Tuesday, 19 June 2007

It's been a while but I've been stitching

Yes it's been a while since I've blogged but I have been stitching. I'm doing weekly rotations on three main projects--Verandahs, the Australian map and the New England sampler.

I also have the Golden Gate Bridge in my DMC carry bag and bring that with me when we go out and I think I'll have a chance to stitch. I usually work on it regularly on Friday afternoon while my son is having his tennis lesson.

I've just finished a rotation on the New England Sampler and am so excited that I started doing one of the objects on the sampler--a whaling ship--as I've concentrated so far on the word bands above the centre of the design.

The previous week I worked on Verandahs and I don't think I got very much done. I am working on one of the two larger houses so hopefully the next house won't take so long. Now that I'm rotating projects I have to drop the system of trying to finish one house per month that I was planning on doing. This way is better though as I get to work on more projects and finish off a few!

I am going to be doing some quilting over the next month as I am planning on making some lap quilts as Christmas presents. I bought an extension table for my sewing machine to make quilting easier so I hope that this will prove to be the case.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Much Progess Being Made

It's getting to be a busy time of year at both work and uni but I am continuing to keep motivated with my projects.


Most of my focus has been on cross-stitch. I have finished the cross-stitching of both of the Cottages am well into the backstitching of the first house.

I've also made a good start on the Verandahs and am well into House #4 in the middle of the design. It is the biggest house as well so once I have finished it I will be well on the way. My goal is to try and complete one house per month. I have until the end of May to finish this one. Here's hoping!

I've also decided that I need another small project to take with me when I'm out so I've chosen to work on Debbie Patrick's Golden Gate Bridge which I bought when we were in San Francisco. It isn't a big project. I've cut out some pale blue Aida cloth, bound the edges and copied the pattern so it is all ready to go.

One of the least glamorous things I've done this past week is to go through my whole DMC collection and to organise everything. My late mother's thread box, which holds a complete DMC collection, had lots of skeins of loose DMC which wouldn't fit on the spools in the box and my DMC collection is in labelled individual glad snack bags which are in numerical order on rings. I went through my mother's loose skeins, put them in order and then either added them to her spools or to my glad bags and I made up new glad bags for colours I didn't have. Then I created a set of colors on rings for Verandahs and put a set of the rings with colours I'm not currently using away. All of this took me hours and hours but I'm really glad I did it now.


My flannel fabric for my nephews' quilts from the States has arrived. I bought thread for them this week but have decided to wait until I have more time in June to start working on them. For now I want to complete the China quilt--which still hasn't been touched--and label the quilts I've completed over several years.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Bits and Pieces

Yesterday I decided to see which of my completed quilts didn't have labels. There were quite a few! I typed up about 6 of them and printed them off on t-shirt transfer paper. Then I ironed two onto calico and sewed them onto the quilts--the flannel quilt I had just finished and my daughter's cot quilt which I finished in 2001! I plan to make up and sew on the rest of these labels. How could I be so bad as to not finish these quilts off??

I've also begun cross-stitching the Verandahs of South Battery BAP that has been a UFO for maybe close to 8 years or so. It is great to pick it up again and, as I did with Rainbow Row, I am going to set myself a target to complete each house. With RR (which dragged on for 18 months or so) I set a target of completing one house per month. The Verandahs pattern has only 7 houses but some of them are quite large. Still I would like to try and meet the same target. Wouldn't it be wonderful if I could finish it this year? I'm still working on the back stitching of Cottages and am alternating working on the two projects. With the two of these plus the hand stitching I am doing putting labels on my quilts I have a lot to do in the evenings in front of the TV.

I am also eagerly awaiting the two shipments of flannel fabric from the States for the two quilts I am going to make my nephews for Christmas. I think I should set myself the goal of finishing all the labelling of my completed quilts--and finish my China quilt as well--before I start on these new projects. Yes, the China quilt. It is sitting waiting for me to handstitch in the replacement central squares. I then need to re-quilt that area of the quilt. I don't know why I am procrastinating with it. I need to write a letter in Chinese to go with it when it is ready to be sent. I think I need to get on with all of this as well!!

Saturday, 21 April 2007

A quilt finish and the xstitch is getting there

I finished the flannel quilt last Saturday (14 April). It looks great and is so warm! It was a breeze to quilt it with the quilting foot instead of the free motion foot I have been using for all my quilting. I still have to label it and am not sure whether I should use plain flannel or regular cotton fabric for this so I'm dithering. I also finished all of the cross-stitching on the Martha's Vineyard houses last weekend. In all a productive time.

This week I've done little or no craft work as I've gotten swept up into fall cleaning--taking curtains down and cleaning window frames and windows. Quite tiring with all the up and down ladders involved. I have planned the flannel quilts for my two nephews and purchased fabric for these online. Now for the wait. In the meantime I am cutting and putting side seams in some new continuous shear curtaining for the TV room.

I need to purchase a new free-motion quilting foot so I can finish off the China quilt. That WIP is almost becoming a UFO again! Can't wait to get that done and sent off and also finish the Martha's Vineyard houses so I can get onto something new!

Wednesday, 11 April 2007

Progress and Set-backs

Well the Easter long weekend is over. I made some progress on the flannel quilt and cottages x-stitch but things on the quilt didn't go as smoothly as I'd hoped.

Flannel Quilt Firstly I had to purchase another piece of polar fleece to use as wadding because the piece I bought on Thursday wasn't long enough. So on Saturday morning I had to go out and buy another piece. This time I made sure it was sufficiently long. Before I went out I laid out the quilt top and back on the kitchen floor to check their widths. It was then I discovered the top was a few cms wider than the back. This probably happened because I didn't trim the borders before sewing them on because they didn't seem to need it. They were 1/4" wider than was stated in the kit pattern so the extra width may have been due to this. Anyway, without any extra fabric for the back I had to improvise something so I decided to use the leftover pieces of border sewn together and cut in half and add these to either side of the back. After I had the polar fleece I taped the back of the quilt to the kitchen floor and laid out the polar fleece wadding and the top and pinned the three layers together.

On Easter Monday I sat down to do the machine quilting using my 'Big Foot' walking foot. After completing one stitch in the ditch line the quilting foot broke at the screw so progress ground to a halt. I popped out to Spotlight, not even sure if it was open on a holiday. It was but they didn't carry any sewing machine parts so I decided to try a sewing machine centre in Camberwell. They were actually closed but the owners were in the shop cleaning up and told me when I phoned that they would let me in and serve me so I quickly hurried over there. Not only was I able to get a walking foot so I could continue with my machine quilting, I also learned that the foot I was using was the wrong one for stitch in the ditch and I could more easily use a straight walking foot which would make my job easier. I finished the machine quilting of the flannel quilt by early afternoon. The back is not as tight between the quilting lines as I would like but there are no puckers and it all looks good. So the next steps will be to trim the edges, sew on the binding and hand stitch the binding--then finished! I will do more work on this later in the week.

Cross-Stitch In the evenings I've been forging ahead with my Cottages x-stitch. I am completing the details to either side of the narrow yellow house. I don't have much more to go then I have the back-stitching of both houses to finish.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

6 April 2007--Good Friday

Today is Good Friday, the first day of a 4-day weekend. This year we are not going away because Paul wants to paint the timberwork at the front of the house. So I've been really looking forward to being able to make some progress on my crafts. Yesterday I bought some polar fleece to use as the wadding of the flannel quilt, only to discover today that it is a tad (10cm or 4in) short. Luckily the shops are open tomorrow so I will have to go out and get another piece cut. In the meantime I've just finished sewing the two borders on the quilt. The back is already sewn together so I'll be ready to go tomorrow on laying out the layers and pinning them together. Gee I love all that crawling around on the floor!!

This morning I got out all of my projects in waiting and photographed them and put them up on the photo website. This is great because now they are there to remind me where I have to go and how much I have to do. Most of my PIW or USOs are cross-stitches as I tend to buy fabric for specific quilt projects at once rather than build up a stash of fabric. My quilting fabric stash is mostly bits and pieces left over from quilts I've made. I haven't bothered to photograph it because of that. At some stage I will put up photos of my finished quilts and cross-stitches.

I am making plans to make flannel quilts for my two nephews aged 6 and 8 for Christmas but there is no suitable fabric here in Australia for that. The flannel sold here is mainly light colours for pajamas and doesn't have the dark colors or cute themes for boys that US sellers have. So I will have to decide what type and where I'm going to get their fabric.

So for the rest of today I've got some clothes-mending to do and later I'll work more on my Martha's Vineyard houses.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Starting Out--2 April 2007

I confess to being a novice with websites but as I have recently joined a number of craft groups I thought this was the time to set up a blog so I can display photos of my craft work. I am hoping that being a member of craft groups and having a blog to update will encourage me to forge ahead with my crafts and bring a number of them to completion.

I am currently working on two quilts and actively working on one cross-stitch. The quilts are the one I call my China quilt which I'm making for my daughter Jade's former foster family in China, a flannel quilt kit my sister Bobby-Ann sent me and the cross stitch is a Debbie Patrick design called The Cottages at Oak Bluffs I and features two cottages on Martha's Vinyard.

I started the China quilt about 3 years ago. At that time I completed 6 12" blocks and the flying geese border. My intention was to personalise the quilt by adding blocks with photos on them using iron-on transfers. I picked up the project again at the start of this year, completed the photo blocks, made 4 more 4square blocks for the corners of the quilt and completed the quilt to the point of handstitching the binding. Unfortunately, while the quilt was sitting folded waiting for me to stitch it, one of the photo blocks cracked right through the middle and I was faced with the dilemma of how to repair or replace it. Last week I managed to 'unquilt' the two centre blocks and to unstitch and remove them. I have replaced them with two fabric blocks which I am in the process of hand-stitching in. I then need to requilt them. I am going to do some special quilting on those blocks as well as doing stitch in the ditch. The quilting will say 'China' and 'Australia' in Chinese. I am also about half way with handsewing the binding on so this quilt is in an unusual position with regard to finishing.

The flannel quilt is a kit my sister sent me for Christmas a year ago. It is made up of beautiful bright coloured squares. So far I have rotary cut the squares to 9.5" square and stitched them together. I have also stitched together the two sections of the back of the quilt. I have to add the two borders to the top and then put the layers together. I have decided to use polar fleece batting for warmth. I haven't yet gone out and purchased this yet.

My cross-stitching efforts go in waves. About mid-2006 I intended to start work on a chart I've had for quite a few years. It is Verandahs of South Battery, a scene from Charleston, SC. As the kids and I were going to the States to visit my Dad and sister I thought this was something I could take along to work on. It's a biggie though and when I looked at it I decided it was too unwieldy to work on while travelling. So instead I started to work on a Debbie Patrick design my sister-in-law sent me called Cottages at Oak Bluffs I. I did a good bit of work on this during the trip. (But when I wasn't flying also enjoyed doing some knitting. Can't do this on the plane because knitting needles aren't allowed.) I am now doing the second house of this design. Both houses are on the same piece of Aida and I plan to frame them as a pair with a strip of matting between them. I will post some photos when I figure out how.