Thursday, 14 November 2019

Marshal Mystery Quilt (and the Peacock Party)

It's a long time since I've talked about the Marshal Mystery Quilt, designed by Jen Kingwell.  The final layout has just been revealed at Houston (as shown below) and in Quiltmania magazine, so it's a good time to revisit my blocks and think about how I will proceed.

At this stage I think I'm going to come up with a different layout.  I can't say that I'm in love with the final layout, and I haven't come this far to join my blocks in a way that I don't love.   I very much doubt that Jen Kingwell has time to read blogs, but if you are reading Jen - I'm sorry! This one just doesn't grab me in the way that some of your other designs do. 

I like the giant X effect, but I don't like how it dissects the semicircle blocks.  I can't see how I can have both features in the same quilt, so something is going to have to give. 

I stalled on part 4 because by the time I had cut all the pieces out, something else exciting had come along - I can't even remember what that was now! I also struggled to hand piece that centre semicircle and wanted to ask for advice from my hand piecing tutor at Symposium.  Wendy Whellum said that she would just applique the semicircle on, so that's what I'm going to do for the next 7 blocks.

Also, shortly after I received the instruction for part 4, part 5 was released in Europe and I started seeing photos of how part 5 looked.  I didn't like how the fabrics in the external arcs in part 5 alternated, so I decided to wait and see the full quilt layout before I stitched parts 4 and 5.

Gosh I'm sounding picky, but this is the downside of doing a mystery quilt.  It's easy to get swept up in the initial stages and join in making blocks, but when you see the final quilt it might be quite different to what you were expecting. 

Sadly seeing the final result hasn't spurred me in to action - it's left me with a load of small blocks, yards of Jen's Lollies fabric, and no clear plan of what I'm going to do with it all.

A number of people in the Facebook group have said that they are going to devise a different layout too, so I'm interested to see what they come up with.

I'm not going to abandon this because I do like the centre block and I spent hours and hours making it and the blocks for parts 2 and 3.  I think I'll still made parts 4 and 5, and by the time I've done that maybe other people will have presented some different layouts.

Let me know if you've got any suggestions please.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  Feel free to link up a recent blog post and let us know what you've been up to.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Thursday, 7 November 2019

Giraffes cushion - and the Peacock Party

Firstly, thank you for all the kind comments on my Tongariro Crossing quilt.

This week I'm pleased to say that I've finished my Giraffes cushion - designed by Kim McLean from Australia - best known for her Glorious Applique designs with Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

I finished the tapestry months ago, and then I took it in to Nancy's Stitch Studio to be stretched and turned into a cushion.  After that it lay on my sewing table for a few weeks as I psyched myself up to make the tassels.

Tassels are one of those things (like pom poms) that appear easy, and basic craft, but when you've got high standards, they can end up taking 3 days!!!

Yes, I fluffed around with tassels this week.  I wanted each one to be the same as the others, and I wanted them evenly spaced around the cushion.

They're on now, and they look great.  I'm going to record what I did here, in case a tassel ever falls off and I need to make a replacement! Mind you, this cushion isn't for sitting on - it's just for looking at!!!

I used the same DMC tapestry wool shades as used in the cushion. There is 8m in each skein.
- I cut one 2m length into 8 equal pieces - 25cm each
- I cut the remaining 6m into 4 equal pieces of 1.5m each
- I wrapped the long pieces around the four fingers on my left hand.
- I used one short piece to secure the top with a knot. I left those ends long, and later used them to attach the tassel to the cushion.  I darned them through the tapestry in opposite directions and tied another knot.  I then threaded those ends into the tassel.
- I used another short piece to bind the tassel. I tied a knot when done, and then used a crochet hook to pull those ends through the tassel.
- I trimmed the ends nicely.

I used Kaffe Fassett on the back - of course!

Kim has designed 5 cushions, and can purchase them through the Crewel Gobelin in Sydney, Australia. They are the only shop authorised to sell them.

I used tent stitch as recommended, and although it takes longer, the coverage is beautiful and it all looks so even.  It looks good sitting beside my Peacock at Sunset tapestry cushion here.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  Feel free to link up a recent blog post and show us all what you've been up to lately.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 1 November 2019

Tongariro Crossing (and the Peacock Party)

I've finished my Sue Spargo quilt and I love it.

Sue Spargo has called this pattern "Nature Trail", but my quilt doesn't look anything like a walk in the woods.  The colours in my quilt make me think of a volcano, so I'm calling my version "Tongariro Crossing".

The Tongariro Crossing is 20km (12 mile) hike across an active volcano in the middle of New Zealand's North Island.  Click here for details.  There are trees and birds at the start and end of the track, but up at the summit it's very barren and you can see into the crater lake of the volcano.  The website recommends that people check the level of volcanic activity before they set out!!!  Don't worry, the track will be closed if there's any danger.

I haven't done the Tongariro Crossing hike, and I don't intend to, but I've seen plenty of photos and it does look amazing.

I made this quilt during a mystery stitch along with Sue Spargo in 2016.  My inspiration fabric was this beautiful Anna Maria Horner fabric pictured above, called Folk Song Minor Chords. I also wanted to include some of this fabric below in this quilt:

Each month Sue released another pattern and most of them included some hand embroidery.  I loved doing the hand stitching, and I learnt some new stitches with the help of my Sue Spargo Creative Stitching book.

I used Sue Spargo's Wonderfil variegated threads for most of the hand stitching. These threads are Perle 8 thickness and made by Wonderfil. Lots of shops stock them because they are great for embellishing quilts. I love using them for wool felt applique. 

Yes, those Wonderfil threads are addictive.  I won't tell you how many I have in my cupboard.

I put stabiliser on the back of my blocks to support the hand embroidery, but then I realised that I wouldn't be able to hand quilt it.  So I did a bit of machine quilting myself, but it wasn't enough and I was too timid to try free motion quilting on this quilt.  Although it's not a big quilt, it is quite heavy due to the extra stabiliser, and I couldn't move it freely on my domestic Bernina.

So a few months ago I took it into my local long arm quilter, Sue Burnett at Busy Bee Quilt Shop, and she kindly finished it for me.  I suspect finishing someone else's quilting is like doing sewing repairs, so I do appreciate Sue helping me out.

I'd had the binding cut and waiting in the cupboard for more than a year, so it only took a day or two to put it on.  Now my quilt is finished!!!

Size: 49' x 64" (124cam x 162cam)
Pattern: Nature Trail by Sue Spargo

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been up to this week? Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 25 October 2019

Good Fortune (and the Peacock Party)

Remember that Good Fortune quilt that I started in the Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt sew along last year? Well, I've finally started hand quilting it.

I like to use lots of colours of thread in my hand quilting

I know Bonnie is currently leading a tour group through Kenya, but I also know that as soon as she's back in the USA she will be announcing her next mystery quilt.

I will NOT be joining in the next mystery quilt.  Don't laugh - I will be strong.  I have enough on my plate at present without diving into something else.  I enjoyed making Good Fortune and being part of a large world wide group working on the same quilt, but I don't need to do it again in a hurry.

I actually find mystery quilts a bit challenging, because I like to plan my fabrics a few steps ahead.  I'm keeping up with the Jen Kingwell Marshal mystery quilt in QuiltMania, but I'm not going to sew step 5 until I see the final layout and know how the arcs on part 5 fit in.

Anyway, back to Good Fortune.  I know Bonnie will host a big link up party in February and anyone can link up any of her mystery quilts that they have finished since the last link party.  I would love to have this quilt finished by then and included in the link up.

I want to keep the quilting quite simple on this quilt.  There are a lot of seams due to all the tiny pieces, and I want to avoid them as much as possible. It's tough on my hands pulling the needle through bulky seams. 

On the orange and red sections I'm going to quilt diagonally across the block, and then in the ditch around the central square.  I'll also quilt in the ditch around the edge of each of the blocks.  I'll do all this quilting in 28wt Aurifil because it's thinner and doesn't compete with the busyness of the block.

12wt Aurifil looks great here

On the blue and green blocks I'm going to quilt 4 straight lines down the centre of each column in 12wt Aurifil, and one line down the centre ditch in 28wt Aurifil.  I'll use thicker thread here so it shows up more. The outside lines will be in blue thread, and the inside lines will be in green thread.  The central line with be in white so it's not too obvious.  I love including lots of colours in my quilting.

28wt looked too thin for this area

Comparing 12wt and 28wt - it's hard to see in this photo

If I'm uncertain about something, I never pull out my stitches until I have another option to compare against.  I stitched a different area with 12wt and decided that it looked better, so now I'll go back and pull out the 28wt.

So, I have a plan now.  I don't always have a master plan before I start.  I just put in a few stitches and see how it looks.  If I think it needs more, I add more.  If I don't like it, I try a new idea and then pull out the original stitches.  There's always so many options, so it all comes down to personal taste, and how much time you want to spend on a quilt.  I'll keep you posted on progress.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  Feel free to link up a recent blog post, AND feel free to link up any finished Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilts you have - or any good Fortune quilts still in progress.  If you've got more than one of Bonnie's mystery quilts, link up multiple times.  Lets motivate each other to get these mystery quilts finished in time for the big link up in February.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter

Friday, 18 October 2019

Symposium survey results (and the Peacock Party)

Thank you to everyone who filled in my survey.  I received 111 responses which certainly exceeded my expectations.

The best news is that everyone was very pleased with their tutors.  The Symposium committee did a great job of selecting skilled tutors who taught inspiring classes.

Our excellent tutor, Margaret Sampson George third from left

The New Zealand Quilt Symposium model is a unique model in quilting these days.  A group of volunteers offer to run:
- five days of classes with national and international tutors
- an exhibition showcasing the best of New Zealand quilting
- a Merchants Mall with at least 20 different retailers present for all six days
- lunch time lectures and trunk shows from the international tutors
- an opening ceremony and prize giving
- a gala dinner (with entertainment) for at least 300 people
- a closing ceremony
- happy hours after classes (drinks)
- accommodation services for tutors and some participants
and the list goes on...........

It's a huge undertaking, and I'm very grateful to the Auckland symposium committee for organising this event.

Personally, I think it's time to revisit this model and engage professional event managers to run our national quilting event, but I seem to be in the minority.  Maybe I'm ahead of the times, but as long as people keep volunteering, it will keep being run by volunteers.

Anyway, time for the survey results.  Remember, these graphs don't cover everyone who attended, just those who answered the survey, but with 111 responses, I think this data is fairly representative.

I received quite a few comments about the hostel accommodation.  Although it must have been handy to stay on site, there were multiple access issues with people being locked out of their rooms, and locked out of the school grounds.  Is it essential for symposium to provide hostel accommodation? I don't see it as a core part of symposium. 

With 70% of respondents attending with a friend, maybe people could share motels in future rather than staying in a hostel on site.

Wow! 88% of attendees are aged 50 or more.  57% of attendees are aged 60 or more.
I'm still pondering on this information, and what it might mean for the future of quilting in NZ.  Does it just mean that we wait until our kids are a bit older and we have more spare time and money before we get into quilting?

I find this result a bit disappointing! I thought that a lot more people would have had quilts hanging in the exhibition.  I know symposium conditions can seem limiting, but I do hope you all enter local shows.  80% of respondents said they belong to a guild, and 46% said they belong to Aotearoa Quilters.  So please do enter your local shows and let others see your quilts.

As for what we did at Symposium? The Merchants' Mall was the clear winner.  Everyone likes to shop when they go to a quilting event. Some people live in quite remote parts of NZ and don't have a local quilt shop, so they had a good excuse to shop.  Many tutors recommended their favourite tools, so lots of us bought new scissors, needles, threads etc.  Thank you to all the vendors who had stalls at symposium.

Most of us spent less than $500, but some people either bought a whole lot of little things, or they ordered a new sewing machine while they were at symposium.  Congratulations!!

some of my shopping

So, that's a high level summary of the survey results.  I gave people the option of leaving a comment at the end of the survey, and I have read them all, but I'll just summarise some recurrent themes here:

- don't mess with our morning tea!!!!
I know it's a particularly NZ thing, but we like a break for morning and afternoon tea.  Productivity rises after we've had a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit.
If you say "morning tea" that means a snack is included.  If you just say "tea and coffee is provided", we know to bring our own snacks.
I understand a late decision was made to cancel the snacks and save on costs, but if the committee had just sent out an email, we would have known to bring our own snacks, or biscuits to share.

- gala dinner
The gala dinner was a great evening with good food and wonderful entertainment.  It was a lovely surprise to have the Topp Twins entertain us. 

- venue
There were quite a few issues raised about the venue.
The area for happy hour was way too cramped and meant that the purpose of happy hour (sharing what you'd learnt or worked on that day), was lost.
The area for the exhibitions was also cramped.  I know the committee did their very best, but unfortunately it was difficult to appreciate the beauty of many of the quilts in a classroom situation.
There was no large area to sit and eat lunch and meet new people.

There were other points raised too, but I don't want to turn this into a list of everything that could have been done differently.  The event was run by volunteers, and they gave up a huge amount of their time to make it the very best that they could. We all appreciate that.

As for the next symposium, Rose City Quilters in Palmerston North are running a mini symposium from 1-4 October 2020 in Palmerston North.  You can register now and secure a registration number which determines the order in which class placements are allocated.  Click here for their website.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.  What have you been up to while I've been busy analysing survey results?  Feel free to link up a recent blog post below.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter