Beyond the Garden Gate

Today I wandered around a friend's sweet garden. It was the first time I had seen her little piece of paradise and it was a delight to behold. My favourite part was a big old tree with low limbs. Hanging from it and underneath it were so many beautiful treasures - ferns, orchids and other magnificent flowering plants. It was totally uplifting to spend time amongst such beauty.

Some of that sort of enchantment was what I was trying to capture in my Beyond the Garden Gate quilt.  

The quilt features in the March 2018 issue of Homespun Magazine.

I made the quilt using one of my favourite Quilt-as-you-go methods.

Thee are plenty of my favourite applique elements in it.

The fabric range I used is the delightful Welcome Home Collection One by Jennifer Bosworth.

The beautiful fabrics were totally inspiring. 

Lots of butterflies flit around in my garden.

 ... and here is the garden gate:

with pretty pots nearby.

It has the most beautiful floral fabric in the border.

Seeing that beautiful garden today made me hanker back to the days when I too had a pretty place to enjoy. My garden even won a couple of prizes - a long time ago. But we live in the humid sub-tropics so gardening is hot, hard work, and age has crept up, so I am content to have an easy-care garden and a few ferns. I guess it has been a deliberate choice to put my time and effort into quilting rather than gardening. Maybe I worked out today why there are so many garden elements in heaps of my projects!

Happy stitching!

Fruit Salad in a quilt

If you thought I was over the top with my penchant for black (see my last post), you might think I have really gone overboard with my fruit salad quilt!

I really like the jewel-like colours of Eleanor Burns' fabric range, "Forever Love".  I wanted to use the Arbor Window quilt block (aka Granny Square) so decided that this was definitely a case for having a black background, which shows up both the fabric and the piecing so well. 

I talked here about how the blocks were made without having to align any points - my style of piecing since I'm an imperfect piecer!

As I much prefer doing applique to piecing blocks, I did plenty on this quilt.

The fabric colours were so good for depicting various fruits.

One of my favourites below - cherries - both the applique and eating them!

I made this project using the quilt-as-you-go method.

The appliques are all in the borders, so it took a long time to get round the whole quilt!

The grapes took forever, but I am so pleased with the result on the finished quilt. The different fabrics used for the grapes give a really great effect when the quilt is viewed from a distance.

All the above photos were taken before quilting, so here is the finished product:

It's looking very happy in our family room, covering a small pool table.

I'm finished my "black phase" for the moment and am having fun with another quilt with lots of appliques - and an off-white background! It's using a wonderful new Tilda range of fabrics which will be in stores soon. 

Speaking of Tilda fabrics, I have now added the pattern for my "Cottage in the Garden" quilt to my Craftsy Store. A number of folk who don't have access to Australian magazines told me they would like to buy the pattern, so here's the link if that is you!  

Happy stitching!

Black is the new white.

Black is not a colour that I wear much at all. It isn't too bad if it is 'below the belt' and so I have one black skirt, but I think that is the limit to that colour in my wardrobe. If it is anywhere near my face, it just drains all the colour out of me and I definitely do not look my best!

Why then have I gone crazy with black backgrounds lately?

It seems to have become a trend with me over recent months and black has been the colour of choice for quite a few of my projects.

There's no doubt about it, there are certain tones and shades of colour that are enhanced against a black background. Even the pale pinks and blues in the dresden plates above look so pretty against the dark fabric. In fact, I venture to think that they would look rather insipid against a white or light background.

Then I love how the black brings out the strength of the bright colours. They seem to positively glow.

I had this gorgeous piece of white peacock lace, so what to do with it but to put it against a dark background. Sequins and beads add to the sparkle!

For my "Pathway to Colour" Drunkard's Path Cushion, I chose to make ombre strips and I love how the pink, purples and aqua stand out. 

This design featured in Handmade Magazine No 36 Issue 9 if you are interested in the pattern.

At the moment I am working on another quilt using some gorgeous Tilda Fabric, but I've gone back to an off-white background for this one. I realise you have to really pick the right time to go black!

Happy stitching!

The Juggling Act

A couple of years ago, our lovely younger daughter arrived on our doorstep with a plastic bag of fabrics. There were a couple of pretty blue and yellow yardages, lots of medium-value, medium-scale smaller pieces and a lovely border print. It all came with the request to design and make a King Size quilt for her!

That bag sat in my sewing room for some months while I tried to figure out how I could design something suitable with all those bits and pieces. The lovely border print had to be the foundation. It wasn't a huge piece so I worked out the maximum size I could get out of it with mitred corners, and then fitted everything else around it.  

Above is the rough digital mock-up of what I thought would work (ignore the butterflies which shouldn't be there). Daughter was fairly happy with it, but husband didn't like it at all! Seeing it was for their own bed, they both needed to like it!

Needless to say, the bag of fabrics went right to the back of my sewing cupboard, hidden away where I couldn't see it!

Last year, two years later, I was looking for something to stitch. There was by now only a limited market in magazines for the smaller projects I liked to design, so I was thinking it was time to make another quilt.  It was then I remembered that bag of fabrics!  But I also remembered the dilemma of trying to please both parties!

I made an executive decision that I would design the quilt, add some of my own fabric to it to give more possibilities, make it, and pay to have it professionally quilted. Seeing I was supplying extra fabric, backing fabric, batting and the quilting, I figured it was going to be a good Christmas present for our daughter!  If she didn't like it, then I would pay her for the fabrics she had given me and use it in our own home. 

Then began the juggling act! Thankfully with my EQ7 software programme, it was easy to see what would work and fit and whether I would have enough of any one fabric. Lots of designs later, I came up with this centre design to fit in the pretty daisy border fabric.

But whatever was I to do with all those medium-value, medium-scale prints? It took a while, but eventually I thought of a piano key border. Set between the brown strips, it is a nice wide border, without detracting from the feature centre. 

I had JUST enough fabric to add a final border to make the 100 inch square quilt and enough bits and pieces to make two matching pillow cases.

I finished it well before Christmas, so offered it to Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine and they published it in their December issue, Vol 27, No 10. You can see that I called it "Joyful Juggling":

Christmas Day arrived and I was half hoping that daughter didn't like the quilt so that I could keep it for our spare room! It was probably only about a quarter hope, so I was really thankful that she liked it and it went off with lots of love to their home. Daughter tells me that every time they walk into the bedroom, seeing the quilt conjures up happy, sunshiny feelings! What more could a mother ask for?


Journeying into 2018

2018 has been around for a few weeks but for me it feels as if it is just starting! We enjoyed a fabulous Christmas with 26 of our wonderful family together. We then decided we would have a bit of a ‘holiday-at-home’, watching cricket, occasionally tennis, sewing, reading, doing as little of the normal housework as possible and generally being lazy. 

But reality is hitting and it's time to start facing the year ahead. We've had some ceiling fans installed to cope with the intense heat and humidity of our Queensland summer, so there's no excuse not to be up and going! 

There's been plenty of 'Thinking Quilting' happening. I have been working on a commissioned quilt with lots of applique and stitching. Then I decided to try to wash my big king size bedroom quilt for the first time. Only problem was, it wouldn’t fit in the washing machine. Tried the laundry tub, and it wouldn’t fit in there either. The final resort was the bath, so I filled it with water, added plenty of Wool-wash, and with lots of pushing and shoving and lifting and dunking, managed to give it a wash. Thankfully, the black fabric didn’t run, and hubby was around to help me lift it onto the clothes line. The quilt came up beautifully and the fabrics are positively glowing – so job done!

It’s stone-fruit season here, so that means it’s preserving time. The prices have been quite high so I’ve been holding off, hoping and waiting for them to drop, which they have done in the last couple of weeks. So now I have four months' supply of peaches preserved and a few packets of frozen diced mango, plus a couple of jars of peach jam. Next on the to-do list are plums!

One of my quilts is on the front cover of Aust Patchwork & Quilting magazine this month, Vol 27 No 11. The quilt called ‘Cottage in the Garden’ is made from the Cottage collection of Tilda fabrics.

It has been very well received on social media so I am quite excited.

I couldn't help but put a cottage in my quilt to follow the fabric collection:

I hope you enjoy seeing all its various components.

If you don't have access to the Australian magazine scene, I plan to put the quilt in my Craftsy Store in a couple of months.

I have placed the quilt on the wall at the front entrance of the house and I’m very pleased with how it looks ... and I can enjoy it every time I walk past!

I have decided not to offer a Block of the Month programme this year, so I have left all the patterns for the 2017 Hand-Picked wardrobe free in my Craftsy Store. I have some ideas for random free patterns this year, so keep on the look-out.

Happy Stitching.