Sunday, December 29, 2019

Home again

What a whirlwind end to the year! Our trip to visit family went off so well, I can't quite believe it.  Isla and Thomas were on their best behaviour, people complimented us on them at every gathering.

At Grandma's party all her friends approached me throughout the day and told me what a delight the children were.  One lady said darkly, 'We get some real little monsters in here." Oh dear....

We stayed at a lovely Air B&B just around the corner from the house Grandma and Grandad lived in while my kids were growing up, so it was a very nostalgic visit to our old haunts.  Thomas blotted his copybook by locking himself in one of the bedrooms, but luckily the lock could be turned from outside with a butter knife.  Shonny came flying into the kitchen to get one, and I gave a sigh of relief that it was one of those locks; there were hefty grills on all the windows, so we would have had to call a locksmith to get him out.  Kids!

At the end of the week Shonny and the kids flew home without incident, and I went back to Rhys's apartment to stay until after Christmas.  We visited the dog park every day with Daisy, who is just the sweetest puppy ever; 

we went to farmers markets, to the movies, and to some of the best brunches I've ever had.  We had some wonderful meals out.  

At home we played trivia and did two jigsaws and watched Netflix, and it was so relaxed.  I cooked corned beef with all the trimmings on Christmas Eve, and made sure Rhys paid attention to how to do it, so he can make it for himself in future. On Christmas day we had a spread of cold meat and salads, just like our old Christmases. We had a wonderful time.

I came back home much refreshed, and stayed with Shonny and family for two days.  Unfortunately Isla is sick,hopefully just a tummy bug, but it sort of ruined Christmas for her.  I was going to bring her back home with me, but she's too ill to travel, and we're in the middle of a heat wave, so I'm home on my own.  I don't know what to tackle first, the sewing room is too hot to work in, so I'll have to hope the AC in the workroom can cope with the 45(113) ° temperature tomorrow. I think another jigsaw would be a good idea.


Friday, December 13, 2019

I've been spending my nights kitting up Ohio Star blocks, and thought I'd show you how I do it.

I cut the triangles out with my Go die; it cuts 8 of each fabric at a time, which is enough for the star points of a block, or the background bits for 2 blocks, or the inner triangles for 2 blocks. The squares are cut 2.5", and I already have a big stash of those from previous projects.
I cut out heaps of triangles and then sit down and sort out what I want to put together.  Each little set of pieces gets put in a snack sized baggie, and 10 of them go into a sandwich size bag.  It makes counting kits easy, I can see at a glance I have 22 in this tray.
When I have time to sew, I will concentrate on sewing the Hour Glass units first.
I make Hour Glass units for up to 10 blocks at a time.  I have to be in the mood for precision sewing to do this, so that they are accurate and measure 2.5" exactly.
Here they're all laid out with their matching pieces, waiting to go back into their snack bags.
When I don't feel like precision sewing, or I only have a few minutes between other chores, I grab a block or two and put them together.

It's just as easy as sewing a nine-patch now, and if I've sewn the Hour Glasses properly then everything matches perfectly.

By doing it in stages like this I make the best use of my time and I match the sewing to how I feel.  The good thing is that some nights I suddenly have 10 blocks finished, without much effort, and that's like magic.


Thursday, December 12, 2019

I don't quite know what to do in the few remaining days before we go away.  None of my projects are anywhere near finishing, so it seems pointless to work hard on them.  I can't do anything in the garden because it will languish on it's own for two weeks, so no use repotting or shifting stuff around.  I do have to clean out the fridge and put the rubbish bin out, but that's hardly fulfilling.
I did get another quilt quilted, because I finally found a suitable backing for it.  A nice turquoise wideback fitted it perfectly, and I quilted it with a blue-green variegated thread.
I'm so pleased with how it turned out, I cant wait to start another one of these next year.  I'm cutting all my blue-green fabric into 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles already.
The panto is one of mine called Swell; I wanted something a bit seaweedy, and this fit the bill nicely.

I just love these colours and I'm hoping someone else will too, as it's now bound and down the shop.  But I'm not in a hurry for it to sell, because I just love looking at it.

This is my 8th quilt quilted this year, I'm pretty chuffed about that.  Three still need bindings, so that's what I could be doing till I go away. Even if I only get the bindings attached to the quilts it would be progress.  Then when I come back I'll have something to start work on straight away.  It's a plan.


Monday, December 09, 2019

Something needed to be done about organising the quilt tops on hand.  After all, there are more than a hundred stored in various boxes and cupboards, and I needed an easy way to document them and keep track of where they are. I made up this information sheet in Word, and printed out one for each top.

I know I could have made it all as Word files, but there's something satisfying about having a paper copy, and I can keep these in the workroom and scribble over them as needed.  I'm going to work my way through and measure each top, work out the size backing I need, and what meterage I need to make that backing.  Then I'll make a file of the backing lengths needed and I'll keep that on my phone.  When I'm shopping and find cheap backing fabric I'll be able  to look at my file and see exactly how much I'll need for any particular quilt.

I hope this helps me buy wisely; buying too much for a backing is almost as annoying as not buying enough, so having the info available will be so useful.

I've got a backing stash already, and a lot of these quilts already have backings allotted to them.  Still, that's quite a pile of quilt tops in that stack.  These information sheets will also help me prioritise what gets quilted next; as I've discovered already, if I don't prepare the tops, backing and batting ahead of time, I don't get a quilt on the machine.  I've quilted 7 this year just by being prepared, and I hope to double that number in 2020.  Or maybe I should aim to quilt 20 quilts in 2020.  Sounds achievable!


Tuesday, December 03, 2019

It's going to be a busy month

This is the state of my design wall. 
I'm trying very hard to come up with a plan for these 6" Ohio Stars blocks, and it's taking longer than I expected. I think I know where I'm going, but I may end up changing my mind later. Who knows. 

There's also these blocks from a few years ago.
I like them, but I don't know if I want a whole quilt of them. I think I'm going to make a wall hanging out of what I already have, and then all the fabrics earmarked for this can go back into the stash. 

December is going to be a busy month, I only have a couple of free days.  First is a 4 day visit to Seonaid's, to catch up with the grandchildren.  The main reason is to go with Isla to her first day of kindy.  I can't believe that next year she'll be in kindy and the year after that she'll be in school.  I thought time flew by with my own kids, but it's at warp speed with the grand kids.  I need to plan lots of trips to my house for her, because once she's in the school system there's no running away on a whim anymore.

I'll come home for the weekend, and I'll be manning the shop while we have a pre-Christmas sale.  Then a week later it's off to Adelaide again, and then up to Brisbane to see the family there.  It's Grandma's 90th birthday, and we're all looking forward to a big birthday bash with people coming from all over. Then Seonaid and the kids will fly home, and I'm staying to have Christmas with DS Rhys, for the first time in 11 years.  I'll fly home on Boxing Day, have a second Christmas with Seonaid and Co., then we'll all come up here for New Years.  So there's the whole of 2019 mapped out.  
It's going to be a lot of fun, but there won't be much sewing time, and I should just give up on the idea of finishing anything else this year.  But I won't; there will be some late nights I'm sure, while I try to cram in some time at the machine.


Saturday, November 30, 2019

Mereth and I are trying hard to fit our own quilts in between customer quilts, even if it means getting to work when we don't particularly feel like it. We alternate using the machine, so I feel a bit guilty if I don't get a quilt done quickly, because then it's holding up her quilt from being quilted.  Guilt aside, it feels great to be making a dent in the pile of quilt tops at last.

I've been itching to get this Checkered Lattice quilted, I just love those colours.

I knew right from the start that I wanted to use my Sassy pantograph on this, it's a pattern that looks wonderful on any style quilt. I started quilting this at about 4pm, and finished at 8.30.
Then it came off the frame, and onto the design wall for me to admire.
And now the Statler is free for Mereth to load her next quilt.  We're both making excellent progress on our stockpile of tops, but now the quilts needing bindings are piling up.  

Looks like we won't be taking it easy anytime soon.


Keeping busy

I've been using my time wisely just lately, trying to get a few more things ticked off the list.

3 nights of sewing saw the second Disappearing 9 Patch top finished.  I think it's even prettier than the first one, much more pink.

I have one more quilt to complete and the Christmas gifts will be done, or ready for quilting I should say.

These fabrics came mostly from Facebook destashing groups, and there were lots of prints that I would never have bought.  But I had to use them because I don't have a pretty modern stash, and I think the odd fabrics really add to the overall effect.  I still wouldn't choose them at a quilt shop tho...

I relied heavily on this gorgeous floral print, luckily there were 3 FQs in the bundles,
and then I picked up 2 FQs of this lovely polka dot and floral on my last trip to Spotlight.
I cut all the FQs and scrap bundles into 6.5 and 4.5" strips, and I'll continue making quilts out of that pile until they're gone.  I have no idea if I'll replace them in future, but I've got enough for a few more quilts in those strips.
And then there are the scraps..... I'll hold off deciding what to do with these until I've finished the next quilt.  Maybe crumb quilting wouldn't be so irritating with such cheerful scraps.

I also spent some time renewing the upholstery on 6 dining room chairs. The original covers were put on by a maniac with an electric stapler.  It takes half an hour to dig out the staples and remove the old cover; 93 staples in one chair seat, and it wasn't the worst. It's just that I couldn't be bothered counting any more.  I wondered if I should save all that metal for the scrap metal guy.....
The finished chairs look so lovely and clean, ready for another 20 years.  But it won't be me doing the recovering next time.


Friday, November 29, 2019


The Vintage Rosette top was the 12th top finished this year, so I actually achieved that goal early.  Part of me wants to power sew through the next few weeks and add a lot more completed projects to the tally, and part of me just wants to play with ideas and fabrics and enjoy some relaxation.  While I dither about what I'm going to do, I'm actually sewing on the Disappearing Nine-patches that I want to make for Christmas gift quilts.

It takes no brain power at all to make these 9patches from 4.5"squares, so I'm just dawdling along, sewing one seam after another and thinking of what I want to do next.
The fabrics are so colourful and cheerful, it's making me happy to be sewing with these pretty prints.  But I have no wish to make anything other than the simplest patchwork with them.  When I want to do some clever, intricate piecing I'll be turning to my reproduction stash for inspiration.


Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Tiny Album blocks

I started these tiny Album blocks in January 2017, and I've been working on them sporadically since then.  I like making them, and they're fun to plan, but I really don't know what I want to do with them.  I'm not comfortable making a huge pile of blocks and then deciding; I like to have some end project in mind as I sew.  I have a stack of them, and I've about come to the limit of how many I want to make without a firm plan in mind.

I'm rather drawn to using pink sashing to separate the blocks, with green or indigo corner posts.
Not that pink though, so I'll have to comb through the stash to find something that I like.  Then I'll have to decide how big this quilt should be.  Usually I go and map it out in EQ8, but I have no idea what size I want, or where I would want to use this quilt.  Once again, I'm trying to plan the whole thing in my head, and meanwhile progress is stalled.

They are little blocks, 5.75" finished, so I'll need a fair few before I have to make any final decisions.  There's already 27 blocks, plus a pile of partially assembled ones. 

When I'm not in the mood for triangles I just sew this Centre bit and set it aside. 

Then one night, when I'm feeling ready to concentrate on a bit of fiddly sewing, I add the triangles and finish the block. It stops me from getting bored, or feeling like it's 'duty' sewing. And I can choose the triangle colour after I build the block, instead of having to make the decision at the beginning.

I might even make a little quilt as a wall-hanging or lap quilt, which is something I rarely do. But for now I guess I'll just keep adding to the pile of blocks. 


Monday, November 11, 2019

Done at last

My vintage rosettes is a completed top at long, long last.  This has been such a chore to work on, but determination helps overcome the tediousness of those many little seams.

Don't know if I like it yet, but I am so relieved to cross it off the UFO list, after all this time. It looks like the left border has a few puckers, but that doesn't bother me.  The centre of the top shrinks back after ironing, all those little seams pull it in.  Another iron, and some quilting, will makes that border lie completely flat.
I can't believe I let it sit around for years because I didn't like the look of those half rosettes at the edge.  They look fine to me now; I prevaricated for so long, over something so trivial.  

Of course the worse part was ironing all those tiny 1" seams.  Ordinarily hexagons just lay down in front of the iron, so pressing a hexagon top is actually enjoyable.  But those diamonds and triangles changed the pressing pattern, so it was a constant struggle to get them under control.  However, it's done now, and I'm ready to move onto another project from the list.  Or maybe start another new one.

I've written a few times about how I love this moment of choosing the next project, there are so many possibilities, and the excitement of a new project has it's own momentum.  While I weigh which thing to start next I am cutting for my 6" Ohio Star blocks. I'm not going to sew on these exclusively, they will be my leader-enders when I pick my major project.
Lots and lots of little triangles, made easy with the 2" QST die.
These will be such fun to kit into blocks, after I get back from Adelaide on Friday. 
The end is in sight for the school year for Shonny, so my babysitting skills won't be needed every single week.  I'm going to enjoy not travelling so much, but I'll miss my babies too.


Tuesday, November 05, 2019

Another top quilted

Weeks ago I managed to get another of my tops quilted, and forgot to post about it

The block is called Road to Oklahoma I think; I did a tutorial on the block in December 2010 and finished it in November 2013. 

I'd originally been using apricots as the backgrounds, but I didn't like that after all, and set those blocks aside in the Orphan Box while I made a heap of blocks with cream floral backgrounds.
The backing piece that I chose needed another 16" in width, so I dug those rejected blocks out and pieced them into the backing. They were perfect for the job, and it was satisfying to find a home for them after all this time.
This fabric is very, very old. It wasn't really quilt shop quality, probably a Chinese knockoff of the original print, but it was fine as a backing.

I chose an old favourite panto of mine, called Groundcover.  It seems everything about this quilt is from a long time ago, which makes me even more glad that it's all in one piece and quilted now.
You can't really see the quilting, it doesn't show up in this light, but it looks very nice. Now I just have to find a binding fabric and that will be another quilt to add to the pile.

But it won't happen for a while, not while I'm running around after this lad. He's growing so quickly, it's a joy to watch him learning new things every day.  Go Thomas!!


So close...

After the family went home on Sunday I sat and sewed long into the night. I was too tired to do anything requiring brain power, so I just sewed white hexagons onto the top and bottom of the quilt. It was completely mindless, and just what I needed to unwind after a very full 5 days.

There is only 1 seam left to finish, joining the two pieces together, but that will have to wait till Friday, because I'm back at Shonny's again. Today should be the last day of one subject, and the rest should finish in 3 weeks time, so the end is in sight. Once school is over I'll still come visit, but probably 4 days a fortnight instead of every week. I don't want the grandkids to forget me! 


Sunday, November 03, 2019

Family visit

Isla came back with me last Thursday, and on Saturday Shonny and Thomas drove up.  We went to see Mereth's son John, starring as Shrek in  Shrek The Musical.  He has a wonderful singing voice, and until a few years ago no one even knew he could sing.  He just came out with this huge voice one day and we all looked at each other and went 'What.....!!??'

He did a great job, and afterwards came out to meet us in the lobby.  Isla and her cousin Eddy were too scared to go near him at first, this is as close as they would get.

Eventually John won her over, but Eddy wasn't having a bar of it.
John's wife Liz did the makeup and some of the costumes, 

and Mereth babysat the grandkids through all the months of rehearsals, and then looked after Thomas and all the other kids so we could take Isla to the matinee; it was a real family effort. 

It was a great weekend, so wonderful to get together with all the kids and grandkids. I'm sure Isla will remember it for quite some time. So much Excitement! 


Isla and I had a lovely visit together, without a single disagreement.  She played in the garden, picked flowers, visited the workroom and saw the Statler, and also the quilt I'm going to give her for Christmas. (should have hidden that one...)  "I like THIS one" she declared, so she should be happy on Christmas morning when she unwraps it.

She coloured in pages of my printed patterns, something her Mum did 25 years ago.  I'm tempted to design some animal patterns, just so she can colour those in too.
She was allowed to have a tapestry needle, and threaded a container of antique glass beads onto a string, which was great fun.
She was allowed to play the piano that's in storage out the back, and carefully showed one of my dolls how to play too.

She was allowed to play with scissors, and textas, which is a no-no at home, after she cut up one of her dresses and drew all over herself.

We had so much fun together, and there are a million other things to do that we didn't have time for.  I hope we can make this a regular thing.

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