Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Farmers Wife blocks 55, 56 & 57 and some distractions

 I have been distracted this past week, a lot of busy shifts at work- a baby boom!
Planning for the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair where I am one of Bernina's guest artists! demonstrating ruler work on the Q20- I am really excited and a little nervous!
Below is one of my sample pieces, a mandala style quilt, made for a competition where it did not fare well.... so it will be on display with some other works at the various craft and quilt fairs as part of the Bernina stand.
Below is a modern improv cross quilt, my husband decided that these shirts were too big and too old for him now, so I cut them all up and made a fun improvised cross quilt. I had a moment in the night where I remembered the yellow shirt, 
it was just perfect for some light relief.
The quilting is coming along nicely, and the back is so much fun. Another picture next time!
 Yesterday I made 3 blocks for the Farmers Wife. I dug a little deeper into the box for some different fabrics, it seems as though some days I just skim the top of the fabric selection. I really need to tip it all out and mix them up a little. I also need some more really light fabric, perhaps I will see some this weekend in Sydney at the quilt show!
 I often wonder if I am better to hand piece some of these blocks with many small pieces, then I think that - just get on and machine piece, its not too bad. I do use a fair bit of spray starch and find that I do get some shiny areas, they will wash out I hope.
 This has been a really good exercise in putting different prints together, I am usually afraid of choosing more than one print, so this project making me think outside my little square and be brave  in my fabric choice decisions!
 This block is a little fun, I just love the  black with red!
Hopefully I will see some old friends in Sydney!
I am really looking forward to 4 days of sewing, and hopefully some wonderful inspiration!

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Accurate seam allowances- Farmer's Wife

Two blocks this week in my Farmers Wife quilt, I am at the halfway mark now!

 These blocks require precise cutting and piecing!


Hmmm, I am not sure about the fabric choices here!

I visited the Ipswich Art Gallery this week to view the Annette Gero  Wartime quilts, one of the most amazing things was the piecing accuracy achieved by the makers- mostly men. The fabrics were thick, the pieces quite small, yet the accuracy was quite amazing! 
Obviously they were hand stitched, no rotary cutters, and probably a paper or cardboard pattern- which can quite often become misshaped or trimmed unexpectedly to result in an odd sized pattern!
These quilts are quite amazing given the conditions they were made in.

Even with today's conveniences of stitching, many quilters - including me sometimes - are unable to achieve that repeated perfection with piecing.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Got my mojo back!

After a very busy week- again at work, I have been very tardy last week and did not stitch any Farmers Wife blocks.
I did, however make a small quilt for the Spotlight competition!
There's nothing like starting at the last minute and stitching like crazy till its done!

This week I have done 4 Farmers Wife to try to catch up with my own self set timeline.
With these blocks I am using some different fabric combinations.
Usually I just pull out a dark and a light and start cutting !

  
 There is always the question of whether one should press the seams open or to one side, I always have the quilting design in the back of my mind when I am piecing, I do like to stitch in the ditch a lot, so am very wary of pressing seams open. Every so often some blocks need to be pressed open to avoid bulk.
Back to the sewing room now, there are so many deadlines and quilts to be finished ...


Preparation for the Craft and Quilt Fair in Sydney later this month is my next deadline, where I am Bernina's guest artist on the Q20, doing ruler work!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Week 19 Farmers Wife.

This week brings 2 blocks, using fabrics that I found while I was searching 
for something else!


 The stripe is new and  also the checked fabric.
they both certainly add to my range of reds!

-
I have switched some of the lights and darks around,and am quite happy with this.

A few days off work after 4 night shifts and I have been madly quilting and trying to clear some projects from my sewing room. A few more days off and I can clear some more unfinished projects.....

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

There's fabric and then there's fabric!

Week 18 brings me to blocks 45 and 46. The fabric choices got a boost this week as I searched for something else and found some more red prints. Sadly my selection is lacking some lights, I am determined not to use a solid light fabric, even though I have some solid reds. All the light fabrics are red and white prints.

This brings me to the quality of fabric. 
Some fabric is soft and loosely woven and easy to use, but can distort a lot when used in such small pieces, especially triangles, some fabric is so stiff that it feels almost twice the thickness of the softer ones. 
I am using lots of spray starch to tame these odd fabrics into place!

Another basket.
I am resisting the urge to look at the next few blocks to see exactly how many baskets there are! let it be a surprise!



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Week 17- Farmers Wife- a slow week

A very slow but otherwise busy week indeed!
Sometimes paid work takes over from fun work- how annoying!

I managed to cut out two blocks last week, but only stitched one, before I went for a lovely weekend to Sydney with my mum. so relaxing.
Today I finished the second block and am officially a week behind.


 The inset pieces caused a little hiccup, the one I measured and pinned was dreadful and needed unpicking, however the one I just stitched was perfect!

This red always looks 

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Farmers Wife week 16 - a trip to Bundaberg and a busy week

Two blocks this week, what a week it has been!
I have worked full time for 3 weeks, nothing like trying to get things done at home while you are exhausted from work- we had a very busy few weeks! a baby boom!

Another basket in the patterns this week, makes me think the original patchworkers were making their homes pretty with flower baskets when their gardens were bare.


 I love this large dotty fabric, it is fun to use in these small 6 inch blocks.

I had the pleasure to travel to Bundaberg last weekend to teach 2 classes; Improvisational piecing. What an energy filled weekend! apart from the lovely company, there was great food, and an abundance of creativeness!

Many of the ladies started from scratch with their fabrics, some used older previously pieced blocks and revamped them. There was some painted fabric which got a new life, also some very planned colourways. While I do have a few pictures, I am saving them for the quilters themselves to show, many of the pieces are still in progress.

Teaching and planning- did make me think about classes and being both a student and a teacher recently ( several times as both).
At one stage, I had the thought when I was student "when am I going to get my money's worth?"- that is - the teacher does not come my way very often.
Then, when I am the teacher- I am very conscious of getting to everybody 
personally, equally. 
I have a system to rotate from one student to the next and then go round again and again- in the same order- always.
I did do some calculations! in a class of 12 over a 6 hour class- taking out introduction, general class instructions and class recap (approx 1 hour), that leaves 5 hours. Divided by 12 students gives every student 25 minutes each individual time over the day, broken down into several visits by the tutor (that is the maximum time per student in a class of 12- if I don't stop to give general class information from time to time). 

If there is general class instruction or a longer recap- which happened last week, or someone leaves early, or comes late, it reduces the time per student to less time.
 Its a tricky balance.
If I take 1 hour to cover the class as a recap- that is to go round each student and discuss design and show work, planning and taking it home to finish- which is nice to do as a group - the time per student reduces to maximum 20 minutes per student- or less if there are more students. In my mind that is 4 individual visits of 5 minutes each over the class day! 
So while my brain is helping you choose colour and designs and troubleshoot - I am acutely aware of the time restrictions.

I hope that I have got it right and that my students are happy, it takes a lot of energy to teach a class! A primary school music teacher once said to me that every class she taught was like " a one woman cabaret show- every class!"

Sometimes I feel like that - especially with the improv class,but the end results are worth it.





Thursday, April 20, 2017

Farmers Wife week 15!

I have had a busy few weeks at my paid employment!, however I found time this week to cut 4 blocks one night and stitch them the next night. 
This process seemed to work quite well.
Sometimes I favour one particular red print, but sometimes I dig to the bottom of the bin and find a new one!
Sometimes as with the flower basket, I use the same fabric! then stitch the block the wrong way! I am not unhappy with it so it will stay as is for now.
It is a challenge often to find a fabric that is OK for what is obviously the basket!




Simple, but fun. Sadly as a bit of a paper waste, the pattern prints only one pattern piece per A4 page, right in the centre. I am not keen to try to move them  a few to a page as I do not want to lose or distort the size. I am working out the obvious pieces, but some need to be just right of the pattern to work.
I now have a lovely pile of drawing paper.

This was a fun block to make, interestingly the light stripy fabric was only a very small piece and I didn't have enough, but made do with another light fabric.

Loving the spots!

I am off to Bundaberg tomorrow to teach a few classes of Improvisational machine piecing!
We did get washed out by Hurricane Debbie a few weeks ago, but tomorrow it is!
I am looking forward to a weekend full of fun and stitching and discovery.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Farmers Wife week 14- pressing the seam open!

One block this week, I had grand intentions of making 4, however work has been so busy I have no energy left- must have been a power failure nine months ago- so many babies due! and being born!

This block (which is block 36 of 111) required some accurate templates and sewing, I can see where I restitched the centre seam again, will need to do some repair work!
This is one occasion where I have pressed the centre seam open, usually I strive to press all seams in the one direction - I do a lot of quilting in the ditch for stabilisation and block definition, sometimes the intersections where lots of small pointy triangles meet can be tricky to press flat... no matter how much spray starch I use!



Moving on with my plan of finishing things this year! I have finished one block into a cushion.
I used a specialty template and a paint colour chip for a challenge a few years ago, sadly this hand stitched cushion top has been waiting to be finished for ages!

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Farmers Wife, week 13

Its not often that I can stick to something over a number of weeks, so I am quite pleased with myself that I have managed to get this far. I am about a third of the way through the 111 blocks in the book. Also more pleasing is that I am working my way through the book, am not discarding any blocks that I don't favour! which is quite a feat!

 Interestingly the two baskets I have made have the same small print fabric in them, I only have a very small piece, so its not something that I can use a lot of, a snippet in the baskets seems fitting.
The lady bird fabric is fun!
 I washed all the red fabrics and this is one that had some bleeding onto it from another, despite  lots of colour catchers!
A solid favourite block


Oops, I transposed the lights and darks, oh well,

The images below are some of the ruler work I am doing on my Bernina Q20. The fabric is still the slubby silk I have been working on. I am up to the filler stitches between the motifs.
I am using a mustard 50 weight So Fine, Superior Threads. I have had to make several passes to allow the thread to show on the dense silk, holding the ruler steady over the curves has been an interesting feature of this work. I am using the Bernina rulers.






Sunday, April 2, 2017

Cactus


Following the class with Sophie Standing a few weeks ago, I decided to try my hand at a small cactus textile embroidery. My daughter is a Landscape Architect, and is fond of succulents, so it was an easy choice.
The canvas is left over from my starfish. I found a free picture on line and then started playing.

The colours are what I had on hand, some fabric is better than others for this kind of work, the printed florals are good to work with. 

I spent a lot of today stitching, its surprising how much thread it used up, I worked this out by having to wind another bobbin, then another!
 The first stitching started.

The back, as always interesting,  I wonder should I use the back instead of the front?


 Partly stitched, it is looking better with the shading and colour.

The finished product.


 Stapled to a canvas frame. Wrapping around the edges is meant to be for this project. A bit of a steep learning curve, but I am improving with the shading.. 
Perhaps I should have gone to art school and not nursing school?? 
So much more art to make......

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Stitching in the rain

Sent home from work early due to ex tropical cyclone Debbie!
Whats a girl to do?
Make more Farmers Wife blocks of course!
Today I excelled and made 4!
Life sometimes sends us an opportunity, and we should grab it with both hands. If the power goes, I have the treadle to fall back on!
 This is week 12, and I am happy with the progress
 Often I think my fabric choices are interesting, it is fun to use the different prints and have some unexpected results.
 This one I accidentally reversed the lights and darks, oh well, it looks nice
I love the prints here!
I am up to block 31. Almost a third of the way there. There are 111 blocks in total.

My planned trip to Bundaberg this weekend for 2 workshops has been postponed, I have the bag packed, but that will have to wait for another time. 
A bonus weekend of sewing and quilting for me.

Continuing on my plan to finish projects and not to start anything new......

Friday, March 24, 2017

Fiddly pieces!

The Farmers Wife, week 11 is one block this week.
Such fiddly pieces....

Lots of starch required, and some almost accurate sewing.


The week has flown by so fast, I am on a mission this year to finish more projects than I start!
This also is the year of stitching red.

Many new projects are rolling around in my head, however this week I am really trying hard to finish projects- I am in a strange way winning this battle.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Farmers Wife week 10

A busy week, 2 posts in one day.
The Farmers Wife is a little late, 2 blocks made today.

 I can't actually believe its been 10 weeks so far!
These are blocks 25 and 26.

Hoping for a slow week so I can get lots done!

Class prep and samples are priority now. A primary school music teacher once told me that her job was like " putting on a one woman cabaret show each lesson! "  sometimes teaching quilting can be a bit like that, everybody at a different stage in their journey, and everybody has something to learn about something, no matter how long they have been sewing for!

A short hiatus with a starfish

I have been away in Melbourne at a workshop. Sophie Standing has been teaching all over Australia, and I was lucky to be able to have a weeks leave from work and travel with a friend to attend. 
Melbourne was hot, we thought we were escaping the Brisbane heat....however it did not dampen our enthusiasm. We met lots of lovely like minded 'textile artists' and had a very busy 4 days exploring the starfish, learning new techniques and making new friends. 
The resulting art works were all so different.
The background is a 'duck' fabric - a heavy weave, which I painted before the class.

I am very happy to be continuing my "year of sewing red".

The class was at Werribee, I have never been there before, the hotel was very comfy, the range of eateries was very multicultural. 
I am very happy with my starfish, she does need some tweaking and finishing. I do have a plan!

Learning new ideas and techniques and watching and listening to Sophie troubleshoot with both my own and others' work was really interesting. Learning all the time.

I took lots of progress pictures, and am really happy I took the time to do so, even the back of my work.
 At the end of the first day, so much more to do!

Detailed stitching, Using the hoop is a new thing for  me, however it does reduce the distortion, I must explore this more

 The left lower arm, a little fun!

 
The back, always interesting, and a good way to see how far I have come, and how far to go!

At the end of the fourth day, still some work to do.
I am really happy I took the time to attend, so many ideas floating around in my head, and projects awaiting to be started!

Sunday, March 12, 2017

A little starch and a steady seam allowance!

The whole business of doing this project is making sure the seam allowances are accurate with such small fiddly pieces. My can of spray starch is doing well to hold the pieces firm to stop any small distortion.
The other thing is that I am working my way through the book, from 1 to 111. The easy choice of making the blocks that I like is not for me this time. I am making then whether I like them or not!
Some blocks are a pleasure to make, some not so. I am only using the red fabrics, I am finding it is interesting to see how the different reds play together. 
Who knew there were so many reds?

Week 9, some fun with the plaid and striped fabrics!


 My other project this week is a ruler work sampler using my Bernina Q20. 
This is a really thick slubby silk, it is a little heavy to move through the machine accurately, I am using the Supreme Slider and the manual mode.
So far so good!