Friday 21 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I received an early Christmas present and now have to confess that I have already opened it. This year I joined a group called the Southern Cross Crazies. They are a friendly bunch of women who all love crazy quilting and now and again have a swap or round robin to keep everyone motivated and enthused.

This year they decided to have a Christmas Cracker swap. We were given directions on size and content and were secretly given the name of the person that we were to send our cracker to. There was a data base where we could say what colours we prefer and our likes and dislikes. That is a good idea because as anyone who has done any crazy patchwork knows, it takes a long time to complete something and if you are giving it away, you certainly want the recipient to like it.

I dutifully sent off the Christmas Cracker that I made to Alison and she wrote back to me saying how much she loved it. Imagine my surprise when I received my Christmas Cracker and it was from Alison! We both got each others name in the swap. You can see the pictures of the Christmas Cracker that I made for Alison here.

Here is the absolutely beautiful Christmas Cracker that I received from Alison.

Christmas Cracker from Alison

It is larger than it looks in the photo, it measure about 16" long and was beautifully embroidered.
I looked at the cracker for two weeks because it was so beautiful, I wanted to enjoy just looking at it.
Everyone else was opening their crackers and saying how much they loved them and I knew that I had to open mine as well.

I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful goodies inside. It's hard to believe that Alison could pack so much into such a small space.

Christmas Cracker contents
It was filled with laces, fabric, thread, ribbon, buttons, beads and a scissor fob and needle book!
When I opened the cracker I could see the embroidery more clearly.

Cracker opened
Here are some close up photos of the contents.

Silk Fabric

Needle case and scissor fob

Threads, ribbons and beads
You can see that I was thoroughly spoilt.

It was a lovely finish to the year. Everyone enjoyed it so much that we are going to do it again next year.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone.
Now is the time to relax and have a break after all the hard work we have done this year. I always look forward to a new year but I think it's also important to look back on the past year and remember all that you have accomplished. Sometimes we are too busy to stop and remember it all.

See you next year!!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 18 December 2012

CQJP 2012 December

It's time to post the last block of the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2012 (CQJP 2012). I had a busy year as usual but I managed to keep up with making a crazy quilt block every month this year. My theme was Christmas and here is my December block. It measure 6", so this is one of the smaller ones.

CQJP 2012 December
There are still a couple of charms and beads to sew onto the block but I'll add them after it is quilted.

I have made 12 blocks but I am actually going to make a thirteenth block to tie them all together to make a quilt. I have a vague idea of what the final block will look like but I won't be designing it until after Christmas.

All the Christmas decorations in the shops weren't a surprise this year and I didn't even feel as if they were too early like I usually do because I have been playing around with Christmas all year! I'll be pleased to finish this quilt and start working on something else.

I have decided not to participate in CQJP 2013because I still have this quilt to finish plus all my other plans. It's been a fun experience though and if they run another in 2014 I might join in again.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Charm Bracelet

I received an exciting package in the mail last month. I had received a newsletter from the
 Quilted Crow earlier in the year and they mentioned a block of the month that they were running where every 2 months you would receive a little quilt charm that was actually a miniature quilt block and also a pattern and some fabric to make a quilt that matched the charms.

I haven't participated in a block of the month for years and on an impulse I signed up for it. For the past few years I have been busy doing applique and crazy quilting so I haven't done any traditional pieced blocks for a long time and thought it would be fun to some piecing again.

I signed up for this quite a few months ago and I had completely forgotten about it until a package arrived.

It was very exciting to open it and this is what I found.

Pattern, fabric and charm bracelet

Inside the little box were the charm bracelet and the first little charm which is a log cabin block.

Charm bracelet

As you can see from the fabrics it is very traditional and country style but I think it will be fun for a change. The little charm is actually made of fabric and it is a micro miniature block. I don't know how they made them so small.
It is ¾" square.
The charms and blocks will arrive every two months. I'll make this block up over the holidays.
Bye for now,

Tuesday 4 December 2012

Christmas Cracker

I belong to an on-line group called the Southern Cross Crazies and earlier this year a challenge was put out to the members to participate in a Christmas Cracker Swap.

The idea was to make a 8" x 13" crazy quilt block and wrap it around a 7" paper towel roll and fill the roll with little crazy quilting goodies and fabric. We all had to put our names  on a list and write our likes and dislikes down as well. We were given a name and we had to keep the recipient' name secret so it would be a surprise when they opened them at Christmas.

People have been posting pictures of their finished crackers and they all look wonderful.

Here is a photo of my finished Christmas Cracker.

Christmas Cracker 2012
I decided to use silk fabrics in greens and mauves, so first I got out those fabrics to try and plan the block.

Fabrics for Cracker
I decided to use an underwater theme and thought the colours would suit the look that I was after. I drew the pattern onto calico and foundation pieced the block.

Christmas Cracker base

I put some fish in the centre and tried to make the stitches look undersea and watery.

You can see that I added some more fish and a sea horse, squid and some shells.

I filled it with some silk fabric, lace, thread and beads etc.

Cracker contents

It's amazing how much you can fit in a 7" paper towel roll.

We are posting them off this week. I wonder what my Christmas Cracker will look like?

Bye for now,

Thursday 29 November 2012

CQJP 2013

The Crazy Quilt Journal Project is going to be run again next year. (CQJP 2013). Many people from all over the world participated this year and it was a great success.

The idea is to complete a crazy block that is at least 6" square every month and post it on the CQJP 2013 blog. You must register to be part of the fun and it is open to everyone from beginners to advanced sewers.

Registration is open now and closes on the 12th December 2012. Click on CQJP 2013 to find the rules and to register.

You do not have to have a blog to participate. I enjoyed being part of CQJP 2012 and it was lovely to see everyone's  block every month. There is  also a Facebook group and I found that one of the most enjoyable parts of the challenge because I met some lovely online friends who would post their photos and talk about their blocks.

I haven't decided if I will take part in 2013 yet. I have a busy teaching schedule next year and I also have 2 new quilts to make that are not crazy quilts. I wanted to start them this year but I couldn't find the time. I also have my Waverley Art Quilters group and I'll be in my second year of my Quilt Valuation training. So much to do and so little time!

Bye for now,

Tuesday 27 November 2012

CQJP 2012 November

I actually finished my November Crazy Quilt Journal Project block very early in November but put it aside as I was preparing for my daughter's wedding. My theme is Christmas and this month I made it a bit easier on myself by putting a beautiful tatted wreath in the centre. I added some beads to give it some sparkle.

CQJP Nov 2012 © Linda Steele

I have made the various blocks all different sizes and this is one of the 12 inch blocks.

This is what the block looked like before I added the embroidery.

CQJP Nov 2012 base block
Here's a close up of the tatted wreath. I bought it years ago at a small quilt show and I always found it too big to use. It was perfect for this block though. I bought a book on tatting when I was last in Houston, it's something on my to-do someday list!

I have a couple more close-ups from the block.

Christmas stocking

The year's flying by and there is only one more month to go in this Crazy Quilt Journal Project. It is going to be run again next year. I'll look up the details and put them in another post for you.

Bye for now,

Thursday 22 November 2012

Wedding day

It's been a while since I visited my blog because I have been very busy with my daughter's wedding last weekend. It was a wonderful day and everything went to plan and my daughter Bec and her new husband Andrew were so happy. Parents can't ask for more than that!

I took a few photos myself and I can't wait to see the professional photos but they are going to take 6 weeks.

Andrew and Bec
Andrew and Bec


Here's a photo of me and my daughter Alison who was one of the bridesmaids.

Linda and Alison

I have hardly done any sewing for the last month because of the planning, dress fittings, shopping and organising. I did do a little bit of sewing though, I made a small ring cushion with their initials embroidered inside a heart and I forgot to take a photo of it!

It is now four days after the wedding and the newlyweds are on their honeymoon and my sewing is still packed away. I think I was more tired than I thought. Suddenly the wedding is over and I have to start thinking about Christmas and the end of the year because I have not thought beyond the wedding this year.

I am getting back to sewing next week.

What a wonderful time it was though.

Bye for now,

Thursday 1 November 2012

Houston 2012

The International Quilt Festival in Houston USA is on at the moment and yesterday all the prizes were awarded. I was lucky enough to receive 3rd prize in the Embellished category for my quilt Naturally Crazy.

Naturally Crazy ©2012 Linda Steele
I have been to Houston twice before and it is a fantastic quilt show. Every quilt is magnificent and beautifully lit and displayed. Not only are the judged quilts on show but there are many more quilt displays as well.

It is a very friendly show and you can also do classes with the top quilters from all over the world and there is a huge vendors hall. You need to spend all four days at the show to see everything and one of the best things is how well organised it is. Shuttle buses run all day between the Convention Centre and the big hotels that are nearby. I am feeling very envious of the people that are there at the moment.

Here are a couple of close up pictures of my quilt.

England ©2012 Linda Steele
Here is the link to all the prizewinners . Unfortunately you cannot see the close-ups you have to be at the show to see all the wonderful detail. The IQA put out a magazine every year with pages of close up photos and it's called International Quilt Festival Quilt Scene. I have ordered a copy but it hasn't arrived yet.
Australia did well with 4 prizes but I couldn't believe that Japan won 20 prizes. Many countries are represented; it really is an International competition.

The Houston show is the Academy Awards of Quilting.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Round Robin 3

I have been participating in my first ever Round Robin with Southern Cross Crazy Quilters. We are up to round 3 and I have Arlene's block to work on.

Arlene's block

Arlene has specified a Christmas theme and we can only use blue, white or silver. I actually found this more of a challenge than I thought I would, especially as some of her fabrics are patterned which makes it difficult for the stitching to show if you are not using contrast colours. You can see what the other participants have done so far in the picture above.

I decided to add some Christmas bells, embroidered in satin stitch in the centre. The bow that the bells are hanging from was embroidered in stem stitch. On one of the seams I added some stars in dark blue and silver and then on the white velvet fabric, I added some feather stitch.

Stitching on Arlene's Block

I am enjoying being part of the Round Robin, everyone has a different style and you rarely get a chance to see other peoples work close up.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 23 October 2012

CQJP 2012 October

I have been participating all year in the Crazy Quilt Journal Project 2012(CQJP 2012). Every month people from all over the world have been making a crazy block every month and posting it on the CQJP Blog.

I decided to have a theme for my blocks and my theme is Christmas. It's now October and Christmas decorations have started to appear in the shops. I hardly batted an eye when I saw them because I have been thinking about Christmas all year!

My October block is green and is 12" wide. I embroidered the rocking horse in the centre with stem stitch.

CQJP 2012-October © 2012 Linda Steele

I did the candle in stem stitch as well. I found some fun little buttons for an embellishment and put some lazy daisies (detached chains) around them to look like flowers.

I put some stockings hanging from a vine with some spider roses in 4mm red ribbon.

This is what the base block looked like before I added the embroidery.

It's hard to believe that there are only 2 more blocks to go.

Bye for now,

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Rosalie Gascoigne


The Waverley Art Quilters have been studying Rosalie Gascoigne, an  artist who was born in New Zealand in 1917 and died in Canberra, Australia in 1999 of a heart attack. She was 82 when she died.

Rosalie Gascoigne
She married an astronomer, Ben Gascoigne and they lived at the isolated Mount Stromolo Space Centre in Canberra, Australia. Rosalie raised three children but was lonely and felt that she had nothing in common with the other women. After becoming adept at Ikebana (Japanese flower arranging), she started collecting scrap iron and wooden boxes and would pull them apart and rearrange them.
Text became very important to her work and she would use the text from the sides of packing crates and put them in a grid format that looked very similar to a pieced quilt. She also collected old lino and toys and rearranged them to form sculptures.

Rosalie Gascoigne's unusual work was discovered by the  National Gallery of Australia and she had her first exhibition at the age of 57. Her work represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 1982 and she was awarded an Order of Australia in 1994 for her services to art, particularly sculpture.

After we have finished studying an artist we make an A3 sized quilt inspired by the artist. I decided to use black text on yellow fabric because a lot of her work looked that way.

I wanted to use TAP (Transfer Artist Paper) to apply the lettering to some yellow fabric but I only had one sheet left. I needed another sheet of lettering so I printed some words onto white printable fabric and had to paint it yellow. I had to reverse the lettering for the TAP paper. I got an assortment of yellow fabrics and used some Distress Ink to mark them and make them look a bit dirty.

Preparing for TAP Paper
Transferring the Text with TAP
I had trouble getting a really clear print using the TAP (Transfer Artist Paper), even though I used a hot, dry iron. It didn't matter for this because a messy, worn look suited the effect I wanted. I have used it before with greater success but I suspect my new iron doesn't get as hot as my previous iron.

After I had printed the lettering onto Printable fabric, I painted the white fabric with various yellow fabric paints. To get the lettering, I wrote words associated with art and quilting.
Painted, printable fabric

I cut all the prepared fabric into squares and rectangles and sewed them together in a grid format.

Here is my little tribute to Rosalie Gascoigne.
'Rosalie Gascoigne' ©2012 Linda Steele
That was our last official meeting of the Waverley Art Quilters for the year. Next month we are having our end of year dinner at a restaurant and we won't meet again until February 2013. It sounds like a long time but I bet the time goes quickly.

Bye for now,

Friday 12 October 2012

Lace Dyeing

This week I've been doing a bit of lace dyeing. I only needed to dye one lace motif for a new crazy block that I've started, but one thing led to another and before I knew it, I was testing all the colours that I had. A simple task became a major event!

I have two brands of lace dye/paint that I use. The one I tend to use the most is Ozecraft Dye. The people that sell this brand always have a stand at the major quilt shows around Australia. I think that there are 33 colours in the range and I have 15 of them. The colours are nice and soft straight from the bottle but to be colourfast you have to dry them with a hairdryer or microwave.
I found out the hard way that they are not colourfast if you air dry them and then heat set with an iron.
Ozecraft Dyes

The other brand I have is from Sara's Bloom, I bought this set of dyes when I was at the International Quilt Festival in Houston in 2010. This is a set of 7 colours and you can mix them together to make a huge variety of other colours. This was the main reason that I hadn't used them much because I wasn't sure what colours I could make.
On the spur of the moment I decided to use the colours and mix them together and make a colour chart. They make some beautiful colours and the advantage to these dyes are that they are colourfast and permanent without any heat setting.

Sara's Bloom Dyes
Here is the colour chart I made with the Ozecraft dyes.
Ozecraft Colours
Here is the chart I made with mixing the Sara's Bloom Dyes.
Sara's Bloom Colours
Having these charts is going to make it so much easier when I have to dye lace in the future.

When I dye a lace motif and I am trying to be particular where I place the colours, I pin the motif to a piece of styrofoam.

That was the end of my dye painting for now but I am much better prepared for next time.

Bye for now,

Wednesday 3 October 2012


Last month our topic at the Waverley Art Quilters was Nature Inspired. We decided to narrow the field a bit and we had to use a close up (cropped) image or a distance shot (bird's eye view)

We also decided to stay away from leaves because earlier this year our topic had been Inspired by Image and the photo we used was of red leaves. You can see the post about it here.

I looked through the photos that I had on the computer and decided to do a viola. I cropped the image in Photoshop and came up with this.

I printed out the photo and traced the various colour divisions. I began to feel that I had cropped the photo  bit too closely and on the spur of the moment I free hand drew the bottom petal onto the pattern I had made.

I got out my batik fabrics in purples and yellows and built the flower in fabric using fusible web behind the fabric. I really enjoyed the process and loved seeing the flower emerge.

Viola top
I quilted the viola in thread that matched the fabrics and then instead of binding, I faced the quilt top because I wanted the bottom petal to be hanging down underneath the quilt.

Viola  © 2012 Linda Steele

The quilt is A3 sized plus the bottom petal and I found it a very enjoyable quilt to make.

This month we are studying an Australian artist named Rosalie Gascoigne and after thinking about it for about three weeks I have finally decided what to do. I had better get started on it because we have our meeting next week!

Bye for now,

Friday 28 September 2012

Round Robin Stage 2

I have had a very busy month with a lot of teaching and moving my daughter into her brand new apartment. The only sewing that I have managed to do is round 2 of the Round Robin that I am doing with the Southern Cross Crazy Quilters.

This month I had Faye's block to work on.

Faye's Block
Jenifer had the block first and had done a lovely spray of flowers. I looked at the block for a couple of weeks trying to decide what to do. Finally I embroidered a Blue Wren in stem stitch and had him sitting on a branch with some red flowers.
The patch was quite large so I also put a spider web on the patch and inserted a little spider.

Blue Wren on Faye's block

I think the little wren looks very interested in that spider.
Finally I added some feather stitch on one of the seams.

Here's what the block looked like when I had finished it.

Faye's Block
I posted this block off to the next person on the list today.

Bye for now,