Cocoa Revolution

Cocoa RevolutionThis weekend I went on the annual Guild retreat, that my Quilters Guild, (NOTYQ) runs. It was a pretty nice reward at the end of all the driving required during the last two weeks.  This was my fifth retreat, and the third for this quilt top, which is understandable when you consider that it is all hand-pieced.  The inspiration for this quilt was Cathy’s quilt, or I should say, her two quilts, as she has made this twice.  Cathy English-Paper-Pieced hers, but I have been using traditional hand piecing methods.
Wheel Of Fortune - 11th ring
It took me all year to piece this last ring, made up of the 88 cocoa coloured diamonds, although to be fair, I haven’t touched it much at all since our holiday in January.  Next I have 48 squares to add, for the last full revolution.  24 of these will end up being trimmed back to triangles, when I square up the quilt, and there will be 5 lots of partial revolutions in the corners to fill in the square.
Auditioning Green Fabrics
The 48 squares will be green, and I spent the morning cutting them out.  I am lucky enough to have three kids home sick today, with a mild tummy bug that I am still recovering from (my kids bring out the sarcasm in me).  It’s too hard, with them all home, to concentrate on any pattern writing, so I figured that I may as well use the opportunity to do something quiet and happy.
Quilt on the Ironing Board
Looking up from writing this post to see my quilt, (which was still draped over my ironing board from the previous photo) silhouetted against the sunshine through the window, made me really happy too.
Does hand piecing make you feel happy too?

Koi Shell Purse

Shell Purse with Koi Fabric

Last weekend I took a class (that was organized by the Quilting Guild that I belong to, NOTYQ) with Nicole Mallalieu of You Sew Girl.  Nikki is seriously knowledgeable, so I jumped at the opportunity to take her class, without paying much attention to what we were making.  As you can see, we made her Shell Purse, and mine features Koi (Ornamental Carp).  The metal purse frame is stitched to the body of the purse through holes along its length, which are prettied up with seed beads.  Koi Shell Purse, Open

Thinking it would be a great opportunity to use my tiny star buttons, I alternated them with seed beads.  I have had these buttons for years so it felt good to use them, (and I like a touch of whimsy here and there).  I used a contrasting colour for the lining, and when the purse is open, I think it looks like a fish’s mouth.

Overall it was a lovely day, and Nikki was a little impressed with our swift work.  Because we were all very familiar with our machines, and not beginners, (we were all quilters) we all finished within the class.  You can see the other purses on Nikki’s blog.

If you get an opportunity to take a class with Nikki, go for it, that lady knows her stuff!

Eye Candy

Another ring started on the Wheel Of Fortune Quilt

This week I finished the 10th, peachy ring on my “Wheel of Fortune” Quilt, and have started on the 11th.  It’s the most hand piecing I have ever done, and I’m fairly proud of it.  Now that the rings are so large, it takes quite a while just to cut out all the diamonds that are required.  There are 88 in this next ring, and I am using 9 different cocoa-powder coloured fabrics.

Cocoa powdered coloured diamonds

This ring matches the inner-most star, (1st ring) and are a softer colour than the chocolate coloured 5th ring.  I am particularly taken with the fabric you can see here, as the outermost of the cocoa diamonds that I have attached.  It reminds me of paper money, and fine etchings.  It sounds a little bit conceited, but I just like looking at the whole thing.  It is a big piece of eye-candy.

Dear Stella Fabrics

Some other eye candy arrived this morning, some fabrics that I ordered in my favourite warm colours.  I had not really noticed these ranges, until I saw them on sale.  They are all “Dear Stella”fabric, from both the “Yard Sale” and “Mimosa” collections.

Dear Stella Mimosa, Mosaic Yellow

I am absolutely in love with this particular fabric, “Mosaic, Yellow” from the Mimosa collection.  It reminds me of a particular painting that I love called “Bush Plum” by Aboriginal artist Jeannie Mills Pwerle.  I don’t have any plans for these fabrics yet, but I know that they are colours that I return to a lot.  Using them is not going to be a problem.

Hope Valley Fabrics by Denise Schmidt

These last 4 fabrics are from Denise Schmidt’s “Hope Valley” Collection.  I know that I am really late to the party with these fabrics, but when they came out I was on a fabric diet.  I have only bought a half-yard of each.  I feel like I am blaspheming to say that unlike a lot of the quilting world, I have not been in raptures over Denise’s previous collections.  They were nice enough, but I didn’t like them enough to buy them.  This collection was different, the colours really spoke to me.  I have just seen a sneak peek of her next collection with Free Spirit, “Chicopee”, which has similar colours to this one, and I really, really like it.

Have you come “late to the party” on any fabric collections?


More Circle-Work

"Wheel of Fortune" Hand Pieced Quilt

It seems that my two main projects at the moment are both worked in rings, and as they get bigger, they grow a little bit more slowly.  I am still enjoying making my rag-rug, but it was time to give my “Wheel-Of-Fortune” some love and attention.

Now that I have completed the 9th, very bright-pink ring, it is getting harder to photograph.  The colours in the top photograph are probably the most accurate.

Wheel of Fortune - Ninth Ring

As I have mentioned before, this bright pink is just a little outside my comfort zone, but I’m very happy with how it turned out.  Next up is a peachy ring of squares, just like the second ring, and after that, one made of the paler browns diamonds, like the centre.

Michaela and the Wheel of Fortune Quilt

Michaela might give you some idea of the scale of this beauty.

Finally, for those of you that are also a little bit like me with pegs – here is some peg-love…

“Carpets” made of pegs (not to walk on though), an ombre peg backdrop, and an Artist who makes sculpture with wooden pegs – all found via Design Sponge.

Are you doing any “circle work”*?

*the term “circle-work” in Australia generally refers to the driving maneuver that is also called a doughnut.  I’ve never done one!

Lucky. The tale of a craft fail in two acts.

Lucky Cushion and Lotta

4 years ago, I made 3 cushions out of some fabric that I purchased at Purl Soho, when I was in NYC.

Cushion Back

The beautiful Yuwa fabric, which features cups of tea, has faded (through use) on the front, but not the back (you can see the back in the photo above).  Because the teacups are in such a neutral colour, I decided to revive the cushions with new motifs on the front, rather than retire them.  I decided that at least one of them needed to be decorated with Typography, preferable something swooshy.


So I found part of an old, hand-drawn logo that I liked on Pinterest, traced the part I liked, and used fusible web to cut out the lettering in nice fabric.  When it came to ironing the lettering onto the cushion cover, the chunky zip on the back was a bit of a sticking point.  The zip is usually covered, and is bright yellow because it came off another cushion – I’m thrifty you see, but that was not the problem.  In order to iron on the lettering, I needed a nice flat surface, and the chunky zip was mounding up the cushion cover, right through the middle.

So I had a great idea – I would iron on the lettering, while the cover was still on the cushion, making the cushion-front nice and flat, which brings us to my first fail.  It didn’t occur to me that the cushion-insert had it’s own covering of synthetic fabric.  While I merrily ironed on the swooshy word, I was also fusing the cushion cover to the cushion insert.  After it had cooled, and I had made my discovery, I carefully peeled off as much of the fused fabric as I could and tossed the ruined cushion-insert out.

Lucky cushion 2

Which brings me to my second fail.  I decided to send my hubby (at work) a short message, so that he too could have a laugh at my expense.  I went looking for a link to the original, really old, hand-drawn logo to show him.  Turns out that the really old logo, which I found amongst genuine old logos, was actually from a very-much-current brand, (not available in Australia – so not familiar to me) and was not old at all.

Now this might not be your idea of a fail – but I very much believe that I should not be messing with other people’s intellectual property, and feel like such an idiot for not checking out the situation more carefully before I steamed ahead.  I am a bit ashamed at myself.  I felt OK about using an old, out-of copyright, and out-of-use piece of typography, (just for in my home, and not for profit) because it felt more like paying homage to it, and celebrating how beautiful it can be.

So I just wanted to post, to prove that not only do I have the occasional craft fail, but to say, using someones Intellectual property is dodgy, and not cool, and I apologise for not being more careful this time.

Have you had a craft fail lately?

PS:  This was going to be a post about Australia Day, (yesterday) and how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful and safe country – I don’t take that luck for granted, but it turned into a post about what a fool I am.

Peppermint Swirl Skirt

Peppermint Swirl Fabric

When I saw this fabric, I knew that it was just what I had been looking for, for a project I was itching to try.  I fell in love with the combination of the crisp, candy-cane colours and the light, floaty texture, (the fabric is a cotton voile).

As I feed my crafty-blog addiction, there are so many tutorials that I bookmark, as possible projects to try.  This one fell into the rare category of clever tutorials that I wanted to try as soon as possible.  So I did.

"Peppermint Swirl Skirt" made using the "Tablecloth skirt" tutorial

It was Lara’s skirt that inspired me, but I must admit that the name of the tutorial can give the wrong impression. It is called the “Tablecloth skirt” which makes it sound like it has been made using a tablecloth, which does happen, but not in this case (if you google “Tablecloth Skirt” you will mostly find this type of garment).  It is not actually referring to the choice of fabric either, although my choice can certainly qualify as “tableclothy”.

Opposite Corners of the "Tablecloth Skirt"

It refers to the shape, which is boxy, I think the shape is better described as being like a fitted sheet with no elastic on the edge.  If the bed was square and you cut a hole in the centre, for your waistband, then that is the shape exactly.  Above you can see me holding the opposite corners of the square.  Usually I am scared off from making things with checks or plaid, because you have to attempt to match the pattern at the seams.  What I loved about this was that not-matching the pattern makes it more interesting, as it makes the unusual shape more apparent.

The folds in the skirt need to be distributed more evenly

In this photo you can see that the folds can fall a little unevenly, unless you take care to distribute them evenly along the waistband, and fix then there, which I have since done.  When I wore this yesterday, for the first time, I received many complements, mainly I think, because it is a little different from the skirts that are in the shops at the moment.

If you would like to try making this skirt, follow this tutorial.  I altered the dimensions, so here are my skirt’s vital statistics… I used exactly 2.5 m (2.73 yards) of fabric.  The centre square measures 42″ square.  The four side-rectangles measure 42″ x 16″.  I used a seam allowance of 1/2″.  I’m not telling you the waistband measurements, but make sure that it is cut to your hip measurement, so that you can get it on!  I’m 5’7″ – so alter your other measurements according to your height, and how long you want the sides of the “box” to be (I wanted mine to be a fair bit longer than the original tutorial).

Give it a go – it is really fun and easy!


Very Bright Coral pink

Very Bright Coral Pink Diamonds for my quilt

This week I have been playing with these very bright diamonds, working out a pattern for the next ring on my Wheel of Fortune Quilt.  I have just completed a ring of purple squares, like the background in this photo.  In real life the pinks are possibly brighter than they appear on your screen.

If Mainland Australia represented the colours that I am most comfortable with, then these bright babies would be Tasmania, just a little beyond my usual palette and comfort zone.  I like it.

Very bright coral diamonds, peach fabrics and brown fabrics for my quilt

I have assembled the colour for the next couple of rings as well.  Soft peachy colours for the next ring of squares, and cocoa-powder browns for the following ring of diamonds.  These are softer than the chocolate brown of a recent ring, and more like the diamonds in the centre of the quilt.

Bubbles quilt close up 1

I fell in love with the very bright pinks of the pink, peach, purple and green of this grape fabric by Martha Negley.  I have used it in two projects on the go, with fairly similar colour schemes – this is my quilt in progress, which features large “bubbles” of fabric on it.

bubbles quilt close up 2

I am gradually hand stitching down the bubbles, which are mostly just basted in place.

bubbles quilt, close up 3

So lately it has all been about handwork, with very little sewing machine action.  I think I will probably be revving it up for Christmas though.

How about you – handwork or machine work lately?



Switched - the squares on the second ring

So I have switched the squares in the second ring on my quilt – replacing the yellow ones with the pale-peachy ones.  I am really happy with the result.

Wheel of Fortune - 7 rings

It is getting much harder to photograph this quilt in it’s entirety, as it grows.  I am not quite finished with the 7th ring, of green diamonds, but I am itching to get started on the next ring, which will most likely be lavender squares (a bit more blueish than the third ring).

A segment of the Wheel of Fortune Quilt

You have to go around quite a way before you can see the effect each ring has on the whole of the quilt.  In a few more rings I will need to have another very dark brown one, I think, for balance.  I have some pretty hot-coral pinks waiting to make an appearance too, and I think they will be as punchy as the orange ring.

Six segments of fabric meet at the seams

The back of the quilt poses quite a pressing challenge.  When I say pressing, I don’t mean urgent, I mean pressing with an iron!  There are many intersections that are made up on 6 seams.

six seam intersection - pressed

I have pressed all the intersections like this in a circular direction, but not the ones on the edge of the quilt, because I still need the stitching lines, which disappear with the heat of the iron.  These lines are marked with a “frixion pen”, which I picked up at Officeworks.

You may not find talking about pressing seams very interesting.  Well for you I have an interesting article, titled “The secret to success is failure” from the New York Times.  The title is much more simplistic than the article, (as titles tend to be).  It is 9 pages long, but well worth a read – make a cuppa first.  It discusses how people that tend to achieve things in life often have particular character traits that are quite separate from their intelligence, and it ponders how to teach or encourage these traits in children.  Can you teach kids optimism, persistence, self control?

It will get you thinking.  Enjoy.


Around and around we go

Wheel of Fortune Quile - Work in progress

I have been steadily adding to my Wheel of Fortune Quilt, currently half-way around with green diamonds.

Green Diamonds

It is quite fun coming up with the patterns for each ring, and I love playing with dusty apple green fabrics.

One thing that has been bothering me has been the 2nd ring – the yellow squares.

The fabric I used was not the best quality, a bit too thin and too loosely woven, and  I have not been 100% sold on the colour.

Auditioning fabric squares

I am not quite at the point of unpicking, but I am certainly getting closer.  I have been auditioning alternative fabrics.  These are three different pale peachy fabrics I am considering.

Auditioning peachy fabric squares

This is the effect I am closest to settling on.  As usual, a photo doesn’t quite capture the subtleties of colour, and the overcast conditions are making the colours of this quilt look more blah then they are in person.

If I do unpick, it will be a big step, because I have ironed away the stitching lines.  I will have to redraw them on and hope for the best, a prospect that makes me nervous.  I might just decide that the yellow is good enough, even though it is a little more see-through, a coarse than all the other fabrics.

Are you happy to unpick work that you did ages ago, just because you have changed your mind?

8 Pointed Star – Handpiecing

8 pointed star - centre for a "Wheel of Fortune" Quilt

Here is my brand new project, with a new-to-me technique, hand-piecing.

I am lucky enough to be heading off to “sewing camp” as Michaela calls it, next weekend, (also know as the annual retreat for our quilting guild).  Due to space restrictions, I thought this year I should concentrate on hand work, and let others have more space for their sewing machines.  I do plan to take my machine, to hopefully fit in sewing a skirt, but I will probably use one of the dining tables, and clear away at meal times.

8 pointed Star - Centre of a Wheel Of Fortune Quilt

The quilt I am making will be a “Wheel of Fortune Quilt” (from one of Kaffe Fasset’s books) which Cathy (Cabbage Quilting) has made twice, and single-handedly inspired me to give it a crack.  The quilt is made with alternating rings of diamonds and squares, each ring being made in a different colour.  That pile of fabric you can see (above) is made up of the fabrics I plan to use, but as the larger rings need up to 88 diamonds (if my maths in correct – I don’t have a book to follow) I may have to change my plans.  I may not have enough of the required fabrics per colour, but because I am winging it, I will only find out as I go.

home made templates - made from translucent dividers for documents

Here are my homemade templates.  You may be able to see the little tag “handles” that I made for them, by sticking on a bit of sticky-tape, with the centre stuck to itself, (clear as mud huh?).  My accuracy is a bit iffy, because I was aiming to make the templates with 3″ long sides, but they are a fraction longer.  It will be okay though, because the sides on the squares and diamonds match each other.

marking the sewing lines using the heat-erasable "frixion pen"

I have been using the heat-erasable “frixion pen”, I mentioned in my previous post, to mark the sewing lines.  This means I am avoiding pressing the piecing that I have already done, as it will make the lines disappear.  I am a bit nervous about how I will eventually go pressing this quilt, because of all the tricky intersections, particularly the one in the centre.

I have one other new project to hand-sew on retreat, but I will show you that another day.

Have you been hand-piecing recently?