Friday, 31 March 2017

Oh! Bluebells!

We are feeling truly blessed having dodged the bullet of  Severe Tropical Cyclone Debbie by only a couple of hundred kilometers.
Only 2 hours away, an entire rural city was almost blown away.

strange sunsets in strange weather

I've typed and formulated 30,000 words of documents in the last month. Some days all I could think about was what else I had to include.

All we had was a day or so of gusty winds, and that was just what we needed to blow the cobwebs away.

After the negative energy blew away, we all felt so refreshed.. even my brain could start to get excited about choosing fabric once again. Before that, it was all I could manage to stitch on a couple of striped bluebells each day (if I truly had time to put a stitch in).

My new swearword was "Oh! Bluebells!" hahahahahhahahah... (no really, there are a lot of these!)

Even though the binding for "Time For Love" is half hand stitched down now, I really felt like I wasn't getting anything done. I certainly had nothing to blog about!

Tomorrow it's time to receive Secret Garden mystery block 3. So I took another look at  block 2.  and set about stitching down just one patch of bluebells so that I could embroider the stems, and give me that feeling I was getting something done.

One patch of bluebells with embroidered stems

And here we have it! Success! What next when there is so much to do?

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Helping hands and a hat

I'm pretty chuffed that I've managed to get these two blocks stitched! Yippee!

Thank you Fandom in stitches! All of the free stitchery patterns are still there so far. We are up to week 12. It looks like another 6 weeks of stitchery blocks to come in "The Goblin King" stitchalong.

It's a tribute to the movie Labyrinth, but I feel like it's a tribute to the late David Bowie too, as he wrote and sang the musical score.

Can you read the writing I've stitched in?

Each block will have a quote from the Labyrinth movie that comes to mind when I see the stitchery picture.

At the same time, it's busy here. I am typing another 10,000 word document, as well as cleaning up and stocking up to prepare for Tropical Cyclone Debbie.

It's a strange thing... do we really want to say "Debbie did Townsville" or not?

Oh! And Esther has the most gorrrgeous free Easter applique patterns ready to download and print on her blog here.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Behind the Scenes Roundup

There is not much to show, which is why I haven't posted lately.

Sometimes in our quilts, as in our lives, we are busy busy constructing the scaffolding behind the scenes that holds everything together, and can create something that will be even more amazing than we imagined.

Such is that time right now in my life, and my quilts.

blue Batman cupcakes with edible sparkles in the butter icing

black bats cut with a cookie cutter from roll out icing

Some days last week I didn't even touch my sewing. I burned the candle, typed pages and pages and pages, and even more pages. Then I caught up on sleep. And celebrated our son's 7th birthday.

Esther's Secret Garden block 2 continues

Finally, I was able to put in a few stitches on Secret Garden block 2, and it is going really well.

All of the stems, the peacock leaves, and the large flowers are attached. Just the bluebells to go,  the big centre leaves, and a little bit of the flamingo, then embroidery enhancement. I am picking it up between other things at the moment. Block 3 is released on the 1st of April. I would like to have all the fabrics for block 2 selected and basted by then, but I am not so concerned with having it all stitched on. My aim is to keep up with the preparation of each block, which seems to take quite a lot of brain power and time.

Diamond Hill block 3 was released. I've traced the design onto the fabric background, and traced some of the pieces onto freezer paper. Not all done yet. The plan is to prepare all of these pieces before starting Secret Garden block 3. And as Secret Garden inspires my creative spirit and is for me, I am keen to finish it first!

tracing block 3 Diamond Hill onto freezer paper

Guess what turned up yesterday while I was looking for my son's baby toy under the couch? Well, not the baby toy I was looking for... but I found my missing bolt of Emma Louise vanilla quilter's muslin! It was BEHIND the couch. The back of the couch is my sweetheart's fav spot to put stuff. Heh heh. I guess it got crowded up there.

Fistpump! Remove the fluff and we are good to go!

traced stitchery blocks for The Goblin King

After cleaning the fluff off, I was pretty keen today to trace off some of the Labyrinth stitcheries from Fandom In Stitches. It's a 16 week stitchalong (I think), and it must soon be time to issue the instructions for stitching it all together. I have only embroidered 2 of the 12 blocks released so far. Eep! I have decided to stitch in my most memorable movie quote prompted by each block. And, I've decided to keep the quilt, for a child to use when ours are a bit older and start to have sleepovers.

I am pretty keen to get stuck into the Labyrinth stitchery blocks, so that I am not far off starting to put the quilt top together around the same time as everyone else. Otherwise these blocks could never become a quilt!

But wait, there's more!!

Yesterday I went to social sewing at my local shop. I planned to cut, join, press and apply binding by sewing machine onto 2 quilts. Would you believe on the second quilt I was 15cm short, and had to cut another strip? Dang it! Hahahahha. I was rushing around, and only just got home in time for school pickup. But I feel great, both bindings are ready to stitch down.
binding machined onto the Time For Love wedding quilt

And! A new member joined the social sewing group, and it turns out she lives in my street! OMG! I am so excited! Sonya has invited me over to craft at her place as she is an empty nester. Hurrah!

peacocks quilted into the border 

Hand stitching the binding will be my evening hand stitching for the next few nights. I stress evening, because it's too hot to have a quilt on my knee at any other time here in the tropics.

Suddenly everything will come together in a few months,  and I will have 6 quilts (or more) finished this year! Alas, that is not yet, which means there is much more stitching fun to come!

Monday, 13 March 2017

Striping bluebells

I spent a few days making stripey bluebells for Secret Garden block 2 and pondering what else to add to my block.

What kind of bird?

Flamingo or Dodo?
After a good googling, I found this Flamingo on a free colouring page.

bird is a winner

It's worked out to be a great size and pose... it's going to stand on the end of the genie slipper pot holder, with embroidered legs. It doesn't interfere with the orange and purple flowers, and I plan to balance the bright pinky orange with the large leaves on the left.

I've added the leaves.

need to change leaves

The overall colour is right, although it could be more vivid, but it's too patterned. The leaf fabric needs to be changed over. I'm kind of glad, because this fabric will make gorgeous fussy cut leaves on another block where they can really star.

need to change over the large leaves, add more bluebells and stitch, stitch, stitch

Perhaps tonight, the block will be all basted ready to stitch.

I hope so!

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Slipper Day

It's been a cooler day here today.. after 2 days of temperatures raging at "feel like" 41 degrees celcius with 70% humidity, we had rain most of the day today... Ahhh... and it's cooler now.. only one air conditioner going...

Makes me want to wear my slippers, eat a hot meal (as opposed to fruit, yoghurt and salads), and drink cups of tea. Ahhh. What a perfect day to get into some applique!

And it was!
This morning my block looked like this:
Large genie-lamp-planter filled with pebbles

Perhaps the foreground object on the left is a slice of agate?

I wasn't sure if I liked the colour yet, but I definitely liked the stripey type of batik fabric for it. Maybe I would need a light grey and white version.

After morning swimming lessons for 17 month old Bub (Oh my goodness! He is growing so much! And suddenly he tries to do almost anything! Counting on his fingers; picking up the dishcloth, lifting his t-shirt and wiping his tummy, then wiping a  chair; trying to wipe his own bottom during nappy changes; "washing" dishes in his water play table)...  he was sleepy...

Mummy (that's me) got to play with fabric and work out some more colour choices for Secret Garden block 2. Yippee!

At the end of the first nap I'd played with fabrics for 40 minutes, and hadn't even cut anything out! It really does take concentration in your slippers!

Because it was raining so much, Daddy took all the children to the afternoon swimming lessons, and I got to stay home on my own, and..... play with fabric again! Yay! But this time, I was ironing solid!

Check it out...

Loving the look of the block so far.

The agate seems to work well, and I like the colour of the bluebell stems in the limey green much more now that the other flowers are on, and have a bit of that limey green in them.

Fabric used for the large flowers (Kaffe Fassett Collective).

Fabric used for the stripey flowers (Tula Pink Slow and Steady).

Still need to work out leaves in the centre. The bottom right flower is not glued on yet, because I need to work it around the bird. (Which will be a pink flamingo, my variation on the block designed by Esther, as I am inspired by Alice in Wonderland.

Surely this garden is psychadelic enough, and I didn't even have to get high to imagine it as Lewis Carroll has described it!

Also need to think on what quote to stitch onto the block.

After a HUGE day of fabric choices, my brain feels like mush. Really, more like a super mush. Do my eyes look bleary.

Thank goodness for my fluffy slippers. They really do help.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

A couple of hours later...

A couple of hours later...

I had a few hours on my feet at the ironing board at the LQS today!! Wore my running shoes to our "sewing session", and didn't even sew! Hee hee.

Feeling awesome that I got all the other elements for the block traced (yippee!)...

Found, bought and tried out fabrics for the Genie-Lamp style flower pot... well I think I've found them..  still working on turning over the seam allowances....

The bluebells are fun so far. Not sure about the stem colour yet.

I really can't start stitching down on this block. It's all about the way the fabrics interact, if they are too busy, if they balance within the block, if they complement each other.

Using the double freezer paper with starch method to turn under the seam allowances is such a time consuming thing, but I love the precise effect. I had 2 1/2 hours, and really, didn't get that much done. No stitching. Hee hee. When I get started on the stitching, I will probably wear a hole in my finger!

Of course, by the time I choose all of these fabrics and prepare the block, it will probably be time to choose fabrics for the next Diamond Hill block (it's a free BOM with each block released on the 15th of the month).

Much faster to prepare than the starch method is the washable glue and freezer paper method.... but that is with washable freezer paper - Polyfuse by Matilda's Own. My LQS didn't have it in store.

Getting better using a big iron to turn seams, I think I will stick with this method, and eventually buy a Clover 11 mini iron with red protective parts on the hot stem to protect me from burnt fingers (I can get a bit clunky at times).

And in other exciting news, three of my quilts arrived in the mail today, sensationally quilted by my dear Mummy.  Thanks Mum! I can see a mixture of custom quilting in free hand work and cut away designs..... *happy sigh*.... it feels good to be closer to finished quilts!!!

This week I get to prepare the binding for the wedding quilt. Hurrah!

Linking up with Esther's Working on Wednesdays. What are you making? Please share.

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

I love choosing fabrics!

There is  only a little bit of stitching left to do on Diamond Hill block 2.

That's a bit more portable than the preparation of applique pieces... so when I had an hour or so last night to myself, I jumped into playing with this fabric for Secret Garden block 2.

The left curving leaves and right curving leaves are aligned with different sections of the fabric.

Ohhhh. I knew this fabric would make great leaves when I saw it 2 or 3 weeks ago in Sunlit Blooms. Happy me, it fits the leaf sizes for Block 2!

I tried one or two leaves out, and they seemed to work. I need to make all the leaves to truly audition fabrics for the block.

I am using my favourite (so far) applique technique of double layer freezer paper, fold edges under with starch and iron, then remove paper, press, and baste on with Roxanne's glue.

Having decided these will be the leaves, now I need to make my other fabric choices sing, and really give the Alice in Wonderland feel.

There is a bird in this block. I haven't decided if I will swap it into a Dodo or a Flamingo as shown in the movies, or keep the bird in the pattern and place a card of hearts in its mouth.

These are fun decisions. I LOOOVE choosing fabric!

Monday, 6 March 2017

More applied research into turned edge applique

Everything seems to be going slowly, slowly.

Perhaps it is because I am trying to pay attention to the effects of the applique techniques...

Perhaps it is because I am improving my skills, which takes more time and concentration...

Perhaps it is because I only had about an hour a day to work on my applique..

And then, maybe it is just a lack of faith in my abilities.. like I had forgotten how to "sit into" my skills, and KNOW I've always been good at this stuff, and just let it grow underneath my fingers without second guessing and inspecting everything so much.

However! There is progress!

Hurrah! And I am happy to share some findings once again.

This is a flower with tiny little fiddly curves and sharp points.
circular flower made with two layers of freezer paper, and starch method

Each piece overlays another. In my "old days" stitching applique, I could make the individual shape EASY PEASEY with smooth curves and pointy points, but the pieces would move everywhere and would not overlay, and the outsides probably wouldn't make an even circle. This is why I am trying out different methods. I want precision placement.

For these shaped pieces, this was the best technique for me (double layered freezer paper with starch method, and pieced removed before stitching). The trickiest parts were the curves into the centre of the flower. I used Roxanne's to baste the pieces down, and stitched them very very quickly. With no freezer paper left inside, the sewing was fast.

In direct contrast, the sepal (green bit at the base of the flower, connecting to the stem), had the Floriani fusible stitch n wash still in there. It felt bulky to stitch around compared to the swirls of the flower.

Still to come: I have prepared another circular flower  using the Floriani fusible stitch n wash with starch. It needs to be hand stitched before I decide if I like it.

I love the way the shape came out on this flower. It feels firm and supported.

Floriani stitch and wash fusible left inside flower, edges turned with starch

The Floriani fusible stitch n wash is inside the whole flower. I didn't like stitching the yellow section down as the needle had to go down right through a section of stabiliser on the back of the orange fabric. The wide sweeping curves were easier to turn with the stabiliser than the fiddly curves on the previous flower.

It feels nice to touch, but it was not as pleasant to stitch.

So far, I feel double freezer paper with starch and removing the freezer paper before stitching  is my favourite. The technique needs more practise on my part, perhaps the new Clover 11 iron will help as compared to using my standard sized iron, which is heavy, bulky and blocks my view when turning under seams.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Experimental applique techniques with freezer paper

Reporting back on experiments with new (for me) applique techniques.using freezer paper:
almost all shown is now stitched down

For about fifteen years I have been using a single layer of freezer paper fused to the wrong side of the fabric, then I use the needle to turn the edge around the template shape, while pinning the pieces to death. Then I cut a hole in the back to remove the free

With a single layer of freezer paper, if I am painting the seam allowance with starch then turning the edge over and ironing it, sometimes the paper bends on a curve. So that, instead of a sweeping curve, I have a straight bit on a leaf, and a couple of corners. Oops. And the points aren't always so pointy on a leaf, there is a lot of excess fabric to try to squeeze into a leaf tip.

I tried out a double layer of freezer paper, and  instead of painting on starch and ironing, I used a Bostik glue stick. It was so fast to stick the fabric down around the template, but, then you have to wait for the glue to dry.

*I tried it two ways: leave the fabric glued to the template, and stitch it down, but then I had to cut a hole in the back of the fabric to remove the  freezer paper anyway, and the glue held on to fabric tightly. When I removed the paper I felt the stitches were too big. Maybe because there was two layers of freezer paper, or maybe because with all the tugging of the glue, the stitches became a little bit loose.
*loosen the glue and remove the template, iron, then stitch. I didn't like this one either. The seam didn't stay pressed under neatly -  the sweeping curves were lost, and it was hard to glue baste down.

I also tried a double layer of freezer paper with the paint starch and iron method, remove template, re-iron, then use Roxanne baste glue. This one is my favourite so far, but I still need some practise folding under the seams with a big iron. Maybe the Clover mini iron 11 will help to get around corners. I have a little iron, but it doesn't have the fine point, and it gets heavy in your hand holding onto a little handle, and there is no rest, it feels a bit dangerous when I put it down. The seams aren't so stiff as they are with the clear gum.

Next thing to try is this: Floriani stitch and wash fusible product.
Reporting back in the next few days.

The good news is, I am trying all of these out on the actual quilts I am making, and not just sample pieces. What better way is there to learn and improve your skills than to make quilts?

Linking up to Esther's Working on Wednesdays.