Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Made to Measure....

I wanted to post one of those fancy pants mosaics featuring all the things I'd worked on this year. Surprisingly, there was quite a bit of sewing even if my blog posts have been rather thin on the ground. But alas, I haven't kept up with my flickr posting and this has made the mosaic difficult to capture. So I'll leave you with my latest project, Made to Measure, a medallion quilt designed my Sarah Fielke and featured in her latest book, Hand Quilted With Love.

I've opted to follow Sarah's colour scheme as I'm not that brave selecting my own. Mind you, seeing as it's the quilt featured on the cover and the one I fell in love with, why not follow the prescribed colours?
I've two more borders to go and I'm really enjoying the process....even if it does mean trimming down lots (did I say lots, I meant LOTS) of half square triangles. But that's my own doing, as I've chosen to make them over sized and trim them down for accuracy.
My piecing is obviously also a little out as the specified measurements are about 1/2" inch smaller than where I'm at. So I'm currently cutting a little longer and so far, that's working out. This however is a far cry from my first round of piecing for the centre star. I religiously followed the pattern for the centre star I couldn't believe how tight the placement was and how nothing aligned. To say I cried was an understatement. I had after all, cut into some wonderful fabric that I'd just bought back from Paris and hardly able to whip around the corner to buy some more!
So after a sleepless night, made worse by jetlag, trying to re-invent some measurements to make it work, I decided I'd google 'problems with Made to Measure measurements'. Guess what? An errata page! I get that mistakes are made, afterall I've spent a lifetime in advertising and communications and I know that when it comes to pressing that 'publish' button, there's a lot of stress on the publisher side. But....who would have thought it? Not me!
So the next night I unpicked what I'd done, re-cut the middle and set off again. So far, so good.
Here's hoping 2014 is filled with less errata for everyone and more plain sailing into the seas of fabric that we love!

Friday, November 22, 2013

It's all a bit scrappy.....

When I came home from my recent overseas journey, I was completely committed to the prospect of regular blogging and sharing many of my wonderful experiences.....except the reality of work, catching kids up at school, end of year school exams (and all that that brings in terms of the tone of family life) and R's new first ever part time job, started to cut into any spare time that I might of had for crafting and blogging. Cut a long story short, once again, I've been very lax about posting anything in this little space. Mind you, even my instagramming has suffered because if you're not making it, you're not insta-photographing it, let alone posting it....even in a micro form.
However, the Sew & Sews girls are on notice for the next Guerrilla Market which has been scheduled for early December. Based on last year's market, this is the fun one and this is the one that people go to with Christmas in mind.
So, once again, I've dived into my scrap bin, woven some magic and managed to cobble together some items that I'm hoping don't look like the small bits of fabric they once were.
First up, Christmas Stockings.
We learned from last year's market that festive is the way to go. So I thought stockings would be a good idea.
These stockings feature 2.5" squares cut from a variety of fabrics, some of which were generously co-opted from the Sew & Sews girls. The batting is cobbled together from all the strips that get cut off the sides of quilts and, in my case, shoved into a very large plastic bag for later...!
I know, I know! I have a problem with throwing bits of fabric and batting away and I know the bigger  problem is about where and how to store it...but eventually, I get there. I do use these bits in some shape or form and I actually love the thrill of using it...what a dare-devil! My next post will be a killer surprise showing how I've used the bits of these stockings that were cut off the patch-worked pieces that I just couldn't bear to throw away! Mmmmwwwwaahhh!
Second up, scrappy lanyards. I made a few of these for a recent market, posted a pic or two on instagram and they went off like crackers at Guy Fawkes Night!
Lanyards are often compulsory for many employees these days, so it's really nice to have something pretty, or something that just stands out so you don't leave it behind.
My lanyards are all made with 2.5" width  scraps joined to make a long strip. Then they're folded and folded....sounds a bit like Sara Lee...to make a strip of scrappy fabric ribbon happiness. I kind of wish I needed to wear one to work!
I'm linking up with Crazy Mom's Finish it up Friday because I know she would love any finishes that feature scraps!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tour de force...

There has been an absence from this blog space for some time now and that's because we've been traveling for the past month, spending time in the UK, France, Brussels and Holland. I wouldn't have called it a holiday as these kinds of trips tend to be exhausting with all the sightseeing and jammed packed adventure that gets crammed into virtually every waking moment so as not to miss out one single thing. Coupled with the fact that for Australian's to visit these countries we have to travel to the other side of the world making regular visiting difficult and seeing as it's been a long time between our last trip and this one, we're probably not going to get back again for some time to come, so we were certainly making the most of it.
We've been back a week now and I'm still digesting most of it but there were many highlights and a few dramas that I still shake my head over and wonder how we got through it. One of the things I came to realise is how resilient our kids are and how well they coped with what was being thrown at us.
I spent much of the trip instagraming and sending daily updates on Facebook, so in order to write a recap here, I'll have to review those posts to refresh my memory. However, the clearest was being able to catch up with dear friends. I took three quilts which would become a welcome, a thank you and hello again gifts. (This was also my method of overloading my suitcase to make room for purchases!)
I have previously blogged about my Happy Trails quilt which was a welcome gift for baby E who is now 6 months old, and my low volume quilt was a thank you present to E & P for putting us up for 10 days in London. It was lovely to see it instantly put to use in E's lounge room and I'm thrilled it co-ordinated so well with her decor.
The third quilt was gifted to our dear friends who have been in the UK for two years now. They headed over to run a country pub. The process of getting the pub into shape nearly killed them and they eventually sold and are now based close to M's family and working in London. Luckily, L was between jobs and M took a few days off and they were able to spend time with us and act as tour guides whilst we were there.
Their quilt is my 'This way and That way' quilt. I haven't shared it before but I did post a snippet on instagram which went off for 'likes' and even had a request for a tutorial. (!) It's made from the triangles that are created when making pennants for bunting. There's always one (or two if fabric is doubled) at the beginning of the strip and one at the end and given that I was making bunting out of some of my most precious fabrics there was no way I was going to chuck them so they were filed into a ziplock for safe keeping. I realised that I had quite a few, so I set them into white vertical rectangles a'la Gwen Marston style. The block is actually known as a dog-tooth block. I managed three rows of dog-teeth, and laid them in alternate directions floating in the bottom third of the front.
The back is the red floral from Denyse Schmidt's Picnics & Fairgrounds range which I've used over and over....and never tire! Binding is a black and white stripe which I picked up from Fabric Shack for a song. (I've become quite partial to exploring their 'sale' page and seeing how much I'm not spending! You can get a lot of fabric for not much in that section!)
Needless to say, M & L loved their quilt and started to use it straight away. I hope they think of us whenever they do and when we'll next see them home because whilst it was the best thing ever to say hello again, saying goodbye is too, too hard.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Bibs & Bobs....

Lately I've been on the hunt for ideas that will purge my ever growing pile of scraps. I seriously don't know where these scraps come from as I seem to be forever making scrappy quilts and rarely cutting into stash. How are they forming? Baffling to say the least...or denial, one or the other! Nonetheless, I think this scrap busting idea is a winner.....bibs that are made not only from scrap fabric but scrap strips of batting as well.
A couple of Thursday's ago I spent a 'Sew & Sew's' evening with the girls zigzagging together strips of batting to make pieces that were roughly 14" x 8". I was staggered to see how quickly I could cobble together some reasonable sized pieces. Then I built the fronts of the bibs using the quilt as you go method!
I always love going through my fabric bin and discovering little bits of fabric that has been lying dormant from quilts past. And then I hit the solids scrap bag! Solids scraps are just as adorable as prints.
The backs are solids and I've used really bright orange and lime.
My next adventure came in the form of snap buttons. These little things are tricky. I wasted a few along the way and had to buy another pack but it was really worth it I think as they finish the bibs off wonderfully.
And my last foray into the scrap bin has come in the form of a little covered note book that we will use on our forthcoming travels. Needless to say, it has been purloined by R who promptly made a cover page and has begun the note taking. Excellent.
 A couple of lovely scrap finishes to link up to Crazy Mom's Finish it Up Friday.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Scrappy Lanyards

I've had this scrap buster idea running around in my head for a while now and whilst I was in between a block trimming project, I pulled out a bunch of scraps and trimmed them down to 2 1/2" squares or 2 1/2" wide strips. Then I pieced them into long strips, ironed them in half then 1/4's, slipped on an attachment, joined the ends, over-stitched and tidied up the loose threads. Voila....lanyards! Out of seemingly....nothing! And they're the best kinds of finishes for a Friday.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Turning down the volume.....

I have been suffering from incurable 'low volume' quilt love and the only way to get it out of my system was to make one of my own.
Pulling the fabric was tricky.I'm not completely convinced I nailed it but I did get to play with some of my favourite pretties. I left them sitting around for a while and found myself agonising over what to do with them. I've always loved Cheryl's original from her Sunday Morning Quilts book but I wasn't feeling the scrappy strip. In the end I settled on 4.5" squares. Plain and simple.
Night after night or whenever there was a spare moment I would cut into this beautiful pile of fabrics remembering when and where I had bought it or from whom it had been gifted. I obviously got so into the cutting that I ended up with enough squares for the back and for another little number I'm currently working on.
Some of my colours are a little deep but through a lens they're not so bad. They're muted and add interest.
 I love this quilt. It's so pretty. And, I was lucky enough to enjoy a little break in our very rainy weather to sneak in a few shots last Tuesday.
I know low volume is not out of my system yet. They're just too darn nice!
Seeing as I shot this quilt on Tuesday, I'm going to link it up with Quilt Story Fabric Tuesday.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Quilts 1700-1945...

Clare and I were very lucky to fly to Brisbane last weekend and immerse ourselves in the Quilts 1700-1945 exhibition, a smaller version of the V&A's very successful exhibition from recent years. And, although reduced in quilt quantity, no less inspiring!
We rose spectacularly early to board a 6.05am flight out of Adelaide, made a beeline for the train into the City, alighting at the Cultural Centre's doorstep. A small brain snap from both of us as we found ourselves in the GOMA first up. Both of us feeling very silly when the security guard pointed out that this was a 'contemporary gallery for modern artwork'. Yeh, yeh, yeh, he didn't have to labour the 'modern' point ! So, we turned on our heels and laughed at how we had both misread the website, reading what we wanted to read and interpreting it as such because we were both familiar with that part of the gallery complex. Back on track we unchecked our luggage from the GOMA, headed on over to the Art Gallery across the courtyard, and re-checked in our bags for an early tour.
The exhibition is not extensive, only about 30 or so quilts but each one gob-smackingly amazing in it's own right. Perfectly preserved silk and wool quilts from 1648, paper-pieced blocks with the backs exposed so you could read the papers that were used in the piecing, miniature hexagons made from military uniform wool just 1.5cm wide, silk ribbons converted to pinwheels and hourglass blocks, gifts of comfort from Canada to war-torn London and hexagons made from the clothes women and girls were left standing in having been captured and imprisoned in Changi Prison during the second world war. And then off course, the jewel in Australia's crown, the Rajah quilt made by convict women sent to Australia for petty crimes to give them something meaningful to do with their idle hands whilst making the treacherous journey from the UK to Tasmania in the colonial days of settlement.
I could say that many of the quilts weren't my style and won't be put on my to-do list in the near future but that sounds like I didn't like the exhibition. Far from it, each one told a story, made me gasp in awe, or made me incredibly sad or happy as I tried to imagine what life must have been like for each of the individuals who had played a role in the birth of these quilts. From the genteel crafts-woman showcasing her needlework skill to the gathering of remnants from the woollen mills or pyjama factory in the village. I felt an affinity with each person who stitched a bit of their soul into every one of the quilts that were on display.
I also felt very proud to be a part of a community that was present as an audience on the day. Lots of women who like us had their sensible shoes on and talked in hushed excitement as they pointed out fabric combinations, block patterns, colours used, humility patches and sheer skill involved. It was electric and we felt connected. And to top it off? The playlist in the toilet. Well done curators. What a lovely fun way to finish off the day!

Mind you. We didn't completely leave the gallery there because we came back again the next day before our flight home to enjoy a gorgeous little maker fair in the form of a suitcase rummage and if we'd had more time we would have stayed a little longer to stitch away at the sit and sew session.

Oh...and there was a bit of fabric shopping squeezed in too from a very lovely little shop in East Brisbane, Voodoo Rabbit. It has a great collection of goth, rockabilly and Halloween fabrics, along with some pretties.
If you're near Brisbane, I urge you to get yourself to Quilts 1700 to 1945. You won't be disappointed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Yee ha....!

Well howdy! Seems like I've been missing from these here parts for some time. Yep, off chasing, herding and rounding up life every which way, I'd say. Leaving not enough time for quilting...let alone taking photos and blogging about it. However, a couple of weekends ago I found myself in between things and spent a whole day basting. It nearly killed my knees, elbows and the fingernail on my right hand pointer finger but I managed to completely baste three quilts that day. Since then I've quilted two, bound two and finished one. And this is it. My Maverick Star Cowboy quilt!
It's a beauty. I love the simplicity of the design which highlights the retro colours. Essentially it's either a nine patch block of 3.5" squares or a 9 patch with a maverick star embedded.
I really like the back which features two single rows made from some left over squares trailing out of one left over star block and set into a plain stone colour background. It was a real challenge to make sure the back was lined up well with the top but I guess, that's what floorboard joins are for aren't they!
I think I've mentioned before that the foundation fabrics are from a really old range by Benartex called Happy Trails. I've added in some Denyse Schmidt who always manages the right balance of 'old-style' without being 'old fashioned' and various other reds and blues from the stash. The binding is also a DS quilts that features in the blocks. I can't remember what it's called but I managed to pick up a little from Spotlight when it was out. I wouldn't mind getting a little more as it's lovely for binding.
This quilt is heading to the UK as a gift for a friend's new baby boy and will be a nice cot or floor mat size at 45" x 54".
I should also add that I managed to take these photos early this morning before heading off to work and before the rain rolls in around lunchtime today. As I was running around setting up shots on my front gate I was being watched by two council workers trimming the trees on the streets. I'm sure most people who spy a quilter blogger at work must wonder "what the heck is she doing...?". But we smiled, said howdy, commented on the weather making our work difficult and went about our separate tasks.
It's a funny old world we live in, isn't it but I guess that's what makes life interesting!
I'm delighted to have such a lovely finish this week for Crazy Mom's Finish it up Friday and I'll be feeling less guilty about things as I head off to Brisbane (very early) tomorrow morning with Clare to see the Quilts 1700-1945 exhibition at the GOMA. More on that when we return.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

A special request....

I was recently asked if I could make a cushion that looked like a US flag. This is what I came up with. A crazy pieced star section out a my blue scraps and strip pieced red and white solids to make the stripes. I'm quietly pleased with the result.
The finished cushion ends up around 11" high x 14" wide. A very gratifying finish for this week which I'm linking up with Crazy Mom's Finish it up Friday.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A little bit cross....

Recently I acquired a piece of vintage grey wool blanket. It was milled in South Australia's Onkaparinga Woolen Mills which is now long gone but its reputation for good quality wool products was second to none.
I have several pieces of wool stashed for baby blankets that I used to embroider....but I rarely find time to sit around these days, so when I came across the grey, I remembered a bit of red and had a thought.....
That thought turned into these little cushions with a red cross.
I cut the red cross out of a 5" square which was as much about need rather than heavy duty mathematics! From each corner I cut out a 1.5" square to make the cross which I then top-stitched direct to the grey.
The cushions are rectangle finishing at 14" x 11". I cut these inserts from a 23" x 14"....tricky but worth it to get the perfect inner.
And whilst I was at it I made a few extra for the Vitalstatistix market next weekend.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Strawberry pincushions....

I have had these little fabric strawberries cut out since last December and seeing as they were lying in the cupboard unfinished, I thought it would be a good opportunity to finish them up for the forthcoming market. I managed a dozen! I used the free pattern on Martha Stewart's website but adapted the top to make them more strawberry-ish. They are so cute and the perfect mini pincushion when you need one for just a few pins at a time.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Tweet tweet....

I've been making little birds for a forthcoming market. I love how these lovely little creatures can be made out of small fabric off-cuts. I've had so much fun mixing prints to create bodies and wings that contrast and match.
If you'd like to make your own, follow this link over at Sew Mama Sew or check out more of Kajsa's work at her blog, Syko. Tweet, tweet..... I'm linking up with Crazy Mom because this is such a fantastic finish for this Friday!
And here's a picture I shot of some of my quilts....just because!

Friday, June 14, 2013

There's always hope....

When it comes to quilting, things don't always turn out the way they were originally envisioned. Even after all the blog-land inspiration and the mountains of book and pattern referencing and the zombie like state quilters take on whilst their thoughts wander because they're in the 'I've got this idea in my head' zone. Which is then followed by the 'play around block' which accounts for a bit of sewing energy and lots of experimental fabric play. Sometimes that can even lead to the full piecing stage. I've also been known to get to the quilting stage and still manage to birth a complete disaster. This accounts for the numerous 'problem children', at varying stages that live in my quilt cupboard.
Don't get me wrong...there are lots of positives but sometimes things don't always go to plan and well....this story WAS one of the negatives.
I fell hopelessly in love with Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley as soon as it was released. It was almost a fever having been at the complete outer of her earlier Flea Market Fancy and Katie Jump Rope releases and spending way more than I should have to acquire whatever I could because I was suffering from acute HAVE TO HAVE fabric addiction. (I'm still debating about writing a thesis on the buyer behaviour of fabric consumers who are at the tail-end of a popular release but that's another post...). So, because of my past DS fabric purchase indiscretions, I maintained a modicum of restraint and purchased just a fat 1/4 only of each of the Hope Valley range.
Before cutting, I scoured every book I owned and numerous flickr images for the perfect pattern and settled on half square triangles set in Kona Ash....AKA Kaffe Fassett 'Simple Shapes, Spectacular Quilts' - Clay Tiles  or Indigo Points.

However, in my haste to produce the perfect quilt using the perfect fabric, I omitted the trimming stage. I was an impatient newbie on a steep learning curve to completion and I learnt a very big lesson and that is .....don't cut corners. Or should I say, do cut corners and do trim!
So the short of all this is that what I had made was a disaster. My seams were disgusting, nothing aligned, my corners were lumpy bumpy and my fabric investment that I carefully cut from  premium priced fabric was on the pile of shame, thrown to the back of the cupboard.
I learnt that lesson over and over after that attempt. Every block I made that was trimmed made a beautiful quilt. Every one that was not trimmed, didn't. Where is this going? Well, I pulled that precious Hope Valley conglomeration from the back of the cupboard (which is sounding more and more like Narnia over the years) and pulled it apart. I sat on the couch one night and stripped it back  from 16 unit blocks... to single 1/2 square triangles.
Now back to basics, I re-made the concept. It's a bit like starting afresh but with a head start! This time I sashed the poorly made 1/2 square triangles with 2.5" strips and voila a better square than before which made trimming spectacularly simple.
I've only used a small portion of the previous 1/2 square triangle shamozzle, edged it in my remaining Kona Ash (of slightly different die-lots) and re-built it into quite a lovely cot sized quilt of 40" x 50" in the style of Alison from Cluck Cluck Sew (Modern Quilts from the Blogosphere).
Now the possibilities of much improved quilts for the remaining blocks are endless.
This version is backed with more Hope Valley, Diamond Dandy in Fiesta and the binding is the Canyon Stripe in Piney Woods.
And speaking of birthing babies...in a round-about fashion, my baby is 12 today. Where has that time gone? Needless to say, he is made from the perfect pattern and continues to amaze us all! Happy B-day L!
Another wonderful finish it up Friday to link!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Trip the light fantastic....

After a giant leap into the new year with a Scrappy Trip Around the World back in January...(just like quite a few of us!), the rate of progress slowed to a virtual snail pace leaving the quilt top languishing for a while. Mind you, I wasn't ignoring it...I just had a few study issues to sort out like major assignments and exams! Now that they're over for the moment and seeing as this quilt is intended for someone special by July, I thought I'd better get myself into full throttle and finish this little beauty up.
The intended loves green and her room features a lot of saturated rainbow colours. So each block has a bit of green. I know this quilt is known as 'scrappy' but I can assure you, to get the desired look I cut into quite a few horded fabrics.
I debated about how to quilt, almost deciding to attempt some dogwood or orange peel effect but fell back to the trusty stipple. As part of the process, I quilted one block row at a time, moving to the left, right and down, then up. That probably doesn't make a great deal of sense but it was a wonderful way of keeping the quilt moving evenly. The other bonus was that working with the 2" frame, the stipples are very evenly sized and quite dense. I'm thrilled with it!
Because of the mesh of colours and prints I decided to keep the binding really simple and went with a solid chocolate which works wonderfully framing the backing which is a Bonnie and Camille, lime and aqua from thier Vintage Modern range.
A lovely finish for this week and linked up with Crazy Mom's Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Happy trails....

Happy trails indeed!
This little quilt-in-the-making is destined for a brand new little baby boy who lives in the UK. A second baby for our dear friends who are now firmly entrenched in Surrey.
Seeing as I made quilts for their first baby L, it's only fitting that baby E gets one too. What's even better is that we get to deliver it in person later this year!
I've used Happy Trails which is a really old line by Benartex that features all things cowboy including some very sweet but politically incorrect cowboy guns and barbed wire (...hope you don't mind Rache!). I picked various bits of the line up on a trip to Tasmania years ago and they've been waiting for the right aged little person.
Added to the mix are a number of other bits from the stash in blue, red, yellow and green and some solids in co-ordinating colours to create some reversed out maverick stars. I cut 3.5" squares with 2.5" squares for the triangle points. Each block is around 9" and I'v worked on a 5 x 6 block layout which will finish at a nice little cot size of around 45" x 54". Yee-hah cowboy!

Saturday, May 18, 2013


Oh yes indeed, I'm very excited to share my finished X-Plus quilt. I had finished 14 blocks some time back and was on a mission to finish things up. But 14 wasn't enough so I bashed out another two. Then I didn't care for this quilt as a square so made another four to finish with 20 as a 4x5 layout.
The quilting is straight line and it runs across the horizontal lines. Its simplicity works with the busy scrappy fabrics and not over quilting leaves the quilt quite supple.
I followed this tutorial but adapted my blocks to suit 2 1/2" strips which I always have an abundance. The size of my components are:
Centre cross 1 - 6.5"x2.5", 2 - 2.5"x2.5"
Edges of cross 4 - 2.5"x2.5"
Background triangles 8 - 2.5"x2.5"
Branches 4 - 4.5"x4.5"
This builds a block that's around 10" finished.
Another lovely finish it up Friday to share....I can't believe I've managed two in one month!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Indian Summer....

It's been really warm this week with temperatures hovering between the mid to high 20's, record temperatures for May and a bushfire in the hills this morning. In MAY! I heard someone say the other day that we now have two seasons. Summer and not quite Summer. So even with the leaves changing colour and falling to ground this balmy weather has obviously influenced the colour pallet for this little baby quilt. A simple half square triangle quilt featuring pinks, greens, blues, brown and yellow from 5" squares. Let me indulge you.....

There are some of my all time favourite fabrics and designers in this quilt, Bonnie & Camille, Heather Bailey, Amy Butler, Sandy Henderson, Denyse Schmidt, Paula Prass a whole bunch of 'I can't remember' and some Spotlight. The back is a cherry print that I found on the end of roll at Spotlight. It's a cotton dress fabric but I couldn't leave without it. It's been in my cupboard just waiting for a little girl quilt. The binding is also a Spotlight fabric, a dotty dot in hot pink and white.
The quilt is stippled and finishes at around 30" x 35"....give or take!
This quilt is a gift for Joe's boss whose wife has just had their second baby, a little girl.
A very pretty finish it up Friday!