Saturday, July 26, 2014


Quilting Manhattan Clams


Quilting Manhattan Clams

I'm crazy for feeling so lonely

Quilting Manhattan Clams

I'm crazy
Crazy for feeling so blue

Quilting Manhattan Clams

I knew 
You'd love me as long as you wanted

Quilting Manhattan Clams

And then some day
You'd leave me for somebody new

Quilting Manhattan Clams

Why do I let myself worry?

Quilting Manhattan Clams

What in the world did I do?

Quilting Manhattan Clams

Oh, crazy
For thinking that my love could hold you

Quilting Manhattan Clams

I'm crazy for trying

Quilting Manhattan Clams

And crazy for crying

Quilting Manhattan Clams

And I'm crazy for loving you

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Devoid of talent? Stupid? No, just stubborn.

Six days ago I ripped out 9 rows of clamshells because it had a little wonk.  I love wonk, but this would have been too much wonk-on-the-wall and I couldn't deal. So all week, at every opportunity, I have been stitching clams to make up for lost time.


In the car on the way to Fyshwick to search out a new washing machine.


In front of the Tour de France.


In front of Chicago Fire.


Mariska never seems to mind me sewing in her company.


In the park at lunchtime. Yes, it was 8 degrees. Yes my hands froze off. So I took my hands and my sewing to a coffee shop (no photos).

Finally last night the last stitch went into the clams.  Tonight I trimmed it.


And then I measured it and botherbotherbother it was out.  So I did what any dressmaker would do - folded it in half with the grainline, and then trimmed from the folded edge. I didn't care which clamshells were in my way.




I even made the perfect backing for it.


I was on a roll. It's only small. Why not baste it now and start quilting the crap out of it? My back is already screwed - quilting a little quilt can't kill it further.


Oops. Not enough basting pins.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 3

When I worked with my local quilt group's exhibition committee last year, I was always astounded by the generosity of the sponsors. Small businesses, and large businesses, all so keen to support quilt shows. Nevertheless, I was a little dumbstruck when I was handed my prize at the Sydney Quilt Show last weekend. Naturally, me receiving it in the roster room meant the other quilters on tea break wanted some show and tell so I got to open the massive cellophaned prize with everyone there which was pretty cool.

I was expecting a LOT of fabric as per the category notes which I was really excited about, but instead I got something even betterer! (totally a word)


A box (!) of 80 spools of Gutermann thread, perfect for dressmaking. I shall never have to buy thread for dressmaking again! Thanks to Gutermann.


A pair of Gingher dressmaking shears. I almost cried when I saw these - I've been saving up for a pair for ages (I have the embroidery scissors and they are the best scissors ever), and was finally going to purchase them at the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair in a few weeks.  With so many thanks to the lovely Scissorman.



Fabrics from Lloyd Curzon. I have some interesting ideas for that fat quarter pack!  I also received a beautiful pattern by Michele Hill but I have no idea who provided that as part of the prize. Sorry!

I also received 2.1 metres of wool batting from Minijumbuk. Given it is #finishit2014 that will come in VERY handy.

Then a few days later I received a phone call from the guild. It seems I was missing some of my prize. I figured I'd already hit the jackpot, but nope.  A very generous cheque from Maru at Material Girls Down Under, and a gift voucher from Julie's Superior Threads were mailed to me, along with my certificate. I am just blown away. As if just winning the Modern category wasn't enough, I got amazing prizes too?  Thank you to all sponsors, and thank you to the Quilters' Guild of NSW. I am so proud to be a new member, and to see firsthand what an amazing organisation you are.

Now on to the rest of the show! The Craft part of the Craft and Quilt Fair side of things was amazing this year. There was a lot more room to wander around than there ever was at Darling Harbour. I didn't have much time by the time I looked at all the quilts and did my roster, but I did do a fair but of shopping!

Quilt show goodies

Cotton and Steel fabric and a Hex N More template from Material Obsession, some Triangle sets from Bloc Loc (I love these rulers so much), the Fancy Fox pattern from Kim Bradley (I also bought some more Cotton and Steel for a friend there) and some gorgeous big print fabrics from Sew Piecefully Patchwork.

Quilt show goodies

It was so lovely to meet the Quiltmania stall holders thanks to Kathy. They were just lovely. I spent ages there browsing - I had a list that was quite long of books I wanted to get! I was so happy to get the last copy of the Willyne Hammerstein book after the last 12 months of desperately desiring it. I have built up a great collection of Dutch quilt books over the years, and this is probably my favourite yet. Willyne's quilts are AMAZING. Sigh. I have plans. Big plans. Probably not till 2015.

(As you can imagine I have made all kinds of deals with myself so that I can start the Passacaglia quilt, and the Wall Flower quilt, and ... and ... and ...)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two rows forward, nine rows back

I had just four rows of clams to add. Four. I left work earlier for once to spend the time cutting out some clams and readying them for a night of stitching at a friend's place. Project Runway and clamshells? Perfect.

I put the quilt top back on the design wall, as I do each time I work out the placement of the next row, and was horrified to notice a distinct leaning to the right in the last 9 rows of the quilt.


I know so many of you won't see the lean. I do. The ruled line I was marking each time I did a row (I'll be trimming the sides before quilting it) didn't lie either. I was out by a good half inch.  I sent an SOS OMG WTF text to my quilting friend Jan.

So I unpicked at just the 9th bottom row and laid it on the design wall, thinking I could just tilt it a little to the left.

And then I unpicked the unpicked bit at the 4th bottom row. Again, no luck.


So I unpicked all 9 rows. Each and every clam. And then I pulled each clam away from the glue basting which oh my goodness had better wash out because it is nasty.  I was left with this, and I'll admit I had a little cry. And then I just laughed. It's just a quilt!


I got right back on the horse and basted two new rows to the quilt, making sure they lined up this time. I'm not working on a grid - this whole quilt has been positioned by eye and a regular check with the ruler. No wonder I ran into strife.


I managed to stitch down most of the clams last night, but tonight I will be attaching the last 7 rows. I think I'm playing with fire trying to make the quilt the 158cm I put on the exhibition entry form.


When I was texting my friend Jan last night I joked "Perhaps I'm a perfectionist after all!". To which she replied:

"A perfectionist? No shit! I would timidly suggest obsessive more like!"

I think Jan's onto me. This is totally going to ruin my reputation.

I'm linking up with Gemma's I Quilt linky party. Ironically I was also going to call my blog post "I quilt without a plan".  Too funny.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On the home run

After thinking I might not enter a quilt in the Canberra Quilters' exhibition this year, I changed my mind the weekend before entries were due, mainly thanks to the encouragement of a friend. I didn't have anything anywhere near finished, and I just didn't want to go there with the stress and the frantic-binding-on-delivery-day thing again, you know?  

Stitching in the coffee shop

So my clams will be on show, messing with people's eyesight (hopefully) and minds (most certainly) when they wonder "why the heck did she do it that way?" and "again with the intense quilting over hand applique? This girl is nutso".


Unfortunately I am nowhere near a finished top. As in NOWHERE. So it's been getting worked on at every opportune moment this week. I'm determined to have the applique all done by Saturday night.

 Stitching on TV catchup night

Oh Mariska!

 Stitching in bed

And after the most fabulous night out with my sewing buddies last night it was straight to bed to stitch. I lasted a quarter of a clam and then crashed. Damn champagne.

I'm linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday this week. Even if it is technically Thursday over here. Go and check out the fabulousness!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 2

It seems all the quilts I promised you I would be able to show with permission? There were three. Not the heaps I had though - mainly because I'd either forgotten whether I had asked the person when I met them, or because I asked a few of the Canberra quilters if I could publish their photo on the Canberra Quilters instagram account, but not my blog.

From Indigo to Silk by Bob James

This is one of Bob James' quilts. I met Bob early in the morning when I was having photos taken, and he said such lovely things to me about my quilt, and told me what others had shared with him as well. Lovely man, and it turns out he is also a fantastic quilter. This piece "From Indigo to Silk" took my breath away. Those are 1/4 inch strips. Such a striking effect, don't you agree? Bob won both the Creative Use of Colour Award and the Judges Commendation for Professional Small or Wall Quilt.

Global Warming by Bob James

Bob also had this amazing piece in the show called "Global Warming". I do love circles in quilts!

Coxcomb and Currants by Janet Treen

Janet Treen entered this hand appliqued, hand quilted and trapuntoed stunner called "Coxcomb and Currants" and not only won BEST OF SHOW but also the Retaining the Tradition Award, Excellence in Hand Quilting (Open) Award and First prize in the Professional Traditional category. To cap it all, Janet is a really lovely lady. I was so happy I got to meet her.

Coxcomb and Currants by Janet Treen

Given I can't show you all the quilts, I thought I'd tell you about the blog posts where the quilters have shown their own quilts! That's almost as good as the real thing isn't it? (I'll update the list as more people blog about their quilts or as Google reveals more!). You can also check out the Prizewinners' Gallery on the guild website.

* Rachaeldaisy's two prize winning quilts here and here.

* Leanne Harvey's prize winning quilt here.

* More on Janet Treen's quilt here.

* Chris Jurd's quilts here.

* Karen Cunningham's prize winning quilt here.

Edit: My friend Di has a very comprehensive blog post on some of the quilts! Thanks Di!

Tomorrow I will show you what I won, and what I was tempted by at the Craft and Quilt Fair. Three words. So. Much. Pretty.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 1

After ten or so years of attending the annual Sydney Quilt Show, I decided last year (while I was at the awards ceremony, actually) that I would finally join the The Quilters' Guild of New South Wales and enter their show in 2014.

So I joined, and I entered.  Two items on the bucket list ticked!

I entered my favourite quilt in the world - a hand appliqued, heavily quilted piece that I designed myself. It's called "Across the Universe". I shared it a bit here, and a tutorial for how to make the perfect circles here. It was a quilt borne out necessity - a very stressful period at work required me to force myself out of the office and into the park for an hour each day. For three weeks of lunches I stitched circles onto fabric patches. Then I sewed them together. Even though the quilt was made during a pretty rotten time, I have nothing but good feelings about this quilt. It hangs in my entry at home, and we look at it and walk past it every day.

Imagine my surprise when someone from the committee called me last Saturday night to tell me I'd won a prize? She wouldn't tell me what, though. Unfortunately I couldn't get to the awards ceremony this year, and had already planned to go on the weekend.

So I was super surprised to find out I had won this.

Sydney Quilt Show

I still can't believe it. Entering this show was on my BUCKET LIST! Winning a category wasn't.


I can't tell you how happy, and humbled, and amazed, and bloody chuffed I am.

Sydney Quilt Show

The quilt show was AMAZING. It was at a different venue this year, and I don't know whether it was the extra natural light, or the extra colour in the quilts, but everything looked so beautiful. There were certainly some show stoppers there, and it was fun to examine them further while I was white glove duty on Saturday. I shall do a second post soon with the quilts that I got permission to publish photos of (from the makers themselves).

I picked up my prize (so generous. And thank heavens I brought Mavis, my nonna trolley with me). Came in handy when taking two ferries back to our apartment. I'll show you my amazing prize in the next post.

Sydney Quilt Show

It was a wonderful day. My husband came to the show for a few hours and to take some photos and people kept stopping us to ask about the quilt, and to say such wonderful things about it. I was complimented by some pretty well-known quilters on how straight it hung! (and hardly a 1/4 inch seam in there! Told you I was lucky). A couple of other quilters told me they would want to take it home. I finally started to believe I had made something special - to others and not just to me. And for the first time in a long time, no one questioned why on earth I would hand applique it, and then matchstick quilt it (instead, everyone I spoke to said they totally got it. THANK YOU SYDNEY!)

Sydney Quilt Show

I think I smiled all the way back to Double Bay. Also - Sydney you're beautiful. Thanks for giving me a wonderful weekend.

Sydney Quilt Show

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The hard slog

I love most sports, but I'm not much of a soccer fan until you add a Dutch team into the mix and suddenly I'm the most avid soccer fan you've ever met.

So on Sunday morning you would have found me here watching Netherlands v Costa Rica.


That's the perfect ironing board height to make perfectly curved clams for my Manhattan Clam quilt while I sit my half-Dutch backside on the sofa and yell loudly.


Speaking of clams, the quilt is progressing well, but I'm getting a little bit bored with it now. I can't explain it - I love the process, the fabrics, and the appliequing, but I am really, really looking forward to the quilting so I can't wait to finish the hand work and square it up!


The backing for a larger quilt was sewn together. Massive dots - I couldn't resist!


My physio gave me new exercises to strengthen my bad back this week, but he didn't mention anything about scrambling on the floor and pin basting a very large quilt. Probably because I didn't tell him I was thinking of doing it.


Result - one very sore Michelle, and a couple of big black bruises on each knee. But I don't care - the quilt is basted! Hooray!

I'm joining up with my friend Gemma's linky party this week.  (If you read Gemma's post you might also glean a little bit of exciting news that happened to me this week! But more on that next week when I get back from a little trip to Sydney.)

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