Community Quilt 7

29 07 2012

I dropped off the first 6 quilts I quilted to the WAQA community quilts organiser on Friday — and she gave me some great news! I don’t have to bind the quilts too! Yay! That means just quilting them.

So I pin basted and quilted #7 today. It was difficult to quilt as the top was off centre and the blocks were wonky and puckering and not joined very well (some wonkiness could well have been a result of fabric choices — some fabrics were thin and flimsy, while others were quite sturdy). And there wasn’t quite enough batting to fit, so I had to join another strip of batting. The puckering blocks meant that I needed to use fairly dense quilting to ‘beat it into submission’. A close large stipple was an option, but instead I decided on an open headband motif.

I used a variegated blue/green/yellow King Tut thread (from Superior; 40 wt Egyptian cotton, colour 403) on the top and a navy Invisifil thread (Wonderfil; 100 wt, colour IF 608).

Some photos below:

2012 FMQ Challenge: July

29 07 2012

This month’s challenge looked to be a relatively simple piece to do, but I struggled with it. I’m not sure if it was the rush I did it in (almost the last day of the challenge before I got to it), or whether I just didn’t like ‘colouring in between the lines’ and being forced to crop a design because of defined edges. Or whether I just figured that doing this without marking or using a ruler for the long straight lines would make it look very amateur (I only free motion quilt on my Handi Quilter Sweet Sixteen, so all straight stitches are free motion too, even if I use a ruler or mark the line).

Anyhow, I did it. I’m not particularly happy with it, but I did do it in about 10 minutes and didn’t practice first (yeah, I know….). Straight lines are wonky, and intended filler designs went out of kilter.

Community Quilt 6

26 07 2012

Another big one! And all hand appliqued too. The person who’d appliqued the leaves used the tiniest little running stitches! Such a lot of work.

The first thing was to stabilise the quilt and add emphasis to the leaves — they looked liked misshapen blobs when I took the quilt out of the bag. Then I realised they were grape leaves or similar. So my first task was to stitch the veins for all 63 leaves, using matching threads in various brands and colours and just freeform stitching them. I used  light grey Deco-Bob thread in the bobbin for the entire quilt.

Then I looked closely at the hand stitched applique work and I wasn’t 100% sure that the edges wouldn’t lift, so I used clear and smoke invisible thread to stitch down the edges — clear thread for the lighter coloured leaves, and smoke thread for the darker ones.

Once I had the leaves stabilised, the next decision was how to quilt all that ‘white space’. I decided to do an all-over leaf motif, in a thread that closely matched the calico.

Here’s the quilt in my Sweet Sixteen — I had both table extensions out and still it hung over the sides.

The finished quilt and the back:


Community Quilt 5

26 07 2012

My fifth community quilt was obviously made by the same person who made number 3. Same blocks, same fabrics, same stitching, slightly different layout. So I quilted it the same as Community Quilt 3, as the same ‘rules’ applied.

Baby quilts 1 and 2

18 07 2012

Three work colleagues, or former work colleagues, are having babies in the next few months. Two of them work at the same place, so maybe there’s something in the water 😉

That means baby quilts! I’m not a fan of ‘pink for girls and blue for boys’; besides, only one of the mothers-to-be has told the world the sex of her baby. So I wanted to use bright gender-neutral colours for these quilts. Green and yellow/orange were obvious choices and the last one (still to be created) will be is in purple tones.

I also needed a simple pattern that I could whip up quickly and that allowed me to use a variety of fabrics. I decided to use the ‘Wickedly Easy Quilts’ pattern that’s free from

For the quilting, I wanted to use an all-over design for each, and something that reflected the fabrics. So I chose a big meandering leaf motif for the green quilt (in a neon/fluoro green Isacord thread [col 6010]), and a large bubble/circle motif for the yellow one, following the theme of some of the spotted fabrics.

Here are some photos of these two quilts (click on a photo to see it full size).

Yes, there are tiny teddies in the yellow quilt 😉

Community Quilt 4

18 07 2012

Community quilt #4 was a biggie! Huge, in fact. I had to extend both extension tables for my Sweet Sixteen, and still the quilt fell off the edges of table and dragged a little.

This one was a big challenge. There was lots of ‘white space’ and some very pretty stars. Like Community Quilt #3, I had to let this one sit a while before deciding how to quilt it to do it justice. Even so, I still hadn’t decided on all the elements before I started — I made several decisions as I went along.

I first decided to quilt the small squares between the stars. I just did a double flower type of design in a neutral thread that matched the calico used for the ‘white space’.

Double flowers in the small squares between the stars

While I was quilting them, I was thinking about how to quilt the large odd shapes of white spaces between the stars. I’d already started with a flower theme for the small squares, so I decided to extend that a bit into some freeform stars in the bigger areas. As there was quite a lumpy bit in the centre where these pieces joined, I made a flower centre by creating a circle, then radiating the petals out from it to the corners where the coloured stars met the white space. After completing the petals, I cross-hatched the centre of the flower, before moving on to the next one. I did half-flowers in the spaces near the border.

Large flowers radiating out into the large areas of white space

The next decision was how to quilt the stars. 8-pointed stars with 4 setting squares are an awkward shape to quilt, so I decided to keep it simple and did a flame design in all the star points and setting squares, in a variety of threads that matched each star. The next decision was what to do with the centre square for each star. Too much quilting might be overkill, so again, I went for something simple and just did a large freeform cross-hatching from corner to corner and between the joins of the star points.

Flames in the star points and setting squares, large cross-hatching in the large centre squares of each star

The final decision was what to do in the border. Again, I didn’t want the quilting to overpower the pretty stars, so I went back to the neutral thread and decided to do some freeform feathers. First I stitched a wavy spine, then stitched another over it going in the opposite waves to create an irregular spine. Then I stitched my feathers using the Diane Gaudynski method of stitching each shape separately, then echoing the shapes about an eighth of an inch away to create the illusion that the feathers are joined.

Stitching the feathers in the border

Only the binding remained, and it was done!

Completed quilt

BTW, there are more than 200,000 quilting stitches in this quilt!

See also:

Community Quilt 3

18 07 2012

When I pulled the quilt top for the third Community Quilt I quilted, I got a surprise. The entire top was hand stitched! Wow! That’s a LOT of work. All those hexagons…

And the person who’d made the quilt top had used some old fabrics too. I’m guessing at the age of these fabrics, but I suspect 1950s to 1970s for the most part.

So, how do you do justice to a quilt top that’s been so lovingly stitched, possibly for hundreds or thousands of hours?

I let it sit for a few days and let my brain try to figure out how to approach it. I knew that doing something that mirrored the hexagons might well end in disaster, and pulling out stitches on a hand stitched top wouldn’t be a good idea. I also knew that the top was a little out of square (hexagons have lots of bias edges!), and so whatever quilting I did needed to cover the entire quilt in such a way that it got rid of the little lumps and bumps and puckers that were likely to occur as a result of it being out of square, especially when I got to the plain border where any lumps and bumps would be really obvious.

And the thread had to blend into the quilt so that the hexagons shone through and weren’t overpowered by the quilting. What to do???

I decided to do a large meandering stipple in a neutral thread that matched the border fabric, with big circles/bubbles in the border. Was this a good choice? I don’t know, but I was pleased with how it turned out. I don’t think the meandering stipple overpowers the hexagons, and the large bubbles in the border were sufficient to flatten the lumps and bumps, also without drawing the eye from the quilt top. At least, I hope that’s what I achieved.

Here are some pictures of this quilt (click on a picture to see it in a larger size).

Front of quilt

Back, binding, border and top

Back of the quilt

Reliability – Fisher and Paykel is thy name!

1 07 2012

We got a new washing machine yesterday. Not because the old one had died, but because the touch panel on it was getting less and less responsive every time we used it. The old washing machine was a Fisher and Paykel (F&P) Smart Drive (model GW701; user manual [PDF, 2.25 MB]), and we bought it in April 1993 for the then princely sum of $1020 + $20 delivery fee (yes, I still had the receipt with the instruction manual!).

I called the 24/7 F&P customer care line a month or so ago and the lovely chap with the NZ accent (F&P is a NZ company) said that a replacement panel and electronic bits inside the machine would be about $400 plus another $150 or so for installation. I’d already checked out the prices of a new machine and they were about $500 to $700 for the sort of machine we wanted. So I could either pay ~$550 to fix a 20-year-old machine (and still have a 20-year-old machine) or I could spend  a similar amount and have a brand new machine, which, with luck, will have 20 years in it too.

The lovely chap at F&P offered me a loyalty discount too, and I received the rebate form in my Inbox a few days later — if I bought a F&P product within three months, and it was more than $500, F&P would send me $50. Nice!

So we bought a new F&P washing machine. Not because of the loyalty rebate, nice though it is, but because we are REALLY happy with F&P products. We have two F&P upside down fridge/freezers (only because one wouldn’t fit in a new house, so we had to get another to fit; we kept the old one for drinks etc.), a F&P chest freezer, and the 20-year-old F&P washing machine, which had only required one bit of maintenance/repair in its lifetime (I still had the receipt for that too — it was in 2006 and cost $165 at the time).

It was a no-brainer to replace our F&P washing machine with a new F&P washing machine. We are really happy with the brand and the reliability of their products.

And the price was exceptional too. The recommended retail price was $749, but Harvey Norman’s had it on stocktake sale (new model, not floor/demo model) for $548. Delivery, set-up, and removal/disposal of the old machine and the packaging was another $63, but with the $50 rebate from F&P we will eventually pay a total of $561 for this machine, almost half the amount we paid for the original F&P washing machine two decades ago! When you consider how much almost everything else (except electronics) has gone up since 1993, I reckon we got a great deal.

With luck, our new F&P washing machine should last us another 20 years. (It even has a 10-year warranty on the ‘SmartDrive’ mechanism, so they expect the machine to last at least that long too.)

Would I buy and F&P product again? Absolutely.