The Melbourne Agricultural Show

When I was a young girl living in America, I always looked forward to the annual Agricultural shows.

Each State usually had a show and almost every county in the State had a smaller version. These fairs provided opportunities for farmers and their families to show off their prized livestock, best cakes and finest arts and crafts.

 I even won a ribbon at a county show in Iowa for a hand pieced and hand appliquéd baby quilt

A Prize Winner over 25years ago

A Prize Winner over 25years ago

This week The Melbourne Agricultural Show is on at the fairgrounds.

It is nice to know some things don’t change. The show is packed with livestock judging and baked goods in abundance.

Country Women's Association Scones

Country Women’s Association Scones

There are wood-chopping competitions and carnival rides and games.

Getting ready for the Giant Slide ride

Getting ready for the Giant Slide ride

And Australian wildlife exhibitors.

An Australian Goanna

An Australian Goanna

And best of all, for me anyway, is the Arts and Crafts pavilion.

This year, yarn bombing seems to be everywhere!

I am sure you will agree that this tractor is amazing.

A Full Sized Tractor

A Full Sized Tractor

Yarn Covered Tractor

Yarn Covered Tractor

The Tractor's Wheel

The Tractor’s Wheel

Tiny Yarn Farm Animals

Tiny Yarn Farm Animals

So, no matter what you call this extravaganza…”Agricultural Show; State Fair; County Fair”…take the time and the entire family, and visit the show.

It might just become a yearly tradition.

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Tuesday Treats: Where do you find your patchwork and embroidery design inspiration?

I’ve just returned from a whirlwind holiday in Japan and now have a camera full of potential inspiration for patchwork and embroidery designs.

I saw this cover in Osaka

I saw this cover in Osaka

This week I thought I would share some of the Japanese storm water drain covers that could be seen in every town.

This cover features the Deer Park in Nara

This cover features the Deer Park in Nara

Unlike the boring, plain covers, that are found in Australia, the covers in Japan all tell stories about the city / prefecture where they are situated.

Not all storm water covers were round

Not all storm water covers were round

Before I left home I had been told to watch for these covers, but hadn’t expected them to be so attractive.

This is a delightful reminder of the rice that was grown everywhere.

This is a delightful reminder of the rice that was grown everywhere.

The group with whom I was travelling thought I was a touch odd taking photos of drain covers, especially when it was raining … but I didn’t care.

The covers do reflect the history of each region

The covers do reflect the history of each region

I’ve now got a collection of photos that I plan to convert into textiles designs at sometime in the future.

I can imagine some images reproduced as applique, while others would make great embroidery designs stitched out in Cotton Mako’ 12.

There is so much detail on each cover

There is so much detail on each cover

Even the street gardens had beautiful edges.

Sapporo-web

If only our local community services could be given such creative treatments.

I would love some feedback so please leave a comment to tell us which one is your favourite image, or suggest how I can convert one of the images into a textile memory.

A Reproduction WIP (Work in Progress)

Some time ago, I purchased the pattern Queen Square by Sue Ambrose. (A Somerset Patchwork pattern  www.somersetpatchwork.com.au )

I thought this would be an excellent design to use for all the reproduction fabrics I had been collecting.

Queen Square pattern

Queen Square pattern

As you can see from the photo, there are 20 main blocks, comprising three different designs, and two borders.  While some quilters like a totally scrappy look, I prefer a bit of uniformity, which you will notice in my colour/fabric selection.

To construct the blocks I have used a combination of different techniques, including English paper piecing, needle turn applique and tacking over freezer paper. Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne40 and Ne50 threads are suitable for these tasks and enable me to stitch with (almost) invisible stitches. I have used my light-box to trace designs as well as using a placement overlay. You can read a description of the overlay method in my earlier post  http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/design-transfer-dilemma/ 

Queen Square 001

Tracing the design using my light-box.

Queen Square

Placing the applique pieces using a design overlay.

The first block looks like this.

Qld July 2013 057

Block one in construction.

…..and this.

Qld July 2013 056

The first block completed.

The second block design  has twelve blocks, four each of three different colourways.

Queen Square 005

Preparing the hearts by tacking onto freezer paper

The finished blocks look like this…

Queen Square 008

Second block version one.

And this…

Queen Square 002

Second block version two.

And this…

Queen Square 010

Second block version three.

I have not yet completely made the third block, but have prepared all the components by tacking them onto freezer paper and joining them together.  In the picture you can see that I have placed them on the background fabric.  As I sew I will remove the tacking and papers.

Queen Square 001

Third block. The outer ring is pinned ready to sew,. The inner ring is just sitting in place so that I could see how it would look.

This kind of project is a lot of work, but I really enjoy the hand sewing, and it is certainly satisfying seeing it all come together.

Keep watching this blog and I will post more pictures of my Reproduction WIP as I work towards its completion.

Tuesday Treats: Windmills of my mind

When I am not occupied writing and talking about Aurifil threads I actually get some time to quilt for other people, and occasionally for myself.

Square-dance

So when I read this post about why sewing is so good for us it resonated and reminded me of one of the ladies, for whom I had quilted in the past.

The quilt in question was extremely large so I prepared several quilting plans, in different price brackets, for her selection.  (I am sorry this was before I had a digital camera, so no photo here)

She chose the plan in the highest price bracket and, when I checked that this was what she wanted, she said something that really resonated with me, in fact I often repeat it because it made so much sense to me:

She said;

Patchwork and quilting is much less expensive than going to a psychiatrist, and I end up with a beautiful quilt when I am finished.

Every time I think of this, I appreciate how true it is for me.

I can de-stress very quickly simply by sitting down to sew … it doesn’t even have to be patchwork … I could be making curtains … it is the action of playing with fabric and thread and sewing …. well maybe not stitching buttons and repairs to clothes.

Even when something goes “wrong” with my stitching, I still find that focusing intently on fixing the problem can remove my thoughts from the day to day issues and leave me feeling less stressed than before I started stitching.  Quite odd really … one problem can sometimes even solve another.

The post in the link above says:

A recent article splashed across several UK national newspapers highlighted the advantages of quilting, after researchers found it benefited people in ways that physical or outdoor pursuits didn’t. This included improving cognitive, emotional and social wellbeing.

The piecing and cutting and re-piecing to make this square dance quilt certainly exercised my mind.

The piecing, cutting and re-piecing to make this square dance quilt certainly exercised my mind.

So next time someone questions your reason for cutting up large pieces of fabric into smaller pieces, and stitching them back together quote some of these benefits;

  • At its most basic, sewing requires us to focus both physically and mentally on a task.
  • Hand-eye coordination is good for our brains and for keeping our fingers nimble.
  • Sewing skills can also open up your social life.
  • Sewing also brings positive benefits for older people, including those with dementia
  • It is a therapeutic approach to long-term illness.
  • It changes brain chemistry for the better, possibly by decreasing stress hormones and increasing feel-good serotonin and dopamine.

Read the complete article at The Sewing Directory

You will be pleased to know that it is not just patchwork that brings these benefits, the article also references knitting so it would appear to be all the creative textile arts & crafts.

Sometimes you fall in love

with a special piece of fabric!

When I went to Brisbane to see the wonderful exhibition of quilts from the Victorian and Albert Museum in London held at the Queensland Art Gallery, I was lucky enough to visit a couple of patchwork shops in the city and suburbs.

It always amazes me how these shops can be so different, and yet they are all selling the same product. When you haven’t visited a shop before it is rather like opening a present – you have got no idea what is inside! Some shops immediately have the ‘wow’ factor – whether it is the type of fabric that appeals to me – or the way it has been displayed along with the books, quilt samples and notions. Another shop may have the same attractive fabric, but the ambience of the shop is lacking. Often it is the staff who welcome you to their venue that can make the difference to the visit (and the spending!).

While in Brisbane I fell in love with some Malka Dubrawsky fabric called “Simple Marks Summer” from the Moda range.lovely fabric

I also found some fabric I thought may go well with this called “Juggling Summer” by Brigitte Heitland – Zen Chic’s premier collection for Moda.  The colours are much richer than my photo shows – a beautiful charcoal and black.  Apologies for the basting safety pins!!

004

As I didn’t want make a quilt and just wanted immediate fabric ‘gratification’, I decided to make a table runner for my table.

border and sashing
I suppose what appealed to me with the fabric was the way I could quilt it!

fabric

Always in the back of my mind, is how the top can be quilted,.  as making the top is only part of the journey as quilting completes the project. Of course, I had to use my favourite (well, all Aurifil threads are my favourite!) Cotton Mako Ne 12  (2312 and 2000) for easy peasy quilting – and it even looks interesting on the back despite the lack of ironing (and again, apologies for the colour as this is really a black backing).

backing stitching
Another work in progress, but I am getting there quickly and soon I hope to have a binding on  – and finally photo colours that are nearly accurate!!

border sashing and top

Tuesday Treats: Covered notebooks make great gifts

I am a sucker for a pretty covered note book and I’ve featured some of them on the blog in the past.

The latest one in my collection is this delightful visual diary, made for me by Ladybirdee using some scraps of antique kimono fabric given to her by a friend.

What a beautiful fabric cover this visual diary has been given

What a beautiful fabric cover this visual diary has been given

The addition of a self contained pencil, with an eraser & pencil sharpener attached is a bonus.

A very clever pencil, packed with a sharpener & eraser

A very clever pencil, packed with a sharpener & eraser

Ladybirdee knows that I wanted to learn to draw, hence the visual diary, but oh dear, the pressure is now on to fill these blank pages.

If you wish to make your own version of this lovely lined book cover, you will find the instructions written by Melissa on The Whimsical Wife.

I’ve also hunted up the following links, to patterns for other styles, so that you can make a variety of covered note books for yourself or for gifts:

How to Make a Reversible Note Book cover  by Lara Cammeron

Makezine has instructions for a simple removable book cover and Crafted shows you how to make  permanent fabric cover for a book

And they don’t just have to be “pretty’ covers for women, you can also stitch this  rugged leather cover by Mary Ray.

Or this portable drawing case for a child by Ellen Luckett Backer of “The long Thread”

A Modern Welcome- Month 7

This month we will be adding the embroidery. I am using the Aurifil Ne12 wt in two colours.

Embroidery threads perfectly match my fabric

Embroidery threads perfectly match my fabric

I simply type in the words I want to Embroider in MS Word. I highlight the words and then audition fonts and letter sizes until I find one that I like.

Keep in mind that you will be embroidering these letters. Depending on your embroidery skills, the letters can be as plain or as fancy as you desire.

I used all Capital letters in the Ariel font.  Choose words for your BOM; print them; trace them onto your quilt top using a light-box or a window and a marking pencil. I used a Sewline pencil .

The letters were embroidered first in a chain stitch in one colour and then outlined using a back stitch in a second colour.

An outline with back stitch adds definition to your letters

An outline with back stitch adds definition to your letters

You are not limited to words. Ladybirdee has added embroidered vines and texture to her leaves in her Modern Welcome.

Ladybirdee's feathered friend applique design

Ladybirdee’s feathered friend appliqué design

Here are some hand embroidery stitches to get you started on the message for your wall hanging:

Jennie & Clara of Clover and Violet have a great set of “Embroidery 101” instructions, with clear illustrations, on their blog:

 Chain Stitch

 Back stitch

 Stem Stitch

Bari J of We Love French Knots has useful video instructions on her blog:

Back Stitch

Stem Stitch

Chain Stitch

Coral Stitch

We would love to know how you use your Ne12wt thread to enhance your projects.

Next Month, the quilting begins!