Christmas Cheer

I have been busy this week making edible and
 non edible gifts for the staff at DS1 kinder or kindy as they like to call it here in South Australia!
 I was lucky enough to win a bundle of fat quarters from Michelle Hill's new fabric range at the Quilters guild December meeting.  It is sitting under the tree, so I can fool myself that Michelle personally delivered it just for me!  That and the fact that I am scared that by letting it into my sewing room I will be tempted to start something new!  I am staying away from my books until after NYE, then I wont feel so guilty about the UFO's I didnt complete this year.
 These are some pictures of a new project that I did sneak in this year.  About a month ago I was wondering about how was I going to find the time to finish TWO The Aussie Santa Sacks by Millamac that I had started.  However thanks to Erolyn, Stacy, Elaine and Jane I got the last pieces cut out and fused onto the background fabric.  Then I persisted and using my fabulous "new" machine finally got to use the blanket stitch, to sew down all the animals.

It didnt take as long as I thought, even though I had to stop and change thread colours regularly.  I am really happy with the end result and even enjoyed stippling the background.  DS1 was slightly interested in his santa sack (previously had a quilted stocking made by me) but DS2 was not interested at all.  However they are both eagerly anticipating the big car trip so we can spend Christmas with my family - yep the car trip!  I am positive the prospect of seeing grandparents (both sets) is also high on their agenda, but Santa is running a very poor THIRD on their priority list!  Happy quilting, Sue SA.

Quilts from the Heart

 All of a sudden November has come and gone and December is here.  I didn't mean to leave it so long between posts but we have been reasonably busy over the last month. 

 I completed my BF quilt and another cot quilt (girl), both of which were presented to their new owners during November.  I took photos of the completed projects on my mothers digital camera but couldn't them to download onto her PC.  I am hopeful that I can rectify this problem, but you will have to wait until we next visit! 

Also in November I attended the Festival of Quilts, at the Adelaide showgrounds.  I had entered DS2 quilt but it wasn't eligible to be judged as a large portion was from a kit.  I enjoyed looking at all the quilts and got an extra good look at one section while I spent two hours as white glove volunteer.  I caught up with some friends and did a little retail therapy, of course! 

I knew Christmas was fast approaching so I decided to make a late decision to make Santa sacks for my two son's, from a Millamac pattern I brought earlier in the year.  However I haven't taken photos of them yet, just sewed in the last stitches before attending the Guild meeting last Thursday night!

I thought I would treat you with pictures of some of the 20+ quilts I photographed last week, from the charity quilting group I belong to, Quilts from the Heart.  There are seven other ladies in the group, most of whom would not call themselves quilters.  However they are very good at making quilt tops, then our teacher, Elaine Kennedy, of Pine Grove Quilting quilts them all on her long arm machine.  All our fabrics are donated (and most of it isn't proper patchwork fabric) and I spend a bit of time trying to keep it sorted, so I can find borders and backings as required.  Not to mention that all important extra 3" that matches so a top can be finished!     

 I have just realised that most of these pictures are of the string pieced quilts, which wasn't intentional, just happened to be the first ones I photographed.  The string piecing technique has been a big hit with Ann, who was making two tops a week at home!

I don't think that the camera/being photographed inside does the colours any justice, but you can see that there has been a move from scrappy strings to colour coordinated - a fantastic effort when you are dealing with left overs! 

Happy quilting, Sue!

Bags galore

 Recently DS1 has become fixated on going to visit his grandparents and both sets live interstate.  Our next scheduled visit is not until Christmas time, so in the interim I have made him this backpack, as both a distraction and also to carry his special things in.  DS1 collection of special things has blown out in recently times, to the point that they had to reside in an old nappy box, so this bag is rather large for a backpack, eg bigger then his back!  The vehicles are from a Kellie Wulfsohn quilt pattern - Peak Hour, which was published in the magazine Homespun No 85. Vol 11.6. 

My quilting friend Stacy showed me how to make these bags, using 50 cm of vinyl/pastic coated fabric from Hetties Patch.  I loved the ones Stacy had made her nieces (Christmas gifts with the intention of them being swimming bags) especially the cherry fabric.  So I had to make some for myself, particulary as DS2 started swimming lessons this week.  I thought that he could have the oranges and I could have the cherries, but they are sufficently large enough to hold both our towels, togs and associated stuff.  Still I think that I will go back and buy some more fabric to make one for Mum (she tries to swim laps regulary to excerise her hip) as I love these too much to share!  And the best part is they only took an hour or so to make!  Thanks Stacy! 

Quickest quilt ever and rescued UFO's

Do you remember the flannel fabric I showed you on Oct 5th I brought for my best friend?  Well here they are! 

When my BF admired my flannel quilt I offered to make her one, based on the colour she liked, terracotta.  Luckily she also liked the pattern, as it is a really quick and easy one.  The thing I like least about patchwork is the cutting, and in this quilt you cut it all out first.  However I found it easy to do with this pattern as you have 12 different fabrics, so I just cut one or two up a day, in between my preferred tasks.  Then before I knew it I had all the blocks together, enabling me to put all together yesterday at my groups "all day sewing" class.  I am very happy with it now its all together.  I am sending the top off for long arm quilting by Vicki Jenkins who had previously kindly donated the quilting on the Kinder I spy quilt.    I brought the backing and binding this morning, so its all ready to go.

Here is a  shot of the Courthouse Steps table runner now gracing our sideboard.  It is very fitting that they live together, as the sideboard was rescued out of my grandparents garage, after they had both passed away.  Where it came from originally I am not sure, but it was missing its "back"- the piece that would have held a mirror, not to mention the water damaged top, the fact it had no legs and needed stripping back.  I brought some reclaimed Oak only to find that there are about four different types of wood used in its construction.  My father (who wasn't a wood turner then) found a local wood turner and traded the job of making legs by giving him a few burls.  A burl is one of those round growths on the side of tree trunks, bit like a oval pimple covered in bark.  Burls make really nice bowls if your a wood turner.  And then after many years of living in my parents garage, my father stripped it back for me and I paid a professional to french polish it.  So there is a happy ending for both of these rescued pieces. 
Happy quilting Sue SA.

Courthouse Steps and Harvest Table Runner's

  I made an attempt at trying to show you a close up of my quilting on the Courthouse steps table runner.  I free motioned a figure eight twice, one inside the other vertically and then again horizontally.   I think they turned out OK, certainly all good practise anyway.  I used monofilament thread, which looked so much better then cream and of course was the perfect answer for the dark blocks.  I did take some photos of the finished product, but don't seem to be able to find them at the moment.  Anyway its finished, label and all and on my sideboard, looking good!
 This is the Harvest table runner also completed.  I never did go back and add the extra quilting on the inside of the fruit.  I know I probably should but the monofilament thread is off the machine now, so perhaps next time I load it up!  This table runner hasn't made it onto the table yet, as I have decided that I want to be a bit precious about it.  DS1 is too fond oftexta's and drawing at the table, so I might just bring it out for special occasions.  I did have a request for a close up of the quilting, again its hard to take pictures that show quilting to their advantage, but I tried!

And lastly but not least, below are the seven Celtic applique blocks (large approx 20 inches) that my friend Bea started.  I am not sure when Bea commenced working on this quilt, but I do recall her telling me about them.  I use to give Bea a lift to quilt guild meetings and charity quilting meetings when I lived in Sydney.  We kept up correspondence when I moved to Adelaide, however it was not frequent.  I was really sad to learn that Bea had passed away in June after a short illness, in her late 80's.  Her daughter then asked me if I would finish the quilt for her and posted down all the pieces.  I am yet to start work on it, but I do enjoy seeing it in my sewing room as it reminds me of Bea.  I am a bit daunted by the task, but I do enjoy hand applique and want to honor my friendship with Bea, who was a lovely lady, so I will give it my best shot. 
Happy quilting Sue SA.

All in hard days work

 Thursday night I went to the quilters guild meeting and borrowed this book from the library, as I needed to make a girls cot quilt.  AND then I was lucky enough to win four fat quarters that were just perfect to start my project!  But that's not all, as I was leaving, a lady from my group (thank you Julie!) introduced me to two of my blog followers, Dawn and Jude - which was a lovely surprise, so it was a great night out! 

OK so I shouldn't really be starting any more quilts, but with a pattern and fabric in hand it was all too tempting!  I  had to dig through my novelty collection to find some bright prints that would complement the pink and green.  Now I wouldn't normally use bugs for a girls quilt, but they were all so cute, and with two boys I don't have any real girly fabric in my stash.   So I was able to use the pink, green and white polka dot fabric that I won.  But I needed more yardage for the sashing, so back in the stash and came up with this yellow dot fabric.  Bit out there isn't it!  Anyway so that was this mornings work. 

This afternoon I just "whipped up" this single Irish chain.... yeah I know I am NOT suppose to be starting new quilts, but all that digging in my stash unearthed ever better "girl" fabric.  Besides with two friends due to have babies soon (one is over due) and lots of girls already in the family I figured that two cot quilts was better then one!  Mind you not sure when I am going to quilt them, but that's another issue.  Oh and I am going to put a border on the green/pink quilt, just that DS2 woke up before I could cut more fabric.  So besides sewing today, I also made some muffins with DS1 and applied the second coat of oil on our outdoor table - ready for alfresco dining now!  Today DH was also  very busy, but doing some proper "heavy" work, paving... here is DS1 hard at work ... good little worker isn't he!
 Happy quilting Sue SA.

Love a good design wall

DH has been on holidays this week, hence I have free access to the PC and his handyman skills during the day! So 1 minute is about the time it took DH to drill in three cup hooks to hang a piece of dowel.  Then another minute to unearth my batting box, which was overflowing with batting scraps and this large piece of prequilted calico.  Prequilted calico is good for making tote bags, but used wrong side out it also proves to be a great design wall!  So not sure why it has taken me two years to organise one?   Anyway now that I have got a design wall I am making good use of it.
 This is a quilt top that I put together for the charity quilting group I belong to, Quilts from the Heart.  Alan is in his early 80's and donated all the blocks, apparently they were "left overs".  He couldn't be convinced that they were of use to him (he had already made two quilts with this pattern (not sure what the blocks are called sorry) and wanted them to go to a good home, which was lucky for us.  So I used some of the fabric we had received recently (good patchwork fabric but dated prints), which had come from the family of a lady who had gone into a nursing home.  We don't usually get nice large pieces of patchwork fabric donated, so it was a joy to piece the top together.  Our fearless leader generously quilts all the tops on her long arm machine, so it is now waiting its turn.      

 These are my wedding blocks, made by my Sydney quilting group friends - what do you think about sashing them? 

Thanks for the comments re colours (other then red!), it gave me the motivation I needed (LOL!) to go to the patchwork shop and audition some options.  I decided on this nice reproduction, its a grey blue with a small tone on tone floral print. 

So now I just have to decide if I am going to sash them or put them on point, what do you think?

I have 50 blocks and they are 6" finished, so either way they are going to make a reasonable sized quilt.

I have had more votes from my current group for the on point option.  Which I like, but can then see the need to do some nice quilting in the plain blocks and hence making me quilt it myself!  Still they are a treasured reminder of my time in Sydney and the friends I made, so they warrant something special.  Not sufficient sentiment to hand quilt,  the Eastwood ladies were very skilled at hand piecing and hand quilting however this didn't rub off on me - I am definitely a machine girl!  Happy quilting Sue!

Something old and something new

This my completed version of Millies Flower Garden, I have used "jewel" tone fabrics, rather then the 1930's prints that I originally saw it completed in.  The only really change I made was  adding the four patch corner stones because I ran out of border fabric (it was from my stash) but I think it looks better for it.  I am really pleased to have completed this project at last, so THANK YOU Kylie for giving me the encouragement!  I must say this is also the first time I have sewn down the binding, hanging sleeve and the label all in the one sitting and that felt great! 

 Hot on the heels of having a "finish" I decided to throw caution to the wind and purchase some flannels for a quilt for my best friend's birthday.  Last time my BF visited (she lives in Victoria) she admired the flannel quilt that lives on the back of DH arm chair, in particular the terracotta sashing.  So I brought 10 different flannels of which she OKed 8, to make her a large lap quilt.  Not being a quilter, but the daughter of a quilter, she had some idea about patterns, but declined an offer to choose one, rather happy for me to use the same pattern as the one owned by me - you can see it in the picture.   This pattern is called "Take 12 Fat Quarters Quilt or Quillo" and was designed by Deb Thompson of the Old German Quilthouse in Geelong (Vic) - which has closed down.  So I just need to buy four more fat quarters (or 30 cm strips in my case) and I can start this quick and easy quilt.  Yes I know I wasn't going to start anything new, but my BF has known me more then 20 years and NEVER even hinted for a quilt so I figure she deserves one sooner rather then later. 
This is a poor quality photo (the colours are not this dark) of a quilt I made with my mother, for my grandmother (my mothers mother) about eight years ago.  I had been quilting for a few years but my mother was fairly new to patchwork when I proposed this quilt.  So we made half the blocks each, but to ensure uniform sized blocks we used paper foundation papers from the Quilters Barn (Vic).  The idea was to use up pink and green fabric from our own stashes so the quilt matched the colours of my grandmothers lounge room.  My grandmother passed away in early September, aged 95 and my mother now has the quilt.  I am glad we made the quilt but I regret that we didn't make it in her favorite colour - turquoise.  My grandmother was a very creative lady and made me the most wonderful outfits for my barbie dolls.  I had Grandma's precious Bernina sewing machine up until last yeary and I was delighted to pass it onto my cousin (the only other granddaughter and youngest grandchild) who is also very creative and is pursing a career in the fashion industry .   
This quilt was made by my mother and is an original design, that came about from participating in a groups challenge.  The decision (by their group coordinator)  to make a row quilt (with different instructions each month) was a good one as it made the maths a bit easier.  I love this quilt (although I am not a Kaffe Fasset fabric fan) and in particular the colourful braid borders.  I think this type of challenge is a very good way to learn new skills and extend yourself as a quilter.  So after a nice long weekend with my family I need to get back to the grind stone and see if I can squeeze some more quilting in this week while DS is home on school, or in our case kinder holidays. 


What next?

Two weeks ago my fellow quilters went on a shop hop - what a great way to spend a Sunday! We had scheduled a visit to three shops, the first two in McLaren Vale - The Patchwork Cow and Mallee Country Crafts and Gifts and the last in Brighton - Patchwork by the Sea. Because I had already left DH with the boys the day prior I just visited the first two shops and these are my purchases! The rainbow of fat quarters have been cut into and attached to my herb embroderies as sashing, and the pink (on left) is now the backing. I found suitable fabric for a border in my stash (surprise surprise!) and attached that last week at 6am when everyone else was asleep - there are good reasons you wake up before the kids! So its all pinned, quilted in the ditch and I am just pondering how to quilt the borders. The cream print with red stars is in the cupboard with the other cream/red prints I am collecting for a log cabin quilt....when I finish more of my UFO's!
SO now I have to decide what to tackle next? Hmm please note my side bar as I have been making amendements to completed and UFO lists eg Harvest table runner will NOT be getting anymore quilting, the end of the year is too close!
This is the challenge quilt I started with Eastwood quilters (NSW), perhaps in 2006? There were nine instructions of which I can find only 8 (please help Karen!), which were; 1. start with a star (done that) 2. Add a nine patch (outstanding), 3. try semininole (done that, with the emphasis on try!), 4. Add something floral (started that) 5. Add some diamonds (well I am going to cheat and say they are in the star), 6. Frame it (outstanding), 7. Curves (outstanding) 8. Stripes in two colours (yes, under the floral applique) and 9. well I dont remember exactly but we either moved to Adelaide before I got the last instruction or I have just forgot to write it down. Either way I have drafted a picture of what I want to do on the next two borders (incorporating #2, 6 & 7), but would like to know what #9 is before I start.

These four pointed star blocks were a gift from the Eastwood Quilters, for our wedding, so I would REALLY REALLY like to make them up, as we will celebrate five years of marriage this month. I have tried, the red/cream patterned fabric top centre has been cut into and I sewed it all together (on point), only to decide it looked awful. So I unpicked it all, brought more fabric (top right hand side - red check) and decided that perhaps red wasnt the right colour. Hence this project ended up in the UFO box. So now I just need some inspiring fabric that will make these stars work or I need a different layout, perhaps just join them all together? Or should I use a narrow sashing to break them up?
I hope to make a decision this week (on which one project to start next), as my oldest son has started to ask if Santa can bring him a bike for Christmas, so I am already feeling the pressure of the end of "The Year of the UFO" being just around the corner. Happy quilting Sue SA!

Red is best

Our new doona cover.Collection of cushions and dolls.

Our new curtains
Are you getting the picture? Yes I have decorated our bedroom in red! Thats without the drastic step of painting the walls, but trust me with red curtains on floor to cathedral ceiling windows, I dont need red walls!
Happy quilting Sue SA !

Car Cosy

I am still trying to complete as many UFO's as I can before the year runs out... because it just dawned on me that Christmas is only three months away!
BUT it was one of those days, when I ran out of thread and the binding was JUST that bit too short ... argh!!!

However I did muddle my way through and I now have the binding and label on my Harvest Table runner. BUT I cannot help thinking that a little bit more quilting is required, so I havent put it on the table yet! I am sure that if I leave it in my sewing room long enough I will forget my good intentions and start using it!

This is a shot of a "Car Cosy" I made two for my boys before our last trip interstate to visit family. They are well used by our car crazy son's and so I decided to make some more as gifts, which I just posted off last week. There are six pockets for matchbox cars to live in and road to drive them on, then you just flip the road over and roll the whole lot up for carrying around EVERYWHERE - when your a 4 yr old its your equivilent of a handbag!
The pattern was a tutorial from My Little Gems blog and was easy to follow. I changed the pattern a little bit to suit what I had in the cupboard, my only regret being that I didnt have lightweight interfacing as the heavy stuff was a bit too stiff.
Happy quilting Sue SA.

Spring weather in August

Its a beautiful day and I want to spend it in the garden. My sewing room looks like a bomb hit it and the rest of the house needs cleaning, but I would prefer to be outside gardening. I am not much of a gardener but I do enjoy the physical activity and the end results = flowers. We brought this house two and half years ago and have really been anti gardeners in that time eg. we have cut down trees and let plants die. Not that it was our intention to be such brown thumbs but the garden had become reliant on regular/heavy watering, not something we could keep up with water restrictions and me being heavily pregnant. Also the beautiful big trees had been planted too close to the house and boundary for their size. So in that time I have been creating little pockets that were time friendly, low water users and inexpensive = succulants.
Now that the boys are older and can "help", we are finally spending more time in the garden together. The aim is to put in alot of native plants that flower, cope with our long hot and dry summers and help feed our birdlife, who sadly have had to move else where after we reluctantly destroyed some of their homes. We have put in two water tanks with the plan for a third so we can water outside of summer bucket only restrictions. A friend (thanks Granny Marg) gave me some purple/blue iris's, and this is the first to flower. I would love to have it inside as a cut flower but there are about six other buds on the stem, so I will have to enjoy it, for an extended period in the garden, instead.
This is a close up of the Art to Heart Harvest Table runner that I freehand machine quilted last weekend. All I can say is that "its all good practise!"

I now need to trim the edges and bind the table runner. But after I do that I do have a few pieces that still need finishing as they sit over the top of the binding - can you see the spring onion on the bottom?

Happy quilting Sue SA.

Quilting the quilt

Another productive weekend, helped along by attending "all day sewing" on Saturday with my patchwork group. I had not given much time to thinking about what I would work on until Friday night, then it was a case of panic! But because I had finished so much lately I decided to stick to my guns and complete some more pesky UFOs.

This attic windows animal quilt I had previously pinned, started quilting and then got distracted. I have just added this quilt, its mate and my new project (hexagons) into my WIP list, not sure why it wasnt up there already. I had left over window frame pieces from previous attic windows quilts, so this animal verison and another transport top were created.

So on Saturday I/we pinned three table runners (two were mine), one attic windows (transport) cot quilt and one large lap quilt (fellow quilters first quilt). I felt really good about this, but alas no pictures as yet. So fest your eyes on this, "one I prepared earlier"! I am only sorry I dont have a close up picture of the quilting.
I had neglected to mention that I had finished this Tumbling Blocks cot quilt some months back, during my blogging black hole period. I completed the top in a class with Lessa Siegele in May (?2008 -I wrote the date on my class notes but not the year!) but never got around to quilting it. Following my quilting lessons earlier in the year with Lorraine Cocker I was all fired up and needed something to let loose on!
Important HINT and "note to self", never neglect to attach a label IMMEDIATELY once the quilting is completed. Because when I went to write the label for this quilt I realised that I couldnt remember what type of batting I had used. I am hoping I can tell when I unpick a corner of the binding. If you are asking "why?" this is so important = the type of wadding used is important in how I wash my quilts. And because its a cot quilt and will be washed alot, I dont want it to shrink/felt/fall apart all because I put the wrong washing instructions on it.

For the rest of Saturday I did some free motion quilting around the animals on attic windows cot quilt, some of which I unpicked today. However Sunday I managed to get the rest of the quilting done and the binding cut out, which went on today. I also quilted the Art to Heart Harvest Table runner but it still needs some attention. In the pattern some of the applique goes over the top of the binding - a good idea if you follow the pattern and do raw edge machine applique, not great if you decide to needle turn! I started this table runner while I was on maternity leave waiting for my eldest son to be born and he was late! I thought that I was smart by picking a small project, especially as it was hand work, but ever since I have delayed completing it, fooling myself into thinking I would hand quilt it one day! I am so never ever going to hand quilt anything now I have the hang of free motion quilting. Not that I am very good, but practise makes perfect, so I am going to be practising on all my UFOs!
Happy quilting Sue SA.

Kim Diehl star in a churn dash blocks

I was just popping in to read some of my favorite bloggers, after a six month absence!  Then I saw that there was this draft post, so figure...