Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Cleaning up

I've been jumping from project to project for quite some time, and sewing haphazardly on varous new ideas, before abandoning it all to do another thing. It was a mess, and finally it got so I couldn't work in all the litter anymore. So I started to tidy up.

I sorted out all the various things I'd been dabbling with.

Shirting Spinning Rectangles, with leftovers from my Zigzag top. So many leftovers. 

I have 32 of these, and many more pieces.

Flying Geese leader-enders. I now have 210.

Lots of 3" triangles, leader-enders again. These will go in the project box with 70 or so others.

Another Carolina Chain, because I enjoyed the last one, and there were leftovers from that, and I like making these blocks. 12 more to add to the box.

And some madness made me start stringing together all the shirt collars from the many, many shirts Mereth and I have collected. I made my first shirt quilt in 2018 I think, and though I've made many more, I still have some of those first ones. And I saved all the collars and cuffs and yokes, to make something string pieced.

The amount of fabric in the side of a shirt collar that doesn't have interfacing is pretty small, same with the cuffs. After about 16 blocks I was running out of choices, so I had to raid the scrap box for other strange shaped offcuts. I cut a strip off the yokes, and the remaining shoulder and neck bits were pieced into this.

It's not pretty, but it's frugal! I think I'll make a piano key border out of the Zigzag leftovers, because I found a heap of them already sewn together. I have no memory of doing that, but it was probably a leader-ender move.

Mereth always tells me to chuck out the little weeny bits, and now I'm inclined to agree with her. I looked at the overflowing box of dark shirt collars, and put them all in the bin. I have boxes of patchwork fabric strings to deal with, and I'd rather be working on them. 


Friday, December 08, 2023


This was the candlewick quilt that I finished earlier this month. 

It was 96"square, and I was so worried that I was going to get it dirty, or mark it in some way. 

I cleaned the machine every time it went on, covered up all the tracks than can leave black marks, covered it in sheets when it was on the bed so I could finish other quilts. 

I bound it as well, so that involved obsessively washing the floor and sewing table and dusting everything it might come in contact with.

 I was so glad when it was finally finished and returned to it's owner. 

It just reinforced my feeling that I don't want my quilts to be precious, and to have years of my life caught up in them, and to worry and have anxiety over somebody using them, or what will happen if they're washed. My quilts are fun to make, and hopefully they will be used and appreciated, and if they get worn out then I'll make another one. I know my daughter puts the family quilts in the washing machine, which I do only to spin them dry, but the quilts have to fit in with her busy lifestyle, and so far they've come to no harm.

I finished up 2 beautiful cot quilts for 1 year old twins. Their grandmother was going to give them as birthday gifts, except the backing wasn't big enough for either so I had to wait while she purchased more material; she then decided to keep them for Christmas. When she picked them up she said she was relieved I hadn't finished them in time for their birthdays, because they'd had a vomiting bug and all their bedding had to go in the wash. Oh dear, but that's life for a baby quilt.

They had lovely Australian animal images, plus cute puppies. 

I'm sure the girls will love them on Christmas morning. 


Monday, November 27, 2023

Fussy cutting practice

I was working on this post before the cataract surgery. It will be a while before I can work on this project again, but I'll have lots of time to think about a final design, and what fabrics I should use.

I've been telling myself for years that I would start a Patchwork Of The Crosses quilt.

It's made with a honeycomb template, and it's very popular with people who do English Paper Piecing. I find that my hands hurt too much if I piece over papers so I'm sewing mine together on the drawn line. This Pinterest page shows many beautiful blocks, the possibilities are endless.

I still haven't decided exactly what I want my blocks to be like, as far as fabric choices, but I wanted to sew a few blocks to see if I even liked  making them. I chose to start off with fabrics that I have heaps of, but I don't really treasure them, so it won't matter that I'm cutting shapes from them all over the place.

There was a blue coverlet print like the upper fabric, but I've 'lost' it. I don't have a clue where it's gone, and Mereth and I have searched all the usual places. It will turn up one day I suppose, and for now I'll have to use the blue and red one instead.

I'm using a 1" do-nut template, that lets me mark the sewing line and the cutting line at the same time. 

I'm using a Berol Handwriting pen to mark the sewing line; the ink in these pens washes out completely. With my dodgy eyesight I need a sewing line that I can see easily, and these pens mark easily and don't drag on the fabric. I had to order them on the UK Ebay, couldn't find an Australian supplier.

It's interesting to cut the shapes out of different parts of the print, and build them into a block. I'm studying the Pinterest photos for inspiration, and learning by trial and error what will work and what won't. 

I lay out the pieces and plot how I can make different shapes appear; it's handy being able to photograph each layout, so that there is a record of my ideas and choices.

Neither of these layouts were chosen, but I can go back and revisit them later.

So far I have 4 blocks finished. I snuck in another fabric in this one.

This one was an experiment in getting those straight lines to meet at the corners.

It's hard to believe that most of these pieces were cut from those big wreaths.

More fun with making corners and borders appear by magic.

The blocks are easy and fun, but adding the setting shapes takes forever.

I don't know what to make with these; maybe a long table runner, maybe some cushions, or a small wall-hanging? All I know for sure is that they are a lot of fun.


Sunday, November 26, 2023

Catching Up

I was busy with customer quilts at the start of the month, mainly smaller baby quilts, but also a huge candelwick one. I had to get them finished quick smart, because DS Rhys announced that he and his family would be visiting us on the 16th. That certainly galvanised me into action! I spent 6 days at the shop, quilting until 6pm. I'm not used to working long days anymore, I was so tired by the time it was all done and the quilts were collected.

I did manage to finish my scrap quilt, made from 2.5"squares. It turned out larger than I planned, because I thought it needed borders, but 68"x 80" is a useful size. I;d like to say that it used up all the 2.5" squares, but I found a box of them hiding under something else, so I'm back to square one.

It's very brown, but I was just using up scraps, so I didn't get to choose.

It was a fun pattern to make, I may even start another one. Not for a while though.

While I was quilting madly I got a phone call to say that my cataract surgery had been scheduled for 2 days after Rhys and family left. So that was another thing to add to the calendar; it's amazing that life seems to get busier as you get older.

We had a wonderful time with the family all together, the kids enjoyed playing with their cousins and there were no dramas. We had a family picnic with Mereth's family, 19 of us all together and it was wonderful. There are pictures, but they're on my nephew's phone, I'll have to get him to send them on.

Then I came home, spent a day catching up with life back here, and then went to the hospital for the surgery. It wasn't pleasant, but it was brief, and now I just have to get used to my new vision. The other eye will be done in January, and hopefully everything will be much clearer after that.

I'm trying to find things that I can do now, with my wonky vision. I cut up a pile of shirts, very slowly and carefully. 

This milk billy is full of the middle bits of strips with the centre crease of the fabric. I save them all up, and iron the crease out and cut them into squares for the scrap boxes.

All ironed and ready to be dealt with.

I dug out some jigsaws that I want to do this Christmas and sorted them into little baggies. This will make them much easier to do, and even with only one good eye I can tell the various pieces apart.

I'll sort this one tonight.

I was worried that my little garden in pots wouldn't survive the hot weather while I was in Adelaide, but it's all good. I even have my first zucchini to pick. I'm not allowed to garden for a month, so I'll be limited just to watering and feeding my pots.

Excuse any typos please, it's hard to edit things that I can't see properly. Maybe I'll even blog a bit more now that I can't sew for a while. It's much improved after only 2 days, so I'm looking forward to getting back to normal. Or what passes for normal around here.


Thursday, November 23, 2023

More tops completed

Last year I finished this  Bricks and Stepping Stones top. Of course, being me, I had cut way too many pieces for just one quilt/

I decided to make this with the leftovers, not wanting to go to the trouble of 4-patches.

It turned out really well, and used up most of the leftover bricks, which was my aim after all.

Such pretty prints and colours.

I also had a heap of scraps from the Strip Twist that I'd just made, and these turned into 16-patches. I really didn't want to make a lot more of them, so I set them with alternate 6.5" blocks of fabric and made this little top.

More lovely rose prints, and some bluebirds.

Even though 1800s repros are my all time favourites, I still love pretty fabrics, which is why these are in my stash in the first place.

I've made quite a few tops from them, and the stash drawers are diminished, but not empty. I'm hoping I don't go out and buy more, but it is a possibility. These tops have all been sold, and will be finished by someone else, so that leaves me free to keep making more. Because there are always leftovers to help grow the next top.


Monday, October 23, 2023

The Strip Twist blocks became a top, and it's very colourful and cheerful. I want to make another one, but first I'll sew on some UFOs. I need to put all the modern fabric away, because it's cluttering every surface of the sewing room, and I can't find anything beneath the piles. I figure if I haven't learned to clear up after a project after all this time, then I'll never change, so I just have to have giant clean ups periodically.

While I was deciding what to work on next I did a few chores that are easy to put off till they become critical. I cleaned out my poor sewing machine, which was clogged with lint from my long sewing sessions. I put new covers on my ironing board and ironing pad. I cleaned the sole plate of the iron. I cleared off the top of my sewing table, and dusted and sorted out all the items that accumulate there. I vacuumed the carpet, after gathering up as much of the fabric and thread scraps as I could. I collected all the rulers and templates and put them where they should live. I changed the blades in my rotary cutters. Once I'd done all that I was more than ready to get sewing again.

First up was this scrap project that has been my leader ender for many months. It used a satisfying amount of strange scraps and leftover bits, and it really was mindless to put together. I need another 20 blocks, but I'll get the centre into one piece before I go back and make them. It will seem much easier to complete if I jut have to add a row of blocks top and bottom. This never even made it onto my UFO list, so I'll have to add it, then cross it off.

It was our birthdays on the weekend, mine on Saturday, and Mereth's on Sunday. We celebrated with friends at their coffee shop; a birthday muffin for me, and birthday cheesecake for Mereth. It was a lovely get-together. Another year older, but not much wiser.....

After all my cleaning and duty sewing I had a play with my fussy-cutting project yesterday. I cut out 7 new blocks, and sewed a few pieces together; I'll finish them later, when I need a hand-sewing fix. I was all about the auditioning and cutting of fabrics, and trying to work out an easy system of marking the sewing line accurately. I enjoyed looking at my fabrics differently, with an eye to what patterns they would make; it was interesting to analyse the various prints and work out what I could do with them, and if I had enough repeats.

I really don't like the Swiss cheese effect though. I'll get another block out of the remnants of this FQ, and I suppose I can use the odd leftover bits in string or crumb piecing, but this way of working seems alien. I've spent too many years trying to get the most out of every fabric, but I just need to tell myself, it's only wasted if I don't do something with it.


Tuesday, October 03, 2023

Progress on several projects

The spate of customer quilts is under control now, so I've been spending a little more time in the sewing room. I have no sense of purpose really, I'm just wandering from one thing to another as the mood takes me. I know this is the aftermath of the busy time I've had for the last 2 months, so I'm just going with the flow.

I've been pondering my UFOs, especially the long term ones, and decided I should work on a few just to maintain a bit of progress. While I was away I finished the last of the 35 blocks I needed for my handsewn Periwinkle blocks, which was momentous. Those things have been hanging around for years.

My intention was to handsew the entire quilt, sashings and borders, but I've gone off that idea. I tried one sashing by hand, and one by machine, and the machine one got the tick of approval. I have other things to be doing with my hand piecng time.

I hadn't even looked at these star blocks for quite some time, so I dug out the box and started sewing. I had enough kitted up for 46 blocks; when I kit them I make the 9-patches and the Flying Geese unit for each block and put them in separate baggies. Then it's as easy as sewing a 9-patch to put them together, so it only took a few sewing sessions to finish all the kits. I will have to decide what size I want this quilt; I discovered a tray full of strips precut for more blocks, so there will be more of them in future.

These scraps were cut into 2.5" strips for my scrappy blocks, and I've been using them as leader enders for other projects, so there are 120 of them now. 

Enough for a small quilt, so I might have to choose another leader-ender pattern now. I still have strips to use up, funny how that works.

From there I got a mad idea about using up the horde of 2" strips of bright modern pastels, and decided on Bonnie Hunter's Strip Twist. Her strips were 2.5", and mine were smaller, but how hard could it be?  

I made a few dozen of the quarter blocks, and they were sheer fun, and then I started trying to put them into blocks. It was a lot harder than it looked, everywhere I put a block it was adjacent to another identical fabric. Because of the smaller strip size I needed 20 blocks instead of 12, so that meant 80 quarter blocks. It was a lot of work. 

It looks good with a sashing separating the blocks, so I'm filing that idea away for next time. 
It still isn't completely sewn together, but I'll work on it till it is, just so I can clear the design wall and go on to another UFO. I have so many to choose from. I was a bit silly and cut 2.5" strips while I was cutting extra 2" strips, thinking I could make the same pattern again. I think I may choose another pattern now I know how hard I found arranging those blocks.

And of course the strip off cuts turned into another project.... 

There's at least 2 UFOs vying for my attention, I'll choose one while I finish up this project. It's so lovely to feel enthusiastic about sewing once more


Wednesday, September 20, 2023

What happened to August?

 Good question, where did August go?

Late July I had a phone call from son Rhys; would I be willing to go to Brisbane and look after Theo when Naomi and he had to head to hospital for the birth of their baby girl? Of course, I would  have to go earlier, so Theo felt comfortable being left with a long-distance Nan, and in case the baby came earlier than predicted. Which led to me flying up on August 2nd, laden with gifts and quilts for the family. It's been two years since I flew, in the middle of Covid restrictions, and that was not a pleasant experience. However, this wasn't too bad, I wore my mask the whole time, and took advantage of wheelchair and people mover services so I wasn't really stressed. Naomi and Theo met me at the airport, and we all had a ride to the baggage pickup. 

He was pretty overwhelmed, lol.

The baby was due on the 22nd, but early on the morning of the 13th she decided it was the right time to make her entrance. They left before dawn for the hospital, and Charlotte Grace arrived just fifty minutes after they got there, so quick. They came home just 6 hours later, and Theo was very impressed by his brand new sister.

 She wasn't really interested in the toys he was showing her, but he was fascinated by her.

A week later Seonaid flew up to meet Naomi and Charli, and we had a lovely family getogether. That hasn't happened since 2018; it would have been nice to have the other 3 grandchilden too, but that would have been too expensive. Maybe one day we can make it happen.

There is a cafe right down the road from their place, so we walked down there a few times for a treat. It seemed very civilised to have a barista within walking distance.

Last time I was in Brisbane I bought Naomi a couple of pattern books for children's clothing, and set her machine up to sew nicely. Now she makes all Theo's clothes, some of her own, and is working on a wardrobe for Charli. Most of her fabric is Australian animals and flowers, and the clothes are just beautiful. When I arrived there were piles of fabric everywhere, as Naomi was deciding what fabric to use for her chosen patterns. I did feel a pang for Rhys; he was surrounded by fabric as he grew up, and now he's still surrounded by fabric. He's very supportive though, he knows its a mental health thing for us. 

Seonaid and I flew back uneventfully, and then it was pandemonium moving Seonaid and family into a new home. It's smalller, which is bad, but in a much closer location to school and kindy, which is good. There was no time for serious downsizing, so it all got moved, and Seonaid will work through the stuff stored in the garage, selling and donating. I'm just grateful they have a home, the rental market in Adelaide is appalling.

So now I'm finally back home, and trying to catch up on 6 weeks of customer quilting that was put on hold while my family came first.  I'm ploughing through them, and hopefully after the next week I can take a breather and assess the sewing room situation. I can't even remember what I was up to before I dropped everything and left.  It will take a while to sort it all out, but I'll get back to it soon.

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