Thursday, December 23, 2010

Flying home

A different kind of Christmas compared to the previous post - the excitement of the beginning of summer, school holidays, new bikes and beach holidays.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas lights

The thing I like most about a winter Christmas - the lights in the dark nights. When the weather starts to turn cold, and the days are shorter, I can't wait to get the Christmas decorations up at the beginning of December and we don't take them down again until the Epiphany on the 6th of January.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas in Kinglake

An early Christmas lunch in Kinglake. Most of you probably know of Kinglake because of the terrible fires in 2009. Many quilts were donated to the survivors - not only those who lost their homes and possesions, but also to those who lived through that terrible time and were equally affected by it.

The day before yesterday we travelled up to Kinglake to visit my aunt Margaret, a nun and pastoral worker who had been involved in the area prior to the fires, and was up at dawn, the morning after the fires hit, serving breakfast to those who made it out.

Margaret has continued working in Kinglake helping to hold a community together. When a house became available, one of the few that survived, she moved there. On Thursday we spent a wonderful day visiting her there and meeting some local folk. Thankfully, there has been plenty of rain this winter and early summer, and the forests of burnt trees are dressed in plenty of green.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Heavenly stars

Heavenly Stars crib quilt top. Yet to be quilted. I have an idea for quilted circles in the wavy pink background, and concentric rings in the pink striped background. I am looking to this book for inspiration.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Heart wreath

Heart wreath. My design. Began as a cushion cover and grew to a crib quilt - hence the sawtooth border.

I've challenged myself to create an Advent of Christmas related posts inspired by Pine Ridge Quilter's 25 days of Christmas. Mine will be bits and pieces of quilts, crafts and Christmas related things. Thanks in advance to everyone who has offered to help - I couldn't do 25 posts on my own!

I had to post this one early because tomorrow things will be a little bit up in the air - literally:)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Looking for the heart

I was following a 'blog trail' starting from Wonkyworld to Black Threads a few weeks ago where I came across this book  'Stitchin' and pullin': A Gee's Bend Quilt'. I was struck by these words;

"Look for the heart....when you find the heart your work will leap to life...."

I started piecing together fabrics randomly from my 'use-it-up' box (fittingly the heart fabric was chosen by a friend of my daughter, for a dress last summer, and the quilt is going to her soon-to-be-born sister). 

I randomly machine pieced the fabrics together and once I had a block I placed it on an upterned crib quilt that I already had, for idea of size. I like to think that quilters would have once worked like this, back before rotary cutters, printed patterns and design boards.

Once I had four blocks, I cut strips of the sashing fabric with large dressmakers shears. This was all done by eye - I was surprised at how accurate you can be, with a decent pair of scissors.  There was just enough sashing fabric - the top and bottom borders are pieced - with practically no fabric left over. This quilt just seemed meant to be. The whole quilt went together in about four days - if you have been following this blog then you know that is a real departure for me.

The back is pieced - I didn't have anything large enough - and these were scraps I wanted to use up. The top and back were done in a few hours. I was so enjoying seeing a quilt go together so quickly that I pin basted with safety pins, and quilted freehand lines without a hoop, using perlĂ© 5 thread (no reason - it is just what I had).

I have never done a pieced binding before but I am really happy with how it turned out.

I thought it was fun to photograph these two quilts together. One neat and one free. Next I would like to do something in between.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Double wedding ring

I bought these Double Wedding Ring pieces some months ago on e-bay. I am always attracted to unusual things that no-one else is bidding on - I feel justified purchasing something that may risk ending up as rat fodder in someone's garage, or worse. (Wonder what happened to that little segment missing in the upper corner of the photo?)

I sent a photo to Barbara Brackman after reading this post which mentions that the double wedding ring didn't appear until around 1920. The fabrics in these Wedding Ring pieces seemed earlier than that to me, and definitely different to the typical pastel fabrics of the 1930's when Double Wedding Rings had their heyday.

Today Barbara Brackman has published a new post specifically about the history of Double Wedding Ring quilts.

Keiko Goke's modern rendition of a Double Wedding Ring (featured in Barbara's post) has appeared all over the internet. I can see why - I adore the free pieced sections and wonky corner posts. Reminds me of the wonkiness of my own set of pieces above. Made me wonder if I could turn them into a wonky little wedding ring quilt - or should I just preserve them for posterity, as are?

Friday, November 19, 2010

More autumn colours

A new cushion to brighten up the coming winter (from Tiny Happy) and a new quilt - the second of these quilts....

....mud fun.... 

....and a November sky.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Autumn colours

I don't know if I will ever make a quilt in these colours, but my youngest - brown haired, brown eyed - daughter looks lovely in them.

The top was found in my  local second-hand boutique (no thrift shop bargains in my neighbourhood). The fabric is Liberty. I traced off the pants pattern from a favourite pair of pants. The contrast trim on the inside of the waistband was a last-minute length adjustment. The button was a happy find from the button box.

I actually sewed these pants last winter, but as they turned out a little large, they weren't used much - just as well, because they fit my four-year-old perfectly now.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Never too late .... change your mind.

I started this sampler quilt for my eldest daughter way back in 2003. My daughter was 1 and a 1/2 and we were on holiday in Australia. This was my first 'class quilt'.

The top went together quite quickly, but since I no longer had access to a quilt shop or classes, it hang around a long time waiting for backing fabric and quilting. Once I was ready to sandwich it, I decided to make the quilt a little longer. Enthusiastic about the 'get it done, not perfect' philosophy, I literally 'whacked on' a floral border top and bottom, then pieced together some strippy shirtings to lengthen the back. The top was sandwiched, basted and I began quilting. Summer came and the quilt went back in the cupboard.

When I pulled it out again this autumn, I suddenly noticed something. One of the blue and white fabrics in the back had a decidedly yellow tinge to it which stood out badly against the other blue and whites. How did I not notice that before? (I have since noticed that in bright light, the white reads whiter - in dimmer light the white reads cream). I thought about it a long time, deciding whether I could live with it, but seeing as that part of the quilt hadn't been quilted yet, I decided to replace both pieces of the toile.

The easiest thing would have been to applique a replacement strip over the top (this is what is recommended when repairing old quilts). But that fabric was one of my favourites - it seemed a pity to waste it.

I carefully unpicked the seam, folded the seam allowances under, slipped a new strip of fabric underneath, and applique stitched the surrounding fabric back in place. The quilting is going to be pretty dense, so I think it will hold. If not, I can always repair it - the quilt is staying at our house. This photo shows one the replacement pieces.

Now I am looking at those 'whacked on' border strips. I still have plenty of time before I quilt those - might come up with a pieced solution to substitute. This quilt has been such an odyssey as it is - no reason to finish it in a hurry now:)

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Friday, October 15, 2010

A change in the weather

Last night was the first really cold night of the autumn. Quilts come out around the end of September to decorate the house for my eldest daughters birthday, but we don't really need them until mid-October. I haven't finished any large bed quilts - the girls have their cot and crib quilts. This quilt is my four year old's favourite. She loves blue, like me.

This quilt came together really quickly. I had two very similar Italian shirtings (easy to come by  in Italy as many men have their business shirts custom made - but they are still frightfully expensive), some scraps of white cotton and a pale blue ticking given to me by my mother. I found them sitting near each other in my fabric  box and they just seemed so right together.

One of the blues has a fine black thread woven into it, and the other is a blue and white herringbone.

The backing is a lovely brushed cotton with a double blue pinstripe. It makes the quilt warm and soft. The batting is wool/polyester (probably Matilda's own), and the quilt is hand quilted with white thread.

This is the first time that I have done a Baptist fan pattern. I drew up a template with pencil and compass on some thin card, drew over the lines with a thick black marker, and then cut them out. Next time I would like to try larger fans, perhaps hand drawn.

I think I had this quilt somewhere in the back of my mind - it is one of my favourites and one I would love to make one day (Tree of Life - from Ljiljana Baird's book 'Quilts')

Perhaps because this quilt went together so quickly, I didn't notice until the top was finished that the corner stones run itno the outer border - not being able to think of any other solution, I left it as it was. I kind of like it.

This quilt is hand pieced and hand quilted. It measures 32 1/2" by 40". I will add the dates once I figure them out.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Dresden plate blocks

Machine pieced dresden plate blocks purchased on e-bay - I presume from the thirties or forties. None of them are the same size and some don't sit flat. I don't have any immediate plans to do anything with these but I love the colours and the odd combinations. I might just repiece the ones that don't lie flat and use them rest as are. I kind of like the craziness of them.

There are individual shots of the blocks in my flickr album.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

1930's string pieced Lone Star

This e-bay purchase was inspired by Ann  of  Ann Champion's blog  and Martha of Q is for Quilter, and their collections of antique and vintage quilt tops. This quilt top was advertised as of being feedsacks, but the fabrics appear (to me) to be dress fabrics.

The quilt top was not in great condition. Somebody had, at one time, sandwiched the star (there are no setting squares or triangles) with a thick polyester batting and machine appliqued it onto a pale yellow sheet and, apparently, used it as a bedcover or throw.

Some of the stains are probably age ones from the fabrics used being from used clothes, and some of the stains are new - like blue wax candles. Some of the fabrics are very faded and worn while some are in almost new condition. I assume that the maker used a combination of old clothes, and new dressmaking scraps. I believe that quiters coud also buy scrap packs in that period. In all there are about twenty small damaged pieces.

First I gave the whole thing a gentle soak in warm water with mild dishwashing liquid (with a few colour catchers thrown in). When it was dry I took the star off it's backing. Luckily it was machine sewn with a large zig-zag.

Then I made a template from one of the diamonds and used it to check that the outer diamonds weren't too damaged or frayed. Using the template I realised that no two of the diamonds were exacly the same anyway (perhaps because the quilt has been used and washed - or were they never precise?). Despite that, the quilt does lie flat.

I have gently folded under the outer edges and loosely basted them down to protect the edges from fraying any further. As many of the fabrics are thin, I am going to applique the quilt back onto a new sheet instead of using a setting fabric. That way if they wear there will be another fabric underneath to hold the quilt together.

I plan to replace the badly stained fabrics and the very worn ones, but some of the damaged pieces have just one very small (moth?) hole. I am considering just repairing them. I can always stitch a replacement over them later. Does anyone think that is a good/bad idea? I think I can darn the tiny holes with matching thread.

The curious thing about this top is that it does not have a homogeneous collection of fabrics. Some of the sections have very bright fabrics and some sections use much quieter fabrics. The stitching appears to be all done (by hand) by the same person. Perhaps she started off using her favourite bright fabrics and ended up scraping the scrap barrel at the end?  Two sections in particular are the most fadey, and strangely enough she didn't think of separating them with the brighter sections.
The nice thing about working on this top is enjoying all of the fabrics - there are so many to look at. They are so bold it makes me really curious to know what kind of clothes were in fashion at the time. Barbara Brackman has posted about housedresses from the 1930's here.

Ann Champion has a quilt top with the same design on her blog, and Bonnie from Quiltville and Tonya from Lazy Gal Quilting have both made modern versions of it (Tonya's top is actually posted on another blog - read the explanation here).

Sunday, September 5, 2010

What are you working on?

The other day, when I finished the quilt in my last post, my husband asked "So what else are you working on?".

Embarrassing question really.....I started listing my quilt projects, and didn't really know when to stop. I decided to pull everything out of the cupboard and make a little inventory. This is what I came up with......

Nora's sampler.

Pink and green - I actually don't know what this pattern is called.

Francesca and Benedetta's roman coins.

Nicky's nine patch.

Catie's corn and beans (I blogged about this one already).

Split lone star.

1930's lone star.

Feedsack four patches (a dolly quilt).

Just to prove to myself that I do finish things eventually:)

Leave a comment if there is a project here that you would like to know more about - that way I will know what to blog about next.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

One down, one to go

I started this pair of quilts back in 2004. At the time I was wanting to make something in pink and green and was looking for some new fabric for inspiration. I didn't have a computer and didn't know about on-line quilt shops so I asked my mother to go to my favourite quilting shop in Melbourne.

Mum surprised me with quite a large bundle of fabrics that she had chosen at 'Patchwork House' together with Olga (I am grateful to her for helping my mother put together such a nice selection).

I chose the hanging nine patch design inspired by this very chintzy early 1800's quilt from Ljiljana Baird's book 'Quilts'. I love the ninepatches with three rather than two fabrics. I enjoyed piecing the blocks so much that once I had made enough for one lap quilt, I kept going and made enough for two.
I bought the setting fabric on a very short trip to Australia in 2005. I was looking for a chintzy fabric but couldn't find anything I was really happy with and didn't have much time. At 'Patchwork on Central' someone suggested this blue. It really changed the look of the quilt but I am kind of happy with it. Once I got home to Italy, I realised that it would work well in the borders too - but the shop had sold out. After a flurry of phone calls and messages, 'Patchwork on Central' tracked down another bolt and posted me the border lengths.

I pieced the top together and the quilt was set aside as there was a new baby in the family.

Last year I basted both quilts and decided that it was time that they were quilted. But how?

I had decided on the chintzy look because I wanted to do something with simple quilting. But those plain blocks seemed to cry out for something fancier. I drew a design for a floral vine, but wasn't happy with it. I tried a large stipple (which is so popular and looks so good with machine quilting), I tried a simple flower. My quilt got messier and messier (with pencil markings and unpicked stitches) but I couldn't find anything I liked.
In the end I settled on diagonal double line quilting inspired by the ninepatch on the cover of this book. Normal quilting thread seemed too fine for this project - it seemed to get lost in with the fine white dots so I used Perlè 5 embroidery floss.
I love the way the stitches look against the backing fabric.
It was fun making these quilts because they really were a collaborative effort. All of the fabrics, except the back, were chosen by someone else.

One of these is a present for my Mum and will soon be going into my suitcase for our next trip to Melbourne, and one is going to my eight year old who likes to sleep under piles of covers. When she was three, she saw me making the ninepatches, and one night she commented on the one I had just made - "I don't like that one, I think you should unpick it tonight while I am asleep."  Well I didn't - I hope it doesn't keep her awake :)

These quilts are hand pieced and hand quilted, with a 100% cotton batting (I think Hobb's Organic, but I am not completely sure). They finish up at 46" x 56". They were started in 2004 and one was finished in 2010 - hopefully the second one will be too!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Something for me

I made this skirt and blouse for my birthday. The linen I bought locally and it is just right for hot weather.

The fabric for the skirt is Hope Valley  - I bought it on-line. I had seen it on many blogs and chose it for the sprigs of blue flowers. I was a little bit disappointed by the colours when the fabric arrived - I didn't expect it to have a yellow tinge and the colours to be muted. Plus I didn't know what to wear with it.

Once I paired the skirt with this creamy white linen the colours came alive. The fabric took on a more translucent look. Now I love it.

The skirt is drafted from a dress pattern from a Burda magazine. The blouse is from the  Japanes 'Tunic Tunic - 1 day sewing' book. I find it a little too 'blousy'. I would like to make the neckline higher and shorten the sleeves, to make it a little neater. Otherwise the fit is great.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Corn and beans

This is an example of how I work and what I mean by ‘piecemeal’.

I started out with this corn and beans block and some pink and purple fabrics.

Originally I was going to use a white muslin for the background, but I thought it looked too stark – perhaps because many of the fabrics have white in them?

I had some pieces of yellow fabric in the cupboard that my mother-in-law had cut out with some project in mind and never finished. I thought they looked nice together. I added more fabrics in green and blue; many of them are 1930’s reproductions, many of them are modern, and some are old clothes.

I didn’t intend on making a 1930’s style quilt, but that seems to be the way it is going. Martha from q is for quilter, has done an ocean waves quilt top in similar colours.

The block design comes from this book - I like the simple black and white illustrations