shades of purple

The challenge for the art quilt group I belong to was to make a 6inch quiltlet using only two colours- for January it was purple and yellow, and for February it was purple and white.This is the first one:

Karen --purple lotus

Karen –purple lotus

These small pieces are an excellent way of playing and experimenting- not just with a design restricted to two colours, but also techniques and materials. I’ve tried to vary all of these in each month’s piece that I’ve made. I had use of a needle felting machine over the Christmas period so thought I would have a play with it. I used scraps of jewel-coloured sari silk and wool roving which I tore up into bits and laid over a piece of soft wool felt as the background. It probably doesn’t look overly recognisable, but the look I was going for was a lotus flower (!).
Varieties of purple pieces were felted down over an outline of petals, with yellow silk for the middle. I did try to do some shading, making some petal edges a different shade, but then added on afterwards some small pieces of torn cotton fabric to the edges for further emphasis. I did lots of free-motion stitching over the flower itself, and some scribble-stitching around the whole flower.
To finish it off, I sewed it down onto a piece of hand-dyed purple cotton, sewing roughly around the edges numerous times, not wanting it to look too neat! I then trimmed that down (we are making them all at 6″ square),added a back on to it and turned it through, pillow-case style.
For the next one, using only purple and white, I decided to do a foundation-pieced butterfly.
Karen-purple flutterby

Karen-purple flutterby

I found a pattern somewhere in one of my books and made it using a variety of purples and whites, and some of my own painted fabric for the background pieces. I then added a striped border with mitred corners-
At the monthly meeting we all got to see everyone else’s interpretation of the flora and fauna theme with those colours:
Clockwise from TL: Helen H, Marg Y, Cornelia, Shirley, Marilyn, Helen S, Jan K, Lyn

Clockwise from TL: Helen H, Marg Y, Cornelia, Shirley, Marilyn, Helen S, Jan K, Lyn

Clockwise from TL-Shirley, JanK, me, Helen S, HelenH, Lyn, Marg, Meryl

Clockwise from TL-Shirley, JanK, me, Helen S, HelenH, Lyn, Marg, Meryl

weekend trips

When I was young, my mum and dad liked to go on picnics. My sister and I have many memories of picnics at parks, at lakes and dams, at picnic areas near waterfalls or at the beach. As I grew older and had children myself, we still went on picnics with Granny and Grandpa coming along. However, in recent years as my children have grown up and all but left home, and sadly my parents are no longer with us, the frequency of our picnics has dropped right down.
So, our little day trip a few weeks ago, out to Queen Mary Falls, near Warwick, proved to be a lovely day evoking lots of memories.
My photos are of whatever took my eye- the colours, the textures and the lines.
… and even some beautiful birds..
At the end of the day we landed here for a meal- a little pub with lots of character and big meals!!
I also recently attended a weaving workshop that was held at Palm Beach at the Gold Coast. The workshop was given by Ellie Beck (she instagrams under @petalplum) and I had seen the workshop promoted on Instagram with such beautiful photos of woven creations using lots of varying yarns and threads. This is my loom with my first foray into weaving:
The workshop was held at a little place called The Craft Parlour where lots of crafty workshops are offered.
At the end of the morning, I had grown my weaving and had experimented adding some tassels to one end, but I’m not sure if I’ll keep them. I’ve placed them where they are until I weave that whole empty area with lots more wool rovings or threads.

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!

eco dyeing

We had a great workshop on eco-dyeing here in Gatton on the weekend, with Nat Billing. Nat is an eco-dyer, using leaves and fruit and vegetables and, well anything really, to make beautifull naturally-dyed and printed fabric. You can find out a little bit about her here and she is also on Facebook.
We were able to dye a number of pieces using a variety of methods, all utilising naturally-found ‘dyes’. We used leaves – each tree leaf with its own properties and resultant effects, onion skins, grapes, purple carrots and seeds.
The fabrics we used were a wool knit, raw silk, silk satin and paper. The leaves were placed on the fabric and then rolled around pieces of pipe, sticks, rusted metal, seed pods etc
and placed in a brew – this first one used iron as the mordant, set at a high simmer.
My first two pieces: wool with leaves wrapped around a rusted pipe which gave the dimpled look through the middle but you can also clearly notice the outlines of the leaves:
rusted pipe iron water
wool on rusted pipe
This is raw silk with a softer look, but still showing the leaves with muted greens:
raw silk iron
This silk satin had leaves, and red onions for the pink and grapes to give the purple colour:
Meryl showing one of her pieces:
I also tried using some watercolour paper- folded and layered with leaves and onion skins and carrot then clamped between tiles like this:
When I first opened it, with the leaves still on it – such beautiful rich colours:
The paper once it had dried:
Opening up each piece to see what had happened was just like Christmas morning- a surprise when you saw what was there!
We had a great time, and I think there are a few converts amongst us who will be trying it again in future. Thanks Nat for a fantastic day. :)

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!

a little quilt for the Bloggers’ Quilt Festival

I’m entering this little quilt in the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, which is hosted by Amy’s Creative Side, over here. This is like an online quilt festival, where we can enter our quilts through our website. Go over and take a look, and vote for your favourites in the different categories.
I’m entering this quilt in two categories: Wall-hanging quilt and mini quilt. I finished it a month or two ago, after starting it in a Sue Spargo workshop.It was a great quilt for playing with a large variety of stitches, different textured fabrics and lots of little embellishments.
Even though it was started in a workshop, it was a great project to put a lot of our own input into, so no two quilts turn out the same. It also got me interested in working with wool, so I’m very keen to go further with these techniques.
I hope you have time to visit the Festival and check out all the quilts that will be on display!

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!

little birds

A little look at some other things I’ve been working on. After I did the workshop with Sue Spargo last year on wool applique, I fell in love with working in wool so I joined up for her Block of the Month program for this year. At the time I thought I’d easily fit it in, but going back to a day job for a short while has severely reduced my time! But that’s okay- I just keep doing little bits on my various projects to keep them all moving along.
These are the first month’s instalment..
and as you can see even they aren’t finished yet.
But, aren’t they cute!
The addition of lots of handstitching adds that little something, and these have got a lot more to add to them yet..
and the project is called ‘Bird Dance’- how could I resist?

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!