Friday, 25 February 2011

Silhouette birds

I traced the birds onto the Lite Steam-a-seam 2 this evening, fused them to some fine black fabric (Emma-Louise, of course!) and cut them out.

But when I first placed them on the circles, they looked harsh and out of place.

They've grown on me a bit now, and after playing with some different binding options, I've decided to use them. Yes, the one above needs legs (as does the one below). I'll stitch them while I'm appliqueing the birds. I'll use raw-edge FMQ straight-stitch applique, the pieces are too fine and detailed for anything else; I hope it works well. I've already removed the quilting along the seams on the three circles.

I'll use a binding with black in it, so the black birds don't look so heavy and out of place.

Thursday, 24 February 2011


Every night when I finally put my quilt aside, it's too late to write a proper blog post, so here's a quick overview of what I've been doing. I'm working on my DQS10 quilt.

I foundation-pieced the circles, trimmed them to a neat seam allowance, and folded them back and hand basted with small stitches. Then I starched them within a fratcion of an inch of their lives, so I could remove the basting and the heavy foundation papers.

I used my lightbox and my drafted pattern to position the circles on the white background fabric, then spent a day or so snatching odd moments to enjoy appliqueing them by hand. I used white Bottomline thread, and the stitching is practically invisible, and I'm really pleased with it.

Then I used scraps of batting to start the trapunto, placing small pieces behind a few circles at a time, and sewing very closely around them with Vanish (water soluble thread).

I missed taking photos of the next few steps. After they were sewn, I cut closely around each circle, so that there was only a circle of batting left, directly under the applique shapes and the three marked wholecloth circles. I quilted the wholecloth circles to match the pieced ones, using similar coloured threads to the fabrics, and different quilting designs in eahc section - all very fine. I decided after that, that the quilting had made them too flat, and cut extra circles just a little smaller than the originals, and pinned these in place underneath the original trapunto while I sandwiched the whole quilt.

I've been McTavishing the background in white Bottomline, and quilting closely around each circle. I've also quilted the seams, including the pretend ones in the wholecloth circles.

Just as I was finishing the quilting, I rememebred I wanted to do some black silhouette applique on some of the circles, but realised it wouldn't work on such heavily textured circles. I still really wanted to do it, so started rawing some birds, and while I was doing that, realised I could just unpick the 'seam' quilting on the circles I'll add the black applique to. Next is neatening up my bird drawings (they mightn't look much, but I'm simply shocking at drawing, and am proud of these so far!) and preparing them for applique, and a little unpicking - once I've laid the shapes in place and checked they will look ok.


Friday, 18 February 2011

A blur

This is how life feels at the moment...

and this is what I'm about to do...

I have done a little hand sewing in odd moments today in preparation for some hand applique on my DQS10 quilt.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

New arrivals

The first batch of new arrivals at Sampaguita Quilts...

The bottom third or so of the pile is Prospect Park by Kitty Yoshida for Benartex. There are also some supplies for my beach and snow quilts, some new stripes, a little Amy Butler and Ty Pennigton, 2 batik 'sushi rolls', and Kate Spain Fandango and William Morris jelly rolls. I'm currently eyeing-off another bunch of batik rolls...

Something I noticed yet again while folding and sorting these and squeezing them into my cupboards, is that Moda fabrics are a much softer, finer fabric than other manufacturers. Benartex seems close in quality, but others, such as Michael Miller, Free Spirit etc. definitely have a coarser feel. What have you found?

Wednesday, 16 February 2011


I have made some quilting progress tonight, and I am happier now with the quilt, but there's nothing much new to show.

So instead of posting without a photo, here is one of Gran and I sharing a chocolate dessert for two at a special family dinner we had at one of our favourite restaurants a little while ago. Gran finished hers before I finished mine!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Not in love

I'm not in love with the way the quilting is going on this quilt, which is why I keep procrastinating. It's got so much contrast that anything simple such as allover would show up in all the wrong places.

I decided to feather the black-surrounded crazy-pieced blocks, but an not that thrilled with how they turned out - the thread is too obvious on the bright blocks.

Then I did a loop in the blue border.

And a wavy line in the white block borders.

Now I'm quilting the centres of the white-surrounded blocks. I still need to work out what to do with the blue in these blocks - and the two white borders. And if I'd got on with the job tonight, it would be done - but it's not!

Sunday, 13 February 2011

DQS10 Fabric selection and cutting

I should be quilting, but it's just not quite right, so I'm procrastinating instead. I decided I couldn't reset the machine (i.e. start piecing the DQS10 quilt) until I'd finished quilting the quilt under the needle. I'd've been betetr to put the other aside and actually make progress on this one. I managed to quilt all of 3 blocks tonight - a pretty poor effort!

This afternoon while Eleanor had her nap and James was out sailing with Simon, I selected the fabrics and cut the pieces one by one. I work with the full-size pattern and lay the pieces in place as I go to guide the next fabric choice, and have all the fabrics spread out by my side for easy viewing/access - in this case on the ironing board.

All the pieces are roughly cut with scissors for foundation piecing; some are slightly fussy-cut. The lines marked on the pattern are for reference only, but all the piecing lines are designed to be radiating from the centre of the quilt - although I will probably actually move that point on the final quilt to centre the design better. The circles I printed from EQ7; starting at 1/2in diameter, and increasing first by 1/8in increments up to 1 3/4in, then in 1/4in increments up to 4in. The next 3 circles, which will be machine quilted/embroidered only, continue to grow in 1/4in increments.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

DQS10 - designing

I never rush into a swap quilt design. I look at my partner's Flickr favourites and galleries. I study their mosaics. I read their preferences. I check out their blog. Then I forget about it for a while. Then I have another look and repeat the process. Then when I have a bit of time, I have another look, and get a few ideas in my head, then put pencil to paper, and let something evolve.

I put pencil to paper the other day, and this is what happened. You might need to double-click on the image to read the notes, which explain the meagre sketches. Top left are the main notes I took for ideas, the rest are notes about how I'm going to put the quilt together so I don't forget anything. That said, there's a fair chance things will intentionally change as I go. So far, this quilt is going to be a real mix of techniques to get the effects I want - foundation-piecing, hand applique, machine applique, trapunto, free-motion embroidery and free-motion quilting...

Here's my starting palette (it contains Sandi Henderson (Farmer's Market), Patty Young (Flora & Fauna), Heather Bailey (I think Freshcut and Pop Graden), Chez Moi (Swanky?) and a couple of tone-on-tones to fill out the colours. The finished product won't be so overwhelming, becuse they'll be set on a solid white background. The stripe is a potential binding; I rarely settle on binding until the quilting is complete and trimmed, and I can lay out a few options accurately.

I can't wait to start sewing tomorrow (hmm, it's 3am, perhaps I should say 'after a sleep'?).

Thursday, 10 February 2011


I finished this quilt top last week, but before I could sandwich it, I spent most of an evening trimming all the blue and black threads so they didn't show through the white fabric and slowly laying it onto the batting. I enjoy most stages of making a quilt, but not this. I was sorely tempted to leave them, but they'd've ruined it. BORING!

It's now about half-quilted and I haven't touched it for days, but I've just sent a set of instructions and a quilt off to Australian Patchwork & Quilting, so will get back into it tomorrow.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Wholecloth snowflake

Almost exactly a year ago, I started this wholecloth snowflake. I quilted the snowflake in silver thread, then set it aside (below) while I ordered the background quilting thread, and then got busy with other quilts. I pulled it out a few days ago, and in an evening it was finished, right down to the hanging sleeve!

I decided to add an extra line of silver inside the largest feathers, then McTavished the background in navy Bottomline as planned. I'm really pleased with the quilting. The background is like a snowy night sky, with a shimmering silver snowflake in the moonlight, and the quilting gves the impression of snowflakes swirling in the wind.

These photos were taken inside at night, so the colour isn't quite spot-on, and you can't tell that the border is an icy blue fairy frost. I'll try and get it outside for some decent photos tomorrow.

I had thought about keeping this one, but I'm now considering selling it - I really have too many quilts already! Please contact me if you're interested. Otherwise, I might eventually get around to putting it in my Etsy store.

It finshes at 21in (about 53cm) square.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Red, black & white customer quilt

Here are some photos of the customer quilt I completed last week; it should be with its new owner now.

Such high-contrast colours were hard to photograph quickly, but it's a dramatic and very effective design. The red quilting on the plain white background squares helped soften it a little, and helped define the applique where it had plain black background.

I quilted closely around all the applique, and considered some feather quilting on the larger applique swirls, but decided it would detract from rather than add to them. I did quilt the centre though; a small feathered circle on the white, and echo quilting on the red and black petals.

My little helper holding it still:

James' first quilt

James managed to finish his quilt last week, but we're still waiting for slightly cooler weather to wash his quilt and put it in the dryer to rag it up nicely.

That hasn't stopped him from using it. Or from starting a new quilt for Bec (the rabbit pictured on the sewing machine while he was sewing; his favourite toy). This one will be a 'real' quilt, but is still a 6x6 square layout, though the squares are smaller. He's using the remaining butterfly print so it matches his quilt, and chose 3 coordinating Sandi Henderson prints (nice taste, James!) from my stash to go with it

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

The picture tells the story

Today is James' first day at school!

The new reception children start on Wednesday and are only there from 8.45 - 1.30 for the first week (it's not worth me going to work in that time, so I have a few mornings to myself!)

I made him a tag last night to help him find his bag among loads of others just the same, using fabric scraps from the next quilt he's started to make for Bec.

He's been all excited about starting, and was up and dressed for school early.

He settled into the classroom easily, finding a few friends from kindergarten, and writing the page above - which he then presented to me to take home - "so you don't forget where I am, Mummy"!

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

New foot...

Although the superglue did the trick last night to keep me quilting and finish the quilt, I'm not confident it mightn't break any moment, so I rang my Pfaff dealer this morning to check they had the right foot in stock.

The new foot (on the left above) is different. Oddly, my fancy quilting machine didn't come with the spring free-motion quilting foot (it has 2 FMQ settings, sensor and spring, but only the sensor foot is actually included - weird! I had some early problems with the sensor setting (though I now think I should give it another try) so I grabbed the spring foot from my old Pfaff and just used that. The other feet are interchangeable, and this one seemed to fit ok. But the new one has several differences (I'm thrilled with the extra visibility this one allows, and the other advantages of an open toe) and I now wonder if the wrong spring foot has been part of the problem with breaking needles. Plus, the open toe means that if a titanium needle bends again, the foot doesn't go across the front where it would get hit and broken, so I'm willing to try another. I can't wait to try out the new foot!

I'm just disappointed that in the heat I forgot to ask while I was there about getting the improved take-up lever and needle threader retrofitted, since they've never been satisfactory (nowhere near as good as what is on my old (1999) Pfaff, which work perfectly) and while I was googling the other night, I found there are retrofits available - which should be free, since they're fixes for a manufacturing defects. The top thread pops out of the take-up lever far too frequently. This is hardly surprising, since instead of being a moulded shape, it's now just a hook (and incidentally, also harder to thread, since it doesn't come quite as high in the machine). And once it's out of there, stitching comes to a nasty halt. As for the current needle threader - it doesn't pop through the needle eye easily, and needs an extra manual push to get it far enough through the eye to actually grab the thread and pull it back through to thread the needle. The old one was so much better. I can't think why they changed either!