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.

Close up 1 CQ

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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

Japanese Cottons in Melbourne

Japanese Cottons stack

I have been lucky enough to visit Melbourne for work this last week and while here I’ve done a little fabric shopping! I stopped into Kimono House on Swanston Street and picked up several Japanese cottons, which I’m planning to make into a quilt top over the next month.

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Japanese Cottons stack

I also bought some fat quarters from L’ucello one floor down from Kimono House and I expect I will stop by again before I leave. No idea yet what I’m going to make from them, at this stage I think I’m really just stash building. I can’t resist a good polkadot.

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Two weeks ago I stayed with my grandma and finished off the drunkards path quilt in orange and green while she was working away at a cable sweater for me. As a result I have had knitting on my mind recently. While researching places to find quilt fabrics in Melbourne I happened upon plenty of mentions of Morris and Sons and couldn’t resist starting a more portable project to teach myself to knit cables. I picked up two hand dyed skeins from Manos del Uruguay and some pretty wooden needles and googled some tutorials.  Here is the result so far:

Manos Wool

Red cabled scarf

It started as a test and turned into a scarf, probably for my partner’s Mum. I don’t think knitting will ever be a major hobby of mine the way quilting is,  but I enjoy having projects I can pick up and carry with me when I travel.

For the rest of my time here I think I’ll be seeing some sights when I have time and trying to see some Fringe Festival shows – I’ve been told to check out Deeply Leisured while it is playing. I took a few days at the end of my trip as a holiday so I can celebrate my 25th birthday here with friends who I don’t see often. A very fortunate and auspicious quarter century.)

I’m still waiting for confirmation but I hope I’ll have some exciting personal news to share in my next post (I’ll say up front it is definitely not a pregnancy in case anyone gets the wrong idea though…)

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.

That Quilt I Talked About Last Year

So last November I started making this quilt top. It took slightly longer than I thought and I then folded it up and it lived on the end of my couch for about four months. I fiiiiinally had enough coin to buy the batting and backing fabric (it’s a mammoth – 2.4m wide and almost 3m long, so batting wasn’t cheap.) I went luxe-ish, nice cotton batting which I’m liking so far (similar to this: Warm Company Batting ), and has made for a really smooth quilt which rolls and folds well. Complicating things further was the fact that the quilt top is bigger than the open space in the biggest room in my house:

George helped a lot, of course.

So, once I had a quilt top I had to find a space large enough to lay it flat and baste together the layers of the quilt, prior to the actual quilting. My lovely boyfriend has a studio about 20 minutes walk from my house so one Sunday night we went there to spread out the quilt He took photos!

I also took a perspective shot, approximately 300 safety pins in:

I opted for the safety pin method of basting, essentially because I am quite lazy and because I’m hand tying the quilt so I don’t need to worry about negotiating them with a machine. Speaking of, I think I have some latent masochistic tendancies because hand tying a quilt this size suddenly seems like not such a fabulous idea, 1/30th of the way in. BUT this this is cute as hell and I have it draped over me while I’m working so it isn’t all bad.

In new project news, a friend is having a baby quite soon so I just went a little nuts on Hawthorne Fabrics again. I’m excited about working on a baby quilt, just because I’m keen to have something that comes together quickly. I’m also on the look out for a nice fabric to bind the giant rainbow quilt with, suggestions in the comments welcome.

Adding another WIP to the pile.

Oops. It has been another Very Long Time since I updated. I am about to embark on a new quilt top project, but this one will be very simple. I got a collection of Amy Butler prints from Hawthorne Threads for my birthday back in October and told myself I wouldn’t cut in to them until after my exams (in November.) Well my exams are done now, and tonight is super simple quilt top night, as decreed by me, chief sewer in the house. I’m hoping to whip this (WIP this? Hahaha, I’m here all week, try the veal!) all together tonight and maybe even start the quilting tomorrow. My last WIP is on standby (the cathedral window quilt) because I ran out of batting. It’s around halfway done, though and maybe I can finish it up in time to be a Christmas present. It deserves some new photos, at any rate. The inspiration for tonight’s quilt is this beauty. I love rainbows and big patterns and getting things done quickly because I am impatient. Ideal. See you in a few hours, blog.

Always Come Crawling Back (WIP Edition Remix.)

I’m back, with a few photos and a few good intentions. I’m working on a new quilt (aren’t you surprised) and it’s a long way from finished (the shock continues!!) I’m using black poplin as the frame for a basic cathedral window quilt – the finished squares are 17cmx17cm.

As you can see I’m still not a fan of little fussy patterns or pastel colours. I’m mixing designers like a mofo on this one too, so if it’s going to trouble you to see some Amy Butler next to some hand dyed charm squares I picked up from a local seller then move along. Last night was pretty productive, really, hampered only by my little friend trying to help me feed the fabric through the machine.

Photos! To make up for this morning’s text only post. I was as good as my word(s) though and finished off the corset. Here’s an aerial view.

Plus some close ups of the crystals. They’re Swarovski hot fix in ‘crystal volcano’ and they change from red to purple to green to gold. Looooovely. Even if my sister has accused me of ‘going all pageant mum’ with my recent fondness for sparkle. (To be honest, I’m beginning to doubt her commitment to sparkle motion…)

Soundtrack while I was applying the crystals was a bit more pop than my usual. The last week I’ve been playing Patrick Stump’s solo releases high rotate. I’ve particularly fond of Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia). Go listen to that and imagine me dancing to it at bus stops all week and awkwardly stopping when someone else walks along the street. I decided that you can’t bedazzle things while listening to Anthrax, so my entire afternoon has been songs I can shake my ass too.

Back to the corset though, here’s a view of the hand bound eyelets I mentioned. I considered going over with a second layer of thread to hide the brass totally, but decided I sort of like it being visible.

And the contrast lining:

Hopefully I can put up a picture of my sister wearing it when I give it to her in a fortnight’s time.

I also got a bit more done on the quilt-in-progress I’m working on. I ran out of thread, otherwise I’d have gotten a bit more sewn up tonight.

I’m kind of loving how quickly the herringbone pattern comes together. I reckon I can probably knock out the whole thing in a few hours of solid sewing. (Except it won’t be happening tomorrow because, as I discovered a few weeks back, buying thread in Wellington on a Sunday? Not A Thing.