Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More colouring

Ages ago I did some doodling on paper and then on fabric. The fabric was drawn on with a permanent marker - I had a go at quilting them but it didn't look very good. This time, I did the doodling by quilting, then coloured it in with the pencils. Here is the small quilted piece.

And this is after colouring. It looks quite cute - in a cartoonish way - but I can't imagine doing anything much bigger than this. And the textile medium stains too. I foolishly assumed that it would dry clear, but no. So this was an interesting diversion, but it might be one of those techniques more suited to a neat-fingered perfectionist than an easily-distracted bodgy queen.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Like I've never been away

Got home again late last night! Everyone was pleased to see me, and both the house and the children were in better shape than before I left. Australia has recently introduced a fancy electronic passport system - where you do-it-yourself through immigration - which chose yesterday to collapse in a heap. Hundreds if not thousands of grumpy travellers, including me, waiting in an enormous queue. At least I went through Brisbane and not Sydney, which is much busier and would have been a complete nightmare. This was the view from my room yesterday morning before I left...

I saw a technique again on a blog yesterday - where you stitch the outline in black thread then colour it in with a watercolour pencil - so thought I would give it a go this afternoon while the boys were at the airport open day. (I refused to go with them after spending far too much time at airports yesterday). I wet the stitching first with textile medium, which not everyone recommends, but it seems to work for me. Anyway, firstly I printed a picture (kid's colouring-in picture!) from the internet straight onto the fabric. It's very very faint....

Then I stitched it in black and did background quilting in pink. It's meant to look a bit like letters or writing. Not sure if it does.

Then coloured it in with the pencils. This was just a test piece so I used every colour in the box to see how they all went. Some better than others! It's an interesting technique but I'm not sure how I would use it. It doesn't really lend itself to bigger quilts without an enormous amount of work, and the colours weren't very intense. BUT that could be because I bought the cheap watercolour pencils instead of the more expensive ones. Frugality, my friend.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Who sews in hotel rooms?

One of the things that impresses me most about the quilting blogging teaching travelling ladies is their ability to sew in hotel rooms. The logistics scare me a bit, cords and machines and lighting. But even more, there is something about a room that is not my own and that I don't have to clean that makes me want to lie around in my undies eating chinese takeaway and watching trashy television. I have learned how to do work in a hotel room (through bloody necessity) but useful hobby time? Never. I can't even knit.

This is my current hotel in Vanuatu - and very nice it is too. I am here for a short burst of work, and enjoying it. My Dad is at home looking after the children (I skyped them this morning and number one son said "Are you in Vanuatu? Since when?" I swear I did tell him I was going.)

I also have an Amiable Travelling Companion (a thing to be valued! A non-ATC can put a major dampener on your day).

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Turned out fine

The technique might be crap but the result was perfectly fine. There probably are seeds and twigs in that quilt somewhere, but I can't find them. And after a wash it doesn't even smell like burnt paper. I wanted to call it "Lumpy Bumpy and Wrinkly" but I thought that was a bit mean for a very inoffensive quilt, so I changed it to "Lions and Tigers and Bears". Oh my!

I did a very lazy meander on this - nothing at all in the shoo fly blocks and a machine-quilted squiggle in the zig zags. Definitely a utilitarian quilt. Dad said that the quilts I left with him have been snaffled by extended family members and are currently on beds! Isn't that nice? So much better than cupboards. The real challenge is getting the quilts across the Tasman in these luggage-allowance-straitened times.

In a comment on my last post Isabelle asked why I keep looking different in photos, she thinks she knows what I look like and then I change. It's not going to get any better I'm afraid - my face is a melange of several different faces, and what I look like depends on which one is winning. For example, I have the sparse, frizzy hair and pursed lips of a disapproving seventy-eight year old PLUS the maniacal eyes and worried grooves of many mothers of small boys PLUS the up-tilted chin and pompous cheeks of a middle-aged lawyer and boss who is not used to being interrupted while I am speaking (teachers tend to run to these too Isabelle, I am sure you have seen it!). Sadly, no photo can capture that complete freak show.

Monday, March 12, 2012

How to be a Very Bad Quilter

I think I shall make this an occasional series - what not to do in the world of quilting. I could fill a book with bad ideas; randomly sized seams, wavy borders, missing bits of batting (or backing), polyester material that melts when you iron it ... and this disastrous episode would be the star of a whole special section: "How NOT to baste".

Basting for me is the worst part of the whole quilting process. I read that others dislike binding, or quilting, or cutting ... I really hate basting. And I put it off, and the pile of tops grows and grows. Then I read on the internet about some whizz bang way of doing it that will eliminate all the bother, so I try that, and always always always it is only whizz bang if your quilt is under forty inches a side.

My new favourite method is spray basting with spray glue - I did it for the Checkered Past and it held together beautifully during quilting and was so very easy to do. I don't have a special covered wall to spray on, so I stick the backing up to the outside wall of the house with masking tape, then spray, put the batting on, spray, put the quilt top on. And away I go, it really was painless. So it lulled me into a false sense of security for this monster...

Which is about 240 cm (95 inches) square. Somebody had a method for spraybasting big quilts on a wall that they SWORE worked for them (and I watched on youtube, and it did work in the video) where they pin up half the quilt and do that while the rest pools on the floor, then flip it around and do the other half. The trouble is they had a special wall where they could use drawing pins (is that an australian word? thumb tacks?) and the masking tape I was using just could not hold the weight. I decided to do it on the floor, but I can't do it inside because it's a bit gluey and messy ... so here I am on the pavers out the back. This is bad bad bad quilting. For starters, the pavers are very uneven, so the surface is far from flat. Secondly, it is absolutely filthy. My husband swept the area for me (bless him, he was seeing me become increasingly irate and wanted to help (before he copped any of the fallout)) but there are still leaves, twigs and gumnuts glued into the quilt somewhere. And thirdly it is really quite agonising crawling around on the concrete smoothing it all out so mostly I did not bother. Lumpy, bumpy and wrinkly! (and that's just me, boom boom). A show quilt this is NOT.

It didn't help that the Arsonist Brothers were making ash in the background. I sent them inside to play computer games like normal children.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

What shall we call this?

I cannot stop using scraps! It must be something about having cut them all into strips and put them into bags ... the little ziploc bags call to me ("Lynley... Lynley .... sew me") and rustle with possibilities. So I used the 2.5 inch strips and cut out 96 sets of 8 squares.

And I'm making them into these 49 patch blocks. I can't find a name for these blocks but I know I've seen this somewhere. The trouble is, because I can't remember their name, I can't google them to find out what their name is ... it's a terrible bind. There is a specific way you arrange the fabrics, it's not completely scrappy. I love that depending on where you put the darks and the lights they can look quite different. I'm using all sorts of fabric but trying to limit the colours in each block.

On the down side, I haven't bought any fabric for ages because I've hardly made a dent in the accumulated yardage. I have three spaces for folded yardage in my five-by-five Ikea Expedit bookcase (the storage choice of impoverished quilters the world over) and I do my stash management by buying more when they look a bit empty; and stopping shopping when I can't cram in any more in. A low tech solution for me!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Checkered past

No, not my checkered past - that is not something that I can lay any conceivable claim to. I have meandered my way into middle-aged middle of the road mediocrity without any activities that could be described as illicit. Or even ill-advised. The most I could ever claim is ill-judged, and that only about deeply boring things, like investments. I am a bit jealous of people with skeletons on their closets, or vanished years. Anyway, it may surprise you to hear, the Checkered Past is a quilt! Shocking, I know.

I called it that because (a) it's in squares and (b) this is the third time I've quilted it. I very very rarely unpick anything, and I've unpicked the machine quilting on this TWICE because it just was so completely stuffed up. I do not know why it wouldn't work - doesn't it look innocuous? Neat little squares all lined up nicely. The first time was stitch in the ditch and it bumped and bubbled and rolled. The second time was wavy lines with a walking foot and it looked like absolute crap.
This time, on the principle of three strikes and you're out with the garbage, I did something I don't do much - quite a dense allover pattern. My preference is usually for less quilting and a softer finish, but this was a chance to do something different. It is meant to be leaves and flowers. There was a great deal of artistic license (I can't control my free motion quilting very well).

This is the back, a cute batik. The front are my own dyed fabrics. I like the back better than the front I think. On a completely different topic, I don't know if I should spell it "checkered" or "chequered". One is British, one is US. What do Australians do? Both look OK to me. I could get off my fat bum and go to the Macquarie Dictionary and find out, but I'm not going to. If I remember, I'll look it up later and put us all out of our agonising suspense.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Tahitian Women bound and finished!

And who knows what kind of hits that title will get me! But given that my readership is in the single digits (immediate family and the VERY discerning) it's probably a good thing to have some random traffic. So I have hand quilted Tahitian Women in a simple grid in big stitch, and bound it in a pink and blue print, and here it is!

Excuse the appalling photo - I can't get outside to put it on the clothesline because we are being deluged by the most rain in memory ... apparently we reached our March average rainfall at 6 am on March 1st, and currently an area around us the size of Finland is under flood alert. Or was it Denmark? Some small European country.

Here's a close up to show the quilting and the colours, and below is the back. I had two spare blocks (despite counting them dozens of times, how can that happen?) so pieced them into the backing.
And this is the rug that I took the photos on - it came back with a friend from posting in Turkey; we bought it from her "rug man" months ago via phone and emailing of photos, but hadn't seen it in person until the week before last when her full shipment arrived. Isn't it gorgeous? According to the rug man it's a 70 year old Romanian gypsy kilim ... I would have thought the early 1940s wasn't a peak time to be making rugs if you were a Romanian gypsy, but I'm not going to argue with the rug man.