Monday 15 November 2021

Dinner Guests

With lockdown in Melbourne now a thing of the past and vaccination rates nearing 90% two doses for those aged over twelve, we are allowed to have guests to our home again.  It is nice to have the table set up.  The table runner was make by Kathy at Tamarack Shack.

In my dining area I have these three paintings by my very talented sister.  There is a story about how I came to have them in my possession.  

I had always admired them, but obviously my sister didn't realise how much.  Several years ago she was moving from Melbourne to Perth and was downsizing.  I walked past my local Salvos one early evening and to my shock and horror saw them in the window.  She had donated them without asking me if I wanted them.  The shop was already closed, but I noted the opening times. 

The next morning I was standing at the door 15 mins before opening to make sure no one got them before me.  As soon as they opened I immediately bought them.  Then I rang my sister and told her I had to buy her work.

I chose quilts to display next to them in colours that match.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Curved Cabin

Another quilt of mine that I made in 2013.

This was made with the quick curve ruler, and using a variation of a log cabin block that I changed slightly as I didn't want the seams in the centre.  

I originally was only going to make one block as an exercise, but liked it so much I decided to make nine to put into a quilt.  As I was only going to make one block, I used up some smaller pieces of fabric so didn't have enough to make the nine blocks the same and I had to change out some of the fabrics - I think this ended up making a more interesting quilt.  

Once I had the nine blocks made, I then decided to make four star blocks to go into the centre with a chain of squares to link them.  I decided to continue this theme in the setting triangles, and was able to work out the maths to create the effect I was after.  I decided on a pieced border to frame the quilt.

The quilting I wanted to keep pretty so decided on a daisy theme.  The daisies in the setting triangles are all different, and I put a more formal arrangement on the border.  To emphasise the frame I broke up the space with straight lines on the outside and a pebble background fill in the centre.

Thursday 2 September 2021

Single Person Bubble Buddy

Yesterday was the first day of Spring and the weather was glorious.  I was honoured that my brother chose me to be his Single Person Bubble Buddy so I am allowed to travel out of my 5km radius to his 5km radius to go for a walk together.

I take my responsibility seriously as his buddy, and will make sure we go for a walk regularly because being on your own, and working at home during lockdown is very lonely.  Also, as a bonus for me, I also get to walk in a different part of Melbourne for some much needed variety.  

This photo is along the Elwood Canal.  It looks deserted, but really I was just lucky to get a photo without anybody in it.

This is what it was really like with other people out walking too.

It was beautiful at the Point Ormond Lookout, and you can see there were a lot of people out enjoying the gorgeous weather and the view - but staying in small groups and socially distancing.  It would have been nice to stay for the sunset, but then we would have been walking home in the dark.

On one of our walks we went through Elsternwick Park which was lovely.

My brother told me that this was once a golf course that is being turned into parkland which I think is great.

Crossing Nepean Highway on the way home.  The sky was pretty, and you can see a little of the city in the distance.

Friday 27 August 2021

Pieced Backings

I frequently piece my backs.

This is an example of a quilt I made called Illumination in 2006, so you can see I have been piecing my backs for a while now.  I used up leftover squares from the top and several other fabrics from my stash.

I like to piece my backs for many reasons - I like to finish off the fabric I have used in the top rather than put it back into my stash.  I also like to use up leftover blocks or cut pieces from the top in the back.  As fabric is expensive, I would prefer to use up pieces from my stash rather than buy more fabric just for the back.  And finally, I think it looks good.

When piecing the back for loading on a long arm machine, there are some things to take into consideration.

 - The back will be loaded between two rollers.  Two opposite sides of the back need to be straight and square as these are going to be pinned to the rollers (it is preferable if all four sides are square).
 - Piecing the back in long strips is a good options as I will load it so all the seams will run lengthwise on the roller.
 - If you are able, leave the selvage on the outer edge of the two opposite sides, this makes pinning onto the canvas rollers easier, and I will know they are straight.
 - Remove all selvages on seams within the back as this reduces bulk and the slight puckering that can occur due to the selvage being woven more tightly.
 - Seams can be pressed either open or to one side.  Pressing seams open will give you a flatter back, pressing seams to one side will give you a more secure seam.  Either option is fine so long as the seams are carefully pressed.  I press my seams to one side.
 - Unless I am given specific instructions, I will off centre the seam in the back so it is not in the middle of the quilt, as that is where the quilt is more likely to be folded.
 - I can roughly centre a quilt on a back, but it can't be done exactly.  Therefore backs with borders can't be perfectly centred so if the final border is narrow it will be noticeable.
 - It is difficult to get a quilt perfectly straight on all sides of a back, therefore a random pieced back with wide pieces falling at the edges is preferable.
 - I can't see the back when I am quilting, so the piecing needs to be flat and straight.

Here are some more examples of pieced backs on my quilts.

In this quilt I had one star block left over from the top and pieced it into the back so I could call the quilt 50 Stars instead of 49 Stars.

This quilt is called 101 Reds.

I had a whole lot of red strips as offcuts from another quilt I was making where I was fussing cut the red fabric, and these were the left over pieces.  I pieced them into the back of this quilt so they weren't wasted.

You can see that the top and bottom of the back of this quilt are wide pieces of fabric, and I put the narrow strips into the centre of the quilt.  That way if the quilt is slightly out of shape or not perfectly square (almost no quilts are perfect), you can't notice if the wide strips are not exactly even on each side.

This quilt is called Steam Punk and is designed by Jen Kingwell.

I decided to not piece the blocks into the setting triangle like in Jen's pattern so I had leftover blocks.  In the back I pieced in the extra blocks and I offset them in a vertical line as I didn't have enough of the lighter fabric to make the width of the quilt (normally I would put them in a horizontal line).

Many of the fabric in this quilt were purchased when visiting a friend in Canada. She gave me a packet of two-inch strips as a present.  At the time, I didn't know where I would use these fabric, but I felt they should be part of this quilt so I pieced them into the back in a horizontal line.

The lowest horizontal strip of light green fabric was not meant to be there.  However I miscalculated the size of the backing, and didn't realise until I had almost finished quilting it that I was going to run out of backing.  So I took the quilt off the machine, although it was already mostly quilted, and pieced the light green strip of fabric into the back.

I would not normally have pieced a strip that low into the bottom of a quilt back.  As a consequence, the strip is not even (Look a the bottom left of the picture and you can see the dark green strip is lightly narrower than the other side).  Still, the strip is wide enough that it is not hugely noticeable.  It would have been much more noticeable if it was narrower.


Thursday 19 August 2021

Lockdown Six

As Melbourne is now two weeks into lockdown number six I am trying to stay busy.  But I think, like a lot of people, I am feeling a little gloomy.  Having the curfew brought back, and playgrounds shut makes it very real.

I took this photo on the way to the post office to send two parcels of completed quilts home.  I will get stopped at the railway crossing at least once each trip, and frequently both ways.  I find funny the picture of our premier Dan Andrews drawn on the wall of the liquor shop with his iconic phrase of last year's press conferences.

In the ten days of limited freedom between lockdown five and lockdown six I did manage to get a walk with my brother along the bay.

As for this lockdown I am trying to keep busy.  My injured foot continues to play up.  Scans have revealed that I have torn the muscle in the ball of my foot.  I am diligently doing the exercises the podiatrist has given me, but it seems to be two steps forward and one step back.  So I have been working on completing my Aberfeldie Flowers quilt.

Saturday 24 July 2021

50 Stars

This was a fun project from 2015 where I made fifty six inch stars in scraps of blue/green fabrics, put them on point, and pieced them with a plain square in between.  

I didn't realise until after it was finished and under the bright light of my machine that I had used two shades of white fabrics.

I used my curved cross hatching ruler to create the circle effect around the stars.

There are forty-nine stars on the top and I pieced the fiftieth into the back.

Friday 16 July 2021

Murray to Mountains Rail Trail

With my foot injury finally starting to feel better, and Paul taking a week off work, we decided to tackle parts of the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail.  This trail is 116km long and runs from Wangaratta to Bright with an offshoot to Beechworth.  Rail Trails by their very nature are mostly flat, or with gradual gradients, so therefore perfect for me to test out my foot rather than tackle a more difficult hike. 

Our Rail Trail trip was cut short with Victoria going into another circuit breaker lockdown, but at least we got two good days of walking in. 

The first was from our accomodation in Wangaratta to the former station of Londrigan.  This was 25.5kms return.  Much of the walk was at the back of housing or along a road, so not as picturesque as I would have preferred.  However there were some very pretty areas along the trail.

There were some gorgeous trees.  This one caught my eye because of both the colours in the trunk and the strange lower branch on the right.

This magnificent tree was near a creek and you can see in the background a couple of horseback riders also out on the trail.

This was where we stopped for lunch.  

And this was the view of the creek from the bridge next to where we stopped for lunch.

The map of the trail - the red is the part of the trail we walked.

The second walk was further along on the Rail Trail starting just before where the former station of Bowman was located to where the former station of Gapsted was located.  This was 16kms return.

Unfortunately the weather was a bit wet, but we didn't let us stop us.  This hike was largely through farmland.  

But it also had some interesting sights, like a car graveyard.

Some old car bodies dumped in a ravine.

And some interesting bike art which was in the middle of nowhere.  

This is the map showing in red the part of the trail we walked.

Afterwards we stopped at a bakery on the way back to our accomodation and I had the second best bee-sting cake that I have ever had.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Steam Punk

This is Jen Kingwell's Design Steam Punk.  Many of the fabrics in this quilt were purchased when I was in Canada in January 2018, so they bring back some happy memories.

I changed the pattern a little by not including the blocks in the setting triangles and piecing the sashing.  

When the quilt was finished as per the pattern it didn't look complete to me so I decided to add the border of applique circles which I think frames it nicely.

The back was pieced with the blocks I decided not to use in the setting triangles.

Saturday 12 June 2021

Staying Local

There haven't been any hiking posts for a while as I haven't been hiking.  At the start of May I hurt my foot, so until recently I haven't even been walking which has been very frustrating.  I think it is finally on the mend, but I need to be careful I don't overdo it (easier said than done). 

Melbourne also went into a two week lockdown (that ended yesterday) due to a Covid outbreak.  We are still only allowed to travel within 25kms of our home under current restrictions so we can't go bush even if my foot was ok.

My husband took this photo of the Maribyrnong River a couple of days ago.  Look closely - after taking it he turned the photo upside down.  The reflection was nearly perfect.

This is a photo of Aberfeldie Park.  At the start of last year that dirt in the foreground was just a big pile of dirt.  But over the last year it has been carefully sculpted into bike ramps.  During lockdown last year groups of mostly I would guess nine to thirteen year old kids, mostly boys, but a few girls, would congregate here and slowly the mound of dirt was shaped.  Kids that I assume would normally be doing other activities on the weekend found an outlet here.  

If you look carefully you can see an old wheelbarrow and shovel that I have circled, and you can see the path their bikes take down the hill to the ramps.  I wonder if the council would have allowed this to happen in a normal year.... I think probably not.

Monday 7 June 2021


This gorgeous quilt is made by Donna.  The pattern is called Thistles by Fig Tree & Co.  It was quilted with an allover freehand cloud design.

I especially like the flying geese sashing and how the four smaller star blocks make up one larger block.

Sunday 30 May 2021

Version Three - Black (Fireworks)

I pieced this top in 2015, and quilted it late 2017.  It won the Excellence in Machine Quilting Award at Vic Showcase 2018.

The quilting is random, and I wanted it to look like fireworks exploding between the stars.

I quilted the border with random triangles coming in from the edge, shading from the light blue in the middle of each side to the dark blue at the corners.

Most of the stitching for the straight lines and the circles I have gone over twice to make it really stand out on the black background.

To work out the placement of the quilting, I marked the quilt with chalk.

I then put a letter for each colour in the shape to plan out the colour placement.

I chose a plain black back to show up the quilting.