Thursday, April 30, 2015

Its a Goal!! April Goal Wrap up and setting my May Goals

April is over and I have to say... Success! Yes I accomplished ALL of my April Goals. I didn't think I would given how things were looking with a week to go but have made great strides this week. They are listed in my sidebar but to recap.

 Complete blocks 13-16 in the POD challenge. Done.

Mug Rug Swap item - done

Test Pattern project - Done

Scrapitude Clue 4- Done

Star Block done

Work on Judy's Bluebird Quilt -done. This month I have sashed all the blocks and put them together. Haven't started the borders yet.

Blogging A to Z Challenge. - done. I put up a blog post every day. I was able to relate all my posts to my patchwork in some way. It was lots of fun

Blue Pinwheel Quilt. I finished sewing the binding today. My finger is a bit sore as I forgot to take my thimble with me to our get together but its done

And now for MAY

New month coming up... a whole new slate on which to write. I am not going to write a blog post every day but hopefully I can get back into my regular blog writing. I'll make that a goal

  • Blog regularly - WIP Wednesday, Fitness Friday and Sunday Stash Report for a start with Monday Musing/Tuesday Museday thrown in. Throwback Thursday... maybe but going to have to go to topics other than quilts.
But on a quilting note

  • Well firstly there will be the POD blocks. Have to get them all done. There will be 5 of them (including the one that was released today. I DID NOT include that in my April Goals - I was being realistic) That's blocks 17- 21
  • Judy's Bluebird Quilt. I almost have the top together. I would love to get it finished for my sister to be able to take it back to Sydney with her after her towards the end of May. So Finish Bluebird Quilt
  • Scrapitude Charlotte will release the last clue in Scrapitude this month. That will be the putting together along with the borders and sashing. I hope that I can get the top put together this month... or at least do some work on it.
  • Sew 2 blocks from the 2012 Amy Gibson BOM Craftsty class.
  • Make Fangirl's Doctor Who Quote cross stitch into a wall hanging for her swap
  • ANZAC related entry for the show

I am going to be away for 10 days this month (at least) I leave on Sunday to fly to Melbourne to be with our oldest son,  Massage Man (whose name must change since he is no longer doing the massage course) He is having 4 wisdom teeth out next week and I'm going to look after him. Once he is on the road to recovery (hopefully by Sunday) I will fly to Sydney and have a couple of days with my mum and see my sisters before flying home again.  Then not long after I get back one of my sisters is coming to visit. She is also a crafter so sitting and stitching with her won't be a problem but in her 10 days here we are planning a couple of overnight trips... so that is going to cut into sewing time. To this end I am planning on a hand stitching project. Not sure quite which one yet. I have some Doctor Who ones and also a gorgeous pattern from my sister-in-law Christine concerning a sewing room. Might do both.

  • Hand Stitching project - trace off patterns and stitch them
Given I am going away I had better call it quits there or I will be putting myself under too much pressure! I might add though
  • Watch at least one Craftsy class right through. I have them all downloaded to my iPad now and with the travel and being away from home I may find some time to get some watching in

Z is for zippers and also Zee End

I never really like them. I had to insert one when making a pencil case in my needlework class in first year at high school. I didn't really get how I did it and it looked pretty lumpy and ugly as I recall. And it was stressful. And I didn't like it. AT ALL

I didn't do much sewing on machines after that class for many years. I enjoyed handwork... crotchet, embroidery and eventually cross stitch.

My first sewing machine was one my husband and I bought for $20 from a Lifeline shop in Sydney shortly after we were married. It was a treadle singer sewing machine He restored the machine, first smoothing off the wood then varnishing it. He painted the metal parts black and it became a beautiful piece of furniture Our small tv used to sit on it. I didn't sew with it. I think my husband used it more than I did. 

We've owned this machine now for over 30 years. The belt needs to be replaced for it to work again. Since restoring this machine wonderful Fixit Guy has also restored his mother's treadle sewing machine. She was going to throw it out. I said I'd have it. FG said why, and I said cause I love them. He ended up restoring it and giving it back to her. Its still in her home, after her death but the wider family know its mine! I have also now got my aunt's treadle sewing machine. no work has been done on it yet but I have high hopes for it. :) 

I hadn't realised what beautiful paint work the Singer had till getting it out to photograph for this post. Its beautiful... needs some attention (like a dust for starters)

The Christmas our second child turned 1 Fixit Guy bought me a Janome sewing machine. I don't know what prompted him to do it. I don't recall asking for it but perhaps I did. Shortly afterwards we moved to a new town. One of the first shops I went into was the Knitwit Shop... a specialty stretch fabric shop. It was owned by a friend of a friend and I had been asked to drop something off to her. On impulse I signed up for classes. I knew no one in town. I had no commitments. (Unlike where we had just moved from where I was super  busy with various things I was involved in) All I had to do was find some child care. 

I loved it. I loved being able to make things for myself and my kids. Sewing stretch was easy. No buttonholes. NO ZIPs. I was a regular at all the different classes they ran over the next few years till the shop closed. I kept making jumpers, pjs, track suits etc for the kids and myself till fashions changed and tracksuits were no longer considered designer gear (and I had 2 more kids to chase and no time or energy)

About 12 years after I became a Knit Wit  a friend took me along to a patchwork sewing class. I had no intention of becoming addicted to this form of sewing... but I did. I loved it. I loved the endless fabric choices and patterns and design choices. And again ... NO ZIPS. 

Last year I did a workshop with a tutor. Sue. We made Tumbling Blocks pattern and her suggestion was we turn my blocks into a Brick Bag... with a zip. I was nervous. She was persuasive. She stood by my side directing my every move. I sewed where she said. She pinned the next bit... I sewed as directed and... we ended up with a very nice Brick Bag. I was thrilled.

But... she left no written instructions and for the life of me I couldn't remember what we had done. Still I had made a very nice brick bag with a zipper. Clever me.

That was it. I thought.

Then at some point... some how... I came across this tutorial on YouTube from the Missouri Star Quilt Company for a little zipper pouch. I really like Jenny Doan. She explains things well. Simply. She shows you. She doens't pretend she's perfect and sometimes she has little errors and she shows you how to fix them. I loved this tutorial. I could do that I thought. So I did. I had a go. I played the video through. Again. I paused it. I did one step. I played a bit more and paused again. I sewed a bit more.

And lo and behold I had made another little zipper pouch. Cool. I made another one. I could watch the video again and off I went... I used up the zips I had. I had to order some more (Ebay is my friend)

Our quilt group went on a friendship visit to a neighbouring group and when they heard that I was part of a craft group sewing things for a charity they showed me all sorts of little things that they make to sell on stalls and at markets. Including a brick bag. So similar to the one I had made with Sue last year. Exactly the same. They explained how it was done and it all came back to me.

Back home again I sewed another brick bag. I had my other one there as a sample to help me step through the process.

And I did it. I made 2 more brick bags for the stall.

I found another pattern on Noodlehead's website that I really liked The Open Wide Zippered Pouch

Picture from Noodlehead website

I went a bit wrong with mine but I am keen to have another go. I had to wait for more zippers to come in. The ones I had ordered had all been on the small side ( 7" -9")

I ended up making 9 little zipper pouches for the Handmade With Love Stall at the Our Rainbow House afternoon tea plus the 2 brick bags. And there were 3 I kept for myself as well.

You can see my zipper pouches in the pile at the front of the stall. They sold well apparently

And you want to know something really funny? Someone one read my blog, saw my pictures of zipper pouch and other little things I had made on it and asked me to pattern test for a new book coming out in Fall 2016. I had my choice of patterns and I chose.... a cute bag with a zipper. I can't post pictures of it... but its super cute and I made it. So cool.

Can you believe it. I have bought 3 bundles of zippers.. the last one had 50 in them. Obviously I'm going to be making heaps of bags and zipper pouches. What a turn around

WIP Wednesday

Time for quilting has been a bit short over the last few weeks. Boyo was home over Easter and whilst I did some sewing whilst he was here it was more limited. Then we were packing and getting ready to go to Malaysia for a week at the same time I was working on getting my A to Z Blogging Challenge posts written before we left so that they could go up while we were away.

One way and another time was short.

Then we got home and I went back to work full time for a week. That was a bit of shock to the system when I haven't worked fulltime for a few years. Whilst I had some time to sew in the evenings I needed to get my sewing mojo back up and running again... and I didn't have the energy.

So... finally on the weekend I had the time to spend sewing. I was delighted to get  back to Clue 4 Scrapitude. This month's clue saw us putting the blocks together. They have turned out really well.

I was on a roll. On Sunday I tackled the Block 14 of the POD challenge and Monday Block 15 and Tuesday Block 16! All ready for Block 17 to come out Thursday.  

I then decided to have a go at quilting the Blue Pinwheel quilt that I have put together for our quilt group. I was really pleased that I got the whole top done Tuesday evening, and got the binding machined on. Now I have started hand stitching it down.

Today I was off to our quilt group for the morning and I was able to work on the Bluebird quilt I am making for my niece Judy. The embroideries were designed by my sister in law Christine and they were stitched by my sister Joy. Judy is her daughter. I got the blocks trimmed up and have started to stitch on the sashing so I'm making good progress.

Its great to be back into my sewing AND now I have almost finished ALL my April goals. All I have to do is get the rest of that binding stitched down and I will be done!. Yay. Go me

WIP Wednesday        WIPs on Wednesday

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

A Lovely Year of Finishes - APRIL

This is not my Blogging A to Z posting. That will be the one before or one after it

At the beginning of this month I knew I had a really busy time coming up so I chose a very simple project, a small one that I knew I had to complete, for my project for A Lovely Year of Finishes.

I chose the mug rug that I had to make for a swap as my project. I chose to cut into my very special Australian Wildflower fabrics for this since it was going overseas to a lovely Twilter. I fussy cut the cream background fabric to showcase 5 different Australian wildflowers.

The backing fabric featured gum leaves. I loved the fabric and so did the recipient (I can't find the photos I took so these are ones that Gretchen took and put on Twitter)

Now I have to decide what I am going to do for my ALYOF project for May

Y is for Year Quilts

Early on in my quilting journey I joined an online quilting group called Southern Cross Quilters. Through this group I learned about Year Quilts and I signed up to make one in 2003, my earliest opportunity. 

Making a year quilt involved two things. Firstly keeping a diary. I had never been very good at this but for the next few years when I participated in the year quilt I kept one. For each day, each diary entry the participant chose a piece of fabric to represent the day. A scrap of the fabric was glued into the diary next to the entry and the rest of it was incorporated into a quilt, which was the second part of the deal.

The quilt was pieced over the course of the year and at the end of the year you would have a complete quilt (or at least when ever you finished putting the quilt together you would have a quilt)

The above is example is from my first year quilt in 2003. The back of the quilt featured fabric my daughter bought me back from her year in Malaysia as an exchange student along with the signature blocks that fellow year quilters exchanged that year.

Selection of the fabric could be made on whatever basis you wanted so long as you justified it in your journal. Special days were often much easier than ordinary days and sometimes the connections were very tenuous or forced. I admit that at times I would go and do something on a day just so I could use a particular fabric I had, or to at least have something that I could use. Days I sewed were always good as I could use a piece of the fabric I had been working with. Easy.

We had a special email group online, a subgroup from SCQ, to talk about how we were going and especially to swap fabrics. Once a month we had a special swap. Participants would send it up to 6 pieces (6.5" square) of 5 different fabrics and we would get back 30 different pieces of fabric. The fabric was always picture fabric, sometimes known as conversation  or eye-spy fabric. This way we could build up a stash of fabric from which to choose.

Over the years that I participated I chose several different designs for my quilts. The first year I made calendar blocks, set out just like that years calendar.

Another year I made a jar quilt design with each jar being a week and the different fabrics layered into the jar.  At the moment I can't find the quilt and it seems I didn't take a photo of it which is both surprising and disappointing. I hope it turns up. Must be hiding in a cupboard somewhere.

2006 we were going overseas for 7 weeks so I wanted a hand project so did quilt as you go (QAYG) hexagons.

2007 was my final year. I started doing very small pieces to make a wall hanging as I felt I had enough big quilts. I never finished it. The design went crooked and my heart wasn't in it and I stopped writing the diary and it all fell apart. I still have the couple of months worth of pieces I had stitched in my UFO pile. I hope to incorporate it into a quilt backing one day

A legacy from my year quilts includes 3 sliding drawers full of picture fabrics. I used to sort the squares into categories to make it easier to select what I wanted for each day. These fabrics have formed the basis of many eye spy quilts that I have made over the years since then.

I might try making another year quilt one day if there is a special year coming up. Till then I'll continue to raid my stash of picture fabric for other quilts.

Hope you all are having a good year

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

X as in x(cross) Stitching

I bet I am not alone is struggling with X for this blog. Often in this Blogging challenge the challenge for me has been choosing between any one of a number or equally excellent topics to write about for a particular letter. But for today's X, its been coming up with anything!

I am going to cheat and I bet I'm not alone in that! And in cheating I have two choices. (Well perhaps not cheat, but certainly stretch a point!)

The first is X stitching... ie cross stitching. I am not totally cheating with that use as I once belonged to an online group that used to used that short form in their name and we referred to ourselves as Xers (interestingly, since it was written I would pronounce that as Exers whilst others, when we had a meet up in person called us Crossers). I can't find it or any reference to it on line now so its probably folded long since. 

Anyway... I used to do a lot of cross stitching. I was a cross stitcher way before I got into patchwork. I taught or at least encouraged my daughter (known as Fangirl on this blog) in her cross stitching. I know that whilst she was learning and for a few years there after (a good few years thereafter) she had free reign over my cross stitching stash.I ended up giving it all to her in the finish as I had stopped doing it and she was forging ahead.

 Now she is the cross stitcher in the family and completes amazing projects. She designs and sell her own patterns. Check out her blog and her Etsy shop (there is a link in my side bar) I don't do much cross stitching any more. Anything I need I ask Fangirl to do (as they say Why have a dog and bark yourself). I do a bit of needlework occasionally, mainly to incorporate into my patchwork designs but cross stitching is a bit fine for me.
My last major cross stitch pattern completed in 2002

The other X is in SEX
Don't get excited. Or shocked if you are one of my regular readers who didn't think I was that sort of person to talk about sex on my blog. In quilting circles it can have a whole different meaning

SEX = Stash Enhancing eXperience (or eXcursion)  Definition from Slikstitchers

Patchwork groups sometimes arrange Sex tours when they are on a retreat or at a conference or national gathering. Its when the group tours a number of local quilting and patchwork shops. Sometimes there are special deals or discounts offered. Sometimes morning or afternoon tea is organised to happen at the shop. Sometimes there is a mini class or tutorial organised. It totally depends on the organisers and local shops as to what they come up with. I have never been on one fo these organised tours as such so can't really comment too much. 

I have been on some private seX tours.... when we took our oldest son to Brisbane for university Fixit Guy and I stayed on for a week whilst he settled in. I was still pretty new to quilting then and had looked up a number of Local Quilt Shops (LQS) and worked out how to get from one to another. Fixit Guy patiently drove me from one to another whilst I had a little browse in each one.

Trouble is - I really prefer shopping when there is something I want or need. I have never been overly good at buying things for the sake of getting something but when we had gone to all the trouble to visit a place it seemed a wasted opportunity not to buy something. Ideally if I ever get the opportunity to go on a private or organised seX tour I think I would enjoy it more if I were to have a project picked out - or else buy a pattern at the first stop and then look for something to use in that pattern at each stop. Or else have a list of things I need/want and again look for that at each shop.

When Fixit Guy and I had a 3 week tour of NSW back in 2013 after I got back from my trip to the UK I had such a pattern. I had bought the pattern in the UK just before this trip and when visiting patchwork shops in Canberra, Wagga and Coonabarabran I was looking for fabric to use in the quilt. You can read about the quilt that I made then in Teashop Open for Business

Monday, April 27, 2015

W is for WIPs

Patchworkers often talk about WIPs. They are no more into kinky stuff than your average woman but they often have lots of WIPs.

Works in Progress. That is projects that are currently under way and upon which progress is being made.

It is sometimes hard to distinguish between these two as all UFOs were WIPS at one point. The change over from one category to another happens when you stop making progress on a project and it slips off the table and into a cupboard and then gets buried in that said cupboard..

And then there are the projects that haven't been started. Patterns may have been bought and fabric pulled from the stash (or bought) but no cutting or stitching commenced. Or there is the panel that I have for which I have purchased coordinating fabric but no final project selected. So are they WIPs yet? I wasn't sure so I canvassed my quilting friends on social media to see what acronyms they used for these "almost projects".

PIGs was one they suggested... projects in grocery bags but I don't store projects in grocery bags - besides in Australia we call them plastic bags or shopping bags so that would make them  PIPBs or PISBs and that has no ring to it. I'd have to call them PIZBs (Projects in Ziplock Bags) or PIBs (Projects is Boxes)

Then someone suggested I google quilting acronyms and I came across Silk Stitches a site that had this page devoted to quilting Acronyms including these that cover that beginning stage
WHIMM = Works Hidden In My Mind
WIMM = Work in my mind
USO = UnStarted Object 
PIGs = Project In a Grocery Sack
PIPS = projects in process
PITS = Project In Totes
PIW = project in waiting (waiting to grow up to be a WIP)

Some quilters seem to glory in their WIPs and UFOs in that half ashamed but very proud way. Its almost like a badge of honour to some quilters. In my heart of hearts I am a finisher. I do like to get projects completed and don't tend to flit from one project to another. But I do have some projects that seem to have stalled for one reason or another.

A few years ago I realised that I had collected a lot of WIPS and UFOs and determined to do better. Along with a 12 month fabric diet I also had a project diet. I determined that I wasn't going to start anything new and I wasn't going to buy any fabric unless it was to finish off a project that I had already started. I did make a proviso that I could start a new project if that was a baby quilt for an expected great grandchild for my mum. When you are going for 12 months there is great potential for a baby project to crop up. It did with me (my gorgeous great Nephew Logan)

I started that project by firstly going through all my crafting cupboards and getting out all my projects and writing a list of them, noting what point they were at. I then picked one and worked on it till it was finished. I would note when the project moved from one point to another - pieced, borders on, pinned, quilted, bound and labelled. It was a great sense of satisfaction to complete a project and I got through a heap of them in the 12 months I gave myself. So much so that I continued on with it for a few extra months when the time was up. After that I moved myself into "Only buy fabric for a specific purpose diet and I also allowed myself to start new projects.

I had another sort through of the cupboards in January this year and came up with the new list that is currently on my side bar.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

V is for Variations

Only 4 more posts after this in the Blogging A to Z challenge. I'm so proud of myself for having made it through. Going to Malaysia in the middle of the month actually was a great help as I knew I had to get myself organised ahead of time and I actually had all of my blogs written before I left. I have done a bit of editing of them as they have gone up... sometimes after the fact when I have seen them "live" and realised that some were a bit clunky. My daughter Fangirl has read them each time and has alerted me (via text) of any spelling errors or typos or other errors that have needed to be edited. I've done the same with her blog. If you haven't read hers please do. She writes a geeky cross stitch can find her here at Fangirl Stitches

Variation is the spice of life.

Really there are only so many ways to cut up and rearrange fabric and sew them together again to make a quilt. Well really there are only so many patterns in the world but, because of the choices that the patchworker makes with regards to fabric, arrangement, and size of blocks and quilts, it does seem that the choices in patchwork are endless.

Since I got into patchworking in a big way... well bigger way, I have rarely been known to repeat a pattern. As a newbie quilter though I joined in a monthly block swap. They were all nine patch blocks but each month the theme for the fabrics used would change. I am not sure for how long I participated in these monthly swaps but it was for well over a year... perhaps 2. Each month I would make a number of sets of blocks (there were 5 blocks per set I think ... or maybe more. Can't remember now... too long ago) They would all be the same. I'd send them in to the co-ordinator and at the end of the swap I would get that same number of blocks back - blocks made by other participants so they would all be different.

Eventually I had to do something with those blocks. I was so busy making the blocks for the swap that I didn't get around to making any quilts from the sets I got back. I had gone from being a finisher of quilts to a maker of UFOs (Unfinished Objects. Projects begun but not completed and not currently being worked on.) Ultimately I  I dropped out of the swap and made myself work on getting those blocks I had already collected made into quilts
9-patch block named because it is made from 9 units sewn together in the basic 3x3 format.

I made in these swaps.They have been put together in different ways and combined with other blocks and so create a wide variation of quilt tops

One place I see a lot of variation is when our group has a block of the month project where we have a set pattern and colour scheme but participants are free to choose their own fabrics. We get some really interesting blocks then. Sometimes there is a bit of variation in size too which can cause some headaches for the person who puts the quilt together.

Currently I am putting together a quilt for our group made from blocks made by various members. Its been quite challenging!! you can see the same block made in lots of different colour ways in this quilt.

Pinwheel block

The back is made from some "Bonus blocks" These were other blocks we made for other months that were made in the wrong colour. (by me... oops)

At a retreat I attended a few years ago we had a shirt challenge. Participants bought men's cotton shirts from 2nd had shops and these were cut up into 5 pieces. We were put into groups and swapped the shirt fabric between us so that we all ended up with a piece of every shirt in our group. We then had a year to make a quilt from the fabric. We were allowed to use other fabric as well but the idea was to use a piece of every shirt in our quilt. I called mine the Shirt off my Back series and ended up making 4 quilts. The fabric I added was all recycled fabric - lots of it was sheets and other linen from my Aunts estate. We had a reveal the following year at our retreat and it is amazing to see the huge variation of quilts made from the same fabric.

I took photos of the quilts but have to admit that I can't remember which quilts were from my group and which were from other groups. It doesn't really matter though. You can just enjoy them

First of all - my 4 quilts. I called these
1. Sombre Brown

I gave it to my brother in law for his 70th birthday (it was only a year or two late)

2 Sombre Blue. 

This was also a gift for another brother in law, also for his 70th birthday. I was only 6 months late with this one!

 3 Not so Sombre Stars for Derek. This was made for a friend who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkins Lymphoma last year. He had a pretty rough trot and I made the quilt for him.

The back of the quilt was signature squares - messages from family and friends with in our church. The surrounding fish fabric was significant as Derek loves fishing. Again all the fabric in ths quilt was either recycled or came from my scrap basket

4.Sombrero Stars. This quilt went into my cupboard for 6 months and then in February this year I gave it to the minister of a church that is in a community that was hit hard by a cyclone. I have told her to use it however she likes - give it to a needy family, sell it, raffle it... whatever. I am not sure what its final home is yet

The quilts below were made from the shirt fabrics. I am not sure which ones were in my group - at least some of them were :)