Sunday, January 30, 2011

After a very slow start, summer has finally arrived. As my Mum would have said, just in time for the kids to go back to school. Yesterday was 44 degrees (112 F) and it was thoroughly nasty all day, and night as well, because the temperature only dropped to 27 .

I've been a bit alarmed at the quilts mounting up- one lady brought twelve tops last week, saying all her friends wanted their tops to get into the queue too, and she'd kindly offered to bring them all up to us. That, and a few other good customers bringing three and four tops at once means that we're working at capacity again, just when the weather is the worst.

The hall is wonderful, but there are a few things that make it hard to bear in summer; the lack of windows and ventilation, and the 18' ceilings which make it impossible to install affordable air-conditioning. It stays remarkably cool for a while, but when these temperatures build up, it stays very hot out the back where the Statler lives. Which is where I work, sigh.

Yesterday we got up at three, and had the machine running soon after, on this large flannel quilt, complete with flannel backing. It would be lovely and cuddly warm in winter, but I felt like fainting every time I touched it.So hot!!
Pippi stayed in front of this little evaporative unit the whole time, she's not silly. It keeps my feet a little cooler, but the main reason to have it on the floor is to try and cool the computer for the machine. The operators come second!
After a few hours that top was done and I got a second, smaller one loaded and finished by twelve. By then there was no way we could function in the workroom/oven so we came home to collapse in various attitudes of exhaustion. The dogs hate the heat, and they opt to lie flat out on the tiled floors, and I've thought of joining them more than once. Roll on Autumn!

Despite the heat I managed to finish sewing all the panels for the Bargello, but I couldn't face turning the iron on and pressing them. They're waiting for a cool morning to get that done, then there will only be three long seams to sew and it's in one piece. I've enjoyed the technique, and now I want to try a Trip around the World.A trip to the patchwork shop in the next town yielded these fabrics, just because.I don't know what I'll do with them, but it's ages since I bought anything new and these spoke to me. That rose fabric is gorgeous, and I'll be trying it on a few tops that need borders, when it's cool enough to pull them out.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

I've been sewing my strip sets for Bonnies Bargello, and have got one cut and sewed into it's final pattern, just to see if everything fits.
Yes, so it's on with the next one, only two more seams to sew and I'm halfway there.
Well, more than halfway, because all the strips are sewn, and I just have to crosscut these and then pin, and pin and pin those intersections.
But it's mindless, and very satisfying to see the chains of colour march up or down across the strips. Then I can think about a border and backing. This whole top has come from the scrap bin, and while there aren't many pastel pink, green, yellow or blue bits left, I can't really see a dent in the pile. Now I'll have to do a dark top, and one with country colours and so on and so on.

This customer quilt had a dark blue background and I had to use a cream thread in places. I thought the contrast might look horrible, but it's not too bad.
These blocks are straight, it's just that I've got the quilt slung over the arms of a chair. The hall is so hot in this summer weather that I can't bear to stay there longer than necessary, and bring the quilts home so I can end the threads sitting in the air-conditioning. Winter is so much more pleasant when quilting for a living.


Friday, January 21, 2011

I was cutting a pile of brown fabric for my latest project when I read Jan Mac's blog and suddenly all I wanted to do was dig in the scrap bins and start cutting for some donation quilts.
Keryn and I made a lot of quilts for the bushfire appeal, and it felt so good to be able to do something constructive. The floods in Queensland and Victoria have made me want to sew for others again, and Jan's post was the encouragement I needed.

So I've made a huge mess, and I'm scrabbling and cutting and sorting and working out what I'm going to make.

First up I want to do one of Bonnie's Scrappy Bargello's, because it's so easy to cut for- you only need 2 1/2" strips 16" long. As most of my scraps aren't width of fabric, this will find a use for them. Anything smaller is getting cut for Keryn's Half and Half, or Happy blocks. I figure if I get too many 16" pieces I'll make a Scrappy Trip around the World from Quiltville too, as that uses the same pieces.There's enough in this container for a lap sized quilt, but I haven't finished yet, there's more piles waiting.
Look at the pile of trimmings already. It's so good to get all these bits and pieces out of the way.
Dolly is teaching Pippi how to beg nicely, and who could resist those little white paws?


Monday, January 17, 2011

I've been going through my sewing room and finding all sorts of things that I only have vague recollections of. I can remember making these units for a pink and brown block, and thought I'd finished one or two. But I found 13 blocks in the drawer so I must have pottered away on this project a lot longer than I thought I did.

For now I can just make another pile of sq in sq units, but I'm going to have to get serious and decide how big I want the top to be, and how I'm going to set them.Another drawer contained these two finished blocks and pieces cut for a lot more.
I can remember making one to test the pattern, but I'd done three, and a heap of Puss in the Corner blocks to use as the centre.
Nope, not much was written to the memory banks on this project either. I also made this more complicated version, so I must have been fiddling with the idea for quite a while. Oh well, the pieces are all ready and waiting and I can start sewing with little preparation.
Pippi went for her first long walk at Bowman's Park the other day, and she ran and ran like a mad thing, racing around with the other dogs. When we got home she just collapsed on the gravel driveway- she was pooped!!
Once she builds up a bit of stamina I think she'll be hard to keep up with.


Saturday, January 01, 2011

We had great plans for achieving things this long weekend, but the heat (44 degreesC or 111 F) has meant that we've been settled in front of the air-conditioner just trying to stay cool. Today wasn't quite as bad, but the heat always upsets my plans and drains my energy. I'm a winter person I'm afraid, but we've got three more months of this so I'd better get over it.

Of course plans to handsew are impractical because of the general stickiness and short temper, but I did finish the last of these blocks.

I thought I only had ten more to do, and then I found a little container with eight more hiding in it. Gagh! But finally they're done, now if only I could remember how I wanted to set them.

Originally they were going to look like this, with just two rounds in each block.
I've lost the photo of the antique quilt that made me decide to add another round, but it was something like this, without the hexagon centre.
I know it had two setting colours like this, but beyond that I'm at a loss.
I should have finished the darn thing while it was still fresh in my memory. I've lost so many wonderful pictures of antique quilts in various computer crashes, and I still get cranky thinking about them. Now external strorage devices are so cheap it's not a problem, thank goodness.

Keryn and I spent an hour yesterday making a list of goals and directions for 2011, and we'd be all fired up and ready to go, except for that whole energy-sucking heat thing. But at least we know what we're aiming for.

Pippi has displayed quite an astonishing aptitude for excavating, and all but disappeared in this hole she dug yesterday. She was standing on her hindlegs here, and you can see the dirt flung around in all directions. I think we'd better distract her from her hobby; the first time she digs up a garden bed I won't be quite so amused...
Can you see a theme with the drawings ie pippi's always asleep. I tried drawing her sitting up today, and she got so excited as I continually glanced at her that she ended up prancing around barking at me.
She refused to stay still after that, no wonder I like it when she's fast asleep...


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