31 October 2009

Free-motion quilting again

Whew. Just back from the second day of beginners' free-motion quilting classes with Kim Bradley. Remember that I took the first class last month when I showed you the samples I made? We were meant to practise our quilting between last class and today's one so that we could complete a sampler this time.

I'm not going to show any pics of that sampler because it's, well, umm, not very good. Life's too short to impose my not-very-good quilting on you all - just thank me for that. I will now resume practising...

PS My last post was number 700 and I let it past without mention, only because I didn't notice. 700. Pretty good, eh?

29 October 2009

Regrouping

The jury service is over and it was horrible. I was lucky it was so short and I hope I never have to do it again.

I was in need of more pleasant experiences so I ventured into my garden this morning - the first time in several days - and found a wonderful surprise.

Many months ago, I had sown some aquilegia seeds in amongst other plants in a large terracotta pot. The plants had grown and lovely leaves had developed, but I never saw any flowers coming until suddenly there they are!

Aren't they the most beautiful flowers?

I've been reminded that we constantly need to refresh ourselves and focus on the positive in life. My garden helps me do that because there is always something changing amongst the plants. Sewing and good friends also helps replenish the spirit, so thank you Sarah for a lovely day that helped me regroup.

26 October 2009

Sigh

Many of my brain cells died today while I was on a jury. I may or may not regain some functioning cells once it is over. Perhaps by the weekend...

25 October 2009

Look, it's applique

I got out of bed today so early and I've done so many tasks that I can't believe there is still an hour left in the morning. Probably time for a nap soon!


Here's a peek at my latest play; this time it's applique. I couldn't resist this gorgeous umbrella print and the half-metre piece I bought has been sitting in my stash for several months. I bought it for a pieced quilt I have started to imagine, but when I wanted some fabric for hand applique, it called out to be used. Hmm. Will probably need to buy some more now!

This is my first hand applique. Before I started I pulled my copy of Liuxin Newman's book, Perfect Hand Applique with Thimblelady, off the shelf and had a thorough read. My first few curves were a challenge, but soon I worked out a rhythm that was comfortable. It can only get better with practice.

22 October 2009

Quilt patterns

There are now patterns for three of my quilts available in my SEWnSELL shop, so I thought you might be interested in the stories behind the quilts.
My version of the traditional Thousand Pyramid layout is called Pyramids from the Stash. It is my absolute favourite quilt and is the one I sleep under every night. I made it to try to use up blue fabrics in my stash - as if! Easy to cut and piece by machine, it is the perfect pattern to make if you like scrap quilts or you could be more coordinated and plan your colour layout. I didn't; I just alternated light and dark blue fabrics.

This quilt, Sunshine on Roses, cheers me everytime I look at it. It is currently draped across a high-backed cane chair in my living room and I feel it smiles at me. One day, I suddenly had the urge to make a yellow and pink quilt after I saw sunshine highlighting the petals on a pink rose in my garden. I started collecting fabrics and thought about how I could use them. The pattern is easy to make and also perfect for using your stash. There are only two blocks in the quilt.
Now this one is fun. I called it Girt. If you are not Australian, you might not understand the reference, so I probably should explain. In the centre of each block I have used a fabric covered in small Australian flags. The blocks are made with red/ochre/green fabrics, to represent the land of our country. The outside border is pieced with blue/ochre fabrics to represent the oceans that surround the land. Deep and meaningful, isn't it?
Anyway, in our national anthem, there is a line "our home is girt by sea" (girt means surrounded) and since my blocks are surrounded by blue fabric, I wanted to use that wonderful word, Girt, as the name of the quilt.
Girt is sitting here on the shelf beside me. So even if you don't know anything (or care!) about the story behind the quilt, the pattern is fun to make. All the strips are short so it is perfect for scraps. Fun and easy.
These are the first three patterns I've released in my shop. I have a couple more nearly ready to be loaded, so look out for them soon. I hope you enjoy them.

21 October 2009

Queensland Quilt Show

Since I'm not able to be in Brisbane to see the quilts at the Queensland Quilt Show this week, I appreciate the opportunity to see photos of most of the winning quilts here. Thanks to Queensland Quilters for allowing us to see the photos so soon after the winners were announced and congratulations to all the winners.

20 October 2009

Annual excursion

It seems that I only venture over to IKEA once a year. Probably just as well. Today I spent the morning there and enjoyed myself thoroughly (as usual). I never go to the shop on weekends - weekday mornings are best, when there is no problem finding a parking space right near the exit.

The new catalogue is out so I snaffled a copy for later drooling. The excitement of the excursion was when I saw everyone's favourite bookcase, Billy, is now available in blue! Be still, my heart. Now all I have to do is try to justify another bookcase to myself...

19 October 2009

Woo-hoo!

It's a very exciting day for me because I've just opened my new SEWnSELL shop. You can find my first three quilt patterns there now, so I'd love it if you would have a peek. There is more to come, but that's enough thrills for one day. I'm exhausted!

18 October 2009

Sunday snapshot

Preparing - patterns of some of my quilts, including this one, Indigo Tiles. I'm used to writing patterns, but designing the layouts is an interesting new experience.
Reading - The girl who kicked the hornets' nest by Stieg Larsson. Just finished it and loved it (even though the book is so heavy to hold).
Building - a garden structure out of concrete blocks. Surely all those squats are good for me?
Planting - cream nasturtiums and blue salvia. Yum.
Loving - daylight saving in springtime. Perfect for pottering in the garden.
Planning - a possum-proof vegetable garden. I have the technology!

15 October 2009

Hello to The Netherlands

I'm waving in your direction! Welcome to all the quilters from The Netherlands who have visited my blog in the past day. It's lovely to see you all and I hope you've found something of interest here. Please leave a comment and say hello!

It's reassuring that some of you had more interesting days than I did yesterday -read about it here. I'm trusting today will offer more stimulation. (By the way, the vacuum cleaner is a beauty. I took it for a whirl up and down the stairs yesterday - where I tried out its special narrow turbo head - and it was great. Just thought you were dying to know.)

Some of my quilt patterns will soon be ready for sale, but not until I stop grappling with logo ideas and make a decision. I'll get there eventually, but in the meantime my mind is spinning with concepts. Too many options, I think.

14 October 2009

Highlight of my day

I'm glad you asked. In between dropping things off to people, paying bills and zapping everthing metallic with static electricity caused by the very dry winds raging in Sydney, the highlight of my day was buying a new vacuum cleaner. Yes, really.

If you day was more exciting than mine, please leave a comment. I'm sure you won't be able to top my highlight, though.

12 October 2009

Thinking things through

Since I finished all my current work tasks yesterday, I've spent today thinking about what I'd like to achieve and how I can best do that. More thinking needs to be done, but at least I've started the planning.

One of the things on my list is to do more applique. Considering that I do exactly none now, that surely won't be difficult to achieve? I've had my copy of Barabra Brackman's Encyclopedia of Applique for a few weeks now (approximately $30 cheaper than I could purchase locally, thanks to The Book Depository) but really haven't had time to delve into it properly until today. It is a completely updated edition of her original 1993 book and has certainly started me thinking about shapes and designs.

Also on the subject of applique, I came across this website today - All About Applique. I have already learnt some handy tips there to get me motivated.

Back to my planning...

11 October 2009

Progress

Yesterday was my Slow Burners class at Material Obsession. I am always excited to see the progress that has been made since last month's class and there was plenty to see this time!

First, Susan showed us her joined Rose Star blocks. Our task for the day was to choose border fabrics for this quilt, so we all trooped into the shop and carried back bolts we thought would work. Two winners were chosen, but you'll have to wait until next month to see how Susan puts them together. What a beauty this quilt will be.

Susan has already started work on her next hand-pieced project - Feathered Star blocks made with Fossil Fern fabrics. She had a stash of these at home, just waiting for the right pattern to come along. We are looking forward to seeing some pieces cut out next class.

Lyn has finished her gorgeous quilt now, having had it professionally quilted. I love the striped binding that just sets off the border perfectly. This block is Grandma's Star.

Lyn's next project is with the Daisy Days block. These are her first two so far. I love the use of black and white centres.

Deidre is in the process of piecing her Chook Shed quilt together. Fantastic orange-surrounded Queen of the May blocks glow from the black backgrounds. Yum.

All these blocks are cut with the terrific Victorian Textiles perspex templates that I enjoy using so much. You can buy them from Material Obsession - check out the new MO website here! You can use the templates with a rotary cutter or you can trace around them with a pencil. Either way, they make hand piecing a breeze. (You can also machine-piece the blocks of course, but why deprive yourself of the joy of rhythmic hand piecing?)

10 October 2009

Ingrid Press

There were many exciting and truly inspiring things to see and do at the Birmingham Festival of Quilts last August (is it really two months ago?). I saw the work of so many fabulous quilters and textile artists, but the work of Ingrid Press stood out for me.

I fell in love with the simplicity of line in her quilts. They are soothing, calming quilts that invite you to sit and contemplate. Well, at least that's what they do for me.

I snapped photos of all her quilts and drool over them most days. Sadly, I don't have Ingrid's permission to publish my photos, so I haven't been able to show you. So now I'm excited that you can share my pleasure and see some of Ingrid's quilts. If you pop over here, you'll be able to visit with Ingrid and Sarah on SEWN. Go on, I know you'll love them.

09 October 2009

Goddess Roseus

This is my Goddess Roseus A4-sized textile piece, made for an reverse auction to raise funds for breast cancer charity. Organised by Deborah Segeart, the fund raising has its own blog, Bid-4A-Cause. If you hop over there, you will see more of the textiles that have been made specifically for this purpose. You'll also be able to explore links to the artists involved.

I made my textile piece with a layer of pink and gold silk fibres over hand-dyed fabric. It is hand stitched all over with pink cotton thread to add texture. The universal female symbols are created with metallic foil in purple, the colour of spirituality. I used these shapes to represent the eternal challenges of women.
All the textiles will be on display at the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Fair, 21-25 October, so if you are in the area, pop in and have a closer look!

07 October 2009

Writing

Deadlines certainly do make me focus. I don't have a problem writing to deadlines beacuse I've become used to it over the years. Today I finished writing three pieces for a new Australian magazine, Down Under Textiles, which will be published in December. You can read about the magazine here. I just have to make a piece of silk paper now and photograph the stages and I'm done.

But even though I am used to working like this, I still feel an overwhelming sense of relief once I've finished. It's as if the idea of writing a specific piece lurks in the back of my mind all the time I know I have to do it. It takes up more and more room in my conscious mind until it is translated into text and finished.

Then the whole world is open to me - what will I do next? Dig in the garden, read a book, start a new sewing project, go for a walk? There is suddenly space in my head for new ideas and opportunities, but other committments mean I won't be able to indulge until next Monday. I will savour the options until then.

06 October 2009

Back to the drawing board

Remember this block from a few posts ago? I drew it on EQ and made plastic templates so I could start cutting out the pieces today. Well, guess what? It's not symmetrical, so the templates don't fit together to make the block.
It looks symmetrical but it's not. I drew a quarter of it and then cloned the lines and flipped them, but it's not symmetrical. I've obviously made a slip of the mouse somewhere along the line - the pieces are only different by a smidge (that's a quilting measurement term I've never seen in a glossary, but you all understand - yes?) but that's enough to throw out all the piecing.
So I'm going back to the drawing board - literally. I'll redraw it from scratch in EQ and take it very slowly. I had hoped to have a block pieced to show my Slow Burners class next Saturday, but that won't happen now. This block's window of opportunity has passed this week. Too many other things I must do instead, sadly!

05 October 2009

The chocolate helped

It's a public holiday here today so I'm not working, but sewing instead. Here's a tiny glimpse of the quilt I'm making. It's tiny because it is a cropped section of a photo I took when I first cut out the pieces back in February. (I never claim to be a fast worker.)

I used an old photo because both sets of camera batteries are dead, even though they were charged only last week. Obviously they no longer hold a charge and will have to be retired. New batteries tomorrow.

Thanks for all the comments yesterday. To anonymous: the possums in Australia are protected because they are native animals. They are not the same as possums in other countries, with the exception that Australian brushtail possums were introduced into New Zealand by some European settlers who had no idea what they were doing. To Marls: sorry that those cursed possums have caused so much damage in NZ. I feel your pain.

I've decided to disallow anonymous comments from now on, so you'll need an id to leave a comment in future. I think it's better if we all get to know each other by using our names, don't you?

04 October 2009

Some days are better to ignore

I'm a firm believer in stopping when things aren't working out. Stop, take a deep breath, go and do something else. So I've decided to write off today and focus on tomorrow instead.

It has been raining here since yesterday, which is truly wonderful since our city is parched and still coated in red dust from the dust storms of a few weeks ago. The rain has washed down the buildings, roads and trees and soaked into the thirsty ground. For this I am grateful.

I'm not so pleased about the feeding frenzy that the neighnourhood possum had in my garden last night. Several plants were stripped of new leaves, petunias were eaten to the ground and pots were knocked over by this (unfortunately legally protected) animal.

To regain my equilibrium, I retreated to the sewing room and started stitching pieces for a current quilt. The bobbin ran out of thread. The scissors were blunt. The rows wouldn't meet. The container of pins spilled on the floor. I'm just not meant to sew this today.

Now I'm going to eat chocolate.

03 October 2009

New Canadian magazine

Now Canada has its own quilting magazine - Quilter's Connection. I love that quilters all around the world bring their own backgrounds and experiences to the craft we all enjoy. I am keeping my fingers crossed that this magazine will be available in Australia soon, because peering at the contents on their website just isn't the same as holding a copy in my own hand. Any Canadians reading this who'd like to send me a copy? I can send a copy of Down Under Quilts magazine in return.

Michele Foster has an article called The Virtual Quilting Bee: How Quilters Connect in the first issue. She has generously made a pdf of it available on her blog. I know if you are reading my blog that you are interested all that the internet has to offer us, so pop over - you might learn a bit more, I know I did!