Saturday 14 December 2013

11 sleeps 'til Xmas!

I have still been sewing the odd Flying Geese...goose/singular....this week,  but my spare time is getting less & less as we come closer & closer to Xmas! Lots of shopping for prezzies, lots of planning for "the big day",   oh and a bit of trial sampling of my Pimms- making- skills!!!!  I have been asked to provide said drink (is it a cocktail?) for lunch but I had never made it before.  I googled of course, and am now subjecting visitors - Glenys was the first!!! - to rate my results!  Turns out it's actually quite a pleasant & refreshing drink to help unwind after a hectic day, I highly recommend it!!  
I am going to the Playcentre Xmas party tomorrow, so have been busy making these...

A wee bit of a messy undertaking, but I'm sure the little ones will get the general idea!!! 

On to sewing ...
I have just ordered this, Luminaries pattern, it looks really lovely, don't you think? 
It does involve "precise measuring & trimming" , a wee challenge maybe but it's now definitely on my "to do" list for 2014!!!!

luminaries quilt

We are off down to the bach on Xmas day for a few weeks, so I did think I'd better get a little bit of sewing organised to take along too, you know....just in case!!!!!
Earlier this week I picked up my Zig Zag quilt that I left with Annette @ WildCotton  to quilt. It looks great. I chose a nice pinwheel pattern which I feel softens all the straight line HST piecing. I have cut off strips of fabric for the binding & have sewed it onto the quilt....and now I'll have something nice & easy to hand sew down while sitting out on the deck.

Also, just in case the weather turns really bad (which has been known to happen!!), I have decided to be prepared!!!!  I really love the Penny Patch quilts that are springing up everywhere....small scale prints, simple geometrics & florals...all looking very vintage-y!   
I am following Rachel's receipe over @  quite closely as I do like her colour combinations and I have fabrics in my stash that resemble the look.   So I have cut a selection of fabrics all ready to go, just in case!!!

And I have hopefully discovered a helpful little item after reading Robyn's blog the other day, over @ .
If you remember, Glenys & I are in the middle of one of Material Obsession's BOM "40 Shades of Grey" and we need to make these ridiculously teeny tiny hexagons....real soonish! I would normally tack around each, but Robyn recommends a Sewline Fabric Glue Pen, so I am going to try this out! So a bit more hand sewing for those beachy summery evenings out on the deck.

Here's the thing thou'   - Every year I always pack a few things that always remain untouched the whole time we are down there!!   
In all reality, I will probably just........
lie on the beach,
read lots of  books, 
& cook lovely lazy meals  .... I can't wait!!

I hope everyone has a lovely Christmas and safe holiday.
See you all in the New Year.


Wednesday 11 December 2013


I am again using an assortment of Anna Maria Horner fabrics, combined with a few matching solids.
The free pattern is one also of AMH's, "Mother Goose" Quilt.  It ends up with nice biggish Flying Geese units, each 5" x 10" (You can find the pattern on her website). I have a few more to make yet to get a decent sized quilt top, and a bit of reshuffling around to ensure no two same fabrics sit side by side,  but am happy with it so far!  The arrangement is basically up & down, with the geese in vertical columns alternating their direction with each column, and no rigid colour order.
While only using one designer's range, this gem finally has what I love - a bit of a scrappy feel and a nice light/dark dancey-thingey going on!!......I'm off now to water the garden!

Tuesday 10 December 2013

What's on my mind today....

What's on my mind today?
Well, I recently had a reply to one of my blog entries's not easy being a quilter......and this has really got me thinking!  (if you aren't interested in all this, just skip it & check back in for my next sewing pics later in the week!!!)
For me personally, patchwork has been a real creative outlet!  My mum wouldn't let me take art at high had to be Geography/French/History.... happily we worked thru' all that!  But right from my early years of sewing I have loved working with colour and design.  
Ask any quilter, selecting the fabrics is really the fun part of making a new quilt.  
However, unlike the "daily- dinner- decision",  making fabric decisions can be a bit trickier.....there's the expense of course, then chosing from the vast selection available, not to mention combining colours and achieving contrast - which is challenging/exciting for all of us,  and then putting in all the sewing hours only to be possibly dissappointed with the results. 
I have found that if I just  love the fabrics and feel they work well together, then it's do -able! 
Too simple I hear you all say?!?!??!? 
Ok, what I have also found, & hope is helpful to others, is this -
  • I really want to make something that is pleasing to my eye ....and I do tend to only buy fabric I like!  Are others the same?  Often simply separating your colours into "warm" & "cool"  groups is an effective way to create some excitment.  Laying your blocks out on a flat surface (like a design wall, the floor or spare bed) really helps get a good overall view of your work, then auditioning & rejection are vital steps to get a good balance of colour & pattern.    
  • I want to use up my stash ....and this does prove tricky at times, combining the old with the newer.  Over the years while still working I managed to collect a bit of fabric, and Glenys & I have often laughed & justified buying a particular fabric for  "when we retire" !!!  Scrap quilts I have found are a perfect way for using up every last bit of fabric to make quilts that I love making & using.  And often many a "bad" purchase or ugly fabric can be hidden away undetected within a lovely scrap quilt!  
  • I certainly don't want to waste my fabrics, and the cost of fabric in NZ makes us all selective in our purchases, but here's the crunch ......sadly sometimes what you plan in your mind just doesn't work in reality.  Experimenting with colour is, for me, one of the pleasures of quilting, but maths was never my favourite!  I try to make a sample block/small section first. The other thing I feel - & this seems to be the case for others too - is that leaving something for a while, then coming back to it can often be quite liberating!  I do keep all my "rejects" and have, over the years, been able to include them into other improvisational type projects or quilt backings.   
  • I really want to make quilts that others can enjoy .....and it's been my experience that people just love receiving a quilt, whether it's traditional/vintage/contemporary/modern.

I have just scratched the surface here today, simply adding a few of my thoughts. There are of course lots of books availabe, and I find  blogs - each offering a different perspective on quilting -are a great source of inspiration for me.

Cutting, sewing,quilting, and yes - unpicking too! - it really is a wonderful hobby!! 

Saturday 7 December 2013

Fabric Favourites

I love fabric!!  I've been thinking lately that there seems to have been a bit of a rush on using Anna Maria Horner (AMH)  fabrics! And these quilts look great!
See Kelly's Starry Eyed quilt here-
And Rachel's Sawtooth Stars quilt here-

The fabrics are all really gorgeous...... colourful, interesting and vibrant, and I do especially love both the gold & the teal colourway of the "Social Climber" fabric.
Ages ago I too made this quilt top using assorted fabrics from one of her earlier available ranges.  I tried a simple layout, with an "anything goes" attitude when combining the colours & fabrics.......

 and, more recently, I tried chosing just 2 colours & being careful with which two fabrics I combined.......

But I can't say I am loving my own personal efforts to date!!
To use just all one range has proven v. difficult for me. 
When I first learnt patchwork many people followed each other v. closely in the use of colours within a traditional block. Frequently the exact same pattern could have 2 different names depending on how the lights & darks were arranged!!  And hues/value/scale of prints were all part of our quilty vocab!!!  Most importantly, the magic colourwheel held all the answers!!!!   NOT!

I guess that's why all the pre cuts work today, fat 1/4 bundles/jelly rolls/layer cakes, etc........lots of fabric variety for your money, and you know the fabrics will all co-ordinate beautifuly together.  Whether you stick to using solely the one bundle or go on to choose other things to go with it, they really are a good starting point. Something we certainly didn't have years ago!!

My favourite style of quilt is scrappy.
Using a wide range of prints & colours in my quilts is, to me, the v. esscence of patchwork. 
But lately I am drawn to this kind of "one range" overall look!!!  
So I am trying again!

Wednesday 4 December 2013

A Pattern & A Plan

Remember this?

I have only the bindings to hand sew down on a couple of quilts & that's a evening job while I watch Downton Abbey.  So, after my last few efforts with colour experimentation (!!)  & rather than start something new this close to Xmas,  I thought I'd continue on with something that had a real pattern & a real plan!! ...the Marcelle Medallion quilt I began a little while ago. It's from the book Liberty Love by Alexia Marcelle Abegg.
As per the instructions, I am using Liberty fabrics as much as possible. However, I really don't have any large Liberty pieces, but luckily from now on the borders all seem to have a real scrappy look about them. The quilt is certainly busy with lots of piecing in it, & has a real vintage-y feel about it.  I'm sure if I mix in my precious liberties with a few other bright fabrics, grey accents and dotty white backgrounds it'll all work!!!   

There a few others making this quilt too, I found this...... Marcelle Medallion QAL Flickr Group
and this....

I know from experience that some quilts really do stay in that "to do" pile for ages/years and it was great today to pull out the pieces I had already sorted.  And, Alexia actually recommends that one thinks of this "as a quilt to bite off in small chunks, working on just one border at a time, watching the quilt grow" !!!! 

So today I got busy.......making 4 rows of 10 "tipsy triangles",  no that's not me, it's what Alexia actually calls them !!!!  And I have to say her measurements are exact, from that initial center block to now, everything fits so nicely!!      

Sunday 1 December 2013

combining colours & chosing fabrics....

I'm really enjoying the hit & miss process of making these checkerboard squares.
I am using an assortment of old & new Anna Maria Horner fabrics, plus a couple of extra supporting "blending" fabrics.  I have also been following her blog lately. She has just completed a rather lovely quilt, "Dowry."  Check it out if you are interested over here -

I haven't had much spare time to sew this past week,  but whenever there's been a small window I grab it & make a couple more blocks. I am finding lately thou'  that no matter whether I have a rough idea in my mind of what I want to make, or am totally random in my choices, things still have a habit of changing along the way!!!!
I did so want to stick to my teal/tangerine colour combination & chosen fabrics, but last week I found that adding any solid fabrics didn't look right and then this week, I found that throwing in the grey print fabrics really messed everything up as well!   ( I use the spare bed or floor to get the overall look, but I can now see how a big design wall would really be benefical !) 
Anyway .....I took all the "rejects" out, & they will be included in the backing now!!
I then searched thru' my fabric baskets, and made more blocks that hopefully blend a bit better and still give my desired overall teal/tangerine look.  I  know that alot of my changes are due to the fact that I am also really, really trying to use up fabric that I have on hand.  And, as some of my fabric pieces are now only small, I then have to substitute 3/4 of the way thru' a block.... but it's ok. One of the things I do love about quilts is those little surprises here & there!!! 

And so, after chopping & changing my mind about combining colours & chosing fabrics, I'm thinking I'll keep going with this now & make a few more blocks.
Maybe just one more row?!?!?

Tuesday 26 November 2013

EPP and a few other things...

The next BOM  "40 Shades of Grey" arrived yesterday from Material Obsession/Auzzie. 
Hexagon flowers-  very teeny tiny  1/2" hexis can you believe it ?!?!?!?   ( gasp.....maybe- too-small methinks?)  There are 7 of them to make, fussy cut, hand made using the English Paper Piecing (EPP) method, and then they are slip stiched into place, firstly onto coloured circles and then onto grey background squares.   Anyway it's gotta be done, so perhaps a great project for over the Xmas hols down at the bach.

I have managed a bit more progress today on my Checkerboard Squares, and I'm feeling much happier with them now.  Still a few more blocks to make yet.  Once again, and I do love this about patchwork, this has been "a work in progress", auditioning as I go!  After re thinking, I'm  going for a teal/ tangerine look, using all prints. I am adding small amounts of neutral colours like the grey/cream/yellow, which I hope will do the job of allowing everything else to shine, yes??

Talking of things teeny tiny, at the latest Auckland Festival of Quilts I found these little scissors...3 different ones for $18!!! The little gold pair are great, I have been using them for everything. There's a 3" pair that has blunt tips which you can take on an airplane so that's really handy, and the other pair are 3 1/8" embroidery scissors. 

and finally....Xmas is coming!!!!

Sunday 24 November 2013

Checkerboard Squares

I have been really keen to make a 16 Patch/ Checkerboard Squares quilt for ages now. It's an old block, simple enough, and there's certainly alot of 16 patch quilts around just now. Inspiring, but sometimes I find it can be very overwhelming as well to see all these different versions of the same lovely quilt out there in blogosphere!! 
See here ...

                                                   and here.....

and again from sewwithsass blogspot ......

So, caught between "being inspired by" and "copying,"  I have taken some time to decide what to actually do!!  I don't usually take an entire fabric collection & use only those prints in a quilt, 'cos I really prefer to mix n' match between new fabrics, my personal stash & scraps.   But, after making a huge Anna Maria Horner quilt top in her Garden Party range quite some time ago, I did have some fabric leftover, (of course!!!)  and really wanted to use it up.
So, take some leftover fabric.....

I think that one of the things that makes a scrappy quilt interesting is surprises.  I threw in a few extra solid fabrics to add a bit of variation & hopefully help the other fabrics "pop" ...and then  I added two "new"  fabrics from  her latest range, ones that look like a solid from a distance, to help link everything together a bit better ............

And here's what I have ended up with so far ......

Hey, an added bonus - these blocks are super quick to make!!
Cut 4" strips of 2 co-ordinating fabrics from a fat 1/4 size of fabric, sew strips together, re-cut into 4"squares, then sew all together.  Blocks will be 14" when finished. It turns out each fat 1/4 will give you 2 blocks.  And, I found after making the first one, it really is quicker doing more than a couple at a time when chain piecing! 
A great stash buster indeed!!!
Update a few days later ........ I did start out with a plan, but things changed as I made more blocks!!  I have decided that I'm not including any solids after all as they seemed to really stand out.  I am going for more of an overall blended kinda look now this space!!!

Sunday 17 November 2013

BOM update

Each Material Obsession BOM package seems to arrive really quickly.  No sooner do I catch up & make the last block, the next one is here!  This month is a Log Cabin & variation, Courthouse Steps, both easy enough to make.
They are all certainly v. colourful.
Lets just hope the (quote)"stunning clouds of grey"( unquote) soften the overall finished look just a wee bit!!

Here they all are so far......

Wednesday 13 November 2013

with a bit of help from my friends!

Thanx for all the input over my latest quandry, it's been great!
Where would we be without friends?
First of all Glenys popped over yesterday evening, we had a wine & moved all the fabric around that I had spread out over the family room floor.  Then I read the replies here & mulled over it all.  Actually sometimes it's this process, all the planning/playing, etc that I love rather than doing the sewing miles!!!
Then I popped out to All Things Patchwork @ Waimaukau, and Cheryl kindly did the maths for me!!!
Next it was simply a matter of putting it all together!
I do also plan to see Annette @Wildcotton eventually for a bit assistance too, maybe a  "modern" twist on the quilting!!!

And so with help from you all, I think I will have managed to find a way to bring the past just a wee bit closer into the present!!!

p.s. it's back to my "granny" role for the next couple of days, playcentre, music etc -  just as well I've had my sewing fix this week !!!!   

Tuesday 12 November 2013

from stash to treasure - hopefully!

Here's the thing.... I found these old blocks while I was doing the major sort out with my stash last week, and am now wondering what to do with them! I can't just throw them away!!  I don't really remember the original plan for them, it was so long ago, but I only have 4 blocks like this one.

I had a little play with them -
option one is to simply set them with cream for lots of quilting in the -ve space to add a modern balance, maybe something like this?

option two is to maybe do something sort of like the Gees Bend improvisational look?

option three is to maybe do something like Material Obsession's "Stash Management" or Gwen Marston kind of thing.....go really creative & mix it all up a bit! I started but it's something that will, in all reality, actually take a bit of time & thought!!!!!

HELP!!!!!!   Any suggestions appreciated!!!

Saturday 9 November 2013

starters stash

What a blast from the past!!  I have spent the last few days, whenever I had a spare moment, getting all my old, old  fabrics sorted & bundled up nicely. And then I just wasn't too sure what to do with them all next !
We had a bit of a discussion at our last Monday Modern group about fabric & who would want/need/use my mis-mash of fabrics, you know ..."one man's trash is another man's treasure," etc.
So, with that old saying in mind, I decided I would  try & see if anyone did indeed want any fabric I no longer wanted !!!    I signed up on Trade Me, a first for me, & away I went  ........... "24 bundles of assorted fabric, approx. 20 different fabrics in each bundle, dating back as far as 1986. Selection ranging from minimum size of 1/8th to fat 1/4, some used, some untouched. Ideal instant starters stash or perfect for vintage, scrap or charity quilts.  To be sold as one lot." 
Here they all are.....

And a few close ups........

Pop on over to Trade Me to watch the fun!!
It's so exciting!!!

Sunday 3 November 2013

Blue Moon

The penny dropped overnight!!!
I woke & made a few subtle changes, creating five complete hexagons & two incomplete ones within the overall quilt ....can you find them?!?!?!?!

Saturday 2 November 2013

scrap attack

I thought  I would have another go at piecing triangles as my last 2 triangle quilts have now gone to good homes.  They were what I would call a "one patch" quilt, using a large triangle & creating an all over pattern rather than a sampler or individual blocks, but they both were very modern in design & layout for me!  And I do love them!

Now that I have sorted most of my fabrics, I came across the scraps from a large Anna Maria Horner quilt I made ages ago.  The finished quilt top always seemed v. heavy to me, so I guess thats why I never finished it!!!!  I always felt it was something I could never sleep peacefully under!!!!
BUT I do love the indivdual fabrics in that old quilt top & needed to use the left overs ............


This one is really gorgeous, yes?

...anyway,  I thought it would simply be a case of "anything goes" .....but "anything" certainly did not !!!
My quilt is made from the scraps but I am now, after much playing around, using selective scraps !!  
I have cut & planned the quilt, but it's still very subjective  to re-looking /re-moving/ re-cutting!

Let's just hope no one walks over it all & disturbs everything until tomorrow when I can actually get a moment to sew!!! ...........   that's if I still like it in the morning !

Wednesday 23 October 2013

stash report

Now that I have started, I'm really determined to get some sort of organisation happening with my fabric stash.  And from just that small beginning last week, my stash sorting & storage method has evolved!!!!
I have kept the large basket directly under my sewing table where I throw all my offcuts & scraps as I sew 'cos I find that really useful. When I first learnt to sew at Intermediate School we just dropped all our rubbish onto the floor (!!!) and at the end of the session we swept up everything.  It's taken me years to get out of that habit & aim directly for the large basket!!!!
I've also kept my basket just for all -sorts- of- spots, and one specifically for designer fabric scraps, and another for low volume fabrics, but, in the new spirit of things, I have sifted thru' each one & folded nicely.

I can see the benefits already........
  • a lovely white basket of fabrics all nicely folded is so visually inspiring! 
  • my fabrics are all much more accessible! 
  • I don't feel so overwhelmed every time I enter the spare bedroom!
  • and now, I can clearly see what colours I use most of  - and what colours I need to shop for!!!!
All in all huge progress!!
Then, just when I was about to emerge from the sewing room I heard a thump on the back parcel from Pink Castle Fabrics had just arrived!!!!    Just love it ....Reminisce from Art Gallery, sweet nostalgia in vintage........but not too sure what to do with this prettty range of new fabric......Any suggestions ?