Are you quilting for a Hawk or an Eagle?

I’ve lived in Victoria long enough to have become accustom to a public holiday for a horse race but one for a football game was a surprise.

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Now I am not a dedicated follower of the AFL so I am making the most of the day to play with thread …. Aurifil of course and in particular Cotton Mako’ 28, our favourite quilting thread weight.

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But some at Always Quilting are followers, so here is a test that they set up for the committed AFL spectator.

Are you a Hawk?

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Or an Eagle?

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So was that a Hawk?

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Or an Eagle?

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So hope you enjoy the game, and still find some time to quilt.

Hoopla!!

The staff at Always Quilting recently discussed using embroidery and quilting frames to display textile work. Embroidery and stitcheries, applique, pieced items and quilting, even a pretty piece of fabric can all be displayed this way. A quick internet search gives you lots of inspiration! Indeed, I was inspired and have since made a couple of items which are displayed in inexpensive embroidery hoops.

For my first piece, I decided to engage in some English paper piecing and fussy cutting and make a small companion piece for a mini quilt made last year and which I blogged about in a previous post. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/11/28/always-playing…-fussy-cutting/  You might recall that there was not much fabric left, but certainly sufficient for my purpose.

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Plenty of holes, but still enough fabric for my project!

I used 4x 2-inch clamshells and fussy-cut my fabric, with a small circle as the centre. There are many methods of preparing your English paper pieces, from tacking, to glue-basting, to fusible papers. I discuss one method here. https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2013/02/22/english-paper-…agons-and-more/  When using clamshells, I prefer to tack the paper in place as this gives me greatest control over the curve, ensuring it is nice and smooth. When it is tacked into place I give it a good press.

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Tacking the fabric onto the clamshell paper.

Once I had made my clamshells I appliqued them onto my background fabric using Aurifil Cotton Mako 50. As you can see in the photo, I left plenty of fabric around the edges. I then took my little hoop, in this case 5 inches in diameter, and centred my design in it. When I was happy with its placement I tightened the screw so that the work was tensioned with no wrinkles.

 

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Ensure the item is centred in the hoop.

I trimmed the background fabric to a border of about 1 1/2 inches.

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Trimming excess fabric to 1 1/2 inches.

I took a strong thread (Aurifil Cotton Mako 28) and ran a gathering stitch around the perimeter. To make this job easier I did not cut my thread off the spool, but used it directly from the spool. This way could adjust it as required, and I didn’t run the risk of miscalculating the length of cotton I needed, or of accidentally pulling the gathers out. When I had the gathers sitting as I wanted, I cut the threads leaving a tail, then tied them in a reef knot to secure them.

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Gathering the background fabric behind the hoop.

To cover the back of the hoop I cut a circle of felt, using the hoop as a template for the circle. I wanted the felt to fit just to the edge of the blue background fabric, but inside hoop. Finally I stitched the felt in place again using a strong thread, Aurifil Cotton Mako 28. I used an overstitch going from the felt out towards the edge of the hoop as shown in the photo, and I ensured that each bite into the felt was about 3mm and went into the blue background fabric each time.

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Stitching the felt back into place.

And my little project is finished and ready to hang on the wall!

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My little hanging all ready to display on the wall.

In a future post, I will write about another project framed in this way.

 

Gathering in the Barn

Last month I treated myself to a day at the Gathering in the Barn held at Linda Collin’s barn in Wonga Park, home of the Quilts in the Barn exhibitions held annually. Leonie Bateman of The Quilted Crow was the presenter for the day. http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/

When we arrived our first task was to find our seats, meet friends old and new, and indulge in the yummy morning tea.

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As you can see, the barn was decorated with many of Leonie’s quilts and treasures and she had her pop-up shop there as well, so there was plenty of visual feasting too!  Leonie’s specialty is using felted wool applique.

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Leonie’s quilt “Betsy”, 54″ square.

 

At each place on the table were our gifts for the day, four new patterns designed by Leonie, and a kit wrapped up and temptingly labelled “no peeking”.

 

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I’ve already peeked!!

 

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Four new designs.

The kit we received is called “Cornflower Blue – Doorstop” and includes the pattern and materials required to make this cute little doorstop. The  background fabric is hanky linen, with felted wool applique. Leonie provided Aurifil Cotton Mako 28 on each table for the blanket stitch.

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Leonie’s Cornflower Blue Doorstop.

Before very long all participants were busily and happily engaged in the creative process. The felted wool and Aurifil thread are both beautiful to use and the stitching process is very soothing! I decided I preferred a thicker thread for the embellishment at the top of the flower.  This was easy: I just chose Cotton Mako 12 weight in the same colour.

 

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My doorstop underway.

Leonie’s technique involves the use of a water soluable gluestick to hold the components in place and then stapling (yes stapling!!) them until stitching is complete. The felted wool is not marked at all by this.  However I am quite happy to use a few tacking stitches and this works well too. (I don’t have a very big stapler).

The day went very quickly and by home time I had completed all the blanket stitching. At home it did not take me long to assemble the doorstop.

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Joining the doorstop components.

 

I enjoyed myself so much I immediately set out to make 2 more doorstops as gifts. This time I used wool felt rather than felted wool.  It has a firmer feel but works very well too. As an alternative thread, you could use Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) for the blanket stitching.

 

Extra doorstops

Two more doorstops, as yet unfilled.

And now I’m off to pack my bags so that I can catch a plane and deliver these gifts in person!

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It is January so it must be time for a Fabric Frolic

January in Melbourne means “Fabric Frolic” time from 16th to 25th.

Seven shops in the eastern suburbs collaborate to organise a splendid week of treats, shopping and competitions for the patchwork enthusiast.

This year I was pleased to see that two of the shops on the shop hop map are Aurifil retailers so be sure to stock up on your thread supplies when visiting Patchwork Passion and Palm Beach Quilting.

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Patchwork Passion in Cranbourne has a good supply of Cotton Mako’ 28 for your blanket stitch applique & quilting.

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and Palm Beach Quilting in Carrum Downs stocks an extensive range of Cotton Mako’ 50 for piecing and needle turned applique.

So it is time to get together with some friends and plan a road trip to visit these shops in the next few days.

 

 

 

Not long now

I’m looking at my calendar and counting down how many sleeps until Christmas. In other words, how much time I have got left to do all the pre-Christmas things that need doing and my list is getting longer.

I have managed to complete one project, a Christmas tree ‘skirt’ for a family member who hasn’t seen the finished item yet – and as she doesn’t read this blog, I am fairly safe it will be a surprise when I give it to her.

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I looked and looked for a suitable pattern, and was thrilled to find a whole book with beautiful Christmas things to make.

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I wanted a modern look, and this design suits my criteria – colourful, modern and relatively quick to do.

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I had to add a slight change to the pattern, as I stupidly cut the centre hole far too big.  Memo to self:  read measurements twice before cutting! I cut the circle out of the centre twice the width it was supposed to be (measured out 7 inches on both sides of centre inside – darn!). Of course I had started to scissor cut the circle when I realised. So my design has an extra ‘garland’ to match the outer one.  I guess that makes the pattern more original!!

Naturally some AURFIL thread was used in the construction and quilting. I had the right colour for the buttonhole stitch in Ne 28, and used the Ne 40 in red and soft aqua in the quilting.

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I bought some pretty reindeer fabric for the backing

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and a chevron striped binding worked too.

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Happy Christmas to everyone – just one week to go…

062PS  Our shop, “Always Thread” is closing from the 19 December 2014 until 5 January 2015.

Aurifil and Cross-stitch.

In the 1980s and early 90s, before I was bitten by the patchwork bug, I did a lot of cross-stitch. Consequently, I have many cross-stitch patterns, and yes, a number of UFOs!!

Quite a high proportion of the patterns feature patchwork in some form…was this a portent of things to come? This is one of my completed projects from about 16 years ago. (The non-reflective glass makes the photo a bit hazy).

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Strawberries Forever by Told in a Garden Designs

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Close up of Strawberries Forever.

I still engage in some cross-stitch, but these days much of my stitching time is devoted to patchwork.

Recently however, I decided that one of the yet-to-make patterns would be ideal to hang in my new patchwork studio. It is called “Home of a Quilter”,  another pattern by Told in a Garden designs.

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Previously, all my cross-stitch work was done with stranded thread (before my enlightenment into the benefits and pleasures of working with Aurifil Threads).  For this new project however, I was keen to use Aurifil. I am stitching on 14 count Aida and I chose to work with Cotton Mako Ne 12, the thickest of the Aurifil cottons. (That’s the one on the red spool). I have done many stitchery projects with this weight thread and so felt very comfortable working with it. It glides through the fabric beautifully and yippee!  No more having to strip the individual strands of thread!

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Threads used in my current project.

 

Although my pattern does not require outline stitching, I will probably use Cotton Mako Ne 28 to highlight a few of the paler colours.

It is possible to use the finer Aurifil threads for cross-stitch too. Jenny has completed two little kit projects which use Cotton Mako Ne 28 (on the grey spool). The 28 weight thread gives a very crisp look to each stitch.

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Jenny’s “Spring”cross-stitch using 28 weight thread.

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Jenny’s “Autumn” cross-stitch, also using 28 weight thread.

These are from the Four Seasons Collection, and as the name implies, these are available in 4 different designs, one for each season. To view these in the Always Quilting online shop, go to http://www.alwaysquilting.com.au/index.php?act=viewCat&catId=231 These designs also utilise some of the variegated colours in the Aurifil range. Each kit contains 4 spools of thread and the pattern and is excellent value for money.

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Two of the “Seasons” collections: Spring (left) and Autumn (right).

If you have a pattern which lists stranded thread colours and you wish to convert them to Aurifil, you can visit http://www.brodibuta.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=49:conversion&catid=36:bonus&Itemid=49 or read Jenny’s blog post https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2012/03/12/how-can-you-substitute-aurifil-threads-to-use-for-all-your-embroidery-designs/

Not all stranded threads have a recommended Aurifil conversion colour, but with 270 colours in the current Aurifil range, there is sure to be something suitable.

I have been working on my current cross-stitch for just over 3 weeks and am about  a quarter of the way through it. This is the portion I have completed so far.

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Partially completed “Home of a Quilter”.

Hopefully I will have the stitching finished soon, so that this will be ready to hang in the new year…I’ll keep you posted!

 

Excellent exhibitions

I have recently attended two quilt exhibitions, each one a treat.  The first was “Quilts in the Barn” and the second “Eastern Palliative Care Quilt Show”.  Each is held annually during spring in the Eastern suburbs of Melbourne, and each is a fund-raiser for very worthwhile causes, breast cancer research and Eastern Palliative  Care respectively.  In this post I will share some photos of Quilts In the Barn. (Permission given).

My friend and I arrived right on opening time which meant we avoided a  long queue. Before very long things became very busy, especially so later in the morning when a coach-load of eager ladies arrived!!

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Entrance to Quilts in the Barn.

This magnificent quilt was hanging in the entrance.  It is called “Homage to Sallie Anne” and was designed by Di Ford-Hall.  This version was made by Helen Hayes.  (Should I confess? …I too have a Sallie Anne lurking amongst my UFOs).

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“Homage to Sallie Anne”.

One of the guest tutors/ exhibitors was  Brenda Papadakis of Dear Jane fame. Understandably there were some Dear Jane style quilts.

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“Zutphen” made by Jenny Bear.

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Another Di Ford-Hall design, this one made by Jenny Bear and called “Jane Austen in Texas”.

Here is a close up showing the fussy cut borders and quilting.

 

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Close up of “Jane Austen in Texas”.

There were quilts made from hexagons. This is Jenny Bear’s Jane’s and Vera’s Garden. Lots of fussy cutting here!

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This is a miniature hexagon quilt, stitched and quilted by hand by Marion Edwards.

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This antique quilt caught my eye.

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These quilts were made by Michelle Yeo.

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The Quilted Crow girls Leonie and Deirdre were there with their shop.

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The Quilted Crow shop.

Shoppers could see (and touch!) some of their latest offerings: their fabric range “Pomegranate Lane”, their wool range, “The Seasons”, and their hand-dyed velvets.  Aurifil Threads (Cotton Mako’ Ne 28 – on the grey spool) are available in two Quilted Crow Girl Collections which coordinate with their favourite colours.  Check out the collections at  http://thequiltedcrow.danemcoweb.com/shop/product/aurifil-threads/

They also had copies of their recently released second book.  This is one of the quilts which is featured in it.

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All this viewing and shopping  is thirsty work and the bevy of helpers in the cafe did a great job!

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Such exhibitions involve a great deal of preparation and work by many dedicated people, but provide a wonderful service and inspiration to us all. (Quilts in the Barn raised $16,000 this year). Well done!!

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