Sunday, 8 November 2009


Yes, I finished on time, just. Terry has written a blog post on our trip to Wellington and you might as well read his, as he is a better writer than I am. I am hoping that Chris will post his photos of the day on Flickr so that I can borrow one or two for you. I know he took one of Jessica's lovely wide eyed reaction to the quilt when it was first held up for her to see. Here is the finished quilt, front and back.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

The back of the cat quilt

Here is the finished back of Jessie's cat quilt. It is made of fabric I bought for this quilt and didn't use for the front as it didn't fit with the other fabric so well - and some of it isn't cats, its dogs or monkeys but I thought it was cats when i bought it! Those are 17" squares with 3/4" sashing. The green outer border will mostly be trimmed off but as I am going to quilt it on the swiftquilter I need a generous edge. Looks like I might get it finished in time for her birthday on 8th November! Yayy!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Jessica's Cat Quilt

Two posts in one day after a loooooooooong drought! (see here for the other one). I know, I'll explain. While Terry was away on a business trip for four weeks, he took my camera. I don't like to post without pictures so I didn't post much, just one I think with a photo taken on my phone. Then as soon as he got back we had our grand-daughters to stay and after that I had minor surgery (all is well, it just took a while to recover from the anesthetic). So I haven't been quilting much and I haven't been thinking too well either! But now I am back doing both.

When my grand-children or my niece's children turn five, they get an "I'm Five!" quilt from me. Jessica is about to turn five and she has asked for cats. Unfortunately, because of all the interruptions to scheduled life we have had this year its not the fanciest I'm Five! quilt I've made but I hope the lovely fabric will make up for it. Here is the unquilted top. I'm going back out to the sewing room now to make a backing out of all the fabric I bought and didn't use in the top!

A Paper Quilt - it just grew!

A few weeks ago, during the school holidays, we had Aimee and Jessica to stay for a few days while their parents took a break from parenting. One of the things the girls love is to have free rein of the craft area. They have a table, a good stock of art supplies and Nana within cooee in her office. One morning they painted beautiful pictures. The next day they decided that the craft area was their office and they needed a door for it. The craft area is in an open mezzanine but I have a curtain wire I sometimes put across when it is in use as a guest bedroom and Aimee decided they could hang a door from that. So, while Jessica continued to paint pictures, Aimee started taping them together to make a door. When Aimee cut holes in paper sheets to make windows, Jessica painted the cutouts with wavy lines which she said were writing.

Essentially, it is a paper quilt - it took the girls two mornings to construct as they had to wait for some of the paintings to dry before they could finish it off.

Here are some of the blocks and both sides of the finished quilt.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Sarah is making progress

I don't have my regular camera at the moment so this was taken on my cell phone, however, it shows the great way the jacob's ladder blocks dominate the quilt. Can you see the colour scheme is brown & cream with touches of blue, green and turquoise. And the quilt has grown a little bigger than the 60x60" one I designed. It will be 84x96" when finished. The white lines across are where the flannelette sheet on the wall shows through. Sarah still has to buy the fabric for those strips and they will be a mix of light and dark batiks. She has raided my stash and completely depleted it of brown and cream for the 5" squares and the larger pieced blocks. I felt that was fair exchange for her company and that of Aimee and Jessica for a long weekend. Aimee and Jessica also sewed jacob's ladder blocks on the sewing machine this weekend, Aimee made hers into a bag and Jessica left hers here for me to make into a bag for her.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Sarah's Quilt

My daughter Sarah needs a quilt for her bed and she asked me to design something in neutral colours, easy to sew but original. This is what I've come up with, a 60"x60" quilt which can be made larger with a border or two if necessary.

When I design using EQ6 I don't bother to scan my fabric as I work with many different scrap fabrics. I use fabric in the design that is close to value and hue to what I have.  I have chosen this range from my large collection of 5" squares.

I intend the design to be a guide only. The rows of plain squares are 5" squares, so they will be easy  - just sew them in a row. Then there are a few strips of differing widths - not too difficult either! The three pieced rows are of 8" finished blocks and 10" finished blocks. they are made up of half square triangles and 4 patches. A few 9 patches could be added for variety or quarter square triangles! Because of the casual nature of the design, if the rows of finished blocks are not quite 60" then a strip added between blocks or at the end of the row will not look out of place. and if the finished row is not 8" or 10" deep then an adjustment to one of the strip rows will take care of that. I have a workshop this coming weekend "Sewing outside the Square" with June Nixey and the blocks I make there I'll give to Sarah for this quilt.

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Tulip Quilt

At the recent National Quilt Symposium in Wellington there was a bit of controversy over their policy to restrict show entries largely to "original quilts" - always going to be tricky with so many quilts being based on traditional blocks and quilting patterns.

However in an attempt to give others a few tips on how to make an 'original quilt' two of us from Cotton-On Quilters have been giving a mini tutorial at club meetings for the last three months. In the process I have been making this quilt to demonstrate the steps I use.

Here are my notes from the first two lessons:

Designing original quilts from a photograph - the photograph you choose must be one you have taken yourself or one you have permission to use. I will be using this one which my husband Terry took of tulips in our garden.

My original quilts are mostly done using the same method. I like to make the background pieced with curves and the foreground pieces with raw edge appliqué. I am listing what I do so that you have a basis to work from. If you want to use a different method of appliqué or to sew the fine detail before layering and quilting the quilt then that is fine too.

I find a photograph with a strong foreground item (in this case a group of tulips but it may be a person or animal, a tree or building, etc) and a background with some strong lines between different coloured areas. The photograph may have other items that I am not interested in and they can be taken out during the planning stage. I study the photograph, and decide what parts I want to use. I may at this stage trace the photograph and work from the drawing or I may work directly from the photograph. The next step is to enlarge the drawing or photograph to the size of the finished quilt. You can do this by taking it to a photocopy shop or by projecting a transparency of the work onto a wall and tracing it or by scanning it onto a computer and printing it out from an art programme. My art programme will print out a large photograph or drawing onto a number of A4 pages which I then tape together to give me my pattern to work from.
If you don’t have an art programme that will do that on your computer there is a site on the internet where you can upload your photo and choose the size you want it printed. Then print on your own printer – again onto a number of A4 pages which you tape together. Or you can download a free programme to do the job from here.

Once the pattern is sized up to the size of the finished quilt the next task is to make the pattern pieces for the background. I have done these a couple of ways – but my most recent method is the easiest to explain.

Cover the paper pattern with press’n’seal and trace the background sections onto the press’n’ seal with a ball point pen or felt tip. If the quilt is very large it may be easier to work in sections for this part. Draw the background in easy curves or straight lines, not too many sections – fine detail can be added later. Carefully peal off the plastic wrap and cut into sections – I use the rotary cutter for this. Lay the press’n’seal on the RIGHT SIDE of the fabric for each background piece and cut around each piece with a ¼” margin (just eyeball it, don’t get paranoid about it). Sew the pieces together, clipping curves and pressing after each seam.

Now look at it and decide what items from the photo you need to add to make a more detailed quilt.

The foreground pieces (tulips and leaves) can be traced the same way using press’n’seal. If you are going to use raw edge appliqué as I usually do cut them out of fabric that has a sticky backing (vliesofix or steam-a-seam etc) without the ¼” margin. If you want to needle turn appliqué the foreground pieces cut with a margin as you did the background.

Apply the foreground items to the background using your chosen method. The detail can be sewn on at this stage as surface embroidery or sewn on at the quilting stage.

Here are three progress photos as the quilt evolved:

You can see I have rearranged the tulips into a more pleasing composition and I have started to add detail, shading etc using free motion stitching on the tulip heads and on the leaves on the right hand side. I usually use coloured pencils to draw on the fabric and then use the pencil colouring as a guide for my stitching. The pencil will wear off over time but the stitching will not.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The Lentil Policy Document

Apple: is attempting to cook MoF lentils
Button: Whats "MoF"?
Apple: Ministry of Food - it's a cafe in Wgtn
Coin: or... Minister of Finance lentils. They'd be produced through an innovative PPP model, and provide more tastiness per lentil than under previous administrations
Apple: There is no evidence yet that the Partial Pressure Pot will increase the tastiness, tho it should reduce the cooking time, although not as much as the more expensive full pressure pot approach. However, if we add additional condiments at the beginning of the process we may see an improvement in tastiness
Fluffy Chick: I think you need to raise the analysis up a level and start asking why you would want to cook lentils. Lentils are just one option within a range of food groups. Further analysis is needed to determine if this is in fact the best value for money food group.
Seagull: But value for money is just one measurement paradigm. I think a framework for analysis is required to determine the best tastiness assessment criteria and the acceptable levels of input to achieve any minimum levels established.
Fluffy Chick: Personally I think that we can safely assume that lentils will not score well regardless of the framework or criteria we try to develop. I think we just go with something like this.
Drafter: the girls
We recommend that you:
note that lentils are disgusting
agree that you will never cook lentils for us
But this may just be my personal view :)
Apple: i think you guys are spending way too many resources on the issue (with a distinct lack of problem indentification). The initial process was appropriate and provided a positive outcome for the limited target audience. Lentil supply was outsourced to the lowest bidder (who, being a specialist supplier was also able to offer high quality), the intended outcome was well researched (I have eaten lentils at MoF several times) and the eventual product was of a high quality. The unindented outcomes (gas) have been identified and will be rectified in subsequent batches (I'll rinse the lentils first before cooking).
I, at least, didn't get caught up in the theory and successfully operationalised the concept. Anyone else who would like to contribute to quality control is welcome to come over for lentils. =)

Thursday, 23 July 2009

I know, its been a long time...

But I have a good reason: after the girls left to go home with their mummy and daddy, we had a week and half of comparative peace and quiet with only Kenza staying here (the horticultural student from France). Then, the weekend before my niece Mary was due to arrive with her two youngest children to stay for 5 days, Terry's mother was discharged from hospital but was not well enough to go home on her own so Terry brought her down from Auckland to stay with us. Mary arrived the day after Mum did, Mary's two older children unexpectedly joined us 5 days later and Mary left with all 4 children a couple of days after that. Terry has now taken Mum up to her home for a few days to keep a few appointments but is bringing her back here later today.

Because of the number of people staying and the care some of them have needed, I've had no time to quilt - or the space as Kenza is living in the sewing room.

However, I do have something quilty for you - more specifically, for those of you who edit quilt club or guild newsletters. I have edited a few of them over the years and have put together a small collection of original quilt clipart which I am happy for you to use for non-commercial purposes. They are of various sizes and you can download them from here.

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Monday, 11 May 2009

Working on the border

I've really enjoyed getting engrossed in the white moulding of this door - I've used two layers and three shades of white, pale blue and a less pale blue to build up the different shades to give the moulding its 3-d effect. I've hand tacked the green outer edge to the centre background piece and then stuck the moulding pieces down over the join, ready to be raw-edge appliqued to the quilt.

It will improve with stitching of course.

And I think it may be nearly time to stop referring to the original picture and start making the quilt into its own piece of art.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009


Four weeks ago my mother rang me early one morning to say that the ambulance had come to take her to hospital. She died three weeks later. It was a great shock to all of the family as we had no idea she was ill apart from the increasing pain she was feeling in her spine. We understood this to be from degeneration of the spine, which is not normally a terminal illness. As test results were revealed over the next few days, the family gathered in Auckland - her three children (my brother Mark flying home from England), her grandchildren and great-grandchildren(from all over New Zealand). We all spent as much time as we could in hospital with mum and in my sister's home with dad, supporting and comforting mum, dad and each other. The strength of the family gathering and just hanging out like that was amazing. We went through the acknowledged grief cycle together over that time: denial, anger, depression and finally, acceptance. She didn't live long enough to leave Auckland hospital for hospice care and the staff in her ward were very good to us all, making it very easy to stay with mum as long as we wanted to each day and, especially, all of her last night.

The funeral was a chance to say goodbye and to pay tribute to our lovely, patient, kind, thoughtful, clever mum (I learnt my sewing skills from her). We played a series of photos of her, all I could collect together from various sources, at the service:

And after the funeral, my 4 year old grand-daughter Jessica borrowed Terry's camera and took some great pictures at the wake:

Saturday, 18 April 2009

A Comparison

This is my concept picture of the splashback wall before we started building.

And this is the finished wall.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Saturday, 28 March 2009

And Now?

I think I'll add some more netting to the background, maybe some white.

How's it going so far?

Saturday, 21 March 2009

A New Project

Quilters often have many projects in a half finished stage - and I'm just one of the crowd! I'm starting a new project today. A couple of years ago we travelled to France to attend a wedding. While there we spent some time at the workshop of the bride's father, Roger. We would have loved to bring home a piece of his furniture but it would have been very costly, so we compromised. We would buy a suitable piece of furniture and Roger would have some doors painted with his trademark scenes. In exchange, we (I) would make them a quilt. They had seen the quilt I had made as a wedding present for Caroline and considered this a fair exchange.

Roger's Workshop:

The Dresser we bought for the doors:

The quilt I made for Caroline - and if you want to know why I made her such a strange quilt you can read a bit more about it here.

We heard from Caroline a couple of days ago with exciting news - her first baby is due any day now! And she also sent pictures of the paintings that are going to be on the doors her father is making for us. So I must get on with our part of the exchange. And here is the pattern I have printed for my quilt. It is one of the pictures that Roger uses for his furniture.

I use PhotoImpact for my artwork and it allows me to print out posters by choosing how large the poster should be (in this case 80cm x 110cm) and it prints the picture out on a number of normal size pages (16 in this case) for me to stick together to make a poster. This poster is then the pattern I work from, tracing the pieces onto tracing paper and then reversing them onto the back of vliesofix (wonder under) to make up the picture with fabric pieces. It will be raw edge applique, the same as Caroline's quilt. I might try to piece the frame though.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Centre Block

Hi Anne! Hi Nava! I recognise Nava's name as being one of the participants in this Round Robin - are you another Anne?

Okay, Anne and Nava have asked how did I do the centre block. It is made up of four blocks with careful placement of the stripped pieces. Each block is made up of a centre square and four pieces made of strips sewn together. I made two of each stripped piece - actually I made one twice the length and cut it in half - and then laid everything out before sewing each of the four blocks together. I've taken these pictures from the design in EQ6 so that's why the fabrics don't match what I eventually used. They are just approximations of the colour I had in mind.

I'm sure you know how to put that block together but in case anyone wants to know here is a little tutorial: start with the centre square and one stripped piece. Sew a partial seam stopping half an inch from the edge of the centre square. Go around the block adding stripped pieces as you would a log cabin and end by finishing the first seam you started.
Anne has since emailed and told me that she is a beginner quilter and asked if I would tell her the sizes of the pieces I had used to make the block. Here is my reply to her:
The blocks are 8" finished. [As you are new to quilting I'll make this comment (someone told me once and its something that really helped me designing my own stuff): ALWAYS work in finished sizes. Work out finished block sizes, finished piece sizes, THEN add your half inch for seams (1/4 inch for each edge).]

ok, so the blocks are 8" finished. The centre squares are  1.5 x 1.5"  finished so the stripped blocks are 3.25 inch x 4.75 FINISHED = 3.75 x 5.25 before sewing together. I just sewed strips together in random widths to make a piece at least 11" x 4" then cut that back to 10.5 x 3.75 than cut that in half lengthwise. Make sure the first strip you sew in each one is the dark background strip.

If you want to make it easy on yourself, use 2 x 2" (2.5" before sewing) centre blocks and then the stripped blocks are 3 x 5 finished, 3.5 x 5.5 before sewing.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

A New Round Robin

You may have realised that I'm not getting much time in the sewing room. I decided I needed to give myself more incentive to ignore the office work and make time to sew. I didn't want to enter any major competitions oir challenges, although they have deadlines to meet which would make me do the work, you need to spend too much time to meet that deadline. Round Robins though, a series of deadlines, with smaller amounts of work each time, that would work.

And then my friend Helen asked at club for volunteers to participate in  a Round Robin Exchange with some quilters from the U.K. who visited her a few months ago so I put up my hand to be part of that exchange.

The rules for the center block are:
  • Everyone makes the centre block. This is a is 16” square when finished.  Please then turn the block on point and add to this 16” block 4 corner triangles to make a finished block about 23” square. Please make sure there is a quarter inch seam allowance especially at the joints.
Mmm, no guidelines as to colour or style. A search through my scraps... I don't have many large pieces of fabric, its all fat quarters or smaller, so no large triangles, I'll have to piece them. Mmmm. I'll see what I can draw up on EQ6...

Well, I've done it Helen, ready for the next step!

What do you think? Challenging enough?

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Its practically finished!

Exercise space and tv room
Flower Garden
Front porch with Hopscotch!
My new chair - 39th wedding anniversary present from Terry