Monday, 30 September 2013

Stained Glass Sunflowers

You may recall my post on 20th June where I shared a photo of the fabrics I had chosen for a new project, a birthday present for my sister's birthday. A BIG birthday calls for a special present and as  sunflowers always remind me of my sister, Mrs J, I sought out a pattern for a quilted wall hanging with sunflowers on it. I was delighted when I found Nikki Tervo's 'Sunny Window Quilt' pattern which she markets under her Brandy Gully brand.

After receiving the pattern and buying the appropriate fabrics, I spent several weeks frantically creating whenever Miss M was sleeping and my dear husband was away. I was on a mission to complete it, not only before Mrs J's birthday party but before I returned to full time work. The pressure was on!

Each of the numbered pattern pieces were traced onto Vliesofix, fused to the correct fabric, then cut out and individually fused to the full pattern traced onto calico. Unfortunately the way the instructions were worded meant that my image is a mirror image to that on the pattern but, after some initial frustration, I was happy with it.

Sky, stems and leaves. 
Gorgeous bright petals
Then I added the fusible bias binding to make the 'stained glass' effect. I don't normally like ironing but I happily ironed away for hours while watching telly. The bias binding was expensive but quite easy to work with. It was exciting watching the individual components of the image start to stand out.

Outlining the elements
Once the bias binding was all in place I created my quilt sandwich. The floor was quite sticky from the basting spray for a while, even though I put down lots of newspaper!

The quilt sandwich
Then it was time to quilt. This was a quilt-as-you-go project so as I secured the bias binding in place with stitching I was also doing the quilting. I had to stitch along both edges of each piece of bias binding. That was quite a challenge using my domestic sewing machine. Stitching down the first side of each strip was relatively easy but when I did the other side the majority of the quilt was quite often rolled up in the throat of my machine. Manoeuvering the quilt along the curved shapes was very tricky at times and the bias binding that wasn't stitched down quite often lifted and had to be re-fused. Eventually I completed it though and I was pretty happy with the result.

Next came the borders and binding, and the quilt was ready to be wrapped up. I completed it on time and was a very happy camper! I was also very excited to have completed my first proper quilt, albeit a wall hanging, and excitedly showed it off to my friends at the WA Quilters Association sewing day. I even made the WAQA blog that day :). 

Completed quilt
Mrs J was very happy with her present and can't wait to hang it on her bedroom wall, much to my delight. Now I just need to work out how to add hanging sleeves that will make the hanging rod invisible behind the quilt. 

Mrs J and I holding her wall hanging
Another project to add to my completed list. Yay!

And speaking of completed projects, to all those lovely people who left me kind messages about my owl cushion I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot to put the buttons on the eyes. If it hadn't been for my wonderful husband (not so) subtley asking me where the eyes were I probably would have sent it off incomplete. I must say though, it does look much better with the eyes on! Here is the final, final completed project...

'A Family of Owls' cushion
Alright, time for an early night as Miss M hasn't been sleeping too well the last couple of nights. I hope you all had a great weekend of stitching and have a wonderful week ahead.

Cheers, Tracy xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Celebrations and Contemplations

Well, what a fun & busy weekend we had despite still feeling under the weather. Miss A had her 18th birthday party which went off very smoothly. All her friends were lovely and very well behaved. A big thank you to them all for making her birthday so special.

After a few challenges working with chocolate ganache for the first time, I finally got the cake looking respectable. It was well received by all. Here is what it looked like...

The actual cake was a marbled chocolate effect. A big thank you to Super Foods magazine for the inspiration & recipe!

Then, after a very late night and broken sleep, I co-ordinated and attended my final workshop as the WAQA Workshop Convenor. I will be handing over the reins to someone else at next week's AGM. 

The workshop, The Value of Value, was facilitated by one of our local tutors, Judy Campbell. It was an excellent workshop that got us thinking about and experimenting with different fabric values. We created a ranged of samples each incorporating hues, shades, saturated colours and tints that we can refer to for our future quilting endeavours. I feel a little more confident now in working with values and colours, and experimenting rather than following a pattern. Thanks Judy.

The other celebration, of course, was the Dockers winning their football game and making it into the 2013 AFL Grand Final. While the Eagles are my favourite team, I also support the Dockers (whenever they are not playing the Eagles!). Congratulations to the team and all the best for this weekend's game.

I hope you all have a wonderful, crafty week.

Tracy xx

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday Night Sew In

I was lucky enough to spot a link to Wendy from Sugarlane Design's Friday Night Sew In on Michelle Ridgway's blog while posting today. After our dinner guest left I jumped to it and finished off the Owl Cushion I have been working on (for about 12 months!) for my niece. All I have to do now is sew on the buttons at the back and it can be posted off as a belated birthday present.

I look forward to seeing everyone else's efforts over the weekend. If you'd like to check them out too you can visit Wendy's blog here.

Thanks Wendy and Michelle. Happy stitching, Tracy.

It's Been Awhile

So much has happened since I last put up a post that I don't really know where to start. Our annual pilgrimage to Marble Bar, going back to full time work, moving house, all getting the flu, and as much crafting as I could fit in between times. On top of that we have had 4 very significant family birthdays (40, 50, 60 & 18yrs) that have needed celebrating. It's been busy, busy, busy.

We were very lucky to have had rain at Marble Bar before we arrived so there was water in the Coongan River again this year. Last year it was the driest we have seen it (in 20 years) and it was quite sad. This year we were again able to visit and enjoy 'Paradise Valley' (discovered and so-named by our kids several years ago) and take the kayak out on the river, plus the birdlife was plentiful again. Here are a few pics...

Marble Bar Pool - Looking down the Coongan River
Babies, big kids and dogs alike enjoyed paddling in the river 
'Hillview' at sunrise
The Shaw River crossing - water was flowing over the road
I gave Fergus to my little sister and she loved him. He now takes pride of place on her bookshelf. Occasionally he moves to the top of the bookshelf to stay out of reach of little hands that just want to hold and cuddle him.

I have been home with the flu for the last week but, even though I have felt absolutely terrible, this has had some unexpected side benefits. In our new house I have my own little sewing space where I can set up and leave my sewing machine all the time. Yay! As a result, I have been able to rest up while doing some small sewing projects when I have felt up to it. I have been able to finish 2 more blocks for the WAQA Community Quilts program and I'm very happy with the results.

                  Scrappy Trip Around the World block 
Wonky Pound Sign block

These were quite fun to make but the first one was a bit challenging while feeling woolly headed. The Community Quilts program donates quilts to organisations for people who could use a little comfort (eg Princess Margaret Hospital, women's refuge, Cancer support organisations). People donate fabric and finished or unfinished quilt tops they no longer want. Members then take these and turn them into completed quilt tops and return them. Some very generous quilters then donate their time to quilt the finished product.

This year they introduced a 'block of the month' program. Each month they will choose a new block, pre-cut a selection of fabrics and write out instructions. Demonstrations of how to make the blocks are held at the WA Quilter's Association (WAQA) monthly sewing days/nights and members can choose to take a pack and make up the block, returning it the following month. The blocks are then combined into 1 or more quilts for donation. This is a great option for someone like me who does not have time to make a whole quilt for the program, particularly given the number of personal projects I have on the go!

It is also a fantastic way to learn how to make a variety of quilt blocks and practice/improve my piecing skills. I was impressed with the Scrappy Trip Around the World block. In the month prior to demonstrating this block the Community Quilts team asked members to donate their ugliest fat quarters. These were then cut up, mixed up and distributed for this block. The results are amazing and quite beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing the final quilt/s. You can see some of the previous results on the WAQA website here.

Ok, time to go and finish off my project for today - Miss A's 18th birthday cake. She turned 18 on Wednesday and the party is tomorrow night. The cake is going to look fantastic - I'll post a pic when I can. Then I might lay my head down for a bit to clear away some of the wool!

Happy stitching,
Tracy xxx