Sunday, September 26, 2010

Spring Madness

Some of us can tell the season's changes by the life cycle of plants, from the shift in colours of foliage to the loss of leaves and the buds appearing again in the warmer months.  Some of us have other visual aids.
Here is mine:

It's spring and madness is all about!
In Sydney there is an "Art & About" festival on and some of the statues have been dressed up for the occasion.

This is the sign to me that we have emerged from the winter cold and our spirits are high.  Just in case you were wondering whether you have reached the wrong blog, here is a quilt completed many seasons ago.

See you soon.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

humble but nimble thimble

I am always interested to know what other quilters are using and what their favourite tools are.  Without exception, every class I have ever taken has exposed me  to at least one great  technique or tool.  It appeals to me to keep finding  new treasures and making new discoveries.

One of my favourite tools is my thimble.  Well, actually I use two.  Since I am right handed, I have one on my thumb and another on my middle finger.  The job of the thimble is to protect the finger from nasty, repetitive skin pricks while controlling the needle.  Thumb thimble is used to stop the needle from travelling further and it protects my thumb in the process.  Finger thimble's purpose is to pivot and rock the needle through as many stitches as possible before the needle meets up with thumb thimble. Once there, the needle pushes off thumb thimble to deliver up enough of its tip to allow me to pull the rest of it through the fabric.

I am a thimble tragic.  Without these two thimbles I would be lost.  They are very cheap to buy but priceless to own.  I have tried others but I keep coming back to these.  They have a cross hatch pattern on the top that seems to hold the needle but not too much.

The thimble with the dimples on the top are vexatious.  The needle slips around the concavity and pops out before it can collect any stitches on it.  I wonder if there is anyone who can tame this thimble?
Here is a picture of my thimble collection:

There are 10 thimbles.  Three got in there somehow, because I can't throw things away, no matter how useless. The others belong to my thimble family: some are for winter and the rest are one size bigger for summer when my fingers have swollen just so slightly due to the heat.  You may notice a film canister there.  It holds thimbles perfectly and prevents them from getting lost.   It travels in my sewing basket along with other essential items used in the quilting trade.  One day, the film canister will be considered an antique of the 20th century.  Perhaps the most valuable thing in this photo is the film canister!

Monday, September 20, 2010

2 steps forward, 1 step back

This post is dedicated to Chris who happily gives good advice.

Here is a project I am currently working on.  in other words, I started it in 2010.

It is from  the book  "Material Obsession 2", which if you haven't seen it is worth a close look if not a purchase.  I find it inspirational.  Instead of funky, I chose to work with 30s fabric and a range called Regency Dandy.  I was merrily tootling along but aware that something wasn't quite right.  Yesterday it hit me.  It is a quilt of medium to light value and the large dark stars  and corner pieces had to go.  Easier said than done, especially as this is foundation pieced.

At this point, my blocks would have progressed from the work table to the cupboard and become next year's UFO (WIP if you like euphemisms).  However, I stuck to it, in spite of spending 2 hours looking for a piece of fabric that had inadvertently fallen into a drawer (does that sound familiar? or is it only me?).

 After a weekend of snatched sewing, I am back to where I started,  plus one block.

It is intended to be 9 blocks (the MO2 quilt is 16) and that will do me.  And because I am starting to like big stitches, I will use Perle 8 again for this quilt.  Black? or have I just not learned my lesson.  Should I be going with a medium or light?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Preserving the Past Part II

There were only 4 homes out of the seven historic buildings that were open to the public during the exhibition in 2008 at Houston.  The previous quilts shown on an earlier post were housed in larger genteel homes.  However, the real treasures appeared when I went into The Yates House.  It was built in the 1870s by a recently emancipated slave for his family.  Here's some of what  it contained:

A beautiful example of crazy patchwork.  Apparently this quilt was only for show and brought out when guests appeared.  There was more:

A strippy lone star quilt quilted with an all over  Baptist fan pattern.  Note the pot under the bed! There followed more utility quilts such as:


A Grandmother's garden with an allover Baptist Fan quilting pattern.

Hope you liked the show.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

who cares about the points

If you came across this bundle at a garage sale what would you do?  Would you buy it?  

What if some of the blocks were sewn together:
and others had little labels identifying their position-to-be in the quilt:
What if there were 63 blocks?
How much is it worth?
On a post last week I saw a quilt top that had been bought at a "yard sale" for $3.  I didn't know how or why the quilt top had ended up there, or who valued all that time and effort at $3, but the story dismayed me.  My imagination ran wild.  It bothers me to think that one day my fabric stash, UFOs, quilt tops and even quilts could end up in the same predicament.  What would happen to my stuff if I got run over by a bus tomorrow?

In fact, this is a partially completed quilt top from "Rotary Roundup by Judy Hopkins and Nancy J. Martin.  I had no trouble identifying it because it is mine.  It was started in 1997 after I had been sewing for 2 years.  Today I pulled it out of the cupboard determined to save it from a garage sale fate.
As I worked on the blocks,  I understood why I had not continued on and left this project languishing so long.  I had not paid enough attention to the 1/4" seam allowance on every block.  When it came time to put the top together I  had realised that I was going to lose lots of points and became disheartened.  13 years on I didn't love the pattern nearly so much, but I did understand its value.  It is destined to become a quilt that will make me smile and appreciate the journey I have travelled in that time.

PS.  When I told my friends this sorry saga, they told me not to worry any more about my stuff going into a garage sale.  They said they would look after it if that bus actually got me!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Preserving the Past

You may have noticed my new header - I certainly hope so! I was asked about the previous one.

In 2008, I was lucky enough to attend Quilt Market and Festival at Houston.  Concurrent with the Festival,  the Heritage Society in Houston displayed 17 quilts from their permanent collection.

The quilts were on view at seven historic buildings in Sam Houston Park.  I made a trip to the exhibition and was surprised to discover that I was the only person in Houston at that time who was interested in this amazing event.

Maybe because I was the only person on the tour, the docent allowed me to photograph the quilts.  The houses that the quilts were in, were amazing, and the stories I heard, fascinating.  If you are able to visit Houston during the quilt show this year I hope they have a similar exhibition. 

More next post.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Little Baskets

When I saw the little baskets on Ann's blog, it reminded me of my little baskets, tucked away in a cupboard somewhere.  When I first saw the picture of this quilt in "When a Cold Wind Blows", I was ensnared and determined to make it.  After all, the text read that one of the author's mother completed almost 300 of these in less than 4 months.  How hard could it be?  After 2 autumns this is what I have

Instead of making a quilt in Halloween colours, I altered the palette to autumn colours.  I saw beautiful shades of colours in our autumn leaves ranging from purples, oranges, greens, scarlets and even blacks. All the blocks are on a black and white/cream shirting background.  There are 70 little blocks today:

I don't know how many more I can make.  I take my hat off to Leona, the mother.  I wish my mother was a patchworker.  Maybe she would help me out.  Another solution may be to use a 1" sashing between the blocks.  What do you think?

It would certainly be faster, but would it be better?

Saturday, September 4, 2010

It''s not over until it's labelled

When I put the last stitches in my binding I usually sigh with satisfaction and contemplate the journey that the quilt and I have travelled.  I throw on a label, particularly if the quilt is leaving home, and move on to the next project.  That is, I used to.  Until I read my friend Kate's blog.  She shows Ben's quilt with a gorgeous little label that reflects the pattern on the other side.  It is thoughtful and considered and I realized that the design process is not over until the label is attached.  Here is my most recently completed quilt
It has been a while since I finished the quilt top so I was only able to find a few of the fabrics in it.  However, what I found I put together in a label that has some connection with the other side.
This quilt was custom long-arm machined by Adri.   Didn't she do a marvellous job.  Here have a closer look.