Welcome to my blog about my quilting journey! I started quilting in 2006 with a quilt of my own design which started as a cushion cover and ended up as a single bed sized quilt! Now I'm totally hooked....maybe obsessed is a better word for it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Where I Sew!

Well after my post about my free motion practice session the other day and my current sewing set up I thought I would take some photos to share my (not so) delightful sewing zone with you!

Due to a lack of space, I don't have a room for sewing at the moment and can't see that changing in the near future.  Although one of my boys is 20 he is only 1 year into a 4 year apprenticeship so won't be able to afford to leave home for quite some time.  My other son is still at school, doing year 12 and wants to be a chef so if he gets an apprenticeship, he'll be living here for quite some time too!

Luckily our home has quite a wide hallway and while its not ideal (particularly from an aesthetics viewpoint!) it does mean my sewing cabinet fits in there and we can still get past it.  However when its open it takes up most of the space which means I have to pack it up at the end of each session.  Sometimes its just too hard to be bothered to unpack it to fit in a little bonus sewing time too!

Last weekend when I got set up quilting I snapped some photos so you'll know what I'm talking about!

This is in quilting mode.  You can see its a bit cosy!  The doorway on the left at the back of the machine is my older son's room and its a manoeuvre to get in there when I'm sewing.  Its also a bit dingy in our hallway so I have to use a bright light in front of the machine to see what I'm doing.  At the moment I have an Ott-Lite but I'm thinking of getting one of those great bendy lights that I can attach to my machine.  I'm forever nearly knocking the Ott-Lite over and its in the way at the front but for now it will have to do!

With the machine in flat bed mode you can see the lifting mechanism drops quite a way down into my knee space and I just can't get my knees in there.  Once I don't have to fold up the cupboard each day I intend to lift it up higher to get over that and put a table the same height behind it.  At the moment its me and the wall!

For those people to whom I have lamented my lack of space for fabric storage, the photo above is my stash!  Yes that's the whole thing. (Ignore the mess on top, that's my pattern folder and quilting diary as well as leftovers from making dog blankets.)  Other than a small fat quarter bag and a small cardboard box containing scraps I have cut into different sizes, this is my entire fabric stash. 

The bottom box contains all my bagged up projects for my 13 UFO's in 2013 quiltalong at Marti's 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks blog - loving that system this year!  The box second from the top has my very small scraps and my scrap strips all sorted into colours (hoping to make a string quilt and confetti blocks to use them up later this year), along with my swaps received from a recent width of fabric swap at Rainbow Fabric Fun on Facebook.    The other two boxes are fabric - thats it, there aint no more!

This unsightly mess is what the cupboard looks like when its all packed up and I have moved all the stuff back on top of it which I usually dump on our bed.  I really should have taken a photo of the mess that lives on my bed when I'm sewing!  This does look a bit worse than usual as there are three pillow inserts on there waiting for their turn to be made into pillows.  They are projects waiting their turn from the UFO box - as soon as their number comes up they'll be done!

The box on the front corner contains all my bits and pieces I need when I'm sewing, all stored in the little pink plastic containers with lids.  They are recycled cotton bud containers and they're great for quilting pins, all my non-standard machine feet such as my walking foot etc, I have one with needles in it, binding clips etc and an open one with my snips, scissors, the dreaded stitch ripper, marking pencils etc.  Tucked inside the box are also my 1/4" seam gauge, binding tool, mini ruler a roll of masking tape and an old pill bottle for worn/broken needles waiting to be disposed of safely.

All my cutting mats and larger rulers live behind the machine.  I do have another area next to my lounge chair which has bits and pieces for hand sewing but that's a whole other mess story!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Update on the Something New Sampler Competition

Voting on the finished projects made as part of the Something New Sampler has finished and the results are in.  My quilt top, which I'm calling Pole Dancing came in third so I'm very happy!  For finishing third I won a fat quarter bundle from Sew Me A Song. I'll post a photo once I receive my booty!  If you'd like to see all the winners you can do so here!  A big thank you to Amy for hosting this sampler and also to the sponsors for providing the prizes.  I really enjoyed taking part.

This month my Quilting Block Swap Australia swap partner was Carin from Sweden who sent me this lovely block, a charming book mark and a Swedish choccie.  Isn't that purple fabric great?!

That choccie didn't last very long and it was lovely. It was a thin piece of brittle toffee covered in a thin layer of chocolate. I'm in love!  We have a shop in Adelaide which specialises in supplying sweets from all over the world so I'm going to pop in and see if I can get them there but if not, my brother is heading over to visit his daughter in London for Christmas and then they are off to Finland for a week. I noticed on the back of the packet that there was a notation for Finland so hopefully they can get me some there! Yum!  So thanks Carin for a new love and a lovely block for my collection.

I won't post a photo of the block I sent Carin yet as I don't think she will have received it yet (and she's one of my followers so don't want to spoil the surprise!).

Carin's block fits in beautifully with my other blocks and I think I only need two more now.  I might even make one myself so that only leaves one for April.  Time to decide on a new block for May then!  Here are the blocks I have collected so far:

The colours are not quite as vibrant as they look in this photo, the red/aqua one towards the top is actually closer in colour to the one near the bottom so I'm thinking one with a deep red background perhaps and maybe a blue and orange star? or maybe black and orange star? Hmmm, have to raid my stash to make a decision!

Thanks for visiting my blog today, feel free to make some suggestions about what colour I'm missing in those stars!

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Free Motion Practice (and another UFO finish!

Well this week for me was about practicing some free motion quilting to (a) improve my existing skills and (b) trial some different designs to use on my Something New Sampler which I am calling Pole Dancing.

I had some of the backing fabric left over after making Molly two blankets last week as part of my 13 UFO's in 2013 task for March:

as well as another piece of stitched together leftover bits of wadding with nowhere to go so I decided to make another blanket for Molly and use that for some FMQ practice.  Of course before I did that I thought I better do some online research and spent a little time looking at Leah Day's website but I also hadn't yet looked at any of Leah's Craftsy online workshop for quilting the BOM I made last year so I decided I'd better have a bit of a looksee.  When my computer was being friendly (ie when it decided to stay turned on instead of switching off for an unplanned smoko (for non-Australians that's a coffee break!) I managed to get through quite a bit of it.

My eyes started to glaze over when I got to the feathers section (to be fair it was getting late at night, not a reflection on Leah's teaching style!) so I decided I'd better just get on with it - well the next day anyway!  On the weekend before I had divided the blanket into 8 inch squares with some sashing areas and so it was just a matter of getting started.  I had been given a reel of quilting thread by my mother-in-law that she had bought in error but it was quite a heavy weight so I decided to use that up on this project as I couldn't see me using it in an actual quilt.  Other than it being a bit heavy to practice designs like pebbling where you do a lot of travel stitching - tried that and the thread broke as soon as it had to go over 3 layers of stitching - it worked pretty well and it was more the motion of the stitching I was trying to come to terms with anyway.

Luckily Molly isn't too fussy a dog but just in case I decided to FMQ her name in the middle so she'd feel a bit special.

I liked quite a few of the designs, including this square shaped one, which I think was called circuit board.

but I think it might make the quilt a bit stiff so I'll need to re-think that one.  I tried a few different versions of a spiral shape and the ones I seemed to be able to get the hang of were escargot

and spiral knots (sorry, its a little hard to see!)

 I was pretty pleased with my stippling (albeit on a large scale) as up until now I have only ever managed to do a looping line as no matter what I did I always ended up crossing over my stitching.  My favourite design of all ended up being a kind of paisley design starting with a heart shape in the centre instead of a paisley and echoing out.

I kept the hearts pretty large and that bit stayed nice and soft because its large. I seem to have an affinity for heart shapes as my favourite stipply type design is a leaf and curly vine design and a leaf is only a heart with a centre spine when its all said and done, I guess that's going to be my thing!

Anyway here's the whole thing:

The main thing holding me back from achieving the results I want to, I believe, is where I sew.  I'm in the hallway on a fold out Horn sewing cabinet and this causes me problems in a few ways:
  1. there is a gap behind the cabinet and the quilt likes to slide off and so the weight of the quilt gets me out of shape
  2. when I drop the machine down into the cabinet so I have a flat sewing area its too low for me to comfortably get my knees under (one of the problems of being vertically enhanced, although I wouldn't have said 5'10" is that big, I'm the smallest in my family!).
  3. my machine is quite old and so there is a large area behind it when it is in the lower position and the quilt wants to get stuck in there as well
  4. as I have to sit further away from the machine than I would like (due to No 2 above) there is a gap in front of me so the quilt tends to gather in my lap and again the weight pulls me off line.
At this stage with no space for a room to sew in I can't see any resolution to these problems, although when I'm quilting a larger project I tend to stuff things down behind the cupboard to fill that gap at least.  So my quilting will be less than I'm striving for until I can improve my location but I guess I will cope!  Any jobs which call for precision such as an all over spiral will have to wait!

Anyway, I'm sure Molly thought it was all a bit of a laugh, she seems to be smiling in this shot!
She keeps pulling funny faces every time I get the camera out, either she's trying to tell me to nick off or she wants to be the class clown!

Anyway, enough of my ramblings, thanks for reading my blog if you've stuck with it this far!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Vote for Me (Please!)

A quick post to say that voting for the completed projects in the Something New Sampler is now open at The Cute Life.

My project is shown as No. 1 - Pole Dancing.  If you wouldn't mind popping over to take a look and vote for my project (if its your favourite) I'd really appreciate it!

Thanks for your help!

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Friday, 15 March 2013

Long term project progress (and a win!)

Back last year I posted about a long term hand stitched project I'm making for myself. You can read about it here if you want.  Anyway at that stage I had about 60 of the blue dresdens and if I make it to the same size as the pattern, I need 144! That may be too large so I'm hedging my bets and working on maybe 121.

I had some projects to finish by Christmas so this one fell by the wayside a bit but in the new year I picked it back up again and started taking it to work on the bus.  Mainly because I found a handy little plastic box that clips shut so its easy to put in my bag.  It was actually the box our solar lights came in!

Anyway when I last posted I had been thinking I would use some fabric I had been given to make the contrast/background blocks:

I'd have to say I just found it difficult to get excited about this fabric though and that may be why I put the project aside too.  In the end I came across a lovely softy buttery yellow fabric on the internet at equilter.com with an embossed (is that the right word?) pattern which I thought would be just perfect and it is! It was very inexpensive too, I think it only cost me $20 all up.  Hope I ordered enough!

Well, I tell you, if you want to move a project along, take it on the bus with you!  I now have 107 blue dresden blocks and about 25 yellow ones.  Here's some of the blue blocks (or should that be rounds!):

To compare here is how it would have looked with the first fabric I was looking at for the background:

and here it is with the yellow fabric:

I'm so much happier with this fabric choice.   I need to make yellow suffolk puffs for each of the blue dresden blocks as well - Yikes, that means 121 of them too!  Given I've never made one before that could be good or a nightmare depending on how I feel about them after I've made the first one! I'm also supposed to put one in the middle of each yellow one in a contrasting colour but I'm not sure it needs it. I'll see as I go along.  Its not like there's actually a hole which needs covering like there is on the dresdens.

This is the fabric which got me started on this whole quilt originally:

Its hard to see in this slightly fuzzy shot but there is the same yellow in the paisley shapes, so that's probably why I was so happy to find that yellow!  I was thinking that if I do make contrasting puffs, this fabric would probably be my choice for those going onto the yellow.

Velocity Girl BagNow I mentioned a win didn't I!  In the February link up for the 13 UFO's in 2013 quiltalong at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks I was lucky enough to win the draw for that month's prize!  Yay me! It was my choice of a bag pattern by Sara at Sew Sweetness.  I chose the Velocity Bag.  Sara has some great bag patterns over in her shop. Big thank you to Marti at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks for the prize! Now all I have to do is make it!  Another project to do! (Do you think if I make a Velocity bag, it will make me go faster when I'm using it?)

Thanks for visiting with me today,


Thursday, 14 March 2013

Dogs need quilts too!

Well as you might remember I'm following along with the 13 UFO's in 2013 challenge at 52 Quilts in 52 Weeks.  The lucky number for March was ...... No1!

My No.1 project wasn't overly complicated but something I've been meaning to do for some time but as its not as interesting as piecing a quilt, it always kind of got pushed to the side.  It was making some new blankets for my dog.  I've been using old towels and things but I thought she should have some proper quilty blankets, given that she's getting on (she's 12) and has a tendency to spring a leak now and again so sometimes her blankets get washed a lot. Old towels tend to start to fall apart when you're washing them a lot.

I had some thicker fabric I inherited from leftovers donated to a Scouts garage sale (at least I think that's where I got it from!) and what I thought was a yellow and white sheet (again possibly ex-garage sale).  When I laid the sheet out to cut it up I discovered its somewhat longer than a sheet so I have no idea what it was meant to be. It was long and hemmed on four sides and a fairly thick cotton.  Whatever its original purpose it was a good thickness for this project.  I have two made so far:

These two I just quilted straight lines along the pattern but I have another made of just the yellow and white striped fabric which I'm planning to use for some free motion quilting practice.  I want to try some new designs to use on my Something New Sampler so this will be a good opportunity to practice them.  I might have enough bits and pieces left over for one more blanket too.  Inside I used all my old scrappy bits of wadding - you know, the long skinny bits you trim off a quilt when you're ready to bind it, odd bits leftover here and there - I just joined them all up until I had pieces big enough to use for these blankets.

What's a quilt without a quilt model, so here is Molly trying out one of her new blankets!

It does have another of her mats underneath it so its a little squishier.  And just to show that even dogs can have bad photo shoots (either that or this is what she really thinks of her mat!):

Thanks for dropping by my blog today,

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Something New Sampler - Finished!

As you might be aware I have been following along with the Something New Sampler hosted by Amy at The Cute Life.  I finished the blocks a couple of weeks ago and have been thinking about how to put my blocks together and finally came up with this arrangement.

My hubby thinks there is too much white but my plan is to quilt each block individually and then fill in all the white with free motion quilting so I see the white as something useful! 

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this one when its done but I've now decided to send it to my niece living in London.  I haven't made her anything quilty yet and the added bonus is that my brother, her father is travelling to London to have a holiday with her for Christmas - so guess what her present will be! That will save me a heap on postage and also give him some room in his case to bring home some souvenirs!

These are my favourite blocks of the group so I decided to put them together (well more like they ended up together by happy circumstance but lets say I planned it that way!).  I would have liked to border all the blocks in the pink but I didn't have much left so I decided to alternate between green and pink.

This quilt was good for me to see that I can keep up with a weekly project if I push myself (although I'm glad it was only for 5 weeks!).  It has been so interesting and inspiring to see what everyone else has been doing with their blocks and fabric combinations too.

If you'd like to see what everyone else has been up to, you might like to visit the Flickr page for the group.

Thanks for visiting my blog today!

Friday, 8 March 2013

And Sew On BOM - March

I've been doing a BOM over with Kristy at Quiet Play called And Sew On.  We're up to block number 3, which is this little number:

This one was fun to make but I'm a little disappointed in my fabric choices.  The white didn't show up against the yellow background as well as I'd like.  In hindsight I would have used some darker fabrics for the reels but I'm happy with my cottons, although the blue wavy one looks more like ric rac than cotton!  My photography skills being what they are (which is pretty average) the yellow fabric hasn't shown up its true colour, which is a little more yellow than it shows here.  Hopefully this block will fit in well with my others so far:

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Where I've Been Lately!

What a busy couple of weeks I've had!  Not enough sewing for my liking and I really need a weekend at home, hopefully this weekend! 

My lovely hubby and I had a nice little weekend break in Adelaide at the end of February as we were going to the Norah Jones concert on the Friday night and decided to stay in town for a couple of nights as it was our 29th wedding anniversary on the Monday.

Apart from the weather being revoltingly hot and sticky, we had a fantastic time.  Stayed in a very cheap motel just a hop, step and jump from King William Street and Rundle Mall, the Paringa Motel located in Hindley Street.  As Adelaideans would know, Hindley Street is the nightclub strip in Adelaide and so normally this would put you off from staying there but the Paringa Motel is right up close to King William Street and our room was on the opposite side to Hindley Street, so away from the doof, doof noise!  We did however have a bit of air-conditioner noise but I'd rather that than the nightclub revellers!  If you are looking for a reasonably priced, budget room but with all the essentials I can recommend the Paringa. After all 2 nights for $180 in the peak of silly season in Adelaide is pretty good. We did book 30 days in advance so that made it cheaper. 

I work in town just around the corner so I took my bag in on the bus in the morning and wandered around after work to check in and then my hubby bussed it in as well so we didn't need to worry about parking. 

We wandered about 50 feet down Gilbert Place to The Pancake Kitchen for tea on Friday night.  I can't remember the last time I went there.  The Pancake Kitchen is open 24/7 and was great.  I had the Canadian feast and Brian had the German feast so we did our bit for international relations!  Yum, now I feel like pancakes again!
As I said it is silly season right now in Adelaide, with the Fringe, Festival of Arts, Clipsal 500, Adelaide Cup, WomAdelaide, Soundwave etc etc all happening over the space of a month or so.  We wandered up after tea to check out the street party in Waymouth Street which was part of the Fringe and then wandered back to our room to change and then strolled down to Adelaide Festival Theatre to the Norah Jones concert.
She was brilliant and if you ever get the chance, definitely go see her live in concert.  Her voice is amazing and her backing band were terrific.  Her CD's don't do justice to her voice and now sound a bit flat in comparison to hearing her live!

Saturday we headed over the road to Cafe One in Southern Cross for brekkie and it was so good we went back there again on Sunday.  I don't often buy coffee in town but when I do I always head there as they have my favourite brand Vittoria and their brekkies were delicious and great value. I wish I'd taken my camera and snapped a photo but then you'd only be drooling all over the keyboard!

We walked down Rundle Mall and bought some flowers and then walked to the Wakefield Hospital to visit Brian's sister Kerrie who was recovering from a back operation and then we strolled up Wakefield Street into the Central Markets.  I love going to the Central Market but its not good for my hip pocket as I want to buy everything.  Seeing as we were staying in town and only had a tiny fridge in the motel room, we had to control ourselves.  We did buy some lovely mettwurst and a beautiful double cream brie, some pickled mussels and calamari and stopped for a freshly squeezed juice and I treated myself to a giant 'pigs ear'.  Haven't had one of those for ages and now I'll be good for a few more years! 

It was very hot though, so we strolled back to our room and chilled out in the airconditioning for a while with a cold drink and then got ready for dinner.  We caught the tram to Halifax Street for dinner at my current favourite restaurant, The Greek on Halifax.  The food there is just fantastic, the service is excellent and I will definitely be heading back again as soon as I can clear off my credit card!
We decided to walk back to our motel to walk off dinner.  It was a lovely break in our own town and if you live in Adelaide I'd recommend taking a short break in your own city now and again.  I just would have preferred the weather to be a little cooler but you take what you get.  February in Adelaide was never going to be cool!

So no sewing there but hopefully I can post some sewing photos soon as I do have a project which is done but needs a decent photo (or two!).

Thanks for dropping by!