Tuesday 31 May 2011

Thank You For Commenting

Thanks to Everyone who took the time to comment on my last post. It's a relief to know that Blogger is having issues as I sometimes feel like these things only happen to me.

I can't leave comments on blogs - otherwise, it's business as usual on this blog and tomorrow is WOW again. This sure is motivation for me to keep busy!

Monday 30 May 2011

Monday Madness

Did you take time to browse through WOW last wednesday? Well, I was delighted with it. 19 bloggers took part and I really enjoyed visiting each and everyone to see what they were up to. Thursday and Friday I got back into my own workload and hopefully I will be able to start sharing finished WIPs soon...ish....maybe.

Apologies to those who I was not able to comment on directly, something strange is going on and I am unable to post comments on other blogs at the moment. I was able to post a few and then my sign in fell out - and it never re-accepts it. This only happens via other blogs when I try to sign into the comments section with blogger...and it doesn't effect my actual blogging. Very strange and I can't understand why.
Blogging can be so maddening! I dont know what to do about it, I am hoping it will resolve itself as it's definitely something to do with blogger.

Today, trying to resolve this blogger thing has driven me to baking! Well, yes, I had been putting it off as I've been too busy quilting to do any baking and it's so easy to just buy some nice biscuits. Except, when I read the ingredients listings on biscuits nowadays - it drives me back into the kitchen.

I know it's easier to buy them but I can't ignore how much artificial junk is in them and I like to always have homemade biscuits in the house, for my DH.

Today I have gone the way of Too Simple with this easy easy easy recipe: (makes 25 - 30 teaspoon sized biscuits)

1 cup butter
2 cups flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon cornflour / cornstarch

Simply mix all together ( I put it all together in the kitchen wizz), pop in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then, spoon off some mixture and bake for 10-15mins at 180c or until golden.

These simple failproof recipes are the best. For the jam variety I made a dip with a spoon and filled it with home made jam, for the almond variety I just sprinkled some slivered almonds on top and pressed down.

You can spice it  / modify so easily and it turns out perfect all the time.

Now that the biscuit jar is full, I have quilting work to do, and hopefully I will be commenting again soon...

Wednesday 25 May 2011

WOW: WIPs On Wednesdays

My WOW (WIP On Wednesday) this week is a quilt top

It’s an art quilt. I love the curved piecing, the shape really interests me. It’s super bright – this photo doesn’t do it justice, and it’s from my hand dyed stash. I love using my hand dyes. The idea with this WIP (it doesn’t have a name yet) was to create a central design with an original stencil of mine.

I have actually made the stencil…and cut it out…and mislaid it. I’m sure I saw it during the last tidy, so I have hung the quilt up (well, draped it over a ledge) to remind me, to get it done.

Another similar art quilt idea I actually finished was Upstream (this fish quilt, right) and this art quilt also used my own hand dyes and I stenciled the fish over the colour waves to create a design. I then stitched over the stenciled fish.

This is the feeling I get with this current quilt top. You can’t see much now, but with a lot of my art quilts, it comes together at different points, this top isn’t there yet. I’ll be glad when it’s finished.

With this type of quilt top, I really have to wait for the momentum to pick up again, it isn't something I feel I can force. (Excellent WIP Excuse #5)

What's your Wednesday WIP?

Join in, it's easy:

Tuesday 24 May 2011

WIPs on Wednesdays

Those of you who are familiar with my blog will know that I used to post a (sort of regular) “Esther’s Occasional Quote For The Day”. I received an email last week asking me what had happened to my occasional quotes?? Well, nothing happened to them. Except that I have been somewhat sidetracked by my WIPs. You know how it is – blogging is a great resource, it allows you take a look into other quilter’s online journals. I do think of my own blog as an online journal…it helps me keep track of my work and lets me share what I think and do with a wide range of people.

Blogging also takes a lot of time and it’s a balance to decide between doing work and taking time out to share the work you are doing.

Something else has also struck me recently – there are so many readers out there doing their own thing. I have a modest following (498 and counting….this is wonderful) and I’d love to know at a glimpse, what you’re all doing! I know there’s a good range of interests out there – so I’m fairly confident that one thing we all have in common are Works In Progress (WIPs).

So from now on, Wednesdays on this blog
will be WIPs on Wednesdays.

What does that mean? I’m inviting you all to create a blog post regarding whatever it is you’re doing…that is, your WIP …and link to it on this blog every Wednesday. That way we can all get a snapshot of what everyone else’s WIPs are looking like. There are lots of interesting things out there, let’s share!

Ok, I know it’s Tuesday- I’m just eager to spread the word and hopefully inspire as many of you as possible to join in. Starting tomorrow…

WIPs on Wednesdays

Monday 23 May 2011

Try Stenciling For Free

Have you tried stenciling yet?
I have to admit, I do love stenciling. It's a rewarding technique that allows you to be creative and in control. Once you have mastered the process, it will change the way you look at quilt designing - I have always enjoyed turning my sketches into a design and knowing that it's completely my own.

Stenciling can be including a single stenciled block in your next quilt or creating a whole cloth masterpiece.
If you've ever thought about stenciling...but wasn't sure, why not give it a go? I am offering my Tulip Delight Table Runner Pattern for free via my website. Why not print it out and see if it suits you?

Why not  visit my Original Stencil Quilt Gallery to see how creative and diverse stenciling can be?

The snap shots above are taken from my gallery, click on an image below to link directly to it

Tuesday 17 May 2011

My Production Process

How I Create Multiple Blocks

Having looked over the 4 blocks in Block 4, you may be feeling daunted with the task ahead of you.
I’d like to take a moment now and share with you what I think is the most time effective way to create multiple blocks.
I spend the most time actually selecting fabrics, so if you have your fabrics chosen - the time saving right there shouldn't be underestimated!
I look at the block, pull out some fabrics that I think would work and I start there.
I first dissect the pattern in easy shapes. So, for instance, I think leaves are an easy shape - I usually start with them, and I trace and number all the leaves.
I then decide on light and darkness contrasts in the leaf (or shape) and immediately sort the shapes by colour choice.

Then I cut them out and position / iron them onto fabric with freezer paper.

Then I trace all the stems, and so on.

Basically I create production lines based on shapes – all the leaves, all the stems, etc.

I multiply freezer paper sheets x 4, staple the sheets together and then cut 4x of everything in one cutting.

My routine starts off with spending a day on just leaves and stems and getting them cut out and assembled.

Lastly, I will tackle the flowers. I mark my pattern piece with dotted lines to determine which areas will over ‘over’ and which areas will be ‘under’ so I don’t have to think which is an under tucked shaped or a top lying shape.

Then I sort the shapes by numbers: fabric 1, fabric 2. Fabric 3, etc and put these shapes into envelopes. I stitch a swatch of the fabric on the envelope for easy viewing.

I always photocopy the block and colour in or number each segment,. That way when it comes to assembling, I can glance at my block and glance at my envelopes and know very quickly, what belongs where.  As I cut in multiples of 4, as I am cutting the fabric I position numbers straight into envelopes.

Everything is done in this kind of assembly line.

Once everything is cut out and prepared into x4’s, then I place a base pattern of the block on my light box. Over this I place my background fabric. Then I start putting the block together like a puzzle. I use light dabs of Roxanne Glue and I start with the stems and thorns first, then the vase and blooms last. The visibility is so clear that there is no guessing, everything simply slots into place.

This stage is the most satisfying as all the pieces come out of their envelopes come together.

Basically, it takes preparation and attention to detail along the way. You don’t want to waste time during the last stage of putting the puzzle together to decide to re-do a leaf or bloom because it isn’t up to standard.

Once you have positioned and glued the pieces into place, you can then hand or machine stitch into place. When this is completed, I usually add embellishments or embroidery if needed.

If I’m productive enough, creating all 4 blocks takes me a week, working 6-8 hours a day. Obviously I get distracted, have to cook, you know, the usual housewife /mother stuff I get to around here. I am one of those people, when something has to be done, I get really focused and don’t want to stop until it is completed. The great thing about this process is that whether you have a day to work nonstop or whether you work in small consistent segments, this method of producing the block lends itself well.

Of course, if you do it differently and it works for you, I’d love to hear how you do it.

Sunday 15 May 2011

Flowers For Me

Introducing: Hearts Desire: Block 4

This month I’ve purposefully included some sharp points to my design, since life is not always a sun dappled garden of needle- turned circles.

Those little thorns do creep into the stem and I feel that, as in life, the thorny details needed to be represented.

I do always try to think: bigger the thorn, more beautiful the rose

This month my desire is Flowers For Me... and for me alone. For that reason this bloom is not a rose of any identifiable genus, but a flower from some other long forgotten time, blooming in only my garden.

OK! Onto Details….
Isn’t it sad to think our journey together will be finished in just 2 months? I know, I know, you’re all thinking arghh, enough applique already! But can a quilter have too much of a good thing?

This month sees us making 8 sashings to add to our 4 remaining background squares, which when done - we will go on to applique.

There are no further clues about placement this month – that will come together next month. This month concludes the four remaining blocks.

But where each block goes? Nobody will know for sure this month….We are all well versed on our raw edge and needle turn applique by now – you might think that this month is the last final applique hurdle before a breezy ending as we approach the last 2 months.

Well, let me tell you now – I don’t think anyone will guess what’s coming up next month, so if you’re having thoughts of resting or putting aside your applique – resist – because when next month comes, you’re going to be eager to finish your quilt  and invigorated when you see what’s in store to finish this design off.

We are nearly approaching the end of this heartfelt and emotionally charged applique quilt: so many of you have truly made this design your own with personalized fabrics and added small but significant changes that tell your own unique story.
I love looking through the albums as each of you complete your blocks. I know how wonderful this month’s block will look as the next 4 weeks pass….

So, until next month BOM wise,
keep up if you can – it’ll be worth the finish!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Golden Rabbit Door Hanging

I’ve been a part of this Festival since its very first year and once again I have to start by saying a big Thank You Amy!

Golden Rabbit
(although, I know - he really is a hare)

This applique wall hanging was my Easter 2011 project. As well as my free BOMs, I like to share whatever little projects I make throughout the year. I know we all have mountains of fabric out there, so the more designs and uses to bring it out of the pile and into the open, the better!

Golden Rabbit is a stash busting applique piece. Basically, I wanted to create something versatile and fun. It’s an Easter Kitchen door hanging in my house, but it could easily be a wall-hanging, a table runner or a cushion. And I think he could even be incorporated into a quilt block.

   I make so many large quilts that it’s nice to relax and have some fun with smaller projects every now and then. This piece felt like playing around, I had a great time deciding on the fabrics, the backgrounds and his eyes (which are cut from a print).

I know this wall hanging will get so much use, especially as I love to have cherished family items that come out each year during special occasions.

As for Mr. Hare himself, well I just scribbled him into life in one of my journals….and whenever I look though that particular journal, his eyes were always looking at me. I knew I had to make him!

This little applique piece was an enjoyable afternoon – because that’s all it took to make up – a few lazy hours. I hope you’ve enjoyed looking at him here as much as I enjoyed bringing him alive.
Thank you for stopping by my blog,
enjoy the rest of the festival!

Friday 13 May 2011

What is your favorite photo / image program?

I am looking for a program which I can download from my camera into, and once stored in that program, allows me to easily move, categorize and print images. I have been using Windows Image and also have the software which comes with Sony Cameras PMB as well as FINEPIX and I don’t like any of them. They all have their strengths, but none do the lot.

I am thinking of buying one to do everything – I mean really, who has time to juggle their photos around (like I presently do??) to get full use out of features required across other software functions.

I am after a program for your computer – not online storage like Picassa or Photobucket, etc.

I know most of you reading this post are more computer savvy than I am, so if you are using an image software program that you love, would you please let me know?

Tuesday 10 May 2011

Tuesday - back to work!

Where has the last month got to? I’m still sorting myself out after a leisurely Easter and Sunday was Mother’s Day, so the last 4 weeks have been a bit of an overindulgent blur.

I still haven’t had a chance to sit down with a coffee and catch up on my favorite blogs (…yet…) but I will get there sometime this week.

Yesterday I think I found the last little brightly foiled chocolate egg which had rolled under the fruit bowl ….so it might be time to stop indulging! I have some pressing WIPs that are taking up all my time- you know how it is, you pass the bulk of the work and you don’t want to stop when you are so close to finishing. I’m sure we all know that feeling!

When my children were very young, they would loudly complain that there was no Kids Day for them on which to get presents and breakfast in bed - which I always thought was so funny. The truth is, I think Mother’s day and all those days are a bit of a marketing trick…but I still can’t help falling for it…it’s just so nice, isn’t it?
My DDs are all grown up now so I didn’t get breakfast in bed. Really though, I can’t complain, I don’t bake Sunday lunch on Sunday’s- they do, and I get away with endless hours of quilting whilst they help out around the house, so I am very fortunate. Lunch yesterday was wonderful and picture perfect – such a treat, and I did get a useful cup with a lid (which I’ve wanted for ages) for when I go to meetings, etc. I also enjoyed some unusual flowers. I don’t know why I love this decorative cabbage so much (I think its Kale), but I do. And on Saturday I treated myself to 2 Liberty Print Handkerchiefs.

So, yes...I did buy some fabric (even though I am trying to stash bust) but I don’t have to worry about my groaning fabric shelf taking any more as both squares are already useful before even being used!

Now in hindsight, I don't know if I ever will use them, but I like having them in my handbag just in case. I think I must be in the last hankerchief generation as neither DD was impressed with this purchase.

I couldnt help but take photos

I am determined to make this week a productive week. It feels like one festivity after another in my house and I need to get into ‘working mode’. Wish me luck, I’ll let you know if I get there.

Thursday 5 May 2011

An Ordinary Moment in May

 This year is simply running past me! It feels an age since I last blogged, just before Easter actually. I hope you all had a restful and family focused time, and if you didn’t enjoy those things then I at least hope you enjoyed plenty of chocolate.

Today my DD caught me catching up on Hearts Desire in my standardly messy studio and took a snap.

I thought it was about time that I cleared my table for the next project as I have several coming up that I want to get finished.

Whilst cleaning up, I became distracted, changed my To Do List and decided to finish some blocks instead..

this is my applique leaf production line

For those of you who don’t already know, I have a ‘test’ sewer make my quilts before I launch my BOMs and at the moment she has completed more of my own work than I have. I have to sort that out immediately! But then the mail arrived…and I had to stop to admire Inspirations Magazine. It’s such an inspiring magazine that it gets me to wondering…when will I get the time to do some needlecraft?

How do you prioritize your interests? Is quilting what you do – or is it one of the things you do?

I’d love to know!

Ok, back to work with only the sneakiest peeks of an upcoming block visible in this photo.

At least once a week I get an email asking for a pic of Hearts Desire.
But remember: It's not a mystery if you know!
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