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

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween tomorrow!

I finished my table centre today, and have put it on the kitchen table ready for tomorrow's Halloween.  Not that we do anything different, apart from have a bag of sweets to give to any passing witches or wizards, but we never know if anybody is going to turn up, so I don't go overboard with that because we have to eat them if they aren't given away!
I used black to bind the mat, and used an orange and black fabric from my stash for the backing.

Right....what is next on my sewing agenda?  Well, I made a couple of coasters with cat fabric, and gave them to my niece's teenage daughters yesterday, and they loved them.  Their Mum is more of a Dog Person, so I have decided to use some more of the doggie fabric in my stash and make her a table centre for Christmas.  
I want to make more of the Teacup Coasters in Christmas fabric to have on hand for little extras in the coming months, and I've promised my friend Glenda that I would make her a cushion with the rabbit fabric she gave me some time ago.  I also have the Pacific Rim silhouette wall hanger to finish, but that's going to be a long term project I think.  Well, at least put off until next year when I have more time.  It won't be a UFO - I really do want to have it finished and up on a wall somewhere!  But there is a lot of stitching to do, and if I get going on that now, it will mean that all the other gifts and things I want to do before December will be delayed.

Simple Living Forum Xmas swaps.

On the Down To Earth Simple Living forum, there is always something happening!  At the moment many of the members are exchanging handmade gifts for Christmas.  I received this lovely tote bag from V. in Qld.

In return, I have made for her these items:  a plain tea towel (or hand towel) embellished with a scalloped edge and ric rac, and a Teacup coaster using the same fabric that I use for the scalloped edging.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

"Making The Australian Quilt" exhibition.

So many exhibitions come and go, and I miss out on them by procrastinating about when to go, but I was determined not to miss this one of a kind exhibition at Federation Square in Melbourne.  So I asked my dear friend Sharon if she would like to go (silly question - of course she did!), and we drove in last Tuesday 18th October.  We spent nearly three hours looking at the quilts, then had some lunch, and visited the gallery bookshop to buy a copy of the book about the exhibition.

We both took heaps of photos, but I haven't got around to doing anything with mine, as to be honest, there are just too many, and I don't know where to start.   I was impressed by the write up that Linda Steele posted on her blog about the exhibition, so rather than duplicate her, I am inviting my readers to visit Linda's lovely blog and have a look at the photos and description.   She knows a lot more about the subject than me, so  it is very worthwhile reading.

Inspired by Pinterest

I spend a lot of time (an hour or more most days) surfing Pinterest.  My Pinterest account grew so rapidly when I first started it, that it got to the stage I couldn't find what I was looking for, which defeats the whole purpose of having a Pinterest account!  So I set up categories for my various interest (cats, peacocks, mermaids, embroidery, patchwork, paper crafts, calligraphy, etc. etc.) and as time went on I subdivided those categories even further to narrow down the variations.
 The patchwork and quilting category has now been divided into Batiks, Panels, Mug Rugs, Table Runners and anything else relating to quilting.

One of the benefits to me of having hundreds of photos to look at, is that they give me ideas on what to do with my stash.  How often do you buy some fabric because you like it, but don't have any purpose in mind at the time?  It is how I acquire most of my fabric - just because I like it.  I rarely buy fabric for a specific pattern because I try to use what I have.  But I have got to the stage of being cross with myself for having so much fabric sitting there without a purpose, and I find that going through my saved photos on Pinterest provides ideas.  I see a finished product, and I can picture it made up with my own fabrics.  I don't consider this stealing patterns, as what I do is very simple stuff, based on the basic quilting concepts of rows, four square patches, etc. and there is no copyright to worry about.   It just gives me a starting point to use my fabrics.

For instance, I have had this scrap of Xmas fabric in my stash for a couple of years.  Can't even remember where I got it - maybe from the opshop, or the remnants bin at the Guild.  Anyway, it was too pretty to leave lying around, so I took it home.
Every Christmas I have dug it out with all the other themed fabrics, and thought What can I do with this?  One of the photos I recently saved on my Pinterest account was a table runner, with a border design fabric similar to this, running the full length of a runner, with another fabric along each side.  Ah ha!  Just the thing.  My piece of fabric was obviously left over from a border fabric of some kind, so I had to add a bit to each end to tidy it up.  Then I surrounded it with the green and gold fabric I had left over from something else, and backed it with another Xmas fabric which was exactly the right size.  Black binding to finish it off, and tra la - a nice little runner for this year's festive season!

I have had this particular piece of material for years,buried at the bottom of my stash.  Everytime I had a cleanout, I would think I should get rid of it, I'll never use it.
 But again on Pinterest, I saw a table cloth that someone had made using  a similar design of fabric, with a scene running along the edge and plain colours to divide the blocks.  Hard to describe, but as soon as I saw it I dragged out my fabric and after I'd taken this photo, I cut the scenes into four separate pieces,   That will be my next project after a Xmas swap item that I must do next :-)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Two wall hangings.

In my previous post, I wrote about buying patterns that I later regretted, because they looked too complicated for me!  But with the help of Leanne at The Quilt Shop in Eltham, I have been able to achieve so much that I wouldn't have tried on my own.  I bought these two patterns at a suburban quilt shop a few years ago, thinking they would be quite easy to do - "Two Fabric Applique" patterns by the Pacific Rim Quilt company.

They look quite small, don't they?  When I opened the pack, I discovered that the actual size is 24"x 36" - which is clearly shown on the packet, but I didn't think too much about it when I saw that.  It is only when I had to transfer the pattern onto two pieces of fabric that I started to wonder if I'd taken on too much..  Once the pattern has been traced onto the fabrics, one fabric is laid over the other, and the pattern is cut away to reveal the fabric underneath.  I have done this technique once or twice, but on a MUCH smaller scale!  However, after seeing the finished project on display elsewhere, I felt I had to have a go, and with Leanne's help, this is what I achieved last night at her class:

The dark fabric is fused (with fusible webbing) to the light fabric, and next job is to stitch around all the edges.  I'm not going to hand stitch it - that would take me forever, so I'll be machine stitching it.  Then the backing and quilting.  So quite a bit of work still to be done, but I am very pleased to have got this far!  I would liked to have been able to use a pink, blue and yellow fabric like the original pattern photo, but I couldn't find anything like it, so I settled for this cloudy blue, which is prettier than what it looks here.

And, to end the week, I finally finished the batik Seascape I have been messing around with for some time.   Once I finished the backing and binding, I added a few embellishments such as a little white plastic seahorse brooch up near the mermaid, added sequins on the mermaid's body, sewed some shells on the sand, and an orange Xmas star that looks enough like a starfish for me to add!

WIPs and Finished projects.

I have been so busy in the past week!  The Quilt Shop has been a very positive influence on my sewing, as I have found the confidence to make things that I would not have attempted previously.  I have bought many a pattern at craft shows, only to get home and have a closer look, and think "what on earth was I thinking?!"  I am now starting to work on and complete some of those patterns.

But I've also been making a few simple things as well, just to use up scraps and pieces of fabric that I've had for a while.  These are the smaller items, inspired by Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose.  As I have written here previously, she posts some lovely tutorials on her blog, and I can't resist making the small ones because they are quick and easy, and use up scraps!
I've made some of the teacup coasters before, and have decided to make some more, using Xmas themed fabrics.  This is the first one I've done:

The next coasters are made from charm squares (5"squares) and a small doiley, or in this case, a crocheted table runner made up of small rounds, that I have cut into individual bits.  The doiley is sewn on to one square and backed with another.  I used different fabrics for the front and back.

The next thing I've made is a Halloween table mat.  The fabrics were at the Quilt shop for 50c a piece, and although we don't really celebrate Halloween, I do like the coloured fabrics that come out at this time of the year!  This just needs to have the wadding, backing and binding done to finish it off.  This photo is a bit pale, the purple is much deeper than it looks here.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Gifts for friends.

The man who built our chook house is so good to us; he has done several major jobs in addition to building the chook house, and has dropped in several times to sort out minor issues.  He doesn't charge for these, which is rare these days, as most tradesmen charge anything up to $100 just to be called out.  So I thought I would make something for him to say thank you.  Ken will be giving it to him tomorrow while I'm out, so I will be keen to hear what his reaction is.

I found several Xmas fabric panels at the opshop a few years ago, featuring Xmas stockings.  I made a few of them and gave them to various kids in the family.   When I rediscovered the other panel last week I thought it was a good time of the year to make these up!

The stocking on the right is lined with calico, but the other two are unlined so far.  I haven't made up my mind whether to line them yet.  Depends on what I do with them I guess.  If I give them away I will definitely line them.

Friday, October 07, 2016

Stephanie's Teacup Swap

Stephanie at The Enchanting Rose blog has been hosting a teacup or mug exchange for several years, and I was lucky enough to hear about it from another source, to join this year's swap.  Participants are given a name of another person to whom they send a surprise gift package.  In turn they receive a package from someone else.   I asked Stephanie if it was possible to send mine to an Aussie, given the cost of postage from here to anywhere else in the world, plus the possibility of things getting broken in their trip across the Pond.  She kindly gave me the name of a lady in a nearby suburb! so we are actually going to meet up for a coffee so I can give her my parcel of goodies :-)

Today, I received an enormous box in the mail.
I had a fair idea it must be my teacup/mug surprise, but you can imagine what I thought when I saw all those topshelf brand names on the box!!!   When I opened the box, all these were neatly packaged inside along with insulation to stop breakages.

OMG!!  I thought Christmas has come three months early!   It was an absolute delight to unwrap each parcel and savour the contents from "Joanne" in NSW.  

Beautiful coffee mug in gift box, matching paper napkins,  floral ceramic condiment set,  Earl Grey Aust. Afternoon Tea teabags, Moccona latte coffee sachets, Ginger biscuits (how did she know I love those?), two dear little ceramic birdies, and a lovely card introducing herself to me.
Jo, I can't begin to describe how excited I am to receive all these, it is extremely generous of you!
I will be writing (as in pen and paper, lol) to thank you, but couldn't wait to acknowledge you here first, so Stephanie and the other ladies in the swap around the world can see how fortunate I was!
And thanks again to Stephanie for organising this.   I will definitely be back again next year!

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Small wall hanger, mug rug

The deplorable weather in Melbourne lately has been great for staying indoors stitching.  I have finished two items for friends over the past week.  They may see them here before they receive them, or they might not even realise they will be the recipient!  Anyway, the Halloween mug rug is part of an online forum swap.

I have had this cute dogs fabric for a while, just waiting for the right person to make it up into something.  I was given a surprise gift recently from someone who loves dogs, so I decided to use my doggie fabric to make her something in return.  It could be used as a coffee table centrepiece, or hung on a wall - she can decide what she wants to do with it.  If it looks a bit bumpy around the edges, that is because I still have to handsew the binding to the back.

I did some more work on my batik seascape, but the photo I've taken doesn't look much different to the previous picture I posted here, so I won't post the latest one.  I took a bit of a risk with the quilting.  I wanted to machine quilt wavy lines over the whole piece, and was thinking of using sparkly cotton which I know is available.  But I didn't have any quilting cotton of that kind, so I went to my cross stitch and embroidery cottons and found some Kreinek sparkling blue thread on a spool.  I threaded the machine, using ordinary cotton in the bobbin, and very slowly and carefully, quilted the wavy lines I wanted.  Turned out great!