Sunday, 24 March 2013

Change of plan

An email late last week suddenly changed my quilty plans for the weekend. This pile came out of the cupboard on Friday night and got cut:

Simon took both James and Eleanor sailing on Saturday, so I got stuck in. I laid out all my pieces, and was just pressing the final seam when they got home.

I did most of the quilting last night, using a flower variation on my open feathers I worked out recently.

It's just one open feather plume to each side, then a swirl up from the centre, and 4-6 half-circle petals around the top of the swirl. Then repeat. It  fills the quilt nicely, and I just threw in a few extra plumes here and there to fill odd spaces or get myself out of a corner.

The working name for this quilt is Garden Paths, and it will be appearing in AP&Q later this year. It's fun and pretty easy and makes a lovely baby's play quilt.

Thursday, 21 March 2013


This is leftover binding.

There are strips here from over 60 quilts; a few pieces as short as 5in, several closer to a metre and a lot in between. I can't bring myself to waste them - there must be enough here to bind several lap size quilts! But I need the right quilt; I'm not willing to sacrifice the integrity of one of my designs just for the sake of using it up. Maybe I'll have to design a future quilt with scrap binding in mind?

Put a swirl over here...

A few days ago  I set out to quilt this red and white lap quilt. It didn't get done during the day because the deep red backing fabric just kept bleeding, through 10 hand rinses and at least 8 cycles through the washing machine. And yes - in hindsight, I should've googled for ways to stop it earlier. But eventually I decided it was close enough, and when I gift it, I'll add a note to use some colour catchers when washing it and be sure to hang it out to dry right away.

I did get it sandwiched and make a start  before collecting James and Eleanor from school, but ended up quilting into the wee hours (again!) to get the quilting finished. I chose to use the extended swirls I've been liking (and doodling a lot) recently.

The thread is red BottomLine by Superior, and I used the same top and bottom. I chose a lightweight thread so it didn't stand out too badly on the white-based fabrics, and it has a nice effect. It blended so well on a few of the red fabrics I found it hard to see where I'd already quilted! I like it best on the red ombre border:

I just need to decide on the binding fabric now, and it will be done, too.

Finished at last

Tonight I finally finished this quilt. It feels as though it's ages since I  started it, though it was actually only about six weeks ago. But since then, I've quilted 2 customer quilts and one of my own, started and finished the linen wholecloth table runner, started a new applique quilt, worked on about a dozen designs and written a set of instructions.

Now I need to  start on the instructions for this one. That's going to take some focus, since I'm much more interested in finishing the current applique and getting stuck into the beach scene commissions.

This quilt is called Mediterranean Tiles and I'll share it in full when it's published in Australian Patchwork & Quilting in the middle of the year.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013


This is another quilt that I never got around to blogging once it was finished, although I did show plenty of progress photos. I made Emerging for FLiQS2; an invitation-only quilt swap. I'm currently (and reluctantly) sitting out round 3, because I have so much to do. The two separate commissions for bed-size beach scene quilts I've recently added to my list just confirm that was the right decision.

My basic design concept came from merging several of my partner's likes, although I changed quite a bit of the way I constructed it as I went. I hadn't actually planned for it to be completely wholecloth, but it works  better this way.

It took a lot of drawing and re-drawing to get the tree roots just right, but I love the way they turned out, and they really sing quilted in silver holographic thread (Superior Glitter - my favourite for the metallic effect).

The background is dense filelr quilting in gradating colours. I'm originally meant to have several more colours and more rings, but it came down to thread choices, and these were best. It also meant that I could move the outer feather ring further out, beyond the branches. In my sketches, the feathers (unintentionally) went through the tree branches, which would have been a pain to quilt, and not visually effective - the feathers would have been broken and distracted form the branches.

My first sketches also called for filler quilting inside the trees and between the roots, but after quilting the trees, I decided against the fill - it wasn't necessary.

Once the quilt was bound, I felt it was missing something, and quilted a line of charcoal glitter thread in the ditch of the binding, but it didn't really show, so I picked a brighter glitter thread and using a hand sewing needle, I threaded it through the charcoal stitches, going through about every 3rd stitch.

I'd originally planed for the birds to be appliqued, but after the trees were quilted, I wanted them to be the feature, so I quilted the birds, too. I used lighter threads for these than in the rest of the quilt, and quilted around each one twice. I'd probably prefer them slightly darker, and in hindsight wouldn't have chosen yellow for the third one, but they work well.

Oh, and by the way, the red backing fabric took at least 9 wash cycles - luckily I didn't have much other washing to do!

Fortunate problems

I was all set to start the day by sandwiching a lap quilt, hoping that, with a nice all-over pattern,  it would be done and ready to bind by the time I collect James and Eleanor from school. But while pressing the backing, I notice it needed washing. I was just wondering if I could get away without, when I remembered being reminded when I bought it that, being a deep red, it should be pre-washed anyway. Since I had a load in the washing machine at the time, I rinsed it several times in the sink. After about 8 rinses (using both hot and cold water) the load of washing was done, and my rinsing water was still red - not just a bit pink, but quite red. It's now on it's second third fourth (and still not final!) cycle in the washing machine. So it turns out, I'm rather lucky it had a dirty mark!

In the meantime, here's a quilt I completed ages ago, but never shared. It still needs a name.

It's made from a range of Amy Butler fabric of which I got a set of half-metre cuts a while back, with some coordinating solids added.

This was obviously part of my equilateral triangle obsession (so is the red quilt I want to quilt today) and this is another one where it didn't quite turn out as effective as I'd hoped. However, it's ok, and it was quick and easy to make, and brings me one step closer to completing what I need, so all in all, I'm happy.

It would  have been better with the planned pop of apricot piping inside the binding, but as I began to attach it, I realised my border quilting pattern went too close to the sides, and the piping would cover the edge of it and look odd, so I left it off. Again, some poor planning on my part, but I'll know better next time.

The design plan was to have 'columns' of different colours or with a rainbow effect, but the variety of prints tends to blur that. To help the effect, I quilted the columns in different patterns -although some are repeated. I used open feathers, large pebbles, figure-eights, a spiky fern design and a few others.

I love the variegated feathers in the setting triangles along the two sides.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Bursts of Illusion

My quilt Bursts of Illusion is in the current issue of Australian Patchwork and Quilting (Vol 22 No 5).

It looks as though it's a New York Beauty block, but I've redesigned it. My version of the block is called Echidna, and has no curved seams!

I really like the way the block orientation makes them look out of shape.

It even makes the perfectly straight edges of the quilt look wavy!

I made my quilt with a tone-on-tone white background, and spikes from a selection of Paula Nadelstern prints, which are colourful patterns on black backgrounds. In hindsight, I should have omitted a few of the acid citrus colours.

Monday, 11 March 2013

Arcs and curlicues

I never intended to be only a weekly blogger, but that seems about all I'm managing for now. This heat leaves me quite lethargic - how long until summer realises she's over-stayed her welcome? - nearly 2 weeks later and we're still nudging 40!

 I don't really have a lot to show for my week; I've been working on instructions (not very exiting or visually appealing!) spent a lot of time refining quilt designs (which I can't share because they're with my editor) and then dithering over fabric selection for my next quilt (peek above). I knew when I designed this one that the curlicues would require a lot of time and effort for something so small, but the effect is definitely worth it. It's the cutting and appliqueing which take the most time; quiltign around them will be much faster, especially if I decide to free-motion that part.

After finishing the Linen and Lace table runner, I have got back into quilting the project I was working on before I interrupted its progress.  These arcs are free-motion quilted. I divide the border into sections of equal size, then find a suitable glass or bowl to draw around to give the effect I want, connecting the small marks I've made to delineate the sections.

In this case I decided my sections would work well matching up with the blocks making the next border, so used the seamlines instead of marking. I did, however, mark about 1cm either side of the seams, to guide marking the echoing arcs, and the mid-way points to mark in the alternate set of arcs.

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Enough lace

Oops! I didn't mean to go all week without blogging; I've been quilting the lace on the table runner. Last night I finished and bound it, and I'm relieved it's done.

The photo above is the same piece as the last one I showed, but this time from the front and almost complete.

I wasn't entirely sold on the the darker threads, so only used them a couple of times in the largest doilies, then set them aside. Above (back) and below (front detail)  are one of the middle-sized doilies. I really like the swirl effect in the centre of this one; it just evolved as I started quilting - I had no pre-conceived vision of how it would look when done.

The finished table runner is 14 x 40in, and there are 99,000 stitches in it!

As before, it's all hand-guided, free-motion quilting.

I'm linking up with Leah's FMQ Friday.