Thursday 15 September 2016

Wheat and Woods quilt finished

I started this one in July last year - all appliqued apart from joining the sections by machine. The aim was to design and stitch a quilt with lots of hand applique but with enough variety in technique to keep it interesting, and then to hand quilt it. 

About 80 inches square (2 m)
There were some challenging moments but I loved the process and the fabrics. I wanted to get some structure in there without actually doing any piecing. The repeated lattice of leaf and squares looks simple enough but required quite a bit of care. I was worried it might look more 'organic' than precise in placement but worked out fine in the end (see posts from August and September last year for more detail). In contrast, the random placement of the broderie perse (or tile applique) in the outer border was great fun to do and much more relaxing. I'd like to do more of that in a future quilt.

The binding is a fabric I've had in the stash - the ombre stripe seemed just right. 
The backing is also an old repro that's been in the stash - a large border stripe. I'd been 'saving' it for a border but not sure that time will ever come. So's now a backing. 

It's been a long while since I updated my progress with my Sarah Fielke BOM (started January). The 12 inch blocks are getting more difficult - as you'd expect with a quilt that is a series of classes in different techniques. That's exactly why I signed up - to get more proficient in areas where I am deficient! While it is not strictly my style of quilt, it is a great source of practice and I am in awe of Sarah's sewing skills. She has stitched three of each block (using different colour ways) and that is quite something, what with the difficulty of some recent blocks. 

The foundation paper piecing has required maximum focus. Sarah was kind enough to provide an applique circle to cover the meeting of 16 points in this block - phew!

Another foundation pieced block

And an applique block - this was more my sort of thing! I used back basting prep and needle turn here. 

And a few made earlier that I've not yet posted ...

There are 24 of the 6" star blocks in the quilt and I've made a point of hand piecing those. That has improved my hand piecing no end. I'm still not able to perfectly 'eye ball' (as Jinny Beyer says) a scant 1/4 inch seam - but am getting there!

Here's my design wall so far - might not be the final layout. Should look better with the wide dog tooth border that goes around the outside - in red on cream?

It was warm enough yesterday to sit for a while and enjoy this little crabapple tree flowering in the garden. Glad I did because today it's blowing a gale and there may be no blossoms left on by tonight!
Hope your week is going well :)

Tuesday 30 August 2016

Updating the process

One of the best things about blogging is the record it keeps of what we quilt, how we do it and long it takes us. There are a lot of us out there who like to make/start a lot of quilts - award carrying members of QUADDA (Quilter's ADD anonymous). I made that up but you know what I mean! My blog helps me remember the process - useful in looking back. The details can be so easily forgotten when you just look at the finished product. It's a great record for me excuse the waffle. You can always skim the waffle though and just look at the pics?!

Wheat and Woods - the hand quilting update:
Last post I was outline quilting around all the applique - and removing pins as I went.

Then what to quilt over the broderie perse centre? I decided on a half inch grid - easy to mark on my largest coffee table with the Hera marker. Note that I have a cutting mat under the quilt as the Hera will mark a table top - not a good look! And no - I did not cut out the background under the broderie perse - decided it looked too fragile and needed the stability of the background fabric. As it turned out the quilting was easy over the top - maybe due to having only a thin batting (Quilters Dream Request cotton)?

Once the grid was quilted, then the trees in the corners around the centre looked quite loose and flappy so some intense quilting was needed. I love echo quilting so that was the go here - and no marking needed. I'm still using a TJ quilting spoon under the quilt (left hand) and a half thimble and needle puller (right hand) - and have found that the perfect combination for my arthritic fingers - comfortable and quick. The thread I favour is YLI hand quilting thread (here in 'Natural'). I'm quite keen on these needles too - size 10 Piecemaker quilting betweens - short and strong.

Next I added half inch parallel lines to the outer broderie perse border. Simple to mark again with the Hera marker.
The border quilted very quickly. Maybe it helped to be watching track racing on recorded Olympics TV coverage!
Next step is to add some more quilting on the main part of the quilt - not too intense but just to get more balance across the whole. I dithered a lot here - trying to decide on possible motifs (and how much marking I was willing to do). In the end I liked a simple grid that also absorbs/masks some seam lines. 

...and that's what I'm working on now

Some progress on Hexagon Star: started in March and has been a useful portable project to take to Quilt Group Sit and Sew meetings, and even in the suitcase travelling. 

They're half inch hexagons - English paper pieced. The little top measures 31" by 35" and I could finish the quilt at this point (that was the plan). 
But after seeing all the unbelievably inspiring antique quilts at the Making of the Australian Quilt exhibition in Melbourne (see last post) I'm motivated shamed into to add more to this. So I'm starting a border. 

Indigo Stars is a quilt I have been making since November last year - in Audrey's Quilty365 - hand appliqued onto squares of 2 and 4 inches. 
I've not been the best follower since there was supposed to be one circle appliqued each day for a year. I constantly played catch up and then have let it linger for a while on the design wall. Not wanting to be beaten I decided to finish at 288 circles and make it into a quilt. I cut some border and corner triangles and had a machine stitching marathon to make them into a top (about 55"). 

I'm not entirely thrilled with it  - am not sure why exactly.  It's calling out for some quilting to add definition but will wait in the queue for now. 

Here's something I am thrilled with - my iron tote/caddy. 
It was quick and super easy to make (I downsized a large pattern to suit my mini quilting iron). Google search for "iron caddy" to find a pattern from various sources - very clever and cute. 
And I'm also thrilled that I didn't need to buy anything to make it! The fabrics and battings were left overs in the stash, the vintage buttons and elastic were in my sewing cabinet and the ironing fabric was a recycled ironing board cover. 

Aren't these lovely fabrics? I was so surprised to win this generous collection from Margaret through her Instagram feed. We have the same taste in fabrics - lucky for me :)

It's been fairly quiet (and cold) in the garden so more time to watering and no mowing - but that is about to change. We've had a relatively wet winter and the plants are showing they love it. 

It's a gorgeous day - a balmy 18 deg C -  I'm off for a walk. Enjoy the start to Spring ( or Autumn)!

Wednesday 3 August 2016

Melbourne magic

Last week my daughter and I met up at Sydney airport and zoomed interstate for a few days to Melbourne. A highlight for me was to be a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria, to their exhibition  The Making of the Australian Quilt. It did not disappoint - exquisite antique quilts, beautifully displayed!

The Mary Tolman quilt 
And here's what I'm gazing at ...divine fabrics and tiny stitches!

No I don't know the lady - she looks mesmerised
Have a look at Miriam's post for her favourite quilt. I couldn't pick one I liked best - loved so many of them! There are also some great pics at The History Blog. If you click on their photos the detail is amazing. It was a great opportunity to get up close and examine the detail of the quilters' work. 

We had fun reading all the 'words of wisdom' on The Westbury quilt: 

Wonderful fussy cut paper piecing (above) in an unfinished hexagon quilt made by the wife of the Governor of NSW around 1846. Sadly she never completed it as she was killed in a carriage accident in 1847.

The old recycled printed papers still in unfinished work makes for a history study in itself - and there's me squinting to read them. 

Inspirational borders that caught my eye:
Quilt by Mary Jane Hannaford


It was very exciting for DD and I to see the original Auntie Green coverlet 

Such a variety of beautiful colours. Quite a masterpiece - especially considering the limitations of lighting at the time.

This was the version I made as a wedding gift for DD in her choice of neutral shades. It was made from the pattern by Irene Blanck (with some little variations).

I do love it and the colours she chose ...but now I am seriously tempted to make a more colourful version for myself. Add that to the 'To Do' list ...

Some momentos from the NGV - including a beautifully illustrated, heavy publication, a cloth tote bag, magnet, book mark and card.  

Sadly the Auntie Green does not feature in the book.  Good thing I took a lot of photos!

And what else did we do in Melbourne? We also enjoyed the exhibition of Australian Fashion through the Ages (also at the NGV) 
I was fascinated by the hand stitched detail in some of the older pieces - so many buttonholes stitched by hand! No sewing machines till 1850's. 

And then there were a lot of more colourful modern creations. Which would you rather be wearing, given a choice?! 
The pant suit looks comfortable and she must be a busy sewer - just look how many threads she's picked up!

I popped in to the Melbourne Quilt Show to see the Victorian Quilt Showcase. There were some lovely quilts - especially some expert broderie perse and hand quilting. Unfortunately no photo sharing allowed - sorry. If you click on the link there are pictures of a few of the quilts that won ribbons. One of them is a lovely machine quilted Caswell quilt (Threadbear pattern by Corliss Searcey) but there was also another Caswell that was beautifully hand appliqued and hand quilted - just gorgeous. 

We caught up with Melbourne friends, caught a musical (Mathilda), a movie (the new Ghostbusters), a few delicious meals at little eateries, and explored the shops - perfect!
Now back to quilting with renewed energy...