Tuesday, February 28, 2006

This is my very first applique quilt, made in about 1990. I'd only ever made one applique block in a friendship exchange but as soon as I learnt how to do it I was hooked. I LOVE applique.

I didn't have any patterns, only photos in magazines, so I drew these designs and away I went. I used over 70 different prints in the flowers, something I'd never do now, and worked out the setting after the blocks were done- not much planning ahead.

Because I didn't plan I had to use two different creams for the background of the blocks. ( it's not white, I just had to lighten the ancient photo so you could see the colours) I distributed the 4 blocks with the faintly different cream around the central square so that it was balanced and continued on my merry way.

This was actually a raffle quilt for a friend who was in a fundraising thing, and I had a strict deadline to follow. I went for a visit to Keryn, and the quilt came with me as hand luggage (wouldn't trust it to the tender mercies of Aust baggage handlers) and we both quilted frantically with a hoop at either end. The quilt is queensized, so we had room to stake out our own little patch on it...

Before it was raffled I entered it in the local show (tiny little town, and the judging committee run by women of the Jurrassic period) who apparently took umbrage at my blatant disregard of the rule that all background fabric MUST be the SAME! Some wanted to disqualify the quilt straight away, but in the end I was relegated to second prize (there were only three entries) and the first prize was won by a set of two hexagon potholders. Hmm, I've never been a fan of The Rules and that's possibly why I don't enter contests. Either that or it's just sour grapes!

The quilt raised nearly $3000 for the Crippled Children's Assoc, and I've never regretted giving it away, I had fun doing it and I don't really need to own the quilts once I finish them. The process is the thing for me, I love all of it, designing, drafting, sewing, quilting, binding. Once it's over I'm looking for the next project and starting something else!


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

One of my favourite quilt books is Legacy, about the life of Talula Gilbert Bottoms. Her productivity was amazing and even the ordinairy everyday covers she made for her many children were an inspiration. Although I love applique and complicated designs too, I'm always looking for great scrap patterns that I can make in between the 'good' quilts.

Apparently Talula pieced this design, called Glittering Stars many times and always had pieces cut to work on the diamond sections. I thought this might be a pattern that I could have on the go and cut my scraps up for every few weeks, so I gave it a whirl.

May I say, for the record, that I HATE curved piecing by hand and instead of whipping these little diamonds out by the fistful I ended up having to bribe myself to touch the things. I did it Talula's way of only having an eighth of an inch seam allowance on the curved sections and I really didn't like that either. So this isn't the perfect scrap pattern for me, but I do like the finished result- I just won't be doing any more.

I used Keryn's patterns from her Kaleidescope pack to quilt the stars, and there were lots of different designs for the cream background spaces; I had a lot of fun trying them out. I do like doing things freehand, but sometimes following patterns is just sheer fun, sew on the lines and you're done!


Sunday, February 12, 2006

The blocks that I set together a while ago now have borders. I really like triple borders, they seem to frame the centre nicely.

I'll put this with all the rest of the finished tops, but I do like this a lot so I think it will be high on the list as soon as it gets cool enough to quilt.


Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Lucy asked if I could show the star quilt that's hanging in the background of one of my photos. So here it is but it's not finished, I've got this much sewn together in two panels and I have another three rows to sew and join. Typically I made the blocks in quick time and then they sat there for a year until I decided on a setting fabric.

I was going to use blue for the triangles, but Keryn made a set of stars too and set hers with blue, so I didn't want to do the 'twin' thing. So mine's a bit different. (Gonna show yours, Keryn)

Even the long setting seams are done by hand, I like being able to press the seam allowances in different directions, which is why I'm not working on this during the hot weather.

I love sewing 6 point stars by hand, they are so easy and it's hard to stop making more and more. Most patterns are so simple to make by machine, but any pattern based on hexagons is usually more pleasant to sew by hand, so I've got a list of ideas for them too. I must say I don't really like the run of the mill Grandmother's flower garden usually, but I've saved some photos of antique ones that are gorgeous, and they'll become handpiecing projects in time.

Having written that I suddenly remembered another 6 point star top that I handpieced last year, and I'd forgotten all about it! I tend to just finish the tops and stow them away, then on to the next thing. The pink in this is a reproduction double pink, whereas the other one is more of a salmon pink. I based this on an antique quilt which actually had a really deep pink, almost red setting diamond but I couldn't replicate that and chickened out of using just red. I'm not a great risk taker, but I think I'm getting more adventurous.


Sunday, February 05, 2006

I adore red and green applique quilts, and have dozens of them drawn in my ideas book. I can't work on them in the summer months because I do all the applique by hand and it's just too hot and sticky.

Despite it's appearance this is really quite a simple design, and it grew very slowly. I didn't base this on any particular antique quilt, so I just let it dictate each stage as we came to it. I enjoyed doing the swag border, and the little stars; I was originally just going to have another bud there until this idea occurred to me.

I think that's why I prefer to design my own quilts, I'm always surprised by what turns up. I'd hate to be bound to a rigid plan, even though it might be helpful when I get stuck and don't know where to go next.

The quilting was done on my Janome 4000, which has a throatspace of 6". Even though it's not a big quilt it was still annoying not having more room to manouvre. Some of the designs are Keryn's but the feathered scallops in the border were designed just to fit the applique, which was fun. Much easier to just design something new rather than try to fit an existing pattern to it.

I have a number of other applique tops waiting for quilting once it gets cooler; I now have a Janome 6500 so I won't have to struggle quite so hard. I did a quilt for a customer on it that was 108" square , never again. I think it should be illegal to make quilts that big.

On a completely different note, this is my son's dog Jessie.She's a minature fox terrier and a dog of very little brain, unfortuneately. Normally she's a whirlwind of activity, but Matt took this picture of her recently and doesn't she look the most downtrodden, poor little waif?When we saw Ice Age, we all agreed instantly that the funny little creature with the acorn- Scrat- must have been based on Jessie, from the buggy eyes to the quivering nose and the incessant activity, the resemblance is amazing.

I rest my case....


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