Saturday 31 January 2015

La Passacaglia progress

If you're looking for my Grow Your Blog post, please click here. 

I've been working on la passacaglia for 5 weeks now and this is what I've achieved in that time. I was on holiday for most of that time so I don't expect to achieve this much every 5 weeks.

I'm really pleased with my progress, but can see that it's going to take at least the rest of this year to make this quilt. I don't mind that - I always knew a hand pieced quilt would take a long time.

There are 2 main reasons why it's slow going:

1. choosing the fabrics is very time consuming (for me at least). I plan out a rosette, but after I've stitched a row I change my mind about what fabric I want to use next. I building up quite a little pile of cut pieces that haven't been used yet.  I'm learning not to cut too far in advance, and just wait and see what will work as it grows. I also think it helps to have 2 rosettes on the go at once and I can swap between them while I think about the fabrics to use.

2. Hand stitched glue basted pieces is not easy. I'm finding it quite hard on my hands and I can't stitch for long periods of time. I still much prefer the glue basting to hand basting, so will just keep going slowly.

Unfortunately my mind is working way ahead of my hands, and I keep dreaming up great fabric combinations that I'm afraid I will forget. My sewing table is covered in piles of fabric which I intend to use in due course.

Interestingly, these were my initial fabric selections for this quilt.

I've used a five of these fabrics so far, but it's the overall look of the Kaffe Fassett Millefiori in the background that I'm trying to achieve, and I think I'm going OK with that.

In case you're feeling tempted and wondering how to join this craze, I ordered the book, templates and paper pieces from in USA. Think long and hard before you decide to start though - it's occupying every spare moment of my time at present.

Oh, and there's a facebook group now too for those making the quilt
Millefiori/ La Passacaglia English Paper Piecing
You need to ask to join, but they are a friendly and supportive bunch.

I'm linking up with Blossom Heart Quilts and Freshly Pieced this week.

Sunday 25 January 2015

Grow Your Blog 2015 and Giveaway

This is a special blog post for Grow Your Blog 2015.

Hello, and welcome to my blog. Thanks you for stopping by. I know this is a busy time as everyone tries to visit as many new blogs as possible, so I'll keep this quite short. You can always come back later if you like what you see.

My name is Wendy and I live in Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand. I'm in my late 40's, happily married with two teenage sons. I work part time as an accountant and fit my quilting and embroidery in around work and family commitments.

the view from my house

I started my blog just over a year ago, and since then I have met so many lovely online friends. I discovered people with similar tastes and styles as my own through the Grow Your Blog event in 2014. I'm still in regular contact with some of those people now because we follow each others blogs and Instagram accounts. I'm @wendysquiltsandmore on Instagram if you'd like to look me up.

I try to blog at least once a week, and sometimes I even manage two posts in a week. Some people tell me they come to visit my blog for a burst of colour. That's probably because I just love colour - there's no white or grey in my stash!

Trellis Crossroads

Trellis Crossroads is one of the quilts I made in 2014. I saw this block on the internet made with a white background. I've never made anything with a white background, so I decided to use some bright batiks against a navy background. I quilted it with hot pink cotton.

Bordered Peacocks

I also finished my Bordered Diamonds quilt in 2014. I used a Kaffe Fassett pattern, and the beautiful Plume range from Timeless Treasurers. I hand quilted this quilt over more than a year. We have it on our bed in winter.

My version ofla passacaglia

This year I'll be working on my la passacaglia quilt. It's all hand stitched using the English Paper Piecing method. I intend to use the Kaffe Fassett Paperweight fabrics as my inspiration. You can see all my other quilting WIPs here.

Gingerbread Village

I also love embroidery and I have many hand stitching projects on the go. I finished the Candy Cane Cottage and Bakery in the Gingerbread Village in 2014, and would like to add two more buildings in 2015 (the patterns are from The Victoria Sampler). You can see my full 2015 embroidery list here.

The tabs at the top of my blog link to more photos of my quilts and embroidery. Possum Magic is a round robin that I'm part of and you can see how each of the 8 quilts are progressing as they move between the members in Australia and New Zealand. I've made great friends though Possum Magic and I'm so glad I found those ladies through the 2014 New Quilt Bloggers Blog Hop.

We all need more fabric, so I'm running a give away of the 5 fat quarters below.

If you'd like to win, please leave me a comment below. Any comment will do, but if you need a prompt, you could tell me where you went for your last holiday. 

My last holiday - Muriwai, Auckland, New Zealand

Followers old and new can get a second entry by leaving a second comment telling me how you follow. It could be bloglovin, feedly, GFC, instagram etc.

This giveaway is open to everyone (including international participants). If you are a no-reply blogger, please leave your email address in the comment.

The giveaway will stay open until Feb 15 2015 (PST Time), and I will use the random number generator at to pick the winner. Good luck everyone, and thank you for visiting my blog.

Thursday 22 January 2015

Symposium shopping and other news

I've had a lovely long summer holiday, but I had to go back to work this week and will be working every day for the next three weeks. I'm sure I'll still fit some sewing in, but it's always a busy time when the kids go back to school and work starts up again.

I"ll be taking part in the Grow Your Blog event which starts this weekend. Vicki compiles a massive list of blogs taking part, and everyone can explore blogs which may be new to them. I'll provide a link to the list when it goes live.

In the mean time, here's what I've been up to.

I showed you some of the beautiful quilts from the exhibition at Symposium, but I didn't show you what I bought.

Symposium purchases

I bought Quiltmania because it's got a review of the Sydney Quilt Show (Australia) and I knew there were photos of Wendy Williams' amazing quilts in there.

The Tuscany Tote bag pattern is one that I've considered making for sometime. I won't be using Downtown Abby fabrics, though they do look nice in the photo.

The most significant purchase was those 3 rolls of thread. It's Superior Threads Wonderfil Dazzle, a metallic/rayon with a sparkle in it!!

It's just perfect for this large scrappy quilt which is my oldest WIP. I made this jelly roll style quilt with the leftovers from my Bordered Peacock quilt. It's been sitting in it's current form for about 18 months now, however I'm feeling quite excited about it again now that I finally have a plan. I stumbled across the water drops quilting pattern last week (overlapping circles) and now I have an amazing thread. This thread is quite thick - think Perle 8, but the metallic bits are so well embedded that you don't even feel them and the thread will still glide through the needle. This will be my winter hand quilting project for 2015.

Funnily enough I feel quite naughty each time I walk past this thread on the table. I just know what some of my friends will say about it. However, I don't mind. It's me and I love it.

In other news:

I finished this cross stitch beaded Santa from Mill Hill. I'm not going to put a hanger on him, I'll just perch him somewhere on the tree next year.

Mill Hill Santa

I made the next 4 blocks in the Women of Bible quilt. I'm trying to stick to pink and blue but I did introduce some new fabrics this time. Here they all are together.

Women of the Bible quilt

I picked up Serena's Possum Magic quilt and I'm starting to think about what I will add to it. I'd like to use the two fabrics on the left of the picture. It's very grey at the moment and I think it's my job to break up the greyness. Let me know if you have any great ideas please.

Serena's Possum Magic quilt

Lastly, I've fallen into a sea of la passacaglia pieces. Although I'm planing every step meticulously, I'm still sometimes finding that what I though would work, just doesn't work. The colours still work OK, but I think some of the patterns are too busy next to each other. I don't want to revert to solids, so will just keep accumulating all the spare pieces I've cut, and use them in future rosettes.

Only 3 or 4 of the rosettes are as big as the one in the top left of the photo above. All of the rest are smaller, so I've cracked open my Kirsty Allsopp notebook and devised a system to avoid making too many of the wrong sort. Kirsty is very British, so I was thinking British thoughts while organising my notebook, and thinking that Kirsty would be very proud of me getting organised.

Kirsty's lovely notebook 

Inside the note book

I photocopied the pages from the original book, and then cut them up and put one pattern piece on each page of the notebook. There are only 13 patterns, but I think there are about 40 rosettes in total. Now I can make a note in the book each time I finish one. I need 8 of the type on the page shown above, so I'll note each time I finish one.

That's all for now. Back to the glue stick to prep some more pieces for joining tonight.

Monday 19 January 2015

New Zealand Quilt Symposium Manawatu 2014

Yesterday we took a drive up to Palmerston North to visit the New Zealand Quilt Symposium (about 130km or 80 miles), It's a five day event that only takes place very second year. There are excellent classes with local and international tutors, and there's a large quilt exhibition too.

I didn't enrol for any classes this year, but I've already decided that I will take at least one class at the next Symposium in 2017. The next one will be in Christchurch in October 2017. I might even aim to enter a quilt in the exhibition at the next symposium. I couldn't enter anything this time because the designs need to be original and all my work to date has used patterns. I need to get more adventurous!

Here are some of the quilts that caught my eye in the exhibition:

I never promised you a rose garden by Sheryl Anicich

Rural 1. by Robyn Croft

Learning to Speak: Thank you Karen. by Heather McLean

Dancing Disks by Barbara Johnston

Refraction Fiesta by Deb de Lorenzo

Argh my eyes!  by Adrianne Reid (of On the Windy Side blog)

Adrianne won the "Alive with Colour - Professional" section of the exhibition with this quilt. Congratulations Adrianne!

Hundreds and Thousands by Shirley Mooney

You can see more quilts from the exhibition on Shirley Mooney's blog Don't Wait to Create. Shirley has written a number of posts with photos from the exhibition.

It was 27C in Palmerston North so while I was at the symposium the rest of the family took a walk by the river and had fun at a pool. This is a new hydro slide which goes extremely fast.

The Lido Pool

When I look at the colours in this photo I can see why we make such colourful quilts in Australia and New Zealand. Nature provides such bright colours everywhere we look. The sky really is that blue in New Zealand.

Manawatu River

Thursday 15 January 2015

2015 Finish a Long - Q1 goals

This is the first time I've entered one of these Finish a longs. I don't particularly like 'stretch goals', but since it's Adrienne from On the Windy Side running it this year, I have decided to dip my toes in the water and see how it goes.

I wrote lists of my stitching goals and quilting goals a few weeks ago. That made it quite easy to pick my projects for the Q1 Finish a long.

So here they are:

1. Halloween mini. This quilt is quite small (about 15") and is the closest to done, so will probably be the first finished.

2. Kaffe Christmas tree. I have backing, binding, and batting, I just need to hand quilt it and put on the hanging sleeve and binding. Shouldn't be too hard to finish this one.

3. Mini Medallion. Again, I have everything I need, I just need to do it. I want to put a hanging sleeve on this one too.

4. Celtic Snow. I want to put one embroidery project on this list because I have so many I want to work on and need to get some finished. This will keep me focused on getting one done. There are literally 1,000 beads to sew onto this one yet. Yes, that's right, 1,000 beads. I'm not going to start working out how many I need to do each day to get it done, I just need to start sewing them on.

So that's me for Q1. Let's see how I go!  Thanks Adrienne for the motivation and accountability.

Sunday 11 January 2015

Holiday stitching

As promised yesterday, here's a report on what I got up to on holiday.

First up is the la passacaglia quilt which I hope do a lot of in 2015. I'm really happy with how these first 3 cogs have started out. I intend to do a bit of fussy cutting, but I think I'll focus more on the colours than the designs in the fabrics. I can already tell there's going to be at least 5 different shades of Kaffe Fassett's Paperweight in this quilt. There are 3 in the photo below. The outside ring of the blue cog is a fabric by Makower.

These cogs aren't sewn together because the red and blue ones need to be expanded yet.

Although I've done English paper piecing before, this quilt is going to take ages. I'm glue basting this time which I've never done before. As a result the fabric is pulled slightly tighter over the edges of the papers and there's not as much room to put the needle through. I do think glue basting will give a neater finish though, and I hate to think how long it would take to tack all of the pieces by hand. I've already had to put the first refill into the glue pen!

The other reason that this quilt will take so long is fabric selections. As you can see above, I just took over the coffee table in the lounge with all my fabrics. I've seen other people saying that choosing the fabrics is the hardest part. I think that the hand sewing is forcing people to slow down and consider all parts of the process very carefully. We all want these quilts to be as near to perfect as they can be, so everyone is taking their time choosing their fabrics.

The paper piecing can be a bit hard on my hands, so I did some embroidery too for a change of stitching.

Mum gave me this cute Santa ornament for Christmas and I've done all the cross stitch on it now, and it just needs the beads to finish it. I hope to do that this week. In fact, I've just seen that Roger Federer plays in the Brisbane final at 10pm NZ time tonight, so that might be excuse I need to stay up late.

I also finished the first panel on the Gingerbread Christmas Etui. I only had to do Santa and the reindeer, but it's one over one so I needed good light and fresh eyes.

I made a start on the Haunted House, because let's face it, Halloween will be here before Christmas. I'ts always good to get the first side of these houses done because then I can picture how big it is, and be sure the other pieces will fit perfectly.

Here's the coffee table in the family room. You can see I took over both coffee tables. And you'll see that I took my lovely pin cushion from Carla on holiday with me. I also took my sweet pouch from Serena, but its not in either of these photos. I'll show you it another day soon.  The Possum Magic ladies are all busy as another hand over date is looming. I love seeing what everyone does to the quilts. You can see progress shots on my Possum Magic tab at the top of the page.

Saturday 10 January 2015

Back to reality

Our lovely holiday in Auckland is now over, and we're back home in Wellington. Fortunately it's still warm and sunny here, and we didn't have to do a fly by like we did the last time I flew home. (The pilot said today that it would be a bit "rock and roll" but just usual for Wellington.)

Yesterday we went to Muriwai for a look at the beach. There's usually lots of surfers at Muriwai, and the surf life saving guards were on duty yesterday. There can be dangerous rips at the west coast beaches so we didn't swim there.

Muriwai Beach on Auckland's west coast 

How did my 14 year old get to be taller than my husband?
swim between the flags


The sand on the west coast beaches is black, not white. It contains iron ore and it is turned into steel at a local smelter. You can read more about the process here if you are interested. The black sand gets very hot in summer and you almost need to wear shoes or jandals (flip flops) to walk on it.

Of course I spent a lot of time sewing on my holiday, and I'll do another blog post about what I've been up to tomorrow. Here's just a sneak peak of my Christmas cushion which mum made up for me while we were at the beach yesterday. I love the back almost as much as the front!

the front - made by me prior to Christmas

the back - made by mum yesterday.

Unfortunately I couldn't blog while we were away because my dad's computer died the week before we went to Auckland. I tried to keep up with other people's blogs via Bloglovin, but I couldn't comment easily with just an iPad. I'll be trying to catch up with everyone else's news over the next few days.

Monday 5 January 2015

My sewing kit case

In the lead up to Christmas I suddenly felt the need to work on my wool felt applique sewing kit case.  I'd had the kit since my birthday in October, and my mum wanted me to bring it Auckland so she would have another look at it. I thought it would be silly to bring the case, the felt and pattern separately, so I set about making it in the week before Christmas.

We had a very low key Christmas at home this year, so I wasn't stressing about preparing for visitors or cooking for Christmas Day. However, there was pressure to clear my sewing off the table tennis table so my kids could actually play table tennis for once. So quilting went away and hand sewing came out.

The case is covered with wool felt, appliqued by hand, with Perle 8 thread in a range of colours. The tiny dots are French knots.

The bag is covered in fabric (not plastic) so it was quite easy to attach the finished panel with whip stitch. The green felt goes right around the back and underneath too.

Here's the inside of the bag. It's a bag with 8 zippered compartments.

There's a cute handle for carrying it too.

The pattern is designed by Wendy Williams of Material Obsession in Sydney and you can find it here. 

So that was project number 9 off my list of embroidery projects for 2015. I've also finished number 1 (the Frosted Pumpkin Stitchery sampler), and number 2 (the beaded Mill Hill ornaments). I'm actively working on numbers 4 (Celtic Snow) and 5 (Gingerbread Etui).

Just as well I've finished some things already because I need to add this beautiful Ehrman tapestry cushion to the list.

These were my Christmas stitching presents (selected with care by me!). The Gingerbread Needlework Shop was already on my list at number 8, and the stockings will slot in with other sundry small things in number 13.

I've not done tapestry before so it will be fun. I've got a frame already and I intend to use tent stitch (petit point). I did start a long stitch tapestry piece when I was about 15, but I lost interest because the threads didn't cover the canvas well enough for my liking.

I hope you've got something nice to work on over the Christmas / New Year period.