Sunday, 30 December 2012

The one where the music soars.....

in my head at least - and I danced a bit (my husband thinks I'm nuts) - because this evening, I finished the last FWQA blocks - yep, all 111 of them - and yes, I know I still have to sew the blocks together and finish the quilt - but Rome wasn't built in a day and all that - I started these blocks in June 2012 when I joined the FWQA and initially I made several each week.  However, as things go, my exuberance waned and I found it was months between blocks...they really did become quite tedious.....and then I got another spurt on and another til finally, they're done - the first 3 of the top row I finished last week and the remainder I've finished today - the bottom left block took me longer to make than the other 7!! - actually, that was the penultimate block and just because I really wanted to finish them all today, my sewing machine decided to start playing up - bloody thing - a clean out, a new needle and a change of thread and bobbin helped a little, but it looks like it needs a professional service.....but, it was ok enough for me to finish them all....YAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

....and the stack all together...

It must be the right sort of day - because this morning I finished the machine quilting on this baby...

rotten photo - it's night time!

I've custom quilted this - there's feathers and lots of stitch in the ditch (ish!) - I won't win any prizes for the quilting but it's a whole lot better than previous efforts - onwards and upwards!  I'm going to do some hand quilting too so it's not ready for an official finish as yet - I started the quilt top back in April 2010 - I didn't know how to foundation piece so I signed up for a BoM with Stitchin Heaven - it's called 'Dancing with the Stars' and every block is foundation pieced.  It's a big quilt (80" x 92") - but it's almost Oz Open time so the hand quilting can be completed whilst watching the tennis.

On that note, I'm off to add the FWQA photos to Flickr then go to bed - funnily enough I'm pooped!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Someday at Christmas....

I have Stevie Wonder belting out his 'Someday at Christmas' album (first released in 1967!) and it never fails to evoke memories of Christmas's past - and it never fails to invoke a palpable longing to be holding my family tight around me - my sisters, my brothers and all the extended family that make up our Clan - alas, it's not to be - we're separated by many miles and many differing priorities so for now, Skype, Stevie and family closest helps.....maybe one day.....roll on a Tattslotto win......

I was out and about yesterday, for one thing and another, and received a note from the post office to pick up a parcel - I thought it might be books I'd ordered from Amazon - so back out I go to pick them up....only, it wasn't books from was a gift from one of my sisters - Heather, who has been arty crafty for as far back as I can remember - who has completed the City and Guilds course and who hand crafts exquisite things - she made me a most beautiful quilt.  It is in the style of Yoshiko Jinjenzi - a brilliant artisan and author of books - both of which I have because I'm a huge fan - and it has pieces of Kaffe Fassett fabrics in it - and it's red and white - and so tactile with dense quilting - sisters know hmm??

here it is on my couch
hanging at the back of the couch - dense quilting - and some delightful hand embroidered flowers
Heather tells me it's the first time she's attempted machine quilting - she usually hand quilts - and it just proves how clever she is - there's not a pucker nor missed line in sight - it's absolutely a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

Thank you so much - immediate reaction on ripping the the parcel open (and it was beautifully gift wrapped too, but that didn't last long nor was I patient enough to take a photo first) was to burst into tears - it's just perfect and takes pride of place in my front room so I can enjoy (and brag to visitors!!) it every day.  Love you Heather....

Monday, 17 December 2012

Sewing up a storm

Like everyone else I imagine - Christmas is just next week and my 'handmade' Christmas sewing is only half way through - what the hell happened this year???

So, in between Christmas gift making I've been doing a little of this...

fmq in a hoop and re-purposed tablecloth lace

a little of that....

a 'prayer flag' reminder for 2013 - now hanging outside in place of the tree my husband  butchered

and putting a 'scene' together to accompany my application to have a stall at the Red Hill Market (something I should have done at the beginning of this year)....

and happy to say I've been accepted for my first market in March 2013 - so will be very busy sewing away after I've finished sewing Christmas presents...and entertaining about 20 for Christmas Day.......

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Too, too long....

...and procrastination and duff sitting may have something to do with it....anyway, just finished a late dinner (home made gnocchi with prawns), having my coffee and enjoying the cool change after a stinky hot day in Melbourne.  Dr No is on the telly (I'm a huge Bond fan, but I've seen Dr No umpteen times and my husband really wants to watch it again), so what to do? Sew? - I could go and make some Christmas presents....or I could blog.....hmmm, what to do.....?  Well, blogging won - and for those who have commented on the last couple of posts (which were a few weeks/months ago - I'm sorry I haven't responded - I'm turning over a new leaf today)

It feels like such a long time since I actually wrote anything and I have done umpteen things in the meantime that I'm just going to record them as I remember them - so in no chronological order whatsoever...

1.  I hosted the delightful Caz of The Accidental Quilter for some time on the longarm - Caz had 2 queen sized quilts she was loathe to wrestle with through her domestic machine so she came to mine to do them - apart from an unexpected powercut, which curtailed tuesday afternoons' session, she got them both finished and did a fabulous job - most impressive for a first time - way to go Caz :)

2.  I made a frock - one of the 2nd year students at school made a beautiful linen dress and luckily the pattern is a new one.  It called for 4.5m of 150cm wide linen which wasn't very budget friendly so I searched through the clearance table at Spotlight and picked up some gorgeous voile for $5 per metre - the dress is a lot less structured in the voile and has beautifully soft folds - it turned out really well and I hope you get the idea from this crappy picture.....I'm saving for some linen to make another one but there'll have to be a few pattern adjustments....I don't think I can fudge them in the linen like I did in the voile!

3.  The Somerville Community House banner is FINISHED - yay - a lot of blood, sweat and tears in this banner - 12 1/2" pieces of calico was handed out to all the class/activities currently on at the Community House with instructions to fill the square with representations of their class or of Somerville itself.  We got back some very interesting blocks - they were painted, stitched, drawn and knitted and with a variety of mediums, from thread to paper to, in one case, a fan!  Putting it together was a bloody nightmare challenge but a couple of wonderful ladies in my Stitch and Chat group kept everything together and appliqued and stitched away with me to come up with a fabulous finish - there's a presentation/launch next week.....but here's a sneak preview....

4.  The veggie patch is growing strongly - we're already eating lettuce, silverbeet, zucchini's, sugar snap peas, asparagus, rhubarb, carrots and spring onions.  There's fruit on the tomato plants - many that self-seeded from last year and the first lot of corn is almost ready to throw up the flowers that will pollinate the ears of corn...there's also pumpkins forming...this abundant growth is thanks to the very changeable weather we've experienced over the past month or 2

5.  I joined the wonderful ladies of the Mornington Stitch Group for our Christmas breakup, hosted by the lovely Emma at Treehouse Textiles.  I've nicked the next photo from the Group mama, Cathy's blog...(Cabbage Quilts)....thanks Cathy and Emma :)

we had a Kris Kringle swap - what a talented bunch we are ;)

6.  I made 3 more Farmers Wife blocks - so that's 100 finished and I only have 11 more to make - YAY!!!!

...and now I've run out of memories!  So, I think I'll sign off - the sewing machine is calling and Christmas is approaching...til next time

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Pretty feathers

Well, one anyway.....

The last month of the QCA for 2012 (and for me too, I'm bowing out for a while) and the Bee Queen requested Anna Marie Horners' feathers in pink, orange and yellow on a grey background.

INSERT PHOTO HERE - Blogger won't let me upload anymore so will have to investigate and go from there......Flickr sounds good......

I foundation pieced the feathery bits (I'm sure an ornothologist will know what they're called) then used the templates from the free pattern to finish it off.

It's really pretty and while I will probably never make a complete quilt of feathers for myself, I'm going to keep it in mind for when I'm a Queen Bee again.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

getting busy with it....

...because getting jiggy with it sends out all the wrong messages and seems to invite offers of unwanted accoutrements from 'anonymous'........

anyhoo - have been busy stitching up a storm.....

I completed a client quilt today on the longarm - I used a pantograph pattern I haven't used before - half feathers and a leafy type of shape...

Anne pieced large stars in this gorgeous range of fabrics - Will and Lily or something - not that - but I can't remember the name, mixed with some self patterned whites and creams.  The quilt is really prettily sophisticated and the pantograph I used fits it perfectly...

I also got stuck into one of my assignments for school - we've been studying art history this semester and each of us had to give a presentation about a period in history to the rest of class.  After each class we had to update a timeline and then do a little representative free motion stitching's the Venus of Willendorf from the Prehistory presentation - noone is really sure what she represents - could be mother, grief or simply prehistoric porn......

For the final assignment, we had to create a stitched piece using mostly machine stitching.  Originally I was going to design something close to my presentation - the Vikings - but after reviewing my notes and sketches, I got thinking about women's hair-do's...

We'd been shown the Willendorf Venus' beanie style hairdo, the flowing locks of Botticelli's "The Birth of Venus" and the tightly wound curls of Queen Elizabeth I, amongst I played around with that (and recording development of the piece in my visual diary, just like a good student would!) and came up with this...

Each of these ladies had red hair which is why I used orange silk for the background - and then I stitched and stitched and stitched.  I added hand made cord to represent ribbons or bands worn in the hair and a few beads.  The only casualty was my finger when I didn't get it out of the way of the needle fast enough - that was fun - not - especially when I had a splinter in the thumb of my other hand...oh well, done to finish the time line...oh, and the community house banner....and the ironing......and a Kris Kringle gift for sunday for my sewing get the drift....

Monday, 5 November 2012

Things make you go "Hmmmmm"

I decided to pull out a fat 1/4 stash I've had forever - Authentic by Sweetwater - and ran up some blocks based on a quilt I'd seen recently - I added one solid, thinking the restricted palette of the range would work it's magic and morph into a sophisticated quilt....but, it didn't.....I put the blocks onto the design wall and I don't like needs something....I think it's a bit blah - anyone have any suggestions??

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Bee block catch up - and a new sewing group catch up

Fallen a bit behind in my Bee blocks - so made a concerted effort yesterday to catch up...

These 2 are for Nicolette's October do.Good stitches quilt - Nicolette is a very, (actually, she rates in capital letters - VERY) talented quilter and I often sigh at her work (take a look at her blog and you'll see what I mean!) and she asked for a warm and a cool bowtie block - so here they are - they'll be winging their way to  Europe when I get to the PO tomorrow.

Next one is for Shirley in our Quilt Club Australia Bee...

Shirley asked for a convergence block in black and white - Shirley is the Queen of convergence blocks and whilst making this one I can understand the allure!

...and finally, I'm the Queen Bee for November for do.Good stitches so I've asked for Converging Corners in manly greys and blues - I don't think I quite mastered the process so I'll have to make a couple more...I like them though :)

Now - as the title mentioned, there's a new Sewing Group been formed by the indomitable Sally, the Peninsula Sewshells, and the inaugural meeting is at the Frankston's the flyer:

peninsula sewshells

Are you a quilter?
A bag maker?
A clothes maker?
Thread artist?

Want to meet like minded souls, with a modern twist?
Then come to Frankston Library
Friday November 16 or December 14 from 6 til 10.
Cost $5.00 per person.
BYO project, sewing machine or hand project.
This is not lessons, it is a sit and create social evening.
Parking is available under the library, and a lift is available to the rooms.
Check us out on facebook – sew shells,
Or just come along!

So if you're in the area - come on down - I'll see you there!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Look at what arrived at my house......

Having part of the first Mouthy Stitches Swap, I was pretty excited when Mouthy Stitches 2 was launched - and I quickly signed up.

We all had to create a mosaic of what we liked and then watch the Flickr group photos and 'ooh' and 'aaah' at the stupendous creativity.

It was really fun trying to work out who had who - the talent in the group was so great that I must say I coveted about 99% of all the totes made!  There were one or two though that I would have traded my husband for.......

......and I waited, and waited a little more and then the must wonderful thing happened - I received one of those special totes, made by the very talented Karen of Laughter in Quilts - someone I've been following for quite some time - and she N.A.I.L.E.D it!

It has texture, linen, wonderful colours and a perfectly simple appliqued flower using none other than one of my most favourite designer fabric (Lotta Jansdotter) - she even put polka dots inside!  The key fob matches beautifully and I truly couldn't be happier that this came to me.

Thank you Karen - I will treasure it always :)

Friday, 26 October 2012

TWO finishes.....

.....amazing what a deadline or 2 does to productivity in my house.....

I've been so focused on things to do with school and the CFA raffle quilts that another deadline snuck up on me when I wasn't looking.  Tomorrow is Crib Point Community House open day (between 10am and 2pm for those on the Peninsula tomorrow - 7 Park Road, opposite the HMAS Cerberus entrance) and given I am a tutor there, I have the opportunity to talk to interested folks to come and join my class.

The idea is to have a static display of projects completed this past year as well as some items that a potential student could make if they wished.

I'm going to include a display of some of my quilts (and maybe someone will buy one!) and I had 2 tops that I particularly wanted to show - one of which I intend to bundle up as a kit - so they had to be finished.

The following photos are rotten - it's late and I didn't get any taken in the daytime - I'm going to try and remedy that tomorrow.

The first is Ice Age...

Drunkards path, using the Tokyo Roccoco range with added solids

The back - again using fabrics from the range
The quilting is wavy, overlapping lines, representative of the fissures in glaciers and mirroring (in a fashion) the pattern in the border and on the back.

The next one, binding sewn down in the wee small hours of this morning, is mostly made with Kate Spain's Terrain (the bundle I won at the Bloggers Quilt Festival last year).  I added some white and some matching Kona solids and a stripey binding (Kumari Garden range) that I've had in my stash for a while...

the backing - pieces of left over Terrain and small flower print in grey and white
Quilting for this one is an edge-to-edge pattern called 'Stars and loops' - it's one of my favourites.

So now I just have to write up a flyer that I can hand out, as well as find something I can use as a business card (for quilting services) to promote everything I need to promote....

I'll try to get a good photo of the display tomorrow

Sunday, 21 October 2012

The Vikings are coming....

Not really - but I have been looking into their arts and crafts - let me explain.....

This semester, one of our units is 'Art History and Art Theory' and in the first week, we had to choose a period in history (on a time line given to us), research and give the class a 15 minute presentation on either an artist from the period, or failing that, the style of the period - we also had to include environmental influences, ie social, political, etc etc.  and discuss their arts and crafts.

I really do not know what drew me to the Vikings - apart from their pillage and plunder of my homeland a thousand or so years ago, I didn't have a great deal of knowledge about them - and the name of a Viking artist didn't really spring to mind.  I knew they wore horned helmets and were very violent.....

Well, they were violent - some of them anyway - and they didn't wear horned helmets - and surprisingly they were quite civilised.

In the course of my research, I came across a type of weaving that Viking women were very proficient at - it's called Tablet weaving - it produces a type of braid that they sewed onto their clothes etc - there is a lot of information about it on the net and  I picked up a fabulous old weaving book from the school library - and it's very easy to do at home - so I thought I'd have a crack.

First I had to make the 'tablets' - I made mine out of playing cards but Viking women would have made theirs out of leather, wood, stone or bone.  Next was the threading of the warps, followed by the actual weaving.....

the tablet - I made 8 of these

the first attempt at threading was a bit of a disaster
threading again
all threaded and looking a little more orderly

getting the hang of it - the tablets are rotated in 4 x 1/4 turns forward, then 4 backward (otherwise the warp threads start to weave themselves - ask me how I know!)

 Here's the braid so far..

I used some crappy cotton yarn I found that I think I bought in the 80's!

By threading up different colours in the holes, adding more tablets, turning the tablets in different directions and swapping the order of the tablets as you go along creates other patterns - you can even create the alphabet and make a name braid....

So I'm going to take this practice braid off the clamps and make some more tablets - I'm thinking lots more tablets because I want to use perle thread for the warps (so I'll need heaps otherwise it's going to look like a cord, rather than a braid!), because I've had an idea about what I want to produce for the textile piece we have to hand in at the end of the semester...oh, and my BFF found a Youtube vid that shows you how to do Viking knitting with metal (jewelers will know all about Viking chains) and I want to have a crack at that too....

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Sunshine and stuff

Today is absolutely glorious - we have another day of this beautiful Spring weather and then it's back to rain and cold - a couple of days ago it was freezing, all along the eastern seaboard of Oz - there was even snow in Queensland!  However, here in Melbourne today, it's glorious.

I've been out weeding the veggie patch and looking at what's popped up - there was a lone snowpea plant that self sowed from last year and there was 5 snowpeas on it - I say "was", because they're no longer there - I ate them - nothing quite like sun warmed veggies fresh from the garden.....

Picking from the garden already is lettuces (all self sown from last year's crop), pak choy, asparagus and leeks (in fact except for the lettuce, the rest is going into a veggie stir fry for dinner tonight).  Toms are going slowly, beans have been attacked by snails, a few carrots are up, zucchini and pumpkin are also slowly growing, so it's early days yet but we're getting there.

Yesterday I took the opportunity to quilt and attach binding to the two quilts that will be raffled off for our local CFA (Country Fire Authority) - all proceeds to the Burns Unit at the Royal Children's Hospital - I hope they raise millions.  One of the lovely ladies from my classes has offered to hand sew the binding down - thanks Margaret - so here they are almost complete...

The ladder quilt is about 54" x 72" and is quilted in a flame shape - well, ziggy zaggy really.  The big country style one on the right is large at 80" square - there's another couple of the appliqued blocks hanging behind on the line - otherwise it was going to land in the dirt!  This one was quilted with a large meander - didn't want anything too dense due to the applique.

ziggy zaggy flames
The ladies did a fantastic job of the piecing and Margaret, who has volunteered to sew down the binding, also put the big country one together - thanks again Margaret - great job.  Jan and Lynne created the wonderful applique blocks - Somerville has strong connections with chooks, apples and pears - and they also sewed some of the 9 patch blocks together.  Other 9 patch contributors: Jeanette, Dawn, Judy, Margaret (another one!) and  Joan.

The ladders blocks were put together by Lynne, Olivia and myself and then I stitched the blocks together.  Trimming was ably assisted by Kim.  I'm sure the CFA will be well impressed.

My eldest son celebrated his birthday last month (so did my youngest son actually!) and after a bit of tooing and froing, and a couple of wrecked windcheaters and T shirts due to 'schmutz' transfer whilst baking or cooking at home, he decided an apron would be in order - not a poncey pinny, but a MAN's apron that could save his clothes - great idea - so I found some weighty calico and drew and cut and sewed - and my big lad loves The Transformers - so for a surprise, I raw edge appliqued the Transformers logo on the front - he loved it :) I don't have a photo of him in it, but before I handed it over, my husband modelled for me...

great look with the socks and the daft smirk - "more than meets the eye"
I hope I haven't left any names out of the contributors of the CFA quilts.......

Monday, 8 October 2012

Swap tote finished

I was a lucky person indeed to be able to join a pool of very talented sewists as part of the Mouthy Stitches 2 swap.

For this round we had to create a tote, all using the same basic pattern but tricking it up in line with our secret partner's mosaic.  My partner made it super easy to understand what she likes and she's been fantastic in terms of commenting and encouraging - it's that sort of group I can't reveal who I made mine for (and I am coveting many of the totes already showing up in the Flickr group...) but I can reveal the tote......

An attempt at an arty shot!!!  This is either the front or the back of the tote - her choice - and I made a lanyard/key fob to go with it (it's the only 'extra' we're allowed to send - except maybe some chocolate too

Here's the other side....

and inside, a pocket (so it's not reversible - sorry partner!)

I really enjoyed making this - and thank you to the wonderful Swap Mamas, Cindy, Susan and Hadley.

Hope my partner likes it!

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Farming again..

Not sure what came over me - but I'm thinking getting those do.Good stitches blocks done has spurred me on - so while waiting for the painted and inked pages of my journal to dry, I whipped up 4 more Farmers blocks - so that's 97 done now and only 14 more to go....feels like a marathon!

no 94 - Tall Pine Tree

no 95 - Temperance Tree

no. 97 - Waste not

no.96 - Tulip
Hoping to do a few more and get them finished - but if Melbourne continues a lovely run of the weather we had today, it's unlikely

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

do. Good Stitches - Cherish

Debra asked for a couple of blocks with a beachy theme and they had to be all one colour - so I've added a little artistic licence and we have a blue boat for sailing on the deep blue...

and a green lighthouse, who really wanted to be a greenhouse....

There was a couple of 'Y' seams when I joined the pieces together - that was fun!

These will be joined with the other blocks made by the clever ladies in the Cherish Circle and will become a gorgeous quilt for a deserving someone.

Thursday, 20 September 2012


In between refining my workshop (how share trading works - an operations perspective) and shooing the baby chooks out of my herb patch....

Some came over to check out the shiny thing in my hand (my camera).  The little rooster on the left is feeling particularly brave after lasting a couple of rounds with Big Red, my fully grown - and 4 times larger - rooster

I've been putting together one of the CFA quilts...the blocks were pieced by some of my wednesday evening ladies and they've done a fabulous to do is the quilting but first I'll have to find some backing before I can throw it on to the Gammill.....thinking flame shapes all over - ladders and flames - must be for the fire brigade of course :-)

Making a stationery box (with blank cards and notelets) for my ma-in-law's birthday...some days she doesn't get out and I thought this would be handy in an emergency - I followed this fabulous tute - and have to say the blank cards I put inside took me longer to make than the box!.

the box packs up to this

when you take the lid off, it opens up to this - space for cards, tags, stamps, a pen and a little booklet for writing down reminders
I've also done some work on my school assignments (so much more to do on those - and time is running out!) and contemplated how I'm going to quilt this...

busy, busy, busy - thanks gawd for school holidays.

Linking up with Cindy's Really Random.......check out the diverse range of doings this week