Wednesday, May 30, 2012

WIP Wednesday: the one with poetry and Eurovision

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced


Azerbaijani scarf for Eurovision 2012!

Azerbaijani scarf

A little dodgy in the applique and traditional paper piecing arena, but acceptable enough to pass muster! It was done in the course of a day, so a bit of a rush job.

There Was Movement At The Station (WIP)

There was movement at the station
For the word had got around
That the colt from Old Regret had got away...
A.B. "Banjo" Patterson. Australian poet and artist, and author of some iconic Australian poetry - namely the poem "The Man From Snowy River" which the quoted lines are from, and on which the 1980s movie was based.

Ah, it was long ago!

There's not much to report this week - more progress on 'Mastercard' and another Birthday Block. But it's progress!

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard!

This is really a very simple quilt. The most tricky part is making sure I don't mix up the columns.

For everything else, there's MasterCard

Still, it's amazing how convoluted things can become when you're sewing and pressing seams and you haven't marked the column order!

Heirloom colours

Still loving this colourway, although I think I may need another colour to cut through the overpowering richness of it. I'm considering options right now.

I'll be finishing this top in the next week - hopefully in time for SCQuilters Group on Saturday!!

Birthday Blocks

The colour choices were blue and white. The block was 'quilter's choice'.

Birthday block

I'd never done a wonky star before...I hope that it's okay!

It's late, but the recipient knew it was going to be late, so that's okay. One more to make before June and then I'm all caught up!

Books And Blocks Bee

I, uh, started cutting the fabric without reading through the pattern more carefully.

Bee block

And now I have a small problem: the fabric remaining isn't long enough for the long strips at top and bottom. There's no Kona Ash in any of the local stores I've checked, and it will take at least three weeks to order any in from the US.

I'm going to have to speak with the lady who asked for the block because it's a conundrum!

Standing Still

Oh Germany, you were definitely Matchbox 20 (I kept getting echoes of "and she wiiiill be loved! She wiiiiill be lo-o-oved!") and I kept on expecting you to strip off that beanie and reveal The Hair (like The Hoff, but hairier...if that's even possible) but I'd buy your song!

1. Mum's Impstar - binding
2. Disappearing Harvest - binding
3. Go Back To The Jungle, Turn The Quilt Around - Binding
4. New York Beauty blocks - have printouts, will piece

So, as mentioned last week, the threat level has been hovering at DIRE with a prediction of BEARS, but with this week's efforts is moving back towards NEEDS MOAR TIME and I'll have time this Thursday and Friday night!

At least until someone calls up and asks if I want to go out.

Linky Party | Freshly Pieced | Go Forth And Peruse!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Eurovision 2012!

A friend is hugely into Eurovision and throws a party every year, inviting friends around to watch the SBS channel's screening of it, and decorating in the colours of the host country. This year, the colours were red, blue, and green, as per Azerbaijian's flag.

Eurovision party with spiders

My top three picks after watching the competition (but before the voting) were:
1. Iceland
2. Sweden
3. Germany

Clearly I know almost nothing about Eurovision works!

I did keep expecting Sweden's entry to start singing "Heathcliff! It's me, I'm Cathy, I've come home!" but obviously that wasn't in the plan.

Anyway, the party was fully decorated and we were encouraged to dress in the colours of the Azerbaijani flag. I've been planning to make something for my 'costume' for the last few weeks. Naturally, being me, it came down to the last minute. By which I mean, I started putting it all together on Sunday morning at 8am. The party was Sunday night at 6pm. I had hockey. And a church thing. It pretty much got finished at 5:30, sitting in my friend's lounge while listening to an explanation of how Eurovision worked.

Azerbaijani scarf

Making the scarf was the easy part! Affixing a crescent moon and a star to the 'flag'? Much more tricky!

Azerbaijani scarf

My applique is a little dodgy because I didn't think to back it with interfacing and the edges frayed after I'd sewed it. Then, too, I wasn't too careful about the appliqueing - I just slapped it down and sewed it, adjusting the tension to try to get that nice satiny stitch that my mum's applique always had.

In case you couldn't tell, I failed.

Azerbaijani scarf

I had to cut the 45 degree parallelograms myself, because the standard ones are 60 degree, and I needed an 8-pointed star, not a 6-pointed one.

Azerbaijani scarf

My covering of the templates was not the best (circumstance, timing, and inexperience), and so the star isn't as neatly precise as I would have liked.

But it passed muster in the end!

And a good time at the Eurovision 2012 party was had by all!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Baby Quilts

A late post on the Baby Quilts, which were actually finished last weekend. But I didn't get around to putting this post together on Monday, and I thought I'd better space my posts out a little.

So: commission, yadda yadda, baby quilts, yadda yadda, fabric purchase, yadda yadda, procrastination, procrastination, procrastination, yadda yadda...


I was doing some mad crazy quilting on Friday night before heading out to the footy with a friend, and then did some more early Saturday morning just as soon as I could pry my eyes open. Deadlines ftw!

Baby quilts: Finished!

I put the blue top together first, and quilted it first, too. My first time quilting something serious on my own machine! (ie. something that wasn't for me.)

Lots of detailed quilting on this one. In fact, it's pretty much a sampler for my quilting style!

Baby quilts: #1 bound

The overall effect...isn't bad. But the design perfectionist in me is all "but it's not PERFECT!" (The practical perfectionist in me is all "eh, you'll never get it perfect perfect - you know that, right?")

Baby Quilt 2: detail

And I love the fabric used for the back!

Baby quilts: #1 backing

SPACE INVADERS! Be still, oh my childhood of Atari games!

Quilt #2 is a lot more evenly quilted: basic stipple - so much easier on me! And more evenly quilted!

Baby quilts: #2 bound

And the back of this one is a medical print: Baby quilts: #2 backing

I have to say that while this one was certainly easier than the was a lot less exciting, too. (Which possibly means I am a Drama Queen. Oops?)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

WIP Wednesday: The One With Mastercard

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

I Thought I Couldn't Do It, But Indeed I Did! (a.k.a. "Finished!")

I did some mad quilting on Thursday and Friday nights and Saturday morning, and completed them both in time to meet with my friend for lunch on Saturday!

Baby quilts: Finished!

Phew! Now that they're all done, I've decided I rather like them. My friend messaged me on Monday to say that Recipients of Quilt #1 (the blue one) are delighted with it, so hooray for happy customers!

Elsa's Mug Rug

Done and bound, and bound for Elsa, along with some goodies!

Mug rug:  back

Mug rug:  front

I'm afraid it's not as pretty as the one she made me, though! And the light in which I took the photo was crappy. (I really need a photobooth or something for these pics.)'s a bit on the large side. Must make it smaller next time!

Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming... (a.k.a. "WIPs")

For Everything Else, There's Mastercard!

Quirky name for a very vivid quilt. This quilt has lots of personality and isn't about to try to hide it. (Gosh, that sounds like several people I know, can't imagine who...)

Heirloom layout

First couple of rows are sewn together: this week will be about sewing together the rest of it. And making sure I have enough left over for binding it! ACK!

On A Road To Nowhere (a.k.a. "No Progress")

Mum's Impstar: *sigh*
Disappearing Harvest: A friend has just announced her pregnancy - I think this will do nicely as a baby blanket! BUT THAT MEANS I HAVE TO FINISH IT!!!
Go Back To The Mountain, Turn The Quilt Around: ARGH ARGH ARGH ARGH

And the blocks:
New York Beauty: my printer briefly spazzed out last night and refused to print the template for Block 8. I shall check the number and try again tonight.
Books And Blocks Bee: I gotta get May done, and June. And then I have to do July early, because I'm the Queen Bee for July!
Birthday Blocks: Nope, nothing.

Current quilting project threat level: Dire.

I might have to start prioritising before my quilting project threat level reaches BEARS.

Anyway, there is or will shortly be a WIP Wednesday post up at Lee's! Check out the links at the linky party - and leave a few comments for folks whose work you like because comments are love. I've been really bad about going forth and commenting lately (BAD SEL! NO BISCUIT!), but I will get better!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Heirloom Quilt: "For Everything Else...There's Mastercard!"

I fell in love with the Heirloom collection almost as soon as it came out, and bought a half-yard of my favourite colourway as soon as I could afford it. Possibly sooner than I could afford it, considering I was out of work.

The plan was always to make a big, simple quilt out of the fabric. I simply didn't want to cut down the bold colours into teeny-tiny squares - and I thought the big patterns would look better in big pieces.

So I started cutting the fabrics last Thursday night while over at Penny Poppleton's and it went faster than I expected!

Heirloom fabrics

Such bright, lovely fabrics in this collection! So richly sumptuous! I'm particularly enamoured of the magentas and purples, but the pale yellows provide much-needed contrast.

No blocks for this one, just big columns of fabric laid out and sewn together.

It's definitely going to be a quilt with personality...

Heirloom layout

Current working title: "For everything else, there's Mastercard!"

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bloggers' Quilt Festival: Spring 2012 - Floating Wildflowers

I thought that I'd enter my 2012 quilt Floating Wildflowers for the Bloggers' Quilt festival.

Floating wildflowers quilt finished and on display

I think of it as an exercise in 'traditional, yet modern' - the traditional fabrics in a modern layout. I wanted the coloured blocks to float across the mustard-cream background, the eye hop-scotching from square to square, helter-skelter across the blocks as they seem to wiggle from side to side.

As I posted while laying it all out - this quilt has JAZZ HANDS!

floating wildflowers: quilted

The quilt was made for my friend S, who got married earlier this year. They live out on a farm in western NSW, in a house that was new fifty years ago, eking a living off the land. Her new hubby, J, is good people - a farmer down to his toenails, and an honest larrikin to boot.

I thought the traditional fabrics would look good in their house, with a modern touch, because if S is a country girl at heart, she lived in the city for a good long while, partying and living it up before J and she got together.

Floating Wildflowers - finished

The fabric is Wildflower Serenade II and I bought a "charmed jelly cake" of it back when I first discovered the dangers of fabric shopping online. (So much fabric, so little room on the credit card!)

I love the richness of the colours - highly saturated, with a lovely depth. And the mustard-cream is a perfect foil for the darker colours.

tradit fabric, modern quilting?

While I was making this quilt, I considered the definition of "modern quilting".

My impression is that "traditionally", quilting was done with leftovers. Fragments. Scraps. Odds and ends. Bits and pieces. Leftover fabric from the bolt after clothes had been cut. Remainder fabric from old clothes and linens too worn through in some places but still usable in others.

Hexies and HSTs, pieced stars, triangles - large blocks made out of small pieces:

angled askew

Traditional quilting was, I imagine, a way to stretch the budget in hard times - to make big things out of the pieces of little things that were still good when other big things wore out at the seams.

Quilting in the current world is no longer the province of the thrifty. Quilting as we understand it nowadays is the hobby or business of a woman who has time, energy, and some form of capital for the initial investment of fabric, thread, and wadding.

Surely, by this definition, all quilting these days - done for fun, for entertainment, for creativity, even when the proceeds are sold - is modern? Perhaps so long as we're not quilting because we have to, we're all modern quilters?

Of course, there's the question of "traditional fabrics" vs. "modern fabrics". Yet quilts that everyone would term 'modern quilts' almost inevitably use traditional pieced blocks; it's only the fabric that has a clearly modern design and colours that would have made the quilters of yesteryears blink.

Does that then mean that a traditional-style fabric can't be laid out in a "modern" manner - the use of colour and space to deceive the eye?

the nature of cats

I suppose that, in the end, it doesn't really matter whether this quilt is traditional or modern, so long as the recipient likes it and finds it both beautiful and useful.

At any rate, it has the cat's buttstamp of approval! Maladicta likes it!


There are plenty of links up at the Bloggers' Quilt Festival Linky-Party - go check them out and comment on a few!

And I'd love to hear your opinions on what constitutes modern vs. traditional quilting. Conversation is always welcome!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday - I Like To Move It Move It

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

So it's (finally) been a productive week for me.

I Like To Move It, Move It! (Finished!)

I can never hear that song without thinking of the introduction of Julian the lemur king in Madagascar (voiced by Sasha Baron Cohen). What a character!

Anyway, it's been a good week for Doing Things, because I finally had some nights free. Lots of sewing and cutting and realising that the TV I put in place of my broken one doesn't actually do USB sticks. And the DVD player (with a USB port) doesn't do anything but .avi files.

So, no Castle. *pout*

Books And Blocks Bee

I set aside Thursday and Friday nights for doing quilty things, like putting together quilt blocks and pin-basting the first of the two baby quilts before spending Saturday quilting them. That was the theory, anyway.

April Block: Selvedge Strings from 99 Modern Blocks

Books and bees block: Selvage strings

SpinTheBobbin wanted the block but made without selvedges and in patriotic colours. I already had the American Flag fabrics squirrelled away, so I figured this was as good a time as any to use them!

Birthday Blocks

I'm way behind on these - there were three for March and then nothing more until June. I got one sent out, now just the other two.

Birthday block: water wheel

This month, Mkissa wanted a block of the quilter's choice, in red, white, and aqua... I missed the note about wanting aqua. Should I make another one in aqua, or just send her the blue?

Are We There Yet? (WIPs)

(Note: I'm lacking photos at the time of posting, simply because I haven't had a chance to take them, but I'll get the post up for WIP Wednesday, and add the photos in a few hours.)

Baby Quilts

Still in progress! They'll be finished by the coming Saturday. (they have to be - I have to hand them over then!)

Baby Quilt #1 still has some quilting to go - I got tricksy with quilting details and...yeah. It's now a mish-mash of quilting styles - pretty much my quilting sampler!

[Baby Quilt 2

Baby Quilt 2: detail

For Baby Quilt #2, I decided simpler was better, and just went with a nice easy stipple.

Baby quilt1

Mug Rug Swap

My swapee is Elsa of Elsa's Fine Line, who wanted something modern in grey and lime green and yellow - I've never done a mug rug before, so this was definitely an experience!

Mug rug front

I just quilted it in waves because I didn't know how else to quilt it! And my quilting skills (as previously mentioned) are not particularly impressive!

Mug rug detail

The back is a half-block of from Kim Brackett's Scrap-basket Sensations.

Mug rug back

It may be a little large on the mug-rug side - 6" x 12" - so perhaps it's more of a soup-bowl-rug? :)

The Usual Suspects (Still No Progress)

I will get these done...someday! Someday soon! Really! *weeps*

1. Mum's Impstar: I missed Mother's Day - boo! Part of that was because I didn't know what fabric I should use for the binding. I don't have any of the original fabric and I'm looking at alternatives now.
2. Disappearing Harvest: One word: meh.
3. Go Back To The Mountain, Turn The Quilt Around!: need to pick the binding fabric.

Blockish Things:
4. New York Beauty Blocks: I've made a list of the bits that need cutting out for each block, I have to find the time (and clear the space) so I can actually get that done.
5. Birthday Blocks: just one to go before I'm caught up until June. Another 'Quilter's Choice' - I'm thinking I might go simple and do a Broken Dishes, or perhaps a Bear Claws - this one just in blue and white.
6. Books and Bees Block: Kelleigh z wants the Pinwheel block from 99 Modern Blocks, which looks relatively easy (famous last words). I received the backgroun fabric in the mail on Monday and now it's time to quilt!

Planning, Planning, Planning
Sanae Mama and Babies: Need Kona Daffodil
Heirloom: Maybe I can do some cutting this weekend?
QuiltCon: Shhh! It's a secret! But my fabric has arrived.

Giving Up
I have to give up my hope of putting an entry into the PLAY competition prompted by Sew Happy Geek. Considering I haven't done more than the design on this one and there's five days to Not going to make it.

But I had designs! And plans! And measurements!

PLAY - collage

I was going to do The Joker - specifically, The Joker from Batman - and highly influenced by Heath Ledger's iconic Batman: diabolical, unpredictable, psychological.

PLAY - The Joker

The "joker grin" was going to be hand-stitched on and frayed at the edges for that edgy, psychological look.

I even had the Batman logo (from Christopher Nolan's Batman movie series) mapped out!

PLAY - Batman Logo

Alas for a lack of time! This whole 'working 40 hours a week' thing really takes it out of you! (Okay, so the 'playing and training for hockey', 'being involved in a bible study and church', and 'having a social life' things take a lot out of me, too.)

On the plus side, I now have money to spend! I got my first pay yesterday and hoo boy! So nice to have my account balance finally going up instead of steadily going down...

There may be fabric purchases in the near future! :) But really, I'm hoping to move a lot of my fabric out of my stash instead of just adding to it!

Enough about me, let's talk about you for a minute! (Did you know Alanis has a new album out? I didn't until my friend Andrew blogged about it over at his pop culture blog Sparkly Pretty Briiiight! I'm quite excited! But that's another topic entirely! *AHEM*) Are you on the WIP Wednesday link party over at Freshly Pieced? Are you going to go over and check it out?

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Crazy May!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

With my gran's funeral last Wednesday, I didn't really have time to put together a WIP Wednesday. But I did get one project done the week before!


Baby Quilt Top #2

For the niece of a friend:

Baby quilt #2

I think I like the layout of this one better than the other - more structured, but still all holding together. I think that next time I do one of these, I need to pull more colours from my stash, because four fabrics weren't enough to do what I really wanted to do with this.

And the two tops (the other one is for the friend's nephew):

Baby quilts

One of this weekend's goals is to baste and quilt them on Saturday (while catching up with Castle S4) - just straight line quilting - I'm not sure I'm up to FMQ on my mere Brother NS50 yet!


The WIPs this week include long-term 'waiting to be bound' quilts...

1. Mum's Impstar

2. Disappearing Harvest

3. Go Back To The Mountain, Turn The Quilt Around!

...although there are also The Usual Suspects...
4. New York Beauty Blocks

5. Books and Blocks Bee: April and May blocks

6. Birthday Blocks

And a new contender for Things Which Need To Be Made For Swaps
7. Mug Rug Swap for Elsa!
I have decided that May is going to be the Month Of Moving Projects Off The Board. Then June will be the Month Of Doing.

So this weekend (Saturday) will be set aside getting the Mug Rugs, Bee Blocks, and Birthday Blocks done, with possibly a dash of NYB for good measure. Oh, and Mum's Impstar, because it's Mother's Day and therefore a good time to give her the gift! :)

Waiting In The Wings:

1. PLAY - don't know if I'll get this done before the due date (17th May), but I'm going to try and it's going to come from stash.

2. Sanae - Mommy and babies - I need to order some Kona Buttercup to do this

3. Heirloom quilt - have a design in mind, I should do some cutting this weekend

4. Terrain - still working out a design for this.

But that’s all in the “where do I find the time for this” column right now!

In the meantime, check out what other people are doing over at Freshly Pieced's linky party!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

A History Of Sewing Women

My grandmother died on Sunday. She was 96 years old.

It wasn't wholly unexpected - she'd been living in a nursing home for the last four years and she pretty much just stopped eating some two weeks ago. When we went to visit her, she always wanted to sleep. She told my sister she was old and tired.

She's gone home to her Saviour. And we're sad for ourselves, but relieved that she's out of pain and in a better place.

She got me into art and painting - it was my mother who inducted me into sewing, and an aunt who set me on the quilting path. But it seems my grandmother was a bit of a sewer herself, making her own clothes from bright bits of cloth. My strongest memories of her are a thin, birdlike woman with a hunch, who told outrageous stories, and gave trinket gifts.

I'm not so relieved at the prospect of cleaning out her house, though. It's a lovely old house in a wealthy suburb in Sydney, which has been left to run down. It's pretty much been left exactly as it was since she moved out, with things shuffled around but not really cleaned or tidied up.

And she almost never threw anything out.

The result being that we made a few finds while going through the house.

A jewellery box with an embroidered lid of Chinese silk: the delicate, hand-sewn type.

Chinese silk-sewn jewellery

Isn't it exquisite? (The colour's more vivid in the photo - it's a lot more faded and muted in RL.) It needs cleaning - very careful cleaning! And the box itself is falling apart, but that's just a matter of glue and re-upholstery.

Box cover detail 2

I may have to take up a little silk embroidery myself to fix some of the bits that are falling apart. Not sure where to start for that. (Other than the internet: "Google is your friend.")

Then there's the China silk swatches I discovered in a box of my grandfather's stuff.

Silk swatches

My grandfather ran an import business of Chinese smallgoods into Australia from the late 1930s until he was somewhere in his 70s. He died in 1996, and my grandmother pretty much just put all his stuff into the 'spare bedroom' and didn't sort through any of it. (Gran wasn't one for organisation.)

Silk swatches : label

Tussah silk is presumably the silk produced by the Chinese Tussah Moth, which is a wild silkworm, as compared to the Bombyx mori which is the customary commercial silkworm.

The texture is exquisite! And the colours! (And the fact that they're pretty much precuts!)

Silk swatches: close up

Why yes, I do believe that is the sound of a quilt being planned inside the confines of my skull. Why do you ask?

Of course, some of them need to be cleaned.

And then, of course, they all need to be ironed. Which I can do with the Very Old Iron I found and kidnapped. Pretty much perfect condition! Of course, I'll have to remember not to leave it face down on the fabric, because this vintage of iron doesn't have an 'auto-off'...


There were sackfuls of fabric in the spare room. Which I'll have to find time/space to go through.

Other discoveries in the house include this length of cotton in what looks very much like 'sari' colours:

Cotton sari fabric?

An embroidered tablecloth - cross-stitched Chinese junks:

Cross stitched tablecloth

And a Ginger Meggs sweater that my dad reckons he used to wear as a kid. Ginger Meggs is an Australian icon - a larrikin kid who got into trouble as facilely as he got out of it.

Ginger Meggs Sweater detail

And the big find: a Hordernia sewing treadle machine! Condition unknown!

Hordenia treadle sewing machine

Still in its cabinet, although the belt connecting the pedal to the wheel is long gone and the treadle is all rusty.

Hordenia treadle sewing machine

I shall have to see if it's repairable - even if all one can do is sew a plain, straight stitch on's certainly a small piece of history - my history - a family heirloom!

Goodbye, Mah-Mah. I will miss your hand gestures and your cackle, your stories and the fondness in your eyes. I will miss the horror of powdered milk and chokos boiled until they were mushy, chocolate that had a use-by date of 1983, and tins of food so old that the contents had fermented, boiling out the ends of the can like bloated aluminium aliens. I will miss your quoting of your favourite bible verses, the slow musing over old pictures of family and friends, and my eccentric, entertaining, loving grandma.

Rest In Peace, Mah-Mah, and I'll see you someday when I'm called home.