Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Honey put down that fly swatter

Here's James (which I did in reverse to be clever because I'm silly. But I actually angled like this.)

And here's Nancy.


The lunchtime park stitching continues, with company.



And without.


The scrappy trip around the world grows on my design wall.


And so does the Chester Criswell Quilt.


Life is good.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Dear Nancy

Nancy Smith block in progress

Dear Nancy,

You've been a delight to have around.  I've enjoyed your sunny colour, and your gentle curves. But I have to admit to having a wandering eye this last day or so. And I'm sorry.  It's not you. It's me.


It all started when I laid you out with the others on the design wall ther other day, and started auditioning fabrics for the next three blocks.  A certain young man called James caught my eye. I think he might be a broccoli farmer.

Or something. I can't quite explain his shape.

James Carlile block in progress

But dear Nancy, I think it's love. From his rich deep orange colouring, to his bold background, to his wicked twists and turns. He tends to unravel before my eyes when put under pressure, but he has my heart. And therefore I'm sorry to tell you that block five may be finished before block four is.

I can't help it, Nancy, I'm weak. Please forgive me.

Yours sincerely
Michelle xoxo

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Elizabeth and Priscilla

When my workmates and I first moved to a dingy, dirty, ill-equipped building on the other side of the CBD last May, the only blessings we could see were that a) we would be closer to the shops and b) we were right across the road from a pretty little park.

And then two days later they tore that park up to re-landscape it.

Lunchtime crafting in the park, with company - Monday

Seven long months later, the park opened again so I've been spending every lunch hour there to eat my sandwich and work on my Chester Criswell Quilt. Sometimes I have company, but most often I don't. I don't listen to music, or play games on my phone. It's just me and the sounds of birds, traffic and those bloody boot campers.

Lunchtime crafting in the park - Thursday


On Saturday I missed my park sitting, so I sat under the elm tree at home.

Under the elm tree

Then on the deck to supervise the BBQing going on.


By the end of the week, I had block 2 (Elizabeth Cowan) sewn.

Block 2 - Elizabeth Cowan

And block 3 (Priscilla and Joseph Turner) as well.

Block 3 - Priscilla and Joseph Turner

I really love the fabrics I've chosen so far. I spend a lot of time auditioning different combinations, and I think it's paying off. What I'm not so happy about is the technique I was using for the blocks 2 and 3. Sadly the soluble stabiliser I used turned out to not be soluble at all, but because it's fused to the applique pieces I can't cut it out of the back and remove it. I like my applique to not be stiff. So it's back to freezer paper for me, until the perfect solution (and I have a couple in of options) presents itself.

Now onwards to Nancy and James R Smith! Whee!!

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Chester Criswell Quilt

This year for me is the year of the quilt. I'm going great guns getting through my stash, planning some classes and setting myself new challenges.

I would like to finish more than I start, but apparently I wasn't born with the finishing gene so I'll just have to accept the gift (aka the starting gene) that God granted me.

Late last year someone on an Australian quilting list I'm on was talking about a block of the month program they were establishing, using an old quilt they had reproduced the blocks from. The quilt was called the Chester Criswell quilt. It was an old album quilt, made for a wedding in 1852 and made in the traditional greens and reds of the time.

Photo from

Those traditional colours aren't really my thing anymore - my country and civil war reproduction fabric period had long passed (which you will notice if you come to my trash and treasure stall on Sunday) but I wondered if it was the kind of quilt I could do with some unique fabrics - a bit brighter, a bit cheekier, a bit more clashy.

A bit, dare I say it,  modern. Gasp! She used the "m" word, mum!

So after Christmas I signed up. I had been following the blocks on Sharon's blog as she released them each month and it all became too tempting. And I'm so glad I did - each block has a history of the person who made it, and it's just such a great read and very entertaining.

Block 1 - Jane Wilson

This is Block 1, originally made by Jane Wilson 150 years ago. My preferred method of applique is the freezer paper technique. But I hadn't appliqued anything for years. Talk about nerve wracking.

Block 1 - Jane Wilson

Each day I would head over to the park across the road from work and spend an hour stitching.

Block one - Jane Wilson

And here's my first block done! It's not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but it's mine and I love it. And that fabric by Kumiko Fujita? Dying over here.

Block 2 - Elizabeth Cowan

Block 2 was by Elizabeth Cowan. I'm using a different technique this time - washable fusible interfacing. It's certainly less crunchy but doesn't give as clean an edge as the freezer paper technique. I'll practice a bit more before deciding whether to go back to freezer paper. Or trying another technique altogether. I really don't know - I'm just enjoying my lunchtimes in the park too much.

I love how the different fabrics are making these blocks something a bit unusual, and I'll get a quilt at the end of the process which is more in keeping with my style. Plus I'm learning some new things as I sew (I'm already nervous about Nancy Smith's Block and how tiny those seam allowances are going to be) and that's a win in my book.

If you're interested in applique and want to give this a go, I can highly recommend it. After my last applique quilt I swore I would never do it again, and yet here I am, enjoying myself thoroughly. The first block is actually free, and all the other blocks after that are a measly $2.50 each. $2.50 for a good read and a bit of history AND a quilt block pattern? Bargain.