Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Celebrating needlework

A couple of week's ago I visited a needlework show at a local village  - and am so glad I did. There was a wonderful display of vintage sewing from the collections of local people - many with photos of their history and stories to tell.

Vintage sewing equipment and haberdashery...

Beautiful wedding dresses ...I especially love this beaded pink one..

Gorgeous stitching...

A variety of quilts...from vintage to more recent finishes...

All very inspiring! 
And a little retail therapy  - 'very little' actually. From a craft stall I bought a pincushion as a gift for a friend. Here it is front and back  - only tiny but isn't it sweet?

And what news is there on my sewing front? doesn't feel like a lot to show...

I have finished the two Civil War Bride blocks from the last post:

But most of my sewing time has been spent hand quilting Auntie Green. I finished quilting around every bit of applique and it felt good to have the last pin removed! I could have left it there ... maybe just a little more in the open spaces, and it could have been a finish. But, no ... after visiting the Art of Needlework display and being inspired by the exquisite heritage work on display I felt I should and would make more of an effort here. 
I've started double parallel lines on the narrow outer vine border...

and a start to echo quilting on the large outer floral border...

Once you start intensive quilting there is no going back! I was quite uncertain about the echo quilting as I have never done this before and was afraid it might make the quilt stiff to the touch.  From my machine quilting experience I am sure it would be quite stiff if I had machine quilted so intensively. But I am amazed and thrilled by how soft/flexible it still is with the hand quilting.

Say hello to my my new sofas - selected with hand sewing in mind of course - "hand sewing in to old age" you might say! I hung on to my previous fabric Parker lounge as long as possible since it felt so well "broken in" for sewing but it was truly threadbare and had to go. As I break in the new ones I'm appreciating two great features for hand quilting - the recliner function to get just the right leg/back support, and the leather makes the quilt more manoeuvrable  - slipping easily when yanked  adjusted on the lap. 

It's a favourite time for seasonal change in gardens around the world - Spring in the north and Autumn Downunder. Loads of wind flowers have found their way in from the garden.

We took advantage of a perfect autumn day for a family gathering on the coast - where cousins (and their parents too) had fun paddle boarding. This beautiful beach is Bonnie Vale in the Sydney Royal National Park - about 1 1/2 hours drive from here but well worth the trip.

 son and nephew claiming boards
...and they're off

 daughter gives the "royal wave"
Enjoy the Season - wherever you are :)

Saturday, 14 March 2015


Auntie Green  hand quilting started..

So far so very good ... and "harmonious" really is the word of the moment while quilting this one. 

I forgot to take photos of the prep for quilting, sorry, but it was sandwiched on the floor with wool batting and a plain cream homespun for backing. I decided to try just pin basting. I find it a lot easier to do than stitch basting and have seen other hand quilters on blogs use this method successfully. 

I left a generous edge of backing fabric and tacked it over the edges of the front . It provides cover for the pesky fluffy batting edges and is also a handy extension to the quilt - to aid in the hoop quilting of the edges. It will be undone and trimmed once quilting is finished.

I'm just quilting around all the applique to begin with, getting rid of all the pins as I go, and then will probably add lines and grid in the background later when I see how it looks. I expect to mark by scoring at that point, as this worked so well for my last (Four Block applique quilt). I've been experimenting with different size 10 hand quilting needles - broken a couple, lost a couple (flicked them away somewhere, never to be found again). But it has been comfortable on the hands so far and I'm thrilled with that...and so enjoyable.

I had started another couple of Civil War Bride blocks (back basted prep for needle turn applique), in case I tired of the quilting.  So far they've not had a lot of attention ...

Have a lovely weekend with as much stitching as possible!

Monday, 23 February 2015

Settling in

I've just completed my little Stars meet Hexagons quilt and it is settling in at home. How do you settle in a new quilt? Sometimes, but rarely, I know exactly where it is going. But usually it does a bit of a wander around the house till it is 'comfortable' somewhere. 
First a garden photo shoot...
Then decorating a gate...

Could be a table topper...

Finally in to the lounge for a sit down...

Just to recap on the making of this quilt: 
I started it in January 2014 - the pattern is from Petra and An's book Promenade in a Dutch Garden. I saw their little red quilt at Quilts in the Barn in 2013 and loved it. Mine finishes at 41 inches (104cm) by 48 inches (120cm).

The EPP and fussy cutting process was such fun. 

Gradually it grew and grew..

Hexagon chains for an applique border...

I hand quilted it with Aurifil size 12 thread, trimmed the edges and added a red binding. 

I'm really happy with the texture of the hand quilting. It was a good chance to try big stitch quilting and a 'safe' one to experiment on as the stitches are not a feature of this quilt. The wadding used was cotton - a change from my usual wool. There was no particular reason for the change of wadding - just thought I'd try something different! It was easy to stitch through and light but possibly less loft than the wool.

I wanted the hexagons in the chain border to pop out a bit so only stitched around the edges and in the joins between the hexagons. I was tempted to add more quilting to the 3 inch border but thought keeping it simple might be best.

Last post I showed you my red CWB blocks on the portable 'design wall' that I move in and out of the family room. Well...the design wall is now doing double duty! In a rare moment of clarity I realised I could use the back too. What a great solution for someone doing far too many projects at once?! 
So, on the back I have pinned my Benjamin Biggs BOM progress - a very long-term project:

Here are close ups of the latest two blocks - 13 and 14:

Block 14
My secret sewing of Auntie Green in neutrals is going well - I have finished the top! I don't want to reveal too much at this stage (because it is a special gift)  but just to prove it is done - here is the last little bit of applique on the corners of the outer border. 
Preparing to applique

A finished corner
Now I have till my daughter's wedding at the end of November to quilt it. I have no idea if that is enough time to hand quilt a 90 inch by 78 inch quilt (gulp) but I'd like to give it a try!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Civil War Bride design wall

With thirteen Civil War Bride blocks done it was getting jolly annoying awkward laying them out on the floor to help with auditioning the next block. Time to put up the 'design wall'. 

There are many great design walls on blogs but mine is not one of those! This is just some poly wadding hanging on a rod. I've pinned the blocks on and it is easy to roll up and stash away with the blocks left in place. I made this a couple of years ago to use in my sewing room. But it is a small room and impossible to stand far enough away to get a good view. So I'm propping it on the built in bookshelf in the family room - much better viewing. 

Here are the latest blocks: 

The design wall has been invaluable in deciding on fabrics. It is quite tricky judging value without the 'big picture'. For instance, I had doubts about the vase block above - the toiles looked a bit washed out when I stitched it. But I really wanted to use the toiles, and now I'm thinking it is fine in the mix of blocks on the wall .

And here is a comment just for Janet at Mrs Sew n'sew in case she is reading. She has nearly finished her beautiful CWB quilt and has had lots of 'fun' with embroidery of eyes. Janet, I did add eyes to a couple of the birds with big heads - but they are applique :) How's that for compromise?

Some quilting started on Stars Meet Hexagons:

This is my first attempt at big stitch quilting on a quilt so am not quite sure what I'm doing, but I checked out a few blogs and got some ideas. I am using Aurifil size 12 thread - seems a good weight for this. Finding a needle was not so easy - I tried a few different ones and they were either too small in the eye to thread, or just too chunky/ thick for comfortable stitching. The one I'm using is a Tulip Hiroshima milliners in size 8. It glides through very nicely and for a such a long flexible needle seems very strong. My stitches are possibly on the small side for 'big stitch' but any larger looked out of balance on such small piecing. They are still a lot bigger than the than the more traditional quilting I did on my Four Block Applique

I'm very excited about a new project - Harrison Rose - just bought the paper pattern from Dawn and her daughter from their Etsy shop - thanks so much Dawn! Nancy of Tattered Garden Quilting ( one of my favourite inspirational blogs) featured it on her blog and I was so taken by the design and fabric colours she is using. It also is the perfect quilt for more hand quilting practice. The full size pattern includes wonderful quilting designs from the antique quilt.

It is cool and rainy here today - so welcome after a lot of hot, sticky days. These flowers in the garden are much more heat tolerant than I am!