Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Planning for the 2016 Rainbow Scrap Challenge

I have participated in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge that Angela runs on her blog, SoScrappy for a couple of years, and am planning to do it again this year.  I have enjoyed the discipline of piecing in one colour each month and the friendships in the link ups each Saturday.

This year I made piles of Twinklers, Bow Ties and Crossroads blocks.  Still haven't done anything about putting them together.  In fact only this week I made a bunch of Bow Ties in dark blue - catching up from several months back.

That is the last of the blocks I need to make, so I guess I need to set to and actually piece some of them into tops.

But what to do in 2016?

In 3 days time Angela will be announcing the colour for January, so with that in mind I have been doing some planning.

I have loads of precut 2", 2.5" and 3" strips in all the colours of the rainbow.  I would dearly love to make a dent in those this year.   I spent some time trawling the internet for ideas, and found this strippy block which appeals to me:

Its called the Stacks & Stacks quilt block and there is a very detailed tutorial on the Little Lady Patchwork blog which Stephanie wrote for the Blogger's Block of the Month in January 2013.  I think it will lend itself to being made in one colourway each month.

I also have what seems like a bazillion precut 2", and 2.5" squares.  It doesn't seem to matter how many I use, they just breed.  LOL   Anyways.  I had intended to do a postage stamp quilt out of 2" squares this year, but then I found this gorgeous design:

I found it on a sweet blog called Dear Lissy.  Rebecca, the blogger, calls this a "controlled scrap quilt".  There is no tutorial, but it is simple enough - a 9 patch and a snowball.  I reckon that will do me for one of my choices, and I will do it with 2" squares for the 9 patches, and white fabric for the snowballs.

Hopefully, those two blocks will help to dent the baggies of scraps I have.

Lastly, I am toying with the idea of making a Sunbonnet Sue quilt in rainbow colours.  I love hand sewing, and this should make a perfect night time, in front of the TV project.  I think I will choose the one of the patterns in the book 501 Quilt Blocks by Better Homes & Gardens.  There are several in there, and perhaps I will do a variety of Sues and maybe a few Andys as well.  Hopefully it will look cute in rainbow colours.

Are you planning on playing in the 2016 Rainbow Scrap Challenge?  If not, have a go.  Its great fun.

Off to do a test block or two.

Til next time.....Keep on Stitching.

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Fessing Up

On Friday, my quilt group got together for the final meeting of the year - a Christmas lunch at Elaine's.  Thank you Elaine for hosting a lovely day.

Instead of doing a craft as we have done in previous years, we decided that we would bring in a UFO to show.  Mine was so old, I was totally embarrassed showing it, and now I am going to tell the world.  I'll have to do something about finishing it now, won't I?  LOL

Telling the story
This quilt was born in 2005 (actually I thought it was much older).  Back then I was a member of the Quilter's Guild in Sydney.  Each quarter there would be a Block of the Quarter printed in their magazine, and the idea was, if you wanted to participate, you made one or more blocks, which were then posted to the office.  Little baggies were made up with the contributions, and drawn at the next meeting.  The winners of the baggies got an unspecified number of blocks depending on how many were originally contributed.  I was lucky enough to win one of those little bags, in which from memory there were 9 blocks.

This what the block looks like, and it finished at 12" square. 

The Block
The top came together rather quickly despite me having to make a few more to make a 4 x 6 layout.  The brief was Autumn colours, which I love and have heaps of in stash. 
The next problem was what to do with the border.  I chose to piece a Seminole border using yardage I had in stash.  I didn't have a pattern for this, but that was OK - I had pieced Seminole before.
Seminole Border
Of course about 2/3 of the way in to piecing that border, I realised I didn't have enough of either of the green fabrics!  Murphy's Law - none in the store I purchased it in as it was so old.  I couldn't really substitute another colour, or add one for that matter.  So the quilt got stored in the cupboard for a (long) while.....

Some time later, I was talking to a friend who was a member of Southern Cross Quilters online group.  She offered to post a photo of the fabrics in the hope that someone had some.  Success!  The dark green was found in outback Queensland, and the light green came from Western Australia.  I set to and completed the border.

Got the maths right on this corner!
Now anyone who knows me, knows that my maths is that of a first grader.  So I drafted the corner pieces to make sure that it all fitted neatly.  Somehow it even worked (not showing you the other corner which is distinctly dodgy).  The trickiest bit was working out how wide to make the gold framing border to bring the quilt to the right measurements for the border to work.
Then to quilt it.  But how???? 
You know the answer - the quilt languished in the cupboard for a while longer.
Fed up with seeing the quilt sandwich taking up room, I began quilting a couple of years back by stitching in the ditch, hoping that inspiration for the rest would hit once I had done that.  But I wasn't real good at FMQ in those days, so once I had finished stitching in the ditch, back it went into the cupboard.
Then about a year ago, I felt confident enough (and inspired) to quilt a design in the neutral sections.

Neutral Section Quilting
And here it is from the back, complete with threads, still hanging.

Back view of Quilting
But the quilting inspiration did not extend to the rest of the block.  If you look at the next picture, you will see that the blocks are arranged in a design where your eye sort of follows the patches of colour on the diagonal, and the design looks almost like circles.

Can you see the circles?
What I had in mind was to quilt along the diagonal so that the circles would be more defined and the neutral areas would "pop" a bit.  All good in theory, but how do I achieve it?  And then there is the border.  How on earth do I quilt that.....

That is when the quilt went back into the cupboard. 

At the time I was doing the quilt, I decided to piece the backing from scraps.  Some of those fabrics are in the top itself.  I was chuffed with how this back turned out.

The pieced back
I even managed to use up a piece of cat fabric some sweet person had given me which I didn't really like.  It is lost in amongst all the rest of the fabrics, and actually blends quite well.

The offending cats.
So now that I have outed myself, I need to schedule that quilt and finish it.  Maybe if I leave it lolling about where it is in the way in my workroom that will be sufficient to prod me into action.

I am going to finish off now, with a photo taken through my kitchen window the other day.  This is a Crested Dove, native to Australia, and he has been visiting me regularly for the last couple of weeks.  They are very timid and I am amazed he is comfortable enough to get that close to humanity.  Isn't he handsome?

Crested Dove
Apart from the cute crest, his feathers are a beautiful shade of grey.  He has a gorgeous blush of pink on his shoulders, and a stunning set of purple feathers at the tips of his wings.  They make a curious whirring noise as they take off to fly, but I haven't heard their call.  When he is courting, the tail feathers spread out and stand upright into a fan shape, and he does a little dance in front of his mate. 

Love watching the wildlife.

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

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Ancient Stitching

Since I have been blogging I have kept a photo record of all (well, almost all) that I have sewn, but the stuff I did years ago is not recorded very well.  So in the last week or so, I have trawled the photo albums and all the loose photos, scanned them all, and got them sorted on my computer.  I thought I would share some of these with you.

My patchwork journey started in 1989 with an all night class at a shop in Bondi owned by Toni Lober. 

It was a mad, crazy, fun, exhausting night, but at the end of it I had an almost complete top.   The class was for a diamond log cabin table cloth, and I was ignorant enough in those days not to know that was different from a regular log cabin.
This is what we made.....

These days I use the tablecloth sometimes with a clear plastic on top to protect it.
I wanted a log cabin quilt to go on my bed, and the plan was to use the fabric in those curtains in the centre of the block. 
The knitted blanket on the bed is one I made in the last 2 years of school, so it was completed in 1967 and is still in use occasionally these days (showing my age here.  LOL)
I did end up making that log cabin quilt I was planning, but by the time it was completed and quilted I had moved house and the curtains were long gone. 
In 1999 I decided to take the backing off the tablecloth and put a nicer one on.  I then requilted it, much more densely. 

About 1992-3 I found a kit which I made up into a wall hanging.  I have no idea where I bought it or the name of the maker.

I was so proud of it!  My first attempt at applique which now after years of patchworking I reckon wasn't all that bad.  I entered it into one of the local Agricultural shows and actually won a ribbon!  I was beyond delighted.  Think in reality, they must have struggled to find a quilt to award a ribbon to.  LOL
Then there were a raft of baby quilts.  Here are two that appeared around 1997.  There are at least a dozen more quilts I've made for babies in several Australian states, and several overseas for which I have no photos.

In the middle 1980s and through to the early 1990s I was doing loads of cross stitch.  Here is one I loved doing.  It is an Amish pattern by Told in a Garden, and there is quite a range of them.  I just checked it out and you can still buy it.  I completed it in 1994 and it currently hangs in the little hallway outside my bedroom door.

I have always been a knitter, and made these little jobs for my cousin's 3 kids in 1996.  These are 3 of Jean Greenhowe designs.  Loved making them and have made quite a few more which are scattered around the world.

By the late-1990s I was feeling confident enough in my patchwork to begin creating my own designs.  This little wall hanging was for my friend's daughter when she turned 18.  I called it "Baringa"
And then I learnt to foundation piece, and designed this one.
In 1998 I did a Mystery Quilt class with Joy White at my then LQS, Country by Design, sadly now no longer.  This photo was taken before the top was complete - you can see a few of the pieces on the outer border aren't sewn down.

I really enjoyed the class - fun teacher, and a great group.  There was lots of applique and hand piecing in that too.
Then my grand daughters appeared, and I started making them quilts.  These are the crib quilts I made from my own design for my first two, in 2001 & 2003.

Now that I have started on collating all the photos, I realise that there are bits & pieces all over the house that I need to go and photograph!  Guess it will be a while before I finish off this job.
So that's a bit of a story about my quilting journey.  Hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed scrabbling in my old photos. 
What do you think about a link up where we show our earliest quilt creations?   If there's any interest, I'll see if I can work out how to set up a link.
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

RSC 2015 The End is Near

November marks the end of the Rainbow Scrap Challenge run by Angela at SoScrappy.  This year November is the time to sew with lime green scraps.

When I rummaged through my scraps I realised lime was conspicuous by its' absence.  Then I checked what I had made earlier in the year when I was supposed to be making dark green blocks and discovered I had all shades of green made.  So I just pulled a variety of light and dark green scraps to make my blocks.  I figure it will all work out in the end.

I started off by finishing the Twinkler stars I had laid out ready to sew - I showed them to you here.  Those ones were joined by a whole lot more.

I have an idea for layout for these, and will get into that as soon as I have pieced the Indigo ones.  I am getting impatient to see if my idea works.
Next I got stuck into the Bow Tie blocks and made 17 of those.  One little Indigo one jumped in under my needle and got made.

That's not a problem as I didn't get any Indigo blocks made when it was their turn.
I had a better run with the Crossroads block.  There seemed to be enough lime and light green strips to cut what I needed for a limish block.

On a roll, I made the Indigo Crossroads block too.

That's my RSC sewing for this week.
Why not go take a look at what the others have created for the RSC this week here.

Til next time.....Keep on stitching

Friday, 27 November 2015

Keeping Busy

With Christmas around the corner, the round of end of year parties has started.  Its a busy time, but it also heralds the start of the summer holidays.

I've been doing some secret sewing.  The parcel to Julie (who blogs here) for the random give away I did a little while back is posted, but silly me didn't take any photos!!  Hopefully she will share some when she gets it.

Earlier this week I put the borders onto this little quilt top donated by some kind soul to Stitching Hearts.

It was hand pieced and a bit lumpy & wonky.  A good go with a steam iron laid all the seams flat, and it was time for the borders. 

Nothing flash - just enough to get it to the size we use at Stitching Hearts.  The fabrics were very old, mostly 50s and 60s I think.  I don't think there were any patchwork cottons at all.

Cute little cartoon pup in a shoe

Voiles & lawn in this one

The pink in the centre bottom is a seersucker. 
Whose dresses were made with the other fabrics I wonder?

Old fashioned prints & poly/cottons
A bit of a challenge!

On Wednesday 25th November, 5 P&O cruise ships came into Sydney Harbour together to celebrate the official naming of P&O's 2 newest ships.   The ships were Pacific Dawn, Pacific Jewel, Pacific Aria, Pacific Eden and Pacific Pearl.  We almost always have a cruise ship in the harbour, but all 5 at once was a bit spectacular. 

They gathered at the entrance to the harbour early on Wednesday, and formed a V formation to all sail into the Harbour together at 6.30am.
The Dearly Beloved just happened to be going on the Manly Ferry that afternoon, so I asked begged him to take some photos.

Pacific Aria at the Old Passenger Terminal, Circular Quay totally dwarfing it.  One of the ferries which serve the wharves within the Harbour on the left and the Harbour Bridge in the background on the right.  Ferries to Manly are much bigger as they have to go out across open water at the Heads.

In the photo below is Fort Denison in the foreground, the first fort built in Sydney Cove from local sandstone and completed in 1857.  It was used as a prison for hardened criminals initially and was nicknamed "Pinchgut" because of the poor rations issued to the prisoners.  It is now a restaurant and wedding venue.

Think this next one is Pacific Dawn.  The yacht in the foreground is one of the entries in the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race which will begin on Boxing Day

And this is Pacific Pearl.

Quite a spectacular sight!

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

Sunday, 15 November 2015

When All Else Fails....

Start a new project!  LOL

With all the WIPs and UFOs in my cupboard and all over my cutting table, I was totally uninspired this week.  All I felt like was some mindless piecing.  So I reached for my baggie of 5" squares, which was obscenely full. Lime Green is the colour of the month for November in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge run by Angela, so to assuage the guilt I was feeling at not doing anything for that, I pulled a whole load of green 5" squares.  None of them are lime green, but what the heck, they are scraps.  It hasn't made a difference to the baggie!  LOL

In no time at all they were pieced into 4 patches.  Then I added some cream tone on tone fabric for sashing at Friday Quilters this week, and a few 3" cornerstones.  This is where I got to by Friday night.

I would have preferred it to be 4 x 4 layout, but if I had done that, the quilt would have been a bit big.  It is destined for Stitching Hearts, and we make our lap quilts a maximum of 48" wide.  This means we can get two quilts out of a single width of wadding, and minimise our wastage.
Choosing the border fabric.....

This is what I went with.....

I had just enough fabric to cut 5" strips for the green border - less than one 2" strip left over.  Whew!

All done and all made with fabrics from stash.  Ready to go with me on Thursday to Stitching Hearts for our meeting.  It will be the last working meeting for the year.
As it was still afternoon yesterday when I got that done, and there was some more sewing time, I reached for the squares I had prepped for my green Twinklers.  I went back to check what I had made earlier this year when we were doing green, and found that I had not followed instructions, and I had made a mixture of light and dark green and everything in between.  Here is the batch I made earlier this year.
First lot of green Twinklers made in May
This time I am doing the same so that hopefully I'll end up with enough of both light greens and darks.  I've got virtually no lime green at all, and as this is an exercise in using up scraps of what you do have, I'm not going to go out to buy any.  I got this lot half made before I had to leave off to make dinner last night.

Poor quality night time shot, but there you go.  Planning to finish them off, and the rest of the prepped Twinklers today after I have done this post.
Linking this up rather late to Angela's blog for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Time to go take a look at what others have pieced this week.
During the week I headed up to the library to take a look at an exhibition on the local ship building industry in the 19th Century put on by the Local History group.  Of course I came home with an armload of books.  I have been enjoying "A Quilters Holiday", one of the Elm Creek Quilters series.  Ages since I have read one of those and I am thoroughly enjoying it.  Have you read any of them?
Til next time.....Keep on stitching.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Quilting Shirley's Quilts

In 2014 our friend Shirley from Stitching Hearts passed away.  I blogged about Shirley here at the time of her funeral.

Some of her part completed quilts were given to Stitching Hearts to do with as we wished.  I was asked to quilt three of her quilts, and in the last week or so I have made a start.  The one I chose to work on first, is a sweet little quilt with baskets.

It is beautifully pieced.  The baskets have been made in two shades of blue, and they look like they are woven.

I used a Frixion pen in pink to mark a design in the large plain white sections.  The design was marked using a template I made eons ago.  Goodness knows where I found the original design, but I traced it onto templastic and have used it on several quilt.  
Here I am launching into the quilting on my domestic sewing machine. 

It is always a bit heart stopping when you mark up a quilt like this.  Even though I've done it before and I know it will vanish, there is always a slightly horrid feeling of "what if".

I shouldn't have worried though.  I used the "shot of steam" function on my steam iron to erase the markings.  You hold the iron just over the marked area and the steam does all the work for you.  You don't need to actually touch the fabric with the iron.  It works like magic.

I used a silky white rayon thread made by Gutterman on this section.  Love the texture the quilting has given this quilt.  It is due of course to the wadding, which is a good quality one, and I think is a wool/poly mix.

I have used a half motif on the sides and a quarter motif in the corners.  Only 2 more motifs to do and a few half ones.
I decided to outline quilt the baskets in a royal blue rayon embroidery thread, and I have stitched in the ditch on all the seams in the basket itself.   I think the section between the basket and the handle needs something.  Any ideas??

No idea yet what I will do with the borders.  Hopefully inspiration will hit when the time comes.

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