Monday, July 26, 2010

A Memory of NZ

During the holidays one of my home stay boys returned home to Germany. He had been with me for six months and had been a real joy to have. Very outgoing and good company. He wanted something quilted to take home so, while he was on a 3 day holiday in Auckland before he left NZ, I made him this:

Needless to say he was visiting the sky tower on the day I made the quilt. It is from Gail Lawther's book "Glimpses of New Zealand". I bought this book when it first came out but this is the first time I have made anything from it. I started at 4 am (sleepless night in the middle of the holidays!!) drawing the pattern to full size. Then I went back to bed for a bit more shut-eye. I got up at about 8.30am, selected fabrics and started sewing it. It was finished and the binding was on, ready for hand stitching down, by 10pm that night! That is a pretty quick quilt - but I admit I had 3 days to myself so there was boiled eggs and toast soldiers for dinner that night.Altogether a perfect quilting day.

I highly recommend Gail's book. Apart from the subject matter, of which I am undoubtedly biased, the book is a sampler of many different quilting techniques in a manageable format. It would make a great series of tutorials for a group of newish quilters looking to learn non traditional techniques.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Press and Seal

Long time, no blog, no real excuse except life has been really busy.

I had a lovely 'day in the country' sewing day with Janice yesterday. I took along "Tabasco Sauce", the top I made oh, was it a couple of years ago?, from the left-over blocks I made for the Cotton On Quilters Banner Janice and I made for our Club. I finally got around to basting it up and was trying to decide how to quilt it. Janice recommended using Press and Seal to cover the quilt. I could then draw all over the Press and Seal to get an idea of how I want to section the quilting:

This is a way cool idea to audition quilting designs. Janice says NOT to sew through the Press and Seal. She says to just cut it apart to reveal the section to be worked on. Here are some close-ups:

Janice also gave me a quick lesson on zentangle quilting and here is her quick plan for quilting "Tabasco Sauce":

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Now I am too late!

You may remember I blogged a wee while ago how I went to Stratford to see the National Association of New Zealand Quilters Illumination exhibition. This weekend was the first chance in February to get to see it. According to the literature it was on until 28 Feb. Alas the exhibition was taken down 3 days ago. Fortunately (I guess) I had telephoned the gallery to see if it was still on and they gave me the news that I had just missed it. Oh well, never mind.

I did still go through Stratford today because I had already decided to take my German international home stay student, along with 3 of his friends to New Plymouth (the idea was I would stop at the gallery on the way there - we stopped in Hawera instead for an ice cream).  We were going to visit a buthers shop we had heard about that sold German sausages. Alas, that shop had closed suddenly just before Christmas.

We weren't going to let that get us down either. The weather was perfect and the place was abuzz with the theme of Americana, classic cars and the Cliff Richards concert. I visited my friend Judy along with the fabric shops and the New Plymouth library. The kids went clothes shopping and loved it, way better than Wanganui according to them. They instantly demanded I rent a house so they could live there :-)  Yeah, right!

On the way back I had a good laugh as we passed a farm whose cows had very recently wandered to the milking shed which was close to the road, and another farm making sileage. The kids all pulled their tee shirts over their noses. Good rural smells I told them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Off it goes - without the label!

I did finish quilting this quilt a couple of weeks ago but since school started I have had little time to sit at the computer to make a post (well, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it). He, of Honey Bunch fame, moved on Sunday to his new flat for his second year at Uni.This quilt was supposed to be finished a whole year ago, ready fall the Halls of Residence. Well, only a year late. At least I got it done for the new flat:-)
It is called 'City Slicker'
The only trouble was I forgot to sew a label on it and when I remembered I ran out of time.I hope he looks after it!

The colour above isn't quite true. This close up of the quilting is better:

Sunday, January 24, 2010

I must have been on holiday for too long!

Yesterday I took Frances to Stratford to see the NANZQ Illumination Quilts exhibition in the Percy Thompson Gallery. You may remember I had a this quilt accepted into this touring exhibition and it has sold.
We had a nice stop in Hawera where we visited the Cinnamon Lodge quilt shop (hope I got the name right) where I found some delicious fabric that just had to come home with me. We had a lovely morning tea at the Little Grans cafe that was open. Well I had coffee of course, and so did Frances so I guess it was morning coffee, not morning tea. I spied some lovely home-made looking custard squares and was ready to put one on my plate when I glanced along the cabinet and saw they also had Eccles cakes. What does a girl choose when there are two old fashioned favourites vying for her attention?*

Why have I been on holiday for too long? Because when we got to the gallery in Stratford there were no quilts! The gallery assistant didn't know anything about any quilts. Huh? I must have got it wrong. Off I go to find a magazine shop so I can check the entry in NZ Quilter. The exhibition doesn't start until 29 January. Well doh, I know it is January but I have no idea what the actual date is, I'm on holiday!

I'm not sure why the gallery assistant didn't know the exhibition is starting in a week's time. I will have to phone the gallery to check that it is actually going to be on.

To save a bit on the disappointed feeling we found the shop in Stratford which sells quilting fabric, quite a bit of it. I didn't know Stratford had a quilt shop. It is called In Stitches. Well, they sell other sewing supplies as well but they had a good selection of fabric and I got some great bargain priced fat quarters and some lovely paisley fabric in a dark green and red with caramel combination. Maudette, the owner, was very friendly and helpful, especially considering we were there right at closing time and stayed for about half and hour or so!

*She gets both and eats half of each one so that she can take the other half of each cake for a picnic lunch at school the next day, where she is going to start preparing for the new school year. By the way, what ever happened to Battenburg cake, no one makes that old fashioned cake any more do they?

Monday, January 18, 2010

My New Best Friend

Hello, My name is Helen and I am a Blogger. It has been 36 days since my last blog . . . Oh dear, I think I should rename myself as the Monthly Blogger!

During the summer holidays I have been having a nice and relaxed time. I have been spring cleaning and sewing and quilting and spring cleaning and moving furniture around and spring cleaning and sorting the stash and cleaning and tidying and cleaning and . . . you get the picture.

Anyway, I wanted to show you my new best friend (which I have had since May of last year but have only just got around to blog about) and it is my new Sew Ezi table. These little tables are just fantastic and I wish I had bought one years ago. I had seen them at the first Hamilton Quilt and Craft Fair but didn't think they looked all that sturdy and the price seemed expensive for a small table. Was I wrong? Way wrong!

You have to understand that I have an Elna 6005 which does not come with any kind of flat bed, just a little box that slips over the free- arm which holds attachments for the machine. For most purposes this is okay, except not for quilting. It is definitely not a flat surface. At Wellington Symposium last year I was in Gloria Loughman's class and she was using one. To see it being used as opposed to just looking at it convinced me to get one. Using the Symposium Special I got my Sew Ezi table with a free accessory tray.

Let me tell you it has been a life-defining moment sewing with this table. Now that I have my machine flush with the table the quilting is so much easier, and no, the table does not rock. It is very sturdy, very portable and worth every penny. It has even made piecing so much easier having more room at the sewing level. I love the clear perspex insert and I have put the accessories I use most often into a little box which sits underneath the insert. Because I can see it I am not loosing the quarter inch foot, the free motion foot, the walking foot or the screw driver (most important, that bit.) The little circular indent on the front right hand side holds a glass of wine perfectly (vbg) There is plenty of room underneath for my legs and feet and I can sit directly in front of the needle. You couldn't give me a Horn cabinet now if you tried (well, hang on a minute, I might have to think that one through.) But seriously, these tables are so great I bought my friend Frances one for Christmas. She had bought me my Featherweight machine and I thought a substantial gift in return seemed appropriate at some stage.

UPDATE: I forgot to say that the price compares very favourably with any Horn cabinet I have seen advertised, about a quarter of the price There are no doors to get in the way when hefting a quilt around and the table is light and easy to move if I need to pull it out to get to the stuff that is stored in underneath.

Here is my machine nestled in its new home. Look how much flat surface I have:
You know the best thing I like about this table? See the hole which is the carry handle on the left hand side? It is the perfect distance, an arm's length away, for dropping cut-off threads into*. So I put a plastic bucket underneath to catch the threads. Now I have a lot less mess to clean up.

In the next picture I'm quilting a quilt for my son to take flatting next month. I hope to have it finished by the end of the week. You can see the yellow bucket underneath. Way to go!

* these threads are called 'orts' according the Southern Cross Quilters Yahoo group postings, a word I have never heard of. So I looked it up in my trusty old Concise Oxford Dictionary. The word ort, usually used in the plural orts, means refuse or scraps or leavings and dates back to the 15th century. You learn something new every day.