Thursday, September 09, 2021

A finish

The floor under my sewing desk was covered in bits of thread and clippings of fabric, so I took a moment to vacuum it all up.  There, lovely and clean, for a little while at least.

It had to be clean because I was putting borders on this big quilt, and I didn't want it covered in rubbish every time it dipped down and touched the floor.

I really don't like wrestling with the whole top when I'm attaching borders, and I let that put me off finishing tops.  Having a clear desk and a clean floor makes it less of a chore.  Oddly enough, going slow also makes it more fun; if I'm trying to speed through then I just get cranky that it's taking so long. So yes, it took most of the evening, but I enjoyed it.

The top is called Autumn Sisters and was supposed to use up some rust, brown and red scraps, but I always get drawn back to my favourite colours; blue, green and brown.

These are my favourite blocks, and it would be lovely to make a whole quilt in these combinations,but not right now. I have more than enough projects already started, so this idea can go in the Maybe One Day folder.


Saturday, August 28, 2021

The state of things

Life has been a jumble of incidents lately, lots of things to attend to and not much worthy of a blog post.  We've had a dreadful flu season this year, the grandkids have been laid low for months with various ailments.  Tonsillitis, bronchitis, viral colds, gastro, we've had the works.  Of course they shared their germs with me,and I'm still battling a chest infection that has held on for a month now. Everyone has a lingering cough that makes us sound like a tribe of seals barking; I'm ready for a bit of sunshine and good health.

When not nursing sick children I've been randomly working on projects in my sewing room. It's been very aimless; I do a few hours on one thing, then change to another, just going where I want and doing what I please. I've moved a whole heap of things along, but nothing is near completion. I'm not going to even worry about that until I feel a lot better, but any progress is better than none.

Ages ago I saved this online photo, I have no idea where it came from.  I liked the idea of the dark backgrounds of the blocks, even if I wasn't sold on the red sashing.

 I started a few blocks, then packed it away in a box without any sort of documentation. When I discovered it again I'd forgotten all the measurements, so I had to make a few new test blocks so I could write a note to Future Me about the directions needed.

I sorted that out fairly quickly, but then I started worrying about the setting fabric.  This pink was OK, but I'm not convinced. I do like this dark beige print though, but I can't decide which I like better.  

Back in the box for this project, while I work on other random things.

I realised that this blue and green star kit had sat on my shelf untouched for far too long, since January last year in fact. 
I made 15 of the blocks, then started auditioning sashing fabrics.  I know I could go ahead and make all the blocks before I needed to decide, but it was niggling at me.  What if I had nothing suitable in the stash?  I needed to know so I could plan a shopping trip.  

Luckily I found something in the backing stash that would work, so I cut a couple strips so that I'd remember my decision, then packed all that away too.

My leader-enders were the little 4" scrap chain blocks, and at some stage I got a bee in my bonnet about them, and cut up a pile of scraps to kit the remaining blocks I needed. There's 45 blocks in that box, though it doesn't look it.

 This project has been hanging around since October last year, I guess it was designed to be a long term leader-ender, but I would like to see it in one piece. I have 240 blocks made, 88 sewn into sets of 4.
The end is in sight, and I know that I could make a concerted effort and have all the blocks done in a few nights, but other things are demanding attention. 

The Autumn Sisters blocks are finished, and the sashing cut, and several border choices awaiting a decision. I could finish that in a long night of sewing, but I don't know if I want to struggle with a big bulky quilt.  Maybe I'll just sew it into rows and put it aside.  I'm really in a funny mood.

I cut up more scraps for my new leader-ender, the Double 4-patch. 

I've only been sewing a few here and there, but already there are a third of the blocks needed for a decent size quilt. This one is just growing of it's own accord.  I need to find some more 3.5" squares, but until I do the 4-patches can just accumulate.

I spent whole days just putting fabric away, so my room is a lot tidier. I'll tidy away the fabrics from the Scrap Chain and Autumn Sisters, and then the decks will be clear for me to start working on something else. I have no idea whether I'll work on an existing project, or start something new; that's a decision for another day, but I'm pleased with all the progress I've made so far.


Friday, July 16, 2021

Fox and Geese blocks

 I though this block was Crosses and Losses, but that's a different layout. 

Mereth informs me that this is Fox and Geese, so that's what I'm calling it.

I haven't made many more blocks, I'm up to 6 completed now, but I did so much cutting and sewing over several nights that I kitted 28 blocks, probably more than I actually need, but I do love to have a few extras when I lay out the blocks.

I made all the HSTs in a couple of marathon sewing sessions, and kitted the pieces for each block in a plastic bag.  

The framing strips are cut and waiting, but I will have to wait for the final layout before I decide on a sashing fabric.  The original is muslin, but I may see if I can find a very pale toile or something.  It will give me something to hunt for in the patchwork shops.

So that's another old, old project well on the way to a finish.  I think I've used my fortnight at home very well. 


Floral Stacked Stars

 Another long term UFO dealt with, after at least 15 years.  Floral Stacked Star is a quilt top at last.

Yesterday was my first full day of freedom, after my 14 days of isolation.  It felt pretty good to have coffee with friends, and then run away with Mereth to two quilt shops. I was looking for something to use as the border for the stars, and Mereth was just running away.

The first stop was to buy the rest of that madder fabric for the backing.

The second stop was Jamestown, in the middle of a rainstorm.  I was hunting for a green fabric to use as the border, and not having much luck, when Mereth produced the bolt of original green fabric.  

I had no idea it was still there, and I've gone through those shelves of fabric so many times in the last decade. I'm so glad she found it, nothing else was going to be a match, it's a very unusual shade of green.

I also bought new pins.  Excuse me while I have another rant. Mereth bought us both a box of pins last year, and she was sorely disappointed in the quality. I thought she must have just got a bad batch, but last week I finally decided the pin situation was dire enough to open my new ones.   I threw the 15 year old ones in my little waste basket and broke out the new ones. What a joke.  The shafts were so rough they snagged the fabric, if you could actually force the blunt tips through the fabric in the first place. More than half of them were bent, some had the glass heads missing or broken.  And they cost $8.  I don't know where she bought them, but I think I'll be taking them back and complaining. 

I dug all the old pins out of the bin and crawled around the carpet picking up every last one that had dropped to the floor.  15 year old pins were preferable to the new rubbish.

Anyway, at the patchwork shop the owner listened to my rant and then told me to open a packet of pins and see if they were sharp before I bought them, so I did.  And they were.  So I bought a pack for me and one for Mereth.

Maybe these will last for 15 years too.


2 new projects

This is my new leader-ender project.

Double 4-patch, madder and  red for the 4-patches, and light figured squares between them.  I had so many leftover strips once the madder quilt was done, so I decided this would get rid of most of them,  It's a great L-E, not interesting enough to take over as the main project, but it will clean up a lot of scrap and strips.

My other new project is a Sisters Choice, with rust sashing.  

I was cruising around a few blogs and saw one like this, but I have no idea where I saw it.  I got lost in the blogosphere, and couldn't find my way back there.  Feel free to point me back to that blog if you know who made it, it was a lovely inspiration. I'm hoping that I can have another go at cleaning out the 2.5" strip drawer, but so far I just seem to be cutting more strips to mix in with the old ones.  It's not helping empty the drawer at all. 

I've been doing a lot of late night sewing, which explains how I could sew this in place, and press it, without waking up to the fact that it was soooo wrong. I unpicked it and had another go, then thought I"d better call it quits for the night. I didn't trust myself not to sleep sew and make another mistake.

That's better.

I've already made 15 of these blocks, I'm so obsessed with them, so 15 more to make. Some projects just gallop along to completion, and other take decades. At least this one shouldn't languish as a UFO, not like the madder stars, and the floral stacked stars.


Madder top finished

The madder top is finally finished, another long term UFO that I can cross off the list. I even mitred those corners, which took a bit of faffing around, but it does look nice.

If you look closely in the top right hand corner you might notice an anomoly.

There's a light star in there, leftover from a quilt I made many years ago. Originally I was making light and dark stars for a single project, then I dropped that idea and made this top from the light stars on a dark background.

I finished that in January 2015, and the rest of the blocks sat until last week. When I put the blocks up on the design wall it took a while to register that one block was different.  I left it there as a nod back to the other top, and to give people something to wonder about. It's so nice to have finally dealt with.


Wednesday, July 14, 2021


 So much cutting! So much sewing! But  it was worth it, because I have moved 6 projects along. Three of them are UFOs, and they are much closer to being finished now, and that makes me happy.  I've added 2 new projects though, so I'm not whittling the list down at all.  

FIrst off I cut and kitted a heap of 3" Hourglass blocks for this quilt. 

I have 22 blocks made, 18 kitted, and 10 more to make. 

I could easily get all the blocks made for this in 2 or 3 days, but I don't want to rush madly through it. It can sit in it's project box a little longer. 

The madder stars are almost finished, just got to attach the borders. 

I decided on a stripe after all, but the paisley Mereth loaned me was so nice that I'm planning a strippy backing, maybe with a section of large Flying Geese. I want to get the borders on this afternoon so I can clear away all the leftovers and put something else in that project box.  And mark the top off my UFO spreadsheet.

Then there were these floral stacked stars.  

When I was teaching this method a lot of people couldn't come up with a fabric that had 6 or 8 repeats, and it was sooo expensive to buy 3 or more metres.  So I did this one based on four repeats.  Like most teaching samples it never got finished, but I pulled it out every now and then and tried to get it moving. I think the backgrounds are only about 10 years old.  Seeing it's been in progress for nearly 20 years I think I need to get it one piece at last.

I machine appliqued the stars onto the four-patch backgrounds because I just wanted to get it finished, and now I only have to sew the blocks together and add a border. I even have a piece of that blue fabric left, it may be enough for a small border.  It shouldn't take long now that the blocks are finally done.

Then I pulled out a project box that contained only 1 block and some fabric.  Heaven knows how old this is, at least 20 years. It's based on a tiny picture from Ebay, back when Ebay was an auction site and not just a vehicle for all the big box companies.  They are running ads now touting the fact that 90% of their goods are brand new, and that just fills me with dismay. It used to be a fun place to go hunting for bargains, and now it's just cheap rubbish.  Sigh. Rant over.

Anyway, one block does not a UFO make. So I set about making some more blocks, choosing fabrics and kitting blocks. 

Oh look! I was going through my fabric books, and here's the fabric that is framing the blocks, lower left.  I bought it in September 2000, at the quilt shop in Toowoomba on a teaching trip. I bought it for this project, so I've been wanting to make it for 21 years. Wow.
I bought three metres, hopefully there will be some leftover, to use in other projects.

It's so much fun to be working on this, so satisfying.  I have no idea why I put this off for so long, but in my twisted thinking, if I make it, then I won't have it to look forward to anymore.  That doesn't make sense even to me.

I'll tell you about the new projects tomorrow.  For now, I'm going to go and clean up the mess that is threatening to drag everything to a standstill. I have a few more days of quarantine left, and I'm determined to spend all of it sewing.


Thursday, July 08, 2021


 Faced with two weeks at home in isolation I did the only sensible thing, and started reading all the Micheal Connelly books in order.  There are more than 25, so I knew it would keep me occupied for the duration.  It was a bit worrying to discover than I'd forgotten who the bad guy was in most of them, but then I could enjoy the suspense all over again, even if I was fretting about my short term memory.

I read for two days straight, then starting messing around in the sewing room. It was a shambles yet again, but rather than clean it up I pulled out an old UFO and started work on that. 

This set of madder Sawtooth Stars was started in 2005, and it was time to do something.  

I decided straight away that it needed to be a bit bigger, so I made new blocks, and cut new madder squares. That didn't take long, and then I spent three sessions getting it into one piece. It felt good to be moving along so rapidly.

Then came the borders. I'm stuck on which fabric to use; most of my madders are half yards or FQs, which would be fine in a pieced border but I don't want to go down that path,  Mereth is going to bring over a madder paisley and see if that works.  Other people in isolation get grocery deliveries, I get fabric.

I've also started reorganizing all the fabric in my wire drawers. These are scraps and bits too small to be folded up and put back in the stash drawers. I had 5 mixed drawers, and I'm trying to restore order by colour coding all the scraps. 

My longtime habit of cleaning up by opening the nearest drawer and shoving things in it has finally caught up with me. It's a big job, but oddly enough I'd rather deal with a big mess than a little one. Little messes are simply annoying, whereas dealing with a scrap storm like this is satisfying.  

That's what I'm telling myself anyway. And there's always another Bosch novel if it becomes too much.


Monday, July 05, 2021

I jetted off to Queensland to visit family up there, but I managed to get borders on two quilts before I left.  Paint Box has it's piano key border in random colours.

And the Spinning Rectangles has it's border of random 6.5" rectangles.

I've finished 10 quilt tops this year, but only quilted one, mostly because I'm rarely home. Seonaid is still going to college, and I try to be there each week to help, so my time at home is limited.

I went to Queensland to meet this little chap, Theodore, my son Rhys's little boy.  He's 8 weeks old now, and a darling baby.

Here he is with mum Naomi; it was good to meet in person after only being able to talk through the phone and video chat.

Rhys had planned some entertainment for us; we finished two 1000 piece jigsaws

and we went to the Lifeline book fair.

It was held at the exhibition centre in the middle of the city, and it was so huge.  I only got through three or four rows, about 10% of what was available.We were going to go back, but there was a Covid outbreak, and the last days of my visit were spent in lockdown, unable to go anywhere. I cleaned and adjusted Naomi's sewing machine and made a pair of pants for Theo, hopefully she'll have time to do some sewing for him when he's a bit older. At the bookfair I found the Kwiksew pattern books that I used for my kids, so I bought them for her and explained how to use them. I might turn her into a fellow enthusiast yet.

I flew home, still in the middle of lockdown, and now I'm in quarantine at home for 14 days.  I don't mind, except for not being able to see the grandkids. I've had a couple days of reading and relaxing, and now I'm ready to tackle something in the sewing room.  Definitely something from the UFO list. And I really should clean up before I start pulling out fabric etc.  I've lost a BlockLoc ruler in the mess, and I need it for the UFO I want to work on.  Wish me luck....


Sunday, June 06, 2021

Progress on several things

The borders are on the blue Boxy Stars, the eighth top I've finished this year. I'd like to get it quilted sometime soon, but I'm not holding my breath on that. I have a few things coming up that will take me away from the workshop, so quilting is just not on the cards.

I finished most of the blocks in this cheerful quilt, which I'm calling Paint Box. Now I"m on to deciding on the borders.  

I'm leaning towards a piano key border using all the fabrics in the centre, but I haven't decided if I want a random selection, or a more colourwash effect. I don't think I have the energy to make that many choices about fabric placement, so it will probably be random.  Maybe by the time I finish I'll be able to see a reduction in these bright pastel fabrics; I've been concentrating on these modern prints for most of this year, and I still have plenty left. I guess they're a permanent section of the stash now.

My leader-enders are these low contrast spinning rectangles. I usually make every effort to make sure there is a contrast between fabrics, but with these I'm going for a Vintage/Liberty/1974 look. These little florals were all we could get when I started patchworking (in 1974) so it's a nod to my early days as a patchworker.

It's time to get this top onto the finished pile.  The blocks are 6", so I went to my box of 6" strips and auditioned these rectangles.  It would be an easy way to edge this; most of my modern fabrics are FQs, not a lot of yardage, so this would solve the border problem nicely. When the Paint Box top comes off the design wall I'll pop this up there, and it should only take an afternoon to sort out.

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