Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The next big thing

I've been champing at the bit to get back to the vine quilt. I looked back on my blog and I can't believe it was last February that I worked on it. I spent two afternoons drawing up the pattern for the fourth of thirteen panels. Maybe I'll get a few more done this year.
I have an old cardboard box of scraps that I put away for the quilt along with my patterns. I think I better get a better container for a couple of my ongoing projects to make life easier.
The best part is when I've done the prep and I can get onto the stitching. As I sat down to enjoy myself, a conversation arose with Mr Quiltsalott that I'll share with you. At this stage, the vines had been basted down ready to tuck the leaves under.

Mr Q:  That central vine looks a bit big in relation to everything else.
Me: Yes, I know, I think you're right but I only have a 1/2" bias tape maker and I think it came out a bit bigger than it should. Let me lay it out and have a look.
Mr Q: It definitely doesn't look right, it's too thick.
Me: Gee, thanks for pointing that out, now I'm going to have to take it off and make it smaller somehow. Here look at the book. The first panel has a thicker vine than the rest. It won't matter if they are different, they weren't perfectionists in those days you know. I really need it to be 3/8" wide but they don't make a bias tape maker that wide and I've got too lazy to use my bias bars and do it on the machine.

At this stage, I pull off that offending thick vine and press one side open, refold one edge in closer, baste it back on and call it done.

Mr Q: That looks better.
Me: You know too much I'm thinking but actually say, thanks, you were right, I really appreciate you pointing that out, it really needs a 3/8" vine. Now I'm happier with it.
MrQ: I've just been on the Internet and did you know that Clover now make a 3/8" bias tape maker, I think you should order one.
I got another block done for the Cherry Trees quilt over Christmas. Still loving the fabrics.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More red and green

After finishing the Stars and Sprigs top it feels strange not to have a focus on anything else just yet. What to do, what to do?  I have to have applique on the go so decided to try a block from the Beyond The Cherry Trees quilt that's been a free download. I even joined the blog dedicated to the making of it.

When I saw Kelly's contemporary version, I just knew that's the look I was after and so with her blessing, I went right ahead. It's always been my dream to have a healthy collection of the red and green quilts and I really don't want them all to look the same. I love how the fist block looks but I have realised even though there are basically two colours with sprinkles of others, one still has to pay attention to value so it won't look flat and dull.
I've been taking some time to make a heap of half square triangles to get this other thing together. Most of the strips are just pinned at this stage on the design wall.
I don't like it.  You're probably rolling your eyes at me about now. It's too blocky and strong, there's not enough white negative space, I wanted the blocks to float on the background etc, etc. Time to stop and re-assess. Stay tuned because by hook or by crook, I'll get this one to bend to my will.
Wishing you all a happy, joyous and safe holidays.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Stars and Sprigs, the top.

What a biggie, it's 96" square! Now to quilt it. For a moment there I did think about hand quilting it. I like the softness and drapeable cosiness of a  hand quilted quilt. I will be basting this up for machine quilting, it's just too big a job otherwise but I've decided to try and keep it soft by not doing anything too dense and using silk thread, (I think) after all I may change my mind. I have so many other quilts on the go that I need to make.
Thanks for all the encouraging comments that helped me keep my blinkers on. Thanks also to Kim Mclean for producing amazing quilt patterns for us to enjoy stitching. I posted this and a couple of other shots over on Glorious Applique.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Something else to share

Yesterday was the 12th anniversary of my moving to Australia and I think my DH is glad that I did since he sent me these flowers. I'd like to share them with all my readers and friends to say thank you for all the wonderful visits and kind, thoughtful and encouraging comments you leave me. I'm very appreciative and am so glad of the friendships and connections I've made from the community of bloggers that share my love of stitching. You guys often make my day!
I have been trying to be productive in a snail pace kind of way. I'm still making a loaf of sourdough every second day. It's such a soothing and satisfying thing to be making and eating hand made bread. I didn't think Mr Quiltsalott would get so fond of it that he'd let a bought loaf of bread go mouldy.  I'm committed to it now, there's no going back any time soon.
It's been ages since I made any klosje blocks but here's another 19 to add to my pile. I think the total now stands at 168. At this rate, it'll be a slow growing project, not that that matters in the least.
Below is a very piddly little photo but it's really hard to get the whole border in one shot so this will have to do. I just have to join this to the rest of the quilt and then the top is complete. I'll be back to show the whole top soon.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Something to share

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to 8 year-olds, 'What does 'love' mean?'?
The answers they got were broader and deeper than anyone could have imagined.

'When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn't bend over and paint her toenails anymore.
So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That's love.
Rebecca- age 8

'When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different.
You just know that your name is safe in their mouth.
Billy - age 4

'Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.
Karl - age 5

'Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.
Chrissie- age 6

'Love is what makes you smile when you're tired.
Terri - age 4

'Love is when my mummy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.
Danny - age 7

'Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more.
My Mummy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss'
Emily - age 8

'Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening presents and listen..'
Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

'If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend who you hate,'
Nikka - age 6
(we need a few million more Nikka's on this planet)

'Love is when you tell a guy you like his shirt, then he wears it everyday.'
Noelle - age 7

'Love is like a little old woman and a little old man who are still friends even after they know each other so well.'
Tommy - age 6

'During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling.
He was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore.'
Cindy - age 8

'My mummy loves me more than anybody
You don't see anyone else kissing me to sleep at night.'
Clare - age 6

'Love is when Mummy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.'
Elaine-age 5

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy smelly and sweaty and still says he is handsomer than Robert Redford.
Chris - age 7

'Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day
Mary Ann - age 4

'I know my older sister loves me because she gives me all her old clothes and has to go out and buy new ones.
Lauren - age 4

'When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.' (what an image)
Karen - age 7

'Love is when Mummy sees Daddy on the toilet and she doesn't think it's gross..
Mark - age 6

'You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.
Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked about a contest he was asked to judge.
The purpose of the contest was to find the most caring child.
The winner was a four year old child whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife.

Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there.
When his Mother asked what he had said to the neighbour, the little boy said,
'Nothing, I just helped him cry'

Monday, December 6, 2010

Petite and precise

I decided to keep nibbling away at the fifteen year project I showed back in September and this was the last block to be trimmed to size. I haven't been a happy camper about the red buds and almost decided to take them off and replace them with a couple of embroidered bullion knots. My motto is to give anything a try and not be so defeatist but really it's the perfectionist, tenacious part of my personality that takes over and I don't say that with pride. It can be a curse.
I would say that my applique has improved since stitching these so I thought I would have another go and leave the bullion stitches for plan B. This is the smallest bud with about an 1/8" seam allowance and I used Floriani Stitch N Wash which was fused to the back of the fabric as a template to be left in.
From that point, I needle turned the seam and the Floriani gave me an edge to do that. If there was a little peak, I would scoot back over to it and do an extra stitch to roll it under.
I'm so glad I did that, this is much more to my liking.
 The block and I are happier for that extra effort.
I'm still making half square triangles for the sashing and I had a pressing plan so that the background would be free of the seams. See how the red fabric peeks out of the seam on the bottom? Not good.
I trimmed the red seam smaller so there will be no shadowing on the quilt.
This is much better and that bit of extra work will be worth it. I was always encouraged to do my best and for this quilt I think it's deserving of that. I think one of my quilting goals for the next year is to remember to take care of the details when it's warranted. We all have our own personal standards don't you think? Some quilts just need that extra bit of love.

Friday, December 3, 2010

I'm getting back into it.

From the mailbox, I recieved this gorgeous Phillip Jacobs fabric which is going on the back of the Stars and Sprigs quilt. I also got some Kimono silk thread ( #100 weight) to try and thought I might as well get the colour cards while I was at it. I order things online and spend way too long looking around at what else could go in the parcel to make the postage worthwhile. I bet I'm not the only one who does that.
I've been meaning to make myself a firm pressing board for ages and went shopping at the hardware store to get myself a staple gun to do the job. I not only came out with the gun, I got some laser levels that will help me square up my quilts. I've been watching Sharon Schamber's videos online and now I want/need all this stuff you know. The video for making the board is free here on this page. Maybe now my patchwork won't distort on the ironing board. I live in hope. If I keep going, I may just need a tool belt.
There's no frantic sewing going on but I've been playing around with the machine quilting and had to have a go at this bug by Irena Bluhm. Who knows when I may need a bug on a quilt.
I've been doodling and drawing out some ideas for machine stitching with this eight pointed star and liked it enough to roughly stitch it out to see how it would translate to fabric.
I like some of it but not the feathers in the center, I think it looks too thready for me, I'll put the thinking cap back on. Thinking up ideas for hand quilting is easy for me, not this though. Practice and experience needed here. I did try out a cream and a pink thread as well as a couple of different stipples.
I think I should leave the points of the star unquilted and not flatten them down.
I was concentrating so much on the stitches that I didn't pay attention to where the fingers were. The needle broke in my finger and left the thread inside. It didn't hurt much but the thread was also still attached to the machine and the scissors fell on the floor. What to do, what to do, I tried to pull the needle out but it was stuck. I eventually extricated myself and decide I was too chicken to pull the needle out. I went to the doctor and let her do the honours. The worst part was that I ended up with a tetanus and whooping cough vaccination at the same time.
Only a blogger would get the camera out at a time like this. I'm going to do some hand stitching now.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Not a lot happening here.

I did finish the not so secret Santa gift for swapping with my sewing group, actually on the morning of the swap (phew). Not so secret because we can all guess who made what but it was a lot of fun and we had a nice dinner out to boot.
The Hardanger heart is a pattern by Emie Bishop.
The gift I received is this gorgeous felt wool heart, all hand beaded which must have taken for-EVER. What a hoot to give a heart and get one back.
I got another wee gift in the mail, I love the look of the Zentangle on the card but I have no plans to start another addiction. If you don't know what the Zentangle craze is, where have you been? The ladybird bookmark is a cutie too, thank you friend, you know who you are.
I feel like I've been possessed by a need, an obsession to sort out how I would quilt the Stars and Sprigs before I've even finished the top. I'm killing two birds with one stone here and keeping up my practice on the machine. While I like what's happening here, I think not for the quilt. You'd think I could do something simple but no, not me, I have to try the fancy pants stuff, just because.
The truth is I may be in one of those sewing slumps, I haven't done any sewing in the evenings for the last three days. I must be sick or needing some battery recharging. Hopefully, I can get back into gear this weekend and get that applique going again.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

I'm late for a very important date.

I was hoping to get back into some serious machine bonding until I was told the secret Santa swap for my sewing group was in a week. I've only had a whole year to make a small Christmas decoration to swap and I did think I still had a few weeks up my sleeve but it's been bought forward. Tick tock, tick tock, there's nothing like a deadline to get me going.
A quick but frantic search in the dark archives of the sewing room and I've found something suitable. You'll have to do with a sneak peek because who knows who might be lurking on my blog.
I still snuck in some time on the machine because I don't want to slip backwards on my machine quilting practice and get all rusty again, after all  how many times can I call myself a beginner?? I'm going for intermediate status here people.
Since I'm close to finishing that applique thing I've been working on for ages, I think it's about time I thought about how it's going to get quilted.  Grand ideas are brewing but I need a bit of guidance, not having that much quilting under the belt you know. Wendy over at Ivory Spring is a quilting goddess and  I want to stitch like her so I asked for some advice and she's sharing her wisdom over here.

My very first attempt at McTavishing is on the bottom and another wiggly worm filler on the top.
So I've learnt a lot just with this attempt. The stitching is a bit close together than what I'd like.
I have to pay attention to the puffy bits in between the stitches and I better practice some more, it's looking a bit busy so maybe I need to simplify it. I darkened the photo to show up the quilting a bit better.
While I was on holiday, I met  my daughter's talented friend Christine and gave her a very basic lesson on needleturn applique. What a quick learner, she got it pretty much straight away. This is what she made for me as a thank you, gosh I'm just happy if I can pass on anything useful. This pincushion was made out of New Zealand fabrics and has a metal pot scrubber inside which is supposed to be good for the pins. I love pincushions!
 I was pretty restrained and only went to a few patchwork shops on holiday. I can't get the lime green of this fabric to photograph the right colour. If you saw it in real life, you might need sunglasses.
 A few brights to add to the stash for future kids quilts cause I don't see many around here so grabbed a sampling of them. I found it interesting that not one of the shops had any reproduction style fabrics, not a one.
I guess that style is more popular in Australia.
Back to that Christmas stitching, I'll be able to show it next week.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Holiday snaps from New Zealand

Warning, photo heavy post. You can just scroll down through to the bottom if you want the quilty picture.

In New Zealand, you can see a lot of Maori art and these next two were part of a memorial for fallen soldiers. Maori culture is very strong and incorporated into everyday life in NZ.
My children, grandchildren and a sister and brother in law live in Auckland, near the top of NZ so that's where we spent most of our time. I was there for the first week by myself and Mr Quiltsalott joined me for the next two weeks.
There are lots of old character homes around Auckland that have been restored, I loved seeing all the decorative details on them.
We needed to travel to Wellington at the bottom of the North Island to see another sister, bil and my mum. My mother has just been moved into a home as she is at the stage of Alzheimer's where she needs to be safe and taken care of. The short term memory is not good but otherwise she's in great health and I was happy to see her and spend some time out and about for an afternoon to catch up.

It takes about nine hours driving from Auckland to Wellington but the roads are excellent so it wasn't too tiring and there is plenty of scenery to look at.
The native Kowhai trees were nearly finished flowering but this was was at it's peak.
These remind me of home as there were trees planted all down my street where I used to live.

On the drive back to Auckland, I took some photos from a moving car of the two mountains, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe in bottom photo. Both are active volcanoes.
This is such a stunningly green country, it's one of the things I miss about home.
When you drive, you will see farmland all around you and there were plenty of lambs and calves to stare at. If you click on the photos, you'll get a better idea.
Two of my favourite people, Sophie, 5 and Ella, 3.
Noah, born to be a gardener maybe. No photo of my 11 yr old grandaughter, not sure that she'd like that.
I celebrated my birthday while over there and my daughter made me a chocolate mud cake especially decorated in bling style by the three girls. It was a high fat one too, I loved it! I haven't had a birthday cake in years.
It was so great to see my Mum and Dad, three sisters, two kids and four grandchildren. Thank goodness they're only three hours away by plane.

As for the sewing,I did get the border on the left appliqued while I was away and joined it up to the top as soon as I could when I got home. It's shown over on the Glorious Applique blog as well.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It's me, I'm back.

 Mr Quiltsalott and I just got back last night from our New Zealand holiday. Visiting family was great but it was a big three week break away from the computer and blogland so I have a bit of catching up to do.

I had to show you this, I bought myself this piece of contempory art at Auckland airport. A last minute impulse buy which I'm not known to do very often but I just couldn't resist.
The piece is in the shape of a Tuatara, an ancient reptile living only in New Zealand. I love how the found and recycled objects are represented. Many bits are uniquely New Zealand, what we would call Kiwiana. It's kitsh Kiwiana to me.
 I took a few close ups so you can see some of the objects. It's all covered with a decoupage type liquid.
The artist is Janice Napper. All photos are clickable for a closer look.

You probably want to see something quilty about now so while I was visiting with my 25 year old son, I managed at last to get a photo of this four patch quilt I made him some years back. It looks a bit faded and used now. It's the only quilt I've made that I didn't have a photo of. It's also the very first quilt that I ever quilted with perle cotton in the big stitch style.
While I was cutting out some basting threads, there was an accidental slip of the scissors which left a hole that needed patching. The cat in the hat was appliqued over the cut and I think it looks like he belongs.
I'll  admit to some other shopping, I have a small (?) amount of loot from two patchwork shops which I'll show next time. I have a few photos to share with you as well as a bit of sewing I managed to do.
It's good to be back, I'm waving out to some new followers (hi there) and looking forward to a big catch up.