December 7, 2013

Oops! What happened?

Uh oh... I've been neglecting this blog.

There are reasons.

We've just had a parade of tradesmen doing this and that. A new balcony for the second floor, painting about 1/4 of the interior, new bamboo floor in the kitchen, new carpet in the loungeroom, stairs and entire second floor. We're not completely done, as now I need to paint the balcony and the exterior windows on the north side of the house - and so on.

So, well, I've just been busy.

And now here comes Christmas barreling down on me. I'm not ready! Not remotely ready. EEK!

And so... hm...

I need to see where I am with all my various projects - and whether I can come up with anything worthwhile to post here. Should be able to. I just have to find my misplaced discipline.

Stay tuned...

November 13, 2013

Quilt 21: Thanksgiving Charm Squares Tablecloth

When I went shopping for the fabric to use in the borders on Quilt 20, I made the fatal mistake of glancing at the layercake/charm squares table. Yup..there they were... the cutest little charm square packs. Thanksgiving prints! I adore Thanksgiving. It's my favorite American holiday, and one I make a point of celebrating each year (although I do it in July when it's cold here in Australia - November it's too warm here to want a big turkey dinner). I just loved these and thought "OOOoOO! Small, quick project!"

Here's a closeup of some of the squares.  It's the autumn colours here, plus the handful of squares with the words "Thankfulness" and "Gratitude" that make me think of Thanksgiving:
I decided to go with a simple design - 8 squares x 8 squares, sewn together without lattice - then add a couple of solid borders to get a square large enough to be a table cloth for our small dining room table.

Simple, really, but it did take a little while to decide which blocks to put next to each other:
And - in a FLASH! - the center was all stitched together and pressed. Here it is, just about 1 square yard:
Now I'll dig through my UFO closet and see what I've got to use as borders on this. I'm thinking all I need is three 2" borders to get this to the perfect size for my table.

November 6, 2013

Quilts for Orphans

There's a unique quilting group in Monbulk, not far from where I live. "Quilts for Orphans" has been around for about 6 years. It began as a response to hearing that orphans in India sleep on the floor - and a deeply-felt desire to do something about it. Group members volunteer their time and talent to make quilts which are sent to orphaned children in India, China, Indonesia, and other places where they are needed.

I've been hearing about this group for a while, but didn't really know a lot about them. But then a woman attending a meditation group I joined a few months ago brought advertising fliers for their upcoming sale and exhibition.

The sale is coming up this Saturday and Sunday - 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  The entry fee is $5 and proceeds from the sales will be used to purchase batting for more quilts for children.

For more information, here's the group's website:
(You can also find them on Facebook)

And here's a short TV news story about them and the work they do:

October 30, 2013

Quilt 20: Christmas Charm Squares - Progress

A couple of weeks ago I told you about the Christmas charm squares I bought in Florida last June - and the bedspread I decided to make with them. Here, again, is the design for the top:

Over 600 pieces, not including the borders.  But you know what?!?!... it came together in a FLASH, really! Here's the top - all pieced together and ready to "sandwich".
You may have noticed that I added another border - the outer red one. I did that because after getting it done, I decided I wanted just a tad more length. I think I've got enough of the green for the binding, although I'm going to discuss this with quilting guru Pauline, as a Christmas print with a mix of colours might actually be a better choice for the binding.  We'll see what she thinks. 

Here's a closeup of a few of the blocks. The print in the lattice is actually the same - just different colours (golden yellow for the rectangles, golden coffee brown for the squares). You can't see it in the photo, but all the prints have sparkly gold in them - so that coffee brown might sound "wrong" but it actually works.

I've only been quilting 3.5 years, but I've already got some silly traditions I observe. My favorite is taking a photo of the project draped over the stair rail.  And here it is!:

I'm pretty sure I've got a package of batting in the UFO closet - and I probably have enough unbleached muslin for the backing. The handquilting will be done with a golden yellow thread - perfect for these prints! And will this be done in time for Christmas? Oh, cummon... get REAL!!! I'm still working on that other Christmas quilt: Quilt 4

October 23, 2013

Quilt 20: Christmas Charm Squares

On the same trip (to Florida) when I bought the tutty fruity charm squares, I also fell head over heals for a package of Christmas charm squares.  Well, OK... TWO packets.  So, having no self-control whatsoever, and looking at a price that was irresistable (US fabric prices are way WAY lower than those here in Australia), I caved in.  Bought 2 packages.

After the intense fun of coming up with the tutty fruity projects - plus wanting to have several projects ready to start hand-quilting, I decided to dive on in and do something with those Christmas charm squares.

2 packages of 72 prints... well... that's a lot of squares.  So I came up with a design for a queen-sized bedspread:
Not bad, eh?

140 charm squares (10 columns, 14 rows).  The lattice includes 164 little gold corner squares and 304 light-gold rectangles. Then I'll surround them with a band of the light-gold, then red, then green, and finally bind with a repeat of the red.  I'm utterly thrilled with this design.

Yeah... we're looking at over 600 individual pieces just for the center, not counting the 3 solid borders and binding. WOW!

I dove in fast and got the squares set up pretty fast.  At first I just joined them in strips, taking care to change the colours; I don't want all the red in one place, don't want 2 of the exact same print side by side.

It was actually easier than I thought it would be (hm... am I getting better at this?  Maybe...)

And here are the 14 rows, all ready to be joined by the intermediate lattice strips:

WeeeeeeEEEeee!  I'm on a total tear here - whipping up quilt tops as fast as you can blink.

October 16, 2013

Quilt 19: Tutty Fruity "Throw"

Well, I admit it's a little mad, but I'm just so inspired by these tutty fruity charm squares. They are just so bright, stimulating and FUN!

So what am I going to do with the bulk of them?

As I explained in the last couple of weeks, I've pulled out the handlful of squares that just didn't marry well with the rest and have come up with other projects so the squares won't go to waste. But for the bulk, I really want a throw blanket.

And here we go!

First I organized the prints I liked best.  I found that I could make a kind of rainbow effect - purple/blue on the right, then (moving to the left) green, yellow, orange, red.  Then another band of red (a direct mirror image repeat) and back thru orange (and yellow/green/bluepurple):

 I spread my black calico on the floor and placed the squares.  I hand a handful left over, so I set them around the corners and sides:
 YEAH!  I really like this:

I want the black bits to be squares cut just like the fruit/veggie prints - so here I've used my photo editing software to draw in the seams - allowing me to easily count how many black squares I'll need (math not being my strong suit...):

It's been a while since Miss Laka (my macaw) has posed for shots on this blog, but she was ready for "bedtime" about the time I finished piecing the top, so hubby Stephen brought her in to pose:
 She's not impressed.  Laka is an avid fan of fresh fruit and veg - but she caught on fast that this is fake fruit.  Just as well - I don't really need her attacking my quilt and gnawing holes into it.

Now to sandwich this "puppy" and decide what pattern of stitching to use (and what colour thread?).

October 9, 2013

Talent in Ohio - A Unique Quilt

I became friends with Megan's mom Val decades ago. My friendship with Val is a true treasure in my life - and I adore her daughters Tricia and Megan, too. We're all "friends" on Facebook these days, keeping in touch via that virtual "get together" world called "social media". A while back, Megan posted that she was working on a quilt - her first, I believe.

It's a unique one - made up of T-shirts which have a "message" or are associated with organizations and events that are important to her. She tells me that she got the idea from a book, but that she adopted the design she'd seen and modified it slightly with her own creative ideas.

Her grandmother (Val's mom) is a very talented quilter, and helped Megan out by machine quilting the top when it was done (something I'd like to try doing some day).  Megan calls her grandmother the "Quilting Ninja". I've seen photos of one of her projects and have to agree she deserves the title.

And here it is: the finished project! (if you click the images, you'll see a larger version of the photos):

Is this clever or what?!?!?

Megan posted the photo on Facebook and I just went nuts - it's so clever! And a whopper of a "first project", if you ask me!

Then Megan really surprised me - she sent me a "private message" with a closeup of one of the blocks on the quilt.
I'm so touched by this I don't even know what to say. I am a breast cancer and mastectomy survivor and in May of 2011 I visited Ohio at the time of the annual Susan Komen Race For The Cure there - and proudly walked with my pink survivor's T-shirt. Megan and her mom both got up early on that Saturday (their day off, they are both career women) and came downtown walk with me - and the block you see here is made from Megan's race T-shirt, but she's added my name (and her's and Val's are embroidered there too, in pink stitching - look closely toward the center and you'll see them).

Megan, you've brought a happy tear to my eye. You're sure a special lady and I'm proud to call you my friend. Thank you for this kindness and for allowing me to share it here with my blog readers.

October 2, 2013

Quilt 18: Tutty Fruity Table Runner

OK... so Quilt 17 handles the "tutty fruity" charm squares I'm not all that enamored of. Now for a table runner with some of the other squares. NO WORRIES! I placed the solid black calico on my bed and set out squares I thought would look good in the table runner. Again - I'm using a handful of squares that just don't quite, quite blend in with the rest of the set.

Here's the same squares, but in a different arrangement. I was moving the squares around trying to decide if I liked them neatly paired up with like-prints, or scrambled. Hmm....
I think I'm partial to the version (the scond one) where they are paired up with the same print. Now to decide how wide to make the lattice between the squares (I don't really want the squares against each other as in the placemats...). Here's a narrow version:

And here's a wider lattice.

Hmmmm...  I'm running hot and cold on this one... thinking the first one (the narrower one) is the way to go.  Yes.  And probably a narrow band of black as a border around the entire table runner.

I'm not going to actually piece this one just yet.  No... I'm getting too excited about Quilt 19...

September 25, 2013

Quilt 17: Tutty Fruity Placemats

Most of the charm squares (from the pack I told you about last week) are very similar prints: bright, sparkly and vivid. There are a handful, however, which are less so.

Such as the "potatoes" squares, "mushrooms" and the "cabbage" squares.  They're OK, but they don't blend well with the others, so I've pulled them out and have decided to make placemats with them. Like Quilt 13 (the table runner with Japanese prints), I expect they'll work up pretty fast. And as I'm not really in LOVE with the prints, if beef juice or red wine (or, more likely, curry sauce) gets spilled on them, well, so what?!?!

Six charm squares make up almost a placemat-sized rectangle.  I'll edge these with plain solid black calico.

Here's the pairings:

First: apples/peaches/cabbage/asparagus.
 Who would pair asparagus with peaches in a dish?  Well, not me. It doesn't make sense from a culinary point of view, but at least the colours don't scream "WRONG!!".... at least not to me.

Second: mushrooms/corn/potatoes and onion/lettuce/carrots.
 The carrots kind-of "pop out".  I tried swapping the corn and carrots, but ended up thinking this arrangement is probably best. Well, sports fans, there's gonna be plates, cutlery and table napkins sitting on top.

Finally: bell peppers/tomatoes/bell peppers and limes/chilis/cucumbers.
Yeah... a bit much.  I know.  Again, I tried different arrangements, but this one is the most harmonious (keeping in mind the fabric in real life looks just a smidge different than it does in photographs).  This one is garish, but might be nice for the picnic table...?

So there you are.  There are enough of these prints to do 2 of each of the above 3 combinations, 6 placemats in all.

I've stitched the charm squares together, but haven't added the edging yet. I'm holding off on that. I've got the black calico but have decided to go with a "throw" size quilt and a table runner, and am thinking I should get those measured and thought out before I cut into the calico for these placemats.

These will make nice little "portable" projects, too.  Something I can easily tote with me when I visit my friend and quilt guru Pauline (and I'm hoping to see more of her in future... ...I'm even working on her to let me photograph some of her divine pieces so I can share them with you here...  ... Keep your fingers crossed, because she could say "no"...).

September 18, 2013

Tutty-Fruity Charm Squares (Fabric yes, Design no)

On my last visit to Florida (late May of this year) I headed to Cousin Toni's favorite quilt shop and did some "indulging". One of the things I brought back was a couple packets of "charm squares" cut using veggie/fruit prints. I'd picked up a yard or so of a "tomatoes" print back in 2011 (in Ohio) but hadn't done anything with it (no really good ideas yet). But here were 2 packages of 36 5x5 squares - 18 different prints.

Well, you just KNOW I couldn't pass them up.

We don't want all that lovely fruity/veggie wonderfulness to just sit and rot in the closet, so I pulled out the packets and started sorting through to see what's in them. Here's a photo of some of them spread on my working table:

Almost makes you drool, doesn't it?  But wait.  Notice some of the prints have definite black backgrounds. Some are just solid fruits (in whatever colours).  And notice the cucumber bit right there in the center bottom.  Very light - and a shade of green that doesn't seem to quite match/mate with anything in the entier pack.

Now, some of these are bright, vibrant colours. Others? Hm... the potato print? Cutsy, but not exactly splashy. And mushrooms? Also brown.


Going to have to give this some thought. I'm thinking: 
  • place mats (maybe that yard of tomato prints would make up nice napkins?)
  • table runner 
  • and a "throw"

September 11, 2013

Quilt 13: Japanese Table Runner - DONE!

Once I got serious about this project I was surprised - REALLY surprised - at how quickly I was able to finish it. There's not a huge amount of hand quilting on this, and it's only straight lines (and not many of those), so once the thing was sandwiched, it was done in a flash! Here we are: sewing on the binding:

And here's the finished product, draped over the stairwell rail, draped so you can see the front and back:
And here it is in it's final place - a little table in the hallway (I'm going to paint the table black later this spring, it will look much, MUCH nicer after I do that): 

I've never done a table runner before. It was an immensely satisfying project from the standpoint of creativity, speed and results.  Hm... I'll have to do more of these. I've got some Christmas prints stashed away, and maybe those would do well as table runners...?


September 4, 2013

Blast From the Past (2011 Japanese Print Table Runner)

It's been two years since I told you about my plans for a table-runner quilt, made from Japanese prints.  I had the fabric, came up with a design, all ready to go, but somehow... ..well... it just never happened.

But now it HAS!

I've adjusted the design slightly - simplified it, really.  There are 9 rectangular blocks with the blue/gold mums, each with 2 half-inch borders of cream/gold fabric.  They are framed by a coffee/gold print.  Here's a segment so you can see the colours:

(Double click the photos below to see larger images)
There's just enough of the flower print to use as the binding:
For bedspreads, I've been using plain unbleached muslin (aka: "homespun").  With printed calico costing anywhere from $15 to $25 a meter, I just can't justify the expense of a print, when I can back a bedspread with something that costs $6 a meter instead.  But for this project, well, a print makes more sense, so the table runner is backed with this Japanese writing print:
It only took me 2 years to get around to this... and the quilting and finishing on this project will go very fast.  I'm going to stitch inside the flower blocks and then around the edges, but not much more than that.  I'm using a cream thread, which shows up nicely, gives just the effect I'm wanting for this project.

August 28, 2013

Talent in Colorado - Part 3 of 3

Yes - I saved the best for last.

This one is so amazing that it seems to me Rob has gone beyond "quilter" and into "textile artist".

Look at the lovely piece in it's entirety - notice the edging - simple cream blocks forming side border.  And just as with his other pieces, the overall unity - with colours spread evenly around the top.

Here's a closeup. Notice the rounded sides - all rolled and delicately pinched up. And look at the tiny, fine points in each of those centers - just amazing to me that someone could do that.  Honestly... I have no idea how this is done (I'll have to look it up in my quilting books).  You can bet I won't be attempting this kind of block - not with my all-thumbs approach to quilting.
Again we see some of the same prints as in his other pieces.  I especially like the little block in the center of the photo below - the one with the sheet music print - adorable!

And the back - so simple, so very simple and so "right".
Many thanks to Rob for allowing me to photo a few of his quilts and share them.  He's got heaps more, of course, heaps.

I'm telling ya - there's a VERY talented man in Colorado.... Wow.

(Update as of Sept. 4: My good friend and quilting guru Pauline tells me this quilt is an example of "cathedral window" blocks.)

August 21, 2013

Talent in Colorado - Part 2 of 3

More of Rob's quilts.. Here's one that just makes my eyes dance - a "3-D" pattern:
And here's a closeup - he's used some of the same prints as he did in the "small squares" quilt I showed you last week.  I marveled at how beautifully he's matched things up and he just shrugged and said he was just grabbing whatever piece was handy.  I just stand back and go "wow...".
Check out the blanket-stitch he's used to secure the binding - simply BRILLIANT!  And he's using different coloured threads to boot, lots of visual interest in this piece.

Rob signs the backs of his pieces with a little embroidery.  Hm... I should be doing something like this on mine, too..
Here's his latest project - it just makes my eyes dance to look at it... .and all hand-pieced.
As you've probably guessed, I've saved the best for last. Tune in next week!

August 14, 2013

Talent in Colorado - Part 1 of 3

A couple of months ago I visited a long-time friend in Colorado (the friend I made the snowball block quilt top for).  She introduced me to her neighbor Mike, and when we were talking, mentioned the quilt.  Mike told me his partner Rob quilts, and asked if I'd like to see some of his work.  Naturally I was delighted!

And oh... what beautiful things.  I took a few photos and later asked Rob for his permission to post them here (which he agreed to).  There's too much "good stuff" here for one blog post - so I'm putting up some today and will hold some back for later. As you look at these, keep in mind they are all hand-pieced and quilted. An unbelievable amount of work (I can just see my quilting guru Pauline smiling and nodding at me - she does hand-piecing, too... astounding).

For all of these, doubleclick the photo below to see a larger version of the image.

First there was this one: a double-sized bedspread.  Sadly, I all I photod was this closedup of it.  The pieces here are quite small, very delicate:

Again, no full-sized shot of this quilt - I was just overcome by the loveliness of it and wanted to remember the design:

And here's a slightly closer view.  I love the way Rob has played out all the colours - and what a terrific way to use up your scraps!  Each little square is only about 1.5".

And look at the prints he's got in this - I love the halloween skull-and-crossbones (orange, white, grey print - look in the lower left to see two of those blocks).  The quilt as a whole has a "stained glass window" effect - but then you look at these adorable, irreverent prints and you just have to laugh. Terribly clever!

I adore the double wedding ring design - but am terrified of it. Isn't it gorgeous?

Oh... if I only had more courage. Look at the gorgeous "spider web" stitch design in the center here - is this brilliant or WHAT!?!?!?

August 7, 2013


It's called "Amish Star" and I found it on the web. I've done enough quilting now to look at this block design and understand how to reproduce it in calico.

I've been looking at it for quite some time and thinking what to use it for. I've got some more of those "William Morris" fabrics (a layer cake and a couple of packs of charm squares), plus a charm square pack of Civil War prints (very bright colours in that one).  Hm... yup... I think the Civil War prints.


August 1, 2013



(insert red-faced, embarrased grin)

I messed up.  I've been so swamped with various projects this week that I haven't prepared a post.  I'll be back on the ball next week...


July 24, 2013

Washing My Second Quilt (Part 2)

My laundry room floor is now sparkling clean. After having the washer overflow, I drained the tub and re-started it using "high/medium" as the setting.  And I watched it - oh I watched it CAREFULLY.  The water level didn't get too high this time, and was sufficient for the amount of fabric in the washer.

What I didn't mention last week was that the water coming out of the machine when I was draining it had a slightly reddish tinge to it.  Oh.. no... was something in that quilt (gold and maroon fabrics) bleeding?  Shouldn't be - really shouldn't.  I pre-washed that fabric and saw no evidence of bleeding.

After pulling the quilt out of the washer, I draped it over the stair rail on the second floor and let it air dry.  Inspecting it closely, I was delighted to see that it came through the wash quite well!  There was a small problem with a segment of the binding (about 3 inches) which came loose, but that's easy enough to fix.

And yes, somewhere a bit of red fabric did bleed - but, oddly, there's no sign of a stain on the backing (which is natural unbleached muslin). Only the front shows a little smudging of red, but it's very faint, and if you aren't looking for it, you wouldn't notice it.

So it's back on the bed, keeping us warm in this cold Australian winter.

July 17, 2013

Today's The Day (Washing My 2nd Quilt)

A few weeks ago, I mentioned the fate of my second quilt: It was laying on the bed when we had our master bathroom rennovated.  The contractor (who promised he'd be taking precautions to avoid spreading the mess all over the house) laid various dusty bits and pieces RIGHT ON THE BED! - and just the dust from the work was enough to have me pulling my hair out (in fairness, I shouldn't have left the quilt there, should have covered all with sheets or something... )

Anyway - Stephen and I took the quilt outside and beat it - got a lot of grit and dust out of it, but the fact is, it's still not "clean enough" to suit me.

To complicate things, Miss Laka (my blue and gold macaw) nipped a smallish hole when the quilt was quite new - a thin slash as if done with a knife or scissors.  So laundering this quilt is something I have not been looking forward to.

But I've procrastinated on this since March, and it's time to get over it.

Looking at the tear, thought about patching it before washing, but then decided to just put it in "as-is" and I'll patch afterward. I think there might be a bit of fraying, but there probably would be under any patch I'd put on.  No - I'm going to wash it without the patch and then see how it comes out.

So here it goes -  in the machine and a little laundry soap thrown on top:

And, with my heart in my throat, I turn the washer on and watch as the water fills and the drum turns:

It's a big quilt - a generous queen-size spread, nearly king-size.

OK... here comes another "life lesson".  I put the quilt in the machine and set the water level for "automatic".  Big mistake there.  I just checked - could hear the slow aggitation in the machine - and found the water was too high - and there's a small puddle on the floor next to the washer - EEEEK!

So I paused the machine and pushed "spin" to get the tub to empty. Once the spinning is done and the water is out, I'll mop up and start over - this time set the water level to "medium" or maybe "medium-high".  And you can bet I'll be watching it like a hawk.

Oh... this is all way more interesting than it needs to be....

July 10, 2013

Best Little Quilt Shop - Part 3

Just a couple more The Quilt Place:

A fellow customer came by when I was admiring the samples hanging on the side wall - she set her bag down while she was selecting prints for her next project and I caught a glimpse of it - how CLEVER!  All 2 inch squares sown into a lovely over-the-shoulder sling bag. OOOOOO!  She didn't want to be in the photo (other than her right arm), but gave me the OK to have a photo for the blog.

This animal print (below) I'd seen last October - and laughed at it. I thought it was terribly silly - until I touched it. Super soft fur - and oh so luxurious.  One touch and I had to have one. Bought the fabric then and there, but neglected to take a photo at the time. Thankfully, they still have it displayed:

 Here's a closeup:
The sales clerk warned me to read the instructions on this one carefully - and to note that the seam allowance should be 1/2 inch (instead of the usual 1/4 you'd use on calico).  The backing is also fur - and it's all machine quilted.  I've got the kit in my UFO closet - and have to admit that every time I get it out and look at it... well.. I'm intimidated. One of these days I'll get brave, though, and have at it. I'll probably find it's easier to do than I think it will be.