recent challenges

Creating a textile or mixed-media art postcard illustrating travel destinations of the world- this is the current challenge of Gatton Quilters.
The theme for October is Mexico. Continuing on with my theme of maps, I did this little map of the country. I used raw-edge applique with a machine button-hole as well as some free-motion machine stitching.

Karen - Mexico

Karen – Mexico


Here are a few others completed by the members of the art group:
Row 1, L-R: Marilyn, Marg, JanM; Row 2: JanK, Karen, Lyn; Row 3: Shirley, Trish

Row 1, L-R: Marilyn, Marg, JanM; Row 2: JanK, Karen, Lyn; Row 3: Shirley, Trish


All different styles as you can see, which is always the fun part of seeing what everyone comes up with.
Lyn

Lyn


Trish

Trish


And some ‘show and tell’ – Jan showed these lovely works at the meeting: I can’t resist a birdie!
Jan K

Jan K


Jan K

Jan K

That’s all I have this week!- I’m very busy with some long-arm quilting at the moment but hope to get back to my own work soon. Have a good week :)

it’s beginning to look like Christmas

I love seeing lots of handmade things at Christmas -time. I think it adds to the feeling of warmth and family, togetherness and keeping things basic and real. Most years I try to make a little something, or a couple of somethings, either for my own family or to give aways as gifts.
I made this little pear last year..
pear3
and this little hanging..
wednes1
and this little bird…
chrisbird3
This year’s bounty includes this little postcard I sent to my daughter, this blog’s namesake!, while she studied for her final exams…
birdpost1
birdpost2
I showed these little birds here last week, made for a friend…
bird2
This stitchery was made quite a few years ago but is pulled out with the tree and its decorations each Christmas..
fifthday1
and this ‘Christmas postcards’ hanging that my daughter and I made together many years ago..
Xmas-hanging
A shame we can only have them out for such a short time each year!

practising the free-motion

You know that old saying about the only way to find out how to do something is to just do it (I think it’s a saying or did I make it up?) Anyway, it’s one I’ve come to believe in more and more over the years. It’s very true about skills like free-hand quilting or stitching- to get any good at that requires tens of minutes and hours of just sitting down and doing it. It’s also very true about the associated skills that go hand-in-hand with any sewing on a machine, like really getting to know your machine, know what threads it ‘likes’ and ‘dislikes’, which thread is best handled by which needle, or what tension setting to have for a particular needle-thread combination or task that you’re doing.
Last year when I was preparing for a local craft fair, I was making a lot of fabric postcards, like these.

It was an excellent way to practise and play around with the settings on my machine, in particular really getting to understand how the tension worked. I could experiment on each little postcard: use different fabrics, different threads, and aim for different effects as it was only a small piece and not a large quilt top being adversely affected.

I changed threads as much as a dozen times a day, and I worked a lot of little foibles that my machine had. I have had my machine, a Bernina 440QE, for about 4 years and I have done a lot of sewing on it but I feel I know it a lot better now from the last 6 months than any time before that. I know when I can use the Stitch Regulator attachment, and when its better to just freehand stitch without it, and I’m more comfortable with the stitches it can do and how I can achieve certain effects.

I had great fun doing these postcards, and I often also make birthday cards the same way. Here is a card I did recently for a friend:

It didn’t take an awful lot of time but the end effect is lovely and colourful and a little bit unique!

While I’m sure that I still don’t know everything there is to know about my machine, I certainly know a lot more than I did not too long ago. I find consistent, regular practise is the key.

art and craft show adventure

The art and craft show has been and gone, and a learning experience it was for my first time. I took along three different items to sell: textile postcards, that could be used both for any occasion and for Christmas cards

mini quilted art pieces

and little wall hanging quilts.

This is my stall that was in a great position in the hall, right in the middle so I could observe people coming and going. It was interesting to see what caught people’s eyes, what types of things they were looking for, which items they picked up and looked at closely and which items they put back and left behind. Thankyou to all my lovely customers!

It was a little intimidating setting up my table while surrounded by stall-holders who obviously had done it many times before, and had a lot more stock than I did!

As I didn’t make a huge amount of sales, how much stock I had wasn’t a problem! but trying to guess that ahead of time was probably the main thing I worried about leading up to the show.

It was fun though, and got my name out there in connection with my quilting business- I also had some larger quilts there for display. Lots of lovely comments, as well, on my pieces and appreciation of the work involved in creating them.
Isn’t this one cute?!

postcards galore

I’m having a stall at the Art and Craft Show here in Gatton, this Friday 2 November and Saturday 3 November, so I’ve been busy making lots of things for it. I have been creating little pieces of quilt art, which I’m hoping will be popular. The Show will have lots of goodies on sale by lots of people who have all spent lots of time in creating them!
Most people have possible Christmas gifts on their mind when they are browsing, because it is lovely to be able to give a handmade gift, don’t you think?
Some of the items I’m making are textile postcards. These are little pieces of quilt art which can be used as a card to give, as well as be pinned up on a board for display. They can be written on the back and posted just as they are. I’ve done all sorts:

some are pieced with lots of bits, some might be appliqued

some might have paint, sketchy stitching and lots of embellishments,

some might have free-hand quilting

some are obviously Christmas cards

some can be used for other occasions

All of them are done in my style- a frayed edge here or there, bright colours, liberated and not too fussy. I hope you like them!

September holidays

We have had some really busy weeks lately, quite apart from the quilting festival. With the school holidays and university holidays we have had children coming and going, a few interstate trips, visits to the beach and just a little sewing fitting in here and there.
We have just come back from a couple of days at Mooloolaba on the Sunshine Coast which was beautiful as always. With my son not feeling the best, and therefore not over keen to go in the surf, it was a little more low key than usual so I did have time to sit and relax and do some hand sewing. It’s always a different feeling sitting and doing that in the middle of the morning, without feeling like you should be doing some housework or something else!

When my daughter was home from uni, she brought a lovely ball gown which needed its hem taken up, and of course Mum is the best person to do that, right? It was a lovely blue colour with folds and gathers, so I couldn’t resist taking some pictures of it.

Another one of my textile postcards: this is to the theme of Weaving.
I used some fabric given to me by a friend who brought back some lovely textile scraps from India. After weaving the background, I cut out the circular shape and re-positioned it, securing with extra stitching as well as kantha-like stitches over the surface. It was an experiment from a technique I learnt in an online class with Jude Hill from Spirit Cloth. It probably would have been more effective, that is the circular piece more noticeable, with a different choice of fabrics.
And, this beautiful day lily came out today- it only lasts a day or so, but oh so nice!

Back in fashion

This last week has been a little stressful when it comes to blogging! I – thinking I was doing the right thing- tried to update the software that I use for this blog but instead ran into a few problems. Hence, I haven’t posted anything for nearly a week. Don’t think I’ll be trying that again for awhile.

I have another textile postcard to show. This one was created for the theme ‘Fashion’.

The interesting thing about this postcard challenge was seeing the wide variety of interpretations that the participants brought to the challenge. The one word Fashion is quite broad and can be used in so many contexts.
My card portrays three little paper dolls that many of us would have made when children. We would cut them out of folded paper so that they were all joining hands, and we could make little dresses in whatever fashion we liked. The dolls here were made out of white scrim, appliqued down and free-hand stitched to the background. Each of the dolls thinks she is very fashionable in her own right!

Some long-arm quilting

I have been slowly getting some quilts in for my long-arm quilting business I started this year. Each quilt has naturally been very different and I’ve enjoyed using different patterns and techniques to enhance the quilts.This is a quilt I recently finished on the machine. Helen created it in lovely feminine colours for a special person, and as we are now in spring it really suits the season.

I quilted it free-hand with mainly an all-over pattern of leaves and scrolls, using a pink thread.

As the borders were in a striped fabric, I did squiggly lines with a little leaf shape scattered here and there, as well as a long scroll on the inner border.

The appliqued shapes were outline quilted.

I also have another textile postcard to show here, completed as part of a recent challenge with my local quilt group. This one was my interpretation of the theme of ‘Winter’, and in which I tried out the techniques of discharging the colour with the use of a decolourant.
The decolourant was applied to some hand-dyed fabric in the rough shapes of trees. Some black watercolour pencil was used to draw in some other trees on top of those paler patches and then it was free-hand quilted with black thread to resemble a line-drawing, and a little silver for the moon.
I just have to show these couple of photos of what is blooming in our garden at the moment, the beautiful Peace rose:

This following little flower is a bulb of some sort – I don’t know its name!- but I love the dusky pink and yellow colour of its petals.

Nearby Toowoomba is in its full glory at the moment, readying for the Carnival of Flowers, starting this coming weekend. There’s also a Quilt Show on display, which always has a fantastic collection of quilts. If you live close enough, pop up for a look!

5 things… I’ve been up to this week

Apart from the cleaning and cooking and watching my son play sport and playing with the puppy, here is a list of the top 5 things I’ve done in the past week.
1. On Tuesday I spent the day with a group of friends for a sewing get-together. About once a month we take turns visiting at each other’s place. All of us did hand-sewing in between chatting and laughing, as well as a beautiful morning tea provided by our host, K. A bonus is that we get to see each other’s latest projects, and K had so many lovely quilts to show us that she has made over the recent year or two. This photo below is my little wool applique hanging that I started in Sue Spargo’s workshop a few weeks ago. I crocheted the little flowers with cotton and a large hook to make the open loopy look.

2. On the long-arm quilter: I have been working on this quilt for a client. She chose an all-over pattern for this small quilt. Only in the early stages yet so I can’t show much!

3. I have been enrolled in an online class through the Quilt University (www.quiltuniversity.com ) called Inspired to Design. I have done quite a few classes this way, and it does open you up to new ideas and inspiration. This particular class is run over about 5- 6 weeks, and is offered by Elizabeth Barton, herself a great quilter. I particularly love the quilts she has made of cityscapes and buildings. You can see her work here: elizabethbarton.blogspot.com.au

This course I’m doing at the moment is all about designing our own art quilt; learning the basics, working on designs, learning to recognise what makes an art quilt, and so on. So far, we have been sketching and playing around with shapes, line and texture. This photo just shows one of my earlier sketches where I tried to play around with spirit people shapes. I don’t know where this will go yet.
This course has actually been hard work, because this is a new area for me. The brain cells are rustily turning!

4. I have been doing some more work on the grandbaby quilt a group of us are making for a friend’s first grandchild. I finished quilting it and started on the binding. While sitting and hand-sewing down the binding, I contemplated about the merits of hand-sewing the binding as in the traditional way,

or machine-sewing binding, which I have done on a few quilts. This photo below shows one I recently did- you sew the binding down first to the wrong side, turn it over to the front and then top-stitch it down, with the sewing showing on the back along the edge of the binding join.
front side
bottom side
I think a lot of quilters wouldn’t dream of using this method, but it is a lot faster and in the end does it really matter? I did think about whether to fully machine sew this binding but was reluctant to do so. I haven’t even worked out why I decide to do it one way or another on any quilt yet!
5. TCB- taking care of business. Why does it feel good when you get a few jobs out of the way or get caught up on appointments and check-ups etc? I have been to the tax accountant to get our tax returns done and got some advice on what I need to do for my own business. Sorting through papers and receipts for that takes up lots of time away from sewing. Our little dog Haley has been to the Vet to be spayed and has recovered well, so she and Chloe are nice and healthy and up to date with all that is needed for them.
Here is another one of my postcards to show you:

This one was created to the theme of ‘scraps’. I randomly sewed lots of fabric scraps on top of some pellon, just slivers and scraps of mainly smaller sizes. I then free-hand ‘drew’ with the sewing machine an outline of a city skyline in a black thread to resemble a penline. I named it “Scraps in the City” Ha!
So, once again I don’t know where the week went, but I was busy. It’s all good.

Postcard play


At our recent textile art exhibition, we had a section devoted to our Postcard Challenge. Each member of the Art Quilt group took part in the Challenge where we created a textile postcard to a different theme each month. It was an excellent way of experimenting with various techniques in surface design, quilting and embellishment. By only having a small size to deal with, it meant that we could experiment without worrying over the effect on the final appearance of a large quilt; great for trying out lots of “What if…..” ideas. At the end of the Challenge, we all stuck the postcards onto a black art canvas for some cohesion within the exhibition. The photo above is of my postcard collection.
I thought I might occasionally show here on the blog each of the postcards that I created. You’ll probably note that with these art pieces I tend to like finishes that are not completely neat and tidy- my cards often have threads dangling off them, raw edges, I don’t colour within the lines, etc. I like to embrace the ‘wabi sabi’ aesthetic of beauty within imperfection. That’s not to say I don’t and can’t create with precision and exactness where required; I just like the handmade look on some of my own things.
I made this postcard in response to the theme of “Found”.

I started with some dark fabric and painted it with gold fabric paint. It was then quilted in a grid pattern. I hand-embellished with lots of objects I found- found on one of my walks, found while looking on the ground for discarded bits and pieces or even found in the cupboards or drawers of my sewing room. They were each sewn down with a variety of threads.
At a recent meeting of Gatton Quilters, we had some more of our fractured pictures on show. Not all of the participants had brought in their piece so we didn’t have any completed pictures but here are some of the installments. This also is another way for us to practise different methods so once again I have been trying to vary the techniques I use.
Below is Lyn’s piece, beautifully done and it looks better than the original picture slice which is on the left:

Three other pieces of a different picture (you can see the theme this month was buildings):

(L to R: Trish, me, Shirley)
This month I coloured in the building with Inktense watercolour pencils and then free-motion sewed with black thread around all the outlines to give the appearance of a hand-drawn line.
The original photo:

I have to end with a photo of our little dogs today: Hayley the cheeky puppy on the right recovering well from her little operation this week and (annoying) playing with Chloe .