Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hand Applique

There isn't much about quiltmaking that I don't like, and there are so many techniques to try. For hand applique alone there are many great methods! Designs traced with a light box or using a clear vinyl overlay, freezer paper templates on the bottom or on top, glued under edges using glue stick or liquid glue, template plastic for applique shapes, needleturn, and back basted applique. I've tried them all, and each one has its advantages.

Today I used the back-basted applique method, a technique popularized by Jeana Kimball, for this 4-1/2" X 4-1/2" (unfinished) block which is one of four outer motifs for my Snowflake Medallion quilt. This little leaf unit is 1/8th of the center medallion. I wanted to give it a go on a small bit before tackling the 20" X 20" center, and I'm pleased with the result. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fingers in Many Pies

My body is slowly, reluctantly, flip-flopping to US time. Gosh, I even slept in this morning until 4:00 a.m! Thankfully, my productivity levels are still running high, so I've been able to dabble in a variety of things. Perhaps it's time for me to create a WIPs (Works In Progress) blog list to hold me accountable for finishing all I've begun.

I've cut out the "Snowflake Medallion," quilt from Ballarat Patchwork in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

I'm playing catch-up with the Season of Grace BOM (Block Of the Month) "Advent Christmas Stocking" quilt by author Emilie Richards and quilter Pat Sloan. It began in February.

I'm creating a home i-Movie production, combining photos and video from our five weeks in Australia and New Zealand. "Australia Revisited" is an hour and a half long. Watch for it at your local theater.

And I'm working, writing two articles. One piece is for "Quilter's Newsletter" magazine about the February 7 Victoria, Australia bushfires, and the quiltmaking relief efforts that are underway.

These are some of the quilts that have been collected at Eaglehawk Primary School in Bendigo, Victoria.

The other piece is about New Zealand, for the travel section of the "Des Moines Register" newspaper.

New Zealand has the most magnificent, varied scenery on earth. Here we are tramping on the beautiful Franz Josef Glacier on the west coast of New Zealand's south island.

This is where I was when I tore ligaments in my knee. Five weeks ago, and it's still a swollen ouch.

Sitting in a chair to sew and write doesn't sound like a bad idea.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Sewing: All in the Family

While in Australia, I helped my grand-daughter and daughter do some sewing.

On March 17, the day we arrived, we went to the local Bernina dealer to look at the second-hand Bernina 1230 sewing machine that was on hold, waiting for my approval! 
Then, not only did I get to help my grand-daughter learn how to use the machine as she made a quilt, but I coached -- hubby called it "Mother-Daughter Bonding" -- my daughter as she sewed a quillow. Though it's been 20 years since she sat at a sewing machine she made comments about "things coming back."
Sewing is like getting out the bicycle in the back of the garage that you haven't ridden for a while. If you dust it off and give it a go, you'll remember how to to do it again. She easily sewed a quillow and it turned out great.

And look at the happiness and pride on the face of this 10 year-old who loves the new quilt she finished! This quilt is the keeper of our good memories... of the time we spent making it together.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

It's the scenery that comes to mind whenever I think of Australia. With it's abundant natural beauty, it's impossible to believe that one person could ever see all of it.
This is a cove on the Grand Pacific Drive, an 86-mile stretch of road along the southeast coast of New South Wales. When we reached this spot, and were the only people present, my heart's desire would have been to snuggle into my favorite bag chair and absorb the view with a glass of wine in my hand...a Hungerford Hill Tumbarumba, please. I think I would never tire of watching these huge, rolling waves crash and spray against the towering sandstone cliffs.

Though I didn't attend any quilt shows while in Australia, I did manage to find some quilts displayed at the Sydney Royal Easter Show. Since space is limited for displaying quilts, I thought this method of showing them, wrapped around cylinders, was quite creative. I also liked their "ribbons" which were actually small felt banners. 
At this morning's worship service, the message about "reaching out to the world around us" touched me. In Acts 10:34 Peter says (though it could be me!) "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts people from every nation who fear him and do what is right." - Acts 10:34

I am blessed to have traveled to Australia (and other countries) and know with certainty that we are one through Christ. God bless us, everyone.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Benefits of Jet Lag

While I wouldn't wish jet lag on anyone - the upside down-ness of days and nights is tough to overcome - there is one positive side to it. The inability to sleep gives one more hours to work on quilt-y things! 

For the past two nights, it's typical to fall asleep late and awake uber-early, running on less than six hours of sleep. To keep going during the day, it helps to be physically active. So, what better activity is there than to go quilt shopping?

Yesterday I went fabric shopping and there's what I purchased from two local quilt shops. Aren't they pretty?
The quilt I'm making is a pattern from Ballarat Patchwork in Victoria, Australia. The shop's owner, 33 year-old Emma, designed it. She not only owns and operates the shop, but she lives on site! I know this for a fact because I passed through Emma's kitchen and living area to see a quilt on the bed in her bedroom. How cool is that, to live at a patchwork store?! 

All the fabrics for this 80" X 80" quilt have been washed, dried, and pressed, and cutting has begun. What a good remedy for jet lag. My advice to all insomniacs: "Make quilts!"

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Worst, but the Best

The worst part of traveling to the other side of the earth is adjusting to the time differences. Talk about out of whack! This poor body is trying to flip-flop days and nights, and it just isn't an easy thing to do.

Right now Sydneysiders are welcoming each day 15 hours ahead of Des Moinesians. No wonder I'm wide awake at 3:00 a.m. 

While in Australia, I was blessed to meet, in real time, two quilters I'd swapped emails with through QDU (Quilting Down Under) chat group.

Jillian (such a pretty name), and her husband welcomed us to "Millbrook Rise," their farm home in Victoria. Jillian won over my husband when she served a real country-style breakfast! I am impressed with her beautiful machine-embroidery skills and the quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) patchwork blocks she's making.

Di welcomed me for morning tea (not surprisingly, I stayed well beyond tea time!) in her home, the rectory of St. Mark's Anglican Church in Darling Point where her husband is deacon. Their home in a charming, 1850s, British-style stone cottage straight out of a Jane Austen novel. I would have felt appropriately attired in my Sunday frock and bonnet.
Di is a charming and gracious lady with beautiful quiltmaking skills. She is currently hand-quilting his lovely, hand-pieced and hand-appliqued "Roebuck" quilt
I can again affirm that quilters are among the nicest, friendliest, most generous people on earth. God expects us to live in love and fellowship, and these quilters are doing it beautifully. Good on ya!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Enter to Win

My friend Di, let me know that Aussie quilt designer Sue Daley is having a blog give-away. The winner gets a copy her new English paper piecing book, "A Road Less Travelled." Take a look.  

Back Up from Down Under

Yep. That's a typical tourist photo. And it's one I took while in Australia where I've been for the past five weeks. You're looking at the infamous Sydney Opera House, and behind it the 1.5 mile-long Harbour Bridge that spans the Parramatta River.

I love Australia. I love Sydney. And since spending so much time there, I feel nearly as familiar with Sydney, a bustling city of 4.2 million people, as I am with Des Moines, Iowa, population 209,000!

While in Australia I drove a rental car (ask me about the terror of driving on the left side of the road) through some of Victoria that suffered in the February bush fires. It's heart-warming to see what quilters are doing to reach out to those who were touched by loss. 

Best of all, I visited family. Of course, I met some delightful, friendly quilters, and visited seven quilt shops, in Warnambool (Vic), Ballarat (Vic), Bendigo (Vic), Pennant Hills (NSW), Gladesville (NSW), and Baulkham Hills (NSW). 

And now, it's good to be safely at home. 

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Before beginning to hand-applique the vines, flowers, and leaves onto the border background (solid ivory fabric), I drew this arrangement on a long strip of paper. I also drew a pattern for the four corners, so the vine, flowers and leaves meander nicely around them. When I've finished all the applique, I will hand sew each border to the Periwinkle Star quilt center.

Because I'm very easily distracted by faster, machine-sewn quilt projects, I'm pretty sure this hand-applique will take me a while to finish. And even when the quilt top is done, after spending that much time (100s of hours) hand-piecing and hand-applique, it demands hand-quilting.

Did I mention I'll be at least 80 years old before this is finished?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Preparing Vines

When I make vines or Celtic bars I follow the method from the book "Celtic Style Floral Applique" by Scarlett Rose. 

Cut bias fabric strips in a width appropriate for the finished vine. Sew the bias strip wrong sides together then trim to remove the excess seam allowance. Slip a 1/4" wide metal bias bar inside the sewn bias strip, positioning the seam in the middle of the bar, and press. Move the bias bar along the length of the sewn strip, keeping the seam in the center, and pressing. Remove the bar, press again, and allow to cool.

When the vine is appliqued, it's slightly dimensional because of the seam underneath. Very pretty.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Applique Leaves

I'm preparing leaves to hand-applique to the border of my Periwinkle Star quilt. (Refer to March 20.)

As I did with the centers of the star-flowers, I'm basting along the edge of a fabric leaf, drawing up the thread to snug it around a heat-resistant plastic template. After pressing, I remove the plastic and applique the leaf to the border. 


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