Thursday, 26 May 2016

1930s Farmers Wife - Doris

***Hey folks! This will be my last post on Blogger! Woohoo! All going to plan, I'll be hitting the LAUNCH button on my new website next week! Stay tuned and follow me on Instagram (@talesofcloth) in case all my old link self destruct!***
Sometimes I amaze myself with my organisational skills. I am actually the opposite of organised. I am creative and chaotic and messy. I grew up with a very organised mother, so I just figured it was something you grew into. You became an adult and you got organised. But I never did (perhaps to her dismay!).
My turn for the 1930s Farmer's Wife Sew Along has been up on the Calendar (I know! Very Organised!) and I had set aside some time yesterday to sew it up. As the date was drawing nearer, I decided I should just machine sew the block, (instead of my original intention to hand stitch them) because my hand-stitching is piling up around me due to a crazy, disorganised notion for joining in #the100dayproject on Instagram with #100daysof EPP. (The motive behind this crazy notion will become apparent when we launch our new business in a couple of weeks!)
So I got out the handy little CD from the Farmer's Wife book to print out templates for lovely Doris, and wouldn't you know? Since embarking on these blocks last year, we have moved on from CD technology. It no longer exists in our house. Welcome to the modern world folks. (Maybe I should ask Nana to pay for our Netflix subscription instead of the usual DVD gifts at Christmas??)

But, in what could only be called a miracle, I had printed out the block diagrams last year AND could still find them yesterday. (Who is this woman!?) So I cut them them out, and used my ruler to measure a 1/4" seam around each piece, totally chuffed with my former, organised self. Pat on the back.

First I sewed the teeny triangles to each side of the centre square. Press, and sewed two more to the other sides. I did not think to arrange the trees, but how sweet is that placement?

Then I moved on to the star points. A word of warning to the creative, disorganised: Make sure you cut those points in two opposite directions! They don't work simply flipping them over! Can you tell I'm also not the kind of person to read directions first?

For the half-square triangles, I used my favourite method of cutting the triangles too big, sewing them together and trimming them to size. Then I sewed the block together in rows. 

Sweet and easy! And rocket speed on the sewing machine after all that English Paper Piecing!
Now if you'll excuse me, I have a date with my hexies!

The 1930s Farmers Wife Sew Along is hosted by Angie of Gnome Angel, and Marti Michell.

The Farmer’s Wife 1930s Sampler Quilt: Inspiring Letters from Farm Women of the Great Depression and 99 Quilt Blocks That Honor Them by Laurie Aaron Hird for Fons & Porter/F+W; RRP $28.99 – Click here to purchase.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Posy Pinwheel Quilt


I only really paid attention to this tree for the first time today, and I can't believe I haven't noticed it before. I loved it so much that when I came home to look through my photos after our little shoot this afternoon, I didn't have any close-ups of this quilt. I just kept wanting to fit more of the tree in. Isn't she beautiful?

In fact even as I sit here to write, I'm drawn to say more about our incredible country side. Perhaps because after a week of being inside with a house full of colds, it was just so good to be out in the sun and the warm Autumn air. So good. To frame a finished quilt and a beautiful old tree in a photograph, to focus in, to make the parts align, to remember again I have so much to be thankful for... this did more for my poor old head than Panadol and Vicks have all week.  

My Posy Pinwheels had been sitting, quilted and waiting for a big tidy up on my cutting table so I could trim the wadding and back, and bind it. Set aside first for my Flock of Stars quilt, and then for two more quilts for Free Spirit's Quilt Market Booth, I was finally this week able to give her (and my messy studio) my attention again.
I English Paper Pieced this quilt from 2" jewels and 1" hexagons. I love these sized shapes because they easily fit along a 2.5" strip of fabric. So I went through my Loominous scraps from my Fair Isla quilt, cutting off a strip of each print and basting them into petals. I think it would also make a nice quilt to use up a jelly roll.
EPP is very close up, very intimate, very, very slow. So it was a completely different experience, a little like seeing the world from a plane, or up a tree, or like going outside when you've spent the week in, to take photos today and feel the movement I was hoping for. And I was kind of thinking it would feel like a birthday party or country fair, but today with all that long grass and prickles and darting insects, it felt a whole lot more like an ecosystem. It felt like fresh air and wildflowers and swooping birds. 
They say laughter is the best medicine. But I would have to argue for colour.

Monday, 11 April 2016

Flock of Stars Quilt

It's such a joy to stitch in company. I had been waiting for my Cotton + Steel Bluebird bundle to arrive for two and a half weeks, when it came the same day as my visitors. The plan had been to get as much stitching done before they came so that I was freed up to give them a local holiday, while still hopefully getting this quilt done in time to enter Rachel's Bluebird Sew Off. I'd even basted half the diamonds in left over blues and whites from my Free Spirit quilt to try and get a head start. But the postman drove in only an hour or two before my old bridesmaid and her family. It looked like I might just have to let it go.

But as we sat around the dining table drinking tea, and we talked about the kinds of things that could happen this week, I mentioned this quilt, and how, if it was possible, I'd love to get it done by Monday (Sunday night NC time). And my dear friend Jenny completely embraced the idea as the perfect way to spend time together this past week. And though I quite agree with her, I was still surprised. I'm sure many of my quilting friends would attest, we don't often have people lining up to help us hand sew little diamonds together. But Jenny is warm and generous and confident. She'd sewn a button, and maybe a pouch before. How hard to could it be? It sounded fun! And so, we have spent the last four beautiful days together, stitching stars while we watched the kids play, while we snacked on lunch, and while we called out to the husbands to change the dirty nappies please, because we were on a very important mission. It has been the perfect catalyst for many a good conversation after several years living so far away. What a blessing.

I finished the quilt last night, so glad to have it done, full of rich memories, but admittedly a little disappointed that I sewed up the last stitches as the light was dying. I had planned to write this blog post in the evening after the kids were asleep. And then this morning we dragged ourselves out of bed at 5:30 to catch the Canowindra Balloon Festival Key Grab. I quickly grabbed the quilt on the way out the door hoping there'd be an opportunity for a few photos. Then, as we were crossing the river into town, we saw the 4WDs and their trailers lined up on the flat next to the water. They were getting ready to launch! We quickly pulled over, and walked onto the flat.

I can't even begin to tell you what a score this was. Pilots decide that morning from where they'll launch depending on the wind direction. So to stumble upon these beautiful balloons rather than wait an hour or so vying for a good spot at the Key, and to have the flat to ourselves, was a wonderful gift. The pilots were warm and generous, inviting us to take a closer look and answering the kids' questions about the flame and flying.

It felt strange photographing such a small quilt, after all the big ones I've been making. Almost like it was out of proportion. Tim's legs look awfully long! And now that we're home, I can see that I just kept being drawn the interesting patchwork shapes of the balloons. It's a rare treat to have the wide open sky as a backdrop.

After they has all drifted off, we drove around to the Key, a large pole sticking out of the ground with a bright key attached. The pilots have to try and maneuver their balloons to reach and get the key. We stood in the crowd for a while, enjoying the floating colours above us, and also glad for the chance to see them so close earlier. After a while I decided to go back to this fence and grab a couple of shots while we waited. It wasn't until after I was going through these later that I realised that I'd photographed the winning balloon swooping in to collect the key!

These Bluebird blues have been a lovely colour to work with this week. In all the long days of stitching, I have not tired of them. But of course, I couldn't help but throw in some specks of pink and red and burnt orange and I'm so glad for the autumnal feel they give it. I decided to machine quilt, focusing around a single star, and I love the movement it's added to the already sparkling stars. Sparkle is usually created with light, and I've enjoyed the challenge to use colour to the same effect.

I've decided to give this quilt to my visitors as a memento of their stay here, and a thank you gift for embracing my hopes for the week. The joy of that generousity will stay with me for a long time.

Be sure to head over to Stitched in Color's Bluebird Sew Off for more beautiful blue!

Friday, 25 March 2016

Pinwheel Posy - In Progress

Hmmmm. A tidy house deserves some hand stitching, wouldn't you agree? It's a rare treat to be able to take such a wide snap of our home. In this picture you can see the bunting I made for my old shop in the main street of Newcastle years ago, the baby rocker I made with Tully before Finlay was born (she now uses it as her little sofa), and the old green cupboard made by my great grandfather that homes our craft and homeschooly things. And can you see that chest poking out on the right of the green sofa? That came came over on the boat from England with Tim's mum. And here, laying claim of the dining room table, is my Pinwheel Posy quilt, slowly coming together, one hexie at a time. I do love our home.

Every so often I need a quilt that just follows a simple idea. Use an entire fabric line, let someone else choose the colours, stitch according to one simple rule. Over and over. It's a lovely, meditative thing, to have a quilt that doesn't need thought. It's also wonderful to have one that challenges and excites, but those quilts aren't for meetings, or sitting through swimming lessons, or sipping wine with a movie on the weekends. And they're not for taking over the dining room table and being available to the myriad of wonderful interruptions on a Good Friday afternoon.

I cut a 2.5" strip of each print, making it the perfect jelly roll quilt, and cut the 'jewels' as you can see below, with little waste. I love using Loominous, a woven collection, because it's basically reversible, so I can flip petals to keep stripes heading in the same direction. I've used jewels that have 2" long side, and a 1" short side, with 1" hexies.

I've been experimenting with sewing the quilt together in rows already constructed, or adding the flowers piece by piece. Mostly I like the former, because once a row is made, it's joined to the quilt with one long, uninterrupted thread, and it's easy to come back to when those inevitable interruptions arise.
And each time I finish a row, I stand back in wonder at how I'm only one more row through! Surely it must be two or three! And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that this quilt isn't for rushing. It's for resting and waiting and praying in the sunshine.

May the spirit of grief, yet hope; contemplation, yet joy; death yet life, bring you colour and peace this Easter!

Jodi. x

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Tiger Lily and a Cherished Quilt.

This hexie block, like many quilts, grew from a happy convergence of ideas and circumstances. A request from my sister-in-law to make quilts for their beds, my current obsession with anything with a 60 degree angle, and a bundle of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross, a whimsical purchase last year that I immediately felt guilty for. I had no plans for this fabric, I had just wanted the "Small Roses" in Yellow and this bundle ended up being the best way to get it.
I've pulled the bundle out a few times over the past six months and sat uneasily with it. It's such a warm collection, with no relief from aqua or blue. It's almost too sunny for my usual taste.

When I saw this block on Pinterest, it struck me as a great one for fussy cutting big prints, like these forest designs in Tiger Lily. I already had 2" diamonds and hexagons (which I cut in half), that meant the centre hexagon sides needed to be 4". So I asked Tim if he could cut me some 4" hexagons (hexies seems too small a word for these monsters!) on his newly completed laser cutter. Too easy!

The excitement surrounding a laser cutter than can cut EPP shapes for me warranted diving back into my stash and giving Tiger Lily another go. I decided to fill it out with other prints and solids, within the same colour palette. There's something about adding solids to this line that helps it breathe a little for me. I don't really need another hand piecing project at the moment, but writing it on a list just didn't get it out of my head. I just needed to make one block. And then I could put it aside. Promise.

4" hexies are a huge 8" across. Big for English Paper Piecing, but not so huge by normal quilting standards, and certainly not too big for this print. Those girls in the tree fit inside the hexie perfectly, don't you think? Each finished block is 8" along each edge. It's nice having an English Paper Piecing quilt where the fabric does half the work for you!

I sat auditioning border prints until I was happy with these ones above. And then, as you'll see below, I swapped out the low volume print. It needed something with a different scale. All the flowers were the same size, and, well, floral. The crosshatch I eventually settled with gives it a nice balance.

I love 2" diamonds, mostly because they so nicely fit in a 2.5" strip. I fit 6 diamonds almost perfectly along a strip cut from the short edge of my fat quarter. 

I stitched the border together in sections, first attaching the brown inside border to the top two sides of the pink diamond, and then joining the pink and white crosshatch. 

 And then I stitched the border to each side of the 4" hexagon. Because my stitching isn't perfect, it was great to have some clover clips to hold the edge of each seam evenly so I didn't accidentally push the border right over the edges. Once the hexagon was stitched around, I just had the six corner seams to do.

I called this quilt-to-be "Cherished" because I thought it would be perfect for any much loved kids line with beautiful illustrations, or those big, elaborate prints we find so hard to cut into. For a single (twin) sized quilt, I need 28 blocks and 4 half blocks. I hope to make these slowly (very slowly!) over the next year or so. That's if I can stop myself from designing a million other fun quilts that only a laser can cut!