Monday, December 17, 2012

 I got a lovely surprise in the mail;  the latest copy of Homespun magazine.

Inside, my quilt Flying Home that I started last year sometime. I think I first mentioned it on Jan 1st,  but I didn't finish the blocks until months later, and they were intended for the article by then so I couldn't talk about them.
Keryn pieced half the blocks-should I have given her credit? Nah, she didn't care.

Sometimes when I see my work photographed so beautifully I think "Did I do that?" and marvel because it looks so different.

Keryn and I keep trying to choose our favourite block, but it's too hard, they all turned out beautifully. The number of different fabrics in each block semed daunting  at times, but it was worth it in the end. I love it.....except...

I intended to custom quilt this, but a number of customer quilts had to be done at just the wrong time. I had to put a panto on this just to  get it finished,  which disappointed me in lots of ways. Keryn says, "No Worries! We'll just make another one!"  Hmm, we laid the blocks on some blue fabric before we chose this pinky red, perhaps a blue version next time? 


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

 I'm still a bit obsessed with my  diamonds;I keep thinking of new places where there might be little scraps to cut up. I've put a basket next to my ironing board and every time I turn the iron on I pull out a handful of scraps and press them.
 Then I cut them out whenever I can; I'm amazed at how much I've used up this way. It's very relaxing tracing round my little aluminium template and then making piles of diamonds to add to the box.

Yesterday I met my new great-nephew for the first time, what a little darling! He seemed so tiny, and yet first-born son John was a whole pound lighter when he was born. Hard to believe he was ever this small.... I have a quilt nearly ready to give this chap, but I have to make the label and finish a few bits here and there, and then I have an excuse for another visit.

Keryn and I were ten when we became aunties for the first time, and about 31 when we were great aunties. And now our great-neice is expecting a baby in January (another boy) so we'll be great-Great-aunties! 


Friday, November 23, 2012

 I've been a bit of a flibbitigibit in the sewing room, bouncing around from one project to the next without really settling to anything. Nothing seems to keep my attention for long, so I've been cleaning and organising the stash and getting things that don't belong there out of the room.

In the process of going through a box of old bits and pieces I found a little bag of 60 degree diamonds marked for hand piecing and decided to deal with them once and for all. I began to piece them together, the best way to get rid of them short of throwing them in the bin. This template is tiny, an inch on each side, and while fiddly, the bonus is that it takes no time at all to sew those little seams.

I started off making baby/tumbling blocks, very cute, but the trouble began when I ran short of a light here and a medium fabric there. Soon I'd pulled out some tiny scraps and begun cutting more diamonds- just to finish off this little piece, you understand?
Obsession soon followed, when I realised that so many of my tiny scraps would be gone forever if I cut diamonds from them. A little bin next to my table is already full of discarded confetti left after I cut as many shapes as I could out of a collection of treasured pieces. And I figure if I can't get one of these diamonds from the scrap then it's really not worth keeping.
I got rid of a small drawer of  1 3/8" strips that I'd mistakenly thought I'd use, and then pulled out the string container to ferret through that. I don't like the process of string piecing, even though I love the results, so I pulled out all the tiniest strings and cut and cut and cut.

After I came up for air I realised that I had way too many bits for my little mini quilt and happily began piecing stars- perhaps a weeny Seven Sisters in progress you think? I'm not getting that far ahead, I'm just enjoying the process.
 I love the backs of the stars, so neat and easy to press.
 I can piece three of these before I go to bed, and I'm having tremendous fun choosing colour combinations. There aren't too many of each colour so the stars are pretty scrappy, but they're sooo cute. This project has put some fun back into sewing, as during the day  I'm  still having to plod away on some projects with deadlines. At least I have these to look forward to before I go to bed, like a little treat for myself.


Sunday, November 04, 2012

 Here's one of the  quilts I did in the last few weeks. I thought it was a pattern by Dianne Johnston, but I can't see it on her website. It's very large and complicated and the applique was beautifully done. There were many expanses of white to fill up, and it took me a while to decide what to do.
I'd already done another applique quilt for this customer, and I didn't want to do the same type of feather.
 These are a bit different, and each one covered a lot of ground, so it's not too dense. I find large patterns harder to do, the tight, small motifs are easy by comparison.
  The customer was happy, and rewarded me with three more tops, one of them applique flowers on a black background. She certainly keeps me on my toes, and she's 80 years old. Pretty blooming amazing if you ask me. I hope I'm still sewing like this when I'm her age!


Wednesday, October 31, 2012

  As Keryn summed up in this post life has been incredibly lively over the last few weeks. It seems an absolute whirlwind of activity, but now it's over we can get back to our boring routines and settle down.
I only have a few photos of my son John's wedding to Liz, because I made a concious decision to put the camera down and just enjoy the experience first hand. Sometimes we spend so much time looking through the lens of the camera trying to capture the moment that we don't get to experience it fully. There were plenty of other people taking photos so I'll be able to enjoy those later on. It was so lovely having all the family there (well most of them) and helping to launch John and Liz into their married life- I had a wonderful day and know they did too.

I think Rob and Elisa's son Logan won everyone's heart that night, he was so good and funny and kept everyone amused for hours. He was wearing the little suit that he wore to my neices wedding in January but he's grown so tall it won't fit him much longer. When he tired himself out he climbed into his pusher and went to sleep; he was no trouble at all.
 What a little darling, and Keryn's daughter Seonaid (one of the bridesmaids) is a bit gorgeous too.
Keryn snapped this lovely photo of Rob and Logan after the ceremony, that boy certainly has some energy!
And in other news, I'm going to be a granny again in February next year. I'm going to be a great aunt in four weeks, and next January a great, great aunt- the family events are just piling up.It's quite amazing being at this stage of life where our children have grown into wonderful adults and we have so much fun when we get together. It makes me sad that Keryn's son Rhys has gone back to 
Queensland and Rob, Elisa and Logan are back in New South Wales, but we did have a great time and that's what is important.


Saturday, October 06, 2012

Oh my goodness, where was I? We've been racing around for weeks printing and packing orders and finally it's all over and done with and life can go back to what passes as normal.  I feel so discombobulated though, it's hard to pick up the threads again.

The machine quilting conference was great, lots of people to catch up with and all the excitement of a big event like that.  We finished putting up our booth and I stepped back to take a photo- the batteries in my camera were dead. No worries, I'd bought the charger, so I put it on overnight, went to take a photo next morning and the batteries were still dead. So no photos and I need a new charger.

I caught up with some blog readers, and Tazzie came by and said hello- at least I could recognise her, having met in real life before. It was lovely to see her again, and to talk with some faithful readers who keep hoping we'll go back to more regular posts.

I had been working on Bonnie's Pineapple Blossom blocks and I managed to sew them together before I got too busy. I did like them set straight together like this...

but when I laid them out with sashing it used up all of my extra cut pieces except for one- that seemed a sign! It's so good to empty a container completely, no more bits hanging around.
I still haven't worked out a border for it, and how to use the HST that resulted from making the blocks, but I'm thinking on it. I might piece them into the backing or sew some smaller blocks or spread them out in the borders.

But the garden is calling at the moment; we've had a few hot days and it's a reminder that summer is coming and the plants need to be repotted or put into beds with soaker hoses and mulch to protect them. Our season of Spring lasts about two weeks, so there's a sense of urgency for me. Those dreadful hot days with horrible north winds will soon be here and I want to get ready for them. For now the weather is being kind, and I do love puddling around with pots and dirt and watching the buds on all the flowers get bigger every day. And my new roses are going to bloom soon, I can hardly wait to see what they're like.


Sunday, September 09, 2012

Henrietta asked in the comments about the plant in my last post. This pot actually contains dozens of bulbs called lachenalia, and they were from my mum's garden. They reproduce readily. and every year there were more and more of them, which she faithfully dug up when the season was over, and then planted again next year. She had thousands of them, but she couldn't bring herself to throw any away, so it took weeks to get them in the ground. Every path and flower bed was lined with their cheerful ranks, and a self seeded tiny white chrysanthemum grew all through them. The effect was dazzling, and I want to try and replicate it in my garden too.

These were fertilised and grew much larger this year than when they were in the garden. When they die down I'll split them up and store them, they are so crowded in this pot there isn't room for any more. Their spotted leaves are quite handsome too.

I have some red ones from my MIL's garden, but they aren't as prolific and easy to grow. I've never seen them available in shops- I think they must be an old type and not as popular as some of the more flashy bulbs. I'll continue to spread them through the flower beds, but I'm not going to dig them up every year as Mum did. They seem to fend for themselves if left in situ, and it's one less gardening job for me.

It's been very spring-like here, and I had a sudden mad urge to stop sewing the brown brown brown Duck's Foot blocks I've been making and delve into my pastel fabrics.
 It wasn't until I viewed the photos that I realised this must be a reaction to the change of the season, all those pretty blossomy, flowery shades together.
I chose a pretty turquoise for the main colour, and cut up a heap of strips and squares for Bonnie's Pineapple Blossom block.
I've made the centres for twelve blocks to see if I like the process, and to use the smaller pieces from the scrap drawers. Next I'll have to cut  strips to get some longer lengths, and cut a heap more of the background squares. I'm having so much fun I don't think I'll stop at twelve though, these colours are making me very happy.....


Sunday, September 02, 2012

 I think I underestimated how much sewing there was in these multiple borders, it took hours and hours to cut and sew the strip sets. Then I had to attatch them and mitre the corners, quite an undertaking. The antique quilt I based this on had the blocks sort of 'floating' on the background, and I think mine have the same effect.
Keryn has a tutorial on how we do mitred corners here. I will say that I hand tack the fold in place without moving it from the ironing board instead of sewing it at the machine.( I slip a small cutting mat underneath so the pins and the needle don't catch the ironing board cover) And I will change thread colours as I applique this seam down, I'm a bit picky about things like that. I love this method of doing mitres, I've never had one that didn't work out perfectly.
Oh dear, Spring Fever has struck and I'm elbow deep in potting mix and seed sowing and garden clearing. I have a happy knack of being able to ignore the weeds and mess in the garden and just concentrate on the flowers, the colours, the joy of seeing things grow. I don't have time to maintain a spick and span garden, so I just enjoy what I've got.
But I think I might have gone a bit overboard on the roses this year. My brother dug up all his old ones and I rescued five of them and then I bought about ten new ones over the last two months. I'm crazy, but I can't seem to resist them. Now they're all shooting happily and a few have little buds appearing- I can hardly wait until the new ones flower and I can see whether they are as beautiful as the labels say.

When I'm watering this many pots in January I won't be quite so delirious, but that's months away....


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

 I managed to put together this set of blocks, which have been maturing in their box for quite a few years. I just love sq in sq units and these blocks used heaps of them, so I really enjoyed sewing this. (I have another set of thirty in just blue and cream, but I won't mention them now...)
 I've lost the photo of the antique quilt I based them on, and couldn't remember what the border looked like.

I tried a sort of sq on point border, but it didn't do anything for me, and the top has been sitting on the design wall while I tried out different combinations. I think I've finally decided what to do, and I'll start sewing strips tonight with any luck. Stay tuned...

The other night at John's place he was making us a cup of 'proper' coffee, and when he put the cups on the table we discovered... a line drawing of a bottom
and a sort of mythical creature. He swore he did nothing to make these happen- must be his artistic talent coming out in strange ways.


Saturday, August 11, 2012

 My Bargain Basement top is quilted and bound and ready to put on the bed. I'm really pleased with how this turned out, and it should hide the pawprints and dog hair very well. I've never made a quilt for quite  those reasons before, but I imagine it won't be the last.
I ended up making it 7 x 8 blocks, and then I found a stash of 9 1/2" squares that I cut in half and used as an edge. I really liked the border in Bonnies book, but I'll only go so far for Pippi, much as I love her. If I'm going to put that much sewing into a border, it's not going to be a dog bed!

I thought using the cut down squares for the border was really nifty, because I didn't have to measure anything, just count the corresponding blocks, and I put a square in each corner to even things out. I didn't have to bother finding yardage big enough for the whole thing and the scrappiness suited this particular top. It's an idea I'll definitely use again.
 I used a new panto of Keryn's to test it out and it made a lovely texture over all the scrappy bits and pieces. I sewed three or four old bits of fabric together for the back- no photo- and got rid of about ten pieces of scrap batting from the workshop. I could probably still make four quilts from the pile of batting offcuts, but at least it's a start. All in all, I used a shedload of scraps of every kind, blocks, strips, backing squares, yardage and batting. Very satisfying.Thanks Pippi!


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

 I put my other projects aside and began another quilt out of necessity. (That's what I'm telling myself anyway.)

I've been using my 4-4 Time quilt on my bed, but it's showing some wear because Pippi sleeps at the bottom of the bed. She has her own purple  quilt, but she spends a bit of time every night scratching around getting herself in juuust the right position before she settles down and I decided I needed another quilt to share the wear and tear. Preferably one that had minimal light fabric in it.

Surprisingly nothing already made seemed to fit that bill, so I had a quick scrounge around in my scrap bins and orphan units and made a start on Bonnie's Bargain Basement pattern, from 'Scraps and Shirttails'. I'd been thinking about this design, all I needed was an excuse to start!

It was blindingly quick, because I had a large amount of 3 1/2" strips and some squ in sq units as well as 4 patches in the right size.

 I tried this on the bed, but I want it larger all round, so I'm pulling more medium and dark strips  out to play with.
 It's been terrific fun, and there really is no right or wrong way to lay the blocks out, which I love. I may even make a pastel one to use up all the lighter strips I couldn't put in this.

So it's Pippi's fault I've made another top, and if this one wears out I'll just make another.
 This little face is worth it.


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