Feeling the squeeze 

  Nearly ready for exhibition!
The gallery has a suspended-hook hanging system. Sometimes I envy painters and all those who frame their work, with that handy string across the back!

My quilts need “something for a hook to hook onto” plus  some structure to keep them spread flat on the wall.  I want to keep them as soft, light and flexible as possible. 
A bit of experimentation is required. The answer this time is to add a bar of very light stiff wood across the back with one or more cord loops for the hanging hook to catch. 

I quite enjoy this final bit of engineering, especially the opportunity to borrow tools -and a handy assistant- from the other studio in my home. 

With any luck this will all be invisible to you when you visit- Kumeu Arts Centre March 29 to April 9. 


Looking backward, looking forward

Over the last fifteen-or-so months I’ve completed four large quilts on commission. All are original designs I created to delight the clients in every detail. It’s been an enormously interesting and rewarding experience. I feel privileged to have been invited into the lives of these people in such an intimate and trusted way.

Those big quilts take up a LOT of space in the studio and in my mind. I’m going to change focus for a while and direct my energy to smaller works. There are so many ideas captured in sketchbooks or pinned to the design wall during those months. Time to make them “materialise” 

I hope and expect to make large commission quilts in future. If you would like one please don’t hesitate to get in touch for a leisurely conversation while I’m forging small-scale.

The next post will be about how I’m re-setting the foundry.

wearing my art on my sleeve

I made this cuff a couple of years ago at a fun sewing weekend with 2 dear friends.  We each taught a technique.  Portraits & weaving will come here sometime.

This begins with a heavy Pellon foundation covered with velvet, then interesting scraps, ribbons & braids machined down with programmed and free stitches. Cut to shape, decorate the edges, button/beads, loops to close and it’s ready to wear.

It’s the only piece of my work I wear – and it comes to work sometimes as a Wonderwoman deflector bracelet.  Definitely worked today!

It had to happen sometime…

Knitting!  sneaked up and caught me. Under the guise of finding a right-sized response to babies.  See below for the Last Baby quilt

So far:
2 cowl scarves (for me)
1 buttoned scarf (for dear Mother-in-Law)
1 pair of socks (for dear girlfriend)
…1 pair of booties for an actual baby

and an unspecified number of new balls of yarn and needles. That list is completed projects, mind you.

There is also the lure of Ravelry which I joined two years ago, suckered in by the chatter from my knitting mates. If there is anything as cool for quilters, I have not found it yet. So my stuff is there

Honestly, it’s only on the bus, I wouldn’t knit in actual quilting time. honest.

one quilter’s trash

She wasn’t throwing out, but practically giving it away – the fabric on the trading table was my treasure.

I love the Auckland Quiltmakers annual show – first weekend in May I’m always there to admire. Each member has a strong and individual style, plus there is great shopping from 2-3 select merchants. The members have a great sale of previously exhibited works – and of course the Trading Table of fabric that they are letting move on. 

I was entranced by the chunky silk sari threads woven with gold Lurex. Didn’t I have a power jacket made of this stuff in the 80’s?

Found a few more ‘treasures’ on the table, and added a little more at home.  Thought about it for a week or so, then began cutting.  This is the first time I have ever made a kit for each block before sewing. Completely unnecessary.  It might also be the first time I have used my own hand-dyed fabric. Those funny yellows. The nice hand-dyed green and plum and purple is by Janet & Peggy of Dye-It Fabrics.
First a frame around each square of the silk, then a 4-patch unit. I could not make the same quilt twice if you paid me, but I think I’ll be using this simple piecing construction method again.
Laid the 4-patches down in order of sewing – looked so good that was nearly the final arrangement – but a little more playing around with the sneaky half-rows and I’m very pleased with the end result.
In another first, this is a quilt (top at least) completed in the same season as the fabric was purchased.
Of course I have sewn until bedtime to get to this milestone, now there’s no daylight to take a decent colour photo. Next time!

8.5 metres to the finish line

It. Is. Done.

‘Floating cubes’ is all quilted. I would not have believed it possible to quilt a queensize in under 4 days, but I have! Not only is the quilting finished, but it looks very good.

I just had to dash out to Quilters Dream my favourite quilt shop – Hi Elizabeth! – to show ‘n’ tell, and also to get the velcro specified in the exhibition entry requirements.

Since then I’ve added the hanging sleeve, trying a new idea for blind-hemming its lower edge, and machine-stitched the binding all around. The blind-hemming idea worked very well, and has saved 2 metres of hand-stitching. It’s a technique best kept for quilts with a fairly busy background, but that’s most of my work.

All that remains is handstitching the final binding edge – about 8.5 metres. Tomorrow’s task!

on reaching the home straight unexpectedly

Today it seems quite likely that I will complete the ‘cubes’ quilt within the exhibition submission deadline. I would not have believed this 4 days ago, but when I stopped this evening, I was well ahead of project schedule. Providing I can overcome the threadsnap issue in the morning, and I will, quilting should be done by midafternoon. That leaves just enough time for binding and hanging sleeve. It’s been a mighty effort, and 3 things have made it possible:

1. great skills. Setting modesty aside, I have good technical competence, and don’t waste any time fumbling.

2. quilting-friendly environment. The best husband in the world has made all the dinners and a heap of other good actions.

3. A champion! My dear friend Veronicah gave the gifts of time and belief.