Tag Archives: Australian Quilt

Monkey Puzzle Solved and the End of Christmas.

18 Jun

Just an update on the projects featured in the last post.

And  this one.

I had completed the alphabet monkeys for what was going to be a cot quilt. I obviously took my eye off the ball and having put it together with a set of 25 patch blocks, realised that it was a bit on the long and thin size. The only way to proceed was to make it into a full sized quilt for a single bed.

This I did.

DSCN2598_450x600Some Detail.

DSCN2605_600x600   Yet More.DSCN2607_600x600

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Not my usual colours but I think they work quite well.

At the same time I was finishing ‘Chrissie Down Under’ by McKenna Ryan.

I can’t say I am as thrilled as I hoped by the completed wall hanging but at least it is finished.

I think my conclusion is that she does animals and birds very well but the Santa and the Cat don’t quite work. The problem with her patterns is that it is not easy to find a large picture of the finished quilt to see what it will look like.

I did use satin stitch round all the appliques rather than the suggested straight stitching with a poly filament thread. At least I can wash it without it falling apart.Mind you my all singing and dancing newer Pfaff refused to have anything to do with the multiple layers of fabric and glue. Whilst it was sulking I dug out my original Pfaff bought in 1985 and I have to say that it is far superior to the one I bought to replace it when the motor gave up. Nothing to do with the fact the original was made in Germany of course. (sarcy face emoticon) Luckily I decided that the small amount of money I was going to be charged to have a new motor fitted was worth it so I now have my old machine back and this quilt was able to be completed. What I will do with it I am not sure. We may have to move house to get higher ceilings.

DSCN2591_450x600 I love the detail on these birds.

DSCN2592_600x286Fiddly but worth it.

DSCN2593_600x306These may be my favourites.

DSCN2594_600x397This bird presented the biggest challenge with its layers of feathers.

DSCN2595_559x600See the detail.

DSCN2596_252x600Kangaroos and pelicans.

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As I sit posting this I can hear music from the village green. Every year Polperro has a music festival so every afternoon there are a couple of bands performing and then lots more in all the pubs in the evening. The Big Cheese and myself even took in a spot of chamber music on Sunday.

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Bees, Fast Women, Hulala and a Surfeit of Monkeys

9 May

I haven’t posted for a while as I have been otherwise engaged moving house and decorating . Not that I personally have moved house but it amounts to the same thing timewise. Then I started on the Spring cleaning. I say started as although I managed to finish the kitchen the whole process ground to a halt somewhere between the living room and the bedrooms. After that I wasn’t motivated to do anything. However I think I may be back on track at least with the embroidery machine. Hopefully the next stage will be finished quilts.

I received some new Loralie Designs embroideries and did a few for the quilt shows.

Very Fairy

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Hulala

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Bee Happy

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Fast WomenDSCN2496_600x450

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There are also matching fabrics and panels available on my web site.

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bee happy panel left_600x600 bee happy panel right_600x600

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Fast Women Panel Whole_600x330

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Then I had an urge to embroider the MM Embroideries  Little Monkeys alphabet. I finally found a use for some Fabric Freedom fat quarters I had previously failed to utilise .

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I have also made a start on the rest of the Chrissie Down Under by McKenna Ryan. I had cut out all the pieces and then lost interest. I happen to have a bit of time that needs filling next week so I hope to get the rest of the panels ready to sew.

Remember the ones I did do? ( see the post about the quilt.)

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I might even have it finished by Christmas – only the third since I bought the pattern.

Hopefully when these are finished I might be on a roll and back into blogging too.

The Trials, Tribulations and Triumphs of Chrissie Down Under.

6 Dec

I have finally started my Mckenna Ryan quilt. I think the one I have chosen – Chrissie Down Under – is probably one of the better ones for my purpose. It is a personal opinion but, art quilt or not, I cannot get my head round the idea of not actually sewing the shapes permanently onto the backing. The advice is to vacuum rather than wash but I guess that depends on how long you intend to use the quilt and, in the case of the Christmas one, whether it will suffer from storage or sticky fingers. I had ideas of ignoring the instructions and satin stitching the pieces on but there are so many layers on some of the pieces that I fear my Pfaff will rebel as it always does given too much bulk to deal with. I think the main problem is the layers of glue from the fusible web but whatever it is it may scupper my plans.

I would also say that these are not patterns for a beginner. This is not because they are complicated, although they are. If you have the determination and the discipline to practise and a modicum of common sense then I think most things in applique are possible. My main contention with this , and presumably her other patterns, is that they are printed on both sides of the pattern sheet. This may not seem a problem if you have not tried tracing them off but if, like me, you like to use a lightbox, it is very frustrating. It is not as if they are cheap and there is therefore a need to save paper to save money. It is not impossible to trace the pieces off but it is unnecessarily frustrating trying to sort out what is the outline of the piece being traced and having to turn the light box on and off in order to determine which side of the pattern it is on. As such it might put a beginner off applique in general.

Despite the above I have just spent a pleasant couple of days tracing and fusing  blocks, at the same time  listening to  the new J.K. Rowling on my iPod. Whilst this would not be any good in the tradition of Dunbar of Catch 22 fame who liked to stay as bored as possible in order to live longer, the combination of the two makes the day fly past. Luckily this is not a problem as I have so many quilts still to make that I will have to live for ever in order to complete them or die in the attempt.

Here are the first three laid out ready to stitch. Having traced the shapes and fused them onto the various fabrics, if you follow the numerical or alphabetical order of the pieces they are actually easy to construct.

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I have not bought the fabrics recommended for the quilt partly because I have far too much fabric already and partly because I want to put my own stamp on it.

I will post the rest as I do them and show what method of attaching the shapes to the background I adopt in the end.

Blue Dogs, Green Birds, Pink Rabbits and a Game of I-Spy.

3 Aug

I have finished two more UFO’s this week. If I am not careful I might run out. I am getting the hang of the quilt frame now although I have decided that there is not really any scope for imaginative quilting. The space available is too small. I need to come into some money to buy a long-arm setup but as I have no rich relatives ready to leave me their worldly wealth I guess it won’t happen. That being the case I am getting to be a bit of an expert at meandering. I don’t have too many problem stitches these days but I have also discovered that washing the finished quilt evens up the stitching in the antiqueing effect. It also makes sure that all the years sitting in the UFO pile in various dusty locations are washed away leaving a clean fresh quilt. It has the added advantage that you know how it will look when it is washed.

The first was originally a BOM by Kookaburra Cottage. This link will take you to the BOM page on their site and lots of lovely examples of their particular style of design. I have loved them since the first one I saw. They are a bit pricey as a pattern which explains why I make more than one from each.

Little Macca’s Farm

Someone once told me I should label my quilts. Nothing looked right but then I got an embroidery machine and I have never looked back. Just give me an excuse and I will make a label.

The other quilt is an alphabet quilt. I wanted to use up all the charm squares of children’s fabric I had accumulated. Looking at it again after all these years I see that I made it into an I-Spy quilt of sorts too.

In case you are wondering how I achieved the ‘wonky’ effect, wonder no longer. Starting with the top of the centre square attach a strip of fabric to the edge. Attach another strip down the right side onto the new shape. Then the bottom, then the left side. You now have an ordinary upright  block bigger than you need. Make a template the size you want the finished block then place it onto your straight block at any angle desired and cut off the surplus with a rotary cutter. Easy Peasy.

Mustn’t forget the label.

The monkeys are from Oregon Patchworks on this link. There are lots of variations on the monkey embroidery. This one is an applique but there are some straight forward embroideries on the same theme.

Let me leave you with another set of views from where I live.

View Towards the Beach

The Beach

The Outer Harbour

In the Steps of Aristotle

17 Mar

Aristotle was the guy that said ‘The Whole is greater than the sum of its parts’. Apparently he was right. Who after all, can argue with Aristotle.

I am afraid I am still on the subject of frame quilting. I am told that nobody looks closely at the cloth of a suit, they look at the overall appearance. If I had only known this when, amongst other things, I made suits I could have saved myself a lot of angst. The same applies to quilting. I have, apparently been expecting too much and nobody will notice anything but the overall pattern. I think the sad fact may be that this is true. Still, we soldier on and I am still working hard at perfecting the art. Here is another example I have just finished. I decided that practising on bits of fabric was all very well but quilt conditions were required for a true test. You will notice that I have made myself do the binding too before going on to the next quilt on the frame. After all a UFO is still a UFO until it is completely finished.

It is quite a cheery little number. I made it when I was just starting out with applique and I was experimenting. I didn’t know how to set up the tension and which bobbin thread to use for satin stitch so I did raw edge applique. Some people like the fact it frays a bit with wear and washing. I’m not so sure but for what it is worth here it is.

I had a bit of an obsession with hearts as they were a good way to use up charm squares. Now I use the charm squares more for general applique but the hearts  are still great fun.

Here are a few closeups. First the raw edge applique.

Now the not so perfect ,but still being persevered with, quilting.

Don’t you just love variegated thread on vibrant colours.

The back looks really good on the Aristotle principle too.

Recognise this old friend? Unpicked and requilted – definitely worth the effort. I also gave it a wash to redistribute the fabric and lose the holes from the original quilting. I have always avoided washing a finished quilt but with this amount of quilting the ‘antique look adds to the overall effect.

Close up of quilting.

We are getting there although there are still a few ‘deliberate’ mistakes. I believe you are supposed to have a few mistakes as  nobody is perfect but (here insert the name of your particular deity). I’m not so sure.

Smoke, Mirrors and Sleight of Hand

2 Mar

I finished the first quilt with my new machine,stitch regulator,carrriage combo. Am I happy? Nope. I can see no reason why I won’t get all the problems smoothed out and look back on the early times as a learning experience, at the moment though I am not a happy bunny. I finished one of my favourite tops and thought it was ok  until I looked closely then I found that I obviously haven’t got the hang of the setup. Happily, for the purposes of this blog you can’t see what I can see cos it is mostly on the back. I haven’t decided whether I want to unpick it all and redo it or even if that is possible at this point. However, you can pretend it is perfect and enjoy the result. I haven’t got a dog which is a shame because I gather that the dog’s basket is where all the failures go. It will probably end up gracing the floor when members of the small people class visit. Mind you it won’t get much wear under those circumstances. I don’t think that has ever happened now I come to think of it. I wonder what it would look like as a door mat.

It is a similar one to a top I showed you in July 2011. It is just different fabrics, same pattern. When you pay the price I did for the pattern(s) you make a few.

It is by Kookaburra Cottage and I kept fairly closely to the original colours as I liked them.

The Quilt.

Crocodile. Does it look to you as if he’s going to do the peanut tossing trick with a feathered substitute?

Monkey. I love the way he oozes into the other frame.

Zebra, believe it or not with perhaps a Tick Bird. I’m just an old romantic.

Someone commented that my zebra didn’t look like one so I tried again. Well what did you expect. Black and white is so passé. Blue is the new black – or is it white.

The Zebra

The Ark and the Dove of Peace. Looks like the sea is a bit choppyand I’m not sure why Noah is walking on water. He could get his socks wet.

Giraffe and Butterfly.

I did this as per the pattern but I wandered into the The Cotton Patch one day -not an easy feat when you live as far away as I do- and saw this fabric which I used in the next one. Much more authentic, I think you will agree. I have just spotted the potential for a bit of free motion on the background fabric.

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Hippo and Rhino with Parrot and Butterfly.

Lion and Friend. I’ve seen a lion close-up on a kill in the wild and I can tell you, even full of food they are not that friendly.

Elephant and Mouse. What’s to say – such a cliche.

Kangaroo and Rabbit. That relationship has me a bit bemused. Should have gone to Specsavers. (You might have to live in the UK to get that reference).

Is it my imagination or are fabrics not as interesting as they used to be. I suppose it could be that as it is now expensive companies are playing safe and not risking printing fabrics that might be too different. Unfortunately I am totally incapable of using dull colours.  Apparently this is unusual among those that live in  grey countries. (Daughter number one did her degree dissertation on the subject). I blame it on my exposure to Australian patterns whilst escaping from Papua New Guinea for short sortés and retail therapy. To be honest PNG has the potential to be sunny if only it didn’t rain so much.

Stop Press! I have had email exchanges about the stitch quality of my set up and I think that I have the answer. Basically I can sort out the looping problem but my expectations are too high. ‘C’est la vie ‘ as our Gallic cousins are wont to say. It still beats anything I could do with free motion quilting off the frame. In fact I don’t know how anyone does that. I could go back to stitch- in- the- ditch but it kills my shoulders and it’s a real pain trying to keep ‘in the ditch’ so to speak even with all the fancy gadgets I have purchased over the years. I have discovered that having my original ‘frame machine’ available off the frame with the purchase of the new one, I now have the facility to do echo quilting with a large throat machine. This helps somewhat if I could only keep the stitches straight.

The pile of OFOs has to diminish so watch me go.

Frustration, Mayhem and the Screaming Heebie-Jeebies

27 Feb

When I decided to replace the machine on my frame they didn’t mention the need for a resident weightlifter to move it on and off the frame. I have the setup as high as possible in order to see under the needle and that makes it even more difficult. Luckily the big cheese used to be a rugby player albeit a long time ago so I have to ask him if I need to move it. Unfortunately he doesn’t like spinach so I’m not sure how long this arrangement might continue. Oh well, I guess at a pinch I could always go for the resident weightlifter.

The whole quilting frame thing seems to be jinxed. I spent a not so small fortune upgrading the machine and carriage added to which I have a stitch regulator and I still can’t quilt to anything like the standard I would expect. The catch 22 of course is that having spent all the extra money I cannot just abandon it as I did last time and revert to stitch in the ditch. Practice, practice and more practice is in order I suppose. Hopefully in a few months time I will not understand what all the fuss was about. I could of course have thrown the whole lot in the river under my window and jumped in after it. Watch this space.

If you are interested in the setup I have a few pictures.

This is a side view of the new aluminium carriage. It weighs a ton but I expect that added to the weight of the machine it helps keep it on the rails so to speak. It could be what caused the back rail to crack too. I am awaiting a replacement. More expense no doubt.

Back view including new machine.

Side view ditto.

Note ant like handles. It certainly won’t be getting any design awards.

The blue box with the number on it is the switch unit for the stitch regulator and the number is the stitch length setting. The one on the photo below is the control box and one of the sensors. It runs with the wheel on the carriage and sends signals to the control box . This controls the stitch length. It runs backwards and forwards. There is another on the bottom part of the carriage to control the sideways settings this runs on the frame rail.

The frame itself works on three bars. The backing is pinned onto ‘leaders’  fixed  onto the top back and front bars and the wadding laid over the top. Leaders are secured into a groove in the bars and make life much easier. They do not however come with the frame but have to be bought or made.  A row of stitches keep the wadding  in place and also gives a straight line along  which the top is placed to get the straightest possible feed and so most accurate pattern of quilting.

The top is rolled onto the bottom front rail.

I did a whole border and a row of hearts before I looked at the back and realised it was not acceptable. The top tension was too loose and the top thread was looping through. Unfortunately tightening the top thread seems to increase the ‘caterpillar effect’ on the curves which is why I had loosened it. I wouldn’t mind but I had tested and double tested. Still it wouldn’t be a skill of anyone could do it first time would it. By the way the quilt with the animals worked quite well. What was that about going off the rails? It must have been on the way round the bend.

The top is then brought up to the line stitched on the backing/wadding and pinned in place.

The next picture is at a bit of an odd angle owing to the way I took the photograph but it gives the idea. The three layers are now attached ready for quilting.

Each bar is on a rachet system to wind the layers up and down for an evenly tensioned sandwich. Please ignore the badly wound  leaders. They should of course be nice and neat.

Here is the quilt on the frame with the carriage and stitch regulator.

The machine is really for straight stitching so there is no mechanism to drop the feed dogs which is essential in free motion quilting. The compromise is a replacement plate to cover them. It makes the plate slightly raised but seems to work. There is also an optional foot holder for free motion quilting. Not that it is optional if you want to free motion. Luckily it came bundled with my machine. This allows the fitting of a darning or free motion foot. The open toed foot is very useful for seeing what is going on. There is also a foot for following round the edge of templates and appliques.  Maybe one day I will have a go at that but let’s pull ourselves up on the furniture before we try the marathon.

Ironically the actual quilting is therapeutical or at least it would be if I wasn’t always worrying about what the back is going to look like.

I am now going off to have another go. If you don’t hear from me again I really did jump in the river although it’s so shallow that would also probably fail at that too. To save face  perhaps I had better just persevere. If I come across any useful revelations I’ll let you know.