Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Project (with a capital P) - Amy Butler 'Lotus' Double wedding ring quilt

On the 27th of November this year my brother is getting married. Plans have been underway for a little while but with him, his fiancee and all of both families living in Western Australia and me being over here on the east coast I have not been as involved in the planning and preparations as my sister (who is a bridesmaid) and my Mum (who is making the wedding dress).
I did, however, play a small cameo role here. The dress the bride will be wearing has a sheer overlay and the bride has her heart set on this being a white organza with large (about 10c-20c piece size) on it, also in white. Trust me, a nationwide search has been carried out. It has been spotted on finished garments and one, I found a roll of fabric in Cabramatta that was just right.... except it was yellow. If you have seen or know where some of this fabric could be found please let me know. Officially the search for the fabric has ended but i know I haven't really stopped checking and I don't think the bride or anyone else has either. It's not too late till the dress is done!
The coveted fabric...in yellow :(
But I digress. The wedding is a family affair, and both my brother and his bride to be have added or a looking to add a number of personal touches to the wedding. One of these little touches is the way they are doing their guestbook, which will allow guests to take a photo of themselves holding a chalkboard with a message for the bride and groom. These will then bu uploaded during the reception to a digital photo frame for guests to see, and for them to display in their home after the wedding.

During our last trip I was trying to think of something special I could do for their wedding, while not being intrusive and my mind had moved several times to a quilt but I wasn't really sure. Telling me about the guestbook idea and showing me some inspiration pictures came at just the right time.

Is that a quilt I see there in the background? A double wedding ring? Just the pattern I was thinking about. I did think about it quite a lot more before I took the plunge and called them to ask them what they thought. After all, we are talking double wedding ring and, although I don't often get scared off by things that are supposed to be hard, this is a gift for a special occasion and I didn't want to over commit myself.

But called I did. And they said yes, they would like one please. And they also said yes, we like your fabric ideas (Amy Butler and Heather Bailey). Which was a relief to me because one of my first ideas was to go with the wedding colour scheme (yellow, light pink and navy blue, try and blend those colours!)

So now I'm making a Double Wedding Ring quilt. My partner, while being supportive of my sewing and crafting, doesn't really grasp why I would offer to do something like this but to me, it is the essence of why I craft. Making things for other people. Particularly people I care about.

I have the fabric, I went with Amy Butler's Lotus range and even found some of the hard to find yellow spots at Fred the Needle in Penrith. The rest came from Quiltsmith in Annandale and The Remnant Warehouse in Alexandria. And yes, there are a lot of the other spots too.
I have spent some time researching the pattern and method I will use, I auditioned a paper piecing method from freespirit and McCalls but, as much as I can see the wisdom behind paper piecing something like this, it just isn't me. I have a problem with the waste generated by cutting the fabric large to ensure it covers the arc and the all the paper getting tangled as I chain piece the sections of the arcs. Plus I never seem to achieve the accuracy with this method others rave about.

Then, on a LQS tour (I must post some of them sometime soon) I found this template set at Material Obsession from Matilda's Own. There was a hiccup when the lovely people at my Toyota car service centre lost one of the pieces the afternoon I bought the set but I'm trying to move on (helped by the actually lovely people at Matilda's Own, who sent me a replacement piece).
The advantage over paper piecing that I see this set gives me is the potential to cut and piece with the small arc section templates as I normally would, and then check it for correct size with the template piece in the set that is included for a quilt that doesn't have pieced arcs. There is also a hand little reference book for planning layouts and calculating fabric required in the set. And a paper template for squaring off the edges which I will be using.

The last decision I have to make is the dimensions. I can't do a full size quilt. I just don't have the time. I was thinking a large lap size (and will probably go with that) but then I wonder if that isn't big enough. I think I'll start by making the arcs and see how I go.

So now, amid moving plans, packing, house hunting, unpacking and staring a new job I'm going to sew and quilt this baby. I think it will be just the distraction I require some days.

The first step is to go home tonight and cut into this stack of fabric that will one day be a lovely quilt.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

My Hexie Box!

I don't usually have the patience for extended hand sewing. It seems like a good idea to me in theory but I never seem to enjoy actually doing it.

Until I started making little hand sewn hexies, that is.

I think it has a lot to do with having something to see for my efforts. Maybe not a completed project but a happy little stack at the end of the news.

So, in order to have everything to hand quickly I put together this kit in a cheap compartmentalised box from a $2 shop.

I made a little pin cushion to go in one section,

and a little thread and waste bin in another. I have sewed some plastic table cloth in the bin section to make sure things don't get stuck and empty out easily.

I also have a hole punch to for the card stock hexies to make pinning more easy and a mini hair straightener I got free with my last hairdryer. It really helps with making the corners nice and crisp, although I can do without it I'm not near a power point.

Now I need to work out what I cam going to do with all these little hexies....

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Blue and White Quilt - a new project

Several weeks ago I bought one of these Jelly Rolls and the 6" charm pack from my LQS, the Remnant Warehouse.

At the time I didn't have a plan for them but then one day I was reading the Quilt-as-you go quilt along at Sewtakeahike and I have one of those Eureka! moments.

I had been tossing around in my mind the idea of making a quilt for our bed but wanted something that was not too fussy, was reasonably unisex in design and fabric choice but was still interesting. I was also keen to try a quilt as you go, and like Sewtakeahike said, I had not idea how I could quilt something big enough at home. Using these precuts (plus one extra roll and some Kona Snow) seemed to fit the bill.

So the plan is to make a couple of these blocks every few days and hope to have this finished (or nearly so) when we move into our new home in Melbourne.

The finished quilt with alternate light (white centres and edges) with dark (blue quilts and edges) in the quilt.

Sound a plan?

Monday, August 23, 2010

New books

I think it is quite possible I'm a bibliophile.

I am currently in the process of trying to database all my books before the move and have been struck by the sheer number of them.

My two latest acquisitions are


My first machine

My parents gave me this machine for my 13th of 14th birthday. And it was my only machine until last year.

Mum was determined to find me a second hand Elna, this one came from
The Sewing Machine Man in Mt Lawley. She is a Contessa 710.

She is a great, robust machine but I wouldn't call her quiet.

She requires some unusualy bobbins, if you know where I can get any I'd be grateful for the information!

She might not be new and slick and fancy (and have only one foot and no accessories) but I love her!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Finishing and tidying.

In the corner of my lounge room there is a chair that never gets sat in. It is one of those chairs where things get piled, not necessarily untidily but certainly not in a way that could be dscribed with the rhyme 'a place for everything, and everything in its place'.

So this weekend, with the upcoming move as the incentive again I put the finishing touches on the three quilts that had been sitting there. Two needed the binding sewn to the back and labels and the third needed only the label.

It got me thinking about a question that is often asked of quilters in interviews 'what is your favorite part of the quilting process' and I think I would have to say it is the designing and piecing followed by the quilting. The least favorite? Sewing the binding and making the quilt sandwich.

I think it has something to do with the fact those stages don't change the 'look' of the quilt so much, where as in completing the other stages, you can see something come together before your eyes.

Quilt 1: Luv U Pinwheels
This was made with one charm pack and some scraps I had from an earlier project. It was the first quilt I designed completely myself and I love the way the perle cotton hand quilting works with it.

Quilt 2: X Block Kaleidoscope
I made this quilt top in April using the
X Block template I bought at the Craft Expo at Homebush in March. I made this whole quilt top using only one layer cake and a tiny bit of extra solid. The back is solid (I thought there was enough colour on the top) and the quilting around the X's makes a X and windmill pattern on the back.

Quilt 3: Carnival Critters
I also made this one in April I think, using my first Etsy fabric purchase from Lucky Kaeru
It has a pieced back and circular free motion quilting.

There are in my MadeIt shop.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Bee {a little bit} Japanese - August Blocks for Jennifer

My package arrived for this bee a few weeks ago and I was excited. It contained a great range of linen fabics and some Kaffe Fasset shot cotton and Kona solids, all in colours I love.

I had also been eagerly waiting for the package because the
inspiration mosaic Jennifer had put together was wonderful.

And boy did I have ideas. I spent a Friday evening when I was a little too zonked to sew on the couch in front of the TV sketching out some ideas.

I don't know what it is about my bee blocks (perhaps it is that I have to make only one or two of each style rather that enough for a whole quilt top) but in my designs I tend to piece them much more heavily than I would do otherwise.

The first two ideas I had were ultimately the ones I decided to go ahead and make.

The first was designed to be a block with 3 small squares down the left side and one long rectangle down the right side.

The second was a log cabin style, with each of the logs being a pieced sqaure or retangle.

I started first in the Three Sqaure and Rectangle block and chose three of the fabrics to work with, the Kona solid and two different linen spot prints.

The three squares came together really well but when I came to do the longer rectangle I realised I had made a serious error in estimating the amount of fabric I had and would need to change the design, I decided to do two retangles instead. All was going well until I got really concerned I was going to run out of the Kona solid.

In a slightly panicked state I put that block aside and made the Log Cabin block, with two if the other three linen prints (I love the little houses)and the shot cotton which came together really well.

Feeling slightly more emboldened I went back to the first block and realised, as I had feared, that there was just no way I was going to have enough of the Kona to finish the block.

I thought about using some of the fabric used in the other block to complete it but as I had made two very differnt coloured blocks I didn't want to add a new fabric for only one section of the block. So I took out my Kona colour card and held up my scraps to try to work out which colour it was with the inention of trying to buy some more to finish it. I thought it was Espresso (which turned out to be correct), and rang several LQS trying to find it. In speaking to my LQS, The
Remnamt Warehouse I discovred that, while they stocked the entire range availiable in Australia this was only 100 or so fabrics and none were the Espresso. :(

I emailed Jennifer and explained the bind and she very graciously pointed out the second block was a bonus anyhow and that she would add some more to complete the block when it arrived.

So this is the mostly completed second block.

And while I really like the Log Cabin idea and execution I can't help but be disppointed with the finish of the Three Sqaure and Rectangle block. It feels terrible not being able to execute a vision and send back something half completed. But I will, with a little surprise added to the package.

Have you ever run out of something at exactly the wrong moment?

Giveaways and competitions

One of the things I love about the Internet and blogging is the sense of community it can create. My friends love seeing what I have made but they aren't what you would call crafty. So I love joining in in an online community where I can made other friends that share my crafty interests.

So today, while I wasn't feeling so crash hot I spent some time in blogland.

I'm excited about the Modern Quilt guild challenge
Project Modern

I've entered the
44th Street Fabric Giveaway and Jaybird Quilts giveaway with the Fat Quarter Shop.

Resting has never been my strong point.
I hope none of you are feeling under the weather as well.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A present and a party.

Last week the first daughter of some friends turned one, and as she is also the first child in our close group of friends she has, quite naturally, been spoilt rotten.

Her birthday party, at the weekend, was no exception.

While my friend is a great mum she is no crafter and no baker. In the very helpful words of her mother yesterday, she just doesn't have the patience for it! So, as soon as she announced she was pregnant she asked me if I would make her child's birthday cake and on the weekend I got to do that for the first time.

I love making novelty cakes and have been known to make children's birthday cakes in the past for adults! So during last week I sat down with my Woman's Weekly books to choose a cake.

For any overseas readers you may not be familiar with these Australian tradition books. The one with the train on the cover is now a collectors item and I was lucky enough to be given my copy by my mother when I moved out of home. In the past few years the original has been expanded and revised with the result being the other three pictured.

I made the Blocks cake form the Little Party Cakes book.

We also had a full array of party food, I made some Top Deck cupcakes, Strawberries and Cream cakes and these great icecream cones made from a meringue mix that is spread thinly on a cookie sheet, baked quickly and rolled into shape while still warm.

And didn't I promise presents?
I made this bed for my dog many years ago and slightly ignored the instructions in that I filled with with foam shapes suit to size rather than stuff it with poly fill as was recommended. I'm glad I spent the extra money at the time as it has lasted SO very well.

During a recent trip we took away my dog, Mollie, stayed with these friends. Their daughter thought the Mollie's bed made a great reading couch and Mollie was shooed off. As she got to sleep on a real bed I don't think she minded that much though.

So for her birthday she got a book nook couch of her very own.

Made with
IKEA fabric, and again filled with cut to order foam shapes from the Foam Booth it should be robust enough to take the traffic of the next few years.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I sew...here

I don't have a sewing/craft room.

I read a lot of blogs from a lot of talented and creative people. And often they mention the sewing room or the craft room and occasionally show pictures of these wonderful spaces. And I get, I'm not too proud to mention, really jealous.

In my house I have half a cupboard in the study (which is really a spare bedroom) and my sewing machine is more or less permanently set up on one end of the dining table.
While this is OK in theory the cutting mat almost always ends up gracing the other end and we eat sitting on the couch in front of the TV, which drives my partner crazy. And pulling everything in and out of the cupboard all the time really cuts into my limited sewing/crafting time.

So over the last few months I have been trying to make thing more organized and accessible and keep my bits and pieces a little more contained, for everyone sake. I like a clean and tidy house as much as the next person (my mum thinks maybe more so... if she could see it now).

The first thing I did was take out some huge tubs I had in the hanging section of the robe and get these little hanging shelves with drawers from IKEA to make my (ever growing) fabric collection a little more organized and easy to access.

I have drawers for garment fabric, upholstery fabric, scraps of batting and interfacing, scraps, pre-cuts and yardage.

The tubs underneath hold patterns, separated into craft and garment and form an essential purpose to provide some stability to the handing drawers.

Then last weekend I took the scrap drawer out,

pressed everything that I had just shoved in there over the last little while,

and cut them into 10, 5, 3 or 2.5 inch squares.

There are still quite a few scraps left I can't bear to part with but I have some ideas of how they might be used.

I have stored the smallest two squares in these little boxes, again from IKEA.

Why all this effort? Well, recently my partner got a new job which will mean a move for us from Sydney to Melbourne in the next few months. And I am hoping against hope with without much foundation that we can move somewhere with a sewing room. I have wonderful ideas about how I could organize it and work in it and how I could shut the door on all the little bits and pieces that, however well organized, make a craft area look messy at the end of the day.