Thursday, July 29, 2010

Waving at you

It’s finished!  I’ve finally drawn breath after free motion machine quilting the Flower Fairy quilt, and what a challenge it was.

As part of Amanda Daly’s free motion quilting class earlier this year we were encouraged to buy a panel, stitch borders on it, and use this very quickly pieced together quilt as a practice piece.  FlowerFairy5 As someone who always wants to run before she can walk I think that was such a great idea, much more interesting than working on endless mini-quilt sandwiches.FlowerFairy3 It hasn’t turned out quite the masterpiece I’d envisaged, but working on the Flower Fairy quilt has taught me a few lessons.FlowerFairy2 Quilting needs to be of uniform density throughout the quilt - and using nasty thick poly batting, just because I had it on hand, was not a good idea.  A thinner cotton/wool batting might have been much more forgiving.FlowerFairy1See those wavy edges?  Hmmmmm.  As the report card might say – Can do better!FlowerFairy4 As I pick myself up and dust myself off I’m reminding myself that it was only a practice quilt and there’s a very strong chance that The Princess will adore it for her new ‘big girl’ bed.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Busy quilting

Sitting at my sewing machine, keeping those shoulders relaxed, holding my tongue at just the right angle, and trying hard to remember all the lessons learnt in Jenny Bowker’s  and Amanda Daly’s free motion machine quilting classes.  Occasionally doing a little frog-stitching (rip-it, rip-it!)IMG_7311 Back soon :-))

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


When Lynette Anderson announced that she had a bunch of these handpainted stitch unpickers the news spread round the blogosphere faster than you could say ‘rip-it!’ 
Before they were all snapped up by eager stitchers (or should I say, un-stitchers), I chose this little cutie.IMG_7280IMG_7279 Take a look at Erica’s, Lindi’s and Sarah’s (scroll down her birthday blog post).  Pretty little toys!  We’re so easily amused :-)

Sunday, July 18, 2010

We’ve made a decision

When the English Quilt girls met this week for our regular monthly day of stitching at Gail’s there was lots of progress to be seen. 

Three of the four of us who had missed the June get-together because we were gallivanting around various parts of the globe (including our own wide brown land) were keen to prove our hands hadn’t been idle.

Rae has started on the hand applique borders for her Whirligig quilt in her signature mellow shades – she’s using plenty of terracotta, teal and sage, with some raspberry and a twist of lime as well.Rae1 Rae3 Rae2 You’re going to have to wait till Rae’s completed a border to see just how good this looks, but trust me it’s working a treat!

You can guess where Rae went on her holiday by this cute little souvenir she gave me.  It’s a sticky note pad with a design adapted from a patchwork coverlet in the grandmother’s garden design made in England between 1797 and 1852 hanging in the Victoria & Albert Museum.  Yes, our Rae has been to see the V & A special quilt exhibition!IMG_7269 The colours in Jill’s kitchen chair cushions should give you a clue to her favourite landscape – red earth and gum trees, and a sky that goes on forever.  Jill’s been touring the outback of Australia, and I’m sure she was inspired by the terrain when she made these, the start of a bigger set.

Jill As you know, I’ve been working on my Whirligig borders too.  I quickly laid out my 9 whirligig blocks on the floor (the order is absolutely random, so it will almost certainly not be the final lay-out) and plonked my unfinished borders alongside, just to get a feel for the colours.Whirligig1 Our other wanderer, Lynne, is almost back home too and we’re looking forward to a little ‘show and tell’ soon.

You’ll recall that Anne’s been working away of a particularly gorgeous Candied Hexagon / Frederica Josephson quilt in mostly dusty pinks and blues.  It has the right amount of planned placement - with just a touch of randomness to make it interesting.   Anne'sCandiedHexagons1  Robbie has been appliqueeing the blocks for this fresh floral scrappy quilt for months, it seems.  Suddenly it’s all together, and she’s well into the quilting.  Being a whizz at hand quilting, Robbie should have it finished quite soon.Robbie1 Gail is another one who doesn’t waste time, and her Prickly Pear quilt top is nearly complete.  She spent the day stitching on appliqueed leaves.  She was quite out of her comfort zone with these colours – deliberately so – but this quilt has lots of pizzazz and I think she should feel very pleased with the result.IMG_7231 We had hoped to start another quilt together (not really together, but making the same quilt alongside each other, if you get what I mean) but we’ve decided to make this year a time to finish off our projects before starting a new quilt in the new year.   

Unusually sensible for a bunch of quilters, I know :-)) - but there you are!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peeling back the layers (1)

On a recent trip to England my friend Rae was given this beautiful antique quilt. Antique silk quilt1  As you can see, it’s magnificent!  The silk hand-pieced blocks glow on their black background, and many are still in very good condition.Antique silk quilt3Antique silk quilt4Antique silk quilt5But dozens of the tiny pieces are either threadbare or have disintegrated completely.   Antique silk quilt7Antique silk quilt8Antique silk quilt9Antique silk quilt11 So Rae (and her willing friends) faced a dilemma.  Should the quilt be restored?  And if so, how should this be done?

Peeling back the layers (2)

Timing, as they say, is everything. 

I was about to go along to a morning tea where world-renowned Australian quilt historian Dr Annette Gero was speaking, so I offered to take Rae’s quilt with me. 

It also meant I had extra time to fondle and  admire her new ‘treasure’ :-))  Sneaky, eh?Antique silk quilt2 A delightfully approachable person, Annette was more than happy to take a look at Rae’s quilt.  She agreed that it was probably from the late 19th or early 20th century, as Rae had been told, and said it would probably have been made as a table covering (it’s only about 5 feet square).

She pointed out some irregularly pieced blocks and said these were evidence of previous restoration attempts.  Antique silk quilt12Antique silk quilt14 According to Annette, restoring the quilt’s appearance by adding new pieces of silk is a good idea, but these days restorers would simply cover the worn original pieces, leaving evidence of the quilt’s beginnings if quilt ‘detectives’ went looking through the layers in the future.

So now we know.  I hope I can bring you more photos of Rae’s beautiful quilt once she’s restored it to its former glory.

Peeling back the layers (3)

Being a quilt detective comes naturally to Dr Annette Gero, who is also a scientist working in the University of New South Wales  School of Biochemistry and Molecular Genetics. 

Through slides and lots of actual quilt “show and tell” she kept us absolutely engrossed as she told how she’s gradually pieced together the historical background to each one. 

The highlight of her quilt display was a huge quilt entitled “The Intellect and Valour of Britain” where the quiltmaker has reproduced this painting (below) in fabric.  It’s been achieved using the surprising technique of cutting out the figures in “cookie cutter” fashion, butting the pieces up against each other, and embroidering the details on top to create dimension.  image You have to see the actual quilt to believe it!  (The venue being a private club I was not allowed to take a photo.)

After such an inspirational talk I simply had to buy a copy of Annette’s definitive work “The Fabric of Society, Australia’s Quilt Heritage from Convict Times to 1960” , especially since I and some friends are in the process of making our own versions of a couple of the historical quilts featured in the book – the Roebuck Quilt and the Frederica Josephson Quilt (including Kerry Dear’s modern version, Candied Hexagons).The Fabric of Society Maybe I’ll be spurred on to finish them now – and to label them for posterity!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Laugh yourself silly

My very generous and creative friend Linda of Flourishing Palms is having a giveaway – your choice of pattern from Marie-Madeline Studio.

These patterns simply stunning and elegant, and I predict you’ll have a hard time choosing your favourite.  I think the Street Fair skirt  pattern, modeled here by Linda, might be mine.image You’ll get an extra entry if you post a joke in the comments, and I dare you to keep a straight face as you read through the jokes already there.   Hilarious!

Off you go now….

Sunday, July 11, 2010

They’re unstoppable!

It’s that time again.  The second Saturday of the month, and time for the St Mark’s Quilters to get together for another day of fun and creativity.

Having reached the number of quilts needed for the kindy this year, we’re encouraging our lovely committed quilt-makers to take a little break, learn some new techniques and make something for themselves for a change.  Goodness knows, they’ve earned it.

Moo was being coy about her latest Stitchin’ Mission quilt, a gorgeous Noah’s Ark version in aqua and yellow with frogs and turtles.

IMG_7180IMG_7187Helen, aided by her super new magnifying glasses, stitched row after row of purple sashing to transform a pile of New Life blocks into another brilliant quilt to add to our collection for the KU Marcia Burgess Autism Specific Early Learning and Care Centre.IMG_7200 Ruth is putting her quilt-making skills to work creating a table runner and placemats for Christmas.  With a lot of teamwork we worked out the dimensions and she was able to cut out and get a flying start on putting together her first star block.  Starting in July?  Now that’s what I call smart!IMG_7178 Di C is fast earning the title of Jelly Roll Queen and has plans to turn these strips into a stunning quilt!  IMG_7185 Just for starters she designed and made this super bag to carry her cutting mat and rulers.St Marks' Quilters - June 2010 015Michaela finished this pretty Noah’s Ark quilt with butterflies and a sunshiny combination of pink and yellow.IMG_7188Barb practiced her free-motion machine quilting as she designed and ran up a cover for her machine.  Being a resourceful kinda gal, when she left her quilting gloves at home she simply looked under the sink, fished out these pink rubber kitchen gloves and carried on!IMG_7191Margaret sat serenely hand-stitching the binding on her latest New Life quilt.  I think she enjoys that part of quiltmaking just as much as I do.  Don’t you find this part so relaxing?IMG_7182And just to give us some inspiration, Coral popped in to tell us all about her recent visit to the Victoria & Albert Museum quilt exhibition in London, and to show us some postcards of the quilts.

Meanwhile our two canine mascots – Chester and Matilda – frolicked outside in the garden creating an entertaining diversion.IMG_7195 IMG_7192 Smiles all round!