"It takes ages to finish a quilt you're not working on!"

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Craft & Quilt Fair Melbourne.

Last Thursday I attended the Craft & Quilt Fair with Cheryl - one of my stitching buddies. One could say 'same old stall holders, same old quilt show', but the same old stall holders always have lovely new stuff! And the Quilt display does feature quite a few of the quilts that were on show at the Quilt Convention earlier this year, but they are all so stunning, they are worth a second look. I took about 60 photos, and have posted most of them on my special "Quilt Shows" blog, so if you want to have a look, click on the link.
I was quite restrained in my spending for a change. I went with a small shopping list and found most of what I was after, but only bought one of those, and a couple of extras. I was looking for a new plastic ruler for cutting and squaring quilt blocks, but there were so many variations, I decided not to bother buying any of them, as they were all rather expensive. I'll stick to my mat and ordinary plastic ruler! But I did buy something I saw on somebody's blog - "batting seam tape", which enables you to stick all those small bits of batting together to make a usable size, instead of throwing them out.
My 'impulse buys' were this book on using paper napkins to decorate stuff - I bought the special napkin craft glue earlier this year, and this book provides heaps of ideas to put it to use.
And some fabrics. The coloured paw prints are a substitute for something I was looking for to use in a particular project, but I don't think it is going to work, so I'll find another use for it. The peacock feathers fabric came in two colour ranges, but it was $27 a metre, so I just bought half a metre of this one. The blue fabric with Asian writing on it was too beautiful to pass up, and the Aussie sunset fabric is for another specific project I want to do. The one fabric I was looking for, asking at every stall that sold fabric, was Raindrops. I need a fabric printed with raindrops for a cute wallhanging which has brightly coloured umbrellas against a background of rain. Nobody had ever seen or heard of it! But a few stalls did have fabric with sky and clouds, so I might have to settle for that.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Opshop finds, and completed quilt top.

It is increasingly rare to find good linens at the big opshops these days, so I was pleased to find these little gems at Savers in Greensborough last week. The first photo is of one corner of a small white cloth, plain except for Edinburgh Castle beautifully stitched in each corner. This is special to me because I have had the matching napkins in my collection for a few years. Never thought I'd find the tablecloth for $5!
The next is a Semco cloth. I have several of these cloths with the woven borders and embroidered centres, and I probably should not have bought this, but it is so neatly stitched, and at only $2.99 it was a bargain!
A very unusual Art Deco style doiley; possibly made to be used as a teacosy, but I've got my doubts about that. It is lovely just as a centrepiece, and a treasure for 99 cents.
***************************** Probably should have started a new post here, but it's late... Today I finished my scrappy quilt top to go to Oz Quilts. After I'd put the blue sashing around it, I decided it needs to be longer, if it is to go on a bed, even a child's bed. So I found some fabric that seems to fit in with the patchwork look, and added a bit to each end.
For the final border, I tried a few different looks, and ended up using black gingham. The original quilt in this style that I'd seen on Freda's Hive used red gingham, and it looked good. With so many fabrics in this, it had to be either plain or near enough to plain.
I am not up to putting it together with batting, backing and binding, so I've donated funds to Jan's account to go towards the cost of that, and she is okay with it. I've had fun doing this, and as usual with all my patchwork ventures, I've learnt a few lessons along the way. AND it has used up a lot of fabrics in my stash that would otherwise have sat in the cupboard for a very long time! There is plenty more where that came from, so when I've caught up with a few other projects I've been playing with, I may make another quilt top for Jan. It is such a good cause...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A surprise gift!

Anne over at Feather Stitching is a prolific embroiderer, and not only is she prolific, her work is exquisite. I am always ooohing and aaahing over her blog! Sharon and I were lucky enough to be invited to her home while she was living in Melbourne a few years ago. Anne showed us all the beautiful work she had done, and the files of projects that she wanted to do in the future. We were gobsmacked!
She is in many swaps and exchanges with other stitchers via blogs and websites, and she also gives away her work to friends. I was privileged to receive these little gifts of Anne's work in the mail this week. She knows my passion for peacocks, and that my favourite colour range is aqua/turquoise/teal. There'll be no pins stuck in this cushion! I have a couple of beaded scissor fobs, but so far haven't used them for that purpose. I just might change my mind with this fob though :-) Accompanying the pincushion and fob was this beautiful handcrafted card. Anne says she bought it in Tilba while she was on holidays there some time ago. She said she thought of me when she saw it - Japanese paper craft, turquoise colours! What a sweetie.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Small scrappy quilt progress.

A few days ago, I posted a brief write up about a tutorial I found on Freda's Hive, for a quilt using small squares of fabric. I've had my pile of squares sitting on my table for almost a week, waiting until I'd finished the coffee cosy and the pinwheel block. Today was cold and wet, so after the housework was done, I set to work on my scrappy squares. I sewed two small squares to one big one as per the tutorial, then spread them all out to see if I could make any sense from them. After moving them all around for half an hour or so, and photographing each layout, I ended up sewing them in rows, and rather than sewing the rows together like the tutorial, I chose to put a row of sashing between each row. I did this for two reasons: firstly, I'd used up most of my small scraps and didn't feel like pulling larger pieces of fabric out of my stash just to cut up into bits! Secondly, although I realise that scrappy quilts are meant to look like a jumble of colours and patterns, I still can't bring myself to have the whole lot in a mish mash like that! Hence the sashing. Now I just need to do a border in the same width in that blue, then I'll add one or more wider borders to it, to make it a reasonable size. I'm going to donate it to Jan Mac, who organises distribution of quilts to needy people both here in Australia and overseas.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pinwheel Block

The fourth Sampler in Leila's Skills Builder online course is the Pinwheel design. It can be in two colours, or a mixture. I was going to go for a mixture, but decided it would be quicker to just have one colour with white. I haven't been buying any new fabric for this course; it seems silly to buy more when I can just use what is in my mish mash stash of fabrics. The problem is that they are not all 100% cotton - some are not cotton at all! I've picked them up at opshops, Guild remnant bins, and so on.
The white fabric I used to make this block is a mystery to me. I don't think it is cotton because the weave is very wide (is that the right word) and it frays very easily. But I have a heap of it, so I figured I may as well use it. Not a good idea! But I got there in the end. The blue floral fabric was definitely cotton and much easier to worth. Ah well, as I've said before, it is all a learning process. You may notice in the photo that I machined a zig zag edge around the block - this is to stop it fraying any more. My white squares blocks ended up being a bit smaller than the pinwheels because threads kept peeling off the edge every time I handled them!
All in all, I'm rather pleased with my first Pinwheel effort. Oh I know the corners and things don't match perfectly, but it only took me one afternoon to make it from start to finish, and it was fun. Mind you, I don't know that I would care to make a whole quilt out of Pinwheel blocks - that would be asking too much, even if I used the correct cotton fabric!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Coffee Cosy.

My friend Helen asked me if I could make a wrap for her coffee plunger, and I said "No problem! I'll make it to match the mug rug". I started by sewing three strips of fabric together. Next, I layed the lining (green), padding, and top piece on top of each other, sewed them together leaving one end open. I attached two bits of velcro to each end, sewed it all up and voila! The cosy is standing next to my coffee plunger for this pic. Helen's coffee plunger is the larger version.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Yet another way to use up scraps of fabric.

Like most of you, I spend a lot of time surfing other blogs, admiring the work and looking for new ways of doing things for myself. Clicking on other people's side bar links is time consuming, but great fun! So there I was tonight happily surfing, and I discovered a really neat tutorial on Freda's Hive blog. She shows how to make 2.5" squares and 4.5" squares into a quilt. Having just cut up a large proportion of my scraps into those sizes (or close enough) I was delighted to find this tutorial! Watch this space!!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Experiments with patchwork triangles, and a cleanup.

For the fourth week of Leila's skills sampler workshop, she invited us to make up a design of our own using the skills she has taught us so far. At first I said no, I'm not creative enough - I can follow directions, but I'm not imaginative. Then I thought 'don't be a wimp', so I got some scraps of fabric out, cut them into triangles, joined them up into squares, and played around with them. I placed them into all sorts of combinations.. And this is what I settled on to stitch up. I didn't copy anything from a book or magazine, but I'm sure it's been done before. I just don't know what it is called! This is a failed experiment. Leila had provided a link to a video for us to try out if we wanted to. Instead of the traditional way of making triangle squares, this technique was a short cut. You place two squares of fabric face to face, sew them all around the edge, cut it in half diagonally, then cut diagonally again, and voila! four squares of triangles! Sounds great, doesn't it. But one has to be VERY careful with measuring, stitching and cutting, or one ends up with squares of different sizes like this!
While I was looking in my scrap stash for fabrics to play with, it was driving me crazy, because the box was just full of untrimmed bits. So I emptied the whole lot on the table and taking one piece at a time, cut them all into squares or rectangles, depending on the size of the piece. Then I sorted everything into sizes and colour ranges - bags of 2", 2-1/2", 5" and 6" squares. A bag of strips, and a pile of larger pieces which I didn't want to cute down too small in case they came in useful for something one day (like rug mugs or fabric postcards). A lot of fabric went into the bin and on the floor, but at least I now have USEFUL bits and not just tiny bits of rubbish!

Saturday, July 09, 2011

More opshop goodies!

I just posted these photos on the opshop blog so if you've visited that blog, you will have seen these. But if you haven't - read on. I was driving around the eastern suburbs today, on various messages, and took advantage of visiting opshops in places I hadn't been for a while. I struck gold! I'm not usually keen on long stitch, but this steam train is so beautifully done and well framed, that for $5, I had to buy it for Ken. He loves it! There is some writing on the back "From Grandma, 1999". How could anyone throw out a gift like this??
This very old card table cloth was just $2. It will come up well with a soak in Napisan. Don't you love that cute design of cards on the windmills!
Five large pieces of fabric for $3! That's what the friendly lady at the Rotary shop was going to charge me, but I told her that wasn't enough, and gave her $5. I still got the better end of that deal!
As if I haven't got enough Chicken Scratch in my collection...but not in this shade of gingham and not six lovely napkins - all for $3.

Skill Builder Sampler Block No.3

The third block in Leila's tutorials was Churn Dash. I have already made one of these when I did the patchwork course a few years ago, and I wasn't going make another one. But Leila showed us different techniques, so I thought it would be a good learning curve to have a go at them, and I'm glad I made the effort. Much easier the second time around!

Friday, July 08, 2011

Opshop goodies.

I don't find much GOOD linen at opshops these days, so when I saw this beautiful centrepiece at Vinnies yesterday for $4, I snapped it up. The magazines were 50 cents each, so I grabbed those too. The third item I bought for 50 cents was a bag of quilt wadding (half metre) for 50 cents - now that was a bargain! When I buy a stack of craft magazines for such a low price, I look through them all over the next few days, decide which ones I want to keep, and return the rest to an opshop. I was just wondering if any of my overseas readers would like them? I've heard that our Aussie patchwork mags are very popular overseas, so I'm happy to send them on. Perhaps a swap with your local mags, or some fabric? Leave a reply here, or email me direct if you are interested.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Lovely vintage White work and lacey doilies.

After an absence of four months while I was looking after Ken, I returned to the Embroiderers' Guild yesterday, in my volunteer role. One of the members had left a surprise for me - a big bag full of linens that she rescued from the bin at the opshop where she works. She'd told me about them some time ago, and explained that they were stained, torn, worn and so on, but I've heard that before, and know by experience that one person's concept of rubbish can be treasure for me! The two colour floral centrepieces are certainly worse for wear, but the others are mostly in good enough condition to use or recycle in some way.
I photographed them all when I got home yesterday, soaked them overnight, and hung them outside today to be blown dry. Now I'm about to spend a blissful half hour ironing them. Yes - blissful! I don't mind ironing at any time, but ironing beautiful embroidered linens is sheer joy. Sorry about Tiger appearing in the middle of all that. He kept on sitting on everything as I was taking photos, and I had to keep deleted snaps when his head or a paw would appear at the side of them! But I thought this one was cute enough to leave.