Monday 28 December 2015

After a storm comes a calm ...

Looking around at blogging Christmas posts it seems we all entered the 'storm' that was know the one - where the shopping and rushing around never seems to end and the kitchen bench looks permanently like this for several days ? 

It's nice to get the kitchen in order once the house guests have left. But it was a wonderful few days catching up with family, and I'm missing them and the bustle of it all. 

Now there is the 'calm' -  and a great opportunity to get into some trickier sewing.

Here are my last Benjamin Biggs blocks - completed bit by bit since September.

Block 22

Block 23

Block 24

Block 25
This morning I finally stitched them all together - determined to take advantage of the 'calm' to get started on the border

I knew the border was going to take some focus because I have made my blocks all 12 inch instead of the 16 inch size on the pattern. So everything has been 75% smaller. But would the border work at 75% smaller too?  I had put off exploring that question till a quieter time ...knowing how easily I can make a mess of the maths!

Gathering all the border pattern pieces (printed at 75% smaller), I calculate that my side border piece should be 60 inches long (if the pattern is 80 inches long), and 7.5 inches deep (if the pattern is 10 inches deep).

This is how the border layout should look (from the pattern )

So I cut some transparent bake paper to suit my dimensions, ready to draw on the pattern . 
The first thing to position on my paper border was the triple petal in the corner, and then to add the swag pieces either side - getting them to fit by elongating or shortening if needed. It all fitted surprisingly well and surprisingly quickly I had a pattern piece ready! It is just a quarter pattern of the border to be repositioned  around the quilt. 

Now I can cut the background fabric border strips and draw the pattern onto the back of the fabric. Then it will be time for some relaxed needle turn applique (with my usual back basting prep) - one border at a time - using a solid poison green for the swag and a red print for the petals and buds. Can't wait to start !

Because we enjoyed a few days of lovely (blissfully lovely) cool Christmas weather I was able to do some more hand quilting of my Civil War Bride during time out from all the preparations. I have been listening to a great audiobook - Watership Down by Richard Adams ( have always loved the novel) - about a colony of rabbits. Perfectly suited to this quilt - if you see what I mean?

I have now finished outline quilting all the outer border and am moving on to the blocks. This block is in the hoop right now:

I must show you a recent acquisition. Several blogs have shown off pretty trolleys on castors - perfect for moving quilty bits and pieces and projects from room to room. So when I spotted them in Aldi last week I couldn't resist - and I love the red. Of course it had to be a kit - but not a difficult build..

from this

to this
And here is some wildly uncoordinated Summer colour for you - from the garden, in petunias and roses:

Hope you can enjoy some calm sewing time too :)

Wednesday 16 December 2015

Mountain Laurel

Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album 12 inch quilt block  - just finished in time (phew) for the mid month link up here.  I'm glad those fiddly little stems are done but isn't it a pretty block pattern? See the link for lots of other finished blocks. 

I finished piecing (by EPP) the half square triangles for Harrison Rose, stitched them into strips and attached them to the quilt top. But strange things have happened because my border is quite different from the the corners!

This is the photo on the front of the pattern packet:
And this is my top:
You probably had it worked out straight away but it puzzled me for a while. The HST's on the side strips are heading in the opposite direction from the top and bottom strips - and hence the corner placement is unbalanced on two corners. I undid just the corner blocks and turned them this way and that, but this was the best looking solution - short of re-piecing two borders (which was not happening) .
Ho hum - I can live with it but I expect it will be a 'talking point' amongst my non-quilting family - and the very first thing they'll notice.
And it proves what I have always said - piecing is not my strong point. Give me applique any day...

It's a busy time with Christmas getting close but one thing I always make time for is bringing hydrangeas in from the garden - such a rewarding plant and often associated with Christmas in Australia. 

Here's a special collage for Wendy - who sent me some Hollyhock seeds months and months ago. I threw them around in the garden and quite a few germinated. It has been a long growing journey and they are now taller than me and finally have started flowering - just in time for Christmas. They are superb Wendy - thanks so much! 
I know there is nothing like the magic of a white Christmas but an Aussie Christmas in the garden (preferably in the shade) can be pretty special too. Have a wonderful Christmas wherever you will be!

Wednesday 2 December 2015

Thank you! and a variety of updates

I only posted yesterday but have been so touched (and slightly overwhelmed) by all the lovely comments on my Auntie Green/wedding post. I prefer to reply individually but just this once I hope you don't mind a collective: Thanks so much to all my kind blogging friends

It is a well known fact that everyone loves a wedding ...but I guess a wedding combined with a quilt - got to be a winner?! It was such a wonderful event but not quite over yet. There are dozens of white tablecloths to be laundered - eek. To take a welcome break from that I thought I'd give you an update on other quilting. 

Variety is the spice of life. That is how I approach quilting, and I have seen that many of you are just the same! So .. I could not resist a new project. Can you guess what it is ?

Yes it is Audrey's Quilty 365 sewalong! I'm calling my version Indigo Circles. She has a link up today - so many variations are possible to reflect each stitcher's creativity, style and mood. Thanks for a wonderful idea Audrey - it has inspired me to grab pieces from my indigo and black stash and start some circles. I love fussy cutting, repro fabrics and applique. So each circle will be a fussy cut feature from dark or light fabric and the size of the circle dictated by the size of the feature. I am thinking the squares will be a mixture of 4 inch or 2 inch. So far I have 14 completed - two weeks down for me - and just having a play with setting possibilities, could be set on point like this ...
...or maybe square like this ...

..or maybe something quite different? Meanwhile I am storing them in a tin - an idea I borrowed from Wendy

Next update is my Harrison Rose quilt ( Dawn's pattern). I decided to stop at 9 blocks - each 17 inches. Here they are stitched together - and will be followed by a narrow HST border and then a wide quilted border - so am thinking this will be big enough for me. 
I have put off starting the HST border because I am not keen on piecing. I know that foundation paper piecing on the machine would be the quickest method for me but I never seem to be in the mood to sit at the machine. So I bit the bullet and started making it with EPP. Might seem a slower way to go ...but at least it will get done! By my calculations this should work with 2 inch triangle papers (home made from light card stock).

Another update - hand quilting my Civil War Bride. Some days it is just too hot to think about this one but there has been some relaxing progress on the outer border (am starting on the outer edges as this seems to work for me) - just meandering along outlining the applique for now. 

Lastly - more applique on my Wheat and Woods. I was up to the last border - thinking up a design idea that might suit. I wanted another wide wavy wheaty edge on the inside of the border...
I have long admired this antique Dutch quilt - pictured in the book "Promenade in a Dutch Garden" by Petra Prins and An Moonen. 

It was this quilt that inspired them to make the little red quilt pattern "When Stars Meet Hexagons" that is in the book , and I made my own little EPP version too. But just look at the outer border of the antique quilt!  It is all hand appliqued broderie perse (appliqued to perfection) and has long fascinated me. So - in a much more modest way - I wanted  to give it a try. I selected fabrics with light backgrounds close to my background fabric colour. That way I would not need to cut away around the motifs/flowers too closely - making it quite quick to applique.

When I got this far I thought ..."no, not sure this is working, looking too patchy...yuk" and nearly scrapped it. Then I went back to it next day thinking it "might be ok" if there was more of it... and  set about finishing one border. Am now thinking it is not too bad viewed from a distance! The individual patches might blend even more once it is eventually quilted over.

Can you visualise it as a border around this ? 

In concluding my updates you could add to those projects - Benjamin Biggs and Shenandoah Valley monthly blocks. Yep...plenty to be getting on with! 
But that suits a lot of us perfectly doesn't it? In fact we absolutely panic if there is not always some slow stitching on hand. So nice to know I am not alone in this :)

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Auntie Green gifted and gone

I started this quilt in June 2014 - planning a gift for my daughter's wedding this year. She liked the pattern that I suggested (by Irene Blanck) and she selected a palette of neutral fabrics. I made small changes to the pattern ( such as drawing up a basket similar to the one on the original antique quilt) appliqued it and hand quilted it, finishing the quilt in about a year from start to finish. 
Well the wedding has been, the gift was given and the happy couple are off on honeymoon. They loved the quilt and, because the day was unseasonably cool, my daughter snuggled under it straight away and declared it was very warm too. Good thing I used wool wadding I think! I had also added a hanging sleeve (in case they choose to hang it) and an embroidered label. 

The quilting isn't perfect but there is a lot of it! If you look at the back it is really quite reversible. 

When they opened the gift we had a laugh looking at the quilt design - deciding it was perfect for a wedding gift - images of beauty, health, fertility and growth (healthy plants and abundance of flowers), love and unity (circling intertwined vines), and even a few tears around the edges ( just as must be in all long and happy marriages). Quite moving really. 

Thank you for all the kind wedding wishes - they were much appreciated. I think they all came true! 

It was a lovely day - unseasonably cool and even a bit of drizzly rain - but the venue was all the better for it - lush and green rolling hills around the old village hotel and gardens. After months of tender loving care (and much concern) the flowers from my garden worked out well - plenty to pick and arrange in jars, and a bouquet for the bride with flowers she selected herself. 

It's a bit early for getting photos together but I have a small number to share - blushing bride, gorgeous groom, delighted mob (my goodness, still can't believe that was me).

With all the busy-ness that has been happening in the wedding lead up I have been a bit remiss in blogging. Should be another update soon on other quilting projects, and hopefully lots more stitching done!

Wednesday 11 November 2015

Shenn Valley Botanical Album update

First block was the Pineapple , and Second block in the Sewalong is the Flag Iris B-2:
Block B2 - 12 inch block
I have changed the colours as I'd rather stay clear of blue or purple in my version. Are there such things as pink and yellow flag iris? It wouldn't surprise me as there are so many iris colour variations. But never mind accuracy - after all the original quilt has pink and red pineapples ...

photo from SVBAQ blog
Now for a funny thing. I thought I'd get in early last month and make the second block...guessing the next block would be the second along in the top row. Well I was fooled there wasn't I?
Anyway here is my "Second" block , completed end of October. 
I'll show you the steps as it grew - using back basting prep for needle turn applique.

Tracing the design onto the back of the background fabrics

Removing basting thread ahead of needle turn applique

So now I have four blocks. They're not stitched together, just pinned on the design board, and that yellow pineapple block will be moved away on a far corner in final placement.

There has not been quite as much time for sewing recently - hence the 'getting in early' with SVBAQ. Two weeks to go till my daughter's wedding means time spent ticking tasks off the List. Wedding talk follows so you may want to leave now. 

I mentioned last post that all the wedding flowers are to be sourced in my garden. Well - gardening being a very imprecise science - things have flowered quite differently from last year at this time.  I have the photos taken last year to prove it! Some things that should be flowering are late, and others have flowered early. My rows of white roses have flowered earlier than expected...and may well be past it by the wedding.

Several hydrangea bushes were not expected to be in flower yet - but are well on the way and should be just right for the wedding.  

So it may well be that we swap a lot of white roses for a lot of young hydrangeas - just as nice I think! and there is lots of floral potential lurking in the other beds too. 

My daughter is hoping for a relatively relaxed, natural look in her bouquet so I picked a few flowers and foliage to experiment with - perhaps something like this but maybe less roses, more foliage and more hydrangeas? 

Another thing on the List is Confetti Cones - to be filled with rose petals and dried lavender. The plan is to hang these off the end chairs along a lawn aisle between rows of white chairs - ready for the guests to pelt shower the Happy Couple as they leave the ceremony. 
So I spent a few minutes yesterday on a Pinterest search "confetti cones" ...astonished to find hundreds of pictures and dozens of tutorials! This wedding caper is clearly not a new thing - many others have been there and done that!

Started with this lot  - including dried lavender from my garden and some double sided tape.

Came up with this ...apparently torn paper gives a "professional look".

Will show the Bride this weekend and hopefully she'll be rapt. 

The succulents I am growing for favours just can't wait for the wedding. They are growing at a great rate and even started flowering. Have I given them too much tender loving care perhaps? 
No problem - they'll be even more decorative on the tables and hopefully the guests will love them too.