Friday, November 27, 2009

Just because I haven't been posting, doesn't mean I haven't been doing things. I've been obsessed with the Dear Janes for two weeks, and completed another 30 blocks. I think I'm over the hundred mark now, I will have to count them all up. It's been fun, and frustrating, and interesting, and satisfying, but I'm about ready to pack them all away and get back to normal sewing. I just can't see that sewing 1/2"squares and 7/8"triangles is normal; it's bizarre, and I wouldn't contemplate it for any other project. But if Jane did it, then so must I.

Mereth remains unmoved by my growing collection of tiny blocks. I haven't converted her, and never will, but that's OK. She can help me hand quilt it.....
I finished a baby quilt, that had been hanging around for more than a year. It has cotton wadding, and I quilted it heavily; now to wash it and let it crinkle up. I have a new bolt of cotton batting, and I'm keen to see how it behaves in a quilt. These pastel blocks were a lot of fun, and used up tiny scraps that would have otherwise gone in the bin. Mereth and I have been using up our little bits and pieces for many years now, it's an exercise in economy that I doubt we'll ever abandon, no matter how much fabric there is on the shelf, or in the drawers, or the plastic crates, or the cupboards....

The first day of the cool weather we went out for a walk at Bowmans Park with the dogs, who had been cooped up inside for days. They had a ball, racing through the bush and revelling in the light rain. I took a whole series of photos of Dolly, and not one of them turned out; she is always moving, and all I capture of her is a blur. Finally Matt held her still, so I could get a protrait of her and her dad; they are the best of friends, I love watching them play together. She's not that much smaller than him now, and she can outrun him too. She's lightning quick.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

These dreary blocks are more Broken Dishes, made with the cast-off triangles from the bindings that I make. I have no idea why I started doing this, probably from a misguided sense of economy, and I have no idea why I keep doing it. Most binding fabrics aren't particularly wonderful, so the combinations in the blocks are not anything I would normally choose. I guess I'm making it so that one day, when it's a quilt, I can show it to people and say 'Each block is the leftovers of bindings from two quilts, so there's 60 (or 80 or whatever) quilts represented.' And people will stare sideways at it and say 'Oh how interesting' and leave me to enjoy my ugly quilt.

But I won't stop making the blocks either; maybe I"ll just use nicer fabrics in my bindings.

It's been one of those non-stop weeks, full of outside appointments that play havoc with blogging, but I think we're done with all that now, and it's going to be workroom time from now on. We have Christmas quilt deadlines to meet for customers, so there will be a few marathon sessions to get as much done as soon as possible. I'm looking forward to it, especially as the weather is being so beautifully cool; it makes you want to get busy working when the conditions are so pleasant.

Last week I went through my grey fabric and culled 13.5 metres of stuff I didn't love. I have two grey quilts to make backings for, so I sliced up this pile, and another one the same size, into 10.5"squares for a Bonnie Backing. (See this page for Bonnie's Scrap User's System and her thoughts on backings, including a list of links to photos of pieced backs)Mereth and I have different attitudes to pieced backs. She doesn't see the sense in cutting lengths into smaller pieces, whereas I like the regularity of the squares. It's more piecing and more seams, but I love how it looks. So we agree to differ.

Now I just need a few spare moments to sew these together, and I will have an interesting back for my Grey Havens quilt. I needed more than 90 squares, so it certainly used a lot of fabric; I'm down to one drawer of greys and blacks, and I'm very happy about that. And I won't be buying more to replace them.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

The Colonial Squares is just about the easiest patchwork to make, one simple square repeated, but I followed a few simple rules to make sure it went together easily and with no fuss.

I decided to make four patches from my squares, and sew them together later. They made the perfect leader-ender project; I just picked up a light and a dark square and fed them through. The seams were pressed to the dark side.

When I sewed the four patches I made sure that the darks and lights were aligned the same in every single one; the dark patch underneath on the right, dark patch on the top to the left.
The seams were fanned, by unpicking the few stitches in the seam allowances on each side, and then pressed open. By doing that all the seams of the fourpatches nest, no matter how you rotate them, which allowed me to twist and turn them when laying the whole thing out and I never had to worry about seam allowances. When I joined the four patch blocks I fanned those seams too.I didn't worry about colour or balance or anything until I had amassed a large pile of four patches; then I laid out what I had and decided if I needed more black, or red, or tan and made more blocks accordingly.

I made the centre square first, then made corners to turn it on point. To make the edge pieces I cut triangles using the Olfa triangle ruler; I used a 2.75" strip and put the 4 1/2" line on the edge of the strip. (If I wanted to cut them as quarter square units I'd start with a 5.5" square and crosscut diagonally into 4 triangles.) These might be a smidgeon too big, but that's a good thing, it will allow a bit of leeway when it's time to trim the quilt edges.

Two sides of the quilt needed light triangles, and two needed dark. I could have had it dark all round the edge by adding a single row of squares on two sides of the central four patches, but I didn't care enough. I quite like the light and dark edges.
I checked which way the seams wanted to go in the triangle unit, and then pressed them all alike. Then it was just a matter of piecing each corner, and adding it to the central part. And adding two triangles to complete the corner of the corner.

My quilt measures 78"square; the central piece had 81 four patches. Each corner took 19 four patches and 8 triangle units, four dark and four light. Hmm, 157 four patches, plus the edges; that's more than 628 individual squares, what a lot of fabric. More than 5 metres in fact. I'm thrilled to have busted all that stash, and so painlessly. I'd definitely make one again. I have enough squares left over to make a good start.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

This is the finished object from the weekend that involved glue. It's called an Etui; in January Andrea (Welsh Quilter) showed a picture on her blog of one she had made as a gift. I really, really wanted the pattern, so she sent me a copy, with the designer's permission. And I read the instructions and thought 'So much Gloo-ing! I can't!!' And so the pattern, and all the cut out pieces sat in a drawer for months until I found enough courage to tackle it.I sort of came to terms with the sticky fingers and drips and reeks, but I can't say I enjoyed it much. I kept thinking of ways I could make another one without the glue, because I love the finished item, just not the process of making it. Maybe I could sew it all together.....

It's pretty and just what I needed to keep all my hand sewing stuff in one place, so thank you Andrea, I love it. And I may even make another one soon.

Andrea's daughter Jessica is fundraising for a trip to Africa, and Andrea has donated a lovely quilt to raffle. I have requested a few tickets, and this lovely quilt might be mine. But I never win anything, darn it; guess that makes better odds for everyone else with a ticket.

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

We went down to Adelaide last Thursday, and attended the guild meeting, and saw the prizes awarded to the winning quiltmakers. We sat with a friend who had won her division, and it was fun hearing about how she made the quilt. She doesn't make traditional quilts, but I love what she does, she's so innovative and clever. I would link to the winning quilts but the site doesn't appear to be working right now.

We were off early the next day, to meet up with fellow blogger Tazzie for coffee before she went to work. It was great to actually meet her, and talk about our quilts, and recent fabric purchases, and plans for the future. We can't call her our imaginary friend any more, having met her for real!

Then it was off to the show, to meet up with friends and look round the quilts and shops. We were very subdued with what we bought, not because we didn't want anything, but because we were determined not to stock up on more fabric, just to add to the stash. This is the sum total of my purchases; Mereth cast her eyes up to heaven when I rejected the peach and yellow and green flower head pins in several booths, and kept hunting for the blue ones. But the blue ones are prettier! I had to have them and no other.

The fat quarter bundle is from our mate Lisa, of Dyed and Gone To Heaven. My camera refused to do justice to these gorgeous fabrics, they are a wonderful range of sea greens, but they just look grey on my screen. They are lucsious in real life, I can assure you. Lisa challenged us to try something a bit different from our normal palette of reproduction prints, so we're going to do a mini quilt each. And we have to send her pictures when they're done, so she can see we actually used the fabric.

And I bought this American magazine, which is totally unsuitable for our season, but it has an article on reversible cables which I want to know about. It will sit and wait till next year, when I can start knitting in the cooler weather again. We just havve to get through the summer first.

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Tuesday, November 03, 2009

My weekend was spent finishing two projects, and I was pleased with what I managed to accomplish. The first project was the Colonial Squares, which had grown so large it was taking up all the design wall, and most of my sewing table. When things gets to that stage I just want them finished and done with, so I devoted myself to getting it in one piece. At no time was this ever hard or irksome, I really enjoyed every bit of it. I would even make another one, but not right away. It was an excellent leader-ender, and it looks exactly as I wanted it to. I'll quilt it with a clamshell I think, and use just a simple tea-dyed calico binding.

I don't have photos of the other Finished Object yet, but it involved lots of glue and I was aghast at the mess I can make with a simple glue bottle and a pile of cardboard and fabric. I just wasn't cut out for gloo-ing, and only the cuteness factor of the FO kept me going. I have plans to redesign the pattern as a Sewn Object instead, can't face all that stickiness again.

On to the next thing, whatever that may be. I will have fun consulting the folder full of Quilts To Make...

It's been very, very hot, with nasty dry winds. Dolly has never been through a summer, so she was absolutely unprepared for the heat. She spent a lot of time panting and looking at us with a 'Make It Stop!'look on her face. It was too hot even to play; this is how Dolly amuses herself in hot weather.
She looks like a baby crocodile, just hanging from the rope that I was holding. Occasionally she gave it a tug or too, but that was too strenuous.

She just lay there, head suspended by the rope, jaws locked in that famous Staffy grip, and eventually she drifted off to sleep, still hanging on to her rope. What a life she has....

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