Friday 27 December 2019

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

2019 is almost over.  I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas with family and friends.  We certainly did here.

I cleared my sewing table in the family room and we put the presents on the table, rather than under the tree this year.

I got 3 new Mill Hill Santas to join the one I've already made.  I love making these little decorations and they look so good on the tree.  Here are some other Mill Hill kits I've made in previous years.

I gave mum some of the new Land Art fabric by Odile Bailloeul to make a Catch All Caddy by Patterns by Annie.  Later today we will find some soft and stable in my stash and mum will be ready to start when she gets back to her house in Auckland.

I received the wonderful Endless Summer quilt kit by Anna Maria Horner.  I just loved this quilt when I saw it in real life during Anna Maria Horner's trunk show in Wellington.  When I saw The Patchwork Pear in Australia advertising the kit, I ordered it for myself for Christmas.

I love those framed images that Monika Forsberg has created in this fabric.

I hope you all received lovely gifts too.  Feel free to link up to the Peacock Party and share how your Christmas Day went.

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Friday 20 December 2019

2019 - My quilting year in review (and the Peacock Party)

At the end of each year I like to check back against the quilting priorities I set at the start of that year.

The 5 quilts I finished in 2019

I've just had a quick glance down that list, and I've only finished one of the 10 quilts I said I'd work on in 2019!  I haven't been idle, so that can only mean one thing - there were lots of new starts and temptations during 2019.

Let's start the recap with all the new starts that drew me in during 2019:

1.  Shuttles quilt by Kaffe Fassett.
This quilt is a unique thing in my house - I started and finished this quilt within the same calendar year. And it's hand quilted too!

2. Marshal by Jen Kingwell

This is Jen Kingwell's mystery quilt published in QuiltMania.  I've been thinking about this quilt since I last wrote about it in November.  I have more of a plan now so I will continue with it, and you'll hopefully see a finished quilt top in 2020.

3. Dear Jen by Jen Kingwell
I started out with a hiss and a roar, but this hand pieced mystery quilt has fallen by the wayside.  There are multiple layout options for this quilt, but if I choose to place the blocks on point, I want the applique to be on point too.  So I don't want to go any further until I decide on my layout.  I hate to say it, but this may be one of those quilts that never gets finished.

4. Portraits by Anna Maria Horner
Well, this one certainly did get finished, and Anna Maria even held it up and talked about it in her lecture in Wellington. I love this quilt and it's extra special because Anna Maria Horner asked me to make it to promote her tour to New Zealand.

5. Neptune and the Mermaid
I never imagined that I would start a hand pieced quilt at Symposium in October and have the top finished in November of the same year! That's unheard of!
But I really enjoyed piecing this top, so I just kept going.  I don't often use prints with large images on them, so it was fun to fussy cut these ladies and gentlemen.

As for all the things I put on my list in January 2019 - here's a quick recap:

 1.  Chic Country by Sew Kind of Wonderful
Not even started yet, but I do know what fabrics I want to use for this.

2.  Stars Upon Stars by Laundry Basket Quilts
Again, not even started, but I do have a fabric bundle set aside.  I've got the fabric stamps now and I'm going to hand piece this.

3.  Good Fortune by Bonnie Hunter
This is the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt that I started in November 2018. I've started hand quilting it, and would like to finish it soon. 

4. Cartwheels by Kaffe Fassett
Again, I've started hand quilting it.

5. Glitter
A third quilt that I've started hand quilting.  I think I need to stay at home for three weeks and hand quilt. 

6. Cobwebs by Chris Kenna
Finished!!! And now called Carnival. This quilt won Best Traditional Quilt by an Amateur at the QuiltNSW Sydney Quilt Show 2019.  I was thrilled. 

7. Ballet with Kaffe by Willyne Hammerstein
I've made significant progress over the last 10 days that I've been working on this.  I hope to finish the top in January 2020.

8. Green Diamonds by Kaffe Fasset
I got brave with this one and totally changed my plan.  It's no longer Green Diamonds - it's something totally different that I'll share at a later date, but here's a progress shot.

9. School Prize Giving Quilt
I was thinking about abandoning this quilt, but I'm glad that I didn't because I had some bright ideas about how to progress it to the next stage.  I'm going to incorporate the dodecagons I made at Symposium.  The lesson here is that I am very slow at original design quilts, but I know that the only way to improve is to persevere. 

10.  Wendy Williams Tea Party BOM
Still no action on this one. But I still love it.

So that's it.  Ten quilts that I wanted to work on in 2019.  I've finished one and got three others to the hand quilting stage.  But I've started four new quilts, so I'm not going to beat myself up over this.  I'm still having fun and that's what counts. 

I did manage to finish two quilts that have been lurking around for a long time:

Tongariro Crossing
I made this quilt during a quilt a long with Sue Spargo in 2016.

I made this quilt during a mystery quilt a long in 2015.  I finally decided to get it machine quilted and then I donated it to charity. It's pretty, but I don't have anyone who would love it, so hopefully someone else will.

So, in summary, I finished 5 quilts in 2019.

Two were started and finished within 2019 - Shuttles and Portraits.
Two of them were made years ago and just needed machine quilting and binding - Tongariro Crossing and Spotty.
One was started in 2017 and finished in 2019 and it won a prize - Best Traditional Quilt (Amateur) at the QuiltNSW Sydney Quilt Show.

So five finishes is fine by me, but maybe I'll aim for one or two more in 2020.

What about everyone else? Do you write lists like this?  How are you getting on with your goals? Feel free to leave a comment below, or even link up to the Peacock Party - the one that's open now, or next week's.

Thanks for reading.

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Tuesday 17 December 2019

Oh! Christmas Tree

I haven't made any Christmas quilts this year, but I'd like to show you my Oh! Christmas Tree quilt that I made back in 2016.  This quilt is a great example of how you can take your quilting lead from the design in the fabric.  See all those snowflakes in the backgroud? I hand quilted over them with Aurifil 12wt and now they stand out beautifully.

This is a wool felt applique pattern designed by Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.

I loved making this quilt because I got to play with all the brightly coloured felt.

My background fabric contained snowflakes, so I just hand quilted the snowflakes with my favourite Aurifil 12 wt in a soft grey colour.  It was so easy! The snowflakes really stand out because of the hand quilting and the wool batting.  I wanted the texture to be focal point, not the stitches.  However, I did use red Aurifil for the hand quilting around the edges.

If you'd like to know more about how I hand quilt, you can click on the tab at the top of the page, or click here. 

For the wonky stars around the edges I echo quilted each one in the 12 wt grey, and then echo quilted again around the inside of the square with a matching Aurifil 28wt thread.

If you're keen to make this quilt, I recommend that you pop over to Elizabeth Eastman's blog OP Quilt and follow the steps in her quilt along.  Quiltmania did publish the pattern in Simply Moderne, but there were some errors that Elizabeth corrects in her posts.
I provided some of the information and photos in Elizabeth's posts, so I can guarantee the instructions she has provided are correct.

You can read my previous posts on this quilt here.

My quilt is bright and colourful to represent Christmas down under.  I live in New Zealand and it's Summer here and all the plants are flowering.  This is what Christmas looks like in New Zealand and Australia:

Don't you wish you could celebrate Christmas in summer? Or would that just feel wrong?

Merry Christmas.

Sunday 15 December 2019

My list of distractions for 2019

When I look back at 2019 and think about the number of quilts I finished, it's very low.  You could count them on one hand. 

But then I think about all the other things I made in 2019, and I feel happy with the variety of things I worked on in 2019. If I spent the equivalent of a month on each one of these 9 things, then I would only have had 3 months available for quilting!

Here are some of the non quilty things I made in 2019, with links to my blog posts about them where applicable:

Bowl Me Over bag from Patterns by Annie

Giraffes tapestry cushion by Kim McLean

Kaffe Fassett scarf by Rowan

Woolly hat - pattern from Big Wool Knits by Rowan

Gingerbread retreat cottage

Sashiko table runner


Whole cloth cushion

When I think about all the hours spent making these things, I realise why I didn't finish many quilts!

But I enjoyed making these things, and that's what counts. Do you have a favourite from this mix?

Friday 13 December 2019

Ballet with Kaffe revisited (and the Peacock Party)

My poor Ballet with Kaffe quilt has been neglected for months.  So many other tempting things have come along this year, so I put this one away and haven't done anything on it since February.

However, Quiltmania have just started advertising Willyne Hammerstein's fourth book, Millefiori Quilts 4 and that has spurred me into action.

Of course I want the new book, and I probably want to make quilts from it, so I really need to finish my Ballet with Kaffe from book 2. I've worked on it every night this week with no distractions.  That's pretty good for me!

You can read more about this quilt on the Ballet with Kaffe - Millefiori Quilts 2 tab at the top of the page or by clicking here.

Now it's time for the Peacock Party.
What have you been up to this week? Have you had any time for quilting or stitching? Or are you busy preparing for Christmas?

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

Sunday 8 December 2019

Updated finishing tips for the Gingerbread Village (Dec 2019)

I know a lot of people are keen to make their own Gingerbread Villages, but are put off by the need to convert their precious embroidery into a 3D object.

I'm here to reassure you that if you have the right equipment, and take it slowly, you can create beautiful 3D ornaments.

All of these patterns are by Thea Dueck of The Victoria Sampler.

When I made my first Gingerbread House back in 2012, I had never done any finishing before.  I followed the detailed instructions in the pattern, took it slowly, and I did it.  Naturally my finishing techniques have improved since then, but even my very first house was perfectly acceptable. See the photo above - that was the very first time that I had tried finishing a 3D object.

my Gingerbread Village

So here are my top tips to help you embark on this lovely journey of making your very own Gingerbread Village:

1. Think about how your cottage is going to look.  Work out which walls need to be the same length, height and width.  Although your embroidered front and back wall pieces might not be exactly the same sizes, the cardboard for corresponding walls needs to be exactly the same size to make the cottage square.  eg.  if the average length of the side walls is 4", both side walls and the base plate need to be exactly 4" long and match each other.

Your embroidered pieces may not be the same size as stated in the pattern.  Not all 28 count linen is exactly 28 threads per inch.  You need to measure your own embroidery and make sure the cardboard fits your work.

Which cardboard to use? That depends on which country you live in.  Thea recommends 4 ply Mat Board (Acid Free).  I buy Crescent Whitecore Mat Board from Gordon Harris art shop in New Zealand.  It needs to be sturdy.

I measure so my cardboard fits just inside the outside line of backstitching - as shown below.  When I turn the edge back the backstitching will sit on the edge of the cardboard.

2. Once you have determined the dimensions for each piece, draw each shape on to the cardboard with a pencil and a quilting ruler. The lines on the quilting ruler will help you to ensure your pieces of cardboard are square. You don't need a big quilting ruler - even a 6.5" square ruler will be sufficient for these small cottages.

3.  Then cut along the pencil lines with an old rotary cutter and a quilting ruler. Use a self healing cutting mat or an old wooden breadboard so you don't damage your table.  Do not use your best rotary cutting blade that you use for quilting - the cardboard will blunt it.  Also, do not use scissors - they do not give a straight edge due the thickness of the cardboard.  If you have never used a rotary cutter before, watch this video especially from the 2 minute mark. You will probably need to run the rotary cutter down the line a few times to get through the cardboard. Be very careful with the blade and never put the cutter down with the blade open.

4. Layout out your cardboard pieces and check that the sides all match where they should. Write the name of each piece on the back with a pencil so they don't get mixed up.

5. Glue the cardboard pieces on to a single piece of pellon.  You can use a foam brush to spread the glue around, or just spread it with the nozzle of the bottle.  Leave the pieces to dry and then cut them out neatly.  Pellon is very thin and soft padding, and it makes the embroidery stand out more on the cottages.

6. Now you're ready to pin the embroidered pieces onto the cardboard.  Cut each piece of embroidery out, leaving a margin of about half an inch around each side.  Don't worry about fraying - your fabric is going to be glued down in a few minutes.

Pin the four corners first, and glue the corners down first.  Put the pieces under a heavy book for at about 30 minutes to let the glue set.
I keep special pins aside for making these cottages.  The pins can get glue on them, so they are no good for quilting after you've used them for making a cottage.

7. Once the corners have dried, it's time to pin the edge backstitching into the edge of the cardboard.  Watch your fingers!!!  It's easy to stab yourself during this time, but again, practice makes perfect, and I haven't stabbed myself once with my latest cottage.

The photo below shows a lot of pins.  I don't use that many pins anymore.  When I cut the cardboard for the Haunted House pieces I cut it slightly too big and I had to stretch the linen tightly to make it cover the cardboard.  I should have trimmed the cardboard smaller to fit just inside the backstitch lines.

8. Once your pieces are pinned to the edge of the cardboard, you can glue the remaining linen onto the back of the cardboard.  Fold the corners in neatly because when the walls meet at 90 degree angles you can get bulk if you're not careful - especially on small pieces.   Mine isn't pretty on the inside, but no one is ever going to see this because I put base plates on my cottages and seal them up.

10.  Now we're onto the fun part - joining up the pieces.  As you made each section you might have noticed that the number of back stitches around the outside of some of the pieces were the same. If there were 15 backstitches up the side of the left hand piece above, there would be 15 up the side of the centre piece.  This means that the pieces match perfectly and it's easy to lace them together with Perle 8.

See how neat the joining stitches look! That's because the backstitching on each side matches up.  I start and finish my threads inside the cottage where they will never be seen.

11.  If you need to attach a piece to a flat surface, it will be easier if you use a curved needle like mine pictured below.  It's well worth hunting one down - they make the task a lot easier. I used the curved needle on:
The Church
Haunted House entrance way
Quilt Shop entrance way
Retreat Cottage porch roof

12.  Base plates.  I finish all my cottages with base plates, even if they aren't included in the instructions.  I just backstitch around a rectangle with the same number of stitches required for the sides of the cottage.  If the side walls are 42 backstitches long, and the front and back are 36 backstitches long, my base plate will be 42 backstitches x 36 backstitches.
I then find the centre and stitch a little signature that I have mapped out on graph paper.  This lets me record my name and the year that I made the cottage.   I use 1 strand over 1 thread for my signature.

If the cottage is made up of two parts, I make two base plates and sew them onto each part of the cottage before joining the two finished sections.  I did that for:
Haunted House
Quilt Shop
Retreat Cottage
I often stitch the base plate in the roof colour to save my precious gingerbread linen for future cottages, but beware that the thread count per inch can be slightly different on different brands of linen, even if they both are 28 count.

So, there you have it.  Twelve easy steps to assembling 3D embroidered ornaments.  I really do hope this posts gives more people the confidence to assemble their own Gingerbread Villages.

Remember to allow yourself plenty of time for assembly.  You've spent months stitching the ornaments, so allow yourself a few days to finish them beautifully.  One afternoon is not enough, especially if you're a beginner.  Usually I allow 3 days and spend 2 or 3 hours each day, gluing in the day time and then stitching in the evening.  I estimate that the Retreat Cottage has taken me about 12 hours to assemble over 3 days.

You can find more helpful information about the Gingerbread Village and all my little cottages on the tab on my blog, or by clicking here.

If you have any questions feel free to leave me a question below or email me at .  You can find me on Instagram @wendysquiltsandmore or on Facebook as Wendy Welsh