December 28, 2011

My Big Fat (Quarters) Christmas

Last week I told you about the cockatoo "Santa" print. Well, you just KNEW that I didn't get out of Spotlight with only one Christmas-print project, and you were right.

I might have been able to resist - except for the way this one was packaged. Have a look: just 5 fat quarters neatly tied with a ribbon. I have to admit that I was totally aware the whole time that the ribbon is what did me in. It just looked so CUTE sitting there in the display basket. Lordy, but I'm a sucker for good packaging...

Untying the bundle, here's what I got:

Green background with toys:

Blue background with Christmas ball ornaments:

Cream background with small ornaments:

Red background with Christmas lights:

And red-on-red Christmas ornament silhouettes:

Hm.. as you can see, the 2 red background fabrics pretty much clash - so the design will have to keep them separated.

And I'm thinking "table runner".

December 21, 2011

Cockatoo Christmas Print

Who could possibly resist?
Certainly not

I knew I shouldn't have gone to the fabric department at Spotlight when I was there the other day - but I went anyway. They'd advertised Christmas prints were half-off, and so I went to see what there was.

Check this out: Cockatoo Santas! Yup. I couldn't resist. Didn't even try.

They are "fat quarters". I bought 3 of the red, two of the cream/white, and four of the green cockatoo print. What will I do with them? Uh... don't know. I was thinking "Christmas placemats" when I bought the fabric, but hm... no. If I made placemats, you just KNOW there'd be a glass of red wine dumped on that fresh green bird-print calico. I think I'll make a small "throw" instead - there's enough here to do that.

The cuts are all washed and drying on the banister in the upstairs hallway. I admit to being a teeny bit nervous about whether the red fabric would bleed - but it's fine.

Jingle Jingle Jingle!

A very Merry Christmas to YOU!

December 14, 2011

The Siren Call of Pre-Christmas Calico Sales

Oh, dear...

I'm meeting a friend for coffee this morning at a spot right next to Spotlight - a large store that carries linens, housewares, and fabric. I've got a 20% off coupon in my pocket and I KNOW they've got a special on fat quarters (including Christmas prints) running right now.

How much willpower do I have? I'm wanting to make some Christmas placemats. Can I resist the gravitational pull generated by a fat-quarter sale?

My credit card is twitching already...

December 7, 2011

Quilt 7: Deja Vu All Over Again

Quilt 7 - the baby quilt using koala print - has been in my UFO closet for months! The sandwiching was done so long ago I don't even quite recall how long it's been (hmm... maybe a year?)

Anway... here's a closeup of the print:

And here's the quilt top finished:

I'm heading to quilting guru Pauline's today to visit and quilt, and need a smallish project to take with me. This one will do nicely. It's good to always have a project that is easily portable for days like this.

So quilt 7 is out of the closet and ready to go!

November 30, 2011

Ten Things I'd Want on My Desert Island

(yeah, yeah, I know: food, water, shelter, internet access. Let's assume those, OK? After all, it's a desert island - not a DESERTED desert island...)
  1. "binding buddy" lucite template (2.5" x 30")
  2. quilting sharps (needles)
  3. plain, no-frills, old-fashioned metal thimble
  4. big (24" x 36") one-sided cutting mat
  5. a good pair of "snips" (clipper scissors)
  6. rotary cutter
  7. my laptop, with "Quilt Wizard" software installed
  8. 300 really big safety pins
  9. all the fabric (and batting) in my UFO closet
  10. my hubby (The kind of man who patiently waits while I'm going nuts in a Maui fabric shop isn't the kind of guy you leave behind. No - he's coming with me.)
Yup - that'd keep me pretty much happy for about, oh, ten years or so...

November 23, 2011

Move Over, "The Julie/Julia Project" (well, maybe not)

(nobody here but us servantless Australian quilters)

It started innocently enough. It was November 12, 2011 - the 5-year anniversary of the day I stepped off the airplane at Melbourne's Tullamarine airport as a newly-arrived immigrant. Hubby Stephen and I planned to have a nice celebration at home and we'd stopped at the Dan Murphy's in Boronia and ... well... I'm rambling a bit, but here's the thing: There's a quilt shop there! "Lilly Patches"!

I saw quilting guru Pauline a couple of days later and mentioned it to her. Of course she already knew about it, and said she likes the shop quite a lot. She also mentioned a half-dozen other quilt shops, some of which sound simply fabulous.

So I get online and do quick search - and came up with a website that claims there are 180 quilt shops in the state - and has an online list (complete with addresses)!

My head is spinning.

So.... I'm sitting here looking at this list and remembering the great blog "The Julie/Julia Project" and thinking... hm... 180 quilt shops, 365 days... and...

NAH! I can't afford to do what I'm thinking. I have NO self-control in a quilt shop. It's against my RELIGION to go into a quilt shop and come out with less than a meter of something.

So I'm not going to do it. No. No. No.

(Incidentally, I see that the original "The Julie/Julia Project" blog is gone. I'm truly sorry, as it's existence was such an inspiration to me. Julie Powell, the author, has a new blog now.)

November 16, 2011

Fabric=Yes/Design=No: "Cocoa and Coffee"

The photo on this group doesn't do it justice. I guess you'll have to trust me on this; the fabrics really do go well together, even though they don't look like it here.

I spotted the second fabric from the left (a fat quarter) first. Grabbed it and the other fat quarter the store had, then worked from there to come up with the other four selections. The colours are rich chocolate-and-coffee (except for the center one, of course, but it coordinates well with the others).

In terms of quantities, numbering the pieces from left to right, here's what I bought:
Fabric 1: 2 yards
Fabric 2: 2 "fat quarters"
Fabric 3: 2 yards
Fabric 4: 2 "fat quarters"
Fabric 5: 4 yards

So fabrics 2 and 4 will have to be used sparingly. Of course, I could get other coordinating prints here in Australia (I've seen Fabric 1 and 3 in one of my favorite shops here) - but I like the idea of trying to work something out from what I bought.

Friend and guru Pauline says I should try applique. Maybe I'll do that with this project - the fat quarters could be cut into leaves, maybe? Then sewn onto blocks with Fabrics 3 and 5 for contrast?


November 9, 2011

"Hubby of the Year"

So - on the way home to Australia (after visiting the U.S. earlier this year), Stephen and I stopped for a few days in Hawaii. We visited the islands of Maui and Oahu, did some sight-seeing and just generally relaxed.

While on Maui, I discovered a fabric store not far from the airport. Well, of course I had to go in!

Beloved hubby Stephen accompanied me. I'm sure it wasn't his idea of the perfect afternoon, but he never once breathed a sigh of irritation or gave me any indication he was bored. I hurried and tried to make my decisions quickly, but even so, I'm sure we were in that store for nearly 90 minutes. As I wandered back and forth admiring bolt after bolt of fabulous colour, he occupied himself amiably, never once complaining or rolling his eyes.

There should be some kind of award for this, there really should be.

November 2, 2011

Fabric=Yes/Design=No - "Ohio Cardinals"

In the same shop where I found the crossword print, I found a really sweet cardinal print (shown below with 2 solids, one green and one peachy/pink that matches the lighter feathers on the cardinals).

My friend Penny was with me and boy, did we ever struggle to find something to compliment the print. I was in a hurry, so opted to grab a couple of solids (the peach and green shown above), but I think I should be able to find a tan or green print to coordinate with the birds. To tell the truth, the green isn't really an ideal match, as you can probably see in this photo. I'll use the green for the backing (or for a Christmas project at a later date).

Now, for a design... boy I'm drawing a "blank" on this one. All I can think of is plain blocks (the cardinal print) framed with solids or coordinating prints. Workable, I guess, but not terribly exciting.

October 26, 2011

What's Black and White and Re[a]d All Over?

My book - I HOPE!

OK... going "off topic" this week - I want to tell you about my new book, which was launched last week and is now available on!

Flying Over the Rainbow is a collection of stories about my experiences in moving to Australia and living in the middle of a temperate rainforest. I've been here since 2006 and have found it to be an amazing experience. We have kookaburras, koalas, magpies, and a host of other fascinating wild animals that live in the forest surrounding our home. Wild parrots, which have lost much of their fear of humans, visit our home on a daily basis. In addition to the native wildlife, there's a certain amount of "wildlife" inside the house, too! Our pet birds (a Blue and Gold Macaw, Green Cheeked Conures, Eclectus Parrot, and a canary) keep me in stitches, and I've included a couple of stories about their exploits.

So whether it's wildlife, birds and parrots, or Australia that excites your imagination, you'll enjoy this book.
Click the cover (above) to go to the book's page on - and if you'd like to see some excerpts from the book, click here.

October 19, 2011

Fabric=Yes/Design=No - "Crosswords"

I KNOW I'm not the only one who buys fabric occasionally without actually having a design in mind. Earlier this year, my husband and I made a trip back to the U.S. to visit friends and family. While there, I did a fair bit of shopping and, of course, trips to fabric stores were included. In Ohio I found calico identical to prints I see here in Australia, but for roughly 1/3 the cost. So of course I went nuts and bought a LOT of fabric. I figured I'd be able to come up with designs later.

Here's one of the prints I picked up. I bought 2 yards. I've no idea what I'm going to use it for - any suggestions? I'm not really a crossword fan, but this one, with quilting words and terms makes me smile every time I see it.

The photo makes the vertical and horizontal bars look a little "off", but that's just the photo; the print itself is pretty much even with the grain.

So.. hm... should I just make the quilt as a solid panel with this fabric, and then border it with solid borders of white, black and/or red? Or should I do a "crossword" quilt - using small white and black squares, applique or embroider a letter inside each white square - and then using this print as the border (and then bind in red)?


October 12, 2011

Quilt 12: Finally Moving Again

FINALLY! I've finally gotten back on track with this project. My poor newlywed friend may actually see her "wedding gift" BEFORE her first anniversary (but I'm not making any promises about getting it to her before Christmas...)

Some time ago, I bought a package of pre-cut batting for a double-size bedspread. I don't know WHAT I was thinking. I mean, really... I have no need for a bedspread that size, nor does anybody I know. So... I've decided to cannibalize that batting for other "small" projects, starting with my set of placemats (Quilt 12).

So here we go - I've got one top spread on top of a corner of the batting.

And here we go - just cutting a nice bit of "extra edging" all around the top (you NEVER want your batting/backing to be the same size or - God forbid - smaller than the top).

And here I am, pinning the sandwiches...

And, finally, selecting threads. I've got a boatload of "gold" (not sparkly, but gold-ish) thread left over from my 2nd quilt (the Ohio Star). There's more than enough thread to quilt the four placemats and the "trivet" mat, too.

October 5, 2011

The Rose Quilt

In 1975 I was 19 and still living with my parents. I had a job F&R Lazarus & Co, a local department store, working in the "music" department (where we sold LP's - this was long before CD's came into vogue) and occasionally assigned to the "notions" department. "Notions" was a section of the store that sold miscellaneous goods that didn't quite fit into other departments, including small makeup bags, knitting needles, and embroidery kits. One of the kits caught my eye: a stamped embroidery kit to make a bedspread. Greatly underestimating the work involved, I bought the kit, which contained a dozen square panels for the top and side panels for the border.

I embroidered one "ring of roses" panel (possibly the one below) before growing weary of the project. Then I stuffed the lot into a bag and shoved it into a closet, forgetting about it completely.

Nearly fifteen years later, my mother discovered her own "quilting gene" and started churning out quilt after quilt. She came across my long-discarded project and decided to finish it. She embroidered the remaining panels,including this rose bouquet:

And then the rose garland border:

She spent a year on it, finishing the embroidery, joining the panels, and then finally hand quilting, following the elaborate design stamped on the panels. She says she nearly went blind doing it, and I can easily imagine that. Her stitches are fine, even, absolutely perfect: exactly 5 stitches to the inch, and each stitch is identical to the other.

The quilt is exquisite, a work of art. The top is stunning, but even the reverse side is beautiful. On the reverse the incredibly delicate stitches are shown to their best advantage:

When she was done, she gave it to me as part of my Christmas present. I will never forget the moment I unwrapped it; I was flabbergasted. Even now, so many decades later, I am still in awe of my mother's talent and patience.

September 28, 2011

The Eyes Have It (or Have Had It?)

In recent weeks I've been experiencing some difficulty with focusing my eyes. At first I thought it was dizziness, but when I close my eyes I don't feel off balance at all. No - it's something with my vision.

So I went to the optometrist today. She checked me over and said that what I'm experiencing is age-related, but also probably due to sitting in front of a computer screen as much as I do. She said my eyeball muscles are out of condition and prescribed exercises.


So now I've got flabby eyeball muscles. -sigh-

My exercise consists of holding a pen about a foot from my face, looking at the tip, and then looking past it to a point several feet away. The idea is to get those short-distance/long-distance eyeball muscles used to adjusting. I'm to do 20 repetitions of this exercise 3 x's a day.

As I confessed last week, I haven't been quilting much in recent weeks. Instead I've been sitting here a slave to my computer and my upcoming book. I guess it serves me right. I should'a been quiltin'!

September 21, 2011

Quilt 12: In a "Holding Pattern"

I haven't mentioned the placemats I started in August, have I? Uh, uh, uh, (embarrassed stalling tactics). Well, that's because there hasn't been anything to say. They are still here. Folded neatly on my desk. The tops all done and ready to be sandwiched.

The fact is, I've been quite distracted most of the winter with another project. I'm writing a book about living in Australia, and have spent most of my time the last three months on that. It's nearly ready to be released, so I'm devoting every waking hour to either the book -or- to learning about self-publishing.

And so my quilting, quite frankly, has suffered as a direct result.

But I'll get back to it, soon. I'll get those darned placemats done and in the mail to my friend (they're a wedding gift...) and then I'll get back to the Japanese print quilt, the "trees" quilt, and all the other projects in my UFO closet.

I promise.

September 14, 2011

Playing with a new design: Lattice

A couple of weeks ago, I went with my friend Poh Choo to the Carribean Market. We had a ball shopping, and while we were there I came across a vendor who sells used magazines. She had quilting magazines as part of her stock, and I snatched up 2 that I'd never seen before: "Amazing Rotary-Cut Quilts" and "Patchwork Favorites".

It was a semi-dangerous thing to do, because I found a couple of quilts in those magazines that got me inspired.

I found one in particular that captured my imagination - a lattice-work design made up of nine-patches and snowball blocks. Here's my version:

I'm not completely happy with the edging and border, but at least you can see the way the nine-patch and snowball blocks are joined to make the lattice pattern. Will I make this (or a version of it)? Oh... yeah... probably...

September 7, 2011

More Marking Options: Chalk Pencils

When I was in the U.S. earlier this year, I picked up these chalk pencils in a fabric store:

I'd not seen a set quite like them here in Australia. Of course, now that I've got them, I'll probably see them all over the place. No matter.

The set has several different coloured chalks, plus white ones. In all honesty, I really like the pink vanishing-ink pen I talked about last week better than chalk. Chalk is, well, messy. But the pink pen just doesn't show up on dark prints, so these chalk markers will do well. I'm using a white one now on the Japanese print quilt I started earlier this year. It works well with the template; the tips are small and don't rub on the template edges.

The chalk hangs on a bit afterward, but it does brush off pretty well, and can be removed with a damp cloth if brushing doesn't do the trick.

August 31, 2011

My Favorite Marking Pen

I love this pen. It's a pink "air erasable" pen I'm using with my quilting templates. It's fabulous.

It makes a clear, bright line on the fabric, and after a while the color fades away on it's own. I started out with chalky-pencils, but those are a bit of a pain; the tips don't fit neatly in the slots of my templates and end up wearing down strangely. Not this tidy little pen! In the photo below, I've drawn a line on some turquoise fabric. Look at how clear the line is!

Of course, it doesn't really work on dark fabrics, but you can't have everything (where would you put it? Hahahaha).

The line I drew for the photo was still visible for about 40 minutes, but then faded. The temperature of the room can make a difference in how long it takes for the ink to fade. In winter, I quilt sitting in front of a wood-burning stove. The ink vanishes pretty fast under those conditions.

I first used the pen on Quilt 2 (the Ohio Star quilt). That was over a year ago, and only now is it running out of "juice"!

August 24, 2011

Quilt 13: Design - Julie's Table Runner

Dear friend Julie's birthday is coming up. I want to give her something very special. She's mad about Japanese prints and so... well... I hit the fat quarter table hard today and came away with these bits:
The leftmost fabric has Japanese characters drawn on a cream background. This will be used for the backing of the piece as well as the outer border (strip just inside the binding) on the front. The solid blue is for the binding. It doesn't perfectly match the chrysanthemum print next to it, but it was the closest I could find. The other fabrics, which are cream and gold, do match the colours perfectly. I think that as long as that blue and the chrysanthemum is seperated by the other fabrics, it should work out OK.

I've got 2 fat quarters of the chrysanthemum and one each of the three cream/gold fabrics on the right. That's not a lot of material, so this will have to be a small project.

No worries... I'll make a table runner! Here's the design I've come up with:

The finished size will be 13" x 56" - should be just about perfect for Julie's kitchen table!
And here's a closeup:

My quilt design software doesn't have exactly matching fabrics, so I've had to substitute a little as I played with the design. That's OK. I just selected 4 cream/gold "fabrics" from the software and then grabbed this cream/blue flower print you see above to represent the chrysthanthemum. It's not perfect, but it worked well enough to get the proportions of the different pieces set up and check (using the software's yardage estimator) that I haven't designed for more cream/gold than I've actually got.

Oh, and yes... if you happen to have noted the fiasco with Quilt 12, yes I am definitely NOT turning my back on the fabric estimator or the "rotary cutting instructions" function.

August 17, 2011

Quilt 12: and Julie sez...

Had lunch with Julie today, and took along the placemats to show her. She loved the design and colours, but observed that the first person to spill red wine or beetroot on them is probably going to die a horrible death.

She's right, of course. Julie is always right...

August 10, 2011

Quilt 12: Oh, NoooOOOo!!!!

When I started Quilt 12 - the placemats - I pulled up my quilt design software and used it to come up with an overall design for the mats. Once I had a basic design, I went to the "rotary cutting instructions" function and noted that each of the nine-patch squares should be 2.5" square.

"Well!" I thought - "That's the easiest-possible scenario, because I can use my binding template to cut the squares!" I had those 2.5" x 2.5" squares cut out in no time!

Now... Okay... I should have realized that 6 nine-patch blocks, with the 9 squares in each block being 2" across (the missing half inch accounts for seam allowances of 1/4") would be, well, way too big. But my brain was shut off. I trust this stupid software way too much.

I cut out the squares, assembled the blocks and then... realized... oh, groan...
These placemats are going to be HUGE!

What went wrong? Well... when you start a new quilt project in the software, you tell it how big you want the blocks to be - in inches. I'd specified 4-inch blocks. All goes well until you look at the fabric estimator and the "rotary cutting instructions" - if you go to those functions and don't AGAIN specify 4-inch blocks, you get fabric estimates and cutting instructions assuming 6-inch blocks.

Do the math with me here...:
  • 3 blocks across (6" each) = 18".
  • 2 blocks down (6") = 12"
  • Add sashing (bands of fabric between the blocks) 2" wide, one on top, one on the bottom, one between the block rows, 1 each between the horizontal blocks. That gets us to 6" vertically, 8" horizontally.
  • Add half an inch for binding on all sides (which means an inch horizontal and an inch vertical).
Results So Far:
Horizontal: 27"
Vertical: 19"

No, no, NO! I wanted placemats of 16" x 13". What I've got happening here, however, would be big enough for King Kong.

Time go get creative.

I can take an 1.25 inches off each side. That's better.. And, actually... the nine-patch blocks look a little more interesting with the different squares no longer being perfectly "square".

I took all those cutaway side pieces and stitched them into a long strip, which I'll use as a kind of "binding" around the coordinating knapkins:
At this point I also realized that I had enough of the blue fabric to make a small lattice between the nine-patch blocks. I just plain monkeyed around with the design and changed it completely on the fly. I'm delighted with the results:

I've got more than enough of the patchwork stripping for the knapkin binding, so I decided to stitch together the other leftovers into a single large mat - which my friend can use as a table trivet:


It was another painful lesson, but in the end I think the placemat design I've got now is better than the original.

August 3, 2011

Quilt 12: Design for Egyptian Placemats

Sister/Friend Janelle is about to marry her "Prince Charming". She's a wonderful woman who deserved her happily-ever-after and I couldn't be more delighted. I want to give her something special as a wedding present.

On a recent trip to one of my favorite stores, I saw some fat quarters with prints inspired by ancient Egyptian colours and designs. Knowing Janelle is mad for anything connected with ancient Egypt, I grabbed those quarters and enough coordinating bits to make a set of four placemats and napkins.

Here are the prints:

The blue-with-stars (on top) and the Egyptian-inspired stripes were the ones that first caught my eye. The three fabrics to the right coordinate with the colours in the stripe. The fabric underneath the quarters (the reddish-brown) will be used for binding and for the knapkins.

I pulled out my quilt design software and came up with this:

This will be my first nine-patch quilt project.

Anytime you buy fabric before you have a design (and measurements) it's a risk. Naturally I found that I came up short on 3 of the fat-quarters. There's plenty of the strip, plenty of the turquoise, but after I cut out the squares I found I needed 24 more squares (8 each of the gold and two maroon fabrics). Not a problem! I cut 24 squares from my binding/knapkin fabric and have worked them into the design. The placemats won't match each other perfectly, but a little bit of individuality won't hurt.

To keep it all straight, I've stacked the squares for each placemat separately:
All set! I'll get the blocks put together and will cut the "lattice" strips afterward.

July 27, 2011

These are the times that try men's souls

Women's souls, too.

After five years of service, hubby and I decided to retire our old desktop PCs and upgrade to something a little faster. Now... I say "a little faster". Well, it wouldn't take much to be faster than the PC's we've been using.

My machine has been taking 25-30 minutes to boot up. And even once it's up and running, it's sluggish. Much of this is simply due to this equation:

old PC hardware + required software upgrades* = Degraded response time

* You can't ignore "fixes" and whatnot for the operating system, browser, firewall, virus scanner and such. Failure to download and install those would be stupid beyond words.

So, Okay, time to get new machines - and we did. We got them last week: lovely new PCs with lots of processing power. We were thrilled. The new machines boot up and are ready to rock-and-roll within 20 seconds.

Then my world came crashing down. I was working away on a client's website when BLAM... my screen went all blue...

and then it went black:

The computer technician came and looked it over. The problem is almost certainly a hardware failure. -sigh-

In the meantime, hubby's PC has also started "coughing". He got a black screen, too, then had to reboot his machine. When it was back up and running he was missing about half the little shortcut icons on his desktop.

Oh dear...

So the my PC is now on it's way back to the factory. Hubby is still using his, but backing EVERYTHING up to a memory stick as he goes along.

I'm back to using "Old Bessy" - and just very thankful that I've got her to fall back on.

Yeah... I know this had NOTHING to do with quilting...

July 20, 2011

Quilt 5: Binding

They tell you to make sure that the batting and backing fabric is wider/longer than the quilt top. When you look at what happens at binding time, it makes a lot of sense.

My binding fabric for this quilt is made by cutting 2.5 inch strips, sewing them together into one long strip, then pressing it in half (wrong side in). Then I stitch the binding to the quilt, matching the cut edge of the binding to the edge of the top like this:

As you can see in the photo above and in the one below, this is fiddly work. The double-folded binding strip makes a good, strong binding. Sewing it on is pretty easy, and the work goes fast, especially since I only have to worry about the edge of the quilt top; the batting and backing are sandwiched to it, and I'll trim the excess off after the binding is on.

If the batting and binding had been cut BEFORE putting the binding on, it would be a serious pain to get the binding on and be sure that the stitches were going through all the layers of fabric (and not leaving gaps on the back because I couldn't see them when I was working).

The binding is on and I can trim. Below is a photo of the edges after I trimmed. I've left approx half an inch of batting/backing hanging over. I'll wrap the binding around that to give the edge some bulk.

I've flipped the quilt over so you can see the back, with the seam holding the binding to the quilt. As you can see, there's plenty of binding (a full inch, double thickness) to wrap around that extra bulk to the left of the stitch line.

Below I've folded the binding over that bulky edging, and holding it as I will when I sew the binding on the back. I'll just slip-stitch the binding along the seam line.

And when I'm done, the front and back will each show 1/2 inch of navy blue binding!

Easy stuff! And NOW quilt number 5 is finally DONE!

July 13, 2011

A Working Lunch - Of Sorts

Oh, the joy of having quilt design software on the laptop! That translates to "portable design studio!"

While visiting the US recently I talked to friend Val about the possibility of making a quilt for her. I told her that if we could agree on a design - and if she were willing to pay for the materials - I'd do the work. We'd arranged to have lunch near the end of my visit in Ohio, and I brought along the laptop. The wait staff very kindly allowed us to park ourselves at a large table so we had plenty of room for the PC.

Here's what we came up with:

I was pleased that Val is interested in a log-cabin quilt. Those are pretty easy to put together and can be truly lovely. On the top of the quilt we extended the border a bit so that the border would be over the pillows on the bed, with the log-cabin blocks laying on the bed itself below the pillows. She may change her mind about that - but if she does it won't be a problem. The borders can easily be reduced and another row of log-cabin blocks can be put at the top to keep the overall size big enough to cover the pillows on the bed.

Val wanted blue and so that's what we set up in the design. The photo above, however, has a teal border. That wasn't Val's idea - it was my experiment. At about the time we had a look at it, she needed to head back to the office.

I kept the design and later developed the variations below (starting with removing the teal border):

The one above still uses green centers for the log cabin blocks, but the border now repeats the main medium blue. But would it look better if the border is lighter? Let's see...

Interesting. But with this version there seems to be too much of the white-and-blue polka dot in the center blocks. So I tweeked it a bit, taking a darker blue and spreading it more heavily around the center inside the log-cabin blocks:

It was a complete hoot to play "designer" over lunch - and to so easily involve Val in the creative process.

We've set the project aside for now. Val's daughter was planning a "wedding cruise" and every available dime was needed for Val and her hubby to attend (she had an absolute blast, the wedding was spectacular - and how many parents get to tag along for a cruise honeymoon?). We may pick it up later on or not. Either way, we had a good time dreaming together.

July 6, 2011

Quilting Toys - Souveniers from the US

What did I bring back from the US as a souvenier? Quilting callico? Sure! More about that later.

While we were in the fabric store I wandered through the "gadgets", too, and found these stitching templates. They were so inexpensive (compared to what I pay for templates in Australia) that I couldn't resist!

Stitching templates are fabulous. They help you to make a quilt more interesting, especially if there are large spaces of plain fabric. The designs add interest.

But, with some of them, there's a price to pay.

I was delighted to find the leafy vine one and the one shown in the middle here excites my imagination, too. But... I have to admit that of these 3 there's only one that I'm likely to truly enjoy using, and that's the bottom one.


Because with the bottom one, you can see there are clearly continuous lines, and no "switchbacks" in the design. With both of the upper 2 templates there will be only a few stitches and then a complete stop - or - a point where the stitching will have to turn and head in the other direction.

I'm still working on my Japanese print quilt (Quilt 10) - and on that one I've chosen to have a swirling-pattern template (shown below). The results look stunning but the going is sloooooow. I have to keep turning the darned thing everytime I come to a place where the swirl turns around. It looks lovely, but frankly is a bit of a pain.