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Monday, 28 November 2016

River City Round Robin 2 - Sandra's Around Australia

I mentioned last week our #RiverCityRoundRobin project and showed you my starting block.  Once I was done, it winged it's way off to Laura, and I took control of Sandra's little piece of awesome.

The gorgeous Sandra is  Kiwi (ie. a New Zealander) who moved to Oz, and asked for something that represents each of us.

Interestingly she chose the thing that represents her to be...

Australia!

I find that the funniest thing. But that's Sandra.  She is loud and bright and always laughing and not afraid to be exaclty who she is and I love that about her.

But as first cab off the rank, I had to contribute *something* to this perfectly pieced little Oz. (PS the pattern is by the fantabulous Peta from shequiltsalot.com just if you were in the mood for your own little foundation paper pieced country).  Sandra also sent long a suitcase (literally, a little suitcase!!) full of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics for us to play with.

I had visions of paper pieced Aussie animals, and purchased and printed off the patterns in preparation, but when I looked at it in person, they weren't speaking to me.

I tossed and I turned on it, and finally just started cutting, in the hope that that if it didn't work, at least I would know what direction I wanted to go in.

Well I ended up with 2 super cute feathers and used them to create a 2 sided border.  Sandra had said that she didn't need a medallion, and was happy with anything that came out, so I figured I'd try to add a little quirkyness.  And I was super happy with the result.


As you can see I added the Lotta Jansdotter print and the Cotton and Steel orange on the bottom left, but kept the colour palette in the original.  I liked the skinny grey borders, but again, I kept them only on the left.  I figured the next person could decide if they wanted to keep that wonky/improv feeling, or square it up more, and then I passed it on.

It has now been through all 5 of us and is heading back to Sandra, so I can't wait to see it, and then see what Sandra does with it :-) I'll be sure to let you know how it ends up!

E xx

Saturday, 26 November 2016

#BabyNolan

Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a girl who thought it was a good idea to make quilts for people, and *tell* them about it, before they were finished...

I honestly don't know what's wrong with me.  I have a huge pile of quilts, that are in various stages of incompleteness, and yet, I still have an overwhelming, irresistible urge to make a quilt when I know a new baby is coming.  I think it's just a sign that I love my friends, and I really love babies.

My very good friend (and old boss) recently had his first child. Now this is the boss who I promised a quilt to for his birthday 3 years ago, and it's still in pieces on my desk waiting for me to finish it, so I knew better than to promise one for the baby. And I restrained myself, I really did!! I lasted right through 8 months, but then, at the last minute, 2 days before the baby was due., he showed me photos of the nursery and the next thing I knew I was in Spotlight buying coordinating fabrics and cutting up a storm.


At the time, they still didn't know if they were having a boy or a girl, but had done a really lovely fairly gender neutral nursery with lots of grey and gold with pops of mint and coral - yum.

Have I mentioned that bub's mum is one of those fabulously stylish women, who always looks immaculate and her house is just as put together? Meanwhile, I am lucky if I remember to wash my hair, and feel as if I gave up on makeup about 4 years ago... :-/

So I knew I was in over my head in trying to make something for their "interior decor" but I couldn't resist.

Being the fabulously stylish woman she is, I couldn't resist the allure of chevrons.  I know I'm behind the 8 ball on that band wagon, but there was no way this family suited fussy cuts or intricate piecing, or improv, or wonky anything... It needed clean lines and crisp edges, but I still wanted it to be special and unique and fun for me to pay with, so chevrons it is!



Although, having now made them, I'm never, ever doing them again.  they were a pain in the patootie! I'm sure there's a simpler way, and that I made it hard for myself, but oi, this was annoying, trying to line everything up properly, and get the right angles consistent, and then when I was piecing the row together, trying not to loose too much depth, becuase I kept getting the quarter inch spacing wrong on the start, so they're skinnier chevrons than originally intended.

 
Again, originally I planned to do 2 rows of chevrons and then leave the rest grey, but it felt a bit empty.  Then I added the strips and it felt cluttered.  It took an annoying amount of time just moving strips up and down and replacing the thickness of the alternating grey to get me to a happy place.


You will also notice I added a navy blue to my mix.  Without it, it felt a bit wishy washy and lackluster.  Although, adding all those extra strips (and extra colour) really made this a lot bigger than intended.  I had planned to make a cute little baby quilt, and ended up with something closer to single bed size...

I chose not to include any wadding and backed it in a yummy grey flannel.  We live in Queensland, Australia, so it's rare that it gets genuinely cold here, and we're going into summer, so I'd rather make something they can use straight away... you know, before they redecorate and these colours become useless ;-).  


 I did super simple echo quilting of each strip, just sewing *just* outside the colour on the grey. I only sewed around the pink love hearts in the chevrons (because, of course, with me starting this so late in the pregnancy, baby was born before I finished and now we *know* it's a girl).


And then the other day, I sat myself down and sorted out the binding.  I love satin binding for children, because I love the idea of something soft and silky that the little people can run through their fingers and I have memories of that soothing feeling of worrying a teddy's manufacturing tag, because it was silky, and like the idea of passing on that comfort.

Usually, when I want this satin binding, I buy premade binding in whatever length  I want and just have at it, but my local Spotlight didn't have want I wanted.  I checked a couple of times over a couple of different weeks, and still no joy, so eventually, I just took myself to the piles of actual satin and bought a half metre and made it myself.  So it's straight grain, which is not ideal, but working with the satin was such a PITA that I doubt I'll ever do it this way again.  So slippy, and frayed like the dickens and threads kept pulling... 

But it's done.  I machine bound it, just to say it was finished (also with the fraying of the satin, I felt like it needed the extra reinforcing), and it is terrible.  I swear I've watched all the tutorial on machine binding, but I just can't make it neat.  Let's all stick with the "home made touch" story, if anyone asks, ok :-)


And now I get to go and meet the baby!! Because I wasn't allowed to meet her until I finished her welcome to the world present (my new rule to force me to finish baby quilts - it seems to have worked, ok ;-) ).

Oh, and why #BabyNolan? Because baby's mum is an instagram addict, lol.

E xx

Thursday, 24 November 2016

UK adventures

So looking at my last couple of posts, before I went on my crazy hiatus, I mentioned that I had recently gone on a long overseas holiday and would share all the excitement with you... And then I disappeared and never told you all about the fun and frivolities!! This si a quilting free post, so heads up form the beginning that this is just my way of having a total brag about my amazing holiday ;-)

--ooOoo--

Ashley and I were given 2 weeks of accommodation in London in June 2015. All we had to do was get there.  And we figured, if we're going all that way (36 hour flight, you hearing me) we should stay and see the country and explore.  So we took 5 weeks off work and heading to the other side of the world.

(prepare yourself for photo overload - this was the holiday of a lifetime!)

We arrived in London and spent our first 2 weeks in Kensington (oh wee, super fancy!).  It was amazing!! I could live there forever!! We went through Kensington Palace, strolled through the Gardens, rode through Hyde Park, visited the Sherlock Holmes museum, went to Portobello Road Markets, did the Tower of London, saw the Tower Bridge open, went out to Greenwich, saw Buckingham Palace (form the outside), Hampton Court, St Pauls... the only thing on the list that I didn't see was Westminster, but we squeezed so much in, while also relaxing and reading and enjoying the beautiful weather and just being there.

Where we stayed

Portobello Rd Markets





Ashley getting stabbed by the guards at the Tower of London


Having a cuppa while waiting for the bridge to open

On the Ferry getting ready to go down the Thames

Greenwich

Buckingham Palace

St Paul's Cathedral
Once our 2 weeks in town was up, we hired a car and hit the road.  We drove west and got to Bath in a day, but did a little detour and ended up staying in Bradford Upon Avon (so cute, and the fanciest of all our hotels for the trip). Then we went North. We went through Wales, saw the Forest of Dean, up through Snowdonia (super lovely, one of our favourite places on the whole trip), then trough Carlisle and across the border into Gretna Green, after stopping to see Hadrian's Wall. We went to Loch Lomond (where I sang all the songs I could remember from Brigadoon, and then did the Isle of Skye (where we saw the hairy cows). Then traveled North and stayed at Inverness, and then circled Loch Ness before hitting the Whiskey trial through the Cairngorns. We spent a night in Aberdeen before heading south, checking in at Balmoral, then driving on to see Edinburgh.

Bradford Upon Avon 
The River Dee, Scotland - This was the backyard of the B&B we stayed in



I bought a cute little "England" hat which Ashley ended up wearing, and while, yes, it made him look like a bit of a grandpa, it also felt like we belonged.

Fluffy cows on Isle of Skye

Eilean Donan castle

Loch Ness

Balmoral Castle

From Edinburgh we headed south and did a super quick drive through the Lakes District, then went west and drove through the Moors and spent the night in Whitby (where we had fish and chips and played arcade games, like it was 1995, and also turned the ruined Abbey Abbey. Then we headed into York, and from there went through the Peaks district. We saw Pemberly (or in real life, Chatsworth House) and . Then I made Ashley detour to see Bradgate Park, because it's in a book I read as a little girl.

Whitby Abbey

Whitby Abbey 
Pemberly - or as it's actually known, Chatsworth House



Bradgate Park
We also drove through Oxford, and Straford Upon-Avon, and when I saw "drove through" I mean we literally didn't even stop the car. And then we headed back into London.  And that was our 2 weeks of seeing the countryside.  Yes, that's right. We saw all of Scotland, Wales and England in 2 weeks.  We did something like 3,500km. And I know there is so much more to see, and I would go again in a heartbeat and see so much more, but we got some value out of that trip.

We spent 3 days in London staying with my best friend who had recently moved over. Including a day trip to Brighton and a trip to the theater (Book of Mormon was amazing) and then we hopped on a plane and headed home.

Was it amazing? Absolutely!!! Did we come home exhausted? Absolutely!  But was it totally worth it? ABSOLUTELY!!!!! And I would do it again in a heartbeat.

I had big plans for meeting all my favourite quilters who I know from the internets, and I did get to go to a London MQG meeting which was great (they taught me how to use instagram, so worth it for that alone.  The fact that they were all super lovely and made beautiful things was a total bonus) (also, you should come hang with me on instagram, I'm much better at updating over there than I am here ;-) ) but that was the only quilty thing I got to do while we were there, and I missed out on seeing one of my favourite internet quilty peeps, who I had partway organised to see, and then with our hectic driving schedule, and the fact that we had no idea where were going to be from one day to another, fell through.

That that was out epic adventure (more photos can be found under #thequinnsepicadventure lol).

Phew. But also, come on - how cool was that!!

E xx

Monday, 21 November 2016

River City Round Robin 1 - Butterfly starter

I am 99% sure I've mentioned my amazing quilting guild - The Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild.  Well, the absolute best part of the BMQG is the fantabulous ladies I get to hang out with.  I have honestly met some lovely people, and I love having real life quilty friends (not that my internet quilty friends aren't great - I love you both equally).

Well, one day I was mentioning to a fellow BMQGer that I had been watching some online quilty peeps do a round robin, and how I thought that looked super fun.  The next thing I knew, I had a posse and we were on!!

And so for the last year, I have been sewing up a storm with the lovely Laura, vivacious Vic, beautiful Bec, kind Kathryn and stupendous Sandra. 5 amazing ladies, that are incredible sewists and who I only got the chance to know through the MQG.   If you have the chance to join a local group, these ladies alone, should be enough to convince you that it's worth it.

We agreed that we'd each make a starting block and then pass it on randomly (so there's no particular order that the quilts have been worked on) and we'd have each quilt for about a month to work on.  Well the time frame went out the window pretty quick, because, as I said earlier, we're coming up on a year and we're *just* at the stage of each quilt getting back to it's owner, but I thought I might share some of our round robin with you, starting with *my* starter.

I had a really hard time coming up with an idea.  I did about 4 fabric pulls but was left uninspired each time.

I ended up pulling one particular fabric and using the fabric as my inspiration.


Nice blues and a good swath of rich purple pink/burgundy with a low volume feel and some intricate/delicate vibe going. Floral is not normally my thing, so I wasn't necessarily wanting to channel flowers, but I like that slightly busy bustling thing that was going on. 

Because I was crazy, I did a mass fabric pull and sent this whole bundle of fabric along with my starter. (PS while we're on the topic, every time I say "starter" I picture a big yeast ball that's the "starter" for bread making - it's kinda gross)


But look at that big pile of yummy!! Even looking at it now, it feel so light and bright and fresh and inviting.  Good choice, me!

But what to make with it?? After doing the Harry Potter quilt (which I will share in detail at some point, I promise), I fell a little in love with foundation paper piecing.  So I googles around to try to find a nice pattern I could use.  I started with tea cups (because I am known for my love of a good cuppa) and ended up with butterflies.. not sure how connected those are, but the results make me happy.


Three little butterflies.  Each the same pattern, but the different fabrics help make each one unique. I especially love the little black one. Something about him feels moth like, perhaps the gray edges... I don't know, but he's my favourite.


Unfortunately I can't tell you where the pattern is from, because it's not an official pattern.  It's a photocopy someone took from a book somewhere, and the book isn't credited either.  I know that's bad, but I have to say I'm grateful, because otherwise I wouldn't ave these cute little guys.

So that's my starter, and I can't wait to show you what else has been made as part of our #RiverCityRoundRobin

E xx



Friday, 18 November 2016

Hexie growth

So I mentioned a little while ago, that I have been working on a long term EPP project - little pink hexies.

These babies have taken me forever, and I was getting quite discouraged. But I had to go on a work trip this past weekend, which meant forced time away from my sewing machine, and I took the opportunity to lug my box of hand piecing with me.

For the first couple of days of my trip, I thought I'd made a mistake, taking up half my suitcase with this project, as I didn't work on it at all, and then a glorious thing happened.  I had an afternoon in front of the telly with my gorgeous nieces, and we sewed.

And by we, I mean *we*.

My eldest niece asked if she could help.  I was a bit nervous, but handed her a pair of hexies and a needle and taught her a simple whip stitch and waited for her to get bored... 4 hours later, she was still going strong! My littlest niece wanted in on the action too, but epp was not her thing.  Instead we pulled the papers out of some pieces, so she could use the squares of fabric and she practiced sewing a straight running stitch, and made her first piece of patchwork.  We turned it into a little pouch for her, and then she was off and making the next little patch, and the next, and the next.


It was so lovely to see them both enjoying sewing, and my big niece, N, said that this was the longest she's sever been off her iPad, so I'm definitely counting that as a win :-)

Not to mention, that all this stitching help meant that I got *heaps* done.  Like I think it's long enough now, and I just need to work on straightening out the edges!! Oh happy days!!!!!


Also, I love looking at this big ball of pink. I know you can't really see what's been achieved by it, but it makes me happy :-)

The girls have requested that I send them down some material so they can keep making themselves.  Of course I will comply, but not sure if they will actually keep going.  I think a part of it was the company.  But I can't complain, that's a big part of why I sew too.  Either way, I'll try to take extra next time I visit, so we can have quality stiching time together.

E xx

P.S.  I have to share one of my favourite photos from the weekend.  We went to the school fete and I fed the girls all the sugar they could handle.  Seriously, we got fairy floss as big as little D's head. <3


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

The not-quite-a-jelly-roll-race

Once upon a time, I found some pretty fabric. I’m not sure what it was about it that I liked - actually, it’d be the butterflies, and the fact that I have nieces. It was right when I started on this crazy fabric addiction, so I grabbed a jelly roll, and it has sat in my stash ever since.


It's a 2012 collection, so looking around the interwebs I can only find one or two pieces still available anywhere.  Interestingly, it's by Patty Sloniger, who also designed Les Amis and Backyard Baby (you know the one with the little bugs in bottles!) both of which I totally love and have hoarded in my sewing room, so it goes to show, that firstly - I love all her stuff  and secondly - I have always had good taste ;-)

Anyway... Back to the quilt.  My pretty little jelly roll arrived wayyyyyyyyy back in 2012/2013 and I pulled it apart and just loved it.  But all together it was a wee bit busy and you couldn’t see the pretty delicate details.  I felt like it needed white…

You know me, by now, so you know that I sat on it for forever and a day...

Snap forward a couple of years and I finally ordered some white fabric on purpose to turn this into something.  In fact, I got really smarty-pants and ordered a white jelly roll, which meant it was already cut up (perfectly) and I had the exactly right number of strips! It’s totally cheating, but they don’t call me the lazy quilter for nothing ;-)

And then the two jelly rolls got tucked into the cupboard side by side (because they were going to go together!.. It’s semi-organised chaos) and waited and waited... See above about how I never actually work on those projects that I mean to..

Well the time had come!!

I grabbed those rolls and got my sew on.  I needed something simple and calming. I wanted to just get back in my groove. I was scared to do something that required exacting piecing. I was even scared to do paper piecing, because, what if I couldn’t sew on the line… I just needed something I knew I could do, ok.  Don’t tell me I’m the only one who has these crises of confidence. I was having a moment.

But I can sew one end to another end, and have that work out ok.


It’s a fake jelly roll race, because I didn’t do the end to end to end to end thing. I paired up a colour and a white and then I laid them out on my floor (super precise in my house) and wiggled them around a bit.

I tried to get the blue vs green vs pink ratios right. And I tried to get the left to right balance right.  I also tried to do random groupings so that there are areas of white and blocks of colour, but, it’s all about balance (isn’t it always).

I’m actually really happy with how it’s come together.  It might not be the most exciting or innovative quilt in the world, but it has that soft calm vibe that I wanted. I think that it will make a little girl very happy. In fact, I think it might be destined for my biggest niece.  Initially I thought too much little girly-ness for her, but I think the white helps to give it a slightly more grown-up, tween vibe. She’s only 9 so pretty much exactly tween size.

It is (as always) a bit of a weird size.  I basically picked a random width that felt about right (60” by the way) and then just laid out all the strips. It’s ended up being about 80” long.  I like that. I like having something wide enough to wrap around yourself and long enough to tuck in your toes. But it’s a weird size for a bed.  I seem to have a very bad habit of ending up with odd shaped quilts, but I’m not going to worry too much about it :-P

I have to grab a backing and then sort out quilting it.  I'd love to do it myself, but there's an awful lot of white there that will show up any mistakes... I have a vision of great big love hearts all over it, but if I mess it up... hmmmm.

But the real question is.. how long do you recon it's going to take before I actually finish this??

E xx

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Pineapples




Once upon a time in Australia, there was a magical place called the Sunshine Coast and on this pristine and golden land the crazy Queenslanders built themselves a majestic monument to all that is good and wholesome and delicious and erected an enormous pineapple.  Being the wordsmiths that Aussies are know to be, they named this epic attraction... The Big Pineapple.

The Big Pineapple is really truly a thing here in Queensland.  It was built in the 1970's and was a major tourist attraction.  Admittedly, it's fallen into disrepair over the last 20 years, but it's something that genuinely epitomizes the Aussie way. (Seriously, if you're coming out to Australia, keep your eyes open for "big things" - you can see almost the whole country on the hunt for the Big Banana, the Big Prawn, the Big Guitar.. we have them all!!)

But why am I telling you about this??  Well I have this friend, who I refer to as a true blue Aussie bogan (a bogan is what we call someone who is working class, or uneducated - it's usually reflected in a broad Australian accent and the wearing of a lot of flannel and ugg boots and probably has the Southern Cross tattooed somewhere on their body... maybe it's not something I can explain in words). Anyway, my best friend (who is highly educated and incredibly intelligent but has the broadest Aussie accent and true patriotism, so I call her a bogan, even though technically she's not one) moved overseas. #sadface

And because I love her, and because I am a quilter, I am doing what quilters do... I am making her a quilt.  But an Aussie quilt. A quilt that screams sunshine and happiness to fill those dreary days in London.  A Pineapple Quilt.

--ooOoo--

It took me forever to figure out that a pineapple was what she needed.  I was going to make a Aussie flag. But that was going to be a pain in the butt because she's the person who needs for all the stars to have the right number points, and the quilt maths was making life hard. Then I was going to make maple leaves, because she originally moved to Canada, and I got started on them, but just wasn't feeling it. Then when she moved to London, I was going to just make a giant Union Jack, but that was British and I wanted something that was Aussie... So I did some quality pouting and then one day it occurred to me that she didn't need a flag, she needed a little bit of Aus. And what's more Aus then the holy grail of our childhoods, the Big Pineapple!

I pretty much cheated the pattern.  I did a google image search for pineapple blocks and then fluked the measurements to upsize it. I cut a bunch of large yellow squares, and laid them out. So far, not particularly exciting...

Yep. Most exciting photo ever...

Then I grabbed some nice bright greens and made big hsts. Then I dipped into my low volume stash and cut another bunch of big squares.  And before I knew it I had a top!!


I spray basted it (#spraybastingforthewin) to a big piece of spotty yellow minky - no wadding for this baby, that minky will be soft and snuggly enough! Then I threw it under my machine and pretended I can quilt.  I literally did big zig zags across the yellow (like a pineapple) and lines up through the green and then a wiggly line down each side through the white - least adventurous quilting ever.

So now all it needs is some binding and this baby is ready to ship off the the motherland ;-)

And honestly, isn't it just so pretty and sunshiney and happy. Don't you just feel like you belong outside in the fresh air and whatnot, just lookin' at it!!


So I'm calling that my fastest ever finish.  Despite wanting to make Jess a quilt for about 3 years, once I knew what I wanted for her, it was less than a month turn around! (And I know it still needs binding, but binding does not deserve it's own blog post - let's just call this one a day ;-) I promise to bind it quick ok.)

E xx

P.S - It's been so long since I blogged that I no longer know where the cool places to link up to are... or if people even do that anymore... So if you have a link up, or know one that you think I might be interested in, please post it in the comments, so I can properly join back in with my favourite peeps - quilty peeps :-)

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Handstitched Hexies

In June last year, Ashley (my hubby) and I went on a whirlwind adventure.  We packed our bags and got on a 36 hour flight (yes there was a break in the middle, but it sure didn't feel like it) and ended up on *literally* the other side of the world.

Grumpy & I checking out the Tower Bridge!! OMG We were in London, yo!
I got to realise a childhood dream and got to visit London. We actually spent about 4 weeks in the UK, and saw soooo much (too much to tell you about here... maybe another time! In fact definitely another time. Consider the post to be in the works as we speak!) because for 2 of those weeks we road tripped. And what's a girl to do on a road trip, but hand sew

I actually did a lot of my prep work at home. I cut all my fabric and glue basted a squillion hexagons.


And then as we tripped around Wales and Scotland and drove through the Lakes District (yes, I am totally subtly bragging right now - it was awesome and the most epic adventure of my life, so I'm going to milk it while I can) I would sew little strips of hexies together until I had rows and rows and then at night I would sit in whatever random hotel or b&b we'd found ourselves in and stitch the rows together.

(just for the record - really hard to take photos while driving and sewing - or passenger-ing and sewing) 

The only problem is, it's been over a year now, and I still feel like I have another 100,000 of these things to sew.  I originally planned to make it single bed size, but now I'm thinking a small lap quilt could be nice... Is that cheating? Am I piking on something that I really should push through with? And of course I have all those pre-cut and basted hexagons and if i don't use them in this, what on earth am I gong to do with them??

It's just, that it's been a year, and while I know I don't work on it as much as I could, I do feel like I drag this all over the place with me.  It's been to weddings, and conferences, and weekends away. It's sat on the couch with me when I've been sick, and sat on the couch with me when I've been faking sick, to get out of doing chores ;-)...


And it's not that I don't love it, I do. So much pink-y goodness. But I'm kind of tired with the same project lasting forever and a day.  I have a short attention span.  So while I really enjoy EPP and having a hand project,  I also like things that get finished in a snap.


Meanwhile, I took it on retreat with me a couple of weeks ago, and, here it is.. In all it's teeny tiny glory...


It looks quite... small.  I swear it's bigger than that, isn't it??

Yeah... Definitely more to do on this one...

E xx