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.

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!

 

It is never too late to learn patchwork

When Pat moved out of the family home into a smaller townhouse she lost her favourite hobby. She had gone from a yard with a flower garden, vegetable garden & fruit trees to a courtyard with a couple of pot plants.  The time she had spent in the garden was now free (empty) time and she needed to find a new hobby.

This was when she decided to join a class at the local patchwork. 

Pat's first quilt

Nothing surprising about this except …. Pat made her first quilt in her eighties.  I find this inspiring. I always mentally tell myself that it is never too late to learn a new skill but secretly I don’t always believe my “pep talk to myself”. However, here is a woman who has proved the message. 

Not only has Pat learnt a new set of skills but she has built a new group of friends in her patchwork class.

The pretty applique centre block in Pat's quilt

 I’ve quilted Pat’s pretty quilt with both Cotton Mako’ Ne 40 & 28. The Cotton Mako’ Ne 40 gives a neat result for the ditch stitching and the stipple quilting in the background of the centre applique block. It is fine enough to blend away, disappearing allowing  the texture to come to the for. 

 

I stitched the motif used in the plain setting squares with Cotton Mako' 28

I used Cotton Mako’ Ne 28 to stitch the motifs in the alternating setting blocks. They were a beautiful blank canvas crying out for a feature motif that complimented the beautiful piecing.

 I like my quilting to be subtle so that it doesn’t overwhelm the patchwork but it should still have sufficient strength to create a beautiful finish.

I think that using the combination of Cotton Mako’ 40 & 28 helped me achieve just the result I wanted when machine quilting  this quilt.

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