A retreat of my own

Both Margaret and Irene are at different quilt guild retreats this weekend, but I have virtuously stayed home to work.  Just as well Irene’s retreat was up here at Castlemaine, giving us the chance to meet up for lunch and a chat before she went back to sew and I went back to work. Well maybe I played hookey from the computer and I’ve been doing a little quiltmaking instead.  Shush don’t tell. I’m supposed to be working, really!

So while both of them are having lovely eats, going out wining & dining, I decided so would I.  Here’s my dinner, leftover garlic pizza.

Not the same really is it?

Actually I’ve really enjoyed being at home by myself.  I very rarely get the chance to be in the house by myself and never in the evenings, so lovely and peaceful. Anyway I’m busy trying to finish this quilt.

image of sunflowers & willowsI’ve only got the border to do so this week I joined up some strips of scrappy fabrics and tacked them down almost like a frame, ready to applique into scallop shapes.

Tracing the applique line with my rough template

So tonight I’ve marked the scallops with the template I made up and now it’s time to start with the needle-turning. If you click on the image you’ll get a better view and see the scallop edge to be.

A close-up, sorry about the blurry photo

It’s so close to being finished so I’ve been good and put down the new quilt I’ve been making, to finish this one.  I showed a snippet of this new quilt in my last post.  Anyway time for bed, as I really do have to get some work done tomorrow.

Paper piecing stars

image of august-september fabrics

I briefly returned from blogging retirement, as Linda called it, and then didn’t find time to do much of anything sewing or blogging wise.  After my weekend away at Sorrento, I didn’t sew a stitch, I didn’t even get to thread a needle for about two weeks.  My own fault really, as while down at Sorrento I said ‘hey Linda what about quilt pins?’  If you’ve been following Linda’s blog you’ll see what we’ve come up with and I’m looking forward to seeing them in the flesh so to speak.

I’ve been very restrained in buying fabric recently as I’m supposed to be saving to go to Houston in about 4 weeks.  On my way to Sorrento I stopped in at Somerset Patchwork and picked up a few necessary fabrics for my new project based, very loosely, on an old Pennsylvania quilt.  It has a paper pieced star in the centre, which was quite the challenge as I don’t normally do paper-piecing, even though it seems to be all the rage at the moment.  I’m not terribly fond of paper-piecing but Irene convinced me to do that rather than tradition piecing and I am very happy with the result.  I’ll show a proper picture when I’ve got a little more done, and I am having fun with this one as I let the quilt evolve.  I do know I’m going to have a star in each corner of the centre medallion.

image of august-september fabrics
My August September fabric buys.

The fabrics on the right are mostly for this project although I couldn’t resist those lovely greens from the Pomegranate range for my stash. I’m building up my poison greens as I’ve another red & green applique quilt already drawn up.  Those fabrics on the left are just impulse buys but really I was very restrained.

What’s left of September and October is fairly action packed so I best get a move on and get back to work as I’ve lots to do and time is running out.


The Postman came

image of pink green baskets

with 3 parcels!

Woohoo I love parcels

I think I’ve mentioned before that for some years I took a break from quilt-making and buying fabric.  That meant I missed some really good fabrics, so when I see something I really love well of course I just have to buy them.

Our good friend Sherry in San Antonio recently sent me some lovely fabrics, the second parcel arrived today with lots of lovelies, some of which is part of the Clarissa White Alford Collection for the Shelburne Museum by RJR.  Only had the odd bit of that, as well as some bits of Smithsonian.  This parcel was sent the day Sherry, Margaret & Irene left San Antonio and Margaret picked some of the fabrics as well.

image of parcel 1
Fabrics from Sherry

You can see a bit of Smithsonian that somehow I managed not to pick up originally, now I’ve got them in all the colourways.  As well some Williamsburg Botanical, Cheddar Illuminations, Dargate Prussion Blue stripe, purchased for a very specific project, and some red & white fabrics.  Margaret are they for our red & white Maltaville?

Yellows and more from the old ‘Sturbridge Village II’ collection.

Parcels 2 & 3 came from SewFarSewGood, an online shop who were just lovely to deal with.  One of the things I don’t have in my growing stash is some really good yellows.  I found three really good yellows from the ‘Old Sturbridge Village II Collection’ as well as a few other bits from that range.  I think this range came out just before I got back into quilt-making.

One of my ‘must do’ projects has always been a pieced basket quilt in white, pinks & greens.  I drafted it up ages ago but last week the impetus to start it came.  So far I’ve pieced about about 14 blocks of this 16 block quilt.

image of pinkgreenbasketsprep
All cut out and ready to sew

This is another quilt that will be on-point. I seem to have an obsession with blocks on-point at the moment. Most of the fabric has come from my stash with just a little bit from picked up when I went to Mill Rose Cottage recently.  There’s a little bit of Smithsonian and some of my treasured Sarah Johnson pink fabric as well.

image of pink green baskets
Pink & Green baskets blocks

It’s TAS at Somerset this Sunday, so I’ll have to get the tops of these baskets prepared so I’ve got some hand sewing to do.  16 handles wont take long.

Margaret picked up some fabric for me when she & Irene visited Hancock’s so I’m waiting for the postman to ring again.



On the hunt for a new sewing machine

image of sunflower willow quilt

and I’m looking at the Husqvarna 835, which has the longer arm which would be nice. Does anyone have one?  The other machine I’m considering is the Bernina 330, which also has exactly the stitch I want, an adjustable, single, vertical stitch, blanket-stitch, and both machines are around the same price.  I’d love to hear your opinions on these machines.

It’s going to be very quiet around these parts with Margaret flying out to the US this morning.  I’ve sent our very good friend Irene Blanck, a local applique superstar in these parts, with her to keep her out trouble! 🙂

The girls are off to Paducah and then the east coast so if you get the chance to catch up with them grab it, they’re lots of fun!  Both Margaret & Irene are intending to blog, and Margaret is going to use her new Facebook page to keep us updated on their shenanigans as well.

I’m fast finishing a new quilt I’ve been doing, Sunflowers & Willows, most of the applique is done, and it’s almost time to attach the borders and then the last border appliqued on.  The last applique will be on the outside edge, scalloped, similar to the frills around the flowers just a bit bigger, not so fine.

I started this as a bit of an excuse to get rid of the fabrics I’ve used in the background and went from there.  It’s got at least two, no make that three, fabrics from Margaret’s stash.

image of sunflower willow quilt
I've called it Sunflowers & Willows.

I need to get it finished as I just busting to start another new quilt I’ve designed and have chosen nearly all the fabrics.  Remember my search for some gold fabric awhile ago? well I ended up with about 3 metres and here’s me doing a little planning.

image of lincoln gold fabric
Photocopying the fabric

Yes, sometimes I photocopy the fabric if I’m not sure of a combination or want to do a quick mockup without cutting into my precious fabric.

And I took another quilt out to try and get a half decent photo of it but little joy as my camera really doesn’t want to play nice.

image of rose dance quilt
Rose Dance on the grass

Well it’s time to go, Margaret has left me some homework, ie blocks from our Red & White version of her Maltaville, I’m not complaining, it was my idea after all!



Too many projects on my list

My biggest problem is actually staying on one project.  In February I started designing  another quilt based on a block in an antique quilt.

While I really do love hand-sewing this particular block will have to be machine appliquéd if I ever want it made.  As I don’t have EQ or any Patchwork or Quilting software I usually design quilts either the old fashioned way, with pen & paper or I use Adobe PhotoShop or Illustrator.

Working out length of spokes & degree of end

For this new quilt the blocks will be 34 inches with approximately a 15″ border, maybe.  I had this idea on the back-burner until I saw a link to this wonderful graph paper by Incompetech.com on another blog.  It just makes evenly dividing a circle a breeze.

I printed it out at A3 size and took it off to the copy shop where they enlarged it up to A1.  This will be take two for this pattern.  Originally I printed it out at A4, drafted it up and then took it to the copy shop. Starting at A4 size was really a silly mistake so next time I would just ask the copy shop to enlarge the grid to A1 or A0 and go from there.   I’ve lengthened the spokes quite a few times to get the look I want but it still isn’t quite right.

I’ve chosen 24 spokes for this design, but perhaps I should have put in another lot of three spokes which might give me the look I’m after.

I have a second pattern in mind using four fabrics and slightly altered length of spokes for a windmill effect.

Anyway having chosen 3 fabrics I’ll get 8 repeats of each.

Two Smithsonian fabrics, a Village Charm by Pat Speth & a Grace's Dowry Shirting for the background

Two of these fabrics are from my Smithsonian stash and the medium blue is a Pat Speth Village Charm.  All together they looked very muted, rather dull really, so I asked Margaret if she could help me find the right background.  When she picked up this fabric she immediately said, there a fair chance that will be disregarded straight away, but when I put the other fabrics on it they all just popped.

Margaret is so fabulous at picking fabrics, I call her my colour consultant.  Mind you I’d only chosen the terracotta & medium blue and Rachel, picked the dark blue floral from my stash.  So Rachel and Margaret have really contributed.

Also floating in the back of my mind is the same pattern but with modern quilt fabrics.  I can imagine it in Kaffe Fassett fabrics on a dark background or some really bright fabrics on a light background.  I’ve promised myself that this year I’m going to make a modern quilt.

I’m not working or studying tomorrow so I’ll actually be able to do some sewing.  So I hope to do at least 2 points of my red & white star quilt.  With all the photos popping up in blogs of the Red & White Quilt exhibition its keeping me keen to finish the quilt as quickly as I can and after my star I’ve got on other quilt top which entails four seams and that top is done.

Red & White Star quilt update

I’ve been sewing a bit since my last post and last night was 4 til 10, or in my case 6.30 til 10.  Normally I only take hand-sewing when I go out, however I took my sewing machine along and pieced one point completely and sewed the strips for another.  Now that’s not really much of an accomplishment as piecing the stripes only takes a leisurely 15 minutes and another 10 to sew the strips together.

One of the lovely things about this group is we all jump in with suggestions when someone brings along a new project.  Rachel was in fine form and giving me heaps, in fact nearly all the girls were.  Cheeky beggars!  So I made Rachel, with Ellie’s help chose the placement of fabrics for the next point.  That point is nearly finished so that will be half the star done.

I’m teenager free this weekend so after I do a little housework its off to the sewing room and just maybe I’ll get the rest of those points finished.   As I didn’t have a camera with me Rachel took a photo with her phone so here’s a progress photo.

image of Red & White star quilt
Red & White star quilt

I’m intending this to be a very simple quilt but if you have any suggestions as to what to do with the setting squares and triangles I’d love to hear them.



2011 OMG!

Well, I’ve been very quiet for nearly a month now.  I didn’t say Merry Christmas or Happy New Year to anyone, so my apologies to all.

I’ve been doing a lot of blog reading though.  I did enjoy all the lovely Christmas decorations everyone posted.  I found I just couldn’t find the excitement this last year.  We’re nearly into our second week of 2011 and already I’m starting to get school books for my youngest son who starts Year 11 this year.  It’s almost time to start getting him back to keeping normal hours.

At the moment he rises from his bed around 1.00 – 2.00pm and finally goes to bed around 4.00am, this after deciding he needs to eat around 3.00 and we’re not talking a bit of toast here, nope he needs to make a saucepan of chilli & cumin rice, stir-fry some steak with herbs, ginger, garlic, soy, zucchini, red capsicum & mint and mix the two together.  At which point he comes into my bedroom to wake me up! and ask if I’d like some.  Unfortunately, it smells so good I end up getting up and eating.  This plays havoc with my internal clock and I just don’t have the ability to rejuvenate like I once did.  Well that’s getting older for you. Still I’m happy to not to be as young as I was.

I just found my very silly cat playing with a HUGE Redback spider, now I’ve got to watch him all day, silly animal.  For non-Aussies, Redbacks are one of our most poisonous spiders related to the Black Widow spider.

Charlie resting after playing with a redback

Well to quilting now.  I’ve spent a lot of time tidying up my sewing room and it still has a long, long way to go.  It contains in music instruments alone, 1 Violin, 1 Mandolin and 2 Violas as well as the music stand!

Please note this is a BEFORE shot

It's not possible to get anything done in this room

I’ve drafted up several different appliqué patterns based on some some lovely antique quilts I’ve seen around, one of which was a block in one of the quilts we got to view at the last Quilt History Farm Day, our local quilt history group that meets 4-5 times a year.  I’m thinking of using some of my stash of Red and Green Smithsonian fabrics for this one.

Farm Day block

Margaret and I have had a couple of shopping play days.  We ventured off to Somerset Patchwork in Melbourne before Christmas where I purchased a few fabrics for my new French Star Hexagon quilt.  So far I’ve designed about 12 different 4″ hexagons to go around the centre.

Fabrics for my French Star Hexagon quilt

The night before we went to Melbourne I decided I needed a new bag, so here’s Zac modelling said bag.  The black and white fabric is some heavier weight cotton I picked up at Ikea last year for a footstool covering project and the inside fabric is an old, maybe 12years old, patchwork fabric called Kalahari, its very bright.  I love this bag and use it all the time.

My bag & model

And yesterday we went to Ballarat which has several patchwork shops. I purchased a few Japanese fabrics at the first shop, for a cot quilt I need to finish up.

Cot quilt fabric

and this beautiful fabric which I intend to put in a skirt at the third shop.

Beautiful Japanese cotton for a skirt

And in between we headed to Ballarat Patchwork which specialise in all those lovely bright modern fabrics & quilts, what I call Quilting 2.0.  I finally got to pick up an Amy Butler Barcelona skirt pattern.  I also picked up some beautiful fabric to make a lovely skirt.  The girls at Ballarat Patchwork are always very friendly and helpful.

Barcelona skirt pattern & fabric

As you probably have figured out I love reproduction fabrics, however I really want to do a class at Ballarat Patchwork to make a modern fabric quilt.  It will be a real challenge for me to work with modern fabrics.

It hasn’t been all shopping though, I’ve actually been getting a bit of hand-sewing done as well.  I finally finished the first block of my Texas flower basket quilt (working title)  I only had a few, maybe a dozen leaves to appliqué and I lost momentum for a little while.  Now that I’ve got this block done I’m ready to cut out the next lot of stems & leaves.

Texas Rose Basket

and I’ve finally cut out and started sewing the arcs and background for my Abbeville quilt.

Abbeville background & arcs

There are 36 of these to get done and I expect I’ll get a fair bit of hand-sewing done in the next month or two under the air-conditioner.  So I’m off to sew a few more of these arcs until it gets a little cooler tonight.


Breaking Bloggers Blockage

Well I haven’t blogged for a month, haven’t answered comments, emails or anything else.   I just couldn’t concentrate on a computer at all, which is strange for me.  Maybe its the weather which has been awful here, raining & thunder one minute then shooting up to 30 degrees the next, or perhaps it was my impending 45th birthday.

I consoled myself by eating out and of course shopping for fabric and a little bit of shoe buying on the side.  The fabric is for a project I’ve hauled out of the archives as well as a new hand-piecing project which will probably take years to complete.

Birthday fabric

This project from the archives was a kit purchased from Di Ford in 1995.  At the time I loved it but some how it got put away and I’ve only just found it after a clean up in my sewing room.  I believe it was designed by Judie Rothermel for her fabric range, ‘Renaissance’.

French Star

I’ve done the first part of the pattern, but I’ve popped it back in to take a photo.

French Star toile fabric & pattern

I’m making sure I take a good photo of the intact pieces for WFIT, before I cut them up or I’ll be in trouble with Margaret.

Di Ford is often called ‘the Queen of Fussy Cutting’ and there’s a good reason for that.   I was fortunate enough to do all of my classes at Primarily Patchwork until it closed its doors and in all those classes fussy cutting was just a part of the class.  If you ever get a chance to take a class with Di I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.  This next photo is a perfect example of fussy cutting and getting the best of a fabric.

A perfect example of fussy cutting

So I’ve only got 8 of these to cut out and attach then pop in the setting squares and triangles.  And voilà fussy cut points!

French Star with fussy cut points attached

Margaret is working on convincing me its the start of another centre medallion quilt rather than a framed picture or cushion and unfortunately for me her suggestion has found fertile ground. I’m thinking a narrow dark blue border with tiny red hexagons appliquéd to the border and then who knows.  Perhaps Ohio stars in reds & blues or perhaps large hexagons.

4" hexagons with triangles

The other project I’ve started has been inspired by a couple of posts I’ve recently read regarding Pickledish Clamshells.

I first read about this pattern on Barbara Brackman’s blog, back in June and more recently on Karen Alexander’s blog.  I drafted up a 15″ block which I would like to do, but I think that will be a Freezer-paper foundation quilt, and that’s definitely a winter project.

15" pickle clamshell pattern

I redrafted it to approximately 9″ and have started it in creams, blues & teals as a hand-piecing project.

Pickledish Clamshells

Or perhaps I’ll join them this way

Pickledish Clamshells alternate setting

I’ve got a lot more to make before I decide how I’ll put them together but I am enjoying them and they go together so fast which is satisfying.

Time to go and cut those setting squares & triangles for the French Star block.



Basket of Flowers quilt

I’ve been working on a new project, my Basket of Flowers quilt,  intermittently.  It’s based on a quilt held at the Sam Houston Park, Houston, of course.  I saw an image of this quilt on Sue Garman’s blog and decided I just had to make a quilt based on the blocks in this quilt.

I’ve never made a red & green quilt before, and this one isn’t turning out quite how I envisaged it.  Of course, that’s because originally I was going to make it with the reds & greens from my Smithsonian stash.  I decided I would do a test block, now of course I’ve making four blocks, all with the same fabric for the basket & different greens for the stems, buds & leaves and I’ll use different reds for each block as well.

It will probably end up with a couple of red dogtooth borders, perhaps.  I’m a design as I go quilter.

Anyway, I contacted The Heritage Society by email and I couldn’t praise them enough for their help and generosity.  They sent me lots of photos of the quilt and the quilting as well as the dimensions of the blocks and borders and the history of this gorgeous quilt.  The maker of this quilt was 12 years old.

(Forgive the low quality images, I haven’t got a decent camera at the moment & the colours aren’t very accurate)


These blocks I’m making at present are 20″ wide and as you can see from the images are set on point.  I’ve made two size patterns and I thinks when I do get around to making my Smithsonian version I’ll use the larger size.  Time to go do the washing, mow the lawn and cook the roast lamb before I get to cut out the leaves. I want to get this block finished by next weekend.



My new quilting blog

Well I’ve been thinking about it for awhile and now its fact. I’ve been quilting for over 15 years and have never had a quilt blog so this is where I will put up photos and descriptions of past and present projects like a current project I call Acanthus, made from the latest release of William Morris fabrics.