Monday, January 31, 2011


I've never really been interested in the hexagon quilting fashion. Not sure why, it just never grabbed me....until now.

I've been following Want it, Need it, Quilt!, and I found out about the Inchy Hexagon Flower Swap. Normally this wouldn't interest me, except for the ever so cute hexagon flower with owls on it that QuiltJane received.

I almost want to sign up (they're taking a few new people), but I really don't think I should commit to anything else so far this year... especially considering I've never done english paper piecing before. Maybe I should make some cute ones for myself and get some practice in, then next year I can join in one of these swaps.

Might add a packet of the paper templates to my shopping list for the next craft show.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Birdie Stitches Block 1

This block was posted at the beginning of the  month, but since I only decided to start it on Friday, I've only just finished it.  Still in time, since there is a whole day left before Febuary starts!

I'll actually be sort of behind with all the blocks since I intend to work on them at my once a month craft days and these usually take place in the middle of the month (or later).

In the background you can see where I've cut up the strips for the rest of the blocks.  I'm going to sew up all the blocks in the next month and then they're ready to go when I want to start the embroidery.  Hopefully then I'll be able to finish each block in the one day.  Yesterday I didn't get it completely finished because I was spending time sewing up the block, tracing the design and binding my embroidery hoop.

Also, I decided the yellow thread I had bought was not really bright enough for the design and the border fabric.  It was too difficult to distinguish it from the cream thread, so today I headed to Spotlight and bought a brighter colour (which you can see the bird done in the picture).

I have put iron-on pellon (Vilene H630) behind the design.  This gives it a nice texture to the stitchery, and also helps to hide the threads in the back when you carry them across the design.  I found it made the whole process much easier, but harder to put my finger on why.  I think I will be doing this (or something similar) for all future stitcheries.  Only thing I have to work out now is how to iron it and get out all those wrinkles around the snowman.  I washed the block in cold water after sewing it because I'd used a wash out marker for the design, but now it all looks a bit crumpled.  Any suggestions?  Or should I not worry about it until I get to putting the whole top together and go to quilt it?

So that's 1 of 12 down.... I can't wait for next month to see the design.  Luckily I will only have to wait a few days to see it, but then I have to wait about two weeks till I can sew it!  I also need to buy a bigger embroidery hoop.  I had to sew the snowman and then move the hoop to sew the bird.  My next hoop up is far too big.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How many projects can a person do at one time?

So I found an excuse to talk myself into doing the Birdie Stitches block of the month!  I have a once a month craft gathering with my friends and hand sewing is best so we can all sit around the family room.  I don't have any hand sewing projects on the go at the moment, so I decided I could do the BOM and each time we meet this year I can work on the stitcheries.

I've decided to use the Me and My Sister Favourites (by Moda) jelly roll that I bought from Green Fairy Quilts a while ago.  I'm using plain white for the stitchery backgrounds, and have only altered the recommended thread colours slightly, choosing colours a shade brighter to go with my fabric.

So stay tuned for monthly updates on that one.  I need to go now and iron my fabric after prewashing, and cut out a square to start stitching tomorrow.  Not sure if I'll get time tonight to put the border on it, but I'd like to get all the borders done at some point before I have to do any of the following months stitcheries.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

QLD Flood Relief

I know I'm a bit slow on the uptake here... but I got there eventually and I guess that's the main thing

Make it Perfect started an idea which got the whole world crafting, bidding and donating!  Many people in the craft blog world have been having auctions and raffles to raise money for Qld Flood Relief.

The auctions all finished yesterday and I was lucky enough to win Dave the Giraffe from BusyBsewBiz.

Unfortunately due to our current financial situation I couldn't participate in many auctions that I would have liked, the prices just went too high.  Which of course is brilliant for the flood relief effort.  I believe the auctions so far have raised tens of thousands of dollars.

Some other crafty types have been having raffles rather than auctions.  You need to make a $5 donation to the Flood Relief fund and then post your receipt number and you get one entry in the raffle.  This is more in my price range at the moment.  These raffles don't end till midday tomorrow so you've still got a chance if you want to help out the cause.  Of course you can still donate after tomorrow and help the cause, but you just don't stand the chance to win some really cute handmade goods or craft supplies.

Head on over to Make It Perfect's master list of raffles and see if there isn't something that takes your fancy.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Civil War block 4: Texas Tears

This block turned out to be a little challenging.  A few other people said they had trouble getting the size right.  One said their block finished up at 8 3/4" square rather than 8 1/2", and another said theirs ended up 8 1/4".  I'd seen this before I started making mine (thanks to the time difference between here and the US) so I went in knowing that I had to be careful with my seams etc.

Mine still didn't come out right, it's more like 8 1/4" x 8 1/2".  I redid one of the seams, but when it came out exactly the same I decided to just live with what I have.  Hopefully I can make up for the slightly short side when I come to do sashings.  Hopefully in a years time I'll remember that the block is a little short ;)

Again the fabric  for this one comes from my music quilt. I really should hurry up and finsh the music quilt so I can select different fabrics for my Civil War blocks ;)  I know I could just dive into my stash, but I'm really going to try and stick to the rule of using fabrics from my project that week.  The fabrics I have chosed aren't necessarily from the part of the project that I'm working on, I believe I finished using those fabrics before Christmas, but they are from the project and I have been working on that project this week.

You can read another Civil War story, and why this block was chosen, here.  Another blogger pointed out that she is calling it Texas Tears because it caused her so much grief is sewing it!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Calling on Market Stall Holders

I really want to get around to having a market stall this year.  Last year I think my excuse was the baby (isn't that a good excuse for everything?), but this year with my maternity pay running out I really should find a way to fund my hobby.

My questions to those of you who do market stalls are many.  Maybe you can give me some pointers on how to start out?  I'm aiming to do one closer to the end of the year, maybe between September and Christmas.  The little one will be 12 months old by then, which is a nice milestone, and I wont feel as guilty about leaving dad to look after her all day, or they both might enjoy being at the market for a while.  Also leading up to Christmas is a good time for markets I guess.  Lots of people are on the lookout for things to buy.

So here goes...
What/where was your first market?  Was it a specific craft market, or more like a trash and treasure which included craft items?  Was it one where you just booked a space and turned up on the day, or one of these ones where you have to submit photos of your products and you can't sell anything unless it's approved by the organisers?

How did you decide what items to sell?  Did you make stuff you liked and hoped other people liked it, or did you do research at that market (or others) beforehand to see what else was for sale and what people were buying?

How much stuff did you take?  Had you made a pile of stock beforehand and hoped that it sold?  What did you do with the items if it didn't sell?  Or did you only make a small selection of items and risk them selling out?

How did you set up your stand?  Did you just have a trestle table to start with, or did you get some nifty display items early on? I know most of you have now developed/collected display boxes etc over time, but what did you have at the beginning?

Did you have anything else on your stand other than products?  eg fliers, catalogues, photos of work, a place for people to join a mailing list.

What else can you tell me about your first (or first few) market stalls?  How did it go, was it sucessful?  What would you have changed about it with the knowledge you have now?

I'd really like to make a start on planning this and make it a real goal for the year rather than just an idle wish but I have so many questions in my head I don't know where to start!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Civil War block 3: Seven Sisters

Here we are at week 3 and I'm still keeping up to date

Again this is fabric from my music quilt.  I think it's going to be interesting to see how many blocks get made from the same project and how different they end up looking.  This block bears no resemblence to the previous block, yet the fabric is sourced from the same original project.  I was going to applique the stars using trusty blanket stitch, but then realised what pointy points I'd have to do.  I think I still need more practice with blanket stitch around corners.  So I decided to use the zig-zag technique I'd learnt with the music quilt.  I'd got quite good at tight corners and tiny bits of fabric, and it was fresh in my mind.  Again I used a tear-away stabiliser behind the backing fabric and I think that is key to my success!  I had deliberately placed all the stars the same way on the fabric so that the stripes sort of radiate in all directions but in the end it is sort of lost because it's an irregular stripe pattern.  Now it just looks random, which is still good.  It can actually take a lot of planning to achieve a random look!

It's really interesting reading the story that goes along with the block each week.   I basically don't know anything about the American Civil War except that it was between the north and the south, and had something to do with slavery.  Oh, and I know what the fashion was at the time.  In high school we basically only learnt about Australian history. All my other history knowledge comes from when I studied costume, so mostly I just remember the fashions.

I like this way of learning history, in stories rather than 'facts'.  Facts (as you would get in a sterotypical history class) tell you what was going on, but the stories let you know more what it was like to be there at the time.

The Flickr group set up for the project also has a spot to list your blog, so I've been looking over some of the blogs of other people joining in.  Sooooo many other BOM projects I'd love to do.

I'm dearly tempted by:
Retro Nine Patch
Birdie Stitches
Friday Block Party

I sort of have in the back of my mind the thought that I could start it a bit later and catch up when I haven't got anything else on, but seriously, when is that going to happen??  The Friday Block Party could actually just be done as a block here and there since they don't specifically make up a finished design, so maybe I'll end up doing some of them along the way.  The other two and stitcheries and they take so much longer, but then again hand embroidery is rather relaxing to do, so maybe I should force myself to do one so I spend a bit more time sitting and relaxing in a spot other than in front of the computer!  Or course those two require me to buy more fabric for the embroidery backing, so they'll have to hold off till I have some spare cash anyway.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Appliquing the Tuba

So my music quilt progresses.

The tuba became my arch nemesis in this project.  So many tiny holes to cut out with little pointy scissors

Then so many tiny holes to applique around!  But I got there in the end.

When I first started reading the instructions for this quilt and saw that it used zig-zag stitch for the applique, I cringed.  My memories of trying this method date back to the 90's where I always used the widest, shortest satin stitch to ensure maximum coverage of the raw edge.  I thought this was what you had to do.  It always ended up puckering the fabric and losing small details of the applique shape.  Plus if you made a mistake and hand to unpick you invariably ended up with a hole in your work.  Since discovering machine blanket stitch, I haven't used anything else for applique until now.

When I set in to actually do the work I read the instructions in more detail.  The zig-zag stitch suggested was not so much a satin stitch.  Stitch width was set at about 2 and length and 0.5 (my machine goes down to 0.2).  This provided a very neat stitch which finished the applique shapes nicely and from a short distance appears to cover the join entirely.

Using the method the pattern describes to pivot on corners and curves, I achieved a very tidy result!
For the strings on the violin and harp, I used stitch width 1 and length 0.4, which produced what appears to be a solid line.  I also used a tear-away stabiliser (in addition to the Applifix) when doing all the zig-zaging.  This stopped any puckering and made the whole job a lot easier.  It really is about using the right tools/products and putting the extra effort in to get the desired result.

I think my favourite of all the instruments at this stage is the violin.

I just love the result of the silver strings on the black neck and the purple edges look very neat.  I think I will
add zig-zag back into my skill set for doing applique.  I am also interested to try the raw edge technique used by Don't Look Now, but that will have to be another project for another time (maybe a suitable shopping list item for the next craft show...)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Swedish Wedding Cushions

A friend of mine got married last week and the lovely man she had chosen is Swedish.  The wedding incorporated a lot of Swedish things, including a bi-lingual celebrant and Dalecarlian horses in black and white as the cake topper.

For a wedding gift, I wanted to give them something that held some Swedish tradition to it.  My limited research on the internet told me that Swedish weddings used to include cushions which were carried across town as part of the bridal procession and then used during the ceremony for the bride and groom to sit on.  After the wedding, the cushions were displayed in the front window of the bridal home to let everyone know they were newly weds. (Sadly I can no longer find the link where I got this information from).

I chose the log cabin design as this has been noted as a popular quilt block in Sweden and I chose purple because this was one of the wedding colours.

I constructed the blocks using the quilt-as-you-go method, but many of my blocks ended up  not being square in the end due to fabric creepage.  I was using a walking foot but I guess more patience and practice is required.  This method involved starting with a square of wadding and then sewing each piece onto the wadding and folding it back over the seam, therefore piecing and quilting at the same time.  This is definitely a technique which should have sashing between each block as it was rather fiddly having to trim back the wadding on each seam after the blocks were joined.

Thanks to the ladies at Craft Depot for helping me find the right combination of fabrics.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Civil War block 2: North Star

I'm falling a little behind in my blogging, but now that holidays are over and guests have left, the house is returning to some sort of normal.  Hopefully I'll be able to keep up!

I've completed my second block of the Civil War quilt-along.
The fabrics used are from my yet to be completed music quilt (more blog updates are overdue there as well).  Whilst fussy cutting the centre square is in no way hard, I did find it difficult to select which image I should use for the centre.  If I was cutting a lot of squares I could have used all the children across the print, but since I was only doing one I had to pick just one scene.  In the end I settled on this one because as well as children, it gave me the music notes in the corner.

The black triangles were cut as squares and then cut in half diagonally to make the triangles.  I should have thought about it before I cut and twisted two of the squares 90 degrees so all my music note fabric was up the same way... a lesson for next time.

This block doesn't at all blend in with the first block but I guess that's part of the adventure.

The organiser of this has set up a Flickr account for everyone to post photos of their blocks, if you're interested you can check it out here.

I guess I'd better get started on block 3 now.  I've got the fabric selected.  This one is applique rather than piecing, so I can spend some time in front of the TV tracing out shapes and cutting.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Civil War block 1

Last week whilst in Sydney I completed block one of the Civil War quilt block of the week (I just didn't blog about it because I couldn't upload the photo).

I don't think it's quite square, but hopefully that will right itself once I join all the blocks together.

Haven't even got around to working out what fabrics to use for this weeks block yet.  I've been entertaining a 9 year old.  My niece (and my mother) have been staying since Saturday when we came back from Sydney.  They leave on Friday so maybe I will get a chance to work it out on Saturday before the next block is posted.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

New Years Project

Thanks to a link provided by Margaret, I've decided to take part in a Civil War Quilt block of the week.

I'm not especially into Civil War quilts but I just like the idea of a year long project.  I think being a block per week, rather than per month, means the blocks should be easier and quicker.

My first through of course was "what fabric should I buy for this?", here was a great opportunity to collect some reproduction fabrics.  Instead I realised that I have a lot of fabric that I should use up and it's a scrappy quilt so it's perfect.  So what I intend to do is use bits of fabric from what ever project I am working on that week.  This way, at the end of the year, the quilt will be somewhat of a review of my year's crafting.  I'm really excited about that idea!  Some blocks will be made of the same fabric if I have big projects which take a few weeks, and I guess if I'm not working on anything one week I might just dig into my stash.

I've cut the triangles for the first block and will hopefully get to sew it up tomorrow but wont be able to share a photo until I am home next week.

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Well here I am in the middle of my holidays.  Haven't had much of a chance to sit at the computer and write about stuff.  Not helped by the fact that I only have the netbook so don't have access to photo editing software.

Christmas was low key but enjoyable.  A little bit of crafty goodness.  My mother gave me some handmade knitting needle rolls for my straight and double ended needles.  She'd made me ones for my crochet hooks and circular needles for my birthday.  Mum also made hubby a great dressing gown, curtains for my brother & his wife, their son and their daughter.  She's been sewing non-stop for the last several weeks!

And now I can share with you the present from my husband!  I got the Cinderberry Stitches BOM complete pattern for Tail Feathers

I love Natalie's design style, but have to admit that whenever I see her patterns it's never quite something I want.  I love the stitchery design but not really interested in the end item (eg a bag), or I love the overall item, but the stitchery is not my favourite.  I usually read the blogs I follow through Google Reader but went to the Cinderberry Stitches page for something and saw the images in the header.  I instantly fell in love with it and had to have it!!

The pattern uses two honey buns for all the piecing.  I already had one of Moda's Clementine (by Me & My Sister) which I got from Green Fairy Quilts, so bought a second from ebay while it was still available.  I'm more into the bright colours at the moment.  I now just need to decide if I want to buy extra from the Clementine range for the bird bodies and borders/binding, or if I will just get something more readily available which blends in.
This is going to be a rather ongoing project I think.  Definitely not going to try and complete it in the 'block of the month' tradition, have too many other things going on.  Also I don't exactly know what I'm going to do with the finished product yet... but I'll deal with that when it's finished.  I'm considering getting this one professionally quilted as I don't feel confident enough in my quilting ability yet, but who knows what will happen by the time I've finished it.

Can't wait to get my fingers into it.... but soooo much to do before I'm allowed to start.


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