Monday, 3 July 2017

Sydney Quilt Show

Well it's all over for another year. I expect planning will start in earnest for the 2018 show.
And didn't Quilt NSW put on a beauty with the ever professional Expertise Events. 

So I was there for set up on Wednesday. This is a great experience. Not only do we get to see how everything goes together, but we get an opportunity to preview all the fantastic quilts that are to be shown. By this stage judging was already done and dusted. There's no way of telling which ones were lucky enough to receive awards, but for me, everyone deserves an award for fronting up and entering a quilt into the show. It's a wonderful feeling seeing your own work hanging amongst such accomplished artists and peers. 

This year, I was one of the lucky recipients of an award - Judges Commendation - in the Modern Category for my 'Summer Rain' quilt. And here she is.....

'Summer Rain'
.....and a few close ups during construction.......

Designing stage

My favourite assembly technique - Quilt As You Go

I also had another entry in the Combined Pieced and Appliqued Quilt category. This one is called 'Sunshine Orange Pop'. It definitely belongs in the sun. I recommend everyone make a quilt using this made me so happy whenever I was sewing.

'Sunshine Orange Pop'
Just so I don't disappoint, there's close ups of this one too.

Detail of machine embroidery stitches 
Layout decisions to be made
This bright orange sure did stand out in the crowd!

One thing that really got me interested last year was the 'Quilted Hoops' display. The effort members took to produce these is none less than outstanding. So what did I do? Went home after the 2016 Show and produced my own contribution. It was a fun challenge and also a challenge to figure out and identify the makers all the other hoops. Some are obvious and others had me completely stumped. This is mine.....

An improvised piece and looking very Jean Wells (one of my quilting idols)
Here it is hanging in its place on the stand. We can attribute this great display to Bob James, and of course all the contributors of the works of art.

My improv piece hanging in there amongst the others

But wait! there's more. A fun part of the exhibition was the 'Recycle, Repurpose, Revitalised' display. It nicely coordinated with the same suitcase challenge, with them being displayed together. This is my entry.........

A revamped chair side craft carrier inherited from my Nana and I gave
it a bit of a face lift experimenting for a larger project with a bit of improv.

This was the resulting project that was born from the chair side carrier, a Christmas quilt.

Christmas 2014 

Christmas quilt detail - obviously a beginner free motion quilter

Almost forgot, this is my 2016 Suit Case Challenge entry. It was also part of the larger quilt display this year. Made from tea bags and various recycled fabrics from the 50's, 70's and 90's, all having been used as curtains or bed linens in their prior life.

'The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread' - winner!
Speaking of winners, congratulations to all those recipients of awards this year. The judges always have a difficult task. Also thank you to the sponsors. There are many and their generosity is infinite. The commitment of the committee members of QuiltNSW are also to be commended on their endless energy levels in getting this event together. Bravo!
Most of all though, congratulations to those who were able to have a quilt hanging in the show. Well done.

Tuesday, 30 May 2017


What a great experience. It would be great to be a delegate. Everyone is spoiled rotten with lavish three course lunches, gifts, great night time entertainment, close up and intimate with the best quilts of Australia and overseas, a top line up of tutors and an opportunity to rub shoulders with some quilting greats. Why would a quilter go anywhere else for their annual holiday? I'm in! Oh, and I almost forgot; all this in one of the most iconic buildings in Australia, the Exhibition Building in Melbourne. The weather was perfect, the surroundings also and Expertise Events know how to put on a great show. 

Exhibition Building

Here is where I spent four wonderful days, teaching some fabulous people from many Australian states and even some visitors from New Zealand. I also spent some time with many of my quilting idols. Big names in the industry for whom I have a great deal of respect and admiration for all they do to make this such a great interest for many and a big part of my life. And here's one of them............

Angela Walters ready to sign a few books for me.
Angela is so aptly named, a truely gracious person in every way. Ready to assist anyone with learning new quilting skills. 

The other international guest speaker was Luke Haynes. Luke was an architect in a past life and his structural background shows in his quilts. And like Angela, ready to share the fun and love of quilting with anyone. Both excellent speakers and gave everyone much to contemplate. 

Luke uses many recycled fabrics - this one uses denim.
How did my classes go? Well, you'll have to ask my students. I just love seeing students learn and implement new skills and their look of wonderment when they see how things work is the greatest reward for all my weeks of pre-class preparation. I must have kept them busy, because I was. I didn't even get an opportunity to take a few happy snaps. 

This is my name badge for the Convention and you'll notice I've called it the winning ticket. Well I can tell you that anyone who attended this event also had a winners ticket. It was a privilege to be a tutor here and I'm sure I would enjoy the event just as much if I were a delegate. This is certainly one Quilters' event you should consider attending in the future. 

The winning ticket

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Extending Skills

Recently I taught a workshop showing an enthusiastic groups of ladies how to construct my Retro Runner design. This is it here - 

Retro Runner - Art Gallery fabrics
It's a fascinating way of putting together a small design (or block). I call it puzzle appliqué. The pattern is traced onto freezer paper as a whole rather than individual pieces. E
ach pattern piece is cut out of fabric and then overlaying them back together, stitching through the layers. After making this runner seven times already, I am well practiced with the technique.

One of my lovely students, Norma, working on her runner
I came to thinking a few weeks ago, how and where could this technique be used (I have enough runners, lol). The thinking cap went on and then I remembered some art work one of our daughter's had produced years ago when she was at school. I'd always loved the piece, so went to the art file and dragged it out. I grew a little excited when I realised this art work could be easily reproduced in fabrics using this puzzle technique. I thought to myself 'lets do this', then another thought 'its not my design', ugh! So to rectify the problem, onto message and a quick note to daughter asking permission for use; granted instantly (I'm a stickler for copyright laws). 

With a titch of paint work and a stroke or two of the intense pencil, I quickly reproduced the markings on the fabrics. This art piece was first produced as a lino print, so there's a few places where either the lino cuts left a wonderful streaky grain or the ink on the roller was a little too thin and this created some interesting visual texture. Paint and pencil heat set, and off to the sewing machine to play. Here is the result - 

Realising the adaptability of the technique, I dragged out a few of my older sketch books. I am soooo glad I use a design/sketch book. So many ideas have spent just a fleeting moment in my mind but long enough to get a visual down onto paper. I had this idea for a large art quilt, but here it is in a space less than the size of a placemat. I also love the fact that I can use anything I draw when and how I want - such freedom when it's your own.
Anyway, I set to work and made fabric selections. Not enough texture, so began adding machine stitching on several of the fabric pieces.

Wave stitch on batik
Close up of other machine stitches used
It's amazing how a few stitches can have such a dramatic effect on the surface of the fabrics. The appliqué motif had been pieced and here I'm auditioning a few background options.

I guess the trick to most creative pieces like, this is working out the construction. What goes where, and when, and how to do it. This all comes with practice, just getting in there and having a go. Here's the finished piece -

'Pod' 12" x 14"
In summing up the process, I'll use it a lot more. I think there's two huge advantages to it; 
1. it guarantees perfect piecing, and 2. it reduces bulky layers so you're only working through one or two layers of fabric and this makes quilting so much easier.

Monday, 16 January 2017

WIPS - November and December Catch Up

It's so satisfying to get some well over due WIPS out of the way. The first one is a QAYG Bias Appliqué project. 

- Leaf Litter -
I decided to push a few boundaries and try some extra wide bias appliqué; not so easy using batik fabrics. The tightness of the weave certainly wasn't too conducive to easing around curves. Ah well, thats why I do this stuff, to find out what works and what isn't so successful. I hope it makes me a better teacher. 

A bit closer
The design is from a play I had in my sketch book. I drew as many leaf fill designs as I could think of at the time and chose the ones I liked the most. It was a useful exercise, realising no limitations to design 'fill'.

Back view
I'm not one to let a chance like this go by, I made it a double sided quilt. These blocks are part of an colour challenge in the Mighty Lucky Quilt Club 2016 (#mightylucky is where you can find lots of great design and technique challenges we covered). I knew I would use them for a quilt someday, and this was the one. I picked up the low volume fabrics at Quiltcon 2016.

A little bit closer
The second boundary pushing part was the varied fabrics and widths for the sashings and trying a new stitch on them. This is good. I really like the unusual texture the varied motif sizes of the quilting creates.

Amongst the Leaf Litter

Softly quilted blocks

At this stage I think I was more interested in the
lichens on the fence

And for the second WIP, a finish from a workshop I did with Heather Jones at Quiltcon 2016; Large Scale Piecing. Of course, I had to be different! This was not the design Heather presented us with. I'm more comfortable working my own design, so applied the principles of her lesson to my design. It differs a little from my original because we used graph paper to map the design out. A tweak here and there and I managed to fit mine to the graph.

- Redfern -
An eleventh hour minor design change made this one a little tricky to finish, it started as QAYG. I finally figured it out and I'm happy with the result.

For the quilting, all the bright reds and tans are quilted with a contour design. Where there are the traditional triangles and sashings, I stuck to more traditional quilting motifs.

Back view
Typically, I've also done this as a double sided quilt. It's an easy process when using QAYG. The construction lends itself well to two sided quilts. There is a lot more work required in the design and fabric selections because I'm literally making two quilts, but hey, I'm on the journey so I may as well make the most of it.
Another view

Speaking of views - this is a very pleasant place

Lucky last

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Catch Up

Ok blog world, I'm over trying to catch up, I'm just going to fill you in up until October in one HUUUGE post. Go get a cuppa and relax, this might take a while.

I hit the ground running after the cruise and started planning a few more projects. I also did some playing with inserting circles. The stash and scrap bins provided plenty of interesting colour combinations as you can see here.

This was also to be an extra sample for QAYG, so each circle set was done on a separate panel, quilted and then joined together to make this modern table runner/wall art.

Continuing on with the #mightylucky quilt club, the next few months had some great design activities including colour print and value differences in one block.

The month of June kept us all busy practicing our free motion quilting an learning to work words into our projects. Here's what I did.

July was an interesting month and quite a challenge. I never thought I would do a one fabric, one quilt, but here it is. 

Sarah Feilke set the task for August and I guess you've already realised it's going to be all about Appliqué. Sarah loves hand appliqué, but if you hadn't noticed the lack of hand sewing here, I avoid it as much as I can. Quite frankly it hurts too much to do. Damn this arthritis. Anyway, I had lots of fun machine appliquéing, mostly raw edge. I did a few cushion covers and have yet to finish them. 

September #mightylucky quilt club was a design process focusing on space. We were set a series of activities to emphasise the significance of distance between components of a design. We used paper and multiples of a block to create various designs changing spacing and layout. I liked the last one so much, I made it into a quilt. 

October is yet to be revealed, I'm no where near finished. This has bought you up to date with this part of what I'm currently doing and now I'll show you some of the in-between projects.

The month of June is the QuiltNSW quilt show and that saw me demonstrating my technique of Freezer Paper Piecing. I also, to my surprise, received three awards with only two quilts. Now how does that happen. To say the least, I was chuffed. Second in each of the categories entered and a Special Award for Contemporary Art Quilt. By the time the third announcement was made, I found it difficult to pick my jaw up off the floor. I could have tripped! Here's the two offending quilts.

'Red Back' - second in Small Quilts and Contemporary Art Award

'Self Image' - second in Modern Quilts

July kept me busy playing with the QuiltNSW suitcase challenge, Repurposed, Recycled, Revolved. From the moment the challenge was set, I knew I would be using tea bags. I had in mind a 3-D design, so went about collecting, sorting, drying, sorting again, emptying, pressing and sorting again. There's a lot to do when one uses tea bags for quilts! I wanted the design to have reference to the tea bags, so I went about folding and glueing and stitching a large prairie point border.


Several layers of the points were added one day at a time. They required a special finish that took a while to dry. Once the points were completed, many layers of bags were bonded together and then I went about colouring and constructing my tea cup.This is the result and it won first place in the challenge. there were so many amazing quilts, so glad I didn't have to judge them.
'The Best Thing Since Sliced Bread'
The lead up to August was frantic. I knew I had to have prepared several quilts to display and all needed to be up for sale. I was to be the Artist Of The Month on the gallery Feature Wall at Port Stephens Community Art Gallery. I took a new approach to these quilts and decided to make it a 'Ruler Free Zone'. Yep, that's right, each one made without using a ruler. It sure makes for quicker construction, and just as well. Here's a montage of a few hanging in the gallery.

 Well at this stage writing all this, I'm glad photos have recording dates, otherwise I wouldn't have clue when I did what. I do know that a good part of September was made very busy with wedding preparations for my daughter's wedding. I even pulled out the candle making skills to prepare table decoration. Unscented soy candles with wood wicks. I did trim them lower than this. They burned perfectly and set a beautiful glow. Mums have to have so many skills, don't they?

          ...............and a photo or two of the happy couple on their wedding day

These three stunning photos are the work of Callan Robison Photography

There are a few more projects done over the last five months. One day I got a little carried away while playing with some low volume scraps. Before I knew it, I'd completed a Ruler Free Sampler quilt. It was just one of those spontaneous things. It all started with the log cabin block................

Then there were these...............

This pattern just keeps wanting to be made. For the record, I think this is no. 7

A cute little quilt for baby 'X'avier

Yet another Christmas Tree quilt - its all
becoming far too habitual, but at the same
time, it's always a lot of fun
Almost the end of October, but I'm not finished with it yet. I have a few more projects to complete so you'll have to wait for the next post. At least I'm now up to date. It's always such a relief to have a catch up completed.