Thursday, 31 December 2015

Head done...

Spent most of the day cutting and fusing small pieces of fabric. It's a slow process but I've done the hardest bit and can move on to bigger sections next. Difficult to see the face close up but when the body, background and other elements are added it will make sense!

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

'Fair Trade' gets underway...

Now that Christmas is over I decided to make a start on my next QuiltWest project. I'd already prepared my image and patterns but needed to make final fabric choices and get my work areas set up for the appliqué process. Its all too easy to get fabrics and pattern pieces confused when making portrait quilts so I need to organise everything very efficiently. Having said that I usually end up with a complete mess at the end of the day...

Now I'm all set to get the iron hot and the fabric cut and fixed in place...

Friday, 11 December 2015

Challenge Win!

I'm happy to announce that I won the WA Quilters' annual challenge with my quilt 'Half Light'. The theme was Illumination.

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Just Peachy

I seem to flit from one thing to another in my quilting life - one minute I'm machine sewing everything in sight, another making portraits or hand quilting tiny pieces. I've always admired quilters who have a style or 'look' but I realise that I am a 'jack of all trades but master of none' type of person...there seems to be so many things I want to do that I can't concentrate on one thing.
Now I've started working on a small wholecloth quilt that is coming along nicely. I'm stippling with a peach thread which is very subtle but effective.

'Life's A Beach' finished!

My group's shoe-box challenge has to be ready to show next week at our Christmas Lunch and my quilt just needed a few finishing touches. All the appliques were added by my friends onto my background sky, sea and sand, except for a few extras that I couldn't resist adding. I free motioned most of the quilt but the border was my first attempt at quilting circles using the Westalee circle rulers. They are fantastic and work with my Janome ruler foot perfectly. It does take a bit of practice to get neat lines but I got better as I went along.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Half Light

My Guild's Annual Challenge has been on display at our end of year celebrations, so I can now post a picture of my entry 'Half Light'. The theme was 'Illumination' and I couldn't resist doing another portrait.
One thing I've learnt is to choose a background fabric that has a vague pattern on it which gives a perfect design to follow for free motion quilting. This Bali batik had a mix of flowers, cubes and circles and saved me having to design and mark my own pattern.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Bazaar finds

Just when you think you have everything you could possibly need in your studio,something new just has to be bought. I found this mini quilt stand at our guild bazaar and thought it would be perfect for my cute is that?

Friday, 2 October 2015

Life's a Beach!

My group, the 'Quirky Quilters' have just completed a year long shoe box challenge and last week we all got our boxes back. It was exciting and a little daunting to look inside for the first time and see the results! 
I added the border straight away (yes, its bright yellow but somehow nothing else would do. I tried every blue in my stash and the yellow just kept jumping back at me) as I needed to square everything up and I added a shark fin, surfboards and beach ball to fill in some spots. Perhaps it needs some towels, another beach hut, a dolphin, shells...
The quilting will be the fun part.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015


I sorted out some of the UFOs lurking in my cupboard last week (and bravely gave away two projects that will never get finished) and had a thoroughly nice week finishing off a portrait quilt that was started in Jo Dixey's 'Heads' workshop in Melbourne. 
I felt a bit uncomfortable working on a self portrait but it's ended up with green hair and orange skin so hopefully will be unrecognisable! I may enter it in next year's show so will post the completed quilt later.

Monday, 31 August 2015

Illumination in Progress

Spent the day in my sewing room today for the first time in ages, as I needed to get on with my guild's challenge quilt. The theme is 'Illumination' and I decided to use my favourite technique to make a half light portrait. That went well, but next I had to bite the bullet and get my sweet 16 into action. I've been ignoring this monster because I had some thread and tension issues in the early days of ownership and then I got too scared to try again. Spent a frustrating afternoon with skipped stitches and breaking thread before I realised I'd put the needle in backwards!
Thanks must go to Rhonda Bracey's 'at random' blog for instructions on how to use the Handiquilter bobbin winder (shows how little I've used the machine since I bought it as I haven't needed to wind a bobbin!). There is a wealth of info on her blog for all things sweet 16.
Anyway I've managed to free motion appliqué around the shapes and hopefully will do the fun quilting tomorrow...

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Ellenbrook Gallery

Good to see a quilt of mine hanging in a was the official opening of 'Quilted', an exhibition celebrating 40 years of quilting in WA. The blue Durham Strippy is mine...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Durham Close Up

Durham Strippy

I've just finished a hand quilted 'Durham Strippy' which is in the style of quilts from the north of England. I decided to premark the quilting patterns, as that is the traditional way of preparing to quilt, using a pencil and light box. Unfortunately the marks disappeared too quickly and I ended up marking the quilt top twice before giving up and going back to the way I usually work, which is to mark as I go once the quilt is in the hoop. 

I love the crispness of the blue and white fabric and how the quilting designs flow down each strip. I did make a serious error though, when quilting the feather strips - one feather has a nice double spine which I usually do, but the second one is a single line. I didn't realise the mistake until the whole thing was quilted. Oh well...

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Hung Out to Dry

After a day of rinsing, soaking and washing I now have 17 metere of fabric to iron! It all looks good hanging on the line with some results better than others. Some of the dull greens, heather and moss colours will be perfect for landscape quilts...

Friday, 26 June 2015

Left-over Dye Day

After the dyeing session last week we had a number of jars of dye stock left over which I brought home to use up ( waste not want not....). I bought some white homespun (15 meters) which was on sale and thought I would only be able to dye a few meters and have spare fabric left over for later projects. But somehow the dye stock kept magically replenishing itself and I used up all my fabric plus two extra meters I had in the cupboard! 
All careful measuring of last week went out of the window and I soon had a production line where I mixed colours with gay abandon. Not even the cleaning cloths were wasted-  as soon as one looked pretty I changed for a new one. I squidged, rolled, folded, tied and scrunched without making any notes of what I did and when or what colours I used. Completely unscientific!
So I now have a million bags of dyed fabric curing till tomorrow and then the exciting time of discovering what comes out of all the bags and the boring bit of rinsing and washing...

Monday, 22 June 2015

Chaucers' Magnus Opus

Doesn't it look fabulous? This is the first time I've seen it all finished. My block is the nearest one. The girls did a great job with the hand quilting...

Chaucer Quilters' Big Win!

Exciting news that our Chaucer quilt has just won 1st Prize in the group category at the UK National Quilt Championships, Sandown.  We did the appliqué blocks and borders before I left for Australia and since then the group have been busy hand quilting. Fantastic news ladies!

We all did a block and a border section.

I'll post a photo of the finished quilt at the show when my Chaucer friends get over the excitement and send one to me!

Saturday, 20 June 2015

Partner in Dyeing's Results

These are some of my partner's results...can't wait to see them all.

Dyeing Results

After going through the hoops to get the fabric as colourfast as possible, here are the results of my half of the process (we are going to split the batch next week...)

This is the first dyeing of a range from red to blue. They're a bit mottled but I like that effect.

This is the second dyeing done 30 minutes later. Strange that the red seems to have been taken up in the first dyeing leaving only blue dye for the second lot. 

This was the experimental batch, where we folded, scrunched etc. I just love the red explosion! 

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Dyeing To Quilt

Following a long day dyeing fabric I now have to wait till tomorrow to see how the different techniques work out. These buckets account for half the fabric that we dyed, as my 'partner in dyeing' has an equal amount in buckets at her house to rinse out. We reckon that's the worst part of the whole process...
Then we aim to split the fabric between us so we have a full range of colours.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Amish Ugly

Yesterday we all got another 'ugly' fabric from contemporary quilt group as a challenge to use in a small project. Last time my 'Texas ugly' fabric transformed into a row of T shirts on a washing line but this fabric was too tempting to use for anything other than a miniature quilt. The Amish figures and pinwheels were scattered all over and had to be cut out sparingly to have enough. 
I think I could have made a full size quilt in the time it took me to make this one - 2 days of fiddling but I love how it's turned out! Those curved rulers came in handy for quilting too...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Privy Bag Challenge

Of all the mad things I've done lately this must be the maddest! Our guild president set us a challenge recently after reading an article about privy (dunny) bags, which were made in the days of outdoor toilets. These bags were used to hold the old newspaper sheets know what!
So here's my privy bag (a good place to keep those spare toilet rolls and marginally better than the crotcheted holders my mum used to make!) The picture was printed on photo fabric and then I free motion quilted the panel - not exactly thread painting, more thread drawing!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Practice, Practice, Practice on the Sweet 16

I've decided to try and spend half an hour a day on my new sweet 16, as I know that any teething troubles I've had (and there have been plenty!) are down to me rather than the machine. I think I've sorted out the thread breaking and tension issues now (thanks to Rhonda Bracey's At Random blog..) and am almost ready to work on a real quilt, but first I want to get completely comfortable with the machine. Here are my first practice pieces - ruler work and some feathers. 

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Quilt Portrait in the Making

Now the show is over I can post some photos of my TV girl (title '...the World was Black and White')  and give some basic instructions on how to transform a photograph into a fabric picture.

1. Choose a photograph that has plenty of contrast and is of high quality and reduce it to a small number of layers (colours) using a photo editing programme (even basic programmes will have the option of reducing an image down to 4 layers - I used 8 for TV girl). This will simplify the image. Remember to crop the image as desired.

2. To enlarge the image upload it to (a free website). This will prepare the image into a multiple of A4 sheets to download ready to print out (this will be the master image). You will also need to enlarge a reverse image in the same way to use as a tracing pattern. 

3. Trace the design onto a clear plastic sheet (table cover or art shop acetate) using a permanent marker. This will be a placement guide.

4. To prepare the work surface lay out a thick towel covered with the background fabric (I used white). Lay the plastic over the top and pin to the background through the towel to avoid shifting.
Lay the reverse image to the side with enough space for tracing the shapes onto Vliesofix. Keep the master image nearby for reference.

5. Trace each shape onto vliesofix using the reverse image and iron onto the chosen fabrics with a HOT iron (vliesofix needs a hot, dry iron). Apply each piece onto the background fabric, lifting the plastic sheet to slide the piece under, checking that the placement is correct before ironing in place. Remember that some pieces lay partially underneath another.

6. As you build up the fabric picture check that it resembles the master image. It's interesting to see how the picture develops as you build up the layers.

7. Once all the pieces are ironed in position, stitch down using raw edge applique, add borders and quilt!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Bali Shots

Forgot to post about this little quilt that I made a few months ago, using my gorgeous shot cottons from Bali. It's a memory quilt with photos I took last year when I was on a yoga retreat in Ubud - happy memories of a relaxing and peaceful week surrounded by beautiful colours!