Monday, December 31, 2007

I was up at 6 this morning, and managed to finish all the triangle units for Bonnie's Carolina Crossroads mystery I'm not speculating as to what the finished quilt will look like, I'm just doing what I'm told and making each set of units. That's a first for me, I usually have to change something and do things my way. It's a relief to just follow the directions, no thinking on my part. I will be quite proud of myself when these are put together into a quilt; there's a serious amount of piecing involved in this. I haven't made a whole quilt out of tiny pieces for a while; I love all Bonnie's quilts, but I shied away from making one because of the time it would take. Doing this as a mystery was perfect, it's been nicely spread out and I haven't felt pressured by any of it. I even learnt to like 9-patches again!

Somehow I ended up working on a blue and white Double Irish Chain yesterday. I was sure the drawer contained only 2" blue squares, but at the bottom were some partly pieced blocks, and I thought I could just whizz them up and put them in the Orphan Box, and then I realised there were too many blocks to be orphans and I quite liked how it was going together and maybe I could just make a small quilt and...blah blah blah. So add another project to the pile. This is going to be the year of the UFO; they will be dealt with. At the end of this year I want all my UFOs to be recently started projects, not these ancient old things.


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Another collage of my UFOs. Some of these are seriously aged, and it's time they were dealt with. The Wild Goose Chase blocks in the second row are 23 years old, and I still love them. They need a bit of TLC; at some stage an accident befell them, something to do with cats or kids or a FIL hosing down the verandah, I'm not sure which now. Either way, the blocks had to have a bath, and the calico in them shrank rather drastically. They need to be blocked into shape, and sashed with the remaining revolting calico, and then quilted. They can shrink all they like once they're quilted, they will just look antique then.

And that Tumbling Blocks next to them just needs to be trimmed to size and it can go on the finished tops pile. I do let little chores put me off, and then I don't get the thrill of completing something. Need to change the way I work for 2008.

Mereth and I have been having a 'Quilt Reflection' for the last week. Ordinarily we would call it a Quilt Retreat, but our mate Bruce scoffs at that term. 'Retreat is Defeat!' he exclaims. "You can't call it that.' What a guy way to look at things. For women a retreat can be a strategic defence, to rally the reserves and fight again another day. And that's precisely what Quilt Retreats are about. So maybe we will go back to calling it whatever we want to.

The Reflection was because we needed to have a long think about our quilting, rather than complete a whole heap of new tops. My main desire was to catalogue the projects and see how many I could complete easily, how many I could discard, or combine with others, or finish in an abbreviated form. Then to do some planning for future quilts, so that I have a themed collection instead of the random approach I've had in the past.

And I desperately needed to get my fabric sorted and stored in one spot, and I've achieved that. My sewing room is set up and it feels great, and my fabric storage is set out so I can lay my hands on anything I want straight away. I think it's going to be a perfect spot to work. And I'm very pleased that my stash doesn't take up a huge amount of room these days; I love all my fabrics and there are NO uglies. All that Stashbusting really paid off.

We'll spend these last few hours of 2007 writing up a list of commitments for 2008, and a list of goals, and a few resolutions. But I may be sewing while I reflect; I just found another 5 projects to add to the list.


Friday, December 28, 2007

One of our Christmas traditions is clearing the decks for a jigsaw or two. I have loved puzzles for as long as I can remember, and I have a serious collection of favourites. I have several rules though;

  • no modern ones because the digital photos don't enlarge nicely
  • only houses, castles and boats - don't know where that one came from
  • if possible, only ones with weird interlocking shapes
  • nothing over 1000 pieces, as they just take too long, and take up too much space
  • nothing with too much sky

So WHY are we doing this monster? It's 3000 pieces, and there must be a thousand sky pieces alone. This is two days of work, to get it to this stage. However, every person who walks in the door is put to work, and they can't leave until they've got two pieces in place. At this rate we estimate it will be finished in December 2008.

Matt was very helpful, and put a lot of pieces together. Unfortunately, none of them were right. Thanks awfully!We have already decided that if we get the landscape done, and we are sick of it, we won't bother with the sky; however, I would love a photo of the thing completed, just to say we did it. Then the whole lot goes back to the op-shop, to inflict this insanity on another unsuspecting family.

Another Christmas tradition is courtesy of our Italian SIL, who every year delivers one of these intruiging boxes. Panettone is an Italian sweet bread full of raisins and citron, and it is so divine. I don't eat bread at all normally, but I make an exception for this. It is best eaten with a cup of brewed coffee; what a combination of flavours!And I have a confession to make. I have been feeling a bit smug, reading the posts detailing unfinished projects on Stashbuster and several blogs. 'Goodness gracious' I thought to myself. I don't have THAT many things started. Enter Reality,with a notebook and a camera and a desire to know exactly what I do have in my cupboards.67.

Well at least 67, because the memory card was full, and it had been a long day, and who really cared what was in that final cupboard, and who's idea was this anyhow!!??

I pulled out a set of blocks that was very near completion, and sewed them together, using a metre of sashing fabric in the process, which caused me great happiness. Then I had the brilliant idea of a pieced border. It does look good, but instead of slapping on a few strips of fabric to finish this I will be sewing 200 Flying Geese units. Some great ideas are just a lot of extra work, grumble grumble grumble. Trouble is, once I see it like that I can't settle for less.


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

I've been looking for the right picture to hang in my entrance and on our last trip I found this at a junk shop. I'm not a Roman Catholic, but I love Italian art; now this lovely mother and child are the first thing you see through the open door at my place. Just perfect!

Merry Christmas, and may your holidays be quilty!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Home again, and ready to stay put for a while. I've certainly put some miles on that car of mine.

Most of the crops along the way have been harvested, and now the fields are full of baled hay. There are a variety of types of bales, but these huge round ones always make me laugh. They look so surreal, like a landscape by Salvador Dali. They are taller than I am, and I would love to see them being stacked and loaded onto the trucks. That's a lot of hay to shift.We took DS to the Birdwood Motor Museum, up in the Adelaide hills, and that was interesting. It was pure co-incidence that a wonderful patchwork shop, the Patchwork Apple, was only minutes away! We ducked in for literally 15 minutes, and grabbed a handful of fabric each. Shirtings! Only two, but 1/2m of each is better than nothing.
The others were remnants, and all very useful prints. I was exceedingly restrained in my purchases, considering the wonderful reproduction fabrics they had. We can go back another time.
I finished quilting another quilt before we went away. This was made from stash, and the pieced strips were whatever was left from a series of quilts I made last year. It looks nice and cheerful and summery, and is on my bed for now; I really am spoilt for choice when it comes to bed quilts.

And since I got home I have finished this top, which was stalled for lack of the border fabric. I picked up the necessary metres on the way home yesterday, and had it in one piece before lunchtime today. It grew to be 84" square, and I didn't mean for it to be that big. I must be stricter in future and refuse to be bullied by my quilts.

I do think the result was worth the long search for just the right border fabric. I love how this turned out, and I'm planning the quilting designs already. I just have to find a backing for it, hopefully from stash; that will earn me a few more metres to buy on my next patchwork shop expedition.


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Oww!! I feel like I've sewn a marathon. I don't know how Bonnie gets all that piecing done in between the other things in her life. It took a concerted effort on my part to get this little lot finally done, and I don't think I managed anything else at all. Can't sew any more..... too tired!

I think I've got over my aversion to little 9-patches, if I had to make another 200 for the border I think I'd just get in there and do it. A seam is a seam, surely, no matter if it's on a four patch or a Le Moyne Star or a nine patch.

I used up all my 1 1/2" strips on the first 100 blocks, so I cut up a lot of smaller pieces to make the rest of the patches. I measured, and there was the equivalent of 8 metres in this drawer; it's all gone now, cut up into projects or strips to restock the scrap drawers, or actually pieced into the Mystery quilt. I've earnt a trip to the patchwork shop I think. I will have to total up what I've bought this week, there was a quick visit to a shop on Monday to get border fabrics, but I think I only got 4 metres, and all in the name of borders. So that's allowable.

Another trip tomorrow, to see family, so no sewing for a while. I'm very glad I managed to complete the third mystery step; when we get back I will have a nice time deciding what to start next.


Saturday, December 15, 2007

What did I say about 9-patches? 80 more on the to-do list now. I think after this lot of blocks I'll either have got over my 9-patch dislike, or I will never make one ever again. Time will tell. Doing these as leader and enders has been quite painless, I think I'm coming to terms with them.

I have been keeping very busy organising the stash and trying to rationalise all my storage. I don't know what is worse, not having enough places to put your things, or not having the time to get everything just the way you want. The lack of storage and space can be dealt with, the lack of time is more difficult. But I've been using up every moment I can setting out the workroom, and I'm beginning to be happy with it. I'm having some work done on the room this weekend, so no photos until that's over.

The Anvil quilt has been stalled for weeks while I try to decide what border to put on it. Finally I think I have decided on this fabric; it keeps a lighter feeling to the quilt, and with all that red it could be too overwhelming, especially as it's destined for a room with red walls. Nice and cosy in winter maybe, but I don't want it to be overpowering. I will breathe a huge sigh of relief when this is in one piece!

Mereth and I have been comparing our attitudes to our stashes over the last few weeks, and I've come to a few conclusions. I am comfortable with the amount of fabric I have, I certainly don't want to whittle it down to a few boxes and drawers. On the other hand, I don't want to have a greater amount than I have, or it will be too difficult to manage. So what I am striving for is Stash Equilibrium. Yardage In = Yardage Out. Simple.

I also want to buy fabric that will fulfill a purpose, not just add to the pretties. I get so stumped when it comes to borders, because I haven't conciously bought lengths for that purpose for a while. I have smaller pieces, or backing lengths, but often there isn't a lot of choice for borders. So I need to ignore all the FQs that call out to me, and go for fabric lengths that will help to finish the projects I have started.

And I need to buy whatever is missing from the Stash; white shirtings for a start! I have drastically reduced those, until I can't even finish the blocks for the blue and white quilt I'm working on. So I can see a foray into an online shop for those sometime soon.

But I need to balance that buying with using up what I have. Last week I made another three backings, one from about 5 strange pieces from the Blue drawer. That felt good. Another backing was a huge green and brown and blue affair, 99" x 110", made from 10.5" squares of unlovely pieces. I thought that little puppy would never be finished, it went on for days! The other backing was a straight 5m from stash, but that brought the total up to around the 14m mark there. In Stash Equilbrium terms, I have earnt myself a 14m shopping spree!

Not content with that, I weeded out 10m of little bits and pieces, and cut it all into bindings, strips, squares and triangles. I sat and watched Mereth deal with her scraps one night, and I was so impressed with how methodically she works through the pile. And horrified! I kept saying, 'Surely you'll have to put THAT in the bin!" and she would smile and pick up a different ruler and cut yet another shape. And finally she would hold up the tiniest shred and triumphantly put it in the bin, with the stacks of cut shapes growing higher and higher. I don't think I'm that dedicated.

And she's taken to going through the bins in the workroom and salvaging my rubbish. I will have to dispose of my scraps more thoroughly, or she'll never get to cut into her good fabric.

I was bad and bought myself a Christmas present on Ebay, all the way from England. It is the most fantastic quilt, I'm thrilled with it. It came from the Allendale area, where Elizabeth Sanderson worked, which makes it more special. Some of the motifs are very unusual, and so individual; I'm sure the quilter had a lot of fun making up the shapes to fill the odd spaces between the large motifs. I could look at it for hours.And then, because my quilts are piling up at an alarming rate, I invested in some shelves. This will be called the padded room from now on. What made my day was realising how many empty shelves there are; all the other side is empty. That gives me permission to make another 40 or 50 quilts, bcause I already have a place to store them.And finally, another machine to add to the collection. I don't even have a reason for this, except that it was only a few dollars and I don't already have one. I was talking to another collector during the week, and she has at least 15 machines on shelves, and more stored elsewhere; I only have 5 old machines and 3 new ones. And a Gammil....It's a 99 I think, doesn't have anything to identify the model. However, it was made in 1948 in Clydebank in Scotland. I'm sure she'll be very happy with my other machines.


Friday, December 07, 2007

I don't particularly like piecing 9-patches, they bore me for some reason. So it was with nothing like enthusiasm that I saw the next instruction for the Carolina Crossroads mystery was to make 100 of the things.After a mammoth effort I have pieced and cut all the pieces, and now I'll use them as leader-enders in between my other sewing projects. I'm glad to have that chore behind me; it used up the dregs of my 1 1/2" strips, so I will have to cut some more from my stash. I'll weed out all the FQs that have been whittled away, and that will stock the strip drawers as well as make room in the stash drawers. I'm so glad to see the last of some of these little strips, I thought I'd never use them up; they were The Strips That Would Not Die.

Thank heavens Bonnie has gone away for the weekend, and it will be a while before installment three of the mystery!

I sewed together some of the waste triangles from the binding strips, and decided that a Broken Dishes quilt would use them up nicely. Each block takes 16 dark and 16 light triangles, perfect for my leftovers. Every block will use the waste triangles from the bindings of two finished quilts; when I have enough blocks to make a quilt there will be a serious amount of work represented. I tried pressing the seams open, and to one side, and I do think the open seams were nicer. The block went together very easily and it lies flatter than the other. And the back is really neat!
During the week I found time to clean up another garage sale find. It's only silver plate, but it's as heavy as lead, which makes it just perfect as a ruler rack. I love the sun gleaming on it, makes me smile. However, I don't think that I'll be cleaning it too regularly; it's got too many hard to reach places. If I have a spare half an hour I'd rather have coffee and sew than clean silver!


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

You know what these are don't you? I succumbed to Bonnie's Carolina Crossroads mystery challenge, and I spent this morning making these rail fence units. We were supposed to make 100, but because I can't count, apparently, there are 130 there. And I do what Bonnie does and pin them together in stacks of 10, because I have a hard enough time keeping track of the numbers anyway, and don't want to have to count them all again.
I can't imagine what I was thinking, I carefully worked out what I would need to get my 100 units, then went ahead and cut twice as much as I needed. Not enough coffee in the system obviously. But now I have a head start on a border for another quilt, or filler blocks for my orphans, or something. The colours are just what was in a massive pile of scraps by my machine, waiting for who-knows-what. I'm using double pinks as my accent, blue and brown for my scraps and cream shirtings for the lights. I love Bonnie's quilts, soI'm trusting that I will love whatever this turns out to be.

This is Binding Mountain.

My latest obsession is turning great swathes of material into neat bundles of bindings. Some of these are for finished quilts, others are for tops that are waiting their turn on the Statler. I cut 8 2.5" binding strips, no matter how big the quilt. Most of my quilts take 7 or 7-and-a -bit strips to bind. Then the extra goes into the scrap binding bin, and for every 6 or 7 finished quilts I get a free binding! They are being stored in my Ikea drawers, which I just love. I will get a few more on my next trip there, I love the compartments and the clear lids. They can be built into a unit, but I have them behind my sewing machine; they are nearly the same height as the plastic extension table around the sewing machine, which is rather handy.

I'm saving the triangles I cut when I do the mitred seams, and they will turn into HSTs one of these days. I try to throw them away, but it's a wicked waste when there are so many of them. I'm sure only day I'll be glad I kept them.

Each binding takes .5m, so there is 4.5m in that lot, plus I've turned 16m from my stash into backings this week. 20m busted! and none acquired (so far). I'm feeling rather please about that. But the backing stash is looking pretty scanty........


Saturday, December 01, 2007

I belong to the Stashbuster group, and though I'm not on No-Buy status I do want to get my stash under control. I need to enjoy having it, instead of feeling overwhelmed and unable to buy the nice new fabrics without lashings of guilt. So that means using up what I have, at least at the same rate as I buy it.

Judy L. has explained how her stash grew.

I can remember when my stash consisted of three fabrics, about 2m total. In 1980 I shared a collection of scraps and dressmaking lengths with Mereth, but when I moved to Queensland to go to college I took none of it with me. On a trip home we cut out this 1000 Pyramids quilt, which I hand-pieced over the next two years. And that was most of our stash gone in that one quilt. It's full of dress-making scraps and bits from relatives and friends, nearly 50 items of clothing that we made. We really did make almost all our own clothing back then. In fact I often had to make a blouse first, so that I could use the scraps, and Mum wouldn't frown at me for wasting fabric on patchwork. This is one of the quilts that I love the most, it has so many memories involved. It's faded and one patch has shredded, but it was the only finished quilt in my life for a long time. It's an old mate.

In my second year of college Mereth and I started swapping 5" Baby Basket blocks (also called Cake Stand I think). Each of these could be cut from a 6" charm square or scrap, and we would make several blocks, then post them to each other. It was always a good day when a fat little envelope was in the mail box. Those blocks in the centre marked the start of Mereth's attitude to piecing; why use the same fabric when you could use more, and why not use even tinier pieces if possible. I was shocked at her daring when I saw those blocks tumble out of the envelope. In 1982 I was staid and conventionalist, very close to Quilt Police status myself.

These little blocks are the beginnings of the serious stash we own today. We repeated very few fabrics, and the aim was to collect as many new prints as possible. We just never stopped, even when the quilts were done. And still not quilted as you can see; the marking pencil ran like a rabbit when something was spilled on the top, and now most of the seams have a black shadow. I'll quilt this on the Statler, and then tackle those stains; it's precious to me no matter how grotty it looks.

Being raised by a champion fabriholic, and coming from a long line of collectors, we never had a chance. In the beginning we were totally indiscriminate; if it was fabric and we could afford it we bought it. I think getting a bargain was sometimes more important than liking the stuff! Later we made better choices and built the stash selectively, but until last year there were things in my cupboards that made me shudder. It was a pleasure to weed them out and get rid of them.

Once I started quilting for a living, and had money to spend legitimately on it, I set about some serious acquisition. I spent four years travelling to dozens of quilt shops to teach, and at each place I built the stash. The material I bought then is probably still the bones of my collection; I bought rationally and with an eye to future quilts and I got a teacher discount on most of it. There's not a lot of it I regret.

What I do regret is all the bargain fabric I squirrelled away and didn't use. Most of it has been disposed of; cut up and sewn into utility quilts, gifted to others, sold or just plan thrown away. I really hope I never buy like that again, it wasn't healthy. I'm not going to give up buying cheap fabric, but I don't want to buy 3 metres of it if the price is the main attraction. I Am Not In The Market For Cheap Fabric! I am after beautiful fabric, full stop.

I think I started to feel a bit ashamed of myself when I'd get to the Spotlight sale at 8am, and by 8.30 I would have purchased all the nice cheap fabric available; anyone who couldn't get there that early would only be getting what I didn't want. But I didn't need any of it either. So I stopped doing that. I might go on the last day of the sale, and that way I consoled myself that

  • no-one else wanted it more than me
  • there must have been plenty for everyone
  • I was meant to have it anyway.
I did a rough count last year and calculated that I would have about 1200 metres of fabric; that doesn't seem toooo bad, for 30 years of collecting. And I can still stand in my sewing room and complain 'I don't have ANY double pinks!' and almost mean it.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin

About This Blog

Lorem Ipsum

  © Blogger templates Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP