wool applique… where I’m up to

Last year I started this wool applique project in a class with Sue Spargo, and showed progress photos back in September here.
Well, I’m happy to say that I am now almost finished it! Yay! Here it is:

I’m just finishing off couching some yarn around the edge of the vase and then I have to think about what borders I might add to it, or otherwise finish the edges.I’m thinking of adding a border of some type of patterned fabric (but what?…) Any ideas? It will then just need backing and some quilting in the background areas.
Here are a few close-up shots.

I embroidered the vase instead of appliqueing it as others have done, trying to emulate those old ceramic vases with scenes drawn on them:

and I had to add a little birdie!

This has been a really enjoyable project; the wool felt has a lovely feel in your hands and is easy to sew, and you have lots of fun playing with embellishments and yarns and threads to achieve so many different effects. I could go on adding lots more if I wanted- more leaves and more stitching all over it, but that could continue indefinitely! so I’ve decided this is fine just as it is.
I’m linking in here to Freshly Pieced’s ‘Work in Progress’ day- lots of lovely work to see!

free-motion quilting

Never has a poem been so apt: this wide brown land of ours…… a land of sweeping plains, of ragged mountain ranges, of droughts and flooding rains. Dorothea Mackella got it so right. This Australia Day weekend has been one of non-stop rain, flooding rivers and wild and windy coastlines, and has certainly brought back many memories of the flooding we received here just 2 years ago. I live just 5 minutes from Grantham, the town that was so severely flooded in early 2011, and here again it is undergoing a similar experience.
To think that just a few days ago the view from my back door was this:

the grass was brown and dry and crunchy underfoot and we hoped the rain clouds would bring some much needed rain.
Today, this is the view:

green grass shoots already pointing their heads up and water puddled everywhere.

In my sewing room over the last few days I have been quilting on my longarm machine this beauty:

Bev has made a lovely big quilt in colours of greens, pinks, reds, yellows and purples and did some extensive handwork on the applique and stitchery blocks:

She asked me to quilt all over the borders and the green sashing, but to leave the applique blocks so they stand on their own.

I used a green thread and free-hand quilted a continuous swirling line of leaves and tendrils, flowers and butterflies around the blocks.
The backing was a cream self-patterned fabric, although it looks a little paler in this photo below. We both were happy with how it turned out!

quilting companions

When surfing around the ‘net, looking at quilt blogs and the like, I often see photos of people who quilt and sew with companions in their sewing room, lots of 4-legged companions. I also have those- two dogs that like to come in for a visit every now and then.
Haley, the young and energetic black Kelpie-cross and

Chloe, the little old chihuahua, who just tolerates Haley hanging around.

They like to have a sniff around, check out the kitchen floor for crumbs and then collapse on the floor for a rest while they keep me company.
This morning our fire alarms started playing up, so while we tried to stop the noise, Haley was a little concerned at the racket and was kept very busy pacing through the house and following Dad around while he checked them out. So when that was over, she was very tired and of course had to have a rest right here:

But, I also have other unique sewing companions. We have two big green frogs that live outside somewhere (don’t know where they disappear to but as long as they stay outside…) If I am sewing at night, I often see them on one of my windows, probably helping themselves to the insects. When it rained yesterday after many weeks of hot dry conditions, this old ‘Boofhead’, as we’ve named him, had to try out the water, so he went straight to the source:

He is sitting directly under the water as it flows from the gutters!

And a sneaky look at the quilt I have on my longarm machine at the moment.

See the little scissors on a chain in the corner of the photo- they were given to me by a quilting friend at Christmas- aren’t they cute!

spiderwebs everywhere

I don’t know where the time gets to. I’d like to give an update here on what progress I’ve made on different projects but it sometimes seems, when I do so, that I’m talking about the same quilt many times over. But to be realistic, I can’t be starting a brand new quilt every week now, can I? And I do sometimes take a long time to get one finished so it is inevitable that I show progress on the same quilt here on this blog at least a few times. (This is me talking to myself.)
So that now I have reassured myself that it’s okay to – once again- mention my spiderweb quilt, I’ll get on with showing where I am up to with it!

Here is a previous blog post.
I finally finished cutting the strippy triangles and the black kite shapes for in-between and arranged them on the design wall.
Now I had to decide on how to arrange them: they could be either with a part-web up in the outer corners, like this:

or with the black pieces in the corners, like this:

I decided I liked this second arrangement better, because they would lead into black borders a little better. Next to consider was the question of whether I wanted to have half-webs along each of the sides..

If I didn’t, I would have to make more strippy triangles to complete those webs, and have them surroundered by more of the black.
I only wanted to make the quilt to have about 3 rows of ‘spiderwebs’, and if I now am going to contemplate completing those webs, I would have to sew more strips together and cut more triangles. You can guess where I’m going here- I’m a little bit over sewing strips and cutting triangles, so I spent a lot of time looking at it and trying to justify in my mind that half-webs would look okay.
No, they wouldn’t. So it’s back to cutting and sewing more strips together to make another 48 triangles.
I’m onto it.

I’m linking up to Freshly Pieced’s blog with Work-In-Progress Wednesday- have a look at others and what they are up to.

my first blocks for the Quilt Along

I’ve made a couple of blocks for the Quilt Along called “My Favourite Block”. I thought it would be fun to take part in this and utilise more of my scraps- at least as much as I can! Blocks can be made in their 6″ or 12″ version, so I’ve started doing one of each, sometimes in two different colourways just to experiment.
The first block is a Log Cabin, so I got out all my scrappy strips and started with a solid middle square. I thought I might keep the middle in a solid colour as a constant through all the blocks. This is a courthouse steps setting. These three blocks were my first attempt, and I didn’t really like them.

I had tried to keep lights and darks on different sides but it seemed like I was losing the effect with the variety of fabrics, so…
I did another one, this time using 2 strips of each fabric, alternating the darks and lights.

The effect is more noticeable, but the funny thing is, when I put it up against the other blocks and my eyes went from one to the other, the first blocks started looking alright after all! I may still be able to work with them.
They might live another day yet..

The next design in the QAL is the ‘Road to Oklahoma’ block. The first one is using the multi-coloured fabrics in a 12″ version

and this one is the 6″ version using a controlled set of fabrics.

This is a quick block to make. I can see by keeping up and doing each block as it gets posted, it won’t take long to get a quilt made. If you would like to join in the My Favourite Block Quilt Along, just click on the square button over there in my right sidebar and have a look!

progressing my diamonds quilt

I have started quilting my bordered diamonds quilt; you might remember from last year that I had at long last finished the top. This is it up on the design wall.

I like to drape the quilt-top over the bars of my long-arm machine for a day or two as I think it over in my mind to come up with the quilting design. That way, it is there in front of me whenever I go into my sewing room and I glance at it as I go past. I look at it when I’m sitting in my corner chair having a coffee, looking through magazines for inspiration and ideas.

For this one, I didn’t want to have too much quilting, because the emphasis is on the many and varied colourful fabrics, and too much quilting could be time wasted. I decided to do a little -in-the-ditch around the inside borders of the diamonds and a diagonally down through the rows, and then a free-hand squiggle inside each diamond.

I chose a mid-blue thread to quilt it with- being so multi-coloured can be tricky when choosing the thread colour but overall this top seemed to have more blue than most of the others, plus it just looked right, and plus the backing fabric has a blue design on it.

The backing is a Kaffe Fassett fabric, even though it’s not like his other large-prints, and also is probably from an early collection- I’ve had it for a few years so can’t remember now!

This link is to the Freshly Pieced website where lots of other quilters have their works-in-progress to show- take a little minute to have a look!

And another thing: don’t forget the ‘Favourite Block Quilt-along’ which is starting this week from the Persimon Dreams website- you can click on the square over to the right to find out all about it. I am contributing a block to it in February, and am also going to sew each block that is presented weekly by other designers. A block a week can’t be too hard to keep up with, right?

playing with paint

Sunday was another really hot day here and spent mainly inside with the air-con, so I decided to have a play with some fabric paints. Painting on fabric and embellishing with different techniques is something I’ve long been interested in, but don’t actually do that often. Not sure why- probably just because of the thought of getting the supplies out and cleaning up afterwards, but also I think because I have a tendency to mainly do something for a particular purpose, and not just to have a play and experiment. I think that is a legacy from always having to fit my quilting and art around work, and with limited short periods of time that I could use, I had to use it efficiently as possible.

So anyway, I’m trying to rectify that mind-set, and got the paints out, and the brushes and the water and the stamps and had a go!
The little house stamp is one I made last year in a workshop with Lisa Walton. I used fabric paint mixed with a little textile medium and painted it on to the stamp with a brush. If I was intending to do a lot I would have used a roller to roll the paint on to the stamp.

I just used some calico, and in this house below, brushed on some darker paint across the lower part- I like that effect of varying the shades within the one stamp mixed with the ‘swipe’ marks of the brush. I added the gold on later.

I stamped it on to some old fabric left from some dressmaking; perhaps it might make its way into a street scene one day.
The purple part of the fabric directly above the houses looks like volcano lava flowing down?

I’ve had this little fleur-de-lis stamp in my cupboard for years so tried it too.

First by itself on some calico and also in a row. The looked a bit boring in a row by themselves so I got out some gold paint and swiped a little on with the brush.

So even though I still had to clean up afterwards, it felt good to have a play- these bits will come in handy for some future art quilt projects!

anyone like to join in a quilt-along?

I am joining in with a Quilt Along- not only taking part in it but I will also be designing a block for it. Excitement!

It is called ‘My Favourite Block Quilt-Along” and the idea is that you can join in and make your own blocks, with a different block designer each time. It is ideal for using up fabric scraps- go to Persimon Dreams website who is the host for this, and have a look at some of the quilts made last year.
It’s also a great way to practise different block designs and techniques, and when you are making one block at a time, before you know it you have enough for a quilt. You don’t even have to do every block if you don’t want to, or you may decide to do multiples of a copy that you really like.
Each block will be given in two sizes- either 12″ finished or 6″ finished. Here is a little hint to what I will be giving: it involves lots of strips- (or maybe not!)

Below is the list of blocks and designers- it starts next Tuesday January 15th and I’ll be giving mine on February 26th. There will be a Flickr group where you can post photos online of your blocks as you make them and look at how others have created their own.
In this blog’s sidebar I have a ‘button’ that you can click on to go straight to the home of the Quilt Along.

My Favorite Block Quilt Along
Below is the schedule of blocks and designers for the ‘My Favorite Block Quilt Along.’
Block 1: Tuesday, January 15th – Diane from Lapacek’s Orchard with a Log Cabin Block
Block 2: Thursday, January 17th – Amy from Amy’s Creative Side
Block 3: Tuesday, January 29th – I’m A Ginger Monkey with the Churn Dash Block
Block 4: Thursday, January 31st – Pamela of PamelaQuilts
Block 5: Tuesday, February 12th – Bea from Bea Quilter with an Owl Block
Block 6: Thursday, February 14th – Pam of For Quilts Sake with a Heart Block
Block 7: Tuesday, February 26th – Karen from Little Birdie Quilting with a Leaf block
Block 8: Thursday, February 28th – Shanna of Fiber of All Sorts
Block 9: Tuesday, March 12th – Kim of Persimon Dreams
Block 10: Thursday, March 14th – Shannon of Fabrics N Quilts with an original block
Block 11: Tuesday, March 26th – Mishka of Quilting Gallery with the Quartered Star
Block 12: Thursday, March 28th – Jane of Quilt Jane with an original block
Block 13: Tuesday, April 2nd – Shelly of Prairie Moon Quilts with Missouri Star Block
Block 14: Thursday, April 4th – Soma of Whims and Fancies
Block 15: Tuesday, April 9th – Kym of FabricFascination
Block 16: Thursday, April 11th – Dawn of Spring Water Designs
Block 17: Tuesday, April 16th – Laurie
Block 18: Thursday, April 18th – Sara of Army Quilting with a Yankee Puzzle Block
Block 19: Tuesday, April 23rd – Pat Sloan, The Voice of Quilting with an original applique block
Block 20: Thursday, April 25th – Melissa of Sew Bittersweet Designs

improvisational quilting

I have quite a few quilting projects happening this year; they’re all exciting and promise to be lots of fun. One I’m hoping to be involved in is the Improvi-Robin, organised by Stephanie from the Venus deHilo website. Improvi-Robin is a round robin group quilting project. The focus is on creative play through improvisational and liberated piecing with what we find in our scrap and “orphans and extras” bins. It means there are no patterns or instructions; you just improvise and make up something that you think will suit each block as you see it. Each participating quilter creates a starting block, and swaps with other “robins” to add to a different work-in-progress each month.
You can have a look at what was created last year on this page

On a smaller scale is this little quilt I made last year:

I started with the house block and made up other blocks to add to it, improvising as I went along and using other little blocks I had left over from other projects plus scraps and fabrics already in my stash.

At the end of each round, pictures will be shared on the Improvi-Robin flickr group.
Groups will be formed of 5-7 people, with one month to complete each round. That means we’ll be piecing and swapping for 6 or 7 months, then you’ll have the rest of the year to add to and finish the top you get back from your round robin partners. Stephanie ran the first season of this last year, and I’m hoping there will be international participants this year, if there is enough to form a group.
If we can get enough people in Australia who would like to join in to make a group then we won’t have the high cost of overseas postage for the blocks each month. If you are interested go to Venus de Hilo and have a look. She is hoping to hear from people by the 14th January.

a cute little deer

This is my cute little deer; sewn over the Christmas period and just a little late after the fact!

He is finished now, although I do wonder whether anything is ever ‘finished': I could do a lot more hand-stitching on it, but other things are beckoning so I think that’s good and enough.

The background cloth is an old linen I found at an Op shop and all of the various bits and pieces are either scraps left from other sewing projects or little fabric bits gifted to me by a friend who travelled to India a few years back (thanks Juliet!)

The cloth is done in the tradition of Jude Hill and her Spirit Cloth teachings. A lot different to my usual bright coloured quilts!