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!

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.

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‘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.

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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

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.

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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.

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!

Doorstopx3

 

 

 

Hearts for Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is approaching and heart-shaped items are everywhere at present. Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day or not, you can’t ignore the importance of the heart as a design shape and most of us would have used it at some point in our projects.

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Hearts feature in my quilt Baltimore Basket (designed by Sheri Wilkinson Lalk)

 

 

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One of the blocks in my Queen Square quilt (designed by Sue Ambrose)

 

I recently came across a sweet little pattern on the internet that I am currently making. Designed by Cheryl Fall, it is available to freely download. http://embroidery.about.com/od/Embroidery-Patterns-Projects/ss/Paisley-Hearts-3-Piece-Pattern-Set.htm#step-heading

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My pattern printed from the internet download.

Rather than the traditional red colourway used in the original embroidery, I am stitching mine in blue as this fits my decor. I am also using cotton fabric as my background in place of linen.
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Using Aurifil 12 weight thread for embroidery.

You are only limited by your imagination here. These designs would also look terrific made with wool felt using Aurifil Lana (wool/acrylic) thread.

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Stitching on wool felt with Lana for a different look.

 

I tried a number of different products to transfer the design, but had trouble seeing them. I required a mark I could clearly see, yet one which I could successfully remove at the end of the stitching.  I remembered a friend telling me about the “Frixion” pens, so I gave this a go and found it worked well.  This is a product by Pilot, available in a range of colours and nib sizes. Heat removes the marks, so ironing will take the marking out. If you don’t want to flatten your work with the iron, just hovering over it would probably work.  I did not try using warm- hot water. Marks can apparently reappear at below freezing point (I don’t plan to be in such an environment!) , so if you accidentally remove marks before you are ready, I imagine a short while in the freezer will restore them!  As with any marking item, use with discretion. This tool worked brilliantly for my purpose here, but I would probably be loath to use it on heirloom items, because I don’t know its long-term effects.

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I have a little way to go before I am finished, but the beauty of these small items is that they are easily achievable and I might even complete these in time for Valentine’s Day (this year!)

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Stitching progress so far.

 

Maybe a little stitching before dinner….?

 

 

Handmade Gifts – Scissors Keep

Each year I make a number of handmade gifts for family and friends, mainly for giving at Christmas time.  In 2014 I used a cute little design by Marg Low to make some scissors keeps. http://www.marglowdesigns.bigcartel.com/product/scissors-keep

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I purchased this pattern from Marg at Australian Quilters’ Convention along with some very handy blunt-ended scissors.

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The scissors with their plastic cover.

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Scissors with the blades open. The blades are short enough to comply with airline regulations.

 

The scissors are suitable to use on aircraft and I have successfully traveled with mine.

The beauty of these small gift projects is that they use only small pieces of fabric and other requirements that you are likely to have on hand.

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Templates made and ready to use.

This is one of my finished Scissors Keeps.  For the general sewing I used Aurifil Cotton Mako 40, but to make the twisted cord I have used several strands of Aurifil Cotton Mako 12. (Marg gives instructions in the pattern). I also used Cotton Mako 12 for the decorative running stitch along the top. I embellished the top yo-yo with beads, but you can also use a button or any other idea that appeals.

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Qld 2014 003

Now I need to consider what I might make as gifts in 2015. It may still be only January, but those of us who handmake gifts need to be prepared. Only 335 days left!!

 

 

Round Robin Round-up

At the beginning of 2014 the members of the Always Thread team set themselves a challenge, in the form of a round robin quilt project. We wanted this to be a small wall-hanging sized quilt, and one with a very modern feel. To see how we set up the specifications for our challenge go to https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/02/07/taking-the-round-robin-into-the-21st-century/

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The original four blocks using colours determined by the colour wheel.

 

At various stages in the year we have blogged about our progress and posted photos. To track our progress you can visit https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/04/19/round-robin-round-two/ , https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/07/25/round-robin-bl…e-21st-century/ , https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/08/22/quilting-the-2…-c-round-robin/, and https://alwaysquilting.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/twenty-first-c…-quilting-plan/

At our final handover day the four quilts looked like this…..

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Heather and Denise….. and this.

Always Quilting Round Robin 2014 Jenny and Judy

Ladybirdee added both machine and handquilting to her quilt, using two different weights of Aurifil thread. (Ne 40 and 12 respectively).

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A combination of hand and machine quilting.

A view from the back shows her extensive quilting.

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Back view.

She has also used pieced binding in 2 colours to add to the visual impact.

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Judysewforth also added lots of detailed quilting in a very “fun” design!! (#FUN)  Her binding is also pieced in two colours to match the outer border.

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Her backing fabric is a bit of fun too. (Sorry about the direction of this photo – WordPress is doesn’t seem to like this photo!)

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Jenny found some binding fabric to complement the colours in her quilt and used a variegated thread to machine quilt her project.

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The back view.

And as for my quilt….I could not decide how to quilt it and spent ages gazing at it without inspiration! In the end I machine stitched in the ditch to stabilise it (using Aurifil 40 weight), then added modern look hand quilting using Aurufil cotton in 12 weight. I trialled lots of colours before being happy with the apricot/orange I used (colour 2220) which doesn’t really show up very well  in the photo.

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Although this project took me very far from my comfort zone, and I engaged in a fair bit of sighing and complaining along the way, it did prove to be an intriguing exercise with interesting quilts as a result.

What about your group? Is anyone up for a challenge? We’d love to hear!

 

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!

 

Bits and Bobs or Dis and Dat

I haven’t got any major projects to ‘flaunt’ this blog post.  Just chipping away at all the things I should be finishing and the list grows.  I have to report that I have finished my 21st Century Round Robin Modern Quilt borders.

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I was undecided on what to do with the borders – to bag them out – or put a traditional border in various colours matching the  quilt.  In the end I went with a two colour border, and I ‘m very happy with it.   Looking at the photo, it seems to show the border is slightly wobbly – it isn’t! and that it varies in width – it doesn’t!!

The next project I have finished, is one for my patchwork guild’s ‘art quilt group’.  One of our clever members Marion, demonstrated how to monotype print.  It was the first time I had done anything like this, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Such luck if you managed to get something looking good!! You had no control over what the end product would be – though with time, and experience this would not be the case.    We were asked to make something with our samples – and here is my result using two prints and some of my hand dyed fabrics. I have ’embellished’ them with straight line quilting or crosses  in Ne 12.

Monotype Printing

Threads Monotype printing

Finally, I was lucky enough to do a workshop with Amanda Daly, a patchwork tutor from New South Wales.  We spent a weekend making “Ocean Jewels”.  It was relaxed fun class and some speedy sewers managed to get theirs nearly completed in the weekend. However, I am still to put mine together – but will enjoy working on it slowly.   It is a bit like a puzzle – some components need to be  placed together to make up the final wall quilt.

"Folded" square

“Folded” square

 

Another  - just like the other!

Another – just like the other!

Strip Side Bar

‘Seaweed strips” and side stripe bar

Oh for some more hours in the day – and time just to sew!

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