Sunday, 5 July 2015

Those borders are on

My red version of Civil War Bride top is finished.

And I'm missing the needle turn applique so much already. I'm sure that sounds crazy to some  but any applique-addicts will know what I mean. There is that withdrawal stage when it is done. It was nice to clear away the prep though - boxes of red fabrics and small mountain of almost shredded scraps!

Most of the blocks are straight from the Threadbear pattern by Corliss Searcey,  but three blocks and the border I drafted myself using elements from the blocks. To quote Corliss from the pattern notes, she says "feel free to alter or substitute shapes from block to block, making this quilt unique to you" - so I had a bit of fun doing just that.

Middle of top border 
Middle of bottom border

It is now having time out in the hand quilting queue . 

Speaking of which ... hand quilting Ann Randoll is going well. It is a large quilt but I'm managing fine by working around the outer borders first, leaving the centre for last. Here it is stretched out for some progress pics with one edge done. I might not be able to resist adding some fill in the open areas but they are not large so maybe not needed....
There is a great variety of fabrics as well as techniques in this medallion quilt - which can have its pluses and a minuses.  A plus is it is not boring to quilt, and a minus is that each little border needs thought and a different approach to the quilting.
 Outlining the applique shapes on the cream background is easy going and I have used a cream thread to match the background. 
I decided to outline the outer edge of each clamshell to make them pop out a little, and using a tan thread  as I like the look better than cream on the darker browns/blues. 
The Half Square Triangle (or pinwheel) border had me thinking. The HSTs have edges that are about 1 1/4 inch so there is a lot of seam tucked under there that I really do not want to quilt over.  I decided to quilt inside the seams to form a square of four HST groups, and using a tan thread again.

Perhaps the complexity of this quilt had me itching to do something simpler, something more random and comparatively unstructured ? And I've also been itching to get back to some EPP after seeing the lovely EPP projects that Susan produces so expertly. So I picked up my Grandmothers Garden again. Now these hexagons are l a r g e - an edge of 1 1/4 inch on a hexagon is pretty big as they go!

Here is a reminder picture of the start of this project against the half inch hexagons from the Ann Randoll quilt.

How it looks now - only two garden beds but already 1 metre across (about 40 inches)! 

This picture found on an internet search is what first inspired me to start this project. It is a gorgeous antique quilt shown on Quiltville Quips and Snips in 2012. I just love everything about it, the way it is hand quilted in rows, and the colours are pure Spring don't you think?

Lovely yellow path on a Grandmother's Flower Garden! Antique Quilts, SIsters Oregon 2012

The next garden bed round prepped ready to paperclip to papers and stitch together. 
I've a feeling this could get large quite quickly and threaten to get out of hand. I think I'd prefer to stop at a 'cottage garden' rather than a 'country estate'?!

I've got my gardening clothes on but it was just too frosty to start out there early. Now the sun is shining and there is no wind -  should be just right - so off I go. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mini break

I'm back from a fun mini break in Sydney - visiting the Quilt Show followed by a Sydney city hotel stay with my daughter, meals out and shopping. So many exciting experiences crammed into a short stay! 

I took 101 photos of the Quilt Show but due to the strict publishing rules cannot show individual quilts without permission. The collection of red and white quilts were so pretty en mass. There are pics on the Quilt Guild blog  and Instagram (sydneyquiltshow2015) and here is one of mine.

There was so much inspiring work among the general entries too.  I got permission from Wendy to post photos of her stunning quilt - just love it. Hand quilted beautifully - well done Wendy! 

The quilting adds so much and it was exciting to see how many of the quilts that I loved at the Show were hand quilted - loads of them. It was interesting to see the variation in size of stitches, thread weight, density of quilting - great to study up close. The quilting was just as effective and attractive with larger stitches - especially when it suited the style and scale of the quilt, and was even in size and spread. I have made two collages of tiny quilt snippets from the Show (so small as not to give anything away re design I think)  but they are all different quilts, and different styles, all I admired, and all hand quilted. 

I know not everyone can manage to hand quilt - and I was one of those for many years. And sometimes you just need to finish a quilt quick! But just saying lovely it looks and feels. 

Talking of which - I have made a start to hand quilting Ann Randoll. I meant to use larger quilt stitches but the smaller looked better against the scale of the saw tooth border so I think I am stuck with it now.

I forget how exciting Sydney can be small doses. 
Here we are heading out from our hotel for the night - me getting a crash course in 'selfies'
We had an entertaining and truly delicious dinner out at Chef's Gallery near Town Hall - where all the talented chefs are on view in a glass gallery kitchen - amazing. We could have reached over and literally had a hand in the cooking ..if there wasn't the glass wall!
Modern Chinese - best beans I've ever tasted.

Oh and I might just have bought a Mother-of-the-bride outfit - thanks to David Jones, Anthea Crawford  and my daughter's keen eye. 

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Harrison Rose first block

A start to Harrison RoseDawn's pattern ) - one block down. It's a large block at 17 inches square and I chose to construct it in solids and all needleturn applique, with back basting prep. The pattern helpfully gives a suggested order of placement for back basting. Of course, being so keen to start,  I only noticed those instructions once I was half way through - haha. So my order of attack was different but it worked just fine. Nancy has put together her blocks here - so beautiful! Scroll down here for her alternative prep method. I say "whatever works for you" to get those points under control!

My Civil War Bride border is coming along  - the two side vine borders went along quite quickly and I stitched them to the top. 
Then to work on the top and bottom borders. This was a little more complex as it would include the ends where the vine turns the corner. 

I wanted to have a bird on the vine in each corner but discovered that I am really useless at drawing vintage/naive looking birds! So I borrowed a bird from one of the blocks and with a few minor adjustments decided he would do. 

Here are a couple of progress pics
Centre of bottom border

A bird at a corner
All in all I had a very productive Queen's Birthday long weekend on the quilting front - not that I am a monarchist but they clearly have their uses! 
So I also managed to pin baste my Ann Randoll quilt top.

I'm planning on a narrow brown binding to finish the quilt along the saw tooth edge. That edge is quite fragile as all hand appliqued - very vulnerable to fraying and damage during the tug and pull of hand quilting in a hoop. I thought about trimming the layers and adding the binding right now and so protect that edge. But I have never before added binding before quilting, and am not confident how good a finish it will produce. Would the straightness of the edge be compromised? not sure and even more, not brave enough to try! 
So my solution was to add a broad but purely temporary border strip. It serves two purposes while quilting - to protect the applique edge and to enclose the pesky fluff of the batting. I cut up strips of ugly or poor quality fabric that has been languishing in the cupboard. This I stitched into a broad, very crude casing along the outer edge. I used the largest basting stitch on my machine - easily removed after quilting is finished.
What would the Quilt Police think of my border attachment do you think? Actually it might win awards for making a statement perhaps? fact I'm rather afraid it might!

Speaking of which..I'm really looking forward to visiting the Sydney Quilt Show this week - with the special Red and White display. The  Quilters Guild of NSW is posting photos, and encouraging others to post pics, on Instagram so maybe the 'publishing' constraints of previous years are being relaxed...would be lovely to be able to share more of these. fact a new post on their blog has just popped up with a lovely photo here - exciting!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Civil War Bride borders

I've been meddling with the Civil War Bride pattern again (yes I know - never satisfied). I've kept the winding vine, added some curls, a few pears and loads more leaves. 

I'll show you my method - just what I do but there are always other ways of going about it.
Trying my paper sketch out for size against the quilt:
Cutting a strip of background, placing it over my pattern, and tracing it on to the back of the fabric ready for back basting applique) with the help of a light pad. Thank goodness for a long kitchen bench - just another surface clearly designed for quilting! 

Then I made some 1/4 inch bias using the iron and a little Clover bias gadget. I think we've all tried this method but here is a link to a tutorial just in case. Then I pinned it to the fabric. I have tried glue in the past to hold the bias in place, but I prefer pins as I can make little adjustments as I stitch it down, and there is no risk of glue stains. I pinned the bias down with my light pad underneath - so I could see the placement lines that I drew on the back of the background fabric. 
Once the bias was all stitched down I used back basting to prepare all the rest of the applique and needle turned it. 
One border complete  -  three more to go, and some corners!

It's time to put another quilt in the hoop. There's no one so keen as the recently converted - and that's me with hand quilting! Remember this one? Ann Randoll - my verson of Rhonda Pearce's reproduction. 
The top was finished in October last year and put on the quilting queue while I revisited hand quilting. I think am sure I can tackle it now.  It was complex to piece this quilt but I'm hoping the quilting will be relatively simple - mostly outlining and highlighting the shapes. But maybe some fill in places...will see as it goes. 
Here is the backing prepared and I'm just waiting for delivery of the wool batting - can't wait to get it in the hoop!

(In case anyone asks...yes, this does mean I have finished hand quilting my Auntie Green -  but shhh - secret sewing - all to be revealed at the end of the year.)

Seeing as my CWB top is nearly finished I've been rummaging among the stash planning the next quilt to start. I bought Dawn's pattern Harrison Rose a little while ago and it has been waiting patiently. 

Nancy  is making her version in pink and green prints and I love it. But I'm going to take this chance to make something that has been on the 'one day' list for a long time - a quilt in solids. I've used plenty of red solid in quilts before but have not touched my little collection of cheddar. Each of these fabrics, from different manufacturers,  is called "cheddar"  and yet so different..
In deciding on my colour scheme I spotted some quilt images on Pinterest  - in colours that appeal to me - and printed them on a page to take to the stash. I love the way the greens in some antique quilts have washed/ aged to a taupe. So I thought I'd bypass the aging and go straight for the taupe in this quilt. 
The reds that are faded in antiques are so lovely too - as in this cutter scrap (that I showed a couple of posts ago). So I'll carry on the aged appeal by selecting reds in these old tones.
How about these colours for a start? 

While I was fossicking for fabric in the cupboards I ventured on a little tidying - had seen some of this going on in blogs and was inspired to try it! The tidying developed into a re arrangement  which then steam rolled into a full on clean out. I am now relatively back in control (phew) but have many boxes full of books and bobs for donation in the garage, clearer shelves, and have my 35 odd quilts in better order.
A Spring clean at the beginning of winter...that's what comes of reading blogs the other side of the world!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Civil War Bride in Red

This one has been a little neglected. Part of the reason was that I had made all my favourite blocks from the Threadbear Civil War Bride pattern, and was not sure about others, not sure about elephants and horses (apologies to horse lovers out there) and thinking I might make some more changes to suit me. So...there are changes. 
I especially love the fruit bowl in the original quilt  (not included in the Threadbear pattern). 
Here is the bowl -  a zoomed in photo of the antique original quilt (in the book Treasury of American Quilts by Nelson and Carter Houck): 

And here is a version of the bowl block in "A Bountiful Life" pattern book:

The block in Bountiful Life is a square and I am making rectangle blocks (as in the Threadbear pattern )  - so it was not going to be possible to simply grab a block from Bountiful Life. Some drafting was needed to fit my 15" by 12" blocks. Here's what I came up with:

And then I gave the poor bird an eye (more on that later)

Can you see butterflies fluttering out of  this fabric?

Another block to be not so sure about the eagles. This block (from the Threadbear pattern)..
Threadbear block
...became this block by adapting the leafy branches and adding a rabbit and a butterfly:

my sketch

I decided the block with the horses and elephants was not for me (sorry - it is a fun block but just not what I want for my version) and needed a completely new block to replace it. So I went for another gentle creature - a squirrel - and borrowing the oak leaves and acorns that were in an earlier block - remember this one completed a while ago? 

My new block - similar leaves:

It seemed fitting to use this fabric for the squirrel's body..

Having made these changes there were only two more blocks to finish!
The second last ...with lots of berries.
The last block ..back basting prep for needle turn applique - looks chaotic but there is method in there and I find it works a treat.

Just a note on eyes - for all the creatures in the blocks. I had left a lot of them 'eyeless' but in the end went back to add eyes and I like how they look. This fabric was handy for the smallest eyes - an old line from In the Beginning fabrics:

So all the blocks were done and all I had to do was lay them out and stitch together...sounds easy? But I can tell you it took some fiddling around to achieve a relatively balanced feel - not just balance in value, but also the style and subject of the blocks and the fabrics used. I thought it would be nice to have an urn in each corner. Not sure I have achieved a value-balance but now they are stitched together and that's how they'll stay! Once a border goes on it should draw it all together better. 

Next is planning the border - could go with some elements from the original or I'm thinking maybe lots and lots of scrappy leaves on a trailing vine. 

Here is a little family of tubs I made recently when a friend came over to stitch for the day. Many thanks to Kyle from Timeless Reflections for the inspiration and the link to the free pattern. They should take only an hour each to make - and I'm pretty pleased to have three made in a day, despite all the chat going on!

There is a lot of work to be done in the garden - trimming back perennials after their autumn flowering. But I am holding off as garden visitors are still munching on the seed heads. The crimson rosellas love the salvias .