Thursday, June 30, 2011

Another floor cushion is born

And a damn sight easier than a real baby, let me tell you. The string-x blocks went together quite well for the number of bias edges involved.

I learned from my previous wobbly double tracks on the first cushion, and tried to avoid straight lines on any points where there were multiple seams. So the more detailed quilting is on the nice flat plain green bits. The string bits just a get a token quilting line a half-inch in from the seam - trying to avoid the bumps! Not 100% successful, but lots of fun.

Here's the back. Despite my best efforts it really isn't any more invisible than the earlier zipper - but the big print does quite a good job disguising it!

Something to sit on in the sun in the family room. These winter days the sun patch can be the only warm spot in the house. It's on a north wall, same as the little upstairs balcony, so the whole room gets lovely sun in winter. The boys gravitate towards the balcony - mostly for chucking off experimental tissue parachutes - but this string arrangement is new. Apparently it's a warning system and defence mechanism in case the neighbours attack us. (The neighbours are a delightful retired couple who have shown no invasion tendencies to date. But perhaps it's best to be prepared).

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Floor cushion #2

I enjoyed making the floor cushion cover so much that I'm going to do another one - same colours and theme but a slightly different arrangement. I'll still use scrap strings, only this time over paper. The pieces are 3 1/2" by 8", and at this stage I will put them together into Bonnie's string-x block pattern here. Except a different size, and just using the hand-dyed solids in green and blue.

I haven't done a great deal of paper piecing, but when I do I use the pattern sheets from inside the quilting magazines as foundations. I've never followed a pattern in my life - so the pattern sheets are useless to me. And they make good paper piecing foundations! Win win.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Little felty flowers

My first little woolly things are flowers! It seems appropriate. This is great fun - I sort of think of a shape, then cut it out from a piece of felt, and sew it on. Colours are whatever I think is pretty, and threads are whatever I think might look good, and then I stick it on whatever bit of the grey stuff is closest.

I'm sure this would work out much better in the end if I had a design, and a plan, and a pattern, and put a bit of effort and thought into shapes or placement ... but I just can't bring myself to.

Next I'm going to do a little sun. I'm getting inspiration from the very clever people here - aren't these cute? They have pdf patterns but I don't use them, I just look at the picture and wing it. If I wanted to print off the pattern I'd have to walk ten metres to the other computer, and that's not going to happen. Not while Toddlers and Tiaras is on. There seems to be a lot of geographical overlap between mad-keen quilters and mad-keen pageant families. Coincidence?

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Floor cushion

I made the blue strips mini quilt into a floor cushion in the end. I had the cushion (naked) in my sewing room for ages waiting for a cover, but it seemed like the boring old mending end of sewing so never got done! I hadn't thought of quilted cushion covers until I saw some beautiful appliqued and stitched floral numbers like this.

Clearly that floral concept I linked to is far too girly (and white!) for the boys to lie on grubbily in front of the heater, but I liked the idea of a quilted cover. It still looks a bit crumpled and wobbly, but in a cushion that's a good thing. I like the green fabric on the back too - this is my first go at putting in an invisible zipper. It's not particularly invisible, but I've learned how to do it now and will try better next time. It's very straightforward, easier than attaching velcro strips - my favourite method up to now - and much neater.

It looks like it's smirking at me for not being invisible. Maybe it is...

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Haven't forgotten the wool felt

I hadn't forgotten about the bundle of wool blend felt I ordered a couple of months ago ... in fact I've been picking it up and patting the layers now and again. I just thought that really I should finish the current hand sewing project (hexagons) before starting anything new. Which is sensible.

But then I had a little brain moment and remembered that somewhere, in a bag, in a cupboard, in a room, there were some dark grey bits of woollen fabric. My mother-in-law gave me some material years ago from her cupboard. There were all sorts in there but I was sure it included a few sizeable pieces of men's suiting.

So I made my poor long-suffering husband drag out bags from dark corners and sure enough; past the winter jackets, behind the bag of bras that don't fit, even past the wedding dress ... a whole big stripey bag of fabric scraps, including the dark grey wool. I could be completely wrong, but I have a feeling they're leftovers from suits or trousers that my father-in-law had made when they lived in Hong Kong.

All three feel like wool to me, but I thought I'd do the burn test just to make sure! I've always wanted to do this, it seems very scientific. Synthetics melt, cotton flames, wool smells like burnt feathers ... which all sounds very simple but my results were inconclusive. It burned rather than melted, and smelt like burnt hair, but there was a powdery residue that felt like melted plastic. So I'm scientifically saying it's a wool blend. That gives me a bet both way, and I'm going to use the lovely soft herringbone (in the middle) as a background for my wool felt embroidery thingy.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Fooling around

I've just been mucking about with hand-dyed bits and chinese coins. Or possibly strings, or even strata. Whatever you call them, it's dead simple - bits sewn together and into long bits sewn together. How was that for a fabulous explanation of my technique - do you see why I don't have any tutorials here?

Just in blues, with a bit of yellow for lift. And then machine-quilted in those parallel lines. A bit lumpy at the moment as you can see. I'd like to blame the non-flash camera phone but it's not its fault at all ... it's the sewing. I like the double tracks though. This was a lot of fun to put together and will make a nice something. Mini quilt?

Chemo week here so more reading blogs than sewing. And throwing out the occasional comment, it's quite tempting to let loose the sound of your own voice. Fingers. Keyboard. When real life gets back on track the internet may well weaken its pull.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Bowtie completed

I'm really pleased with how this turned out ... but not so pleased with the photography!! Still using the phone as a camera and it's not quite the same. For the quilting motif in the white squares I used Star Flower from the free motion quilting project. I just did three outlines and not the filler, but I think it looks lovely!!

The pink is an allover meander and parallel lines in the border. No great desire to keep going with the white - now I've conquered it :) - but I'm quite taken with straight line machine-quilting and working on something else now. I'll photograph it when the sun shines!! If only my phone had a flash.
And Sunday was just as nice as Saturday - farmers' markets in the morning, cold but a nice hot chocolate sorted that out.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Long weekend

It's a long weekend here in Canberra and there has been a fair amount of sewing activity to match. First though, a big thick book wrapped in shiny plastic was delivered. I am very much looking forward to delving into this one .... but I haven't taken the plastic off yet. I'm savouring it. Excuse the quality of the photos - our camera is on the blink so this is from the phone.

I'm also enjoying quilting the bowtie quilt. I'm doing parallel lines in the border area - I always thought they would be a pain to do, because of having to mark them. I know from experience that if parallel straight lines aren't parallel (or straight, or lines) they look terrible. BUT then I realised what that strange bit of metal in the bits and bobs drawer was for! It attaches to my walking foot and lines up with the line you just did! What a wonderful invention, I can't believe I didn't cotton on to this before. I'm going to be doing way more parallel lines now.

Sometimes I wish I was the kind of mother that uses the long weekend to take their children on long bushwalks with organic wholemeal snacks and educational flower-spotting. But I'm not. Saturday afternoon we all went to the mall, bought some lego and had afternoon tea at donut king. It was great.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fighting the white fright

I really love the modern quilts with clear prints and lots of white. I think they look fresh and pretty and lovely. But every time I sit down to make one, I veer away. For some reason I have difficulty in using great chunks of white or cream. I think it's because I started quilting in the 1980s, and there was really only one choice - a selection of matching pastel or country prints together with a "background" fabric. Acres of quilters muslin or unbleached calico to be hand-quilted with a feathered wreath.

But it's time I got over it. So I chose a nice simple block that I hadn't made before (Bowtie), some plain white and a selection of pretty prints in pink(ish) and yellow(ish). The photos show a bit more yellow than the reality. The blocks went together wonderfully easily, and this is the layout of the blocks. The quilt will probably finish about 55", so toddler-sized. I'll do a white border too just to make perfectly sure my phobia is cured! Is this aversion therapy?

The next question is the quilting - I like the closely-spaced horizontal lines that people do. But I also like the ornate swirls, and all that white might call for something a bit fancy. More thinking needed.