April 25, 2017

Hiding Your Start/Stop Threads on the Longarm

One of the first things you learn to do on the longarm is how to pull bottom threads through to the top so you can clip them.  Today, however, I stumbled across a "beginners" video that has a really interesting way to hide the ends inside the quilt sandwich.

I'm sorry I can't just embed the video here - but here's a link to the video for you:

The thread-hiding bit is right at the beginning of the video.


April 21, 2017

Australasian Quilt Convention - April 2017

Every year in April there is a massive quilt convention held in Melbourne.  The "Australasian Quilt Convention" pulls quilters from all over the world, and it's a real treat if you are remotely interested in quilting and textile art.  It was my third year in a row to attend (I went today) and I had a ball.

The event is held at the Royal Exhibition Building, a beautiful exhibition hall sandwiched between Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum.
 The exhibition runs four days.  It started yesterday and ends on Sunday.  In my previous visits, I found that the best day to go is generally Friday (avoiding the eager first day rush and the crowds that descend on the weekend).
I arrived about 11:30.  There were quite a few people there, but so many opted to take advantage of the food vendors and have lunch, that the stalls weren't terribly crowded until after about 1.

I stopped by the Handi-Quilter display area, where internationally known author Angela Walters was giving a talk about free-motion quilting on borders.  (I'm a big fan - and have a couple of her books - they are terrific!).

Patchwork With Gail B. - one of my favorite quilt shops - has a stall right next to Handi-Quilter's stall - so I was sure to say "hello" to a couple of the gals working there.

After that, I headed for the Bernina stall - and did something kind-a big that I'll tell you about in a later post (you probably already know what I did....).  :-)

Next I headed to the quilts on display.  I don't know how many they had - I'd say "hundreds".  Whatever kind of quilts you like - they've got 'em.

Here are some that really caught my eye:

I love the combination of simple blocks in alternating sizes (below).  The "pinwheels" in the corners just dance!
(Click on this and any photo on this page for a larger image)
 And the simplicity of this quilt:

It's nothing more than small blocks of fabric "framed" in white and black strips.  Have a look at a closeup:

 This one (below) really "wow'd" me:

It's roughly 70" x 80" - a nice size - and I love the colours and pattern of the on-point blocks.  At first it looks really tricky, but check out this closeup (below).  You can see how it's done - actually very simple in terms of the individual blocks.  It's the use of colours that really make this one sing.

This bird quilt fascinates me.  It's smaller - maybe 40" x 40".

 Part of the fun in this one is the interesting quilting pattern used.  Here's a closeup:

 Animals are a big theme this year.  Here's a really clever one - partly patchwork but also quite a lot of "thread painting" embroidery in the animal itself:

And a giraffe!  I showed this photo to a friend who noted the bold use of blue on the giraffe's neck - it's bold, but it works, doesn't it?!?!

The emu's (below) are part applique with thread-painting for the flufflier parts of the feathers.

The quilting pattern in the background is really interesting.  Look at the different shapes quilted in for the sky and grass behind the emus.  I'm especially interested in how some of the artists used stitching for backgrounds like this - I've got some panels that I want to do stitching like this on.

And here's a landscape quilt that is a real knockout:

It was stunning from a distance, but close up - WOW!  Have a closer look:

In the photo above, notice how the quilting looks like brush strokes!  And the ground between the rows of feathery red plants is all stitching.  REALLY CLEVER!  And yet another closer look (below) at the feathery plants:

The red and orange grassy shapes are applique!  Minutely narrow strips of fabric painstakingly stitched on.  It's brilliant!  And it must have taken ages to do.

Applique fans will appreciate this one (black camels, emus, and a bottle tree).  And look at how the quilter has bound it with multi-coloured binding.

There are a few really BIG quilts on display - like this one:

Below is a closeup of part of that one.  Almost like super-sized postcards all stitched together.

Ever been to Canberra?  If you're going, here's a map! (it's about 24" x 36")

Looking close up, you can see that the design is all done in tiny quilt and embroidery stitches. 
And here's another animal quilt - this one used applique and thread painting:
I saw this one and was struck by it's simplicity.
But when you get close... simple?  Hardly.  That basket on the left is done strips woven together.
More animals (thread painting again):
Every year there's a giant mural quilt.  Last year it was a huge crocodile.  This year, Flowers!
And, finally, there's this mind-blowing quilt.  The design is the facets of a square-cut diamond.  No photo does this justice.  I saw a photo of it on the convention's website and thought "yeah?  What's so great about that" - but then I saw it in person at the show.  It's astounding - jaw-dropping.
So there you are - a small handful of the huge number of amazing quilts on display.

Lots of fabric and gadget vendors were also on-hand, many with some really good deals for bargain hunters like me.  I came away with a couple of jelly roll packs, a fat quarter pack with 20 different aboriginal prints, and some rotary cutter blades (just in time, as my current blade is getting a little dull).  And, yeah, there was that one other little item I picked up - but I'll tell you about that later...

April 19, 2017

Quilt 90: EZ On-Point Charm Squares

I haven't done any on-point quilts for a while.  Time to do a couple.  I found a really interesting, easy way to set up a lovely on-point quilt VERY fast using charm squares on a blog called "Loose Threads".  Have a look at the little tutorial on that site: here.  Looks pretty easy, doesn't it?

I want a quilt a little bit bigger, so where that blog's author started with 4 strips of 8 squares, I'm going with 6 strips of 12 squares:

 Next I turn the above rectangle on it's side, and cut from the center (top) down diagonally on one side.
 Then I cut through on the other side.  Now I have one large triangle and two smaller ones.
 Sew the two smaller triangles together.
 Now I have two large triangles, which I join:
 Voila!  Instant easy on-point quilt top!
 I pulled out some scraps from other projects to use as borders to make the quilt a little larger.
And here it is!  Bright and cheery charm squares!
54" x 54" - quilted on the longarm (free motion loop-d-loops) - cotton batting

Quick and easy!

April 12, 2017

Still no quilt post - but...

I've been watching "beginners" videos on YouTube about the iPhone and have been doing a lot of experimenting and learning over the past few days.  I made a conscious choice to make learning how to work with this device a high priority for a week or so - which basically means "no quilting happening right now".

The investment in time is paying off.  I'm able to be reasonably comfortable with the iPhone and it's features, and am ready to pull back from studying it and get on with life.

Just today, on Facebook, I saw a post with a photograph of an infant in hospital, lying on a small, colourful quilt.  The post was a "thank you" to the organization "Victorian Quilters" - thanking them for the quilt and, in part, saying this:

"Thank you so much for the lovely quilt we received today in the Rosella ward of the Royal Children’s Hospital. (baby's name) is almost three weeks old, and has had his first of three major heart surgeries for Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, two weeks ago. ... it was a lovely surprise today to find the beautifully coloured blanket in his cot. We’re very grateful for your generosity."

Well - there you are.  It gave me a real "moment", I can tell you.  It's terribly sad to see children sick - but that message reminds me why I do what I do - and why I need to get cracking.

And so I will.

I've got a lovely child's quilt pieced and ready for the longarm.  I'll be mounting it tomorrow and will tell you about it next week.

Until then - have a happy and blessed Easter weekend.

April 9, 2017

Why there's no quilting post this week

... partly because I was legitimately overly busy from last Tuesday on - but then...
...24 hours ago, Telstra (telecommunications provider here in Australia) released a new dangerous virus called: "Liz with an iPhone"
Be afraid, my friends, be very afraid.
Just ask Doris - who got unintended phone calls from me last night because for some reason when I wanted to read her text messages, my phone started dialing her mobile and I couldn't figure out how to stop the call. I've been looking at this today and still can't figure out what I did wrong. Oh wait... no... just realized what I did wrong.
(Doris, darling, you are safe... for now...)
And ask Diane, who had to come over and point out to me last night that she could hear (on HER phone) a private conversation I was having because of something I did with my phone... (I'm still wondering what that was - but hoping Diane will straighten me out the next time I see her).
I've discovered the indescribable joy of exploring all the possible ringtones. 
This takes time. LOTS of time. (Sorry hubby, we're having takeaway tonight because I got, uh... tied up with something)
I really like "Sci Fi", at least I do here in the privacy of my office.  But now I'm talking myself out of using it for my ringtone because if I get a call when I'm out in public and my phone does that, I'm going to die of embarrassment. The same goes for "Piano Riff" (sounds like the beginning of the song "Bad to the Bone").
Oh, hell, I like "Bad to the Bone". Select and save "Piano Rift". 
Did I set it up right?  I dial my mobile from the house phone and yes... I'm "b-b-b-b Bad to the Bone".
Now on to the "Safari" browser and looking at emails on my Hotmail account. Hm... signed in, but can't find out how to log out. I think I've entered the Hotel California... ("you can never leave"). OK - so let's turn the phone off... now back on.. and yup. Looks like I'm logged out of Hotmail now. (whew!)
I found a 90-minute "iPhone for beginners" video y'day. Guess I should go watch that thing now because, when all else fails: read the instructions.