Thursday, February 26, 2009

Life is starting to pick up pace around here, and the blogging has suffered. I finished my Chain Of Arrows about 2 weeks ago, and didn't get round to posting a picture. I love how it turned out, and it was a lovely quilt to make. It's joined the stack of tops waiting to be quilted.

I haven't done much sewing since, apart from my 5 Dear Jane blocks. That's the three new ones, plus a little applique I started working on last night with our night group. It's pleasant to have hand-work to stitch on. I've been so busy filling orders and arranging classes and trying to recover old files from 5year old CDs that I have hardly had time to turn the sewing machine on. That makes me sad. And Cranky! I need to do some sewing, soon.

When I visit Mereth at night I've been crocheting hexagons for an afgan to donate to Africa; several of the girls in the patchwork group do that, so I thought I would too. It will use up a heap of oddments of wool. Mereth says it is Ugly, but I like it. It's very bright, shall we say. I have no idea why all those colours are in our wool stash anyway, I can't remember wearing hot pink and acid yellow and bog green. It's very warm anyway.

Yesterday and the the day before Matt and I shifted furniture for about 4 hours. We are in the final stages of setting up the classroom at the Lodge, and it looks good. I'm exhausted though; I spent the latter part of yesterday with my head on the table whimpering and icepacks on my wrists. Ouch! Matt and I work very well as a team; we take it in turns to walk backwards, and we think the same way which is handy when manouvering awkward loads through doorways. And he's always ready to take a break, which suits me and my ancient wrists just fine.

Last night I gritted my teeth and we shifted the final thing, which was Ms Millhouse. We are going to Adelaide this weekend so Millhouse can have a tune-up, and she was strapped into the back of my station wagon with plenty of packing. I was sort of surprised how big the machine looked in the back of the car; every now and again I think a big car is an extravagance,but there have been times when we blessed every inch of space in it. Like when we put Rob's king size mattress in there.....

I should be getting ready to leave, not fiddling about here. I'm tired already, but I should brighten up a bit on the way. It's a nice drive down there, and we have planned a few stops in antique shops to keep us interested. At least life isn't dull.

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

A friend was talking to us in the op-shop the other day, and wondered if we were going to have a tussle of ownership over some little item. 'Oh, but I suppose you NEVER fight over anything!' she said.

We don't see eye-to-eye on a few things. Since we were children we have never been able to discuss Elizabeth I and Mary Queen of Scots without it degenerating into a shouting match. (Shut UP, Mereth, she didn't have to behead Mary I tell you!)

My favourite altercation ever was when we were raising dairy calves, and Mereth was nagging her DH about something, and I was taking his side. While she was bending over a bucket getting a calf to drink he leaned over me and tapped her on the head; when she snapped upright with fire in her eyes her DH had removed himself and I was standing there laughing. So she threw the whole bucket of milk over me. Oh we chortled!

Once when our kids were not yet teenagers we had a huge argument over telling kids if Santa Claus really existed. I said it undermined kids trust in adults to find out they'd been telling Great Big Lies. Mereth disagreed. Noticing how loud our voices suddenly seemed we looked around to see all our kids had vanished. When we went to find them they were sitting somberly in one of the bedrooms, stunned that they had witnessed us arguing. 'We knew it couldn't be good, so we left' said John miserably. That took some consoling on our part.

And now, here's another thing we can't agree on.I've been wanting to do this for ages, and whinging to Mereth that I should just buy the software, because everyone in blogland would have a Jane Stickle quilt except me. I got no sympathy. So after learning all that accounting stuff, which could hardly be called fun, I rewarded myself with this software. And this is definitely fun.
Three blocks finished, and another 8 ready to stitch; it's a lovely change of pace and size, and I'm tickled by how precise the foundation piecing is.

Mind you, I can never open my mouth to complain about the hard blocks. I know I'll get no sympathy around here....

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Some people have asked about adding borders QAYG style....


For borders, the easiest way to add them is the flip & sew method.

Measure the quilt on the shortest side.

Cut strips this length from the border material, the batting and the backing, as wide as the width of the border plus 3/4" . (This allows for a seam on one side and for the binding seam.) If it isnt the final border, just add 1/2" for the seams.)

Arrange the layers as follows - on the bottom, the backing fabric right side up - then the quilted centre, right side up- then the top fabric, wrong side up - then the batting.



Pin all layers together and stitch. I use the edge of my walking foot as a seam guide, because its roughly from the edge to the needle. Check to see if yours is the same. If the distance is greater on your machine move the needle closer to the edge of the foot if possible, or choose a spot on the foot to guide along the edge of the quilt to give you an approximate seam.

Fold the layers back from the quilt. The wadding will be sandwiched between the top fabric and the backing. Pin the outside edges together and run a line of stitching all the way around to hold the raw edges together. A line of quilting away from the joining seam will encourage the seam to lie flat. Add more quilting if desired.


Join the border to the opposite side in the same manner; then measure the remaining sides and add borders across the whole width.


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Mereth found this pile of QAYG blocks that she never got round to putting together, so I thought I'd do a quick tutorial on the method I use. I know they can just be seamed together and the raw edges covered with a fabric strip, but I really like the end result with my method; it's very flat and the quilt has no bumps at the intersections of the seams. I first heard of this method from Queensland tutor Lyn Booth, but I do the cover strips a little differently than her.

I also like the fact that you don't lose any width in seams, as the blocks are just butted up against each other, and you get to add sashing as you go, which can save a dull set of blocks and liven them up.

Set out the blocks in whatever layout you prefer. I like to put together sets of four, and then join those sets together. On the wrong side of the two left-hand blocks sew a 2" strip that has been folded in half; use a 1/4" seam allowance. (Make sure you sew it on the edge that will be caught in the seam.)Butt the pairs blocks together and zigzag across both blocks. Use a 4.5 width, 3 long zigzag. (This is just to hold them together, the real strength of the seam comes from the binding strips that cover the raw edges.) Keep the edges of the block level at the start and finish.
On the wrong side, press the strip over the seam and sew it down, either with a straight stitch or a long, narrow zigzag. I use 1.5 wide, 2.5 long. Trim off the ends of the strip level with the blocks.

You can see that if I had matched the thread to the fabric this zigzag would be well nigh un-noticeable; as I wanted you to be able to see the stitches I used a different colour thread. I don't use a blind stitch, mainly because if you miss catching the edge of the strip there is a much bigger gap than if you miss one or two zig-zags. Also a lot of older machines don't have a nice blind stitch.

Now all the raw edges on the back are covered. On the front are two lines of stitching, either side of the zigzag seam.
Line a 2.5" strip up with the straight stitching seam, and sew it with a normal 1/4" seam. This line of stitching will be roughly 1/2" from the edge of the block.Fold the raw edge of the strip back to the seam, and press the whole lot over to cover the zig zag stitching. Using matching thread, applique the strip in place with a long, narrow zigzag. Now all the raw edges are covered!

Seam the two pairs of blocks together to make a larger unit, and continue making larger units and joining them until the quilt is the size you want. It's a very easy way to put a quilt together.

 I have a pattern pack of Quilt-As-You-Go techniques, with over 30 pages of photos and diagrams showing different ways to quilt blocks and attach  borders.  It's available for $9 as a pdf from Craftsy if you're interested in learning more.




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Friday, February 13, 2009

This is a Bright post, not my usual style. I didn't personally make either of these quilts, but I had a hand in the making of each. This first picture is of a top that my daughter made when she was 15. My contribution was to sooth her ruffled feathers when things didn't go the way she wanted and smooth out the inevitable bumps when her enthusiasm outstripped her skill. It was sewn on my overlocker, and because my DD only knows 2 speeds, Stop and Go, she managed to make mistakes much more quickly and with more drastic consequences than if she'd been sewing on a slower, ordinary machine. The cheerful applique butterflies are there to cover up places where the seams didn't quite meet, or the overlocker chewed up something that it shouldn't.

I also contributed the fabric from my hand-dyes, many of them made with my Scquilter friends in Rockhampton. We had some glorious days paddling around in dye buckets under a friend's house; it makes me want to do it all again now.

The top was rejected by DD when she finished it; it was supposed to become a doona cover for her bed, which was why she'd sewn it on the overlocker. Alas, her tastes changed like the wind, and she went with the aqua and silver sparkles look instead of hippy tie-dyes. I kept the top when I moved, being sentimental, but can't imagine it on a bed in my house. On Friday Mereth and I quilted it with a panto, and it's waiting to be bound and then donated to the bushfire appeal. Some other teenager will like it, even if she changes her mind a month later as teenage girls do.

The other quilt was made my mate in Western Australia, Blogless Kathy, from a pattern of mine called Irish Star. She and Nicola were making the units and swapping; haven't seen Nicola's yet (?) but this is Kathy's, and it's gorgeous. I love the bright colours, and that blue border sets it off beautifully. Sometimes I get tired of the muted tones of the Reproduction palette, and I just want to dabble in pure Colour for a while. Sadly I would need a whole new stash for that, but you never know, if I get busy with the dyepots I might be able to make my own.

On a sombre note, Australia's big dye supplier, KraftColour, lost everything in the fires. They will rebuild, but it will take time. As soon as they are up and running I will send in an order to support them. It will be good for them, and good for my stash.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I feel very frivolous to be playing with my bits and pieces of fabric while the awful events over the border unfold. The news just gets worse, and I have to steel myself to go and check the latest death toll. One of my longarm friends is right in the thick of it, I'm praying she and her husband and animals stay safe.

Our scquilters group is already collecting quilts to be donated through the Red Cross, and I have several of mine put aside. I've also requested a roll of batting through Victorian Textiles, to quilt donation quilts. There are thousands of people who have lost everything, and if one of my quilts keeps them warm this winter it will be an honour to have helped.

I've kept busy and my mind occupied with tax matters, and that's all done. I'm very impressed with the Quickbooks upgrade, it's got amazing features. I think we're going to get along just fine. Mereth has offered to ask every morning if my bookwork is up-to-date, so that I don't go through this scramble next year. I'm determined to keep it current; I know I say that every year, but this time I mean it. I DO! Don't laugh....

My pink and blue orphans are done, and Mereth asked doubtfully if I was chanelling the cover of a 1990's QNM while I made it. It's not beautiful, but I realised I'm quite fond of all those litle 6" blocks. none of which actually measured 6", which was probably why they ended up in the Too Hard box. Some of them are 30 years old, but they all look fine together now.Next on the agenda is to cobble all these blocks into a top. They will have a pink/brown/green slant to them, and I love most of them but just can't see a separate quilt for each lot.And then there are these blue ones, and about 30 more blue bits and pieces. Good gracious, I've made some blue blocks over the years. It is my favourite colour after all, next to brown. I love brown beyond all reason. But I donated my brown blocks to Mereth's orphan efforts, so I don't have enough to make a brown quilt of my own. I'll just have to make some more I guess.

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Saturday, February 07, 2009

Well I've decided I have no right to whinge about anything. Our cool change arrived. Life is bearable once more. And nothing we have endured compares to the bushfires still raging in Victoria, which have killed 25 people in the last 18 hours, and destroyed whole townships. It's horrific, and I can only hope and pray that it ends soon. I feel so bad for all those people.....

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Friday, February 06, 2009

I haven't posted lately because it's been so impossibly hot here, more than 10 days of over 103 degree temperatures. That alone didn't stop me from posting, apart from a few power cuts and the phone lines playing up and putting me offline. No, I was afraid that if I posted, all I would do was whinge about the weather for several paragraphs. But what the hell, I'll whine away and then talk about something else.

It's hot!! I want the cool change they have been promising us, and I want it now, not tomorrow. The wind outside is battering my garden, and whatever plants have lasted so far are just crisped dry and brown. The temp never dropped below 100 last night, and that's what helps kill the poor plants; they never get a break from the heat.

Enough of that.

I was reading Tazzie's blog about wanting a Singer treadle someday; I hope you get your machine someday soon Tazzie, they are such a lovely way to sew, and so beautiful. My Gran had one, and I adored it. Everytime we visited I coveted it, and she promised that I could have it one day. When she died one of my uncle's took it, and I suppose I could go and ask for it, but what the heck, I'm sure he treasures it too.

Mereth and I learned to sew on a 66K treadle, with the beautiful carvings and the 6 drawers and the fabulous Lotus decals. We had handcranks when we were about 6 years old, but we didn't achieve much on those; the 66K was where we learned about dressmaking.

Alas, our beloved machine met with a sad fate. Mum stored it in the shed near a leaking window, and it's fairly well ruined now. It was such a strange thing for her to do, as one of her favourite lectures was about Looking After Things Properly. I still have trouble believing that she was so indifferent to this poor machine.
I too would like a beautiful machine, but Mereth wants this one rescued; I don't even know it that's possible. Look at the rust in that bobbin area!
I saw a 66K treadle in pieces on Ebay,and bought it for $15. The decals on the machine are worse than ours, but we may be able to salvage some parts, and the woodwork is in good condition, albeit a much plainer version. I quite like that. It was made in 1922,whereas ours is a later model.Those drawers don't have the same charm, but I do like how plain and functional they are. Once the cool weather arrives I will see about getting the frame restored and the pieces refinished.
As for the drawers from our original machine, Mum never put them in the shed, and had our brother make them into a little chest which is cute. However, she instructed Mereth to make sure our SIL received them when she died. ???? They're from OUR machine? Everytime I look at the machine or this little chest of drawers I have to remind myself that things are immaterial, and that it's people we should care about. Mum had her own way of doing things, and I just need to think of all the good things about her.

And who knows, if the treadle was still in good nick, maybe Mereth and I would fight over who got to own it, and then we would have a falling out and never talk to each other again, so it's just as well it's ruined and only Mereth wants it. That's my take on things.

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