Thursday, 5 December 2013

Etsy sale

I have been adding a few quilts (below) to my Etsy store, and am offering a 10% discount on all in-stock quilts and patterns (i.e. everything except custom-made quilts) throughout December 2013. Just enter "SPACE" at checkout and the discount will be applied.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Melted Icecream

Melted Icecream is an appropriate name for this quilt which is scheduled to post while I'm out at a family picnic on a hot day for the start of summer!

I made Melted Icecream as a quick summer project for Australian Patchwork and Quilting, and it's the cover quilt on the new issue, Vol 23 No 3.

I chose to use the beautiful roll of 2.5in pastel batik strips I won in a blog giveaway some time ago (shown below with the backing and the subtle snowflake I used as a background). And apart from the border, all the background is 2.5in strips, too. Select 24 coloured strips, and the parts of the strips that aren't used in the blocks are used to make the binding - very economical!

It comes together really quickly, especially if you use pre-cut strips, and is nice and easy, and there are no seams to match within the blocks!

The blocks are actually square - and simple as they look, it took me a while to draft them just how I wanted. As I was piecing them, it made me think of going around the corner to the deli for an ice cream as a child. The local deli closed just after we bought our house - pre-children - but not far away there's a lovely café near our local playground, so James and Eleanor get ice creams from there.

Yet again I quilted this with my favourite open feather pattern. My excuse is that a quick summer quilt needs quick quilting! I chose a glossy pale yellow Glide thread, which adds a nice sheen.

Starting in 2 weeks, I have a month off work over Christmas and New Year and am planning lots of activities and relaxing with the children - and lots of quilting for all of us. But I'm hoping (weather-wise) for a short summer and a speedy return to the current, balmy days.

Christmas is coming

While I was blog-reading today, I came across a lovely post by Frances, who had been inspired by my Winter Baubles quilt (below).

She took the idea and made it her own, and the results are delightful:

(shared with permission)

I just love the different layout with the swag of foliage across the top, and they way the more selective quilting creates prettier patterns on the baubles. A lovely way to roll into December and a nice reminder that even though we don't get our tree until the week before Christmas, it might be time to hang my Christmas quilts and enjoy them! Thank you for sharing, Frances!

Saturday, 30 November 2013

Magic Carpet

A few weeks back, Magic Carpet came out in Australian Patchwork & Quilting Vol 23 No 2. It should still be at your local quilt store/newsagent, but the next issue is due out here any day now.

The block is one I drafted myself, and named Bazaar because the quilt reminded me of the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul. I don't claim that the block is original, but the design was mine.

This quilt has a scrappy appearance, but I don't really consider it scrappy quilt - though it could easily be made as such. My fabrics were carefully grouped and chosen from my stash, and many of the large centre squares were also fussy-cut to show-off certain parts of the large prints.

I do love the colour and print combinatons in the different blocks and their spicy jewel-tones, so here are a few more of my favourites...

I quilted it simply with the open feather I love so much. I used a light taupe Superior Bottom Line thread top and bottom, which blended well into the myriad prints and colours.

Now I'm off to do more feathering on my friend's quilt...

Continuous butterflies

I'm so far behind, it's a  bit hard to know where to start. So I'm starting with the easiest thing, which is the quilting I've been doing this evening. I offered to quilt my friend Joy's lovely quilt for her daughter, and have been busy with it this week. I've used a lovely pink champagne coloured Bottom Line thread top and bottom throughout. It blends nicely with the beautiful colour-scheme of white, cream, chocolate and soft reds of the pieced blocks, and shows up just enough for the butterflies on the solid cream.

The blocks in the centre were given an all-over treatment of open feathers, but Joy had mentioned she'd like some butterflies if possible, so the plain inner border has butterflies. I recalled this concept of swirling into and out of the butterfly from a pantograph I saw once, and adapted it for my purpose. Then I marked it on a piece of cardboard and cut out sections as needed, so I could transfer enough of a guideline to the fabric with an air-erasable marker.

The marks left me with a continuous design around the border, and I fudged the spacing a little so that each corner is the same.

Although I didn't mark the actual loops between butterflies (too fiddly to bother cutting the template!) I did mark the lines into and out of them. The extra cut-out was just an easy way to make space to cut the actual lines I wanted.

Sunday, 24 November 2013


So, it would seem that despite all intentions, my new blogging frequency is, well, infrequent! I've actually not been doing all that much quilting, although I do have a new finish to share as soon as I've photographed it. But this weekend I've been working on a customer quilt; here's a look form the back.

That circle is about 8in, and there are several the same size, and several about 12in. I really enjoyed quilting them, although the 12in ones were more difficult, as I couldn't quilt across the circles in one smooth movement on my DSM, despite the large space of the 820.

The quilt is roughly single (twin) bed size. I marked the circles by drawing around two different plates with an air-erasable marker, and everything else is quilted freehand. It's almost finished, and will be parcelled this evening, ready to post tomorrow.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Desert inspiration

I spent some time in Coober Pedy for work last week. Coober Pedy is a desert town of around 1700 people, bang in the middle of South Australia - 850km north of Adelaide and a good 650km from any town of size. Pretty much the middle of nowhere!

Most of Coober Pedy

We left behind Adelaide under cloud cover and flew up the gulf, then quickly over the farmland around the top of Yorke and Eyre peninsulas and reduced cloud cover, before the clouds disappeared altogether and large areas of what appeared to be scrubland and large, dry salt lakes, then nothing but red desert for a very long way.

Opal mines seen just before landing

Coober Pedy came into being because of opal mining, and is Australia's (and hence the world's) opal capital. There are even opal mines in the main street! For some long-ago-determined reason, opal mining was restricted to small-scale operations, and the whole area is scattered with small holes (about a metre across) and surrounding mounds of white rock.

Looking back over the main street from a small lookout before dinner
Looking northwest out of town

It's an odd town, unlike anywhere  I've been before. It's a bit unsure of its identity, and full of surprises and contrast. Up to half the population lives in dugouts - houses dug into the side of the rock hills, which stay much cooler than typical homes. We were lucky with the weather - the week before it had been around 40C, which is not atypical even though it's over a month until summer, but we experienced tops around 30C - much more civilised!

 I went for a wander at dusk one evening, but most of my photos didn't
accurately capture the amazing colours or vastness of the desert sunset.

We had very little spare time around our work, but did manage a bit of a look around the place, and of course I took a heap of photos.

On the road to the airport - 2 minutes from town yet miles from anywhere!
The mines below were only about 100m from the road.

On the flight home I was also lucky to get this photo of the Moonta/Pt Hughes area on the Yorke Peninsula where my in-laws have their holiday home:

Surely there has to be a quilt out of the trip!

I'm in the middle of quilting one of my own quilts, and while it's coming along well enough, I'm just not inspired by it, so procrastination has been the order of the week. And as it's mostly black on black at the moment, any photos wouldn't show much, so I've not bothered.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Strawberry Mousse - Blogger's Quilt Festival

I've only just finished Strawberry Mousse, and the pattern for it will be out in Australian Patchwork & Quilting (v23 n7) come March. I don't usually show quilts before they're published, but I couldn't resist sharing this one now.

I designed it last summer, after a morning of strawberry picking with James and Eleanor - although the design did evolve as I made it. The name comes from a simple family recipe, which is excellent  when you pick far too many strawberries and the last of them start to soften a little.

It's all done with fused applique (and a little thread-painting) and the stems are all straight strips cut on the bias and gently eased to form the curves.

It's 39in square - designed to fit conveniently on standard-width fabric. The background fabric I used was rather more creamy than pink, but by quilting all the feathers in pale pink Aurifil, I've boosted the pink to make it look more like the mousse. The feathers were inspired by Wendy of Ivory Spring, and I love the way they came out. They were actually fairly quick to quilt, too.

The applique is done in free-motion, stitching twice around the very edge of each shape twice, and is done after sandwiching, so it's the quilting as well.

(before quilting)

I love all the little curlicues on the side sections, even if they're not true to strawberry plants.

I did work hard to make the blossoms realistic though, using thread to quilt/draw the pale green representing the calyx visible between the petals, then going over that in the centre with yellow threads. These additions also help to make the white flowers stand out better - they also show up better in person.

The pots in the corners conveniently came out of a small scrap of a print from Kate Spain's Central Park. I rarely use my scrap box, since only the smallest of pieces go in there, but I recently had to upgrade to a larger tub, so it was nice to get both the pots and the flowers from there.

Some of my recent posts explain a bit more of the process - and if you want to make your own; keep an eye out for AP&Q from March next year.

Thank you for visiting my Bloggers' Quilt Festival applique quilt entry; I hope you'll be back! If you haven't already, enjoy the others, here.

Frozen Strawberry Mousse:

1 lb fresh strawberries (it's ok if they're starting to soften - you can often buy cheaper 'jam' strawberries which are fine, too) 
1 cup caster sugar
Extra quarter cup caster sugar
1 cup thickened cream, whipped
Juice of half a lemon
2 large egg whites

Mash the strawberries – don’t overdo it (a potato hand masher is perfect but slow; if using a stabmix, use very short pulses - you don't want puree). Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Whip egg whites stiffly and gradually add the extra sugar. Carefully fold together the strawberries, egg whites and whipped cream and pour into a wet quart mould/pudding basin). Cover and place in freezer. Allow about 12h to freeze.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Volare - Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Thank you for visiting my Bloggers' Quilt Festival entry!

I made Volare earlier this year as a commission for a friend's son.

It's a generous single (twin) bed size, and the background is made from about 130 curved, free-form shapes (up to about 18in long) which I drew by hand full-size, then cut up to use as pattern pieces - all carefully numbered. Below is a photo part-way through cutting the pieces on our sitting room floor:

I hand-painted all the planet fabrics. They're appliqued to the background, with an extra layer of batting underneath them - the trapunto gives them some fullness and dimension.

Then I had fun adding lots of detail, by applique, thread-sketching, and in the quilting.

I also found some great space fabrics, which I used for the astronaut on an EVA near Saturn and the space shuttle approaching Mars. While I initially positioned the planets in correct order from the Sun, Saturn moved closer through design influences. And with the exception of Earth which is extra-large (diameter 7in) to show detail, their sizes are also in order - if not to scale. Call it artistic license!

I'm not sure what my favourite detail is; the visitors on Mars, the International Space Station (below), Halley's Comet (between Saturn and Uranus), the tiny plane (look north-east of Earth), or the Southern Cross (bottom).

There's more information and photos on the main post about the quilt here, and there are a number of progress posts, too (in order: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8).

Thanks again for visiting, I  hope you'll be back.

In the meantime, do go and check out all the other BQF entries!

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Too early?

I'm not usually one for getting into Christmas early. I might pick up the odd present through the year, but usually I refuse to seriously consider it until after James' birthday, which is exactly 2 months out. But when working with magazine deadlines, that changes! Australian Patchwork & Quilting's Christmas issue (Vol 23 No 1) is out now, which means you still have time to make your own version of my Christmas tree in time for the big day!

My Christmas version of my seasonal tree is called Maligayang Pasko. It means simply 'Merry Christmas' in Tagalog, the main language of the Philippines. My family lived in the capital, Manila, for 3 years when I was a child in the late 80s and early 90s - and it was there we were first introduced to the idea of decorating gardens, homes, trees and public buildings with thousands upon thousands of fairy lights. While the idea is gaining popularity in Australia, it simply doesn't compare with what we experienced in Manila - where undecorated houses were a rare exception, rather than the other way around. I remember walking around the streets near our home, or being driven around the commercial centres, and being amazed by the quantity and creativity of the lights each Christmastime.

To enable the strings of fairly lights to be held in the tree, I manipulated the layout a little and redesigned all the branches to end in little curlicue 'hooks'. This also has the pleasing result of giving the tree an entirely different feel. Then I set the whole thing on a dark background and added a few hundred Swarovski hot-fix crystals.

It's hard to photograph the crystals well, but they sparkle beautifully. I had originally planned to first quilt the string for the lights, but in the end decided it would detract from the crystals. While technically incorrect, it is probably more visually accurate!

I also added a few most Christmassy details; a star on the (now carefully centred) top branch, the all-important presents piled around the base, and a little quilted stocking hanging from one of the lower branches, which is probably my favourite part:

It took me ages to decide on colours for the presents. I used some scraps of a beautiful batik backing and the leftover ends from binding another quilt which matches the binding on this one, which worked out rather conveniently!

The ribbons and bows were made from some stiff, non-fray ribbon I happened to have lying around, and were quick to add by machine.

I'd intended to quilt some holly leaves and berries into the background, but forgot while I was doing it - and in all honesty, they wouldn't have shown up much on the black and charcoal anyway.

The quilt is bound with a very glittery damask print which leaves bits of glitter everywhere

And as always - if you do make your own version, please remember to share a photo!