Miniature Versions.

Quilters are always making quilts for others, sometimes for loved family members and dear friends, sometimes for charitable causes, and sometimes as commissions. A couple of years ago I made a quilt for a young family member who was facing some traumatic experiences.

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To read the full story go to Made with Love (Nov 2013)

Much love went into the quilt’s construction and after the quilt was with its new owner I decided to make a miniature version for myself. Not only does the mini quilt help to decorate a spot in my quilting studio, but it also serves to remind me of the person who received the full-size version.

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.

Playing with Fabric and Making New Friends

I learn something new everyday. Sometimes the ‘new’ thing has been around forever…but, it is still new to me. For example, QUILT CLUB AUSTRALIA. This is a closed group (you have to ask to join) on Facebook.
This group has over four and a half thousands members. They describe themselves as “a bunch of seasoned and newbie quilters, from all over Australia……”. They do all sorts of exciting things.
Several of their activities involve swapping fabrics and/or finished items.
Charm squares can be swapped or a particular designer’s fabric line.

Charm Square Swaps

Charm Square Swaps

Swap Fabrics from your favourite designers

Swap Fabrics from your favourite designers

They share tips and links to a variety of quilt related information. They have been around for a while but I HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THEM!
I came upon this group because I have recently been involved in a swap with the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild. Participants weighed 200grams of their finest scraps; placed them into a small postal bag with a self-addressed small postal bag, and sent them to the nominated distributor.

Parcels in the post full of goodies

Everyone who participated received a parcel. You would have thought I was waiting for a winning lottery ticket the way I ran to the post-box every day.
Note: if my family had seen my excitement over 200g of fabric scrap they would have wondered why I needed a room for the rest of my fabric collection!

200 grams of treasures

200 grams of treasures

I will be sharing the project(s) using my 200g of treasure in the near future.

Creating a 'NEW' fabric with my scraps

Creating a ‘NEW’ fabric with my scraps

In the meantime, have a look at what is ‘new’ in the quilting world. You may find yourself re-energised by QALs (quilt alongs), SALs (sew alongs) or swaps.

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!

Hoopla!!

The staff at Always Quilting recently discussed using embroidery and quilting frames to display textile work. Embroidery and stitcheries, applique, pieced items and quilting, even a pretty piece of fabric can all be displayed this way. A quick internet search gives you lots of inspiration! Indeed, I was inspired and have since made a couple of items which are displayed in inexpensive embroidery hoops.

For my first piece, I decided to engage in some English paper piecing and fussy cutting and make a small companion piece for a mini quilt made last year and which I blogged about in a previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/always-playing…-fussy-cutting/  You might recall that there was not much fabric left, but certainly sufficient for my purpose.

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Plenty of holes, but still enough fabric for my project!

I used 4x 2-inch clamshells and fussy-cut my fabric, with a small circle as the centre. There are many methods of preparing your English paper pieces, from tacking, to glue-basting, to fusible papers. I discuss one method here. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/english-paper-…agons-and-more/  When using clamshells, I prefer to tack the paper in place as this gives me greatest control over the curve, ensuring it is nice and smooth. When it is tacked into place I give it a good press.

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Tacking the fabric onto the clamshell paper.

Once I had made my clamshells I appliqued them onto my background fabric using Aurifil Cotton Mako 50. As you can see in the photo, I left plenty of fabric around the edges. I then took my little hoop, in this case 5 inches in diameter, and centred my design in it. When I was happy with its placement I tightened the screw so that the work was tensioned with no wrinkles.

 

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Ensure the item is centred in the hoop.

I trimmed the background fabric to a border of about 1 1/2 inches.

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Trimming excess fabric to 1 1/2 inches.

I took a strong thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako 28) and ran a gathering stitch around the perimeter. To make this job easier I did not cut my thread off the spool, but used it directly from the spool. This way could adjust it as required, and I didn’t run the risk of miscalculating the length of cotton I needed, or of accidentally pulling the gathers out. When I had the gathers sitting as I wanted, I cut the threads leaving a tail, then tied them in a reef knot to secure them.

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Gathering the background fabric behind the hoop.

To cover the back of the hoop I cut a circle of felt, using the hoop as a template for the circle. I wanted the felt to fit just to the edge of the blue background fabric, but inside hoop. Finally I stitched the felt in place again using a strong thread, Aurifil Cotton Mako 28. I used an overstitch going from the felt out towards the edge of the hoop as shown in the photo, and I ensured that each bite into the felt was about 3mm and went into the blue background fabric each time.

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Stitching the felt back into place.

And my little project is finished and ready to hang on the wall!

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My little hanging all ready to display on the wall.

In a future post, I will write about another project framed in this way.

 

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.

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.

WW Birdsville

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

WW flower 2WW Flower 3

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.

WWilliams layout HM

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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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!!