weekend away

I was fortunate to be able to have a quick weekend away last week, combining a visit with my son and visiting the Sydney Quilt Show. Needless to say, I had a great weekend!

with my son and a beautiful backdrop!

me with my son and a beautiful backdrop!

My son and his fiancee took me for a drive to Katoomba for a day, on what had been forecast to be extra cold with possibility of snow! We didnt see any snow, but caught some lovely views of the Blue Mountains, and enjoyed a cosy lunch at the Boiler House Cafe.
The three sisters- Blue Mountains

The three sisters- Blue Mountains

The Sydney Quilt Show was a great experience- certainly a lot to see, and I could have easily filled another day! They had a special guest from France- Cecile Franconie, an embroiderer. I wasn’t aware of her work before, but will now be looking for more examples of her beautiful stitching.
There were quite a few displays within the quilt show. One special display was of Japanese Boro works. I love these pieces, where scraps are sewn to scraps and over-laid with lots of big stitching.
And the display of quilts – so many beautiful quilts. Here are a few that caught my eye:
Deborah Louie - a Secret Garden

Deborah Louie

New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt  - Novacastrian Quilters

New Hexagon Millefiore Quilt – Novacastrian Quilters


Hope you are all doing lots of quilting!

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!

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.

Converging ideas

My interest in the technique of creating ‘Convergent quilts’ was rekindled after my recent trip to the quilt festival. This technique was devised by Ricky Tims some years ago now, and I loved the effect you can achieve with a short period of time and effort. This quilt that I also showed in another post is one of Ricky’s that he displayed at the festival:

Ricky Tims: Convergence Quilt

There are lots of variations, but you can basically start with just one piece of fabric that is multi-coloured, such as a hand-dyed, cut it into strips, re-arrange the strips and sew them back together again. I made this little quilt about 7 or 8 years ago and had it hanging in my office at work until earlier this year as a bright colourful addition to the walls.

From using one piece of fabric, you can move on to using a selection of fabrics, use the resulting pieced fabric as a background for applique, vary the look with different border treatments; the list is endless. I used the book ‘Ricky Tims’ Convergence Quilts’ published by C&T Publishing (2003), which has lots of lovely eye candy.
When I got home last week I had a play using the technique with a random selection of fabric scraps. I used fabric which I didn’t particularly like or thought I would ever use, thinking my feelings toward them would change! This is the result:

I don’t think it has turned out all that well? or maybe what I think is ugly fabric is another’s beauty. Maybe it could be used as the base for something else, e.g. applique something on top, or even cut it up and incorporate into another project. I’ll keep it in mind for now.

I have also been playing with a needle felting machine, just experimenting with wool scraps, ribbons, threads and bits and pieces to produce this:

Still more can be done to it and I’ll also add lots of free-hand stitching on top with coloured and shiny threads. Lots of possibilities beckon.

More in Adelaide…

One of the workshops I went to at the Machine Quilting Festival was with an American quilter Myrna Ficken. She was very friendly and personable, and like all that I saw, very knowledgeable about all matters related to quilting as well as generous in sharing her knowledge and experience. The workshop was about filling spaces with quilting: creating spaces where there weren’t any to begin with and creating freehand designs to fill those up. This is one of her quilts she had on display to demonstrate her style of quilting:

Myrna Ficken

and another:

Myrna Ficken

She showed how she can take a relatively straight-forward style of quilt and add in a whole other element to it by a creative use of quilting. This little sample shows a clever design to put into a large open area:

Myrna Ficken

There was lots to see and lots of inspiration!
While in Adelaide, we visited my cousin’s teddy bear shop, which is in the Regent Arcade in the city.

and I love this big bear with his sign out the front:

So, while I was there I couldn’t resist this sailor bear, seeing as I have a son in the Navy:

Isn’t he cute?!

My Adelaide trip

I’ve just got back from the Australian Machine Quilting Festival, which was held in Adelaide. The Festival was oriented towards machine quilters, both longarms and domestic machines. It was held over 5 days, today may be the last day but we came home yesterday. My sister came with me and we had a really great time, made even better by staying with our lovely aunt and uncle. They looked after us very well, even maybe spoilt us a little!
The highlight was a day long seminar on Friday given by Ricky Tims; in the photo on Ricky’s website we were sitting up towards the back . Even though it was a big theatre we could still see and hear clearly. He is an entertaining speaker, and like all of the presenters over the weekend very personable and welcoming, and very generous with the information and knowledge that they pass on.
Here are a couple of photos we took of his quilts:

Ricky Tims: Bohemian Rhapsody

Ricky Tims: Convergence Quilt

This photo shows a small quilt he had there displaying his Caveman style of quilting:

Ricky Tims

and this shows the back of that quilt- fantastic in its own right. I took the photo mainly to show the free-style quilting:

Ricky Tims

And this is my sister in front of the Rhapsody quilt:

Right now, I have unpacking to do and lots to digest from the workshops we went to and the sights we saw. I’ll hopefully put some more photos here over the next few days.