...then departed over the fence to visit the neighbours
I know a lot of non-Australians think koalas are just cute and cuddly - but have a close look at his claws - well over an inch long!
Although I'd say he was an average size, they're solid and look quite powerful, and he'd easily weigh more than Eleanor.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Oooh, look!

Can you see that? Down the bottom... on the left....

Oh, yes, MY name!

The new issue of Australian Patchwork and Quilting (Vol. 19 No. 6) is just coming out, and has my first-ever article, about my stash storage. This is just a glimpse of the article (though you can click to enlarge for a bit better look) but to read it, you'll need your own copy.

The winner of my fabric giveaway will get a copy - announcement tomorrow.

Australian Patchwork and Quilting is available in the States; although I'm not sure how widely, I do know that it seems to appear at eQuilter a month or so after it's on sale here.

OK, gloating over.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


A few weeks ago James and Eleanor ran their own bath. They assured me they hadn't put in too much bubble bath.
Investigation showed they'd used about 100ml!!!

But that pales into insignificance...

While at the snow, they were simply playing with two small cakes of guest soap in the bath. Then they turned the spa jets on. No bubble bath required!

Parterre in Homespun 87

I'm finally able to reveal a project I've been keeping secret since January!

I was asked to design a quilt for Homespun's Garden Issue, featuring my all-time favourite range of fabric; Sandi Henderson's Farmer's Market (speaking of which, her delightful Meadowsweet2 is now available, and has yet more colourways of the Henna Garden print I love, which originated in Farmer's Market!)

The magazine was in the pile of mail (and parcels of fabrics!) waiting for me when we got home from skiing.

I blogged peeks of the quilting from the back of the quilt here.

The quilt is designed using the Garden Path block, but I took a few liberties with it in creating one of my radiating/medallion style quilts by altering the colouring of a single quilt block across the quilt. Other quilts I've made using the same design technique include Eleanor's Quilt, Evening Indulgence, Daydreams and Blueberries & Lime.

As I mentioned when I blogged the peeks, the background quilting took ages; I based it on Leah Day's Drunk Pointy Paisley.

I also quilted in the ditch around all of the coloured sections, and added some swirls and ferns to a few sections too large to leave unquilted. They look good from the back, but don't detract from the piecing on the front.

Apart from the white background, the entire quilt - including the lovely striped binding - is Farmer's Market. It's getting hard to find now, but you could always substitute some fabrics from Meadowsweet 1 and 2!

Full instructions for this quilt are in the current issue of Australian Homespun: No 87 (Vol. 11 No. 8)