Dare I say it?? Christmas is approaching!

I subscribe to Quilters Newsletter magazine.

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They had a ‘good deal’ on their subscription last year, and so I treated myself to a one year term.  It has proven to be a good read as well as a good deal.   The most recent issue had a foundation pieced Christmas tree that caught my eye.

020 As it can be done week by week, it made me think it could be a do-able project, and if I caught up with the sewing I could complete it by the end of October.

I decided to download the weekly patterns, and use the Christmas fabrics in my stash – of which I have quite a few acquired over the years.

011 It is interesting looking back on the ones I have accumulated – from the ‘traditional’ reds and greens and golds to the more modern and the ‘country’ look.

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They will all work – I hope.

For the past few weeks I have been foundation piecing like mad.

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It is a messy business!!

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It’s made me search out some small prints and not use the bigger ones in this project.

022But the results are fun!

008 I have been searching out some very tiny ‘conversation’ prints:

016And I have been sewing with Aurifil Ne 40 (the green spool).  For me it has the strength to cope with patterns printed on paper.

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I hope to be able to show the completed top by the end of the year.  I guess this means I have started another project – darn!

Playing with Fabric and Making New Friends

I learn something new everyday. Sometimes the ‘new’ thing has been around forever…but, it is still new to me. For example, QUILT CLUB AUSTRALIA. This is a closed group (you have to ask to join) on Facebook.
This group has over four and a half thousands members. They describe themselves as “a bunch of seasoned and newbie quilters, from all over Australia……”. They do all sorts of exciting things.
Several of their activities involve swapping fabrics and/or finished items.
Charm squares can be swapped or a particular designer’s fabric line.

Charm Square Swaps

Charm Square Swaps

Swap Fabrics from your favourite designers

Swap Fabrics from your favourite designers

They share tips and links to a variety of quilt related information. They have been around for a while but I HAVE JUST DISCOVERED THEM!
I came upon this group because I have recently been involved in a swap with the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild. Participants weighed 200grams of their finest scraps; placed them into a small postal bag with a self-addressed small postal bag, and sent them to the nominated distributor.

Parcels in the post full of goodies

Everyone who participated received a parcel. You would have thought I was waiting for a winning lottery ticket the way I ran to the post-box every day.
Note: if my family had seen my excitement over 200g of fabric scrap they would have wondered why I needed a room for the rest of my fabric collection!

200 grams of treasures

200 grams of treasures

I will be sharing the project(s) using my 200g of treasure in the near future.

Creating a 'NEW' fabric with my scraps

Creating a ‘NEW’ fabric with my scraps

In the meantime, have a look at what is ‘new’ in the quilting world. You may find yourself re-energised by QALs (quilt alongs), SALs (sew alongs) or swaps.

Longbourne at Castlemaine

Last weekend I had the pleasure of attending a class with Katrina Hadjimichael. http://katrinahadjimichael.blogspot.com.au/

The class was hosted by Corliss of Threadbear Patchwork and Quilting in Castlemaine. http://www.threadbear.com.au/

I have been an admirer of Katrina’s work for a number of years, so when I heard that she was to teach here in Victoria, I knew I had to be there! The quilt being taught was “Longbourne”,  number 3 in Katrina’s Jane Austen series, which currently numbers eight. It’s a feast of applique, fussy cutting and English Paper Piecing. Bliss!

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Katrina and “Longbourne”.

Twenty eager ladies gathered in the light and cosy venue for a day filled with lots of learning, inspiration, friendship, laughter and delicious food (that I didn’t have to prepare!!)

When we arrived and found a spot to park our bags, belongings and bodies, we received a lovely little gift bag from Corliss, complete with chocolate sustenance and fabric treasures.

Longbourne class 018 edit

What’s inside?

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Treasures!

Katrina also came armed with a gift: a copy of the recent Quilters Companion magazine which included a DVD featuring Katrina and her tips for Jelly Roll quilts.

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Then to the real work of the day! Katrina is a very organised and meticulous teacher and led us through the various techniques and processes required to make our own version of Longbourne. All the extensive notes, beautifully drawn pattern sheets, and a collection of photos showing in detail various elements of the quilt, were presented in a display folder for each participant.

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Pattern sheets and detailed instructions in a display folder.

Most participants chose to use reproduction fabrics for their quilts as in Katrina’s original, but one other brave soul and yours truly ventured into the realm of brights. I have decided this presents an additional challenge: many of the fabrics in bright modern fabric ranges have larger scale designs on them. For some elements of the quilt, especially the centre panel, small scale designs are also necessary. I found I had to go shopping for some additional fabric. (Oh dear, such a hardship)

At the beginning of the class one lady asked Katrina what her secret is for such accurate and neat work? In short, the answer is attention to detail.  All applique components are tacked onto paper first. Katrina takes great care when tracing and cutting out her pattern pieces. No sloppy workmanship here!

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Tacking onto cartridge paper for fussy cut components.

 

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More tacking.

Here’s Katrina demonstrating how she makes tiny (3/8″) hexagons. And the thread of choice… Aurifil of course!! (Here she is using 50 weight).

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And so, to sew. The bias stems come first.

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Ready to applique the bias stems.

I have not done a great deal of actual sewing as yet, but I have done a little playing with various fabric combinations, and lots of thinking about my creation.

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Playing and thinking.

And when Longbourne is finished, there may be another of Katina’s Jane Austen quilts calling me.

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Lambton, the latest in Katrina’s Jane Austen collection.

Thank you Katrina and Corliss for a most enjoyable and inspirational day.

 

Holiday Dreaming

I’ve been back at work for less than three weeks and already my holiday is a distant dream, so I browsed through my photos to re-live some of the memories.

We drove 10,000 kilometres, over many gravel & dusty roads, saw lots of bush and wild life and very few towns.

Women-of-West-QuiltHowever, what I did notice is that in nearly every one of those towns, regardless of the size, there was always a mention of a community quilt to commemorate something special.

The quilt above, hangs in the Australian Stockman’s Hall of Fame & Outback Heritage Centre in Longreach, Queensland.

I could not find any reference to the makers, but the quilt captured the stories that were displayed around the museum, of women’s lives in isolation in the outback in the past.

Other quilts told stories of settlement anniversaries, mining and local interests and all were hanging in community halls, libraries, council offices and other public places.

It was obvious that the making of these quilts had brought people together to share their love of stitching and their community.

So long live the sharing of patchwork, quilting and embroidery!

 

My Aurifil Dog

I attended the New Zealand Symposium in Manawatu earlier this year and was privileged to take a class with Melissa Burdon. Melissa transforms photographs into works of art.
I chose a photograph of my beloved Jack Russel, Dougal. He is 13 years old and has become MY dog even though he was a pet for my sons when they were young.

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Meet My Dog, DOUGAL

Using the computer program GIMP, the photograph is altered removing colour and leaving a gray scale image. This technique allows a tracing to be made of the subject separating areas by their shading.

My photo after GIMP

My photo after GIMP

For this class, our photos were shaded into 6 levels. Each of these shades translated into a shade of our chosen colour. I chose purple.

The process begins

The process begins

The picture is slowly built up a piece at a time until it is ready to place onto a background. Finding just the right background took some time until I found a print of his favourite thing…TENNIS BALLS.

The background

The background

Once the background was complete and Dougal was fused in place, it was time to quilt.

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Aurifil Matches perfectly

Using Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt and 50wt threads the ‘fur’ began to ‘grow’.

The 'fur' grows

The ‘fur’ grows

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Toes

Quilting the Collar

Quilting the Collar

All of the quilting was done with FMQ. Each tennis ball was carefully outlined so they would ’bounce’.

SIT....Good Dog!

SIT….Good Dog!

If you have a photo of someone or something special, have a go with GIMP and create your own fabric photo.

And now for something completely different

I was asked to join a friend and do a workshop learning how to make an art journal with the talented artist Ro Bruhn.  This type of work is slightly outside my comfort zone.   I do love ‘art quilts’ and using different processes to make an art quilt, but a journal was something completely foreign to me.  I hummed and haaaaed for a moment – and then thought it was worth the risk!  It was very self indulgent – it wasn’t going to be for anyone else – but me to enjoy.  Yes – I would go for it!!

We had to take a  mountain of ‘scraps’ – I have plenty of those – and some lace, and buttons, and zips, and braids and wool and envelopes and teabag tags  and anything else you think you could use in a journal-  including some special sacred fabric that you never had used (up until now) was also suggested!

Organised scraps for the journal cover

Organised scraps for the journal cover

I was able to use some of those bits and pieces people give me as they know I like sewing – not necessarily patchwork fabrics – brilliant!

First page in progress

First page in progress

The first few pages were easy enough on the first day but we had to return in a month’s time with more pages.  As the month wore on,  the inspiration and ideas waned a little and it became harder to think of more pages.  Oh – did I mention, that the lovely Ro suggested we try and make FOURTEEN PAGES IN THE MONTH!!    I did realise that 14 pages meant 14 mini quilts.

Some furnishing fabric and some hand made silk paper plus

Some furnishing fabric and some hand made silk paper plus

and this page is nearly finished

Nearly finished this page

And just to show a few more pages

091 and some silk flowers made for a cushion (that I never finished) get a new life!089and a bit of the glitter from braids and trims and an old Indian cushion found in an op shop.097some Kantha quilting with a dyed doily as contrast095Naturally I used Ne 50, Ne 40, Ne 28 and Ne 12 in the art journal construction!094

Discussing it with my workshop classmates we all seemed to have been burning the midnight oil trying to get the cutting and pasting done as well as the sewing.  It was worth it in the end ——- we all produced personal and creative books.  We learnt more about colour and  relaxing with our stitching (raw edge zig zag is encouraged) and ‘wonky’ lines are seen as artistic and not incorrect.

I had the best time – what a wonderful workshop – so free to decide what colour goes with another – not to worry about edges or straight lines or stitch length or neatness. Thanks Ro for the best 2 days of workshop – I am so looking forward to finishing my journal and maybe creating a new one (once I can tidy up some of the scraps (aka mess) in the sewing room.

Hoopla 2

Last month I blogged about displaying work in hoops. Today I want to share another project displayed this way.

I love working with wool felt and Aurifil Cotton Mako Ne 12 (on the red spool).  I love the colours available and the ease of sewing. The cotton just glides through the fabric. Aurifil Lana (Australian wool and acrylic mix, also 12 weight and on a red spool) is also ideal for this work.  I decided to make a hanging using  my collection of wool felt in bright cheerful colours and a selection of co-ordinating Aurifil Cotton Ne 12 threads.

I gathered some resources for inspiration and technical know-how and started designing my project.  I especially found the work of Wendy Williams (http://www.flyingfishkits.com.au) and Sue Spargo (http://www.suespargo.com) helpful.

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Design inspiration

I drafted my design on paper to give me an idea of placement and proportion, though as you might notice, I later changed some of the embellishment details.

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A rough draft which I later altered.

I like the addition of rick rack in my projects and so I incorporated this here.

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Using rick rack for the stems.

Next came the first flowers.

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Arranging the flower components and selecting the thread colour.

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Adding the embroidery.

 

Then some  leaves.

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Adding and embellishing leaves.

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Two different leaves and a stem.

I created a large flower.

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Adding embroidery to the large flower.

When I had completed all my stitching I needed to place my work into its hoop and back it.

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Securing my work in the hoop.

I described this process in my previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2015/06/19/hoopla/

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Stitching on the felt backing.

My hanging is complete.

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This was such a delightful little project to make, I’ll definitely be making more items like this!

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