Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Quilting motif from fabric

Here's a quilted block - can you tell where the motif came from?

I've done 9 and have 4 to go, but I'm still undecided about how I'll quilt the rest of it once those are done. The good news is that some of my fabric arrived today, so I can get on with one of the quilts I had to set aside, once this is done.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Testing quilt markers

I've had a bit of trouble recently with removable quilt markers not coming out easily, so this time I did a test on a scrap of fabric first. It's most peculiar, because I have at different times used all of my markers and removed them easily, but they seem temperamental at best. Has anyone else found this?

This was a piece of the actual background fabric from the quilt, which had a mark and couldn't be used. I wrote my name in 3 different markers (clover blue pen and sewline pink and green ceramic pencils), drew a few lines of verying weight, then sprayed it with water - they're supposedly all water-soluble. The blue almost completely disappeared straight away, and with a litte more water was gone, even after ironing, but the other two weren't going anywhere. So the blue it was!

Here's a peek at the quilting motif for the white squares:

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Terrain block 1

Here's one of the blocks I made with my Terrain strata (piece of fabirc made from joining lots of strips). I've designed a great quilting motif for the centre of the block, based on one of the prints.

I marked and sandwiched the quilt last night, and have started the stabilising quilting this morning; I'm looking forward to the fun part - quilting the motif.

Friday, 26 August 2011


I've been thinking for a while now about trying to sell my Beach and Tree quilt patterns through quilt shops (either online or bricks-and-mortar), but have no idea of how to go about this. Has anyone with some experience in this got any advice for me? Do I just start emailing shops, or sending them copies? How are costs/charges worked out? What sort of volume is required? Should I be looking at printing my patterns differently? (currently I print the instructions myself and get the pattern sheets done at a copy place, then put them together myself) Is it even cost-effective? What else should I know?

Speaking of selling, I'm also listing a few more of my quilts on Etsy - the quilts below will be going up in the coming days. I don't really need to keep them all, and if I want to upgrade my sewing machine, then some sacrifices have to be made! Three of these quilts have been featured in Australian Patchwork and Quilting:

Nurture: 140cm (55.5in) sq, featured in AP&Q Vol 20 No 2

Starburst 115cm (45.5in) sq, featured in AP&Q Vol 19 No 11

Transitions 100 x 105cm (40 x 42in), featured in AP&Q Vol 20 No 6:

Hush & Brush: size 53 x 79cm (21 x 31in):

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Terrain scraps

I've been mulling over designs to use the pieces of Terrain I won a while back, and started cutting and trimming them a few weeks ago. The strips were of varying and uneven width, so I decided to trim the strips shorter to get best use from them. I ended up trimming them to 14in - partly because that would nicley get 3 strips from each piece (across the width of the fabric) , and partly because I have a 14in ruler, which made it easy! So I trimmed a selection of strips to 14in long, and trimmed the edges parallel in a variety of widths, then started sewing them all together:

I changed my design idea a few times, and eventually came up with something I was really happy with. The best thing is, my design called for strips and squares which fit perfectly in the slightly-shrunk-from-piecing 13 3/4in strips:  five 12.5 x  2.5in strips or two 8.5 x 2.5in strips and a 8.5in square just fit across the 13 3/4in! All up I cut about 150 strips, between 1in and 3 1/2in wide - there's a bit left over, but I'll probably just cut more and make another similar quilt later; there are still plenty of pieces left.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011


It's rare that I'm working on multiple quilts at once, but just now I have at least 4 current projects. They've needed to be set aside temporarily for various reasons - mostly awaiting the delivery of more fabric! Last night I cut out and pieced what I could of another quilt, and prepared the foundations for the rest of it - until I got to the stage I needed the missing fabric.

Note the name on the fabric?! The fabric print is an imaginary map, and I didn't notice my name as one of the place names on there until I was cutting!

Tonight, I've been working on something else - photos of that tomorrow...

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Putting the border before the quilt

The quilt I started on is going to have some applique borders, and I decided I wanted the narrow applique to be the point where the background fabric changes as well. This took a bit of thinking about how I was going to manage it simply. Although I'm not ready to attach the final borders yet, because the centre still needs work, I pieced the outer border. I pinned it out on the centre and pieced the border so that it will overlap the inner piece by 2 inches all around.

Then I cut 2in strips of Lite Steam-a-seam 2, and fused them all around the inner edge border where it will overlap the centre.

After I took the photos, I designed and then marked the applique pattern on the Steam-a-seam. When I'm ready to add this border (very carefully!), I'll cut along the marked line, remove the paper backing and fuse the border to the centre. The applique will be narrow and cut on the bias so it will follow the curves I've marked, right over the top of the cut edge, and saving the need to actually piece the seam - the applique will hold it all in place.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Applique and quilting machines

I got stuck into a new project tonight. I've wasted the last few evenings mucking around with dozens of designs (most of which I'll never get around to making) instead of getting on with what I need to do. It felt so much better to be sitting at the sewing machine!

This applique is done using a buttonhole stitch - it always comes out so neatly. I want to keep going with it, but am waiting for a few fabrics to arrive to finish the centre applique. I did do some inital preparation for the borders, but don't want to add any more until the centre is done - it will just get in the way.

I'm currently investigating a sewing machine upgrade, too. I think it'll be a while before I have the space for a longarm, so am considering the Bernina 820. I've got a good quote, and I'm making a list of things I want to test throughly (and make sure the machine has) before I go and check it out. My research so far has found almost totally positive reviews; I'd love to hear anyone's experiences with this machine?

I'll also have to sell my Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0 - let me know if you're interested.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

More meandering feathers

I'm not quite sure how a week went past between blog posts, but never mind! Here's a quilt I quilted last week for Kayscha.

It's a lovely strip quilt with some bold turquoise prints. It was needed rather quickly, which gave me a great excuse to use my favourite open meandering feather. It quilts up fairly quickly freehand. It gives an interesting texture too, without taking away from the piecing and fabrics - or at least that's what I'm telling myself! I know I have a tendency to find something I really like and use it as much as possoble - until something new comes along.

In a surprise move from Australia Post, it managed the journey over 1000km from Adelaide to Sydney in record time - I posted it on Friday by regular parcel post, and Kayscha received it on Monday!

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Pink Feathers in AP&Q

Yesterday my copy of Australian Patchwork and Quilting (Vol. 20 No. 8) arrived, containing my quilt Pink Feathers.

I've only shown peeks of this before, but here are a whole heap of photos, because I really love this quilt. There's not a lot of piecing (really it's just the 12 Palm blocks) but the quilting really transforms it. I definitely designed this quilt with the quilting (especially the circular feathers in the border) at the front of my mind.

The parallel lines in the border are done in matching threads - white on the white and black on the black, to highlight the hot-pink feathered circles.

I got the idea for this border from the excellent Kim Brunner class I took at AMQF late last year, and was desperate to try it out.

The photo below is of the back of the quilt:

The parallel lines were all marked, but quilted free motion - I've not worked out a way of using rulers with my machine they way it's done on longarms, and I really didn't feel like turning the quilt 180degrees after every line! They're far from perfect, but the effect is exactly what I wanted.

The centre motif is an adapted Patsy Thompson stencil.

The original stencil was just a little too big for the centre square on the alternating points, so I took out a small section.

I echoed the motif using clear monofilament, hoping it wouldn't show on either the black or the white, and that worked well. I used the same monofilament to stipple the remaining area around the central motif and echo the curved cross-hatched segments on the palm blocks.

I couldn't leave them unquilted - they looked too puffy, because of the relatively dense quilting over the rest of the quilt.

Given there were 12 palm blocks requiring the curved cross-hatching, I made my own stencil for it. teh stencil actually only had half the lines - all nesting curves. For each one I marked the lines, then turned the stencil around to mark the other half.

I'm please with the effect, although I suspect I could have quilted something else which would have been just as effective and taken rather less time - the stencil took a while to make and use. Again, the quilting was free-motion quilted.

Why not have a go at making your own version of this quilt? All the instructions are in the magazine, and I'd love to see what you can do!

Pink Feathers has been doing a little travel to a few quilt shows with AP&Q/Express Publications, but it'll be home soon, so I can give it to its new owner.

Happy Census Day!

It's a little bit late, being after midnight, but today is (or yesterday was) Census Night. Along with millions of other Aussies, we hopped online tonight and completed our eCensus forms. In 2006 eCensus was first available, and we were among the 10% of households who took up the option. This year the ABS is hoping for around 30% take-up of eCensus.

I explained to James about the Census and why it's so important, and he's been really excited about it. He spoke about it at school today in his news-tellling (show and tell) and proudly displayed the I <3 Census badge and drink bottle I brought home for him.

I let James help out filling in our Census form; he entered our form number and eCensus number, typed in some answers, and clicked the right boxes. He entered all his own answers (under close supervision, and accompanied by explanations of all the questions and why they're asked!).

He declared once we'd started that we needed to go out for dinner to 'celebrate' - so we did!

Eleanor wanted in on the action, so she entered in her name and clicked a few answers, too - but needed a lot more help. I'd hazard a guess that she's in a very small minority who did the Census in such attire! (Remember it's winter in Australia!)

I always feel proud to be able to say I work for the Australian Bureau of Statistics and enter 'statistician' under occupation on my Census form, but a small part of me would love to be able to enter 'quilter' as my main occupation by the next Census, in 2016!

If you haven't yet completed your Census form, it's not too late, so hop to it!

Happy Census Day!

Sunday, 7 August 2011

Census Countdown

The 2011 Australian Census is in 2 days, on the 9th of August. Everyone in Australia, wherever they are, must fill in their form on Census night.

Australians who haven't yet received their Census form (or eCensus envelope) can click here - it will take you to the Census website where you can request your form.

Below is a little information about the Census, taken directly from the Australian Bureau of Statistics website:

• This is the 16th Census and marks 100 years of national Census taking in Australia.
• The Census is held once every five years. The last one was held in August 2006.
• Australia has a population of 22,493,120 people.
• Census forms will be distributed to every one of Australia’s 9.8 million households.
• Approximately 14.2 million Census forms have been produced.
• The main Census forms are the Household form and the Personal form. The Household form has 61 questions and the Personal form has 55.
• It takes about 20-25 minutes to complete a Census form, depending on the individual.
• The 2011 Census will cost about $440 million, or about $19 per person.
• Population estimates based on Census data are used to determine the allocation of around $45 billion worth of GST funding to the states and territories.

And there's more information from the ABS here.

For a little fun, if you're on facebook, you can find the Census game, and see how much you know about the Census and Australia, or you can follow the twitter feed.

Saturday, 6 August 2011


Once all the butterflies were cut, I piled them in order of size, then started placing them on the quilt, largest first.

I'm using Lite Steam-a-Seam2, which has the great advantage that once the second backing paper is removed, you can position the butterflies on the background and, with a gentle press of the hand, they'll hold their place properly until pressed permanently with an iron (unless you choose to reposition them) even while shifting it back and forth across the ironing board, and all the moving that involves with a large quilt.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Having a flutter

Here's the second evening's worth of butterflies.

I had to spread it out over a few days to save my hand from RSI. I ended up preparing about 130 butterflies, but then substituted about 35 with extras in different colours which gave better balance on the background fabric I'm using. So tonight I've been playing around with ideas on how to use the remaining 35 butterflies instead of making any real progress!

Monday, 1 August 2011

Flock of colour

Last night I traced over 80 butterflies. Today I fused them to some hand-dyed fabrics and started cutting them out - I'm about 1/3 done, as long as I decide I have enough once I get to positioning them on the actual quilt.

The butterflies will be machine appliqued/quilted, and I'll add extra detail and colour (and the antennae) in the quilting. I'll also add a stack of wholecloth butterflies to the flock.