Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Where were you 31.08.1997?

It's a date I cannot forget, my late husband's birthday, we were in England visiting relatives while he was in remission - and Princess Diana died that morning..........

This is Molly, one of my granddaughters, aged ten and enjoying stitching on my 'new' old sewing machine.  This Singer was given to me by a lovely lady, Wendy, who used to help teach at the prison but who has since moved across the ditch.  She gave me the machine when she left and I feel so fortunate to have it. 

This is the model I bought when we first came to New Zealand; no money, clothes dear, fabric cheap and a young neighbour who willingly taught me to sew - perhaps influenced by the presence in the household of two boarders, young men who had moved to Wellington to join the civil service ..... [At school I did domestic science for only a year before I was streamed to maths and science] - so it was a win/win situation.  And I am still sewing.

I mentioned the Margaret Millar class at Symposium '93, she taught it afterwards for those of us on committees and I had a great time.  We did all the preparatory cutting before the class, then played with hundreds of variations of settings - this is the way my blocks wanted to be arranged -

It's not a large piece, so I was able to use all the leftovers for the back -

One of the quilts I made for my five inch squares class resulted in a lot of half square triangles in blues, so I got them out to play and decided on one of my favourite blocks, light -

Or dark

Some of each.  But how to arrange them?

To sash or not to sash, a bit static - so how about

That's better but not quite right

That's it - I like having more dark blocks.  They all have the same centre piece

Oops, that's just pinned - but it is a finished top so I will find a better photo later.  Once again the batik works so well for the border.

I have come to a decision about my floribunda, I made four more blocks for another row and have cut the two borders - surprise, surprise one is a batik!  I will post a photo when I have sewn them on.

And I haven't forgotten the quilt I want to make with the fabric my son brought back
from Italy but I have been using small squares for starters and enders so I now have a large number and I am considering making them into four patch blocks, putting a dark square around and then a light square and then staggering them............. however, I might not have enough four patches sewn, so if I do the Italian top first............

Thank you for stopping by - as Jean Cocteau said "This sickness, to express oneself.  What is it?"  and that was written well before the internet!

Sunday, 28 August 2011

What's in your workbox?

Well, this is what's in the tin that sits next to my sewing machine -

I was looking for the little gadget to thread elastic or ribbon - didn't find it, but found all this plus  a layer of dust.
Don't you love that little Swiss army knife [top left] which is also a key ring; the scissors are dinky.  Lots of little brushes for cleaning the machines, not sure about the eye shadow bud, handy to have a pencil sharpener, but pegs and paper clips?  I think the eyedrops are from a symposium, and the hand cream - and those neat looking brass screws are out of the cardboard to hold curtain samples.  I am sure I will find a use for them someday - but when was the last time I put in a zip? and six pincushions?  This reminds me of the game where "all girls together" take out their handbags and see whose holds the most!!

Remember the lovely flowers I got to housesit for my friend ?-

They really were beautiful but are now down to just this -

Close up like that, it makes me think of Jaws or some other horror show!

Have you ever been to a class that disappointed you?  Oh dear, as a teacher maybe I am unwise to ask that question, however we can all improve so I will continue.  This was several years ago and one of the local clubs had some spare money so they brought in an overseas tutor - no names, no packdrill - isn't that the expression?

This person was advertised as the expert in strip piecing and I had been a fan of this type of patchwork since I started.   I had made a couple of quilts and some aprons  to try out changing direction I was really excited about being able to learn more.

I decided to use plain fabric for a change - at the class we were told to cut strips of various widths which took us until morning tea time, then we had to join them with a straight seam into long, long strips - that took us to lunchtime.

After lunch we started joining the various widths to make a piece of fabric - understandably this required a lot of ironing - where was the Gofer?  Oh my, she had set up her machine and was joining in..........

By afternoon tea time we still didn't have a useable piece of fabric and I was not in a good mood........ at the end of the class we were given a few photocopied patterns - spider web etc. etc. and told to use these to make templates using our 'new' fabric.

When I got home I tossed everything into the back of the cupboard with a few well chosen but unrepeatable words and forgot all about them.

Then I learned that Margaret Millar was coming over to teach at the Wellington 1993 symposium - I did say it was some time ago, didn't I?  I was interested so bought her book, resurrected the strips, finished them off and made some blocks using Margaret's basic techniques

This is my "Jungle of Delight" - and wasn't I lucky to have that border fabric in the stash I think it came from Evans - actually the colours are not quite right, the quilt is much more red/purple than blue - the bits left over went into the back -

Which I like very much, it reminds me of a 'modern' painting.

More recently a shop donated some fabric for us to use in the prison, in the carton was a large piece of bargello which none of the girls was keen to try to use, so one of my stitching group unpicked a seam to make two smaller units and I had great fun finding matching type fabrics from my stash and making two lap quilts ready to donate to one of the retirement homes around -

And this one

I hope you have been able to enjoy the milder, sunny weather over the weekend.

My thought for the day which clearly explains the number of UFOs around, - "The artist finds a greater pleasure in painting than in having completed the picture." Seneca

Thanks for stopping by
We'll talk again soon


Friday, 26 August 2011


I can't claim to be a keen gardener, I enjoy sitting in the garden, looking at the flowers and trees.  I love it that birds feed off the blossoms and the scraps I put on the bird table; scraps not being exactly accurate, bread, oats, over ripe fruit and a spoonful of peanut butter - not, I hasten to add, the delicious Pic's brand that I eat, but the gooey, bland kind you get from the supermarket.  In turn they make a mess of the plants under the table but they present me with many freebies - after all I am quite sure I didn't plant them all.

 One I do know I planted is this hellebore because it was given to me by a friend when I lived in Whitby and it is the only plant I dug out of the garden to bring to Petone - it had been sulking for nearly three years,  and has at last started flowering.  Perseverance pays off!

 I showed you the first four  blocks of my Floribunda quilt, well it is now complete as large as I am going to make it

I spent some time today looking for possible borders, after debating whether it needs one - I am still undecided but had a selection I considered -

I just love the cheddar, red and white - but it is way too strong and swamped the quilt, I am leaning towards using the batik - third from the left at the top, with a narrow yellow border -

The batik has lots of colours, it could work - or I could just bind it in the yellow - I shall sleep on it - but you are welcome to give your opinion.........

I do have the backing, in keeping with the use of vintage fabrics -

It's a painted gingham tablecloth

Sorry I meant to turn her the right way up!

And talking of backings, I found the chicken fabric I bought in the UK on my last trip - good heavens was it really as long ago as that?

Delightful fabric but not right for the rooster - so I have found some rather brash cheater cloth to use

Much more in keeping I think!

Mark Twain had a thought for the day that I can relate to - "Life does not consist.......of facts and happenings.  It consists mainly of the storm of thoughts that are forever blowing through one's mind."

Thank you for stopping by, we'll talk again soon.

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

It's a girl!

And here she is, Amy McPike, better than any flower to open my blog

Isn't she just gorgeous?  Not really a relative, though her grandparents are very close friends and Amy is their first grandchild, so of course I just had to make a quilt!  No surprise that I chose lots of five inch squares and put them together with a gender free sashing - I did think of other colours, but as we didn't know whether the baby would be a boy or girl, it was green or yellow - for me, that is.

I did audition a yellow border but went for the dark one instead.

The cats on the climbing frame just made me smile.  There is plenty of scope for I spy and other stories if distraction is needed!  I hope the quilt will have lots of use.

And now for something completely different, you might remember Patricia Moss from Suffolk in the UK put out a call for New Zealand quilters to make a bell block to be made into a quilt for exhibition at the Birmingham exhibition and later the quilt is to be given to Christchurch.
One of our Arohata quilting tutors, Catherine Watson, is on an overseas tour, she visited Birmingham and sent back photos of the quilt.

And of our two blocks, first Catherine's

Then mine
I shall look out for news of the quilt's arrival in Christchurch.  Did you make a block?

My creative thought for the day is - "Talent develops in quiet places, character in the full current of human life." Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

I am sure those who survived the earthquakes would agree with that.
Thanks for stopping by

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Something to crow about!

The sun came out for the second day in a row and so did he petals on my lonely anemone.  I just love that rich colour.

I have been tidying up in my sewing room today, actually it's just an excuse to fossick through some of the baskets of scraps where there are so many gorgeous fabrics and the ideas keep coming. 

Recently I did the same thing and came across a pile of fabrics, obviously ready to cut and stitch - fortunately there was an envelope with them and a few scribbled measurements.  I started making the blocks

The instructions said to quarter them and rearrange - but I found that I like them as they are, I like that uncluttered look, so I put them all together and found a narrow border
I even have the binding and backing sorted - should the day ever come that I put it all together!

Another time I came across a place mat - or it might have been a tray cloth - in an Op Shop, and it just had to come home with me.  Who can forget the colours of the kitchens back in the sixties?  This beautiful rooster just had to have his own quilt -

I used the 'No seams match" block to surround him, with plenty of vintage fabric so he feels quite at home -

I haven't sorted out the backing yet, but I seem to remember buying some chicken fabric from a little shop in Selsey when I visited England a few years ago  - perhaps that would be a start - and think what fun it will be searching for it!

My thought for today, "The only limit to our realisation of tomorrow will be our doubts of today."  Franklin Delano Roosevelt

We'll talk again soon

Thursday, 18 August 2011

More squares and cats

 I just love these little daffodils - I bought them in pots a couple of years ago, left them with my daughter in law when I went on holiday, took them back when they had finished flowering and planted them - then forgot them!
A geranium plant had smothered them but when it was cut back, they were fine.  Such a lovely bright spot - obviously they thrive on neglect!

It has struck me that many quilters have cats, as I do, so I thought I would introduce you to the two who choose to share my home.

In order of seniority, there is Basil -

He often sits with his paws crossed!  When I adopted him from the SPCA in January 1998 they thought he was about three years old - he has a large tail so was named after Basil Brush.
Then there is Floyd who was a kitten and has to share everything I do - ah yes, put a quilt down and he will find it. 

I wanted to show you also the small four patch quilt that is now quilted - yay! 

I used a stitch on my Janome 6500 and variegated thread, I have used this decorative stitch before and no doubt will again.

And another quilt of squares, this time I came across it in an Op Shop, so brought it home.  It had been badly washed and the turquoise material had bled but a gentle wash with a colour catcher has almost remedied that.

My granddaughters and I are in the process of putting buttons on to tie the squares - don't you love those colours? nothing subtle about this top!

I have several tins of buttons, so we shouldn't run out!

I think I shall do some hand quilting this evening, I have a boxed set of "Auf Wiedersehen Pet" that I am looking forward to seeing again.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Puss in the Corner - in the snow?

I couldn't be the only person who didn't show a photo of the snow - and it truly is snow, here in Petone.  Or rather was, but there was great excitement for a short while!!  There's my lonely little anemone in the succulent pot probably regretting that it didn't keep its head down a couple of weeks ago and the basket of seedlings was given to me by the ladies of a Waiwhetu Church group after I had given them a talk on the Shut-in Stitchers of Arohata Prison.   Must put my wellies on and dash down the garden to plant them one day soon, though it is a bit of a bog at the moment - they are probably happier where they are.....

I really enjoy teaching my class on getting the best out of five inch squares, when I had no access to my main stash and was forced to use the squares - or stop quilting but that wasn't really an option - I often found myself looking at blocks and thinking, there must be an easier way!  And it wasn't just speed but often the blocks turned out to be more accurate - like this first one I want to share with you; Puss in the Corner.

I am sure you know the one I mean

It's perfect for five inch squares; one for the centre, another cut in four for the corner posts and two more, each cut in two for the borders.  And then you join all the fiddly little bits

So, I decided to sew first and cut afterwards - join the three squares that will be the borders and the corner posts, with the latter in the centre, like this

Now you slice it in four, it doesn't matter which you do first but I find to cut straight down through the centre block is shortest and easiest
 You can probably see that I have cheated, it is only folded - and then you cut the other way, horizontally and you will have four pieces to sew around the centre block using a partial seam

You are not fooled by the different fabrics I know, I have put a pin in where the partial seam is stitched and it is then quite simple to continue anti clockwise with the other three border/cornerstone pieces.

One of the Shut-in Stitchers had made several quilts, all from squares - set as a love ring - and refused to try anything else - until I showed her this and she was amazed to discover that all the seams met!

My sample top is called Bright Eyed Baby, let's just say it is not a restful piece!

I have been making quilts from squares for such a long time that it feels strange to be using chunks or long strips, but that is what I am doing now.

I have been tempted by the quilt Floribunda on Bonnie Hunter's blog  and here I am making half square triangles using a tool I had forgotten all about and making four patch blocks from long strips.

Yes well, the blog address should not have gone there - still lots to learn!! 
And here are a few of the blocks, using all sorts of plainish yellows and big vintage flowers,

Change of subject, can't think of a link except that I love quilting and also words and cryptic crossword puzzles - and in particular those compiled by Donald Harrison, an Aussie [which it helps to remember with some of the clues] and I couldn't help but think of the wide range of the clues he uses.  There was one, Tyrone might? and the answer was, Power.  How many people nowadays remember the old heartthrobs? I must check him out on YouTube - and the other clue was "Single seed holder in new music player? Answer IPod.

My thought for the day is "Go out on a limb - that's where the fruit is".  Will Rogers
Thanks for visiting and for your comments, I do so appreciate them.
We will talk again soon