Thursday, May 20, 2021

 Family Milestones

I really love Instagram for all the visual inspiration and connections which can be found so quickly, it has become my primary online space. January 2019 is the last time I shared any family news here, with more recent posts featuring only quilts which I have completed. It's time to bring a summary of family news to provide some context and serve as a personal record. 

Thankfully, by the grace of God, we are all very well and individually moving on in our lives in positive directions. Our three youngest are still living at home, with the younger two continuing well with their homeschool studies (and cricket as their chosen sport). We love our new home and location and I'm still enjoying sewing quilts (and my clothes), long walks, taking photos, loving my family and keeping an orderly, welcoming home.

2019 was a year of settling into our new home and season of life after a very hectic 2018. Our Songbird daughter, Grace, released her debut EP of original songs, Every Little Thing. Everyone was home for the pre-release launch on a Saturday night in June 2019.This was an extra special weekend as Grace scheduled her bridal shower for the Sunday, following her engagement in early May.

July to September 2019 were a blur of smoke haze (from the beginning of a harrowing extended bushfire season) and wedding preparations. Mid September Grace and J were married in a beautiful country wedding at the back of J's father's farm. The reception was held on site, under the light of a stunning full moon.

Following the younger three girl's annual state Country Championships cricket carnival in October, we headed off on a three and half week road trip. Master T also accompanied us as he had just completed his first year of studies at Uni (Computer Science). The primary purpose of our long journey was the interment of my Mother-in Love's ashes at a family church in Victoria. After a small family ceremony at the historic church, we stayed in Ballarat, then had a week in Melbourne, before traveling to many other stunning places in Victoria including the Great Ocean Rd, Grampians and Mallacoota. We drove home along the NSW coast, catching up with some family and friends along the way. It was a wonderful holiday.

2020 began with lots of promise and the engagement of Miss E, our eldest child. Plans were soon curtailed greatly as the unpredictable impact of COVID increased. With the extra time at home I settled in to finish off some long term quilts - a positive focus, along with lots of neighbourhood walks. Miss E and fiancรฉ R did an amazing job of working with ever changing restrictions in Sydney to eventually have a very small and beautiful wedding in their Latin Mass church in June 2020 (a very different experience for the rest of the family). So grateful our immediate families were able to attend (we met R's family the night before the wedding).

Christmas brought all the family together again, a gathering we were extra grateful for.

Early this month we had all the family home again, and many of the extended family, to celebrate my mother's 80th birthday. Discretely arranged by my sister and held in our home, we managed to surprise Mum. Mum came to stay for the weekend, expecting to see our immediate family (which is quite a number anyway) but then my two siblings and families arrived from Queensland, one by one, as well as her two surviving brothers and their wives from Dubbo, and a close Aunt (who was married to my father's brother - how Mum and Dad met), who is well loved by all the family. It was a wonderful time of reconnection for most and a time of introductions for the newer family members.

A pleasant change from quilt details - although I do have some more of those to share shortly too ๐Ÿ˜Š

Friday, December 11, 2020

Tilda Birds Quilt


I am delighted to see my Tilda Birds quilt looks equally at home on the heirloom couch as it does on our lounge- it’s a keeper! The zigzag edges on the long sides were tedious to figure out and attach but I am so pleased I persevered, it’s now my favourite feature of the quilt. 

Tilda Birds was started last year, primarily as a portable English Paper Piecing (EPP) project to stitch while away from home with our children’s sport. The inspiration came from some beautiful Tilda fabric I saw on the Instagram feed of @samanthamackie31 , which worked perfectly with the Tilda birds prints I had purchased a few years ago. I chose the hexagon size to best work with these prints. The design is based around hexie flowers with a Tilda bird as the centre of each. There are two ‘joiner/spacer’ hexies in a neutral crosshatch design added to each flower. 

I bought my hexagons from Jodi's shop, Tales of Cloth, here in Australia, they are 1 3/4" as measured along each side. I love Jodi's recycled paper pieces, finding them a great weight to work with. 

I chose a Decor pastry storage container to house my project as it was the perfect size and acts as a lap table when stitching away from home. An empty slimline chocolate box works perfect for portable basting as it fits in the pastry storer but can also easily slide into my handbag, just in case I have a little stitching time. Each hexagon was thread basted with a little backstitch through the fabric only at each corner on the back. This way the basting thread can remain in place after popping/pulling out the papers, keeping the back very tidy.

 I made my own clear template from stiff clear plastic to assist in centring the birds, allowing me to draw an outline ready for cutting. 

The blocks slowly added up to become a nice stack. They were safely stored away in a cupcake container for many months while I turned my attention at completing the long promised Dancing Waters quilt for my good friend Sue, followed by a long term EPP - Ice Cream Soda quilt. Soon I found a rhythm of working with both my newer Cornflower/Joyfully quilt and this Tilda Birds quilt. With more time at home due to COVID, I made the most of the extra stitching time, especially for the less appealing cumbersome stage of sewing the blocks together into a quilt top. 

It is my preference to complete any hand quilting during the cooler months, usually of an evening when our dining table is free. Finally all the diagonal quilting lines were completed in one direction and then the other, resulting in a pleasant textured diamond pattern. 

The zigzag binding was perhaps the most challenging step as it was very much slower and more tedious than regular straight binding, and I had to figure out how to actually do it. I was very much tempted to cut all those points off at one stage, however it was well worth the extra attention in the end.

 Here are the three EPP, hand quilted finishes for this year, along with a glimpse of an outfit I made to wear to our eldest daughter's wedding in June. It really has been a rather rewarding year of finishes, each quilt is rather different in design and colour palette too. I wonder what next year will hold.....definitely some Sunshiny Day with Jodi ๐Ÿ˜Š 

Quilt Details
Tilda Birds Quilt
Finished quilt measures 55" x 74"
140 cm x 188 cm
Started: May 2019
Finished: October 2020
1 3/4" (1.75") hexagon paper pieces from Tales of Cloth
Cotton fabrics - many by Tilda 
Batting: Legacy Bamboo Blend
(50% Viscose Bamboo, 50% Cotton)
Quilting thread: Sulky 12 wt #1071

Monday, October 12, 2020

Joyfully Quilt - Cornflower Quilt

I have a new favourite quilt, just finished on the weekend! In fact I love it so much I have chosen a special name for my smaller version of Jodi's Cornflower quilt. It's my Joyfully quilt. Just like my previous finish (Ice Cream Soda Quilt), it is entirely hand sewn using the traditional English Paper Piecing method and was designed by Jodi Godfrey of Tales of Cloth.

This design, along with many others, can be found in Jodi's book, The Seedling Quilts. I love the design of each of the two different blocks, and the interplay of pattern and shape when they are placed together. The sparkling petals of each cornflower block are surrounded by bright near-solid prints, while their various deep blue/black centres provide unity and an anchoring point. Set against two shades of aqua they make my heart happy. The smaller star blocks are so cute, measuring only 10cm/4 inches per side. The deep teal green of the star blocks and binding helps ground the quilt. 

As Jodi began sharing her new quilt designs around the time of her book's release in August 2019, this one stood out to me. I ordered a copy of the book from Jodi, along with the Cornflower kit, which contained all the paper pieces (some were unusual sizes and not available individually), and a set of templates - my first ever quilt kit purchase.

The freshness of the colours in Jodi's Cornflower quilt greatly appealed to me, so I ordered the same Free Spirit solids as she had used - Aqua, Caribbean and Baltic. Then it was time to start searching through my fabric collection to choose suitable pieces for each section. As usual, some of my original choices were removed as I perceived which shades and prints best aided to the overall effect I was aiming for. It's a great project for selectively using small scraps as only tiny bits are needed.

Having two shades of aqua to choose from for the outer ring of each large flower block allowed for a more harmonious finish. Most blocks looked far better against either the lighter or darker shade. There were a few blocks which looked good against both aquas, so I alternated both shades around their edges. The use of two shades through out the quilt adds more colour options as well as providing a greater sense of movement - and keeps the eye guessing as it looks for patterns and points of interest. Similarly, I chose eight blue/black prints from my stash for the deep blue centres of the large blocks - and one of those fabrics (Land Art - Fairy Circles in Navy) provided many different looks with a little fussy cutting.

Another fun aspect of creating this quilt was the opportunity to be totally scrappy or creating unity amongst the 'petals' of each large block. For some I used eight different colours and fabrics, others had two main colours, some had two feature colours with alternating petals of contrasting low volume. Two blocks have all petals of the same fabric. The centre block is one of these 'mono-fabric' blocks, however the fussy cutting again creates a unique block.

Several of my EPP projects have been started in response to upcoming travel/holiday plans. I like to do something creative with my hands every day, even if only to wind down for a few minutes before bedtime (hello basting). When I know there will be time away from home, one of the the first things I like to plan is a portable creative project- and for the last 10 years, EPP has been my first choice. We knew we had a long family road trip commencing late October 2019, so the race was on to have my fabrics were selected, cut and ready to take with me. The small star blocks are especially compact and portable and were my companion, not only on our road trip, but also when away for our children's state and national cricket championship weeks as well as their regular half day matches. I soon designated it as my 'away from home' project. Kitchen containers of various sizes are my project storage choice, keeping everything neatly protected and packable with their lids doubling as a lap tray.

However with the arrival of Covid-19 our times away from home all but disappeared. This project was too cheerful to let linger, waiting for life to return to normal. After finishing one long term EPP quilt (Ice Cream Soda Quilt) and completing another to its current hand quilting stage (Tilda Birds quilt), I decided it was the right time to pick this one up again.

The pattern for the Cornflower quilt finishes at six blocks square. Aesthetically I prefer to have a definite centre block with this pattern and I was beginning to exhausting my on-hand fabric options. I also was more than happy to have a lap quilt size with the option of it being a wall hanging, so it was an easy decision to finish it at five blocks square.

Gathering some momentum, the piecing of the top was finished just in time for our two week Spring homeschool break (a realistic deadline is good incentive for me). The task of completing the quilt was a great at-home holiday project, spurred on by wishing to complete the hand quilting before the heat of our long summer arrives. Again I followed Jodi's choices in hand quilting - with an all over uneven diagonal grid, quite a fast option too. I selected a wadding/batting with scrim to provide stability for the larger quilting free areas. Thankfully I had yardage of a suitable backing fabric purchased years ago - in fact it was almost too pretty to use as a backing, yet a good way to include it as part of a loved quilt.

It was a great feeling to complete the binding over the weekend, before school term begins again today. My Joyfully quilt will live in our main open plan living area all year round - adding pops of joyful colour to my surrounds every day. Thankfully it seems to be a favourite with the rest of the family too. ๐Ÿ˜Š

Quilt Details
Joyfully Quilt
Quilt designed by Jodi Godfrey of Tales of Cloth
Adjusted to be 5 x 5 blocks instead of 6 x 6 blocks
Finished quilt measures 49 inches (125cm) square 
Started: September 2019
Finished: October 2020
Wadding/batting: Legacy 100% cotton with scrim
Quilting thread: Sulky 12 wt cotton #1046

December 2020 UPDATE:
 I had a recent email enquiry regarding order/process of making this quilt. Here is my response which may be helpful if you are wondering how to start your own Cornflower quilt.  :)

 I began by buying the solids I planned to use, then sorting through my fabrics and making piles for possible petals and star segments, another group which were patterned ’solids’ for the squares around the outer ring and a third group of dark blue candidates for the centres. I cut and basted maybe about a third of what I would need then began stitching, fine tuning as I went. 

With the smaller star blocks I mostly alternated a low volume with a bright colour as I stitched the pieces together - or a variety of colours for contrast in each star. I soon saw which fabrics worked best to give the effect I wanted while setting some others aside. The stars proved to be the perfect project to work on when away from home.

For the larger flower blocks I would work on each one individually - starting with the patterned ‘solid’ squares, I would then select which fabric petals suited the ’solid’ squares best. I would lay them all out together on a flat surface then choose which of my dark blue centre pieces looked best in that middle. I would often take a photo to double check it looked good and to remember which order to stitch the petals. Then I would stitch the petals to the centre and work out from there.

I hope this provides you with an idea of how you can stitch yours, however you may find another order suits you better. Happy stitching!
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