31 January 2010

Thriller reading

I haven't read a political thriller like this for a long time. It is very, very scary, mainly because it is so plausible.

Set in England in a few years' time, it explores how the meshing of corporate interests, current technology and the lust for power can result in totalitarianism by stealth. Some of the factors are already in place in today's society, which is why I can see that the fictional aspect could easily develop in real life - if we let it.

If you live in a democracy where individual privacy is respected and protected and you want it to stay that way, this novel will be an eye-opener. 

The title of the book made me recall the quote from Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, the day before Britain declared war on Germany in August 1914:  "The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime".

The Dying Light is a thought-provoking novel that shows how a country's democratically-elected government can go so very wrong and stomp on its citizens' entitlements. We've seen it before through history and there's no reason to think it won't happen again.

30 January 2010

The Modern Quilt Guild

Here's an interesting development - The Modern Quilt Guild. To quote from the website:

"The Modern Quilt Guild is a community of quilt guilds across the country. The online community of modern quilters is thriving and this guild grew out of a desire to also have us meet in person. The founding branch of the guild started in Los Angeles in October of 2009. Through blogs & the internet word spread quickly of the fun they were having and now branches have started popping up all over the country. We are a young organization just getting started with planning, organizing and sorting out all we will do as an association."

Member guilds are linked on the site, and the modern quilt movement has spread to Australia and Canada. To learn more, visit The Modern Quilt Guild

28 January 2010

Stitching, stitching

Many hours of stitching later, here's a sample of yesterday's labours. (click on the pic to see detail.)

I probably won't show more of this quilt until I've finished, and that will take  considerable time!

27 January 2010

Thread choices

Yesterday I assembled a selection of threads in preparation for stitching the hand-dyed fabric I dyed a couple of weeks ago. It will be a wholecloth piece. Let the hand stitching begin!

26 January 2010

My country

Happy Australia Day to Aussies all around the world. Let's celebrate living in this wonderful country!

As you can see from the stylised map, mainland Australia is a huge island that is 'girt by sea'. I've loved the word 'girt' (it means surrounded) ever since I first heard it in our national anthem. So much so that I named this pieced quilt Girt

The quilt is made in the colours of Australia - the ochre and red of the outback, the green of the rainforests and the blue of the sea. I featured fabric with the Australian flag in the centre of each block .

The pattern for this quilt is available in my online store here. It would look great made in any colour combination - you don't have to make a patriotic version like I did.

25 January 2010

24 January 2010

23 January 2010


42 degrees outside, air conditioning on inside. Meanwhile, I'm stitching up a rainbow.

21 January 2010


My copy of this new book by Jinny Beyer arrived yesterday and I have been browsing through it ever since. If you enjoy making pieced blocks, you will want this book - it's such a wonderful collection of patchwork blocks.

I've been a Jinny Beyer fan since I first started piecing 25 years ago. In addition to learning from her books, I've been fortunate to take two workshops with her when she visited Australia in the 1990s. I credit her with my ongoing love of hand piecing. To see her amazing quilts and know that every piece of fabric is joined by hand stitching and that all the quilting is done by hand - well, that is so inspiring.

In this book, Jinny compiles 4050 pieced blocks. They are all from USA sources, including approximately 500 blocks designed by Jinny. She does not provide templates in her pattern books. Instead, Jinny explains how to analyse blocks to see the underlying grid. The book includes clear plastic grid sheets that can be placed over the block photos to help with the analysis. This means you can draft the block patterns to be any size you want, and Jinny explains how to do this. Each block is shown in colour as well as a line drawing. There are also photographs of some quilts, but no instructions for making those quilts.

I find that the ability to draft blocks is a dying skill. With so many quilt patterns available these days, there are many sources of wonderful blocks. But what if you want to make the block bigger or smaller? So many quilters don't know where to start. By following Jinny's methods, which have stood the test of time, you can draft any of these blocks to size. 

I really can't praise The Quilter's Album of Patchwork Patterns highly enough. It is a hefty book, so check around for good prices. I bought mine from The Book Depository, where it was delivered to my door for only $53.48, which is a sensational price.  

Now that I've been through the book once, I'm going back to bookmark my favourite blocks. It may take some time... 

20 January 2010

Selvedge pincushions for sale

A new batch of my selvedge pincushions is now available in my SEWnSELL shop. There are seven for sale at present (and a few more in the pipeline) and I will be stocking my store with some other handmade items soon. 

So, if you missed out buying a pincushion last month, now is your opportunity to snap one up. Oh, and more quilt patterns are on the way too!

18 January 2010

Woven brooch tutorial

I've added a button to the right-hand side of my blog to a needle-woven brooch tutorial I wrote last year.

I love the way creative people adapt ideas to their own styles. Pamela based her lovely brooch on my instructions and you can see the results here.  

Sandi also took the basic idea and made a gorgeous piece, which you can see here.

Aren't they both fabulous?

17 January 2010

Even more

I promise this is the last post about dyeing for a while. This piece of fabric was stitched, gathered and dyed. The more distinct lines were stitched through double fabric, while the more subtle lines were stitched through a single layer. Interesting, but doesn't have the wow factor.

This one I totally love. It was folded, concertina-like, and then rolled. I secured the roll with two overlapping rubber bands and that's what made the curved patterns at the bottom. I shall think for a while about how to best stitch this piece because I'm sure it is unique fabric.

That's what I love so much about dyeing. I'm sure that even if I did the same folding and securing again, the pattern of the dye would be different - maybe even more interesting!

16 January 2010

More dyeing

I can't get enough of this colour at the moment. More dyeing today included this piece, folded along diagonal lines.

This piece, folded along the centre and then on diagonal lines.

This piece, folded horizontally and vertically.

And this piece, stitched, gathered and dyed.

I like the lines created in this last piece, so I've stitched another piece of fabric with more lines and will dye it tomorrow, along with a large piece of fabric to use as backing for all these smaller pieces. That way, I can stitch them all as wholecloth quilts and not have to worry about finding backing later.

That's if I have the inclination after I return from my birthday yum cha tomorrow - maybe a small snooze might be needed more!

13 January 2010


Today I dyed some fabric, using Procion MX 069 colour. I folded a large piece of fabric (it's about 1.3 metres) several different ways to try to achieve a window-like pattern. I didn't fold precisely because I wanted some lines to be asymmetrical.

I love the way a few wiggly lines of colour have appeared. Now I need to gaze at the fabric for a few more days before I decide how to cut it. The piece is too big for what I have in mind, so some sections will be trimmed, but which ones?

12 January 2010

What the?

Today it is hot, so I thought it an ideal time to remove the covers from all the seat and back cushions on my couch and wash them. They dried thoroughly in the sun in a couple of hours.

As I pulled the covers back on over the inserts, I noticed a label for the first time. It said:


What the? Did my covers disintegrate - no. Did they fade - no. Did they shrink - no. The only difference between the before and after covers is that they are clean. Just wondering, does that make me an expert?

11 January 2010

New projects

I'm ready to start playing with some new ideas and start some small projects. Before I can get started, I needed to go shopping for materials...

Paper napkins, with five different designs - essential materials for lesson 1 of Ratty Tatty Papers, an online workshop with Dale from The Thread Studio. Let the fun begin.

10 January 2010

Make a quilt for Olympic athletes

The summer Olympic Games will be held in 2012 in London, and UK quilters have organised a fun challenge that's open to everyone, no matter where they live - Quilts 4 London. The aim is to make a gift for each athlete - a journal quilt made in the shape of a pennant. All the pennants will be strung together to make some stunning exhibitions leading up to the Olympic Games.

The organisers have provided all the information you need on this website. There is an Australian coordinator for pennants made here and she, along with the other coordinators, may be contacted through the site. The pennants are A3 size and you can use any technique you like to make them. The website even has a label you can complete and print on fabric to attach to your pennant.

This sounds like great fun, so why don't we all try to make at least one?

NOTE: It appears my link only works sometimes. If you are after the Quilts 4 London website, the address is http://www.quilts4london.org.uk/

09 January 2010

Upon being dynamic

As is usual for my Saturday mornings, I've just finished perusing the employment section of The Sydney Morning Herald. It's not a huge section today, being so early in the working year, so maybe that's why this was so noticeable, or maybe it's just human resources departments bursting with new year's resolutions.

I'm talking about all those ads for dynamic people to work in dynamic organisations. I felt weak at the thought. Imagine all those people being dynamic together, or maybe trying to out-dynamic each other. Surely that's not what good workplaces really need?

I think I'll just slink off now, sit quietly in the corner, and be non-dynamic.

08 January 2010

Love walked in

I stayed awake very late last night, finishing reading this book, Love walked in by Marisa De Los Santos. I had to - the story was so engrossing and I needed to know how the characters' lives worked out.

Even though I was at work all day today, my thoughts drifted in spare moments to the book - what had touched me so much and made me feel so strongly?

One aspect is the language. It is so beautifully written - the deft touch of a poet is at work here. Thoughts and actions are carefully, yet evocatively, described. A fantasy-like feeling overtook me in some parts as I flowed with the rhythm of the words.

To enjoy a story, it is imperative that I care about the characters; that I feel I know them and want to learn more about them. I'm investing my time in the characters and seeing them through the veil of my own life experiences. These characters delivered. Hugely.

I feel I'm a better person after experiencing this novel. It is threaded with hope and triumphs by bewitching the reader. All I can say is this - read and savour.

05 January 2010

Do you like a mystery?

The South Australian Quilters Guild is now accepting orders for a new mystery quilt kit. Sales of the kits benefit Bedford, a South Australian charity creating a brighter future for people with a disability or disadvantage by offering employment, recreational and day activities, training, life skills, community housing and support services. To read the details about the fund raising, click here.

Are you interested in joining the mystery? Each kit contains pre-cut fabric in multi-coloured scraps plus step-by-step instructions to make the 42-inch square quilt, a new design organised by Faye Packham and Lessa Siegele. It costs $60. To order a kit, click here for an order form. Orders close 31 JANUARY, so if you want to take part, you have a few weeks to get organised. It would make a great group activity for you and your quilty friends.

02 January 2010

Quilt labels

I spent a couple of hours yesterday experimenting with quilt labels. I have been very lax this year and neglected to add labels to any quilts. I decided to try printing labels and transferring them to fabric using Officeworks T-shirt transfer paper.

Since the transfer paper comes in A4 sheets, I decided that six labels would fit well on a page. I used Word software to design my labels and included the name of the quilt, my name, address and phone number, as well the year and any other information I thought useful. I was feeling creative, so chose to include a photo of the quilt on its label. Of course, that meant I had to photograph some of the quilts and process the photos. You know how one thing leads to another...

Some time later, I followed the instructions and had a sheet of labels. I cut them up and am now ready to attach them to the quilt. Would I do it again this way? Well yes, only because I have four pages of transfer paper left in the pack! But otherwise, probably not.

The name of the paper seems to be a misnomer, because it doesn't transfer the image to fabric, it fuses it. This means you don't need to mirror the text, so that's a bonus. The hand has a soft, plasticky feel, but sews easily. It was an interesting experiment, but I don't see any compelling reason to make labels this way. I'll probably stick with printing them direct onto fabric sheets.

How do you make your quilt labels? Please share your method by leaving a comment.

01 January 2010

Hello 2010

For the past few years, I've enjoyed looking at different quilts as I turn the pages on my wall calendars. In 2010, though, I've decided to admire the gorgeous drawings of Amanda Upton each day. Since the foliage and flowers of my garden are so soothing, I look forward to having this reminder of favourite blooms indoors.

This calendar is a freebie with the January issue of Notebook: magazine, so if you want one too, look out for a copy.