Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Just a Little Brag

 These stars are fiddly as they will be 5 " when finished and the frayed edges have meant that I've had to use smaller seam allowances but overall I'm pleased with the progress. I have almost finished deconstructing the old blocks and made 6 stars last night. I've had to substitute new fabric for the white pieces between the half square triangles as that fabric was too small to be used. I'm using the original fabric for the white corner squares, where possible, so there will be a variation in the whites but I think it will add to its charm and authenticity. I'm not worried about being true to the original as it was of no significant historical value and will last many more years when it's finished. I took it apart a few years ago and had forgotten that it was originally quilted but the quilting stitches were not finely done and many had disappeared over the years. The original star blocks were about 6 " square but the pieces were cut a bit irregularly and I needed to make my blocks a bit smaller so I could avoid some of the frayed seam allowances.
  I'm very happy with how the new blocks are looking. My other little brag is the dress I made for our beautiful youngest DD's ballroom dancing awards night. The dress is fully lined and the bodice is boned. She wanted it to be well-fitted and I only had 3 days to make it. Even better- she won her category on the night so we are very proud and happy for her. I'm happy to be a dressmaker as well but making quilts which don't have to be fitted to the body but will fit anyone is much easier.
 Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Why Bother?

The sudden burst of summer-like weather has meant that it's too hot for me to pin baste my vintage stars quilt for quilting. I use a table tennis table in our shed and as the shed isn't insulated it gets very hot in there. We are expecting cooler weather later in the week so as a change of pace I pulled out these vintage star blocks to work on instead. These are from a cutter quilt I bought some years ago from the US. It was tied and is from the 1930s or 1940s. Several of the blocks had started to come apart and when I took the blocks apart I could see why.
 They were stitched with double thread which was still in good condition but the pieces hadn't been cut very accurately and the stitching had gaps in some blocks which ranged from 1/4" to 3/8ths of an inch apart. This meant that some of the seams were opening up and the knots in the thread were 1/16th to 1/8th of an inch in size which meant that they didn't sit accurately. Most of the fabric is in good condition but faded but some of the white pieces are stained and quite frail.
I've started to take the stars apart and there are 42 in total. It was a single bed size but the stars were separated by pink floral sashing which wasn't very attractive and was quite faded. I've saved the sashing which is in good condition and I plan to make more stars using this fabric as it will tie in nicely with the others. The stars are mainly in pink and the pattern is Sawtooth Star.
 I've washed the deconstructed pieces which will help to close the stitching holes left by removing the threads and then I re-drafted a pattern so that I can use the pieces of fabric in a slightly smaller size and avoid some of the areas of wear. I'm also replacing some of the fragile white fabric with fabric from my stash of off white. I may discard some of the stars but by re-making them I can make sure they will be in good condition. I made one new star from the pieces so far and I'm very happy with the result. I was going to hand piece it but I think it's easier to use the sewing machine and it places less stress on the fabric. I will be remaking these stars and finishing them off as a new/old vintage quilt.
So why bother with all this extra work? Well I love to finish off UFOs, both mine and other people's and by remaking the blocks and re-quilting them it will give it a much longer life and bring enjoyment as I just LOVE antique and vintage quilts. I love to bring these old quilts back to life and as it is 75 to 85 years old, I love to think of the life of the original quilter and hope that she is pleased with what I am doing to prolong the life of her well-loved quilt. I'll post progress as I get more blocks done but at the moment I'm mainly working on deconstructing the stars, washing the pieces and then re-cutting them. The modern aids we have like rotary cutters makes this so much easier than it would have been for the original quilter.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac




Monday, October 29, 2012

Spending the Day with Joseph

 I've been neglecting Joseph and his Coat for most of the week and have been spring  cleaning and making QAYG blocks instead. I've also been busy putting more QAYG blocks into quilts and finished off another one yesterday (shown on my other blog soon).
Today it was time to spend sewing on more buttons and piecing the last row of blocks together. I only have 4 more blocks to add and then it will be finished. I have sewn all the buttons on so far and then will have to applique the top to the border pieces.Then I can concentrate on making the half square triangles for the outer border. I was thinking of making the quilt larger as I was enjoying the piecing so much but I have the next quilt I want to make already planned so this may be large enough as it is. I'll make my decision when I have the last row pieced together as I have cut more petals than I need but I've also found some more 1930s repro fabric that I can use for variety.
  I'm also planning the quilting for the 1930s star top I've recently finished so it looks like I will be busy for a while.
Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, October 26, 2012

A Flurry of Scrap Busting.

 I delivered 10 more quilts this week and have been busting though more scraps to make QAYG blocks. I've even been piecing them together to make the backs of the blocks and there's still more to get out of the containers and into quilts.
I have managed to empty one large drawer and several smaller containers so I can see some progress. I've  were also been throwing out all the patterns etc that I've downloaded and printed off as I know that I will never live long enough to use them up. Next I plan to sort through and donate the bought patterns I know I won't use.
 I am going to use the storage drawers to store the patterns I do want to make for me and cleaning out the clutter will give me room for things I want to keep. It is taking me a while to get through the scraps but at least I've been productive with making the blocks and I made 3 more QAYG quilts yesterday so I am getting results. The photos of the finished quilts are on my other blog and I'd better get back to the machine and keep cleaning out the old scraps.
Hugs, Jan Mac



Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It's Time

 I've had another productive day with finishing off 2 more QAYG quilts from donated blocks. I'm also working my way through many small containers of cut squares. I've made more QAYG blocks and I'm also using up squares which have been sitting in containers for 20 years or more. Some of them are from dressmaking scraps and it's time they were used. I'm randomly piecing them into backing sqs for more QAYG blocks. I don't seem to have made much of a dent in the amount yet but there's always tomorrow.
 Check out my other blog for more finished quilts and thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac


Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Taming the Scraps

 It's springtime here in Australia and I've been inspired to start spring cleaning. The weather is lovely and that has made me feel like clearing out the old scraps so I can make more new quilts. I've taken 4 weeks off paid work and we were supposed to be going to Western Australia. However we've had a change of plans so I'm enjoying some time at home.
 My lovely father is 87 and has had some recent health challenges which has resulted in him relinquishing his driver's licence. Luckily he is mentally able to accept this decision but it has meant a change in the amount of support he needs. It's been lovely to have more time to spend with him, taking him shopping for his groceries etc and just having a cup of coffee in the sun. We are deliberately making time for short outings so he doesn't feel house-bound and I've been quilting late into the night instead.
   Last night I was sewing until 11.30pm and didn't even realize that it was so late. I managed to finish 2 QAYG quilts from donated blocks as well as making more QAYG blocks from my many scraps.
It's a good way to tidy up my sewing room by sewing scraps into blocks and I find that I use up the scraps if I leave them in long skinny string pieces rather than cutting them into different sized squares. Cutting the squares is not the problem but when they are cut and sorted into storage I seem to forget them and I don't use them in my scrappy quilts. Whereas if I have lots of leftover string pieces of scraps, or even sew several smaller pieces into long strings then I use them up quickly in QAYG squares. Have I tidied the sewing room yet? No but it's an ongoing process LOL!
 Every now and then it is useful to examine what I actually use the most of and not waste time cutting pieces I won't use.
 I'll show both the quilts on my other blog tomorrow when I have another one of today's finishes photographed and ready to show. Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Almost There


I can't believe that I have almost pieced the whole top so quickly. I started it in a class with Chris Serong just 4 weeks ago and it has been surprisingly easy to make the blocks and join them together. Making the buttons has taken more time than the petals and it is all hand pieced but the buttons are appliqued on top. In spare time I have also started making 2.5" half square triangles with the left overs as I am changing the border from that of the pattern.
  I may also make the quilt a bit larger as I have cut enough petals to make a larger top and I'm enjoying it so much that it won't be a hardship at all to enlarge it. Hopefully you are also getting some time to stitch.
 I'm off to make more buttons now.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sewing on Buttons

 I had planned to stitch the needle turn applique for the borders of my Baltimore Album quilt but I just can't stop working on my Joseph's Coat with Buttons top. I have now joined a third of the top together and have enough blocks finished for another row. Progress seems to have been a bit slower this week as I have had to make and applique the yellow buttons where each petal intersects.
  I am very surprised at how quickly this top is growing and really just want to get it completely finished before I put it aside for something else and lose the momentum. Now I'm working on making more buttons to keep up with piecing all the rows and blocks together. It's been lovely to have a break from my paid work too.
Hugs, Jan Mac
PS I took away the visitor counter as it had reset itself again for no reason and wasn't worth persevering with when it was obviously inaccurate but please leave a comment so i know someone is reading lol!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Applique Delight

 Yesterday was the day for my Applique Group meeting and I just love to go as I am always inspired by seeing the work of these talented quilters. Faye Cunningham (one of the winners of the Rajah Prize) is a well known quilter and teacher and she gave a talk about her quilt designing and showed just a small number of some of her quilts. She showed these first 2 quilts which she bought from the US. The dresen plate was quilted and she quilted the star top. Both are from the 1930s and are beautiful. I love quilts from this era and have several tops I need to quilt and finish too.
 The last two photos show some of the quilts from our Show and Tell. I took my Joseph's Coat with Buttons piecing and can't believe how quickly it is coming together and how enjoyable it is to piece. I will have more photos of progress very soon. I also finished off another QAYG quilt this morning so there will soon be photos on my other blog too.
Hope you're enjoying some stitching time too.
Hugs, Jan Mac





Friday, October 12, 2012

Preparation Counts

 I find that I do get a lot of quilts finished if I take advantage of every bit of spare time I have to prepare the things I'm working on. I have almost finished another QAYG quilt from beautiful donated blocks while I was waiting for a meal to cook tonight.
 I also prepare my hand piecing to take with me when I'm traveling and have finished half the blocks required for my Joseph's Coat quilt in the past 3 weeks. I'm really enjoying the hand piecing and had intended to do more applique but the piecing has taken my interest for now. I cut strips of fabric in the width I need which makes it very easy to draw around the template and cut more pieces out ready to sew.
 I have also decided to make a border of half square triangles for this quilt so I have started making some with leftovers from the block pieces. I'm really liking the way this one is looking and it's a great way to use that stash of 1930s fabrics that I'd been collecting.
 I'm off to my applqiue group tomorrow so I have plenty of block pieces prepared to stitch so I will have more to show very soon.
Hugs, Jan Mac



Wednesday, October 10, 2012

While I was Sleeping...

Some lovely quilters have been very busy and I received a very large box full of QAYG blocks as well as a lovely knitted wool sweater, and some bindings. The sweater will be very welcome as we are getting another blast of winter here at the moment and the recipient will welcome its warmth. The blocks have been a joint effort by the Connected Quilters of Melbourne (Vic) and they were made b y Anne, Louise, Karyn, Michelle and Leita. The blocks are beautifully made and full of colour so they will make some more lovely quilts to donate. Thank you all for your hard work with providing quilts for the needy and they will be finished as soon as I return from holidays.
 Apart from family commitments, I've been busy working night shifts and then sleeping to recover. I've slept for 20 hours and still feel tired so it will take me a few days to recover again. Today was busy with the usual household chores so I hope to get some stitching done tomorrow and have more to show.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Vintage Star Quilt

The top is finished and ready for quilting now but sleeping will be a priority for a few days now.These are a collection of hand pieced stars from the 1930 to 1940s and some are from used fabric and most likely other dressmaking scraps. Not that special other than as an example of "making do" when times were hard.I sashed them with a red to give them a bit of zing and I'm pleased with how they are looking now.
I did add a 5" border in the same fabric as the small squares in the sashing but I didn't like how it looked. It added nothing to the quilt and as many quilts of this era didn't have borders I decided to remove them. The quilting will be in keeping with the era of these stars too.
Off to bed now.
Hugs, Jan Mac
)PS the red and white quilts from the Quilts in the Barn show have affected me it seems as I've just bought a large amount of red and white to hand piece another quilt but I plan to finish Joseph's Coat first. At least that's the plan at the moment lol.!

WIPs and UFOs

 I've been making very good progress with the Joseph's Coat with Buttons and have now completed 11 of the 30 blocks and now I'm thinking of changing the design and making a pieced border. My quilt differs to Chris Serong's as she chose a lovely yellow for the background and border fabric and I think there will be too much white to have that as a border so I think I'll change that with a narrower white border and frame it with a pieced border with the same1930s fabrics.
   I also finished off another QAYG quilt from donated quilts and then started work on another UFO which I found when I was looking for my stash of 1930s reproduction fabrics a week ago.  These are a set of vintage star blocks from the 1930s-40s and I purchased them from an antique dealer in the US, in the mid 1990s. They didn't come as finished blocks so I needle turned and hand appliqued them to a cream background fabric. I had started to join them together using a 1930s repro fabric but. I only had two rows of blocks joined so pulled them out today to finish the top.
 I have almost finished the top and will show photos tomorrow. Then I plan to machine quilt it in a style which was typical for that time. I have several vintage and antique tops and sets of blocks that I had purchased from the US in the 1990s and it's time to get them made into quilts so I can enjoy them.
I'm very happy to have made so much progress this week and hope to get more hand stitching done on between night shift this week. I hope you all enjoyed some stitching time too.
 Hugs, Jan Mac


Friday, October 5, 2012

The Quilted Crow Girls at Quilts in the Barn

 Leonie and Deirdre, the Quilted Crow Girls are very talented quilt designers who have their own quilt shop in Tasmania, and they were at the Quilts in the Barn quilt show this weekend. They have just brought out their first book which I snapped up and had them autograph for me. They also had many yummy reproduction fabrics as well as more patterns which combine beautiful applique with precision piecing. I am collecting red reproduction fabrics at the moment and found some to add to my pile for a quilt to be started in the future.
 Here's a couple more fabulous red and white quilts to inspire you and the last one is Pickle Dish made by Chris Serong and I think I may have to add this pattern to the "to be made" pile. I am over 1/4 way through my Joseph's Coat quilt top is just 2 weeks so I'm really enjoying piecing this one and will show more photos tomorrow. We are heading off to Western Australia in a week or so so I am getting my hand sewing ready to take. You know you're a quilter when you spend ages getting projects ready to take when you travel, and then just throw some clothes into the suitcase at the last moment.
 It's been pouring rain all day so it's a lovely day to be stitching inside. I hope you are all getting some time to stitch too.
Hugs, Jan Mac


Don't Miss It! Quilts in the Barn

 The Quilts in the Barn Show of fabulous red and white quilts is on today, tomorrow and Sunday. For anyone within travel distance you really have to make the trip and it is on the outskirts of Melbourne (Vic, Australia). The spring weather was very kind when i visited today and I was really happy that I took the time to travel down to see the show. There are lovely commemorative pins to buy ( you can choose from two) and I think they were selling quickly. You can buy lunch and morning or afternoon tea too and I had a lovely time chatting with a friend of Linda's who came all the way from Norway.
 There was even the opportunity to buy some lovely goodies from the Quilted Crow Girls who brought their shop (or at least some of their lovely wares) all the way from Tasmania. Mary Koval from the US was also displaying and selling some antique fabric and quilts and they were  beautifully displayed too.
  As for the quilts, I think Linda of Quilts in the Barn must have been dreaming of red and white quilts all year as she had a large number on display as well as some from other quilters. These are just a few of the quilts on display and the photos don't do them justice. I'll add some more here tomorrow but if you can make it to the show I can certainly recommend it. The first quilt on this page is an original design but I was remiss in writing down the details of the maker. I'm sure that Linda will also post photos on her blog when she recovers from her very big weekend of fundraising for breast cancer research- which is the purpose of her commencing this yearly quilt show of fabulous quilts. I did ask Linda's permission in sharing these photos and she very generously agreed.
I hope you all have a lovely weekend and I plan to get some more stitching done before I work night shifts again.
Hugs, Jan Mac




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Late Night Sewing- Heading for Baltimore

 Don't you love it when you are able to see real progress with a project. This is the third Baltimore Album quilt I've made and I have given away the other two. This one will be staying with me and my DH loves it which is even better! I had only joined two of the rows together until last night and I had a sudden burst of energy and decided to just get it all together so I can take it to my applique meeting for Show and Tell next Saturday.
 It's so large that I don't really have anywhere suitable to take a photograph yet so this is as much as I can show you at the moment. You can see the border which I am currently working on and I have about 3/4's of the first border finished. I think I'll also applique the rose centres in a gold fabric to match the small squares between the sashing and I've included photos of a couple of the blocks to show a bit more detail.
  I am going to machine quilt this one and plan to enter it in the Vic Quilters Showcase hopefully next July, but if not then the following year. I stayed up sewing  until 11pm last night and it's great to see so much progress for so much work. LOL!
 I still LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Baltimore Album quilts and was very lucky to be at Houston in 2010 when they had a special exhibition of Baltimore Album quilts. I was in quilting heaven! Now I'm looking forward to having one to keep. Lots of stitching happening here so check back soon.
Hugs, Jan Mac



Joseph's Coat with Buttons

Today was a lovely sunny day and perfect for housework. Once that was done I worked on finishing off another QAYG quilt and hope to get that one done by tonight or tomorrow. I am also working on my Baltimore Album border and I need to work more steadily on that one to get it finished.
  I also worked on my Joseph's Coat with Buttons over the past few days and I'm pleased with my progress since last Sunday. I went to my local quilt guild meeting last night, despite not having much sleep and I did finish more part circles as the overhead lighting is very good now that the venue has been renovated. I need to make 30 full circles and 6 half circles so 5 and a half is a good start for the week.
 I hope to show my Baltimore Album quilt with all the blocks joined together very soon as I plan to take it to my Applique meeting in a week and a half. Having a target date does help to keep focus on what I want to finish next.
I hope you are all enjoying some stitching time as well.
Hugs, Jan Mac