A good idea….

Whenever my family hear me utter the words “Hey, I’ve got this really good idea” they all groan and moan. They say they don’t want to hear my good ideas, but I think that’s only because it usually means their involvement in something that they hadn’t planned on or will take too much effort on their behalf. But, in my defence, my ideas are usually pretty good, if I do say so myself. After all, my ideas have led to things such as home refurbishments in our previous house, like taking up the carpet and replacing with wooden flooring, or garden landscaping ideas, or going on our skiing holidays to the NSW snowfields in years gone past, even though I did do all the planning and booking. But it’s all good.
So, I recently had a good idea about a quilt, as we do. I have always wanted to make a strip quilt – just sewing lots and lots of strips together in random patterns and colours. I could use up a lot of the brightly coloured fabrics that I’ve collected over the years and make it in a rustic style that is now my favourite: free cutting with the blade, varying widths of strips, curved strips, skinny strips and so on. At various times I had started sewing the strips together, with the thought that they would all eventually get joined up.

When I got the strips out yesterday, as well as the sections already joined together into larger pieces, I lay them out and thought about how to join them. I looked and looked.

Then I had this good idea. Why not cut the joined strips into 8″ blocks, and then join the blocks in a basket-weave pattern? Yeh.

I could cut the blocks so that some of them had a light fabric at least along one side, and then when I arranged them put those blocks towards the centre, so it was sort of showing a progression of colour from the centre out. I kept looking and re-arranging.

Maybe the blocks could have an outer round of black and white spot or checks? Maybe just a black and white strip on one side and create a pattern between the blocks? Maybe there should be sashing between the blocks? I moved the blocks apart from each other a little, to let the carpet underneath simulate what a sashing might look like.

Maybe, but not completely sold. Then I had a really good idea. Another quilt that I had always wanted to make was a spiderweb quilt. Why not use my already-assembled strips to make spiderweb blocks? While many patterns I had seen for these quilts were made by piecing the blocks by joining on strips one at a time to a paper foundation, surely I could adapt to use the blocks I already had?
I found a tutorial on the web that showed how to go about constructing kite-shaped templates for making a spiderweb block – it’s on Quiltville, which has lots of great ideas and quilt patterns, especially for utilising scraps.
Bonnie Hunter shows how to make the basic shapes that go to make up the string spiderweb, as below:

I could start with that and cut the pieces out of my already-pieced strip units.
Yay, what a good idea. I just have to work out what size to cut to make the best use of the already-cut blocks.

I’ll keep you posted.

Wall hanging on show

I mentioned in a previous post that I would show some more of the works I put in our local quilt exhibition. This one is a small wall hanging that I made last year as a response to all of the media reports and photos that came out about the Queensland Floods in January 2011.

This quilt is titled “In Flood”. A lot of photos we saw were of the many Brisbane suburbs which went under water: streets and streets of people’s homes and gardens, sheds and businesses. The water rose so high that often the only thing that the photos taken from helicopters or planes showed were the tops of those houses just popping up from the water. My quilt is a representation of one of the many suburbs, showing the roofs surroundered by swirling muddy water.

They were harrowing times for all affected by the floods. The area in which I live was lucky to be spared but only a few short kilometres from my home other houses were engulfed with water and people lost their lives. It was an event we hope will never happen again.

My day

If I was to tell you about a day in the life of what could I tell you? Each of my days is filled with things that I choose to do, as against things I have to do now that I no longer go out to work in a paid job. Over the last few months I have been working on my quilting business, doing lots of sewing and quilting, developing this website, doing more sewing, running after children – or mainly just one child at the moment-, more cooking and playing with the puppy. It’s all good!
I have a pot of peppermint tea each morning, courtesy of my daughter who gave me the cute little teapot and the tea for Mother’s day. My eldest son gave me the flower pot, so I was very lucky!

Today the gardner, a.k.a. the husband of the house or runway maintainer due to his fondness for solar garden lights, brought in some beautiful roses from the garden beds he made for me when we moved into this new house of ours a short four years ago.

The roses keep blooming, even though it’s close to their pruning time, they currently have black spot and attracting aphids – but still lots of new growth!

After the daily jobs get done in record time (always done in record time, better things to be doing…) I wander to the quilting room and contemplate which project to work on. I have a variety of pieces on the go because I like to change from machine piecing to applique to quilting as I feel like it. No UFOs here, just all WIP.

This is just one corner; perhaps I need to tidy it a little to show a little more in the photo! Next time.
Today I also have my daughter home for a fleeting visit from uni. She gravitates to the reading corner of my quilting room.

I think that is the favourite place in the whole house for reading. I love to sit there when reading a quilting magazine or book, and the chair itself has special meaning. It’s old and worn with broken springs but comfy; the one I used in the middle of the night feeding and soothing my babies some years ago now.

During the course of the morning I look out the window and there is our puppy Hayley. She has pinched the rug I inadvertently left outside the back door when sweeping earlier, and brought it around to play with it before now sleeping in the sun, worn out for awhile. I smile to myself; caught with the rug she shouldn’t have, but never-the-less I sneak quietly outside with the camera to take a photo.

When her ‘master’ – my youngest son- gets home from school she is there at the fence waiting for him; barely able to contain herself when she hears the bus pull up, ears alert, tail wagging.
The days here in a Gatton winter are beautiful, warm and sunny without a hint of the cold that comes in with the night. When I read of people praising the weather they have in other sunny parts of the world, I think beautiful Queensland tops them all.
Across the road from us is the large dam of a nearby farmer. From our house it looks like a lake and gives us enviable ‘water views’. The sun from the late afternoon is warm, and makes me feel all is good in my world.

A modern quilt

I made this quilt for my son a year or two ago, and on taking another look at it recently I realised it would fit into the category of a ‘Modern’ quilt. Recent trends towards this Modern Quilt movement have been all about quilts that are fairly simple in construction but often of a graphic nature, with lots of colour contrast and negative spaces. I love the simplicity of them and am very tempted to create some quilts along those lines. There is a Modern Quilt Guild which started in America, but which has lots of associated guilds all over that country as well as some here in Australia, but not South East Queensland, hmmm….
Their blog site has lots of interesting reading and ‘quilt candy’.

This quilt of mine was made as part of a challenge with my quilting group where we had to choose only five different fabrics and could only use the shapes of a square, half-square triangle and a quarter square triangle in making up the blocks. The blocks could be pieced and arranged in any design of our own choosing.

The overall picture I had in my mind was that I liked splashes of colour amongst a sea of neutral, which in this case I used a marbled white and gray fabric. All of the top was constructed with the various triangles and squares, even the larger sections of grey.
I then quilted it on the longarm machine with an all-over loopy and stars design. In the squares that were directly under the coloured blocks- which looked a little like rockets- I quilted a design that resembled flames coming from the rockets. I used a variegated thread that changed from beige through to blue.

On taking another look at this quilt my thoughts have wandered from the idea that this is a ‘modern’ quilt to thinking about what type of quilter do I classify myself as? I like so many styles, and drool over lots of quilts in the many quilt magazines I read, and sometimes think I need to work out what is my style- but by saying that, it begs the question why do I have to have one style? I love what can be called contemporary quilts, using bright colours, big prints, stripes and spots and mixing them all together, Kaffe Fassett style. I also like traditional quilts that have been re-interpreted with a contemporay or modern twist, a la Kathy Doughty of Material Obsession.
I love modern quilts using solids, with small splashes of colour in a sea of white, quilts with lots of embellishment, art quilts using different techniques, or quilts whose beauty rely on their piecing, like pojagi piecing seen here
So, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m just going to continue on making the quilts I like, and forget about what type of quilt they are, and if they differ from each other in their style, so be it!

A slice of art

The art quilting group of Gatton Quilters has been working on a project this year where we each get one piece of a larger picture which we then interpret in cloth. When all pieces are finished they will then be joined up to make the full picture. I blogged about a previous month’s picture here.
We have two groups of six working on the pictures; when all the pieces are finished, they will be joined to make back up the larger fabric picture.
Below is the picture of a rusty shed that my group worked on ….

and my (on the left) and Lyn’s (on right) interpretations of our segments, with the printed paper copy of our picture below that.

This is the other group’s picture…..

and two of the segments from Meryl and Patricia.

Although the pieces are only small, about 2.5″ by 10″, we’re finding they take some thought and experimenting and playing with fabric, threads and pencils to get the effect that we want. As everyone does their own piece without collaboration, then of course each piece is going to look different to the one next to it as each person reproduces their interpretation of snow or trees or rusty sheds! but when all placed next to each other to make up the final picture the overall effect is realised, and the resulting picture has lots of texture and interest and a variety of effects to keep the eyes moving around.

A landscape

Another one of the quilts I put in our local exhibition ( see here) was a landscape that I had been working on for a few years. It was made to reflect the view that we had from our new house, which is about 4 years old so I guess not so new anymore! This is the finished textile art piece:

It had taken me a few years to do because I struggled with it a for awhile. I initially started it as an exercise in working with a neutral palette, wanting to experiment with a limited range of colours but that eventually changed as the picture developed.

I used lots of fabric scraps, fabric that was given to me, some scraps even from the floor of Indian tailors (Thanks J!). I used dyed cheesecloth, old linen, did lots of free-hand stitching, hand stitching, raw-edge applique, couching, felting and embellishment.
glimpse out the window
I have lots of affection for it, given that so much thought, not to mention squinting and head-turning (why is it we put our heads on the side when contemplating?) went in to it.

To finish it off I then decided to give it a border and attach to a canvas.
As it now has a red ‘Sold’ sticker on it, it also makes me happy!

Our display of quilts

My local quilt groups’s exhibition opened on the weekend, with over 90 pieces hanging in the Lockyer Valley Art Gallery. The exhibition was opened by Robyn Ginn, a well-known quilter from Toowoomba, who has won quite a few awards for her quilts. The opening night went well, with all of us members happy to see the display of our handiwork at long last after a year or more of planning!
There were a few different groupings of work within the exhibtion. One in particular contained the small art quilts we made as a result of a workshop held here in Gatton with the nationally-renowned quilter Lisa Walton from Dyed and Gone to Heaven
GQ 2012
GQ 2012
All of these works were created from a piece of white fabric which was dyed, painted, stamped, stencilled, written on, cut up and sewn back together, stitched on, , embellished,cut up and sewn back together again, beaded, quilted – you name it! It was a great exercise for those to whom these were all new techniques.
This one is my finished hanging, of which I’ve shown progress photos in the past here and here

Karen's textile treasure
I called this Fractured Cityscape, as I made it to resemble a city block. I had carved a stamp which had images of buildings, and used to stamp over various patches which was then embellished with gold foil in places. Various found objects I picked up on a walk, or found rummaging around my sewing room were sewn on as well as beads, and all topped off with free-hand stitching. None of the fabric was cut with a ruler, to add to the organic look.
Some more ‘textile treasures’ :
Amanda's textile treasure
Gatton Quilters Exhibition 2012
Hard to believe the variety within these pieces that all originated from the same workshop, using the same pool of supplies to start off with. Marvelous to see we all do have good imaginations!

Other works in the exhibition included small hangings, hand-embroidered pieces, textile art and small quilts. I had a few other works hanging up, which I will show here in future blog posts.

What I’ve been up to this week..

I have some photos here of what I’ve been working on this past week. After finishing some pieces to go into my local quilt group’s exhibition (opening this weekend at Lockyer Valley Art Gallery), at long last I am back machine quilting a large quilt top on my long-arm machine. This quilt belongs to Amanda, using batik fabrics in a range of oranges, browns, reds, gold and a fantastic blue scattered here and there. It’s really lovely to look at.

These are in progress photos, so just ignore any loose threads you might see in the photos! Also in my eagerness, they were taken in dappled light so there are some shadows.
I’m also currently experimenting with how I take my photos to show on here. The photos today have been loaded in to Flickr, edited with Aviary and then linked across to here. The editing has included altering the brightness, contrast, saturated colour, etc, so if anyone is looking at these let me know what you think of them, and all suggestions welcome.
All of my quilting is done free-hand, so it has a natural, organic look to it. The quilting design is one of a feathered square inside the 9-patch blocks, a modified feathered scroll in the outside border and a flame design in the other blocks and inside border.
The thread colour is an olive/brown colour which just seems to match in beautifully with all the colours in the fabric.

As I mentioned at the top of the post, our exhibition opens this weekend. All of the members in the group have entered something, some more than others, but it’s good to see everyone participating. We deliberately want this exhibition to exist of smaller quilts, maybe wall-sized or lap quilts, wall-hangings and other smaller items. While not everyone in the group likes to experiment with ‘art quilts’, pieces of any quilted works utilising varied techniques could be entered. I should be able to show some photos on here next week.

My Sydney weekend

I have just spent the weekend visiting my son in Sydney. We had a great time and I loved every minute of it, even though it seemed I was back home very quickly! We went up to the top of the Sydney Tower, which is where I took these photos from.

City scapes have always appealed to me, and I have done a few small quilts based on city outlines. The quilt that I mention here, done within a Lisa Walton workshop, is based on a city block. I will show it in its finished state very soon. I also like ‘house’ quilts and plan to do more of those sometime. Isn’t the night city beautiful?

While there, I also got to go to the fantastic Material Obsession shop, which I’ve been wanting to do for ages. Lots of beautiful fabrics and quilts and books and bags to look at; a real feast for the eyes. While there I bought a selection of coloured felt as I would like to try some ‘Sue Spargo’-type quilting….

little shapes cut out of the felt and then heavily stitched and embellished. I’m thinking of attending one of her workshops when she is in Australia later this year. If I do, at least I’ll have a start on some class requirements.