Monday, November 30, 2009

Airing of the quilts

We had an almost lovely family outing over the weekend - I say almost, as Tristan had two meltdowns in the car. The poor kid has bronchiolitis again and was a bit sad. We took a drive into the countryside to visit Braidwood and Bungendore, two lovely old towns each having a quilt festival. I try to make the Airing of the Quilts in Braidwood each year, as well as checking out the quilt exhibition at the Bungendore hall. I'm yet to make it into the hall at Braidwood - there are only so many quilts you can see in one day :)This year I found a lot of the quilts to be a bit ho-hum, very traditional designs in traditional fabrics (not that there's anything wrong with that - it just doesn't float my boat). Not a lot of inspiration, but a stark reminder that contrast is KING when designing quilts. There were a couple that did catch my eye.I did, however, find a lot of inspiration in a different medium. We were very fortunate to stumble across an exhibition of painted leather masks at the Bungendore Wood Works Gallery. The artist, Michael Taylor, is an ex-Californian who now lives in Queensland - very much Australia's gain. His masks were simply exquisite. I wish I had the $4500 needed to buy one of his masterpieces. Photos from the website will have to do.
In other quilty news, I finally forced myself to get back to work on Authentic Twist! I had to unpick one of the wide border panels, as it did not match the new stuff I bought locally. The strip was from a dessert roll I purchased online. I've never had the same fabric from different bolts before, so now I've learnt my lesson - make sure you order enough of what you'll need or be prepared to buy twice! I'm not too sure about the green border, but it's on now, so it will have to do. (I'm planning on binding in solid black - the same as the inner border.) So the top is finished, and, since I took the below photo, the quilt is sandwiched and awaiting quilting. I have two twirly skirts to make and tees to applique before I can do any quilting though - one of Rom's friends is having her fifth birthday party on the weekend and of course I have to make a matching set for Romily :)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thank goodness

With everything that's been going on this year, it's a minor miracle that I managed to scrape in with a High Distinction this semester! I managed to get 85%, which is the base grade for an HD. Phew! Now on to my research project, which will take the next eighteen months to two years. I am so relieved to not have to do any more group assignments or exams! My research project doesn't start until late February and I start fulltime work again on 11 Jan, so I have a couple of weeks left to get crafty.

Monday, November 23, 2009

I know I won't get any comments on this post

Because you will have all clicked away when I tell you that Corrie is giving away fabric!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Authentic Twist - WIP update

Getting there! Here are the blocks finished, assembled and stitched. I wish now that my greens had a bit more contrast - there are a couple of 'dead' spots, but I'll have to live with them...or, rather, Michael will. Two borders to go tonight and it'll be ready for piecing. Anyone looking for Bonnie's strip twist tutorial should look for the link two posts back.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Next please!

I've made a start on the next comfort quilt - this one I think I'm going to call Authentic Twist. I've made half of the quarter blocks I'll need for the size I'm after. The others are ready to go - these blocks assemble fast when you're using pre-cut strips. (I personally LOVE quilt designs that look really complicated but in reality are easy and quick to piece - with the little time I have available for crafting, these designs are a godsend!)

I'll piece the rest tonight and hopefully finish the top. I'm planning on two borders - one dark and skinny, the other lighter and wider - it just depends how big the top looks once all the blocks are pieced and joined. This quilt is for a man, so it might need to be a smidgin bigger than the previous one I made.And you can see you've got to be fast around here when you want to take photos during daylight hours - Tristan thinks it's hilarious to stomp all over whatever it is I'm photographing. Then his big sister joined in on the act (after she had carried him off twice already!)

Friday, November 20, 2009

My Prints Charming

Here's another tee and shorts set for Tristan, this time in dark colours - shows the dirt less apparently! The fabric for the shorts and applique comes from the Prints Charming Rainbow Garden range. I cut the pieces ages ago, when I made the wee little shorts for AJ's baby Aden. I finally got around to sewing Tristan's up and as well as detailing a matching tee. I'm going to do a singlet too, as it's been soooo hot here this past week. We are having 38 degrees again today - that's 100.4F for those of you not doing metric. The pants are from a Burda pattern (9639).
Look mum, no hands!
Oops, sat in something already!
Pocket detail
Mmmm, tea party, yummy!
Next up is comfort quilt number three, this time in Sweetwater Authentic fabrics. I'm going to use Bonnie's 'Strip Twist' pattern - I think it will really suit the greens, blacks and whites in the fabrics. Let's hope so!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Little man on a mission

I finished Tristan's shorts today, and, while I was at it, used up some of the scraps to applique a tee to match. I love the shorts (Ottobre 3/2008, #7 Aqua Pants) - there's a lot of pocket detailing and they look great in the Kokka Trefle. And here they are in action. My little man on a mission had a great time playing house, digging in the dirt, eating dirt (natch) and sweeping up the mess afterwards. The pants and tee went in the wash not long after. Scroll through the photos to see why!
See? Man on a mission :)

Monday, November 16, 2009

A start and a finish

Wonders will never cease! I've got a habit of posting new craft books and fabric, promising to make something with them soon and then consigning them to the cupboards and promptly forgetting about them. Well, this time, I've actually made a start - below is a picture of the cute Kokka fabric (posted about here) with the pattern laid out ready for cutting. I traced off the 'Aqua pants' from Ottobre 3/2008 in size 80cm and have since cut them out. They're waiting patiently to go under my needle just as soon as Tristan finishes his lunch :)
And a finish, of sorts. I decided to give the Sew What! Skirts book a go and decided to make a trial skirt before I cut into my precious (and exxy) Saffron Craig fabric (posted about here). Thank goodness I did! It's been a while since I've made any clothes from a pattern, and an even longer time since I've made anything for me. I made three mistakes on this trial skirt (all stupid and thankfully redeemable) and have decided that the drawstring waist is too bulky for the look I am going for. So, I will have to make a fitted waist, probably using bias binding tape and a zipper. Eek! Surprisingly, the actual drafting of the pattern was easy. So if I can get the waistline right, it should be a lot of fun to make some gorgeous skirts. Of course they won't be as easily adjustable as elasticised or drawstring waists, but they will better suit my round figure.
Anyway, here's the nearly finished skirt - if you look closely you can see the safety pin still in one end of the drawstring. I just need to handstitch the ends and the skirt is finished. It's a bit billowy, so I hope a wash will knock the size out of the fabric (yes, I'm naughty I didn't pre-wash) and it will sit a bit better. At any rate, it'll be a great beach skirt - perfect for tossing on over bathers.And, completely unrelated, here are a couple of pictures of Tristan, who is now nearly 15 months old. He loves 'helping' me bake, and, just like his big sister, his favourite part is banging the tins and licking the spoon! He's also part-time walking, although is making it near impossible to photograph him - as soon as he sees the camera he drops to his knees and crawls away at light speed. He's a cheeky little monkey, but you can see that from the photos.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Funky Chicks for a funky chick - a finish

I am so pleased with this little quilt! The meandering in a lovely soft variegated pink King Tut thread really complements the quirky fabric and I am glad I chose yellow binding over the pink. It's a simple quilt but I love how it's turned out. It just needs to be washed and dried and it'll be on its way to my auntie who lives in Sale in Victoria. Her chemo is off to a rocky start so hopefully receiving Funky Chicks will brighten up her day a little. I haven't seen her in years, but if she's well enough we'll see her in late December at a family get-together in Healesville, just outside Melbourne.
The quilt measures 43" x 36". For fabric details, see this previous post.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Granddad's visit means baking!

Granddad's visit over the weekend (he went home Tuesday) was the perfect excuse to bake - more people to eat it, less calories for my hips! I took the opportunity to make a lemon and coconut tart from Homemade. It looked delicious, and it was. Unfortunately, despite baking it for the alloted 40 minutes and allowing it cool, upon slicing it up I discovered that the middle hadn't cooked through. So, we changed the name to self-saucing lemon pudding :D
The kids adore Granddad and he dotes on them. They haven't seen him since out lightning visit to Bendigo in July, so it was great that he could take the long journey from Bendigo to Melbourne Airport by bus and then plane up here. At nearly 82, the eight-hour drive each way is a bit too much. I'm just grateful that he is still able to travel under his own steam. He's a lovely fellow. I'm very fortunate in my father-in-law!

* * *

And in crafty news, this gorgeous Kokka Trefle fabric arrived last week from the Retromummy Shop - it's to become shorts for Tristan, with a matching applique tee. Summer is here and now that he's on his feet (yes, he's walking! Just. Still can't stand himself up - can only pull up, but he's taking steps between close objects), he's getting pretty dirty from lots of time outside - I'm discovering boys need more changes of clothes than girls!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pay it forward slot open over at Miss Monny

The lovely Monika, who signed up as one of my Pay It Forward recipients has some slots open in hers if you're interested: link.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Learning to quilt by hand

I've often posted about wanting to improve my handquilting. When I was in my LQS the other day, I spotted a small sign advertising a handquilting class the following Sunday! I signed up on the spot and went along to the class yesterday. It was run by Canberra Quilter Kerry Gavin, who has been quilting for more than 30 years. You should see her stitches! They are tiny and perfect and she has incorporated some amazing designs into her quilts. My favourite that she showed us had four eagles, all stitched by hand and highlighted with trapunto. Amazing. Did I say amazing? Amazing.

The class only had five students, so we had lots of one-on-one time with Kerry and she was very encouraging. She first had us prepare the top - an ivory square of homespun, including marking up the design with pencil and basting the square by hand. We then tacked facings along each edge and, finally, we were ready for quilting. We spent the next two and a half hours learning Kerry's technique, which uses two thimbles: one on each middle finger - one on top and one underneath. The one on top controls the needle and the one underneath helps push the needle back up through the fabric. This was only a slight variation on my self-taught technique, so I didn't have too much trouble adjusting. I was amazed at what difference those small changes made though. I started to get much smaller and even stitches. Nothing compared to Kerry's - or Cynthia's - another lady in the class who was immediately AMAZING (there's always one), but so much better than what I'd been managing previously.
Kerry also let us in on one of her secrets - she uses a very loose, low-loft all poly wadding. It's much easier to needle than what I've been using. I've also been handquilting through a flannel backing, which doesn't help! Anyway, here are some photos of my practice piece. It looks a bit grubby - that's the pencil markings. The third photo is of the back - I was stoked to see the stitches on the back almost the same as those on the front.
(This is the back - I played with the contrast/brightness so the stitches would show clearly)

I will finish this piece off - I might even trapunto the hearts - Kerry also gave us a lesson in how to trapunto and I bought the needle and floss. At $22, I'd better use it, eh?

I'm also going to rip out some of the handquilting I did around the butterflies on the VHC quilt I'm making for Tristan - I can do it much better now and have a great idea for how to link the blocks together. Let's hope it looks as good in real life as it does in my imagination.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Doll quilt revealed!

Now that it's been safely received and opened by Helen, I can now reveal the mini quilt I made for the EBDQS3 swap, 'Tequila Sunhouse'. (Measures approx 17" x 20")

Helen recently participated in a block swap where she asked the other swappers to make a 'wonky house' block, based on her tutorial, which was a variation of Lazy Gal Tonya's ace tutorial. I thought this was a good jumping off point for my quilt - she now has a wallhanging to go with her yet to be made quilt.
Helen also loves brights, especially orange and pink. I had the tiniest piece of the fab orange, yellow, pink and gold striped fabric in my stash and that was the first fabric I grabbed for this quilt, I also had a largish piece of the graduated yellow through red fabric, which I thought would complement the roof nicely. I had lots of fun making the quilt and when it came to the quilting I took my inspiration from some table runners I'd seen made by The Silly Boodilly (Victoria). It was perfect for this little quilt, as it gives the house great texture - almost like corrugated iron, which is a common roofing material in Australia - especially for wonky old joints! Here's another shot of the back - I used corner patches for the hanging pockets - a very simple and effective way of doing it.Anyway, I hope Helen likes the mini. I enjoyed making it for her and there might even be some more wonky houses in my future :)
* * *

And here is the sweet little mini made for me by Cass. Her first attempt at hexagons (I am yet to give them a go - they scare me for some reason) - she's very cleverly used some cheater patchwork fabric to great effect. Check out the backing - at first glance I thought it was pieced. What a great idea to add some interest to the backing! She also sewed on two hanging pockets - very thoughtful of her.Thanks Cass!