Wednesday, March 11, 2015

That wine last night really hit the spot!  So I'm finishing off the bottle tonight.
Today I finished two pantos, and loaded a third top  for Mereth to do tomorrow.   Maybe tomorrow I'll have a day to myself, and I can sew on one of my projects as a treat.  I haven't had any finishes for ages, mainly because I'm working on 4 major projects, and a minor one every now and then.  When I finish them all it will be over 30m to write into the spreadsheet, but I'm nowhere near finishing any of them. 

I've been kitting these four projects because my son is visiting next month, and he'll be sleeping in my sewing room.  I need to have things prepared so that I can set up a machine on my kitchen table and sew while I don't have access to my room.  It's good that Logical Me has this all under control, but Impulsive me just wants to sit down and sew it all up straight away.  Luckily there are so many other things I have to do, I don't have time for any sewing of my own.

Me and My Stitches   commented on the last post:

And I almost had a panic attack when I saw the fabric you used - shown in your 2nd picture, the red/pink in the bottom right hand corner. That is one of my all time favorite fabrics and I only have a fat quarter of it. What I wouldn't do for a bolt! 
Yes indeedy, that is a lovely fabric, and I only ever had a FQ.  This is all that's left, and I'm sad to have used it up.  One day I'm sure we'll have 'Print On Demand" fabric, and then we won't have to be stingy with our favourites.  I have a Very Precious FQ of a toile, and was aghast to see a blogger had used the same fabric for her ironing board cover.  Oh No!!! Don't waste it on that, send it to me......


Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The blocks on my design wall are Cracker Box blocks, and I started them in 2009. 

I knew I wanted the blocks to be shades of dull blue and red, more dusty than bright; I made a few blocks to test the measurements and work out the pressing sequence but that's as far as I got.  I've been collecting fabrics for it ever since, looking forward to working on it, but so many other UFOs took precedence.  I took care of most of the 'Meh' projects on the list last year, now it's time to work on some of the ones I really want to do.

I had absolutely no idea of the layout for the blocks, so EQ7 really helped me visualise what I could do.  As I made the blocks and put them on the design wall edge to edge I realised that there was an HourGlass block forming between them. 
So I came up with an edge of those blocks all around as a sort of border that the blocks flowed into, and then having a Cracker block in each corner extended the pattern out nicely.
 I may yet put a smaller border all the way around, but I'll decide that once it's all on the design wall.  I'm really enjoying these blue and red fabrics, I seem to have been sewing with them for months. 
It's great to be using a section of the stash that I previously passed over because they weren't a good clear red or blue.  The answer was to put them all together in one project, and celebrate their murkiness.

I have the rest of the blocks cut and bagged, waiting to be sewn in spare moments.
I'm just snowed under with work at the moment, I worked on the weekend and I've been racing from one job to another all day; I just might be too tired to sew tonight. 
If I feel better after a glass of wine I'll tackle a few of those baggies, if not I can go look at stuff on Pinterest.  That doesn't require any effort or brainpower!


Saturday, March 07, 2015

We have a long weekend here in South Australia, and it's such a luxury to have an extra day at home.  Mind you, I'll be working; printing and quilting, but it's so nice to be able to get things done without rushing.
Yesterday I did some computer work in the morning, and then we went into Pirie to visit with Mereth's family.  Nephew John was singing in the local theatre group's production of Grease, so we had dinner, then went to see the show.  It was great to see so many young kids putting on a big show, lots of enthusiasm and fantastic performances.  We'd watched John and Liz construct many of the sets over the last months, Mereth even painted some of them, and it was fun to see it all come together for three sold out performances.
It was nearly 1am when I got home, I'm not used to staying out so late.  It's different if I sew till that late......
My projects were getting to be a muddle, so I took the time to put them into EQ7 so that I had a clearer idea of what I needed to do with each one.

 I like having a fullpage print of the quilt, and the yardage requirements printed out so that I can scribble notes to myself underneath.  Then when the top is finished I file the printouts, and it's an easy reference to what I've made and where the EQ file is, and so on.
 After I took the first photo I looked at my cutting table and thought, 'That really is a mess!' So instead of sewing busily on more blocks, I spent a few hours putting all the flotsam and jetsam away.
I use this pretty bookstand to hold the EQ7 printouts for easy reference, and whatever rulers I'm working with, it helps keep the cutting mat clear.
It's so nice to see all of the cutting mat, and being able to find cutters and rulers and pens and paper is wonderful.  I'm inspired to get back to work now.


Friday, March 06, 2015

The Coverlet quilt I finished last month is a really neat pattern to make.

It's strip-pieced, and it's a counter-change block; that just means that the lights and darks are reversed in adjacent blocks.  The strip-pieced sections are so easy to make and sub-cut, and then the slices are swapped to build the blocks.  Even the border is strip pieced from the same sections.
I used  scrap strips in my quilt, but to explain the method I've used two fabrics; you could use the same two for the whole quilt, or mix it up as I did.
 *These instructions make two blocks at once, a dark centred one, and a light centred one.*

Two 13.5" blocks require
  • two light strips, 3.5" x 25"
  • two dark strips, 3.5" x 25"
  • one light strip, 1.5"x 25"
  • one dark strip, 1.5" x 25"
  • one light strip, 1.5" x 17"
  • one dark strip 1.5" x 17"
  • one light strip, 2.5" x 17"
  •  one dark strip, 2.5" x 17"
Sew the1.5" x 25"strips between the 3.5" strips, pressing towards the dark fabric, and layer them on the cutting board.
The narrow strips should snug together nicely, keeping the two strips stable as you cut.
When crosscutting, always check that the lines on your ruler are parallel to the stitching lines, and the edges, so that the pieces you cut have nice square corners.  Trim the end square again if you find the ruler doesn't line up after a few cuts.

Cut the strips into slices;
  • two 3.5" slices
  • four 2.5" slices
  • five 1.5" slices
 Use a 1.5" slice to join the 3.5" slices to make the centre blocks.

 Sew the remaining 1.5" slices to the 2.5" slices.

Corner Units

Sew the remaining 1.5" strips to the 2.5" strips, press towards the dark fabric and layer on the cutting board.

  • four 2.5" slices
  • four 1.5" slices

 Swap the narrow slices, pair up with the wide ones, and sew that seam to make 8 corner units.
 To make sure the seam allowances all nest properly, press the corner unit seams to both dark fabrics, splitting the seam allowances over the intersection.
Some people cut their seam allowances to allow them to press in opposite directions, but I'm not comfortable doing that.  This works fine for me.
Lay out the pieced units to make a dark centred block,
 and a light centred block.  Make sure all the seams are pressed to the dark fabric, so that the blocks will fit together nicely.
This is such an easy block to piece, have fun with it.


Just a quickie post for Charmaine, who asked about the sizes in the Puss In The Corner quilt in my last post.

I made this using charm squares, so the measurements are not a standard PITC.

The little corner squares are 2" cut, finishing at 1.5".  I cut all 4 out of one charm square.

The central square is 4.5"cut, finishing at 4".  I cut this from one charm square.
The rectangle is cut 2" x  4.5", and finishes at 1.5" x  4". I used two charm squares for each block.  You can see in the closeup photo that there are two different fabrics in the rectangles of each block.
The setting squares were cut 7.5", as the block measures 7"finished.  First border was 2" cut size, second was 6" cut.
 I truly hate those pinked edges on charm squares, so these measurements let me cut the pieces for the blocks and discard the edges.  I wasn't fussed on these Kansas Troubles fabrics, so I didn't mind the small amount of waste.
Kim M in PA asked about the quilting pattern, but her profile is set to No Reply; hope she reads this.....
The quilt is quilted with a panto of mine called Spiral Scales. 
It's similar to Baptist Fan, but has a bit more movement due to the spirals.  The pattern is a digital file, not a paper pattern.  There is double stitching, and that's not successful with a hand-guided longarm. 

I have the binding ready to go for this one, so hopefully I'll be able to count this as completely finished very soon.


Saturday, February 28, 2015

It's a lovely cool Sunday morning, and the first day of March.  Yet again, the year is just flying by, but at least I've achieved a few things;

 3 UFO projects are now tops, 
one new project is a top.
I quilted an old top from last year, and I'll be binding that in the next few days. 
Two ancient quilts received bindings, and that felt very good, so I'll be digging out every other unfinished quilt so that I can easily work on them. 

And there's been a ton of computer and quilting work,
plus family and friend time. 
So while the time has gone really quickly, at least it was spent on fun and necessary pursuits.  We had such a nice summer, for a change, that I didn't spend whole weeks wilting into a puddle and wishing my brain wasn't fried.  Roll on  Autumn!

I'm trying to decide what to do first.  Two parcels of fabric arrived, one containing the setting fabric I was waiting on,
and the other a backing length for a quilt that is high on the To Be Quilted list.
 I just love these two prints from the Rue Indienne range, and for once I bought yardage while it was still available.  (And a little bit extra to fill up the package....)

I've bought 30m this year, which is extravagant, but there are several backings in that total, and I've used 52m, so I'm happy with that.  Four tops, about 6 backings, some non-quilt projects and 3 bindings; it all adds up to a lot of fabric out of the stash.


Saturday, February 21, 2015

 My red and shirting nine-patches have built up at an alarming rate.  I started them in August last year, so I could make the Sisters Ninepatch from Bonnie's Adventures With Leaders & Enders book.

There are 120 in the pile, and more over by the sewing machine.  I still have a big container of squares ready to piece, so I will have enough to make the 169 blocks in Bonnie's quilt, and then some.  I cut a heap of blue squares so that I can be making blue and shirting blocks as well.  These are such a good leader-ender, I don't want to stop making them.
I'm still going through all my scrap containers, trying to sort out what needs to be kept and what can be re-purposed.  I have dozens of bins and baskets full of leftovers, and it's time to deal with them.
I'm making progress; these are all empty containers that can go in the cupboard till I need them again.  The problem is they take up nearly as much room empty as they did when they were full. 


Friday, February 20, 2015

Last week we ran away for the afternoon, with our farmer friend Helen.  She and hubby have a property about 20k away, in the Beetaloo Valley; she had to go and check the sheep troughs, and we went along to keep her company.  It was a hot day, but we were in the air-conditioned 4WD, and there was plenty of time to catch up on news and gossip and laughter.  Helen works such long hours that it's hard to spend time with her, so it was the perfect solution.

On the Beetaloo property there is a little settler's cottage, solidly built of stone and still in good condition.  The drive in is so rough, it must have been terrible in a horse and cart, because it was bad enough in the 4WD.
First things first; we went straight past the cottage, and up the hills behind to check on the Merino sheep agisted here over the summer.
 They have an amazing view up here, but they don't care about that; they are up here because there are a lot of tall shade trees over to the left, and they spend the hottest part of the day here.
There are several permanent springs here, and water troughs to supplement them, and we drove to them all, checking that the water was clean and the troughs filling correctly.  Dusty gave each one his seal of approval.
I've never been a fan of off-road driving; it's not so bad going up and down the hills, but I hate driving across the face of a slope with the car at crazy angle.  Not my cup of tea, but the scenery took my mind off that.
Part of the property was burnt during the bushfires last year, it must have been terrifying to watch the flames coming over the hills. That little spot of white to the right is the neighbour's house; not a good place to be when the fire came through.
The CFS stopped the fire here, so the damage could have been much worse.
There are many dead trees, but a few are shooting again.  It will be a long while till this hillside is covered with scrub and trees again.
 The grasstrees, or yuccas, love fire, some hillsides are just covered with them now; glad something came of the destruction.
Then it was back to the cottage, and the little almond orchard beside it.

 What must it have been like to be the woman of this house, and know that that this was the only haven for miles around.  People were tough back then, they had to be.
 I'm sure this was someone's pride and joy once, and they loved being able to walk beneath the shady trees and harvest a useful crop.  It's devastated now, but the ruined trees are still bearing.  We picked a small bag of almonds from one tree, but the others weren't quite ready, so we've planned a picnic in March to get the rest.  It's amazing that they've survived at all, but the nearby spring must have something to do with that.
 The cottage is an L-shape, and a lean-to was built to turn it into a square shape.  These doorways were outside doors once, that decorative brickwork was only used on exterior doorways.
The interior of the cottage is gloomy and dirty; the stonework is in great condition, but the floors are eaten out by termites, and the windows are filthy and birds have been nesting in some rooms.
The stove in the kitchen is complete, except for the flue; somebody cooked meals for their family here, and was proud of the cupboards either side, and the faux-marble paintwork on the mantle.
It would have been a hard place to live, but beautiful in winter when the hills are covered in green grass, and that spring nearby would have been literally a life-saver.  Our early settlers were amazing people.

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