Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Before Christmas I managed to get my Yellow Orphans top quilted and I love how it turned out. The panto was one of Keryn's, Leaf Litter I think.

I used another UFO to make the backing, a set of twelve blocks that I started about 15 years ago. I had to surround them with large strips of fabric so they look a bit lost in the centre, but it's the back- who cares? I'm just glad they're out of the cupboard as well.

All the blocks were the same pattern, a sort of framed Shoofly, but the materials used made them look different. Somewhere along the way I just lost interest, but they've been put to good use now.

Now I have to get the binding finished, but it's already made and shouldn't take me long..

Matthew carved the cold meats on Christmas day, and you can imagine that any little scrap he dropped never even made it to the floor. The dogs had a wonderful dinner of all the leftover meat scraps and pan scrapings and the egg yolks from the pavlova- urggh. They loved it, but I preferred the salad and cheescake, thankyou.


Sunday, December 20, 2009

I've nearly finished my push to make backings for my completed tops, I've got one more started and after that's done I'm ready to do some block piecing. Making backings is quite addictive because it uses shedloads of material, and it feels so virtuous. Metres of stuff gone, for very little effort.

I wanted to make a 'nice' backing for my Antique blocks that I finished a while back,

and I needed an extra 5" to stretch the centre fabric.

I pulled out the drawer of spare units and found enough 3" square in square blocks to piece a strip, then added a 2" striped piece to the bottom. I surrounded it with wide strips of another material and the backing was done, very simple but just a bit different.

Love that centre fabric.

I've found having a dawer full of spare units is very useful when you want to improvise a backing or a test block, or experiment with a pieced border. I can lay these out and even if they're the wrong colour it's enough to see whether the idea will work or not.

And to all those dear souls who offered to send me their little dog-ears.......I have one thing to say to you.



Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Keryn and I have been completing the tops that have to be done by Christmas, and the end is in sight. These three runners were the last of six we did for a lady, and by the time we'd finished them it was the equivalent of two single bed quilts.

It was easiest to load three of them on one piece of backing fabric and do them all at once- I especially liked these tree ones. I don't know where the pattern comes from, but they look like fun.

I finished another top, made from a drawer of 2" strips that just will not go away. I'd already sewn a heap of four-patches and some rail blocks (I can't remember the date I posted about them, and I haven't sewn them together yet) and I decided to make a real effort to empty the drawer once and for all.

I made this top a while ago using a simple block pattern-
I started off planning the colours and then just threw everything in together. I was quite disappointed by how little it used up, so I started another one.

I'm calling this a Random Rail, or Crazy Maze, or something and even though I used up the leftover piano border strips in the backing, the drawer is STILL about a quarter full. What do I have to do to get rid of this particular bunch of strips? Admittedly the tops are only throw size, but I've got three of them and part of a backing from the pile, and now I'm despairing of ever seeing them all used up.. I'll put the drawer away until I can face it again, but I'm determined to show the empty container, one day.


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Keryn mentioned on her blog that she was saving the little trimmed off dog-ears for me and that I would tell you what I do with them. I'm not crazy enough to sew with them, but I found that even though I put them in the bin (mostly) they seemed to drift around, being tracked into other rooms, getting stuck to the fabric I was working with, even being sewn into seams if I wasn't paying attention. So I decided to put them all in one little bin to keep them together, and then throw them all away when it got full.

But then I thought, why not put them in a container and see how long it took to fill it up, and so I hunted around. I'd bought these bear jars a while ago- they originally contained Eta peanut butter, - and kept some buttons in them.

(I'm going to change the white ones, because the bear's features don't show up really well.) These two are Koala bears by the way, but everyone knows a koala is not a bear at all....

Keryn found a large bear jar in a second hand shop, and even though he's quite ugly I bought him, because they don't show up that often. I decided he'd be the Keeper of the Ears, and started putting the bits in there, but it's taking an awful long time.

He's not even half full yet, and I've been doing this for quite a while!

He's not a small bear, as shown by this 12" ruler, and Keryn is trying to contribute as much as she can to help out. I fully expect this to take a few years, but who's in a rush?

I have the next jar lined up, a granny bear, with spectacles, hair in a bun and knitting to boot. If only she'd been sewing it would be perfect.


Sunday, December 06, 2009

While Keryn has been snipping and sewing her tiny pieces for the Dear Jane, I've been ploughing through huge backing seams and miles of binding.
This morning I finished backing number three and made three bindings for already quilted tops, phew! I think I'd like some small jobs for the rest of the day. (I think of the theme from Jaws when I look at this photo, look at all the fins cruising through the folds...)

I'm still enjoying piecing the backings together, this one used strips from the front and other backing bits. The largest one was made from 10 1/2" squares because it was so easy to control the size of it.

Now these can be hung up and wait their turn to be put on the machine. Incidentally, I weighed all the backings, and with the three bindings I've used 14 metres of fabric. It's got to be good!


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Doors and Windows top is quilted, with organic cotton, and I think I'm going to try washing it before I bind it.I want it to shrink and look crinkly, but I don't want the binding wrinkly. So if the edge survives a dunking I'll know I can do it on future quilts. If not, I'll just trim any fraying bits off and make the border smaller.

The pieced backing in all it's motley glory. I do love the fact that this used up a pile of leftovers, and I'm busy piecing other backings together for the next lot of my tops. It's great hanging them up together all ready to go, and my shelves have empty spaces appearing, which is encouraging too.

I used a panto of Keryn's, Birdseye, at a small size, and I'm hoping this will add to the crinkly effect when it's washed. I really liked how this turned out on the front, not too girly so it's a good one for guy quilts.

I finally got the red sawtooth border on my Crossed Tulips, and then a wide cream to finish it off. I debated whether or not to put some applique in the border, but I wanted to keep the design really simple, and then add some gorgeous quilting to make it special. Not all applique quilts have to be complicated, in fact some of my favourite antique ones had this combination of a simple design with spectacular quilting.

I can't own them, so I just have to try and make some for myself.


Thursday, November 26, 2009

I've been trying to finish some of my quilts in between the customer quilts as they're building up alarmingly. But the customers have to take precedence now so we can get all the Christmas deadlines finished.

This is another donation quilt, made with 16 patches from our group. It's rather pink, but someone will like it.

And here's the Doors and Windows on the frame. I love that moment when I start winding the top on, suddenly everything looks wonderful and I can hardly wait to get started.

I pieced the back for this, and funnily enough nearly all of the material came from other quilt backs.

When we trim our finished quilts, there's sometimes a strip of fabric leftover that's quite useable, depending on how big the backing was in the first place. I had a pile of these and decided to combine them to make this backing. It's quite a hit and miss affair, and I usually start by laying the top out on the bed and then piecing strips until the length is correct. Then I use that first strip to build on, squaring everything up to that, and the process goes quite quickly.

I do like to use the 10 1/2" squares too, and I added length here at top and bottom using already cut ones from the drawer. But some of these lengths were 14" wide, and I didn't see the sense in cutting them down and wasting the 4" when I could cover the ground quicker using big chunks of fabric.

I've finished this now and I'll post the photos soon, I really love the way these scrappy backings turn out.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

We're supposed to have some relief from the heat today, it's predicted to be 28 degrees, but I'll believe it when it's happened. It was quite unbearable in the workroom, so I thought I'd quilt at night, but the lights heated the air instead. I tried turning the overhead stand lights out, but found that the machine was then a magnet for all the bugs in the place, and after nearly stitching over a few and having flying ants shedding their wings all over the customer top I gave up and turned the big lights on and the machine light off. I couldn't see as well, but at least there was no night life quilted into the top.

I spent the weekend at home with the air-conditioner on, but it was quite bearable inside until about noon. I happily pottered in my sewing room and weeded out huge piles of fabric to cut into backing squares and 2 1/2" strips for a new project. As it is impossible for me to cut unironed fabric I had to heat the room up a bit until it was all pressed, but I was determined to see it gone.This isn't all of it, some went into other projects, but that is nearly 20 metres of fabric dealt with. It doesn't look much, but four of those large squares is a fat quarter of fabric, so it does mount up. I stripped up half metres of fabric to make bindings for donation quilts, 2 metres gone there, and the strips for the new project ate up lots of nibbled at fat quarters and trimmings from quilt backings. I would like to say that I have an empty shelf, a space in the cupboard, a gap in the drawer, even an empty container, but no. I can't even see where it all came from. And Jenni wonders why we didn't buy fabric at the show!

And now for something that I've been looking forward to for a while. Long time readers will remember the first Scrap Castle, and then it took nearly a year to make the second. Keryn told me she thought it looked a little loose, and that I hadn't packed it down hard enough. Determined not to be accused of that again I've been compressing the bin enthusiastically every time it gets full, and this weekend saw it jammed solid. There wasn't a bit of 'give' and the new pile of trimmings had to overflow and rest on the floor. Finally, the time had come.....

Ta Da!!! Scrap Castle the Third, and one of my best yet I feel. But can you believe it takes me a year to fill this bin up? I think that proves how little I throw away. I cut 1 1/4" strips for a tiny log cabin, so most of the scraps are less than that. If the pieces are bigger they have poly in them, have vleisofix on them, something spilt on them, or are otherwise unuseable. I waste Nothing! (Keryn sighs and rolls her eyes heavenward...)

Is it wrong to be so taken with this? Have I invented a new art form? Compressed Fabric Sculpture perhaps?

And before someone points out the large blue strip, I have one word to say to you.... Poly. Blechh.

In the interests of scientific research I decided to weigh my little creation.
Holy moly, three kilos! Now if you concede that a metre of fabric weighs roughly 125g, then allowing for wind speed and relative humidity, that works out to ..... 24 metres of scraps!! If I choose to collage them onto a wall, which I don't care to.

Art, science, sewing, I explore it all. I must be a renaissance quilter, what an enquiring mind I have- either that or the heat has got to me!


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I sewed the borders on my Antique Blocks, and now I'm pulling fabric for the backing. The colour in this photo isn't very true to life, it's far too pink but you get the idea.I've now got a huge pile of tops and backings ready for quilting, I'm going to have to tackle some of them soon. I can't believe how many tops I seem to have finished lately, but there's still a lot more waiting.

It's been absolutely stinking hot, more the weather we get in the middle of summer than our over-warm spring. Hopefully it will cool down a bit before summer really hits, it's not nice quilting in this heat.

The other day we were sorting out some tubs full of old projects and deciding which ones would be worth finishing. We evidently took so long that Dolly thought she'd have a little nap on Keryn's feet. She is very much like a cat, she'll curl up anywhere and go to sleep, and preferably right in the middle of what you're doing. We had to just sit and chat for a while so as not to disturb her, she looked so comfy.


Wednesday, November 04, 2009

I've decided to call this quilt "Surprise Party", thanks for the idea, Pam.

It's been quilted and is in the binding pile at the moment, so it's on it's way to being finished.

The backing was made from a pile of fairly yucky fabrics, cut into 10 1/2" strips and 6 1/2" strips. I sewed them into looong lengths and cut them off as needed. It went together quickly and used up a lot of fabric, which is just what I wanted.

And remember my Leader-Ender that I refused to race ahead and finish? The centre is in one piece now, Hurrah! K eryn thinks it isn't big enough and it's not symmetrical either but that doesn't bother me.
I've loved this project, but I'm ready for a different leader-ender. I think that may only turn out to be a pieced border for this, but that's fine with me too. I'm drawing ideas out on graph paper and fiddling with measurements so that's keeping me interested and every step brings me closer to having this totally finished. It was a great pattern to sew and pressed beautifully, I love it when it goes together so neatly.

So many squares, and all of them cut individually, no strip piecing in this at all. Three lots of old dusty pinks gone from the stash and gallons of scraps, gosh it's a good feeling!


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Thankyou for all your kind wishes for Macca, he seems to have no troubles now that the thorn is gone, and the antibiotics have cleared up the infection. Staffies must have a high pain tolerance, they certainly are a tough breed.

This is a top I finished, using some orphan blocks from the bushfire quilts.
I had five 16 patch blocks leftover, and some pastel rails, so I combined them all into this low contrast design. It looks quite randomn, but is actually twelve blocks, which made construction easy. I have to piece a back for this now and quilt it and then send it off. We've still got a few donation quilts to put in a box, but most of them have all gone.
Wow that used a lot of fabric, I was really scratching to find pastels to finish this off. My stash has been thoroughly weeded out since I started making the donation quilts, and there's not a lot of 'expendable' fabric left. Most of what is left I really love, so that was an added benefit. When I open the drawers now it inspires me because it's all beautiful stuff, and not the dribs and drabs I'd saved for years.
And it makes me want to start Cutting! Time for some new projects I think, I've been very good about finishing old stuff, so I figure I deserve a little treat now.


Friday, October 23, 2009

We had a lovely day trip with the patchwork group on Monday, lots of laughs and a few bargains gained. I haven't taken a picture of the huge bagful I bought home, and I've got no where to actually put it once I've unpacked. I need to thin the drawers out a bit I think!

This is Tricia's, the first place we stopped, and everything was so cheap I went a bit overboard. There was another aisle like this and a room full of flannels and backings and homespun, amazing.

Who can resist fat quarters at that price, instead of $5.95? Not me. We went to another shop and then to a garden centre, and didn't get home until 7 that night. A good day out.

Macca has been having trouble lately with an infected foot. We took him to the vet a fortnight ago, and they made a cut trying to find a grass-seed or something that was causing the infection, but nothing showed up. Antibiotics helped for a week, and then it swelled up again and it was obviously still infected. He's so tough that he was still racing around on it, sometimes with blood pouring out, but nothing would slow him down. Today he went back again and they put him right out and did some more surgery, and this is what they found...

An acacia thorn nearly half an inch long that had gone in between his toes and worked itself up his foot. Poor boy! As we were leaving the vet said admiringly "That's one very nice dog you've got there", and I agree. At no time has he been grumpy or touchy or nasty with the other dogs, and he must have been in pain all the time. Good old Macca! I hope that his foot heals well and that's the end of his troubles.


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