Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Landscape finished over three years later

In 2012 my quilt guild had a retreat. I was in charge of education at the time and decided that we would play a game the first night that was a bit of a challenge. I put the women in groups of three, gave them a piece of stiff interfacing, a glue stick and a pile of fabric and asked them to make a landscape quilt - in half an hour!

This is a link to the wonderful creations they made. Retreat slideshow Later that year we were asked by the main quilt guild, Auckland Quilt Guild, to put on a small display. It was a bit risky but we decided to put these "quilts" into the display. You have to understand that these weren't quilts yet and the fabric was only stuck on with a glue stick and, did I mention already, they only had half an hour to make them! They were very well received with several people from other smaller guilds saying that they liked the idea of the game and would try it out with their guild. The viewers were also really impressed with the work.

Like a good teacher, I made an exemplar for my game just to give some ideas. Here is my exemplar.

Over the past three years this has been sitting on my design wall, thrown in a drawer and moved house a couple of times. I decided to pull it out and finish it! Would you believe it, all the pieces are still stuck on and other than a good press to get a fold mark out, I have done nothing further to this piece before a bit of threadwork and then quilting. Nothing was frayed beyond the usual that you get with raw edge applique. So there you go, why use expensive fusible web when a cheap glue stick does exactly the same!

My finished quilt. I think I'll call it "Autumn by the Lake".

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Class with Maureen van Dam

Merry Christmas and I hope you all got what you wanted. Two years ago I spent Christmas day sewing with my Mum. We decided to do the same again. My girls are both in Sydney so there was only us to please - and that's what pleased us. This is what I finished.

I took a class with Maureen van Dam recently. What a lovely lady! She first came on my radar many years ago with a quilt in The Big Quilt show at Northart. It was a quilt she made with fabric she had brought from her homeland of South Africa. There was something about that quilt that I remembered it all those years. It was the clever way she had put the African fabrics together that just shouted Africa to me. It was more than just the fabrics. Anyway, her work is quite different now but still that same sense of design. She said that she didn't know what I was doing in her class, what with my recent win in the Dorothy Collard Challenge. Believe me, I've still got a lot to learn!

Flowers and leaves painted on plain white cotton
Fusible web applied, cut out and appliqued on to one of my hand painted fabrics. (Apologies for the blurry photo)

The background was quilted with a leaf design and curls.

Inserting the zip
This is how I prefer to insert zips for cushions. Cut the back in two pieces (halfway or not, whatever fits in the fabric I have.) Stitch the two bits back together with a normal stitch length for the first couple of inches, about 5cm. Then put in a lock stitch and increase the stitch length for most of the seam, finishing off with a lock stitch and normal stitch length. Press the seam open and pin the zip so that the teeth are right on the seam. Stitch around from the front with a zipper foot. I used a zip that was longer than I needed. When I got to the last part of the second side, leaving the needle down I unpicked part of the tacking stitches and pulled the zipper thingy (I'm sure it has a name) past the needle and then stitched the last part. Then it's just a case of unpicking all the tacking stitches and you have a perfect zip.
Stitching the last part of the zip insertion.

Why do I have a photo of me with Elvis? We had a 50s party at work. This is my 50s Walkaway dress. It doesn't scale up to a plus size well! I have no idea why 70s Elvis came to a 50s party. But the good news is that I had a lot of fabric left over, just the ideal colour to finish off my cushion. I've been itching to try this unusual finish for a cushion. I put the back and the cushion front wrong side together and stay-stitched all the way around. Then I applied a binding in the same way that you would do to a quilt. The quilt had quite a stiff stabiliser on the back and corners would never had turned out nicely if I had made this the traditional way.

Here is is without the pillow inside so that you can see how beautiful those corners are. It's going on my bed but I think this treatment would hold up to everyday use.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Blogger's Quilt Festival - Spring 2015


Hopefully I'm going to just get my entry in to the Blogger's Quilt Festival in on time!

I promised more details about my recent blue ribbon winner (yes, I'm still excited about it!), so here it is.

For Blogger's Quilt Festival viewers and anyone else new to my blog, I made this quilt for a competition, the Dorothy Collard Challenge. This is an annual competition with a theme and attracts entries from Auckland Quilt Guild's amazing artists. It's the first time I've entered so you can understand why I'm so excited!

The theme this year was My impression of a book by a New Zealand author. I chose to portray Patricia Grace's book "Tu".

I've lived in New Zealand for 20 years now, originally from Scotland via many different places - but that's another story. When I first read a short story by Patricia Grace, I felt like I was hearing the Maori voice for the first time. I loved her writing. This particular book, "Tu", is about three brothers joining the Maori Battalion during World War II and going to Italy but unfortunately only one brother returns. Uncle Tu, the surviving brother, has his war story dragged out of him by nieces and nephews. At least that's what it appears to be about...

What struck me about this book was why all these young men joined up in the first place to fight for a country they knew nothing about. A sense of duty to Britain? That seems unlikely. Was it looking for adventure? Or was it that they felt unsettled in the increasingly European (Pakeha) urban life that was becoming the norm. I think it was a bit of both of those last two. And so they set off to war, terrible things happened and some good things. They were away so long that they ended up integrating into Italian life, learning to speak Italian, drink wine and experience a different way of life. Some fell in love and brought their Italian brides back to New Zealand. Others may have left some slightly darker children back in Italy. Eventually, those that survived came back home. But they had changed and where they used to struggle to fit into Pakeha society, now they didn't fit in to the Maori community either.

I wanted to show that cultural struggle in my quilt. I started by researching the battle at Monte Cassino where a lot of young Maori men lost their lives. The Allies bombed the Abbey of Monte Cassino, believing that the German forces were occupying the monastery. They found out afterwards that there were no Germans, only monks. It was a terrible tragedy and shouldn't have happened. It struck me that this was a offense to culture and a good start for my quilt.

Here is the base layer of the quilt with the ruin of the Abbey.

The insignia of the 28th Maori Battalion had to feature on this quilt too. The original insignia has two fern fronds making the wreath but a later insignia for the Maori Battalion Association is a more stylised fern. I used this as my basis for my stamp, carved out of 6 regular erasers.

I wanted one good stamp in the corner and then faint ones dotted over the quilt, like they're floating away to signify the erosion of the Maori culture.

I meant to take a photo of each stage but I got a bit carried away at this point. In the photo above I've also added the charred trees (made out of paper, organza and Lutradur) either side of the road leading up to the monastery and started the stencil of a man doing a haka (Maori war dance). I took this photo below which is actually the 28th Maori Battalion in Egypt (www.28maoribattalion.org.nz, used legally!), and used software to change it to black and white.

I just think that image of the man is so powerful that I can almost hear him shouting!

The quilting is fern fronds and then a wreath at the bottom - to echo the insignia or is it a wreath? You decide!

And here it is again with its ribbon.  Thank you for reading this far and I hope you are inspired to search out Patricia Grace's books.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Dorothy Collard Challenge 2015

Look what I won! A ribbon!!

I entered the Dorothy Collard Challenge last month. This is a competition run every year by the Auckland Quilt Guild. The theme this year was "my impression of a book written by a New Zealand author". I chose "Tu" by Patricia Grace.

If you would like to see the exhibition and you live in or near Auckland, it is on at the Lake House arts centre in Takapuna until the 3rd May.

I'll write more about this quilt at a later date and hopefully show you some detail shots. Meanwhile, I'm just thrilled to have won my first ribbon!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Wallhanging using Inktense monoprints

I see that I made the monoprints last November and blogged about the stencils in January. Well, it's only March and I've done something with them!

I decided to make a wallhanging and to print a backing for it. I made an overall tessellating pattern, something I learned from Lisa Walton's book. I knew how to make a tessellating shape (I teach it!) but I had never thought about making a repeating pattern. The pink is my backing fabric. You can see the repeat block but hopefully you can also see that those leaves form an overall pattern that repeats.

I wanted to do some bobbin work using my leaf pattern on the back. I tried out some beautiful soft bamboo thread that Lisa included in an order. It was just the right colour for what I wanted and created this lovely boucle effect when stitched but as you can see, I didn't get very far before I had to stop and rethread. I'll save it for something with more straight stitching. I used a crochet cotton instead, leaving the needle tension quite loose so that it creates a couched stitch. I used a variegated thread in the needle.
I also trialed some quilting in between the leaves. I was originally going to pebble the whole thing but I felt that it was going to build up too much thread and the printing and stencilling would be lost. The echoed curves are also in some of the printing so that seemed appropriate.

This is the bobbin work on the wallhanging. Since I was working from the back, I could follow the shape of the leaves in my backing design.

And I've done some of the quilting between the leaves.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Playing with Evolon

Ann from our Arty Farty group showed us the leaves she made at Quilt Symposium last month. She did a class with Betty Busby, who also had a quilt in the Living Colour exhibition on display at the Symposium and recently in Auckland too. I saw it in Sydney last year and it was a real treat to see it again! The standard of the quilts in that exhibition are quite amazing. One day I would like to enter a quilt for one of Brenda Gael Smith's juried exhibitions. I think I've got a way to go yet!

Anyway. we all loved Ann's leaves so this month she showed us how make them. Evolon is a product I hadn't heard of before. It's a non-woven product that is quite sturdy but has a soft suede-like feel to it. It is manufactured by the company that makes Vilene and Lutrador. It's quite amusing reading up about the product. They market it as a dust-mite proof cover for mattresses and other such uses. Us quilters print and paint it!

Here are the ones I made.

We stamped leaves using Lumiere paint on the back of leaves.

Added fusible web to the back and cut them out with a soldering iron.
Then painted them with a transparent paint.

Last year I made these free-motion embroidery leaves on Solvy. They may end up in the same project.

Friday, January 9, 2015


I had a play with the stencils I bought from Lisa Walton. I put Sun Dyes (also from Lisa) in spray bottles and sprayed the middle of the stencil, then turned the stencil over and printed with the excess paint. Just using two colours and the positive and negative shapes from the stencil makes interesting patterns.

That splodge of blue was a mistake. I use my outdoor glass table for these messy activities and I hadn't realised that one bit wasn't dry. When I got to that bit of the table and sprayed, the blue paint just spread under the stencil. So, after I had finished stenciling that piece, I put the stencil on top of the blue spot and left it in the sun. As you can see, the sun painting method has worked and there are lighter lines where the stencil was sitting.

The stencil at the top of the above photo is a street map of Paris. I love the spiderweb effect. I will probably chop these up and make something sort of abstract. In any case, I'm much more likely to use this fabric now it isn't a solid pale yellow!

And while I had the paint out, I had a go at an idea I had for sun painting combined with stenciling. I made this by wetting the fabric first and then applying paint under the shapes (paper and leaves) and then spraying on top. I ended up going darker than I intended and I was going to crop it but I like the edges. I have no idea what I'll do with it!

 Progress shot. The paper stayed in place just by sticking to the paint. I put pebbles on the leaves to keep them from blowing away. The thread and immature grape trusses are not sprayed/stencilled but left just to do the sun painting thing.
And the finished piece from the same angle.