A Grab Bag

I’ve been sewing, but not updating! In fairness I’ve been doing a bunch of other things – like sewing a plush as hell black faux fur coat and then getting married in it. (I also wore a dress underneath).

Not visible in the pictures: a fine dusting of fluff on everything in my studio, including all my shelves because it floated everywhere. Not a bad effort for being thrown together in two nights before the wedding though.

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I also finished off a single bed sized quilt for a commission. I hadn’t tried this lattice pattern before and while I love the final result I think I would probably try a different construction technique in future. I do love the little aeroplane pattern on the backing though.

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Plus when I was in Melbourne last I visited Making the Australian Quilt: 1800-1950 at the National Gallery of Victoria. I found it super fascinating and also got to demonstrate some good quilt-nerd facts to my date. I was particularly enamored with the Wagga quilts and some of the silk log cabins. As per usual, I found the crazy quilts boring and hideous, but I can respect the skill that goes into them.

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I also really loved this red and white quilt which was made as a prize in a raffle? So much advice stitched into one item!

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Newly in progress and hopefully to be polished off shortly is another pinwheel quilt (I had a hell of a time finding matching fabrics to pull to to synch with what my friend gave me to work around – baby loves their jewel tones a little too much it seems.)

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Further Finishes

Something about the New Year is making me want to finish what I’ve started before I begin anything new. In my last post I showed off the coat I’ve finally finished after some eight months – today I have two more finishes, and one WiP I’m making good progress on.

First! The baby quilt I finished just before Christmas. I recently located the photos I took and then immediately lost among my extensive library of memory cards.

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I love it: it’s soft and lightly quilted and just right for a snuggly floor quilt for a baby.

Next up: I finished the French Braid quilt I started about four years ago. Finished! Done! (Also now listed on my Etsy) The odd thing about working on a quilt for this long is how much my tastes have changed. I still like this quilt, but I can’t imagine I’d do anything with such a deliberate lack of intention or form to the colour arrangements? I find that I much prefer sewing with a strong sense of purpose and a clearly defined outcome now. With this though I cut the strips for the chevrons (chevrons are one thing that hasn’t changed in my quilting) and then pulled them out more or less at random to sew together the blocks.

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This next one is the early stages of quilting together a top I’ve had sitting aside since last May. It’s the twin to the hexagon quilt I made last year: where that one went from a high density center to low density colour at the edges this does the opposite: I used the leftovers from the original to sew it. I’m doing a free motion quilting, same as before, but this time in a regular Gutermann thread, instead of the Sulky thread. Sulky thread gives an amazing finish and looks beautiful, but also broke anytime I changed speeds even slightly while quilting, meaning I had to rethread my machine about every 5-10 minutes through the whole 7+ hours of quilting.

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The patterns not being completely matched is annoying me slightly, I have to admit but it was the most efficient way to use the leftover fabric. I’ve quilted one sixth of this so far, which took just over an hour – the combination of pulling such an enormous mass of fabric around my machine and the extra effort required for free motion quilting anyway completely annihilated my mid-back, so I might have to pace myself when it comes to finishing this off.

I’m waiting on a gigantic order from Hawthorne Threads too, but I’ve told myself I’m not allowed to cut into it until I finished up this hexagon. I’m looking for the perfect 6″ drunkards path template set too, which is a tougher thing than you might think (I suspect I’m going to go for the Marti Mitchell templates) so I can’t cut into it until that arrives anyway. I’m excited to post my next project once it is underway though!

 

So This is Christmas

I feel as though everyone I know is out at a Christmas Party – meanwhile, I’m having my own Christmas celebration, including catching up on a long overdue post. First things first. My new studio space! I moved in and sewed some luxe-as-hell pink velvet curtains.

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The first thing I started sewing in the new space was a cream wool and gold leather sculptural coat inspired by an Alexander McQueen piece I saw in an exhibition in Melbourne last year. Here’s my inspiration wall (they allowed photography in the exhibit.)

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In typical me-fashion I basically sketched the pattern onto the fabric and started cutting.

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Pictured: my design process.

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The tea cup and tennis ball are crucial parts of the sewing process. (If you roll around on a tennis ball for 5-10 minutes your mid-back might forgive you for kneeling on a wooden floor for an hour.) I’m still working on the coat, but this week I’ve been watching cheesy Christmas movies and teaching myself padstitching techniques as I shape the upper. Also, here’s an in-progress shot of the button tab for the back and pinning the hair-canvas.

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Updates to follow! ( love a good WIP, don’t I?)

Also, I’ve started and very nearly finished a new quilt. This one has a time limit, so it’ll be done before Christmas. You might remember the post I made about the beautiful fabrics from Western Samoa which I felt conflicted about using. I wound up using some of them to make a quilt for a friend’s new nephew who has Samoan heritage: I felt that using them like this, in an exchange (I traded a quilt for one of his exceptionally beautiful paintings) was an appropriate way to make use of them.

I sewed most of the quilt top while staying with my Grandmother. Pre-washing and drying in the sun:

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I had to work with more limited tools, because there’s only so much you can pack in a suitcase. Here’s pressing and laying out the pattern:

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And backlit after sewing up.

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Updates pending! I’m determined to have some WIP finishes for 2015.

Bigmouth Strikes Again (Best Laid Plans)

Sooooo… Christmas has come and gone and my Fair Isle Quilt is, sadly, not yet complete. I hold out hope it’ll be done for Christmas 2015. Ultimately the busyness of December did me in – I started my PhD properly this month and travelled both for work and for the holidays. However! Have some progress photos. It is coming together (I’ve sewn together the Poinsetta blocks since these were taken.)

Fair isle aerial view

 

Fair isle squaring up

Fair isle offcuts

So much chain piecing. So much squaring up. It was the squaring which took a lot longer than I had anticipated, I think. I have another 11 months to get it complete – or I could go for a midwinter Christmas I suppose!

BUT! I did complete two quilts in December, which isn’t bad going for only having been at home two weeks out of four. I finished up the matching set of chevron baby quilts, in time to gift them before Christmas. I’m supremely happy with how they turned out. The colours were lovely and bright, and the simple straight line quilting made them very soft – I didn’t quilt them particularly densely so they are nice and snuggly.

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Front back far yellow

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I got a great deal on some Warm and White Cotton Batting which I wound up using in this quilt, rather than the bamboo batting I usually use. It’s a lot lighter – probably more suited for summer quilts, or quilts for warmer climates. I don’t know if I’ll buy it again because I like a certain degree of floofiness in my quilts, although it does make quilting sizable quilts on my small sewing machine a lot easier. Sadly the straight stitch machine is still a far off dream so I need to take that into account when picking out battings. I’m also getting better at mitred corners!

The quilt got the seal of approval from the wee babe it was gifted to and I got the world’s cutest thank you card from him, written with some help from his Mum.

Since it’s the 1st of January and all I figured I might make a little list of things to finish off and things I hope to start. Among my Christmas gifts was a lovely voucher for Spotlight so I might be making a trip there soon but I’m trying to stay disciplined and not start too many more things before finishing other stuff.

WIPs to finish:

1. Indigo Pinwheels. All the blocks are sewn and pressed, I just need to put the quilt top together, baste and quilt it.
2. Fair Isle Quilt.
3. More coasters to use up my scraps.

To sew/knit:

1. A black cable knit scarf
2. A large Picnic Plaid Quilt – since I’m on a roll with chain piecing.
3. A two-colour pineapple quilt, maybe in vibrant bold prints rather than solids?
4. I mentioned to my friend Alice a little while ago that I could have a hoon at making a quilt top modelled after the Holy Diver album cover. I think I might have my work cut out for me with that one, but it seems like a fun challenge.

Spinning my Wheels

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing too much travelling, and also moving house both into a studio and a summer pad. My apartment needs a whole bunch of earthquake strengthening so it doesn’t go all dominos when New Zealand inevitably gets hit by the Big One. This has necessitated a lot of stress and a lot of wine drinking. I have been trying to mitigate the stress by sewing in my new studio while drinking wine.

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I’ve been working more on the chevron quilts, and also on the Fair Isle quilt-along.I’m horribly belong in the quilt-along, but I’m going to beg off that on account of having been away for 2 of the 4 weeks it has been running for. The poinsettas are almost done, to give you some indication of where I’m at. In keeping with my vaguely music blog leanings, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Dio’s Holy Diver (thanks Alice for the suggestion).

I’ve spent the last three days at home dealing with some family stuff which has come up. I was supposed to be staying with my Ma, but instead I’m staying with my parents. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling a bit useless because there has been nothing to do but wait for a time, and so I’ve gotten some sewing done. I’ve been quilting up the chevron quilts and all they have left is to hand stitch down the binding and they are ready to go to their new home. I quilted them with two seams on each side of each chevron alternating thread colours. I didn’t mark the sewing line, just judged it by the edge of the foot. Functional and reasonably pretty.

BlogpostNov21-5 BlogpostNov21-6 BlogpostNov21-7 BlogpostNov21-8 BlogpostNov21-9 BlogpostNov21-10  Among the sewing I’ve been doing has been some coasters from offcuts of the baby quilts. So far: the yellow and orange have been completed and I’ve resurrected my Etsy to list them if you are just desperate to own a piece of Megan Memorabilia yourself.

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All Chevrons Point to Yes

I come bearing photos and also updates. I’ve made some headway into Freshly Pieced’s Fair Isle Quilt Along. All my cutting is done and I’ve pieced probably half of the Poinsetta blocks. I’ve also sewn half of the all important Slayer block.

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Excuse the instagram-grab. Since I took this photo I’ve added the rest of the L, A  and Y to the mix. I didn’t exactly start paper piecing with an easy option, but it’s going alright so far. I’m enjoying having something to carry around and sew as I go.

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I also followed Lee’s advice and chain pieced everything. I moved into my new studio and as you can see from the photos, my sewing is being watched over by David Bowie’s crotch (or David Bowie’s Area as proponents of Areology would have it). Also, studio! Please note the all important bottle of wine.

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Oh frabjous day. I can leave my stuff out and come back to it the next day. I’m inordinately pleased by this. I haven’t had a dedicated space for sewing since I was 17 and co-opted out shed for it since it was full of disused tractors and abandoned renovation projects. I’ve made the most of the space by starting the chevron quilts I mentioned in my last post. The top of one is finished, and the other has been cut but has to be sewn into HSTs still. I’m going home to stay with my Grandma next week so I plan to take both with me then and hopefully complete the quilting and sew on the binding while I’m away. Grandma is usually knitting something and it’s really nice to have a companionable silence while we’re both being productive and creative.

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Here’s the half square triangles in the midst of piecing.

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And the quilt top. I wound up using a different tutorial than the one I mentioned initially just because of the size of the fabric lengths I bought.

My other project since I last posted as been a little snood for a doggy. A nice dusky blue, also from Morris and Sons (after I finished off the red cable scarf – pics to come). Here’s the start of it – hopefully I can furnish you all with some photos of a dog in a scarf before long.

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I’ve also been researching semi-industrial machines and I’m eyeing up the Brother PQ1500s. Does anyone have feedback about it, thoughts positive or negative?

Home is Where the Camera Is

I’m home! Finally. And I have taken some more photos of the delightful circle/drunkards path quilt before it goes off to its new home. It was made for a friend whose new babe was born some months ago now, because I am a bit slow with these things sometimes, but conveniently it was her birthday a week ago, so I can probably pass it off under that guise and appear slightly less crap.

Folded circle quilt

I’ve been thinking a lot about quilting, and sewing and repetition. About what it means to give someone something handmade. All the thoughts have been churning around in my head for weeks, so expect this idea to be revisited and refined in future posts, but for now I want to talk, briefly and terribly, about repetition. Repetition as a concept has shown up a bunch in my studies. In my art history papers, because repetition is a key feature of art – performance art in particular. It also figures heavily in a lot of the Media Studies papers I’ve written. It crops up in a lot of Butler’s writing, about identity. This is probably the most academically vague and lazy thing I’ve ever allowed other people to read, but I’m curious about repetition in handmade items, handmade gifts. A quilt comprises hundreds of hours of cutting, sewing, breaking down large pieces into smaller bits then rebuilding them. There is a repetition to the cutting and sewing which imbues the finished product with meaning. A quilt isn’t just a gift of a blanket, it’s an indication that the recipient means enough to you to warrant a hundred hours of pricking yourself with another sodding safety pin.

Binding close up

 

I feel (hope) that sometimes a quilt/knitted something can be a reminder that there are people who care about you. A quilt isn’t just a blanket, it’s a tangible ‘you can ask other people for help and many will gladly give it’. Wrap yourself up in a hundred hours of work from someone who had never met you, but was willing to be that when you appeared, tiny and screaming in the world, you would be a good person worthy of love and something cozy for the cold nights.

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Binding plus front

Full circle quilt

 

My dreams of a studio, alas, have not come to fruition – so I’m still taking photos on my lounge room floor, strategically cropping my slippers out of the frame as I hold the camera above my head. I’ve started on a new quilt using the Japanese cottons from my last post and I’m waiting for my finances to pick up a little so I can order some fabrics for matching baby quilts.

Someone (I forget who – if you know please let me know in the comments) wrote a while back about mixing saturation and using that to distinguish light and darks and create visual interest in quilts. I’m broadly grouping my fabrics into lighter/darker and making pinwheel squares from them. I’m excited to see how this comes together.

Dark fabric Japanese Windmill

Lights Japanese Windmill

New Digs

I made a thing! A virtual thing, not a fabric thing. Keep up. A website. I mean, I hit a button and WordPress did most of the work, but I’ll take the credit. I’ve been very naughty and haven’t updated in what feels like aeons. I have some things to share, but all my good cameras are at the other end of the country. I’ve been staying with my Grandma and brought what was a quilt-in-bits with me, and I’m leaving with a quilt completed. It’s for a couple of friends – it was to welcome their new baby, but bubs is now five months old, so I’m more than a little behind. Still, it’s cute as heck and nice and bright so hopefully it’s well received. Have a couple of photos of it in various stages of done-ness.

Selection of Fat Quarters

Of course, it wouldn’t be a post from me without a picture of George helping.

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I’m trying to recall everything I’ve done since I last updated. I’ve changed jobs, and my boyfriend has moved in (so the quilt for his bed has become the quilt for our bed). I’ve travelled a lot (including to Western Samoa, but that’s another post and another set of photos of the beautiful fabrics I picked up there) and I’ve been talking to a friend who runs a collective studio about renting a workspace where I could have a real table to do my sewing at, and the ability to leave my projects set up. I also have to move out of my house while it gets brought up to the new building code to make it earthquake-safe and it would be nice not to have to put my sewing on hold while that happens.

And of course I’ve moved here! FuKiTu, in case you’re wondering, is a shortened version of ‘Fluffy Kitten Tummies’ kind of a running joke about my cat obsession taken a little too seriously.

Finished Post and Rail Baby Quilt.

I finished up the post and rail quilt I mentioned in my previous post last night. Have a stack of photos:

A better view of the backing fabric

Pinning the layers together in preparation for quilting (in my itsy bitsy lounge):

This is the first time I’ve had to piece batting for a quilt (the shop near my work had a tiny bit of woollen/cotton blend batting left when I went in). It’s the first time I’ve used woollen batting before, and the lanolin smell reminded me of my mother’s neglected spinning wheel from when I was a kid and of the sheep our neighbour used to herd across our driveway.

I’m really happy with how the finished product came out:

All prettied up with a bow:

As for my other projects on the go, I think I’m going to use the spare batting I have kicking around to fiiiinally get more of the cathederal window quilt underway. It’s probably about half done now, so I think another couple of weekend’s work will knock it out.

I also sort of threw in the towel with trying to hand quilt the entire rainbow quilt. I’ve had it sitting on my boyfriend’s bed for the last month, and I’ve done bits and pieces of quilting whenever I went over but after seeing how quickly the baby quilt came together with machine quilting I decided to finish it off on machine this afternoon. It’s a bit less than ideal trying to snuggle into a quilt covered in safety pins, and the colours (surprisingly) work well with the lime/purple colour scheme of his walls.

As you can see, my sewing table is very small and the quilt is very big. It’s been quite pleasant having it draped across me while I work though, as Wellington has decided to sleet on everything.

Naturally when it came time to attach the binding George was committed to being a jerk helping

Finished photos due soon, when the quilt is actually finished (and when it’s on a bed since my lounge is too tiny for a proper photo.) Of course, if the quilt lives at Bernie’s house I’ll need to make another one for my bed – I happened across some really richly coloured bedspreads from Urban Outfitters the other day, so now I’m thinking maybe a sea of greens or reds and oranges for my next full size quilt.

New WIP

I got my latest parcel from Hawthorne Threads yesterday and was SO excited. I’m making a baby quilt (the one I mentioned in my last post) and I’m so glad the fabric arrived quickly. I got started cutting last night, and thought I’d show off the fabrics I’ve picked out before posting progress pics.

I’m making a basic post and rail design, nice and bright and in quite neutral colours (yellow, green and orange/red palattes). The design is inspired by this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts. Photos are from my phone, so some are a little funky colour wise, but:

Greens, including Tula Pink’s turtle bay and Amy Butler Delhi Blossoms in Lime.

I can’t get over how cute the elephant/turtle combo is:

Yellows (or yellow-ish):

And orange/reds, including some of Anna Maria Horner’s Field Study and a cute piece from Jennifer Paganelli which was on sale:

Plus this Bohemian Soul for the white accent stripes:

and this for the backing:

I’m looking forward to getting started on and finishing a smaller piece while I’m still chipping away at hand quilting my giant rainbow quilt.