Thursday, October 16, 2014

Show and Tell

Don't you love the way quilters encourage each other when they get together? This month, at our St Mark's Quilters workshop, there were plenty of oohs and aahs as we took time to admire each other's latest creations, not all of them charity quilts.

Di B has signed up for the worldwide Instagram mini quilt swap, and she brought along her finished quilt, made with foundation paper pieced spiral flying geese. I love the way those tiny triangles of Terra Australis 2 in their vibrant colours glow against the newsprint background.


We could imagine how sweet this pattern might be, reproduced in pastels as a Blanket of Love sometime in the future.


Di has also been busy making a birthday quilt for a little boy who lives next door to her. The big braid pattern looks very effective made from a jelly roll in bright prints, and bordered in a vivid blue faux hand-dye fabric. It just needed some border quilting and the binding done before it would be ready to give.


Gail had her completed mini braid quilt, A Blanket of Love for RPA Newborn Care.


That pieced bias binding is a cute variation. We love it when our quilters try something a little different!


Di C made this giant star quilt and quilted it in black thread to emphasize the star.



Clever Di even managed to line up her blocks on the front with an identical star pieced backing.


Michelle has been carefully working on this kindy quilt for The Marcia kindy for autistic children at Liverpool. The fabrics are all doggy themed  and she's going to appliqué those little red kennels and some dogs on that yellow solid strip.


She finished pinning her quilt and started the straight line quilting using her new Bernina walking foot with the ditch stitching guide.


We had some sweet finishes too, like this one by Barb.


This quilt by Perdita is much prettier that it looks here. The delicate shade of powder blue has tiny white stars, and she's backed it with a Winnie the Pooh print in the same blue.


Barb's been playing with HSTs and come up with this pretty diagonal arrangement. Nice!


Gillian made this clever woven-effect heart in a pink and a blue version.



And there was plenty of interest in this clever design, also by Gillian. Look what a little imaginative fussy cutting can produce!


And this one, made by me, has finally been added to the pile.


Of course our two most encouraging.'members' were there too.

Chester took snack time very seriously.


And Matilda just didn't stop smiling :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Mini Braid Quilt

My Instagram feed is abuzz with pics of cute and colourful mini quilts right now. They are all the rage among quilters, and now that I've made a few I can see why.


Fast to make, mini quilts give us a chance to try out lots of new designs and techniques without taking too much time, and they're small enough to decorate a wall. 


You might recall my post on August's St Mark's Quilters workshop, where Di B showed us how to make a mini braid quilt using foundation paper piecing. 


I thought this would be the perfect scrap-eater project, and after a rummage in my scrap bin I cut strips and grouped them into four colours, graded from light to darker hues within those colours.




As usual, I had to over-think this one, and instead of picking random colours I found myself making an ombré-shaded braid in pink to start.


I liked it! So I added a second braid in yellow.


And another in blue, but with the stronger shades grouped in the centre of the braid.


Then I did the same when I played with my greens.


Although my original plan had been to make just four braids, it was obvious that now I needed a fifth to balance out the design, so I pressed my purples into service.


By now the quilt was looking a little wider than I wanted, so I added tiny floating half inch wide bars at the top and bottom of my braids, to give it some height.


Mini quilts are also excellent for practising machine quilting. Not as daunting as a large quilt. I started by quilting wavy half feathers between the braids.


Then I echoed the chevron shapes of the braids each side of those little colour bars.



Finally I took my courage in both hands and quilted my very favourite feathers along each side border. Just 6 months ago I could never have done this, but with the help of an Angela Walters class on Craftsy, and lots of practice, I'm starting to feel more comfortable with feathers.


I took this photo in low light deliberately so the quilting shows up.



If you look closely in the pic above you'll see that there are long threads sitting on the surface. These needed to be buried deep in the batting layer, and the easiest way to do this is to use a self-threading needle (I use MatildasOwn).


 Beats trying to push that short thread through the eye of a needle dozens of times, and as long as you pull the needle through carefully, perhaps at a little angle, the thread won't pop out of the eye. I take the needle through the batting for a short distance (an inch or so) and then out again, and snip off close to the surface of the quilt, being very careful not to snip the quilt!



My little quilt turned out much fancier than I had envisaged, and took much more work than I had intended, but I love it.


It used a wide variety of scraps, but at half an inch wide it was rather a frugal eater, and made little impact on my scrap stash.


I used foundation papers designed by the late Julie Wallace of The Quilter's Barn in Victoria to piece together my braids, but her shop is closed now. 


However, if you want to make your own version, you can download something similar (free) from Nikki M's Buzy Day blog here.




Sunday, September 14, 2014

Quilt Delights

There's nothing quite so delicious as spending a cold rainy day inside, toasty and warm, sewing quilts with good friends - and yesterday morning was a gourmet day for St Mark's Quilters.

We missed our other regulars, Liz (on a super-exciting holiday), Moo, Gail, Sophie, Susan, Helen and Cath, but those who braved the rain showers brought along finished Blankets of Love sweet enough to warm a grieving parent's heart.

Margaret has been making the most of a Peter Rabbit panel, combining fussy cuts with coordinating plain fabrics to make them go further. Those tiny tossed rainbow hearts around the border work a treat too.


Margaret's our queen of quilt-as-you-go. Tiny strips from bigger projects are never wasted in her hands, and this month she stitched them into another rhapsody in blue..


I can usually pick a quilt Gillian's made by the fancy serpentine stitched quilting she likes to use, as well as her favourite gelato pastels. Love this!


This next one, also by Gillian, gave me an 'ear worm' for the rest of the day. Remember Ernie singing 'Rubber Duckie' in the bath on Sesame Street? There's your ear worm (You're welcome!).


Barb had us in cuteness overload with these donkeys in gingham PJs smiling in their sleep. She's added a bunch of Peter Rabbits around the border as well, because too much cuteness is just never enough where baby quilts are concerned.


Di B has been spreading her wings and trying foundation paper piecing. Stunning work! The amazing circular geese at the centre of this block are from a pattern by Jeli Quilts (Kelly Liddle) available on Craftsy as a downloadable PDF.


Remember the workshop last month, when Di B showed us how to use foundation paper piecing to stitch a mini braid quilt? Well, four of us have finished, and here are our results.

This first one is by Di B in her trademark blue, white and yellow.


Di C preferred to tweak the basic pattern and use her mini braids to frame a flower fairy panel.


In a little surprise, her Blanket of Love is reversible, with a different flower fairy panel in the middle.


Rather than staggering her braid pieces, Barb chose to assemble hers in more of a chevron pattern, crisp and pretty. How about those panda bears!


Finally, here's my version, in rainbow ombré braids. Di B and I are in a little group on Instagram currently trying to sharpen our free motion quilting skills by doing 10 minutes' practice a day and posting a photo of our work, warts and all :-( So I decided to use this quilt as a practice piece for quilting feathers.


Of course there were plenty of other works-in-progress but I'll share these next month when, hopefully, they will be all finished. You have some treats in store!


Friday, September 5, 2014

Just a mini...

I've fallen in love with mini quilts, and I blame thank the lovely Sue Miller of Fabric Garden and the super talented Julie Herman aka Jaybird Quilts

With my quilting buddies, Di B and Sue M, I signed up, through Fabric Garden, for the 6 month Jaybird Mini Quilt Club at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair in July, and the postman brings us a different Jaybird mini quilt pattern every month.

To add to the fun, the three of us get together for a full day once a month to sew our minis, each using our own fabric. It's amazing how different one pattern can look when three friends put their own stamp on it. I'll show you what I mean a little later in this post.



For July's pattern, the Mini Radio Way Quilt, I decided to keep the white frames but use a rainbow of fabrics in a colour wash effect across the quilt, so my first step was to draw up a grid and plan the hues for each block. Overthinking? Quite possibly :-)


Next I went to my scrap bin, pulled fabrics in every colour of the rainbow, rotary cut them into 1 and a 1/2 inch wide strips and stacked them in colour groups. I love playing with fabrics!


Following my sketched plan, I crosscut my strips and arranged them into blocks. This was where it started to become exciting!


Once I had also cut all my white framing strips I was ready to label each group with masking tape and pack them into plastic bags to take to our sewing day. Obsessive? me?


With the thinking part done, I could relax and enjoy all  the fun, laughter and chatter that's inevitable when we get together.


As I sewed each block, those masking tape labels went right back on so I could keep track of my overall scheme.




This little quilt, once assembled, had quite a radiance, almost like sunshine, so I decided to quilt it in concentric circles.


As a guide I drew the first few rings with a compass because these were quite tight curves that I needed to free motion quilt, but once I had moved out a bit to where my curves were gentler I used my walking foot and its space guide to keep me on track. 

For the first time I used Aurifil invisible thread for the top quilting, and Aurifil white Mako 50 in the bobbin. The invisible thread worked like a dream, and although I anticipated tension issues there were absolutely none! 


I was very happy with the result, which was just as I had envisaged. It's not often I can say that ;-)

For the binding I decided that no single colour was going to do it justice, so I used red, green, blue and purple, in unequal quadrants, to stay within the rainbow theme.





In the Bible the rainbow symbolizes God's faithfulness, and as I mark off the second anniversary of Boak's death this week it seems no-so-coincidental that I should find myself playing around with rainbows. After all, it's only because God has faithfully held me close that I've managed all the fresh challenges I've faced.


Here, as promised, are our three finished, but unquilted, Radio Way quilts. The top right is Sue's, which she has made a little larger by adding extra blocks, and this will become a Blanket of Love for RPA Newborn Care. The one on the bottom is Di B's, a delicious creation that somehow reminds me of lollies!


We have more five months of Jaybird mini quilt making, and I can't wait to share them with you. Hope you're ready!