Friday, 21 November 2014

Quilty Challenges

     I'm the sort of quilter person that loves a challenge, both personal and in the quilting community.  Its fun, and it always pushes me to expand my limits and extend into new skills and techniques that I perhaps would not have done without the parameters  of the challenge.  
     I guess the biggest challenge in resent years was to pack up our home of twenty seven years and make a new home over 600 kilometres away (not too many parameters there, only where we went).  Sadly, I had to leave my business there and consider my future direction here.  For once I saw sense and decided to go with something I already had experience with, and that was to rekindle my passion for sewing.  So now, I've renewed my sewing mojo.  I have the excitement I remember as a child embarking on a new project.  Back then, usually a dive into Mum's sewing cupboard and dragging out scraps to make a new rag doll or a dress for my Barby.  Now though, I have the advantage of nearly fifty years of sewing experience, it sure helps.  The great thing too, is I do it for pure pleasure and thats the best thing about all this change.  Better still, its all in the quilting community and I get to share this experience with so many wonderful people, whether they be beginner quilters or creative giants in this vast community.  I love it all and I'm now able to share this passion with so many people on so many levels.  That's where my teaching skills have also come in really handy.  
   Enough of the life challenges, here's a few of the quilting challenges I've undertaken in the last four years.  The first one was the challenge I set for myself,  making a quilt for 
Miss K for here 21st.  Of course, typical me, nothing too small, just a queen size quilt first up.  Obviously a time before knowing anything about non-traditional quilts.  I called it "Family Ties".  There are ten recycled ties in this quilt (the centre squares of each french braid),  having been collected from friends and family, and Miss K and my visits to many second hand clothing stores, hence the name.  Future challenge.........learn  new photography skills.

Miss K tells me it fits the bed better this way,
no tucking under required

     Then I discovered improvised cutting techniques.........

A challenge set - to make a table runner
- the first time I used a design wall and I
haven't stopped since.
Everyone should have one.

     "Reach For The Stars" was the next challenge. (make note to self, get a photo of the finished quilt)  This was constructed using foundation paper piecing.  I'm well practised now.  Many fabrics were given and we could add to the selection.

"Seven Sisters" - design roughly based on the
star constellation of the same name 

     Being a member of the Modern Quilters Guild, I had the opportunity to enter the 2014 Michael Miller Challenge.  Make an item using any or all of the six 1/8th's  distributed to each challenge participant.  Other fabrics could also be used.  I made a table runner called "Runner-way Pinwheels".  The fabric range is "Petal Pinwheels".

I used a technique learnt in a workshop
by Pam Furness

     Next on the challenge list was the NSW Quilters Guild "Mini Modern" challenge.  
A 40cm x 40cm quilt.  The trickiest part of this was to confine the design to the given size.  Try it, its really difficult to come up with a design that will be effective and successfully fit within the confines of that tiny size.  For many of us, big is beautiful.  In the end, I just literally cut the fabric free wheeling' it (remind me what a ruler is again?), and creating the quilt totally improvised by the whimsy of the time.

"Raindrops" - bonus - won viewers choice

     Last, but not least, the mug rug challenge.  Just a little bit of fun in our local quilting group.  Like when I was young, but this time going to my own sewing cupboard, I found this piece of fabric.  I'd wondered for years (twenty five to be precise), what I would do with it.  Its a piece of calico I printed in as a demo in a class I taught at TAFE.  We used gum leaves as a stamp to print with, really easy and fun technique.  This was an opportunity to practice free motion quilting.  You can view all the entrants on the NSWQG blog

It works well, there's been plenty of cuppas on this little
blast from the past

     So, with these challenges under my belt, I can suggest that you all partake in at least one challenge just for the experience.  If your local group puts one out there, go for it, participating is part of the experience too.  There's always an opportunity doing these, to learn something you may not have known before, and what's the harm in that? 

Monday, 17 November 2014


       Its been a while, but I hope this post will be worth the wait for you.  A few deadlines were looming and, you know how it is once the mind is set to task, there's no stopping the motion.  
         A few good friends grouped together in late September and went for a quilty weekend away.  We all set our own projects and I will share my project with you here.
     Have I told you I live in a great little place on the edge of Port Stephens, well I do, and I love going down to the waters edge and exploring.  There's  so much to see and observe.  Apart from the usual water, sand and forest habitat, the tidal flow is new to me.  The ebbs and flows bring new patterns and shapes to the sand every day, so this became the inspiration for my latest project.

Organic matter caught in the rills on the sand

Watermarks created with the lowering of the tide -
took me quite a while to figure out how the circles were formed
     On a trip to Canberra earlier this year, I picked up a few pieces of fabric to start with.  Over the  next few months I added to this until I had what I thought was enough, ha!  Silly me.  As I started planning out the design and measuring and then deciding to make it reversible, there was no way I had anywhere near enough fabric, so off I went and kept adding and adding and adding to now what seemed to be a massive pile of fabrics.  You know what, by the end of the project I still had to compromise a few times, but it all worked out in the finish.   Show me a quilt that doesn't experience changes on the way.  Well thats how I work anyway.  Fabrics collected, then it was washing day or rather days, so many.

I'm a washer - always have been, always will be

Unusually earthy colours for me

      Such a large size for the quilt, 100" x 94", quilting it on my domestic was not going to be easy so I went with quilt as you go.  Good decision.  Some blocks were whole piece with raw edge appliqué and some were improv cut and pieced.  I enjoyed the whole process and improved my quilting skills considerably (they needed to improve too).  Here's a few shots on the way.

Up on the design wall and well on its way

Auditioning fabric layout for a block

The same block after piecing and laid out for pinning

Little snippets of yellow were added - very necessary 

Pinned and ready to quilt

wavy water block on the edge of the sand

Measuring and trimming the blocks

Loads and loads of trimmings

Blocks joined and rolled - nice and easy to handle

Laying out the joined panels - this is when I got really excited
 - at this stage I was pleased I have a very large lounge room

Panels joined by adding extra strips and machined together 

Closer view of the quilting

Even more quilting - it seamed to go on for ever

And the quilt at home on the beautiful river red gum
bed Mr. G. built (he's so clever)

    That's not all though.  I'm very proud to say the quilt was awarded 1st place in the Modern/Mixed category of the Tilligery Art and Quilt Show on the weekend and then equalled with another quilt for the Viewers Choice award.  The most rewarding part of this was seeing it hung, showing the design as a whole and I'm extremely pleased with the end result.  Its way too big for me to display like this at home.  

Great to see what is shown here actually resembles 
 the idea I see in my head 

     This is my second large quilt this size and the first one was sent to a quilter.  The satisfaction I have in quilting it myself is priceless.  Does anyone else do large QAYG projects?  I've since started a new project with more practice using QAYG, so I'll have to post about that soon.