Wednesday, January 25, 2012

WIP Wednesday - from HK

So, it's been a couple of weeks since I participated in a WIP Wednesday - only partly because I've been away in China and HK, and am technically still there. However, I am GOING TO POST THIS. Because I have had most of this WIP stored up for the last two weeks.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Anyway, since I've been away in China for the last fortnight, I haven't done all that much - although there was some incremental progress on a couple of projects.

But first, the Finishes!

Stepbrother's Supernova

The Stepbrother's Supernova binding was started on the Friday before we left (the 6th), finished on Saturday, and the quilt itself was gifted at the wedding on Sunday 8th Jan. Here it is laying across the bed of my suite in the Sir Stamford Hotel, Circular Quay (just up from the Opera House where the reception was held, amidst the most spectacular of summer storms) where my sis and I stayed after the reception:

stepbro supernova

Stepbro's supernova

Funny story: my sister characterised our table at the wedding as 'the redheaded stepchild' of the guests...and, uh, yeah, other than the hair colour, we kind of were! Both the groom's dad and mum remarried, and the stepkids were all at our table. (We're stepsibs through the groom's dad and our mum, btw.) So, uh, yeah...

But I think the stepbro and step-SIL liked the quilt. I haven't yet dared to ask after it. I'm seeing them tomorrow for lunch before the parentals and I fly back to Sydney (we're presently in Hong Kong), so maybe I can inquire about it then?

The design by Lee of Freshly Pieced is stark, eyecatching, and brilliant - and I'd really like to make this quilt again -'s really quite a lot of careful lining-up work, and it kind of killed me to make it the first time!

Thinking it through, this would be a really good scrappy quilt to make, block by block! And I bet you could do some fascinating things with patterned fabrics... Hmm... Maybe I need to make a new box of scraps "Scrappy Supernova"...

The Colour Of Magic

I machine-bound this one, and I think I have to work out a better way of doing it, because machine binding is just not cutting the mustard! I can't seem to get all the edges perfect. :(

...and I don't actually have a finished photo of this - just the one that I took for my Quilts of 2011 mosaic:


I'm not sure you can really see the quilting on this: it's actually this wonderful swirl of floral-leafy patterns in a kind of Central-Asian design.

I don't have a planned recipient for this, but because it's been computer-quilted, I think I'd like to give it as a personal gift rather than sell it on Etsy.

Finished Tops

Dead Simple Quilt

It was to have been the 'Dead Simple Quilt' but it's sort of become the 'Not-so-Dead-Simple Quilt' c/o the question of borders and what to put on it and...stuff.

dead not-so-simple QAL

I'm beginning to think I preferred it without the borders! Or perhaps I should have done it with the borders like Colour Of Magic above - but, alas, 'tis done, and I will try to quilt it (very simply) and see if someone wants to buy it from Etsy. It's not very modern in blogosphere terms, but it might suit someone with more traditional tastes.

Well, I can hope!

In Progress

Scrap Attack Quilt-Along

I'm thinking of making two scrap quilts rather than one - I have that many scraps. However, for the moment I've decided to go with Sally Schneider's 'Askew' from 'Crazy For Scraps'. It's pretty much HSTs with a set of squares inside the lighter HST, which you then just arrange in diamond patterns.

And for a bonus, you can chain-piece this block! (Chain-piecing is awesome - so pleasantly mindless! Except when I make an oopsie and discover I've made that oopsie for the last hundred pieces. Then it sucks...)

scrap attack: scraps

This is a bunch of scraps from the 'smaller than FQ' collection of fabrics I have around. I've stuck with strong, saturated colours, think those are pretty much the only scraps I have...

My colour tendencies are towards the eye-poppingly bright...

scrap attack: lights

They're pretty much the leftovers from the background Stepbro's Supernova. Yay for scrapness!

On The Planning Table

Silk Quilt Cover

I've been in HK for a week and Shanghai before that, and while in China, I went and bought a whole lot of Chinese silk brocade, which I intend to turn into a quilt or a quilt-cover.

I self-assembled two 'colourways':

This one is "Violet Nights":
silk brocades: blues stacked

And I'm calling this one "Dragon's Blood":
silk brocades: reds stacked

Both sets together, bound by the black bamboo silk:
silk brocades

Lots of different colours, lots of different patterns, lots of possibilities! In all, there's at least 16m (17.5 yards) of fabric in that pic - and it cost me less than $120 AUD. The vendor even threw in a few 'free' yards because I bought so much! (And it was a way of getting rid of stock: he was leaving to go home for the Lunar New Year celebrations the next day.)

My intention is to make either a silk quilt, or a silk quilt-cover for the silk quilt I bought in Suzhou. My mother has already optioned cushions made from the scraps. (Ah, mum - ever the opportunist! It definitely runs in the family. :D) But for the moment, I'm just going to 'ooh' and 'aah' over my fabric. Don't mind me, the fabric is just so preeeeetttyyy!

It's all going in the luggage, and I'm quietly terrified that this could be the time that my luggage gets lost in transit. (Like "this could be the time that the plane crashes" or "this could be the time that a psychopathic maniac releases a virulently infectious virus that kills everyone on the plane"... OKay, I admit, I've been thinking too much about that first episode of Fringe - totally awesome series, btw, although not for the weak of stomach!)

I tell you, though, if QANTAS loses my luggage this time I will be so pissed off... *jinx*

No Movement
- Harvest HST: I should lay this out and start sewing it together when I get back, I want it done and dusted!
- Drunkard's Path (handsewing project): yea, even though I travel through the wintry depths of China, I will do no sewing, for my laptop and my eReader, they entertain me...
- uberquiltfest: I think I need to finish this in the next couple of weeks or i'll be in major trouble and it'll sit around forever and ever...
- Charmed Prints: another one that I just need to get done! I'm at the hard part: sewing the rows together - always a tricky part for me...

So I haven't been able to go around and check other WIP wednesday for the last two weeks. It's kinda hard when you're in China and the internet is a) expensive, b) not always happy to play with the sites you want to play with!

But you should definitely check out all the others at the link-up! There's always amazing work to be seen around and about the blogosphere!

Quilting Inspiration

Travelling through China has been wonderful, and I've got pics and a travelogue up on my 'personal' journal. But I can never quite turn the creative switch 'off', even when travelling! As a result, while travelling through China, I spotted a few inspirational things along the way.

Like this painting:
Design idea

It's an actual painting, but wouldn't it make a wonderfully eye-catching bargello/postage stamp quilt? Complicated to put together, but so effective!

And this tile pattern near the place where we were staying would make a fantastic quilt block:
Quilting pattern?

I think it would be roughly based on the kaleidoscope block - the octagonal one with the four corners. Tricksy with the curves, perhaps, but the result would be utterly stunning!

And sometimes it just takes things like hotel cushions to catch the eye:
Pattern idea

To say nothing of those hotel gift shops full of nifty little ideas that are so nice to give to people:
silk cosmetic bags

Then there was the quiltspotting! Not that one sees too many patchworked/pieced quilts in China, but we were in a silk market looking through the shops when I spotted these quilts in one of the stalls:
quilts in china

With the kind of quilting detail that is more usually found in exhibition quilts:
quilting detail

I have no idea if it was handmade or machine made, or whether it's cotton or anything like that. I just passed the shop, stopped by, and took some pics! But the detail is lovely, whether it was programmed or someone did the painstaking machine quilting.

And, of course, one can't talk about China and fabric without mentioning the silk:

The silk markets I mentioned had three stories of fabric and clothier shops - mostly silk and wool suiting, some shirting cotton, a few dressy-materials. I looked high and low for something that might approximate quilting cotton, but they didn't seem to have anything - woe! Still, the vendors would not only sell you the fabric, but also make you gowns, dresses, suits, coats - whatever suited your tastes.

I was looking for silk. To whit, enough silk to make a decent-sized quilt.

There was so much colour and so many patterns! The range in the market was much much bigger than anywhere else I'd seen, and it was all beautiful quality and vivid colour. Enough to send even the most restrained fabric buyer into a tailspin!

So I went twice. Once to get a look at what the options were, before turning around and coming out and clearing my head so I could work out what I'd actually need and not go crazy on the spending. :)

I did the calculations and ended up with about 16m, or ~17.5 yards of silk in two colourways:

I'm calling this one "Violet Nights":
silk brocades: blues stacked

And this one "Dragon's Blood":
silk brocades: reds stacked

Don't you love the colours? I swear I must have yanked out just about every bolt in the shop to get combinations that worked - but the finished result is going to look SO AWESOME.

The patterns are a mixture: there are feathers and flowers and animals - dragons, cranes, and what look like some more tribal birds, Chinese characters, medallions and scrolling... All beautiful, and I can't wait to get into it!

Violet Nights with the black (which is going to be the binding):
silk brocades: blue-violets

Dragon's Blood with the black:
silk brocades: reds

And both sets of fabric!
silk brocades

Does anyone know if you should use silk thread to patch together silk quilts? Like the "cotton thread for cotton quilts" rule? I notice there's a company called YLIC that makes silk thread for quilting - has anyone used their products before?

Tomorrow, the parentals and I fly back to Sydney from our present locale in HK. We've been staying with the stepdad's older sister, and it's not a bad location - just a little out of town. And I've been sick for the last week (pretty much since we left China) which hasn't been fun at all. I'll be so glad when we're back in Australia, and I can get antibiotic for this baby!

And, of course, there'll be the sewing to get back to! I'm looking to land a job in the coming weeks, so I'm going to have to get a move on my finished quilt tops for 2012...

But more about that in the WIP Wednesday post tomorrow! :)

In the meantime: Happy Lunar New Year! KUNG HEI FAAT CHOI! Bring on 2012 - Year of the Dragon!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

It's a Wedding Guest Book! It's a Quilt!

From Offbeat Brides - a website that I love because it showcases some gorgeous 'alternative' (read: non-traditional white meringue gown) weddings by people whose personalities and background are probably not given to a church wedding.

Anyway, this is the neatest idea: a wedding guest book quilt. It looks like it's pretty much just a pack (or two) of solid charm squares with a permanent marker at the wedding. Have your guests leave a message on their charm square and sew together for a quilt!

It would make a perfect backing for a pieced front! Baste, quilt, and bind it, and it's definitely one present they can't avoid will remember!

Of course, it's a little late to do this for my stepbrother's wedding quilt:
stepbro supernova

Finished on Saturday, gifted on Sunday!

Maybe the next time someone in the family gets married?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Scrap Attack QAL!

Scrap Attack Quilt-Along

I've decided to join in with the Scrap Attack QAL over at Stitched In Color - my first QAL of the year!

I've been thinking of getting rid of a bunch of my scraps for a while now - I have a great many selvedge strings, thanks to my own 12-quilts-in-2011 project, and have been threatening to make a string quilt for nearly six months now.

selvedges: so many!

This might be my opportunity to get a move on it!

I'm a little uncertain about exactly what kind of fabric one uses as the backing block for a string quilt. I have some craft cottons which are good solid materials, just not quilting quality. And there's some craft calico in my stash - leftover from when I was making the Steampunk Victoriana dress. Again, it's good solid material, just not quilting quality.

Does it matter terribly much not to use 'quilting quality cotton'? There's a part of me that rebels at using 'good' fabric where it's not going to be seen!

Technically, my Drunkard's Path should fit the bill for a Scrap Attack quilt, too - the dark fabric is from stash, but the coloured fabrics are scraps of everything else. Only, I have no idea how long it will take to complete the Drunkard's Path quilt, seeing as I'm piecing the blocks by hand. I hope to have a wad of blocks when I get back from China and HK, but who knows?

drunkard's path scrappy

Then (on yet another hand) there's also the ideas in 'Crazy For Scraps' by Sally Schneider - I'm really liking the askew quilt (halfway down the page) - I love that block, although I'm not sure I have large enough scraps for it. So many of my scraps are smaller bits and pieces (like the selvedges).

So many scraps and ideas! So little time!

The Scrap Attack Flickr Group

Thursday, January 5, 2012

WIP Wednesday #1 2012

It's perfectly okay to start over in 2012, isn't it? :)

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

So, there are the leftovers from last year:

Wherever We Are Bound>

Supernova Quilt
This will be a gift for my stepbrother and his wife-to-be at their wedding this weekend. Setting c/o the parental house. :)


I love the quilted curls - it works really well against the straight lines and angles of the supernova blocks! And the binding is rainbow coloured all the way around - made from leftover fabric from the blocks!

Colour Of Magic


The quilting isn't easy to see on this one, but it's this great floral pattern in a kind of Indian-brocade style. Something to take the edge off the simplicity of the squares.

Although I actually picked another palette for the Dead Simple QAL, this was my first attempt at "straight squares" for a quilt, using a batik fat quarter set I ordered from an ebay seller. Now that it's almost finished, I really really like the colour pattern.

Again, the setting is c/o the parental house. :)

As you can see in both those photos, the binding is sewn onto the front but not fully done. I'll be sewing the binding on the stepbrother's tomorrow over at the parentals' I think, and probably do the CoM quilt sometime during Jan.

Unfinished Business

Dead Simple Quilt
dead simple QAL: borders

Borders for the Dead Simple quilt. The golden strips will be a thin border, before I do a border of more squares around it, with perhaps a gold binding. I still have to decide on the binding.

HST Harvest
HST Harvest

Blocks trimmed, now to decide on which of the three configurations I should use:

Layout 1:
harvest hst quilt: layout 1

Layout 2:
harvest hay quilt: layout 2

Layout 3:
harvest hst quilt: layout 3

I'm undecided, so I turn to you, dear readers! Leave a vote in the comments. Please?

Charmed Prints

I missed the deadline for getting the quilt top finished before Christmas. Just didn't have time/energy to do it.

charmed prints

The Virginia Star blocks have caused no small amount of trouble due to the fact that they're 10.5" unfinished and all the other blocks were 10" unfinished. Ruh-roh!

All I can suggest is that you don't examine the seams on this one too closely. *wince*

Other Things To Do
- make pillowslips for Mum's Imperial Stars
- make pillowslips for the Penny Batik (which mum has bought off me)
- more Drunkard's Path handsewing! (There'll be plenty done by next month - I'm going to HK with the parentals for the Chinese part of stepbro's wedding next week. Result? Probably quite a lot of time, just me and my handsewing in airport lounges...)

Summary of 2011 & Plans for 2012

A mosaic of my sewing projects through 2011!

2011 Quilting Mosaic
1. Modern Rail Fence. 2. Amazeing French Lace. 3. Autumn Cushions. 5. Steampunk Victorian Dress. 6. Gen X Charmed Prints QAL. 7. DCMB Kaleidoscope QAL. 8. ps.i quilt Postage Stamp QAL. 9. Lily's Quilts Dead Simple QAL. 10. Messenger Bag. 11. Freshly Pieced Supernova QAL. 12. Gothic Cushions. 13. Sanctuary Kaleidoscope. 14. Mum's Imperial Stars. 15. Hidden Harvest. 16. The Colour Of Magic.

So: this year, I got serious about sewing.

Apart from the 12 Quilts of 2011, I participated in various exchanges - fabric and craft, started making clothes again (I haven't made dresses for some twenty years now), and joined the club of People Who Make Gifts.

Highlights of the year include:
- making RL friends who quilt
- discovering internet friends from before this year who also quilt,
- joining two regular quilting groups - Sydney Southern Cross Quilters, and the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild,
- joining online QALs,
- starting a handsewing project,
- purchasing enough fabric to make a year's worth of quilts,
- participating in a birthday block swap,
- having a great deal of fun!

It's been a learning experience all around, and great for my colour-and-shape creative side: the part of me that likes the joy of picking fabrics, choosing a design, and seeing the finished product.

Plans for 2012

In 2012, my goals are to:

1. Finish another 12 quilt tops.
2. Make at least 1 quilt from go to whoa - including the quilting stage, which I usually fob off to someone else.
3. Start making quilts and patterns with an intent to sell.

I don't know how feasible these will be, especially since I hope to get a 9-to-5 job in 2012 and between the job, writing, sewing, and the hope of a social life, it could get very tiring very fast! But it helps me to set goals, even if I don't achieve them. (I've been planning to finish one of my novel-length stories every year for the last five years. I still haven't.)

12 quilts in 2011!

My goal at the start of 2011 was to make 12 quilt tops. Not finished quilts, since I didn't feel I had the skill then (or the machine), just the tops.

I believe I've succeeded!

2011 Quilt Top Roll-Call
1. Penny Batik

2. Modern Rail Fence

3. Central Park Boxes

4. Supernova

5. Sanctuary Kaleidoscope
sanctuary kaleidoscope

6. Santorini Sun And Sea

7. The Colour Of Magic

8. Gothic Summer Sampler

9. Go Back To The Jungle, Turn The World Around

10. Dead Simple QAL
Dead Simple QAL

11. Mum's Imperial Stars

12. Amazeing French Lace
Modern Basics: modern maze in French lace batiks

It was close. I still haven't finished Harvest HSTs or the Charmed Prints QAL, and there are a lot of tops yet to be quilted!

Also, I feel compelled to add that I was aided and abetted by the lack of 9to5 work I had during the year, and my friend Jenn, who's been an invaluable source of encouragement and corruption since June!

I'll put my 2012 goals in the next post.

Monday, January 2, 2012

So Little Time!

And so many things to do.

Not least of which is the Blogger's Choice Bundle challenge!

Select 12 patterns and 3 solids to make your own 'Blogger's Choice' bundle, as though you were a famous blogger!

Blogger's Choice

I've been extremely random in my choices: I started with three solids I liked and then picked fabrics to match from anywhere and everywhere.

Running from top left-hand corner:
1. Power Pop: Freesia Posies (Free Spirit)
2. Kona: Royal (Robert Kaufman)
3. Fanciful Flight: Aqua & Pearl Fun Flowers (Hoffman Fabrics)
4. Impressions: Blue Roscoe (Free Spirit)
5. Fanciful Flight: Buttercup & Pearl Fun Flowers (Hoffman Fabrics)
6. Crazy Daisy: Pink With Orange Crazy Daisy (Benartex)
7. Crazy Daisy: Yellow Tile (Benartex)
8. Nature Elements: Sweet Mango (Art Gallery)
9. Sunny Happy Skies: Yellow Festive Stripe (Riley Blake)
10. Taza: Yellow Lisa (Free Spirit)
11. Kona: Slate (Robert Kaufman)
12. Kona: Pomegranate (Robert Kaufman)
13. Happy Mochi Yum, Blueberry Fiji (Lecien)
14. So Sophie, Purple Tapestry (Riley Blake)
15. Impressions, Purple Roscoe (Free Spirit)

I like the look of it, which is sunshiney bright, and cheerful - a fabric selection for a quilt that can be spread on the lawn on a spring or summer's day, and on which you can settle down with a good book!

sing we now of Christmas...

I had a lot of plans to post during the Christmas period.

There was the post that was going to be about Chocolate Hazelnut Cherry Rum Truffles:
Choc cherry hazelnut rum truffles: a family specialty

There was the post that was going to be about the Charmed Prints QAL:
charmed prints QAL: blocks and sashings

There was the post that was going to be about making Messenger Bags:
messenger bag pieces

There was the post that was going to be the Blogger's Choice Fabric Bundle for Fat Quarter Shop...

And there was the post that was going to be about all the quilts I've finished this year, and how I managed to just inch through my 12 in 2011 - although Mum's Impstar, the Dead Simple QAL, and the Modern Maze all require some border-ing.

I did find a gorgeous place to take photos of quilts, though - the Sydney Botanical Gardens! We're going there next Sunday for the stepbro's wedding, so I'm going to lug along a suitcase full of finished quilts (assuming I can finish them) and lay them out in the Gardens and take photos. :)

Anyway, amidst all the posting that I didn't do, I had a lovely time of family, friends, food, and fun. (And obviously enjoyable alliteration.) I did suffer through a cold for most of it, but it was a good Christmas-New Year break.

Welcome 2012!