Thursday, 19 May 2016

Something new, something old

A new sewing bag

made using a new pattern (designed by L'Uccello  and bought on my April visit to Melbourne)
...and old fabric from the stash. The large floral is 'Bon Voyage' from French General - not that old really as it is still available online.

pattern from L'Uccello 

It was not a quick project but the trouble taken was well worth it in the detail and the finish. 

First there was the sandwiching and individual quilting of the panels - just using the machine walking foot. It's been a while since I've done any machine quilting but not difficult with these relatively small pieces.

Then preparing piping and binding

Something old - recycled belt loops for handle hardware. I didn't have four the same but two different pairs did the job fine:

Binding the seams for a neat finish - just like the edges of a quilt:

The pattern called for some ribbon to decorate internal pockets. I had nothing suitable, but I did have something that might do - something very old lurking in the sewing cabinet: I finally put them to good use (it had to happen one day didn't it? ) - an old technique but a good one

I love the detail in this pattern - reminds me of the old days of dress making in my heady youth! 

The base is stiffened with template plastic so the whole thing is washable. That's if it ever gets dirty - and I'd have to use it first to get it dirty wouldn't I? At the moment it's far too 'good' to use haha! Give it a week or two and no doubt I'll have forgotten the pain of labour and be dragging it around like my old sewing bags...

Something else that is new and my most favourite book of the moment - 'Meanderings of a Quilt Collector' by Jane Lury. She had some of her collection on display at Pour L'Amour du Fil in Nantes this year - how wonderful it must have been to view them. But the book does not disappoint - so many superb quilts. In fact I'm convinced she had my taste in mind when she collected. 

I ordered the book from Quiltmania online and it arrived virtually overnight. How is that even possible to Australia? It is a large book and fairly pricey but is superb quality, includes three patterns, and is well worth it IMHO. 
And this is my favourite quilt in the whole book -  so much so that I need to make a version of my own. As you can see by the graph paper and sketches the planning has started.

What do I love about the quilt? 
  • the sense of movement in the wreaths and baskets
  • the rather random placement of lengths of vine and applique stars
  • the surprising element of a patched plaid border amongst a delicate design, and it works so well
  • the massive amount of applique (as you might know, I do love applique!)
The quilt in the planning won't be a copy or reproduction of this lovely 1840's English coverlet, but it will be inspired by it and borrow major elements. It needs a name so I'm going for Posies and Plaid since it is all about flowers and has that plaid border. 

And for something 'old' I am trying to use fabrics from my stash - some desperately need to be used before they reach antique status. Here's an idea I'm toying with -  cream background and green plaids with an old English-looking blowsy floral in the middle. And there's clearly room for some purple in there - not a colour I commonly use but doesn't it look lush in this old floral line by Windham (Remember Me by Mary Koval) ? 

On this quilt I'd like challenge myself to mix some modern fabric lines in with the reproductions but not sure how I'll go with that...hard to teach an old girl new tricks!
OK, back to the drawing board...

Saturday, 14 May 2016

A stitching month in pictures

How's this for a lazy quick progress post...
SVBAQ Bouquet block

Sarah Fielke BOM - hand pieced

Sarah Fielke BOM

Sarah Fielke BOM

needle turn with back basting prep

Harrison Rose hand quilting 

...and a Mother's Day gift that has drawn me back to this table far too often - so addictive! 

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!