Friday, 30 November 2012


I recently decided the quilt I was working on wasn't what I wanted for the person it was half-intended for, and came up with a new concept. New knowledge of the recipient' favourite colours quickly inspired the design, and a bit of sketching helped me work out how I'd construct it.

I wasn't at home with my design software, so I used pencil and paper - which actually worked ok for this type of design, although there was a lot of rubbing-out and re-drawing.

I'm going to make it in blocks; it's a 6 x 7 layout, and each block is 8.75in square - an odd size, but it gives a good finished quilt size, and is construcyed from seven, 1 1/4in strips. The strips themselves will be unpieced, except for where required for a colour change, which will give the image a simplified pixellated effect. I plan to select fabrics and start cutting tonight, in between swoon quilting.

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Swooning again

This afternoon my first order of Glide threads arrived, so I could start on the next Swoon quilt. The Australian stockist I found with (very) reasonable prices only has the 5000m cones at the moment, so I ordered the colours I most urgently need. They're huge - they only just fit on the 820's thread stand!

Then I started drawing on Kayscha's cute mermaid Swoon quilt, using a platter, a cocktail glass and the Glide spool as templates:

I added more freehand quilting guidelines, then set to with the pale aqua thread.

This is the first block (from the back -  obviously!) with the aqua quilting done; there's still white and pink to be added before I move onto the next one.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Teddy dresses

I used to sew a lot of clothes. And I dreamed of making clothes for my children one day. But about 10 years ago I lost interest in sewing clothes, and focused solely on quilts. Tonight I made the first garments in about a decade!

Eleanor loves to dress up her teddies, and Father Christmas has provided several outfits for them in her stocking the last two years (the teddies came from Pumpkin Patch, and they have a Patch teddy range - very handy!). But one of her favourite items is a dress my mother made for my frog when I was little, and I knew I could copy it. I've been meaning to for ages. Tonight was it. Instead of finishing the quilting on the triangles which I've not touched since the weekend, I traced out and adapted a pattern, and made up 2 dresses; one for Eleanor's white teddies, and one for James' rabbit, Bec.

James has been making noises about clothes for Bec ever since the clothes for the teddies arrived. I rather thought the fad would pass, but it's obviously not, so this year there will be clothes for Bec in James' stocking. I've managed to buy a few things for her, but she's too small (about 8in tall) for most bought items. He especially wants bathers for her (the teddies have a yellow polka-dot bikini), but I've not been able to find anything suitable except a rashie, so that will have to do. I think bathers are beyond me! The dresses just need a couple of press-studs hand sewing in place at the back (I think I still have some), and they're finished.

The tops are lined, and (apart from the scalloped hemline, which is just folded once and sewn) all the seams are properly-finished, with no raw-edges. The shell skirt was actually cut from a octagonal/circular design on some quilting fabric. Being a bit smaller, and since I'd had trouble turning the shell top right-side-out throught he narrow shoulders, I decided to use voile for Bec's. I bought some a while back for a summery quilt, and this was the first time I'd used it. It's a bit slippery, but not hard to sew, and was much easier to turn through. It probably made things easier for the heavily-gathered skirt, too.

Monday, 19 November 2012


Something which may help with my layout issues from the previous post is that I finally have the beginnings of a design board - although my main priority is actually a photographing surface. The foam insulation that's so readily available in the US simply isn't used much here, and therefore difficult to obtain. I did manage to find a supplier across the other side of town, and my phone call was very positive, so I went out on Friday with high hopes.

(two roughly FQ-size pieces drying on the foam)

To start with, I do have several large sheets of very cheap ($5 for 3cm-thick, 2450 x 1200mm)  foam. I cut one of these to use with fabric painting, and that's been a real success. I got Mickey Lawler's DVD on painting landscape fabrics and watched it last week, and have been all inspired. I can't recommend her highly enough. Anyway, she pins her fabric to a foam board, and it not only keeps it in place for painting, but it holds it in position while it's outside drying in the sunshine (and possibly wind).

(one of the above pieces, all dry;
the 'dust' on the dark sky is actually shimmery paint I added, and looks like stars in person)

I completely covered the cut-down pieces (I got four pieces from the 2450 x 1200mm sheets, each big enough for a full half-metre (generous half-yard) cut) with thin plastic (also cheap - a $2, 2.6 x 3.6m drop sheet from the local hardware store did all four easily). This stops bits of foam from ending up everywhere, and seals it from the paint. Yes, I do pin through it, and eventually they'll need re-wrapping, but I think it'll work well.

(easy way to keep her clothes clean - remove them!; she had help with the small sunset)

Eleanor and I did some fabric painting this afternoon, and found the foam boards made things much easier. I wanted to try out something I'll use in Eleanor's bed quilt, and I've long been planning a quilt which needs a sunset, and want to practice to get the colours and effect I have in mind (it's a rather serendipitous process; the finished product changes significantly between painting and being dry).

(Eleanor's larger pieces (FQs); no assistance from me)

The verdict; the sunsets weren't bad, but do need a little more practice, but I didn't get the gradient I wanted for Eleanor's quilt, so will try it differently next time, and will use the small sample for something else - possibly further painted or embellished. It was definitely worth the practice.

(1/2y cut; sea drying before adding the sunset sky)

I'll probably cut up another of these for painting use eventually, but will leave them large for now, esepcially as the piece I need for Eleanor's quilt is big (I estimate in the vicinity of 1.3 x 1.7m).

(same piece; sky added and all dry - sea colour not quite right)

I'll probably cover two of the cheap ones for a design board, but as I don't have a free wall, or much space left, I'm not sure where I'll keep them. (In fact, the whole lot of foam takes an enormous amount of space, and will probably mostly live in the rapidly filling shed!)

QUESTION: What's the best fabric to use for a design board? I want it clingy, but don't want something which will leave fibres on every piece of fabric it touches.

(using up some leftover paints - bottom half painted in streaks; top spattered)

I'll talk about my photographing foam another time, once I've tried it out.

What blog?!

I didn't mean to take nearly 2 weeks off blogging. I didn't mean to take that long off quilting, either - but in many ways I did. I've been pottering around doing this and, that, but not really achieving much, and with nothing much to show. Those silly 'quick' triangle quilts are the problem. Oh, they're quick enough to sew, but they're not turning out exactly as envisaged. This is a direct result of not taking the time to thoroughly work out the layout. This in turn means that I'm not that interested in finishing them. But I've avoided starting anything else, in order to try and motivate myself to finish them. Which of course means I've pretty much done nothing.

The one I showed a while back has had one purple triangle replaced, and that's a  definite improvement, but I still want to find something to replace the very pale green triangle at the top, so it's still waiting. I might try painting it.

The second version of this in Amy Butler fabric has similar issues, though not so bad. I decided to add the borders and start quilting it, and I'm in the process of that now. I do like the borders, with the addition of the text fabric I just happened to have out.

I'd hoped the colour-coordinated quilting would help further define the coloured columns, but it's been pretty ineffective, and I'm somewhat disenchanted with it, too. There's also the fact that these quilts really aren't me, are too quick-and-easy, and I know I won't be proud of the finished products. Time-wise I really do need them for their intended purposes (especially after my lazy fortnight) and realistically I suppose the intended recipients probably wouldn't fully appreciate the difference between these and some of my 'preferred' quilts, so it probably doesn't matter. But somehow it does, because I know. Enough grizzling; I'll be back with interesting stuff tomorrow

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Voting time

I was lucky enough to have my Winter Windows quilt nominated as one of the top five Home Machine Quilted quilts in the current Bloggers' Quilt Festival.

Ooops! I forgot to include a link to where you can vote. Click Here!

Voting is now open for the favourite in each category, and I'd really appreciate your support if you feel so inclined. Mine is about the ninth category down; just click on the word 'vote' beneath my quilt. No registration or anything is required; just click and you're done! While you're there, you can also vote in the other categories if you wish.

Hide & Seek

Here is an early look at my Hide & Seek quilt made using 60-degree triangles.

When I was designing it, I came up wth the name, as it's to be for a child's bed. That name, along with the Tula Pink Sew Along which was announced shortly after, made my fabric decision easy. I'd already decided to use a solid plus a single range of fabric, and the creatures Tula hides in her fabric prints seemed a perfect match. Plus I wanted to use some of my stack of The Birds and the Bees! I really loved using these fabrics, and the light green solid I'd bought recently was just right.

By the time I'd cut the border strips from the hot pink, I didn't quite have enough left for the binding, so I interspersed it with shorter lengths of the light green

This quilt came together really quickly, and the quilting was quick and fun, too (ribbons along the solid border and the green 'path', open feathers in the rest of the centre and stippling in the pieced border). It's been all finished and photographed for several weeks now. Eleanor helped out with the photography session down by our creek.

The pattern will be a project in an upcoming issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Not quite

Well, this quilt top didn't work out quite as I'd hoped. The intention was for each column to have a distinct colour, creating vertical stripes from the triangles. But unfortunately the colours for each column weren't enough to emphasise them, given the overall colours and prints in this range. On top of that, the gradation of prints isn't as smooth as it appeared prior to cutting, and make it worse rather than better.

The moral of the story is that I should have laid out the whole thing together, rather than just planning each column and hoping for the best. Even while piecing, the truth wasn't fully evident until I laid out the completed top and photographed it.

It's a pretty enough quilt, but it's not what I had in mind. And unfortunately my attempts at creating a pattern mean that not only does it not have an effective design, but also it doesn't have an even, scrappy/random look. I'm not sure what I'll do with it for now. I don't really feel like going back and unpicking, especially as it was meant to be a quick quilt, but I'm not satisfied as it is, and am not convinced the quilting will 'save' it. I wonder if replacing the two 'worst' solids will help; the top one, which is a very pale sea green, is too pale, and the second and third from the bottom are too different.

I'm also not thrilled with the setting triangles and top and bottom strips, but they do look better in person, and I should be able to help them with the quilting.

For now, I've set it aside, and am well on the way to completing the next one. This time, once the rows are done, I'll lay it all out and see if any changes are needed while they can be done relatively easily.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Triangle rainbows

Having bought a second 60-degree triangle ruler, then found my old one, I'm actually finding it useful to have two, and am making the most of them; I have another 3 triangle quilts mostly cut and ready to piece. Yes, in true form, I'm not doing it in half-measures!

A few days ago I went to get a red-on-white print to round out my red and white triangle quilt, and a selection of solids to go with the other two. I ended up with a decent election, and when laying them out in rainbow form for one of the quilts, I saw that I had two options for transitioning from green to blue. I like both, but it just doesn't work with both. The solution was to use both, but separately.

Since I needed two rainbow strips, each with seven colours, I simply made sure that each one overlapped the blue/green spectrum, and  here are the two sets, ready to go into the quilt. These will go with triangles cut from a set of 20 Amy Butler Charm half-metre cuts I got a while back.

Below are the pieces for the other triangles quilt (using Kitty Yoshida's Prospect Park range) set out in piles ready to piece into strips. I'm not sure how well the gradations of each strip will show once pieced, but I can always enhance the effect with the quilting.

Friday, 2 November 2012

In a book...

After a long wait, I got my copy of the newly-released Needlecraft Style (or Stitch) Directory today. I was contacted by an agent sometime last year about the possibility of including photos of some of my quilting as examples in this book, and the final version does use several, which is pretty exciting!

However, I'm going to be completely honest, and say that the author's area of specialty is hand stitching and embroidery and that shows - I do see some inaccuracies/omissions in the Quilting, Patchwork and Applique section, under which my work falls.

(The beach quilt 'Footsteps' and the small pink/white/grey/brown
piecing detail 'Iced Chocolate' are both mine)

And her clear preference for handwork shows, too (whether or not machine quilting ''lacks the charm" of hand quilting is a matter of personal opinion, not fact - and I beg to differ!). That aside, it is a lovely book and has an excellent and comprehensive section on hand stitches.

(Machine quilting page; all 3 examples are mine,
L to R: Crowing, May, Through the Arched Window )

It's not meant to cover everything in detail, but it does provide a good general introduction to the different types of needlework and open up possibilities to a new needleworker or one who'd like to expand their field.

(Detail of Crowing, although the text descibes old-style stuffed trapunto)

The design source...

I'm going to hazard a guess and say that at least some of you will have actually seen this design at its source, in person - though it probably wasn't a detail you paid attention to. I certainly didn't - though I was 13 at the time; I'm sure I would now, given my penchant for finding quilting inspiration.

It's a railing on the Eiffel Tower! (Though, to be fair, I expect the same or a very similar design has also been used elsewhere.) The best image of it is this one on flickr, which I've added to a gallery of other detail images I'll be using either as inspiration or to make my design accurate. My own (well and truly pre-digital) photos capture nothing like the detail I need, and I'm not going to make Eleanor wait for her quilt until we manage to take her and James (as promised) but she's quite obsessed with La Tour Eiffel, so it was a natural choice for her quilt.

I've been working on this design on and off for over a year, and have been frustrated to see that suddenly it's become quite a popular design for quilts in the last 6 months, knowing that I had my idea beforehand. Oh, well!

Over the last year and a half I've been picking up Eiffel fabrics whenever I could - not dreaming until recently how accessible they would become. But in the end, my own design won't really be using them, though I do plan to incorporate some of the map print. And so, a selection of these will be going to Kylie! Kylie, please contact me with your mailing address and I'll pop these in the post, along with the magazine.

Below are some of what I actually plan to use in the quilt:

Ooh, look!

I popped into one of my local quilt stores for a few solids earlier in the week, and when I saw this layer cake, I couldn't help myself, even though I'm not big on pre-cuts. I might not have been at Quilt Market, but here's a look at something new:

Kate Spain's Honey Honey

I picked a selecion to show the different prints and colours.

These seem about right for the colours I had in mind for Eleanor's teacher, so I'll see what I can come up with in the nest few weeks.

But speaking of Quilt Market - does anyone have a link or two to some of the new fabric ranges being shown there? I've seen very little so far...

Oh, and I'll be back tomorrow with the giveaway answer (by the way, no-one guessed it!) and winner.