23 July 2009

Product Review - Australian Wildflowers Quilt

It has been an absolute joy working with the 1895 Bali Fabrics selected by Australian Wildflowers Quilt Designer and Botanical Artist, Val Moore, to make a sample block of Christmas Bells. First pre-wash the fabrics - I just soaked them in ice-cream containers. A bit of dye did come out of some of them so I do recommend this step. The great thing about these fabrics is you get many shades from the one piece of material so you can select what suits to get the shading dimensional look, if you wish to. I have all the fusing done and my block is now ready to machine applique. I have the Madiera Treasure Chest of rayon threads to select from. I am looking forward to this next step. All I need is more spare time.

Catherine Porter.

21 July 2009

Book Review - Beautiful Bargello

Despite the garish colours of some of the sample quilts pictured, Beautiful Bargello is a really attractive book. This is because, although the colour choices are dubious, the patterns themselves are fantastic. Five out of seven are beginner or intermediate standard, one even uses jelly rolls! Once I looked past the high contrast fabrics, I focussed on the mesmerising swirls in the designs, especially the one on the front cover, aptly named ‘Mirage’. I love optical illusions, and these quilts have that sort of appeal. The step by step directions are clear and the diagrams are in full colour. I can unreservedly recommend this book; it is a grand example of the Bargello technique.

Book Review - Photo Inspired Art Quilts

In the past couple of years of travelling around to craft shows, I have come to cherish seeing a certain couple of quilts that have been adaptations of photographs. They are art quilts, and truly deserve the title of ‘art’, as they are as awesome in their effect of thread on fabric as paint on canvas is. In fact, the ability to drive a sewing machine that well is phenomenal in itself, let alone choose fabrics and threads with such a true eye! Photo-Inspired Art Quilts by Leni Levenson Wiener, who also wrote Thread Painting, will help you understand how to create such masterpieces. I am attracted to this book because it is more of an art instruction book than traditional quilt book, and a DVD has been included to help you learn about composition, colour and value, as well as thread painting techniques. The technique throughout is raw-edge machine appliqué with thread painting, with the results being quite representational of the subject, rather than abstract. Areas covered include The Elements of Good Design, From Photo to Pattern, Building a Fabric Collage, Sewing It All Together, Creative Advice, and Patterns and Projects. Among the authors supply list of usual quilting supplies lurks a curious little tool that is often overlooked. It is essential for any self respecting quilter, but especially for this style - the Value Finder. Using it, you see only the values of the fabrics as they relate to each other, not the actual colours. Other useful gadgets for this technique are seam ripper, stiletto 6th finger, appliqué mat, freezer paper, fusible web, quilter’s gloves, and a design sheet. There is so much to be learned from this book! Grab your favourite photo and have a go.

Book Review - Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts

RaNae Merrill is a very clever author, as she has managed to simplify a technique that looks terrifying, and has made it understandable! Simply Amazing Spiral Quilts has been broken down into manageable chunks so that you can process the information offered. You firstly ‘Meet the Spirals’ and learn to draw four different types of spiral. Then go on to ‘Designing With Spirals’, and ‘Sewing Spirals’, before tackling the five incredible projects. There is a lot of information to digest, but the effort is worth it. Included in this book is a CDROM with Spiral Design Templates, and every step of the way, you will find indexing, linkages, references and Electric Quilt instructions. Each project uses foundation piecing. This has to be one of the most comprehensively detailed books I have come across. RaNae answers question before you can even ask them! Among other resources she recommends EQ Printables Foundation Sheets and Add-a-quarter tools. The recommended reading list includes The Experts Guide to Foundation Piecing by Jane Hall, and Visual Coloring by Joen Wolfrom, Color Play by Joen Wolfrom. If you want to take your quilt-making to new heights of creativity, this is the book for you.

Book Review - Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin

It is not often that I buy a book just because I like the cover designs, but I just had to have "Not Your Grandmother's Log Cabin" without even reading a review or blurb! I have been mightily pleased with the entire content...It is full of really attractive log cabin designs with a new angle of triangles and diamonds. There is a vast variety of distinct, visually pleasing projects (over 30) which offer varying degrees of difficulty and challenge for the quilter, all pictured throughout in glorious colour. The authors, Sara Nephew and Marci Baker, both give advice and preferred methods throughout the book, so often there will be two techniques to choose from. It shows that there are many ways to achieve the same effect, something that we sometimes forget as we get bound up in the ‘rules’! Essential to complete these patterns is a 10 inch 60 degree triangle ruler, along with rotary cutter, mat and straight quilter’s ruler. Comprehensive cutting lessons are given, so there is no need to fear the shape cutting requirements! Even better is the common sense simple approach – the book is limited to one size of triangle and one size of diamond, so all the blocks presented in the book are the same size, and interchangeable. I have been poring over this book, trying to decide which pattern to sew first!

12 July 2009

Craft Therapy

After reading Patchwork & Stitching Vol 9 No: 6 my craft as therapy story is as follows;

Shortly after moving to Tamworth In October 2004 and just beginning to get settled in on our 100 acres lifestyle property my husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer and two weeks before Christmas had to have an operation to remove his left kidney.

Not knowing many people in town and with family spread several hours away across NSW I took a bag of granny's garden paper piecing to keep me occupied while I waited the 6 hours he was on the operating table. Apart from keeping my mind off the most dreadful scenarios the word cancer conjures up, it kept my hands busy and almost everyone who walked past the waiting room stopped to speak to me about what I was doing and then wishing me well. I am sure most of them would not have spoken to me without my craft.

A very long time and many "squares" later we received the good news that the cancer was contained and my husband would be fine. The craft done that day has gone on to be a treasured memory in my [almost] finished hand pieced quilt to go on our bed.

B Horton