Monday, December 31, 2012

Peacefully Piecing

 I was tempted to join in with one of the New Year's Mystery quilt-alongs but instead I decided that I really needed to use up some of the many squares I'd cut as there were so many just sitting in boxes. Some of them are 30 years old as they are from dressmaking scraps when I made my children's clothes.
 I started two days ago and have made two tops and almost a third one which I should finish tomorrow. Even if I don't get them quilted before my holiday at least there has been some progress made but the boxes still seem to have plenty of squares to work with so I can see more 2'5" patterns in my future. I really want them out of here and into quilts for the needy.
   I hope you all have a safe and happy New Year celebration and I plan to spend the day in sewing and getting some more tops ready to donate.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, December 29, 2012

This and That

 I was happy to have a few days off paid work and try to catch up on my sleeping. After sleeping in I decided to try to make some progress on using up the containers of cut squares that have been sitting there too long. I wanted to use up some donated 3" sqs which are cream, green, red and yellow. I also had a large number of 2.5" sqs that needed to be moved on so I decided to combine the sqs with some which are 4.5" sq and make star blocks. The green star points will help them to play nicely together. I'm using the lighter squares for the corners of the blocks and a mix of either 9 patch, 4 patch or a plain fabric for the star centres. I haven't made much of an impression on the boxes of sqs yet but I hope to work on them again tomorrow and get some more blocks made.
  I also made 10 more QAYG blocks from some of the lovely donated strip pieces of fabric that Kerry S. (NSW) has very kindly cut and sent to be made up into quilts. All in all it was a fairly productive day although I just worked on this and that as the mood took me. Hopefully that will work again tomorrow.
 Hugs, Jan Mac

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Another Welcome Package

We have enjoyed fun times with family over the Christmas break and I'm also enjoying watching the cricket match on TV. As a change from stitching I've been crocheting more squares and almost have enough to put together for a blanket for the needy.
 I also received this lovely large box of many different fabrics and even a lovely jelly roll all donated by Kerry Shelberg (NSW). All of these lovely bits and pieces will help to make some more quilts for comfort. I have a new jelly roll book too so I plan to have fun making a donation quilt and trying out a new pattern at the same time. Thank you very much Kerry for your continued support for the needy.
 I'm off to paid work again tomorrow but hope to get some more QAYG blocks done as well as finishing off the blanket. I'm using up lots of odd bits and pieces of yarn (some was even tapestry wool) and the squares are an ideal project to work on when I don't need to watch what I am doing.
   I hope you are all enjoying some time to spend with family and friends and maybe some time for stitching too.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas

 I want to wish all of you lovely blog readers and very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This year has had some challenges for many of us and I hope next year is better and brighter for everyone. As you can see from the photo of one of my Christmas wall hangings, this was one of my first pieces as there isn't a lot of quilting on it. I really should do some more now that my skills have improved.
  Today is busy getting ready for my kids to come home for our celebration meal tonight and then we join with both our families for the noon and evening meals. I hope you all enjoy some time with family and friends and take some quiet time for yourself.
  I have finished one of the cross stitch fairies and have also been crocheting more squares for a blanket for the needy. It's hard to just sit and do nothing when I have a bit of time so crocheting is a great way to use up all those small scraps of wool and yarn.
 Thank you all for your continued support with donating quilts to those in need of comfort and I look forward to getting more quilts donated next year, while still making time for finishing some of my UFOs too.
Many blessings to you all.
Love, Jan Mac

Thursday, December 20, 2012

A Change of Pace

 Now that our hot summer weather is here it's time to do some more hand work and I've decided to work on another set of UFOs. My oldest DD made 7 of these fairy blocks for me when she was very ill and it's time they were finished and displayed where we can enjoy them. There are a set of 12 and I was thinking of framing them but I think I'll make a wall hanging instead and finish off all 12 blocks. I have also decided to add the outer borders to each fairy and I think it will enhance them. I forgot to take a photo of the first one before I stitched the floral border but you can see my progress on it. I'll show a photo of it finished tomorrow as I have finished the stitching and beading and it's been washed and will be dry and pressed later.
 I've just pulled the threads and beads for the February block and plan to finish that one next. I've also bought another new tin to hold my stitching pieces and keep them clean. I love London so i was very pleased to find this new tin. I also use them to rest my pattern on so they are a very handy tool for my hand work.
I forgot to add too that I use a magnet stuck to the tin lid which holds my pins when I'm hand piecing my patchwork pieces. I love to buy some new tins at Christmas time so I can have new tins for my projects. The Sunflowers will still be worked on but it's good to get another set of UFOs on the way to being finished.
  I've also finished off the last QAYG quilt to donate for the year and the photo will appear on my other blog, Oz Comfort Quilts. It's time to put away the donation sewing and get ready for the family to come home for Christmas. I hope you are all getting ready to enjoy time with family and friends too. A very big welcome to my new followers as well as my regular readers. We are heading off on a 3 week overseas trip in January so there will be more tourist photos than quilts but I hope you enjoy seeing our travels. That is if we can get internet access.
 Bye for now, Jan Mac

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Sun is Shining

I'm still jet-lagged from working nights but I am making more progress on the Sunflower blocks. I probably need to stitch the centres soon so I can see what colours I need to add. I also have one more QAYG quilt to finish and then make the last delivery for the year to the local women's refuge. I posted off a large box with some gifts and 13 more finished quilts for the needy so I am almost finished up for the year.
  Now to tackle some of the household jobs and finish my Christmas shopping. I hope you are all finding some time to stitch as well.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Productive? Much!

 I may seem to be working on lots of things at once (because I am) but I am also very productive. At the moment I seem to be busy  making quilts to donate, on the sewing machine, but not having as much time to work on my projects. I have enjoyed hand piecing so much recently, when I made the Joseph's Coat with Buttons, that I decided to change from machine piecing these Sunflower blocks and do them by hand instead. Believe it or not I can make more time for hand piecing at odd moments than I can machine stitch. Even if I'm not piecing I can take these little moments to draw around templates and cut out pieces so that when time allows I am able to get my hand piecing done.
   I have a liking for metals tins for hand work projects and I bought this one full of Christmas shortbread. The shortbread tasted OK but I really wanted the tin as it has a flat lid with no raised decorative bits other than the name at one end. I like to use a tin as I often use that to rest my hands on when I'm hand piecing and it also makes a great little table to use when marking fabric with the templates. I cut a piece of fine sandpaper to fit the tin and then turned the tin upside down and taped it underneath. Now when I want to draw around templates I only have to flip the tin over and I have a non-skid surface which is ideal when I'm in the car or waiting for appointments etc. I had two visits to Dr's rooms this week- not for me but for other family members, so I took the tin with me and marked quite a few fabric strips while I waited.
  To get started I chose the focus fabric on the far left which has many different colours and shades in an autumn theme. Then I selected fabric in similar shades and with a good mix of different prints, as well as some hand dyes. I make some of the blocks and then look at them together to see what colours I need more of. I have made 9 blocks now and 3 of them just need the centre circle appliqued which I will make when I have to make several rather than just making one at a time. I haven't decided which fabric will be used in the centre for all the fabrics so I won't cut them until I have almost finished the piecing. I cut the fabric I've selected into strips wide enough for the templates as it's an easy way to carry what I need as well as allowing me to see which colours I need to add. These aren't colours that I would normally use but I liked the focus fabric and I thought it would be good for me to try something new, remembering that colour gets the credit but tone does the work!
  Oh and I have used enough scraps to make them into 3 star blocks but that will be a project to work on when I am at the sewing machine again.
 I'm off to work nights again for a few days but I hope to have some more hand stitching progress to share soon.
Hugs Jan Mac

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I Can't Stop Starting

 I know that making more UFOs or having more Works in Progress is not the way to clean up the sewing room but sometimes I just like to try new patterns to see how they look. This pattern is from the latest Quilt Sampler magazine (Fall/Winter 2012) and I just couldn't resist stitching some of my many scraps together, especially as I have just purchased a 60 degree triangle ruler.The pattern is called Stars and Strings and was designed by Brendalou Scott of Scottie Dog Quilts in California. It goes together very quickly and I made all of these blocks in about an hour. I'll use a plain cream for the triangles between the stars but will probably have more stars than plain triangles. I never seem to have many pale scraps so using the cream will give a good contrast with all the bright scraps.
   I did find another UFO project which had stalled and decided to join the blocks together and make a large cushion cover for my DD's reading area cushions. She's a school teacher and I have made large cushions for her students to use on the classroom floor and it's time for some new covers. I'll use a plain fabric for the back of the cushion and I have some more kid's prints to make some more covers as well so that will be one UFO off the list. I used a pattern from Bonnie at Quiltville and I just need to remove the paper before I finsih sewing the cushion cover.
  I also received a beautiful set of QAYG blocks from Delys Rogers of WA. I will be making them up into a quilt ASAP but due to being tired from night shift I don't want to operate heavy machinery like my industrial sewing machine in case I run over my fingers.
  I have also made good progress on hand piecing the Sunflower blocks so although I'm still starting new projects I am finishing others or re-purposing them so they are off the UFO list.
How is everyone else doing on their UFO list? I hope to make onbe more QAYG quilt tomorrow and send off a large box of quilts to donate.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Monday, December 10, 2012

Decisions And An Early Gift

 I can laugh now but it was stressful here for a short while as I tried to find some fabric for a WIP. I took a class 2 years ago to make these Sunflower blocks and have made 6 so far. I've put the background fabric away and misplaced it after the class so work stopped on the blocks. I found it again and put it in a safe place. Sadly I had a big clean up on the weekend and when I went to get the fabric again today I couldn't find it. I know I didn't move it on the weekend but couldn't remember when I last saw it. After seeking for an hour I decided that I'd have to substitute another fabric and found one which would work for alternate blocks. You can see in the first photo that it is a pretty good match. I told my DH that as soon as I decided to use another fabric I was sure to find the original. I pressed the new fabric and cut 5 strips measuring 2.5" across the width so I would be able to mark the templates on them. I literally put the cutter down and turned around and spotted the fabric had slipped  behind some tops I had ready for quilting. So panic is over but I've now stored all the fabric for this quilt in the one basket, as well as the new fabric, in case it happens again.
  I'm going to try hand piecing the sunflowers because I seem to have more time for hand sewing than machine work at the moment and I need to get these done before I lose any more pieces lol. My other downfall is that I often change my mind about the design once I start a project. The pattern calls for 13 sunflower blocks but I am thinking of making 20 and setting them slightly differently. When I take a class I like to alter the pattern a bit so at quilt shows it doesn't look like we all took the same class.
   I did spend a lot of yesterday making more QAYG blocks as well as tidying all the scraps and I have another quilt finished and a set of blocks ready to be put together. They will have to wait as I have more paid work for the next few nights. You can see from the photos that I use all sorts of scraps and odd blocks for the QAYG blocks and backing squares. A lot of these bits and pieces have been donated and they all help to make more quilts.
   I also received a lovely gift of fabric and time from Kerry Shelberg (NSW) again. She sent another lovely box of fabric already  pressed and cut into strips so it makes it very easy to use them on the QAYG blocks and I can get quite a few made in a short time. Thanks for your ongoing support everyone as it has made it much quicker to get quilts finished and donated.
 I hope all your plans for Christmas include some time for you. I plan to stitch these pesky sunflowers before I lose (misplace or hide)  the fabric again.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Applique Delight

 Yesterday was another wonderful day to share my love of applique with other quilters with the same love. There wasn't a lot of Show and Tell of finished quilts and I wasn't in a good position to take photos but the quilts and tops shown were all magnificant.
The group is going to have their first exhibition in March 2014 and I will definitely be there with camera ready as it is sure to be a stunning show of appliqued quilts. I must get more focused and work on only one thing at a time so I get more finishes. It's easy to say but I love to work on several projects at once as well as making QAYG blocks and donation quilts. There's so many beautiful quilts to make and so little time. I've been tidying my sewing room again and also making more QAYG blocks so I'll have more to show tomorrow before I start night shift again for most of the week. I'm hoping to post off more quilts before I start work as there is quite a large pile of them again.
 Yesterday was also our 33 wedding anniversary and I was lucky enough to come home after a long day of driving to find my lovely husband had prepared a beautiful meal for us. I think I'll keep him for at least another 33 years, especially as he supports my need and passion for quilting.
  Hugs, Jan Mac

Friday, December 7, 2012

Finishing Strong

 I haven't made as many donation quilts as previous years as the need hasn't been as great luckily, with no major natural disasters. Instead I have been concentrating on getting some of my own quilts finished so the pile of WIPs and UFOs doesn't continue to grow. I have taken 8 days of classes this year which is more than usual too but as most of them were to learn new techniques I don't  have many  finished quilts as a result of the classes. Next year I've decided not to take classes and concentrate on what I love to do - hand applique, hand piecing and finishing off UFOs and donated bits and pieces to help the needy.
   The vintage stars quilt is finished although I still need to add a label, but this one is for me to enjoy. I bought the stars without background fabric so I hand appliqued them to a cream background fabric, They are from the 1930s to 1940s and I quilted the top using a hanging diamond cross hatch which was used at that time.
   I'm finishing the year strongly with more donation quilts being made as I made 2 yesterday before work and 2 more today. The fourth one just needs the binding applied before it is completely done. I'll post photos on my other blog and it's been great to get more QAYG blocks made from the scraps of other projects, often from trimming the backing after quilting, as I can use the batting string pieces as well as the fabric.
  I have my applique group meeting tomorrow and lots of night shifts to work next week but hope to get some more quilts finished and donated very soon. Thanks for all your help with donating QAYG blocks, tops, backing and fabric- every bit helps to warm someone's body and heart.
Hugs, Jan Mac

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Finishes and New Beginnings

 I have been very productive with getting more quilts finished over the last few days and plan to send off another large box to be given to the needy at Christmas time. It's only 3 weeks away now so the time ti going very quickly and paid work is intruding into my time again.
  These pretty blocks were donated a while ago and have been patiently waiting their turn at being finished. Once I got all the blocks completed it didn't take too long to make the top and get it quilted and it will make a lovely gift for someone to receive. I also quilted and finished off 2 more donated tops today as well as making some more QAYG blocks and another QAYG quilt finished. I'll show photos of those on my other blog.
 The last photo shows my latest downfall- I just wanted to see what they would look like. These diamonds are 1" along the side measurement and are using up the left-over scraps from my 1930s quilt, Joseph's Coat with Buttons. I couldn't resist just seeing how they would look and as I've always wanted to make the Seven Sister's pattern it seems that I have started another new WIP. Oh dear- not what I planned but sometimes these things just happen.
 Hugs, Jan Mac

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Mail Call

 It's been a busy time here with another set of UFO donated blocks being turned into a quilt but I had no time to blog on the weekend, so I'll post about that one later. I had a quick trip to Melbourne on the weekend to attend my Melbourne quilting group's Christmas meeting and also to catch up with family. I cam back Monday afternoon and then had a dinner out with my local quilting group- so I've been a very social butterfly and only some time for hand sewing which I'll share later.
In the meantime the postman has been very busy here with two lovely parcels of blocks from Western Australia. The first parcel came from Anne-Marie Ward (WA) and she sent some lovely blocks and fabric to make into more quilts. Cait Gordon, who is also from WA also sent a lovely parcel of UFOs and orphan blocks which will also be turned into a quilt ASAP.
  Also I received a bundle of 1930s fabrics which I have fallen in love with since piecing my Joseph's Coat with Buttons. I have more beautiful quilts I want to make with the fabrics and as the pile was very depleted by Joseph's Coat I couldn't resist adding more to my stash. One of them is even very like the original vintage fabric from the Sawtooth Stars blocks I'm re-making from the 1930s quilt which had seen better days.
 So lots of things happening here on the sewing and finishing of more quilts, and I even took the afternoon to see the new James Bond film with DH, so a good few days all around. Tonight I'm going to get busy with more quilting and will share more finishes very soon.
  I hope you are also enjoying the festive season as well as some time for sewing what you love.
 Hugs, Jan Mac

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Trying to Beat the Heat

It has been incredibly hot the last few days and it has made sleeping during the day a bit of a trial. I have finished working night shifts for this week though so today was a chance to get some more quilts finished to donate to the needy for Christmas.
I made backings for two donated tops, made a quilt top from a donated wall hanging and also made more QAYG blocks so not a back days work despite the heat. I have quilted the donated top as well as the tulip top which started life as a wall hanging until I added more squares to make it larger. The photos of finished quilts will be on my other blog and now I'm back to the sewing machine to stitch some more QAYG blocks together. I plan to fill another box to send off to a group which collects gifts for the needy to receive at Christmas time.
 I hope you are all enjoying some stitching time wherever you live. Thanks for stopping by.
Hugs Jan Mac