Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Oops – how did that happen?

Oh dear!  Yesterday was my 200th blog and I didn’t realise till today.  So there are none of the usual give-aways to celebrate this momentous occasion.  We will be “on the road” for the next two weeks tripping around in  our caravan so perhaps I can find a little something on our travels and will host a giveaway on our return.  So watch this space!  Of course, if I discover anything crafty related, or a nice new shop, I will be blogging about that here while we are travelling.  Do follow our trip on www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com -  it may well take to to places you have never explored before.
It is not only us going away on holiday.  Muffy is having a “pussy cat break” at Follyfoot Farm, isn’t that a lovely name?  And my sewing machine is in getting poked and prodded and having an overhaul by a nice serviceman, so should come back all raring to go. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The story of the Patchwork Car

The patchwork car cover that stopped everyone in their tracks last weekend at the outdoor quilt show, was kindly loaned by Toni Waygood.  Everyone slowly walked around the car, noting that both sides of the cover were different, and cameras were clicking merrily away. It was certainly a sight to behold. There must be a story behind this, I thought, and made some enquiries.  It all started when one  of the ladies in Toni’s Monday stitching group saw a picture from overseas of a car cover.  Let’s make one too, they gaily decided.  (Wonder if they knew what they were letting themselves in for?)  The first step was to make pattern pieces using old sheets.  The shapes of each section were measured and cut out of the sheets.  Everyone pooled their orphan blocks and UFOs.  These were sorted into colour groups.  There was no particular theme chosen for the cover.  It was a matter of using what was on hand, and the cover evolved and took on a life of it’s own!
As the blocks for each part were joined together, Toni would then quilt that part on her Swiftquilter.  With  each new part attached, the cover became more and more heavy and cumbersome.  Allowance was made for the windows  There were many fittings with the edges being tacked and then sewn to conform to the final shape.  The cover  took six weeks from start to finish, and Toni’s husband was very supportive as this huge job seemed to take over all her spare time.  Toni commented that without the help of her “Monday Girls”, she would never had made the quilt a reality.  Many thanks to Toni, who not only loaned the cover for the show, but also for telling me how it all came about.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Outdoor Quilt Show – part 2

It was a lovely day on Sunday.  The sun was shining, the bees were buzzing around the garden, the doves were cooing softly, and the quilts were fluttering in the breeze.  It was a lovely setting for a quilt show.  After checking out the challenge quilts, we walked slowly along the clothes lines, admiring one lovely quilt after another.  There were some names of quilters I knew, and a whole lot that I didn’t.  The styles, colours, and techniques were all very different, and that’s what makes a show so exciting.
DSCF5371 A row of quilts to enjoy
Each row had something special which caught our eye.  The backs of the quilts were quite interesting too.  We noticed one that was double sided, some had pieced backings, and some were backed with plain fabric which showed up the intricate quilting designs.  Here are some which we especially enjoyed.  This is “Safari”, made by Jenny Hall for her son, who loved giraffes as a youngster.  The sunset fabrics are a wonderful choice and makes the African silhouettes really stand out.
DSCF5362“Safari” by Jenny Hall
A lovely kiddies alphabet quilt full of all sorts of interesting appliquéd items.  Look at that crazy monkey dancing a jig!  Made by Francis Holder who stated that the quilt developed from a bee spotted in a honey advertisement, hence the name of the quilt.  Any little one would love this quilt.
DSCF5363 “It started with a Bee”, by Francis Holder
This floral quilt with the big bold blooms was a kit purchased in Sydney.  It was designed by Material Obsessions.  Those happy flowers are really making a statement, and the quilt is nicely finished with the colourful pieced border. 
DSCF5364 “Big Blooms”, by Debra Fink
The next quilt , so soft and pretty, was made for a special gift.  Called “Hazel’s 90th Birthday”, it features a photo transfer of Hazel, appliqué, and cross hatch quilting.  Beverly Featherstone was inspired by a design found in A P&Q magazine, and adapted it to make a special quilt for a special lady.
DSCF5365 “Hazel’s 90th Birthday, by Beverley Featherstone
I loved the colours in this quilt, and how the colours change from the light middle to the dark, rich borders.  “Kaleidoscope” by Leslie Dalley-Williams uses the traditional Winding Ways block.
DSCF5368“Kaleidoscope” by Leslie Dalley-Williams
This must be every young girl’s dream, shoes, handbags and flowers, set off well against the black panels.  “Hannah’s Quilt” was made by Adrienne Nelson, using appliqué patterns from a BOM, and set off with pieced panels in bright funky colours.
DSCF5369 “Hannah’s Quilt”, by Adrienne Nelson
Jenni F and I loved this fun quilt, which was full of quilters and quilt sayings, and we were not the only ones clustered around.  (I had to wait awhile to get a clear shot).  We could all relate to the quilty sayings and philosophies!  “Old Friends” is an original design by Camilla Watson, inspired by the funky fabric, and includes all her special quilting friends.  The quilt is set off so nicely with that pieced, scalloped inner border.

DSCF5373“Old Friends” by Camilla Watson
That is just a taste of the quilts we saw at the show.  With 75 quilts hanging  it was hard to decide which to photograph, so I have tried to give a good overview of what took my fancy.  The show was great and we were so pleased that after previously being postponed, Yvonne and her team had a lovely day for the show.  The gold coin entry was all donated to Te Omanga Hospice.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Celebrating Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is all about hearts, flowers  and love, isn’t it.  Here is a picture of my heart quilt, artistically arranged (I wish) today on the deck in front of our beautifully flowering fuchsia bush.  I completed the quilt in time for our 25th Anniversary and I like to use it on our bed on our anniversary month.  Wonder if any of you recognise your heart block, as this quilt started life as a SCQ internet Valentine’s Day block swap some years ago.
DSCF5400 “Hearts of Love” - 25th Anniversary Heart Quilt
We celebrated Valentine’s Day with a meal out last night, at Lone Star Restaurant, in Petone.  It was so nice to see so many couples dining out, not all youngsters, by any means, there were lots of couples in our age group.  Several young marrieds were dining out with their young families too.  Which just goes to show that  Valentine’s Day is not just for the young and single, but for the young at heart. 
DSCF5388Dining at  Lone Star Restaurant
The food was delicious, and the servings were huge.  All the ladies were served a free glass of bubbly, which was a nice touch.  I’ll let you in to a secret – it was a very reasonable night out, as we cashed in a voucher which Robin got from his workmates when he retired.  We ended up paying just $6 to make up the difference!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Have you ever seen a Patchwork Car?

The day dawned warm and sunny so it was all systems go for the Stonestead 3rd Annual Outdoor Quilt Festival.  A whole lots of quilts strung along the edge of the property beckoned to us as we parked the car. These particular quilts were not part of the exhibition, but were waving in the breeze as a kind of “welcoming committee”. 
DSCF5356 This way to the quilt show
This spectacular patchwork car cover certainly piqued everyone’s interest as they walked onto the property.  It is made up of a variety of different quilt blocks, and was loaned by Toni Waygood.  Unfortunately, I don’t have any more info on the story behind this project, so far.
DSCF5357 Pretty in pink on this side
What a lot of work to make a cover like this.  Sadly, Robin said “no way” when I told him all about it.  With all my current UFOs I don’t think I could tackle such a big job like this.
DSCF5358Perhaps you prefer these blocks?
I spotted someone with a very impressive camera taking photos.  Could that be the blogger Julz from Julz Design whom I had been waiting to meet?  Yes it was, and she graciously posed for a photo with me on the veranda of Sawmillers Quiltery, sparing a minute from her volunteer duties at the quilt show.  Julz is a quilter, a blogger, a very keen photographer and likes to take part in cycling events in her spare time.  So nice to meet you at last, Julz.
DSCF5359 Jenny and Julz,  fellow quilters and bloggers
After all that excitement my quilting buddy Jenni F and I handed over our entry of a  gold coin donation (with all proceeds going to Te Omanga Hospice) and walked into the garden with lots of glorious quilts hung on wooden clotheslines.
 DSCF5360Some of the quilts on show
We checked out the small Stonestead Challenge quilts.  These had to depict the property and the tea rooms, and use some of the challenge fabric.  Tea cup, trees, outdoor scenes featured on many of the challenges, and several incorporated cross stitch as well.  The winners were to be chosen from viewer’s choice.   We finally made our decision each.
DSCF5361 The challenge quilts
Do check back tomorrow to see the quilts which caught my eye at the outdoor show.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Any day spent sewing……..

Taking pride of place on top of my sewing cabinet is my new table runner – and I must say I am extremely pleased with how it turned out.   Designed by Carol Newton, the pattern was featured in Australian Country Threads magazine, vol 8, no 11.  It was designed to be a framed stitchery, just the thing to hang in a sewing room.
As soon as I saw the design, I knew it would be great for my sewing cabinet.  It was just a matter of copying the design on both ends of my fabric.
I had a wonderful “quilting” fat quarter which was just right for the border, a gift from my pen friend Carol of South Dakota.  It was fun picking the thread colours to  tone in with the colours in the border.  The addition of buttons added another splash of colour.  The table runner was machine quilted, and bound in green fabric.
The runner takes pride of place on top of my sewing cabinet.  On top of it sits the green  fold down sewing box made for me many years ago by my daughter.
DSCF5354 The completed table runner
I love the sentiments expressed.  “Any day spent sewing is a good day”.  How true is that! 

Friday, February 11, 2011

Stitching in the Sunshine

I enjoyed a lovely few hours yesterday stitching in the sunshine with a group of like minded ladies up at Sawmillers Quiltery.  This was my first visit to this friendly group, and I was warmly welcomed.  So you can be sure that I will put the fortnightly meetings on my calendar.  Lunch was a delicious “Devonshire Tea”, (or coffee, in my case)  made on the premises and personally delivered to our tables by Kevin.
DSCF5348 Stitching group in the gardens
We are all  looking forward to  nice sunny weather on Sunday for the 3rd Annual Outdoor Quilt Festival.  This was postponed last week due to showery conditions, so everyone will have their fingers crossed for a better day this week.  The clotheslines are all installed in the garden.  It should be a great day, and I am really looking forward to it.
This is such a lovely setting.  Flowers are in bloom everywhere, and there are pretty doves cooing softly in the background.   In this photo you can see the Quiltery building behind the fence, and the clotheslines in place, waiting for those quilts!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Quilts in the Library

Our local library holds monthly “Creative Crafting” sessions on all sorts of subjects.  This is to promote the books they have on offer on these subjects, and to raise awareness of the different clubs and businesses in our community.  Quilting took centre stage this month with a presentation by Yvonne of Sawmillers Quiltery.  I couldn’t let a quilt related opportunity pass me by, so I joined the happy group of ladies sitting down waiting for the talk to begin.
DSCF5340  Announcing “Quilt Making”
The tables were draped with quilts, Baltimore blocks, and stitcheries.  Yvonne welcomed us all, and went on to explain what is involved in quilting from a beginner’s viewpoint.  Rotary cutters, boards, and rulers are all used these days, and she stressed the care needed while wielding one of these extremely sharp cutters. 
DSCF5341 Quilts and blocks displayed
All the areas of quilting was covered, from choosing fabric, cutting out the pieces, and the difference between piecing and appliqué.  Several types of batting were passed around the group so the ladies could feel the different properties.
DSCF5344 Yvonne talking about her quilts
Yvonne pointed out the huge range of patterns and styles of quilts available.  Foundation paper piecing is the way to ensure sharp points – something I haven’t tried myself.  If someone would rather do handwork, there is a lot of choice too, from simple stitcheries to the elegant and challenging Baltimore blocks. 
DSCF5345 Cheryl’s foundation pieced Mariner’s Compass
A lot of discussion took place when it was mentioned that many quilters in the USA like to hang quilted banners outside their homes to commemorate the four seasons, Independence Day, Halloween, Christmas and other occasions.  It seems this practice is more common in some states than others, and we wondered if it might catch on here in New Zealand.
DSCF5343Hand quilted  Fairy Quilt
As Yvonne commented, “I’m preaching to the converted”, as many of the group at the presentation have already discovered the joys of patchwork and quilting.  But there were several ladies there too who were not yet quilters and came along to see what it is all about.  Let’s hope they are keen to take up our wonderful hobby as we could always do with more quilters in the world!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Quilt show - no, extra stitching time – yes

The the long awaited Sunday outdoor quilt show was postponed due to damp conditions.  Hopefully next Sunday will be nice and sunny and we can view the quilts hanging in the grounds of Stonestead Quiltery then.  After a phone call to make sure that my quilting buddy was aware of the news, I spent the whole day at my sewing machine.  The job in hand was my  burgundy and cream Cobblestone quilt, which is a belated 40th birthday quilt for my niece. My plan was to complete the straight line quilting in the ditch around the blocks to hold the whole quilt together.  Years ago I was told a great tip, which I still follow - to make sure I have a good supply of filled bobbins all ready and waiting.  And I’m a pinner too, even though I use my walking foot.  Putting all those pins in place certainly does take extra time, but I would rather do that than find a few puckers on the back.  Do others bother to pin these long straight sections, or is it just me?
DSCF5304 Pins in place for quilting in the ditch
After stitching one long run, I take the quilt out to the back deck, throw in on the picnic table, pin up the next section, bring it back inside and off I go again.  This is a big quilt to work with, so the excess is bundled on the side of my sewing cabinet, on my lap, and bunched up against the wall at the back as it feeds through the machine.  I remember a seasoned quilter on TV using the term “fluff and sew” as she did machine quilting, and that is probably what I do.  I’m sure that all the safely pins add to the weight as well.
DSCF5305 Plenty of bulk in this quilt
I’m pleased to report that I completed all the quilting in the ditch yesterday, and sewed all the ends in too.  Yes, I’m one of those who like to do this, even though I make sure I take a few small stitches as I stop and start each row.  The next step of course is to do some kind of quilting over the blocks.  Probably stipple, or maybe straight (or wavy) lines.  Any ideas?  I’ve got some nice variegated thread to use for this part of the quilting.  Whatever I chose to do, it will have to wait till we get back from our next trip away.  While we are off exploring the wilds of rural and coastal Wairarapa, my trusty Bernina is having a holiday too, getting a well deserved service.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Happy Waitangi Day

Today is Waitangi Day, the day we celebrate being New Zealanders living in “God’s Own Country”, often abbreviated to “Godzone”,   a phrase that has been used for more than 120 years by Kiwis to describe their homeland . 
Let me show you the New Zealand inspired quilts I have hanging up.  My NZ bird quilt is currently hanging in the hallway but I did not have room to photograph it properly there, so had to move it outside.  Hand appliquéd  (never again, so much easier by machine) and hand quilted, it features New Zealand native birds, a tuatara lizard, and pohutakawa flowers.  The pattern “Naturally New Zealand” was designed by Mary Fletcher, and I completed this quilt back in 2004.
DSCF2501 My New Zealand Bird quilt
Our caravan has two NZ inspired wall hangings.  “My Golden Kiwi” started out as a hand painted panel, purchased at a market some time ago while on holiday.  I added the border and it is machine quilted.
DSCF1901 My Golden Kiwi
There is a small (original) wall hanging above the caravan door, appliquéd with New Zealand trees and flax bushes.  Our two kiwis stand in front, one has feathers and the other is made from Matai, a native New Zealand timber.
DSCF5332 Kiwis on duty
I am off to view an outdoor quilt show today, what a lovely way to spend Waitangi Day.  I am sure there will be a few New Zealand themed quilts hanging in the breeze, so watch this space for a report tomorrow.  Happy Waitangi Day to all Kiwis, both home and abroad. 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Update on Sasha’s Blanket

What to do with the fluffy dog blanket I had made – that was the question.  Thank you to all who wrote a comment on the blog, and I received several e-mails as well.  The overwhelming suggestion was to keep the dog blanket, and offer it to my grand-daughter Emma, in memory of her little dog Sasha.  I should add that Emma did not know that I had made this blanket as a Christmas gift for her.  So I phoned Emma and offered her the blanket, stressing that I didn’t want to upset her.  Yes, she told me, she thought it was a lovely idea to have Sasha’s blanket to cuddle.  I assured Emma that when she gets another new puppy, I will stitch a special blanket for the new arrival.  Sasha’s blanket is now packed up, all ready to post.
DSCF5329 Parcel is all ready to post

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The best thing I’ve ever made

This is the absolute best thing I’ve ever made, I have to say.  It is the bag I made for my cutting mat , rotary cutters and rulers, and was made in a class many years ago.  It was made so long ago that I can’t even remember who the tutor was now. 
DSCF5310 My bag made for the cutting mat
When not in use I keep it tucked against the wall behind my sewing machine cabinet in the dining room.  That keeps the board standing upright, and I just lean over the cabinet, grab the handles, and haul my bag out.   It is so handy to pick up with the handles, and very easy to take to classes.
DSCF5311 Pockets inside
Just a simple idea, and my bag is in constant use.  What is the best thing you have ever made