Friday, 15 December 2017

My Gingerbread Village

Well, it's only 10 days until Christmas, and you'll see that I've changed my blog header photo to reflect that.  I love to bring out my cross stitched Gingerbread Village each year.


I haven't made any new buildings this year, but I'm going to get out the Gingerbread Needlework Shop tonight and check where I'm up to.




I've built this village up over the last five years.  I started with the Gingerbread House in 2012, and then the church.  I don't have a favourite, because each one is unique and I've learnt more about the construction with each one.



You can read all about the linen I use and where to buy the patterns on this tab on my blog and see close up photos of each of the buildings.  The patterns are beautifully designed by Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler in Canada.  If you're interested in these designs I recommend you sign up to Thea's newsletters because sometimes she offers Christmas specials.  

Bringing my village out each year and become a tradition and certainly gets me into the Christmas spirit. 


Sunday, 10 December 2017

A Christmas Finish - Holiday Patchwork Forest

I finished my Holiday Patchwork Forest quilt just in time for Christmas.


It's a bit crazy with all those busy fabrics thrown together, but the blocks started out as test blocks for another idea I had. 


It's made from a pattern designed by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter.  I paid $2 and got a pdf pattern here, but she also explains how to make a smaller version of the block for free here


I'm proud to say that the binding is the only fabric I purchased for this quilt.  The rest is all from my stash, including the red Kaffe Fassett for the border, which looks very Christmassy when it's next to that green Roman Glass by Kaffe Fassett.

It's summer time in New Zealand now and we don't need quilts on our beds, so it will be a wall hanging to brighten my house for Christmas. 

Friday, 8 December 2017

WIPs and some flowers

Well, it's December again and I'm trying to finish a couple of small Christmas quilts so I can have them out on display before the 25th.

First up is my "Flocks by Night" by Wendy Williams.  I really enjoyed doing the wool felt applique on this quilt.


But I wasn't happy with one of the wonky stars, so I finally took it out last night and changed it.  Then I basted it, so now I can hand quilt it.


My Holiday Patchwork Forest is almost finished too.  I made it from a pattern designed by Amy Smart of Diary of a Quilter.  I paid $2 and got a pdf pattern here, but she also explains how to make a smaller version of the block for free here







I'm proud to say that the binding is the only fabric I purchased for this quilt.  The rest is all from my stash, including the red Kaffe Fassett for the border, which looks very Christmassy when it's next to that green Roman Glass by Kaffe Fassett.  I need to get a full photo of it this weekend.

At least my Tula Pink Holiday Homies quilt is finished and is draped over the box in the hallway.  You can read how I made it here.


Of course it's summer time here in the Southern Hemisphere.  It's been unusually hot and dry in much of New Zealand and we're on water restrictions now.  Here's some photos of the plants in my garden which are still surviving well, despite the heat.

Agapanthus

Hebe - a New Zealand natvie bush

Lavendar - don't ask which variety
And some amazing hydrangeas spotted on my morning walk:








Thursday, 30 November 2017

Midnight at the Oasis by Jen Kingwell

My thoughts about the Midnight at the Oasis quilt changed completely when I saw Jen Kingwell's quilt in the Tutors Exhibition at our national Quilt Symposium in Christchurch.  (It looked a lot better in real life than it does in this photo.)


I'd heard people talk about how hard it is to make this quilt, but with my newly acquired hand piecing and hand applique skills, I think I could do it if I really wanted to.








I stood and studied Jen's quilt for quite some time.  There are so many different fabrics in it, and set against the grey and black spotty fabric they look great.  Of course the lime green strip appeals to me too.  The hand quilting just finished it off beautifully.






I was so impressed with the quilt in real life that I went straight to the merchant's mall and purchased the pattern for it!!  I don't know when I'll start it, but it will be in the cupboard if I suddenly feel the need to start something new.


Maybe I'll have my own version one day.

Friday, 24 November 2017

A Treasured Time

This time last year I took the plunge and started an embroidery design I had been admiring for quite some time.  It's a special Christmas scene called "A Treasured Time" by Dimensions Gold Collection.


Although I've stitched many cross stitch designs in the past, this is different because it's mainly stitched in half cross stitches and it's on Aida, whereas I'm more used to stitching on linen and evenweave.


I've seen many Russian ladies stitching designs like this on Instagram, and I though it would lovely to have my own piece hanging on the wall at Christmas time.


The stitching is very dense, and there are frequent colour changes, so it's taken me longer than I expected to finish this piece, but it's going to be beautiful when it's framed.


The lovely shading comes about by the frequent blending on threads.  Often three strands are used at once, two of one colour, and one of a completely different colour, but it all works out in the end.


I decided that if I was going to have this piece finished for Christmas 2017 I would need to work on one quarter of the design each quarter of the year.   That worked well for me, but I left all the backstitching and French knots to the end, and that has taken me longer than I expected.  In my mind I thought the backstitching might take a week, but it's actually taken three weeks.  My elbow hurt at times from pushing the needle through the very dense stitching.


But as you can see from this photo, the backstitching really brings out the design.  Compare the windows on the right to those on the left - a huge difference.

I'm hoping to get it finished this weekend, and off to the framers early next week.  I don't know if they can do it time for Christmas or not, but I will be happy to have achieved my goal of finishing it by Christmas 2017.


Friday, 17 November 2017

Peacock at Sunset cushion

My Peacock at Sunset cushion (pillow) is finished! It was a wool tapestry kit from Ehrman. They make many beautiful kits which are often stocked by local embroidery shops.



I know some of you think I whip things up overnight, but here's the facts:
December 2014 - I received this tapestry for Christmas (self selected gifts are always the best).
2015 - I didn't touch it at all
March 2016 - I started it on a work weekend away in Rotorua
Feb 2017 - I had about half of it done
August 2017 - I finished the stitching
November 2017 - it's finished!!

The kit includes a pre-printed canvas and all the wool you need.  There's also a diagram provided, but it's better to just follow the design on the canvas if possible. Every single space gets covered and the texture is nice and thick.



I started off with it on a frame, but then decided it would be easier without a frame.  It did get a bit warped, but it was stretched and corrected during the finished process.

the back with a hidden zip


I have made some cushions myself, but the people at Nancy's Stitch Studio do such a beautiful job so I send my very best pieces to them.  See how they applied the cord perfectly? And matched the stripes on the Kaffe Fassett fabric I provided? I would rather pay them to do it than fiddle about myself at home.  There's a zip so I can remove the insert if necessary.

Finished size - 14" x 13"

I'm tempted to make another cushion like this one day.  I thought that tapestry would be easy and quick compared to embroidery, but I was wrong.  It took quite a few months of quietly plugging away, but I'm very pleased with the outcome.  I'm still browse the beautiful designs on the Ehrman site, but I have so many other things I want to make too.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Patchwork Doodle with Sherri Lynn Wood

Yes, another class!!

A few weeks ago I attended a class with Sherri Lynn Wood.  You might have heard of her - she's written a book called:
The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters (shown on the flyer on my cutting mat below).


Sherri was in New Zealand for Symposium, but had agreed to stay on and teach a few classes for one of the local guilds.

The class I attended was called Patchwork Doodle.  Sherri explained lots of techniques for using up scraps, and then left us to each work out what we could do with the fabrics we had bought along.  The big challenge for me was that there were no rulers allowed!!

All the cutting was done freehand, which was a bit scary at first, but I soon got into it.


Sherri was clearly more used to working in solids, and was probably horrified at us putting pattern with pattern, but hey, if we're going to go improv we may as well go all out.

I tested my piece against some different fabrics when I got home, but I don't see this getting finished anytime soon.  I've tried, but I don't really think freehand improv is my thing.

There are just so many other things that I enjoy doing more at the moment.


I chose to attend this class because it was close to my house, and Sherri may never come back to New Zealand to teach again.  My motto is - seize the opportunity while you can.  You don't know what you might learn until you take part.