Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Clearing the decks

The sorting of the sewing room has come to a grinding halt. There are too many half-made (or as we call them around this house, "half-arsed") projects lying around and I want them finished. So this week is finishing week, and I'm actually kind of enjoying it.

Arithmetic - still joining

The Arithmetic quilt chugs along. I have more than half of it joined, and I should be able to finish the quilt top in the next day or so, just so long as I don't die from boredom first. (Yes I find this ironic. I prefer to hand piece - something many people find extremely boring - and yet I find sewing seams at a machine to be mind numbing in the extreme. Probably why I have so many half-arsed machine-sewn quilts lying around.)

Lotta Hexies - moving on

The Lotta Hexies is back on the boil. When the quilt shop found more of my grey fabric for the diamonds it meant I could fiddle with the design a bit. This quilt is so design-as-you-go it's not funny. But I'm hoping to have the quilt top done by Christmas and then quilted and on the bed soon after.

Bag in the pipeline

One of the shelves which is coming down currently holds a batch of made and unmade bags to sell. Should probably get on that.

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

And this is the most fun - the stitch and flip HSTs from modern quilt group earlier this month. These have been so much fun to sew and then fiddle with on the design wall.

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

Haven't tried a pinwheel combo yet - must get on that.

Thursday, October 25, 2012


We're doing little renovations around here - a bit of fixing here, a lot of plastering there, a whole lot more painting sometime around Christmas. New carpets. Maybe some polished floors. New curtains and blinds. Some doors to replace the missing (yes that's right) ones. We've been in this old house for 6 years now, and finally I feel like we are fitting into it. And we know what we want to do with it.


I've been complaining for a while about the state of my sewing room. It is permanently messy, I have no storage system, and most of my dressmaking fabrics and all my yarns are in the spare room, as is my design wall. It's time to kick the detritus out of the sewing room and onto a trash and treasure stall. And bring the good things back into it, preferably so they are in the one spot.

One Monday I noticed that the Mister had designed me a sewing room layout on a post it. Quite possibly this was more romantic than a bunch of roses.

I had Wednesday morning off work while the plasterer was here so I took the time to sort through my sewing room. I didn't even scratch the surface. I barely made a mark in the dust.


This shelving system (Expedit from IKEA, in case you were wondering) is about to become my only storage in the sewing room, other than the storage that comes in my sewing cabinet (which isn't much). I've decided to refine my book library - if it isn't sewing, quilting or crochet related, it has to go. Actually most of my crochet books and magazines have gone into the pile. At least 5 of the baskets will be sent to other uses - I intend having my patchwork fabric on display on those shelves.


The two lack shelves and the cabinet underneath this wall are going. I'm in the process of selling half the Blythe collection and the remaining girls will live somewhere else in the house. I have bag supplies on that shelf - already cut out bag pieces that just need to be sewn up and sold. The stuff on top of the cabinet is all scraps. Honestly - it's a disgrace. The big red boxes are from my full time bag making days - I won't need them anymore. The smaller plastic boxes are full of fat quarters from when I first started quilting 15 years ago. I'll be sorting out my fabrics my colour and putting them in the cubes of the Expedit, so I can see them and use them. In the boxes and baskets they are invisible to me.


The sewing cabinet will ... ugh. I can't even bare to talk about it with all that junk on it.


So far the shelves are looking OK. I've managed to store my current projects and recent fabric purchases on the upper shelves, and I have a heap more room too. But all the baskets need to be sorted through, and some kind of system for my fabric scraps identified and used. I'm doing my research on that.

It's a slow process but I'm determined to get this sorted out before Christmas.


In the meantime, I had to take the quilt that lives on the wall in the living room off the wall while the plasterer was here, and as it was so dusty I decided to throw it in the washing machine. I hung it out on the line to dry, and couldn't help noticing how much the batik fabric looked like stained glass.


And while I haven't been able to get near my sewing machine for all the junk, the one inch hexagon quilt grows and grows.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Trade Winds and Stars quilt

Trade-Winds-and-Stars---ful copy

I am so happy to have my first ever pattern in the Moda Bake Shop. Yes! I baked a quilt!

It's such a super simple quilt. Minimal cutting, no points to get fussy over. but the slanted stars effect of the blocks is what I love the most.

Trade Winds and Stars - half on seat

For the first time ever I used solid fabrics for the back and I really like how it turned out, especially with the straight line quilting I did.


I hope this is a quilt that Monique will love for a very, very long time.

Trade Winds and Stars - full on seat

Otherwise she can just give it back (joking).

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Moving fabric from the design wall to the sewing machine - a tutorial

I will admit that for as much fun as I have standing in front of my design wall (currently in my spare bedroom) and fiddling with blocks and fabric, there is a certain amount of terror with moving those bit of fabric off the wall and towards the sewing machine. And it's silly to have that terror, as I have a pretty fool-proof way of converting the beauty on the wall to a fully sewn quilt, and I thought I would show you how I go about doing that with this little tutorial.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

So you have all your squares laid out on the design wall, or the bed, or the floor, and you want to sew them together but you don't want to stuff it up.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Take some scraps of paper (I use little post-its), a pen, some binding clips and some pins. Write the numbers of your rows from 1 to 'whatever' on each little piece of paper. I had 14 rows, so I wrote 1-14 on my paper.

Work out how best your brain works. What you are going to do is gather all those squares into 14 piles - one for each row. Decide now if you want to go left to right, or right to left and then stick to that. I go from left to right so that the far left block is always on the top of my pile. And I consider the bottom row as row 1. But you can do whatever you want to do.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Grab those squares from the bottom row first, left to right (in my case) until you get to the end of the row.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Clip all 14 squares with a binding clip, and then pin the number "1" to your first block and set it aside.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Keep going with each row until you get to the top. Clip, pin the next number on, etc.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

At the end, you should have 14 piles of numbered, clipped squares. Pretty!

Now head over to the sewing machine. But first things first. This is what I was faced with when I tried this yesterday. Seriously - my sewing room is getting ridiculous, but hey at least I have one.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

But 10 minutes later (just don't expect to sleep on the spare bed anytime soon) I had this.  Much better.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

I have since thrown out that calendar ... which was stuck on July 2011.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Put your favourite quilting music on. Normally I'm all for sea shanties, but yesterday I was in the mood for a little Yo-Yo Ma and Chris Thile.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

CLEAN AND OIL YOUR MACHINE. This is the first thing I've sewn since I quilted a big quilt last weekend, so I had a  lot of lint to clean out.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

For heaven's sake change over to a new needle. Your quilt and your machine will thank you for it later.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Take the pile labelled "1" and remove the first two squares.Sew them together at the side seam. Don't remove the pinned label - you'll need this for later.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Press the seam to the left, preferably without an iron. I use either a Clover pressing tool ...

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Or my fingers. Either work as well as each other.

Keep going until you get to the end of the row. Then pick up the pile labelled "2" and do the same thing again, but this time finger press your seams to the right.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

You can either keep sewing rows like this until you get to the last one, and then sew the rows together, or you can sew them together as you go. It's really up to you. Put row 1 on the bottom, and row 2 on the top, and start matching the seams. You'll see that my pressing your seams differently they will butt up against each other.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Pin so that the left facing seam doesn't get flipped when sewing it (it will be the row underneath and you won't be able to keep an eye on it from above.

Make sure you press the seams of the odd-numbered rows to the left, and even-numbered rows to the right.

From Design Wall to Sewing machine

Soon you'll have a reduced pile of rows, and a larger sewn quilt. And you'll keep going and going and you'll wonder why you left the blocks on the design wall for so damn long. See? Not scary at all.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Adding up

That Lotta Jansdotter Bella fat quarter bundle that I didn't know what I was going to do with in my last post has almost turned into something.

Arithmetic in progress

Well, on the design wall at least.

I came across Jeni B's pattern called "Arithmetic" and thought that it could be quite a handy pattern to have.

Arithmetic in progress

You see in the pattern there are tables for 2.5 inch, 4.5 inch and 8 inch squares, in six different sized quilts. SIX!

I had 17 fat quarters I could use (two of them are a bit panel-like so I'm keeping them for the backing) and also decided to throw in some of the million metres of grey I have in my stash. I bought the pattern at lunchtime today, came home tonight at about 8.30 pm, pressed the fabric, cut the squares, and less than 2 hours later I had most of them laid out on the design wall.

Arithmetic in progress

And so far I like it.I really like it.

Wish I had a wider design wall though.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Too much fabric

It's true. I have TOO MUCH FABRIC. I've been buying it like I need to insulate my home with it. I can't even blame Flickr or Instagram or other blogs for my current addiction to purchasing - I did this all on my own. I need to take 6 months off work to make all the quilts I want to make and that are swirling around my head and in my quilt design book.

Farmers' Market HST quilt

First up is my Farmers' Market quilt. I bought these fruit and veg fat quarters in Townsville and Charters Towers while I was at the SCQuilters retreat in July, and today, in less than 30 seconds, I picked that green spotty background fabric at the quilt store this afternoon. Fastest shopping ever. I'll be using half square triangles (HSTs) because at the moment I'm having a HST thing with my quilts. I am dreaming about HSTs. Unsure why.

Dresden Plates

Next is some fabric I purchased in Perth at one of the most beautiful stores in the world, Calico and Ivy. Straight away, in the store, I knew it would become a Dresden Plate quilt.

Keiko Goke - circles quilt

These are amazing Keiko Goke fabrics by Yuwa. I couldn't resist, and they were on sale too. The prints are incredible, and too beautiful to cut up so I'm thinking of a whole lot of big circles appliqued onto a background. Probably grey because I have 10 METRES OF THE STUFF because I love using grey in quilting.

Made in Limoncello (Made in Cherry) fabric

I bought this fabric last year to make a Made in Cherry quilt (which in my case I'm calling Made in Limoncello). I still have yet to make this quilt, and I really should because I love it and I want to make this and I don't actually have a quilt big enough to put on my own bed (the monster twisted hexagon quilt is on the spare bed).

St Ives - unsure what to do with this

This is a whole set of St Ives fabric by Sarah Fielke that I bought from someone on SCQuilters who was doing a sewing room cleanout and the set wasn't their style. Well it's my style, but I still don't have any ideas as to what to do with it. It can stay in the thinking stage a little longer.

Bella - unsure

I pre-ordered the whole range of Lotta Jansdotter Bella a few months ago, and now it's here I have absolutely no idea what to use it with. Something something, perhaps. With HSTs. And hexagons. And grey. I have enough grey I think.

Scrap Vomit swap

I took part in Angie's Scrap Vomit swap recently and some of them are still trickling in but I have lots. I might get to this quilt in 2016.

Modern quilt group HST wonkies

The other night at our modern quilting group we were playing around with HSTs and a wonky version of them, a la Sew Katie Did. I was heaps of fun seeing what people could come up with in the group. I got a bit caught up and I think I want to make a whole quilt like this. So while this didn't involve fabric purchases, and does use a lot of scraps and stash, I'm adding it to the list because I just don't know where I want to take it. To the moon perhaps.

Of course I still have projects on the go. While I finished a big one yesterday (hooray! Reveal soon) and have another quilt ready for basting, I also have three steady and very unfinished English paper piecing quilts on the go.

Lotta Hexagons in progress

Lotta Hexies is currently on hiatus. And my plans for it may have changed. My local quilt store managed to get in some of the grey background fabric (HA! Hence the 10 metres in my stash!) after I'd run out so I can now do more piecing and less border. I'm actually kind of happy about that.

One inch hexies in progress

My one inchers from Rita are still toddling along. I am just piecing and joining, piecing and joining and I don't know how big it will get. Possibly fairly big (like lap sized). I'm still madly in love with it.

Hexy MF in progress

And lastly my Hexy MF quilt. I managed to make all 72 flowers in a very short period of time, and now I'm sewing them together. But it's too fast for me - I'd planned to make this quilt over a few years, so I have put this one on hiatus until I have Lotta finished. Or not.

We won't talk about the unfinished His Royal Kaffeness. Or the jelly rolls and layer cakes and kits that I have coming out my ears.

I'm really lucky that I have a great quilt store near (well, 20 minutes away) me that satisfies my taste in fabric, and I'm super lucky I have a job that means I can afford to buy fabric and keep it as a pet. But I'd really rather make quilts from them. This makes me less anxious about the amount of fabric I have lying around, and less guilty as well. I'd love to say "Oh once a month I'm going to show you something finished or near finished" except you all know by now I don't do deadlines, and I'd really be setting myself up for failure.

In the meantime, I will think and sketch and pet. That will have to do. And I'm not complaining about that AT ALL.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012



At last month's modern quilting meeting, I took along my pink quilt top and asked the other quilters there how I should quilt my quilt. I had ideas, but I wasn't sure. By the end of the night I was pretty set on those ideas, with the encouragement of quilters who know much more than I do. I was going to do a swirly back-and-forth design in each block. It was going to be continuous and beautiful.

Unfortunately I'd neglected to factor in the following before I started quilting:
a) I hadn't practiced any free motion quilting in about 5 years
b) I'm really quite shit at free motion quilting, even with practice
c) I hadn't yet had the chance to do the online quilting course my husband had given me for my birthday.


Fortunately I worked out how shit I was at free motion quilting only one block in. Unpick, unpick, unpick, have a cup of tea.


Back to the drawing board. I brought out the big guns - my walking foot, a ruler and a pencil.


I really do love quilting straight lines. They can transform a quilt into something dramatic and clever. Or very simple. I think anyone who poo-poos straight line quilting can bite me. No, really they can.

[Delete rant about competitiveness in the quilting world and traditional vs modern and who put the 'vs' in there anyway and what the hell were they thinking?]

[Insert nice statement about joy and warmth and rainbows and puppy dogs and lovely people]

I quilted line after line, fuelled by Haighs chocolate caramels (thanks to my dealer) and grunge music on the stereo. I quilted and quilted and eventually got about halfway and decided enough was enough.


I'll work on it some more tomorrow.