Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Forgot to show you the back

I also took a photo of the back of the big quilt - but forgot to put it in the blog post. So here it is! I used lots of different bits and I love the look; I can probably use the quilt either side up.

I meant to do heaps of sewing today - now I've finally tidied up the sewing room from the scrap quilt chaos - but ended up spending two and a half hours in radiation oncology (it's meant to take about fifteen minutes). They got halfway through the zapping then realised something was stuffed up and they needed to check it, so sent me back out to the waiting room for the duration. In my gown, with the entire over-65 population of Canberra for company. And they're not interested in old copies of Marie Claire ... they would much prefer to chat. To me. Four treatments down, twenty-one to go.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Monster quilt is done!

Yay! As anticipated, the last couple of seams were a bit of a wrestle ... getting a lot of fabric through my bottom-of-the-range Janome needed some muscle power. It also involved everything in a metre radius of my sewing table getting swept onto the floor, as great waves of multi-coloured quilt passed by.

But compared to machine quilting it was an absolute doddle, and I'm really pleased with the result. It's wonderfully scrappy and bright. You can see which are the connecting strips. When I connected the smaller pieces I tried to make the connecting strips of varying widths and use the same spacing as I had for the quilting, to make them blend in more. But by the time I got to the long joins, practicality dictated a very narrow strip with no additional batting. So they're quite noticeable.

I always have a problem trying to photograph my quilts - especially the big ones. One day I'll look into decent lighting and a hanging system ... it's on the list. But whacking it over the clothesline gives a good enough idea of how it turned out.

Nine-year old boy included for scale.

Monday, August 22, 2011

The enormous quilt is taking shape

As I went along with my quilt-as-you-go mini pieces I coloured in a square in the appropriate size on a bit of paper. A low-tech solution to keeping track of what I'd done, and an attempt to get the colour balance right. So eventually I ended up with 100 inches of pre-quilted pieces.

And I could cut them up in lots of pieces to re-arrange into something that might work.

Then draw another plan of where everything went.

I thought it might take a bit of thought and arrangement - but there was actually only one or two ways that it would go together without further chopping and re-piecing. So my options were limited. This arrangement has one or two colours the same next to each other, but I'm not going to freak out about it. This was in some ways a test piece made entirely of scraps and destined for regular use (and machine washing). I'm not sure what idiocy decided it would be so freaking enormous ... but small things aren't practical. There are only so many snuggle quilts you can put in the car before you start looking homeless.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Burnt umber begone

My watercolour instruction book let me move onto colours! I did a colour wheel, although none of the colours of my paints matched the colours he said to use in the book. "To make purple, add Prussian Blue to Alizarin". Or alternatively, add that bluey colour at the bottom with that red colour in the middle row, because you know, it has to make some kind of purple. But as an exercise it served its purpose, in keeping on managing that pesky runaway watery paint.

Number two son decided to join in and painted his own colour wheel beside me, which was lovely company, if not particularly helpful. He was getting cross because his didn't look as neat and pretty as mine ... at exactly the same time I was getting cross because mine didn't look as professional and immaculate as the one in the book. We suffered our artistic deficiencies together.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Still going with the wool felt

I haven't forgotten my adventure into wool felt - I've been picking away at it in random moments in front of the TV. It requires slightly more concentration than I normally have available while TV watching - hand quilting is much more brainless - so I don't always do it. But when watching something that only uses a tiny part of your brain (i.e. Midsomer Murders, which is getting more barking mad by the week) I applique merrily.

But not always with such good results. This is a bird with an experiment-gone-wrong beak transplant.

This is meant to be a sun. It looks like wrestling jellyfish.

Flowers not known to nature.

I've been writing off my design failures as "primitive" and bugger me, it really does look quite good in bulk! The flowers are jumbling up nicely - I just have to think of some little friends for the mutant bird and it will be a perfectly respectable cushion cover, if no-one looks too closely at any individual item.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Craft Fair and Quilt Show

The Canberra Quilters Annual Show was on this week and I trotted along on Thursday. As usual, it's held in conjunction with the Craft Fair - the big travelling market thing with lots of traders and classes; about half quilting and half other crafts. No photos for this post - I took a few but I haven't asked any of the quilters for permission to show their stuff on-line.

I didn't enter anything in the show this year because it was all a bit difficult to plan in advance when I didn't know how I'd be feeling. So I feel a bit mean saying that I thought the show was flat - normally there's a really interesting mix of traditional and modern; beginners and advanced; bright and subdued; big and small. It just didn't seem that varied and interesting this year, but maybe it was my mood. I was tired and the show was crowded.

The very talented Helen Godden won overall with her lovely gang-gang quilt (second photo on the page I've linked to). It's a wonderful quilt in person - more colourful and balanced than in the photo, but you get the idea. There were a few very good quilts in the exhibition, but not many I wanted to look at for longer than a second or two.

And, to be extra cranky, I don't know why I bother going into the traders' hall at all - there's some good stuff in there but why jostle fifteen middle-aged women to get attention for something that is more expensive than you can buy online - often from the same shop. The only thing I really wanted was a thread stall (I've discovered the joys of thread that's not from the dollar shop! finally) and there wasn't one. Nothing except racks of metallic stuff for embroidery because it's not proper craft unless you pile shiny shit ALL OVER IT.

Maybe next year I'll have a nap before I go.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011


I like to muck about with watercolours. Sometimes sewing is impractical - when you're travelling say - but the urge is still there to mix some colours together and (hopefully) do something pretty. BUT I'm really crap at painting. I never quite conquered the watercolours thing (and buying the equipment at K-Mart probably didn't help). So, for Christmas, my lovely husband got me some nice paints, decent brushes, proper paper and an instruction book. The year being the disaster that it's been, I hadn't done anything with them until now; but now I've cracked open the instruction book and I'm very uncharacteristically doing what it says.

So we have the Dreaded Exercises in Burnt Umber. Look familiar to anyone? Gradations, washes, value, shade. Already I've learnt something about how you get watercolour to behave.

One of my aims is to be able to work with fabric paint, which behaves in a similar way to watercolours (i.e. bleeding and making a splotchy mess, in my experience). I want to be able to play around with surface design - rather than landscapes, which is where my instruction book is heading. I think there are enough bad watercolour landscapes in the world (and not nearly enough badly decorated pieces of fabric, mwhahahaha).

Monday, August 8, 2011

Cake not sewing

Because it was my birthday, so we went out for brunch, and had cake, and presents. Nothing too terribly exciting but just right for me!

Can you tell the cake was made by me and the boys, and not a cake-making professional? Number one son and I made the meringues (we took turns at the piping, with mixed results), the whole family made the cake, and number two son was in charge of the icing, with help from me. I thought chocolate icing would be better on a chocolate cake, but he was insistent that pink would work better with the colour scheme we already had going with the meringues. He may be right.

The ribbon was entirely my idea.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

More scrap quilt-as-you-go pieces

I'm getting back into the swing of doing these pieces - and I still think they're fun! I made two blue ones, and finished off a yellow one. Which I'm also using as my new header.

The blue one was a chance to finally use a really unattractive dyeing disaster fabric (see arrow) that I've had for years. It was my first experience of how black dye can completely take over everything else! Beware the dark side of the force people, it will swallow you up. I did manage to find a bit that didn't look like it had crawled out of a coal bag and coughed, but it was a struggle. And I have finally figured out how to add text and arrows and shapes to a photo on the mac. Expect a lot of these in the future because I am quite impressed with myself.

We're having the "fake warm" here at the moment - that week towards the end of winter where the temperatures suddenly go up and there's a smell of spring in the air. It never lasts of course, it just teases you with an idea that winter might be ending; after the fake warm there is another good three weeks of cold and wet before the weather really starts changing at the end of August. Canberra has a very predictable climate, and I know after seventeen years here (god! that long!) that winter doesn't end until you are really really really sick of it.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Easing back into it

I started slow with a couple of mitred stripe blocks - I like both the box and the cross formation, so will probably use both when I make a quilt. Which I'm NOT starting now, I have plenty of half-finished things to work on!

Yes, my ironing board stays "steaming hot" upside down. Big W didn't have much of a selection when I went there on an emergency ironing board cover mission ... actually there was this one and a pink one that was raising funds for breast cancer. I bought this one even though it was more expensive and not one cent went to charity ... I go to enormous lengths to avoid pink shit about cancer. I did however google how to make a big ironing table - I think it would be really handy. According to the YouTube gods, it's really easy to make! A lady did it in five minutes!

I ordered some more striped fabric to go with my small pile that I already have - it isn't much but I think it will be enough. I'm not planning another monster quilt, not for a while.