Just Because….

Most of the projects I make involve fairly intense hand work, such as needleturn applique and English paper piecing. Here’s one of my current projects.

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Even under “optimal conditions” (no housework, no paid employment, neglected hubby and family, and little sleep) such projects progress slowly. Much as I love this activity, it’s sometimes nice to have a change of pace and produce something that goes together more quickly and with less effort.

I have recently made such a quilt.

While distracted (i.e. browsing on the internet) I saw a quilt which I thought had an interesting layout. There was no name or pattern, but that did not deter me as I simply drafted my own, using dimensions of my choice. I had some suitable fabrics in my stash so I was able to begin without delay.

The blocks are simple and require only two seams.

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The trickiest thing is to ensure the correct orientation of all the blocks once they are pieced. Check and check and check before joining!

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I used the red sashing fabric to add a border around the edge to frame the quilt and bound it in the same fabric to maintain the framed look. In the photo below, I am trialling the position of the blocks and the border.

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With my long-arm machine, quilting my projects is straightforward.  My quilting business, “The Quilt House” is located in Vermont South, Victoria. Check out my website :  http://www.thequilthouse.com.au 

I decided to use an all over quilting design (edge-to-edge) 0n the quilt, in this case I chose Lorien’s “Twirly Feathers”. It’s a really elegant design.

For this type of quilting, I use Aurifil 40 weight thread on my Gammill quilting machine. I chose a red thread to match the sashing fabric. It provides a nice contrast with the gold coloured backing fabric.

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And here is the quilt used as a topper on my bed. I called it “Just Because”………well, just because!

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The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sew Along Epidemic!

I admit it! I get very excited about patchwork and quilting. Sometimes I even finish some of the projects I begin with this unbridled enthusiasm.

My current passion is THE FARMER’S WIFE 1930’s SEW-ALONG. There is a ‘one stop page’ for all the information curated by GNOME ANGEL. (gnomeangel.com).

GnomeAngel.com

My book arrived last week and I am busily preparing my patterns and choosing my fabrics for the September 28th start date.

The Farmer's Wife 1930s Book and Fabrics

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Book and Fabrics

I know I have promised some unique results from the 200g of scrap swap….

Scraps Become a 'new' fabric

Scraps Become a ‘new’ fabric

Half Square Triangles created with these great papers

Half Square Triangles created with these great papers from Quilters Barn

…and I will finish that project…
BUT, this is a SEW-ALONG and I have never done a SEW-ALONG like this before. The group has its own Facebook page and there are already over 2500 members. Can you picture the diversity and cleverness of all these Patchworkers sewing along? It quickens the pulse.
My bobbins are full and my needles are new.

Fabrics, Bobbin and Needles

Fabrics, Bobbin and Needles

Come on and join the world wide project that has developed a life of its own! You know you want to…think of it as using up lots of fabric you already have to make room for new fabric that hasn’t even been designed yet…..ooooo aaahhhhh.

My Aurifil Dog

I attended the New Zealand Symposium in Manawatu earlier this year and was privileged to take a class with Melissa Burdon. Melissa transforms photographs into works of art.
I chose a photograph of my beloved Jack Russel, Dougal. He is 13 years old and has become MY dog even though he was a pet for my sons when they were young.

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Using the computer program GIMP, the photograph is altered removing colour and leaving a gray scale image. This technique allows a tracing to be made of the subject separating areas by their shading.

My photo after GIMP

My photo after GIMP

For this class, our photos were shaded into 6 levels. Each of these shades translated into a shade of our chosen colour. I chose purple.

The process begins

The process begins

The picture is slowly built up a piece at a time until it is ready to place onto a background. Finding just the right background took some time until I found a print of his favourite thing…TENNIS BALLS.

The background

The background

Once the background was complete and Dougal was fused in place, it was time to quilt.

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Using Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt and 50wt threads the ‘fur’ began to ‘grow’.

The 'fur' grows

The ‘fur’ grows

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Collar

Quilting the Collar

All of the quilting was done with FMQ. Each tennis ball was carefully outlined so they would ’bounce’.

SIT....Good Dog!

SIT….Good Dog!

If you have a photo of someone or something special, have a go with GIMP and create your own fabric photo.

Pinwheel Passion

At the beginning of this year, I celebrated the birth of my first grandchild, and like quilting grannies through the generations, wished to mark the occasion with the creation of a quilt.

I decided to ignore all the beautiful baby quilt patterns available commercially and design my own quilt using the pinwheel block with three narrow borders, using bright fabrics on a white background.

Camera file jan2015 075To make the pinwheel block I used a technique  where you start with squares.

You take 2 squares of contrasting fabric and sew them right sides together, with a 1/4 inch seam all the way around the edge.

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Pinwheel squares sewn with 1/4 inch seams around the perimeter.

Then you cut the joined squares on each diagonal, being careful not to move the squares out of alignment as you rotate. (Tip: move your cutting mat around, not the squares, or better still, invest in a rotating mat!)

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Cut the sewn squares diagonally.

Press the seams on your triangles, firstly as closed seams, then open them out and press with the seam in the direction of the darker fabric.

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Pressing seams closed first.

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Now press seams open and towards the darker fabric.

At this point you will have four matching squares which you arrange to form the pinwheel design and then sew  together.  TQH 001

Sorry, I forgot to take a photo of this when I was making my quilt so the sample looks a little different.

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Joining the pinwheel block.

If you wish to see a video of this technique and find out how large to cut your squares to reach the desired block size go to http://blog.missouriquiltco.com/update-on-the-easy-pinwheels/  You may notice that there is a great deal of confusion about the cutting size required to obtain the pinwheel square you require. The following method is accurate:

Take the finished size you wish your block to be (i.e. without any seam allowance)

Multiply by 1.41

Divide by 2

Add 1.25

Round up/down to the nearest eighth of an inch.

This will make a block which includes seam allowance so that when you have joined it to its neighbouring blocks it will be the accurate size.

I needed to make 50 pinwheel blocks and cut 49 intervening plain white ones.

Having done that, I then arranged them in a pleasing layout. In the photo below I have mine pinned to an old sheet. Theoretically no two blocks were supposed to be the same, but there are two that are!!

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Arranging the layout of the blocks.

I then added the borders:a narrow plain white border, a pieced border using strips of all the fabrics used in the quilt, and finally another narrow white border. I also used white fabric to bind the quilt. This gave the effect of the pinwheels and border “floating” on the white background.

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White borders and binding.

To quilt the quilt I used a design called Curlz by Patricia Ritter. Throughout the quilt, for piecing and quilting, I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 40.

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Quilting my quilt on my long-arm machine.

Ta Da!! My completed quilt.

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My completed pinwheel quilt.

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.

Qld 2014 001

Qld 2014 003

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!!

 

 

Not long now

I’m looking at my calendar and counting down how many sleeps until Christmas. In other words, how much time I have got left to do all the pre-Christmas things that need doing and my list is getting longer.

I have managed to complete one project, a Christmas tree ‘skirt’ for a family member who hasn’t seen the finished item yet – and as she doesn’t read this blog, I am fairly safe it will be a surprise when I give it to her.

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I looked and looked for a suitable pattern, and was thrilled to find a whole book with beautiful Christmas things to make.

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I wanted a modern look, and this design suits my criteria – colourful, modern and relatively quick to do.

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I had to add a slight change to the pattern, as I stupidly cut the centre hole far too big.  Memo to self:  read measurements twice before cutting! I cut the circle out of the centre twice the width it was supposed to be (measured out 7 inches on both sides of centre inside – darn!). Of course I had started to scissor cut the circle when I realised. So my design has an extra ‘garland’ to match the outer one.  I guess that makes the pattern more original!!

Naturally some AURFIL thread was used in the construction and quilting. I had the right colour for the buttonhole stitch in Ne 28, and used the Ne 40 in red and soft aqua in the quilting.

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I bought some pretty reindeer fabric for the backing

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and a chevron striped binding worked too.

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Happy Christmas to everyone – just one week to go…

062PS  Our shop, “Always Thread” is closing from the 19 December 2014 until 5 January 2015.

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/

https://alwaysthreadwise.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/21stc-round-robin.jpg

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).

quilted circles

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!