Friday, 24 May 2013

A Little Bit of Progess on Lots and Lots of Things

I haven't done much sewing this week.  Life has just got in the way, and the first time I really got to sit in front of the machine all week was yesterday afternoon, followed by my Friday Quilters morning today. 

So here is what I have been up to:

Last Friday, Jan-Maree from Aussie Heroes asked the blogging world to come up with a blue star made to the April BOM design - one per person, to be made up for a special lady.  Being me, and having all the time in the world (Hahahahaha), I put my hand up, and squeezed in 2 which I made over the weekend in between dashing here and there and everywhere.  Actually we went to a 2-day Bridge coaching/play event, and came home exhausted at 11.30pm both days. 

Here are my blocks.  Only one requested, but hey! If you are making one, you might as well make two:

They were posted off on Monday, and I know that they have been received because Jan-Maree put them up on the AHQ blog the other day.  Looks like there has been a good response, and she should easily get the 15 blocks required for a quilt.
So yesterday afternoon I got a chance to sit and sew.  Should really have been doing some bookwork which is waaayyy behind.  I have a long sad story about that, but not for today.  Anyway, I got on with a bit of Carl's quilt (I blogged about that here).  After much indecision, I ended up deciding on a border of HSTs, which, when put side by side in two rows make up a pinwheel.  So I now have all the HSTs I need for the borders all around, and the top and bottom and one row on one side are done.  The second row is missing form the pic because its laid out on my machine pinned and ready to sew. 

But I must have been on drugs (giggle) when I designed this, because no way was the quilt as it stood, the right width for a row of HSTs along top and bottom.  The sides fitted, but not the ends.  So I decided to just put a strip of the blue fabric I have used as setting triangles in to make the border fit.  I toyed with the idea of making tiny pinwheels but the strip I needed was 3" x 10" and my mind went into boggle mode thinking about how I could make anything to fit that shape.  So blue strips it was.  It doesn't look too awful, or so I keep telling myself.
Then I fixed a quilt which came into Stitching Hearts.  It had been quilted by a novice quilter and the tension was bad in several places.  I had to unpick some of the quilting and redo it.  No piccy here as it was not my work, but needed to be done nevertheless.  Looks much better now, and won't unravel at the first sign of the washing machine.
Next I attacked another quilt which was a donation to Stitching Hearts, but when it came in, it was too narrow and much too long for a lap quilt, but not long enough for a single.  It had no borders, so it looked unfinished somehow.  So I sandwiched a pieced scrappy border beween two narrow green homespun borders, and I think it looks great. 


Corner detail
Apart from the fact that I think it looks good, I am delighted to have used that scrappy border.  I had it tucked away in my UFO bag.  It was originally made goodness knows how long ago at 4" wide, so I cut it in half lengthwise to make a 2" border.  I didn't notice until this morning that some of the fabrics in the scrappy border were repeats of those in the quilt.  How good is that!  The green of the homespun picks up the green in some of the appliqued stars too.
I finished two of the green homespun borders this morning at Friday Quilters, and then moved on to another UFO.  This is a pile of HSTs which I blogged about a while ago here.
Being a leader/ender project, they have been finished for a while and have been sitting there all nicely trimmed and waiting to have something done with them.  I used the last hour at Friday Quilters this morning to make up 3 more blocks.  Love them!
I have some lovely tan floral fabric given to me by Di, to use as sashings on these, but I'll have to make up a heap more blocks before I can embark on sashing.
In the back ground, I have been sewing at night in front of the TV.  "In my Garden" is progressing nicely.  I have one complete corner appliqued....   

I have found that working on the border when it is on the rest of the quilt is making the edges fray.  So I have decided that I will do as much of the applique as I can before sewing the borders on.  So below is the corner opposite the one above ready to be sewn, and I have one more half corner complete. 

I am just loving doing the applique and am really pleased with the effect.  The original pattern has two borders next - a narrow one followed by a wider one.  Having just worked on the Round Robin, I am inclined to piece a border.  Perhaps a piano key border in the same colours as the body of the quilt, between two narrow borders is the way I'll go.  In any case, I don't feel like plonking a plain border fabric on this.

So all in all, despite a really busy week, and a feeling of not having done much, blogging this has made me realise that this is absolutely not true, and I have actually accomplished quite a lot this week.  Less frantic week next week - watch out you guys!  Some heavy sewing coming up LOL.

Tomorrow the Central Coast Handweavers, Spinners & Textile Arts Guild is organising an event for Australia's Biggest Morning Tea at the Lions Hall in East Gosford.  I'm planning to take my eldest grand daughter, Holly along to that after her Netball game.

Til next time..........Keep on stitching

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

In My Garden

My friend Verna, who is an avid gardener, was complaining that her knees give her gip in the winter.  With Autumn nearly over, I thought I could remedy that LOL.

So, while on the Retreat I began a quilt for her, which I am planning to call "In My Garden".  I had asked her what her favourite colours were, and her answer was blue, and yellow, and pink, and red, but not all together.  Ha!  I thought.  That is what you think! 

A couple of weeks before the Retreat, I was going through some old magazines, and found a cute pattern titled "Tuscan Sun" by Karyn Herbert from In Stitches in a magazine titled "Stunning Applique Quilts" put out by Express Publications.  No date or volume number on the issue, but it is not a new one.  I went through my stash to find all the cheerful blue & yellow floral prints with a few leafy green ones as well, and teamed that with some kitty feature fabrics, as Verna loves her animals too.  I would have liked to add some puppy prints as well, but I didn't have any, and this is one quilt I am determined will be made from stash fabrics only.  The background is a pretty cream tone on tone print with tiny sprigs of flowers.  

I managed to piece most of it at the Retreat, and on coming home did the last couple of rows. Here it is with one side of the border on it.

And one with more detail

Each of the corners has masses of flowers appliqued and there are a few birds and butterflies scattered around.  This is where the reds and pinks are.  I am planning to buy a few bee buttons to put on this once its quilted, but that is a long way off.

I am only fixing the applique on one corner at a time with Vliesofix, as I found that the pieces were lifting.  So each night for the last few nights I have been doing the applique in front of the TV, and I have almost completed one corner.  I had forgotten how much I love doing applique!  That's good actually, as there is a lot on this quilt to do before its finished.

It is almost officially Winter - only 2 weeks to go.  We have had the most beautiful weather.  Lovely sunny days, with the temperatures in the low 20s, and cool nights.  I just love this time of the year.  The air is very crisp with no haze (except when they are doing hazard reduction burns) and it is lovely to wander around outside, which I did.  And look at what I found........
The first Jonquils.  I have singles, doubles, white and yellow Jonquils, and Daffodils, Iris and Hyacinths too.

We had a glorious display of bulbs last year, but I am not sure we will have as many this year, as they don't seem to have come up as prolifically.  I don't lift the bulbs, unless I want to move them to a different location.  It seems too much like hard work, and they don't seem to mind. 
Tibby came out to stalk the enemies in the jungle and keep me company while I poked around and took photos, and that was when I found the first blooms on the Daphne.  It has the most glorious heady scent.  Looks like that thrives on neglect as well.  LOL.  Daphne is supposedly terribly difficult to grow successfully, but it seems to like it here.

And the first of the Azaleas......

We have a lot of azaleas, in different parts of the garden.  I am not sure whether this happens to all Azalea shrubs everywhere, or whether this is location specific, or whether they are in need of something, but my shrubs generally bloom prolifically, then the flowers seem to brown off very quickly, and the shrub looks bedraggled.  

We also have a lot of Camellias of diffirent sorts.  This one has just started to bloom.  It always has hundreds of blooms on the shrub, great big blousy white blooms, that are so heavy that they can't keep their heads up.  You can see the number of bulbs waiting to come out in the photo.  Some people have said to me that I should remove some of the bulbs so that the other blooms get a better chance, but I hate doing that. 

Now the sun is well on its way down and it will soon get quite cold very quickly.  Time to go keep my machine company.

Til next time.......Keep on stitching

Friday, 10 May 2013

Friday Quilters, and Carl's Quilt

Today was one of my regular sewing days with the Friday Quilters.  As soon as everyone had gathered, we started the day with handing over Joan's Round Robin quilt, as she had not been able to come to the Retreat with us.

This is what Joan started with in May last year:

Seeing her quilt for the first time in a year.

Happy grin

And here it is.  There is some truly awesome piecing in that!  Just take a look at the 2" squares sewn into strips and set on point on the edges!  I didn't work on this quilt, so I can't really talk about the work that went into it.

Once the excitement of the handover had died down, it was time to get stuck into some serious sewing.  I had finished the piecing on the quilt I started at the retreat, so this morning in preparation, had I ratted through my (enormous) stack of UFOs to see what I could find to do.  I came up with Carl's Quilt, which I had started some time around September or October last year.

Carl is the son of my cousin, and about the middle of last year, I decided to make him and his sister Natalia each a quilt for Christmas.  Well Natalia's quilt got done, but things got a bit hot towards the end of last year, and this was the first time I had managed to find time to pick it up to work on it, since around September I think.

This is how I found it this morning.  Although Carl is still a child, I thought that being on the verge of teenage years, he was far too old to have a quilt with cowboys or cars, or other traditionally "boy" things.  As there is a lot of work involved in making a quilt, I figured he should have an "adult" one that will see him through his teens and well into young manhood.
So I had chosen dusky blues and reds, with a splash of brown, and a variety of light fabrics for contrast.  It helped that I just love those colours!  I cut the fabrics into squares & manufactured a heap of HSTs which finished at 5.5" and then set them on point.  I found a wonderful Japanese fabric to use as the setting triangles and for the border, so the HSTs seem to "float" on the blue border.
However, most of my quilt designs are organic.  I start with an idea, and the quilt just grows.  I add a bit here and then a bit there, and somehow or other it all comes together.  I almost never design the quilts I make on paper or on electronic media, I'm just too impatient, and equally, I rarely have a plan for the whole quilt.  So this morning, when I picked it up, I had of course forgotten where I was going with this one.  LOL.  I had obviously intended to do more HSTs because there were heaps of squares cut at 5 7/8" in the parcel with all the rest of the fabrics.  But what I had intended to do with them was completely gone.

Corner detail
As it was obvious that I had meant to construct more HSTs I got on with that, and by the end of the morning the pile had grown.

But when I got home with it and took it out to work on this afternoon, I began to mull over what to do next.  I had a brainwave - perhaps I should make some little hourglass blocks to add a bit of interest.  So I made two to try out....... 

If I do that, I will need to make at least 2, possibly 3 rows of hour glass blocks in order to make them effective, and also in order to extend the quilt to be longer.  It is much too small at the moment.
But then I laid out the HSTs in two rows, to see what that looked like.........

Two rows makes up a nice pinwheel design.  So now I don't know what to do.  I have put it aside for now to mull over and think about. 
Anyone want to leave me a comment on what they think??
Til next time...... Keep on stitching

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Round Robin Journey - In the beginning

Early in 2012 my quilt group, Friday Quilters, decided that a good challenge for the coming year would be to have a Round Robin.  None of us had participated in one before, so it was a bit of a learning experience for all of us.  Our brief was simple - prepare a block to use as the centre in time for our annual Retreat in May.  The Round Robin would have 6 rounds, and the first round would begin at the Retreat.  A journal was included in the pack so that each person could write a bit about the border they created, and the Big Reveal would be one year later at our Retreat in 2013.  There were 10 of us participating.

I deliberated for ages, as to what I wanted to do for the centre.  Eventually I found one of Bronwyn Hayes gorgeous stitcheries on Red Brolly called "True Friends and Simple Pleasures" as a free download.  I just adore Bronwyn's designs, and have several of her books, so I was absolutely delighted to have found this one.   It is in her "Catalicious" range of designs, and reminds me of my Tibby when she drapes herself across my knees, which is whenever I sit down.  LOL.  Here is what I produced:

But!  Being perverse, I decided at the last minute that I really didn't want to use a stitchery in the centre of a quilt.  So what to do?  Then inspiration hit me.  I had actually left a lot of fabric to the right of the stitchery, so why not use this as the quilt lable instead? 

Good idea, but having abandoned the idea of using the stitchery as my centre panel, I was stuck for inspiration.  More pondering, and, as I love Civil War reproduction fabrics, I thought I would dig into them for my block.   That was evil of me (grin) as only one other person in our group is into Civil War fabrics.  It was fitting to choose a block from the book "Civil War Love Letter Quilt" by Rosemary Youngs, to showcase my Civil War fabrics. 

You can read all about the book here.  Doubly fitting as I had bought the book at Quiltsmith on a shopping trip our group did a while back.

I chose the block called "Hospital Arrangements" inspired by a letter by David Coon to one of his sons (unnamed) on 3 April 1864.

I made 4 x 6" blocks by foundation piecing them onto paper, then setting them into a 4 patch and sewing a 2" border  around it and corner stones in the four corners.  Love the block!


Til next time....... keep on stitching

Thursday, 2 May 2013

No longer tearing my hair out

Well its 2 weeks since I posted that I was tearing my hair out about the border to put onto the Round Robin I am working on, and all is resolved now.  So thankfully I have not gone bald in the process.

I decided to use the Spin Out block in the tutorial that John at Quilt Dad had put up on his blog.  Thanks John.

I was worrying that the border would be too wide in relation to the rest of the quilt as the block is 8" finished.    As my maths is non-existent, I made a test block according to the instructions.  It is 8" finished.

Isn't this a fun block?  Anyway, I wanted to use all Civil War fabrics, and I also wanted each block to be different, so in the end I had to throw in other fabrics as there are 36 blocks & my Civil War stash wasn't big enough.  Is that a reason to go shopping for more?  LOL.
There were also enough scraps in the bag with the quilt for me to be able to carry through several of the fabrics which had been used previously.  The background fabric I used was the same as in the rest of the quilt - I was fortunate enough to be able to buy an exact match for it from Hobbysew.
Here is my little companion, Tibby, making sure that I was choosing the right fabrics for the next few blocks. to be made
I just loved this border.  I only wish that I'd had more time to do it in, as I was under huge pression to get it finished, and found myself nose to the grindstone for the whole two weeks.  I also found that because I was making each block different, I couldn't just precut the fabrics and zoom through.  I had to make choices for each block and cut them all individually.  And make sure I had the right bits together!
I put in a spacer border of tan floral desined by Barbara Brackman & a Civil War reproduction, and I repeated the fabric as a frame.

Here it is finished

Here is a detail photo of one of the corners
I am so happy with the way it turned out!  Even though my border has added 12" on each side to the original quilt, I don't think it looks too heavy or out of place.  The Spin Out block gives the border so much movement, and colour!

My next job was to make a minature block as a feature to go in the scrap book that has been travelling with the quilt.  Wasn't that fun & games!  Remember I said my maths was atrocious?  Well I cut and recut and pieced and unpicked and pieced again.  Still not quite right with the corner wing triangles, but it looks cute.

The other thing weighing on my mind over the last 2 weeks was that I am doing a workshop at the Retreat on Seminole Patchwork on Saturday, so I had to put that together too.  I was so fortunate in that I had found the samples I had made some years ago tucked away in the bottom of one of my drawers.  I had forgotten I had them.  They were made as samples for a class which never eventuated, so all I had to do was write up the instructions.  I would have been very stressed if I had to make up the samples as well.

All done.  Whew!  We leave tomorrow morning for our Retreat and we will be doing the Big Reveal tomorrow night.

Today is a Stitching Hearts day, and Jan & I are driving down to Sydney shortly, so it will be a long and tiring day.  I have about half an hour before I leave, so I'm off to pack for the Retreat.

Til next time.........keep on stiching