Monday, February 28, 2011

Violet Violas - Monochromatic Challenge

Judy at Patchwork Times is hosting a Monochromatic Challenge,  February is violet. I'm making a block with an embroidered centre each month.
I thought this would be easy peasy, my favourite colour is purple,  I should have lots of purple/violet in my stash.
I didn't worry too much about making this block earlier in the month as I tried to finish other projects that I'd started.  So a few days ago when I looked at the calendar and realised that it was almost the end of the month I thought I had better get started. I went to my newly sorted stash, with lots of confidence that this would take a nanosecond, and oh, ummm, not very much purple there at all. I had a few batiks that I had bought years ago but didn't want to use them so I spent ages going through my fabric trying to find eight that went reasonably well together.  It also took me forever to decide what to embroider in the centre. My girlfriend J suggested pansies.

This is the end result.


Hastily made today, the 28th February, despite the fact that I had to drive 100km round trip to take my machine back to where I bought it as I couldn't get it to work properly this morning. Of course, as soon as they started it up and tried sewing, it worked fine.

Lesson learnt - don't leave things to the last minute.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

My First Quilt

Sheila at  Blue Patch Quilter has written a post about her fist quilt and is hosting a linky party where you can link to your first quilt. I think it's a fabulous idea, so here is my first ever quilt.


This is a pattern by Lynette Anderson, I think, I can't find the pattern.  I made it about 10 yrs ago, for my 7yr old daughter, she loved mermaids way back then. It's a little creased as it has been tucked away in the cupboard for quite some time. I loved this pattern when I saw it and was so happy that the quilt shop carried lovely bright fabrics, I remember the joy of playing with the fabric and working out what I would need.

This quilt includes a lot of firsts for me, rotary cutting, piecing, applique, fabric drawing and quilting.
The mermaids are appliquéd with blanket stitch edging, and the faces are hand drawn. I had never quilted before and was too scared to machine quilt much, so I stitched in the ditch along the border and then hand stitched undersea motifs and hand sewn beads across the quilt top.

The mermaid tails have an extra layer of thin batting in them to make them a little more three dimensional and the starfish were made separately, stuffed and then hand stitched to the quilt.
Starfish on mermaid quilt

I still love this quilt, and I'm amazed that I attempted it.
I only finished one more quilt after that and then gave quilting away until I started again last year.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Tuesday Tidbits (and tails)

Design Seeds
I found this site after my usual net surfing instead of doing anything like housework or crafty stuff. It's a great colour tool. Design Seeds, have a look at the lovely colour combinations that appear each day, they are great if you need some colour inspration.

I was planning to sew on the weekend but it was very hot, too hot to sit and sew even with the aircon on.
Saturday morning I went to a rotary cutting class at Patchwork Angel hoping to learn something extra as sometimes my rotary cutting is a bit hit and miss. It was quite a good class and there were some lovely ladies there. I learnt a couple of things and it reinforced that a lot of what I already do is correct. I'm really glad that I'm on the right track and by just adjusting a couple of things I should be able to cut more accurately on a consistent basis.
I was supposed to go to a FMQ class Monday morning, but I woke up feeling quite unwell and missed out on the class. I was disappointed not to go but I think I accomplished quite a bit of FMQing at home, I practiced on a fat quarter that I made into a quilt sandwich just getting used to the whole free motion thing, then I tried the pieces that I had prepared for the class.
I was very pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable it was and I'm going to have a go at quilting the raw edge circle quilt.

My first attempt on Monday - I just outlined around some bold flowers on a fat quarter, once I felt a little more confident I tried picking out details in the flowers and the leaves.

 The first photo I had just started trying to outline.
 Second photo, outline and detailing.
 Third photo, trying to stay on the line, hmm.
Trying to sew inside the line, hmmmm again.

This was a great exercise which I really enjoyed. I think I could spend hours outlining fabrics to practice. After I had filled in most of the details, I practiced stippling the background which I found not too stressful.

Later in the day I tried FMQ on some more traditional patterns that I had traced on to calico, I didn't find that as interesting and it was more stressful as every teensy tiny mistake showed up. I'm not showing photos of that as frankly it was rubbish! Great experience though and now I know to never use a plain fabric with contrasting thread if I'm going to quilt it, at least until I am a superstar quilter!

I think I'm really going to enjoy thread drawing, I'm still not sure whether I'm going to love stippling an entire quilt. I might have to try a few more mug rugs and doll quilts first.

My Keeper of the Quilts has been hard at work again, he takes special care of my rolls of binding.

A Wedge Tailed Eagle that visited on the weekend, the two birds at the top of the photo are crows that were harassing him/her as it was in their territory, one even landed on it's wing whilst in flight.
 The view on Sunday, just look at that beautiful blue summer sky.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Friday Night Sew In

Last night was  FNSI for February , hosted by Bobbi at Crafty Vegas Mom  and for the first time ever I was able to participate.  I planned in advance what I would work on, and had all my blocks arranged on my design floor and bed. (I don't have a design wall as I don't have a large enough free piece of wall and the spare bed isn't big enough for them either so half are on the bed and half on the floor.) Anyway they were already laid out ready to go, with the first 6 blocks on a design board that I made to carry the blocks from the floor/bed to the sewing machine and then to the iron as I sew them so they stay in order. I went to the design board and the very first piece was missing. It took me half an hour to find that. I then had to check the layout again as the cats had snuck into the room and moved a couple of the pieces.

I'm making the Raw Edge Circle Quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew.

After sorting all that out, I finally got down to the nitty gritty of sewing and sewed 18 blocks together, only 30 to go. It wasn't quite as many as I was hoping to finish but considering the dramas beforehand I was quite pleased that I did make a dent in the number of blocks to be sewn.

I'm really happy with these, it's going to have a lovely spring/summery feel. I love this colour combination although the colours are looking a little washed out in these photos.

You can check what all the other crafty peeps have been up to on Friday night here.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Favourite Things Friday

It's Friday again, this week my favourite thing is the movie The King's Speech. I have been wanting to see it since it since I saw the trailers ages ago. Everyone I know had either seen it or didn't want to see it.
I finally decided to go by myself, I'm so glad I did it is a great movie.

The story is intriguing, the acting is excellent, it deserves to win an Oscar or ten!

The only downside....................

George isn't in it, lol, Colin Firth's a very good substitute though!!!!!!!!!!!!

Mosey on over to Mrs P at  Quilting In My Pyjamas to check out all the links this week to everyone's Friday favourites!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Mug rug

This is my first attempt at a mug rug.

I hope it won't be my last BUT...........
it's one of those works of art that when riding past (galloping as opposed to trotting) on a horse with your eyes closed it looks great. 
Up close...
not so much!

This photo looks fine, except for the HUGE hole in the yellow flower, left by the basting pin.
I massaged that out after seeing it in this photo.

What happened? 
A week ago I bought a Janome Jem Platinum so that I could go to classes and take a lightweight machine instead of carting the 13 kilogram monster Pfaff.
When the Pfaff went on strike I pulled out the Jem to practice and thought I could try making a mug rug.
Now you need to know that I have only ever sewn on Pfaff's since the dark ages (when sewing machines were first invented) so the Janome was new to me.
I merrily started piecing and was going really well, so thought "this is easy, why not try to quilt this mug rug!!!"
Hmm, in hindsight it would pay to practice before forging ahead.
Firstly I didn't load the bobbin properly, that meant that after stitching...... oh ...... about 1/3 of it I finally realised that it wasn't doing a particularly good job. I reloaded the bobbin and pulled out the worst lines.
Secondly, apparently I had the stitch setting set too short and it pulled the fabric when I was straight line quilting.
Thirdly, I'm an idiot and used waxed hand quilting cotton in the bobbin, in my defence I didn't realise it was waxed hand quilting thread or I wouldn't have used it, I'm not that much of an idiot!

The consequences of these:

The quilting is highly questionable.
The straight piecing on the right is now slightly wavy piecing. It does give it an interesting finish, ha!
It didn't end up square (or rectangular, lol) as after I squared it up and then sewed a basting stitch ( oh that's right basting stitch is large stitches not tiny little ones) around the edges it pulled it out of shape.

SO I give you my first ever mug rug. 
Actually I don't/won't  give you my first ever mug rug because I don't dislike anybody that much!!!

So glad I'm not in a mug rug swap and I bet a lot of other people are too!

I was going to pull it apart and fix it but I think it would be better to leave as is, as a reminder of what can go wrong if one doesn't take up the offered lesson on how to use the new machine and practice first.

You will be pleased to know that I have now had a lesson in how to use it.
(That's how I know what I did wrong!!!!!!!!)

Tuesday tidbits

Some things I've missed showing over the last few weeks, due to floods, cyclones and a short trip to the Gold Coast a couple of weeks ago.

Firstly, I spend quite a bit of my time on Flickr and have made friends with some wonderful people, who produce fabulous work.
Linda makes the most amazing and stunning quilt tops and sells them. I had my eye on one particular top since last year when she posted it on Flickr. I ummed and ahhed whether I should buy it and eventually I decided I couldn't pass up on owning one of Linda's beautiful quilt tops. So here it is, in all it's tropical glory with a tropical garden backdrop.

It's called "Yikes".
I absolutely love everything about this, the bright colours, the Kaffe design, it's stunning and it's even better than I thought it would be.  Now I just have to make a backing for it.

I also won this fabulous kit from  Kate from Kates-In-Stitches in a Queensland Flood Relief raffle. She runs Bella's Patchwork an online fabric store.

This week I've been working on:
 The Raw Edge Circle quilt from Cluck Cluck Sew, sewing 48 circles on to squares, then cutting them into quarters.
I'm really pleased with the way this has turned out, it's so spring/summery.

Here's the rough layout of half of it. it looks very pale in this photo,  it is much brighter and more like the colours in the photo above. 

My sewing machine is going in for a check up and service this week. It soldiered on through 42 of the circle blocks, I tried coaxing it for the final 6, but with only 4 to go, it pretty much died. Fortunately I have a trusty little back up which finished the last 4 blocks for me. 
Yay for Janome, boo for Pfaff. 
It's less than one year old, not happy!

A sneak peek of something else I've been trying this week.
I finally used some of my lovely Kaffe fabrics.
I was hoping to be able to give it as a gift but I'm not so sure now. I'll let you be the judge when I've finished it.
Sorry the colours are a bit dull in this, I took the photo this evening. 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Give Away Winners

Thank you all for joining in on my first ever give away. We used a high tech system to draw the names. Names on paper and drawn out of a Tupperware container above our heads. Bitchypoo pulled out the names so you can blame or thank her!

The Heather Bailey fat quarter set:  Collette from Poppy Cottage

The Joel Dewberry fat quarter set:  RachaelDaisy

The Tweet Tweet charm pack:  Elizabeth

Congratulations to the winners,  could you please send me an email with your postal address so I can send them off to you.

Anybody want to come and stay at Chez Sunshine?

I bet you will be glad you weren't here last night.

I went to bed but couldn't sleep and finally dozed off around midnight.  Woke up in the dark to the weirdest noise, it sounded like paper fluttering madly in a stiff breeze. I had the ceiling fan going so thought that Lulu had probably found a piece of paper which had dislodged and was now being affected by the fan. The paper fluttering noise was quickly followed by a thwack, hmm what the hell makes that noise. Still lying there in the dark listening.  What on earth are the cats are up to. Now I can hear one of the cats up on the top of my chest of drawers, knocking things over, that is unusual, the knocking things over part, one of them is always getting up there in the middle of the night to annoy me. So I turn on the light to see Lulu on top of the chest of drawers engrossed in something that I can't see. Next thing.....a freaking bat takes off from the top of my chest of drawers and starts circling the bedroom. With both cats looking longingly at it. Fortunately it was only a tiny bat about the size of a sparrow, otherwise I would have had a heart attack. What am I saying, I nearly did , who wouldn't when they find a bat in their bedroom in the middle of the night. So the sound I had heard earlier was the bat hitting the fan and then being hurled across the room into the wall above the chest of drawers. 

Finally it flew out of my room, so I threw off the sheet that I had been hiding under and jumped out of bed ran out of the room after the bat and shut the door to the bedroom so the cats couldn't follow. Then I spent the next 20 mins trying to get the bat to fly out an open door, running around the house shutting all the doors to the rooms and opening the doors out on to the verandah.  One of the cats, LULU, must have brought it in as I have no idea how it would have found it's way in otherwise. It finally found it's way out through one of the open doors. 
During the bat wrangling I spied a ginormous spider that I had tried to kill earlier in the day, lurking on the ceiling perilously close to my bedroom door.
I went back to bed and then lay there worrying whether the spider was going to come and attack me, then I remembered I have my attack cats with me so they will get it before it gets me, I hope.
This all happened at 1.30am, I finally went back to sleep at 3.45am.

Look how big this #!*^! spider is

The beams are 8 inches from top to bottom.  If you take into account his legs, I'd say he's almost as big as a saucer. (Ignore the spider web, I need to get rid of that.)
He's still on the ceiling this morning, at the highest point where I can't get to him, he's taunting me, but the minute he moves I WILL get him!!!

Sorry no pics of the bat, (what was I thinking)!!!!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Favourite Things Friday

Friday rolls around again, and has finished off a nice, but practically craftless week for me. It's FTF and time to link up to Shay at Quilting In My Pyjamas for a Friday linky party.

This week my favourite thing is/are my fur babies. Warning lots of photos. Many you've probably seen before on other posts.

I have three fur babies, Karma a Lhasa Apso he's almost 10 yrs old, and two cats, Bailey and Lulu, they came from the RSPCA.

Karma is laid back and can usually be found sleeping somewhere, anywhere.

He thinks my crochet cushions are made for him.

Bailey is the one who constantly keeps us "amused".

 He loves to help with my quilting.

Lulu is the quiet one, silent but deadly if you're a small living thing.

Check out those teeth.

Lulu also likes to help out with quilting, she is not quite as "helpful" as Bailey.  She is good at picking up the lint!
She's a bit of a daredevil and loves to sit on this railing which is over 6 metres off the ground.