Thursday, 21 April 2016

Adventures in Melbourne

Just back from a little trip interstate to Melbourne 

When I say "little" - it took 6 hours travel to get there and nearly 8 hours back - with all the waiting and connecting between trains, shuttles, planes and taxis! So I crammed in as much sight seeing as I could while there...including the Australasian Quilt Convention of course. Unfortunately we cannot share photos taken of the many inspiring quilts. Annette Gero's collection of War Quilts was the most outstanding for me and a google search found these links for pics here and here and here

I finally got to shop at L'Uccello - they had a lovely stall at the AQC - a new pattern and a tin from there, and pretty toile (Mas D'ousvan) and stitchy supplies from other stallholders.

I followed that up with a visit to the shop itself. It is well hidden (no shop front) in this building...
image from Design Files
...enter through this arcade - a bit dark and mysterious but beautiful

image from Nicholas Building blog

up two flights of stairs... the suspense was building!

then this burst of colour at the doorway to welcome visitors! 

Some chat and some more shopping. These threads are new to me - fine waxed French thread for applique (Fil a Gant) in gorgeous colours and not expensive  - looking forward to trying them out.  

Melbourne's streets in the CBD are great fun to walk around - lots of history and character and colourful trams. Wandering down one narrow street (Flinders Lane - historically the centre of Melbourne's rag trade) I spotted a sign - couldn't go past of course! 

image from Tessuti website
It is a dress fabric shop but does include some gorgeous linens and Liberty fabrics. I "rescued" this piece from a table of half price roll ends - labelled "silk cotton" (feels like a very fine lawn) and if nothing else might make a pretty scarf? 

Some stitching updates: 
Hexagon Star - the centre star came together quite quickly as half inch hexagons don't take long to sew together once the prep in done - and I had been prepping obsessively! 

Travel can provide a lot of opportunities for stitching (all that sitting around waiting) and I had some EPP supplies with me. I got loads of hexagons prepped in little bags - grouped by colour...

... and more stitching has been done and so it grows...

My Quilt group holds a Mother's Day stall fundraiser each year and members are asked to provide/donate some stitched items. I thought I'd make a few mug rugs. Now don't look if you are squeamish as this involved some sacrifice of doilies - all in a good cause mind you! And they were pre-damaged doilies...
I machine pieced some fabric scraps in a random crazy-quilted style around the embroidered doilie pieces.

A little wadding, backing, machine quilting with walking foot, and binding. Attaching the binding strip took the longest of course lol! So I tried Self Binding (the rug on the right) - it was a quicker method but not such a nice plump finish to the edges. I later found a Youtube video on binding a mug rug - looks like a good method and I might just try that next time.

Sarah Fielke BOM - two more blocks and they are applique this time - a large Bird block and a Hearts/tulip block. But I dithered getting started as I was getting that itchy feeling that I needed to mess with them - will I/won't I? And in the end I did make changes because I felt the bird was not in keeping with the style of fabrics and look I had in mind. Sarah's bird is lovely for a modern quilt and certainly a great choice for an applique beginner: 
small pic from pattern notes - 12 inch bird block
I came up with this sketch - same branch but with a more classic bird to suit my fabric choices - especially in view of the bird toiles I have used in the star centres: 

my version - 12inch block
I also changed the Hearts/tulip block because I am a fuss pot and not keen on heart motifs

Sarah's block

my version - 12 inch block

Here's a look at some of the blocks together - not the final layout but gives an impression

Oh dear - it has been another long post. If I posted more often this wouldn't happen of course! Catch22 because then I'd not get the sewing done...
Anzac Day long weekend coming up - hope you all get extra sewing time too :)

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Wheat and Woods

Hope you all had a relaxing Easter - with lots of stitching opportunities!

I've been a bit remiss posting about my Wheat and Woods quilt - not since the beginning of December - but the borders have been steadily growing. 

Once I had attached the side borders, then I needed to draw a pattern for the corner - nothing complex, just a continuation of the curves around the outer edge:

Then I appliqued the long edges, joined them to the top and added some extra broderie perse to fill the corners and blend over the seams: 

I hope you like it - I'm very happy how it turned out. The aim was to design a quilt with lots of needleturn applique (because I love it) and to incorporate many different repro feature fabrics - all in brown, tan and gold tonings. Seems right to finish a top in Autumn with these autumnal colours? 

Mostly I use the back basting prep technique for needle turn applique - where accuracy is important. Recently I spotted a good tutorial for this at Scraptherapy blogspot. Just mentioning it as I get asked about this method sometimes and I'm way too lazy to do a tutorial, sorry
The applique method for the outer border was a cross between broderie perse and tile quilting ("broderie perse tiling"?) - just pinned and needle turned around the cut edges of the fabric scraps, no accuracy or precise placement needed. 
There were a few fiddly measuring moments (and revisions) along the way, but the outer border was a breeze and very relaxing to stitch. The top finishes at 2 metres square (about 79 inches). 
Off to the hand quilting queue for you!

Remember my 2016 resolution to become a better piecer (the piecing without papers)? I was seated next to an expert hand piecer at a recent Quilt Group meeting and she recommended this book:

It is going to be a favourite for sure - wonderful detailed hand piecing instructions for all sorts of angles and shapes. I used the Easter break to start studying...

...and then, uh-oh, a picture in the book had the pulse racing! A gorgeous antique hexagon quilt made in 1875, maker unknown. You know the feeling...'got to make this one' and 'timing is right for more hexagons'!
picture of antique quilt from Jinny Beyer

I've long been a great fan of Susan at Thimblestitch and her amazing mini EPP hexagon projects - the latest being a mini quilt made entirely with 1/4 inch hexagons. I have a small packet of 1/4 inch papers languishing unused and they are unbelievably small - too small for me! But what size to use for this new quilt? I want to make a mini quilt - relatively mini - and am going to use papers.

A quick check around the house to see what sizes I have used before in my quilts.
3/4 inch hexagons in these three quilts: 

3/4 inch and 3/8 inch hexagons in this one:

1/2 inch hexagons in this one: 

1.25 inch hexagons in this one: 

1 inch hexagons in this one: 

I've decided on 1/2 inch hexagons for the new quilt (called Hexagon Star) - that will make it about 32 inch square finished. There's no pattern but it should be easy enough to work off the photo.
I already have papers, recycled from use in my Ann Randoll quilt. I'm using clips to hold the fabrics around the papers (no glue) ready for thread basting. The basting will not go through the papers. That way I can easily recycle the papers by popping them out once the hexagons are stitched together. Nothing new here but just the method I prefer. 
And the fabric choices? There will be a little bit of fussy cutting but am hoping overall for a scrappy, not-too-organised look, as in the original.  The fabrics will be from my current stash, largely repros and the colours will be cream shirtings, double pinks, pink shirtings, dark browns, reds (dark pink tones) and grey. Always exciting to have a new start isn't it?!

Over the Easter break I managed a little finish - a Sewing pouch. Ready made zip pouches have been a popular decorating project for many quilters and I finally acquired one through Quilt Group. The time was right to set about covering it in clamshells - with 5 inch squares of Regent Street lawns and shot cottons scraps.

I glue basted the clamshells the method I have found works well- Sue Daley's Clamshell method on Youtube.
With a few stitches I tacked the sheet of clams to some backing fabric cut to a rough size to fit the pouch. Then I used some perle cotton to add a little quick quilting. 

The tricky bit was the last bit (always seems to be the way!) - stitching it to the case. It needed to sit snugly in around the braid edges of the case frame (so as not to show the bright red fabric of the case facing). I resorted to a curved needle at this point - much easier to ladder stitch it to the pouch.   

Back to those hexagons .... :)

PS. Funny thing about this new EPP hexagon quilt ...the antique inspiration was pictured in a great book, but one that is all about piecing without papers. Jinny Beyer actually talks about EPP as "cumbersome" and "extremely time consuming" and "rather a waste of time when sewing with cotton fabrics" (not a fan of paper piecing!). So I can only suppose the quilt was hand pieced without papers - pretty amazing. And I wonder if half inch hexies would have been done that way ?? Too tricky for me - I will stick with papers for this one!

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Harrison Rose heads into the hoop

There was a little jostling in the hand quilting queue after I finished quilting my red CWB quilt - and Harrison Rose won out! It was going to involve something a little bit new and challenging for me - marking an entire quilt top before basting.
Dawn's pattern includes full quilting lines as on the antique original. My intention was to follow the pattern but my quilt is smaller (only 9 blocks instead of 16) so my border quilting pattern needed adjusting. And once I started adjusting there was no stopping! The antique quilt border has corner quilting like this (from Dawn's pattern plan)...
Looking at the heart motifs and this way of feathering around the corner - bit quirky and very charming but maybe not 'me'. I had a peruse of a very favourite, oh-so-inspiring, book of antique quilt patterns...

Inspired by a corner treatment in the book and a three pointed motif, I redrew a simple corner of feathers and made my own paper pattern from a roll of bake paper...

Then the quilt marking began - echoing that motif in the blocks...

Marking wreaths (traced from the pattern) and triple parallel lines across the blocks...
And now apologies for a bit of waffle about tools and batting - just because sometimes I get asked: 
In the past I have found the large triangle ruler is invaluable so scored lines don't wander off perpendicular - and used the same method here when drawing lines. Well worth the quick check of lining it up with the edges of borders and blocks as I draw along the edge long ruler.

The marker I am using? General's Sketch and Wash pencils. New to me but recommended by a blogger - I think it was Dawn herself but my memory is so shocking that could be wrong. I've had bad experiences with markers in the past (not washing out, marking poorly etc) so I bought these pencils last year and have had them 'handy' for this quilt. Before starting I did a wash test on an off-cut of my fabric - all good - washed off perfectly with a mild detergent in cold water. I have to say they are an absolute dream to draw with on fabric - so soft, no pressure needed to get a clear line, and no drag on the fabric at all! 
Preparing a wash test fabric strip

I've been a bit of a 'stick-in-the-mud' as far as batting goes - almost always use wool with a pretty high loft as it gives great definition to applique and has been easy to quilt - Quilters Dream being a favourite. But this time there is less applique and the quilt will be well washed. I thought I'd try cotton and was tempted by the promise of Quilters Dream cotton Request (for hand quilters) "stitch as close as needed and your quilt will remain soft and flexible" and achieve "the antique puckered look". Sounds good? Well - compared with the wool this is a very thin batting and I had my doubts about it when it arrived. But, being a trusting soul, I went ahead  - pin basted the quilt and started hand quilting. 
So far - I love it! It certainly quilts easily (just as did the wool), the quilting shows up well, and it is so light and soft to manoeuvre . I'm looking forward to washing it later to get that antique look. 

Indigo Circles is progressing - after a large prep catchup (again ) of the 2 inch blocks with foil wrapping method
Then we had a full day power cut - no ironing possible. So I went back to plain old needle turn of some 4 inch blocks and really enjoyed that method again.

The blocks are all pinned on my design wall and looking like a quilt in the making. 

Sarah Fielke BOM  - also growing gradually. To get an idea of how it might all look together  I placed a lot of the blocks on the floor in a random way  - not how they will end up but gives an idea of balance of colours. Not balanced yet but there is a long way to go...

Another little project completed - my new favourite pincushion - a free tutorial  Sunny Day Dresden pincushion. That could just be my first Dresden plate block ever - fun to make too. 

I used the same fabrics to match this purse made in 2013

Something I really enjoy (that isn't quilt related) is walking. There are so many benefits but enjoying the scenery is top of the list and makes exercise a pleasure. Walking and vehicle traffic do not mix well so I feel very lucky to have a few traffic-free options near home. This river walk (10km return track) is a favourite and perfect this time of year.

Feels and looks very rural but only just on the outskirts of town.

After exercise like that, a couple of hours sitting quilting ( or heaven forbid, looking at blogs) is guilt-free don't you think?