Sunday, May 31, 2009

Finding time to shop and sew...

Yesterday my sis and I had a little shopping spree at the garden centre. The car was filled with plants for my balcony pots (mind you, it's a small car...) and then we had a lovely lunch of boboli filled with curried chicken and celebrated the arrival of summer with Italian ice cream - mmm, lovely! The cherries came home with me for an evening treat.

And then it was back to sewing again. I decided to go with the Meadow pattern (from Melly & Me) and although those curved seams were a bit daunting, I'm happy to say that so far things have worked out quite well. I'm using a thin batting instead of interfacing, so the pieces have been quilted - I just like that soft look that quilting adds. I'm not entirely sure about the fabric I have used for the top though. It is a lovely fabric, but since the main fabric is slightly greyer, they don't seem to play together as nicely as expected, it makes the main fabric look dirty, I think. I added a strip of that black and cream check to the lightest fabric before cutting the pattern piece, and I think that helps. I think I'll also add some red yo-yo hearts as a finishing touch. The pattern doesn't include any inside pockets, something I think all handbags need, so I'm working on some ideas here. And then I'll have to decide which fabric to use for handles. Now I only have to find the time to finish it. And to get those plants sorted out, and to do a bit of dusting... And do you know, I think Jody has found a great solution there - go check out her craft clock!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Close enough

Yes, I did finish quilting yesterday, but while I was adding the binding, I realized that I was fighting time. I had a quilting bee to attend, and had planned to bring my quilt and do the hand stitching on the binding while there. But having attached the binding strip to one long side, I realized that I would have to leave within the next half hour, and I felt my shoulders inching ever closer to my ears and a knot forming in my back. So I took a deep breath and told myself that this was the perfect set-up for making mistakes and botching up the whole job, so I walked away. Got some hand sewing together and left early instead. A brisk walk and some more deep breaths and my shoulders were back where they were supposed to be and I was able to spend a stress-free evening with my quilting friends, stitching, chatting and laughing. So the quilt didn't get done yesterday. But that was just a self imposed deadline anyway, and there really was no reason to rush things.
So this morning - after staying in bed until ten, finishing The Lollipop Shoes - lovely book! I sat down and finished attaching the binding in no time at all. The hand stiching will be done this evening, and might even continue tomorrow, but I'm getting there!

Now I'm on to the next project. A handbag for a friend. I need to iron some fabrics and make a decision between two equally lovely patterns from Melly&Me, but the hoover needs to be reaquainted with my carpet first....

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New house

While waiting for more quilting pictures, you might like to take a look at my new house. I really like the raw, untreated zink surface of this house and have been searching high and low for one ever since I first spotted one in a blog more than a year ago. I've come across them in webshops a couple of times, only to find they were sold out minutes before I placed my order. Imagine my joy when I walked past a florist's on my trip and found two of these nestled in among the geraniums outside! Luckily there was room in my suitcase, and I stuffed it with T-shirts so it held it's shape all the way home. Oh joy! I just love it!
And there will be quilting pictures tomorrow - I've done 3/4 of the quilting on my Mod Sampler today. When the thread started snapping, the bobbins started fighting the thread and a needle broke, I decided to call it a day and take a long walk instead. That did both me and the sewing machine a lot of good, I think ;-)
The machine is now clean, oiled re-threaded and ready to go, so there will be more quilting tomorrow, and then pictures... Just wait for it, it might happen ;-)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I've been away on a business trip this last week, and although that can be hard work some of the time, there are some perks too. Like coming across this sweet little milk bucket at the airport - perfect for storing bits and bobs in my sewing room! And the chocolate inside was good too (note the past tense)...And this pretty purse was inevitably having to come home with me - "someone was going to have to set a bad example" - too true! I always try to be the naughty auntie giving the kids ideas their parents wouldn't come up with and telling tales about what their mums used to get up too... Well, somebody has to, right?

But the best of all treats on a trip, as any quilter knows, is getting some new fabric! This was just irresistible! And having been such a good girl most of the week... I felt I deserved it. Now I just have to come up with that perfect little project for it. I'll be exploring a few ideas over the next couple of days. Today I've been concentrating on quilting my Mod Quilt Sampler, and it is coming along nicely. Then there is the trapunto heart one, and a handbag for a birthday next week - it's a good thing I have the rest of the week off!

Monday, May 18, 2009

A bow tie quilt for Mini Quilt Monday

Filled bow tie
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I'm still doing the cheating thing here by showing an old quilt - there's absolutely no time to quilt these days - all work and no play while getting ready for a trip. This is a baby quilt from 2006, and believe it or not it is a bow tie quilt!
I used the 3D version of the bow tie block in three different sizes, but used four pieces of the background cream print and only the middle square in a contrasting colour. The middle squares are stuffed with polyfil and with stipple quilting all around, the squares lie like small stuffed pillows on top of the quilt. It was quite fun to do, so maybe I'll make another one. There could be a tutorial in this, I suppose.
PS. Can anyone tell me why it is that when I post from Flickr and then go in and edit the post in Blogger, the caption under the photo shrinks into fly specks???

Monday, May 11, 2009

Little girls for Mini Quilt Monday

Little girls
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
I had ambitions for today - I was actually going to make a little quilt to present. But this isn't my day. I started feeling queasy just after lunch, and by the time I came home from work I felt more like lying under a quilt than making one, so I'm cheating by showing an older quilt.
I think I made this one about twelve years ago as a gift to my cousin's daughters (they are 15 and 13 now!) The nine "blocks" are actually one piece, with a grid made with 1/4" satin ribbon, and the dresses of the girls are all from my scrapbag. The lace and ricrac came from their gran's sewing box and the border fabric is a remnant from a dress I made for myself way back in the '80s, before quilting took over completely. I remember that the girls loved it, and that we made up stories about all the little girls and about where the different fabric pieces and trims came from. Stories of the "Once upon time there was a little princess with a lacy dress..." variety. Now where did all that time go? It 'seams' like yesterday! :-)
I feel much better now, by the way!

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Why is the giraffe blushing?

This fabric has always suggested giraffe to me - a blushing giraffe at that. So I have been looking at photos of giraffes and wondered how I could appliqué a convincing image of a giraffe. Then I found a giraffe stencil, and I started thinking: What if the viewer is really close to the giraffe, only seing a part of his body or neck - then this fabric could play the main part in a small quilt. And why would the giraffe be blushing anyway? Because he's thinking of his lady love? That's where the stencil and a paintstick comes in. I have joined Malka's Mini Quilt Monday, so by Monday you should know if I have been able to make this work.
So that's part of my plan for tomorrow. That and the two layered quilts waiting next to my sewing machine. Some more mundane activities as well - don't you just love how people seem to think: "oh she's got a sewing machine, she will love hemming my trousers/shortening my dress" Oh well, one favour is worth another, I suppose, and I'd best just get on with it and then I can get back to having fun.
Last night I had friends over for cheese and wine, and we chatted well into the night. Today my day started with a bit of gardening - I live in a block of flats, and a couple of times a year we all get together to do some work in the flower beds and backyard - that's the idea anyway, although this time only four people showed up, so plenty of work for those of us who did... And it started raining while we were at it, so I'm done in for today: all achy muscles and creaky joints - I really need to get more exercise! Well, tomorrow's another day...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Waiting for spring

Yesterday I gave in to temptation and let myself believe that spring had finally arrived. So what does one do? Go shopping for flowers of course! There are som wilted daffs from Easter in the background here, but the rest were put outside yesterday in nice balmy weather. So what happend today? We got snow! It melted before it hit the ground, and the little storm settled as quickly as it started, but still! I didn't order snow for May! When I came home from work I had to take pity on this little group all huddled together, so they get to spend a few more days indoors. But really, this won't do! All the weather is good for now is crafting.

So that's what I've been doing. I finally finished piecing the backing for my Mod Sampler yesterday, and the trapunto hearts on the other one are done. So today I suddenly found myself with two quilt tops and backings ready for layering. My least favourite task. But the thing is, I finished one of them, and it wasn't so bad! I used a new method (for me) from the quiltalong, where you place the top on the batting, cut the batting to size, roll it all up with the batting on the outside. You then place the backing down and unroll the top and batting on to it, smooth it out and pin. And you know what? It worked!
I didn't have enough floor space, so I did it all on my kitchen table with the extra leaves in, and it was just fine. Earlier I have been struggling with batting and backing folded in four, smoothed out half at a time, unfolded, refolded and added the folded top, smoothed, and unfolded.... I don't know if this makes any sense, but it was an elaborate and tedious process where I always felt that I could do with an extra pair of hands. And that wouldn't have been very attractive, not to mention the problems I would have had in finding tops with four sleeves...
So, what I'm trying to say here is that you live and learn. This makes the thought of layering the other quilt less daunting, so I might get to that on Thursday. Tomorrow is a night out, though - dinner with my quilting friends followed by a guild meeting, what fun!

Friday, May 01, 2009

Trapunto try-out

I have had this quilt top waiting in the wings forever, it seems. I decided early on that the big appliqué hearts were perfect candidates for trapunto. After watching the Ricky Tims' DVD Grand Finale, I had a go at drawing my own feathered hearts, and decided to try his technique of marking the motifs with watersoluble thread. Exciting, but a bit daunting too, so somehow I just haven't got round to it before, but here goes! I'm adapting techniques as I go along, based on the materials I have, so here I've just used some brittle paper made for foundation piecing to print my pattern on. The roughly cut out heart and a piece of batting underneath is placed on the back of the appliqué heart on the quilt top and frehand stitched by machine with watersoluble thread.

So far so good, but then comes the job of removing the paper...
The larger pieces came off easily, because the stitching had perforated it quite well, but I find that I need to sit down with tweezers to get all the little pieces off. Then I have cut around the heart, removing the excess batting, being careful so I don't cut into the fabric along the way. This takes quite some time, and is probably best done while having one's mind occupied with something else, like watching TV or listening to a podcast.

Here is my first heart from the front. If you click on the picture you'll see the outline of the feather there. The idea is to layer the top with batting and backing, and then use the water soluble stitches as a guide to quilting the actual heart that will remain in the quilt after washing (because all my work so far will vanish in the washing machine!). With the extra layer of batting under the feathered hearts, they should appear thicker and fluffier than the rest of the quilt. We'll see how that goes, once I have stitched the rest of the hearts and removed all the paper and excess batting. Right now it looks rather flat, so I'm thinking I should have used high loft batting, but I just used what I had on hand, and we'll see how that goes. Luckily there are only six of these large hearts in the quilt top, which makes it the perfect project for testing this out: enough to get some practise, and not so many that I'll be inclined to give up along the way. And since the hearts are made from a rather busy small-print floral, it will probably disguise any first time feather flaws.... That's my theory anyway - we'll see how it goes!