Friday, August 31, 2007

Gee this week seems to have been busy, hence the lack of posting. Not anything quilty, which would at least have been bloggable, just running around. Here's some shots from our group day on Monday. We meet at the tennis clubrooms and some people didn't mind their quilts hanging outside on the fence. I wasn't one of them, and later a horrible north wind blew up and ripped most of these off the fence and bowled them off into the carpark, but I don't think any damage was done.

None of these are mine, You've seen the ones I displayed before, so nothing new there.Can't write now either, but I promise a chatty post will be created soon....


Saturday, August 25, 2007

I'm back into 'Busy' at the moment. Our patchwork group is hosting three other groups on Monday, and someone's decided we should have a banner to proclaim who we are. Guess who volunteered to quilt it? This would have been fine except for two things. One, I lost a day somewhere; after having an argument with Keryn last night on the phone I find out it is indeed Friday instead of Thursday (drats!) and two, I think I've overcommitted myself a bit on the Amount of quilting on this piece. I thought "Oh, I'll just free motion in between all the letters and flowers, and somehow they're harder to work around than I expected. Too many weird little spaces and odd shapes, sigh. But hopefully it will get done by Monday, otherwise it will just be a UFO for show and tell, won't it?

I finished the quilting on this blue and green quilt from a while back, really really simple stuff because I intend to sell it in our local craft gallery. The tops are building up alarmingly, and it would be nice to recycle them into more money to buy more fabric etc etc. You know how it goes....

And I feel bad that I posted such a funny looking picture of Mac last time. I'd asked Matt to go and photograph the almond blosssom and it was a hike of several kilometres, so Mac was a hot and bothered boy when he got back. The dogs always seem to go twice as far because they run backwards and forwards and investigate delicious smells and get sidetracked...

So here is a nice picture of Mac, looking at his beloved Boy with melting devotion; they have a wonderful bond.


Wednesday, August 22, 2007

For those readers, like Tami, who aren't familiar with Australian terminology, this is a 'billy', made famous in our song 'Waltzing Matilda" when the swagman camped by a billabong (waterhole) and 'waited till his billy boiled.'

It is simply a metal container with a loop handle, and is a vital component of any camping trip. This is a milk billy so it has a lid, but that's not essential.

When Keryn and I were in our teens we spent a lot of time camping with our brother in the northern Flinders area, wild and lonely in those days before tourism tamed it a bit. We were all tea soaks, and boiling the billy was the first thing to do after we'd set up the camp. Some romantics will tell you that it's traditional to throw a gum leaf in with the tea and let it stand-the resulting brew smells like horse liniment and spoils a good cuppa.

Our brother did indulge in 'swinging the billy' though, a hair-raising manouvre of grasping the billy full of scalding tea and swinging it round and round like a ferris wheel. Apparently the centrifugal force pushes all the loose tea leaves to the bottom of the billy so they don't end up in your cup, but if you don't do it fast enough it could end in disaster!

I'd love to visit that area again, but I'm long past sleeping on the ground and piddling behind a bush, I want some creature comforts in the wilderness these days!!

And as requested by Melinda, here are some close-ups of the fabrics in the last top...

That black floral in the centre was a real 'killer', but in such small pieces it can be overlooked..

The blah pink floral is from the '70's, and the shop that we bought it from still has some left on the roll! It's dull, dull, dull.
Ugly colours in that paisley, the apricot is very loosely woven and the red elephant strip, a leftover from a backing of Keryn's, is so full of polyester it shrinks at the sight of an iron. Should have thrown it out, but it reminds me of her quilt. And the pale green next to it just will not DIE, I found another quarter metre of it yesterday. ARGGGH!!! The almond blossom is covering a hillside at Bowman's Park, the blowflies are starting to invade the kitchen, the air is warm enough to think of the coming Spring......

and yep, Mac's sitting in his waterbowl again.


Monday, August 20, 2007

Sshh! Here's a quick post before Keryn gets back from her teaching weekend. This is just between us, alright? No blabbing to the big sister...

A while ago Keryn and I were talking on the phone, and she was telling me that she'd actually thrown some fabric out, and that she'd been through the cut strips and chucked out what she didn't love. "You know" I exclaimed, inspired "I'm going to do that too!"
I have some truly dreadful things lurking in the bottom of my strip drawers, some that were cut more than 15 years ago and are now looking pretty raggy and horrible. They never go with what I'm working on at the moment, some are questionable quality and others are just downright Ugly. I was so sick of scrabbling through them in search of the few nice bits that I resolved to sort out the 1 1/2" strips to start with and just condemn the rejected ones to the bin without a backward look.

Fine. I can do that! This drawer was almost overflowing when I started weeding out the 'unloved' and now this is all that's left. Pretty good, ey? See, I can be ruthless too.

But still, that's a pile o' scraps to be throwing out, isn't it?

Oh, all RIGHT!!!! I'll just make a real simple rail fence.
Nothin special, and I can whiz it up between what I'm supposed to be doing. Three leader-ender seams at a time instead of one. Okay? But don't let Keryn see this picture showing that I'm still making square-in-square units and I'm using them as leader-enders for the, leader-ender project.... And that's a whole heap more than three seams there...... Look, just get off my back, I know what I'm doing!

It's nothing special, and the actual fabrics are all that was worst about the 80's and the dregs of my stash, but you know what?
I kinda like it anyway....


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Doesn't this look like a cosy little corner? I sat here this weekend and finished handsewing the binding on the cot quilts, and it was very peaceful. I like doing the bindings by hand, but on big quilts I can't be bothered.

The only thing missing from this picture was the ever- present coffee cup, then my happines was complete.
Fiona from dragonfly-crafts commented about my creativity from last post.. "When you want coffee, you GET coffee". Ex-actly! If I hadn't had any meths I would have lit a fire in the back yard and boiled the billy- done that before!!
I'm having real trouble finding a place to photograph quilts so that they don't look too washed out or too dark. I've tried floor lamps trained on them, overhead lights, turning the flash on and off, every convenient location and they all look a bit dreary in the end. These two little quilts deserve better pictures than these, but I won't get them because they'll be in the post in a jiffy.
The twin recipients are in Germany, and at the end of the month these will wing their way off to another country, and I hope they're used with love. The customer wanted something Australian on them so the boy has a kangaroo stitchery,
and the girl has a koala. I also embroidered their names and birthdates along with some gum leaves (and blossom for the girl) an I have to admit that they turned out nice. I've said before that I'm no embroiderer, but it has possibilities, hmm.......I put a lovely cuddly soft green flannel on the back, and didn't go overboard with the quilting. Lots of close work might look nice, but it also makes the fabric stiff, and I wanted these to be soft and able to wrap little ones in.
There's nothing quite like getting a project out of the way and planning what you'll do next, it's a delicious feeling, isn't it?


Thursday, August 16, 2007

When I woke up this morning there was no power, which means.... NO COFFEE!!!! I couldn't be doing with that, so I rigged up this set-up, small can of meths, suacepan full of water on rack above it, light meths, and 5 minutes later- the first blissful cup of the day! I boiled enough water to fill the thermos, which was just as well, because the power was out for three hours. When the lights came on again I headed back to the sewing machine and continued my baby quilts, this is the boy's one and I'm enjoying the ditch stitching. I do it all with the darning foot, free motion, and it's so easy once you master it. It's a very valuable skill to have in your quilting repetoire, and worth practising.

This one's for Meggie's File of Overheard Comments.I went shopping yesterday and couldn't help hearing two shop assistants talking in the next aisle as they stacked shelves. One needed glasses and was complaining about the cost, and the other one said "Oh I should get glasses, one of my eyes is thicker than the other one, you know." "Reeelly?" said the friend. "Yeah, my eyes are that bad, this one's thicker, but This one's wonky." Friend said she didn't think there was much difference, and the other one said "No, have a look, see how wonky this one is?" A pause while friend apparently scrutinised the eye, then she exclaimed "Yeah, you're right!" Of course I scurried surreptiously around, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Wonky-Eyed One, but she was called away on another errand. Rats!


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Keryn, in the Great Cleanout of 2007 unearthed this top that I sent her years ago when she'd just got a shortarm machine and wanted tops to practice on. I'd forgotten about it, so it was a pleasant surprise to see it again. That machine is long gone, so it's still a top.We should have taken it to Kayes and quilted it on the Statler, but I guess I'll try and finish it on my machine at some stage. (Or plan another visit to Kaye!)

I did some tricky piecing on this, I might run up a how-to entry on it sometime. It was fun to make and went together very easily- if I end up struggling with a block I usually don't make more than one.I don't know whether that shows my common sense or a lack of perseverence....

I have been doing soooo much sewing even I'm starting to get a bit jaded. I'm making not one cot quilt but two, for twins, a queensize quilt for someone else, I've got a bag of stitcheries and fabric that a friend wants me to turn into a quilt and.....Let's just say I've been busy in the sewing room.

So for something completely different the last couple of nights, instead of knitting before I go to sleep (in bed, with the lectric blanket on, mmmm) I've been drawing faces from an old art book that I bought when Keryn and I were in Adelaide. I love drawing faces, and while I'm not very good at likenesses, these days you can generally tell they're meant to be human.

There's something beautifully serene about these old sculptures, I find them very soothing to try and capture.
And one day I'll learn to place my sketches on the page so that I don't run out of room, grrr.In my defense I was balancing both book and sketchbook on my knees and I actually fell asleep doing that last one- time to pack up and put the lights out then!


Monday, August 13, 2007

Of course, after I uttered the statement "I don't think I've ever followed a pattern" I thought of a quilt that I made from Quilters Newsletter, many, many years ago when Matthew was a little boy. It was tremendous fun to make each teddy different, and he followed the progress of his quilt with great excitement.

In fact, when I finished piecing the top, he insisted on having it on his bed that first night, before it was quilted.

I hand quilted this, didn't know how to machine quilt in those days, and it was a very cheerful project, from start to finish. Sometimes my quilts have dark patches in their history, when they're sworn at and hated and grumbled at, and they sulk and refuse to co-operate. (Then we usually start talking to each other again and agree to get over the bad patch) I can't tell you which copy of QNM it was in, the '80's sometime, a long while ago.

When I decided to blog about this quilt I suddenly thought "I wonder what condition it's in?" Matthew has used this quilt for years and years and Years, and I had to go round his place to find it. WELL! just let me say that teenage boys (with dogs) should not use quilts that have a skerrick of white in them anywhere. The next quilt I make him will be mud-brown, grey and black, just to save him the effort of making it look like that in the end.

I regularly wash my quilts (might do a post on that sometime) but this was beyond gentle soakings. I filled the bath, let it get good and wet, then I took a bar of ordinary soap and I scrubbed every single block. I will not describe the water afterwards, but at least all that dirt wasn't in the quilt anymore. I rinsed it three times to make sure the soap was gone, let it spin on the slow cycle in the machine and spread it over two large racks to dry.

And it came up beautifully. Every time I do this I'm impressed at the durability of quilts, and how much strength the quilting lends to the overall piece. If you look at some old quilts, you'll see that it's only the actual quilting stitches that's holding the shredded fabric together. When people say they don't need to do much quilting on their top, I know that any quilt will last decades longer if it's well quilted.

I used poly sheeting for the borders and I regret it now, it's pilled and shabby and spoils the centre of the quilt but I couldn't afford anything else at the time. Another lesson, polyester won't wear beautifully like the cotton fabrics have done. They might last as long, but they'll look like crap.

However, as it's only the borders I might just cut them off and bind it at the red border as a baby quilt. When Matthew saw it spread out to dry he said happily "You washed my quilt, thanks!" I beat him away from it and told him it's being put away for his first child, no way is he going to mess it up again. (A mixed message there- Don't you DARE touch the quilt I lovingly made for you!!!)

Oh look, the wattle's out.


Sunday, August 05, 2007

Years ago Keryn bought this tattered quilt on ebay.

It's fabric has worn really thin, but it's still a lovely soft quilt and so pretty. She decided to replicate it as the block was very interesting and as usual, volunteered me to make six blocks for her. (Beware when she rings up and says"I've had an idea...")
I made the blocks, but while I was playing with them I thought, "Why not set them into a square on point instead of straight.....
So out came the graph paper and the pencil and cup of coffee, and I figured out setting triangles,
and her block became ...

this block.

I'm constantly looking for ways to make variations on the quilts I see, tipping the blocks on point, changing the setting, reversing the lights and darks.. I don't think I've ever followed a pattern for a quilt, I always fiddle around and come up with my own version of things.
I think graph paper is the most wonderful designing tool, and I actually enjoy sitting down and working out the cutting diagrams for a particular block. All my quilts are designed this way,it's the first of many processes about quiltmaking that I love.


Saturday, August 04, 2007

Hmmn, I wonder if this unit is called "Mary's blocks" because Mary Sue Suit perfected the method. I use her method of making flying geese units and think it's great.

But I still don't know what this overall block is called and Keryn had no luck looking in EQ6. We were discussing it and decided to name it ourselves. I could see the hourglass block in the centre, and was musing about the small amount of time they took to do, and I suppose Harry Potter was in the air; somehow we decided on Time-Turner. So that will do.

Five people will now email me and say it's called "Aunt Prudies' Choice", but I will henceforth refer to them as time-turner blocks. K?

I'm sewing these pretty puss-in-the-corner variations for a commission quilt for a baby, and I'm enjoying the soft colours and easy piecing. I can see that little quilts could be fun.

When I was scrabbling through the stash the other day looking for some backing material, I had to go through all the big tubs of lengths. They are huge and stacked on top of each other, and while I was man-handling one back into place I accidentally dropped it on my finger. Wow, did I swear a bad thing! I couldn't believe it would hurt that much, it's only a plastic tub filled with dozens and dozens of metres of fabric...

I was quite devastated that my stash would attack me after all our years together, and decided that it was the plastic tub's fault. I really hate having to unstack them and rummage to even see if the bit I want is in there. I think I'm going to finally get serious and fold all the long lengths onto shelves so that I can see them at a glance. When I lived on the farm the tubs kept out mice and insects, but we don't seem to have the same problems here, and they really are too unweildy for me now.

My weekend job is to sort out that problem, and I may do a rough count and see how much is there too. If I start getting scared I won't bother with that part.

So I have my work cut out for me but I have to remember,

sometimes it's nice to just sit and stare......


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The top is finished and I'm piecing the backing from bits and pieces and making the binding- there won't be any excuse not to quilt this straight away. Unless I can think of something quickly.

I'm impressed with how quick these blocks are to make; if I need to get rid of some fabric or whip up a quilt in a hurry I'll keep this pattern in mind. Speaking of which, what is the name of this block? I drew it up on graph paper when I was playing with ideas for the units, so I don't know it's traditional name.

I think it would also be good for a masculine quilt, it's not too fussy and dainty, and it looks great with plaids. There are a few florals in this top, but I may try doing one with plaids and geometrics for one of my boys. Lots of uses for this block I think.

The top ended up being 56" by 66", with a 1 1/2" cream border and 5 1/2" blue border. The blocks are 8" finished.

Andrea asked about the Feathered Star and where I got the inspiration from. I need to devote a whole post to that, and get some images from Keryn, so I'll do that soon. Intrigued?

You know some dogs have a pretty rough life. Not these two...


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