Tuesday 31 March 2015

"Your Place or Mine?" top is finished

I'm delighted to say that I have finally finished the top of "Your Place or Mine?'.

These are the best photos I could do by myself - it's too big to hang on the clothes line!

and another photo taken with a different camera - it's very hard to capture the colours accurately.

I took this before I sewed the borders on, but it really shows how vibrant the felt is in this quilt. I love how the Kaffe fabrics complement the felt too.

Here's how it will look on our bed eventually:

I did have some hesitation about the borders, but after discussing it with the very helpful ladies at my local quilting shop, I've decided to stick with what was provided in the BOM. We did agree that the binding should probably be a deep blue colour to finish off the edges nicely. 

That last border looks different in different lights, but it is growing on me and I'm sure it's going to be fine. I think I just got a bit of a surprise when I first put it on!

So why did it take me five months to finish the last installment of this quilt? There are a few reasons:

a. I was worried that the pieces weren't going to fit together, and it wasn't going to be square due to my sewing and all the diagonal seams. I didn't want to face that problem so I ignored it!  Turned out I didn't need to be worried after all.

b. New and exciting things like la passacaglia came along. Fact - it's always more exciting to start something new rather than finish an existing project.

c. A part of me didn't want this to be over - I've been working on it for 18 months and I've now become known as the lady who's making that colourful quilt with all the felt. I get asked about it at local quilting shops, my stitching group and guild meetings. I'll need a new identity now that it's finished.

I'm going to get this quilted professionally. I usually hand quilt my quilts myself, but I think this quilt will look great with stippling on all the flat surfaces. It also wouldn't sit properly in my hand quilting hoop with all that lumpy felt.

I've had many questions about this quilt, so here's everything you might need to know:

1. The design is by Wendy Williams (not me - I'm Wendy Welsh). Wendy Williams lives in Sydney and works with Kathy Doughty at Material Obsession. Some of Wendy's designs are available through their website.

2. Wendy also has her own company called Flying Fish Kits and they also sell patterns and kits online.

3. Wendy has a book called Wild Blooms and Colourful Creatures and there are similar patterns in that book. It's available at Amazon and other book sellers.

4. "Your Place or Mine?" was a Block of the Month from Material Obsession that started in August 2013 and ran again in 2014. You can watch out for their Block of the Months in July 2015.

5. The BOM included all the fabrics, the felt, the templates and some Perle 8 threads. They are generous with their felt so I have quite a bit left over.

I have loved making this quilt. As a number of people have said, it reflects my personality and style, even though I didn't design it. Maybe it's something to do with people called "Wendy"?

I'll be sure to post more photos when I get it back from the long arm quilter.

Finished size 86" x 86"

Friday 27 March 2015

Flower Garden Table Runner

One of the reasons I started my blog was to create a record of my quilting and embroidery. Here's something I made back in 2013 before I was blogging.

It's a Flower Garden Table Runner and the pattern is by my favourite designer, Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.

The pattern is in her book called "Wild Blooms and Colorful Creatures". In the book it's called "Clamshell Garden Runner".

I went to a class to learn how to make this quilt. Each year in Wellington we have a big event at Queen's Birthday weekend (first weekend in June), called Hand Made. There are many classes on offer and subjects include sewing, knitting, jewelry making, cheese making, etc.

Back in 2013 Wendy Williams was one for the guest tutors and she taught a class on how to make this table runner. I was already aware of her work and loved her style, so I rushed to enroll, along with my friend Sue.

We had a great time at the class, but didn't get a lot of sewing done. We studied all of the other beautiful quilts and objects Wendy had bought with her, and snapped up lots more patterns and brightly coloured felt.

However, we'd done enough to understand the techniques involved, and knew we could finish our quilts at home. This technique is wool felt applique where fabrics are fussy cut and then hand appliqued onto felt. The felt shapes are them attached to the background panel with coloured Perle 8.

It was at that class that I saw "Your Place or Mine?" and just knew I had to make that too. I'm really hoping to get that top finished this weekend.

This quilt was one of those very rare things that when I came home and I just continued sewing until it was finished. I loved every step of it, The clam shells were a pain to get straight, but I do love the colour of them, so they are forgiven.

I especially love the Kaffe border.  It's hand quilted with blue Perle 8. There's minimal hand quilting within the panel itself. The flowers already stand out and I wanted them to be the feature.

I wanted to put Kaffe on the back too, so I chose a bright and cheery print, with plenty of purple and lime green to match the front.

This quilt hangs above the bed in the spare room and really brightens up that room.

Finished size: 21" x 50"
Design: Flying Fish Kits
Date: 2013

Saturday 21 March 2015

Celtic Snow

On Tuesday night I finished my Celtic Snow embroidery. It's a wonderful design by Nicole of Northern Expressions Needlework.

my Celtic Snow by Norther Expressions Needlework

I've been working on this piece since July 2014. Although I have done other things in between, it's been a long journey with this one. It's the biggest cross stitch I've done in the last 10 years. It's 15" x 15".

with an A4 piece of paper for comparison

I always stitch with a hoop because it keeps the tension even. I did all the stitching before I started adding the beads because I knew the beads would prevent me from using the hoop. After I'd done all the beading in the centre with the hoop, I put the piece onto my roller bars so I could continue to add the beads. It wasn't easy working on the roller bars because the linen is quite a loose weave, but I got there in the end. there are 1,400 beads in this piece!

When I'm attaching beads I always go through each bead twice to make a X. That holds the bead straight. I also keep all the beads going in the same direction. That did result in some unpicking because sometimes I accidentally turned the piece 90 degrees. There's no obvious top or bottom, the design is symmetrical. In these cases I tie a piece of coloured cotton at the top, but I must have ignored that at times.

I really felt thrilled when I woke up the next morning and took it off the roller bars. I gave it a light press, took some photos and dashed off to the framers. I took along a piece of dark fabric because I knew their padding was white, and I didn't want white behind the linen, I wanted a dark colour.

The framers will be finished in about 3 weeks and I'll be excited to see how it looks.

For the embroiderers out there:
- the fabric I used is Midnight Tryst 28 count linen from Hand Dyed by Stephanie. It is beautiful and gives this piece a dark mysterious background. It's the shade Nicole used in her sample and the photo on the pattern. Nicole used much finer linen, but I've given up on anything finer than 28 count. If I'd chosen 32, 36 or 40 count linen I don't know if I would have ever finished.
- I used the recommended Overdyed Silks from Dinky Dyes - lovely pastel shades.
- I couldn't get all the exact beads, so substituted to those available locally.
- I bought the pattern from 123Stitch.  It's really cheap - less than USD 20 - so I just don't understand people who rip off these designers by posting the pattern online.

This was the 4th and final item on my Finish Along list for Q1. It means I'm another step closer to getting back to my la passacaglia which I'm excited about. I'm now an administrator of the group on facebook (Millefiori/ la passacaglia English Paper Piecing) so I keep seeing everyone else's progress. I'm itching to get back to mine, but have one more long term project to finish first. Aren't I being good?

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Another finish - my Mini Medallion

Well, I feel like I'm on a roll here. That 2015 Finish Along that Adrienne is hosting on her blog On The Windy Side has certainly spurred me into action.  That and my own New Year's resolution to finish more than I start this year.

So I'm very happy to share with you my finished Mini Medallion quilt.

This quilt started back in the middle of 2014 when I saw someone else's centre block online. I had received some fat quarters in a give away, and thought they would be perfect for a small quilt like this. I also thought it would be useful to learn some patterns that I could transfer over to the Possum Magic quilts because they were medallion quilts too.

Funnily enough, although I liked the fat quarters I received, I had never used those colours before, and they didn't really match much in my stash. I naturally added a few more fat quarters (as you do when you win something) and now they have grown on me and they are creeping in everywhere!

The Mini Medallion pattern was designed by Chrissie of Sewlux, but released month by month by Clover and Violet. You can find the final pattern here, with links back to all the previous patterns if you're interested. The final pattern was released in November, so I guess it's not too bad that I finished my quilt in March. There are plenty more people who started but haven't finished yet.

This quilt along is the reason I joined Instagram. I had resisted up until that point, but I wanted to see what fabrics everyone was using, and there was no traditional linkup, so I had to join Instagram. I'm so glad I did now, because I've not only met lovely quilters, I've also met a lot of embroidery people from all over the world. Yes, it can be a time waster, but I find I'm looking at Instagram rather than magazines or non fiction books. It's a huge source of inspiration for me, as well as a way to connect with like minded people.

I hand quilted my mini medallion because I like the extra control it gives me. I used different
coloured Perle 8, and some regular quilting cotton. I used a blue washout pen to mark quilting lines.

The backing is a lovely fabric called Seeing Spots by Michael Miller. I bought 2 metres of it when I saw it really cheap in a shop. It ties in so well.

Finally, some shots to show how difficult it is get good help around here:

Quilts stats:
Finished size 36" x 36"
Backing Michael Miller Seeing Spots

I'm linking up with Sew Cute Tuesday and WIP Wednesday.

Thursday 12 March 2015


Today I thought I'd show you this cushion I made 13 years ago. You can see that my colour palette hasn't moved on much because this matches la passacaglia in my header which I started in 2015!

I didn't just stitch it, I designed it too! I've always said that I'm good at implementing other people's designs, but not good at coming up with totally original designs myself.  So I went to a course called Designers Guild Made Easy.  

We used to get the UK House and Garden magazines from the library and marvel at the opulence in some of those homes. Designers Guild featured a lot in those magazines and we thought their style was just gorgeous. Never mind that their products were way outside our reach, and wouldn't really have suited our lifestyle here anyway. We were free to dream. Remember, this was before you could just jump online and order anything from anywhere!

In case you're wondering Designers Guild made wall paper, curtains, furnishing fabrics, cushions etc. I've just done a google search and they are still going strong here

Kaffe Fassett Fabric Asian Circle Tomato (per 1/4 metre)
Kaffe Fassett Asian Circles

The thought of making a Designers Guild style cushion greatly appealed to me.  When I look at this design 13 years later I think my designing skills have improved because I would certainly make the flowers bigger these days, and I would put a lot more in the vase and have them overlapping. I think Kaffe Fassett was only doing knitting patterns at this stage so he couldn't influence me back then. If I was doing it again today I would make it more like this fabric above. Those skinny little flowers on mine look very lonely!

You might notice that I chose particularly fine canvas for this tapestry. Well, that was clearly driven by my wool choices. The fabulous colours of these Strand wools must have caught my eye, and nothing else would do. They are quite fine and because some are variegated, I couldn't use two strands, so I had to use fine canvas.

I still remember stitching this cushion. The best bit was that fancy border - I must have lifted that idea from somewhere else. 

This cushion is quite small which you can see when I place it next to my next tapestry cushion - the Peacock at Sunset by Ehrman.  

I'm really trying to be good and not start the peacock until I've finished some other things. In some ways I have to be good because I've now got the Celtic Snow on my roller bars while I put the beads on it. I want to use those roller bars for the peacock so have to finish the embroidery first.

In other news my crochet rug is still growing because I tend to do a few rows each night once my eyes pack up from doing beading. Yes, that does mean I'm virtually crocheting with my eyes shut. but I'm listening to the cricket too and have to open my eyes occasionally to see what all the shouting is about.

Monday 9 March 2015

Possum Magic - Serena's quilt

I had fun working on Serena's Possum Magic quilt in February.  Serena blogs at Sew Giving for those of you who don't know her already. She's a very generous person, so the name of her blog is very appropriate. She's always making things for other people.

When I received the quilt from Alice I was quite unsure about what I would do with it. I personally felt it needed some depth and some darker colours, but when I shared my tentative plans, readers were horrified. Of course, they were politely horrified, and no one actually said "What are you thinking?!!" but I could tell that's what they meant.

So I had to give in and go and buy some low volume grey fabric! Yes, it was the first time in my life that I had stood in that corner of the fabric store, but it had to be done. 

I came home with some nice grey fabric, and then I realised it was Art Gallery fabric, so that cheered me up. I'd used Art Gallery fabrics on Carla's Possum Magic quilt and it had turned out really well. 

Carls'a quilt. 

I still wanted to use the multi-coloured spotty fabric, so I cut a few blocks to see how it would look on the grey. I liked it so decided to continue down that path.

My thinking is that they grey strips can provide a link through to the next border which will be added by Sharon. Then there's only Jo left to add her border and the quilt will be back with Serena by July. 

I know that Serena is really pleased with how this quilt is turning out. From what I've seen online, I think it will work really well in her house.  The quilt now measures 67" x 67".

I'm looking forward to seeing my own quilt again. Rebecca in Tauranga has two months to work on it, and then she will send it to Alice in Wellington. I don't know if Alice will let me have a sneak peak before she adds her border, or if I'll have to wait until she's finished.  Quilts can look so different in photos compared to real life, so I'm eager to see mine in real life.

You can see the progress of each of the quilts in the Possum Magic tab at the top of my blog.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Marsala - will I, or won't I?

The Pantone colour of the year for 2015 is Marsala. Mmmm, my teenagers might say "what a fail", and I originally thought that too.  However, I was going through a box in my stash and I found these 6" strips of Kaffe which came in a bundle (I would never have chosen them myself).

Ha, I thought, I guess I could make something very small out of these and enter it into the competition Adrienne is running on her blog - On the Windy Side. The mini category includes cushions and even mug rugs.

As an aside, Adrienne's blog is called that because she lives in Wellington too. Yesterday it was so windy that 3 shipping containers blew off the wharf and into the harbour! Now that doesn't happen everywhere does it.

I thought that if I was going to work with these fabrics I would have to brighten them up somehow, so I sat them next to green on my ironing board for a few hours.

Then I found this useful website .  After looking at their pictures I decided that this wasn't really Marsala afterall because they described Marsala as similar to red wine.

So I put those fabrics away and went digging again.  These fabrics look much more like red wine to me, and I'll be much more happy using them than the browns. Fortunately the same greens still work well with them.  I love that Jane Sassaman print on the left.  It was in my welcome bag when I joined the guild last year.

I'm now thinking more of a cushion that a mug rug, or maybe even both. Or two cushions so one doesn't look out of place. I definitely don't want to do a quilt, and I won't have time either. Entries open on 17 April.  I know that sounds ages away, but I've got lots of other things to finish.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Bear Paw blocks for Capital Quilters

My local quilt guild, Capital Quilters, will be 30 years old this year. This morning I thought back to what I was doing 30 years ago. I was living in Auckland and studying for my Bachelor of Commerce degree. I had a busy social life, but I was doing a bit of knitting and cross stitch in my spare time. I certainly wasn't quilting 30 years ago, but my mum was starting to dabble in it.

I only joined Capital Quilters last year, but they are very supportive and welcoming group. We meet once a month, and each month there is a show and tell. Quilts are held up on the stage, and the makers give a brief description of how and why they made the quilt. The quilts are then all hung on a rope that goes half way around the room. We break for tea and coffee and you can walk around having a close look at the quilts and chat to the makers. I really enjoy getting to see the quilts up close.

The logo for our club is the bear paw block.  New members are all given a little badge with it on.

Some members decided that it would be fun to make bear paw quilts this year to celebrate 30 years of the guild.  Some examples were held up at the January meeting and they were all quite different.   Some of them had dark backgrounds, some were French General, but the style I liked was a scrappy single colour on a low volume background.

I've now made 3 blocks for February, March and April. I'm taking a break until May now, but I am putting aside relevant fabrics as I come across them.  You can see the colours for some of the future blocks in the photo below: yellow, lime green, cobalt blue and pink. Yhen I'll just need to think of two more colours. Purple has to be one of them, but that leaves one slot free. Maybe black? I"m not sure yet.

And here they are together. They are quite big - 21" each. But it will be a fun quilt when it's done, and it will have special significance. Maybe I'll still be going to Capital Quilters in 20 years time when the guild turns 50. Then I'll hold up my quilt at show and tell and say I made this quilt back in 2015. The "young people" will probably think "how quaint".

Sunday 1 March 2015

Where did February go?

Well, February is over and we're into March. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting cooler. We're still having some lovely warm days though.

What did I get up to in February?  Here's a few highlights:

1. Government House tea party on Waitangi Day 

My husband and I (do I sound like the Queen?) were lucky enough to attend a garden party at Government House on our national day, Waitangi Day. It was a special party because New Zealand is now 175 years old - yes, that's all.

There were 3,000 people at the garden party. We've both been inside Government House previously, so were quite content to stand on the lawn, drink and eat, and listen to the music and speeches. The NZ Army Band played a wide range of music, and as a special surprise Sol 3 Mio sang some songs. They are three young up and coming New Zealand / Samoan opera singers who are very talented.

Just to prove I was there

2. Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival

That same weekend we went to the Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival. I decided to get brave this year and entered two quilt in the festival.  When we got there I realised that although mine were colourful, they were very small in the great outdoors. I made a mental note to enter bigger quilts if I enter again next year.

My Trellis Crossroads being dwarfed by my friend Alice's Arizona quilt

My Radiant Poppies next to an amazing Catherdral Window quilt

That Dear Jane quilt was amazing - so much work

3. Finishes

I finished my Halloween and Kaffe Christmas tree minis during February. I don't like doing things under time pressure, so I enjoyed finishing them in a relaxed mood in February.

I also completed my border on Serena's Possum Magic quilt.  I'll do a separate post on that next week. You can see all of the Possum Magic quilts on the tab at the top of my blog.

4. Progress

I've started hand quilting my mini medallion quilt. It's the third thing on my Finish Along list for quarter 1, so I hope I can finish it in March.  I plan on using a range of quilting methods and threads on this quilt. I think that's becoming my style.

I've kept up to date with the Women of the Bible quilt - see previous post. For those who have asked, the shop is naming each block after a woman from the Bible, and providing a small reading about her with each pattern. Some of us just gloss right over that, but others enjoy reading about the women.

5. New starts

This section should really be empty, but there were a few new starts in February.

Firstly, my crotchet ripple blanket. I started this blanket when I was sick at the start of the month. You probably know what it's like - too many things on the "to do" list to just do nothing for a few days, so I started the blanket early. The Down Under Australia crotchet along starts on 1 March, but my blanket is already about 70cm high = 28".

Secondly, the Russian whitework / needlelace. I've done the external border but that's all at the moment. I think the lady running it is busy with work so hasn't posted the second installment on her blog yet - at least that's what google translate seems to be telling me.

As yet another avoidance tactic, I started this quick little kit from The Sweetheart Tree. My mum gave it to me a couple of years ago, and I never started it. Last week I saw a lady on Instagram make it in just 2 weeks, so I thought I should really get onto it while I'm in a Sew My Stash phase. My mum's coming to visit in April so I plan to have it done before then.

Lastly, I made a scrappy bear paw block. Capital Quilters will be 30 years old this year, and the bear paw block is our logo. Some of the group have come up with the idea of making one of these blocks per month for 9 months. I plan to make 9 different coloured blocks. My first one is orange!!

It started out a nice light orange with the elephants, but quickly descended into fiery red orange once I remembered my Kaffe fabrics.  I've had to give in and buy some low volume fabrics for this quilt. They have never really appealed to me in the past, but I can certainly see that they have their place in this block. They separate out the orange sections and reduce the brightness of the block - well slightly anyway.

So that was February for me. A wide variety of projects worked on. I hope you had a productive month too. I wonder what March will bring?