Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bits and Pieces

I'm just finishing off a few odds and ends for Do. Good Stitches Bee:


My sewing time was eroded yesterday by three trips to the sewing machine shop. The feed dogs wouldn't go back up having been dropped for the free motion quilting. Anyway I've had very little trouble from my machine in the last nearly 30 years so I guess I can't complain.
So there was a short delay before getting the binding made.

I began hand sewing while movie watching last night. 

But I'll need to watch another...! I'm not very speedy!

Here are my untrimmed blocks for November. Kathryn requested red crosses on a low volume background. I'm quite fond of these. They'd make a great baby quilt. I'll file that idea away for a future gift.

Next up a backing for the shirt quilt. The top is done and I really like it.

I have so many things I want to make at the moment, hope I can hold onto the ideas for when the time is available...?

Linking up with Freshly Pieced today. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival

The time has come around again for this fantastic festival.
It is always so inspiring to see all the amazing quilts people make.

Welcome if you're visiting from the festival- hope you enjoy having a look around.

My entry is a quilt I have just finished for a friend's 50th birthday.  

Nigel, if you're reading this and you want any element of surprise, discipline yourself to look away now!

The decision process on what to make was quite protracted, then it took even longer to make it; mainly because I was slow and we were in different countries. Throw in an international move and time goes by so fast so now I'm nearly a year late! Making quilts for friends and family can be quite difficult because of differing tastes, but we had a lot of agreement on this one.

We pinned inspiration photos on a shared Pinterest board and had thought we'd come up with a plan; but then I just didn't feel inspired about our first decision which involved loads of narrow stripes, which would have looked look amazing but been quite tedious to do.  The colour palette emerged quite early: an ochre theme being common to many of the things Nigel pinned. I also decided that using shot cotton would give it the colour depth I was after. 

In the end we were inspired by this. I think it is by Tommy Fitzsimmons of Tommy's Art Quilts  so I would like to acknowledge her amazing work, very much more subtle and complex than mine.

The size of this is 47 x 68.5" so it just squeaks into the Small Quilt category. But I've decided to enter it into the Modern Quilts category.

 I wanted to make it quite improvisationally, so I cut panels in the approximate dimensions and experimented with the arrangement on my design wall. 

I wanted to have gently wavy insertions and a general sense of wiggliness, so I stacked the fabrics right sides up and cut improvisational curves with the rotary cutter.

And then just built and inserted until I was happy.

I hadn't done this kind of curved piecing before but it went OK. Long gentle curves are much easier than small Drunkards Path blocks!

I quilted it using a variegated cotton thread, in long organic wavy lines to echo and accentuate the piecing.

I backed it using good old Ikea Nummer which I bought a bolt of before we moved to an Ikea-less country!

It makes such a versatile backing and here I highlighted the relevant number with a wavy frame of the different shot cottons.

For the binding I used left over strips of the various fabrics in the quilt.

After  trialling many different methods for attaching the binding over the years I have come back to my favourite: narrow doubled binding, machine stitched onto the front and hand sewn down onto the back.

I was bit nervous about washing it as I hadn't prewashed the fabrics, but I put in a colour catcher and all was well!

Hopefully it's the perfect size for a bit of coziness when reading or to drape over a chair

Isn't it funny how a quilt never looks finished until it's been bound and washed to find all its lovely crinkliness!

Now I'm off to look at all your entries in the festival...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Getting Shirty

Edited to add that just now I've noticed my header image has disappeared??!! It's there in my template but not when navigating here from a browser?  If anyone has had this problem or knows how to resolve it, please help!!
Meanwhile-back to business...

I always have trouble keeping two projects at different stages. I seem to end up with lots of quilting to do all at once and if I'm not careful it's going to happen again.

I've been making good progress on the shirt quilt. I've made the right hand panel

And sewn it to the left hand panel

I left a few labels on here and there

I played with the idea of including button and sleeve plackets, but it looked too punctuated and I thought it might not be comfortable (or easy to quilt)...

I'm not generally a prewasher of fabric- it's just another couple of steps to hold up the starting process (though I have often thought that I should wash new fabric for toxic dye lingering and shrinkage reasons?). These shirts have obviously been washed and washed and washed but the batting will shrink. Does anyone prewash their batting? Should I?

I'm pressing on with the top panel. I think this quilt will end up double bed size.

But now so I don't end up with a quilt queue, I've determinedly unthreaded the piecing thread from my machine, even before finishing this top panel and starting on the bottom panel and I've done the first few lines of quilting on the birthday quilt. I was happy to find a toning variegated thread.

My plan is to quilt fairly close straightish wigglyish lines, say two or three in between these, with perhaps a bit of cross hatching on the crosswise piecing.

It's spring school holidays here and daylight saving has begun so we've been making the most of some lovely days to have a pizza dinner in the Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon sun and go to the beach.


It's back to 10 degrees again today though; time for some more quilting!

Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at Freshly Pieced

Friday, 19 September 2014

On my Design Wall (and All Over My Sewing Room) Today

I have begun to put together the first panel of the shirt quilt, as a break from cutting up shirts, and also because my design wall is not big enough for everything at once. This is probably about a third of the size of the finished quilt. 

My plan is eventually to add another design wall the same size so I can put them beside one another for larger projects or so I can have more than one thing on the go (coz that'd be new for me-hehe!) 

Getting this little beauty operational, other than as a shirt quilt strip organiser, is moving up the priority list.  Perhaps I will even piece some of this quilt on this old machine?

I have finished the shot cotton quilt top and basted this quilt and am on the hunt for the right quilting threads. I'm thinking straight-line quilting for this with perhaps a bit of cross hatching?

Last post I showed you a little glimpse of my sewing room from this aspect- it's even messier today. But I figure that if I wait until it's all sorted and tidy I'll be waiting a long time! Anyway it's a space for using and part of the blessing of having a sewing room is being able to leave projects out, so I can nip in for a few minutes here and there, so realistically it's never going to look like a magazine shot!

As you can see it's not exclusively a sewing room. We have most of our books in there. And our craft supplies. And my work resources. And guests...

This long table I found in a second hand shop is great. It's fairly skinny, so it doesn't take up too much room, but because it's nice and long I can fit a cutting mat and two machines and there's still room for other junk. It also has folding legs so I can tuck it away if we have guests using the room.

I keep my fabric in the reflecting cupboard in the far corner.

The shelves beside will be honed a little more towards sewing books and things once we've built some more shelving for the books and stuff, still in the moving box you can glimpse under the table. The sofa bed isn't super comfy for sitting, but in theory it's good for people to drop in and chat and drink tea or wine or play a bit of guitar to keep me company from time to time.

The ottoman thing with the tapestry cover was my great grandmother's and has been variously mended over the years by my grandmother. It's not the most beautiful object but I love having it because of its history and it's useful for WsiP (or random junk).

I'm not sure I've finally decided on layout in the room. I'm still fiddling, and I need a pressing surface. I'm thinking of covering a sheet of MDF with padding and fabric. This set up is not ideal as I'm not left handed, but it is handy to have it so near the machine. At the moment I'm working around the old-house-one-powerpoint-per-room syndrome, which also slightly dictates the set up if I'm not going to be tripping over extension cords and multiboxes.

This is the final messiest corner. There used to be a cupboard here which was ugly as anything and not well organised inside- just one long bar for hanging, no door etc. When we moved back into our house at the beginning of the year we decided that if we didn't knock it out we'd fill it with stuff such as unpacked boxes and never get round to it. So we did it and now need to tidy up the wall... (rather like Flanders and Swann's "The Gasman Cometh", also known as a Ballad of Unending Domestic Upheaval)!

We are going to build (yet more) shelves above the slidey door cabinet below, which contains our craft supplies and has the guillotine on top. One day it will be more attractively laid out and there will be a pin board above the cupboard, below the shelves,  to serve as an inspiration spot.

So there you have it, in all its glory! I feel lucky to have it :-)

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Hopping Around the World

The lovely Catherine at Knotted Cotton has very kindly invited me to take part in this Round The World Bloghop that seems to be taking the world by storm. So it's great to have this chance to introduce myself to you perhaps.

Where I live/have lived.

I suppose I'm a bit of a globetrotter really. I was born in the UK and lived there until I was 10 when my family moved to the other side of the world, sight unseen:Auckland, NZ. Since then I've lived in the small university town of Dunedin NZ; London; Dunedin again, travelling back from London via the overland route; then Melbourne, Australia; Auckland; Dunedin (again); Adelaide, Australia and now Dunedin has called us back again, perhaps finally? but never say never! I feel blessed to have had to chance to live in lots of places and to live in a beautiful place which I find really energising. Just sometimes I wish I could combine all the places and people I've loved in one location! Dunedin is on the East coast of the South Island of NZ and probably has a similar climate to Scotland, tho' we are a bit closer to the equator, so get a bit more sunlight hours in the winter perhaps?!

What I am working on

Usually several things! Currently I am finishing a quilt top for our friend's 50th birthday, even though it was nearly a year ago. I hope he likes it, but I have enjoyed making it improvisationally using my new design wall.   I have two long seams to finish the top and then I have some quilting ideas to execute.

I'm working on organising my sewing room, which is a new treat; although it periodically has to become the guest room, it's great to be able to leave stuff messily lying around- though that may actually have happened quite a bit when I was using the dining room table too!

I've gleaned lots of cotton shirts whose collar and cuffs have had it, from my husband and my brother and I'm working on cutting them up to make a striped quilt in the style of Kaffe Fassett's Stripescape but in blues and generally more muted. Turns out there's a LOT of fabric in a shirt!

I'm cutting them into 2 and 3" strips of random lengths, which is quite a task!

I also have two bee quilts for the Do. Good Stitches bee which I'm currently responsible for finishing
And a quilt to finish from another bee I was in last year- stalled because everyone's 1/4" seam seems to vary...!

And a cross quilt which is slightly stalled. I'm in the process of fine tuning the colours. I'm thinking of narrowing the palette a bit emphasising the charcoal, mustard and aqua.  Input welcome?!

I caught up with a dear friend in Melbourne last week and we plan to make a collaborative project with sand as the inspiration. 

We bought some fabric to use as the common thread in our work (haha)

I have a stack of shot cottons to make our son a new quilt for his 21st- hmm that's next month...!

And about a million other ideas which may or may not come to fruition.

The natural world is generally the source of my inspiration and I have another gum tree quilt sort of planned. The idea involves Oakshott shot cottons and chevrons I think...

How My work differs From Others in Its Genre

I don't think I have a particularly identifiable style yet. I am happy in the modern quilting zone, but think I have lots to learn from the more traditional quilters. I like being part of a bee for trying new things and using scraps, with the excuse that it's for charity;

 but when I don't have much time for sewing that can be all I manage which is a bit frustrating sometimes.

Why I Write/Create

Because I enjoy it. For me the point of having a blog is to participate in a community which inspires me and to give myself a bit of a sense of accountability, mainly to myself, to document what I make and therefore achieve more- but it's not been working very well lately! I want to learn about process rather than being too focussed on having a perfect outcome, which has prevented me from having a go in the past.

How My Creative Process Works:

Generally it's things I see in the natural world that inspire me, colours or patterns or shapes. Photography helps me recall. For the gum tree quilt I took hundreds of photos of gum tree bark and then bought Kona cotton in over 60 colours, not all of which I used in the end. 

Sometimes the creative process revolves around a stack of fabric, or a key fabric, which I play with improvisationally. For this one the 1960s fabric in the bottom left, which my mum gave me, was the key fabric inspiring these improvisational squares in the aqua ground.

I have a journal in which I draw up ideas; but I'm generally not a detailed planner or quilt maths worker-outerer. So I don't figure out how much fabric I'll need first which sometimes gets me into trouble- or requires creative solutions, or more often- shopping, which puts projects on hold!

Sometimes I need to make a quilt and I start with a pattern and then put together a fabric stack, like this one which was a baby gift.

It's great to be a part of a community like this to share ideas and inspiration. I'm having a hard time finding someone who hasn't already done this hop; and like Catherine I feel a bit odd about putting people on the spot in case they don't feel they can decline; but if you're reading this and think- hey I'd love to-let me know in the comments and I'll give you a shout out, or just write a post and let me know so I can get to know you too if I don't already read your blog.
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