31 January 2011

Just a taste

of the pieces I am stitching for my current quilt. I've abandoned work on it for the day because it's just too hot upstairs. That's where my studio is and I have many, many pieces of this quilt on the design wall. There are too many to relocate downstairs, where I have set up my sewing machine in the cool.

There has been a benefit today, though. I estimate I have walked up and down stairs about forty times - between the sewing machine and the studio, so that's got to be good exercise!

30 January 2011

Loving these colours

I am working with these gorgeous fabrics in shades of the sea. Aren't they glorious?

Oh, and a couple of zingers to spice things up!

28 January 2011

Reflections on: stashes

Is your stash worthy of an archaeological dig? Can you tell the age of some fabrics simply by their places in the piles, as if they are layers of sediment laid down by geological forces of the past? If you answered yes, it's time to move on.

I have been slowly sorting through the fabrics, books and magazines in my studio for the past year. My objective has been to discard the parts of my collection that are holding me in the past. In order to focus on designing and making quilts, I needed to clear my physical and emotional space of clutter.

Of course, this isn’t as easy as it may sound. I’ve found myself re-reading every magazine before deciding whether to keep it. I have several hundred magazines, so you can imagine how long it has taken. Each piece of fabric has to be removed from its shelf, opened out and fondled. The assessment process has taken ages.

When I first started quilting in the 1980s, I bought most of the available magazines, simply because I needed to learn so much. Some of the titles excited me then and it is interesting to realise that those particular ones still do. Even though I have learnt so much over the past twenty plus years, my initial attraction has not receded. It is the other titles that I have discarded; the ones that never fed my passion in the first place.

The same goes for the fabric in my stash. I remember that I was taught to collect fabrics in a wide range of colours and patterns, so I would have a palette on hand. So, I purchased fabric that didn’t attract me. Beautiful patterns, admittedly, but just not to my taste. No wonder it has stayed in my cupboard, unused, for all those years.

In the fabric world, the term vintage is usually defined as cloth made before 1970. I don’t have any of that in my stash, but some of it sure is old and outdated. I can identify some of the trends of the day by the designs on the fabric – the butterfly period, the country period and the pansy period. I wonder why I bought those fabrics?

Have you ever looked at your stash in this way? Wondered why you thought it was a good idea to buy all those Christmas prints, when you never made quilts with a Christmas theme. Mused about one day making a needle turn appliqué quilt with masses of floral motifs, when you only actually used your sewing machine, and never hand stitched.

Some quilters may see these as goals and dreams. I see them as dead weights, cluttering up my creative life. There are so many projects I want to make that the last thing I need is to be buried under the burden of the past. Out they go!

26 January 2011

Fun with screen printing

Now here's a little piece of fun. My screen printed shapes, ready to be sliced and combined with other fabrics. I wish the paint would dry quickly!

Happy Australia Day

Celebrating the best place in the world - 
my island home.

Happy Australia Day, everyone!

22 January 2011

Still here!

Isn't it lovely to know that someone actually reads your blog and misses you when you don't post for a while? Thanks for the emails, everyone. All is well in creativedabbling land. I've been busy this past week with my birthday (aren't these lisianthus blooms gorgeous? All faded shades of dusky pink, a gift from a co-worker), going diligently to my day job, eating out with friends and generally enjoying myself.

Thanks to Louisa, for letting me know she is using my free Sunshine on Roses pattern to create her own quilt in turquoise and yellows. Don't forget to send me a pic, Louisa - I'd love to see the results!

15 January 2011

Affirming life goes on

In the middle of this week, as we were all being overwhelmed by the stories and images from the floods, I spent a day with a friend. We talked, ate, visited a couple of craft shops and watched some TV (we are both addicted to Escape to the Country - pure escapism).

It reaffirmed that life does go on and that it is our relationships with other people that make it worthwhile. One of the tasty delights we shared was this soda bread (recipe here).

One of my purchases on the day was these gorgeous stork scissors, painted in a white-and-black pattern. Lovely to hold and just so darn cute. (Purchased from The Patchwork Heart - hi Michelle and Kim!)


Don't forget that no matter where you are, you can donate to the flood appeal to assist people who have been affected by the floods. Please give whatever you can afford. Every dollar helps.

12 January 2011

Queensland floods are worse


 If you can afford a donation to help people devastated by the floods in Queensland, please do so. Details of how to donate are here.

Many craft bloggers are involved in auctions of goods to raise funds. Toni at Make it Perfect has organised this - check out her blog for details.

The floods have reached Brisbane, Australia's third largest city and the capital of Queensland, and getting worse. It is heart-breaking to see the power of nature.

11 January 2011

Rain and flood

Australia can be a harsh country. We are seeing terrible floods in Western Australia and Queensland at present where people, livestock and the earth are suffering. Yesterday, an appalling eight-metre high wave of rain and storm water swept through the centre of Toowoomba and killed eight people. There are still 72 people missing.

To read the latest information about these terrible events, visit the ABC website here.

It's in times like these that we feel impotent, wanting to help but not knowing how. The most practical and useful way is to give money. There are several flood relief appeals that are accepting donations of money now. Donations of goods are not encouraged because these do not assist local businesses, which are an integral part of the communities. If you can help with a financial donation, you can find information about the flood relief appeals here.

The floods are not over. Rain is still pouring down and the water has to go somewhere. The rivers in northern New South Wales are next.

09 January 2011

Reflections on: options

I always imagine quilt making as a wide-open umbrella. Under this umbrella are myriad options – different techniques used to create quilts in varied styles, shapes and sizes. If you don’t like a particular style, you can choose a different one but you are still a quilt maker.

My quilt making journey started in the 1980s when I attended my first patchwork lesson. It was a sampler class in traditional piecing, using the limited fabrics and colours of the day. We learned how to draft blocks, cut templates from sandpaper and accurately cut the fabrics with scissors. We hand pieced the fabrics and hand quilted the finished product. I loved every stage of the process.

Soon I became more daring and started to piece by machine. I learned to use a rotary cutter and mat after seeing a demonstration of the new-to-Australia tools at a craft show in the early 1990s. I have even tried my hand at appliqué, although the results were decidedly amateurish (more practice required!). Sampling all the new techniques in books, magazines and workshops has kept me busy for many years.

Initially following other people’s quilt patterns, I often altered parts of the design to suit myself. As I gradually developed skills in different techniques and clarified my personal tastes, I started designing my own projects. After completing several bed-sized quilts, I realised that I did not enjoy machine quilting large quilts so now I choose to have my large quilt tops professionally quilted. This way, I can use my time to focus on the processes that give me pleasure.

Feeling adventurous, I made small journal quilts and ATCs for a couple of years. These enabled me to try different methods and styles without a huge commitment of either time or materials. Through this experimentation, I discovered a love of shapes and abstract composition.

There are some styles of quilt that still do not appeal to me – they leave me unmoved and I don’t bother with them. Gradually, it has become obvious that I am not obliged to enjoy every technique. Certain designs I love may not appeal to you, and vice versa. I do not think it matters. As long as we appreciate that there are as many options as there are quilters, and don’t just dismiss the whole craft after trying just a small part of it, we will all benefit.

That is why it is wonderful to be under the quilt-making umbrella. We can choose whichever style or technique we want to explore. We can change along the way or can stay with the colours and styles that satisfy us. With so much choice, there’s something for everyone. Just as well that umbrella is so enormous!

08 January 2011

Digital catalogue

Hours and hours of browsing pleasure! That's the catalogue from Hancock's of Paducah, chock full of fabrics, patterns and quiltmaking tools.

Now the catalogue is available in a digital edition - yay! You can find it here. I downloaded a copy to my computer (go to Options > Download offline version) so that I can refer to it as often as I like (I might even buy one or two things...)

05 January 2011

Add water

It must have been all the rain we've had over recent months that helped my Crepe Myrtle tree this season. It has flowered a month earlier than usual and is covered in these stunning clusters of flowers.

It's just as well I have such gorgeousness nearby. It distracts me from a quilt project I'm about to commence, but can't quite visualise yet. I thought I had very clear ideas in my head, but now my vision is distorted. 

Creating is never straightforward for me. It's an ongoing tussle and I'm always relieved when it's over. Until the next time!

03 January 2011

Out now

Issue 145 of Down Under Quilts is in the shops now. Congratulations to Cinzia, whose stunning quilt is on the front cover (instructions to make her Turkish Delight start in this issue).

02 January 2011

Playing with pots

After thinking a lot about shapes, today I started to play with some images in Photoshop Elements. These are three effects from a single photo.

I want to get the feel of the shapes before I choose which ones to use, so I've played with other photos as well. I am even more intrigued by the lines now.

01 January 2011

Let's finish the quilt

Finishing this quilt can be your first completed project for 2011!

Sandwich the quilt
Trim the backing fabric to measure approximately 68in x 72in. Lay it right side down on a large, flat surface and tape or clip it down. Lay the batting on top of the backing and smooth it out from the centre. Centre the pieced quilt top, right side up, on top of the batting and smooth it out from the centre. Baste through all layers using safety pins, spacing them about 3in apart.

Quilt the quilt
Machine quilt through all layers with pink/yellow variegated thread in an all over curved pattern. (Sunshine and Roses was professionally quilted for me by Kim Bradley.) Alternatively, you could quilt the blocks in the ditch and quilt a floral motif in the centre of each block and a continuous pattern in the borders.

After finishing the quilting, trim the excess backing and batting to extend 1/4in beyond the outer edge of the quilt top. This extra 1/4in will provide a firm filling for the binding.

Sew the binding
Join the binding strips using 45-degree seams and press the seams open. Fold the binding in half lengthwise with wrong sides together and press. Sew the binding to the front of the quilt with the raw edges aligned, mitring the corners and joining the ends. Turn the folded edge of the binding over to the back of the quilt and slipstitch it in place.

Label the quilt
Sew a label to the back of the quilt. This should include at least your name and the date. If the quilt is for a gift, add the recipient’s name and details of how to care for the quilt.

Well, this was so much fun, I may do it again later with another of my quilt patterns. I hope you have enjoyed this easy design. Don't forget to email me a photo of your completed quilt - I'd love to see it in different colours.

Hello 2011

I love to see a whole new year stretching out ahead of me.

Anything is possible.