Saturday, April 30, 2011

Changing of the Seasons

While in the Northern Hemisphere the Spring is welcomed - I am so glad that we on the Southern point of Africa is enjoying cooler Autumn days. Our first real rain has fall and the long, very long, hot (and it was a very hot) summer has (hopefully) finally come to an end. Thanks for air conditioning! Without it no quilts would have been made. When it is so very hot, I am just without energy. To read can even feel like exercise!

I have taken this photo from my front porch. I will post a photo every week (if I remember) to show how our world will change in the next few months. The natural veld is thankful for the little bit of rain and has a soft shade of green. The wheat fields is barren but this will change rapidly in the next two months if we get our regular rains. (If we farmers do not trust and live from God's hand- I am sure the despair when it do not rain would be to much to handle)

To get to my front porch I have to walk around the house. (The house still have not been painted!) My basting frame and my daughters art stuff is stored in the passage leading to the front door. On  Boland farms we seldom enter a house through the front door. My front gate is even locked. All the cars drove to the back and enter the house either through the kitchen or through the back porch.

So this very beautiful sight I only enjoy from my bedroom window. I know- it is shocking! There was a time that I thought I should sit on the front porch and I took two chairs out. This is when I found that apart from sitting in front of my sewing machine and in front of the computer I seldom sit.

If I read- I do nothing else. I cannot read a novel just at a certain time a day. Once I started a book, I cannot put it down. So I keep my reading for holidays or when I do not have projects to finish (and that is basically never.) My Quilt books I read  whenever I have a little bit of time. O today I may relax and catch a bit up on my reading. That is if I do not spend to much time reading blogs!

I hope this day will bring you some joy as well!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

In praise of Ditch Quilting

It was difficult to do the ditch quilting. I did not want to ditch between the rows because parts of the one block formed a unit with the neighbors. So with the walking foot I did some ditch quilting, creating islands.

The feathered quilting I did around the embroidery blocks forced some puffiness into the embroidered area. This I now have to counter very carefully without creating pleats. So I was so sorry that I did not do some more ditch quilting!
Fullnes in the embroidery area
The spirals I quilted in this background pattern help a lot to handle fullness.  You encircle some fullness and then spread it evenly in the bubble with the spiraling stitches. One must be very careful not to stitch a pleat. If it look unavoidable, I stopped, lift the pressure foot and with my finger try to “divide” the fullness.

When I quilt a pattern without drawing lines, I need to give my brain “directions”. When quilting this lazy daisy, my goal is to move from the one square to the next. So starting in the corner, I tell myself “Quilt a halfsircle with the outer edge reaching the middel.
Half circle
 Then reaching the adjacent corner I say: “Do an s curve moving through the middle to the opposite corner.
S curve
 From this corner it is another half circle and I have reached the next block. Once this is repeated in all four squares I just move back forming an s curve in every square to reach the starting point.
Second half circle
Like so
 Today I quilted lazy daisy’s and 4 backgrounds. Tomorrow it is the rest of the backgrounds. The biggest problem is the quilting in the embroidery blocks- that I leave for last.

I haven’t decided on the border quilting yet. This I usually try to do as soon as the ditch quilting in the border seam is done. If the border is quilted I can trim the additional batting. The quilt is also flatter and it is easier to get to the middle. The Bernina 830 with it’s bigger free arm made it easy to reach the middle, so I never felt that  it was necessary.

I worked a bit more on my appliqué quilt and will have some progress to show by tomorrow.

I am ashamed to say, but I took the process pledge so I have to. (I know I know, I have so many Quilts in Progress I should not start new ones!)  I made my first  blocks in Barbara Brackman’s Civil War quilt. Why would a South African want to do this? I love patchwork blocks and just found it irresistible to work along. I am 17 weeks behind but will catch it up in no time! Over the years I have collected (by buying scrap bundles) many suitable fabrics. So this is a good time to use some of this, otherwise it will go wasted. (This sounds like a very good reason to me. )

So why do you think I got such a lot of quilting done today? I first had to quilt for 4 hours before I could work on this other projects. This backward motivation worked well! I made a 20 cm (8 inch) and 10 cm (4 inch) block.
8 Inch

4 Inch Comfort Quilt Block- Week 17

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

I broke 5 needles

Well I actually broke three, my machine broke the other two. Caryl Bryer-Fallert say that every time you quilt on a new machine the machine first need to learn to quilt and that take several hours. This is quite true- but my machine is partly train now and we are quilting at a steady pace. I only have two more weeks to finish this quilt and in that time quilting is not the only thing I need to do!

I had my sewing machine in a cabinet for piecing and machine quilting in the past. Then I start quilting on an industrial Bernina to get a bit more speed. This machine is in a cabinet so once again I had a flat surface at a comfortable height.

The 830 Bernina is to big to fit in my old cabinet so  for the first time I have to quilt with the machine on the table top. This height is not so comfortable. Luckily my office chair can raise a bit. The big quilt sometimes drag on the needle and it is more difficult to move the quilt when it is not flush with the machine. So not only did the machine need training- I also need to be retrained.

For the first time I quilt with a stitch regulator. The even stitches is a real pleasure. I was sometimes on speed and the BSR was complaining with an alarm. So more things to get used to.

Today I really enjoyed my quilting- once I started to feel comfortable and in control, the stitches also fall in place. My biggest problem is to quilt between the embroidery stitches just to flatten the bubbles formed with the close quilting around the embroidery area. The quilting need to be done in such a way that it does not distract from the embroidery but blend in. So this will be a huge challenge.

I have learned a lot studying the quilt books the long arm quilters have available. These books are mostly self published but is available here. To mark quilting patterns is very time consuming. Long arm quilters sell their time, so to make it more affordable they need short cuts and eliminating marking time helps a lot. Many of this strategies can also be applied with the home sewing machine. Feathers is usually my choice because it can fill any space.

We are all looking for more interesting patterns than squigels for background fillers. I love McTavishing, but small spaces need a special approach. So today I came up with a good combination.I quilted this areas with matching thread so it does not show clearly but give the background more interest than a repetitive background design.

Monday, April 25, 2011

A short week end

It is plant season so no farmer can get away long at this time of the year. We did have a short brake- from Saturday afternoon till this morning. We spend the one and a half day at our house at Melkbos. All the children came so it was wonderful. Yesterday André made "potjiekos". What a feast!

I got to sleep under my Amish Trip Around The World quilt with it's nice cotton batting. My quilts are like my children- I am always glad to see them.

This Amish quilt that I made in 1996 has a very thick wool batting and it was difficult to quilt. It is a dream to sleep under though.

I made this Protea quilt for a "fynbos" competition our guild had in 1999. This now hang in our Melkbos house.

The small Trip Around the world was hand pieced and quilted. I also use my quick hand piecing method to complete the piecing here.

I made this Duck on the pond quilt many years ago to demonstrate my triangle method. I also show my guild members how to strip piece a two patch. I used a wool batting with wool from our own sheep that I washed and comb. It was not a very successful exercise. The wool was lumpy and difficult to quilt through. The polyester fabrics I used in this quilt was also not very cooperative in the quilting process.

A simple quilt like this double four patch can still be so beautiful in its simplicity. Here I used an old wool blanket and once again, it is nice and warm to sleep under.
Every quilt tells a story and I am not good in documenting my quilt making very well. Hopefully this blog will help to tell the story of my quilts.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

I Can Applique......Can I?

Must still become a quilt

I can appliqué circles, there is nothing wrong with my appliqué stitch! I have taken classes in appliqué since 1984 does this mean I can APPLIQUé? I have completed this quilt. I basted the pieces over paper and appliqué it down.
Winding Ways
Long ago Nancy Halpern said: At a stage one must stop taking classes and start making the quilts. Now I am there with my appliqué. I have stumbled upon Erin Russek's website. She has a new quilt this year and invites us to join along in a Block of the Month fashion to work on her Tweet quilt. The only thing you have to do is order the center block. Mine arrived on Thursday. The blocks are usually available by the 15 th of every month.
Sorry side ways- don't know why it load like this!
After seeing other quilters' blocks in the Yahoo group, I was motivated to start my quilt. I decided on a shimmering gold, purplish pink and copper blue combination. These books have inspired this colour combination.

Remember I am suppose to quilt! Well if I have done 4 hours of quilting do I need permission for a bit of appliqué?

One of the reasons that I haven't made a real appliqué quilt yet- is that it has to many pieces and it "floats" around. (What a lame excuse I know)

 Well Erin has a "glue" baste method whereby she first prepare all the pieces and then glue baste the whole block. Only then does she start with the appliqué. I quite liked that idea but as usual could not wait and started to appliqué the big pot. I did discover that the bottom and top part of the pot does not contrast enough- so I will replace these two silk pieces. (Should I use silk in appliqué- I don't no if I will find a place in the other blocks to repeat it)

Once I have decided which of these hundred pieces that I pulled out of my stash will go into this quilt- I will put those that I plan to use in a basket. I will dedicate a space in my studio where I can do some prep work. Hopefully it will then not feel so disorganized and if it is in the way of my other projects.

Now that I have disclosed my involvement in this project I hope I will stick to it and complete the quilt!- I am 4 blocks behind.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Easter Friday

Herewith a basket of flowers to all my blog readers. Thank you for your interest. May you have a meaningful Easter Week end.

(Unfortunately it uploaded sideways)
This quilt was entered in a challenge hosted by the South African Quilters Guild. Sadly it was rejected.(Perhaps also crucified) This was hard for me to accept (I have a badge to prove I am a Master Quilter- so it could not be the workmanship) and I request a reason from the juror. Apparently they selected quilts that would be suitable to be displayed in places where Art would be displayed and this quilt would not fit the criteria.

The appliqued flowers were cut from flower print fabrics and embellished with embroidery handstitches. I thought the drunkard's Path blocks have a ribbon quality. They and the rounded baskets fit the challenge of curves that was the main theme for all the quilts.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Fascinating Blogworld

Reading blogs is a big adventure for me. I start out when I have time at "What are quilters Blogging about Today" Here all the new blogs of the day can be looked at and the interesting ones can be clicked on to read further. I spent an hour every morning at the dairy doing this. Often I do not get past the third page because I get on a side track.

One thing leads to another and before long I find interesting links or interesting blogs on the blogroll of other bloggers. I am a compulsive reader so the wonderful original content that so many quilt bloggers give us, with photographs to show their work, is very inspiring.

I have the good intention to blog more regularly. Other quilters blogs are so fascinating though, that instead of blogging I am reading blogs! Viva blogland!

One of my really favourite blogs is La Vie en Rosie of Carrie Nelson. Carrie is a wonderful person. This I can see just by reading her blog. She has also make a beautiful quilt: Eventide. The instructions for this quilt is available in a pattern from Carrie.

When I am inspired by a quilt, I always try to put a twist on a it and not produce it exactly like it was done before. One of the wonderful qualities of Eventide is that it is a beautiful "blended" quilt with a "now you see it- now you don't" look. It is also a Ohio Star within an Ohio Star.

So with this as inspiration I have designed a possible quilt in EQ7. My variation will give me an opportunity to use some machine embroidery on the big triangles. The "embroidery" I show on my EQ quilt is just a suggestion of where I will put the embroidery and not what I will put there.
I call this "Evenso" and hope that it will become a real quilt in the near future.

I have started with 4 blocks and selected possible fabric. I do need to do the quilting on my competition quilt first and cannot afford these distractions!

                                                      Ooops...a little mistake- that happens so easily!

Here is the fabric from my stash auditioned for this project. I do not really have enough of this blendable fabrics- but I am not to subtle in my approach to quilting. Although I admire the blended look- I will have to buy to many fabrics (what a wonderful excuse- I think I should do it!) to get the variety. This I will definitely not get in South Africa and the postage and import duties are so high- so I must really think this through. (Do you still remember my Modern fabrics that is actually due for a project? See how easily do I get side tracted!)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Basting -A new method for me

I use a basting Gun and "tag-baste" my quilt in a "basting frame". When not in use, my basting frame is 4 wooden slats with a piece of fabric stapled to it. I store it in a corner. It is quite a process to set it up- though it only take 15 minutes, some things become "big" and time consuming in your mind. I do have to admit that this is not fool proof- I do sometimes get a pucker on the back.

I decided to try using my Bernina Quilt Frame as a basting frame. First I had to finish my 20 year old hand pieced quilt- the second quilt I quilted on the frame. (This was thread basted before loading on the machine) It was only the one black border that still need to be quilted. I finished that and took it out of the frame. (I still have to turn it to quilt the 2 side borders.)

What I did then, was to fasten the backing to the leaders and roll it. I then placed the wool batting on it and let the top float on top of that. Then I tried to baste the three layers together with the Bernina. The BSR do not allow stitches to be longer than 4. I have watched Sharon Schamber basting her quilt very well- piece by piece before she start quilting it on the frame. My frame quilting is still in the practice stage and this quilt is for a competition- so I want to quilt it without the frame.

I made a few stitches, stopped, lift the needle and the foot and move about 3 inches on and repeat the process. When I rolled the quilt it did make a bubble in front of the roller, but I believe it is normal- the basting is 3 inches apart. I started with some ditch quilting and it look as if this basting method worked well- but I will only be able to confirm this once the quilt is free motioned quilted. It took longer to baste on the frame but I did not have to set up the basting frame and put it all away afterwards. (I know I know it is more a mindset!)

I plan my quilting as I go along. I will show bits of the quilting as I proceed, but will only show the quilt after our National Quilt Festival 1-7 July in Stellenbosch.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Red and White and Quick handpiecing

Oh, how I wished to have been in New York to see the installation of Mrs Rose's Red and White quilts. Thanks to the wonderful photo's and videos on some blogs and You Tube I could experience a bit of the magic.

This is my red and white quilt (well almost) and it does have a wonderful story behind it.

I went to the USA in 1984 with my backpack and I tour from one Quilt show and Quilt Convention to the next. My tour started at the wonderful Northfield Vermont show organized by the Historical society and Richard Cleveland (It has moved now to another venue) Here I took classes with Jinny Beyer and Carla Hassle- in hand piecing. (At that time I was quite accomplished in machine piecing but needed to learn more about applique and hand quilting- learning handpiecing was a bonus.)

I will write about some memories about this tour in a later post. Now, back to my quilt and hand piecing. During my tour I learned about Barbara Johannah and her quick piecing method of triangles. (This is a method that is still widely use in different variations today- but most people do not know that it originated with this quilter.) This method entail that a grid is drawn- either on the fabric or on paper or nowadays tear away stabilizer- of a double row of squares divided diagonally with a continuous line. You then use the line as guide for the pressor foot and sew a line 1/4 inch on either side of the diagonal lines. Cut on all the drawn lines and you have multiple HST (Half Square Triangles)
In 1984 we did not have the rotary cutter that can cut up to 8 layers, but we had sharp scissors and could cut 4 layers.This method where one have to mark and could cut only 2 layers did not seem like a quick sewing method to me. (You save time in handling individual pieces- that is all) I thought that this method would be more suitable in hand piecing than in machine piecing of HST's (I still think so today). So 3 month's later on the plane back  from the USA, I started the HST of this feathered star medaljon quilt- using an adaptation of Barbara's method. I draw triangles on a scrap piece of red/maroon fabric (it was an odd size) and lay it on a bigger calico piece. I then worked the diagonal seams as marked on the red fabric. The advantage was that I did not have a lot of small pieces that could get lost.I did not have to pin individual pieces. I also saved time- instead of having to check that I follow the line on the piece at the back (as one do in handwork) there was only lines drawn on the red fabric. After I worked the diagonal seams, I turned the piece over and lay my template with the diagonal side on the seam worked. I then just had to draw the two straight seams. I could also cut two layers simultaneously- not something ussually done in hand piecing.
Beginning of Lady Of the Lake-handpieced
With this, my quick hand piecing method was born. I have adapted this idea to piece a Trip Around the world, Baby Blocks, Six point star and several other quilts where different shapes were pieced using this method.

Friday, April 8, 2011

A New Arrival

I have received not one, but three parcels today. Two from (I will show you the wonderful books later) and one from Alewives. This is a new “shopping” place for me and my experience was wonderful. I received my Soul Blossoms fat quarter set neatly wrapped in tissue paper and tied with a ribbon. It felt like Christmas.

Now I must confess- If I have walked into a quilt shop in South Africa, I would not buy one of these fabrics. And neither would I buy any of the fabrics in the Bliss or Modern Workshop Jelly rolls that I also ordered. Yes I did order all these fabrics, but this is so unconventional for me, that I would not have been able to select these combinations.

I am still in my quest for the Modern look.  I have realized with the Modern look, come certain designs. Correct me if I am wrong, but my observation is that the modern quilters make quilts with an all over pattern where the repeat is often more in rows rather than in blocks?
Kaffe Fasset fabric and White

If a block is the basic unit, the block is repeated and the block loose it’s individuality to become part of a whole. I do make some quilts like that, but most often I like to make quilts with striking, dramatic blocks. Now this is where I want the transplant to be crafted. I am going to use the mad, mad fabric of our young and talented (and much admired by me) designers and try to make dramatic blocks in a medaljon style.

I have already tried it with fabric from my stash that had the lighter modern colours- but were far off in the fabric design type, from the modern mix.

Alas, this month this experiment cannot be allowed before I haven’t completed the two quilts that I have entered into our National Quilt Festival from 1-7 July in Stellenbosch. (South Africa)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Holiday!

My sister and I went to Buffelsbaai, with our parents. My father built the original house 45 years ago. It was then called "Krom 'n Skeef" (Crooked and Skew) after a children story "Huppelkind". My father was a medical doctor but quite handy. Everything was not always so precise in his building attempts- therefore the name of the house. Here we spent wonderful summer holidays at the sea.

For me this is a place near to my heart. The last 20 years I often sit with hand piecing in front of the windows. So many of my quilts remind me of times spent here. The house was redesign and rebuilt 25 years ago. It's name is now "Op en Af"  (Up and down)- it has 3 storys. My parents have retired here and lived here for 20 years permanently.

They now need to be nearer to doctors and stay in Serenitas, in a small apartment. My mother still have a beautiful garden but no longer have to cook, as they get their meals everyday. This was a short retreat for them and a wonderful vacation for my hardworking sister (she is a physiotherapist) and me. We went for walks along the beach everyday and sometimes later in the day as well.

My mother display some of my earlier quilts in the house. With this quilt I won a third prize years ago in a magazine competition. Although no sunlight fall on this quilt, it has bleached a lot over the years. A Cranston print is the only one with the original colours.

This quilt was made for our church to be displayed at Easter- but when they did not want it, my mother took and displayed it.

This tapestry was made by me when still in High school. I actually made two of the same pattern.

During our holiday I made this little Card Trick quilt. I bought some fabric on the way at Swellendam where we stopped to look at the quilt exhibition at the old Drostdy Museum. I did not intend to use this fabric in a project- but after three days I was ready for a project and I had some fabric! So without tools- no rotary cutter, mat or ruler just my mother's rusted scissors, and with paper glued to cardboard for templates, I made this quilt. The strips in between was cut in an awkward manner(Will not try to explain)  therefore they are a bit crooked!

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