Sunday, January 31, 2010

On display

It suddenly dawned on me that I never showed you the ladder I got for my birthday with actual quilts on, did I? I had planned to paint it, but somehow never got round to it. While decorating for Christmas I brought it in, placed it against a bookshelf and started folding and hanging quilts over the rungs, and I must admit I liked the effect. And it has become quite the conversation piece, drawing lots of attention to my quilts. Instead of having quilts draped across the armrests on the sofas or piled in a chair, they are put on display in such a way that people notice them and ask to see them properly. And vain quilter that I am, I must admit that I enjoy that a lot. ;-)
I rotate them, so that there are always at least two on my sofa - something easily accesible to huddle under when the evening gets chilly, you know? - and so the ones hanging get refolded from time to time. The ladder has five rungs, but the lowest one is too close to the floor, so I really get to display four at a time. I'm not sure how good an idea it was to ask for it to be tapered, because the quilt at the top has to be folded a lot more than the rest, so you don't get to see as much of it, but never mind, it works the way I had hoped it would, and that's the main thing, isn't it? The rungs are rough and need a bit of sanding, and I worry about the wood leaving marks on the quilts (I have covered them with towels before hanging the quilts now) so once the weather is a bit warmer, I will get round to that painting or at least a bit of varnish.
I cropped the picture a bit to hide some of the mess here, but I see I should have removed a pile of books from the floor as well. Oh well, we can't all have stylists - this is how it is here, anyway - housework gets done, but not every day... I actually worked to a strict rota of 45 minutes of sewing and 15 minutes of housework during the day yesterday and got quite a bit done. Enough so it doesn't get too embarassing if people arrive unexpectedly...
I finsihed quilting my X-block quilt yesterday and got the binding on. A bit of hand-stitching now and it will be done. And I started a new project - pictures soon ;-)

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

x-block top finished

x-block top finished
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I actually managed to get my X-block quilt top finished this weekend. It has been so cold lately that there has been precious little sewing done, but there's nothing like a guild meeting coming up to get me going. It would be nice to have something for show-and-tell! I've found a fun IKEA fabric for the backing, but the red I was planning on for the binding is mysteriously lost, so I'm considering a black and white stripe instead?
Now if only I could come up with a way to quilt it. I must sleep on that, I think...

Friday, January 22, 2010


Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I was so inspired by Jude's what-iffing that I couldn't help having a go. I had a scrap of linen left over from making those little fabric baskets for Christmas and drew a Friendship Star block with water erasable marker. I used a lovely variegated linen thread from Stef Francis for the running stitches. My stitches are nowhere as even as Jude's and it seems that I'm not all that good at stitching parallel lines either, but let's just call that "an organic look" for now, shall we? I quite like my little star, in fact, and I might even find some use for it at a later stage. You never know...

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Messenger bag, check!

I finally got my act together and finished my sister's bag. Poor love, she has been waiting long enough, and has been extremely patient with me. The thing is, it has been so cold lately that I have been reluctant to venture into my sewing room. But once I did so, the actual construction of the bag was done in a jiffy. The lid and the pocket have been ready for a while, so there really wasn't much left to do. Several urgent texts to my youngest sister to get her to provide measurements, based on the bag I made for her a while back, made me realize that I need to take better notes when I make something from scratch. Now, I never thought I would need to make another one, but that's just it - you never know!

It turned out that eyballing the strap and thinking that the leftover strip was just the right length, turned out to be an unwise decision. I ended up ripping it off and making a longer one than the one you see in the picture so that it can be worn messenger bag style with the strap across the chest.
The photo (my sister herself when she was little) was printed on fabric (Jacquard Inkjetprinting cotton) and I added some seed stitches on the bacground, to make the face stand out more. The stitches look shiny like silk in this photo, but are made with DMC cotton floss. A thrifted tie and cushion provided fabric for the strips around the photo and the main body of the bag is made from charcoal linen.
The lining is a Lonni Rossi print and I added what is fast becoming my standard zippered pocket, as mentioned before.

Oh, and did I mention it? Sis loved her new bag :-D Her husband's only comment was: "Now see, that's how long I want your hair to be". Duh.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

A promise of spring?

A promise of spring?
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
That's what finding tulips in the shops after Christmas is for me. Yes, the snow will go away, the days will be longer and flowers will bloom again.
Winter has seemed incessant this time around with a long period of cold weather and loads of snow. It seams to have hit the whole northern hemisphere at the same time as well, making us all ask: "What global warming?" But apparently those of you in Australia for instance are getting more than enough heat at the moment... Anyway. As I was saying: got some tulips in and I have been enjoying their pristine beauty. I love them at this stage, when the flowers have just begun to open, and they have this kind of waxy sheen to them. The cold weather will last for a while yet, and I know we have both February and March to get though before we can start preparing for Spring, but it's nice to get a little reminder of the changing of the seasons again. Off we go again on our little journey through the seasons, and before we know it, it will be Christmas again...
... which brings me to this:
My latest purchase. Two Honey Buns of the lovely Figgy Pudding line from Moda. Just in time so I can make a little log cabin quilt for Christmas 2010. Best be prepared ;-)

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Mark the day

I treated myself to a pretty day planner, or "Date Book" as it calls itself, for 2010 instead of the standard issue ones we get at work. The idea is to bring a little cheer into every day, no matter how drab. Although I like my job, there's no getting past the fact that there are periods where I'd rather be anywhere than there. Some nice pictures and some food for thought is excactly what is called for at these instances, and this sweet book seems just the ticket. I love the art of Kelly Rae Roberts and have several of her pictures. The book has gotten me a lot of attention at meetings all through this first week as well, and that's not a bad thing in my book ;-) On using it I quickly realized that it needed an accessory, though. This being the first week of the year, finding the right date wasn't too much of a problem, but as the year progresses I could envision a lot of leafing through to find the right place.

So on Friday night I settled in front of the telly with some felt, fabric and floss to make that little accessory - a bookmark. I used some wool felt and added bits and pieces of fabric from that lovely Authentic Jelly Roll. I just pinned bits and pieces of fabric on to the felt and attached them with a running stitch in variegated thread. The wool is thick enough that I could bury my stitches in it without them showing up on the other side, so I could easily stitch one side at a time. I added some decorative stitching on both sides and around the edge with three strands of cotton floss, and added a ribbon to attach it to the book.
So there it is, I think the colours match the book quite well, and the affirmative words from the fabric are in keeping with the style of the book as well, I think. An added bonus is that making this entirely by hand was very restful and enjoyable, so I definitely see more projects of this kind in my future. More pictures here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Same picture, different words...

Yes, it is the same picture as yesterday! I promised to tell you about the rest of the UFOs, didn't I? :-) Well here goes: The left picture in the top row is one of a series of garden stitcheries that I intend to use in a quilt. I have gathered several pastel coloured fabrics and drafted a pattern for it, so I just need to get stitching. Several of the blocks will be appliqué, so with a bit of preparation this could become a great project to carry around in my handbag.
The brown and yellow quilt in the second row is one of a series of calendar quilts I dreamed up years ago. I have made 7 of them so far, and have 5 to go - one for each month. They all have the same block, but with different placement of lights and darks, so you get different effects. I started making these as practice pieces for free motion machine quilting, and have stitched the name of the month and the names of friends and relations with birthdays during that month on each one. My machine quilting could still benefit from some practice, so I really should make an effort to finish the last five tops.
The quilt top on the far right in the middle row is a Disappearing Nine Patch made of blocks I received as a gift. I plan to make it into a reversible quilt by adding a pieced backing.
Then there is the Autumn garden quilt made from Lonni Rossi fabrics. Another finished quilt top there. This one is also going to get a pieced backing, all in turquoise, I think.
In the middle of the bottom row you get a glimpse of my Grandmother's Garden quilt. This is the one I carry around to guild meetings and such these days. I'm working on the leaves and yo-yos for the border vine. I must confess that I'm rather bored with it, so maybe I should speed the work up a bit just to get it done?
The last one is the one I started in a log cabin class at my guild a while ago. I have used a curtain fabric with illuminated letters, surrounded by strips, courthouse step style, making this my Medieval Court House Quilt. This is the one destined for my bed once it is done, but I still have some blocks to make before that goal is reached...
So you see that I have my work cut out for me. And this is just my UFOs - I daren't make any lists of all the quilts I plan to make yet... Never enough time, and all that -but isn't it fun to plot and dream?

Monday, January 04, 2010

UFOs and WIPs

I mentioned earlier that I intend to finsih some of those UFOs, so in the spirit of the new year and new beginnings I decided to take stock of what I have. I've included my two WIPs as well (works in progress) just so they don't get lost in the stampede ;-) Not very likely right now, as I have been working on them a bit every day, but you never know - I might get distracted...

The WIPs are the red, white and turquoise quilt in the middle of the top row (working on the border) and my sister's bag in the middle (shoulder strap left to stitch and attach). The rest represent a lot of different styles and tecniques, and almost all of them have been introduced here earlier.

I'm not sure about the one in the top right hand corner, though. That one was almost forgotten, although I have known about it in the back of my mind forever it seems. It was started ages ago (we're talking early nineties here...) from a block of the month series in Quiltmaker. There are twelve pictures, one representing each month and a chequered frame around each one. It was presented as a series of small quilts, but I decided to make it into one big quilt instead, and decided to let the colours run from red via purple to blue on the squares in the sashing and from light in the middle to dark at the edges. I remember spending ages moving those little squares around on my design wall before I was happy with the placement. Then I organized it all in a ring binder with squares mounted on paper and placed in plastic pockets to make sure I remembered where everything was to go. All very well, but the problem was that the ring binder was very easy to place on a shelf and forget about. It has taken part in three big moves over the years and I have always known where it was, but there have been other projects that have been more tempting along the way and also my taste has changed. The other day I took it out to have a look, and all of a sudden I was inspired to start working on it again. I'm sure a child somewhere might be happy to receive it once it is done, so I'm definitely going to make an effort to finish it.
This post seems to go on and on, so I'll get back to the rest of the UFOs later.

Friday, January 01, 2010

New year, new possibilities

I'm slowly, slowly emerging from a self induced holiday coma, trying to face up to the fact that everyday life is about to resume. I need a major shopping trip tomorrow, as the cupboards are bare. At least when it comes to staples like milk and bread. Luckily there is the weekend to tide us over before we have to plunge into the first work week of the new year.

I have been doing a bit of sewing today, and although I didn't finish the top of my x-block quilt today, I'm well on my way. My sister's bag is almost done as well, just the shoulder strap to stitch and attatch and I'll be done.

I haven't really taken stock of 2009 yet, but I know I made quite a few quilts and quilt-related items. I have lots of ideas for more quilts to make in 2010, but first on my list are some of those UFOs I have lying around. Some of them are more than 10 years old, and although I could justify throwing them out, I have decided what is to become of them. I'll get back to that later.

Finishing UFOs might be like tying up loose ends. But maybe that's not what they are? Let's call them loose beginnings instead! I'm not going to make any rash promises for 2010, but I will make an effort to work with what I have, and to explore new possibilities. My quilting has been a lot about traditional shapes and patterns, and although that's not going to stop, I also want to continue exploring new paths, working more intuitively and less guided by rules. I hope you will follow me on this path.
Happy New Year!