May 17, 2017

So what's my excuse?

For a second week, I've actually done almost NO work on quilting.


Well... we are renovating a house.  Ever done that?  If you have, then you absolutely get why I'm not quilting.  If you haven't, let me just say this: Don't renovate a house if you can help it (just kidding.... sort-of).

This renovation has actually been going on in the background for just over 2 years.  We're converting a beautiful 1904 brick house into something that will be modern and comfortable, while retaining the charm of the original building.  It's been a demanding project, to say the least.  It's coming to an end in about 3 weeks - and suddenly we're having to do a lot of running around for this and that, doing research online, picking out curtains, rugs, and so on.  It's, well, very involved and very time-consuming.  But we're getting there.

I do have projects ready for quilting - and have some things to share about "invisible thread" and such - but it will have to wait another week.

May 3, 2017

Quilt 91: Trieste in Blue (4th time) - DONE!

This is one of my two best-selling quilts to-date.  It's the Robert Kaufman panel "Trieste", in jewel tones, with the coordinating fabric.  I think I've only got one more of these panels left, with just enough of the coordinating fabric to do one more - then there'll be no more, as the fabric doesn't seem to be available anymore.  I'm sorry for that, but you, dear reader, are probably bored to tears with the "hey, didn't you just make one of those?" quilts.

But - here it is:
50" x 68" - quilted on the longarm ("Blustery Breeze" groovy boards) - bamboo batting
When I quilted this one, I had a LOT of trouble with lint accumulating on the back.  Thinking back, this has been a problem with other bamboo quilts.  It seems the bamboo just breaks up a lot during the quilting.  I had to stop and brush/blow out the lint inside the bobbin box at the end of every row of stitching.  That was a bit annoying, but not as annoying as having to pick lint out of the stitches on the back and, in a couple of cases, take the stitches themselves out and re-quilt those areas.

Here's a closeup of the quilting with the gold backing fabric:
The previous version of this had backing fabric which was solid homespun cotton (like this one) but the colour was lighter - matched the gold borders on the front.  I like this better.  This richer gold backing really pops.

I have the materials to make one more of these.  After that - no more, as the Robert Kaufman fabric is apparently unavailable now (I honestly don't understand why that is).  I'll make one more and may just keep it for myself!

April 25, 2017

Hiding Your Start/Stop Threads on the Longarm

One of the first things you learn to do on the longarm is how to pull bottom threads through to the top so you can clip them.  Today, however, I stumbled across a "beginners" video that has a really interesting way to hide the ends inside the quilt sandwich.

I'm sorry I can't just embed the video here - but here's a link to the video for you:

The thread-hiding bit is right at the beginning of the video.


April 21, 2017

Australasian Quilt Convention - April 2017

Every year in April there is a massive quilt convention held in Melbourne.  The "Australasian Quilt Convention" pulls quilters from all over the world, and it's a real treat if you are remotely interested in quilting and textile art.  It was my third year in a row to attend (I went today) and I had a ball.

The event is held at the Royal Exhibition Building, a beautiful exhibition hall sandwiched between Carlton Gardens and the Melbourne Museum.
 The exhibition runs four days.  It started yesterday and ends on Sunday.  In my previous visits, I found that the best day to go is generally Friday (avoiding the eager first day rush and the crowds that descend on the weekend).
I arrived about 11:30.  There were quite a few people there, but so many opted to take advantage of the food vendors and have lunch, that the stalls weren't terribly crowded until after about 1.

I stopped by the Handi-Quilter display area, where internationally known author Angela Walters was giving a talk about free-motion quilting on borders.  (I'm a big fan - and have a couple of her books - they are terrific!).

Patchwork With Gail B. - one of my favorite quilt shops - has a stall right next to Handi-Quilter's stall - so I was sure to say "hello" to a couple of the gals working there.

After that, I headed for the Bernina stall - and did something kind-a big that I'll tell you about in a later post (you probably already know what I did....).  :-)

Next I headed to the quilts on display.  I don't know how many they had - I'd say "hundreds".  Whatever kind of quilts you like - they've got 'em.

Here are some that really caught my eye:

I love the combination of simple blocks in alternating sizes (below).  The "pinwheels" in the corners just dance!
(Click on this and any photo on this page for a larger image)
 And the simplicity of this quilt:

It's nothing more than small blocks of fabric "framed" in white and black strips.  Have a look at a closeup:

 This one (below) really "wow'd" me:

It's roughly 70" x 80" - a nice size - and I love the colours and pattern of the on-point blocks.  At first it looks really tricky, but check out this closeup (below).  You can see how it's done - actually very simple in terms of the individual blocks.  It's the use of colours that really make this one sing.

This bird quilt fascinates me.  It's smaller - maybe 40" x 40".

 Part of the fun in this one is the interesting quilting pattern used.  Here's a closeup:

 Animals are a big theme this year.  Here's a really clever one - partly patchwork but also quite a lot of "thread painting" embroidery in the animal itself:

And a giraffe!  I showed this photo to a friend who noted the bold use of blue on the giraffe's neck - it's bold, but it works, doesn't it?!?!

The emu's (below) are part applique with thread-painting for the flufflier parts of the feathers.

The quilting pattern in the background is really interesting.  Look at the different shapes quilted in for the sky and grass behind the emus.  I'm especially interested in how some of the artists used stitching for backgrounds like this - I've got some panels that I want to do stitching like this on.

And here's a landscape quilt that is a real knockout:

It was stunning from a distance, but close up - WOW!  Have a closer look:

In the photo above, notice how the quilting looks like brush strokes!  And the ground between the rows of feathery red plants is all stitching.  REALLY CLEVER!  And yet another closer look (below) at the feathery plants:

The red and orange grassy shapes are applique!  Minutely narrow strips of fabric painstakingly stitched on.  It's brilliant!  And it must have taken ages to do.

Applique fans will appreciate this one (black camels, emus, and a bottle tree).  And look at how the quilter has bound it with multi-coloured binding.

There are a few really BIG quilts on display - like this one:

Below is a closeup of part of that one.  Almost like super-sized postcards all stitched together.

Ever been to Canberra?  If you're going, here's a map! (it's about 24" x 36")

Looking close up, you can see that the design is all done in tiny quilt and embroidery stitches. 
And here's another animal quilt - this one used applique and thread painting:
I saw this one and was struck by it's simplicity.
But when you get close... simple?  Hardly.  That basket on the left is done strips woven together.
More animals (thread painting again):
Every year there's a giant mural quilt.  Last year it was a huge crocodile.  This year, Flowers!
And, finally, there's this mind-blowing quilt.  The design is the facets of a square-cut diamond.  No photo does this justice.  I saw a photo of it on the convention's website and thought "yeah?  What's so great about that" - but then I saw it in person at the show.  It's astounding - jaw-dropping.
So there you are - a small handful of the huge number of amazing quilts on display.

Lots of fabric and gadget vendors were also on-hand, many with some really good deals for bargain hunters like me.  I came away with a couple of jelly roll packs, a fat quarter pack with 20 different aboriginal prints, and some rotary cutter blades (just in time, as my current blade is getting a little dull).  And, yeah, there was that one other little item I picked up - but I'll tell you about that later...