the local quilt group

We had a fun day on the weekend playing with our soldering irons and fabric- melting and fusing and experimenting with mark-making to try out lots of ‘What If?’ questions.
Last week I showed the piece I was preparing:
I used the iron to melt away all the areas of the top piece of organza in between the stitching lines, to reveal the randomly-placed bits and pieces underneath:
It now needs lots of stitching!
Everyone had fun playing with a myriad of fabrics and felts:
with some interesting results:



Jan M

Jan M

L2 Lyn

I especially liked the charred-looking lines produced on this cream fabric:
There were also some members sharing their recent finishes

Kay- stained glass quilt

Kay- stained glass quilt



Marilyn- the Sashiko queen!

Marilyn- the Sashiko queen!

Some more results from last month’s ‘Green’ challenge:

L-Lyn    R- Jan K

L-Lyn R- Jan K

and Meryl’s Recycled challenge piece:


Lots of busy people!

having a play..

I spent part of today playing with my solder iron, burning holes and marks into fabric scraps. We’re having an experimental play day on Saturday at Gatton Quilters, so I thought it would be a good idea reacquainting myself with this handy tool.
When working with this iron, some safety precautions are needed: a stand or a terracotta pot with its own drainage hole is good for standing the iron in between uses;I use a sheet of glass as my working space, and an old oven tray to rest it all on. It’s a good idea to use these irons outside or with a respirator mask in case you are sensitive to the fumes.
To work out what you can do with one of these is really a matter of just playing and experimenting. I’ve got lots of scraps of man-made materials as these will melt easily at the touch of the iron.
You can make marks on fabric and fuse some fabrics to felt such as seen here…
make holes of all different shapes and sizes:
here I burned the flower out of this fabric, and then..
fused it to this piece of felt..
I burned along the edge of this piece which gives it a type of beaded edge:
and cut this piece of gauze and fused it to the white felt:
While thinking about what I might ‘play’ with on the weekend, I had a look through my copies of ‘Quilting Arts’ magazines and found an article by Fay Maxwell from the Spring 2005 issue:
It reminded me that I had some painted polyester pieces from another play day- I had experimented with some paints- DynaFlow by Jacquard and Liquitex Ink, to make these pieces:
and thought I could put them to good use here.
I chopped up lots of fabric bits and pieces and placed them on some batting. The article advised to use a painted piece of wool but I didn’t have any of that and didn’t want to stop and paint some and then wait for it to dry.
I then covered that with a piece of the painted polyester..
and did some all-over random stitching to secure it down.
This piece is now ready to ‘attack’ with the soldering iron, melting and burning randomly over the surface, deeper in some parts than others to reveal a – hopefully- lovely colourful unique piece of fabric. I’ll let you know next week how it turns out!

odds and ends

One thing I love about Christmas- among many things- is th eopportunity to handcraft little goodies to give as gifts. Little hand-made things don’t take a long time and they have a little something special about them.
These little fellows are to hang in a tree, or just a hook or nail to briighten up the place for Christmas.
There’s no pattern for them; I hand stitched a variety of stitches in bright-coloured wool thread on the bright green felt.
Then just cut the shape out- I like birds!-, add in a loop of ribbon and some stuffing, then close with black free-motion stitching to add to the naive look.
And on another thing I’m working on, I figured out something that was interesting. This is not really rocket science, but it has added to my background knowledge on how my machine works with different threads.
If you were stitching a line that you wanted to stop and turn a right-angle- don’t you stop with the needle in, lift the presser foot, turn the work, put foot back down and continue stitching to get the perfect right-angle? Well I did that. but kept getting this:
when I wanted this:
This was straight stitching- feed-dogs were up and with a walking-foot. I tried it a few times over and over on some scrap, but still the same
Now I know to look at it, you think it is a tension problem, but the straight stitching looked to have perfect tension; the top thread and the bottom thread were meeting togther in the formation of the stitch. But as soon as I tried to turn a corner, the top thread was pulling up the bobbin thread.
So after fiddling around trying this and that, I figured I would have to loosen the top tension after all. I loosened it to about 2 (Auto is 4 on my Bernina), and there it was: worked fine! Happy now.
It must have been because the thread I was using was an embroidery-weight thread with a sheen to it, not a standard cotton, and while my machine seemed to be sewing beautifully on the straight line, once we got to the corner was a different matter!
And just one last thing to show- this work is by Meryl, from Gatton Quilters. A lovely piece that she designed herself to utilise some beautiful Liberty fabrics- I love how she has used the small print for the background.
Hope you have had a good weekend!

wool applique- a vase

A little quilt I finally got finished at our quilt retreat last weekend was this wool applique picture:
You might remember when I’ve shown progress photos along the way here and here. I started it last year in a workshop with Sue Spargo when she was last in Australia. It has been a project that I’ve loved doing, working with wool is lovely because it is nice to handle, easy to sew- don’t have to worry about turning under seam allowances, and wool comes in great bright colours as well!
The workshop was mainly to show us the many different stitches you can use and to give ideas on how to vary them for different effects, as well as an intro into a luscious variety of wool threads that are available. We chose which flower shapes we would use, and where to place them and which stitches to use where. Lots of our own creative input.
On the weekend, all I had left to do was to sandwich the quilt and quilt and bind it. I did some free-hand quilting, using a variegated thread…
with some leaves around the vase..
and then bound it using the same hand-dyed purple fabric as in the small border. I machine-sewed the binding on (instead of turning over and hand-sewing it down)- a technique I’ve been using more and more with smaller quilts and wall-hangings.
I am very happy with it- it turned out well!

bits and pieces

I don’t have much in the way of finished items for show this week. I’ve been doing little bits here and there, trying to progress a few different projects.
I finally worked out what border to put on my wool applique piece, for which I finished the embellishing some weeks ago.

Following a suggestion, I am making a saw-tooth border. First I’ll put a narrow strip of purple hand-dyed fabric, then the small half-square triangle blocks made of some bright green fabrics. I think that will pick up on the touches of green in the wools and give it some lightness.

I’ve also been sewing a few more New York Beauty blocks for an on-going project which will have lots of these blocks of all varying sizes, playing on the black and white theme with bursts of colour. (Sorry about the threads in the photo!)

And.. I have been sewing the blocks of the My Favourite Block Quiltalong- here is the collection of the alternate colour-way that I’m doing alongside the bright scrappy colours shown the other day. I will be posting the block that I have designed for this Quiltalong here on the blog on Tuesday.

And.. and.. here’s what’s come out of our garden this week, including the sweet little pineapple!

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!

a pear for day one

I thought it would be fun to do a little photo lead-up to Christmas; a sort of twist on the Twelve Days of Christmas, only instead of Day One being Christmas Day as it is traditionally, I’m starting today and therefore finishing on Christmas Eve.
It will just be a photo or two of Christmas happenings in my home.
So today for my first day of Christmas, instead of a partridge in a pear tree, I have a pear>

I recently made this little pear, from a pattern in a magazine (original post on it here). I’m not sure it is the best-shaped pear around! but I followed the pattern exactly and this is what I got.

Made out of two shades of green wool felt and hand-embroidered with cream floss in a design I made up as I went along.
And a cute little aside: the stand it is on belonged to my mother. Dad made it for her years ago, to use for displaying her little bonsaii trees.

Here is a link to Work In Progress Wednesday on the Freshly Pieced website.

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!

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.