Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Hexie 25 finished. Eddie's favourite.

Yesterday I sat with my husband Eddie in Kalamunda Hospital and finished the edging on Hexagon number 25.  He had been transferred to Kalamunda Palliative Care Hospital and Hospice earlier in the day from Royal Perth Hospital and was much happier to be in a place of quiet calm instead of the frenetic pace of a large public government hospital in the middle of a big city. Kalamunda is on the eastern edge of Perth suburbia, it is leafy and shady and surrounded by tall gum trees and the hospital is built around a quadrangle which has ferns, trees and a pond and fountain with gold fish........a lovely place to be. We could hear the sounds of Kookaburras and Magpies and Eddie could lie back and feel peaceful knowing that he is in a much better environment. His room is light and airy with an en-suite bathroom, the nurses are much more patient-friendly and he looks out onto the open garden area. Hopefully, if the doctors can do something about controlling his pain levels, he may be able to come home for a while, if not, then he couldn't be in a nicer place.

While he lay back and relaxed either on the bed or on a large comfortable chair, I stitched and when this hexie was completed, Eddie reckoned that it is definitely his favourite by a long way. I think it is the colours which are very light and Summery - whatever the reason, this one will always be special to me now.

Thursday, 25 December 2014

The Princess Dress fits the Princess!

Today my step-son sent me this photo of his daughter Alyssa in her princess dress.  Considering that I guessed her length, it fits really well.  Now, if the two fairies fit this well, I shall be happy. I don't know what she was doing with her hands - flapping or clapping them probably!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Hexie 24 is finished.

My DH Eddie didn’t get a wink of sleep Saturday night because of uncontrolled 10/10 pain despite a morphine pump going into his stomach plus a load of oral pain-killers. Hopefully the radiation that he is scheduled to have today will work on the pain levels............fingers crossed.
In the meantime, he slept for over three hours yesterday while I sat next to him, stitching hexie 24. It wasn’t on my agenda to finish it but because I just sat and concentrated, here it is. I trialled lots of different coloured backing fabrics, thinking that lime green would be the best.........yuck! way too much lime green. After several trials and errors, I finished up (to my own surprise as much as anything) with pale sky blue. I’ve let a few of the beads and buttons go over the edge of the backing rather than stop short of the edge of the hexie leaving a bare bit along the seams.

 I'm not happy with the fold over the left hand side, I'll have to unpick that bit and re-do it. In the flesh, it is not noticible that it is crooked but in the photo it really shows up. Comes from sitting in a darkened room with the blind down, curtains drawn around DH's hospital bed and the door shut.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Finally - the Princess Dress is finished

With only six days to go before Christmas I finished the princess dress for Alyssa, who is six in January.  This has been a real chore in the end because I am spending every day, all day, at Royal Perth Hospital with my husband Eddie who is suffering from advanced cancer.  I have been going out to the sewing room sometime between 6 and 7 in the morning and sewing for an hour and a half, maybe two hours, and then going to the hospital where I do the hand-sewing.  This dress is the same pattern as the other two fairies, frankly I am sick to death of this pattern now.  Anyway, here is the Princess dress.......BTW, both sleeves are the same size, the way the dress is hanging on the hook makes one sleeve look bigger than the other........believe me, it isn't......

Friday, 12 December 2014

Hexie 23 - Lilacs

Here is hexie 23 which started off with the picture of the vase of Lilacs. I thought the Lilacs looked too flat so covered them in French knots using 3,2 and 1 twists but keeping the colours as close as possible to the original photo. At the moment I have a stiff neck and can't turn my head very far to the right as a legacy from keeping my head in one position while doing all the French knots.......duh!! I also thought it would be hard to find a suitable backing but this mustard yellow was perfect. It is not one of my favourites but I'm happy with it.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Hexie 22 - a Frosty Winter block

I enjoyed working on this hexie although I struggled when choosing a colour for the edging. turquoise and aqua were awful, mustard and cream killed it, red was just plain revolting so in the end I settled for this pink which matches the colour of the little girl's cheeks. I bought a bag of hundreds, maybe thousands of those snowflake sequins from China and never knew how to use them until now - they really went well with the frosty, icy theme of this block as they catch the light beautifully.  In the end, I am happy with the block, pink binding and all.

Friday, 5 December 2014

Two New Hexies - Numbers 20 and 21

Hexie number 20 is the Thanksgiving one with an old Thanksgiving postcard as the centrepiece. I enjoyed working on this one because of the colours - in Australia and England, we would call this my "Harvest Festival" hexie.
Hexie number 21 is a pretty, feminine Summery one which was also fun to do and very relaxing. At last I found a home for that huge sequined and beaded butterfly which seems to shimmer in gold and mauve.

Juliet's Lolly-pink Fairy Dress

Two down, one to go........this is the pink fairy dress that I've just finished for my granddaughter Juliet. I hope she didn't mean pastel baby pink because I went for the brightest pink that I could find. The wings are multi-coloured but contain the same bright pink and her tiara and wand are silver with pink plastic "jewels".  She is a 4 1/2 year old blond bombshell - she'll love it.

I took photos of the dress in two different lights because I was trying to catch the sparkle of those spots on the tule skirt which didn't happen. The dress has four skirts - a soft white tule skirt so the stiff net skirts don't scratch her legs, two stiff pink net skirts and a hot pink with sparkles skirt over the top.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Emilia's Christmas Fairy Dress

This is the first of three fairy/princess dresses that I am making for Christmas presents.  This one is for my great-niece, Emilia who is nearly five.  The velvet bodice is a pretty royal blue, not the dark Navy blue that the photo shows.  Also there is a gold swirling pattern all over the velvet in tiny gold dots.  With this dress will go blue wings, silver tiara with blue "jewels" and a silver wand with a blue butterfly on the top.
Next will be a similar dress for my granddaughter Juliet only in pink.  Juliet told me that she wanted yellow so I bought yellow tule, sparkly fabric and lace and then she told me "but I like PINK!"  Pink? You told me yellow!  "No I didn't, 'cos I like pink!!" Juliet is 4 1/2 so she will get pink.  The yellow can be put away for next Christmas for my nephew's twin daughters who will be two. Finally, another granddaughter Alyssa will be six in January - she considers herself a big girl now so she would rather have a floor-length Princess dress.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Australian Block for CQI retreat

I have finally finished the block which represents Australia using the colours of the national flag plus the green and yellow/gold which are our sporting colours.  The block will now go to USA where it will be stitched together with blocks representing the flags of every country that members of the Crazy Quilting International group belong. I think I've covered most things Oz - Kangaroo, Platypus, map of Australia, Gum blossoms, Wattle, Grass trees, the Sydney Opera House, Koalas, the flag, a lizard within an aboriginal pattern and Gum leaves. Ooh, I almost forgot - and the famous star formation of The Southern Cross in sequin stars. I found that blue material with the rather subdued pale blue stars and thought that the Southern Cross would really stand out on that background. Hope it does the trick.

This is the block within the lines of stitching marking the seam lines.
Grrrr! I've just noticed that in the photo, there is a tiny piece of white cotton which has strayed onto the blue velvet patch on the left hand side and a little smidgin of yellow thread on the red patch below it and there is nothing I can do about it now because the block is all packed up in the post bag ready to post to Cathy Kizerian on Monday....... Cathy, if those cotton threads are still there, remove them for me please  xxx

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Victorian Pink Jewellery Box

Last week I was at an Antiques and Collectables Fair where I met a lovely lady named Janet. I showed her a crazy quilted top I was sewing for a wooden trinket box. I was using sepia colours but Janet said she would buy the box if I could sew the top in "Victorian Pinks" because her bedroom - her whole house - is very "oldy-worldy". Today I delivered the box to her and she was really happy with it, especially as I had used some vintage tatting and some tiny antique pearl beads. Here is the box with the crazy quilted insert on top.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Hexie circle finished..........three more to go

Here is the first circle of nineteen circles completed and laid out on the bed on which the finished quilt will go.  I will definitely need four circles plus extra hexies to fill in the gaps to make the quilt rectangle shaped.

Hexagon 19 Bluebirds

Here is the final hexie in the first group of nineteen.  I wasn't sure how this one would turn out after the vibrant Peacock but in the end I am happy with the end result.  Now I can join all of these hexies together to form the first circle.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Hexagon 18 - Peacock

This has got to be the most challenging hexie so far.  The colours were not my usual ones and I have to admit to being waaay out of my comfort zone. I feel as if the hexie and I were in a continual battle of wills and inverably, the hexie won!!  There was loads of stitching, unpicking, more stitching, more unpicking etc however I am really happy with the end result and I think the hexie is happy too!!!

The two pieces on the sides of the peacock were cut from a piece of patchworking fabric called "Arabian Nights" and they set the colour scheme for the block. The glass peacock button was from Thearica Burroughs as part of my prize for the "Message in a Bottle" challenge and it seemed to cry out for a bead frenzy.....again, not my usual style.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Hexies 16 and17 Completed

I spent the day with my husband at Royal Perth Hospital while he went through the procedure of being injected with dye and then hanging around for over three hours until he could have the bone scan.  Needless to say I took these two hexagons with me to stitch the black Feather Stitching around the edges.

Here is Hexie number Sixteen which shows a little girl with her grandfather in his garden. The original painting is called "In Grandpa's Garden" so the hexie really suited lots of flowers and gardening charms like the fountain, watering can, humming bird and Ladybird (Australia) Ladybug (USA).

Hexie Seventeen turned out to be one of my favourites - amazing how it developed a happy Spring personality (I won't say Summer because the little girl feeding the Swans is wearing a Winter dress).  Several people contributed to this hexie - I bought the berry lace motif from Cathy Kizerian, I won the Dragonfly button from Thearica Burrough's with her "Message in a Bottle challenge" and the two white Swan earrings were given to me by a friend in a box of junk jewellery.

The patch of very, very old blue Satin at the bottom stretched with the heat of the iron. At first I was going to Kantha quilt it flat but then I decided that I rather liked the puffy, watery look so I left it.
The blanks for hexies 18 and 19 have been stitched so now I will have the fun of embellishing them both and that will complete a second circle of hexies around the central hexie. ie. one in the middle, six around that and then twelve around those.  I'll take a photo of them all sewn together. The next circle after that will need twenty four hexies to complete - could take some time, lol.

Blah!!!  The close-up photo of hexie 17 shows that I will have to revamp the sequin flowers along the edge behind the two swan earrings.  I attached the large flower sequins (which are actually irridescent greeny-red, not that dark red colour) then the tiny apricot coloured sequin centres with a 3-wrap Colonial Knot. The iron has flattened the Colonial Knot and one sequin centre has popped off and a whole flower above the higher of the two swans has popped off leaving just the knot.  OK, seed beads will do the trick.  While I'm at it, I will also Kantha quilt the water.......sigh, and I thought I'd finished!! So here is the new version.  Hexie Seventeen mark 2.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Hexagon 15 and Dyed lace pieces

I have finished Hexie 15 which is a garden themed one centered around an image of a lady in a yellow dress holding a rose. The coral pink fabric is vintage from around 1910 so I hope it stands up to the test of time.  Also the same coloured Kiko's flowers are worked in Heminway Sons pure silk embroidery thread dating from 1850s......again I hope that the threads can take it but it was the perfect colour to match the vintage fabric.

Then I had a play with some bottles of dyes which are probably about eight years old and although the colours are not quite as bright as they were in the beginning, they worked well for crazy quilting motifs.  I spent a couple of hours sitting under the patio in the sunshine totally lost in playing and enjoying myself.  When I finished with the motifs, I tried dyeing some white satin ribbon roses and while they probably look more natural than solid colours, they didn't turn out quite how I expected them to.  However I will use them on cq blocks where hopefully they will blend in with the surrounding leaves.
I only dyed half of this length of roses, berries and leaves because I want to keep the other half natural to be included in my "Cream on Cream" crazy quilt.  It's a gorgeous edging both ways, ie. plain and dyed.
 These two photos feature some of the same motifs. In the photo on the right the heart motif is shown in the original dyed colour-way and there is also a gorgeous bunch of leaves and berries which are not included in the photo on the left. In the photo on the left, the heart motif has been redyed in the same colours to make it darker and therefore, brighter and there is also a medallion motif on the left which is not in the right hand photo and I've included some of the dyed Roses.  If the sun is shining tomorrow, I will have another playing session.


Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Hexie 14. Scotty Dog and Squirrel

This block is a bit of a button frenzy.  Flower buttons, heart buttons, a very vintage Scotty Dog button and a porcelain Bird House button.  It is a very bright block mainly because I worked with the colours in the tartan, primarily red, blue and yellow. This block took a lot longer to do that the previous ones because I have been traipsing every day by train to visit my husband in hospital and I have also been working on my nephew's twin daughters crocheted boleros.  Anyway, here is my very happy Scotty dog puppy and squirrel block which is in memory of my childhood pet Scotty dog, Mackie. Mackie was our family pet and looked just like this puppy once although we had him until he was sixteen. Whilst Mum fed him and looked after him, he was our Dad's little mate and my sister and I used to argue about whose bed Mackie would sleep on each night. 

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Hexie Thirteen - The Pond

Here is Hexie Thirteen - the scene shows a water nymph either looking at his/her reflection in the pond water or maybe talking the to fish??  I haven't decided which yet.  I love the colours in this image, mostly turquoise and apricots with a dash of mauve water-lily and a bright Kingfisher looking for a meal - maybe that Dragonfly which is flying straight for it's beak. (Blame DH's sick humour for that one!)  I think the colours in this block are so cool and delicate.  I can't work out why that top edge is not straight, each of the sides measure exactly the same and yet it doesn't look it - also it fits exactly into the others so I shall put it down to another scanner quirky! Next block is entirely different.....The Scotty Dog and Squirrel cutie.

This block is one of my very favourites because of the colours.......sort of misty like the reflections in a still pond (waxing lyrical here).  I've been all afternoon at the hospital visiting DH who is in for a few days with an abscess in his jaw bone......very painful but hopefully intravenous antibiotics will do the trick and surgery won't be needed.  Fingers crossed!

Ahhh!  Sometimes photos are better than the real thing for spotting mistakes!  I never got back to finishing the Lazy Daisy leaves on the sparkly copper coloured Herringbone stitches under the the four blue glass flowers........Will do that immediately before I forget........... also that purple sequin flower is not purple, it is an irridescent pearly mauve, very pale.  The scanner once again has made it change colour.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Hexie Twelve

Here is the pre-Christmas hexie.  There are no Christmas trees or ornaments or presents on this block because the children in the image are gathering Holly to decorate their home. Therefore it is all about the joy of preparing for Christmas. It is all about Holly and Snow and Garlands and Candles.  This was a fun block to work on and a fun time to escape back to - not that we decorated our homes in Australia with any of the above - for us it was all about keeping cool in the Summer heat, barbecues and salads and going to the beach - with artificial holly and fake snow thrown in just to make it look like an authentic Northern Hemisphere Christmas.

For the backing and binding colour for this block, I tried both red and green and both of them looked terrible, I tried cream and it was too stark so in the end, I settled for this gold colour which is warm and does pick up the colours in the gold braid and the patch on the side with JOY in the centre.
It is not until I see the photos that I can see areas that need tweaking, for instance that top left-hand mitre is way pointier that the rest and needs to be reduced down to size.  In the flesh, it is not nearly so noticable but it cannot stay that way.......Mrs Perfect has spoken!!!!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Hexie 11 finished - Poppies

Here is my eleventh hexagon block which is based upon an image of a bunch of Poppies, Daisies and little mauve flowers. This block was a challenge in that it only had five colours - orange, green, mauve, yellow and dark brown (plus a few white daisy petals). The purple sequin flowers are paler than they appear in the photo - blame the scanner again.......

Friday, 18 July 2014

Hexagon 10 finished

This is a close-up of the embroidery worked with two strands of floss which was variegated, dyed with pink and green which ran into one another. The pink section was worked in French Knots and the green in detached Lazy Daisy leaves.

This is a very girly hexie because of the colours in the original image of three little girls with their puppy. Because of the colours in the hexie I had trouble choosing which colour to use for the backing......I tried pink, purple and green before settling for the pastel lemon which reflects the lemon patch and the middle girl's dress.

I tried two experiments with this patch, one was the border beneath the blue patch which was worked using a variegated pink/green thread. Whenever the pink colour was the one to be used, I stitched French Knots and whenever the green thread was the one to be used, I stitched Detached Chain Lazy Daisy leaves. The end result was a very natural graduation from one colour to the other.  The second experiment was the green couched cord on the lemon patch. It was originally part of a bulky green braid which I unpicked back to basics to get the cord, some woven tubing and some matching nylon thread. Then I couched the cord down in a wavy pattern which filled up the lemon patch without being too heavy.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Hexagon block 9 completed

Here is hexie 9 now that the turned facing has been tweaked so it is the exact size of the others and the Feather Stitching has been  completed.  I love this little boy, he reminds me so much of my two year old grandson Joel only Joel would not be sailing paper boats in the pond - he would be IN the pond!!

I removed the auto-corrected hexie and replaced it with this one which is the natural colours of the fabric and threads. It looks better without that dense, bright colour-tones.
As for Jolly-Wolly, he looks exactly like this, lol.

Crazy Quilted Hexagon Tutorial

When I started making my crazy quilted hexagon quilt, I had no intention of ever typing the instructions so my measurements are in both metric and imperial.  The six sides of my finished hexagon measure 11cm or 4 1/2 inches long, from point to point it it measures 22cm or 8 5/8 inches across and from straight side to straight side, it measures 19cm or 7 1/2 inches.  You will need to cut one cardboard template the exact size that your finished hexagons are going to be. It doesn’t matter what size they are, the method of putting them together is exactly the same and those two outer lines will always need to be 1/2 inch apart.

Take another piece of cardboard and draw around your original hexagon template, Draw a line along all sides 1/2 inches out from that and another line 1/2 inch out again.  This is the size of your backing fabric pieces.   Cut your wadding and your base fabric hexies from the smaller template.

Because I wanted a “silkie” or Victorian style image printed on fabric in the centre of each hexie, I printed them out first and cut them out leaving a white area around the edges which will be covered by cq fabric and embroidery.  I machine stitched one silkie roughly in the middle of each hexie but only stitching down one side, just enough to secure the image to the fabric base. Once your crazy quilting and embellishing is finished your can begin to put the  quilt as you go hexie together.  I usually place each hexie right side down on a towel and give it a light press with a moderately hot iron.  From experience and valuable hindsight I avoid ironing plastic beads or flowers—the ironing is mainly just to smooth out any wrinkles caused by the embroidery.

At this point, time spent in preparation and attention to detail is crucial to getting the hexies to fit together neatly. This is one area that I don’t rush, it’s not worth hurrying only to have to unpick it later because the hexies are not exactly the same size.

Place the large cardboard template on a flat surface then lay the plain backing fabric on top and the wadding in the centre of the backing piece.  Finally lay the crazy quilted hexie on top of the wadding, matching all sides.

Turn one side of the backing over to the first line on the template and then make a second turning so that the folded edge is level with the inner line.  Pin or clip to secure.   Repeat this around all six sides taking a lot of care where the mitres meet and making sure that both edges are exactly level with one another.  Sometimes I have had to go around and around several times, changing the pins and the fold lines and keeping the edges exactly on the ruled lines on the template.

Before I attempt to slip-stitch the turnings down with invisible stitches, I actually tack or baste the hems in place—one of the few occasion when I bother to baste—because I can imagine the thread getting looped around one of several pins with each stitch.  Note that the top point of this hexie is going to have to be unpicked and tweaked some more until it sits exactly on the line—it is still a bit high. While I am working the slip-stitching, I take three or four invisible stitches up the seams at each corner to hold them secure. I iron the edges of each hexie again to flatten the turnings and finish off with the black Feather Stitching.

Once the hexies are done, the wadding is sandwiched in the middle between the crazy quilted upper layer and the backing pieces so the hexies are ready to be top-sewn together on the wrong side and this is when it is obvious if one of the hexies is larger or smaller than the is the front and back views of my first eight hexies. I will add them one at a time as they get finished until the quilt is the desired size to fit my bed.


Friday, 11 July 2014

Blocks 7 and 8 completed

Over the last two or three days I have been working on blocks 7 and 8 and also stitching the first seven blocks into a 'flower'.  I will take a photo of that later but for now, here is the butterfly block 7 and the Little Mermaid block 8 which is one of my favourites so far. The outside binding of this one is a very pale shell pink - I tried a dull turquoise first, then a brighter pink but in the end, I think this colour shows up the delicate mermaid colours best.

This block was a bit of a challenge mainly because the image was not very defined.  It is of a bunch of Dog-roses with a brightly coloured butterfly hovering over the top.  The butterfly was a tricky colour combination to match.  The Salvation Army Thrift Shop came to the rescue once again with another pair of Butterfly earrings for $2.99.

This is one of my very favourite blocks because of the delicate colours in the mermaid silkie. I love this print so I made the block "under-the-sea" colours and designs without actually being totally UTS. The shell sequins are not really that bright pink, they are pale, shell pink iridescent tones which the scanner has made pink and yellow.......

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Hexagon number 6 finished. Children picking Blackberries

I have spent the whole day stitching because of the weather and the World Cup on TV.  The weather is perfect for stitching - cold, wet, blowy, occasional thunder in the distance........fabulous, I love it.  DH in the meantime is glued to the television watching the World Cup soccer - I hate it but it means that I can sew to my heart's content and not feel guilty about it.  This block is totally different to the previous ones because it is much more earthy and outdoorsy mainly because of the colours in the central image.

I enjoyed the challenge of this one and it also reminded me of two occasions while on holiday in England visiting my mother-in-law when Eddie and I went picking Brambles or Blackberries (aren't they the same thing?). The first time was in 2000 on a disused railway embankment. It had been raining and Eddie said "Be careful, it's very muddy here!" and suddenly I went whoosh.....down the slope in that very same mud!  I had a pleated tartan skirt and a cream waterproof jacket on and as I slid down the embankment, I landed face down in a prickly bramble bush.  Eddie was horrified until I started giggling - my skirt had caught on the Bramble bush while the rest of me kept sliding, consequently there I was in the mud, all knickers and legs while my skirt bore the brunt of the prickles. Somehow, in the middle of the slide, I deposited the bowl of berries right side up on the ground.

Second time was much more civilised. In 2010 we wandered around an area of waste ground next to my mum-in-law's place which had been a coal-yard but which was now completely over-run with spindly trees and hundreds of prickly Brambles. We took a bucket and filled it to the brim then I went home and cooked up a storm.  I made Blackberry pies, Blackberries to go with custard or icecream and Blackberries in jelly and when we went home to Australia, I left Mum with lots of little bags of frozen Blackberries to use later on. Sadly when we returned three years later, the whole area had been taken over by a housing development but I will always have fond memories of our "brambling" adventure.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Hexie number 5 completed - Three Angels

This block went together easily because I seemed to be able to pull whatever I needed in the way of embellishments out of my cq hat.  Before I started, I checked out my local Salvation Army charity shop and low and behold.......a pair of bee earrings!!  Perfect!! The pink silky satin stuff on the left where the bees are became very puffy so I sorted it with some Indian Kantha quilting with gold thread to show where the bees had been weaving in and out of the roses..........well, that's my story and I'm sticking to it, lol, and it did solve the puffy problem - sort of.  In the afternoon I was going to drive to the local quilt shop to choose some backing fabrics but DH was suffering from Cabin Fever from being in the house day after day because of the cold weather so he offered to come too. I chose 15 colours and bought 25cm of each then DH chose this mustard yellow to back this block because it matches the girl's dress and the two ares of yellow fabric. When I'd finished he remarked "That black Feather Stitch really finishes it off, doesn't it?"  Yes it does.  "That was my idea, wasn't it?" Yes it was....... I will always value his input as I think he has pretty good colour sense. Tomorrow he has another session of chemotherapy so that means I will have at least 1 1/2 hours to stitch on Hexie 6 while I'm waiting for him.