Just Because….

Most of the projects I make involve fairly intense hand work, such as needleturn applique and English paper piecing. Here’s one of my current projects.

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Even under “optimal conditions” (no housework, no paid employment, neglected hubby and family, and little sleep) such projects progress slowly. Much as I love this activity, it’s sometimes nice to have a change of pace and produce something that goes together more quickly and with less effort.

I have recently made such a quilt.

While distracted (i.e. browsing on the internet) I saw a quilt which I thought had an interesting layout. There was no name or pattern, but that did not deter me as I simply drafted my own, using dimensions of my choice. I had some suitable fabrics in my stash so I was able to begin without delay.

The blocks are simple and require only two seams.

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The trickiest thing is to ensure the correct orientation of all the blocks once they are pieced. Check and check and check before joining!

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I used the red sashing fabric to add a border around the edge to frame the quilt and bound it in the same fabric to maintain the framed look. In the photo below, I am trialling the position of the blocks and the border.

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With my long-arm machine, quilting my projects is straightforward.  My quilting business, “The Quilt House” is located in Vermont South, Victoria. Check out my website :  http://www.thequilthouse.com.au 

I decided to use an all over quilting design (edge-to-edge) 0n the quilt, in this case I chose Lorien’s “Twirly Feathers”. It’s a really elegant design.

For this type of quilting, I use Aurifil 40 weight thread on my Gammill quilting machine. I chose a red thread to match the sashing fabric. It provides a nice contrast with the gold coloured backing fabric.

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And here is the quilt used as a topper on my bed. I called it “Just Because”………well, just because!

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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.

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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.

 

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.

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!

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.

 

A Special Treat to Banish the Cold

It is always a special treat when a customer brings a project that they have stitched with Aurifil into the store for “show and tell”.

windflower-scarf

This delightful scarf has been designed by Jan at Windflower Embroidery.

It is just perfect for those wintery days that we are experiencing, a lovely soft angora wool background trimmed with wool applique autumn leaves embellished with Lana wool thread.

Just the description is enough to banish the chill air.

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Jan has heaps of information, including an Embroidery Stitching Guide for free download, on her Windflower Embroidery website.  Well worth a visit.

If you want to work your own winter embroidery with Lana wool thread, visit our Aurifil Thread Australia website to find a local retailer.

Read more information about Lana wool thread.

What could be better than Chocolate?

I hope that you have had a safe & happy  Easter spent with family.

My family lives too far away to visit easily so I’ve allowed myself some favourite quintessential Australian Easter treats.

easter-bilbyA chocolate Bilby from Haighs & a hot cross bun.

What could be better than that?

Well maybe an addition to my Aurifil thread collection.

china-shop-collectionWe pack a  great selection of stash builder threads, such as these above, in-house at Always Threads  and you are sure to find a set to add to your own stash at the Always Quilting online store.

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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Not the perfect match

Jenny and I were delighted to see the February issue of Australia’s “Homespun” magazine in the shop this week.  It is always a good read, with lots of projects to do and plenty of articles about patchwork and sewing plus great advertisements  to drool over.

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Several of our customers had mentioned that they were going to be selling the Homespun Block of the Month “China Blue” in their patchwork shops, and some had mentioned they would like some suitable Aurifil thread packs that would also work with the fabrics.

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We knew that Kathy Doughty (from Material Obsession), one of the designers of this block of the month  was an Aurifil stockist, and we noted that Kathy recommends, in the materials list, Aurifil 50 in a neutral colour like 2900.

This got us thinking.  What other colours could we use to make up a small pack of threads for this amazing BOM and to go with the fabulous Kaffe Fassett  fabrics?   Always Quilting has a small range of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, so we selected a few, and matched them up with our thread selection.  This was a very difficult task as Aurifil has 270 colours to choose from!!

My spool of Aurifil Ne 50 in  colour 2900

My spool of Aurifil Ne 50 in colour 2900 looks good

2564 works well with these assorted mauves

2564 works well with these assorted mauves

We also realised that you don’t need the perfect colour match for your applique.

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The citrus  fabric colours can be appliqued with a soft green/grey or even a soft blush pink

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Although Kathy has recommended 2900 for this first part of China Blue,  you may be interested in these other colours as well:  2564, 2846, 6724, 6727, 6723 (the last three numbers are part of the gorgeous new colours available in the Aurifil range).

Our selection of threads

Our selection of threads

We will be looking forward to seeing what the coming months bring us with this exciting BOM from Homespun, designed by the fabulous Kaffe Fassett and Kathy Doughty (and the design team from Material Obsession).

Sewing holiday

I’ve been away over January.  I wonder if you can guess where  from the photos?
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Is it an English Country Garden?005
I think not – given the time of the year and the season!

Perhaps it is another country with this magnificent gum tree in flower?
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Or maybe it is a tropical island?
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No – none of the above. I attended the New Zealand Quilt Symposium Manawatu held in Palmerston North.146

I had a wonderful time and was able to do a two day classes with Karen Stone from the USA in “Clam Session – the decorative one-patch”.  Just so much fun and so many inspirational ideas to go away with.

Part of Karen’s quilt:

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and the colour combination of fabrics I worked on:

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A long way to go with this quilt!
I also had a workshop for two days with Adrienne Walker of New Zealand called “Wind Fall” making an autumnal wall quilt.

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and my leaf being constructed under machine.  It was a very steep learning curve!
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I loved the week I spent at the Symposium, and next month I’ll ‘bore’ you with more photos from my time away and perhaps some photos of my “works in progress”.

Well done to the amazing Manawatu Symposium committee – all volunteers – who work extremely hard and so ‘professionally’ to make the symposium so successful.

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