Sunday, 2 March 2014

Quilt retreat/Retreat Quilt

I have just returned from another wonderful quilting retreat in Dwellingup with the Perth Modern Quilting ladies.  It was somewhat warmer this time around, which meant there was more sitting around outside in the evenings, having a wine and a natter and soaking up the beautiful atmosphere and scenery.
I was too busy drinking and nattering so thank you Danielle for taking this gorgeous picture of us "hard at work"!

It wasn't always like this though.  There was a lot of sewing going on.  More of the hand variety than by machine on the first full day though as we lost power mid morning!  Fortunately it was restored during the afternoon so the sewing machines were humming once again.

Like many others I took many projects down with me but as with dessert, my eyes are always larger than my capacity and while I made good progress on some of them, others remained completely untouched.  Of course there were unanticipated completions too such as these foundation pieced blocks for one of the other ladies, who is making a "LOVE" quilt to donate to charity.

Not a great photo but you get the idea and hey, it was my very first attempt at foundation paper piecing!  I see more of this in my future for the odd project or bee...

I spent most of my time on two projects however, a small, naive style stitched quilting project (more on that when it is finished) and my piece de resistance - this quilt:

This is my first bee block. (It was a weekend of firsts!) As queen bee I had chosen a woven block design and requested it be done in yellows, greys and purples.  I received 10 blocks and made another 10 myself to make a decent sized lap quilt.  I made 8 of those blocks the first afternoon of the retreat.  When the power was on on Saturday I pieced the top and on Sunday I made the backing (that rich violet material with a slash of gold material which isn't visible), sandwiched the quilt, quilted it and bound it!  Phew.

During the process I liked it, fell in love with it, fell out of love with it, never wanted to see it again and then fell in love once more.  To such an extent it is going to be very hard to part with as I have promised it as a fundraiser for charity...

Anyway for now I am enjoying the fruit of my labour and will show it off to a few more people before I send it on its way.

Monday, 24 February 2014

February already?

How did that happen?  I don't know about you but I feel like the weeks have been flying by and while I have a mass of projects on the go, nothing seems to be close to finishing at the moment...

However, I am off on retreat again this weekend so hope to have some proper show and tell after that is over!  I have packed about, ooh, half a dozen projects of various size and degree of completion in the hope I get something finished, or started, or at least worked on.  Except there is always wine, and chocolate and good conversation and I will be enjoying those too I expect.

For now I will just have to resolve to blog a bit more regularly if I can and to progress my projects so I have something to talk about!

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

A quilt for our friend

This is a post a long time coming and a long time in the making. Today the final chapter of this quilt's journey was written, so I can now write about it.

 I will start with what I was telling my friend today about how I see quilts and why I love quilting.  Quilting for me is not just about the creative process although of course this does play a large part.  Quilting for me is also something I can escape to when I need comfort.  She bakes, I quilt.  It is a therapeutic and meditative process.  Quilts also represent care, love and comfort to me.  They wrap us up and keep us warm and cherished.  The love with which they are made preserves us.  When I made my son's first quilt before he was even born, it wasn't just a decorative item, it was a hug to my unborn child.  Quilts are loaded with history, with nurturing, cooperation and community.

Our little community lost a dear friend to cancer last year.  I didn't know him like others did but a series of events brought me to our friend, his wife at the hospital where he was staying towards the end.  It was circumstance that I met with her there that day but it left a lasting impression on me.  Apart from our conversations that Winter afternoon and the stunning view over the bay from the lounge where we sat, the thing that struck me most were the quilts.  There were quilts on the walls and there were quilts on the beds in the palliative ward.  It was beautiful, colourful and homely.  

When he died I wanted to do something.  I wanted to quilt.  Moreover, I wanted to make a quilt for this amazing place and the amazing people in it, in memory of this man.

So I made this quilt.  The centre was made from jelly rolls (2 1/2" strips) of Tula Pink's "The Birds and The Bees" range.  I had wanted to choose fabrics that contained little nods to the couple and their relationship.  Ladybird motifs had been requested by his wife where possible and this line had it all.  The ladybirds,  the specific colour green we all associate with her, the natural, Darwinian and 19th century organic motifs they both loved, geometric shapes that reminded her of his passion for games and computers...and of course the colours were vibrant, warm and would appeal to both men and women.

I made a simple fence and rail design, not wanting to overcomplicate such amazingly detailed fabrics and bordered and backed it with Anna Maria Horner fabric from her "Innocent Crush" series.  The scale of her designs just worked with the size of the quilt and as a foil to the intricate detail of the central fabric.

The binding is the ladybird fabric in the blue and purple line so there are little ladybirds running around the outside of the quilt.

I had it professionally quilted to ensure it was well bedded down and ready for many, many washes and some constant wear and love.  

Today the two of us delivered this quilt to its final home at in the hospital's palliative care ward.  When the nurses placed it on the bed in a spare room it looked like it had always been there.  Warm, welcoming and full of comfort.  The little room came to life and the quilt looked like it had found its purpose in life.  I hope it brings peace and warmth to many who need it.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Quilt Retreat

I had an absolutely fantabulous weekend last weekend at the PMQG quilting retreat down in Dwellingup at the beautiful Wine Tree.  It was filled with creativity, cider, awesome ladies, wine, lots of laughs, fabric, fruit wine, cheezles, sharing of ideas, an Italian costume night, great food which we didn't have to cook and of course chocolate.
                                        Hard at work...not a glass of wine in sight!

Apart from one yoga class, two brief walks (the second being a "walk" involving wine and cider tasting up at the main house!) and a little bit of reading in bed my time was spent sewing...and it was blissful.  I made good progress on my reverse applique project and when that started to require too much focus I switched to hand sewing and quilting my quilt as you go 1930s reproduction print hexagons.  They are mounting up nicely and might deserve a post of their own soon.

My main focus however, was on completing my blocks of the month and quilting bee blocks and I got all four made.  Here they are!

 Missing your Kiss from our Modern Blocks book...
Diamond Ripples from the same book.  This is my BOM choice.  I wanted to challenge my precision and "classic" techniques.  Boy did I do that!
Here are my bee blocks, my current bee does them in pairs - the queen bee for the month I was working on chose Circle of Squares as her block...
I can't wait until next time!  In the meantime I will have to satisfy myself with working on the Circle of Flying Geese block a few did as a challenge during the retreat.  That way I can keep the memory alive. :)  Now I just have to wait for my machine to come back from its service all tuned and ready to go...

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Buzz, Buzz! And some more blocks.

With the onset of chilly Winter weather I have been hitting the sewing machine hard.  So much so I think it needs a service but with a number of projects needing work and an upcoming retreat (can't wait!) I think it might have to hang in there for a bit longer.
I have recently finished a larger quilt, which is to be donated, but it deserves a post of its own at a later date once it has been handed over.  In the meantime I am working on a couple of projects, a batik sampler quilt for myself and some blocks for a quilting bee.
I haven't been in a bee for a while and am really enjoying this one.  The briefs are not too demanding but are challenging enough to make them interesting and are based on the theme of scraps and solids.  Here are the completed months so far:

Sprouts block:  We had to make 4 sprouts as they are rectangles rather than squares.  I chose to do pink, dark blue, light blue and purple. 

 I really liked being able to use little pieces of my hedgehog and Eiffel tower materials. :)

While waiting for the next set of instructions I moved onto the samples for my month - a woven block.  This is a pretty easy design to make but I wanted (and want the others) to play with light and dark - especially in the use of the 2 purple "ribbons".  I think it will look really effective and clean when all put together.

 Funnily enough (obviously great minds and all that) two of our participants chose to both do a Granny Square block inspired by crocheted granny squares.  One wanted red, black and white -
 The other just wanted our favourite scraps -
I love the graphic nature of the red and black together and the contrast of the really modern lines in one and the more traditional feel of the other and how they still work together.
The second pair showcases some beautiful Anna Maria Horner scraps I had left over from the special quilt I just completed (the fabric is from the "Innocent Crush" line) and some citrus coloured fabrics from my stash.  In case you didn't get the citrus theme the centre block is a lemon print. :)  I don't often work with these colours but was inspired after trying them out in another block of the month...which brings me to...

 Alleyways.  Each month at our PMQG meetings someone chooses a block for everyone to make from this book.  This month was Alleyways.  For some reason, I think because our lemon, lime and orange trees are in fruit, I thought a citrus theme would be nice.
This was the block from a few months ago, Quatrefoil, but being new to the group I am catching up a bit.  There is no obligation but I like a challenge.  Unfortunately we don't have a vegetable garden that looks like this as my inspiration.
I went 1930s retro (and terrible mood lighting) for this doggy block.
I love a good block when I need a quick sewing pick me up.  They provide a lovely little opportunity to try out a new design or play with colours not normally chosen.  

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Check out my knickers! (Or - the Chance to Give Back)

I have some large ongoing quilts at the moment, hence the silence.  However, having recently joined the Perth Modern Quilt Guild and attended my first meeting and having joined an online quilting bee group, I can see a lot of blocks in my future.

I like the opportunity to work on individual blocks for swapping, giving to a charity quilt or just plain learning.  I tend to extend myself a bit more, trying out new techniques that I wouldn't be game to try on an entire quilt in case I didn't like the end result or stuffed things up. :)  Also, on an individual block I am more likely to make something that isn't what I would immediately consider my style.  I am not big on applique for example, or paper piecing...or more traditional piecing with perfect points.  However, it is nice to know that you can do these things or at least have given them a bit of a go.

Being a part of Giving Hands has ticked a lot of boxes for me - the opportunity to give to the community, to improve my skills in a non confrontational environment, to be able to work with and learn from some amazing women and of course to be able to create beautiful quilts as a group, where I end up using materials and designs I wouldn't normally have tried.  (The first green and blue quilt shown in the link is our group's by the way :)).

To my delight I have discovered not only more wonderful ladies, funky designs and ideas, fabric to covet and many cups of good coffee at the PMQG but also more opportunities to give.  On my first day with them I am presented with blocks of the month which can go into charity quilts and even better the Knickers project.

As the entry suggests, quilters are submitting knicker blocks.  These will go into a quilt to be given as the raffle prize to raise money for research into uterine cancer.  I pretty much did mine immediately!

I can't wait to see everyone else's knickers! (Even though I have only just met them all...)

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

My Workroom

"Workroom" is a bit of a grand name for where I do my quilting.  It is in fact the spare room/young man's change room/storage space/book room/access to the cat run.  It is the converted garage of our house and is rather tastefully decked out in a lot of pine so it has the nickname "sauna room".  For a couple of years though it has been my sewing room too and I have been fortunate enough to have the support of a loving husband who has helped me to equip it with my beloved Bernina and way too much Ikea furniture.  First came the bookcases which are hidden behind a white flannel covering to create my design wall, then the sewing table and lamp and now my storage system complete with patchwork boxes!
That gigantic storage system is now holding all of my fabric stash organised into colour families and themes, boxes of scraps (which still need proper sorting) and WIPs (of which I have more than I realised - still, you can never be without a half finished quilt can you?) 
There are still bags of baby clothes and other baby paraphernalia to go to loving homes or the shed but for now it is a huge improvement on what it was like before.  I should have taken a before picture to show how much better this is but that would have been embarrassing :). 
I can see much washing of fabric I had no room to store, reviving of semi completed projects and hours of playing with my that I have the breathing space in there.