A medallion quilt?

I have finished the Orange Peel blocks that I got  little carried away making.

P1070157I satin-stitched around the petals (29 blocks in one day), then took a break while I considered what to do next.

I sewed the blocks together over a couple of days, in between taking the car to the mechanic etc. Then surrounded them in a narrow border of purple batik.

What next? I am considering some flying geese, then adding another couple of borders to bring it up to a decent size. I still have a pile of purple/plum and low volume prints to create from.

Any suggestions for the borders?

Linking up eventually with WIP Wednesday and Lets Bee Social.

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Plodding along

Some times each day seems full to the brim with activity, the sun shines, and everything just seems to hum along.

My Plum tree is now abloom. No bees in sight, but from memory Plum's are wind pollinated. Last year the crop was poor, for the first time, so this year should be a bumper crop.
My Plum tree is now abloom. No bees in sight, but from memory Plum’s are wind pollinated. Last year the crop was poor, for the first time, so this year should be a bumper crop.

At the end of Winter however, life seems to slow. We catch occasional glimpses of the promise of Spring, followed by damp, cold days that drain you of creative energy. Emotions flare up in hope of end to Winter, then crash down again as the temperatures plummet with another southerly blowing through.

The Winter clean-up has begun. The potato patch is cleaned out, wood ash, sheep pellets and lime added. All I need is a load of good compost.
The Winter clean-up has begun. The potato patch is cleaned out, wood ash, sheep pellets and lime added. All I need is a load of good compost.

Spring for us this year is a little special. 25 years of marital bliss (ahem!) will be celebrated this Spring, with an overseas trip somewhere sunnier and warmer. We shall leave the kids behind in the company of the Grandparents, and spend a week mixing Conference attendance and a holiday.

Over the fence, at the neighbours.
Over the fence, at the neighbours.

Until then, I am trying to push Spring along. Clearing out the potato patch, taking time to examine my Daffodils as they emerge, and visiting our Botanical Gardens to catch the annual parade of Magnolia, Rhododendron and Camellia flowers. The one thing I am not doing is rushing into Spring cleaning.

This past week, quilting has been fit between car repairs, licensing and registration. Sound easy? Well it took over a week and a half, taking three trips each to the garage and licensing centre, and two trips to Tony’s Tyre Centre. By the end of the week I was pretty strung out, so we took to the coastline this past weekend for some RNR.

A NZ  Fur Seal making a quick get away. It turns out we were trespassing down a private road, but the sign signalling the road end had faller over.
A NZ Fur Seal making a quick get away. It turns out we were trespassing down a private road, but the sign signalling the road end had fallen over.

The highlight was a New Zealand Fur Sean we disturbed out of a sand dune at Porangahau Beach, since he paused halfway to the surf, and stared at us for a while. Whangaehu Beach further down the coast came a close second, the mudstone boulders sparking all sorts of creative free-motion quilting ideas, which I may re-visit one day.P1070078

En route we had to stop at the site of the World’s Longest Place Name at Porangahau. The name translates as “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one.” I have no idea what a nose flute is.

Two of the four centre pieces of the Midnight at the Oasis quilt are now done. I am getting faster, and only sewed one piece on backwards today.
Two of the four centre pieces of the Midnight at the Oasis quilt are now done. I am getting faster, and only sewed one piece on backwards today.

No FMQ today though, despite my earlier enthusiasm. Instead I have re-lit the fire, and will sit with some hand-stitching for a while, just concentrating on keeping warm. I did do a little paper piecing this morning, and will also start printing out my 1930’s Farmers Wife pattern this afternoon. The QAL hosted by verykerryberry starts next month, so I am reading the book in preparation.The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt - jacket art

I am also contemplating making a wedding quilt, after the baby of the family (32 years old?) got engaged over the weekend. Apparently a long engagement is on the books, so I should have time. I don’t necessarily want to involve them in the process too much though. I don’t think I’m quite ready for the pressure of a “commissioned” quilt. I just want to play with fabric, and create them something beautiful. Something simple, classic and in “safe” colours (blue and neutrals?). Just a personal gift, not “The Wedding Quilt”.

Any suggestions, given I haven’t tried curved piecing yet, so a Double Wedding Ring quilt isn’t on the cards?

Have a good week.

You know you’re a Quilter when…

….the only way you can find your keys, is by attaching fabric to them!P1070012

The smallest finish yet. Two retro spools with a batik fabric scrap attached to each, all attached with a leather thong.P1070016

The worrying thing is I had this many keys left over. They belong to at least two prior employers (Universities), and I paid for them. Maybe if I return them, I can use the refund on fabric?

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Joining a QAL, commitment issues

I am joining my first QAL!

This is in contrast to my usual decision to make a quilt long after the QAL is done and dusted. While my usual method has its merits (i.e. learning from other’s mistakes), it does rule me out of fun activities like posting my progress, and winning quilty prizes for my efforts.FW1930sQAL 2

The QAL I am joining is The Farmers Wife 1930’s Sampler Quilt by Laurie Aaron Hird, starting September 2015, and organised by Kerry of verykerryberry.

I have the Farmers Wife 1920’s book, but have never gotten to making the quilt. By committing to a QAL, I am hoping to make more progress on the 1930’s version.The Farmer's Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt - jacket art

The QAL will start in September with introductory posts about fabric choice, colours etc, with the block posts for Blocks one and two starting on September 14th. Kerry will post updates every Monday for around a year until the Quilt is complete, with a series of guest bloggers posting about a second block each week.

In preparation, I have assembled all my reproduction fabrics. There are lots of pretty little florals in bright pastels, some of which have matching solids. Most of them have come from Moreland Fabrics, since Depression era fabrics aren’t a popular theme in the other LQS’s. Unfortunately I think I have sufficient fabric, so no fabric shopping is required. Sigh.

So, I am committed. Lets see if public accountability helps with WIP progress.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

A little carried away

P1060874

  • Midnight in the Garden – an unexpected quilt

I am supposed to be making two versions of the Midnight at the Oasis quilt by Jen Kingwell. I even blogged about it (here)…..but the siren call of those 20 cute little petal blocks was too great, so now I am making a Midnight in the Garden quilt instead. Or, a Midnight in the Delphinium patch quilt. It will feature lots and lots of these lovely blocks, and maybe a border or two, since I have all the fabric I bought for the original quilt. I see lots of improv fun in my future, no looking glass required.

I will still make one version of the Oasis quilt in the lighter colour way, especially since I ordered the fabric for one of the borders last weekend, while in Wellington.

My Design Wall is filling up. Midnight at the Garden to the top right, and the Midnight in the Oasis blocks in bottom left.
My Design Wall is filling up. Midnight in the Garden to the top right, and the Midnight in the Oasis blocks in bottom left.

I have lots of fabrics for the backgrounds in the new quilt, including my first ever Cotton and Steel, the Black and White collection having finally arrived in the Manawatu. The petals are mainly scraps, but I am cutting into yardage for the spots (Michael Miller dumb dots, various shades). I love the variety and the fun of playing with different fabrics, each and every block. No two blocks will be the same, but all will be shades of plum, purple and blue. I am using up bits of batik from the Arts Recycling Centre, and scrounging from Daughter #2’s scraps as well. I’m not sure how big to make it, probably a generous lap size. I haven’t kept a lap quilt yet, having made too many with Kona Snow as a main fabric. As previously noted, our cat makes these quilts impractical to keep. A black quilt might well be cat-proof.

  • Gypsy Wife #2

The one large block I have made for the Gypsy Wife #2 this week, is the Star Block. I have the pieces for the remaining blocks cut out, but I really don’t like making pin-wheels, so I am procrastinating…… just a little. Plus, the thought of sewing the sections together again is weighing on me. I will try to just keep pecking away at this, otherwise it would be very easy to let it end up sitting on a shelf for a while. It’s probably the dread of finishing this quilt, that has me starting another one. I guess it’s okay, as long as it doesn’t become a regular occurrence.

The Star Block, the last
The Star Block, the last “big” block in the Gypsy left to do is now done. Only  a few filler blocks left.
  • Midnight at the Oasis – Paper Piecing

Otherwise, my big feat for the week was attempting paper piercing for the first time. The Midnight at the Oasis (MAO) quilt has a centre block which is apparently easier paper pieced, rather than sewing lots of little equilateral triangles. I used the tutorial posted by Colour Girl Quilts during the MAO QAL, and gave it a go.

P1070007If it looks slightly wonky, thats because it is. That top piece is on a definite lean.

I was just astounded at how big I had to cut the fabric scraps to cover each piece of the pattern. Needless to say, I have a few rejected scraps, due to them being cut too small. Maybe a Scrap vortex quilt in my future???

  • My plans for the week…

The rest of the week is likely to consist of making more blocks for the Garden quilt, and maybe completing one more cushion. Plus, I need to practise my FMQ, maybe on the aforementioned cushion. And I mustn’t forget to take time to smell the roses, well, the early flowering Daffodils etc. Spring is well and truly springing, which I guess means Fall is approaching for you Northerners! My early potatoes are up, and the Plum blossom has started. I’m itching to get out in the garden.

Spring!
Spring! Except that it certainly still feels cold enough for winter, and frosts are still coming thick and fast every morning.

Linking up eventually with WIP Wednesday and Lets Bee Social.

A Scrappy Message Quilt

Daughter #2 has a friend recovering from a major operation, and this seemed like the ideal opportunity to pass on some love, in the form of a signed lap quilt.

Todays photo shoot comes care of next years woodpile. Makes a change from the clothes line.
Todays photo shoot comes care of next years woodpile. Its never too early to start collecting free Eucalyptus logs to burn, thanks to an arborist sister. ( See here for her world record foot lock climb).

The quilt top had been gathering dust for a week or two, while I tried to figure out how to increase the size of the top, and what to do with it afterwards. It had been pieced as a challenge quilt, from scraps purchased from Grandmothers Garden in the Waikato.

While I love the fabrics, any quilt with lots of pale colours is doomed in our household, due to owning a La Perm cat with an often dirty coat. La Perm’s have a genetic quirk, which results in a very curly coat. Charlie thinks he’s a dog, and insists on rolling in compost, sand, dust, and anything else smelly he can find. He’s been coming home smelling so bad lately, we suspect he has been joining the neighbours chickens for company during the day. Needless to say, unless freshly bathed, he and white or neutral based quilts do not mix.

A slight diversion to the Plum tree at the back of the section....spring is nigh! The Plum blossom should be out in the next couple of weeks.
A slight diversion to the Plum tree at the back of the section….spring is nigh! The Plum blossom is out, as are the first Daffodils and most of the local lambs.

I extended the quilt top with a chocolate brown border of homespun, then pieced a back from the homespun and some Kaufman fabric I picked up for the princely sum of $1 at a craft show. I used a layer of flannelette as the batting, since I want the quilt nice and flat for writing on.

The quilt back is Digital print D# 13617 from Robert Kaufman, with a median stripe of the homespun to extend it to fit. My first Daffodils!
The quilt back is labelled Digital print D# 13617 from Robert Kaufman, with a median stripe of the homespun to extend it to fit. My first Daffodils! Note these are now face-down in the mud after our recent winds.

Why not get the friends to write on it before I quilted it you ask? I considered that, then realised that passing around a quilt flimsy between a couple of dozen youth, would probably result in a very distorted and stretched flimsy being returned to me.

So, I bound it in more homespun, and now its ready to go on its way. After it has been covered in messages, I will run a few more lines of quilting across, then put it in the post.

Cushion and the quilt back, which I prefer to the front.
Another new cushion and the quilt back, which I prefer to the front.

In the time I had left, I quickly ran up another cushion from a block acquired at the Arts Recycling Centre. All it required was a border, some quilting, then a backing. I used an envelope style backing this time, as it’s much easier to take out the pillow form and wash the cover I find (note cat comment above).

On another note, I attended a free-motion quilting class with Dianne last week. So, 7 months after receiving it, I have finally taken my free-motion foot out of the packaging, and had a go. I am all good with “squiggles” or “loops”, anything else is definitely a work in progress. I am considering whether to purchase a silicon sheet for my machine to make FMQ easier, since I found it quite hard to move the fabric around. I have a history of neck and shoulder injuries, so tend to stiffen up quite fast. Any opinions on this one? Is it just a matter of more practising required?

Linking up eventually with Scraptastic Tuesday, WIP Wednesday and Lets Bee Social.

You know you’re a quilter when…

You know you’re a quilter, when finding other Quilters cast-off blocks feels like uncovering hidden treasures.

A few months ago I found some blocks at the Arts Recovery Centre, cast off by our Guild when cleaning out the attic, so to speak. Yesterday I needed a finish, just to feel like I was keeping on control of the pile of quilty things gathering dust in my outside room. Instead of finishing something big, I decided to tackle something small and simple.

Out came an appliquéd block and a pillow form, purchased at some stage in the distant past. It had shifted from the Manawatu, to the Waikato, then back again….so it was about time it was used, before it qualified as a mid-century antique, and gained significantly in value.P1060977

And in a short time, I had a cushion for the sofa.

Of course it’s never that simple is it? Amongst other things the cushion required a trip to a local fabric shop (Morelands Fabrics) to buy fabric for the backing. Why none of my existing fabric was suitable, I don’t know, but I was glad to find this little print. While there I also bought a dress pattern, and several zips for $1 each. P1060978While I was away shopping, Daughter #2 made a zippered pouch, based on my rough description of something  I had seen in bogland during the previous week.P1060975She needed something to house her art supplies in, given her recent interest (obsession?) in zen-tangle.P1060976

She suggested I make one with my left over fabric, even offering to guide me through my first zipper insertion. It all went surprising well, except when I got the machine needle stuck in the zipper, requiring her to rescue her machine from me. Given my recent problems with Brunhild, I now have a history of expensive machine repairs to live down.

As a result of her patience and persistence, I have now crossed “putting in a zipper”, off the list of “sewing things I am fearful of, or just plain avoiding”.

My pouch, complete with zipper!
My pouch, complete with zipper!

This just leaves paper piecing, hand-sewing on a binding, buttonholes, garment sewing and appliqué on the list.

One thing at a time, right?