Monday, 10 August 2015

Wheat and Woods

My new quilt is progressing quite quickly. I only showed a snippet last post as I had to sort a few  design "issues" (grrr) that I had with it. Now there is more to show. Might be a long very long post...

Here is the broderie perse centre for the quilt - all cut from Tree of Life by Mary Koval - in brown. I searched for a solid that would match the broderie perse background and found Moda Bella solid in 'natural' is pretty close. I cut a tree from the brown fabric and then added extra pieces to get the look I wanted - as marked on the photo above. 
It was a bit of a mess at first auditioning the pieces - so hard to visualise at that stage!

Once the broderie perse was done I wanted to frame the tree in a relatively subtle way, keeping a floating look. There was much research in books and sketching ideas, then sketching again..
Some drafting of patterns...
Am I making it sound simple? well I didn't find it that way! Having to resort to my very patchy memory of primary school geometry, and using a compass, some string, a calculator and a protractor it took a day to produce this...

then some needle turn applique...

That's when I thought the name 'Wheat and Woods' might suit this project - and become a theme.

I wanted the centre to be set in a square on point so I folded and pressed the piece vertically and horizontally, and used my Adjustable Square to mark the square.  
So it became this...

Adding another wavy wheat border - ready to needle turn applique..

Now for something in the corners. I toyed with more broderie perse but couldn't get it to look how I wanted so decided on applique trees. I love the look in antique quilts where large-scale fabrics are cut up and used in small-scale piecing or applique. So that was the aim and I came up with a simplified tree pattern. It has leaf shapes I plan to use in the rest of the quilt.

Can you recognise the fabrics? It took quite some 'courage' to cut up chunks of these lovely large prints but they have languished in the stash so long. I love the look of them in the applique so am glad it is done. 

So now the centre looks like this - with four applique trees between wheat borders.

Last post I showed the photo below and left you to wonder "what the heck?"
That was some experimental prep for the strips of border that will come next. 
I want to surround the centre with a very wide border of small floating brown squares and scrappy leaves. This could be achieved quite precisely by careful piecing, but I want to applique ( because I am applique-addicted and very stubborn about it!). So I know the result will not be precise - my squares are going to be 'organic'  - and I am OK with that...just so you know! 

This is the basic pattern of leaves and squares that I came up with - to be repeated in rows.

Marking strips of background fabric with my pattern
Here are the fabrics I have pulled from the stash - to use for the leaves. They're all the fabrics I could find with movement (ombres and favourite eccentric prints) and others that seemed to suit in wheaty and woody colours.

Applique in progress - this is prep for back basting which is then needle turn appliqued to the background. 

Here is a strip completed - it is organic but still looks quite structured from a distance don't you think? 
Making more of these applique strips will keep me happily busy for a while.  Meanwhile I'm thinking of a last outer border to finish off the quilt...more to come on that. 

Hand quilting of my Ann Randoll is over half way now. I've removed most of the pins which makes it a lot easier to move around on the lap. 

In the hoop at the moment
It keeps me pretty warm on these cold winter evenings. Can you see me frantically stitching faster and faster to keep even warmer? The heating thermostat is kept lower and if that's a saving on power bills then it's a 'win/win'!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

More applique please!

Since finishing my red and white CWB quilt I have suffered grievously with that horrible condition called Applique Withdrawal.
Yep we applique addicts know the panicky feeling that has us diving into cupboards looking for any UFO's to relieve the symptoms!
Phew ... I found something -  Benjamin Biggs Block 18. Those fiddly needle turned stems kept me going for a while.

Then what? another block of Harrison Rose. I tried a slightly different order of needle turn applique - still using back basting prep. The taupe pieces went on first, then the red. Then for the centre - trying to find the easiest/neatest way to keep the points sharp.

At this stage there are three layers of applique on the indigo points so I have cut out the back just to make it easier for quilting later.

Here are the two blocks finished together and you can see I varied the cheddar solids. I have six fabrics to choose from - all solids called "cheddar" from different suppliers. So I think I'll put them all in the mix for a little variety.

I love this project and will work on it bit by bit but I want to tackle another large applique with lots of fussy cutting and different techniques.

So - here is something I am working on - my own design and only in the 'working-it-all-out-tortuously ' stage so here is just a peek till I know where it is going. I'm  calling it Wheat and Woods and it should fix the applique withdrawal issues.  
Starting with some broderie perse using this wonderful Tree of Life fabric by Mary Koval. 

And then... 

Got you guessing?! more next post - I hope. 

We had a rare fall of snow a few days ago - so pretty. Of course we don't cope with it too well when it happens only a couple of times a year - traffic chaos, schools closed and power cuts (and yes, that was only 3 inches of snow). I woke up to a lovely garden view but the downside was getting ready for work with no power - which meant no heating and no hair dryer. I guess that is just a tiny inkling of what it must be like for those around the world who are regularly snow bound in winter.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Those borders are on

My red version of Civil War Bride top is finished.

And I'm missing the needle turn applique so much already. I'm sure that sounds crazy to some  but any applique-addicts will know what I mean. There is that withdrawal stage when it is done. It was nice to clear away the prep though - boxes of red fabrics and small mountain of almost shredded scraps!

Most of the blocks are straight from the Threadbear pattern by Corliss Searcey,  but three blocks and the border I drafted myself using elements from the blocks. To quote Corliss from the pattern notes, she says "feel free to alter or substitute shapes from block to block, making this quilt unique to you" - so I had a bit of fun doing just that.

Middle of top border 
Middle of bottom border

It is now having time out in the hand quilting queue . 

Speaking of which ... hand quilting Ann Randoll is going well. It is a large quilt but I'm managing fine by working around the outer borders first, leaving the centre for last. Here it is stretched out for some progress pics with one edge done. I might not be able to resist adding some fill in the open areas but they are not large so maybe not needed....
There is a great variety of fabrics as well as techniques in this medallion quilt - which can have its pluses and a minuses.  A plus is it is not boring to quilt, and a minus is that each little border needs thought and a different approach to the quilting.
 Outlining the applique shapes on the cream background is easy going and I have used a cream thread to match the background. 
I decided to outline the outer edge of each clamshell to make them pop out a little, and using a tan thread  as I like the look better than cream on the darker browns/blues. 
The Half Square Triangle (or pinwheel) border had me thinking. The HSTs have edges that are about 1 1/4 inch so there is a lot of seam tucked under there that I really do not want to quilt over.  I decided to quilt inside the seams to form a square of four HST groups, and using a tan thread again.

Perhaps the complexity of this quilt had me itching to do something simpler, something more random and comparatively unstructured ? And I've also been itching to get back to some EPP after seeing the lovely EPP projects that Susan produces so expertly. So I picked up my Grandmothers Garden again. Now these hexagons are l a r g e - an edge of 1 1/4 inch on a hexagon is pretty big as they go!

Here is a reminder picture of the start of this project against the half inch hexagons from the Ann Randoll quilt.

How it looks now - only two garden beds but already 1 metre across (about 40 inches)! 

This picture found on an internet search is what first inspired me to start this project. It is a gorgeous antique quilt shown on Quiltville Quips and Snips in 2012. I just love everything about it, the way it is hand quilted in rows, and the colours are pure Spring don't you think?

Lovely yellow path on a Grandmother's Flower Garden! Antique Quilts, SIsters Oregon 2012

The next garden bed round prepped ready to paperclip to papers and stitch together. 
I've a feeling this could get large quite quickly and threaten to get out of hand. I think I'd prefer to stop at a 'cottage garden' rather than a 'country estate'?!

I've got my gardening clothes on but it was just too frosty to start out there early. Now the sun is shining and there is no wind -  should be just right - so off I go. Enjoy the rest of your weekend! 

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Mini break

I'm back from a fun mini break in Sydney - visiting the Quilt Show followed by a Sydney city hotel stay with my daughter, meals out and shopping. So many exciting experiences crammed into a short stay! 

I took 101 photos of the Quilt Show but due to the strict publishing rules cannot show individual quilts without permission. The collection of red and white quilts were so pretty en mass. There are pics on the Quilt Guild blog  and Instagram (sydneyquiltshow2015) and here is one of mine.

There was so much inspiring work among the general entries too.  I got permission from Wendy to post photos of her stunning quilt - just love it. Hand quilted beautifully - well done Wendy! 

The quilting adds so much and it was exciting to see how many of the quilts that I loved at the Show were hand quilted - loads of them. It was interesting to see the variation in size of stitches, thread weight, density of quilting - great to study up close. The quilting was just as effective and attractive with larger stitches - especially when it suited the style and scale of the quilt, and was even in size and spread. I have made two collages of tiny quilt snippets from the Show (so small as not to give anything away re design I think)  but they are all different quilts, and different styles, all I admired, and all hand quilted. 

I know not everyone can manage to hand quilt - and I was one of those for many years. And sometimes you just need to finish a quilt quick! But just saying lovely it looks and feels. 

Talking of which - I have made a start to hand quilting Ann Randoll. I meant to use larger quilt stitches but the smaller looked better against the scale of the saw tooth border so I think I am stuck with it now.

I forget how exciting Sydney can be small doses. 
Here we are heading out from our hotel for the night - me getting a crash course in 'selfies'
We had an entertaining and truly delicious dinner out at Chef's Gallery near Town Hall - where all the talented chefs are on view in a glass gallery kitchen - amazing. We could have reached over and literally had a hand in the cooking ..if there wasn't the glass wall!
Modern Chinese - best beans I've ever tasted.

Oh and I might just have bought a Mother-of-the-bride outfit - thanks to David Jones, Anthea Crawford  and my daughter's keen eye.