Another sewing month

While some of my work colleagues have been on holiday this month to warmer climes,  I’ve had to put up with cold Melbourne weather with only the occasional breaks in cold Melbourne temperatures.

However, my garden did tell me spring is on the way with bulbs coming up

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and when out walking, the park showed me this

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enough for the hay fever sufferers reach for their tissues and medications.

So, I haven’t got much to show for this month’s blog – other than some sewing.  My colleagues, will of course, have blog entries from all sorts of travel locations in the following weeks!  (sense a little envy here on my part?!).

First up is my work on the Quilter’s Newsletter Christmas Quilt (as reported on in my blog post last month).  I only have to make 20 of these little charmers – and that should be done in a week before the next download pattern comes available. No pressure here!Christmas QuiltThen I’ve been sewing a challenge quilt – can’t show much of that, except for the fabrics which were purchased in July and the deadline to get this one done is November:Challenge QuiltI’ve tried to do some more on my  ” Birdsville” by Wendy Williams:WW Birdsand help make blocks for a raffle for next year:

Raffle quiltand make a block for the guild’s retreat I attend each October with the theme “Step back in time” :

Retreat Block

In between times, I have completed a ‘modern’ baby quilt for a yet to be born first baby.  I can’t show the finished item yet, as it is a ‘surprise’ for the mum (and dad) to be:

Present

I have brought out the tiny hexagons for another airing at the wholesale trade fair in November.  We are organising our display for the Aurifil booth:

Quilt Market

And finally, I have started my Christmas sewing (yes, it isn’t that long to go when you make gifts):

Christmas sewing

All in all, I think I have done a little bit of work this month – but the pile of unfinished items still seems to grow!

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!

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.

Transforming

One of my friend’s is very clever at finding the BEST things in op shops.  Before op shopping became ‘trendy’ and when op shops were quite ordinary, in terms of display (now they are often like department stores) and odour (some could be considered musty! – for want of another word) my friend looked for bargains.  She has a good eye for sussing out treasures – not so much clothing, but crockery, great books, vases, etc etc – you name it – she has probably found it!   When she was going through her mosaic phase, she delighted in what she could buy and then take home to break up (destroy) for her art works!

Fortunately for me, I have on occasion, received a little gem from her. A month or so ago I was the recipient of one of her finds. Guess what it was??

StartYes! It was a large pincushion- about 6 inch diameter, covered in an upholstery furnishing fabric, with varnished base in dark brown.   I could see the possibilities in renovation!

Starting to undo

I had to unpick the braid around the fabric. Take out the millions of staples to find out what was underneath.

Nearly there

I decided to stay with the foam inner, as it had a good shape and was fine for reuse.

undone

‘Roughing up’ (I’m sure there is a technical term for this!)  the old varnish to start applying some white paint took some time.  Then repainting it with several coats.

underside

I love the ‘distressed’ look – so back to the sandpaper I went to make some marks ‘of wear’.

Then the fun part started of looking for a suitable fabric to recover it with.  I chose a Kaffe Fasset from my stash and some ribbon that went with it.  A retro button was found for the centre, and attached with Aurifil Ne 12 (see all sorts of using for the thread!).

Top of Pincushion

Da ta!!!  I am very happy with the end result – and won’t lose this one in the sewing room!

Finished

No cooking, just stitching.

For the last ten years, I have been going away for the Mother’s Day weekend to Phillip Island, a small island near Melbourne.  The  local “Patches”  group there organise a fabulous retreat from Friday to Sunday with various tutors in attendance.  The accommodation is ‘school camp’ but you put up with that as the time you have is so much fun – and you can get all your meals cooked for you (a big plus in my book!).

Some attendees  ‘socialise’ which means, doing more chatting and walking and shopping than the others who are in classes.  I don’t mention ‘stitching’ in that sentence, as having been a ‘social’ attendee in the past, I must admit I did not do as much stitching as planned.

This year I had the privilege to attend a workshop with Sydneysider, Wendy Williams who  showed us how to make her beautiful quilt “Birdsville” in  wool felt.   It was a relaxing, and (at times for me learning new embroidery stitches) a challenging time.

WW Birdsville

We learnt how to make the beautiful flowers, birds and leaves on the quilt as well as how to add pieced blocks and quilt it.

My first flowers – little steps

WW flower 2WW Flower 3

and a lonely leaf – with needle still inserted so I can remember how to do it!

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I managed my layout – though this has changed a little since I took this photo.  I chose a soft grey Japanese linen look to work on, with a deeper grey wool felt.

WWilliams layout HM

Wendy uses perle cottons for her embroidery, but I have a selection of gorgeous Ne 12 AURFIL of course, so I used those.  They work  so well and so easily being on a spool and with all the colours to choose from, my biggest problem is which one to use!  I could use them straight from the spool or double the thread up to make a slightly heavier look to my flowers and birds.

At the end of the workshop, everyone put their work down on a ‘tree’ and we saw how colourful it looked.

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I hope I can get the quilt completed sooner than later – always the aim when you come back inspired from a great workshop.  If only I could have a whole week or more just to stitch  – like on retreat!  Thanks Wendy for such a relaxing and enjoyable workshop.  Thanks too Phillip Island Patches Committee for all your hard work to make these retreats such a delight – and I am already looking forward to next year.  Maybe, I can have my “Birdsville” finished for the Show and Tell.

I said I wouldn’t do it

Oh yes, I went here on Thursday ( to AQC at the Royal Exhibition Building Melbourne)

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I said I would only go and look at the quilts and challenges and see what new shops there were.

I was only going to buy what was on the list (3 items) – quilting gloves (mine have ‘worn out) , some wool felt, and a book for a birthday present.

How come I came home with a bit more??

I was only going to buy one or two more pieces of wool felt to add to my stash.

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I am doing a workshop in a couple of weeks so I could justify that.  But when I saw the colours available, and more than one shop had wool felt.  I just weakened a tad.  These bits can go with my others:

Gelati colours I think.

And I can use my Ne 12 threads to embellish them.

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I may be ‘forced’ to look for another spool of Ne 12 – how unfortunate I work in a thread shop!
Oh – and the other purchases (but not the book, as my friend may read this blog)
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And I should also confess, I bought a new sewing machine – great excitement – an early birthday present for me.

Inspiration Islands.

At the New Zealand Quilt Symposium in January 2015, I had the privilege of listening to a lunchtime lecture  by Sheena Norquay from the United Kingdom.  Sheena’s  talk was for 45 minutes, and it was inspiring.  I could have listened for another hour at least as her photos (80 or more) and the information imparted was fascinating.  The lecture was titled ” Quilts and the Orkney Influence“.

From symposium catalogue it says

”  the lecture shows how the landscape, seas, skies and wildlife of the Orkney Islands, where Sheena was born, has influenced her work. Sheena finds Orkney’s colour palette and special quality of light very inspiring, as well as its rich Viking heritage; in particular, Norse myths and legends which she often incorporates into her pictorial quilts”. 

The talk gave me an insight into how living in such a remote location can influence your quilting – both in design of a quilt and the quilting designs.  It made me think about the Australian and New Zealand landscapes and the colour choices I would make.

I must admit I had never heard of Sheena Norquay until at the shop, I came across some of her thread selections.  We have in stock her Autumn Selection in Ne 50 (Kit Art box 1300m) and small box (200m) plus her Seascape Selection in 1300m and 200m boxes.

Recently we ordered another thread box “Linen and Lace” – a mixture of linen threads,  floss, Lana wool and cotton mako Ne 12.  I am very tempted to buy it for myself! (email us if you want more information about this collection)

Aurifil Pack

Very very nice colours inside!

Inside Aurifil Pack

When the Symposium catalogue arrived, I noticed that Sheena was one of the tutors, and I had hoped that I could do a class with her when I put in my preferences for tutor selection.  Sadly I couldn’t get into a class (but was very happy with the tutors I did learn from!) and  I did get to see some of her work close up though  (sorry about the photo – it was hard to stand back far enough to take a distance photo – plus the two quilts were long and narrow).

Sheena Norquay

The tutors exhibition had this wonderful piece of work on display – the detail in the quilting is amazing. I want to run my hand over the stones – they look so realistic.  The colours merge from one piece to the other.

closeup 2

and another (just lower down on the same quilt). Look at the little birds.

closeup
Thank you Sheena for your inspiring words and making me research the islands you love so much.

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