Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mother of Pearl in AP&Q

My Mother of Pearl quilt is in the new issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine (Vol 20 No 12) which I got this week.

I blogged about it in depth back here, but will share a couple of photos now, although I'm still waiting to get it back to photograph properly.

It uses my favourite foundation-piecing technique, and the centre block has 165 pieces! It shrinks in the making because it has so many seams, so it starts 1/4in bigger (plus the usual seam allowances) than the finished size.

It measures about 150cm (58in) square, and I'm thinking of listing it for sale, so contact me if you're intrerested.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

I can't draw!

I thought in the interests of honesty, I'd share a sketch I'm working on for a possum applique to add to my next quilt. It's always been a source of frustration to me in my designing that I can't draw. So in actual fact, I'm rather pleased with myself for achieving this much! I started with the basic pose used quite a bit in Possum Magic, but drew from scratch. It still needs work, but it has come a long way (if you think this is bad; you should have seen my original!!!) and I'm hoping that with careful fabric selection and the addition of quilted details, it will pass muster!

I also want to mention my LQS today. I've been going to Riverlea Quilts (on Unley Rd, in Adelaide) for many years, and the owners and staff know James and Eleeanor as well as they do me! They have a system where for every $X you spend, you get a small bundle of FQs, but the owners seemed to figure out that I don't really need more FQs, so they suggested that when I have some quilts that need backing, I come and choose some free backings. It's been a while since I redeemed any, so this afternoon I popped in with James and Eleanor and got 2 free backings for a couple of large square quilt tops (both of which need quilting very soon) - perfect! While I was making my selections, Eleanor was making us cups of tea with their toy tea-set, and James had the fire engine and was frustrating her by pretending the tea-set was on fire! And naturally, while I was there I found more fabric I had to have - this time a fabulous stripe of colourful string on a black background.

I've had a productive day. As well as spending time playing with Eleanor, I've also finished quilting the tree quilt and machined the binding to the front ready to hand stitch down tomorrow, completed and emailed one set of quilt instructions and made a good start on another, and got one of the square quilts ready to sandwich.

Sunday, 20 November 2011


Intermittently bewteen other quilts, I've been cutting out these shapes. There are 12 black and 4 white, and they would all be done - except just now while cutting out the last one, I snipped off the tail swirl of one when I meant to just trim away some of the excess. Ooops!

Filling around the feathers

Ooops! I realise now that I should have designed the feathers to fill the whole space between the feathered borders. Initially I only intended them to be two corder units, but they grew more than I'm anticipated, and now fill the two sides. I am NOT going to unpick them, so the question is - what do I do in the spaces around them? Whatever I do, it'll be in matching cream BottomLine thread, so it's nto too obvious, and I'll start by echoing the feathers to help emphasise them. So... McTavishing, a small stipple, more of what I did around the tree, repeated echoing???

As an aside, I did the piano key border today, using a ruler. I don't know if there's a trick I'm missing to using rulers to quilt on a domestic sewing machine - certainly a thicker ruler would have helped, but I only had my rotary cutting rulers to hand. I put a strip of double-sided tape on the back of mine, to help keep it in position. I only had to replace it about 5 times as I worked my way around the quilt, and it was definitely worth it. I was tickled-pink that when I got back to my starting point, the line spacing was perfect - no fudging required!

Here's a closer look at the quilting around the tree. I didn't want to McTavish it, as I've done previously on my tree quilts, and have been doodling with combining echoed feathers, paisleys and swirls, and just love this pattern; I'll definitely be using it again. This was the first bit I did; the later parts are neater, and I'll show them properly later. It has the same lovely movement as McTavishing, but is a bit more fun - and I find it easier to quilt, because it's easier to decide where to go next.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Water balloons

On Friday I popped into one of those cheap stores that sell a random assortment of items (chiefly, it would seem at this time of the year, tacky Christmas decorations!) to get some water balloons for James' birthday party. As we were walking out, some large notepads caught my eye; the A3 newsprint I like for printing foundations - so now I have an even cheaper supply! I also found some huge (A2) pads of tracing paper, which I thought might be handy. They are! I used some last night, and it's perfect for laying over a quilt top and working out quilting designs - clear enough to see the quilt top clearly though it, but strong enough to withstand several iterations of drawing and erasing. I used it to design the feathers for my current Tree quilt - here's one section quilted:

(Designed free-hand, traced prior to sandwiching with a clover blue pen (removability pre-tested on identical fabric, given my recent troubles!) and free-motion quilted using a rayon embroidery thread in pale purple and silver BottomLine in the bobbin.)
Incidentally, it took Simon about 2 hours to fill 150 water balloons, and less than 2 minutes for a group of overexcited 5-and-6-year-olds to throw and burst them all!

Butterfly rose cake

I don't know how, but a while back I stumbled across i am baker's Rose Cake, and knew I wanted to make it. James requested a butterfly cake again this year, so I bought a few clip-on butterfly Christmas decorations to clip onto long skewers, and decided the rose cake would be the perfect base for them. My nozzle wasn't quite big enough, and the star tip wasn't quite as spiky as it should have been, but I was very pleased with the effect - especially given how quickly and easily it came together. I left it uncovered in the fridge overnight to let the frosting harden a little, and managed to keep it cool enough through the party in a park on a hot day that it still looked perfect when it was needed. I definitely have plans to do it again - but will search out a better nozzle first.

And don't worry - this will never become a baking blog. The family's tried-and-true, one-bowl chocolate cake is as far as I ever go! There would have been other party photos too, but I was too busy most of the time.

Friday, 11 November 2011

Fused applique

I've made good progress appliqueing the leaves in place this evening, but it's not much different to look at, so I thought I'd show these instead.

While I was preparing the leaves to applique, I also traced and fused these. I really enjoyed designing this shape and went through several variations, tracing, cutting and swivelling  (I cut through all but a tiny 'neck' of the shape, then alter the angle) and repositioning. It takes a little while looking at it to realise that it has a positive and a negative swirl. These will be going onto the quilt with the spa palette that  I started a couple of weeks ago. It was a fun challenge fitting them in as closely as possible to minimise waste - the solid fabric is cheap enough, but I hate to waste the Steam-a-seam2, even though I imported a whole 24in x 25yd roll!

Thursday, 10 November 2011

More leaves

Thanks to some insightful suggestions, I've cut some extra leaves in a few different greens. Of course, I couldn't remove too many of the pre-existing leaves, so this is potentially creating extra applique work in my future, but I think it's an improvement. Top, with four different green fabrics:

Below, with the preferred single green from last time, for comparison:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Leaf colour

I wasn't sure which green would work best for the leaves, so I cut them out in 2 colours, and laid them both out for comparison. I'll save the unused leaves for another quilt.

The flasjk photos don't show the colours as well as I'd hoped, but I'm now confident that the top option is the way to go - it wasn't my original plan, but I think it looks much better with this colour tree. Any thoughts?

Monday, 7 November 2011

South Australian Festival of Quilts

I spoent a lovely day tiday with Gran at the South Australian Festival of Quilts. Tjhre were some amazing quilts this year, but I don't have many photos - my camera bettery went flat early, and anyway, I wouldn't be able to share them.

But here's the stash I brought home - there's a definite theme! I was really pleased to find some unfamiliar reef and water prints. The only things I bought other thn fabric were some exciting new rotary cutter blades, and something I'll share tomorrow, once I've taken photos.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Stash enhancement

I don't share most of the incoming stash any more - I haven't for a long time. But this pile was last week's arrivals!

It's due to 2 things. First, I saw some of Paula Nadelstern's Nuance fabrics used beautifully, and realised I  barely had any - and because it's about to be superseeded by Patternista, I needed to 'go' to several online shops to tet all the prints I wanted - and of course I just had to fill the envelopes! The top half of this pile is all Nuance. And second, I had a regular trawl for more reef and water fabrics, and found some at a few shops, which resulted in the same need to top-up the envelopes!

Luckily I'd bought a few wood prints, because I'm actually using one of them for the tee I'm currently appliqueing - and now I've been and searched for some more wood fabrics to add to my stash - can you see where this is going?....

I'm rather relieved there don't seem to be as many new ranges release at Quilt Market this time - I've barely finished buying what I wanted from the Spring Quilt Market reveals! In fact, there are still a couple of prints I need to collect! From what I've seen so far, there are some must-haves from Paula Nadelstern's Patternista and Patty Young's Lush, and the elephants form Valori Wells' Karavan if it's available in quilter's cotton.


Although I made the decision some time ago, when it comes down to it, picking up the rotary cutter and slicing out a chunk of a half-finished quilt top is a daunting prospect!

Using several large rulers (I absolutely love the 18in square I bought a while back, it's invaluable!) I carefully marked the section to be removed first, to make sure it was totally squared. Then I bit the bullet and cutI Then I carefully measured the gaping hole left behind and cut a new centre, 1in larger in either direction.

I'm not going to put the green 1/2in border again; I think it'll work better without. The new centre isn't attached yet, but I have traced, fused and cut-out the new tree; it's much bigger and in some darker, wood-print fabric.

It feels good to have made the cut and be making progress again.