Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Giraffe details

Today I appliqued nearly 200 pieces onto the giraffes' bodies.

I ended up adding some extra smaller pieces; mostly on the faces, but a few around the knees as well. I used a heavier, paler thread in varigated beiges to applique the extra pieces, making the edges softer, and continued with that thread to do a little thread painting on the faces and some contour lines on the bodies. I also did a little thread drawing with the fine dark brown BottomLine thread outlining the ears and ossicones (horns), as well as the hair on the tails and the fluffy, darker tops to the ossicones. I think now the main panel is complete and am considering options for the large border.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Rain on the Roof

This is the baby quilt I made last weekend; I've called it 'Rain on the Roof'. I'd been mulling over a design for ages, based on this collage of images I requested from the nursery:

I finalised the design  and drafted the raindrop shape to match the mobile on the Friday night. Then over the course of the weekend, I cut the pieces, traced, fused and cut the raindrops, pieced the quilt top, appliqued the 36 raindrops, sandwiched and did most of the quilting.

If I hadn't dithered over the quilting design for so long, I'd've finished the quilting on the Sunday, too. In the end, I finished off the last little bit and got it bound the next evening.

But at the end of it, I'm really pleased with the quilting. I echoed all around the lines of raindrops, then filled the remainder of the light strips with a smaller version of the sprially swirl pattern I've been using a bit recently. Then I filled the rest of the quilt with a smaller-than-usual version of my open feather meander

The different quilting patterns are especially effective on the charcoal tone-on-tone backing:

Now I just need to sew the label on and post it (along with 2 others) tomorrow.

Applique giraffe

I've spent the day appliqueing; the tree is complete, both giraffes are in place and have manes, tails and eyes, and I've just fused the spots in place. The applique so far has been using machine buttonhile stitch, but the spots (over 150 all up) would just take too long that way, so I'll do them, as well as the hooves, raw-edge with a free-motion straight stitch. Any minor fraying will give the effect of hair, so that will work ok.

I'm a bit disappointed that the knees where the spots fade out entirely is right at the grass/sky seam, but it's too late to worry about that- although I'm wondering how to lighten the lower legs, and add detail to the heads (for the moment some are traced onto the fabric with fine pencil). I can do some with quilting - both before and after sandwiching, but I'm not sure about the rest. It'll be a baby's cot quilt, so it needs to be able to stand up to washing, plus I don't want to spend too long in it, and it can't be too heavily quilted in one spot. I'll also add some hair to the tails with free-motion work.

Despite lots of reference images and numerous attempts, I gave up trying to draw the giraffes  freehand. I ended up saving a selection of googled images, altering them to show the main lines, resizing and collaging them to form the images I had in mind (all digitally) then printed them at A4, worked out the enlargement proportion to get the size I wanted, scanned and reprinted onto larger paper. Then I traced the outline and a few main lines, traced the reverse to fusible web, fused the different shapes to the different fabrics, then built them up on the background.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

There's a cost

Bonus bee blocks must come at a cost...

Litttle pieces

Firstly, thanks for nothing with the binding choices!!! You all had such differing views; it's lucky that I  wasn't counting on you all for a consensus. As it turned out, my customer disagreed with every single one of you:

Full photos soon...

Now I'm working on a new commission, which I want to get done so that I can start on a large quilting job. The central design is finalised, the applique background is prepared, and I've drawn/traced/modified the pieces, fused them to Lite steam-a-seam 2, and cut them all out:

Can you guess what it is from these?

I made a start on the applique in the early hours of the morning, watching the first evening of Olympic action.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Beach stripes

I'd been wating to bind the beach quilt until I received a specific stripe print for it, but finally, after weeks of waiting and numerous unanswered emails, I heard today that the shop is unable to supply it. While I'm not surprised at this point, I'm not impressed. So I pulled out a selection of options and photographed the eight most likely choices.

Seeing the fabrics in position with the quilt is the best way to choose, so here they are in order...

My preferences are 1, 3, 4 and 8....what do you think?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012


I've been very busy piecing, quilting and designing, but a bit slack on the blogging; so here's a quick peek at a baby quilt I made last weekend, until I get the finished photos ready to share:

It just needs a label and it'll be ready to send.

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Green, Green, Green

I finished this quilt for a work friend's baby about a month ago, and have only just got around to editing the photos. Unfortunately I was in a rush taking them, and obviously didn't take the time to get it straight - it's somewhat distorted here!

I used a selection of green flannel prints to create wide borders around small pieces of scraps of the blue owl fabric, then sashed the blocks with white.

I was in rather a rush to get this one finished (it was completed at about 4am on our last day in the office together!) which was good justification for using my current favourite quilting pattern. the open meandering feather just happens to quilt up quickly, and I'm really pleased with it.

I find that the double-fold binding can be quite bulky done in flannel, so this time I used a plain cotton print for the binding. The brown matches the brown in the blue block centres, and I like the effect of the pattern. I used a coordinating print for the backing.

Now I'm just waiting for news of the arrival of the baby; he or she is due in about a week...

Blog Book

Early in the year, Linda had a giveaway on her blog for a gift voucher from Blog2Book. I don't enter giveaways unless the prize is something I especially want - and this was one of them. So I was positively delighted to win! Then, I sat on the voucher for months - to the point where I wasn't even sure it would be valid any more. But a few weeks ago my online quilting group was chatting about the idea, and it stirred me into action. I'd wanted to turn my blog into a book for ages, both for the security in case something ever happened to the online version, and for the fun of it.

The only reason I'd put it off was time, and now I see how silly that was. I could have been done in under half an hour - I ended up spending about an hour or so on this one, I kid you not! I have chosen to do one book per year of my blog, so this first one is a little short, as I only started blogging in August 2007. The initial choices took only about 15 minutes (selecting the time-frame, basic layout option, cover, title and dedication). I then decided to take a little extra time to upload specific photos for the covers and dedication, edit out a few 'junk' posts, opt out of the table of contents and a couple of other decisions.

While I would perhaps have liked a few additional options (e.g. the ability to edit out specific photos from a post, or a quick spellchecker) the limited choices means you don't spend too long dithering over relatively small decisions - something for whilch I am very grateful!

Luckily for me, my voucher was still valid, too! The length (and cost) of your book is dependent on a number of choices, but mostly the amount of content. My 61 posts (minus a few) from 2007 yielded a gorgeous, 72-page hardcover book (which you get to preview before finalising). The pages are lovely quality, and it's a thrill to see my blog in print. James and Eleanor love it, too - especially as they feature in it! Oh, and delivery was quick, too.

I've already prepared my 2008 book (which included over 200 posts, and will run to a rather more substantial 316 pages!), and in a  case of excellent timing, Blog2Book is having a sale until the 24th of July - 15% off with the code saveb2p15. I really encourage you to try it. It's not long - but it won't take you long! And if you wouldn't mind, email me (there's a link at the top of my blog) and I'll recommend you (anything to help with the costs of printing out 5 (so far) rather verbose and photo-heavy years !). Now, I'm off to finalise and order 2008.

Friday, 20 July 2012

School - and freedom!

Hot on the heels of turning five, Eleanor started school this week! (For those interstate or overseas, in SA, prep or reception is the first year of primary school, which follows the non-compulsory year of kindergarten.) Children are required to do a minimum of 3 terms in prep, so because Eleanor is starting mid-year (term 3), she'll actually continue in prep next year, and will end up doing 6 terms. While this may nto be completely ideal, there are advantages, a major one being that it will put James and Eleanor 2 years apart, which much more closely resembles their age-gap (20.5 months).

Because we've been going to the school for the past year and a half with James, Eleanor was already familiar with it, and she's slipped into it with barely a sideways glance.

All the current prep classes were full, so a new class, with a lovely new teacher has been started with just the 8 new children, so she is very lucky. They will be joined next term by anouther 12 new children.

She started on Wednesday, and has been doing short days (until the end of lunch) this week. Because of that. I decided to take the extra week of leave after the school holidays, and am suffering through three long mornings all to myself this week. So far I've done lots of quilting, had a morning nap on one day, had a hair appointment yesterday, and this morning I've just been for a massage! I'm not going to change my work days/hours just yet either, so for the forseeable future, I will have 9am-3pm free to myself, two days a week. What a wonderful thought!

Now I have half an hour before she needs to be collected, so I'm off to try and finish quilting a customer's quilt first.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

The Weight of the World

This is the weighted quilt I wrote about a few days ago. As I mentioned, weighted quilts can be calming or soothing for people who have sensory issues (such as many people on the autism spectrum) or restless legs. I had to photograph it lying flat on the ground, because the added weight means it won't hang nicely on a wall, even if I had tape strong enough to hold it! It's 35 x 45in.

I started with a 14x18 layout of squares cut from my stars stash (and a few plainer dark blues), layered the top with a single layer of plain black cotton (more strength to keep the pellets in) and pinned them as I would a regular quilt sandwich, then fused four five-point stars and appliqued them with a small buttonhole stitch by machine.

I then created the double-decker sandwich; charcoal flannel backing, wool/cotton wadding to soften the pellets, plain black cotton (pellet security), then the pre-layered top, and re-pinned the whole lot. I quilted around the edges and the channels, then worked my way up the quilt, filling and quilting as I went, and double-securing the ends of every seam.

I then added plain black binding in my usual manner - but slowly, due to the need to manoever all the tiny pellets away from the needle and keep it straight and even (which was harder than I'd thought).But after hand stitchign the binding to the back, I reinforced it with a neat row of machine stitching. I don't like machined bindings usually - I don't like the visible stitching, and they're rarely neat all the way around. But hand stitching first gives the back a perfectly straight (and perfectly placed) finish, and makes the final machine stitching much neater. Of course, this approach won't please those who choose to machine bind for reasons of speed, but in this instance it allowed me to add strength to the finish without sacrificing neatness.

In a few places the stars overlapped the grid for the pellets, but rather than put ugly dark blue lines across the stars, when I came to a star, I followed the shortest path around the edge of the star back to the original gridline, so a few of the pockets are slightly odd shapes!

I've sent this quilt off already, and I hope it works as intended for the little boy - and that he and his mother like it!

Monday, 16 July 2012

Tour de Fibre - Weighing

I've largely finished the beach quilt (I'm really just waiting for the binding fabric which I ordered, but the fabric is long out of print and the only place I could find it was at a shop I've not used before, and they've not responded to any of my emails, so I can't be sure I'm even going to get it! Has anyone used a shop called Granny Goose?).

So I moved onto another commission I had waiting, and which I knew I oculd put together fairly quickly. The design is based on (and very similar to) a quilt I made about 8 or 9 years ago. The mother wanted a weighted quilt, which can be soothing for childrem with sensory issues, but didn't like what was generally available to go with the celestial themed room she's doing. She saw my earlier quilt, and asked whether this was something I could do. I did a bit of research and considering how best to make it. I ordered some special poly pellets to add the weight; the nearly 3kg divided by the 63 sections worked out to 46g - which is what I was weighing here:

The top layout was 14x18 squares cut at 3in, to finish at 2.5in. I added some extra layers to give it extra durability, then quilted around three edges, and vertically from bottom to top between every second column, giving me 7 channels. I then measured out 7 lots of 46g of pellets (hence the 7 cups), poured one cup into each column, shook it down thoroughly, pinned to help keep the pellets from my sewing line, then carefully quilt across the 2nd and 3rd rows. Each pocket is 2x2 squares, and measures 5in square. 46g is plenty for a pocket that size. As I worked up the quilt it got seriously heavy (for comparison, a regular quilt of this size weighs around half a kilogram - 1/6 of this one) and unweildy.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Tour de Fibre - Eleanor piecing

Yesterday and today James and Eleanor have been working on their quilts. It's pretty much a full-time job keeping them both going!

Eleanor is doing a good job of pinning, especially if I put one pin in first to hold them (yes, I see the irony of pinning for the pinning, especially for pieces I wouldn't pin at all myself!).

I sit on a small chair directly behind hers as she sews (on my old machine, of course); I mostly guide the fabric, but she helps. She's already got the hang of raising and lowering the presser-foot, aligning the pieces and removing the pins (mostly before we get to them!).

James is more independent, but needs assistance with pressing (most of which consists of me saying, "Support the weight of the iron.", "Put it [the iron] flat." and, "MIND MY FINGERS!!!!!" He can sew a 1/4in seam fairly consistently (with a few reminder to slow down, even though I switch the machine to slow mode for him) and is pretty good at pairing and pinning if the pieces are laid out in position.

Tour de Fibre - Quilting the reef

I'm slowly working my way across the bottom of the quilt, quilting the reef. I'm just over the half-way mark. I use a Rainbows (40wt variegated trilobal polyester) thread from Superior. The mix of leaf green, butter yellow, lilac and hot pink seems to work really well; both blending and highlighting effectively.

It's a bit hard to see in photos; these photos aren't too accurate in colour, but they do show some of the quilting detail.

In some places I closely follow lines on the fabrics, others I quilt something similar to the prints (e.g. the red seaweed above), and other places I make up new things on top of the fabric to help them blend together even better.

The photo above is from the back, and I've edited it so that the thread stands out (the fabric is actually greenish blue, and the thread is a soft green!).

Eleanor is 5!

Our little girl turned 5 on Sunday!

James has been working on a quilt for her for months. He tried to tell her that it was fro someone else, but I think she had her suspicions! Anyway, her face lit up when she opened his present and saw what it was!

Although - I think James was even more excited to give it to her!

Sorry about the photos; there was bad backlighting.

Eleanor went to get her teddies to wrap them in their quilt, and took ages - apparently she had to dress them first!

We gave her a fancy geared bike so she'll better be able to keep up with Simon and James on their long rides around this hilly area.

After a practice (it's on the large side for her just yet), they went for a ride to the adventure playground at the nearby National Park.

Next term James is participating in a bike riding program at school with the other R-2 classes, and we found out today that Eleanor's new Reception class are able to do it as well, which is excellent. It teaches them improved bike handling and safety skills.

I'm not sure I'm ready to have two school-aged children, but I get no say in the matter!

Happy 5th Birthday Eleanor!