Thursday, December 22, 2011

Fifties Dress No 7

Dress No 7 now finished.  This one is a cutie !

Two of this year's quilts  have found a home.  Granddaughter has just finished first year university and has moved into a shared house with three other students.  These will help keep her warm as they try to save on the heatig bills !

I'm looking forward to having more time for sewing again once Christmas is over.,  But in the meantime I wish you all a merry Christmas and a happy and healthy New Year .

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Fifties Dress No 6 and some Little Baskets

At last I've reached the half way mark with Dress No 6 of the Fifties-style dresses for the Dress Me Up quilt.

Reaching a half way mark gives you the urge to start something new - it would be a terrible thing if my stack of UFOs got any smaller.   So with some charm squares from Moda's Buttercup I started on some wee baskets following Brandie's instructions.

Why do my photos never look as good as the real thing.  These should look  really soft and pretty.  The background is the cream from the same range with occasionally a lightly patterned background. I can't say that I'm a great fan of stitching the handles though. I haven't calculated yet how many more I have to do.  At the moment they are 3 1/2" square.

I've just realized that there are less than eight weeks until Christmas.  So it would seem that I'm now working on next year's UFOs.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Versatile Blogging

I usually run a mile from any form of chain letter but this variation giving me an award has slipped under my guard.  It was sent to me by fellow blogger Brandie at abc.  So thank you, Brandie.

There are two things I have to do - to tell people some trivia about myself  (oh dear) and  to pass the award on to some deserving bloggers.

Trivia -useless facts about me.

1.  I grew up in a country town and though I now live in a city I'm still a country girl at heart.

2.  I love Cryptic Crosswords and Su Doku.

3.  I like words.  Don't anyone tell me that the word "girt"  as in "girt by sea" in the Australian National Anthem is out of date or silly.  Would you really prefer "encircled by sea" ?  Girt by sea..  Girt by sea.  It's just perfect. Is there something wrong with people having to learn a new word ? Anyway, my girdle girts my excess avoirdupois. :-)

4.  I've just read One Day by David Nicholls and enjoyed it so I don't think I'll see the film in case it's too much of a let-down.  But Anne Hathaway's face was in my mind all the time I was reading it and visually she would be perfect for the role.

5 The small quilting group I belong to is called Quilting Genies as originally pursuing Genealogy was the common link.

6. Family, in all its forms, is the most important thing in the world.

7. I didn't realize it  until someone pointed out recently that I do have a bit of a thing about gadgets.  If they look useful then I can't resist them, such a pins that are so fine they glide through the fabric as if it was butter, or my nifty little bias maker..  And recently a battery-operated bobbin winder so that I can sit there and wind piles of bobbins without having to unthread the sewing machine.

8.  As a toddler No 2 son brought the nozzle of the hose in to the hall through the back door, went outside and then turned on the tap.  I was in the kitchen ironing and the first I knew of it was when daughter called out, Mum, there's water all round me - she'd been lying on the couch in the living room reading and was now completely marooned !

9. Ambition - to buy out a whole movie theatre for a sad film then sit in splendid isolation and sob to my heart's content as loudly as I like.without having to suppress polite little sniffles.  Wouldn't it be luvverly ?

So now you know some of my secrets.  Tell me yours.


And then there are the blogs I read every day. One of these days Google Reader is going to throw up its hands in disgust and call me a silly, selfish woman for wanting poor over-worked Google to keep track of such a horribly long list of blogs which I want to read. But they are all so interesting.  And every time I go to  Quilter Blogs the list gets longer.

So who would I choose as my desert island bloggers, those blogs which I would least like to do without.   Well I can hardly send one back to Brandie and make her go through it all again.   It's not only the sewing in the following blogs, or the frequency of the blogging, but the personality of the blogger which made me choose them.

So, in no particular order,

Marina at Maisieandtheboys  - lots of variety including embroidery, beautiful photos, and who could resist that cat in the opening heading.

Pirate at the Dread Pirate Rodgers  - I live in hope that one day she will take her 12 embroideries for Dress Me Up and actually put them into a quilt ! Her travel blog is fun too.

Lizzie at A House in the Country - the title says it all, Australian countryside, Australian garden and a dab hand with the camera.  As well as her sewing.

Melody at the House on the side of the Hill  - a place for picking up interesting ideas and a vibrant sense of colour.

Joanne at  Thread Head  - one of the places where I admire the work of a talented needle-turner and just dream.

Karen at the House of  Wilson - nice everyday chit-chat of a young Mum

Linda at the Quilter's Pineapple  - makes things I would like to make - fond of Schnibbles.

There are lots more, including blogs from stores selling fascinating collections of materials, but this will be enough from me.

I was amazed recently to discover a 7-day a week Post Office outlet at one of our large hardware stores.  Only a few blocks away from home and marvellously convenient with its times for posting off hexie flowers for  the Inchy Hexagon Swap.  So today I sent hexies to two more people and crossed my fingers and my legs and my eyes and hoped that they arrive safely as I've already had two international parcels go missing this year.  One of today's postings were replacements for a missing parcel.

So now I look forward to reading some of the trivia from some of my favorite bloggers.  Thanks again, Brandie.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fifties Dresses No 4 and 5, and some of the real thing..

Dresses No 4 and 5 means I'm nearly half way through the 12 dresses for the Dress Me Up quilt.

No 4, in blue, must be going somewhere special as her beau has brought her a corsage to wear.

While No 5  is in green with some variegated hail spots.
It's been interesting to look through some old albums with black and white photos of family and friends in the 1950s  to see how fashionable they were when compared to these imaginary creations.

Fresh flower corsages were a regular feature of special occasions.
Spots of various sizes, sleeveless dresses, front button openings,

Waists alway belted - 
All of these dresses were home made.

Another special moment recently was when I opened a parcel from my fabric pen-pal to find this lovely zippered  carry-all.

Just perfect for holding the essential supplies which are common to all projects. I take my embroidery with me to so many places and invariably find I've left something behind.  This solves the problem!

Friday, September 23, 2011

A floral quilt with some help from some cross stitch

These six cross stich flowers, done on a nice fine embroidery linen, have been sitting in my bottom drawer for 3 or 4 years.  I wanted to put them in a quilt but thought the blocks could easily just look like white blobs dumped down on a  quilt.  But when I saw Back Home Again by Wilmington Prints, with its soft rural scenes I started to get enthusiastic, with the following result.

Also included are three fabrics from Luna Notte from Moda and other bits and pieces I already had.

Recently I had seen an image of this square and diamond layout- I think it was a free pattern in one of the newsletters I subscribe to.  But now I can't find it and so can't give my thanks.  The sample was done in  more contrasty fabrics and looked quite different.

I have really enjoyed putting this quilt together.  They really are what I consider "my colours" - nice and soft.  But I have had a hard time as I have been reading  David Nicholls' "One Day", so at times it has been a real struggle trying to decide which one I wanted to do most !  But mostly the quilt won out !

Monday, September 12, 2011

Two Stack n Slash quilts

Noelene from our Friday group made a Stack n Slash quilt last week. This time her pieces of fabric were smaller than fat quarters so she used more than one stack to get a suitable size quilt.
But when I saw this it reminded me that I had done a similar quilt with fat quarters earlier in the year but the quilting was not quite finished and it needed binding.   So that kept me occupied for part of the weekend and now I have one less UFO. A good feeling.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Fifties Dress No 3

No 3 dress for Dress Me Up wasn't quite as time consuming as the first two.  I think it's really sweet.
But if you look carefully half way up the left hand side you can see  that a small pleat has formed in the fabric - as I started to iron it the backing shifted - an iron-on adhesive kind of gauze which re-inforces the front fabric and  helps prevent puckering.  The more I tried to get the pleat out the worse I made it, so now I need to do some thinking !.

Not being a good week, actually.  This morning I made another block for the Farmer's wife quilt and went to give it a press before trimming the edges,  Only then did I notice  that one of the fabrics was sewn in with its wrong side facing.  It's so noticeable - how could I not notice it when I was sewing. Now for some retrograde stitching - the polite way of saying unpicking.
But one person who does things right is Pam from the Friday Group who has finished her lovely log cabin quilt.  I really like this one, particularly the sprays of flowers at the centre of each log cabin.
But it's raining.  And I'd love to go out for a latte !  Why can't we have a coffee truck which trawls the streets with some approriate bells or music blaring so that I could just rush out and get my desire !

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Fifties Dress No 2

These fifties dresses for the  "Dress Me Up" quilt certainly are not quick to finish, but are fun to do.  I love the curve of the collar on this one, which is the second in the series.
I've just started No 3 dress and it  seems simpler to do with its sprigged pattern.
And there's  still been time to make a few more blocks for a Farmer's wife quilt. I'm now about half through for a lap size quilt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Spring has Sprung - Freesias and Fridge Magnets

I know that officially it is still winter, and that there's still a lot more cold weather to come, but as far as I am concerned Spring opened her eyes today - beautiful weather and I picked the first freeesias.

Something else which brightened my life this week was some patchwork-inspired fridge magnets from  Possum Blossum Patchwork

And my last two Farmer's Wife quilt blocks came out exactly the right size first try for a change.  Isn't life good !

Friday, August 19, 2011

Our Friday Group

Yesterday Brandie showed us what her Quilting Group was doing so now it's my turn to show what our group on the other side of the world was doing today.  There are just five of us but our leader/hostess is away touring in a caravan with her hubbie - last heard of in Alice Springs - but she'll be back soon as another grandchild is imment - so we soldier on and keep quilting.

Pam is hand quilting a lavender log cabin quilt which is to be a gift for a friend.
Noelene was sewing off ends on her Bed Runner, made for the end of her spare room bed, folded in half for this photo.
Mary worked on her Celtic supper cloth - this is how I learnt about the lovely gadget for making bias binding.

And these are the blocks which I added this week to my Farmer's Wife quilt.
I hope you are all part of a friendly quilting group where you can get together with friends and sew, talk, display, talk, admire, talk, advise, talk, gossip, talk, eat, talk, laugh, talk, smile, talk and generally make yourself and others feel good, good, good.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt

Now that my Gypsy Quilt is finished I have started on a Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt from the book by Laurie Aaron Hird. It's a pleasant change  to be working on something where each block is a different pattern.  And I am also enjoying going back to hand piecing -  so much better for doing all the fiddly little bits and pieces in some of these 6" blocks.

I'm wondering if I could sneak in some machining in some of the less complicated blocks though, or is that a no-no in the quilting world to mix up the techniques !  At least the house doesn't seem to get in such a mess when you're only cutting out one block at a time - just a basket of fabric pieces which seem to tone together and a folder to put the finished block in - no piles of cut fabric lying around.

As usual one of my main problems is getting every block to end up as the required 6" block plus seam allowances. But I did acquire a little gadget for folding the edges to make bias binding so I can see more basket handles coming up in the near future. I hadn't seen one of these gadgets until recently when a friend was making binding for a celtic mat.  What would we do without friends near and far to learn from and to exchange information with.

Looking up the dictionary for the meaning of the word friend after that last sentence I came across the word "trust" and I thought that was very applicable in quilting circles.  Because we trust our quilting friends to pass on useful information and tips and we trust that any criticism they might give our work will be helpful and constructive. And that is the only kind of quilting friend that I have.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Some Hexie Flowers and Fifties Dress No 1 for "Dress Me Up"

I should be achieving more this cold weather but progress is slow.  Yesterday I posted off a couple of Hexie Flowers to my July and August Swap Partners in the Inchy Hexagon Flower Swap

It can be difficult as some people are quite specific as to what they want.  I mean, red centre, or cream centre, or bright, or pastel are fine, but once specific ranges are mentioned it becomes hard.  I don't know one range from another and only buy fabric because I like the colour or pattern.

Then I made some progress on the dresses for Dress Me Up from the Bobby Socks Quilt Company.

This is the first dress finished.  Slow work.  I am a great copycat.  It was seeing someone else doing this pattern which got me started.  Perhaps I should just say that I find other people's work inspirational.  And that applies to coffee mugs too.  I got all nostalgic when I saw another blogger's Pride and Prejudice mug done in the old, familiar Penguin colours and wasn't content until I had one too.

I've started on Dress No 2.  I'd had great trouble getting a nice line in the black backstitch using two threads of DMC.   So this time I wanted to use a single thread in a heavier weight.  I am using Aurifil Mako No 12 for the black and am doing split stitch instead of backstitch.  Anyone know any other of the thicker threads I could try ?
The roses were too fiddly to trace so I am just sketching them on as needed. The flowers are worked in a single strand of variegated Cottage Garden Threads.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Gypsy Quilt Top

Have just finished putting together the quilt top from Westminister's Gypsy fat quarters which I won in  a competition at Want It, Need It
I added some cream to act as a background for the colours, then decided to add some sashing and managed to match up the blue in a plain fabric.

I just had enough Gypsy scraps left to make a multi-coloured strip which I will use for the binding.

Now I am seriously considering stitching the binding to the border before I add the batting and backing. I would certainly do a better job with a more accurate 1/4" seam than I do when sewing through all thicknesses.  As yet I haven't been able to think of any reason why it wouldn't work doing it that way  Sew it now, then do the quilting, finally trim and handsew the back.

All that's needed is a smart little holiday house down on the coast which would be the perfect setting for this quilt.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Little Purses

I wanted a small purse for a gift but I got enthusiastic and ended up making four
They are about 4 1/2  " wide and were made from a Valori Wells pattern.  Here they are opened up, showing the three  pockets.  The paisley purse in the top left hand corner is the one I made carefully following the pattern, but after that I made some adjustments.
They are made by stacking up all the layers and then stitching and turning them out.  You have three pockets (each 2 pieces of fabric), an outside piece and a lining - eight pieces of fiddly curved layers with 1/4" seams which have to be juggled to be stacked up with the edges meeting accurately. That's hard.  So what I did was cut 5 1/2" strips of each fabric and then cut rectangular pieces deep enough to make each pocket..  It was only the outer piece of the purse with its iron on stiffening that I cut to the correct shape
You can see how I have stacked the pockets on the lining of the purse withoujt having to worry too much about matching edges - just get the pockets nicely spaced, then lay the outer piece of the purse face down on the pockets and stitch around the correct shape, leaving a space to turn out, trim and clip, then turn out.

I had trouble with the lower square corners so I made each piece a fraction longer so that I could put a curve on these lower corners. Great fun.  Sewing on the press studs was the hardest part.

Making these little purses reminded me of a slightly larger one I made in a class a few years ago. The challenge was to take a piece of self-patterned fabric, mark out the shape of a purse, then re-embroider the pattern with threads and beads.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Sixth and Final Embroidery for the Flower Quilt

Today I finished the sixth and final embroidery for my Flower Quilt.  I'll be able to call this quilt my Friday Quilt as most of the six embroideries have been done on Friday afternoons when five of us meet at a friend's house.

We must have done a lot of talking this year as I have been doing this tulip since February whereas the other five embroideries were done much more quickly last year.

The original quilt is all white, which looks beautiful in a glossy magazine (Inspirations No 59), but for me this wouldn't be very practical so I will have to start thinking about which coloured or patterned fabrics would suit these embroideries.  The cream squares, about 8" or 9", will be on point.

The blocks for the Gypsy Quilt are mounting up.  It will be 5 blocks square so as I

have already done nineteen blocks there are still six to do.  That will be something to keep me occupied next weekend.

I am a very slow starter most mornings but I had to be a bit more organized than usual this morning as I wanted to see 9 year old grandson running in a 2km cross country race. He had done well at school and district levels but now 80 competitors in the Under-10 race at Zone level was a much stiffer competition for him and he finished in the middle of the field..  There was a large range of natural ability among the runners.  It's great to see the young ones having new experiences.

Here are some of the competitors heading up a grassy part.  It didn't help either the runners or the competitors that it was wintry cold and raining on and off.  It took place in a mildly hilly park - the sea is just down the other side of the hill  - and there were three uphill sections in the race.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Starting the Gypsy Quilt - Caravan Wheels and Hoop Earrings ?

I have been dithering over what design to use for the 12 fat quarters of Gypsy by Westminster which I won in a give-away on Want It, Need It, Quilt!   Every day I chose a different design.  But it wasn't until I remembered the KISS principle of keeping it simple that I realized that I didn't need a complicated pattern with all these bright colours jumbled together in every block  that I finally made a decision.
So, I'm finally happy.  I like these and I can even imagine that I can see caravan wheels and gypsy hoop earrings in the blocks.  And by only using one fabric in each block, each of the different fabrics gets an opportunity to make it's own statement.

My only problem today was with the bottom right hand red block.  It should have been much more dramatic as I had fussy-cut the circles in the pattern - two with white dots and two with a white cross-hatching.  But in my usual fashion I cut the squares 1/2" too small so now I will have four interesting red hexie flower centres!

Now my mind is jumping ahead to when I have made the first block from each fat quarter and am starting on a second one.  Should I continue to use the cream centres or should I make them from one of the contrasting fabrics, eg red at the centre of the lime green block and green in the red block. These more solid blocks could then be used in alternate positions in the quilt.  Or should I stick to cream centres.

Then there's how shall I quilt it.  No wonder I can't sleep.  My mind is always jumping ahead.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Starting New Projects and Swapping Hexie Flowers

I really didn't need to start a couple of new projects just yet when other things are so close to completion but I just couldn't resist. This is the progress I have made on the first dress for "Dress Me Up", a quilt displaying twelve dresses from the 1950s.

With all my efforts with my improvised light box I find I have drawn a spot which wasn't even in the original. A ghost spot !  I had intended to do the spots in outline only but the black of the dress outline is so strong that I fell that all the overall patterns will need to have strength in them too, hence the solid red spots.  Time consuming though.

This was also a hexie flower week and the following beauties arrived from my fabric pen-pal, Brandie.

Isn't the guipure lace centre attractive. It's always nice to add variety to a few of the centres. Thanks, Brandie.

At the same time my offering for this month was heading in the opposite direction.
I was in a much more mellow mood this month and made these very quiet hexies. I'll brighten up again next month, perhaps blues, or reds, or greens, or blacks - perhaps not blacks ! No, definitely not blacks.

Spending time at home meant time to slip on a new pair of shoes so that they would soften up a bit and mould to my strange feet to make sure they were perfectly comfortable before going out in them.  So what happens?
I knock my needlecase onto the floor and spill some needles, and when I stand up I wonder what is the matter with my shoe.

It's going to take a stronger wrist than mine to wield the pliers to get this well-embedded needle out of the shoe.  Fortunately it didn't go right through to my heel.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Improvising A Light Box

I needed to transfer a pattern today, one of twelve, and I wanted a more satisfactory method than my usual one.  I should have bought a light box long ago but there has  always been something else which I wanted more. So this is what I did .........
The piece of glass is the top of a bedside table in the spare bedroom, placed on two chairs and over my light-magnifier.
Then comes the pattern I wanted to trace. I had first printed it onto a heavy tracing paper, then taped it to the glass.  The pattern is the first of twelve in a quilt called Dress Me Up from Bobby Socks Quilt Company   Each is a dress from the 1950s displayed on a dressmaker's dummy.
 A piece of the off-white fabric I am using is taped over the tracing paper.  To look at it you would never guess how carefully I had ironed it.
I can see most of the pattern through the fabric but I keep the original drawing beside me so that I know what I'm looking for and don't draw the pattern by guess and by gosh.  I was using an archival pen from a local art shop.   It leaves a permanent mark but it's a fine line and will be easy to hide under the embroidery.
Then I had the bright idea (no pun intended) that by twisting the light source straight up instead of pointing down at the floor I would see the image more clearly.  Well it looks like that in the photo.  But the combination of better view of the dress combined with the clearly defined self pattern on my fabric meant that I couldn't see the pen strokes I was making.  I was heading for trouble there !  Pressing more heavily and repeating strokes.  So it was back to the more diffuse light.

And by now my knees and back are starting to protest at all this getting up and down.  Have to have a think to see if there is some other way I can prop up the glass !
So here I am, just starting off.  I've ironed on a backing to stop the material from puckering from my stitching. The dress and form is just clear enough for me to see comfortably and won't disappear.  The dress form is a bit too close to the embroidery hoop so I'll do it last of all. A family member has already seen the pattern and uttered a most definite That's Mine so this quilt's destination is already determined.

I found this quilt a few weeks ago on the Dread Pirate Rodgers Blog and today the Pirate has blogged that she has now finished embroidering the twelvth dress and is pondering on how she is going to finish the quilt. I couldn't resist it once I saw her work.  The quilting blogs are such a source of inspiration.

Much as I like quilting I am not happy at doing  little bits and pieces on the sewing machine.  I prefer to have a nice un-interrupted day in front of me.  But I always have a piece of embroidery on the table to pick up at odd times during the day or evening. These days my embroideries are meant to be made into quilts.

After a day of enforced rest yesterday it was great to make some progress today. I'll be glad to hear if anyone else has any handy hints on light-boxing. For all things embroidery you can't go past Mary Corbet's Needle and Thread . Under her Tips and Techniques she has a interesting selection on Transferring Patterns.