challenges and competitions

I showed my little purple challenge quilt here last week.

Purple Circles- Karen Mundt

Purple Circles- Karen Mundt

At our monthly meeting of Gatton Quilters, some other members also brought along their quilts. There were some great ideas and inspired thinking to create a quilt using only the one colour.
Jan M has been using this challenge to try out some pieced mini quilt blocks. This is her purple block, in which I think she has used the varying fabrics to great effect:
These little quilts were by: Tricia K,
and Jan K:
Lyn’s is a work in progress:
Aren’t they all beautiful in their purple lusciousness!!

We also had Jan K showing us how to use various products like lutrador, heat distressable tissue, angelina fibres and a heat gun to make some beads:

And another thing- voting has started over on the Bloggers Quilt festival. I mentioned last week about entering two quilts into it. The Lollipop Trees quilt is in the Applique section- you can click on here to vote. Once you decide on the quilt you like, click on the little heart in the corner to vote. Easy!

Karen Mundt-Lollipop Trees

Karen Mundt-Lollipop Trees

and this one in the Modern category. Go here to vote. ;)
Have a good week!

blogger’s quilt festival

It’s the time of the year when the Blogger’s Quilt Festival is on over at Amy’s Creative Side blog. It’s a quilt festival for those who can’t get to the festivals in person, instead you can tour around the blogs of all the entrants looking at their amazing quilts. There are also opportunities for prizes so don’t forget to take a look.
I have entered two quilts. The first is this Lollipop Trees quilt, made to the pattern of Kim McLean and using mainly Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Karen Mundt-Lollipop Trees

Karen Mundt-Lollipop Trees

I first showed the quilt here.
I’m entering it in the applique section. It was a big quilt for me to make and the most applique I had ever done on a quilt.
My second entry is going in to the Modern category. It’s this quilt I made using one of the score’s from Sherri Lyn Wood’s Improvisational Quilts Handbook, shown on the blog here.
I started with a flying geese block and experimented and improvised, using hand-dyed fabrics and stripes and raw-edged piecing.
I’m not sure what exactly is modern- is anyone?! But it fits the commonly-accepted criteria, so that’s what I’m going with!

Lollypop Trees Quilt- finished

Finishing a quilt after working on it for some time, even years, brings with it some happiness at the completion but also a little sense of loss when it goes off to its new home. I finally finished the Lollypop Trees quilt for my daughter that I have been working on for nearly four years. I was glad that I had a timeframe to work towards- in this case it was for her 21st birthday- but even though I overshot that by a year (!) if I didn’t have a specific reason for getting it finished, it may still be in the UFO pile.
I started this quilt because I wanted to do some applique- my favourite types of quilts tend to be pieced quilts, but also because I saw this quilt online somewhere and fell in love with it. I loved all the colours and mix of patterns and textures, and it used Kaffe Fasset fabrics which I also love to use.
So, here it is finished. I quilted it on my longarm in a simple pattern because I wanted the applique blocks to be the focus.
I used a gold-coloured thread on most of the background and some monofilament thread on the applique trees. This was a difficult quilt for which to work out what would look best. I ideally would have liked to avoid quilting on the applique altogether but because that would have meant a large proportion of the quilt surface without any quilting on it, that wasn’t possible. So I used the monofilament thread to quilt an outline shape inside the larger leaves and circles, and just quilted around other pieces so the applique would pop.
The backing fabric was also a Kaffe fabric.
This quilt measures 94″ by 94″. It was so big that even hanging it on the clothesline, wound up to the highest it would go, didn’t lift it off the ground!
My daughter took it home with her on the weekend. It was a long haul to get it finished, and I’m a little sad to see it go, but also very happy that I got to the end!

getting caught up..

Just a catch-up time, the last week or so here at Little Birdie. I don’t have any new projects to show, but just a few photos to show what has been occupying my time!
On my spider-web quilt which I finished a couple of months ago, I realised that I hadn’t added a hanging sleeve, so thought I better get on that:
And also a label – I always spend too much time thinking of what to put on it!
Of course, then there is the lollypop quilt, which is in its final throes. The quilting is finished, so I have then tackled the trimming
and making the binding for it. I decided to join together lots of lengths cut from the same bright fabrics used in the blocks. All joined together to make a length to fit around this huge 94″ square quilt.
The binding just has to be sewn on, and then I’ll have to put some thought into its label too!
And another thing I’be been working on is some drawing and watercolour painting – here is a sketch of our last roses from the garden before the bushes were pruned last week.
I find sketching is good practise for really looking at things- at their proportions, their colour values in different light- and mixing paints to get the right hue also makes you really think about colour!
So, what have you been working on?!

weekly update

What I’ve been sewing lately: besides some quilts I have been machine-quilting on my longarm (other people’s quilts, sadly not my own!)….

I am working on the next step for the Lollypop Trees quilt. Even though I’ve finished all the applique blocks, including the little ones for the borders, I now have to cut up hundreds of 2.5″ squares, and lots of rectangles, for the sashings!
I want to include as many of the fabrics that I used in the blocks, and in all different combinations, so as tempting as it is to cut and sew these together in strips and then cross-cut, I’m taking the longer route and actually cutting all those little puppies and sewing them separately :)
I’m even cutting what I can from all the odd little scraps that are left over just to include all the fabrics..
It can be a little tiring standing and cutting non-stop so I do a few at a time; three hundred done, another couple to go!
A couple of the finished Lollypop tree blocks:
Just keep cutting, just keep cutting…..

traipsing around

Between a visit to Melbourne and then home for Easter with visiting relatives, I’ve had a very busy time of late.

Melbourne skyline from the 34th floor

a rainy Melbourne skyline from the 34th floor

Melbourne was a whirlwind of shopping and sight-seeing, as well as visiting the Australasian Quilt Conference. I saw some beautiful quilts on display…
top left: "Rings & Roses" by Janet Treen, NSW, winner National Quilt award

top left: “Rings & Roses” by Janet Treen, NSW, winner National Quilt award

(unfortunately I didn’t get the names of the other quilt makers in this photo).

…did a little shopping for fabrics and bits and pieces, and attended a talk by Reece Scannell on colour. I didn’t attend a workshop this time, but we certainly managed to fill in a whole day!

We went on a winery tour and tasted some beautiful Australian wines, and even found this giraffe in the middle of the city!
Deakin Building, Federation Square

Whenever I go away I always take a little sewing with me to fill in those odd spare spots of time, so this time I took the last of the little border blocks from the Lollipop Trees quilt that I have been working away at for some time. And I got them all finished!! so now the quilt top can be assembled. Can’t wait to see it all together. These are the last of those little blocks:

wonky blocks

I always have a few projects on the go so that I can just pick up whichever one I feel like progressing and do a little work on it. This weekend I felt like doing some straight machine piecing, which doesn’t take too much thinking and you can see some results quickly.
The Aurifil monthly block program which I have joined in with this year is due for March, so I decided to do that. The block is just a simple one called ‘Borders’ but really just a log cabin variation.
I’ve made mine a little differently by making it in an improvisational-style. I cut the strips free-hand without a ruler and made them all different widths.
The blocks have a wonky feel to them! and I’ve made them in the fabrics for the medallion quilt I started last year- my back-burner project that patiently waits for any new additions.
I also made them smaller than the provided pattern was for, so I actually made three of them:
I also have some more little lollipop border blocks to show- I’m knocking them off one-by-one and can see the end in sight!

works in progress and completed

This completed stitched “city scene” is one I’ve been working on for awhile, for the cover of my fabric journal.
The journal was a project that my local art quilt groups worked on last year and is now at the stage of compiling and finishing off. I have shown pictures of this cover page here before in its various stages of completion, but now it is finally finished…
and I can now make it into the front cover by giving it a backing and some sort of stability to support it in its role as the cover.
It was made with lots of re-purposed scraps of fabric and bits and pieces, and
rough edges and lots of hand stitching
I can now put all the pages of the journal together and work out what type of binding I’ll use.

What else I’ve been working on: some more little blocks for the border section of the Lollipop Trees quilt top:
And as a sort of Postscript to last week’s blog post of the bleach dyeing that we experimented with, here is an interesting effect that has shown itself over time… I used some “Discolourant” on one piece of fabric that was hand-dyed in a dark plum colour. I brushed some of it on the fabric with an old toothbrush and left it to dry as per the instructions. This was the result later that afternoon after it had dried: the brushed marks are a golden colour-
and then the next day, this was what that same piece of fabric looked like:
The brushed marks have turned to a green (while the rest is still a plum colour, which perhaps doesn’t show that well in this photo)
Now that’s cool!
I’m linking up here to Works In Progress Wednesday- lots of good projects to look at over there!

how to… sew at the cricket

It is an acquired skill to be able to sew with only your own lap to serve as a table and sewing basket all-in-one. Watching junior cricket means I usually take along some sewing to while away the time, to take a stich here and there when youngest son is not actually bowling or batting which would require more attention.. I’m sure a lot of you have been in the same place at one time or another, whether it be cricket, or soccer, or whatever.
And so I found myself today, sitting in a a folding chair, placed strategically in the shade, watching Under-16 cricket, as you do on a Sunday afternoon.
I took along more of the little border blocks that I am STILL working on for the Lollipop trees quilt. The sun was shining but the wind was also blowing, so a fine sense of control was needed.
My portable sewing bag was on the ground next to the chair; my little zippered pouch with thread and scissors and needles open for easy access. I have all the little applique pieces already prepared in a plastic bag along with the background blocks. These plus the piece I’m working on sit in my lap, and hopefully I don’t drop any pieces while ‘auditioning’ each piece for a block.
I use a silk thread for these applique blocks, which gives a good finish because the thread just ‘sinks’ into the fabric making it almost impossible to see in the finished piece. However silk thread is also so fine that the breeze can grab hold and blow it around. I’ve perfected the art of cutting off a length from the reel, holding the reel in my left hand pulling the thread out by the right length, pinching it with two fingers from the left hand with the reel cupped in the palm then snipping with the scissors held in the right hand, never letting go of any piece lest the wind catch it and fly it away.
The reel gets dropped down in the bag to my left on the ground, still holding on to the length of thread, and now comes the delicate operation of threading the fine thread into the needle with a small eye.
This also has to be done in the wind, and in the shade while wearing sunglasses. Is it any wonder I may swear under my breath a little if the needle becomes unthread while sewing, which does happen quite often with silk thread if one’s hands get tangled in the thread when pulling it through the fabric, with the piece threatening to fly away at any minute with the next gust of wind.
I take a stitch or two, in between each ball bowled or each stroke of the bat, putting down the piece completely when a certain bowler comes to the crease. I don’t want to miss that bowl-and-catch.
I get maybe one block done in the afternoon- I guess that’s one more block to add to the growing pile. I am moving forward with this quilt, block by block.

more lollipops

Keeping inside out of the heat has meant lots of time to do some stitching, which I am quite happy about! It’s so crazy that while we have over 40* heat here in Queensland, over in New York they are having below zero weather and snow storms. Thank goodness for air con (and solar panels!), no matter what extreme.
I’ve been able to catch up on some more little blocks for the Lollipop Trees quilt that has been my project for the last 2 years, utlising mainly Kaffe Fassett fabrics. Here is another of the large blocks that have been completed:
and here are the little blocks that form the border around those large blocks:
Some of these little blocks are only 4″ square,
some will be 4*6″,
and some will be 6*8″
The pattern gave instructions to cut these smaller squares with quite a bit of spare fabric that will end up being trimmed off; a fact I have to keep in mind when appliqueing the pieces on. I’ve already had to reverse-sew a few leaves to bring them back within the ‘invisible’ outline of the block. At least though, being small, these blocks are quick to do so I’m hoping I’ll get throght them fairly quickly!