Sunday, April 2, 2017

Be Brave

If it was my aim yesterday to work on this quilt today, I would not have entered my sewing room today. People think I am brave to swim from Robben Island (my second crossing will be on Saturday 8 April) but it is working on old forgotten projects that really needs bravery. As a master procrastinator the fear can become so big that it is easier to just not go there at all.

The problem with this project is that I do not have the templates anymore. I have made the decision to fill in the triangular spaces on the sides but how to create the template was the thing that was halting any progress.

Yesterday I tried to look in old EQ5 and EQ6 projects to see if I can find it. As far as I can remember it was a Judy Martin project on the internet, but I usually redraw things like this in EQ. I found the project this morning but after printing out the templates, I saw it was not quite right. I made adjustments and when that worked and I had the correct templates I immediately proceed to cut the fabrics before I could have second thoughts. Luckily I already selected and made the decision of what fabrics to use.

It is my 60 Quilt project that inspired me to really work on my UFO's and not just take it out to look at it and then put it away again as I have done before. Every time I do something that is so difficult to start, I am always amazed at how easy it actually was. The fear for the project escalate out of proportion the longer I delay tackling it. Then like with this quilt it was actually so easy that the fear dissolve instantly and it become quite unreal that I was actually scared of my own project?

So now I must just carry on with the knowledge that no project can be to difficult to handle.... till the next long standing UFO scares me again!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Distracted by An Antique wedding Sampler Quilt

You know how easily I can get distracted? Well once again when temptation knocks, I stepped right in. When my book order from Quilt Mania arrived, I knew I had to make a quilt in one of the books and my choice was Di Ford's Antique Wedding sampler.

This Quilt was originally made by Charlotte Gillingham in the early 1840's. It was a wedding gift to her fiancé and they were married in 1844 by which time the quilt was completed.

Original Wedding Sampler made by Charlotte Gillingham
There is some more examples of the original blocks in this quilt close up on the Quaker Quilts bog.  Di Ford's quilt consist of 25 blocks only. Because Broderie Perse was used as applique technique the applique blocks and triangles on the edge of the quilt look different than the original.

I selected several large print fabrics to use in my version of the quilt. I auditioned them on my design wall. Applique is not my strong point and none of the fabrics is really suited or interesting enough to use as Broderie Perse. I decide to use the large print at the back of the other pieces as the triangles. I will fussy cut some of the other fabrics to use in the blocks where Broderie Perse was used.

Large Prints selection

One of my favorite parts of starting a new project is to decide and make my fabric selection. As a quilt proceed some more fabrics are added and I do not necessarily use all the fabrics selected. Here is some more of the accompanying fabrics, I selected.

I made photocopies of the completed quilt. I decided to re- arrange some of the blocks so I cut the photocopy apart and stick the blocks in their new positions. My plan of action is to work on 4 blocks at a time, blocks equal distances from the middle.

The first four blocks that I cut and marked for hand piecing is the blocks with the little triangle pieces. These blocks will stay in the original positions that they were in Di's quilt but I will change the colour and fabric choice.

I did not draw the smaller blocks inside the two upper blocks. There will be four Ribbon Star blocks in the four corners of the left block and a eight point star in the center of the other block

Seeing that I am not so good at applique and do not have fabrics really suitable for Broderie Perse I decided to incorporate some machine embroidery (who could have guessed that!) in my blocks. In the Ribbon Star blocks there are many places where I can replace the applique with embroidery. These 4 blocks will be around the centre as in this EQ developed middle of the quilt.
I embroidered the background patches

When one work on  four blocks at a time it is easier to make sure that the blocks relate well to each other or at least then those diagonally opposite to each other in colour and value selection.
I used designs from the Floral Brocade set from Graceful Embroidery.
I stabilised the designs with a piece of flannel for best results.
I turned some of the designs to get the correct placement and then loose the original effect the designer planned for the embroideries and realise that only to late- I should have changed my fabric placement, not rotate the embroidery
 I have completed all the embroidery of this four blocks. Some of the sub parts of the blocks is very small stars and those will be hand pieced once the first four blocks are completed. The first of these four blocks are completed.
The first completed block surrounded by some chosen large prints

This block is partially assembled, small stars need to be completed for the corners. I used my Scan n cut to cut the fabric for the middle part. I am still quite scared to use it, but decided to just try it out and if I cannot get it right I will just cut by hand. After a bit of effort and "reading the instructions" I succeeded.

I plan as I go. So I will now look for other embroidery designs that will go wll with the Brocade set to use in the next four blocks. I do plan to do a little Broderie Perse though- I think the rose print to the left of the first block might be suitable.

I am a regular reader of Lori Kennedy's blog, The Inbox Juant. In her latest blog she talk about her Quilters Notebook. She introduced it in 2014 before I start reading her blog. I started such a book for my Crochet because I got confused with all my projects and CAL's. Over the years I use different systems to keep myself on track with my projects. I will definitely apply her suggestions in this blog post and the previous ones,  as I am sure it will work for me. Hopefully when I see how many unfinished quilts I have I will be more cautious before starting a new project. To my credit  I can say that I have already completed 4 old quilts this year, as well as made and completed 2 new children quilts. I have also started and completed two quilt tops. Once the old quilt now on my Simply Sixteen frame is quilted, I hope to complete these two new quilts in this year as well.

Hope you have new and old projects to delight you and keep you quilting!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

The start of the Flower Basket Quilt

I regularly purchase embroidery design sets when they are on sale. I have not started my planned "In the hoop" project yet, although I selected the fabric for it. I still need to do some digitizing. I purchased a longarm machine, Simply Sixteen. So my Bernina machine that was on the Bernina frame is now set up so that I can embroider on it. (Dedicated for this task)

I embroidered some Redwork for a red and white quilt and that really got me going. So when I complete that project I searched for something to embroider and plan how to use it in a quilt, I decided on the Flower Basket set from Cuddle me Crazy. I have this set in three sizes but decide to make the largest variety, I do have a jumbo hoop. The design is about 25 cm big.

Although one can get secondary designs when you arrange 4 identical designs in a circle, I prefer not to stitch four of the same designs out- specially not when it take 50 minutes and 20 colour changes for one design. In this set is 4  different baskets but I can keep the colour of the flowers the same, That will unify the designs. I plan to have a slender star design between this four designs.

Once I have completed the central star and baskets, I will plan further. I love to let a quilt design evolve as I go on.

I had to search for a suitable background fabric and is very satisfied with this one. I do however realize that I should shop specifically for this.

The second basket design is slightly different as you can see here.
I just wanted to share my excitement. Hope you will enjoy this journey with me.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Sundial Quilt

I love old quilts. I have reproduce some old Amish quilts and is busy with a Dear Jane quilt. (The Dear Jane is a modern version not a reproduction.) Two Quilts in the Victoria and Albert museum is on my list to make. I started with one; The George III coverlet. I only made three blocks. I still plan to make that quilt but got involved with other projects.

The Sundial quilt is a lovely medallion quilt consisting of an inner part with a Sundial as centre piece with  smaller blocks around it. A border strip divide it from the wide border consisting of larger blocks. The distinctive element in this quilt is that every block is repeated four times. So each quarter are repeated in a mirror image on the other side. This change this quilt from the sampler appearance where one sometimes have difficulty to balance the quilt in a pleasing overall design. This produce a very elegant quilt with a more formal and less haphazard appearance.

Until I have permission from the Victoria and Albert museum in which care this quilt is to display one of their images on my blog I must refer you to this site for some

I decided to make the inner blocks 9 cm and the "border" blocks 15 cm. I think in the original quilt it might be slightly smaller but I does not want to work that small. The quilt itself will be 285 X 315 cm once I have finished it.

I draw the blocks in EQ7 and could construct this image of a quarter of the centre of the quilt:

I tried to colour the blocks as close as possible to the original block (as I can determine from the photographs that I am using).

I have started to make some of the blocks, I am not working very sistematically, the following blocks is  the bigger blocks in the outer area.
A Nine patch in a square
I also completed 4 of the circles blocks, There is two sets of blocks that are repeated in a slightly differnt colourway. The circle blocks is one of those. This is the one version of this blocks:
The quilter of the original quilt made mirror images of the block. I realised that to late, my blocks are all identical in the arrangement of the coloured circles. I am not very good at applique, as you can see in the positioning of my circles, now that I have the photo in front of me I can see how skew my placement was. I am not going to unpick this- there is four more like this, I will try and do a better job with them.

I was amazed at how many fabrics I had that I could use to give a reproduced look to my quilt. Over the years I bought many bolt ends or packets of fabric. This older reproduction type fabric was in many such bundles and I have more than enough fabric to produce this quilt. In fact I am cutting fabric for my friend Rita so that she can also work with me and make a quilt with this pattern as well.

Hope to have the center ready in a short while. I am not sure what I will do in the place of the Sundial centre. I will not attempt the lettering in the original quilt but have not decide yet with what to replace it.

Carolyn Konig do have this pattern as a block of the month project available. I like to draw my patterns in EQ so I am doing it myself. If you would like to make this quilt her pattern may be what you need.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

In the Hoop Quilt

It is time to design another quilt to be completed in the hoop. With my quilt "Russiese Inspirasie" I digitized all the piecing, embroidery and Quilting myself. That was a daunting task. I am not skilled in digitizing embroidery and it isn't really my interest. Over the years I have bought a lot of beautiful embroidery designs that I would like to use in my quilting.

For my new project I first had to decide what designs to use. I selected a beautiful set "Vintage Chic" that I bought from OPW and it is designed by Riani a South African woman. The designs are relatively big so I first had to plan how I will be able to use it. That would determine the choice of patchwork blocks.

There was not really a design that was suitable on its own as  a central design. So I select and combine two of the designs to use in the central square of the middle block.

Then the next step was to design a quilt that I could piece in the hoop, then do the embroidery, add the batting and backing and proceed with the quilting. With my previous quilt I struggled with the thick seam allowances and realized that I will have to design with sashing strips dividing the blocks.

I like to work with colour and very seldom make monochromatic quilts. I decided that working in a monochromatic colour scheme will be a real challenge for me. So I will try and do this in blue greens.
Now I have a framework and I can start digitizing the individual blocks.

This is how the block look in my Bernina Software. I will work in my Large hoop that will give me a work area of 24 cm. I will load a soft vilene as a stabilizer in the hoop. I have digitized a 24 cm Square that will sew first to give me an indication of my batting placement. I will cut a square of 25,5 cm and will place it on the sewn square so that it overlap evenly on all sides. (I could not digitized and sew this line as a placement indication because it is outside the stitching area.) I will then sew the square again to anchor the batting. I can print templates of the fabric pieces from my EQ7 design program and will use that to cut the fabric. I will then add the middle fabric and the digitized seams of the two triangles will then sew. I have imported the embroidery design that will fit in the area and contribute to the overall design of the quilt. The design will now sew colour by colour.

When I add the backing fabric (I will secure it with pins outside the work area and pinned from the top) I will be able to start the quilting that is already digitized for the open areas. Once this is complete I will have a completed block.

I have already digitized three blocks and can start this project. What I like most about piecing in the hoop is that I can place the embroidery exactly where I want it without any difficulty. I still struggle with design placements and really is a novice embroiderer. I like techniques that disguise my lack of abilities and piecing in the hoop is one of my tricks to do that.

Hope to show you soon what I have achieved.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Attending a Quilt Festival like the wonderful National Quilting Festival in Bloemfontein is so inspirational.
Iessie (Festival Chairlady) Rita and me

Since I came home I tried to spent as long a time possible in my studio every day. When I look at other peoples' blogs I realize I am a slow quilter. I have many projects in the making at a time but I slowly finish anything. I do not have a completed quilt to show for this year!

On Saturday the Boland Quilters are the group of the month at Good Hope Quilters Guild quarterly meeting

I plan to have this scrap quilt I started about 10 years ago, ready for Show and Tell. At Bloemfontein I taught a class, Fearless Feathers. My students inspire me so, I definitely had to quilt lots of feathers. This will be a "blanket" and has a wool batting. So apart from the feathers that will pull the design areas together, I will not do back ground quilting because I want the quilt soft and warm. Compression with too many quilting lines will prevent the wool of doing its job to create warmth by trapping air.
The Scrap blocks for this quilt was started in a class with Karen Combs at Quilt University. I made a lot of blocks and still have enough to make another quilt.

Now back to quilting to make sure I have something to show Saturday. (This is the nice thing- if you want to Show and Tell you have a great motivation to complete something. Luckily I can show my DIC (Delayed In Construction) projects here on my blog and there is so many!)

Hope to see some of you on Saturday.


Monday, April 15, 2013

This is why I am a Quilter

When I pinned my completed block on my design wall and stood back, I once again know why I am a quilter. I get so much joy from my work, not only while I am doing it but for this moments when my own work surprise and impress me!

As I said in a previous post, making blocks is instant gratification. One has this vision of how it will look and how the colours will work together. Sometimes the results is not really what you thought and sometimes the results is just a jaw dropper. These moments put me on a high that no drugs can ever give!

I am celebrating my thirtieth year as a quilter this year. I am so thankful that I have found my purpose in life so early in  my life. I am in the privileged position that I can spent a lot of time living out my passion. I am really in my element when working on my quilts or when I am surrounded with quilts and quilters.

Another project that has a lot of surprises is my BOM quilt I do with Jinny Beyer. If you subscribed to her newsletters you get access to monthly installments of her Quilt Solstice. It is not to late to join- all the previous months instructions is accessible till the end of the year.

I have completed my connector blocks.

The instructions for the other blocks is available every month.
In the first block you make use of a border print. I am using a border print that I have available, not a Jinny Beyer print.

In the second and third block one use soft edge applique. I use fabrics from the same range as the border print. I really have to search in this fabric to find areas with interesting edges.

 I was very pleased and nicely surprised when the simple circular edge still produced lovely result.

Quilting is my life and my life is beautiful!

Enjoy your Quilting.


Sunday, March 10, 2013


Dear Readers

I hope I still have some readers of my blog even though I were absent for a long time. I am still here, alive and well and living on the farm. I do have a lot to tell and show you and I am going to try to get in the good habit of writing regular posts again.

I have decided last year to make a quilt for each of my 3 children. We sleep under down duvets and the children have preferred fluffy blankets above quilts. When I am inspired to make a quilt I am driven by the design. I also like to plan a quilt around a specific fabric. The size of the quilt is determined by the design. I do not make the quilt for a purpose. The process of making the quilt is what captivates me and not the product.

So although I have made more than 200 quilts till now my children only have a baby quilt that was made specifically for them. I made a horse quilt for my eldest daughter as well. Anyway it is time to make them each a quilt. They do not have a say in the design or colour- although my second daughter has a very specific taste so with her quilt I will take that into account.

When working on their quilt I will think about them and stitch my love for each one in their quilt. So this quilt is for me to think about them and for them to remember their mother when I will not be here anymore.  I have started with this labour of love.

The piecing on Van der Byl's quilt is halfway. This quilt is made by hand using my quick hand piecing method.
A small part of it
I have changed the Delectable Mountain pattern to create subtle "windmills" where the blocks come together. The design change on the outside with a sawtooth border. I have pieced the triangles for the middle part and have sewn them in blocks. The blocks are also partially sewn together. For this I have used 72 different Taupe fabrics. After making 2 Taupe quilts I think I have a good feel for this "colour scheme" When I show the completed piece to people I get a lot of compliments for the choice of fabrics.

Here is my plan for the quilt as I designed it in EQ7
The design
I plan to bring in some Blueish triangles in the outer part of the quilt as shown in the upper right hand corner. I am now busy sewing more traingles together. Another 100 strips of fabric is used for this. Some of the fabrics I repeat and some "new" fabrics is included. In the end I will use almost 100 different fabrics in this quilt. It will consist of 3528 triangles.

I have started with Hedwig's quilt as well- but this is another story.

Enjoy your projects- I have a lot of joy with mine!


Friday, October 19, 2012

A challenge

Quilters do love a challenge and I am no exception. For our Fynbos retreat the challenge was to make a 50 X 50 cm quilt, utilizing a fat quarter of Calico in the process. The theme was: Go Crazy with Calico.

Although I was in charge of organizing the challenge (deciding on the rules, the size, getting sponsors,printing brochures, selling the challenge, organizing the judging etc) I decided to also take part in this.

The Red and White quilt exhibit that was held in the beginning of the year in New York was the inspiration for the quilt I made for this challenge. Now I have my own red and white quilt and although only 50 X 50 cm (about 20 inch square) it can easily be scaled. The quilting do however indicate that it is a small quilt.

Like every quilt this quilt also has a story. While sewing and pressing, some of the red fabric bleed. I immediately realize that I did not washed the red fabric till the water runs clear but that it was to late to do anything. I would just had to be careful and no more starch spraying seeing that I would not be able to wash the starch away- at least not before handing it in for the competition.

Once my stars was completed I measured them to determine the average size. At the IQCAfrica in Johannesburg at the end of July I took a class from Cynthia England. I adapted a method learned from her.  I cut 4 squares from freezer paper of the size of the stars. I ironed it to the front of every square, trying to include all the star points. Now I could sew the blocks together without chopping the points off  but also keeping "straight lines straight" one of the South African judges' pet peeves. I could also add my borders using the paper as guidelines. (If you cannot comprehend how to do this you need a class from Cynthia England- one of the best teachers I took a class from till date.)

I decide this was the ideal opportunity to quilt on a double batting. The combination of cotton (for stability and drapability) and wool (for loft and texture) was just not affordable in South Africa to try on a full scale quilt. When I started  quilting I thought this was a mistake. The quilt was quite stiff- but this was only noticeable because it is so small. It quilt beautiful and I was quite glad that I did use this combination.

I decided to use a cream colour silk thread on the calico- my Bernina love to sew with it. It did sew beautiful but after a while the thread started braking. I replaced the needle but it still regularly broke. I quilted about 2 hours and decided to quit for the day. Everyday I remove the blue indication marks carefully with a wet cloth. I took care not to draw any lines on the red fabric and to only wet the calico- to prevent any bleeding of the red fabric. The next day I decided to use another thread- I could not handle any more thread braking.

When I was sewing the binding on I saw some loops of thread on the back. When I pulled on it the thread come out and all the quilting on the calico in the middle section came out!. My silk thread was solvable thread all the time.(I immediately stored it away with the other soluble thread.) One advantage was that I had the needle marks to see my quilting pattern and I could improve on it where necessary.

In spite of taking care that my straight seams stay straight, that was the one  negative comment I got from the judging panel. After close inspection I saw that one of my partial seams (A seam that radiate from the middle of the star) was not perfectly straight. I know I have struggled with that- one have less than a inch to partially seam- so to pick up that seam and get it sewn was a struggle- no wonder one of them was not perfect.

Every quilt share as a teaching tool for it's maker. It also share a time period in one's life. The quilt story and the quilters life story become entwined while working on the quilt. It is with fond memories that I will look at this quilt that was part of my life for a month.

To make a miniature quilt may take just a little bit shorter as making a full scale quilt. The accuracy needed for a quilt like this make for careful sewing, cutting trimming and pinning. It is only the length of the seams that make it quicker to complete.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Deliberate Practice

The advice often offered to quilters regarding free motion work is : Practice, practice, practice. Although good advise it will not necessarily help to improve your skills. What is essential is deliberate practise. It is necessary to evaluate your results and constantly and deliberately try to improve it. To learn more about the difference deliberate practice can make, read this guest blog post at Expert Enough by Lukas Kyska of The Aspiring Guitarist.

When I wanted to become a great canoeist 35 years ago I did not realize that it was not good enough to paddle up and down the lake for an hour every day. The day of the great event I was still last. I have never pushed myself to exhaustion. I was tired every night but all that practice did not give me an competitive edge.

The snowflakes were enhanced with a bit of sparkling paint. Still in complete.
At the International Quilt Convention this week end in Johannesburg (South Africa) I took a class with Susan Brubaker Knapp. We rarely have the opportunity to take classes from International teachers so I made use of this chance to learn from a master. The snowflake design we made in the class force one to carry out intricate small movements. It provided good practice in micro-stippling.

 I decided to use a small zig-zag stitch working this on the diagonal. It was quite tricky to find the right diagonal line but I was very happy with the way it contribute to the lacy effect we wanted to achieve.
Deliberate practice make the difference
To improve results one need to evaluate the results you achieve. Then you need to make a decision on the changes that is necessary to improve the results. In your practice session your aim must be to achieve those improved results. Constant re evaluation and adjustments is necessary to make your practice session worth while in improving your skills.

Susan is an excellent teacher and as always in any class I learned quite a few skills and got some really worth while tips. We had a marvelous and inspiring time at the quilt convention.

Please share your tips on deliberate practice.

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