Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The Album quilt top is finished, and I'm so happy with it. 

 It looks just like the picture of the antique quilt, and I can't quite believe I did it.  I was so unsure about all the set-in seams, and whether I could make the blocks measure the exact size that they needed to be. 
I'm so thrilled with these blocks, they are just spot-on; I normally make patterns where I can fudge the less than perfect blocks, and I never worry too much about cut-off points and such.  This quilt really made me lift my game, and that's a good thing every now and then.
 The first lot of blocks weren't correct, so I worked on getting the right seam allowance, which made things better.  I discovered that I needed to use an Omnigrid ruler to cut the strips, it was the most accurate of all the different brands I own.  I find it requires more attention when I'm cutting, because of all the markings, but once I was used to it I seldom made a mistake.  And the perfect blocks were worth the effort.

And they had to be perfect with this setting; they had to be the right measurements, and they had to have the right angles, or they wouldn't fit with the set-in squares.  I unpicked a lot of seams to make this as good as it could be, so this is going down as one of my favourite quilt tops.  I want to quilt it with lots of feathers and make it really special.  Wonder when I'll find time for that?


Saturday, December 06, 2014

There are things that I haven't blogged about, and I wish I had, but there weren't any photos, and we're really busy right now... Insert excuse here...  So I'll just mention that at the end of November Mereth and I packed the car full of quilts and went to Pirie to give a talk to the quilting group there.  We had a wonderful night, showing the group our quilts, that showcased our progression from beginner handquilters to professional machine quilters.  We enjoyed chatting to like-minded quilters, and had a lovely surprise seeing our Auntie Edna, who is a member of this group.  It was lovely to catch up, and also see what this group has been making; they have some talented quilters there.

We also had fun one afternoon, picking up pea straw from our friend Helen's farm.  It was baled and sitting in the field, and we took two cars and trailers and went off to load up what we wanted for our gardens. 

My SIL Bev came too, and lets just say that a country paddock isn't her natural element.  However, she did a grand job of driving the car while DB Doug loaded the trailer.  Mereth drove my car, and Matt and I loaded.  It was lovely to be working outside, and driving over the immense paddock wherever we needed to go.  I always, always wanted to live on a farm, but I doubt that will happen now.  That's why it's great having Helen as a friend, I can go and play at her place!

You'll thank me for not having detailed photos of the next incident.  Yesterday we went to the beach, and the dogs had a lovely run.  However,  Dolly got so hot she went right out in the water where we couldn't get to her, lay down and then drank a bellyful of salt water.  She looked like a little barrel, her stomach was wider than her chest.
A blog friend once warned me of the dangers of that, and in 5 minutes Dolly gave a spectacular demonstration.  YUKK!  She must have been completely empty by the time she vomited half of it up, and the rest went out the other end.  I elected to walk her back to town, after she had a huge drink of fresh water at the car, figuring that would give her time to process the water and get it all out of her system.  Once I was reasonably sure that her insides had calmed down I gave her a scrub under the tap, yet another drink, and tied her to the table while we had our fish & chips.  By that time she was feeling good again, and begged mightily for chips, but there's no way she was getting any.  Matt joked that he was scarred by the whole incident, and I have to agree, I've never seen anything like it!  I had some chicken broth at home, and that's the only thing she had for tea, even though she was really hungry.
The sad thing is, she probably doesn't connect the digestive mayhem with drinking sea water, so she's likely to do it again.  She's earning the right to never get off the leash again!  This is one of the drawbacks of having a dog with personality; she livens up any outing, and not always in a good way, but I love her anyway.
"Can I have some breakfast Mum?  I'm reeeeally hungry!"


Friday, December 05, 2014

This morning I tipped over the edge into Obsessive Completion Disorder.  I've been so good about working on my Album quilt in small amounts of time, moving it slowly towards the finish line; it's all about the process, and it's so much more important to enjoy sewing than to have a finished top.  Last night I sewed till midnight, happily adding blocks to each other and thrilled with the progress I've made.  I have 2/3 of the blocks joined into two sections, and I have to finish another 9 blocks to make a third section. 

I put those incomplete blocks up there to make sure my fabric choices would work;
 now I have to add all the corners, and that will be all the blocks completed.  Well done, I thought.

When I got up this morning I was Over It.  I just want it finished and off the design wall.  It had to happen, I get this way with most of my projects, and my patience is running out with this one.  That doesn't mean I'll abandon it, instead I'll sew like a mad thing until it's Done, Done and Done.

I love the intensity of working with so many set-in seams, and it's crucial that they are correct or the top won't lie flat.  Every time I press another one and it lies flat I feel wonderful.  But I've been working on it for a long time, the end of the year is upon us and I want to make more progress on other UFOs.  Time to swap persnickety, difficult patchwork for something mindless and quick.
The Jarred Takes A Wife blocks continue to be fun, and I'm slowly building them in between the album blocks.  I need to cut a lot more pieces, and find some lighter purples, several of these are a bit heavy.  I've shopped my stash and Mereth's, and I fear I need to go to a quilt shop and see what I can dig up.  I sold most of my purple fabrics in a garage sale, perhaps I shouldn't have?

We're off to the beach in a little while, after a customer drops a top off.  I need some fresh air and exercise to counter all that sitting and sewing!


Saturday, November 29, 2014

I'm in an organising sort of mood this morning, and I've already spent several hours cutting strips needed for the two major projects I'm working on.  I have only 11 more album blocks to make and I'll have enough; I'm so close to the finish on that one that I want to just sit down and do it all in one session, but common sense tells me I'd burn out if I tried that.  So it's back to bagging up the necessary pieces, and doing as much as I can in my little bits of time.

I've made some low contrast blocks, and they look fine, but this is as light as I want to go. 

When my quilt is more than 100 years old I'm sure that there will be faded blocks anyway, so these are just a nod to the original, and a lesson to me that I can step outside of my comfortable working zone and do something a little bit different.
It's really starting to look like a quilt now....

I sewed up my trial block of Jarred Takes A Wife, and I love it to bits. 
The colours are so happy compared to the grubby, retro Album browns, and it cheers me up to look at the pretty, modern prints. 
I want to cut most of the strips I need for this and have the whole 30 blocks kitted and waiting.  I always forget that 12" blocks are BIG, and 30 of them take a lot of strips.  I've been cutting for hours this morning, and I think I have most of what I need. 
This afternoon I'll parcel it all out into ziplock backs and see what I need to add to complete the kit.

December is almost upon us, so I will have to make plans to put the tree up, and make a few Christmas treats in the kitchen.  I want to have things in the freezer this year, so that I'm prepared for unexpected visits, and when I"m on holidays I won't have to run around making things. I'm going to make mayonnaise this afternoon, I've always wanted to try that and it's salad weather now.

Cutting and cooking are so hard on the feet!  I need to sit down and sew and let my feet recover.


Monday, November 24, 2014

5 weeks till Christmas!  Mereth and I don't do much at Christmas now, as our children are scattered around Australia and it's difficult to arrange a get-together with in-laws to take into account.  The Christmas rush now is the amount of extra work we have to deal with as Posties; the parcels are arriving thick and fast, and the weeks until Christmas are just a lot of hot and heavy work, culminating in a mountain of stuff to be delivered on Christmas Eve.  That makes our time off even more enjoyable though, and instead of moping because we don't have all the family around, we'll have the luxury of lying about and doing exactly what we please.  I see a couple of jigsaws in the near future, for a start.

My Leader-Ender project is coming along nicely; Mereth donated a pile of 9-patches that she made on spec, so I'm up to 120 of them now.

I'll have to do some calculations to see exactly how many I need, because I'm not making it as big as Bonnie's.  I may very well have enough already.  I had to buy a piece of yellow fabric to use as the setting blocks, I Hated everything in the stash.  I had a half-yard piece of the exact fabric Bonnie used in her quilt, which I loved, but there wasn't enough to do anything with it.  I'm going to make a mini quilt with that fabric, and the big quilt will be a softer buttery yellow.

I had some lovely Asiatic lilies in the garden this year, they put on a stunning display.  I love plants that are so easy to look after, yet have amazing flowers.  I'll be growing more of these next year.


Saturday, November 22, 2014

I love lazy Sundays; on Saturday I'm still tired from the work week, and mostly trying to achieve something significant in my free time.  On Sunday I tend to take it easy, which is the way it should be.  There's still stuff I need to be doing, but I enjoy pottering around and taking things at a slower pace.

There are 15 blocks to do on the Album and then it will be time to get them all put together.  I usually choose fabrics that are too dark, so I've consciously gone a bit lighter, but not light enough.

 I'm such a wimp sometimes, going for the safe fabrics with 'enough' contrast; it's the odd blocks that bring a quilt to life, the ones that don't follow the rules, that break up the ordered, predictable pattern.  In the quilt that inspired this project there were some very pale blocks with little contrast.  I've challenged myself to put something like that in my quilt.  Am I brave enough?  Time will tell.....
Oh dear, this photo from the net is about 14 years old, and it was terrible quality even then.  Still, I'm glad to have it, how else would I have remembered this lovely quilt.  We are so lucky to have the fantastic images we enjoy now. 

You know what this is, don't you.....
I'm making a test block of Jarred Takes A Wife, so that I can start cutting strips and kitting blocks when Bonnie's first mystery clue is released at the end of the week.  I really can't devote a lot of time to a mystery, when there are so many of my own projects I want to do, so I'm quilting along with one of my favourite Bonnie patterns.  I've had the fabrics for this in a box for nearly a year, so it's time I pulled them out and got going with it.  I'll enjoy reading all the mystery clues, but I'll be sewing a quilt of my choosing.


Friday, November 21, 2014

In  between all the work and gardening stuff there has been sewing.  I'm still working in little sessions here and there, which I never like.  It doesn't feel like I'm achieving much, but there is real progress.  I'm more than halfway through the blocks, and I have a third of them joined together. 

 I thought I'd better find out if I actually had the patience and skill to do all these set-in seams on a grand scale, and surprisingly I like sewing them very much. 

 It's been such fun picking out the fabrics for each block, it only takes two 2"x 18" strips of the feature fabric, so I've been using some precious scraps. 
I think this is my favourite block so far, I just love this fabric.  I don't have very much left, which is sad.
As much as I adore my Singer 538, I have to find a replacement machine. 
I'm  going to work my Beloved into the ground, and she's an old girl to begin with.  I fixed her once, but if something else goes wrong there's no guarantee that it will be repairable.  I've always wanted to sew on my old Bernina 730, so I hunted down a quarter inch foot on Ebay.  I've been waiting impatiently for it to arrive,  and yesterday it showed up, just in time for the weekend.  I set the machine up and made a test block, and the seam allowances were perfect.  I do what Bonnie does, sew some block pieces together and see if they fit a longer piece in the block; if they are exactly the same length, then you know your seams are spot on.

How exciting to have another machine to rely on for piecing! Now I just have to find a way to set her up permanently in the sewing room; there's not much available space.
And I'll have to find a name for her, if I'm going to sew on her every day....

We went to our favourite garden shop for a bit of R&R, and I bought some more seedlings, probably the last of this season.  It's getting too hot to be starting new plants off;

petunias for a couple of display pots, jalapenos because it's too expensive to buy them at the supermarket, more cherry tomatoes.   I'm always quick to complain about the weather when it's bad, so I should also admit that this has been a lovely spring.  Each week there has been one or two horridly hot days, but the rest of the time it's been very pleasant.  The garden has flourished, but unfortunately those hot days have mostly ruined whatever flowers there were.  The roses are covered in buds and blooms, but the flowers are nearly all heat damaged;

the Pierre de Ronsard climber manages to look lovely, even with the damage to the outer petals.  The plants themselves are growing well, so I will just have to wait for the autumn flowers, which are always better.  Gardening is not about instant gratification, no matter what the shows on TV say. 
It's going to be hot today, so I will spend the day in the sewing room.  I always imagined that I would race to the end of 2014 in a flurry of finishes, but it's more likely that I will dawdle there, admiring the scenery and enjoying the details.  I've done a power of sewing this year already, so these last few weeks can just be about the fun, not the numbers on a chart.  While I'm beetling around my sewing room I will have to think of what I want the emphasis to be on next year; 2014 was the year of the UFO, what will 2015 be?  Applique, hexagons, embroidery, hand-piecing or quilting?  I'm going to have a jolly good think about that one.

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