Tuesday 29 September 2020

Working in a Series no. 8

 I have decided to finish my circle series and so number 8 is the last one. While making number 7, I had an inkling of an idea of where I wanted to go next.

I drew out a bit of a design.

Then I chose my fabrics.

Then I fused it together.

I put it on my design wall and thought it looked ok. But I have been practising my improv pieced blocks and have been really enjoying it. This is a really amazing development because I have been almost anti-piecing, believing that trying to piece fabric together, stopped the artistic flow and I would rather fuse and applique as though I was applying paint to fabric.

So, I thought why not try this block again but this time piece it together? I enjoyed doing it and to celebrate the end of my series, I quilted it as well.

 Here are the 8 quilts in the series.

Circle Series 1-8

It is interesting for me to see how they developed and how my thinking changed during the year. I am loving the improv piecing and I suspect that I wouldn't have gone in that direction unless I had done this series. Working in a Series forced me to try different colours and designs and inspired me to try something else because I wasn't satisfied with how they were turning out.

I am inspired to start producing new pieced work. Is it a passing fad or is it a new way forward for me? Time will tell.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 22 September 2020

Thread Painting a Fish

 I saw that SAQA (Studio Art Quilt Associates) had a new call for entry. They wanted people to send them a fish for an exhibition in Florida. It is for a large display and you won't get the work returned. I have just finished a quilt and so it was the perfect time for me to make one; a little project between large projects. Let's face it, I've done a few fish quilts over the last couple of years and so I certainly know how to make one!

I drew up a large fish, about 12" long and used my Caran D'ache fabric crayons and Fabrico fabric markers to mark where I wanted the colours to be.

There are 2 fish because I had the clever idea of making it two sided.

I glued the fish onto some water-soluble fabric so I could put it in a hoop.

Here is one fish thread painted, you can see how much smaller the sewn fish is compared to the bottom one, I think it shrunk by about one and a half inches.

Here is an oops that happened when I was sewing the second fish! The tail accidentally flipped under the hoop.

Luckily, I realised before I got too far, there was no way I was going to unpick that stitching. I just cut the tail away and fused a new tail on. No one could tell after it was finished.

I used my Madeira 40 weight embroidery threads. I took a photo with the fish to remember all the threads and colour changes that I had done.

I was happy with the result and was thinking about how I would join the two halves together, when I wondered how anyone would know that I had made the fish? Was I supposed to sew my name on it or something?

I decided to look up the instructions! Apparently, you had to put a label on the back with your details! There went my idea of having a 2-sided fish. I only needed to make one!! Next time, I will read the instructions before I start, ha ha!!

I ended up putting some batting behind the fish and then backed it all with some black felt.

Here is my finished fish.

I posted it off to Florida, USA this morning, I hope it gets there by the deadline, the post can be very unreliable at the moment.

While I was making the fish, I felt a little bit sad that I was donating it because they were a lot of work, but now I have one to keep for myself.

Bye for now,



Tuesday 15 September 2020

Quilting a Crazy Quilt

 I had an email from someone wanting to know how I quilt my crazy quilts because she wasn't a fan of a quilt being tied. The photo below is of the last Crazy Quilt I made called A Time for all Seasons.

I was a traditional quilter for 7 years before I made my first crazy quilt and so I naturally quilted it as I would quilt any quilt. I was/am a self-taught crazy quilter, I didn't know that crazy quilts are usually tied! To be fair, my crazy quilts are not the usual crazy quilt either. Someone once said that my quilts are crazy and sane and that is probably a good description.

In the past, the Victorian style crazy quilt was very over-the-top busy with not much spare space between the embroideries. They didn't have wadding or batting in them and were made to be draped over a chair or piano. The quilts were tied or knots of thread inserted between the embroideries to keep the top and backing from sagging away from each other.

I didn't want to make that sort of crazy quilt and so made crazy blocks and had space for quilting around them. I used batting and treated them as a wall quilt that could hang straight and square.

I had over 12 years of making these quilts and loved every minute of it.

Here is a detail photo of a donation quilt I made for the International Quilt Festival in Houston that shows the quilting.

I always finished the quilt completely including adding beads and I just quilted carefully around them all. I very rarely hit a bead.

Below is a photo of one of my quilts before all the embroidery is finished.

Now here is a photo of the same block after it has been quilted. I just love the quilted look.

Here's one more block that I did for my quilt naturally Crazy.

These quilts are very time consuming to make and in 2016, I decided to stop making them and start exploring art quilts. I had been making art quilts on the side, but I wanted to take it more seriously.

If you are interested in seeing my Crazy Quilts there are photos of them on my website under Crazy Quilts

I still belong to an online group of crazy quilters and they have decided to run a crazy quilted Christmas Ornament swap. I agreed to participate and said that I would make three. What was I thinking??

Anyhow, here is the first base that I have made. Now to start adding the embroidery.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 8 September 2020

Zoom Class with Carole Lyles Shaw

 Last Saturday, I participated in an Improv Curved Piecing class with Carole Lyles Shaw. It was organised by the New South Wales Quilters Guild and it was conducted via Zoom. Carole lives in Florida, USA and she was a marvellous teacher and she managed to stay awake even though the class was during the night for her!

I didn't know how the class would work via Zoom, but it went really smoothly. Carole introduced herself, showed us some little videos that demonstrated her techniques and then she also did them live as well.

I was very proud when I freehand cut my curved shape and then pieced it together without using any pins.

It didn't take long to make my first block.

I didn't have any intention of using that black and white floral or the red and black spot fabric but after seeing Carole's presentation at the start of the class I grabbed the fabric out of my stash. I don't know how many times I have done a class in the past and regretted not having the correct fabric. The advantage of being at home is that you have all your fabric at your disposal. Great!

I wanted to get as much done as I could so I didn't take very many progress photos.

This was my second block.

I made three blocks during the day and seeing as I was making a table runner and not a quilt, that was all I needed to make.

This was the third block that I made.

After I had finished the block, I decided that it had too much red and so I added a black curve over the top of the red.

That made it more interesting.

At the end of the class, Carole showed us some more of her quilts and showed us how she quilted them.

The class began at 9am and finished at 3pm with a 15 minute coffee break in the morning and about 20 minutes for lunch. We could call out to Carole on our Ipad or laptops and she would put us on screen and we could show her what we had done or ask her a question at any time during the class. It was great to see what everyone else was making.

I must admit, I really enjoyed doing the class at home with all my fabrics and space and the set up that I am used to. It is a bit annoying having to share tables with other quilters and space being a bit tight. There was no packing up tables, chairs and irons afterwards and then have to drive home and unpack all the stuff you took to the class.

Maybe there are some upsides to this virus. The class was much cheaper too, because we didn't have to pay for her airfare, accommodation and meals etc. Great for the teacher because she could sleep in her own bed and not have to navigate airports. Maybe it will become a thing after this is all over. I didn't feel disadvantaged at all, in fact I think I got much more done than I usually would in a class.

After the class finished I sewed my blocks together.

I even got out some wadding and backing fabric and basted the quilt sandwich. 

That was a very successful days work!

I have to wait to quilt it though because I am in the middle of quilting for a deadline that is due next month.

I wouldn't be surprised if this was a way of doing a class in the future even after travel is allowed.

Bye for now,


Tuesday 1 September 2020

Improv Piecing

 I have been doing a bit of improvisational piecing to improve my skills. Improv usually means that there is no pattern and no ruler to cut the seams. The look is supposed to have more character and not look so perfect that it could have been made by a computer.

I decided to use black and white plain fabric only. I have also started off with simple seams and will gradually work up to more complicated piecing. I am making the blocks 6 1/2", because I don't want to go through metres of fabric and I don't want them to take a long time to make. I haven't done much piecing since my early patchwork days when I made traditional quilts and loved star patterns.

Here are the first ones that I made.

I was admiring them on my design wall one day, when I remembered Nancy Crow's critique of my work. She said that all my lines were the same width! Here I am 3 years later still making the same mistakes.

I tried a couple more blocks and tried the vary the size of the lines.

These blocks are only 6" square but I do think that they look more interesting.

I saw an article in a magazine about improv piecing and tried one of the suggestions. I place an 8" square of black and white fabric on top of each other and sliced them up.

After flipping every second colour I sewed them together. I cut a curve into them and re-pieced them. Here are the results.

Isn't it amazing how 2 blocks that started off the same can look so different? No doubt I could come up with many more configurations.

I am enjoying my little practices or experiments, particularly as they do not take very long to make. I'll try and make one a week and see how I end up.

In the spirit of learning more about improv piecing I have signed up to an on-line Zoom class with Carole Lyles Shaw on Saturday. I have never heard of her before but the class was offered by Quilt NSW and I thought I'd take advantage of the opportunity.

There will be no actual pattern but she will be concentrating on teaching us improv curved piecing, how lucky that it came at the right time for me.

I decided to keep it simple and have chosen black and white fabrics with some red. 

Stay tuned to find out how I go. I did that live one hour class with Claire Benn last month but this a full day live class! It could be interesting? The teacher Carole lives in the USA, it probably means that she will be up all night! I hope that she is a night owl.

Bye for now,