Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy new year.

It's tradition now. I blog at new year. This year though is a lot more sedate and no fire. Hope you are all doing something you enjoy. Have a great new year.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Free quilt patterns

Being on several mail lists I get a lot of messages suggesting sites and blogs I might be interested in. I look at a lot, but few really grab me. This one however I think is great. Cindy has several quilt patterns available for free, in a nice range of complexity. Take a look, you might fins something will tickle your fancy too. Quilt patterns from Seattle, by Cindy Carter.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Can you guess what it is yet?

What on Earth would induce someone to stand outside in their pajamas in the middle of winter? Spray baste! It was a piece too big to do in the house so I do them on the hedge outside. All my neighbours already know I am nuts so I don't have to worry about what they think.

So any ideas what my latest piece is going to be?

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Two Christmas Quilts

I am sure you remember me saying I had two Christmas quilts on the frame. Well I have finally had time to upload my photographs so I can share them just in time for Christmas.

The first one I felt was the easier one. If nothing else it told me what it wanted, but it also has larger pieces which I often find easier to quilt. The star blocks are all quilted with a continuous curve. I kept all the stitching on the background of the star so they pop up. I wanted the stars themselves to come forward as much as I could.

The Santas are all quilted in the same way, but not the same. Each is outlined and then the back ground filled in with feathers and pebbles. The pebbles take a while to do, but I like the effect that the figures have something to stand on. The background of the figures are pieced, in a churn dash pattern. This gave me a good starting point, and I only quilted some parts of the block, hopefully making the block clearer.

The second of the Christmas quilts was O'Tanenbaum. I've been looking at this quilt hanging on the wall at the shop for a while and I've often wondered how you would quilt it. Well it finally became more than an academic question. This quilt has come closer to stumping me than any I've had before. I was torn between doing some sort of all over and not doing anything that would take away from the huge amount of work that went into piecing it.

Working with the piecing won out. OK no surprise there. The problem was then trying to do it quickly. I didn't want this to take too long and get too expensive. I decided that the houses needed a lot of attention, mostly because I couldn't think of a quick and sympathetic way to quilt the half timbered house. Each house I quilted in a way that added detail to the building, so roofs got tiles and walls got bricks. To make the applique flowers and tree pop up I needed some pretty dense quilting. As I don't often stipple I went for that in those areas. It is a good pattern for holding down an area.

The stars have the same continuous lines that I used on the first quilt. It works, and I guess I had it on the brain at the time. This just left the log cabins. I would normally like to quilt along the logs, but in this quilt they are only 1/2" wide. I also wanted to add some more flow to the quilt, to draw you around the big star. To do that I've put feathers into each of the triangles in log cabins. As the thread is quite a close match to the fabric it doesn't fight with the piecing, but when light falls across the quilt the texture does flow.

So there you go, two quilts just for Christmas.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Why do longarm quilters want so much backing?

Ever wondered? Well there are several very good reasons. Longarm University has a great video that talks you through some of the issues. If you would like to have a look it is the first video on this page. It is intended to explain to new quilters why they might want to have more backing, but I think it will make sense to everyone who has had (or is thinking of having) a quilt longarm quilted.

Do I get my domestic goddess badge yet?

Over the weekend it struck us that it was time to get a tree, but it's really hard to buy a proper tree now. What do I mean by proper? Well a tree that smells like a tree, and ideally looks like one. Not a short fat tree a proper triangular tree. Apparently these requirements mean we need either a Norway Spruce or a Norway Fir. OK, so now we know what we want all we have to do is buy one right? Wrong, everyone (who are these mythic every ones?) now wants a tree that will not drop it's needles smell and shape aren't important. We looked at a huge number of trees on Sunday but none would do for us.

We did however find two silicone cake pans. I'd been after them for a while, but when Tet put in a request for a Christmas cake it seemed a good time to get them. So two pans and a lot of hard stirring later, we have two cakes, (one with peel cherries and ginger) iced and ready to go. There are some advantages to not liking alcohol on your Christmas cakes, I don't need to feed the cake so I can get it done over a shorter time. Also the paler cakes I make don't need to mature in the same way as the darker ones.

In between baking I continued the search for a tree. I eventually found a garden center who did understand the difference and had a whole range of trees. I don't have as tall a tree as I would like, but it smell great. I also managed to pick up some plain silver tinsel to go with the black ornaments I picked up at Ikea a while ago.

So, I've finished the two Christmas quilts, baked and iced two cakes, caught and decorated a tree and made a batch of biscuits. I think that's pretty good going really.

For a while I've been feeling a need to play with my longarm. Just spend some time messing about and trying out new things. In between batches of biscuits I finally managed it. I've had some new rulers I wanted to have a go with for a while and boy they are good. I am going to have to design a quilt that needs lots of little circles. They are fun and much quicker than I had expected. I am also quite taken with the chain of hears ruler. It's great and again much quicker than I had feared. While I've got the big test panel on I am also making up some samples for the shop, illustrating quilting patterns. I'd like to do a sample of my new wholecloth class too. When I get a chance I will take some pictures and post them. I don't have space at home to hang the Christmas quilts so I have to wait until I return them to the shop.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Feeling Festive

The Santa quilt is now finished, but as it is sharing a back with another quilt it is still on the frame. I can't wait to see it hung up so I can see all of it. I really enjoyed it and I think it's come out pretty well. The other quilt it is paired with is another Christmas quilt. This one is even trickier from the quilting front. It has an amazing amount of intricate piecing and plenty of applique. I don't like doing anything that takes away from the top when I quilt, so it is taking a lot of work to quilt it. I think it is coming up OK, but even with sitting down to quilt I can only work for about an hour at a time. I will try and remember to post pictures when I get these two finished.

Monday, December 08, 2008

finally, a quilt I can share

This is the quilt I have on the frame today. I was a little daunted by it. It had 6 applique Santas on it. Now I've started I am really enjoying it. It is a shop sample for Patchwork Corner that has been waiting for quilting for a while. I just hope Jenny likes it as much as I do.