December 26, 2012

Quilt 4: "It's All HAPPENING!" Merry Christmas!

Christmas Day is over. I enjoyed myself immensely and hope you enjoyed your day, too!

Of course there was never any hope of getting this Christmas quilt done before the big day, but that's OK. I'm still working on it, and just enjoying this special holiday project to the MAX!

Now that the center has been pieced together, all I have to do is add the border strips and we're there! Here we go - first two borders (narrow green band followed by a wide red band). Note that the red border has squares of the paisley print set in the center and on the corners.

And Hey! DONE!  Getting a photo of the top draped over the stairwell rail is, I guess, for me a tradition (below):

But the proof is seeing it on the bed (below).

I did alter the design slightly. I opted to keep the border at the top a little less wide. I didn't need it to be as wide as the bottom and sides.  Our bed has a latex mattress - quite thick - so I've had to make this quilt a "super-sized" queen - it's really almost a king size quilt, with the extra length added for the sides and bottom.

All set! Next: sandwich and pin!

December 19, 2012

Quilt 4: Assembling the "On Point" Center

Here, again, is the design:


I've got the pieces for the on-point lattice in the center of the quilt, and am starting to lay out the strips. Shown below are the corner piece (for the lower left), then the strtip of green and red lattice, then the next diagonal "row" and so on.

As you can see in the picture above, I've not cut triangles for the edge of the lattice - but instead just cut a square, and will sew the first border (a narrow strip of green) on top, and then will crop away the excess. Just seems easier than cutting itty bitty triangles and fooling with them.

Below is a closeup showing the square hanging over the edge a bit:


Zip, zip, zip and the central section is DONE! (photo of it laying on my bed below):

I have to be honest and tell you that although I thought assembling this section would be pretty simple, it actually wasn't. I kept messing up and sewing the wrong strips together. I'm afraid I used my seam ripper quite a bit on this one, and had to redo several bits. Was I rushing too much? No, just managed to get confused.

But the on-point center is done now (closeup below) and I'm really pleased with hot it's coming along.

Now to get busy and put the borders on. They're mostly just wide strips of the three different fabrics, so it probably won't take long.

December 12, 2012

Quilt 4: It only took 2 1/2 Years (Christmas Quilt)

Back in June of 2010, I found a nice Christmas print in the clearance rack at a favorite fabric shop. I grabbed it and, with help from quilting guru Pauline, found a couple of complimentary prints to go with it. I put up a post on this blog to share the design and my plans for a queen-size Christmas quilt.

Here's the design:

What happened to quilt 4? Well... uh... it just never happened. Truth is: I felt intimidated by the on-point design. I just wasn't ready.

But now? Now I'm feeling my quilting "muscles" and have decided to have a go. It'll make a nice Christmas project, now that I'm in the "holiday mood". I've cut out the on-point pieces: 

59 squares (the red/green/cream paisley print) (6.5 inches square)
140 green rectangles (2.5 x 6.5 inches)
58 red squares (2.5 inches square)
and the paisley triangles (needed for the corners/edges of the on-point section):

2 squares of paisley (5 1/8) cut in half to give me four triangles. (above) for the corners.


5 paisley squares (9 3/4 inches square) cut (as shown below) to produce twenty slightly larger triangles for the edges.

There needs to be red triangles for the edging, too... but hm... I think I'm going to try and "cheat" there - more about that later.

I'm ready to go! 

December 5, 2012

Quilt 14: Civil War Prints - DONE!

OH, my. How long ago was it that I started THIS quilt? A Loooooong time ago. My friend Julie wanted a quilt made with these civil war prints. She bought the fabric and I agreed to make the quilt, my labour being a special birthday gift to her. Now.. ahem... her birthday was actually in August (sheepish look from me) but Julie has been patient. And - at last... I'm finishing it! Here we go: I'm stitching together the binding strips:

And now I'm attaching the binding to the quilt top:

Cutting away the excess (I leave just under 1/2 inch to fold the binding over):



Here's a photo of the completed project, with the back flipped at the bottom so you can see the backing fabric Julie selected. I think she chose very well, don't you?

And here's a detail photo of the corner, so you can see the border and binding together. The border picks up the tans from the inside blocks plus adds a splash of navy - very nice! And the binding is something of a "negative print" of the border.

It's been quite a while since I actually finished a project; I've been going through a bit of a dry spell - but hey! Here's one that's done and I'm feeling pretty good about it!

 I do have one other project in the quilting stage - so there's no danger of "quilt withdrawal syndrome", but I'll also start looking at the multitude of projects still in my UFO closet and select the next one to attack.

November 29, 2012

A Sad Farewell

One of my favorite shops - Foothills Fabric and Threads (in Tecoma) - is closing down today. I will miss them greatly. I've gone there several times since launching into my quilting mania, and found lovely women there who've been encouraging, supportive, helpful and well, just really nice people.

There's you just can't beat shops like this one - they had an excellent selection, reasonable prices, and the staff - well the service you get in a place like that is hard to beat.

So - to the owners and staff - farewell and best wishes for the future.

Your shop will be sadly missed.

November 28, 2012

Florida Quilts - another one that got away

Then there's this one ("Oh Christmas Tree"):

It's a pattern - not a kit. I looked long and hard at this one. It's so UNUSUAL! I love the Christmas theme and the kind-of Hawaiian style design. I went as far as finding the pattern and thinking about it but...'s applique. I'm just not ready for applique, and even if I was, this doesn't look like a good "beginner" project.

So I passed it by.

Of course... hm... I COULD order the pattern. Surely shipping just the pattern from the US wouldn't be expensive.

But no.. no.. no...





November 21, 2012

Florida Quilts - the one that got away

Isn't it gorgeous? I couldn't get a photo of it "straight-on" because it was just too big and hanging amid so many other quilts which were in the way - but even so, you can see it well enough here:

I adore the colours - the browns, peaches and blues.

It's a queen-size spread done with civil war prints. I just fell in love with it. I studied it a bit and am pretty sure I have the skill now to tackle it. So what stopped me? Well - it's a "block of the month" project. I just couldn't see getting into something like that when the shop is in Florida and I'm in Australia.

So I didn't.

Or I haven't...yet...

No.. no... no... I'm not going to.



November 14, 2012

When I Win the Lottery...

More about that shop in Florida:
Back behind the area where their clearance/bargain fabrics are, I saw this:

Not sure what you are looking at? Have a closer look:

It's a "longarm" quilting machine.

In addition to all the fabric, books, patterns, and doo-dads, this shop also offers professional quilting.

Oh... what a fantasy! Think about it!  Wouldn't it be GRAND to have one of these babies? OOOOOO!

I makes my head spin to think how FAST I could crank through my UFO closet and churn out heaps of lovely quilts at lightening speed. Now, to be honest, I do think there are some quilt designs that just look nicer hand-stitched, even with my horrible, sloppy, fat stitches. But then again, I've seen so many that look lovely with tight swirlees and machine-done patterns.

So I had a little look to see what these things cost and...



After the smelling salts revived me, I decided that when I win Tatts Lotto, I'll get one. Of course I'll have to buy a new house, too, as there isn't really any place here to set up such a huge working area - but with Tatts Lotto winnings in my bank account, maybe I can convert our garage into a workroom and put my long arm in there. Along with an armed guard.

November 9, 2012

The Quilt Place - Retail Therapy, Florida-Style

Where have I been, you ask? Well.. it's a long story and a fairly ugly one, so let's just look at the highlights, OK? Just the fun stuff. I've been in the US - very much an "unplanned" visit. At the end of the trip, I took myself on down to Titusville, Florida to visit my family. I stayed with Cousin Toni, who took me to what has to be Quilter Heaven. Oh... my...

The shop is called "The Quilt Place", and it's huge, simply huge.

I'm trying to decide if it really is bigger than my favorite local shop here in Australia ("Patchwork With Gail B") - or if it just FELT a lot bigger. I'd have to say it's at least 50% larger than Gail B in terms of floor space - and that's saying something.

Well- they have more books, that's for sure. Here I am (below) standing next to a book wall that is close to half the length of my house! We tried to get a photo of the whole wall, but it's just too big. Just behind me is rack after rack of panel prints. On the opposite wall in this wing of the store (yes... I said "wing") is an equally huge display of quilt patterns.

Now you'll laugh at this: I fell head over heels in love with one of the display quilts. I asked about it...hoping it was a kit. The clerk who was helping me checked and said it wasn't - but the pattern is in a book that they carry. But... believe it or not... they happened to be out of that particular book! That's OK. The clerk wrote down the name/author and I've ordered a copy from (the book is "Traditions with a Twist" by Blanche Young). It's just as well - my suitcases were already overstuffed, and books are heavy...

Here's part of their "bargain/clearance" area:

Look at the price list (below)! Now you'll be wondering if the fabric they've got in this clearance area is junk... well, no... let me tell you, I saw a couple of prints in that stack which match some prints in my UFO closet (and not fabric I've had long) that I paid about $20 per yard for.

Below is a view of the shop looking from one corner near the front toward the back of the store:

And here's a view from the clearance area back toward the front (strangely - this photo makes it look kind-of small... trust me... it's NOT a small shop):

Poor Cousin Toni - she wore out long before I did. Fortunately, there are chairs near the front of the store - so she had a seat and just let me run wild.

And did I run wild?



(more about that next week)

November 7, 2012

I've Been Duly Chastised

Received the following email:

Subject: From a faithful reader

Dear Liz, You appear to be falling down on the job. You have promised to update both of your blogs on a weekly basis. I have been faithfully following you for quite some time. The past few weeks I have been sadly disappointed to find no new postings. Have you fallen ill or are you just a slacker who is leaving your fans in the lurch without even a fare thee well? I am inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I could change my mind at any time (you never know what these Internet stalkers may do when deprived). I also have access to your home address and could possibly start some deliveries to express my displeasure. Since I am an anonymous stalker you should beware and make a new posting posthaste. 

Sincerely, Your anonymous follower

Well, good and faithful reader - you have been heard. My thanks to you for your loyalty and for giving me a gentle and loving "nudge".

I just finished checking my visitor stats on this and my other blog - and am delighted to find that although I did lose a few folks this past few weeks, many are still checking back on Wednesdays.

So,OK, I'm back in the "saddle" and I've got things to share. Thank you all!

September 26, 2012

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time

"What a FABULOUS idea," I thought.

I was in a local quilting shop looking for quilt tools and, well, it really DID seem like a great idea. A small roll of masking tape cut to 1/4 inch - you could lay this on your quilt and use it as a stitching guide.

Yeah. Brilliant. Have I used it yet? Well, no. Why not? Well... mostly just because I don't really care all that much if my stitches wander just a bit. I like my "rough hewn" style.

 So this lovely roll of tape sits in my tool box and may never be used.

September 19, 2012

The Quilting Gene - the Next Generation

Happy Birthday today to my neice Audrey - she turns 5 today.

I'm planning a trip to the US soon and will be catching up with her. She's a little young for quilting, but even at 5 has shown some interest - and it's terribly sweet. You see, my mother has moved into a retirement unit, leaving her big old house forever. As part of the move she had to get rid of a few things, including some quilts. My sister-in-law tells me that little Audrey adores her grandmother's quilts, and has asked to keep them.

Now is that sweet or what?

And me... I'm seeing this as a sign that little Audrey has inherited the "quilting gene" (which was the subject of my very first post on this blog).

Good onya, Audrey!  And happy birthday!

September 12, 2012

After assembling the top for this quilt, I sat down and thought long and hard about how to stitch it. Here's what the top looks like (closeup of a couple of the blocks).
Lots of different ways to go at this, but I finally decided on outlining each block (stitching about 1/4" around the edge) and then doing a kind of diagonal zigzag inside. Here's a rather rough idea of where the stitches go (in hot pink).

So far, I'm happy with this. I've done 3 of the blocks and it works pretty well. Unfortunately the pattern simply isn't visible on the back (which is blue/cream wavy print) because the cream quilting thread just isn't bold enough to show through.

I'd thought about using thick thread or even embroidery thread for the quilting, but decided against it. I don't want the stitching to draw too much attention on such an elaborate top.

So far, so good!

September 5, 2012

Quitle 14 - civil war prints - border

Well, the civil war print quilt is all sandwiched and ready to go. I was a bit worried, as this is the first time I've made a quilt with such narrow margins for the batting and backing (knowing the batting/backing really should be a smidge bigger than the top at this stage) but it worked out just fine. Here it is, all ready to go (and I've draped it so you can see the front and back together... didn't Julie do a great job of selecting backing?):

I neglected to mention the binding we selected together. Here it is:
The print is almost a negative reversal of the outer border fabric -except that it has white where the outer border has only tan. But when we held the pieces up together, well... It fools your eye.

August 29, 2012

Quilt 14: adding just one more border

Here's the design for quilt 14 (friend Julie's civil war prints):
I've already made a few changes to the design (with Julie's approval) but am finding one more that seems wise: the borders in the original design (the large band on the outer edge) was originally to be red. But... hm... No.

We went shopping and found this fabric:
We had the top with us at the time and agreed it would be a nicer, more subdued border instead of the red border. And here it is, sewn to the edge of the original top. This photo makes the colours look a little off... but that's just the camera. The border actually melds really well - definitely better than the red would ever have been.
And here's the fabric Julie wanted as backing for the quilt:

I think she chose wisely and, as you may have noticed, this print is in the blue blocks on the top - so the theme is transferred to the back.

The only problem I saw with her choice of backing is the fact that this wavy-line print would be IMPOSSIBLE to use if we had to have more than just one width of the callico. Those wavy lines would NEVER match up well. Fortunately, the width of  the callico suited her as a max width for the quilt - and so off we go!

August 22, 2012

Say It Isn't So...

I've had my cutting mat for quite a long time. Normally I take pretty good care of my tools, but I've sure messed up this time. There'd been quite a few cutting sessions on the dinner table - and on one particular day I was just really tired and instead of putting my big mat away properly, I just leaned it up against a chair. Then I forgot it was there. It stayed there for several days before I remembered. When I finally did... it was warped:

It doesn't look TOO terrible until you see it right from the edge:

I've tried everything - ironing it, laying heavy books on it for days on end - just everything, but nothing is smoothing it out. I've been using it anyway - limping along - but have to admit it's driving me up the walls. That bend in the middle makes it hard to keep longer pieces squared up. So... I'm giving up now - going to retire this one and purchase a new one. I hate to do that, as cutting mats are pricey - but it's a tool that I use quite a lot, and having one that isn't up to scratch is making me crazy.

August 16, 2012

Falling Down on the Job

Yup - you are right. 3 strait weeks now, and nothing about quilting. As a matter of fact, here it is: THURSDAY and I'm only just putting up my Wednesday post - and a pitiful one it is, too.

A big "thank you" to my loyal followers (and esp. quilting guru Pauline and soon-to-be quilt-a-holic Jen) for sticking with me during this rather dry period.

Next week: I'll get my act in gear.

August 8, 2012

...and the answer is...

...apparently "no".

Last week I allowed myself to have the momentary fantasy that quilting would be a good cure for high blood pressure.  Well... quilting can be relaxing, which is good for blood pressure, but it won't, by itself, overcome the effects of having been VERY sedentary over the past 2-3 months.

So... Looks like I'm going to have to (gulp) set down my needle and thread from time to time and (gulp) EXERCISE!

So OK. I am no longer in denial.

I now solemnly promise to perform exercise - either walking (preferred) or riding my stationary bike (much loathed) - every day.

I much prefer walking. Walking doesn't feel like exercise. Walking feels like snooping (because I walk around the neighborhood and check out my neighbors' properties). The stationary bike is another matter. I hate it because it's boring. BUT... I have a PLAN!  Today I discovered that I can set a book up on the handlebars and I can set my computer mouse on the book - and with that, I can play

...(drumroll, please)...

SPIDER SOLITAIRE on the computer!

I'm never going to love this bike, but Spider Solitaire will make it bearable - at least for a while.

Wish me luck!

August 1, 2012

Quilting and Blood Pressure

So, OK, the doc says my blood pressure seems to be "elevated". It's been that way for quite some time. She's suggested I may have "white coat syndrome", but in all honesty, after all the medical adventures I've had... ...well I told her "Look, Linda, you're just not that scary!" But she's thinking that we need to get a handle on this, so today I picked up her clinic's portable BP monitor - one they loan out to patients. I'm to keep it for a week and take my BP at points throughout my day, and record the results. Then I'll go back and have a chat with Linda. -sigh- I REALLY don't want to end up taking another medication. My quilting hoop kicked cancer's butt two years ago. Can it stomp out high blood pressure? Hm...

July 25, 2012

Oh, No... Tell Me It Isn't So...

A heartbreaking tale of woe today. Last week I told you about the jelly rolls I recently purchased, and showed you this photo of the blue log cabin blocks I'd put together for one of the quilts...


I went to Spotlight with a friend to pick up the binding and backing for her quilt (the American Civil War prints) and took along one of the blue log cabin blocks so I could get the fabric needed to finish that one, too.

Oh.. pain.. pain.. regret.. great gnashing of teeth...

The store we went to is down in the city - about an hour's drive one way (that's where my friend lives). I came home and today (3 days later) realized that I must have left that block in the store at the cutting counter.


I can't believe I did that. I just can't believe it.

However... fortunately, I need 7 blocks for the quilt - and had actually made 9 (was going to make cushion covers with the remains). So I'm OK. Just a little rattled...

July 18, 2012

Jelly Roll Blues (and Purples)

When my friend Julie and I were at Spotlight picking out the fabric for quilt 14, I found 3 "jelly roll" bundles that were marked down so low I couldn't believe my eyes.  Two blue and one purple (one of each shown here):

Only $4 each!  Who could resist?  Now, I'll grant you, there's not a huge amount of fabric in these rolls: 25 strips 2.5 inches wide and 42 inches long - that comes to about 1.5 meters of fabric, not a huge amount. Still... $4?  Gotta have 'em for that.

Each roll has 6 prints (four strips of each print). I love doing log cabins, and well, there you go. I sat down with my quilt design software and worked out this design:

 It took no time at all to whip together the blocks. No fuss, no muss:

One jelly roll gave me 7 blocks and some scraps. Thankfully, I did buy 2 rolls of blue, so here's the log-cabin blocks (no, I haven't sewn them together yet...):

Now for the headache part. I need to buy fabric for the spaces between the log cabins on the edge. How much to buy - and how to cut out the triangles that will fill in the sides?  My quilt software is simply evil when it comes to estimating on-point designs. The finished quilt will be roughly 54 x 73 inches - and the quilt software is telling me that I need to buy....

.... oh get ready for this...

...6.5 yards of fabric (42 inches wide).


I think 1.5 yards should be more than enough.  I do like the cutting instructions the software gives, however, and expect the measurements the software gives me for the individual pieces should be OK.

I've got plenty of left over jelly roll strips to make a couple of nice borders and the binding, but I'm off to the fabric store to get what I need for those triangles to fill in the log cabins.

July 11, 2012

Quilt 14: Let's Play "Spot The Goof"!

In many ways, this quilt has been one of the most satisfying ones I've done. However... it's also been a bit challenging.

 Two of the prints have stripes. They are lovely, but stripes, I'm finding, can be a little challenging because you need to make sure they are running in the right direction. As I was assembling the little triangle blocks, I had more than one occasion where I got the lines going wrong and had to pull the blocks apart and re-do them.

 I was ultra careful as I assembled the nine-patches, however, and got it right every time. I won't kid you; it wasn't easy... I had to really pay close attention so that the corner squares on those 15 nine-patch blocks all lined up right (there's a wavy stripe pattern in the corner squares.

All was going along well and Monday night I was congratulating myself on how quickly the blocks were coming together... I'd have this quilt top done in no time! I had one more seam to go - and then I saw it... OH, NOOOOOOOOO! Have a look:

Here's a closeup...see the direction of the wavy pink lines vs the wavy blue ones? Oh, nooooo! They should be going the same direction.

So once again, I'm using my LEAST favorite sewing tool:

And now here's the re-assembled top - with all the wavy lines going the right way.

And I'm happy to put this painful episode behind me.

July 4, 2012

Quilt 14: More Quilting with Parrots

I've finished piecing the blocks for the quilt, now into pressing them. And not to be outdone by George, who was my "supervisor" last week, Miss Laka is here to inspect the stitching.
Unfortunately Laka isn't content to sit on my shoulder and behave herself as George did last week (well, as he did for a while, any way). She's way too "busy" to have around when I'm trying to get something done, and her idea of "help" would, no doubt, include chewing a hole in the middle of the blocks - so I had to send her packing.

I'm pleased with the blocks, however - here's one of the blue ones after pressing.

I added narrow border around the nine-patch block, using that dark blue from the center on the corners. The original design didn't call for those little squares on the corners, but once I'd finished the nine-patches I realized that the dark blue in the center needed to be repeated somewhere. Thankfully, there was just enough fabric to do it on all 15 of the nine-patch blocks.

Here, again, was the original nine-patch block design:
As you can see, I've also altered the design to have the triangles pointing outward from the center - and the corners inside the nine-patch are solid squares instead of joined triangles.

June 27, 2012

Quilt 14: Quilting With Parrots

I was working away the other evening on my friend's civil war print quilt when I heard the flap-flap-flap of wings behind me and then felt the "thud" as George landed on my left shoulder. I guess he decided I needed supervision.

He climbed down my left arm, snuggled his little body into the crook of my arm, and sat there contentedly grinding his beak and watching as I continued to sew the pieces into blocks.

And here he is, giving me advice about how best to put a strip together.

Not content simply to advise me, he eventually decided the "whirrrrr" of the machine was just too interesting. It was at about this point that I decided I didn't really need George's assistance... he was blocking my view and one of us was going to tangle with the sewing machine needle.