Thursday, September 3, 2015

Beautiful Blues

There has been more sewing, pressing and trimming than originally anticipated, for I decided such a beautiful classic deserves to be made into a larger, more versatile, quilt. Today I completed the last of 121 Flying Geese blocks, which means I must now have 242 offcuts, simultaneously sewn into half square triangles for a future project.

While cutting extra fabric strips I made an interesting discovery. The Moody Blues* fabrics which I had bought from Spotlight (on a long roll) here in Australia is wider! A full 44" after washing, compared to a scant 42" of the same print manufactured for the US market. The print has the same number of repeats, yet different length, as if the US one shrank (it is sold double folded, on a bolt).

As you can see below, the selvedges have a slightly different finish too and the Spotlight base fabric is a shade lighter and the print crisper. Both fabrics are certified organic and beautiful.

All 121 geese are now carefully stacked in their groups - on the boards shown in the third photo. The plan is to make seven rows of 21 geese blocks, with each row separated by a narrow strip of the dotted fabric above. I'm not sure whether to proceed with sewing the rows/top together or to wait until Spotlight has a fabric sale which would save me a good deal on purchase of Moody Blues fabric for backing and binding. Maybe I'll let things settle in my mind for a day or so while thinking about what to make with the very Australian 'Landscape' fabric shared in my previous post.....

*All the fabrics shown above are from Geninne's Moody Blues collection for Cloud 9 Fabrics and are GOTS certified organic cotton.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Ink & Spindle + Cloud 9 = Landscape

Kangaroo Paw, a tough Australian native, is distinctive in shape and name. I have grown them before but not in a sunny enough spot, so I have bought a new plant and am thoroughly enjoying the wonderful long stems of colourful flowers. I tempted to leave it in a pot on our back deck in clear view every day.

Cloud 9 Fabrics (always organic with low impact dyes) have just released a new collection called Landscape by Australian designers Ink & Spindle.  This is a very exciting collaboration. I recently bought an offcuts bundle from Ink & Spindle to sample their work. It's really good to have some of their uniquely Australian designs now available in quilting weight organic cotton. Landscape comes in two different colour ways, both beautiful. I'm enjoying contemplating what to make with those which I have purchased from the US. I believe they will also be available through some Australian outlets, just not sure where yet. I will keep you updated.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Early Starts

Early morning light entices one to step outside and enjoy its fresh softness. Yesterday morning our twins had an early flight to catch and will return tonight. The rural setting of our small regional airport is extra beautiful in the dewy fresh morn with wallabies peacefully grazing nearby.

Our town is known for its hundreds of purple jacaranda trees which burst into masses of purple flowers late every October for a few short weeks. It was a surprise when I spotted a couple of PINK flowering jacarandas in town this week. There are also a handful of white jacarandas around but they flower around the same time as the common purple 'jacas'.

Our little veggie patch is still producing kale, broccoli and sugar snap peas. With spring almost here the bottlebrush bushes are covered in promising buds and our neglected crucifix orchid still graces us with flowers. Morning light adds a special sparkle to each day, encouraging one to smile and remember the gift it is to be alive!

Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Organic Threads + Using Cones

Aren't they gorgeous! And those spools are real wood, giving a wonderful old-time, eco-friendly quality, the perfect way to package quality organic cotton thread. 

It's been 10 months since my lightbulb moment about the importance of organic cotton, not only for the environment but also for the farmers (and their families), fabric workers and for those who sew with and use the finished products. In my search for quality organic fabrics and batting I quickly discovered organic cotton threads too. Scanfil make a collection of 34 different colours, spun in The Netherlands from GOTS (Global Organic Textiles Standard) certified organic Egyptian long staple cotton.

After having sewn with Scanfil's organic threads almost exclusively since then, I am happy to report that I am very pleased with them. A little thicker and stronger than Gutermann cotton thread and also Auriful 50wt, I have used Scanfil's organic threads for piecing, quilting and also for hand binding using a double thread. I find them to be a truly beautiful thread to use and look at! (I would not however recommend them for EPP - Gutermann Extra Fine being my favourite for this purpose, or where a very fine thread is required).

Several Etsy sellers stock Scanfil Organic thread in all 34 colours on 300yd/275m wooden spools and some, like Sew Fine Fabric, also stock White, Natural and Black Onyx in 5000m cones which work out to be more economical. (In fact I have just discovered that all 34 colours are available on cones). This was all the motivation I needed to work out a way to use a cone with my sewing machine!*

First I found a heavy container to keep the cone upright. This empty glass candle holder proved to be perfect in size with an opening just big enough for the cone to fit through. It happens to be a bonus that I love the look of it too, especially as my sewing table is in our main living area. 

Initially I was finding that the thread would sometimes catch between the glass and cone, causing problems with stitch tension, so my solution has been to 'fix' the cone to the base of the jar in a centred position with some blu-tac. This works perfectly and stops the cone jiggling around too, yet makes it simple to remove the cone as required.

I have used masking tape to secure a mid-sized safety pin against to top of my machine as a threading/guide loop.

A second threading/guide loop has been made by wedging a large safety/diaper pin (mine is one with a plastic head, flat on one side) within my spool holder. This keeps the thread at the right height and angle, clear of the extra feet and smoothly guiding the thread along so it can then be threaded through the machine as usual. 

The machine lid can still rest closed, unlatched, providing dust protection. When not using a cone, the lid can be latched completely if I give this safety pin a gentle nudge outwards, or it can easily be removed until needed again.

This very easy DIY set up has made sewing with cones a trouble-free and economical alternative for me - this would have worked for me with my previous 30 year old Janome too. I hope it may help someone else too.  :)

Now back to the story of those wonderful tactile wooden spools. After buying my organic threads from overseas for the last 10 months, I discovered just this week that our local Lincraft store stock these Scanfil Organic threads! However, the spools sold here in Australia contain 100m (right) on a thick centred wooden spool not 275m (middle) on a narrow centred spool (left). 

No longer will I have to guess colours, wait and pay international shipping. The best surprise is that they are even cheaper than a 100m spool of conventional cotton thread! 

The background of the photos above is a sneak peek of another SIMPLY MINI Organic Quilt! The delightful prints are from First Light, an Eloise Renouf collection for Cloud 9, the prepared binding is 'Turquoise' from Cloud 9's Cirrus collection of solids. More to share on that another day!  :)

*This is a fine tuning of an idea I found on Sam Hunter's blog - tip #five in her list of Top Ten Sewing Studio Hacks.

*** I have just created a 'page' titled Thread Reviews, filled with quick links to each of the threads I have looked at in some detail over the last couple of years. You will find it in the row of tabs under my header.

Sharing at WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Captured in Snaps

The Notorious has been in town the last few days - a handmade recreation of a Spanish caravel. It has been quite exciting to see in on the river, making one wonder about sailors of centuries past and perhaps even pirates!

Master J is home on mid-semester break. He arrived with large trimmings of wattle, collected by the roadside on his way home. I have enjoyed their scent and the dainty little details of their pollen laden flowers (which can be a major allergy problem for some).

You know spring is close when storm clouds like these grace the sky. I took more photos of the sky than the hockey at the girls' game late yesterday - three of our daughters play in the same A grade team. And yes, they won their game. :)  

Another week ahead, filled with possibilities!

Sharing at SkyWatch Friday.

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