Monday, 31 July 2017

Goal setting...

No photos today - sorry folks, but I have set some goals for August, and hopefully, by writing them down here, I will be accountable to cross off as many as I can.

In a message on a Yahoo group that I belong to, one of the members asked:  
  • How about you?  Do you have plans for August??

And here is my reply; 

Why, yes I do, thank you for asking! :)  My August plans are:

  1. Continue to quilt  my version of "Dancing Nines" 
  2. Bind Dancing Nines.
  3. Complete "Bali Bluster" quilt top - it's in many, many pieces at the moment and is made up of Birds in the Air blocks.
  4. Layer, baste and quilt Bali Bluster quilt and hopefully get the binding done too.
  5. Work on Splendid Sampler blocks.
  6. If I get done on the above, pull out "Garden Gate" kiddie flimsy to baste/quilt for a baby, which is not due until Feb - but I'm pretty slow at hand-sewing binding.
To tally up:
- Dancing Nines is an UFO from Aug 2016 (pattern by Bonnie Hunter)  
- Bali Bluster was started on 21/07/17 - new start 10 days ago in a class at my local group.
- Splendid Sampler I started in May this year when the second sew-a-long started.
- Garden Gate is an UFO from October 2014.  (see this post)

These are big goals for me, as I'm not as fast as some at quilting/binding, but I'm being very optimistic.  Two UFO's and one new start to be completed by end Aug.

It feels good to have this out of my head and written down.  This list has been printed and put up in my sewing room so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing things off a list! 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Entally Historic House

There's nothing quite like the feeling of something finished - and this cross stitch is one of those things.

The kit was given to me by my neighbour approximately 3 or 4 years ago after her mother passed away.
Entally House - Tasmania
I worked on this cross stitch a lot during last year but didn't finish it.

This year, while between houses and staying in temporary accommodation, I needed something to do in the evenings, so out it came.  Turns out, all I had to stitch was the tree!

One of my close friends and her husband are picture framers - so off it went, and this is how it came back...

I am absolutely thrilled - the framing is perfect.  My husband is the photographer while I am holding the picture and he has caught his own reflection... but I really wanted to show off how good it looks framed.  I'll have to scout around and try to find a better picture to replace this one with - but I was in a rush before gift wrapping it, and so it was quickly snapped, without thought.

The tale of Entally House cross-stitch, continued until I gave it to the neighbour mentioned above for her '0' birthday.  She actually had nothing to say when I first gave it to her.  My husband said she's pretty chuffed.  A gift with personal meaning, stitched and given with love.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Blue Stars

At the start of the year, when I was going through some projects and doing a bit of holiday sewing, I pulled out what was supposed to be a project of "Strippy Stars".  A declared WITB* to work on and finish. I decided not to make the full original pattern, but just complete the partially made stars, put them with the completed stars and then decide upon a setting. 

Sometimes, we start projects with the best of intentions, but they don't always work out how we have perceived them in our mind's eye.  When I purchased the fabrics for this quilt, it was for a fun day of sewing at a local Scouts fundraiser in 2015.

I purchased the fabrics at a large quilt show, and loved the blue batiks, but struggled to find a background that I really liked.  I purchased the one you see in this quilt, and I'm pretty pleased how it has turned out, however, it didn't work when I went to set the stars in the planned zig zag setting.  I truly wasn't happy with the original quilt plan at all.  So, as all projects do when feeling dis-enchanted, it hopped into a plastic tub and into the cupboard it went.

I was able to make 20 star blocks and binding from the remaining fabric.  (The rest of the batik fabrics went into 'Twas a Mystery - just in case you think the colours are familiar)

In the end, it turns out that simple can often be the best.  Straight sets, with sashing and cornerstones.  Perfect.

Simple quilting with tumbling leaves and loops over the columns of stars with 'in the ditch' quilting along the long lines of sashing and two long borders.  

One would think that is easy - right?  No, sometimes things just go a bit awry...  I was stitching in the ditch, after I had quilted the swirling leaves, and decided that the quilt needed a bit more stitching to make things more even.  Mistake number 1, should stitch in the ditch first....

The needle fell out twice - had to tighten it.  I really struggled to push the quilt through the machine when it normally glides.  I checked the presser foot pressure, I re-threaded the machine, checked the bobbin, cleaned out the bobbin race, everything I could think of.  It was only when I finished the ditch quilting, ignoring the slightly wobbly bits, and went to change to my walking foot to attach the binding, that I realised when I put my open toe foot on - I had not tightened the little bolt which holds the foot on, it was just sitting there - no wonder it didn't work!  The foot was just swinging in the breeze and I didn't notice...  No wonder it was such hard work.....Sheesh....  Mistake number 2, because I kept on sewing.  Then I had to reverse sew and then forward sew and sew on....

However, I am pretty pleased with the overall effect of this quilt and it's simple setting.

And to finish off, here's a peek at the backing - gorgeous blue deer...

* WITB = what's in the box/bag

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

'twas a mystery....

I've been on a bit of a finishing roll lately.  There has been quite a bit of satisfaction on my part to get projects out of their boxes and bags and just work on them until they are done.  It's a terrific feeling that the finishes are going to be used as decoration or, most importantly, lovely warm hugs.

Every year, on the QuiltWoman website (formerly Planet Patchwork), a New Year's Day Mystery Quilt project is run.  When you sign up to the e-mails, you receive cutting instructions early, so technically, that makes it an UFO because it was started before 31st Dec.  I first posted about this project back in January.

I stole fabrics from another project, for the stars and used a cute print with teeny tiny forest animals on it for the background.

One block.  Star in star.

So, on New Year's Day, the instructions were posted each hour, on the hour.  I printed them out when they were posted and then proceeded to make the quilt at my own pace.  With these gorgeous batik blues and greens, it was very easy to keep on working on the quilt until the four large blocks were made.  And, then when put together a star magically appears.

I did not cut out the background setting pieces until all four blocks were made, so that I could see how much background fabric I had left over to get the maximum size quilt I could out of it.  I was aiming for large cot/lap quilt size.  With careful cutting and measuring, my wish came true!

The whole quilt almost.
The quilt backing is very tiny blue stars on a white background.  A bit hard to see in the photo.
Upon finishing, I have decided that it is perfect over the back of the couch in the sewing room so that I can pull it over my legs when I'm doing hand work.  My sewing room does tend to be a bit cold at times and now I have the perfect solution to my cold problem.   Happy me! :)

Finished size - 100cm x 120cm (40in x 48in)

Monday, 12 June 2017

Orange and Green 9 Patch

Orange and green nine-patch, also known as, the leftovers quilt!  The green, orange,white and busy print were large pieces left over from when I over-estimated how much was needed for preceding projects and, not wanting anything to go to waste, I made up a nice simple quilt pattern. 

9inch squares alternated with 9inch 9 patch blocks - too easy, well until I put it altogether and it looked blah...

So, back to the drawing board to figure out what to do, oh, I know, make an Ohio Star block - bingo, looks much better now.

Simple cross-hatch quilting finished off this quilt, complete with red backing and orange binding.

The rain managed to hold off long enough for me to get photos, except the brilliant patch of sunshine has highlighted the fold lines in the quilt - poor thing had a wait of several months to get the binding hand sewn down.

Sometimes there is a nice contentedness with working on an easy, relaxing project.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Elegantly Royal

 I initially started this table runner with the intention that it become a gift - the event it was to be gifted at was the end of 2015 - ho hum, can't rush these things.  It may still become a gift, I am not sure.....  I do like it an awful lot myself....

The designer of this pattern, had chosen some motifs from the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne, hence the name of the pattern Royal Exhibition Elegance (by Michele Hill)

One of the motifs for inspiration of applique.

 I took the above photo while at the flower and garden show in Melbourne.  It took quite a bit of effort to get a photo without somebody's head in it!

When I was choosing the fabrics, I had in mind a Thai/Bali style dinner set, with the lovely ochre and blue pottery dinnerware, hence the choice of batik fabric.

Then I had to choose which thread to applique with....

As you can see, it took me a few goes to get it right.  I settled on a light grey with a fleck in it - perfect.  My good friend, R, claims it took me two hours to choose the right colour!  Cheeky thing!

Applique detail
 The awesome backing fabric is from the "Melba" range by Leesa Chandler, it was a happy sewing room accident when I was flinging fabric out of the cupboard to find a backing piece and this one landed on it - just gorgeous.... :)
Once the applique was completed, I quilted a long feather design along the longest sides and filled in the rest with stipple and in the ditch around the applique pieces.

And.... drum roll please... here is a photo of the completed table runner, in all of it's extremely looonnnggg glory - 208cm x 49.5cm (82in x 19.5in)

Yes, I would definitely make Royal Exhibition Elegance  again - such a terrific pattern, because after the pieces are all fused to the background, the applique was relatively easy.

21/06/2017 Update - not a gift, I put it onto my own dining table where it looks fabulous and the whole family loves it.  :)

Monday, 29 May 2017

Christmas Dining

Yay!  It's finished!  Back in January I posted  twice about the Poppy Table Runner that I had simmering away in my stash of projects.  I initially wrote about it as my first item for the Book It Challenge that I decided to take part in.

To say the applique stitching on this table runner was demanding, would be an understatement - it was slow with all the little points and curves, then I got onto to the miniature blue flowers, oh my goodness, I am sure that they bred and multiplied while I was stitching them down - they never seemed to end!
Back of runner to show the stitching around the applique shapes.
  My husband said:  "Holy Cow" when I showed him......

Detail of poppy flower

Detail of feather quilting down the centre
And, finally, here it is - all 162.5cm x 39.3cm (64in x 15.5in) in stunning glory.  I have re-named Poppy to be Christmas Dining because it shall grace the centre of my Christmas table this year.
I am extremely happy and very proud of myself for finishing such an intensive project.  Apologies for the bragging, but I'm super stoked!!

Pattern: "Poppy" from More William Morris Applique by Michele Hill pub 2012

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Birthday report.... feeling philosophical

Well, as it is my birthday today, and I am not working, I fully intend to spend the day sewing after completing my 'state of the stash' report.  

The state of my stash, is well, ummm, rather a large mess!  A few weeks ago we moved house.  I now have a much larger sewing room with some excellent storage - a floor to ceiling wardrobe, full of shelves along one of the longer walls.  The project tubs can sit one or two high on each shelf with nothing behind them, so it's all "at a glance" - which is heavenly.

The rest of my things are on the floor - pieces of fabric, reels of thread and goodness knows what else.  Unfortunately while packing for our recent house move, there were home office things put into spare carton space with quilting things and we needed to complete our taxes before the deadline two days ago, and, yes, the tax stuff was at the bottom of the carton, so upside-down it went - whoosh - erupting box and big mess ensued!

For the past few days, I have had my small Janome set up on the kitchen/dining table and am completing some machine applique on a table runner (Poppies by Michele Hill).  see here

I will have to 'face the music' of the mess in the sewing room when I want to quilt.  My local group has Michele Hill coming to speak and give a trunk show at the end of May and I would really like to have two of the three projects I have started from her books ready for show and tell, even if I am hand-sewing the binding on the day.

I have not yet completed a 'done done' UFO for this year.  My two finishes were both new starts, which were donated at the start of April for a fundraiser (two previous posts).  I have worked on several UFOs, making significant progress on each of them and feeling like I have achieved something.  I do need a quilting marathon, a piecing marathon and an applique marathon.  Applique is my marathon of choice for this week.  Next week will be quilting.  Baby steps, or rather, one bite at a time will see me complete the 60+ projects I have in my sewing room, which certainly does not include the knitting or embroidery projects that I also have.

My own self-imposed goal - which I may/may not break - is to have as many UFOs completed by the time we have to move house again 3 or 4 years from now.  I didn't think my "stuff" was too bad until it all had to be packed, then it seemed (to me not anyone else) a bit crazy.  Upon reflection though - I DO LIKE all of my projects, quilts, bags, knitting and cross-stitch and having to handle every project has been good - I want to complete them all, plus some glorious new starts along the way! 

So, feeling a bit philosophical, I am off to do some machine applique, drink coffee and just enjoy the day - it is forecast that we will have quite a bit of rain today - perfect guilt free sewing weather..... mmmm...

Monday, 3 April 2017

Pink Pinwheels

Pinwheels, outside, in the sun, spinning in the breeze bring a smile to anyone's face.  Kids are delighted by them, adults watch the children's joy.  There is something delightfully whimsical about them.

An invitation to a High Tea and a request for silent auction items, was the prompt I needed to make a picture I had pasted into my 'one day' notebook a couple of years ago.  

It was also the perfect excuse to go and purchase all new fabrics and not use my stash for any of it.  So luxurious and lovely to have a little splurge in the quilt shop.

And I'm so in love with the backing fabric, flipping it over onto the front gives a lovely contrast.

All proceeds raised from the bidding and sale of Pink Pinwheels will go to the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

Whimsy and little girls were in my mind when I made this pink pinwheel quilt.  I do have to confess, the colour scheme was not my idea.  I had spotted the picture online and then it took me ages to find it again so that I could give correct credit.

My inspiration was Pretty Pink Pinwheel as shown on this blog - Quilting is My Therapy.   

Now it's time to go outside and enjoy the breeze in the sun.....

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Flying Kids

A few weeks ago, I mentioned in my last post that I'd begun a brand spanking new quilt, well ta da - here it is.  Measuring just 36in (90cm) square. it's a perfect size for a little one.  

A quilt of my own design to use up a frivolous piece of novelty fabric and fabrics left over from last year's transport quilt.

This cute airplane fabric I picked up a from a craft fair.  I had just enough to cut out 5 x 8in squares.  I wanted to keep the pieces big to show off the fun flying crafts.

Simply just fun.  Two easy blocks, an afternoon of happy sewing.

Anyone can make this quilt - it is just Nine Patch Blocks alternated with Snowball Blocks and being selective about where the 'pop' of strong colour is placed.

And here is the finished quilt - all ready to be donated to a Silent Auction, which will benefit the sick kiddies at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Another Sampler Quilt!

I just can't help myself - as soon as a new sampler quilt challenge or sew along makes an appearance, I simply have to start it!  I LOVE sampler quilts.  To me, they epitomize the skills required to make many different blocks and layouts, as well as using many techniques.

This new one that I've just started, '182 day solstice challenge', is being hosted weekly by Pat Sloan over at I love to make quilts website.  It is her cheerio to get from the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice to the Summer Solstice.  (Summer to Winter for us here in the Southern Hemisphere).

Here are the fabrics I've pulled from my stash to start the project - an unused FQ, a background that I changed my mind about from a previous project and some gorgeous woven check, plus a linen floral print and a linen red that I simply had to have.....

Fabric selection - yum...

I got stuck straight into making the blocks, the first seven blocks, shown here are all 12in finished.  The block sizes will be changing as we progress through the quilt.

Block 1 - Churn Dash

Block 2 - Day into Night Star
Block 3 - Tide Pool
Block 4 - Cobblestones
Block 5 - Gramma Anna's Basket
- no basket, but a fussy cut flower instead -

Block 6 - The Crosswalk

Block 7 - Tidy Rows

Each week when the blocks are posted, there are options shown for making an entire quilt out of the blocks as well as some extra challenges along the way.

I really enjoy the little stories of how and why Pat Sloan is choosing her blocks, making this a personal journey with little glimpses into her life.

Winter Solstice Challenge info can be found by clicking here.  

Friday, 13 January 2017

Six projects in 10 days!

Last post I wrote one project at a time - but I just cannot help myself.  However, lots and lots of progress has been made on 6 projects!  One simply cannot get bored....

So far, so good - here's the update:  
1.  Book It Challenge #1 - "Poppies" table runner (see previous post) all shapes are cut out and fused to the background.

Fused pieces, ready to applique.

Miscount - had two extra leaves, so have stuck them on the back.

2.  Merry Mayhem - New Year's Day Mystery - (44in x 48in) 
quilt top completed, with backing and binding made.  Every single thing in this quilt, top, back, binding, wadding and thread is all from stash.  It's on my UFO list because it was started before Jan 1.

I changed the size of the larger background pieces to make it a good cot or lap size quilt.  I am really pleased that each block has it's own star in the centre.  A moment of serendipity with where the colours ended up does make me smile.  There's always some trepidation with a mystery quilt, but I worried needlessly with this one! :) 

3.  Flying Kids - my own design, for which I have completed the top, backing and binding.  Will have it's own post next week.

4.  AP&Q+ Stashbuster Project - Part 2 - not touched, but thought about.  Have made a decision on my choice of applique picture for center block because I don't really like the one in the magazine pattern - sun bonnets are not my thing.
Block 1

Block 2
Block 3

Bonus projects - oh ooops...

a) WITB* - Strippy Stars project, will be somewhat smaller than originally intended because I stole the blue fabrics from the box to make #2 above.  Opening the box caused me to re-evaluate that particular project and why I had stopped working on it.  I will not make the full original pattern, but just complete the partially made stars and then decide upon a setting. 

b) WITB* - Purple Butterflies - stopped approximately 2 years ago because I didn't like the applique thread.  What had initially seemed OK, actually was too light when stitched.  Yesterday 2 friends came for a sewing day and were asking me about the butterfly quilt - pulled it out and had a look.  Last night while watching a movie, I unpicked the applique stitching and re-pressed the top.  It is now ready for me to machine applique with new thread.

Having made progress and decisions about 6 projects is such a relief.  The thought of finished projects being visible in the near future is a great motivator!   Especially as 5 of these projects are more than a couple of years old......

+  AP&Q = Australian Patchwork and Quilting Magazine.

*  WITB = what's in the box/bag/basket - another fun little challenge to play along with