Thursday, 23 November 2017

Generous Scales

Have you heard the story of 'The Rainbow Fish'(c) ? It's a children's book by Marcus Pfister and was originally published in 1992 in German. I didn't know the last 2 facts about it but it seemed only fair to check out who wrote it since I was making a quilt featuring the fish itself.

If you ever want to show children the merits of sharing, this is a great book. It has as its hero or heroine, a beautiful fish which has sparkly scales over its body like this:

The story begins with the fish feeling very proud of its shiny scales (I'm paraphrasing here) but when others admire it, the fish rather jealously guards its scales. The Rainbow Fish, however, begins to realise that its one thing to have admirers, another to have friends. And it begins to give away some of its shiny scales to other fish around it, like this:

If you look closely, the fish in the centre is offering (in its fin) a shiny scale to another fish. 

Where am I going with this fish tale you ask? I have a gorgeous niece who is turning two at the end of this month. Here she is enjoying an ice-cream (almost as big as her!). 

I don't know about you, but in my experience, nearly two year olds sometimes have difficulty in spontaneously sharing with others. So for her birthday, she is receiving from me, a copy of the book and a quilt showing the same story. I was fortunate to spot a panel at our major quilt show back in May this year and so I put it aside to work on at the last minute - no one else does that I'm sure. 

I also wanted to make another quilt with half square triangles - such a versatile pattern I find. But when I looked again at the panel, I realised that the colours I had chosen for the half square triangles seem to complement pretty well. Hurrah, I had my borders beginning to formulate. Of course things don't always go as easily as one might hope, so many calculations, fiddlings and such later, I had the shapes coming together with four extra fish at the corners. 

I have had such fun quilting this - from the stipple in the 'sea', to the swirls on the extra pieces needed to be added to the half square triangles so that the corner fish would fit nicely (sometimes I can see the benefit of a kit all put together and carefully measured by someone else). I even checked into my stash and found a fabric that seemed to have a scaley kind of pattern to it which I thought could work quite well for the backing:

But, as is often the way, I didn't quite have enough, so I used some of the white floral that I'd used on the front as a central piece. I don't think 2 year olds are too fussy about that kind of thing. 

So there you have it, the story of the Rainbow fish made into a quilt for a precious little girl. If you have any littlies in your life I hope you check the story out, it's a beautiful story and book. And of course there are others in the same vein. 
Now, to just put that binding on and sit to hand sew it tonight - lucky its only a small one, not bed sized. I imagine it may get dragged about, shared with dollies and the like, but that's what quilts are for, to be used and enjoyed. 

Quilt Stats:

Size: 40" by 43"
Wadding: 60% cotton; 40% polyester [great for the washing machine].
Thread: Embroidery thread for the top; Superior for the bobbin. 

Until next time,

Monday, 20 November 2017

Christmas Squirrels

While there are a number of projects I could/should be doing, I saw one of  these Christmas table runners and it became a squirrel I just had to catch. Plus I felt quite pleased with myself for beginning something for Christmas before its even the end of November!
So from the Christmas fabrics I had in my stash, I cut out the triangles (made my own template and added half inch sashing to the sides). And it quite soon became a flimsy:

The triangles were easy but the 'trunks' which should have been by far the easiest part, took some careful measuring - perhaps my triangles with their sashing weren't as even as I thought? Anyway I got there and now, with the subtle difference below (it's sandwiched and pinned), I'm ready to quilt.

I think I'll stipple where the cream is to help the trees to stand out and perhaps do some straight lines in the trees, or maybe leave them, I'll see how it goes. Hope to have this one quilted and bound by the end of the week. A small project can be fun and quite inspiring in moving on to slightly larger works in progress too.

Until next time,

Monday, 30 October 2017

Quilting Coins & Patches

The afternoon sun comes in on the carpet and its often a great time for me to see how my quilting looks. It just seems to get highlighted there really well. I've been having fun on my coin and four patch quilt. I showed this a little earlier this month Here.

On the coins themselves I used my walking foot and a little decorative pattern for three rows on each section. But it's on the four patches I've been having the most fun doing orange peel and some stippling in the triangles. I saw a post on Facebook that said something along the lines of: 'You just eyeballed it, you didn't measure - I admire your daring!' well that's what I went with here.

You can clearly see the difference with the last couple of rows on the right that I haven't yet done. I think I'll also do a small pattern in the first border and then a loopy kind of treble clef shape in the blue. So good to have something on the way like this.

I'm also congratulating myself on having scored a bargain of a second hand doll's pram for my niece who'll be 2 at the end of November.
I saw this advertised, went to see it and said 'Yes please!' for AUD $30. It got the sniff of approval from my dog Abby as well.
And I've spent some of the afternoon making a doll's dress - but I don't have any velcro, so I'll have to show that when it's completed. Having had sons, playing with and making things for this cute niece is such fun. Life is rich and I feel very fortunate. 
Until next time,

Friday, 27 October 2017

Whimsical Cats

Hi there,

I need to say up front that I only quilted this quilt, I didn't piece it. My friend did that very cleverly putting her centre shape onto a thin piece of poplin or similar as a foundation piece. She then added strips of various widths around the shape (a great stash buster), trimmed them back to 12", sashed the blocks and voila, a great piece of whimsy for her sister's birthday. But she didn't think she had quite enough time or perhaps bravery to quilt it. So I put my hand up.

We agreed on the yellow border and then away I went. It did grow a little heavy on my domestic, but it was also great fun
The cats come in as several of the blocks have cats as their centre piece.
You can see the two in the bottom right square and also the one with the arched back in the top left square. 
The challenge with quilting on a domestic machine as opposed to a long arm, is that it's best to start in the centre to ensure that you don't create wrinkles on the back. So I don't have the luxury of beginning on one side and going across. I simply roll it up, put some in the throat space and some over my shoulder and away we go. 
An all over stipple is the main quilting, but I included some hearts, spirals and feathers occasionally. 
It's both challenging and very rewarding to have something like this done - hoping the recipient likes it and having the pleasure of doing it too. 
Since my friend is away on holiday at present, she's only seen these photos too, not the quilt in the fabric - so to speak, so we'll see how that goes soon. 
It's a really interesting and effective technique putting the blocks together, so I may have to try this myself in the future. For now though, its on to quilting one of my own. 

Quilt Stats

Block size: 12"
Quilt Size: 62" x 75" (binding still to be added)
Wadding: Poly/cotton blend
Thread: Top - Embroidery silk; bobbin - Superior. 

Until next time,

Friday, 20 October 2017

Rainbow Squares

I'm sure I've said before that I can't bear to throw away the smallest pieces of fabric. As long as there's something left after a quarter inch seam on either side I think it's worth keeping and using. But they do tend to gather and take up room so it was time to put some of them together and make some blocks.
I tend to do about three at a time, so they take a while, but once I've got around 20 there seems to be some momentum that happens and I can't resist keeping going. So I put these together - 48 blocks in total. It should make a good single bed sized quilt:
I didn't have anyone around to hold it up for me, so had to make do with laying it down - it's a bit large to fit in it seems. It's fun seeing all those little pieces join together to make something larger, functional and full of memories of other quilts too. 
A little closer of just a few blocks. Those cornerstones are fun to select and see come together too. Just one more of blocks:
Now my dilemma is - what border to put on? I don't think it should be one of the colours in the quilt itself as that might make the particular colour pop out more than the rest. So I guess it's audition time. That could be a while though, as I'm quilting something for a friend first - photos of that next week I hope. 
Until next time,

Friday, 13 October 2017

Scraps and coins

We all have scraps lurking somewhere - some in neatly organized piles, or bags, or baskets or boxes, others in strings or slyly skulking in corners wondering whether they will see the light or not.

I can't resist them so when I came across a pattern that looked like it would use up quite a few (see  Vicki's here) I knew I wanted to give it a go.

So 5" strips and some four patches later, joined by some 5" half square triangles and it began to take shape:
And once you get going its a little hard to stop. I thought I'd keep this going until it was close to a bed size. And today I managed to add the borders on so its a finished flimsy. 
The joy comes from also seeing fabric that has been used in many projects before, that have now found homes. Just keeping a small piece that gets to be included in something like this brings a smile to my face. 
And it seems that with coin strips, it doesn't really matter what goes next to what, with a neutral background to give the eye a place to rest, all is well. 
With all that colour going on though, I think a simple stipple may be what is required quilting wise. So we'll see how soon I can get some backing chosen and this quilt sandwiched together. 
Have a happy weekend, this one is a nice way to begin mine. 

Until next time,

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Nearly there

I am heartened to see that others have many 'to do' or in progress quilts. It makes me feel a whole lot better about mine, since I'm pretty sure the number is still a single figure (though I haven't actually listed them for a while so I can stay in ignorance about them).
This is one I've been working on for a few months in between others. I could hardly believe when I looked at the photo, how my Jack Russel cross dog, Abby, had snuck herself in posing and all! What is it with quilts and animals? In the photo her eye looks a little odd, so I checked it out, but it must have just been the light or something as she's fine.

Also visible in the top left corner of the quilt is the typical empty spool of thread - yes, ran out with just 3 lines of the sashing to go. 
Here's the back which is a very calming cream, with all that riot of colour going on at the front I thought perhaps a quiet calm spot on the back might be the best idea. 
You can see I had begun those lines either side of the sashing and only got round once then one side the second line. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to go and visit my local quilt shop and try to avoid the temptations of fabric. 
It's fun to use up scraps and squares can go together quite quickly. One of the fabrics in here I realised was left over from backing a quilt I made in 2001. Never throw any fabric away is my motto - it always comes in useful some time. 
Here's a close up of one of the blocks. 
Well it's nearly there - just finish that sashing, put on some binding and its done. I think this may end up with my friend who passes quilts on to an organization placing foster children. Its nice and bright, so should suit the purpose well. 
Now, on to that reducing list, the never ending conundrum, which one to tackle next?

Quilt Stats:
Size: 63" x 53"
Wadding: Legacy 60/40 Cotton/Polyester blend
Thread: Bobbin Superior; Top a variegated embroidery cotton.

Until next time,