Tuesday, January 31, 2006

I'm not speaking to my Little Cross blocks, and they're not saying anything to me either. I keep making suggestions, perhaps they would like to have navy sashings..no? Perhaps a double pink.. what about triple sashes, or a garden maze (getting desperate here) and still they just sit there, sulking and not being at all helpful. As I rely on my quilts to 'tell' me where we're going, you can see I haven't made any progress. Only what they DON'T want me to do.

So, seeing they are being so fickle, I'm rummaging around in my other UFO's. I store finished sets of blocks in large pizza boxes (bought new from the pizza shop, no recycling going on here) or in handy boxes that used to house two and a half doz. eggs. I like things to stack up nicely and match and the fact they were free was an added bonus.

I make lots of blocks with no real plan in mind, so I quite often end up with this problem of not really knowing where I'm going with a particular project. I think that's why I have so many UFO's; I'm waiting for a nudge in the right direction and sometimes nothing occirs to me.

It's much easier when I copy an antique quilt, or at least use it as a starting point; I've got something to refer back to.

This is a set of blocks that stewed and simmered for a couple of years until I decided what they were going to be. I chose border fabric for it today, so I might finish this top and banish the Little Cross beggars back to the egg box.

Ignore the overflowing rubbish bin, at least SOME of the snibbles aren't on the floor!


Thursday, January 26, 2006

I might work on these next.
I really like using four little blocks with this cross setting to make a larger block, I've got a whole series of ideas drawn out on graph paper. Perhaps I could even do this with some of my stars? There's an idea....


I've decided that this is a better photo of what 177 star blocks looks like.

I must have been mad, and there's still a box of cut-out pieces, surely I'm not going to make MORE? But I've got into the habit of cutting nice scraps into diamonds, so I'll have to make Goosetrack blocks, or Carolina Lily or something different to use them all up.

The borders are on the 4-patch, I couldn't be bothered agonising and just used whatever looked halfway decent. Now I think I'll set another pile of blocks that I finished ages ago, I really feel like getting them all finished into tops. Who cares when I get around to quilting them, not me!

It's still very hot here, and there are big bushfires in Victoria, Tasmania and South Aussie. We've had some smaller grass fires around here, but fortuneately nothing too scary. I really admire the Country Fire Service, they get called out to all sorts of emergencies and it's a real comfort to know that they respond so quickly. There's a great loud siren that goes off here in our little town, and summons all the men to drop what they're doing and get to the station. Even though they have practice every week and the siren goes for a couple of minutes at a stretch, the dogs never get used to it, and set up a howling barking chorus as well. Sometimes at night the CFS are summoned to help at a road accident and from my bed I hear the wailing siren, the dogs answering from backyards everywhere, the growl of cars as the men leave and then the truck roaring out. I'm so glad all these brave people are willing to give up their time and help whenever they're needed.


Monday, January 23, 2006

Idle hands are the devil's workshop.....

I'm sick of summer and it's only half over - 45 degree (C)weather will try anybody's temper. It's certainly not good sewing weather but today was cooler so I got the 4-patch blocks all put together. Now the headache will be deciding on some borders for this, but I'll do a Scarlett O'Hara and think about that tomorrow.

I was going through some drawers and found a set of Chinese Coins strips that I'd made from Kathleen's scraps, I'd forgotten about them. I also pulled out a giant stack of 8-point stars that I hand-pieced last year when we were moving. My sewing room was disrupted for months so I cut squillions of diamonds, squares and triangles and stitched as one hypnotised for months. I never thought what I was going to do with them , nor did I bother to count them until today. I kept finding more and more, some with dark backgrounds, some with blue,pink, most with light.The star points were scraps of reproduction fabrics. Have you ever wondered what 177 8-point stars look like?

Like this. I don't know how many quilts I'll make out of
this lot, but it will be at least five. Do I WANT five 8-point star quilts? Too late now. But I had such fun sewing these every night, and I can do the most beautiful tight little centres, every single time. Practice really does make perfect!
I handsew every night for about three hours while I'm watching telly.The hardest part is having the pieces all cut out and ready to go, I run out of prepared shapes more often than not. Gotta keep those hands busy...


Tuesday, January 17, 2006

It's 9.30 in the morning and already it's too hot to sew. I HATE the summer now because it's such a waste of time lying around being miserable when I could be SEWING! But I may have an airconditioner soon, so there's hope in sight.

At 6 this morning I got out my 4-patch blocks and started cutting setting squares and triangles, I love this part of a project. You suddenly seem to be making huge progress after mindlessly piecing blocks. Here are the first four rows set together, and the rest is laid out on the bed behind. The 4-patch blocks were made with an awful collection of one and a half inch strips, really disparate fabrics and no rhyme or reason, apart from a dark and a medium. Then I set them with the light 2" squares to make a 6" block. Then they sat in the drawer for about 18 months, while I tried to find some fabric that didn't turn them into grey mush. Very hard, as there are such a weird assortment of colours.

Finally I settled on this material, which was the scraps from a backing, courtesy of a longarmer friend. The client was obviously generous in the extreme with her measurements, because there was enough to set this quilt and I've still got more strips that will make a border for a smaller quilt. The maroon setting triangles were from the cut-off backing strips of a quilt I did for a customer this week, and I had to do some fancy cutting to get the grain lines running in the right direction. Normally I just cut large squares and quarter them, but I only had strips to work with. Some of the triangles are pieced, but I love the fact that this whole quilt was made from fabric that other people threw away.

I also like the fact that the 4-patches disappear, and the cream squares make the pattern. Originally I was going to use a lighter setting fabric so that a chain effect happened, but it was sooooo boring! After many auditions this unlikely fabric was the only one that jumped out at me, and I like this so much I might do a 'nice' one with reproductions as a 'leader-ender' project. (See quiltville.com with the gorgeous Bonnie Hunter ideas)
(or the ideas of the gorgeous Bonnie Hunter!)


Saturday, January 14, 2006

Last year I was asked to make a signature quilt for the local primary school, so that they could raffle it as a fund raiser. I was given large squares of homespun with the kids names embroidered by another lady, and my instructions were literally "Make a quilt..."

It was quite a logistical nightmare trimming them all to size( there's always someone who won't stay within the guidelines) and then keeping them in the correct classes, and coming up with a setting that didn't look too boring. The piecing took me weeks and weeks to sort out, the quilting was done in two days on my Janome 6500. I wish I did own a longarm, as the few times I've had acess to one we played together very nicely. Better win the lottery to get one of those babies, sigh...

I did everything freehand, even the ditchstitching, because I didn't want to wash blue marks out afterwards. I always wash my quilts straight after binding, but I don't like taking chances with customer quilts. I did 10 quilts for other people last year, I don't seek them out so I could probably get a lot more if I wanted to. Not able to handle the pressure at the moment, but one day I might get a bit more professional.

I also quilted 4 for myself and made 11 tops and who knows how many sets of blocks. I don't have guilt over my unfinished projects, this is what I do and it's more important to keep being creative than stifle myself with trying to work on one project at a time. That's my theory anyway.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I love Scraps!

This is what I've been working on sporadically in between other projects. Ages ago my twin sister Keryn was asked by the local quilt shop owner if she wanted some 'scraps'. The scraps turned 0ut to be 5 shopping bags of strips, 5" long and varying in width from half an inch to 2". On one of my visits she got them out to show me and threatened to throw them all away after we'd looked at them- well what could I do? I HAD to say that I'd take them home.

To date I've made about 160 9-patches, which will go in a double 9-patch, another rail fence, about 100 4-patches and 30 double 4-patch blocks which will be my next set-together project.Keryn made a string squares top and we've still got more strips to use. This is just a simple rail fence, but I really like the border, which is made of low contrast strips, so that the patterns merge together and seem to make their own print. I may say that ALL these fabrics were very busy and ugly on their own, but they made a surprisingly nice effect when sewn together

For some reason I love using other people's scraps, and that has resulted in a huge collection of little nibbles of this and that. Everybody knows what I'm like and at the end of our group's sewing days someone gathers all the cut-offs and gives them to me. One lady used to take them home to feed to her worm farm, but now I get them. I'm lower than the worms!!

I have all my 'nice' fat quarters and the metreage in many plastic tubs, but these little scraps haunt me and I keep coming back to playing with them. Every time Keryn asks what I'm working on and I mutter shamefacedly,"Kathleen's scraps", she makes the sounds of exasperation that are usually written as "Tsk!' and "Tchhkk!!" and "For Pity's Sake!!" She thinks I should just get over them and work on something good, and I will...... with visits back to the scrap drawer.


Sunday, January 01, 2006

It's been a quiet day, spent at home on my own, reflecting on the start of another year and what I want to achieve during it. I've sorted some things, mulled over my projects and decided on a few resolutions to challenge myself - as one of those was creating a blog I've already made progress!

I live in a small country town, have three sons 23, 21 and 18 and tend to be a bit obsessive about quilting. When the boys were younger I made all their clothes and some of mine, but it's been years since I made a garment or even wanted to. After dozens of trackpants, shorts, t-shirts and windcheaters, not to mention callesthenics costumes and alterations for other people the only sewing I want to do is patchwork or quilting. I'm not apologetic about it, it's what get's me up in the morning and keeps me sane, and as long as I don't do it in the street and frighten the horses, I'm not hurting anyone, am I?

I'm also passionate about art, the countryside, animals, most music ( apart from jazz, it sets my teeth on edge) and my family. I have a twin sister who is to blame for the quilting obsession, but I've forgiven her for forcing me to help her with that first Double Irish Chain back in the dim '70's. I thought she was mad, but joining her in the insanity proved to be the best thing I ever did. Story of our lives, she leads, and I follow grumbling....


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