long-arm machine quilting

I have just finished a quilt on my long-arm quilting machine for Meryl. Meryl made her quilt top from a jelly roll of strips and chose to have it quilted in an all-over free-hand design. I quilted it with a design of flowers, leaves and tendrils to complement the flower theme of the fabric.

The thread used was a light caramel colour, in a 100% cotton thread.

My long-arm quilting machine is a Gammill Classic Plus, and I do all the quilting hand-guided, which means I don’t use any computerised software. I have chosen to use this method so that I can use the all-over freehand style which I use to create designs such as these.

This style of free-hand quilting is a bit different to a machine quilter who might use the computerised attachments for quilting machines to produce what is generally known as an edge-to-edge design, that is, a repeating pattern over the quilt top.

I can however use a pantograph pattern to replicate an all-over design, if that’s what a client chooses. This involves a paper design ‘pattern’ that is laid down on the quilting table and by the use of a laser light I can trace around the line-drawn design with the light while the machine stitches the design.

The photo below shows a quilt I did for Trudy a few months ago using this method.

While I like to use the free-hand style, I will use whichever method is best suited to produce the effect the client is after. If a client wants a certain design it might also be better to use a stencil or template to reproduce it consistently over the quilt top.
So many choices!

cute little trees

I have been working on some of my little Christmas projects and I have at least one of them finished to show. This is the little Christmas trees all in a row- they hang so long it was hard to get a good picture of them all!

I made them mainly with Japanese fabric and a few others thrown in. While it was easy enough to make, it was also a little tricky to get it perfect, in that some of the triangles are a little off-centred, but I think that just adds to the charm!

The pear that I started last week is not quite finished yet; here is a progress photo. Looks a plump little pear so far!

I also have a picture here of a completed fractured art quilt. This is part of a year-long challenge that Gatton Quilters Art group has been working on. The picture was divided into segments and 6 different people then had to re-create their segment in whichever way they could. One participant is then given all 6 pieces to put back together into a complete picture. This picture was assembled by Meryl, and is the first completed one we’ve seen. Doesn’t it look great? Meryl used a black with pin spots for the sashing and binding which really sets it off well.

Segments made by L-R: me, Jan K, Meryl, Judy, Jan M, Shirley

The remaining pictures will also be assembled over the next month or two so hopefully I can then show a few more on here.

I’m linking through to WIP on Freshly Pieced today, where there’s lots of “in progress” things happening.

mastering the stitch

Stem stitch is one of those stitches that most, if not everyone, can do, yes? no? It is a stitch that I am usually not very happy with when I try it, and now is no exception. I have been working on this little birdie project, and now onto the second bird:

as I mentioned in a previous post, at least it is giving me practise at doing stem stitch. I think I have worked out where I’m going wrong. When I go to do each successive stitch I am bringing the needle up at the wrong place, like in this photo- the red arrow shows I’m coming up too far back,

and it should come up at the end of the previous stitch, like in this photo:

Now I just have to remember that! For some reason I keep thinking that the needle needed to come out further back to create that sloping look to the stitch, but as long as the thread is kept to underneath the needle, it will automatically create that look as each stitch is taken. Phew, something so simple……

And here is a little montage of photos with colour combinations that caught my eye this week. The rose is the Peace rose, and that is for those people around the world who are currently involved in some way with conflict and I’m sure would like some peace in the coming Christmas season.
The diamonds quilt top that I finished last week is ‘undergoing auditions’ for the binding, when the purple/cerise/whatever strip fell out of my scrap pile- it goes in the ‘possibles’.
The Kaffe Fassett quilt on my bed usually appears to have a mainly-red colour scheme when you look at it as a whole, but I happened to look at it one morning against green pillow cases and the green squares really popped out. Nice.

art is quilt is art

The families of quilters are used to hearing words such as ‘that would make a good quilt’ or ‘wouldn’t that be nice in a quilt’ or even ‘I could use that in a quilting design’. You know what it’s like- there’s possibility in whatever we see around us.
So I thought it amusing the other day when a friend commented on a photo in a news magazine: “that looks like a quilt”: in other words, the photo appeared to be of a quilt already constructed, so our first thoughts were that it was a quilt, and not a garden photo that could then be re-produced in a quilt. Just a bit of a twist on the usual train of thought.

Qweekend Nov17-18 2012, Photographer: A.Sexton

It looks just like the types of quilts created by Noriko Endo, who makes fantastic confetti-style quilts. Check some of them out here
The photo appeared in the colour magazine Qweekend in last weekend’s Courier Mail (Brisbane, Qld). It was a reader’s contributed photo of the Butchart Gardens in Canada.

And this is what is on my longarm at the moment- just a sneak peek at the lovely buttery creams, coffee, greens and apricots.

Another and, Happy Birthday to my lovely son out there somewhere on a patch of ocean!

a little more Christmas..

A few more little Christmas projects I’ve been working on. This is a Christmas tree hanger, made from an Abundia pattern. I chose to make it mainly in Japanese fabrics, supplemented with a few others.

I like to use fabrics and colours which aren’t necessarily the traditional red and green, but still the Christmas vibe is there- these are little Chrissy trees on top of each other. I’m still working on it so will show a photo here when it’s finished. I’m not sure about adding bells onto the ends of the tree ‘branches’??? I’ll think about it.
I love this little piggy fabric!

It is from my slowly growing collection of fabrics which I plan to use one day for a Japanese-inspired quilt.
And, there’s more…. Believe it or not, these will be a pear:

I am adapting a pattern from this magazine (2010 ed )

to make one of these

only instead of making it glittery, I’ve added some hand-embroidery onto some of the panels.
It’s all fun!
I’m taking part in the Works-In-Progress posts on Freshly Pieced- go for a visit and check out what others are working on.

the weekend’s happenings

A really busy weekend in my house! On Saturday I went to the Gatton Quilters monthly meeting/sewing day, which is always good to catch up on what others are working on at the moment. We also planned some projects that the group will be starting next year, as well as the Art Quilt mini-group’s activities. Some exciting things that will keep the grey cells working.
Our project for this year has been the fractured picture quilts which I’ve mentioned here and here. We are close to the end now- we will have one full picture for each participating member so we distributed all of the finished parts to their new ‘owner’. We each have to construct the quilt using those parts. We are adding black strips in between each part plus a border- but how individuals go about that is up to their own creative ideas. I have been given the ‘Nightlights’ quilt, for which this was the part I did:

Once the last few members have forwarded their parts onto me I’ll be able to put it all together. Can’t wait to see what the finished quilts look like.
I was also the lucky one to win this month’s raffle: isn’t it a beauty!

Alison made it, and she went above and beyond the call of duty: a lovely sashiko stitchery, with red thread on cream, even though the photo is not that good, which already has a place on my wall for Christmas.

Sunday was spent helping my daughter move out of her university residential college into a flat. It was a little sad as she has been living on-campus for three years now and made some really good friends. For her last year of her degree she will be sharing a flat with 2 other girls, which will also be a whole new experience in cooking, cleaning and generally being responsible for one’s own livelihood. She’s a beautiful intelligent girl so I’m sure she’ll work it out!
This photo was taken just last week when we had lunch together for Melbourne Cup Day.

It’s all good.

starting on the Chrissy projects

I love this Christmas-time of year. I love everything about it: especially the general good vibes everyone has about making it a family ‘thing’, the getting together with friends and family, the social events, the ‘Christmas’ cooking, and especially the Christmas sewing and crafts and all sorts of little goodies to make!
I mentioned here a few weeks ago about this little birdie hanger that I bought at the Brisbane Quilt & Craft Show:

In my mind I’m classing it a Christmas project (why not?) and so far have completed the stitching on one little bird:

It still has to be put together yet of course. But I noted it is a little creased after all that scrunching that resulted from my stitching, so I employed a trick I learnt from a class I took from Karen Ruane earlier this year and damp-stretched it.

To do this I pinned it to a cork board, pulling it gently into shape and sprayed lightly with water- just enough to feel a little damp, not soaked! then let dry.
All the creases have disappeared and the stitching still sits up nicely from the background, not flattened like an iron would.

Birdie is nearly ready to fly!

Are you doing any Chrissy stitching?

what I’m working on…

While working on the goodies for the craft show I had to suspend my other projects, so it has been good to get back into working on them again. I have been working on this quilt top for about 18 months now, ever since starting it in a Kaffe Fassett workshop when he visited Toowoomba early 2011.

I did the workshop because I didn’t know whether I would ever again get the chance to do one with the ‘Master of Colour’, even though I didn’t really need to be starting another quilt top at the time. It was worked on for small periods of time in between other priorities. It is also a quilt top that needs lots of looking at on the design wall, rearranging here and there to ensure a balance between lights and darks.
A couple of months ago, I had got to the stage where the diamond blocks were joined into rows, and then the rows were left in a pile, all with little bits of paper denoting their row number.

At long last, this week I got to the rows and joined them all. Even with the row numbers marked on them, I had a few second thoughts ( I guess that should be second and third thoughts?) on the order, so back up on the wall they went with lots of consultation with the photos I had taken all those months ago. Thank goodness for digital cameras!
So this is the top in its current state with all the rows joined. I just have to decide on some backing, but most importantly how to quilt it!

It required some concentration and careful piecing to ensure the seams in each diagonal row matched. There were many hours of stitching in it, which gave me lots of time to think about sewing in general- about all those little things that we learn from the sheer hours spent feeding pieces into our sewing machine. A lot of little things that come from hours of practice, and often little things not worthy of a specific skill-name but just from the familiarity you get when spending a lot of time doing it.
A comment came to mind that I heard once about how tricky it can be to sew a triangle to a square and get the edges lined up properly, so that you get the little triangle point- the dog’s ear or bunny ears- protruding the exact length beyond the straight side of the square. In this quilt I had that situation a few times. I find it easiest to just make sure that where the triangle point extends past the square, it does so at the 1/4″ mark, i.e. by eye-balling it so the ‘valley’ occurs at the 1/4″ mark, like I’ve marked in these photos.

This next photo shows matching up 2 rows on the quilt top – the pin is at the ‘valley’ and this shows where two pieces each join at a different angle- as long as the the ‘ear’ is pointing up only a 1/4″ at its base, you know it will be correct when it is opened up.

It’s all good when the points of two angled rows match up:


I’m taking part in the Work In Progress post on Freshly Pieced!

felted flower quiltlet

This little quilt has had quite a few hours spent on it. I wanted to experiment with the needle felting machine and rather than just play with it, actually produce something worthwhile at the end. I was aiming for a watercolour impressionistic effect- where you could see the flower shapes but without distinct defined outlines.

I felted lots of different fibres and bits and bobs to try their effect. I started with silk tops; teasing and pulling the fibres and arranging in loose flower shapes. Bits of torn silk sari scraps, ribbons and threads were also added in. They all felted in okay, except I learnt after a few broken needles that the gold threads in the sari ribbons are a little tough!

I then did a lot of free-hand stitching; this stitching was what then gave some definition to the flowers as before that the felted parts looked a little like colour blobs. After doing that I realised there were gaps which needed more filling in, so that had to be done without felting too much over the top of the stitching and thereby covering it up. More stitching, plus stitching around the background areas in a big squiggly pattern completed it.
I added a border of hand-dyed blue/green fabric- the colour of which surprised me as I didn’t at first plan on that but it seemed to suit the piece the best. I also tried another new-to-me technique with the mitred corners on the border to make it resemble a frame.

The quilting of leaves on the borders was done free-hand, and it was bound with a gold batik.

I added little corners to the back for easy hanging.

This little quiltlet didn’t sell at the recent art and craft show but maybe one day it will find a home!

a sweet little improvised quilt

This is a little quilt that I recently finished – a quiltlet. I showed a few in-progress pictures in a recent post. It was made in an improvisational style, in that I basically made it up as I went along!

I started with the house block which I already had made – over time I have made a number of house blocks with the end-goal of eventually putting them together into a quilt. I make them in the ‘liberated style’ made popular by Gwen Marston, where the pieces are of uneven widths and sewn together at different angles, and using brightly coloured fabrics.

I then added to the house with other small blocks of various designs, working towards an undefined size, but a roughly a rectangle shape. As I added one set of blocks, there would be something else needed to eventually make straight sides.

I added some half-square triangles along the bottom, some wonky stars down one side and a ‘liberated’ tree on the other.

While I used lots of bright colours and didn’t have a particular colour palette in mind, I did have to keep checking on the range of values- to add some contrast with dark and light.

The bright green seemed a good fit for the borders as well as the light purple spot which was also repeated in the binding. I quilted it in an all-over free-hand design, a sort of squiggly pattern with the odd star and butterfly added in. It turned out a nice bright happy quiltlet, measuring 30″ by 17.5″, with a hanging sleeve on the back.