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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My Most Successful Selfie Yet PLUS a Quilting Convention

A gorgeous friend of mine, Robbie, is always immaculately dressed and because he is both generous and extremely well put together he allowed me to take a look at one of his (I think) most excellent pieces with the express purpose of purloining a small bit of his style for myself. It’s a beautiful draped woollen cloak which he found in a second hand store in Tauranga and it’s precisely the kind of gender-neutral drapery I have been lusting after for some time now. Taking inspiration from that I made some changes to make the design my own, including using a knit fabric so it would have a little more body and bounce to it and making it quite a lot longer because I have a fondness for dramatic swooping and set to work. I picked up heavy 100% Merino from The Fabric Store who are lovely and also about 10 minutes from my studio (convenient) and then, buoyed by my own successes in making a cape-cloak which I can also use to take a nap in naturally set to work taking selfies.

Anyway, I apparently underestimated the degree to which my pals (particularly on Twitter) also need an outfit for dramatic swooping and impromptu naps because this has far and away been my most successful selfie yet – I’ve had three orders come through. I look forward to making the look du jour for Wellington an elegant nap blankie, and with that in mind popped a listing up on Etsy right here if you would like one for yourself.

Other things I’ve been up to in the last few weeks include attending the Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne last week. This is the second year I’ve gone and sadly I didn’t have time to take quite as many photos as I would have liked this time around, but I did pick up some useful bits and pieces. I’m making a commissioned single bed size quilt in blues, blacks and whites and grabbed some nice fat quarters for that.

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I also grabbed a rotating cutting board which I’m very excited about for squaring up blocks. While trying to be lazy/speedy the other day I ran over my knuckle with a rotary cutter because I was trying to cut sideways, so hopefully I can avoid more sewing injuries now I have it.

I also took a quick look around the exhibition side of things and was very taken with this (it has a rainbow gradient in it, I know you’re all shocked.) It’s called Dear Angela, made by Phil Thomas and is hand pieced and hand quilted.

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I do have to say, since it would be kind of remiss not to mention this, that I would really appreciate it if the AQC declined to let exhibitors/vendors sell Golliwogs at the show. As far as I could see it was just one table, but boy they really went all out in terms of every possible textile craft in which one might want to make a super-racist children’s toy. I kind of can’t believe this is still seen as a remotely? Acceptable? Thing? in 2016 but apparently the AQC didn’t think it was worth mentioning. Quilting in general seems to skew very white and towards an older demographic, which I think is a great shame, particularly given the histories of quilting within non-white cultures and communities (and in fairness there were some great vendors selling fabrics from Japan at the show, including Wabi-Sabi Designs so it’s not like this was completely missing from the convention) . But y’know, maybe the community as a whole would be a bit more welcoming and open if the first thing you see upon entering a convention wasn’t a whole table full of racist caricatures.

Anyway, I kind of hate ending a post on a bum note, because I try to use sewing and quilting as an escape from a lot of my studies and work which often involves grappling with very depressing and grim topics, but I also feel pretty strongly you shouldn’t opt out of critiquing problematic stuff just because it’s inconvenient. (Some time I’m going to really have a spew on here about my frustration with having to sift through stacks and stacks of fabrics which appropriate traditional designs without attribution, but that’s a post for another day.)

In Which I Finish One Thing, and Threaten to Start Several More

It’s no great secret my WiP pile is constantly raging out of control, but this month I have a finish to show you! (Actually, I had two – but the photos I took of the baby quilt from last month are hidden somewhere among my hoard of SD cards, so they’re pending…)

The coat I showed some progress on over the last few months is finally finished! I created it with the intention of it being kind of sculptural, cocoon like and not necessarily conforming to the shape of my body. Clothing as armour or exoskelton I suppose.

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In the end I actually found this worked nicely as a flowing coat/cape too though.

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And the ridiculously high collar/neckline is nice for hiding from the world.

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The little baby quilt I made was well received  – I got an adorable snap from my friend on Christmas day of his nephew giggling away on it. I’m contemplating buying a stack of half yards and complementary creams and whites to start work on some new large quilts too. I’ve told myself I can’t begin them until I finally (finally) finish the binding on the brown and green chevron quilt that’s been quietly waiting in my lounge for six months and done the quilting on the inverse twin of the hexagon rainbow gradient quilt I made last May.

In the mean time, here’s the approximate pull I’m planning for my next projects:

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I just caught up on my backlog of reading from December and reading through some of my favourite blog’s 2015 recaps has been a pleasure. One particular highlight was this post from Jaybird Quilts. I love rainbow fabrics, I love colour gradients, I love jewel tones and chevrons and seeing her photos was like having some deep part of my psyche massaged.

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.

No Escape from Christmas

Good (very early) morning. I’m writing this in an airport and soon I’m going to court the sort of curiosity knitting in public always piques by rolling a skein of yarn up into a ball. For now though I figured I’d fill you in on what I’ve been doing lately.

I’ve basted and started quilting together Indigo Pinwheels. As you can see, little fibres from the Warm and Natural Cotton Batting have clung to the quilt top – I’m liking it better for dense quilting, but the shedding is quite annoying.

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Here you can see my high tech painters tape solution to keep the backing still while I baste it all together.

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After trimming there’s usually a 2″ border of batting and backing to account for shrinkage as I quilt. Folded corner unbound

I chose sympathetic but not actually matching patterns for the back and the binding. I’ve only started quilting – still several hours to go I expect – but at this stage I’m running very very large checks along the squares and densely quilting one pinwheel out of each square.

Backing and binding

I usually try to keep my baby quilts fairly lightly quilted so they’re soft and snuggly (although this is personal preference only) so it’s nice to have a more adult styled quilt where I can make use of a more densely quilted style.

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Densely quilted back

Something else I’ve done this month has been to make some minor edits to a skirt. When I bought it, it fit nicely around my hips and butt but was too big in the waist (just fractionally) and a smidge too long.

Before side Before front

You can see that the waist gapes at the back a little and the skirt hits right on my knee. I added two small, short darts at the centre back and then just did a simple blind hem to lift the length by about an inch.

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It’s a fairly small change but I feel like it’s made the whole skirt a lot more flattering and fixed up the lines.

One more little update (to explain the title). I went yarn shopping yesterday, intending to buy some yarn, a pattern and some needles to knit a little baby jumper. I’m not a big fan of the blue-for-boys, pink-for-girls, or of pastels in general so I went fairly bright:

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I picked up the skein from the Holland Road Yarn Company, stopping by their store in the Grand Arcade in Wellington. If you’re a local and you like yarn crafts then I highly recommend a visit. I meant to stop in for 15 minutes but spent probably an hour talking about patterns and being a fake lefty (I knit backwards) with Jen. The yarn I went with has the loveliest hand – supremely smooth and I can’t wait to begin knitting with it. I also picked up a bright red cotton because the colour was too nice to pass up.

It wasn’t until I got it home that I realised I’d inadvertently bought some Christmas colours.

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I don’t have an exact pattern in mind yet for the cotton, but maybe a loose and lacy hat, or a scarf. Something light to make the most of the colour.