Saturday, 31 May 2008


James noticed one of my scarves last week. We had quite a chat about it, which ended with him telling me, "That's Mummy's scarf, James doesn't have a scarf." So I told him I would knit him one. I pulled out some of the fluffy 'wools' and fat needles I bought several years ago, and set to work. My knitting is extremely basic, so chunky needles and wool serve several purposes. First, progress is quick; and second, they hide a multitude of sins - missed and gained stitches and the like!

James watched with interest and wanted to do it himself. I did let him sit in my lap and hold the needles while I did a bit, but it's very difficult that way (especially with Eleanor also clambering over me and pulling the wool)! He then appeared this morning with the in-progress scarf, telling me, "I knit!", and holding an empty needle. Luckily it was the one which I had just poked through the scarf, and not the one holding all the stitches. His idea of knitting is to poke it in and out!

I finished it in a rush (minus the fringe) this morning, in case it was cold at the park this afternoon while we were at a first birthday party.

Friday, 30 May 2008

Binding tutorial

Just for Alinta, here is how I invisibly hand-stitch my binding down on the back of the quilt. This is my first go at a tutorial, so let me know if it's any good or not!

Machine the binding to the front, ensuring that when folded to the back, the binding will just cover the line of stitching. Load a sharp needle with a decent length of cotton. I always make it far too long, to minimise restarting, but that's a personal preference. Start by bringing the needle through the quilt sandwich at the point you want to start (not too close to a corner) right in the seam.

Fold the binding over and hold in place with your left hand (this all assumes you're right handed!). I rarely if ever pin.

Insert the very tip of the needle into the fold of the binding (the angle of the needle here is wrong, but I needed my hand to take the photo; it should be at about 15 degrees to the line of sewing).

Slide the needle along inside the fold about half a centimetre.

Still at the same angle, push the needle down through the bottom layer of the binding, straight into the backing, about half a centimetre from where you went into the binding. It should go into the backing directly underneath the fold. Although the position of the needle looks as though the finger on the hand holding the binding in place is guiding the needle, it's not. The left hand only holds the binding in place.

Ease the needle along under the backing but not into the batting, for another half centimetre, then, pushing down with your left thumb to bend the sandwich back a little, poke the needle back up through the backing, directly underneath the fold of the binding.

That's a full stitch - a bit in the binding and a bit in the backing. You load the two parts of the stitch onto the needle at the same time, then pull the thread through. Wherever the thread moves between the two layers, the entry and exit points of the needle should be on top of one another, so that once complete, the thread never travels along between the layers. this is what keeps it both firm and invisible.

Because of the insanely long threads I use, I find it easiest to do 5-10 of these at a time, just pulling about 15cm of thread through each, then pull the whole lot through after the last one. Experiment how easily you can pull the thread through multiple stitches before trying 10 at once.

Here's some completed binding photographed from the side, rather than above. From above the stitching is completely invisible. From the side, even with the high-contrast thread, once the stitches are pulled taut, you don't see the stitches, but you can see where the thread is in the binding, pulling it down to meet the quilt sandwich.

I usually get about 5 stitches in the gap between finger and thumnb before folding over the next bit of binding and replacing my hand.

Thursday, 29 May 2008

From the letter box

The two charcoal-swirls-on-black fabrics I found arrived this week; with their obligatory envelope fillers! The photos haven't come out well, but I'm happy with the first one, and will use that - but I have too many other projects lined up now to actually start on it just yet! And here are the stash builders: Stash = 785m

Wednesday, 28 May 2008


And more than a little delighted!
I got my copy of Australian Patchwork and Quilting (Vol 16 no 11) today, with Eleanor's Quilt in it. I knew some subscribers had it yesterday, but I had to wait until I checked my mail the evening, and tore open the package at the letter box! I've been looking forward to this for ages, and now I have a great surprise for Gran when she gets back from England in a few weeks.
So here's the quilt:
And the first page of the article/instructions for it:

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Farewell to a Quilter

We got the sad news this morning that Nan (Simon's Dad's mother) just died. She was in her eighties, but had been relatively healthy, so it was rather a nasty surprise.

Here she is with James as a newborn:
With Eleanor as a newborn:
Four generations of the family:
James on the quilt she made him:
And Eleanor on the other side of the same quilt:
And Nan a few months ago at Zoe's first birthday:

We will miss you, Nan.

Monday, 26 May 2008

What a lovely surprise!

When I got home from work tonight, there was an unexpected parcel from H2 (daughter of the hilarious Mothership and recipient of Sunrise to Sunset ) in our letter box. On opening it, I found to my delight a book I have been coveting since it came out! Many, many thanks! I will thoroughly enjoy reading it. You are a gem!

Sunday, 25 May 2008

And so it grows

My quilt to-do list, that is! Just tonight I've added two; one which should be fairly quick and with a short deadline, and another a long-term project.
Helen and a few other quilty friends saw a quilt at the recent Perth Craft Fair made using a small square from each of the fabrics in the maker's stash. I immediately decided I would have to do the same. But with my stash moving towards 800m, and a lot of that in 25-50cm cuts, a very rough estimate would be at least 2000 fabrics. I think I'll find a suitable container for the squares (I've decided 2.5" should be a good size, enough to show some of the pattern on some of the larger prints) and just add a square whenever I buy or use a fabric for now, and get to the rest of the stash later. Ideally, I would like to cut a second square of each, and catalogue that with the fabric details, but that's probably unrealistic!

And I'll finish with an unrelated photo of some t-shirts a friend sent me a while back for James and Eleanor. She initially saw one saying, "My mum skis faster than your dad" which she wanted to get my kids, but they didn't have any small enough, so she got us these. I can't wait to dress them in them!

Saturday, 24 May 2008

A decision

After seeing so many of the new lines out at Quilt Market, I've decided to change my plans for the quilt for me and although I'll still use some Freshcut, I'm going to feature Farmer's Market by Sandi Henderson instead.Isn't it delicious? Now I just have to get hold of some! I will probably use more of the spring story (the back pile) but I want the lot!

Friday, 23 May 2008

Applique progress

I've been filling any spare minutes by working on the hand applique on the memorial quilt. The main motif is all attached, and the applique 7/8 complete. Then there's just a small centre diamond to add and applique. Then I have to think about how I'm going to back, quilt and bind it. You'd think I'd have lots of time to think while hand sewing, but it's faster than you'd expect, I'm often doing it in the presence of James and Eleanor, and most of any spare thought capacity inevitably moves onto the family the quilt will be going to.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008


For today's post I've decided to show one of my favourite quilts, made before I started blogging. I've left the images quite a bit larger than usual, so hopefully you'll be able to click on them to see more detail.
I made Seaside for my neice Zoe, born in February 2007. I'd made Beach for her parents' wedding gift in 2005, and this was to tie in with the theme.
As always, looking back on it, I can see patches I would change, but that's so much easier to see once the top is complete, and I don't dwell on it. The 'landscaping' is done using a method of foundation-piecing I came up with myself (although I don't necessarily claim to be original here!) and have used in several quilts.
I love the fabrics I found for the beach, and finished it off by embroidering the tops of a few images so they appear to be in front of the waves (the bucket, a spade and the flag on the sandcastle).
Among the fish is Nemo, because that's what my brother-in-law often gets called.
I also had fun experimenting with more adventurous FMQ than I'd tried before. I tried several methods and threads for quilting around the starfish in the central border, but nothing was both neat enough and visible enough for my satisfaction, so I unpicked it - several times!

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

A special quilt

After spending hours last night designing a Mariner's Compass memorial quilt, I went shopping today to choose the background fabric, not really knowing what colour I wanted. My eyes fell on something totally inappropriate, so I bought it anyway, and came up with a completely new design. Using an enlarged version of the base quilting pattern I used here, I'm doing a Celtic knot applique, making use of some navy bias I've had for years. Admittedly, the design may not really be Celtic, but the idea is the same. And luckily, it appears my 2 x 5m rolls of 1/4in bias will be just enough. I've applied one roll so far.There will be nearly 10m of bias to sew down on either side (invisible hand applique) and so far I have done about 80cm along one side; the bit shown here: I printed the pattern over several pages, then created my own 'lightbox' to trace it on, using the light Simon bought me for my birthday (powerful and on a very flexible stem), two tubs of fabric, and a round glass table topper. Windows aren't an option here; they are all small panes separated by timber (you can just see some in the background below), and therefore not flat!Much more effective that the system I used to trace the quilting design last time (a clear 50L plastic tub emptied of fabric and on its side, with a small but powerful torch inside, held upright in a little cup of James' playdough!).

Monday, 19 May 2008

Sad news

Simon is working in Sydney this week, so at bedtime we ring so that James can say goodnight. Tonight Simon also told me that one of the partners at his work lost his precious six week old son to SIDS last night. It certainly gave my evening a sombre mood as I designed a memorial quit for them. I can't begin to imagine how he and his family must be feeling. This will be my way of expressing our thoughts for them, because what is there to say?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

Still stuck

Ultimately I decided none of the black and white fabrics I have work with the design, so I called Simon in. He had a look at the full applique laid out on the small swirls, and agreed it wasn't right. He foolishly suggested grey swirls on black, so I searched Quiltshops and found a few - I don't think that part was in his mind somehow! Naturally it is uneconomical to order 1 yard of fabric from the US, so I've had to pull together a few small orders for both (of course they are at different shops!). Stay tuned to hear whether I have any more success with these!
I've also discovered a new selection of designers' blogs and found some new ranges of fabric I love. Farmer's Market from portabellopixie would have to be one of my favourites. This week was Quilt Market in America, where a lot of new lines are debuted, and I'm looking forward to seeing a lot of them blogged next week (and in my online shopping carts sometime soon!)

Saturday, 17 May 2008

For me

I've been stuck on all my WIPS, so have started designing another quilt for me. I've been wanting to use Heather Bailey's Freshcut for ages, and designed this with the range in mind. But I just used approximations of fabrics from the 'stash' in my EQ5 software, and more and more I'm thinking I like the colours in this, and will supplement Freshcut with a few extra fabrics! The realisation that Freshcut is a cream background has further stymied me, as I really wanted to use a crisp white background fabric. This looks like another which won't be as straightforward as planned!

Friday, 16 May 2008

Now this really is Friday

The rest of my orders arrived this morning, and while Eleanor had a sleep, James helped me photograph them!
Some snowflake prints, and one for making snowflake blocks:
Some just because:
And a final selection to audition for the swirly quilt:
Here they are being auditioned. I really like the dramatic ones (especially the big sprials), but have to face facts that they are too much for the fine swirls I am doing, and I think I'll use the fine swirls (the first one) and add the drama in the border. I'm thinking of a scalloped border:
Stash = 777m

I haven't missed a day!

Although the calendar and clock say it's Friday morning, I'm still up, so it's still Thursday! I have a crafty friend visit tonight and we didn't stop until after 1am, so I'm only getting a chance to blog now. Here's what arrived yesterday and today. More frogs, and a panda batik among others...
I was delighted that the frogs (blogged about here) arrived, so I could start the applique of my Swirly Quilt but on spreading it out, it just didn't work. I'm really disappointed, but with such an expanse, the frogs give way to a big check pattern, and the pattern is too strong as the background. I'm hoping my other order arrives tomorrow, and that one of the black and white prints in that will work.
More for my snowflakes:

Yet more frogs!The top two here are flanellette and the colour has such great depth: