Saturday, January 29, 2011

An old one

We've just had another week at the beach - no sewing as usual, just surfing, sitting, drinking beer and doing 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle!!! I took a photo, which is pretty sad, but it was the most I accomplished all week.

Here's an old one to show some quilting photos - I did this in 2005 I think, when I was just starting machine quilting. I wanted to do something reasonably complicated, so carefully marked in the cables and feathers with pencil and tried to stick to the lines! With limited success, I haven't done that again - now it's freehand or nothing.

It looks OK I suppose - but what on earth can you do with it? It's too white and stiff to be useful for a baby, and far too small for a bed. It has been folded up in the cupboard-where-quilts-go ever since.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Monochromatic challenge FAIL

Well, I tried. I do love yellow, and I was very excited about using different shades of yellow to make a small orange peel quilt - two tones working together and circles and stuff. BUT I pulled the yellow hand-dyed, and the greeny-yellow, and the orangey-yellow and none of it had a high enough contrast for the pattern. So I halfway abandoned it and put a lovely soft denim-blue with the yellow - which was nice, but a bit obvious. Yellow and blue do look well together but it wasn't what I was after. Then I tried this peachy / apricot with the blue and it looks awesome! A real 1980s colour combination, in fact I think my first quilt in 1988 was apricot and blue. And cream, possibly. I must drag it out and take photos of it - we need a laugh.

So, the orange peel are blocks are orange and blue, and I'm having fun making them. This is the first time I have done freezer paper applique (except it's not freezer paper, because I didn't have any, it's just some paper that was on the floor) and I'm enjoying it. It's a very simple shape, and my stitches aren't exactly invisible, but it's not the big mystery I thought it might be!

However, in terms of Judy's monochromatic challenge, I have emphatically failed!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Flora and fauna

We went to the Botanic Gardens this morning with friends down from Sydney, and their two boys, and our friend's mum who is out from England. She is a keen gardener and was kept well entertained by the variety of Australian plants - some familiar to her and some not - and the boys liked the wildlife. We saw lots of baby water dragons - a few inches long and brown - and one grown up one! It's a wonderful colour, like copper rust. Verdigris.

And there were masses of butterflies about too. I have no idea what any of them are - and they're a bit tricky to take photos of too! They tend to fly away ... why am I surprised by that?

A bottlebrush.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Words! On a quilt!!

I have finally finished the hand quilting on this one - I'm going to call it "Work-life balance" because the phrases on the outer border are my take on the generic selection criteria the Australian Public Service likes to inflict on its poor applicants for recruitment. I seem to have spent slightly too much time on selection panels this year! And it was sucking into my quilting time.

It's a pretty straightforward design - chinese coins in bars in the middle and then the words forming the border. I love this green and dyed a lot of it last summer; it's very fresh and limey. I know I said earlier that I have trouble with words on a quilt but this one just seemed to want them. And it was fun to do.

I'm thinking I will enter this one in the exhibition this August - it's a bit different and I'm proud of the hand quilting. I tried to actually get my stitches even and small (normally I don't even bother trying :) and although my success varied there are some bits that look good. Another forty years to perfect it I think!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

And here come the greens

It's raining today so I put the greens to dry on the drying rack inside rather than the line. It makes for a slightly less appealing picture! I'm pleased with these greens - there is one deep foresty green that I really like, and haven't made before.

I've run out of white fabric now so I'll have to call a halt for a while until I can re-stock. That might mean waiting until the end of the school holidays! The boys really really hate going to fabric stores, and I can't say I blame them. Either I'm dithering around unable to choose what I want, or there is an enormously long queue at the cutting tables ... or both. And then I spend half the time shrieking at them for playing chase in the sewing machine section and pushing all the threads back into the rack as far as they can. I can usually only lure them to a quilt shop via a pet store, or maybe with an ice cream for bait at the end.

Friday, January 7, 2011


I don't always do plans of my quilts - some of them tend to just grow as they're made - but sometimes I do. And I did for the recent pink / purple / green one which is all done and waiting for me to finish the hand quilting on the endless chinese coins. I'm going to do it in big-stitch with embroidery floss and I cannot wait to start; it will seem amazingly quick after the very dense hand stitching on the king-size quilt at the moment, which I do love doing but man it is taking forever. And some more forever.

My point being - I drew a pretty picture and coloured it in. I tried a couple of different colour schemes (and ignored them both :).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Blues today!

I'm balancing out all my yellows and oranges with blues and greens ... so far the unbleached calico seems to be dyeing nicely. I hope it's OK to sew with - it's a little bit coarse but by the time it's been through the hell of the dyeing process it's usually softened up a bit.

I went out to Spotlight on Tuesday for the usual fiesta of rummaging through piles of crap and rolls of fabric scattered everywhere to see if I could find what I wanted. Eventually I found something that looked like white cotton but it didn't have a tag ... it did have a barcode so I trotted it up to the counter to see if they could look it up on the system and tell me if it was cotton or polycotton. But they couldn't - the barcode was for something completely different.

I swear it is the most disorganised shop I have ever seen - and there are hundreds of them round the country and they are all, universally, messy and disorganised. It's awful. Anyway I didn't get the fabric - it didn't crumple very much so I thought it was probably a polyester blend and a bit unpredictable for dyeing. Apparently they'll get new stock in couple of weeks so I'll be back out there! I never learn.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Zigzag quilt from 2007

This is a quilt I made for my niece a few years ago - there was a bit of a craze for crocheted rugs in this zig zag pattern and I thought they looked fabulous! But I can't crochet (I plan to learn, one day) so it became a quilt instead. At the time the only patterns I could find used chevrons and y-seams which I wasn't interested in doing one tiny little bit, so made it with quarter-square triangles instead. Much easier!

This is when I was just starting to free-motion machine quilt, so I did a different pattern on each zig. Or zag.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Monochromatic challenge

I'm thinking of doing Judy's monochromatic challenge - I wasn't going to but the first colour picked was yellow which is one of my personal favourites! I use a lot of yellow but have never done 100% in one quilt. So I'm thinking I might use the solid hand-dyes.

The photo looks quite greeny and orangey but there are a pile of straight yellows in there too. I wasn't sure how yellow solid would work together but I might just use two shades - I have my beach bag for inspiration!!! And something simple as a pattern .. perhaps an orange peel?