Back in fashion

This last week has been a little stressful when it comes to blogging! I – thinking I was doing the right thing- tried to update the software that I use for this blog but instead ran into a few problems. Hence, I haven’t posted anything for nearly a week. Don’t think I’ll be trying that again for awhile.

I have another textile postcard to show. This one was created for the theme ‘Fashion’.

The interesting thing about this postcard challenge was seeing the wide variety of interpretations that the participants brought to the challenge. The one word Fashion is quite broad and can be used in so many contexts.
My card portrays three little paper dolls that many of us would have made when children. We would cut them out of folded paper so that they were all joining hands, and we could make little dresses in whatever fashion we liked. The dolls here were made out of white scrim, appliqued down and free-hand stitched to the background. Each of the dolls thinks she is very fashionable in her own right!

Some long-arm quilting

I have been slowly getting some quilts in for my long-arm quilting business I started this year. Each quilt has naturally been very different and I’ve enjoyed using different patterns and techniques to enhance the quilts.This is a quilt I recently finished on the machine. Helen created it in lovely feminine colours for a special person, and as we are now in spring it really suits the season.

I quilted it free-hand with mainly an all-over pattern of leaves and scrolls, using a pink thread.

As the borders were in a striped fabric, I did squiggly lines with a little leaf shape scattered here and there, as well as a long scroll on the inner border.

The appliqued shapes were outline quilted.

I also have another textile postcard to show here, completed as part of a recent challenge with my local quilt group. This one was my interpretation of the theme of ‘Winter’, and in which I tried out the techniques of discharging the colour with the use of a decolourant.
The decolourant was applied to some hand-dyed fabric in the rough shapes of trees. Some black watercolour pencil was used to draw in some other trees on top of those paler patches and then it was free-hand quilted with black thread to resemble a line-drawing, and a little silver for the moon.
I just have to show these couple of photos of what is blooming in our garden at the moment, the beautiful Peace rose:

This following little flower is a bulb of some sort – I don’t know its name!- but I love the dusky pink and yellow colour of its petals.

Nearby Toowoomba is in its full glory at the moment, readying for the Carnival of Flowers, starting this coming weekend. There’s also a Quilt Show on display, which always has a fantastic collection of quilts. If you live close enough, pop up for a look!

Creating a mosaic of colour

I found this great competition on the blog Stitched in Colour.
You have to make a mosaic from images of fabric swatches to a theme, and the winner gets a fabric bundle of fat quarters of those fabrics. It was fun to create the mosaic in the first place, although that took me a little while to work out! Here’s what I created:
Tthe best part of the competition is that it is open to anyone no matter your location- a lot of online competitions are only for US residents. Try it, enjoy!

Fractured slices of quilt art

In our ongoing series of fractured quilt pictures, my quilting group have been given the last of our picture segments to re-create for the year. Like this one I showed a few months ago,
we are each working on one slice of a large photo or picture. By the end of the year we will have 12 pictures, or rather the segments that go to make up 12 pictures. Each contributor will be given one group of segments to put together and finish off to have a completed picture. We have decided to put a narrow sashing of black in between each segment and probably a black border.
Of course, the slices of the pictures vary for each person- some have more detail, or in need of embellishment, or application of texture in varying ways. We have found them a real challenge, because while we are re-creating a picture we don’t want to limit ourselves to only copy it exactly. The idea is to think outside the square a little, and use different fabrics and bits and pieces to good effect: to try and give the illusion but not necessarily the exact copy. An example is in this picture I did one month which was part of an old rusting shed. I used some old tapestry-type fabric on the roof because it gave the effect of the colours of the rusting iron with old drying leaves. (Mine is on the left, Lyn’s on the right.)

For this month I have two pictures to produce and they look a little tricky! My usual approach is to look at them for a week or two and think about how I might do them- whether to do some fabric painting with textile paints or pencils, perhaps do some needle felting?, perhaps use fabric remnants. The first picture for this month:

Obviously part of a night-time city scape, it has a number of elements to consider. The buildings with all their windows and the shiny lights reflecting off the water occupy my thoughts.
I decide to go through my stash and see what I have to use. My first pick is this hand-dyed fabric for the sky:

The fabric itself is purple, and while the sky in the photo looks more blue, when I put the fabric next to it, it looks a better match than any of my other choices.

Next are the buildings- they could be a nightmare if one wanted to try and reproduce them exactly with all those little squares, so I’ve come up with this checked fabric, which when put in place could give the impression of a building,
plus the couple of striped fabrics for other sections of the line of buildings.

The trickiest part is the lights on the water, so I’ve left that to last. Taking a step back from it, I look at just the colours that are in it. If I can use a mottled fabric that incorporates those colours, I can maybe further enhance it with stitching to get the real shiny bits. I decide that this hand-dyed fabric might be suitable for that:

It has lots of bits of blue and green as well as the mustard-gold so I might be able to find a section that will suit. Then of course it will need lots of stitching to add the final elements.
I am going to put the fabrics together to make a collaged picture, attaching them to a calico background. The background is marked out so that I know the exact measurements of my piece, and I also make a mark where key elements occur along the sides, as this is where my piece must line up along the edges of the other slices being created by someone else. These would be things like where the buildings are, where the buildings meet the water and the sky and anything that extends or passes through my picture through to its neighbour when assembled.

Anyway, that’s the plan, what do you think of my fabric choices?

This is the second picture I’m doing this month, and it looks even harder!:

The only start I’ve made is that this mustard-gold fabric looks close to the colour of the background underneath the ice. I have no idea of how to reproduce the look of the cracked ice, yet…

Some handstitching today

I have some progress to show on a wool applique project that I’ve shown here before. I started this in a workshop with Sue Spargo back in July and have been making steady, but slow, progress. This is what it looks like at the moment.

I have been adding flowers and stems and leaves, and have lots more to add to it yet. There is no plan as to where things are going- just wherever they look good. The same with which colour threads I’ll use on which colour flower. These 3 little flowers on a stem are the most recent:

They were made from wool felt and stitching with various wool and stranded cotton threads.

What to do on the vase had me stumped me for awhile, but one day this idea popped into my head-

I have been doodle stitching all over with simple stitches and using only 2 different variegated threads, to sort of resemble vases of old with painted patterns on them. The stitches so far include backstitch, running stitch, blanket stitch, satin stitch and stem stitch. It’s still a work in progress, but lots of fun.
Oh, and today I made these berry muffins, lovely when fresh out of the oven!

5 inspirations for quilt designs

I got to thinking the other day- which is dangerous I know- about the myriad of ways people come up with inspiration for their quilt designs. I happened to be playing one of the games you can get with electronic devices these days- I blame my kids for introducing me to Tetris. For some reason I like the symmetry of it and the way the blocks all fit together; just like when people-watching I’m interested in why people choose certain seats at the movies or where they park their car in a large carpark and the patterns that are created. I know, weird? So, time for another list of 5 things…..

1. Anyway, while {procrastinating} playing Tetris, I wondered not for the first time why someone hadn’t designed a tetris-inspired quilt. After all, I’ve seen sudoku quilts. But silly me, of course someone has as I stumbled across the following website which has a Tetris Quiltalong.
2. I saw a Sudoku-inspired quilt a year or two ago at a quilt show but I can’t remember who would have made that, but I did find this one online from Lola Pink fabrics So, basically you use the same premiss of having squares of fabric that aren’t ever repeated in the same block or on the same horizontal or vertical line.
3. Backgammon quilt: this is from my old favourite Kaffe Fassett, the pattern for which is in his book “Simple Shapes, Spectaculer Quilts”.
4. This next quilt is also fantastic:
Tokyo Subway Map quilt
(from Elizabeth Fransson). There were quite a few people who made this as there were lots of images on blogs over the last year or two. I think there might have been variations like maps from other cities or train routes etc.

5. Quilts made from maps of cities. Check out these beautiful quilt maps: which are mainly whole-cloth quilts.
There are so many to be found, this is just skimming the surface! Lovely eye-candy. And to finish off, have a look at this little fellow hidden in the fern, the photo is not the clearest but hopefully you can see him.

Neighbourhood Whimsy

This little wall hanging is made from a piece I started in an online class with Jude Hill from the Spirit Cloth website about 2 years ago. Jude does such beautiful work, creating story cloths and mainly utilising old fabrics that she has collected over the years or been gifted. I love the tactile nature of her cloths and the simple but expressive stitching. I have taken a number of her classes where we have explored cloth weaving, on which this one was based, the theme of hearts or the moon, contemporary boro cloths, and others I haven’t done. I’ve enrolled in a new class with her as I just find her work so irrisistable.
For some reason I am drawn to work that is utilising old soft cloth, fraying edges, re-purposing cottons and linen, making something that already has some history and creating my own stories with it.

Having said that, creating a story is the part I’ve found the hardest. I generally just start and hope some story will come to mind as I progress! I named this little piece ‘Neighbourhood Whimsy’ well after it was finished. I started with the background and just added different stitches and tried different ways of embellishing each square. Some squares had other fabric underneath which peaked out when cut away; I cut up an old piece of cotton lace to add to it and tried out a few different stitches.

The cat was the simplest little animal shape I could think of so I did that first, and my sister suggested a mouse when I was wondering what else could be added.

The other thing that is interesting to me is that when I am making larger quilts, I invariably use bright coloured and patterned fabric, a la Kaffe Fassett-style, which is really the opposite end of the spectrum to these works. In this I can indulge my other love of the texture you get from a monochrome scheme, like stitching with a cream coloured thread on a similar-toned background.

The linen that is used in the background is cut up from a linen jacket I bought from a local St Vinnies for about $3 and a lot of the other bits and pieces were the same or had been given to me.
I used a striped fabric from an old shirt of mine to frame it; the sleeve seams can be seen on the side border.

I’m looking forward to the inspiration from the new class!

Dads and Grandpas

With fathers celebrating everywhere today, I thought I’d take a few minutes to show you about my dad. He was known as Grandpa to his grandkids, but that also became the name we used more often than not when talking to him. Grandpa passed away almost 9 years ago, at the young age of only 65. He had a severe heart attack and died instantly, with no warning to any of us of what was to happen.
Grandpa was known for being a fantastic handyman; if you wanted anything built or made, altered or fixed, inside or out, he could do it. He never worked as a carpenter or builder and was not trained so everything he knew he taught himself. Over the years when I was growing up I have memories of him designing small pieces of furniture or accessories around the home. He made model train sets that took copious amounts of time and space; he would help with adding a deck to someone’s back yard or put up shelves in the bedroom, or make timber planters and pots for Mum’s bonsaii. Their last house was one that he designed completely himself, and obtained an owner-builder’s license to build, with a little help from his son-in-laws. It was an eight-sided house with the kitchen as the central hub, all made of timber in a bushland setting.
My sister and I inherited his love of reading; the bookshelves in all our houses have groaned from the weight of books. His love of making things has also been passed on to us, and I hope that continues with our children.
I thought I would show some photos of a few things Dad made that I have in my home. This first one is a rocking horse. It is one of many he made in the last 10 years or so. He was meticulous in researching the correct way to make things; he taught himself basic leatherwork to make the bridle, halter and reins and saddle, he sourced proper horse hair for the mane and tail, read up on the traditional rocking motions for horses and when making a horse to sell would paint it to resemble’s a client’s own horse. Because he was taken so prematurely we never got a chance to have him make one for our family, so when he died this was the only one we could find to buy back.

He also made a beautiful fully functional grandfather clock, which is now at my sister’s house, so it is lovely that we have these things to remind us of his skill. The blanket box below was one of many beautiful things he made for Mum.

My dining table was also one that I ‘commissioned’ him to make for me (the chairs were bought separately). I wanted a table to look like it was old and country-style, so Dad had to take to it with a bag full of nails, hitting the table to put suitable marks in it- a difficult thing for him to have to do! He found some old previously-used timber for the legs and made it to be fully-extendable.

And this little teddy bear box was a quick little weekend job for the teddy bears that Mum liked to make.

Many years ago he also made for me this cotton reel holder- the tall one seen to the right of my sewing machine. I had full intentions of asking him to make a larger wall-mounted version as well, but that was not to be.
He was a clever and artistic man, our Grandpa.