27/04/2013: Almost May already! This year is going so fast!
02/04/2013: Happy Easter. I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend.
01/01/2013: Happy New Year!!
24/12/2012: Merry Christmas!!
13/11/2012: Getting hand-made presents ready for Christmas!!

Saturday, November 28, 2009

More Supplies

Project Supplies
Fabric and Supplies

I headed down to Tricia's Discount Fabrics today because I was down in her general direction and I wanted to pick up a couple of things for a project in my new Mook* "Patchwork Classroom". They currently have a buy 2 get one free sale going on, so I got a free Fat Quarter with my purchase. I also picked up a few things at Spotlight and I'm ready to trace the pattern and get started. I'll keep you updated as I go.

* Mook is a name for a Japanese Magazine-Book. Patchwork Classroom is chock full of designs, complete with a large pattern sheet in the back. It cost me approximately $30 to get a copy from ebay to have a look and I am impressed. It is a lot like some of the other Japanese Mooks that I own. Of course it is in Japanese, but someone who is confident at patchwork could work out the processes from their fantastic diagrams without any knowledge of the language.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Machine Binding

Red Pepper Quilts Binding

99% of all quilt binding tutorials online involve creating your binding, machine sewing it to your quilt and then hand finishing. I just found the perfect tutorial on Red Pepper Quilts for a technique I am definately going to try.

The techniques described for joining the binding overlap leaves a much less bulky seam than other methods I have seen. It looks like it may be hard to work out the first time, but I am sure once you get the hang of it that it is an easy method.

The best part is the description of how to top stitch the binding with your machine. I have been worried about stitching through all those layers and coming up with a straight seam that catches both sides of the binding. This makes perfect sense and it should be relatively easy.

I had to read through this four times, so be patient with it. If you have a little more experience it might make perfect sense first time.

Once I have finished my Invaders design I am going to try this method of binding as I will be using black binding on black fabric so any little mistakes will not be noticeable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Space Invader Red

Space Invader
Space Invader

The first invader is now alive! I have been meaning to start this for a couple of weeks and finally sat down and did it. I created a pattern from paper several weeks ago and they have since been guarding the door and flying off in the breeze, practicing their attack formations (drop down one level and speed up!)

So here is Space Invader Red. I have decided to go with colours instead of black and white and have chosen orange and blue for the other two at this stage. I am using the fabric I have left over from making pacman ghosts.

I decided on a strips technique rather than piecing squares so it doesn't look pixellated. Unfortunately a couple of lines are not quite lined up so I won't be able to quilt it into pixels either. I think that the overall effect will be exactly what I want though.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

My creative space

Sewing Room (aka badly stitched panorama)
My (clean) creative space

After a fortnight of extremely hot weather my house is a complete mess, so it has been a spring cleaning weekend. My sewing room has been looking extremely messy as I have had a couple of deadlines and haven't been cleaning up after projects.

So since it is so clean at the moment I thought I would take a photo and ask you all... what is your creative space like? Do you have a dedicated room or do you take over the dining room and have to pack up each day?

Now that my room is clean again I am once again resolving to clean up as I go and try and keep it clean. I wonder how long that will last...

I had to take three photos to get in my myriad of desks and this is those photos stitched together giving you an almost 180 degree view. There isn't anything at all in the opposite corner (where I'm standing) because I like the uncluttered room and lots of space. If you click the photo you can have a look at some of the notes on what you're seeing.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cats Finished

Cat Quilt complete
Cat Quilt Completed

I expected the quilting to take me a lot longer, but it was over in a couple of sessions. There are a couple of small errors which I think only I will notice, but I am extremely happy with my third quilt.

As with my first quilt, I "stitched in the ditch" and in my first sitting, before I knew it I had 6 blocks complete. Once the blocks were done it was just a matter of persevering with the inner border, then zipping around the outer cream border.

The binding was done over two nights because it was extremely hot and humid here. I used the same colour blue as the background to keep the focus on the centre.

Now it is time to clean up my sewing room and get ready for the next project.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Quilt Fair Favourites

SA Quilters Logo

I discovered that the SA Quilters Guild website now has some photos of the quilts from the recent Craft Fair, specifically the ones entered to be judged. So I thought I would pick through and show you some of my favourites, or you can browse through them all.

Unfortunately the vast number of beautiful quilts that I admired are not on their website, therefore this is only a small selection of what I picked out to be my favourites.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Quilting the Cats

Quilting in progress

I was a little afraid to start the quilting on this project and enquired about a professional finish with three long arm quilters. I think I must have had a dream (or nightmare) about the quilting because I have just read through their emails again and I was certain that two of them were against stippling and recommended custom quilting or keeping it simple so that the quilting didn't detract from the design. Only one quilter suggests that an all over design might not be the way to go, but that was enough to plant the seed of doubt... so I have just completed stitching in the ditch.

It was actually quicker than I thought it would be. After quilt number one I expected the quilting to take me at least a month, however I was able to quilt the blocks (except for the very centre) in a continuous line which went a lot quicker. I had to be careful not to run into the cream as I used a navy blue thread. I erred on the side of the blue while keeping the stitching as close to the seam as I could so the quilting is barely noticeable.

Only the binding is left to do now. This is fantastic! I will definately be finished by Christmas.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Search for Backing

Quiltaholics, The Parade Norwood

Day five (or is it six?) of extreme heat hovering around 40°C and I have slowly but surely been working on the cat quilt. Last night I hit up Spotlight for the batting and quilt back, but alas... they were out of blue in the wider width. This morning I ended up having to trapse all over town looking for a backing.

Sue's Sewing World is the only quilting shop I was aware of in my area so I headed there after my local Lincraft also failed to supply quilt backing in the colour I desire. I was amazed to see that the Chocolate Print I purchased at Tricia's was selling for $22/m there. Tricia's definately has some bargains, though Sue's stocks a range of sewing equipment and is a machine service centre as well.

The lovely lady at Sue's Sewing World recommended I try Quiltaholics and gave me fantastic directions. At least I have a car with airconditioning!

Quiltaholics is another store like Tricia's in which you walk in and then don't know where to start looking first. I knew I was there for a purpose and that I couldn't afford to look too much or I would spend too much money so I didn't look at any of the prices. I did notice they had a basket of beautiful William Morris fabrics among other things, so I will have to go back later when I can afford it! The lovely lady helped me to find the quilt backing I wanted and it was only a couple of dollars more expensive than what Spotlight normally stocks, so I was happy with the price. The helpful friendly faces mean I will definately be heading back to this store soon.

I've added both of these stores to the South Australian Map so it will be easy for you to find these places too.

As for the cat quilt, I have added another cream border all the way around with blue borders to finish it off. The top will be approximately 49", which is a little under my initial plan of a 60" square quilt, but meant I could buy a cot sized batting which is 50x60" at only $24.95, which is quite a saving.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cat Quilt Update

Cat Quilt
Cat Quilt with applique and border

This project has stagnated because I got it to a point where I was really happy with how it was turning out and was scared to work on the next step incase I did something wrong.

I bit the bullet today and slowly added the next few items. It has been a very hot day so I took a lot of breaks and was able to step back and think a lot about what I was doing.

First I added a 2" border around my centre patchwork. I am aiming to get this to approximately a 50" step. Then when I began procrastinating about adding the next border (incase I make a mistake and ruin my work...) I decided to finally sew my circular centre-piece.

I have also been having a think about how I am going to quilt this monster. I've thought everything from stitch in the ditch to something simple like a square crosshatch, but with the centre circle left unquilted with perhaps just a line 1/4" in from the seam... to even doing some kind of stipple involving cats or paw prints.

I am also thinking about getting this professionally quilted and there was a list of machine quilters in my area on the back of one of the pamphlets I picked up from the Quilters Guilde yesterday. There is one in particular that has a website and did several pieces that I physically saw at the quilt fair, so I am thinking of enquiring into what she would recommend and estimate I would be up around $70-100 for her professional quilting. It would make it a bit more expensive than I would have liked, however it would save me the stress of quilting this before Christmas.

If you are in South Australia, there is a link in the side menu to a map of long arm quilters in our area. Or if you are from other places or know of other quilters I have left it open to collaboration. All you need is a google account and you can add to the map to make it a great reference for everyone. Do you think we should add quilt stores and guilds as well? It can be colour co-ordinated with different labels, so I am thinking it may have potential to be a fantastic reference for stores and services.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Quilt Fair Reflections

Japanese Fabrics
Japanese Fabrics from the Quilt Fair

I ventured out to the Craft Fair in South Australia today and phew.. so many people! I must admit that while the eye candy was everywhere, the prices were a bit of a shock to me. I am usually all for quality over quantity and believe that since time is the most expensive thing to me, there is no point putting in a lot of time into a piece of art or craft if cheap materials will let it down in the end - ie. I don't want to end up thinking : "I spent 50 hours creating this... what I pity I didn't spend the extra $20 instead of buying the cheap stuff."

Quilt fabrics are such an absolute rip off (gets on my soap box)... For a simple pattern in a couple of colours there is no way 90% off the stuff I saw today should have been selling for more than $15-20/m... Most of it was around $7-10 for a FAT QUARTER! And people were paying that!

I must admit that I did buy two pieces of material that I thought were a bit rich... The geisha's pictured above were $7.50 for a fat quarter (ie approx $30/m), and the blue dragonflys were $8.70 for 30x110cm (ie approx $30/m). The other 4 fabrics were $3.50 per FQ (ie approx $14/m... much more reasonable!). I did think that since I had spent $20 on parking and entry that I wanted to come away with something.

I took quite a few photos in the display area, however unfortunately there were signs everywhere saying that I was not to publish any of the photos so I can't share my favourites with you. I found it interesting to study a few different pieces and see if I could tell how they were put together. It has given me a heap of ideas, and most of my photos turned out ok so I can remember what I saw. Now my mind is overflowing with possibilities!

I also wanted to find out about quilt shops and groups in my area, however I found that most stall holders were not hugely forthcoming. The Quilters Guild left me with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth after I patiently waited for a lady to finish enthusiastically talking to one lady, who then skipped past me to the lady behind me, and when I tried to ask her a few questions she was quite abrupt. I think a young 20-something is not the kind of clientele they are generally used to.

It wasn't all bad though as I had a lovely chat with one of the staff members in the exhibition hall early on, and I came across a couple of lovely stalls, including the ones that I purchased a few items at, and I will list the links at the end.

So there you have it folks! Three jam packed hours, and then my claustrophobia in crowds got the better of me, but it was a great morning!

Fabrics from Craft Fair
Kimono Girls and Dragonfly

Be Be Bold (NSW) - Specialising in Japanese Imported Fabrics... had a lovely range and I spoke to a very nice man who was very helpful and suggested that if anything isn't on the website to email and see if they have it in stock anyway. I purchased the blue dragonfly fabric from this stall.

Patchwork with Gail B (Vic) - Amazing range of fabrics and they stock over 9000 bolts of fabric most of which is $14/m or less! Lovely stall holders who were very friendly and you can't go past their value for money. I purchased 4 fat quarters from this stall.

Logans Patchwork (NSW) - One of the larger ranges of oriental fabrics that I saw and some lovely packs and patterns. I purchased the geisha fabric from this stall.

Patchwork By Sea (SA) - I was smitten with one of their block of the month quilts, but alas, you couldn't take photos in the stall area. They have it on their website however - Longevity Symbols. It is even more stunning in person and the lady at the stall was very nice. They also had a stunning range of William Morris fabrics which were reasonably priced so I will have to check out their shop one day soon.

The Quilt Basket (SA) - I think this was the one that had heaps of nice panels and the ladies were quite nice. I can't remember why I grabbed their card (I had reasons! lol), but I only grabbed cards from the stalls that made a good impression, so check this one out too!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Block Party!

Block Party! Fabrics

This is the first collaborative that has me really excited and inspired to share it with you (and not just because of the awesome prizes which I am sure I won't win anyway...) I have always liked the idea of quilt-a-longs, however never liked the patterns that were being offered, or the format, or any number of things that made me think "maybe it isn't for me".

I don't know why this one is different, but perhaps it is because there are several people I recognise from their blogs participating as authors.

One thing I found with "swapping" (on swap-bot) is that I'm not very good at sharing, so I have always known that I would need to participate in a quilt-a-long by myself. I think it is beacuse I am so much of a perfectionist that I can't bare to part with my own work and I'm scared that what I receive from others may not be to my taste or up to my standards.

This project has the best of both worlds. You can join in to participate in groups of 12 made up of other visitors to the blog and flickr group, or you can go it alone with the block patterns and instructions they will provide quarterly.

I think I will be watching this one and I have added it to my growing list of inspirational blogs. So if I have piqued your interest, why not click on over to Block Party!