Saturday, March 31, 2012

It's hip to be square....

Granny Square that is!
As soon as I saw this quilt and this quilt, I knew I had to make a Granny Square Quilt. (Along with virtually every other quilter in the blogosphere!)
Following Blue Elephant Stitches' tutorial, I gathered my 2 1/2" square scraps and have spent these past few nights piecing. I had made 20 blocks by last night, then this morning I decided I wanted a bigger quilt and went scouring through my scraps to create 5 more. With 25 blocks I should create a quilt around 60" square. (20 blocks and sashing yields a 50" x 60" quilt.)
I'm totally smitten with these scrappy blocks. Blocks that I spent some time considering what was in and what was out. A process I find difficult and generally avoid as I tend to use fabric stories in my quilts. But of course, that leaves bits of everything left over so I eventually have to take the plunge and start mixing and matching! Mind you, maybe it takes a long time because I look at all the little squares and remember where they came from, what quilt their metreage, jelly roll or charm square created, who it was gifted to and where it might now be laying.
Now they're all together, I'm thrilled to see all my lovely left-overs looking so gorgeous and playing so nicely with the rest of my scraps. Every single block is beautiful and I love how they all work together.
This quilt is destined to be a fund-raiser quilt for R's music department who are planning an overseas trip for the students early next year. We're not sure if R will make the cut but every little bit will help.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Tuffted Tweets for the table....

It was my sister's birthday during the week so I made her a set of four placements and napkins using Laurie Wisbrun's Tuffted Tweets in red and orange and Elizabeth Hartman's Color Block Placemats and Napkins pattern for Sew, Mama, Sew! I've been hoarding this fabric for a little while now just waiting for the right project. I'm glad I've finally cut into my stash and have to say it's lovely soft fabric to work with so I can see a few more cuts in my future. I teamed the print with a natural linen that I purchased from my local quilt store.The placemats are stippled and bound in Kona Charcoal. Something I went back and forth over before I made my final binding decision. But I'm glad I settled on charcoal, it's just enough to frame the mats without being dominant which I think black may have been. Both the napkins and mats are backed in an orange quilters muslin.
And for fun....something I haven't done for ages....a bit of biscuit baking. White chocolate and cranberry cookies....yum.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The go to gift......

This weekend I whipped up a last minute birthday gift for a friend. In fact, inspiration struck at 11.30pm on Saturday night after a marathon all day/night out (!). Once I began looking through the fabric scraps, I started sewing a bit and I ended up staying up way (way!) past my bedtime. But by Sunday night I had one very lovely, very large 24"/61cm cushion.
I hadn't intended making this cushion so big but I got immersed into using existing strips of fabric that were already in my scrap bag. I seriously only cut the last two colours from metreage. Everything else is scrap trimmed down to fit and that makes me smile.The back is some fabric picked up from Spotlight's recent clearance for $4/m. I only had to join one little section (more smiles!). The blue binding is also left-over from another project.
There's nothing tricky about this cushion cover. It's a straight forward log cabin with strips cut to various widths. The construction is a very simple envelope style and the quilting is mostly horizontal along seams with a bit of vertical on the outer edges.
Herewith one beautiful gift where the cushion insert is the most expensive component!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Just the 20 months.....

Back in July 2010, I hopped on the 'QAYG' (quilt as you go) bandwagon and in one intense weekend sewing session churned out a batch of spectacular 12" x 12" and 8" x 8" log cabin blocks of my then, most favourite bits of left over fabric. The were, by my standards, pretty gorgeous and truly represented the few quilting projects I'd attempted and the content of my stash up until that time. And then....(insert drum roll....), after I'd made them, I couldn't work out how you could possibly join them together, so I put each of them into a plastic bag and placed them into the cupboard with all of my other half finished projects. You know the ones, the ones I just had to do straight away in place of cleaning the bathroom.
But luckily I am blessed with that dreadful genetic disposition that causes me to find it really hard to throw things away. Some days it's the bane of my life. Other days it's a blessing. This past week it was the latter because I pulled out those QAYG blocks and turned them into baby bibs! I used this pattern which was super easy and makes a bib suitable for a newborn. Best of all, it used up all of my QAYG blocks in one fell swoop. (Actually, that's a slight exaggeration as I have some little circles left and I'm thinking coasters.....what do you reckon?.....)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Little geometrics.....

These are the last two baby quilts for Clare's Retro Baby Quilt market project for the Adelaide Guerilla Craft Market.
I'd started to feel that the bulk of the quilts I'd made were a bit on the 'girly' side even though I was attempting neutral. I guess it's because I use so much pink and floral in general, so naturally my scraps are going to include pink and floral! (No brainer!)
So these two little very simple 1/2 square triangle quilts are deliberately neutral in an attempt to interest mothers of little boys.I started out with the idea to make just one quilt but ended up with too many blocks so two were born. Both are straight line quilting using a grey thread, either side of the seams although the smaller of the two is also quilted on the diagonal. The larger one was a random placement so the diagonal quilting just didn't work.Both are backed with grey, black, yellow fabric with the larger one bound in black and white polka dot and the smaller a stripe. The market is scheduled for next Saturday evening (location to be determined) so now it's just final preparations, pricing and working out the logistics of the set up!

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Gosling....

This little quilt is another baby sized quilt for Clare's Retro Baby Quilts market project and I think it fits the 'retro' tag splendidly. Not only the muted fabric colours, the traditional flying geese design but also the 're-use' story behind these little geese as well.
Some time ago (a couple of years at least), I started 'Stashbuster' a kaleidoscope quilt from Material Obsession Two. It called for lots of strip scraps to be made into the kite shapes and then topped with a range of spotted fabric triangles. I was way out of my depth attempting this very tricky quilt. Not only trying to understand the sewing technique of the 'y-seam' (which back then I didn't even know was called a 'y-seam') but the subtle art of fabric selection.
I had chosen a wonderful array of strips from my stash (then just a fledgling pile!) but the spot fabric I'd selected, whilst all matched each other, were way too dull for the rest of the fabrics.
After attempting the piecing, which was a complete disaster, I blamed my inadequate sewing skills and threw the whole thing in the back of the cupboard. But really, the dot fabric was just as much to blame for not proceeding.So a couple of weekends ago, I pulled it out of the cupboard, put on a DVD and started unpicking all the triangle tops from each of the blocks. There was only 80!
So with 80 'Depression Era' spotted triangles I selected some of the red, green, blue and brown and pieced cream triangles to them and formed them into flying geese. It was a bit tricky but not as tricky as I thought. Once I got the placement of the corresponding plain triangle it was easy chain piecing from there.Funnily enough, but I'm sure not unusual, the back was the catalyst for the front. This was a very discounted piece of fabric that I picked up in the recent Spotlight sale. It's even named 'retro'. It features the same colours as the front and was the foundation for the whole quilt. What I didn't realise was that it must have also been a display piece of fabric, wrapped back onto the bolt for the sale. When I opened it out to measure it, I noticed that it had a zillion staples in it. It must have been stapled gunned to the wall! So I pulled them out and then noticed that there were a few rips here and there. After a bit of careful cutting and piecing in a bit of red solid, the Gosling has a rather nice little back.
The quilt is free motion stippled and the binding is the red and white check from DS Quilts from her first range for Spotlight, Picnics & Fairgrounds.
I finished handstitching the binding last night so I'm linking up to Crazy Mom's 'Finish it up Friday'!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Off the beaten track....

I love travelling to other parts of the country and finding lovely quilt shops in little country towns. Generally they're abundant with fabrics long gone from city stores. I was lucky enough to travel to the Sunshine Coast and find Quiltopia!Design in Maleny, QLD, a gorgeous little shop specialising in Moda fabrics. Ann Ferguson is a champion quilter and a down-right lovely lady to chat with particularly as we got straight to the point over discount air-fares and various fabric particular Paula Prass's Flights of Fancy and some very rare Eiffel Tower fat 1/4's that were begging my purchase on her counter. Not to mention the City Weekend fabric that I've been aching for for eons in not only red but turquoise and also available in metreage! I tell you...I was in least for long enough for the rest of the family to buy and consume ice-creams. I myself passed on the icecream and indulged in a few fabric purchases as described above along with some Saffron Craig owls. Oh happy days indeed!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Red Sail Modern Mini....

Modern Mini Challenge
I often bang on about how I can't bare to part with too many of my scraps. They have to be pretty small to end up in my bin! I keep them all filed away in various zip lock bags and sort them by shape, size and format such as strips, squares or smallish pieces smaller than a fat 1/4.
Recently when Clare invited us to make quilts for her Retro Baby Quilt market project I gathered a bag of little cream triangles that I'd cut from my Floral Bouquet blocks. I've learnt from experience that triangles cut from 2 1/2" strips set beautifully in 2 1/2" squares. So I set about cutting a pile of 2 1/2" grey blocks and set in the cream triangles. I made one block 4" and set in a larger red triangle.I placed each of the triangles facing the same way, set to the right hand side of the block. I think they look like yacht sails.
This is a little mini quilt 27" x 23". It's quilted in straight line quilting and bound in a red and white polka dot.
It's my entry into Ellison Lane Quilts Modern Mini Quilt Challenge.

Friday, March 2, 2012

I see quilts.....

Don't you?
These are just a couple of snippets from Sydney quilt inspiration. It's everywhere!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

The upside of misfortune.....

We had been planning to visit the new Jamie Oliver Italian restaurant, Jamie’s Italian, that has just opened in the Sydney CBD. It was our last day in this wonderful city and after a bit of online orientation, we found ourselves at the door in good time for early lunch. There is no option to book so first in, best dressed! Joe turned to me and asked me if I was sure it had been a good idea to wear white.
It was 11.45am when we arrived and the place was buzzing. Initially I thought there was a line up but it turned out to be a bit of congestion probably due to the fact that you want (need) to take the space in as you get to the service desk! The restaurant is deep and appears skinny but this is due to the two-floor layout. The décor is an industrial mix of forged steel and concrete but softened by multi coloured steel chairs, fresh food hanging from preparation bars, food produce on display and of course, ubiquitous cookbooks and Jamie branded merchandise.
The maître d’ checked us out as we requested our table for four, acknowledged we had children with us, pulled out a drawer under the counter and began hunting through. Inside were red viewfinders. She handed one to L and explained that inside was the kid’s menu. Now my kids are a bit more of the ‘electronic’ generation so they were bamboozled with this device but Joe and I thought it was hysterical. After a bit of instruction L checked out his options. Then for fun, we all checked out his options. Well done Mr Oliver, having kids has certainly sparked your imagination and understanding of children’s behavior in restaurants.

We were led upstairs and sat adjacent a counter laden with prosciutto, salami, garlic, chilli and tomatoes all hanging from an overhead counter. In this area alone there was capacity for around 30 diners. Walking around revealed the restaurant could probably take at least 150!

Our waiter was amazing, young, Italian, stylish and full of verve for the menu. He told us he tries the specials in the morning and congratulated us on our choices. Joe asked for a wine recommendation and wasn’t disappointed. We shared an entrée of buffalo ricotta and roasted pumpkin bruschetta. Awesome! The breads sat in a little tin lined with brown paper that featured an illustration of Jamie’s Vespa. Sweet. The meals were delivered on and in rustic white plates and bowls. The linen napkins were blue and white and branded ‘Jamie’s Italian’. Nice touch and I found myself lusting after a set. But the food….oh the food, I almost licked my plate. Ricotta ravioli with lemon and mint. Magnificent!

As we sat back in our chairs, self-congratulating our cleverness at visiting this exceptional restaurant, the waiter started to clear the table. As he picked up L’s plate that had been spaghetti bolognaise, a few stray strands of left-over pasta flew from the plate right into my lap. After Joe’s comment earlier that day, he drew and audible gasp. The waiter was motionless, holding his breath staring at my white top now speckled with orange sauce, waiting for my reaction. What did I do? I laughed out loud, picked off the bits of past and thanked him for his deposit. After all, he didn’t do it on purpose and it’s only bolognaise sauce, nothing a little bit of washing powder isn’t going to fix. But the best bit. When I returned from the ‘ladies’ (which is beautiful, by the way) there was a little ‘Jamie’ bag on my chair. Inside was set of napkins. I looked across the room to our waiter who held his finger to lips as I mouthed ‘thank you so much’.

Now if only I could restrain myself like that at the ‘self-service supermarket checkouts’!