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.


Sunday, November 09, 2014

Nothing is jumping out and demanding to be finished, so I pulled out a long-term UFO and I'm working on it here and there.  I blogged about this here and here in December 2012.  I think 2 years in the cupboard is enough incubation time.

It's such a sweet block to put together, there is nothing hard about it;
 it's the setting that is difficult, and I intend to keep adding blocks to the existing section, so that I don't have to do it all at the end.  I'm still committed to finishing it with the set-in alternate blocks, and that is what is piquing my interest.  I have to be very careful with every seam, and that's not my usual way of working.  The slower pace appeals to me just now, so I'm enjoying my slow progress.
I made a mockup in EQ7,so I have some idea of how many blocks I need, and how much of the setting fabric.
I need 50 blocks for this size, so I will be making these for quite a while.  The layout I've done is only 67" wide, which I don't think is enough. If I make it bigger it will need 71 blocks, ouch!   If I get sick of them I'll just put the project aside, because I don't want to ruin my enjoyment of this quilt by forcing myself to work on it.

I just might lose all self-control in a week or two and cut out something new, wouldn't that be Fun?  I'm not going to do Bonnie's mystery this year, but I just may have to make Jared Takes A Wife, I've had the materials set aside for that for months.  It will be a treat to finally cut into them.


Saturday, November 01, 2014

Finally, the batik quilt is in one piece!

It only took a half hour this morning to get those final borders on, and I'm so relieved to have it done.  It will look beautiful on my green couch, so when this is quilted it will live on the back of the lounge where I can admire the glowing colours.
 What shall I work on next?  There are plenty of UFOs left, and I'm not keen to start something new, so I will probably pick another project box from the shelf and work at that.  Once upon a time that would have bored me rigid, but for some strange reason I'm still excited about the UFO list.  I'm going to have to do a sampler of all the finished tops for this year, there are more than 20.  What an excellent year it has been for clearing up the old projects.

If I can spare the time I'd like to take a photo of every UFO, print them out and make a collage board of them.  It would be very satisfying to have a visual record of how much I've done and what is left.  Plus it might give me some ideas on how to finishe the ancient ones that need borders. I need to stare at them for a while until an idea occurs to me; when they are languishing in the cupboard I'm not even thinking about them.

It was a hectic day yesterday, fitting the screen door.  It would be easy if the doorway was square, but the opening bowed out in the middle like a barrel, so there was a lot packing needed to turn it into a rectangular shape.   It's all done now, except fitting the strike plate, and I'll do that this afternoon.  If Dolly goes charging out and hits the steel mesh at top speed I'm going to be very cross; I'm not sure it's engineered to withstand 20 kilos of excited Staffy.  I may have to attach a bar across it at her eye height, so it will stop here in her tracks. 

It's a glorious morning, so I'm off do some outside work, including getting rid of anything that could harbour snakes; twice I saw a big brown snake in the Princess lillies, so I need to clear away the old stalks and make it less attractive to him.  I'm sensible enough to leave a poisonous snake alone, but Dolly surely isn't, so I'll just have to encourage him to go elsewhere.


Thursday, October 30, 2014

I still haven't been able to do any sewing; the lack of it is bad for my mental health.  I might get grumpy if I don't get the borders on that quilt soon!

This is the piece of fabric I want to use as borders, damped down and wrapped in a bag ready to iron.  It's been waiting 36 hours for me to get to it, if I don't hurry up it will either be dry or mouldy.

Let's not mention the fabric waiting to be put away, and scraps needing to be sorted.  My room is in upheaval.
I just can't find the time to do it all.

I've been quilting in every available spare moment, a rush order for one of our favourite customers; she needs a quilt as a gift for a friend, and her trip to Sydney won't take place until the quilt is finished.  So I've been working on it, and two small quilts, for the last few days.  We bind her quilts as well, so it's not just a simple quilting job, and I had another binding job to do on a big quilt; I've been in the workroom under a mountain of quilt, and it's a good thing the AC is working well.  It will have a hissy fit when the temperature gets into the 40s, but for now it's doing it's job.

Dolly has been lying in a comfy chair the whole time, keeping an eye on me as I work, and asking to go for walks, but there was no time for that.  Last night I'd had enough, and we went to Port Broughton for some R&R.  It was a lovely evening, with the tide in, and both dogs got wet and had a wonderful time.

We were content to walk along the beach and enjoy the peace and tangy salt-sea air.  It was just what I needed to wind down after a work day.

Today I need to finish the bindings on the small quilts, pick up Pippi so I can have her while Mereth  goes to Adelaide for a grandson's 4th birthday (4 already!!), get everything assembled for DB so he can finish the screen door installation, then go round his place for tea.  He'll be here early to get to work, so I'd better get a good night's sleep.  That's my day mapped out.

Is anybody else sick of being told  "Sitting is the new smoking"?  What is that supposed to mean?  Am I supposed to feel guilty because I sit down to sew or work on the computer; and, if it cuts years off your life, how come the average life-span is increasing?  Scientists need to find something else to obsess about.  Also, I'm told I MUST sleep at least 7 hours a night, or my brain will react like a drunk teenager and I'll die sooner;  great, now I have to sleep a third of my life, and the other two thirds I have to stand up.  Excuse me if I'm not charmed by that thought.  (Oooooh, I am grumpy today....)


Sunday, October 26, 2014

My Sunday was hijacked; first by my brother doing some work on my doorway, so a new screen door can be installed, and then by a monster garage sale.  The garage sale was more fun; when my DB comes round it's like stirring up an ant nest with a stick.  A peaceful morning degenerates into chaos, as bits are ripped off the door stiles, paint scraped off bricks and there are multiple requests from the worker like 'Have you got any steel wool?  What about mortar?  Is that all?  How old is it?  Where's the hose?  I need a clean bucket!' And I just scurry around trying to keep up with all the demands.  The plus side is that things get done quickly, and properly, and he accepts payment in scones.  It's just that I'm exhausted after an hour or two, and he bustles off home to really get stuck into some work. 
The garage sale was excellent, at a place we have always eyed off with longing.  He had sheds full of everything imaginable, the sheer amount was mind-boggling; this is the second time his family have sorted out the sheds and had a sale.  By the time we arrived, at midday, all the really good stuff was gone, but we managed to get 4 trailer loads of stuff anyway.  We grabbed huge piles of things that we knew we could use in the garden; trellis and gates and wood and old wheelbarrows, loads of miscellaneous metal and PVC pipe, metal planters and drums, great old tools that were really good quality, rolls of wire fencing, bedsteads and boxes.  I even got a crowbar, which I've wanted for ages, for $1!!  I'm so easily pleased.  It's not too big, but very sturdy; is there such a thing as a Lady's Crowbar?  If so, I've got one.

 Some people see junk, we see possibilities.
 At the end of the day the guys were loading all sorts into our trailer, and when we protested they said "It's all free now, you can have it anyway" so it was even more of a bargain.  Even though I was filthy dirty after digging through all that rubbish I much prefer that sort of a sale; it was so interesting to see what he had.  I bet that for years when his family wanted something repaired he could say "I've got just what you need in the shed".
When I finally got home and had all the chores done I did manage a bit more sewing, and the hexagons are in one piece, with the first border attached.  Pictures to come later, once the camera battery is charged.  I think I could have this top finished today, so long as nothing unexpected hijacks my day again...


Friday, October 24, 2014

October is always a busy month for our family, with three birthdays to celebrate, but this year there were friends visiting and family staying, and extra work hours at the Post Office, so the last few weeks have just gone by in a blur. 

Dolly enjoyed spending time with our friends Kathy and Paul, who came for coffee one morning.  They are touring here in SA, on a visit from Western Australia.  They treated her the way she thinks she ought to be treated, non-stop attention and cuddles. 

 What a life.What a spoilt puppy.

We've also had our first 39° day for the season, and there's plenty more to come; the heat is so disgusting, there's not much you can do except sit in front of a fan and wait for evening.  The dogs are pathetic, panting nonstop and laying like frogs on any cool floor they can find.  Welcome to another summer.

I haven't sewn a single stitch in the last week, which makes me grumpy and frazzled.  It's Saturday today, and after my garden duties I am going to get my batik half-hexagons in one piece. 

I'm sick of the sight of them on the design wall, they were meant to be a quickie project and they're lingering way past their time.  The gap in the middle is caused by the two rows on my machine, abandoned when work commitments took over.

I maayy have bought a heap of batiks online, but it was a birthday present to myself, and in the process of making my first batik quilt the inadequacy of my stash became apparent very quickly.
 So I'd better start collecting them more seriously, if I ever want to be able to make something without tearing my hair out. 

The effect of this purchase (13 metres) on my Stash numbers was dramatic, it added more than 10% in one go!  This year I have bought 120.4 metres, used 156.15 metres, for a net total of 35.75 metres used.  I'm pretty sure I've accounted for all the purchases, but there are finished projects that I didn't take into account.  It seems silly to count fabric that I used 25 years ago. 

I need to get busy making backings for the tops I finished recently, that will help the spreadsheet look more respectable.  And I think I need to cull some older fabrics from the stash, my tastes are changing and there are pieces that I don't think I'll ever use.  If I'm going to build a batik stash, I'd better make room for it now, or I'll be stacking it on the floor.


Sunday, October 05, 2014

Alas, I've finished all the easy UFOs, the ones that are left need difficult decisions about borders, or are only a single block and a pile of cut out pieces.  From now on it's going to be a lot of work to get things finished.  I did the only sensible thing and started something new.

I've been threatening to start a batik quilt for ages, but couldn't choose a pattern. 
The last time we visited a patchwork shop I picked up this set of Westalee rulers, specially designed for jellyrolls. (Here's a link, you will have to scroll down to find the half hexagon rulers.)  I figured there wouldn't be any tough decisions to make with this shape, I love hexagons and half hexagons, and the cutting would be a breeze.
Luckily I was right, and it took only a few sessions to cut up a whole jellyroll of batiks;  it's taking a little longer to get them all arranged on the wall.  There aren't as many light value shapes as I would like; I NEED more batiks, I just don't have a big enough stash.  I found some hand-dyes that will fit in, and I'm sure I can rustle up a few more fabrics from my tiny modern stash, but I really think I need to go back to Charlene's at Jamestown.  I'm going to sew the shapes into rows, and then wait till I've been shopping before I sew the whole thing together. 
I counted my red nine-patches, and I have 41, roughly one quarter of what I need.  These are a wonderful leader-ender, easy to cut and put together, and boring enough that I'm not tempted to sew them on their own.
On my travels I also picked up this charm pack of Blackbird's Autumn Lily range.  What a sweet little pack, I intend to play with this and decide what fabrics I'd like actual yardage of.   I'm sick of trying to track down fabrics 3 or 4 years after their release date, so it's a wise thing to buy a few lengths of good border or background designs when they are actually available.

Next post I might share my stats on how much I've used and purchased this year; not a great effort for stashbusting, as I've been concentrating on the UFOs, but I have a huge stack of tops that need backings and that will help the numbers.


Thanks for all the suggestions for naming my block; I've decided to call it Homestead Star.  The house shapes are like the simple settler cottages dotted over our landscapes, many with a windmill close by, and the weathervane reference makes me think of our Southern Cross windmills.  And that reminds me of the Southern Cross in our night skies; so there you go, block and quilt named.
It's a long weekend here, and I spent yesterday working in the garden and stayed up sewing till 2am.  I really wanted the borders on the Basket quilt and the Homestead Star finished, so I just kept going until they were done.

(Why is this picture sideways?  It's the right way up in the editing software.... )

The Homestead Star borders took ages, there are 16 strips to sew into sets of four, and then I had to attach them and mitre the corners. 
I like the end result, and that paisley was just right for the borders, I'm glad I decided to use it.
The little triangles around the basket quilt were tedious and I didn't enjoy making them fit, but I think they look pretty marvelous.  It was worth the fuss and bother, but I'm very, very glad to see it finished.

I spent today babysitting great-niece Isobel, so I didn't get any work or sewing or gardening done;  it's 9pm and I'm about to get a cup of coffee and consult the UFO list, so I can choose another project to complete.  Only 19 left......

Our trip to Broughton on Thursday was wonderful; all the dogs enjoyed themselves on the beach, it was very exciting as the sun went down and the tide came in.  It's lovely to see them all interacting with each other and getting on so well.  Dogs need a lot of doggy friends for a well-balanced life.
The sunset was spectacular, as was an enormous pile of fish and chips that the 8 of us demolished happily.
The only flaw in the outing was how cold it was, the day had been so hot that we forgot to take jackets with us.  We won't make that mistake again.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

About This Blog

Lorem Ipsum

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP