Sunday, 30 June 2013

Customer quilt

A while back, Amelia asked me if I would quilt one of her tops, and we made arrangements to meet and discuss the design. Her quilt is based on her sister Kate's Charm Bracelets design, and she wanted the quilting to reflect the name.

Each row is a continuous chain, with a circle of pearls around each block, and a wavy connector of pearls between them.

In the blocks with a feature print I quilted around the main parts of the print. And, inspired by charm bracelets, in the remaining blocks I quilted a swirly heart dangling in the centre of the circle.

Between the rows I quilted swirls of open feathers. While I really like these, they do tend to stand out a lot. We'd hoped to make the bracelet quilting the dominant feature, and I tried to emphasise it further by using finer thread for the feathers, but in the end, quilting stands out far more on solid fabrics. While I knew this on some level, I hadn't realised just how much difference it makes (I don't generally use many solids) and it's certainly a lesson I'll carry forward.

This quilt was also my first time working with both voile (the backing) and double-gauze (the main prints). The voile is gorgeously soft, holds its shape well, and glides on the machine bed beautifully. I confess I'm not so taken by the double-gauze though, as it puffs-out more than regular quilting cottons and would probably benefit from denser quilting in comparison to the rest of the quilt, rather than the lighter quilting dictated by the prints and overall design.

I have some voiles in my stash, and after quilting this quilt, I'm really looking forward to making my own summer quilt from them.

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Cherry Sunset

Cherry Sunset is in the current issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting. I love this quilt. I designed it several years ago and have been wanting to make it ever since, but until it was commissioned, it never moved up my priority list.

I decided to increase the size of the blocks and add a couple of extra borders to make it a single bed size, but otherwise I kept my original design.

It's all made from one block - Kaleidoscope. But instead of colouring all the blocks the same, I treated the layout as simply a collection of pieces and selected colours/fabrics for the pieces on an individual basis (though obviously with symmetry in mind).
I spent ages trying to find suitable fabrics; the burgundy being the main challenge. In the end I decided to paint my own, which I wrote about when I was doing it here. I love the results.

I quilted feather designs in some of the spaces, such as the circular one in the centre, which I extended to fill the four points (above).

The 'background' spaces are filled with the swirl design I've been so fond of recently, using threads to match the fabrics (though I did use the same blue thread on both the lighter blues and the aqua sections).

I also used feathers in the sections of sand along the side, and to emphasise the major burgundy diamond shape. For the latter, I treated the inside edge of the diamond as the spine and quilted a continuous single-sided feather.


Borders tend to  be my biggest challenge when it comes to designing quilting (and given I don't especially enjoy sewing them on, perhaps I should stop designing so many quilts with multiple borders - but while designing I rarely let practicalities intervene!). I quilted all the borders in the ditch, then used a feather variation on the wide burgundy border and continuous swirls in alternating directions on the sand border.

Now I'll get back to procrastinating... I don't have any urgent deadlines just now, so it's a toss-up between starting to convert my drafts for Eleanor's quilt into a usable pattern (pros: I really am excited about the design, and it's way overdue; cons: I'm not confident the fabric painting required will turn out as I envisage and I want to sew, but there's lots of work before I get to that) or starting another quilt which I want to get out of the way (pros: its easy and when done will allow me to get seven quilts out of the house; con: Eleanor's quilt beckons).

Proud mother

James and I were thrilled the other day to get a copy of the current issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting magazine (Vol 22 No 9). It has an amazing double-page spread about him and his quilting; a lovely article written by Louise and a selection of photos!

I couldn't be prouder!

Oh, and there's one of my quilts in this issue too; I'll share that soon...

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Hide & Seek

While Hide & Seek is the name of one of my quilts, it also resembles my blog activity recently. I seem to have got totally out of the habit. I think it's a combination of being busy, procrastinating, and a feeling that I've pretty much covered everything already, and nothing's really new or different (though perhaps the latter is just me making excuses!). But I have so many things to share, so I'm going to make a start, and try and get back on track.

Hide & Seek was made for my niece Georgia's third birthday, but took a detour via an appearance in the recent issue of Australian Patchwork & Quilting Magazine (Vol 22 No 8). I was delighted to discover it had been chosen as the cover quilt:

The design from this quilt came about from my desire to use equilateral triangles and to feature Tula Pink's gorgeous Birds and the Bees collection. (Though how any of Tula's fabrics could be described as 'reproduction' I'm really not quite sure!) Nevertheless...

Rather than using EQ7 software as usual, I doodled around with pencil and paper (my hands need to keep active in meetings to allow me to concentrate properly, and this achieves the secondary bonus of extra design time) until I came up with this.

Also unusually for me, this quilt is predominantly from the single fabric range - with just the magenta and aqua solids added. The aqua trail forms a single, unbroken path through the triangles.

The name comes from both the childishness of the game, and the idea of following along the path and finding the hidden animals Tula hides in her prints. I just love the squirrels.

I quilted this one fairly simply; with a ribbon in matching threads along the aqua path and around the magenta border, stippling in the outer border, and trails of freehand open feathers in the sections of prints between the path. The pink thread is Superior 'Masterpiece' (a very smooth, lustrous 50wt cotton) as I had the perfect shade, and the aqua (which I also used over the prints) is FilTec 'Glide' (high-sheen 40wt poly). It was my first time quilting with this thread, and it really does glide beautifully through my machine - as well as giving a beautiful glossy sheen.

In a happy accident, I didn't have quite enough of the magenta left for the binding, so stretched it out with some shorter lengths of the aqua, and I'm really happy with the result.

The quilt was returned to me just in time for me to give it to Georgia in person, and I was rewarded by a huge grin, arms clutching her new quilt, and a wonderfully unprompted kiss, cuddle and 'thank you'. I count that a real success!

I hope to be back again soon.

Friday, 14 June 2013


Volare is the Italian for 'to fly' (or soar) and is the name of the current European Space Agency mission being conducted by Luca Parmitano on the International Space Station. And now it's the name of my latest quilt:

It's now in the possession of the young boy I made it for, so here are a lot of photos...

(closest to the sun, Mercury, then Venus)

I explained in earlier posts about piecing the background. It came together really well, and with a bit of care at the sandwiching and quilting stages, laid beautifully flat, especially given all the free-form curves.

The planets were all made from fabrics which I painted myself after researching the colours and textures required for each. One (Mars) was an over-pained commercial print, but the others were all plain white when I started.

(Mars, with two Martians and an approaching Space Shuttle)

Each of the planets is fused with a narrow (roughly 1/4in) ring of fusible web to a matching solid print, and then with another ring both layers were fused to the background and appliqued in place with a blanket stitch in matching thread on my machine.

The double layer was used to enhance the colours in some cases, and avoid the background showing through. I only fused around the edges to keep them soft. Before sandwiching, I pinned cut-to-size circles of scrap batting under each planet (and the comet and moon) in a simple trapunto technique to add extra dimension and fullness.

(Saturn, with rings added by machine and an astronaut on a spacewalk)

Obviously it wasn't possible to make them all to scale - or keep the distances to scale; I applied a liberal dose of artistic licence to make the layout visually pleasing. With the exception of Earth, they're sized in order, and the planets were initially placed in order of their position from the sun, but somehow Saturn shifted a bit closer than intended and here appears about as close as Jupiter.

(Jupiter; my favourite of my hand-painted planet fabrics)

Most of the details were free-motion stitched prior to sandwiching (e.g. the Martians, plane, ISS and Saturn's rings) but near Jupiter is something I added during the quilting. It's visible in the image above, below and to the left of the planet, but here's more detail below:

Rotated here to its more familiar orientation is the Southern Cross, a constellation always visible in the southern hemisphere, and depicted on the Australian flag (as well as others).  On the Australian flag, all but the smallest star are shown with seven points, one for each of the six states, and another for the two territories. So I chose to quilt the larger of the two pointer stars (bottom left of the photo above) with seven points (the others were really too small for such detail).

Uranus is a pale greeny-blue, but I'm still not used to how much lighter the painted fabrics are once dry, and it's a bit paler than intended:

Furthest out is Neptune, among the darkest background fabrics:

I remember the passing of Halley's Comet in 1986, so I decided to add it into the quilt as well.

Some of the tail was added prior to sandwiching, but I added a little more yellow at the quilting stage, and if you look closely at the main image of the quilt (open it to view it larger), you'll see I quilted a subtle extended tail in navy thread round underneath and up past the left-hand side of Saturn. I used a pale yellow fairy frost fabric for the body of the comet, which gives it a but of luminescence.

The greatest detail went into Earth. I over-emphasised its size to be able to include more detail - although it was still hard at 7in across. I used a commercial leaf-print batik for most of the land appliques on Earth - and a pearlescent snowy-white fairy frost for Antarctica. I used a combination of straight-stitch and blanket-stitch to applique the fused pieces in matching threads.

I'll tell you a little secret. Australia is sufficiently symmetrical in shape that when traced in reverse on the fusible web, I forgot it was flipped. I carefully positioned it on the fabric with a brown section to represent the drier desert areas of the central outback and northern Western Australia - and ended up with it towards the lusher rainforests of far-north Queensland instead, and didn't realise until it was permanently fused in place - oops!

The larger land areas and islands are appliqued (I especially like the peek of Antarctica down the bottom) and I added a few more in thread-only, but naturally had to simplify considerably. I took special care to make sure the Philippine archipelago was recognisable.

This tiny little plane over China was also thread-sketched (by machine of course).

And of course, one of my favourite details, the International Space Station (also rather simplified, at about 1 1/4in across) passing by New Zealand.

I had the perfect fabric for the crescent moon, then had to find a section of sky that was both suitably close and suitable dark to place it!

I mentioned several posts back about our plan to go and see the ISS. Well, we had a perfect viewing, as it passed right over Adelaide on a clear evening, and was easily visibly for over 5 minutes. James was the first to spot it. I set up my DLSR on the tripod and took a number of 4-second exposures. Without a remote-shutter, even the most careful depression of the button moved the camera a fraction, and my small tripod isn't the most steady, so the path looks rather jagged in my photos, but I was pleased with the results from so little effort. I especially liked the image below, which was towards the end of when it was visible (moving away from us, 'down') and shows a change in colour as the angle of the sun's reflection on it changed. (Several stars are also visible.)

Monday, 3 June 2013


I started today on another customer's quilt. First up, each block is being encircled with pebbles:

I'm using my favourite Sewline air-erasable markers and a couple of bowls to mark the inner and outer circles, then filling the resulting ring with pebbles free-hand. I made a mini template to mark the guidelines for the wavy links between the blocks in each row.

After that, there will be detail to add to the centre of the blocks, and some feathers between them.