Friday 26 September 2014

My crazy patchwork elephant

There hasn't been a lot of sewing going on here this week because I've been sick. As I've got nothing new to show you, I thought I'd show you something I made a few years ago. This is my crazy patchwork elephant that lives in our lounge.

with his blanket on

Some of you have commented that my house must be filled with beautiful things, but just understand, this elephant sits beside the large flat screen TV, the MySky, the PS4, the PS3 and the WiiU (ie gaming central). I do have a few of my tasteful items scattered around the house amongst the nerf guns, shin pads, football gear and school books, but it will be a few years yet before I gain total control of the house.

without the blanket

I learnt to make this elephant at a class at Nancy's Embroidery about 5 years ago. It was taught by a lady who worked for Bernina at the time.

The class sample had been made from silk fabrics, but I didn't fancy working with silk, so I chose a range of cotton quilting fabrics that worked well together.

We were give templates and traced each them onto interfacing. We then did crazy patchwork over the templates until they were filled.  Most people did their crazy patchwork on their fancy machines, but I chose to do mine by hand using perle threads and a variety of embroidery stitches.

We put crushed granite in the base of each leg so the elephant would be stable and stand up easily. We stuffed the body and added the finishing touches such as the tail, the eyes and the blanket.  I got my braids from a wonderful shop in Wellington which has now closed down. It was called Scherazad Silks and was run by an old Sikh man who imported wonderful silks and braids. I really enjoyed choosing the braids for the blanket in that shop.

the other side

It was a challenge to make a 3 dimensional object. Getting the ears in just the right place was probably the hardest part, but I did really enjoy making this elephant. Now I look at him each night when I get to relax in front of TV at the end of the day.

The facts:
his back is 10" high
his trunk is 14" high
he is 17" long

Monday 22 September 2014

A progress report

I've been working on quite a few different projects over the last week. On the quilting side I've finished the machine quilting on my Trellis Crossroads batik quilt, and only have to put on the binding, sleeves and label now. I love how this quilt looks, but I will not be working with batiks again in the near future. Hand quilting was nearly impossible, and even machine quilting was difficult because the fabric is quite slippery. Anyway, I'm very happy with how it looks.

I don't know if this qualifies as match stick quilting or not. My lines are 0.5" and 0.75" apart. I quilted out from the central diamond, and then out to the edges.

I had two people tell me to darn the ends in, so I did that. Is that what everyone else does, or do you just cut them off close to the quilt? I'd be interested to know.

I'm surprised at how long it took to machine quilt using this method. My friend Jo used Free Motion stipple quilting on a whole quilt and it only took her one hour. This quilt is only 40" by 40" and it took quite a few hours for the machine quilting.

On Saturday I attended the first Needlelace lesson, and as expected, made minimal progress.

Yes, this is two hours work, but I did get instructions on how to make all of the middle flower before the next lesson in a month's time, and how to prepare the base for another flower. Since Saturday morning I've done a bit more:

two rows of button hole stitch on the outer ring

My eyes do get tired doing this, so I've been swapping to my Northern Expressions Needlework Celtic Snow piece when that happens:

Celtic Snow by Northern Expressions Needlework

Yes, both of these pieces are on the same lovely hand dyed linen. I ordered it for the Celtic Snow, and found I had enough left over for the Needlelace. The threads are light for one and dark for the other, so the fact that I've just the same linen will hardly be noticeable when they are finished.

I hope you have a good week and get lots done. School holidays start next week for us and I will be driving my boys to study tutorials and cricket coaching, so I don't expect to get a lot done then.

Friday 19 September 2014


As I mentioned in my Around the World blog hop post, I'm starting a new Needlelace class tomorrow. This is an extension class for those who have completed the first class. I certainly went to all the lessons for the first class, but sadly I still haven't finished my sampler. The good news is that I did pick it up this week and started working on it again - more on that later.

First, and more excitingly, is the piece I'm going to start tomorrow. This was what we had to do before the first lesson:

This is called 'preparing the grid'. I did this by carefully marking out the box and stitching rows of four sided stitch around it.

I then did a row of satin stitch inside the four sided stitch. Next I marked out the threads that were to remain, and then I started cutting very, very carefully.

I left 4 threads at each of the marked points.

Then I wrapped the threads with an over and under motion, being careful not to overwrap them and leave them distorted (although some of mine are a little bit).

Wrapped bars
So I'm already to start tomorrow. The picture below is what we are aiming to create. We'll see how that goes!

As for the piece I started two years ago. I have made a little bit of progress this week. I had to remember how to do Corded Brussels stitch and picots, but I'll probably need them tomorrow so it was a good refresher.  Here is is now:

a small bit of progress has been made on the left hand side

This was how I left it two years ago

So some progress has been made and I'm ready for tomorrow.

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Mini Medallion Quiltalong - part 4

I spent most of Saturday adding the latest border to the Mini Medallion Quiltalong published by Clover and Violet. This is how mine looks now.

Mini Medallion Quiltalong

The third border was Snowballs, which I hadn't made before. Although my border looks fine from a distance, when I get up close I can see that some of the patterned fabrics aren't lying totally straight. I"m not going to go back and change it, but I will just remember not to use directional fabrics for snowballs again.

I had two aims when I joined this quiltalong:
1. to learn some new techniques which would help with selected borders for the Possum Magic round robin
2. to use the fat quarters I had won earlier in the year.

Well I can't say that I've really used much of the fat quarters I won, but I have used plenty of the fabrics I bought to complement them.

There are two more borders to go, and I still intend to use those fat quarters I won. I'll have to because I'm running out of the other fabrics I purchased.

An unexpected bonus of this quiltalong is that I've met some new quilters online, and I'm now following their progress on the quiltalong too. Here's a snapshot of some other people's progress:

Friday 12 September 2014

Possum Magic - Rebecca's block

Another Possum Magic deadline is drawing near, so this week I finished adding my border to Rebecca's block. I really enjoyed working on her block - it allowed me to use red which I hardly ever use in my own quilts.

This is what it looks like now:

Rebecca's Possum Magic block

Rebecca of One Wee Bird (from Tauranga, NZ) made the centre, which features one wee bird appliqued onto the teal background:

Then Alice of Blossom Quilts (Wellington, NZ) made the first border which is soft and delicate:

Then it was my turn and I added the second border in brighter colours. Rebecca lives in the beautiful Bay of Plenty which is hot and sunny, and has a great surf beach called Mt Maunganui.  I thought Rebecca would like a bit of sunny yellow in her quilt. I also used red to complement the background colour in her central motif.

I decided to keep the pieces quite large to preserve the lovely designs. I followed Gwen Marston's Liberated Quilts book and made the border from various sized pieces.

I included one special fabric for Rebecca - a little bird, which even has some chicks in the nest (although 3 of Rebecca's chicks are a bit big for that):

I've sent it all onto Sharon of Motherdragon's Musings in Queensland today, including quite a large piece of the birdie fabric which anyone else is welcome to use in future borders.

You can check out the progress of the other blocks (including mine) in the Possum Magic tab at the top of my blog. I just love what Jo and Sharon have done to mine so far. It currently looks like it will glow in the dark, but I don't think it's quite that bright in real life:

A Halloween mini

Although my pattern for the gingerbread Halloween House hasn't arrived yet, I started to think about how I will display it when it's finished (which definitely isn't going to be for Halloween 2014).

I've seen lots of cute mini quilts about lately, so I thought I could make a little mini for it to sit on when it's done.

from Spotlight NZ - $5 each

 Halloween isn't really celebrated in a big way here, so most quilt shops here don't bother getting in special quilting fabric. However, I was driving past Spotlight today and thought they might have some Halloween fabrics. I popped in for a look and was really pleased that I did. They had these fabrics as fat quarters and also by the metre if you need more for something bigger.

Now I just need to browse the internet for a suitable pattern. I'm already thinking of how I can finish it off with a bit of hand embellishment in metallic threads!  Fun times ahead.

Monday 8 September 2014

Around the World Blog Hop = Eye Candy

Hello and welcome to another blog hop. This one is different, I promise. I won't repeat the things I wrote for the New Bloggers Blog Hop, though you can read them on the 'About Me' tab at the top if you're interested. Just a warning - this post will be a little bit longer than usual, but it is full of eye candy so hopefully you'll enjoy it.

I was asked to do this blog hop by three different people, and I truly recommend that you take a look at their blogs if you don't know them already. I have a special connection with each of these ladies:

Helen of Till we Quilt Again lives in New Jersey, USA. I met Helen through the online Bloggers' Quilt Festival earlier this year. Helen announced that she and I must have been separated at birth, because we both have very similar tastes. Helen's quilt below probably says it better than I can. I adore this quilt.

Helen's from Till We Quilt Again 

- Vreni of Oops-Lah is a Swiss lady who currently lives in Singapore. The connection there is that Vreni and her husband are both accountants, just like my husband and I. Vreni puts a lot of work into each of her quilts and they are all beautiful.

Vreni's fish quilt - there's even some Kaffe Fassett ones in there!

- Wendy of The Crafter's Apprentice lives in the UK. Wendy and I both have the same initials (WW) and we both admire the work of Wendy Williams - another crafter with WW initials (more on her later). Wendy is making it her mission to try out as many crafts as possible.

Wendy's blackwork embroidery

1. What am I working on?

Well, I've only just realised this now after posting the photo of Helen's quilt above, but my Trellis Crossroads may well have been subconsciously inspired by Helen's quilt at the top of this post.

Trellis Crossroads from Modern Bee book

Note any similarities? Bright colours on a very dark background. I've had some batik charm squares lying around for a year, and I wanted to try out the Trellis Crossroads pattern, so I made this mini. It's 40" x 40" and I intend to turn it into a wall hanging.

I love the colours, but I've discovered that Batiks are very difficult to hand quilt because they are woven very densely. I've given up on the hand quilting and am now going for a combination of hand and machine quilting, both in hot pink.

I'm also still working on "Your Place or Mine?" BOM by Wendy Williams of Material Obsession in Sydney. This is wool felt applique all done by hand. It started a year ago and I'm at least 80% done. This photo just shows the centre diamond - I have done more than that.

my progress

Wendy William's finished quilt

It's going to be amazing when it's finished.

When I'm not quilting, I love doing embroidery. Both Vreni and Wendy mentioned my Gingerbread Village.

my Gingerbread Village by The Victoria Sampler

Would you believe that I've just ordered the pattern and accessories for the Halloween House? We don't even really get into Halloween in New Zealand, but this house is so cute, and we all loved candy corn when we visited USA at Halloween time. I hand dyed the linen for roof myself, so that was a learning experience. I had to mix black and purple to get a lovely dark shade shown in the photo below. The accessories pack contains all the cute beads used on the house below.

photo from The Victoria Sampler

I'm also supposed to be working on this needlelace embroidery which has been untouched for 2 years, but will be finished in 2014:

Needlelace embroidery

Of course I've also got other projects on the go too, but I won't list them all here or this post will never be finished.

2. Where do I get my inspiration from?

I found a lot of inspiration in the online Bloggers' Quilt Festival held back in May. These festivals are held twice a year so I recommend that you keep an eye out for the next one in October. Anyone can enter, and anyone can vote.

I just loved this quilt made by Lori of Sew French. It's called Blown' in the Wind and it's all hand quilted in free style lines and circles to represent the wind moving through the trees. This quilt deservedly won the Hand Quilted section of the festival in May 2014.

"Blowin' In the Wind" quilt by Sewfrench w/Oakshott fabrics
Lori's quilt - Blown' in the Wind 

I've browsed blogs for a few years now. I follow about 150 blogs via Bloglovin. It's such a time saver because you don't need to keep visiting the blogs to see when people have posted, Bloglovin keeps track of it all for you. I save photos of quilts that I like, and revisit them when I'm looking for inspiration.

I joined Instagram a few weeks ago too - @wendysquiltsandmore
I was a bit hesitant to join, but I wanted to see how other people were going with their Mini Medallion quilt a longs, and they were using Instagram rather than Flickr, so I had to sign up. Instagram tends to be more photos of work in progress than blogs, but I've found it to be an source of inspiration.

I don't buy a lot of quilt books, but I do have about 5 Kaffe Fassett books. I love his use of colour and the unique quilt designs he comes up with.  I've made his Tumbling Blocks and Bordered Diamonds patterns, both in non-Kaffe Fassett fabrics.

Tumbling Blocks

Bordered Diamonds

I also love Wendy Williams designs. She doesn't have her own blog, but she is on Facebook
and has an online pattern shop

This is a table runner / wall hanging that I made from one of Wendy's patterns:

my Flower Garden wall hanging

the wool felt applique 

3. How is my work different from others?
I'm surprised at the number of people who have said their work isn't any different from other people's. I think everyone's work is different in some way. Whether it's the fabrics, the colours or the stitching, I think everyone's work is unique a reflective of them.

I tend to take a pattern and change it up a bit to fit what I like, and what will suit my house. I made these cushions by merging two of Wendy William's patterns:

my wool felt applique cushion
Wendy William's design

I hope you've enjoyed reading a bit more about what I enjoy making. In retrospect it's all very bright, and maybe that's why the green needlelace has sat untouched for two years - it's not bright enough to hold my interest. Here's a sneak peak at my next needlelace project. The classes start on 20 September and I've already done about 10 hours prep. I might be more successful with this one. Can I turn this piece of linen into the picture below it? Stay tuned to find out.

my fabric and thread

the design we are going to make in just 3 lessons!!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Canvas work Part 2

Lots of kind people commented on the canvas work designs I showed in my last post - thank you. As promised, here's two more canvas work pieces that I've made. These designs are by Laura J Perin, and they are definitely available in stores and online if you'd like to try canvas work yourself. Laura has a huge range of designs on her website.

Color Study: Starry Nights

For this first one (Starry Night) I used the colours specified in the pattern - there was no need to change them because I love these colours. I used DMC stranded cotton, Perle 5, Caron Watercolors, Kreinik metallics and some beads.

Starry Nights is part of Laura's American Quilt Collection where she has designed canvas works based on quilt blocks. Here's a link if you'd like to see more.

The second one is Jewel Box from Laura's Impressionist Collection. The original design has a lot more green in it than mine, but I knew I wanted this one to sit alongside Starry Night in our bedroom, so I changed the colours.

Jewel Box - done in my own colours

Laura gives good instructions on how to change the colour palettes. She suggests starting with a variegated thread of your choice, and then choosing complementary threads from there. Color Complements has a fantastic range of hand dyed threads I will certainly be browsing their selection before I start anymore canvas work. Yes, I do still have a couple more patterns upstairs waiting to be started. Top of the pile would have to be this one:

Fandango Sky - from Laura J Perin's website

I can hear the shouts of horror from some people already, but I love it. No, I won't be changing the colours  - I love the pink and orange together and the sparkly beads too.

When I took these latest two pieces to the framer, I requested frames to match those on the other canvas works. So I now have 5 pieces all in the same size and style of frame.