Saturday, January 31, 2009

Where is my focus?

In December every year my thoughts usually turn to all the projects I'd love to tackle in the new year. It's so exciting, you know how it is? Just because it's a new year it doesn't mean I have a clean slate but somehow this is how it feels. Am I deluding myself? Well it's nearly February and I have to admit that I've lost my focus, my grand plans have gone...somewhere.
If I had only a few quilts on the go at any one time until they were done, I never would have made some of my favourites like this DWR in the process of being hand quilted. (sorry about the sun blurring this photo)

I've been itching for new projects and I have started a biggie, a loooong slow one, OK that's not unusual for me, the trouble is I have a few of those in the works. You'll see as they get revealed that it's the journey not the destination for me, that's why I'm not a prolific quilt maker. You won't find me bragging about the total number of quilts I've made in the last 15 years.
I need to get organised! I need to focus! I've been wanting, longing for a new, mindless piecing project for the machine so I slapped myself on the hand, came to my senses and decided to return to one I started last year.
I saw this quilt on Nannete's blog and thought what a great scrap quilt, why I could use up some fabrics from the scrap bin and they don't have to be matchy. Ill do some more on these for now.

Here's an Ohio Star quilt, totally scrappy, made mostly out of the scrap bin and finished in 2001, I enjoyed playing around with value to get the stars looking different. I hand quilted this one.
See, sometimes I do get there!

What about you? how many UFOs do you have? are you likely to return to them and how do you stay on track and does it really matter if you are enjoying what you do?

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flowering Vines

I don't have much to show while I'm working on my vines so I dragged this one out.In 2006, I made this to teach to a small group of ladies who wanted to try applique, and they also got an introduction to simple paper foundation piecing.
It is a compilation of two Piece o' Cake patterns from their book Flowering Favourites
It has Quilters Dream Request cotton batting and is machine quilted by moi with Mettler 60 wt cotton so it's not too stiff.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Appliqueing the vine quilt

I've had a productive burst on starting the vine quilt and I'm loving it so far. It's coming out quite a bit more vibrant than I had imagined.
There are four participants for making this quilt. Tracey who inspired us, Kathie, Meredith and myself.
I'm not following the pattern by Fons and Porter in the book because all the branches are the same and I also wanted to re-size my version. You can see an image of the original quilt here where they give some measurements which have some discrepancies.
I have cut my panels wider to allow for distortion and it will finish at 5" wide. See how I've used a pinking blade to cut them? this means no unravelling while stitching and handling. I also basted a mid line as a guide for trimming later.

The leaves are strip pieced, Tracey clever clogs can eyeball and freehand cut leaves, I need a template so I am drawing them out and using freezer paper on top of the strips to cut them out.
The main vine and branches are basted so that the leaves can be tucked under, then it's appliqued down afterwards.
I've also been nibbling at some other projects, this bird border needs a lot of circles on it yet. Original quilt pattern available here.

I was in the mood for a little hand quilting so started on this with some outline stitching. It's just too hot to handle a full size quilt.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

I'm starting a new quilt

This is how I spent my afternoon, drawing. I was so wrapped up in it I didn't notice the smell of burning eucalyptus trees outside from a bushfire. The smell of Aussie summer, now there's a storm moving in after two days of hot hot weather. Thank goodness our air con was fixed yesterday! Read on if you want to know why and what I've been drawing.The book "Quilts from the Henry Ford" features some amazing quilts and this is one made by Susan McCord made around 1860.
How on earth do you make quilts like this when you have seven kids, make all the clothing and work on the farm, plus plus plus? No wonder she was called a quilting genius!

There are stupendous quilts in this book that I'd love to reproduce and when Tracey announced she was making this one and invited anyone to join her, I jumped in. Click on the picture for a closer look.
There is a pattern inside by Fons and Porter but as I'm changing the measurements, I'm drawing my vines myself. The leaves are all strip pieced and at this stage I have yet to work out how I'll do that.
It's not a quilt for the faint hearted, after all there are around 4,000 strip pieced leaves involved here on thirteen panels.This is my initial fabric selection, including a natural coloured background. Just waiting for a different green to arrive to see if I like it better for the vines. I will add a heap more fabric as I go along.
Don't expect this quilt to be made in a short amount of time, I'm the tortoise not the hare. I'll post about it as I go and hopefully, you will cheer me on, or you can join us.
If you expressed an interest in the footstool I made before Christmas, like the one above, you can get it here.

If you do make it and strike any problems, I'd be happy to help out.
Also, I did say I would add a link to a free online puzzle quilt pattern. You can find that at Jukebox Quilts

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

A new book

This book arrived today after much anticipation. It was scheduled to come out last year but there was a hold up with printing.
I'm in two minds about this one. If you are looking for an historical book on Australian quilts, this is it. It certainly should be in every guild library in Aussie.
My disappointment is in the way the patterns are presented.

There is a CD included which gives instructions and photos of the selected quilts to reproduce and there is also a pattern pullout. They need to be increased by 200% and 400%

I wanted this book specifically for the patterns and I have to say the photo quality of them on the CD is very poor and there are no close-ups to see the fabrics. I suggest checking it out before you outlay the money, it's not cheap.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Origami pouch tutorial

Remember the small pouches I made as gifts before Christmas? They are really useful because they have a pocket on both sides of the outside.
It was suggested that I do a tutorial on making them so here goes. Let me know if I make a blooper in the instructions. This is a photo heavy post, you can click on most of the photos to get a close up.Cut two pieces of fabric 18.5 inches square or if you are using American fat quarters, 18 inches square will do. One is for the pouch outer and the other will be the lining. The spot fabric is my lining. You will also need two 30 inch lengths of cord and two beads.
Sew the two pieces of fabric, right sides together around all four sides but leave a three inch gap in the middle of one side for turning. Back stitch all seams.
Turn right side out, hand sew the opening closed and press.
Fold the square in thirds, making sure the corners touch each other in the middle as in the photo below. Press the folds with an iron.
Open the square out and fold in half diagonally, your pressed folds should be on the left and right side of the triangle.
Draw lines on the folds three quarters of an inch from the top, right to the bottom and sew on the lines. Remember to back stitch.
Now take one side of the triangle and fold towards the other side. You might like to put your hand inside, hold your tongue in the right position and tug the corner over.
Take a couple of tack stitches by hand right at the corner to hold it in place. Repeat for the other side and it should look like the photo below. Did you do the "tug and tongue" thing? Now doesn't that look like an envelope? Maybe I should rename this the envelope pouch.

Here's a closeup of the first corner That I tacked.
Turn the whole thing inside out, it should look like this. A point turner for the corners is useful.Put your hand inside, just do the tongue thing to help you align it all inside so it all sits neatly in there.
Fold and pin the corners to box them. Mark in an inch from the corner and sew. Oh look, ears! Seriously, this is going to be the inside of the pouch, so now turn it right way out and check those corners are sewn neatly in.
Here's a closer look at the corner.
Fold the top flaps of the pouch over and pin as below.
Sew a 1/4" seam from the top edge all around and then another one a generous half inch below that. This forms the casing which needs to be wide enough to accommodate two thicknesses of cord. You will probably have to take the table off your machine and just use the free arm for this part.
Nearly there! See how I have my hand inside the outer pocket? You need to hand sew the pocket closed from the top to the bottom corner with a slip stitch. Repeat for the pocket on the other side. Just go through the top layers when you're sewing, not right trough all layers. When I got to the bottom corner, I had to do the tongue aerobics again
Take one of the cords and using your favourite implement/tool, thread the cord from one side, around and back to the same side you started at. Repeat for the other cord, this time thread starting from the other side of the casing and back. Thread both ends of each cord through a bead, knot the cords as in the photo and TA_DA, you're done.
Pat yourself on the back! I only had this rather thick cord in my stash and will replace it, a finer cord will close up the pouch better. Of course I will have to put smaller beads on as well.
I hope some of you will get some use out of this tutorial, let me know.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The final quilt shop fix and my Hexagons

Believe it or not, this is a quilt shop, I know, it looks like a tin shed! It's in Henderson, Auckland.
Take a look inside though and it reminds me of the Tardis on DR Who. It's much larger than first impression and if you click on the photo, you can see all the antique sewing machines, mostly toy ones. We had a nice visit here and then to a curio shop and cafe for lunch before flying back to Australia last night. It was pretty hard leaving the Grandkids when miss 3 year old had tears streaming down her face at our goodbyes.Lurline is taking part in the Great Hexagon Quilt-along which I won't be taking part in but I did say I would show mine.
This is from Australian Quilters Companion Vol.5.2 No 18, designed by Kerry Dear and featured on the cover. I pieced it by hand and hand quilted it last year, its around 60" square which is a good lap size quilt. If anyone is going to make this, you'll need the correct templates from their website.
My other hexagon project is my oldest Ufo and is English Paper pieced. It's the Inner City pattern. I'd only have 3 or 4 rows to put on but I'm not feeling inspired to finish it. It served a great purpose during tough times so I'm not sure how I feel about it.
It's so hot here, even with the air conditioner, outside it's 39 celcius (102F) so I think it's time I disapeared into the cool sewing room. Some have asked me about the Jigsaw footstool pattern I did before Xmas so I'll get onto that in my next post

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Cot quilt

I didn't think I'd be posting two days in a row but I wanted to keep a record of this little cot quilt as it's another one that doesn't live at our house.

Simple, good old Irish Chain, made for my 1st GD in 1999. I did make an effort by handquilting it though and I remember it took awhile.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Still in New Zealand

Since I'm still on holiday, I have no new stitching news. I can tell you, I'm itching to get back into it especially when reading about all the projects on other blogs. While out and about and dying for a decent coffee, we came across a cafe and I spied some quilts inside on the walls. Of course that's where I fed my caffiene craving and I took these photos. Since they were on public display, I'm sure it's ok to post them.

As chance would have it, these quilts were made by someone I know, Liegh Wells. I know her quite well as she and I used to be in the same quilt Guild and small group that used to go on retreats.
I'm glad I am able to credit her for her quilts.
Another place I've been is to this beach where my family used to have beach holidays when we were children. Some great times were had here collecting Pipis (a shellfish), getting bitten by crabs and having great times in the summers.
I will be returning to Australia on the 14th and will be hugging my fabric soon after!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

An angel and an embroidery

we had a good six and a half hour trip down to visit family yesterday where we will be staying for a week although it did rain most of the way. It was good to see the New Zealand countryside again.

I thought I would take photos of more things that have been given away. This angel was made so long ago, I'd forgotton about it. My Sister has it up each Christmas.
This is the very first piece of Stumpwork embroidery that I ever did, also given to my sister as a midwifery graduation gift in 2000.