Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Filling the flower beds

Spring is on the way in the garden here so it seems perfect timing that I'm filling 'flower beds' in my version of the Ann Randoll coverlet. The borders I'm working on are like long narrow garden beds. Here are some flowers:

I wanted to do a little bit of fussy cutting with the flower petals so I made a petal 'window'  out of light cardboard - to place over fabric to audition. Don't be shocked by how rough cut this is - it was not used as a template - just for audition purposes! The flowers were then back basting prepped from the patterns I drafted (see last post) and needle turned. 

That selection ended up in the flower below:

And so here is my first flower bed planted and blooming ...

Talking of plants - I have just received an online plant order. I love the way they pack these little plants for the mail - in cardboard tubes and little pots taped over with pieces of card. Funny though, when you unpack them you often end up with what looks like a dead stick in a pot of soil (because they are dormant perennials in winter). They always grow beautifully when they go in the soil but it is a matter of trust when you unpack! 
So I had a laugh at the label included with this one.  I could use a label like that for myself some days?

Something else lovely came in the mail - a 'Perfect Adjustable Square'. I got mine from Legend and Lace and am thrilled with it - thanks Wendy. It is made by Karen Kay Buckley - that is the link for her Youtube video. 
I often have issues with squaring up blocks for applique (and piecing), centering  patterns for applique and trimming blocks - such as with my Benjamin Biggs BOM.
Unpacking the box drawer and its contents:
Removing the paper backings from all the pieces - like a pile of jigsaw pieces now:

They click together firmly in whatever size square or rectangle you want. The video suggests a hammer (!) to tap the links together but I just used the handle of a spoon to press on the joins and they snapped together fine. I made a square with 12 inch inner borders ( the size of the blocks I am making for Benjamin Biggs), attached cross pieces of thread as suggested and checked BB blocks I've completed - looking  pretty good. 
12 inch inner length square

I love it and I think the pattern marking stage is now going to be that much easier for me. 
I also think it will be useful to trim up all my BB blocks to 12 1/2 inches ready to sew together. The jigsaw pieces can be changed/ swapped to form a 12 1/2 inch outer border. Then all you do is rotary cut around the outside. Pretty versatile?
changing to a 12 1/2 inches outer length square
And pretty too, don't you think?

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Gift completed

So glad to have this one finished - Double X quilt - a gift for my niece's September wedding. 
We've had some lovely, much-needed rain so this is the best I could do for a garden photo - very careful to keep the quilt clean and dry!
1.33m square (53 inches square)
 I kept the quilting simple - hoping it would suit her taste. It was easy to manage by machine with the walking foot. The quilt is a rarity for me in that it is totally machine made - pieced and quilted (oh -  except for hand hemming of the binding). The piecing was done rather infrequently so it took quite a while to complete..little doses bit by bit! 

Something else that is slow going, but very enjoyable, is my hand applique (needleturn) of the Ann Randoll sawtooth edges - two edges on each border - fiddly but fun. As the borders get bigger on a medallion quilt - so does the workload! I am getting the sawtooth edges done first and then will fill in the middle of the border strips with hexagons and applique flowers.
Back to some more prep...

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Ann and I

Feels like "first name terms" with Ann Randoll at the moment - making her quilt and studying every photo I can lay my hands on.
Up to this point (the end of the clamshell border) I've largely relied on the notes and templates from Rhonda Pearce's workshop that I attended in January . Sadly she has had a major health set back and the last thing she needs to be bothered with at the moment is finishing the quilt pattern. I only hope she can focus on a speedy recovery to good health. 
The more I look at the quilt, the more I think I could give it a go and draft the rest myself. Of course it would be good to have Ann here to help but ...

The hexagon border : A reminder - here is a snippet of Ann's antique hexagon border:
Picture printed from pinterest 

I 've already made a bunch of the hexagon flowers (half inch hexagons - see earlier post), so I need to draft the applique flowers in between. A circle template and a 60 degree ruler came in very handy - and a wee bit of schoolgirl geometry...

I made a mock up on a strip of background fabric. Ann's not letting on how she got that variable height sawtooth applique edging to work, hmmm, so I'm settling for sawtooth all the same height. The applique will be back basting prepped and then needleturn. Looking forward to selecting fabrics for the flowers.

There has been a bit more of this - Stars meet Hexagons - they fit in like an EPP jigsaw - ready to whipstitch in:
EPP pieces ready to add 
And some more of this - working on the large floral borders of Auntie Green
the messy stage of back basting prep 
One border done

Benjamin Biggs block 8 - glad to get that one out of the way as the 'ins' and 'outs' on the red flowers were a challenge:
It is still very wintery but parts of the garden are in full bloom at the moment. For some reason hellebores do very well in my garden so I encourage them to multiply - such a rewarding, low maintenance little plant, and wonderful mass planted.
Spring is just around the corner - and here is proof - the jasmine in bud. I love the perfumed flowers but then chop it back mercilessly after flowering - seems a poor reward but am told it loves it - cruel to be kind?!
Hope you are enjoying plenty of sewing (or gardening) time.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Relaxing with Auntie Green..

The applique has been a very relaxing process - just love it. Here we are so far:

There are a lot of circles of all sizes in this applique and I did make an effort to create quite a few by the gathering-and-ironing-over-templates method. It does produce such perfect circles but I have to admit I didn't stick at it very long.
I decided I really don't mind a little more organic circles, and the more relaxed I got the more I liked them lol! So ...most of the circles are back basting prepared and then needle turned. I found this little tool really handy to draw neater circles for back basting prep:

Fitting on that outer vine and flower border was tricky - needed to do a wee bit of pattern adaptation to fit. 
I did the floral applique first but left about 3 1/2 inches clear background to add the vine outside:
Organised chaos...or maybe just chaos?
Positioning the vine (long bias strips prepped as in last post) - bit of adjustment required:

Pinning ready to applique...and I might add a few more flowers/leaves later to fill gaps. is Benjamin Biggs Block 7 -  such a delightful pattern. 

And here is one lap quilt that is nearly finished - my Double X gift quilt - pinned and now being quilted - all machine pieced.

I can only hope it might have improved my machine piecing skills (as I made this under expert teacher guidance in my quilt class) but I can't say I enjoyed it as much as hand work. If you want to know my thoughts exactly about hand applique - just look at Kyle's inspiring post - always a joy to read her posts at Timeless Reflections!

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Overdue for a catchup..

My computer's been on the blink for a couple of weeks but is up and running at last...

I've had a couple of exciting visits to the "big smoke" (Sydney). One was attending the Australian Quilt Study Group's "Uncoverings" day - a great chance to examine antique quilts up close and hear about them from their owners. The other was a visit to the Sydney Quilt Show with a quilting friend. We were very impressed with the new venue and the transport arrangements. 
The Show entry foyer  
Photo sharing was not permitted at either event - sorry. But you can look at the Show link to see all the prizewinners (click through the blue tabs) - amazing talents - in a league of their own. 

It was exciting to see my quilts hung amongst them (many thanks to the Quilt Guild for the chance) and to be listed in the catalogue. I can at least show you pics of these hanging, and their catalogue listings...

Then there was shopping...  We zoomed over to the Quiltmania stand and actually spoke to the lady who owns the original Carolina Lily antique quilt (from which mine is copied) - it hangs in her office in France! Linda from Quilts in the Barn kindly assisted me with these little purchases:

Our heads were spinning with ideas/supplies at various stalls and, keen to make some bag gifts, I came home with these: 

Stitching progress to report - Auntie Green has been relaxing sewing in the evenings: 

How's this for a textural photo in the late afternoon sun? I'm hoping to get that depth of texture with the quilting later on.
Making lots more bias stems:

The Ann Randoll reproduction next border will be hexagon flowers on cream background, with applique flowers too. Here is a photo I printed off from Pinterest - no idea whose photo it is as there was unfortunately no link, but I recognised it instantly as Ann Randoll's quilt - and a great closeup. 

So first I am having fun making lots of hexagon flowers. They are 1/2" hexagons.
preparing EPP 1/2 " hexagons

hexagons sewn into flowers
Wandering around on Pinterest led me to this blogpost in 2012 on Quiltville Quips and their photo of an antique Grandmother's Garden quilt (scroll down their post to see it). I do love a bit of yellow in a quilt and I have always wanted to make a quilt with just solids.  So here goes starting a new quilt - Grandmother's Garden - in citrus solids and with large 1 1/4 " hexagons and a pale yellow "path". The fabrics include various depths of poison green and cheddar. There are homespuns, chambray and a few lovely peppered cottons.
These large hexagons go together pretty fast with English paper piecing - especially as there is no fussy cutting. I had to stitch a sample "garden bed" just to see how they look, and I love it. Perhaps I need a colour overload after all the creams in Auntie Green!

Just so you can see how large these are - compare these monsters next to my little stack of Ann Randoll flowers.

 There are a lot of inspiring hexagon projects in blogs at the moment. I especially love Dawn's little hexagon repro quilt . And if you need to know anything and everything about making hexagon quilts then check out Karen's work - so generous and thorough with the information too.