Friday, 16 January 2015

Late to 2015

A Belated Happy New Year to You Dear Reader

While some of you winter away, we are just back from two glorious weeks camping here in NZ

It was our first camping trip where we stayed put for more than 3 nights.

Blissful kayaking, walking, running, reading, sunning, swimming, playing, chatting, eating and no electricity or even phone coverage. Wondrous...even though that puts me quite behind back in "normal" life!

Hard to believe this bay hides 850 people in 23 camping bays

 and now I'm rushing to join the Finish Along for the first time, in the hope that it will increase my accountability to some unfinished projects...??

I'll list a few but that said I'm not being too ambitious this quarter since we have a few lovely celebrations in the pipeline: my parents are  celebrating their Golden Wedding and we are hosting our eldest's 21st for which we've (perhaps over keenly) decided to build a wood-fired oven and having a few visitors before and after that on top of normal working life.

For Do Good Stitches Cherish bee I  have to finish :

The September Reflections Quilt

The January String Quilt (this is optimistic since I may not even have all the blocks in time)

Then there's The Shirt Quilt
Which (already?!) has another section since this photo.

And finally (except there are a few other WiPs not on this quarter's list) our son's 21st quilt. Which is at the stage of a fabric pull and an idea and trial snippets stuck on a piece of paper. I'd show you except this computer's on a super go slow and so I'll save it til next time.

That'll do to start with...Truly if I finish all those it will be completely miraculous!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bits and Pieces

I'm just finishing off a few odds and ends for Do. Good Stitches Bee:


My sewing time was eroded yesterday by three trips to the sewing machine shop. The feed dogs wouldn't go back up having been dropped for the free motion quilting. Anyway I've had very little trouble from my machine in the last nearly 30 years so I guess I can't complain.
So there was a short delay before getting the binding made.

I began hand sewing while movie watching last night. 

But I'll need to watch another...! I'm not very speedy!

Here are my untrimmed blocks for November. Kathryn requested red crosses on a low volume background. I'm quite fond of these. They'd make a great baby quilt. I'll file that idea away for a future gift.

Next up a backing for the shirt quilt. The top is done and I really like it.

I have so many things I want to make at the moment, hope I can hold onto the ideas for when the time is available...?

Linking up with Freshly Pieced today. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival

The time has come around again for this fantastic festival.
It is always so inspiring to see all the amazing quilts people make.

Welcome if you're visiting from the festival- hope you enjoy having a look around.

My entry is a quilt I have just finished for a friend's 50th birthday.  

Nigel, if you're reading this and you want any element of surprise, discipline yourself to look away now!

The decision process on what to make was quite protracted, then it took even longer to make it; mainly because I was slow and we were in different countries. Throw in an international move and time goes by so fast so now I'm nearly a year late! Making quilts for friends and family can be quite difficult because of differing tastes, but we had a lot of agreement on this one.

We pinned inspiration photos on a shared Pinterest board and had thought we'd come up with a plan; but then I just didn't feel inspired about our first decision which involved loads of narrow stripes, which would have looked look amazing but been quite tedious to do.  The colour palette emerged quite early: an ochre theme being common to many of the things Nigel pinned. I also decided that using shot cotton would give it the colour depth I was after. 

In the end we were inspired by this. I think it is by Tommy Fitzsimmons of Tommy's Art Quilts  so I would like to acknowledge her amazing work, very much more subtle and complex than mine.

The size of this is 47 x 68.5" so it just squeaks into the Small Quilt category. But I've decided to enter it into the Modern Quilts category.

 I wanted to make it quite improvisationally, so I cut panels in the approximate dimensions and experimented with the arrangement on my design wall. 

I wanted to have gently wavy insertions and a general sense of wiggliness, so I stacked the fabrics right sides up and cut improvisational curves with the rotary cutter.

And then just built and inserted until I was happy.

I hadn't done this kind of curved piecing before but it went OK. Long gentle curves are much easier than small Drunkards Path blocks!

I quilted it using a variegated cotton thread, in long organic wavy lines to echo and accentuate the piecing.

I backed it using good old Ikea Nummer which I bought a bolt of before we moved to an Ikea-less country!

It makes such a versatile backing and here I highlighted the relevant number with a wavy frame of the different shot cottons.

For the binding I used left over strips of the various fabrics in the quilt.

After  trialling many different methods for attaching the binding over the years I have come back to my favourite: narrow doubled binding, machine stitched onto the front and hand sewn down onto the back.

I was bit nervous about washing it as I hadn't prewashed the fabrics, but I put in a colour catcher and all was well!

Hopefully it's the perfect size for a bit of coziness when reading or to drape over a chair

Isn't it funny how a quilt never looks finished until it's been bound and washed to find all its lovely crinkliness!

Now I'm off to look at all your entries in the festival...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Getting Shirty

Edited to add that just now I've noticed my header image has disappeared??!! It's there in my template but not when navigating here from a browser?  If anyone has had this problem or knows how to resolve it, please help!!
Meanwhile-back to business...

I always have trouble keeping two projects at different stages. I seem to end up with lots of quilting to do all at once and if I'm not careful it's going to happen again.

I've been making good progress on the shirt quilt. I've made the right hand panel

And sewn it to the left hand panel

I left a few labels on here and there

I played with the idea of including button and sleeve plackets, but it looked too punctuated and I thought it might not be comfortable (or easy to quilt)...

I'm not generally a prewasher of fabric- it's just another couple of steps to hold up the starting process (though I have often thought that I should wash new fabric for toxic dye lingering and shrinkage reasons?). These shirts have obviously been washed and washed and washed but the batting will shrink. Does anyone prewash their batting? Should I?

I'm pressing on with the top panel. I think this quilt will end up double bed size.

But now so I don't end up with a quilt queue, I've determinedly unthreaded the piecing thread from my machine, even before finishing this top panel and starting on the bottom panel and I've done the first few lines of quilting on the birthday quilt. I was happy to find a toning variegated thread.

My plan is to quilt fairly close straightish wigglyish lines, say two or three in between these, with perhaps a bit of cross hatching on the crosswise piecing.

It's spring school holidays here and daylight saving has begun so we've been making the most of some lovely days to have a pizza dinner in the Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon sun and go to the beach.


It's back to 10 degrees again today though; time for some more quilting!

Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at Freshly Pieced

Friday, 19 September 2014

On my Design Wall (and All Over My Sewing Room) Today

I have begun to put together the first panel of the shirt quilt, as a break from cutting up shirts, and also because my design wall is not big enough for everything at once. This is probably about a third of the size of the finished quilt. 

My plan is eventually to add another design wall the same size so I can put them beside one another for larger projects or so I can have more than one thing on the go (coz that'd be new for me-hehe!) 

Getting this little beauty operational, other than as a shirt quilt strip organiser, is moving up the priority list.  Perhaps I will even piece some of this quilt on this old machine?

I have finished the shot cotton quilt top and basted this quilt and am on the hunt for the right quilting threads. I'm thinking straight-line quilting for this with perhaps a bit of cross hatching?

Last post I showed you a little glimpse of my sewing room from this aspect- it's even messier today. But I figure that if I wait until it's all sorted and tidy I'll be waiting a long time! Anyway it's a space for using and part of the blessing of having a sewing room is being able to leave projects out, so I can nip in for a few minutes here and there, so realistically it's never going to look like a magazine shot!

As you can see it's not exclusively a sewing room. We have most of our books in there. And our craft supplies. And my work resources. And guests...

This long table I found in a second hand shop is great. It's fairly skinny, so it doesn't take up too much room, but because it's nice and long I can fit a cutting mat and two machines and there's still room for other junk. It also has folding legs so I can tuck it away if we have guests using the room.

I keep my fabric in the reflecting cupboard in the far corner.

The shelves beside will be honed a little more towards sewing books and things once we've built some more shelving for the books and stuff, still in the moving box you can glimpse under the table. The sofa bed isn't super comfy for sitting, but in theory it's good for people to drop in and chat and drink tea or wine or play a bit of guitar to keep me company from time to time.

The ottoman thing with the tapestry cover was my great grandmother's and has been variously mended over the years by my grandmother. It's not the most beautiful object but I love having it because of its history and it's useful for WsiP (or random junk).

I'm not sure I've finally decided on layout in the room. I'm still fiddling, and I need a pressing surface. I'm thinking of covering a sheet of MDF with padding and fabric. This set up is not ideal as I'm not left handed, but it is handy to have it so near the machine. At the moment I'm working around the old-house-one-powerpoint-per-room syndrome, which also slightly dictates the set up if I'm not going to be tripping over extension cords and multiboxes.

This is the final messiest corner. There used to be a cupboard here which was ugly as anything and not well organised inside- just one long bar for hanging, no door etc. When we moved back into our house at the beginning of the year we decided that if we didn't knock it out we'd fill it with stuff such as unpacked boxes and never get round to it. So we did it and now need to tidy up the wall... (rather like Flanders and Swann's "The Gasman Cometh", also known as a Ballad of Unending Domestic Upheaval)!

We are going to build (yet more) shelves above the slidey door cabinet below, which contains our craft supplies and has the guillotine on top. One day it will be more attractively laid out and there will be a pin board above the cupboard, below the shelves,  to serve as an inspiration spot.

So there you have it, in all its glory! I feel lucky to have it :-)

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