shells, dear

The little clamshell quilt I mentioned back here is now finished.
It was fun making this, and by using this method of raw-edged circles overlapping each other, really quick too.
I used the Sizzix die-cutting machine to cut out perfect circles all at 4″ wide. By not repeating any fabric, it was another way to use up some fabrics sitting in my stash. All the circles were placed with a couple of dots of glue then machine sewn a row at a time.
I decided to sew really closely to the edge of each circle, and used a light grey Invisifil thread which blended into all the colours. Choosing that thread colour was probably the hardest part of the whole thing! because I didn’t want to be changing threads all the time I wanted to use one that would fit in with all the colours of the circles. I even used up some more fabric left over from a past project to make the backing.
clamshells2 Very bright, hmmm?
I decided not to bind it and instead stitched the top and backing right-sides together all the way round leaving a little gap to turn it through, and then just closed up that gap with some hand-stitches. I also put some little loops in to use for hanging.
It was at this stage that I considered leaving it as it was, wondering if I could get away with not quilting it at all. After all, it’s only smallish??…. But no, it didn’t look right. It needed something to highlight the shell shapes, so I’m going to hand-quilt with big stitches along the tops of each curve, across in rows. I’ll use a crimson-coloured 12wt thread called Spagetti by Wonderfil.
Other things I’ve been up to: I thought I would get caught up with photos of the quilts I’ve made over the last year or two and put them in my album.
Do you do that too? I think it’s good to have a record of them, even if for no other reason than to look through them every now and then. It seems a lot when they are all together.

I haven’t mentioned about this next quilt before on here, but it is one I have been making, or not, for some years. I’m sure you’ve probably heard of the Dear Jane quilt, made by hundreds of people all over the world. I started it with a couple of lessons and have been making a block every now and then. But it was also a project that got put on the back burner when I was trying to finish last year’s Lollipop Trees quilt. So I thought I would start to show a block every week on here (that I’ve already completed), as a motivation to keep going with it! I am making it in batiks, which are more my style than the traditional reproduction fabrics most often used.
This block is E8- Mama’s Maze.

E8 Mama's Maze

E8 Mama’s Maze

Hope you have a good week quilting!

9-patch improv

Improvisation in quilt-making is something I love to play with- the ultimate ‘What If?” So when I saw a call for quilters to try a new method and make a quilt that could possibly be shown in a to-be-published book, I thought why not?!
The book, which comes out in March, is called the Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters, by Sherri Lynn Wood.
This is the quilt I made:
Sherri provided us with a ‘score’ that guided us in making the quilt. There were no specific patterns to follow; the score provided a framework which we then interpreted in our own way. There were about ten different scores and a lot of quilters working with each one, from which Sherri would choose a selection to feature in her book. While my quilt didn’t get included in the book, it was still a fun process to go through.
The score I received was ‘Flying Geese’. I can’t give the details of how the score worked, but I can show a few photos of what I did. I decided to put my own take on it by limiting myself to striped fabrics and my hand-dyed fabrics that I’ve made over the years. I made lots of flying geese and it was fun to see how some of the colour combinations I put together looked really good…
I didn’t have any preconceived idea of what the finished quilt would look like but went along making decisions as I went.
I auditioned lots of different border fabrics with the original idea to use white or some other light colour, because that seems to be the common colour with many modern quilts. However, the best effect was achieved with black so the bright colours could pop against it.
And for some reason, when putting it all together, the smaller blocks wanted to arrange themselves into a rough grouping that resembled a 9-patch, hence the name Flying 9 patch.
I free-hand quilted it myself on my long-arm, using a bright variegated thread and lots of lines and angles, and bound it using a fused machine binding.
So even though, my quilt didn’t make the cut- I’m not sure whether those quilts will be mentioned at all in the book- I guess I will have to get the book when it’s published and have a look!
Linking up here to Nina-Marie’s Off-The-Wall-Friday!

circles and clambakes

A quilt pattern that I have seen around in recent times is using the clamshell shape. Once again, it is also a design that has a traditional background but when used with fresh new fabrics, or – my favourite- lots of scraps, it produces a lovely colourful quilt. I recently saw a quick and easy version of a clamshell quilt on the Stitched in Color blog and thought it was right up my alley!
It takes lots of circles sewn in overlapping rows, machine-sewn with raw edges. It looks quick and easy so I thought I would have a go at it. I want to use up lots of fabrics from my stash, so I have been trying to make some scrappy quilts lately to use as much as I can. You might remember my spiderweb quilt, which used strips of varying widths all sewn together:
and I have almost finished a scrappy Round-the-world quilt which I’ll show on here soon.
For this clamshell quilt I need to cut lots of circles. And it just so happens I have a new toy with which to cut them with!! This is my new Sizzix Big Shot:
I had always resisted these fabric-cutting machines in the past but had recently changed my mind when I realised they would be ideal for cutting accurate curved shapes, like circles, petals, leaves etc. When I saw this one on sale at Lincraft last month I thought why not?!
I have had to buy the cutting dies separately so have at the moment just bought circles in three sizes and a half-square triangle die. I tried to get a clamshell-shape but still trying to source that online, plus some other shapes.
It cuts circles so quickly and perfectly. You just layer the fabric, up to 6 layers at once, on the die between the cutting pads and wind it through. I wish I had it when doing the Lollipop Trees quilt last year! It can also cut paper and card and be used for embossing.
Lots of playing ahead! Have a good week :)

three wise critters

I have a little story cloth to show, that even though it was started as a Christmas cloth, I’ve only just finished. At least it will be ready for this December!
I showed some progress photos of this along the way, the most recent time being here. I am very inspired by Jude Hill on Spirit Cloth, and while mine doesn’t look nearly as good as her work, I can keep trying!
I started with some bleach-discharged fabric for the night sky, which conveniently had a moon-shape in one corner. That was sewed into a nine-patch background with the addition of some eco-dyed cloth for the lower third. Both of these were done in some of our Art Group workshops last year.
The little patchwork beasts resemble some friendly pets I know and love! and I added some old cheesecloth for some mountains.
I also did lots of hand sewing all over. As it’s made from these soft pieces of cloth, it was enjoyable to sit and stitch with it in my lap.
To finish it off, I added some fabric to the back and then attached an old pre-loved zip as a border around all edges.
I’ve named it the Three Wise Critters :)

but wait, there’s more…

… cushions that is. After making the cushions for Christmas gifts, as mentioned last week, I decided to make some for myself. In particular I wanted to use some ‘giraffe’ fabric that a friend had given me. I had started thinking about some quilt ideas for it, and had started to look for some fabrics to put with it. But the cushions were such fun that they won out!
I bought a couple of other pieces but also had some in my stash to complement it, so I looked for some lights and darks to put together.
I found this pattern in the magazine Love Patchwork & Quilting which I thought looked good so decided to use it.
These are the four individual blocks which were quick and easy to make…
then joined together.
I ironed some thin fusible batting on the back of it and then quilted it with straight lines diagonally across the top.
While I was in the mood, I thought I might as well make another one! so I looked for a block in the book ‘Modern Blocks’ which I could utilise. I chose the Eccentric Wonky Star by Wayne Kollinger and adjusted its size for my purposes. I used the same fabrics but in different proportions to the first cushion. One cushion was bound in a teal colour
and the other in a goldy mustard colour
and I used different fabrics for the back, with an envelope closing.
I quilted the second one with straight up and down lines.
Here they are together:
Cute, hey?!

colourful cushions

When looking around for some ideas for Christmas gifts for nieces and nephews, I fell upon the idea of making some cushions. I know that is not a novel idea! but I’ve not actually made quilted cushion covers before- mainly because I was always busy making quilts whenever I could find the time and didn’t want to take any time away from that.
But, now having made some and found how nicely they turn out without a lot of trouble, I think I’ll have to change my thinking! The bonus is that they are a gift that can be made for males or females, especially those that have left home and are living in rented flats. It helps to have something nice to decorate their surroundings.

This first one was made for my nephew. I used a block I’ve seen in a lot of quilts and enlarged it to the size I wanted to fit the cushion inserts I already had.
I just made the front, did some simple in-the-ditch quilting and added an envelope back to it. I had to gamble on the colours for this one.
The next one was for my niece in colours that I knew would look good in her room.
I used some batiks and matched them with some black fabric that I had previously done some discharge-dyeing on. I used a different block, once again enlarged to the right size.
You can see the effect of the discharge bleaching on the black fabric in this next photo. I did this in a little workshop earlier in the year, so this was an excellent use for it.
I was having so much fun that I also made one for my daughter in a different colourway.
This one was backed with a text print fabric, and also a basic quilt in the ditch. By just using an envelope closing on all the cushions, I didn’t have to use any zips or buttons etc.
I was very happy with how they turned out :)

a little colour play

Here’s a little something for you to play with: have you ever made a colour mosaic? Over on the blog ‘Stitched in Color‘ there is a little contest happening where you can use an online mosaic maker to put together your favourite swatches of fabric.


The theme is Iced Parfait, which sounds really nice in this heat we are having- although I think her focus is on the wintery vision of ice!
Have a go. You can win some fabric yourself, and you don’t need your own blog to enter.

holiday stitching on a story cloth

I am on a few weeks leave from work at the moment, so in between catching up on house-related chores and acting as a chauffeur I’ve been able to fit in some more sewing. It’s also been good to catch up with friends and family, especially when the visits can be combined with a little stitching here and there!
I have some hand-sewing handy in a little bag that I can take whenever I think I might be able to fit some in. The project that I’m working on can vary. Last year it was always the latest block I was working on for the Lollipop Trees quilt.
I’m working on a couple of things at the moment. I have been trying to get this little story cloth finished that I started back here, before Christmas.
While it is essentially one I am making as a Christmas cloth, I still want to keep working on it to get it finished, and at least then it will be ready for next Christmas! I’m not sure about what story I’m trying to tell with it though, which is why I’m still lingering over it.
The lowest third has the three animals in it, which closely resemble the four-legged animals of our family!, and I feel like I need to do something more to tie them in together. The little seed stitches and knots that I’ve started to add in around them is a start, but still not there yet.
I added these trees in. They were done in feather stitch, which is an excellent stitch for trees!
More stitching at the top is also needed, just more of the kantha-style stitching. But it’s close, nearly there.
Last weekend I had a day to fill in while my son was playing indoor cricket at Caboolture, so I took myself over to Bribie Island for a look around. I eventually found myself at one of the beaches, so I even got to sit and sew under the trees! A beautiful day, although warm and muggy, but not having been to Bribie before I really enjoyed it. A nice place to relax and enjoy some beach-time.

I also recently had a lovely time sewing with my sister.
She was working on this Japanese-designed bag, and with a few hours of dedicated sewing nearly had it finished.
day5I love how she has her sewing corner set up, a nice place to be in.
I hope you are all getting lots of time to sit and stitch!

recycling challenge

I made this little quilt as my contribution to a challenge that the Art Quilt group of Gatton Quilters held in the second half of 2014. I mentioned the challenge back in this post. This is my interpretation of the theme.
The theme was ‘Recycle’ and we could interpret that in any way we wanted, whether it be by the materials we used or the subject matter of what we depicted, or even choose between realistic or abstract methods. The title of my quilt is the Recycled Neighbourhood. It shows some streets of any neighbourhood, lots of little houses all in a row. The tree in the middle is what had to make way for those houses to be built, so it was recycled into the houses as well as the road map that it is made from.
I didn’t buy any new materials to make this, although the bits of fabric for the houses were some old scraps of solid colour cottons I’ve had for years. The base was an old linen tea towel- used on the ‘wrong’ side, as was the backing. I ironed some light-weight fusible interfacing to the back of it for stability.
I drew the tree onto some paper to use as a template and then worked out where I wanted the tree to be placed.
recyc-placing tree
I fused all the scraps of cotton and cut out lots of little squares and triangles for the houses, placing them along imaginary roads and around the tree outline. I had to include all different shape houses as well as the odd park and river for the neighbourhood.
Once I had pressed them into place, I then free motion quilted the houses with assorted threads.
The tree template was then used to trace a tree from an old road map. I coated the tree with gel medium and let dry before placing it onto the quilt and sewing it in place around its edges.
I backed it with another old teatowel from which I also cut strips to attach and use as the facing edges. On the front I sewed selvedge scraps around the edges to act as a frame.
My little ‘recycled’ neighbourhood!

as we say goodbye to 2014…

The first day of 2015 and lots of promise and hope ahead. I hope you and your families all have a wonderful year ahead, especially in your arty and quilty endeavours!
I thought I’d just show you a summary of the daily photos I have taken over recent months. I’ve been participating in the online Photo-a-day challenge for a couple of years now and at this stage I’m planning to continue, although I’m thinking about not necessarily taking a photo for the stated theme, but we’ll see! I try to take photos that also give both my son and daughter who live away from home a little glimpse into what’s happening back here.

I have recently returned from a couple of days spent down in Victoria visiting with my son and his fiancee. We had a great time, and as it coincided with Christmas festivities, this first photo was very apt for the theme ” I like..”. We went on a drive to look at Christmas displays, and this house was just spectacular:

The theme was [loud], and this fellow, Dublin, who came into our lives earlier this year certainly knows how to make himself heard (and he also has a lovely soft tummy!). He likes to keep me company when I’m sewing- that is, when it suits him:

In October the themes centred around letters of the alphabet. When the time came for [R is for] what else could I show but these beautiful roses grown by my husband in our front garden:

[made me smile today…] we have had a drought for many months so it’s great to see the rain. Currently the grass is still green….

[I made this…] for my Mum a lot of years ago, and has now been passed back to me.

[letters]… my favourite text prints used in a New York Beauty block….

[I really love this…] lots of stitching whenever and where ever I can fit it in! These were some little stars I made for Christmas gifts.

That’s enough from me- ‘see’ you next week!