Monday, 27 April 2015


We all need a break from those near and dear to us.  Mine is going on retreat, doing what I like to do in my other life.  Quilting, spending time with friends who love to do the same, all in their own unique way.

The mighty St Laurens River?

The gardens.

The scenery.

The projects, not mine:

Doreen's bright quilt.

Kate's amazing purple beauty.

Margaret's second project, she seems to turn out quilts, at a speed.  A newbie, with a passion.

Mine, did finish one other small project.  Had very important knitting to do, more to follow.....

Aby's beautiful stitching, every retreat a little bit more gets added.  We are still working on Aby to become a quilter, we hope to inspire her to join us.
 Anita, hard at work, those stacks had to be done, beginner?...  It looks like a lot of hard work.
Joanne's Ohmigosh, blocks are only four and a half inches finished!

Hide and Seek.
Lynne was working on this labour of love.
Pattern from: Picture Play Quilts by Ami Simms.

Margaret's other quilt.

The food.
On this trip,  dessert won top prize.   We had no problem taste testing.  It disappeared, before a photo could be taken.  (In the group, someone always keeps track of meal and tea times, to make sure we don't miss anything...)

Before going on retreat;  How organized we become?  What we decide to take with.  The projects we pack and  the goal to get something done.  It is easy to miss all the fun, when you are too focused on it being serious business all the way.  Make time to play,  when we do,  the wheels come off the bus.  Exchanging gifts used  to be part of the process, as most of us have everything we need, we do not do this. (My friend made me something special, stay tuned...).  It is about the people and the special time we get to spend together, making memories.

Going up on the train,  the travel companions we just have to meet.

Until next time, can not wait....

PS: Diane you Rock, Thank you!

Monday, 20 April 2015

Charm quilts.

In 2007, a group of us, eight quilting friends decided to do a charm swop.

Once a month we got together, with the colour from that month, with ten fat quarters each. It could be all the values from light to dark.  We would then make sure we did not have duplicates (only had two in the thirteen months of the charm swop).  Then the fun part, we would spend the morning cutting all our fabric into six inch squares, plus a small square of fabric for our folders.  We pasted the small samples under the person's name in a row in the folder.  This way we knew who gave us, which piece.  After cutting the fabrics each person would get their eighty squares of fabric, ie.  red, blue, green, purple, light, yellow, novelty, plaid, black,  It is a good stash buster and an incredible way to add variety in a big way to a fabric collection.

The Fabrics.
The Shape.

The Charms.
The Pattern.
It is from Better Homes and Gardens, American Patchwork and Quilting, magazine October 1996.  The lights and darks are in two paper bags, the charms is pulled out, one dark and one light at a time.
They are sewn, in this order, as they come out the bag.  It is interesting to see where the charms end up.  No planning involved.
We may have started with the exact fabrics, each of us used a different pattern.

Leftover fabrics, what else can be created with this fabric?.
Looking at patterns you want to create, can you use the leftovers?  From the six inch squares of charm fabrics, there is a lot of scope to make almost another charm quilt.  One can create a nickel quilt with it.  A postage stamp quilt, made just with squares.  The possibilities are endless.

Friday, 17 April 2015

Space Invaders..

The top before it was quilted and washed.

Before disaster striked.
After the first wash.
 The colour ran.  Washing pre-cuts never crossed my mind.  
It could be washed again.  Except the size, makes it difficult at 104 inches square.

Unpicking the hand quilting, then washing the top, fixing the colour will be the better path to follow.
Washing fabrics is a good investment in time, which always pays off. 

It was renamed by my family when they saw the top the first time, it reminded them of a computer game graphic's.  So Country Charm it no longer is.  The pattern,  appeared in Quilt IT for Christmas in 2000.
The original size was 81 inches square.  To accomodate the jelly-roll size, the size of the squares was changed from 2 inches, to 2 and a half inches.

Moral of the story, don't accept anything at face value, always check a piece of fabric for yourself.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Green, the colour of the season.

After seeing nothing but white snow, when one finally see something green emerging from the snow, one just knows, it is here.

At the grocery store, a man bought a bunch of Kale, which he proudly carried, like the most precious bunch of rare blooms.  He had a smile on his face, I had to wonder what he was thinking about.

Here is my tribute to the colour.  A smock dress a friend asked me to make for her friends new grand daughter.  It had to be Harry Potter green, as her Mum is crazy about Harry Potter.

Smocking is something I enjoy doing.  The colours for the smock dresses,  is inspired by the fabric.
(Pattern appear in Australian Smocking and Embroidery, Issue 97.  It is called Petite Princess.)

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Spring is in the air.

How do I know this?

Just seeing all the birds, flying past the window, doing loops in the air, chasing each other, in a game of tag!

Then the tulips arrive in the shops, every colour one can think of.  The bright yellow make us forget the dreary winter and mountains of snow.

Easter arrive, everyone wants out, even our cat, which we adopted from the Humane Society.  She is pretty much a fair weather cat, likes her creature comforts.  With the return of the birds, the windowsill is her favourite spot.  She headbutt the glass of the window, trying to get outside.

Stitching weather is almost here.  We see warmer weather, in the double digits with a plus in front of it, not a minus.  Amazing how it has such a big impact.

This is definitely a UFO, started it in 2001.  Life happens, every year a little bit is added.

The progress so far.  It is a kit that I am using,  by Dutch designer Marjolein Bastin, she design the most beautiful greeting cards, her Art is a gift, which is food for the soul. 

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Bargello, creating a complex looking quilt.

The easiest quilt top.

It takes 16 hours to do, (4 x 4 hours).

A twisted Bargello, this pattern appeared in an Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine, many years ago.  The original pattern had a lot of writing.  After reading it a couple of times, I drafted a pattern, with a few diagrams and photos, as per the written text. This quilt is fat quarter friendly, it takes 20.  Plus the three border fabrics.  Bargellos are all about blending, creating almost seamless values,  between colours.

Step 1.

Tape doublesided sticky tape to a piece of stiff card stock.  Then number 1 to 20.  Now place a piece of each fabric, which is sorted according to value/colour in order of  the pattern requirements.  This is the most important point of reference,  which one will use,  for the whole pattern. (Keep this card handy when creating the columns, it helps with staying on the right track).

Step 2.

Cut all the fat quarters into strips, in this case one and a half inches wide.

Step 3.

To make sure the seams lock, one has to stitch the rows together in this manner. Strip 1 and 2 , then 3 and 4,  all in the same direction, from top to bottom.  Do this for all the strip sets.

Step 4.

For the next step, stitch  strip 2 and 3 together, then 4 and 5, all from the bottom to the top.  Do this for all the strip sets, it prevents the strip sets from being pulled skew, which will happen,  if all the strips of fabric was sewn together, using one direction, only.

Step 5.

Next make strip sets into one, sewing all of the strips together from 1 to 20. Then iron all the seams in the same direction. Cut the two sides straight,on the left and the right.

Step 6.

Create a tube, by sewing fabric strip 1 to fabric strip 20.

Step 7.

Take the tube,  lay it flat on the cutting mat, using the pattern instructions.  Now cut a couple of strips the required size, as per the pattern: ie, one inch, ect.

Step 8.

Use the instruction sheet, it has a large number diagram, which contains columns across the top, they vary in width, as this is what creates the Bargello effect.  A row down, will have portions of a fabric strip or a full strip of combinations of numerous fabric strips, to create a new fabric strip.

Step 9.

Make the second column.  Making sure all the seams lock.  A good way to ensure this, is to take the first fabric column and iron the seams in the opposite direction, to the second column.  Place it on top of the second column,  then stitch it together.

Step 10.

Continue to sew,  making columns and stitching them together in rows.  This pattern has 35 columns across, with 49 rows down. 

Do not be tempted to cut this top straight. The top and bottom, may give a wonky appearance.   It is like an accordion,  amazingly,  it will be straight when you sew on the borders.

The finished top, with the borders sewn on, quilted and ready to go to it's forever home.
For newly weds, this is my gift, as a wedding present.  Couples already have everything for their home, it helps to find out what colours they like.  Giving a piece of art, done in fabric.