Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Plenty: Still to be done

Remember Princess Plenty? It's a design I love, by Australian quilt teacher and designer Lynne Alchin. I started it last year, entirely hand pieced and hand appliquéed. Consequently it's a 'slow burner'.
 Every quilter needs a slow burner, don't you think? A project you can take with you to stitching get-togethers with friends, work on in front of the tv on cosy winter evenings, or pop into a cabin bag when you travel, just in case you find yourself with time on your hands. 
You can be sure if you don't pack some handwork you'll find yourself twiddling your thumbs in an airport transit lounge for seven hours, bored to bits. It's there in Section 3 Clause 10b of Murphy's Law.
Here's the plot so far...
Princess Plenty's central border is temporarily stalled, waiting for me to complete and attach that final sawtooth border. What can I say? too much repetition wearies me.
Something more engaging, the first of four intricately appliquéed borders, has been occupying my attention in the meantime. It even travelled with me to Zimbabwe and Botswana in February.
Leaves, vines, berries, pears, cornucopias, stars, birds, various flowers. There's always something different to work on so I'll never lose interest, and I'm loving it.
Another quirk of mine is that I like to tweak a quilt pattern just a little, rather than reproducing it exactly. What can I say? I'm full of weird ways😊
Here's how I created this little yellow and blue flower. 
I cut a yellow background, according to Lynne's pattern, and fussy cut a circle for the flower centre.
Using a circle I'd punched in card I made the flower centre by drawing up the fabric around it and pressing, then appliquéing it to the yellow background.
Next I turned the flower over, carefully cut the centre out and removed the circular card. This also helps the centre to pop when the quilting is done.
I snipped around the edges of the flower and, using a Sewline glue pen, folded over and pressed the petal shaped edges with my finger and thumb. 

My interfacing of choice here is Floriani Stitch and Wash Fusible which gives a nice firm base for shaping my appliqué pieces prior to stitching.

I took 8 x 1cm sequins and, using the method I described in this tutorial, made dots and appliquéed them evenly to the front of the flower. I've found that with circles this tiny it's easier to get a smoother circle if I leave the sequins in while I appliqué them.
I slit the back again and removed the sequins. At this point it's ok to cut the gathering threads on the wrong side to release the sequins because they are securely appliquéed down.
Voila! My finished flower!
Sure, I'm making slow progress on Princess Plenty, but what's the hurry?

Sunday, May 18, 2014


Amy of Amy's Creative Side is again holding the Spring 2014 Bloggers' Quilt Festival and I'm excited to share with you my entry in the Hand Quilted category - Whirligig.

One dictionary definition of a whirligig is 'something that continuously whirls or spins'. 

Ironically, at a time when life had me in a spin most of the time trying to juggle work, family and creative adventures, it was this quilt, 'Whirligig', designed by Aussie quilter Sue Ross, that provided relaxation and calm for the two years it took me to hand piece, appliqué and quilt it.

I machined the first step of the binding on, the long borders, and the checkerboard background of plain white alternating with a white and black polka dot, but the rest was done completely by hand giving me plenty of time to contemplate the final step, the quilting.

I wanted it to be soft and comforting, a quilt I could bring out when an extra grandma-cuddle was needed.

Much as I love machine quilting, I believe it doesn't work for every quilt, and this one was asking for those hand stitches.

I love the quiet, rhythmic rocking action of hand quilting using my wooden hoop by Thimblelady, Liuxin Newman. I'm tall, and this hoop, with its stand, raises my work up so I don't find myself bending over too much and placing strain on my back and neck.

Hand quilting also allowed me to appreciate the many beautiful Kaffe Fassett fabrics I'd collected, teamed up with co-ordinating basics including some from Sue's own fabric company, A Day in the Country.

I quilted a quarter of an inch inside pieces of my whirligigs, and up close around all the appliqué flowers and leaves on the borders to make them pop. The black and white striped bias vines received the same treatment, with tiny hand quilting stitches along their edges.

I made a plastic template by tracing one of the larger border flowers, and used this as a guide for quilting where each background square intersected.

And I did the same with a different flower shape in the larger spaces on the borders and placed confetti dots in their centers, for a bit more fun and colour.

Regular readers will know I'm a bit dotty for dots, so I couldn't go past this pale yellow polka dot for the backing.

Darker times were ahead for me, but my soft, hand-quilted Whirligig, my first modern quilt, is still one of my favourites and I love its bright, clear colours.

It never fails to evoke happy memories of sitting in a deck chair beside my late husband, and stitching in the sun on board a cruise ship sailing the Aegean.

My previous entries in the Bloggers' Quilt Festival

Spring 2012 - Alhambra Romance (Finalist Appliqué Quilts)

Spring 2013 - Daisy a Day (One of 3 Viewers' Choice winners)

If looking at hand quilting makes you happy too, pop on over here and scroll down the page to see links to all the other quilts entered in the same category as mine.

Or perhaps you'd like to click on these categories to see even more entries...

Mini quilts

Small quilts

Large quilts

Appliqué quilts

Art quilts

Home machine quilted

Modern quilts

Original design quilts

ROYGBIV quilts (red, orange, yellow, green ... You get the picture!)

Scrappy quilts

This week gives you the time to do your blog visiting, then on Friday (23 May) voting will open and you can vote for your favourite quilts in all these categories. 

You can be a winner too, even without entering a quilt in the Spring 2014 Bloggers' Quilt Show. Just leave Amy a comment on this post


Viewers' Choice - Go here this week to nominate your special favourite from the entire Bloggers' Quilt Festival by using the Add Your Link button on the page.

On Friday (23 May) Amy will list the 25 most popular nominations and you will be able to vote for your Viewers' Choice from these.


Got it? 

Off you go then, but don't forget to leave a calling card (aka Comment) to encourage the bloggers whose posts you read. We all like a little bit of quilt love, don't we ❤️

Finally, a huge thank you to Amy and all the generous sponsors for once again doing all this work so we can have fun! 

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Tissue Purse Pack Tutorial

With sneezin' season nearly upon us these little packs make perfect 'just because' gifts.

From your feature fabric cut one piece 5.5 inches x 6.5 inches. This will be the outside of your purse pack.

From your coordinating fabric cut one piece 5.5 inches x 7.5 inches. This will be the lining and binding.

With right sides together stitch a 1/4 inch seam across each of the shorter ends.

It won't lie flat, obviously, because the lining is longer than the outside fabric. This is OK.

Press both seams in the direction of the outside fabric.

Then turn the fabric 'cylinder' right side out and press flat, taking care that the bound ends are approximately equal in width.

Press a crease down the centre.

Fold back and pin the bound edges, aligning the edges with the creased line.

Stitch across the ends. As with all these steps, I find it's easiest (if you're making a whole batch of these - and who wouldn't?) to chain sew the purse packs. Assembly line sewing is so much smoother than doing them one by one. That way you save on getting up and down all the time to go to the ironing board.

I like to trim off the ends before zig zagging so I don't have too many random threads sticking out.

Of course, if you're lucky enough to have an over locker this step will be a piece of cake for you.

Turn the purse pack right side out and poke the corners out.

Insert a pack of tissues, and you're done! 

If you're giving these as gifts or selling them at a fete they look really pretty wrapped in cellophane and tied with a ribbon.

It's that time again

When the days grow shorter, the mornings are crisp and autumn leaves put on a colourful show.

It's also the time when I get serious about making items for the craft stall at our St Luke's Hospital Rose Bay Committee annual fundraiser. Inspired by Corrie I've been running up lots of these colourful tissue purse packs. 

They make nice 'just because' gifts and even though some of us are still old fashioned enough to use handkerchiefs I like to carry one of these in my handbag too. 

{Tutorial to follow}

Then there's Gerald, waving to make sure I didn't forget to take his photo.

And his tiny friend, Tina the sock teddy.

These two get along very well.

In fact Tina brings out Gerald's softer side. 

Awwww, Gerald is such a SNAG*. 

He relaxes and keeps fit by doing yoga. Look how flexible he is!

Tina Teddy and Gerald Giraffe will have some other friends joining them soon on the St Luke's stall, just hoping some little people will adopt them and love them.

The first week of May has also become a time, in my life, for reflection. 

Boak's birthday and our wedding anniversary are just a few days apart, and both bring back so many memories - but happy ones.