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.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Civil War block

When I work on a piecing project I like to start it and complete the top before moving on to a next project. A Block of the Month or Week project do not work so well for me except if I do it by hand. When I tackled the Civil war project of Barbara Brackman last year, I made the 28 blocks in two sessions.
Auditioning the blocks and sashing
I was looking for fabric for a new project and needed some that was used in this blocks. When I opened the box I realized I was not going to make the other 24 blocks. I had an interesting border print that I thought would unify these blocks. I combined 4 miniature blocks I made from these patterns to make another block and use another miniature block on point in a Square in a square setting.

The top is nearly completed. The border fabric was just not enough for the top row of sashing. I got hold of more fabric and will complete the top now.
Completed Bottom half

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

It is to big!

I completed my handbag. I want to take it with me to the International Quilt Conference in Johannesburg. I am also taking my sewing machine and the Airline only allowed two pieces of hand luggage. This bag is just to big. If I put it in my suitcase it will just take up to much space.

Oh well it can hold about 3 quilts- so it is a nice bag to carry my Show and Tell quilts to meetings. I do not know what I was thinking- or perhaps I did not think? The pattern's name is The 6 Fat Quarter bag. It is a free pattern and available from Martingale. I use the two pieces of "Stupendous Stitching" to bring two of the fat quarters to the correct size.
I have added some charms on this piece.

I think I did not carry out the instructions for the handles correctly- but a big bag like this need wider handles. It is just not long enough- but I will remove the knot and just sew it together and decorate it with a button. The pattern can be found on Martingale's website- here.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Making Plans or not?

I am most productive if I plan my days. I have read on some blogs that goal setting and detailed planning contribute to stress. So in the beginning of the year I thought I will just "go with the flow" and do what my hand find to do.

This might work for some people but it definitely did not work for me. I need to know what I want to achieve and do some planning around it on a daily basis. I decided to make myself a back pack long ago- last year some time. I have sewn some lovely Jacobean embroidery designs to use as pockets on the back pack and that was as far as it went.

We have an International Quilting Conference at the end of July. This was a good motivation for me to have the bag ready to take with me when I attend this Quilting Event. I used an old back pack that I find ideally as a template/pattern to make mine. I added a lining with a inner zip pocket and added a third outside pocket. The Back pack turned out very well and I am super happy with it. I am also very glad that I have another project finished.

I also want to make a handbag using an interesting pattern that I got from Interweave.
I have changed some of the panels to include some panels with stitching on. This I have learned from taking a class with Carol Ann Waugh at Craftsy

I have made this wall hanging after taken her class and is constantly looking for ways to apply this in my other work.

This bag will be a good opportunity to apply this knowledge and personalize my bag. What I like about this is that I can play with my embroidery floss, trying out the stitches I learned from Sharon Boggon in her Take a Stitch Tuesday series. I also use the knowledge obtained from my class with Margaret le Roux (last year) to incorporate the beads and charms I have added to my collection.

I do like to work in my studio concentrating on my projects. My embroidery machine is operating under my supervision working on another new project, while I completed the back pack and then start with the panels for the handbag. This sometimes create a conflict when the embroidery project needs decision making and cause a brake in concentration on the bag project. Then I just switch the embroidery machine off so as not to loose the Zen quality of my time in my studio.

Do you plan your days- or just go with the flow? What works for you?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Redwork to digitize

It is thrilling to digitize a project and stitch it out. Redwork is very easy to digitize and a very good place for any one who want to learn digitizing, to start. I did a class with Hanlie Snyman of Bernina, Paarl and San Tyger. We recieved the 7 pictures and with Hanlie's clear instruction select our stitch (Backstitch), the colour (red) and our tool- mainly the Open Object tool. When all the lines were drawn the magic was created by the Blackwork Run tool.

I made some cloth  paper towels (saw it on a blog) with a nappy and some flannel squares I had. This was a good way to sew the designs out to see if adjustments was needed in the stitch length and number of strokes. Now I am ready to sew it on some dish cloths- to have some gifts ready for friends.

Vivian at the Rose Cottage has an Enhanced Line Drawing lesson as this June's challenge. You can purchase the lesson from her website without having to take part in the challenge.

Redwork and the ability to digitize it also helps you to digitize continuous quilting designs. When you use the double run tool the program work out the optimal route to complete the pattern without starts and stops. Very good classes, specifically for digitizing quilting designs is available at Quilt University from Joanne Winn. They will be available in September and October.

If you own an embroidery module and haven't used it yet- it might be the time to get going!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Power of Ten

I first read about the Power of Ten and the way to implement it in a Newsletter of Texas Quiltworks. It is also described on this blog. I do it a bit differently though.
Floral Kaleidoscope- DIC
I like to concentrate on a project for as long as possible or till my attention slip- or fear for in case I will not manage to pull it off, get the better of me.

For me a list of ten Delayed In Construction projects to work on simultaneously is to much. I do like to list all the projects I want to work on and it might be more than 10. Then I choose 3-4 where one might be a hand project, the other a quilting project and then a project that is still in the piecing stage. I might also add an embroidery project.

If one formalize the projects by listing them it serves as a reminder. One can also plan better and when you have a specific goal you are working towards you work more intentionally and do not while away time playing on the computer, checking email and blogs or just wasting time.

In the next couple of weeks I will discuss the projects that I have not featured up to now on my blog, one by one to show the progress I have made. I will also list it on my Quilts 2012 list and move it to the complete section as I manage to finish it.

What do you do to keep you motivated to work on old projects?

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