Thursday, 27 September 2018

Liberty Star

It's been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, but Liberty Star was entered into a couple of exhibitions and then I took a break for a while to refresh my mind.  With exhibitions that are being judged, you are not allowed to publish photos of your completed quilt before hand so that the judging can be completely impartial.

Now, I can tell the story of one of my most favourite quilts that I have ever made.

In September 2017, my husband took a work trip to the UK.  He called me from London on his last day and said he was going into the city center, was there anything I wanted.  Of course there was - fabric from Liberty!  I told him to just choose what he liked the look of.   About 20 minutes later, he called me again and said "Don't worry about the news reports, yes that is the tube line from my hotel, but because I was talking to you, I was walking and missed the train"  A bomb, which had failed to detonate properly on the underground train, had injured people and damaged the train.  Enough said.

These are the fabrics which came home.  Seven were in the pack and I added one more.  Not all my usual choice - but oh, so very nice.  
I planned a Lone Star Quilt.  I cut the strips, labelled them and started sewing......

I found the perfect background fabric, which unfortunately, is very directional.  Clever cutting was required to make sure that all of the flowers were standing up and not falling down.

 Ta da - the center is finished.  WOW - all the background pieces are going the same way and there is some 'movement' in the star - it radiates....  So happy....

Now what??  I had an idea in my head for the borders, but making them work was taking quite a bit of planning and thinking and drawing and more.

After a while, I managed to get the corners to work.  The rest of the border just flowed then.

Eventually, I had a completed quilt top.  It was huge.  Now it had to be quilted.  It took me a full week to pin baste on my trestle table.  Bit, by bit while drawing on the quilting pattern with chalk at the same time.

It was so hot and I was on a deadline.   The tension on my machine was fine while I used the walking foot in the star, but when I tried to quilt a large feathered wreath 'behind' the star with free-motion, the thread just kept on breaking, or gave me birds nests on the back.  I gave up and used the walking foot again with different a colour thread and quilted the borders.  Nice and smooth, some tension issues, but not too bad.   

Back to quilting the feathers, nope, no go.  I don't whether it was the weather, my stress at meeting a deadline or what it was, but that feathered wreath did not want to be on this quilt.  In the end I gave up, changed the thread and simply meandered the background behind the star.

Finally, late afternoon, just before the sun set, I was able to get my two teenage sons to stand on chairs and hold the quilt up for me.  It is quite heavy, finishing at 100in (2.54m) square.  But they did it.
 A few groans when I asked them to turn it around so that I could photograph the back to see the quilting...

Then, all of my hard work of quilting this very large quilt in very hot, over 40 deg C muggy weather was worth it to see my quilt hanging at the Liberty Quilt Exhibition, which was held over the long weekend back in March.
And, I managed to get the backs of two of my strongest supporters in the pic.  Very pleased with that!

Finally, I took the plunge, after being a member of Victorian Quilters for many years to enter a quilt [for the first time ever], in the "First Time Entrant, One Person" category at the Victorian Quilters Showcase, in July.  I won a ribbon!!  Highly Commended.  I'm pretty chuffed  - the competition is pretty tough.

Everything about Liberty Star is meant to be, from my husband bringing home the fabric, the design and wonderful enjoyment I had with making it.  The prize winning ribbon really is the "cherry on top".

Friday, 29 June 2018

Exciting News!!!

I am very excited to report that my version of the 1718 Coverlet has been accepted into the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, UK, for August this year.

My quilt will hang with others from around the world as well as the original piece from 1718 during the Exhibition.

I am super excited!!!!!!!!!

Photos to follow in the next few days.......

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Happy Japanese

When I started making Happy Japanese, I have to admit that I was completely clueless as to what to do.  My good friend, H, was turning 60.  She rang me in September lasted year and mentioned her significant birthday.  I knew I wanted to make something for her, but was struggling as to what when she said she liked red and black in a Japanese style.

After some ruminating and sighing, I happened to glance at the fruit bowl, which was a gift from her some 8 years ago and was the perfect scheme for what she told me she liked.  Good grief, the right choices were there, under my nose in plain sight the whole time!!!

Here is my initial pulling of fabrics, which I sent a photo of to her for confirmation.  Yes, she liked my choices - phew!  By the way, H was thinking I was going a bit peculiar at the time and luckily for me hadn't put two and two together.
Now I needed a plan.  I toyed with Drunkards Path, circular patterns, and all sorts of things until I found this plan of squares on pinterest.  Apparently it is a plan for a crochet blanket.  I followed this plan, with my own fabric square sizes in multiples of 2.5in to get the size of quilt I wanted to make.

Here's how it started.... Lots of cutting and laying out on the floor for options.  I didn't use the white fabrics because they stood out too strongly and looked very out of place. 

Slowly, but surely the quilt grew.  I hand embroidered some sashiko pieces to add a textural and visual element to the other fabrics.  

Turns out, there was more variety in my stash and some newly purchased fabrics than I thought!

Here's the completed quilt.  Hubby was having a hard time holding it up for the photo, standing on a chair, outside in the wind.

And, lastly, some pics of the backing fabric, lovely red with gold ginko leaves and calligraphy on the centre fabric panel.  

 Finished off with fire engine red binding.

I quilted "Happy Japanese" on my domestic sewing machine with YLI threads in an all over swirl pattern to add movement to the very 'square' quit pattern.

I have kept the design idea page because this has turned out to be a true favourite quilt. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018


When I realised we had a family gathering at our house for Easter Sunday, and that my neice's birthday is close to that date, I couldn't help myself, I had to make a cake with pink.  Something that is very rare in my house of boys.

A pale pink, nice and subtle is what I had hoped for, nope, I poured a bit too much food colouring into this icing....

A beautifully, feather light chocolate sponge, made by me.  I am so pleased with how the actual cake turned out - it was perfect and I quite surprised myself with that one!

Decorated with wafer flowers and Persian fairy floss, my niece's eyes lit up when I showed it to her.

Gathered around the outside table, we managed to shield the cake enough to stop the wind from blowing out the candles and sing happy birthday.  There was very little cake left afterwards - it was  delicious.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

March is for Donating

During March, the time of Lent, it is a time to give something up and also to think of others in their struggles.  For me, in my own personal life, there are two amazing women who do a lot of work to support very sick children.

As I've written in some previous blog posts about donating quilts, here are some quilts that I've finished over the past 12 months and they have not found homes, so I'm donating them to the Very Snuggly Quilts program, which supports long term or terminally ill children at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
Squared Away - Green

Squared Away - Purple

Little Big Stars

Orange and Green 9 Patch

And for my beautiful friend E, who runs a Royal Children's Hospital fund-raiser each year since her daughter died, I have donated:

Blue Stars

Red and White Checkerboard
* As a side note, I took the two quilts (above) to a professional appraisal/valuation, so that their true value can be put onto the silent auction form.  A very interesting experience, if a bit nerve-wracking!  You leave your quilts and then pick them up a few hours later.  It's all in their hands and you really have no idea until you read the valuation certificate after collection.  And... my nerves were all for naught - the valuations surprised me and the ladies who are the "officials" of the day were wonderful.  A process I shall certainly take part in again.

And..., one more donation to the Lions Club of Quilters for their bushfire victims collection, I am donating "Cobblestones and Bricks", which was my very first quilt that I made a pattern for.  It now has a chance to go to a good home and be loved now that the pattern has been retired.  A good "manly" quilt this one to be sure.
With donating quilts and being asked to take part in a donations program, you know there is always someone out there who will receive a good quilt hug.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Cake and Cross Stitch!

Mmmmmm - cake.  Chocolate Cake - just love it!

Once again I made a cake for a 50th birthday, this time the husband of a friend.  He also loves chocolate cake and breeds Bull Mastif dogs.

Finding a Bull Mastif figurine was quite difficult as they are not common like a German Shepherd, Spaniel or Labrador - however, after quite a bit of searching I found one.  A little bit stylised, but that didn't matter, he was ecstatic there was his favourite dog breed on the cake.
The recipe I used has been handed down through many generations of the family, so it won't be shared outside the family, it's a secret, but I'm always happy to make the cake for special occasions and husband of a very, very close friend was special enough. 
Unfortunately, it was an extremely hot day and the lunch was held outdoors, so the chocolate did start to melt a bit, but that did not stop guests from having second and third servings.

And... after the birthday celebration, I had a tidy up of my sewing room (to find something that is hiding), I found this little cross-stitch kit, which was mostly stitched and completely forgotten about. 
According to the packaging, I had purchased the magazine the kit came from in 2002.   I think I had put it aside because I wasn't overly keen on it; but, now that it's stitched, I like it.  
Often, I find that I have some self doubt when making things, which causes them to be stalled, then some time later, I pull it out, finish it and then wonder why I didn't persevere at the time.  Anyway, I'm going to purchase a frame for it and then I can have something pretty to display.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Squared Away - Purple or Green??

It was supposed to be one project - "Squared Away" it was called; an easy summer mystery quilt, with free clues from the local quilt shop.  Two colours, plus a colour to place circles over 4 patches.  Easy right?  No.  I loved my colour selections, however, when I started to make the quilt,  I didn't like the blocks together in my chosen colours.  Even with the border/sashing strips added, no, no, no.....  In frustration, I put the whole lot in a zip-loc bag and left them to marinate for a very long time. 

During 2017, I decided that each time there was a 12-hour sewing session with my local group, or a Retreat weekend, I would pull out a few of these zip-loc bags (I have a lot of them) and work on the contents until it becomes a finished - done done - item.

After consultation with a couple of friends at the 12 hour sewing day - I came to the decision that these would be two little quilts.

First - here's purple;

Second - here's green; 

I ended up with two of the same greens next to each other and it looked a bit "blobby", so I used left over fabrics to make a half Dresden Plate (sunflower) to make it a bit more interesting.

Both quilts were simply cross-hatched through the squares to keep them soft and cuddly.  They both have the same spotty backing and striped binding.

Moral of the story, sometimes, time away from a project can turn what seemed to be big problem - for such a small quilt - has turned into two delightful quilts for little ones.

These two little quilts will be donated to the Very Snuggly Quilts program run by Victorian Quilters.