Tuesday, January 24, 2012

When Bonnie was talking about first quilts a while ago, this is the one I wanted to show but I couldn't find it at the time. We've always called it a Postage Stamp, even though the squares are 2" finished . It's the first quilt I made entirely by myself, without Keryn's help. I think there was a photo in a magazine somewhere, but it's lost in the mists of time. I can't remember when I started it, but most of the piecing was done after I'd had my second son Rob in 1984. Rather than go to bed for a few hours I used to stay up until his 2 o'clock feed and I spent the time building this top. I didn't know how best to construct it so I sewed groups of six or eight squares together, starting in one corner and just kept adding fabrics.
Every night I had to lay it out on the floor and decide the fabric for the next rows and then I'd spend some happy hours hand piecing them together. The boys were asleep in bed and the little woodstove we had made everything toasty and I kept a kettle simmering on it ready for cups of coffee. Sometimes I took a break and fell asleep on the floor in front of the fire, because it was tiring looking after two little boys, but I managed to get a lot done every night. Some of the fabrics in this are still favourites which I'd love to have back in my stash, and others were just whatever was available at the time.
There are two or three polyester fabrics I can see in this photo, and the small cream border was very thin and flimsy but I loved the print. What I wouldn't give for metres and metres of that blue border which had an almost chintzy feel to it, and came on a roll as dressmaking material.

It was one of the first times I'd bought fabric just for patchwork without even a pretence at making clothes first, and I felt quite daring cutting it up. Our Mum disapproved quite strongly of cutting up 'good' fabric for quilts, when we could make ourselves a nice skirt or a dress with it.
Keryn had left to go to agricultural college and so she wasn't around to help me baste it and I can remember putting this into my quilting frame when a friend came round for coffee. She held the clamps and did what I told her, but she thought I was absolutely demented and couldn't understand the idea of quilting at all

The backing was a brushed twill that I bought at Kmart for 50 cents a metre and I got three backing lengths in different colourways. I couldn't go past a bargain back then either! There are still scraps of this floating around in the stash somewhere.
It's done very simply, just 1/8" away from the seams and the borders haven't got any quilting at all, apart from along the seams. The border on the front was left extra wide, and then folded over to make a border on the back, caught down with not very neat stitches. I am quite surprised at how untidy some of the handsewing is, but it's held up well and I did improve over the years.

I gave it a good soak and wash when we discovered it at the bottom of a pile of quilts at the hall, and while I was at it I decided to wash my 4-4 Time that was featured in Australian Homespun last year. Pippi had been snoozing on it and it was a bit grubby, but washed up fine. I love the look of quilts on the clothesline, the natural light and the backdrop of trees make the colours stand out. I might dig out some other quilts I haven't shown and put them on the line too....


Sunday, January 22, 2012

I've nearly finished four of my antique blocks, and it's much easier now that I've found my fabrics. It's hard when you get interrupted during a project, I can't quite manage to get the enthusiasm back for this. I've been looking for the blue fabric used in the lower left hand block, but I can't find it anywhere. I'm almost sure I used all of it so I think it will have to have different corners on it. I've wasted too much time already.(I can't seem to capture the right colours lately, the top photo is too drab and cold, and the other one is too yellow. Imagine something in between the two...)

At least it's getting done, but Keryn doesn't know how many blocks we're going to make, so I'll just keep on until told to stop. She's obsessing about the 'right' setting fabric, and a number of pieces have been bought and then rejected so it's becoming a bit annoying. My method of working is to put the blocks in a drawer for a few months ( or years!) and wait till I find the fabric I want. But Keryn really likes to Finish tops and she's getting a bit antsy. I think there may be a trip to Adelaide in the future to try and settle the matter.....

Pippi has extended her landscaping projects to Keryn's back yard. There were two piles of dirt down the back and Pips rearranged one to her liking, about a foot of it removed and spread about, and the main excavation begun in the middle. Dolly was supervising, she usually stands off to one side looking worried and saying "It wasn't me!!"

Pippi hasn't got the brainpower to pretend she didn't do it, and here she is on the second pile of dirt just softening it up, ready for the Big Dig. She's so happy and she's not doing any real harm, and who needs two piles of dirt anyway?


Tuesday, January 17, 2012

It's 40 degrees outside (around 105 F) and I'm holed up in the sewing room with the airconditioner on, staying cool. On days like this there's nothing else to do, housework is out of the question, and as for cooking! Yuk!

This morning I watered all my garden and moved pots out of the horrible wind which seems to accompany these days- I think it does more damage than the heat. This gorgeous David Austen rose is just a shapeless bundle of dried petals now, but at least I have the photo.
My tomatoes are loving the heat, as long as they have enough water, and they are well over six feet high now. I've picked kilos and kilos from them, and they're still laden. I want to make tomato sauce, and I've frozen half of the nine kilos I need. It won't take me long to amass the rest, at the rate they're ripening.
I'm trying to work on the antique blocks, but I was still having a lot of trouble with the fabric placement. I just didn't seem to have the colours I wanted and it was making me feel very sour towards this project.
Yesterday I was looking at the shelf above my sewing machine and saw a plastic box with a likely looking fabric in it, and when I got it down I could have kicked myself.
When we started this project I went through the stash and collected all the bits I wanted to use and put them together in one container. Then Christmas happened along and other things distracted me, and I completely forgot even doing it. No wonder I couldn't find the 'right' fabrics; they weren't in the stash anymore. Sigh. My memory is getting very fickle these days.

Pippi likes to lie at my feet in this weather, stretched full out so I can trip over her more easily. I drew her the other day, and as she was facing away from me she was upside down. It's considered a good exercise to try drawing an object like this, makes you focus on what you see, not what you think you see.
Here I've flipped the sketch in photoshop, and it still looks ok to me anyway.


Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I'm working on some nine patches that will be used in the centre of my album variation blocks. They're supposed to be random, but for some reason I'm having trouble with just picking up bits and sewing them together. So I'm doing a rather planned scrap look, and to help me keep track of what I've decided I use an old magazine.

I start about half way through and lay each block out on a page. I flip the previous page over on top of it and plan another block and so on, until I've got as many as I need. Then the whole thing just lives next to the machine and I can turn the page and sew one block at a time without getting all mixed up.
I just seem to be happier with this way of choosing fabrics, and I don't agonise over every decision like I was before. It still looks fairly random to me anyway.

This is a catalogue for a gorgeous English shop called Past Times- I don't know if it still exists as this is from last century, 1995 to be exact. There are so many beautiful objects in here and it keeps me amused as I sew and look at all the things I didn't buy...
I was in the garden today and saw Pippi lying on the lawn, all four legs in the air and enjoying the shade and cool grass. She loves lying like this and quite often goes to sleep in this unladylike position. How undignified...
She came over to me later and I snapped a photo but didn't realise she'd closed her eyes-doesn't she look silly? Oh, that sun was so bright she had to go back and have another nap on the lawn. What a good life our dogs have!


Wednesday, January 04, 2012

I don't get really mad at Pippi digging, because most of the time it's somewhere harmless, and she's very funny to watch when she's in action. Now that it's so hot I can't blame her for digging a hole to lie in that's slightly cooler than the surrounding earth.This was originally a pile of dirt about two feet high, which she flattened and spread around with lots of pronking and prancing and skittering in all directions. I noticed she'd started an excavation, and when I investigated I found she was trying to bury one of her toys. Poor thing got pretty mangled at some stage!
She looks so mature and sensible sometimes, but she's still a big puppy at heart. And a naughty one at that, she recently ate two of Keryn's shoes, and what made it worse is they were from different pairs. When is she going to learn..... sigh.


Sunday, January 01, 2012

The summer heat has started, and my big plans for this weekend have degenerated into staying in my one air conditioned room and trying to stay cool. I did have to go and pick some tomatoes and water the garden, but I did that at six am when the sun wasn't too bad.
I've picked quite a lot of these small heirloom tomatoes, about five kilos so far and today I cut up a tray of them and stuck them outside in the 40 + degree sun. I might as well make use of all that heat I suppose....My vegie garden is coming along nicely, despite some very vigorous digging on Pippi's part. She doesn't seem to understand why I'm so cross about her excavations, and part of me has to admire her zeal. She created one hole deep enough to sit in up to her chest, and removed three punnets of seedlings that I'd just planted there. Most of them were flung about four feet away and amazingly survived being replanted. So now I keep a very close eye on her.....

These are the blocks that Keryn and I are making and I'm finding the colour choices hard going. When there are about ten different fabrics per block I get all confused and it takes me forever to decide what goes where. I thought making the half square units and the flying geese would cut down on some of the indecision, but it's still a slow process. Only a few more to go, so I'll plug away at it and think about what I'm going to work on next.
I hope everyone had a great New Year, there were three very noisy parties around here last night. This morning when I was in the garden I heard some people that sounded very sorry for themselves starting out for home. I'd been up since five and felt full of beans, I couldn't bear to begin the New Year with such a hangover!


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