Monday, 28 March 2011

More of the same

Here's another look at the quilting from the back of the quilt. This was taken before I finished filling in the last gaps with clear monfilament. The centre motif was adapted from a Patsy Thompson stencil, and I made my own stencil for the curved cross-hatching.

Unfortunately the marking pencil wouldn't come out easily, and I had to handwash the quilt to get it out, which means the quilt has now lost that wonderful crisp, textured look. I know a lot of people love the crinkly, antique look that washing gives a quilt, but it doesn't do anything for me. At least with nice weather and the fan on all day, it has dried reasonably quickly.

I finished writing the instructions tonight and just have a few things to pull together and the binding and label to attach before I send it off on Tuesday. I'll try and get some more photos before then, but it'll only be peeks until this one comes out in Australian Patchwork and Quilting later in the year.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Quilting from the back

I've finished the curved cross-hatching, and started filling in the remaining spaces with clear monofilament.

It feels good to have decided how to finish the quilting.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Marking and quilting

More of the same tonight; the straight lines are finished, but these slightly curved ones aren't much more exciting - though they do look good.

The marking is finished on this quilt now (I've never done this much on one quilt, and hadn't really expected to do quite so much on this one!) and once the rest of the curved cross-hatching is done there's just a little filling left. I'll have to wash it once the quilting is done to get the marking lines out, and am hopeful it won't crinkle up too badly.

Thursday, 24 March 2011


For those unfamiliar with huntsmen, they're common in southeastern Australia, and are generally considered pretty harmless - in fact my own mother happily picks them up in cupped hands and relocates them outside if required (i.e. by me!). However, they're a decent size (the one I saw was about 2.5in across) and hairy and ugly, and I'd rather deal with a neat redback than one of these! I'm terrible with them! It hasn't reappeared (and I had Simon look under the table with a torch, and he couldn't find it dead either), but I can't afford to keep not quilting, so I'm reluctantly and cautiously sitting at the sewing table and getting on with it.

There's not much new to show tonight, I've been marking and quilting endless lines - 1/2in apart all around the quilt, on either side of the row of feathered circles. The marking is complete, and the quilting is well over half done; I hope to finish it tomorrow and get onto the rest of the quilting. Straight(ish!) lines are kind of boring...

I was lucky enough a while ago to win this book by Patsy Thompson from her blog, and the motif I've used in the centre of this quilt is adapted from one of her stencils. I've got a long way to go before I can stitch such smooth and even curves, and travel as beautifully as Patsy does, but at least I'm giving myself plenty of practice!

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

I daren't quilt!

I was happily quilting away this evening, but stopped for a break, and caught sight of a hunstman spider scuttling towards my sewing table. I didn't have anything handy to squash it, and it ran under the table. So now I refuse to go back to it tonight, though the underneath area has been well sprayed!

I spent the early part of the evening dithering. I'd finished the marked designs in pink, and was up to the outer edge - I didn't want the fuss of marking piano keys, but it needed the straight-line contrast against the feathered circles. So I gave in. The 1/2in-apart lines marked easily with the white sewline pencil on the black half, the but the green doesn't go on nearly as smoothly and it will take me a lot longer to mark the white half. I'm quilting this part using matching Bottomline thread - so black on the black for now. Before quilting the straight lines, I echo-quilted about 1/8in from the feathred circles to emphasise them a little. The black is nearly half done, and would be finished, but for that nasty interloper! This photo is from the back, so you can't see the various markling lines - the white half will have much more obvious quilting on the back, as the backing is all solid black.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Canadian Inspiration in Homespun

I've been a bit slack blogging about this, but Canadian Inspiration is a project in the current issue of Australian Homespun (#94 - Vol. 12 No. 3). And with it is a bit of a profile about me, and some photos of a few of my other quilts.

Writing the instructions for this was a massive undertaking; the quilt wasn't simple to put together, and wasn't throughly planned before doing so, either - plus I made this a number of years ago (around 2002) and had to reconstruct a lot in my memory from photos and the quilt itself. I've learned a lot about quilt construction and designing since then, too.

Monday, 21 March 2011


Here are some photos of the quilt I completed for DQS10.

The circles start at 1/2in and increase in 1/8in increments up to about 2in, then increase in 1/4in increments to the largest circle (the white wholecloth circle) which is 4 1/2in. They were positioned by eye, and the lines across the circles all radiate from a point at the centre of the spiral (which is not the centre of the actual quilt, because that would have made the whole quilt look out of balance).

Fabrics come from Patty Young (Flora & Fauna), Sandi Henderson (Farmer's Market), Chez Moi (Swanky, I think), Valori Wells (Nest), Heather Bailey (I think Freshcut and Pop Garden) and Amy Butler (no idea!), plus a couple of coordinating tone-on-tones. Some of the tiny quilting patterns are my own, traditional or adaptations, and a couple came from here.

I've tentatively named it 'Crowing' - a nod to my mother's maiden name and the black birds, and because I'm rather proud of myself for successfully using and combining so many techniques on this quilt - foundation piecing, hand applique, mahcine applique, piping, machine quilting and, for the first time, trapunto.

But I'm having major second thoughts about this being my actual swap quilt. I love it, and it has received plenty of lovely comments in the Flickr swap group, but with the amount of time and effort put into this one, I need to be sure the recipient will love it too. So I'm currently playing with new designs and weighing up my options.

The photo above was taken in direct sunshine at quite an angle, to really emphasise the texture of the quilting - it doesn't 'really' look like this!

Trapunto is where an extra layer of batting is inserted in some places on the quilt, prior to quiting, to make them stand out. Each circle is trapuntoed. This post shows a little of how the trapunto was done.

Once I'd added the extra batting under the circles, I quilted the white and colour wholecloth circles. But when I was done, the dense quilting flattened it too much, and I added a second extra circle of batting under these three circles before sandwiching the quilt as usual.

Each pieced circle is quilted closely around the circle and in the ditch along the piecing lines.

To make them match, the wholecloth circles are the same, with the final quilting around the circle and along the lines between the different quilting patterns.

I should have added the black bird appliques prior to sandwiching as well, but I admit I forgot! So I unpicked the quilting along the lines on those three circles (to let the birds sit flat and smooth), and appliqued the birds by machine, using a tiny blanket stitch - unfortunately this now shows on the back, but looks perfect on the front. Then I requilted the lines around the bird.

The birds were all drawn by hand, and given my lack of drawiung ability, I'm very pleased with them. They are all different, but have matching tails

The background of the quilt is McTavished using wahite Bottomline thread (the coloured wholecloth circles are done it Aurifil cotton mako 50). The quilt is finished with narrow black piping attached to the binding, which uses carefully-selected strips from a diagonal zig-zag stripe fabric.

So now the question is whether or not I send this one away - or squeeze another quilt into my tight schedule? It has a hanging sleeve attached, and needs a decision before I can print the label. I'm running out of time, with a posting deadline of next Friday.

Friday, 18 March 2011

Night Snow

I've shown some photos of this quilt before, but a few days ago I finally got it outside to take some better photos in natural light. Photographing such a dark quilt is quite a challenge, and it took me a fair while editing the photos to get the colour anything like accurate. The first one is closest in colour; the background is a true navy blue, and the border is opalescent sky-blue (MM Fairy Frost).

It's impossible to capture in a photo, but the snow crystal itself is quilted with a sparkly silver metallic thread (Metallic by Superior - it glides through the machine better than any other metallic I've tried).

This last photo was taken in full (but very angled) sunlight, to emphasise the texture created by the quilting:

The background McTavishing is in navy Bottomline (also by Superior) and which for some reason in the photos shows itself with a non-existent greenish tinge. I echoed around the snow crystal and in the gaps between the branches just under 1/8in from the silver, then filled the remaining space.

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Feathered circle

Last night I quilted the spine all around the border, then the feathers on the outer side of each circle, and tonight I'm working my way along the other side. Because fo the contrast thread, the backtracking around the tip of every second feather shows a little, but not enough to stand out unless you're looking at it intently while quilting.

In other news, I started some physio treatment for my ankle this afternoon. I am walking better on it, but it's still really quite swollen and sore. James came with me, as it was after I collected him from school. I have another appointment on Friday and will have both children with me - help!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011


I spent last night marking the quilting patterns I needed on this quilt. (The square 'grid' was for placement only.)

Tonight I sandwiched it, and after I'd secured the edges, I folded over the spare backing and sewed it down, to cover the excess batting and save transferring all the tiny bits of fluff from it onto the solid black, where it would be horribly obvious. Then I made myself a large (20 x 6in 'block' of masking tape and proceeded to remove the existing bits of fluff from the quilt top with it before I started quilting - otherwise they'd get sewn into place and be almost impossible to remove later.

Now the boring stuff's out the way, I've started with the hot-pink thread on those feathered circles. I'm going slowly, and they're pretty neat - they have to be with contrast thread!

Monday, 14 March 2011

What's black? And what's white?

And pink all over?!

My new quilt (it will have a lot of hot-pink feature quilting).

By way of explanation, I took James and Eleanor to a Peter Combe concert at the Adelaide Fringe Festival yesterday (which we all throughly enjoyed) and have twisted some of the chorus from this (click on the newspaper).

After an inauspicious start (I made half of the blacks with the colours inverted; the perils of combining a symmetrical block and reversible solids!) I have completed my next quilt top.

I've started marking the quilting designs on this one. So far, one I've modified from a stencil, and two I've drawn myself inspired the the Kim Brunner class I took at AMQF last year. I have lots more markign to go before I can sandwich this one. Tracing onto the white was easy, but for the black sections I'll have to pull out the lightbox.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Solid foundations

Weather and time haven't combined to allow any quilt photography yet (and I now have four lined-up and waiting!), but here's the start of my next quilt:

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Peach Melba

I think it's about time that visitors to my blog were greeted with something more inviting than a bruised and swollen ankle, so here's a peek at my DQS10 quilt. I'll be photographing it properly tomorrow, so more photos then...

As I edit photos, I'm eating some delicious Peach Melba icecream we brought home from Wendy's after swimmign yesterday. It's fantastic; the peach tastes seriously like fresh peaches - yum! I might have to get some peaches tomorrow and enjoy some more stone-fruit while it's still efffectively summer.

I ended up using black Bottomline thread and a very small button-hole stitch to machine applique the birds to the circles, and it worked pretty well.  It would have been better if I'd remembered prior to sandwiching the quilt; that way the black stitches on the back would have been hidden, and the birds would have sat further forward on the trapunto circles, but they are still very effective.

Thanks to a few comments on my blog, I added a narrow black piping to my binding, and used the diagonal stripe I'd originally intended. I'm really happy with the result. I cut 2 sets of narrow strips for the binding; the print 1 3/8in wide and the black 1 5/8in wide. I joined the sets end to end, then joined the 2 long strips side-by-side with a 1/4in seam, which resulted in a 2.5in binding strip. I pinned and pressed it in half really carefully to achieve an even 1/8in of black over the fold all along, then machined it to the quilt as normal, except starting on the bakc instead of the front, so that when it was folded over to the front for hand-stitching, the 'piping' showed. It was fiddly, but it's neat and mitred well. If you're using this method, it is really important to use bias seams to initially join the strips, to make sure that the seams on the two different fabrics are off-set, and make sure none of these seams fall at a corner - the added bulk of the seam joining the two fabrics leaves little margin for even more. Any guess how I know these things?!

Friday, 4 March 2011

Ouch - again!

This is not how my ankle should look!

Nearly a week ago I rolled it in a rush going to collect James from school. Luckily I managed to hold onto Eleanor, who Iw as carrying, until the last second. I've sprained it pretty badly, and a week later it's still badly swollen and bruised (love that yellow shade!) from my toes up to a good 4in above my ankle. It's held up quilting, because it needs to be up quite a bit still, and I have absolutely no faith in it while I hobble around unless it's heavily strapped. I seem to do this every few years or so and this is definitely worse than last time.

Back to quilting tomorrow with any luck...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

'Nuture' is a cover quilt!

I was thrilled to receive my copy of Australian Patchwork and Quilting Vol 20 No 2 yesterday and discover my quilt 'Nurture' splashed across the cover!

It's featured as a project from page 14. As always, they've done a beautiful job of photographing my work. The photo below is mine, and was taken before I got my (now not-so-new) camera.

Nurture is currently 'touring' with AP&Q to a couple of quilt shows in Queensland, but will be available for sale.

Lots more photos here, when I originally blogged it.