22 September 2011

The Quilter's Bible by Linda Clements

There are so many 'complete guides to quilting' etc on the market, I thought it might be helpful to document exactly what is inside this book as you may well be referring to it for a very long time.

The Quilter's Bible is written by Linda Clements whose passion is quilting (of course!) with a background in publishing and book production.  Linda is very grateful to the many talented and creative quilters who have contributed projects and work to this book, such as:   Lynette Anderson, Susan Briscoe, Lynne Edwards, Carolyn Forster, Lynette Jensen, Gail Lawther, Pam and Nicky Lintott, Anne Muxworthy and many more.

The book starts out with covering the beginning quilting essentials of Tools, Materials, Working with Fabrics, Using Templates, Drawing and Cutting Shapes and Using Technology.

Note:  Under the Using Technology section there is only a cursory mention of the Electric Quilt Software which doesn't do it justice.  If you have made a couple of quilts and you are addicted, Electric Quilt is an absolute dream to work with.  We cannot give it enough high praise for ease of use, time saving possibilities, fast designing, showcasing colour and calculating fabric requirements.  See our other Blog notes about Electric Quilt.

The book then goes on and covers Patchwork, Applique, Quilting and Finishing Off.  I have listed below each topic covered under these headings where you will find photo's, diagrams, thorough explanations and descriptions.

Bonus:  There is a project to go with almost all of these sub-headings.

Patchwork Settings, Working with Blocks, Scrap Quilts, Sampler Quilts, Hand Piecing, English Paper Piecing, Machine Piecing, Patchwork with Squares and Rectangles, Patchwork with Strips, Seminole Patchwork, Bargello Patchwork, String Patchwork, Patchwork with Triangles, Patchwork with Diamonds and Polygons, Patchwork with Curves, Pictorial Patchwork, Foundation Piecing, Crazy Patchwork, Puffed Patchwork, Folded Patchwork, Fabric Special Effects, Quilt Art, Using Sashing, Using Borders.

Fabrics and Threads for Applique, Motifs and Templates, Needle-Turn Applique, 3-D Applique, Freezer Paper Applique, Fusible Web Applique, Edging Applique, Applique Perse, Hawaiian Applique, Reverse Applique, Shadow Applique, Inlaid Applique, Bias Strip Applique, Shisha.

Preparing to Quilt, Choosing Quilting Designs, Marking Designs, Hand Quilting, Big Stitch Quilting, Whole Cloth Quilting, Celtic Quilting, Sashiko, Kantha Quilting, Machine Quilting, Free-motion Quilting, Long-arm Quilting, Quilt-as-you-go, Tied Quilting, Corded Quilting, Stuffed Quilting, Decorative Quilting.

Finishing Off:
Finishing Edges, Final Touches, Useful Stitches, Project Marking Up, Useful information, Templates.

If I had the time, this is the kind of book you could use to work through a different technique every day, or every week.  By the end of writing this Blog, I have decided I need to add it to my patchwork book collection because it is just so comprehensive and inspiring.

20 September 2011

A Thrifty Wedding

I was aghast to learn yesterday that the average cost of a wedding these days is around $50,000.  Maybe I am a bit of a sceptic, or not a gambler, or maybe it was just that I was an 'old', but first-time, bride, however there was no way that kind of money was going to spent on a single day of my life.  With a little bit of thought and putting hand craft skills to work you can save a lot of money and have some terrific fun along the way.  Here are the things we did to have a wonderful, memorable, happy ceremony that was a bargain given the joy experienced by all.

  1. Invitations and place name cards were hand crafted by my sister, my friend De-Arne and myself
  2. Ear Rings were borrowed from my friend
  3. Necklace purchased in second hand shop in Bungendore
  4. Bracelet was borrowed and I added my Grandmothers stunning Amethyst brooch
  5. Shoes purchased on sale for $50
  6. Our ceremony was held beside a Sydney sea pool (did I remember to tell the Council??)
  7. We timetabled the limo drive to make 3 trips in one hour!
  8. My step-sons are wearing shirts I hand dyed with tea bags to match the colour of my dress
  9. We booked a fashion photographer at a flat rate who delivered the disk of digital images to us by the end of our lunch (and we negotiated outright ownership of the images)
  10. All flowers were purchased at the Sydney Flower Market and made up into bouquets etc by a friend (& it was such a fun early morning shopping experience with my sister and friends)
  11. I purchased some cheap vases, hand painted them gold and used flowers from the market as table decorations.
  12. I purchased decorative table runners and other exotic fabrics at the markets at very reasonable prices and these were used as table decorations plus to cover the council chairs around the sea pool.  I still use these pieces around our house which bring back fond memories of our lovely day.
  13. Friends were allocated the job of going to the venue before the ceremony to decorate the tables
  14. All the music was chosen and put together by friends
  15. Our reception was booked in a dining room as a family reunion (as we were not having any wedding formalities)
  16. We chose not to have a wedding cake, instead our celebrant suggested a 'wine ceremony' with the same significance
  17. Bridesmaid dresses were sewn by my sister
  18. I decorated my mothers shoes with hot-fix crystals.
  19. Wedding guests gave us a 'lift' back to the hotel after our lunch
  20. Wedding guests gave us USB sticks with copies of the images they took on the day
  21. A neighbour surprised us by videoing the ceremony
The beauty of conducting a ceremony like this is that we involved so many people and they are the truly memorable moments from the day.  Personally I would feel physically ill spending $50k on a single day of my life so I hope these tips may help someone put together a day as special as ours was.

Today is our wedding anniversary and it has been very nice reminiscing.

Sandra Harvey.

19 September 2011

Applique Masterpieces

There have been a plethora of applique books released lately and you could be forgiven for not knowing which one is best suited for you.  Let me differentiate them for you:

Learn to do Applique in Just One Day by Nancy Brenan Daniel
If you have been wondering 'where do I start', then this 64pp book is for you.  This is an updated version of an original and new techniques have been added, such as fusible applique and dramatic shadow applique.  The instructions are easy to follow, there's a host of new projects in contemporary styling using bright fabrics, organza and even wool.  Includes classic needle-turn and raw-edge methods

A Lifetime of Applique:
The Ultimate Applique Guidebook by Annie Smith
This is one of those books that you will have for a lifetime of applique - from beginner to advanced.  Features:

The history of applique;
Hand and machine applique techniques;
How to design your own applique patterns;
150 applique elements:  flowers, leaves, stems, bases, birds, bugs and flourishes, allowing you to make each design your own.

Applique using technology:
Inspired by Tradition by Kay MacKenzie

The companion CD (for Mac or PC) in this book allows you to print the 50 different blocks in 5 sizes:  6", 8", 9", 10" and 12".  Of course you could also enlarge with a photocopier to larger sizes if you wish.  Reverse versions are also included.  Step-by-step instructions on how to use the CD are included for there elegant designs.

The added extras in this book are Kay's Hand-Applique Tips, Back-Basting Preparation, Hand Stitching, Raw-Edge Machine Applique, Fusible-Web Management, Q&A plus a gallery of ideas.

Our tip: As a terrific time-saver, try printing these designs directly onto Wash Away Applique Sheets.

Also by Kay MacKenzie "Easy Applique Blocks"

Beautiful Botanicals by Deborah Kemball
Deborah Kemball has traveled to some exotic places, all the way teaching herself how to quilt.  She has developed her very own individual style and is greatly influenced by her love of European cottons, silks, chintzes of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, which were themselves inspired by Indian designs.

Deborah is a great believer in using household equipment and minimal tools with her major items being:  standard scissors she uses for everything, a few odd pins, No. 9 Betweens (preferably Roxanne's), freezer paper, Mylar heatproof plastic, a selection of threads and thimbles.  She loves the colour RED which is evident throughout the book.  Detailed images and diagrams throughout showing different stitches such as Whipstitch, Detached Buttonhole Stitch, adding beads and how to applique single-curve and multiple-curve stems.

The 45 applique flowers featured are:  Baltimore Beauty Flower, Bluebells, Chrysanthemum, Dahlia, Daisy, Forget-Me-Not, Fuchsia, Grapes/Wisteria/Hanging Blooms, Iris, Lily, Machaelmas Daisy/Coneflower, Mimosa/Floral Spray/Berries, Pansy, Peony, Pomegranate, Star Flower, Stargazer Lily, Sunflower/Aster/Zinnia, Sweet William, Whirled Flower, Easy Template Flowers, Butterfly, Nosegay plus additional leaf templates.

Projects include:  6 pillows, 7 wall hangings, 1 table runner, 5 border patterns.

Applique Quilt (by machine):
Flowers Hearts and Garlands Quilt by Liz Jones
Liz explains the journey behind this machine applique quilt was the desire to be able to applique any shape and to guarantee perfect placement.  Her method fulfills both these criteria and she explains it in detail.  You can quickly free-motion machine baste applique pieces of any size or shape and finish the appliques with a smooth satin stitch.  Some of the recommended essential tools we have linked to this book on our website.    If the whole quilt seems too much for you, start out with making one of the lovely floral blocks for a cushion or table runner.  Stunning use of colour.  

16 September 2011

Experimenting with your Sewing Machine

A few years ago I had a creative moment and decorated a cheap denim jacket with all kinds of treatments i.e. obscure images printed onto Inkjet fabric sheets, hot bondable Angelina Fibres fused on, buttons, lace and more.  I found some high quality gold metallic thread and then selected some different stitches on my machine and set to work creating my masterpiece.  The result, lots of oooohs and aaahs from friends saying 'do you know, I have never played with all the different stitches on my machine'.

These days sewing machines are loaded with hundreds of variations of stitches and all you need to do is play with them and discover a new kind of joy, as I did with my denim jacket.  Add variegated threads or metallics and suddenly you will be patting yourself on the back for your creative genius.

Another great idea is to clip together two pieces of fabric with a scrap of batting in between and again, play with decorative stitches and different thread combinations.

To whet your appetite, have a look at "Your Machine's Decorative Stitches" by Karen Lindusha.  Karen also shows you how to add texture with netting, tulle or even onion bags.

If you are a crazy quilt fan, you would be crazy not to consider taking advantage of what is already on your machine.  Take a look at "Crazy Quilts - Histroy, Techniques and Embroidery Motifs".

10 August 2011

Where do you Craft?

As a function of being a crafty person and being lucky enough to work in the industry, I notice other crafters whenever I happen upon them; knitters in hospital waiting areas, patchwork bags over the shoulder as you walk down the street and hand made embellished clothing.

I must say though that I rarely notice people crafting at airports or on flights.  I recently took a sewing needle in my coin purse along with a needle threader & Clover Pendant Thread Cutter onto a flight so I could sew missing buttons onto my coat which I badly needed on arrival in Melbourne.  Apparently using a needle is ok however it is up to the discretion of the flight crew (I have been asked to put my needle away once when I was sewing a sashiko panel mid-flight).  If anyone has more information to add to this, please let me know.

Returning from Melbourne I got in some crochet practise ahead of my 'learn to' class.

I find it strangely comforting to always have a portable project packed in a bag and ready to grab as I race out the door for long car trips, cricket or football games or potentialy time consuming events so I don't feel like I'm idle for too long. 

19 July 2011

Organising Craft Space - Part 2

For all my current disorganisation, I actually do have a desire to be organised. I recently found myself sorting all my pins by colour, and back into their original containers, strange but true.

Let me give you a visual on my craft space: we have recently claimed a childs bedroom and converted it into an office / craft room / spare room (complete with futon, 2 x printers, a scanner, a shredder, 2 x computers, 5 x 5 Ikea book case and 2 sewing machines). The floor space is limited as we have failed to sort and file as we have moved into the room, so clutter abounds. I am really starting from a place of desperation as the room is not conducive to work or craft. Here is how I approached the organising of this space:

1. Checked to see when the local council is having a clean up day (this weekend - lucky!) and I have committed to "cleansing the house" of those items I know I will never use.

2. Located my trusted best friend - a Dymo labelling machine.

3. Considered how many shelves and storage boxes I may need.

4. Strategically positioned 2 boxes: 1 = rubbish bin, 1 = donation or re-gift box

5. Gathered together any plastic see-through (preferably double sided) bags in readiness for preparing dedicated project bags. I hoard commercial manchester or pillow bags. A recent purchase for our dog came in one such bag, in a very handy size too.

6. Got realistic about how the space will be used i.e. my space is a shared space so everything does need to be put-away-able. I also like to do my craft in the living room so I'm still surrounded by the family which means I need well organised project bags and I need 1 bag always packed with all the essentials which can be used for retreats, going to my quilting group or simply joining the family. Carolyn Woods has a section in her book "Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter" covering what to pack for retreats and quilting in small spaces.

7. Set a time limit for having the space organised.

In summary, before you start 'doing', there may well be some 'strategic thinking' required to ensure your efforts are executed in an efficient manner.

Good luck. Sandra.

Organising Your Creative Space

This week I have arrived at the point of "I simply must organise my craft items". When I found myself with mending tasks and the easiest thing to do was go out and buy what I needed rather than try to find it in my craft supplies, I knew I had reached a point of no return. It is time to change my organisational paradigm.

Is it procrastination that stops us, or the size of the task we think it might be to organise all our essential supplies (of course, nothing can be thrown out as we might need it one day!)?

"The greatest amount of wasted time is the time not getting started." ~Dawson Trotman

This book "Organizing Solutions for Every Quilter" recently came across my desk and of course, I procrastinated looking in it because I just knew it would tell me what I didn't want to hear i.e. Author, Carolyn Woods offers Step One as "Identify the Causes of Clutter". Well there is only one answer to that - ME. I am the cause.

Carolyn also offers these shuddering questions; "To Keep Or Not to Keep" and "How Much Is Too Much?". Are six rotary cutters really too many? How do I know whether I might need this in a year or two? My answer to these questions was to ask my husband to move some of his files to give me more space to keep the things I don't know if I need or not!

Stay tuned - I will keep you posted with my progress.