Hoopla 2

Last month I blogged about displaying work in hoops. Today I want to share another project displayed this way.

I love working with wool felt and Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 12 (on the red spool).  I love the colours available and the ease of sewing. The cotton just glides through the fabric. Aurifil Lana (Australian wool and acrylic mix, also 12 weight and on a red spool) is also ideal for this work.  I decided to make a hanging using  my collection of wool felt in bright cheerful colours and a selection of co-ordinating Aurifil Cotton Ne 12 threads.

I gathered some resources for inspiration and technical know-how and started designing my project.  I especially found the work of Wendy Williams (http://www.flyingfishkits.com.au) and Sue Spargo (http://www.suespargo.com) helpful.

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Design inspiration

I drafted my design on paper to give me an idea of placement and proportion, though as you might notice, I later changed some of the embellishment details.

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A rough draft which I later altered.

I like the addition of rick rack in my projects and so I incorporated this here.

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Using rick rack for the stems.

Next came the first flowers.

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Arranging the flower components and selecting the thread colour.

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Adding the embroidery.

 

Then some  leaves.

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Adding and embellishing leaves.

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Two different leaves and a stem.

I created a large flower.

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Adding embroidery to the large flower.

When I had completed all my stitching I needed to place my work into its hoop and back it.

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Securing my work in the hoop.

I described this process in my previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/hoopla/

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Stitching on the felt backing.

My hanging is complete.

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This was such a delightful little project to make, I’ll definitely be making more items like this!

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No cooking, just stitching.

For the last ten years, I have been going away for the Mother’s Day weekend to Phillip Island, a small island near Melbourne.  The  local “Patches”  group there organise a fabulous retreat from Friday to Sunday with various tutors in attendance.  The accommodation is ‘school camp’ but you put up with that as the time you have is so much fun – and you can get all your meals cooked for you (a big plus in my book!).

Some attendees  ‘socialise’ which means, doing more chatting and walking and shopping than the others who are in classes.  I don’t mention ‘stitching’ in that sentence, as having been a ‘social’ attendee in the past, I must admit I did not do as much stitching as planned.

This year I had the privilege to attend a workshop with Sydneysider, Wendy Williams who  showed us how to make her beautiful quilt “Birdsville” in  wool felt.   It was a relaxing, and (at times for me learning new embroidery stitches) a challenging time.

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We learnt how to make the beautiful flowers, birds and leaves on the quilt as well as how to add pieced blocks and quilt it.

My first flowers – little steps

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and a lonely leaf – with needle still inserted so I can remember how to do it!

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I managed my layout – though this has changed a little since I took this photo.  I chose a soft grey Japanese linen look to work on, with a deeper grey wool felt.

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Wendy uses perle cottons for her embroidery, but I have a selection of gorgeous Ne 12 AURFIL of course, so I used those.  They work  so well and so easily being on a spool and with all the colours to choose from, my biggest problem is which one to use!  I could use them straight from the spool or double the thread up to make a slightly heavier look to my flowers and birds.

At the end of the workshop, everyone put their work down on a ‘tree’ and we saw how colourful it looked.

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I hope I can get the quilt completed sooner than later – always the aim when you come back inspired from a great workshop.  If only I could have a whole week or more just to stitch  – like on retreat!  Thanks Wendy for such a relaxing and enjoyable workshop.  Thanks too Phillip Island Patches Committee for all your hard work to make these retreats such a delight – and I am already looking forward to next year.  Maybe, I can have my “Birdsville” finished for the Show and Tell.

Inspiration Islands.

At the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in January 2015, I had the privilege of listening to a lunchtime lecture  by Sheena Norquay from the United Kingdom.  Sheena’s  talk was for 45 minutes, and it was inspiring.  I could have listened for another hour at least as her photos (80 or more) and the information imparted was fascinating.  The lecture was titled ” Quilts and the Orkney Influence“.

From symposium catalogue it says

”  the lecture shows how the landscape, seas, skies and wildlife of the Orkney Islands, where Sheena was born, has influenced her work. Sheena finds Orkney’s colour palette and special quality of light very inspiring, as well as its rich Viking heritage; in particular, Norse myths and legends which she often incorporates into her pictorial quilts”. 

The talk gave me an insight into how living in such a remote location can influence your quilting – both in design of a quilt and the quilting designs.  It made me think about the Australian and New Zealand landscapes and the colour choices I would make.

I must admit I had never heard of Sheena Norquay until at the shop, I came across some of her thread selections.  We have in stock her Autumn Selection in Ne 50 (Kit Art box 1300m) and small box (200m) plus her Seascape Selection in 1300m and 200m boxes.

Recently we ordered another thread box “Linen and Lace” – a mixture of linen threads,  floss, Lana wool and cotton mako Ne 12.  I am very tempted to buy it for myself! (email us if you want more information about this collection)

Aurifil Pack

Very very nice colours inside!

Inside Aurifil Pack

When the Symposium catalogue arrived, I noticed that Sheena was one of the tutors, and I had hoped that I could do a class with her when I put in my preferences for tutor selection.  Sadly I couldn’t get into a class (but was very happy with the tutors I did learn from!) and  I did get to see some of her work close up though  (sorry about the photo – it was hard to stand back far enough to take a distance photo – plus the two quilts were long and narrow).

Sheena Norquay

The tutors exhibition had this wonderful piece of work on display – the detail in the quilting is amazing. I want to run my hand over the stones – they look so realistic.  The colours merge from one piece to the other.

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and another (just lower down on the same quilt). Look at the little birds.

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Thank you Sheena for your inspiring words and making me research the islands you love so much.

Gathering in the Barn

Last month I treated myself to a day at the Gathering in the Barn held at Linda Collin’s barn in Wonga Park, home of the Quilts in the Barn exhibitions held annually. Leonie Bateman of The Quilted Crow was the presenter for the day. http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/

When we arrived our first task was to find our seats, meet friends old and new, and indulge in the yummy morning tea.

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As you can see, the barn was decorated with many of Leonie’s quilts and treasures and she had her pop-up shop there as well, so there was plenty of visual feasting too!  Leonie’s specialty is using felted wool applique.

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Leonie’s quilt “Betsy”, 54″ square.

 

At each place on the table were our gifts for the day, four new patterns designed by Leonie, and a kit wrapped up and temptingly labelled “no peeking”.

 

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I’ve already peeked!!

 

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Four new designs.

The kit we received is called “Cornflower Blue – Doorstop” and includes the pattern and materials required to make this cute little doorstop. The  background fabric is hanky linen, with felted wool applique. Leonie provided Aurifil Cotton Mako 28 on each table for the blanket stitch.

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Leonie’s Cornflower Blue Doorstop.

Before very long all participants were busily and happily engaged in the creative process. The felted wool and Aurifil thread are both beautiful to use and the stitching process is very soothing! I decided I preferred a thicker thread for the embellishment at the top of the flower.  This was easy: I just chose Cotton Mako 12 weight in the same colour.

 

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My doorstop underway.

Leonie’s technique involves the use of a water soluable gluestick to hold the components in place and then stapling (yes stapling!!) them until stitching is complete. The felted wool is not marked at all by this.  However I am quite happy to use a few tacking stitches and this works well too. (I don’t have a very big stapler).

The day went very quickly and by home time I had completed all the blanket stitching. At home it did not take me long to assemble the doorstop.

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Joining the doorstop components.

 

I enjoyed myself so much I immediately set out to make 2 more doorstops as gifts. This time I used wool felt rather than felted wool.  It has a firmer feel but works very well too. As an alternative thread, you could use Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) for the blanket stitching.

 

Extra doorstops

Two more doorstops, as yet unfilled.

And now I’m off to pack my bags so that I can catch a plane and deliver these gifts in person!

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Hearts for Valentine's Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching and heart-shaped items are everywhere at present. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t ignore the importance of the heart as a design shape and most of us would have used it at some point in our projects.

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Hearts feature in my quilt Baltimore Basket (designed by Sheri Wilkinson Lalk)

 

 

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One of the blocks in my Queen Square quilt (designed by Sue Ambrose)

 

I recently came across a sweet little pattern on the internet that I am currently making. Designed by Cheryl Fall, it is available to freely download. http://embroidery.about.com/od/Embroidery-Patterns-Projects/ss/Paisley-Hearts-3-Piece-Pattern-Set.htm#step-heading

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My pattern printed from the internet download.

Rather than the traditional red colourway used in the original embroidery, I am stitching mine in blue as this fits my decor. I am also using cotton fabric as my background in place of linen.
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Using Aurifil 12 weight thread for embroidery.

You are only limited by your imagination here. These designs would also look terrific made with wool felt using Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) thread.

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Stitching on wool felt with Lana for a different look.

 

I tried a number of different products to transfer the design, but had trouble seeing them. I required a mark I could clearly see, yet one which I could successfully remove at the end of the stitching.  I remembered a friend telling me about the “Frixion” pens, so I gave this a go and found it worked well.  This is a product by Pilot, available in a range of colours and nib sizes. Heat removes the marks, so ironing will take the marking out. If you don’t want to flatten your work with the iron, just hovering over it would probably work.  I did not try using warm- hot water. Marks can apparently reappear at below freezing point (I don’t plan to be in such an environment!) , so if you accidentally remove marks before you are ready, I imagine a short while in the freezer will restore them!  As with any marking item, use with discretion. This tool worked brilliantly for my purpose here, but I would probably be loath to use it on heirloom items, because I don’t know its long-term effects.

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I have a little way to go before I am finished, but the beauty of these small items is that they are easily achievable and I might even complete these in time for Valentine’s Day (this year!)

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Stitching progress so far.

 

Maybe a little stitching before dinner….?

 

 

Handmade Gifts – Scissors Keep

Each year I make a number of handmade gifts for family and friends, mainly for giving at Christmas time.  In 2014 I used a cute little design by Marg Low to make some scissors keeps. http://www.marglowdesigns.bigcartel.com/product/scissors-keep

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I purchased this pattern from Marg at Australian Quilters’ Convention along with some very handy blunt-ended scissors.

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The scissors with their plastic cover.

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Scissors with the blades open. The blades are short enough to comply with airline regulations.

 

The scissors are suitable to use on aircraft and I have successfully traveled with mine.

The beauty of these small gift projects is that they use only small pieces of fabric and other requirements that you are likely to have on hand.

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Templates made and ready to use.

This is one of my finished Scissors Keeps.  For the general sewing I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 40, but to make the twisted cord I have used several strands of Aurifil Cotton Mako 12. (Marg gives instructions in the pattern). I also used Cotton Mako 12 for the decorative running stitch along the top. I embellished the top yo-yo with beads, but you can also use a button or any other idea that appeals.

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Now I need to consider what I might make as gifts in 2015. It may still be only January, but those of us who handmake gifts need to be prepared. Only 335 days left!!

 

 

Round Robin Round-up

At the beginning of 2014 the members of the Always Thread team set themselves a challenge, in the form of a round robin quilt project. We wanted this to be a small wall-hanging sized quilt, and one with a very modern feel. To see how we set up the specifications for our challenge go to http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/taking-the-round-robin-into-the-21st-century/

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The original four blocks using colours determined by the colour wheel.

 

At various stages in the year we have blogged about our progress and posted photos. To track our progress you can visit http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/round-robin-round-two/ , http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/round-robin-bl…e-21st-century/ , http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/quilting-the-2…-c-round-robin/, and http://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/twenty-first-c…-quilting-plan/

At our final handover day the four quilts looked like this…..

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Heather and Denise….. and this.

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Jenny and Judy

Ladybirdee added both machine and handquilting to her quilt, using two different weights of Aurifil thread. (Ne 40 and 12 respectively).

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A combination of hand and machine quilting.

A view from the back shows her extensive quilting.

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Back view.

She has also used pieced binding in 2 colours to add to the visual impact.

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Judysewforth also added lots of detailed quilting in a very “fun” design!! (#FUN)  Her binding is also pieced in two colours to match the outer border.

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Her backing fabric is a bit of fun too. (Sorry about the direction of this photo – WordPress is doesn’t seem to like this photo!)

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Jenny found some binding fabric to complement the colours in her quilt and used a variegated thread to machine quilt her project.

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The back view.

And as for my quilt….I could not decide how to quilt it and spent ages gazing at it without inspiration! In the end I machine stitched in the ditch to stabilise it (using Aurifil 40 weight), then added modern look hand quilting using Aurufil cotton in 12 weight. I trialled lots of colours before being happy with the apricot/orange I used (colour 2220) which doesn’t really show up very well  in the photo.

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Although this project took me very far from my comfort zone, and I engaged in a fair bit of sighing and complaining along the way, it did prove to be an intriguing exercise with interesting quilts as a result.

What about your group? Is anyone up for a challenge? We’d love to hear!