Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 3

When I worked with my local quilt group's exhibition committee last year, I was always astounded by the generosity of the sponsors. Small businesses, and large businesses, all so keen to support quilt shows. Nevertheless, I was a little dumbstruck when I was handed my prize at the Sydney Quilt Show last weekend. Naturally, me receiving it in the roster room meant the other quilters on tea break wanted some show and tell so I got to open the massive cellophaned prize with everyone there which was pretty cool.

I was expecting a LOT of fabric as per the category notes which I was really excited about, but instead I got something even betterer! (totally a word)


A box (!) of 80 spools of Gutermann thread, perfect for dressmaking. I shall never have to buy thread for dressmaking again! Thanks to Gutermann.


A pair of Gingher dressmaking shears. I almost cried when I saw these - I've been saving up for a pair for ages (I have the embroidery scissors and they are the best scissors ever), and was finally going to purchase them at the Canberra Craft and Quilt Fair in a few weeks.  With so many thanks to the lovely Scissorman.



Fabrics from Lloyd Curzon. I have some interesting ideas for that fat quarter pack!  I also received a beautiful pattern by Michele Hill but I have no idea who provided that as part of the prize. Sorry!

I also received 2.1 metres of wool batting from Minijumbuk. Given it is #finishit2014 that will come in VERY handy.

Then a few days later I received a phone call from the guild. It seems I was missing some of my prize. I figured I'd already hit the jackpot, but nope.  A very generous cheque from Maru at Material Girls Down Under, and a gift voucher from Julie's Superior Threads were mailed to me, along with my certificate. I am just blown away. As if just winning the Modern category wasn't enough, I got amazing prizes too?  Thank you to all sponsors, and thank you to the Quilters' Guild of NSW. I am so proud to be a new member, and to see firsthand what an amazing organisation you are.

Now on to the rest of the show! The Craft part of the Craft and Quilt Fair side of things was amazing this year. There was a lot more room to wander around than there ever was at Darling Harbour. I didn't have much time by the time I looked at all the quilts and did my roster, but I did do a fair but of shopping!

Quilt show goodies

Cotton and Steel fabric and a Hex N More template from Material Obsession, some Triangle sets from Bloc Loc (I love these rulers so much), the Fancy Fox pattern from Kim Bradley (I also bought some more Cotton and Steel for a friend there) and some gorgeous big print fabrics from Sew Piecefully Patchwork.

Quilt show goodies

It was so lovely to meet the Quiltmania stall holders thanks to Kathy. They were just lovely. I spent ages there browsing - I had a list that was quite long of books I wanted to get! I was so happy to get the last copy of the Willyne Hammerstein book after the last 12 months of desperately desiring it. I have built up a great collection of Dutch quilt books over the years, and this is probably my favourite yet. Willyne's quilts are AMAZING. Sigh. I have plans. Big plans. Probably not till 2015.

(As you can imagine I have made all kinds of deals with myself so that I can start the Passacaglia quilt, and the Wall Flower quilt, and ... and ... and ...)

Friday, July 18, 2014

Two rows forward, nine rows back

I had just four rows of clams to add. Four. I left work earlier for once to spend the time cutting out some clams and readying them for a night of stitching at a friend's place. Project Runway and clamshells? Perfect.

I put the quilt top back on the design wall, as I do each time I work out the placement of the next row, and was horrified to notice a distinct leaning to the right in the last 9 rows of the quilt.


I know so many of you won't see the lean. I do. The ruled line I was marking each time I did a row (I'll be trimming the sides before quilting it) didn't lie either. I was out by a good half inch.  I sent an SOS OMG WTF text to my quilting friend Jan.

So I unpicked at just the 9th bottom row and laid it on the design wall, thinking I could just tilt it a little to the left.

And then I unpicked the unpicked bit at the 4th bottom row. Again, no luck.


So I unpicked all 9 rows. Each and every clam. And then I pulled each clam away from the glue basting which oh my goodness had better wash out because it is nasty.  I was left with this, and I'll admit I had a little cry. And then I just laughed. It's just a quilt!


I got right back on the horse and basted two new rows to the quilt, making sure they lined up this time. I'm not working on a grid - this whole quilt has been positioned by eye and a regular check with the ruler. No wonder I ran into strife.


I managed to stitch down most of the clams last night, but tonight I will be attaching the last 7 rows. I think I'm playing with fire trying to make the quilt the 158cm I put on the exhibition entry form.


When I was texting my friend Jan last night I joked "Perhaps I'm a perfectionist after all!". To which she replied:

"A perfectionist? No shit! I would timidly suggest obsessive more like!"

I think Jan's onto me. This is totally going to ruin my reputation.

I'm linking up with Gemma's I Quilt linky party. Ironically I was also going to call my blog post "I quilt without a plan".  Too funny.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

On the home run

After thinking I might not enter a quilt in the Canberra Quilters' exhibition this year, I changed my mind the weekend before entries were due, mainly thanks to the encouragement of a friend. I didn't have anything anywhere near finished, and I just didn't want to go there with the stress and the frantic-binding-on-delivery-day thing again, you know?  

Stitching in the coffee shop

So my clams will be on show, messing with people's eyesight (hopefully) and minds (most certainly) when they wonder "why the heck did she do it that way?" and "again with the intense quilting over hand applique? This girl is nutso".


Unfortunately I am nowhere near a finished top. As in NOWHERE. So it's been getting worked on at every opportune moment this week. I'm determined to have the applique all done by Saturday night.

 Stitching on TV catchup night

Oh Mariska!

 Stitching in bed

And after the most fabulous night out with my sewing buddies last night it was straight to bed to stitch. I lasted a quarter of a clam and then crashed. Damn champagne.

I'm linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday this week. Even if it is technically Thursday over here. Go and check out the fabulousness!
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, July 14, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 2

It seems all the quilts I promised you I would be able to show with permission? There were three. Not the heaps I had though - mainly because I'd either forgotten whether I had asked the person when I met them, or because I asked a few of the Canberra quilters if I could publish their photo on the Canberra Quilters instagram account, but not my blog.

From Indigo to Silk by Bob James

This is one of Bob James' quilts. I met Bob early in the morning when I was having photos taken, and he said such lovely things to me about my quilt, and told me what others had shared with him as well. Lovely man, and it turns out he is also a fantastic quilter. This piece "From Indigo to Silk" took my breath away. Those are 1/4 inch strips. Such a striking effect, don't you agree? Bob won both the Creative Use of Colour Award and the Judges Commendation for Professional Small or Wall Quilt.

Global Warming by Bob James

Bob also had this amazing piece in the show called "Global Warming". I do love circles in quilts!

Coxcomb and Currants by Janet Treen

Janet Treen entered this hand appliqued, hand quilted and trapuntoed stunner called "Coxcomb and Currants" and not only won BEST OF SHOW but also the Retaining the Tradition Award, Excellence in Hand Quilting (Open) Award and First prize in the Professional Traditional category. To cap it all, Janet is a really lovely lady. I was so happy I got to meet her.

Coxcomb and Currants by Janet Treen

Given I can't show you all the quilts, I thought I'd tell you about the blog posts where the quilters have shown their own quilts! That's almost as good as the real thing isn't it? (I'll update the list as more people blog about their quilts or as Google reveals more!). You can also check out the Prizewinners' Gallery on the guild website.

* Rachaeldaisy's two prize winning quilts here and here.

* Leanne Harvey's prize winning quilt here.

* More on Janet Treen's quilt here.

* Chris Jurd's quilts here.

* Karen Cunningham's prize winning quilt here.

Edit: My friend Di has a very comprehensive blog post on some of the quilts! Thanks Di!

Tomorrow I will show you what I won, and what I was tempted by at the Craft and Quilt Fair. Three words. So. Much. Pretty.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sydney Quilt Show - part 1

After ten or so years of attending the annual Sydney Quilt Show, I decided last year (while I was at the awards ceremony, actually) that I would finally join the The Quilters' Guild of New South Wales and enter their show in 2014.

So I joined, and I entered.  Two items on the bucket list ticked!

I entered my favourite quilt in the world - a hand appliqued, heavily quilted piece that I designed myself. It's called "Across the Universe". I shared it a bit here, and a tutorial for how to make the perfect circles here. It was a quilt borne out necessity - a very stressful period at work required me to force myself out of the office and into the park for an hour each day. For three weeks of lunches I stitched circles onto fabric patches. Then I sewed them together. Even though the quilt was made during a pretty rotten time, I have nothing but good feelings about this quilt. It hangs in my entry at home, and we look at it and walk past it every day.

Imagine my surprise when someone from the committee called me last Saturday night to tell me I'd won a prize? She wouldn't tell me what, though. Unfortunately I couldn't get to the awards ceremony this year, and had already planned to go on the weekend.

So I was super surprised to find out I had won this.

Sydney Quilt Show

I still can't believe it. Entering this show was on my BUCKET LIST! Winning a category wasn't.


I can't tell you how happy, and humbled, and amazed, and bloody chuffed I am.

Sydney Quilt Show

The quilt show was AMAZING. It was at a different venue this year, and I don't know whether it was the extra natural light, or the extra colour in the quilts, but everything looked so beautiful. There were certainly some show stoppers there, and it was fun to examine them further while I was white glove duty on Saturday. I shall do a second post soon with the quilts that I got permission to publish photos of (from the makers themselves).

I picked up my prize (so generous. And thank heavens I brought Mavis, my nonna trolley with me). Came in handy when taking two ferries back to our apartment. I'll show you my amazing prize in the next post.

Sydney Quilt Show

It was a wonderful day. My husband came to the show for a few hours and to take some photos and people kept stopping us to ask about the quilt, and to say such wonderful things about it. I was complimented by some pretty well-known quilters on how straight it hung! (and hardly a 1/4 inch seam in there! Told you I was lucky). A couple of other quilters told me they would want to take it home. I finally started to believe I had made something special - to others and not just to me. And for the first time in a long time, no one questioned why on earth I would hand applique it, and then matchstick quilt it (instead, everyone I spoke to said they totally got it. THANK YOU SYDNEY!)

Sydney Quilt Show

I think I smiled all the way back to Double Bay. Also - Sydney you're beautiful. Thanks for giving me a wonderful weekend.

Sydney Quilt Show

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The hard slog

I love most sports, but I'm not much of a soccer fan until you add a Dutch team into the mix and suddenly I'm the most avid soccer fan you've ever met.

So on Sunday morning you would have found me here watching Netherlands v Costa Rica.


That's the perfect ironing board height to make perfectly curved clams for my Manhattan Clam quilt while I sit my half-Dutch backside on the sofa and yell loudly.


Speaking of clams, the quilt is progressing well, but I'm getting a little bit bored with it now. I can't explain it - I love the process, the fabrics, and the appliequing, but I am really, really looking forward to the quilting so I can't wait to finish the hand work and square it up!


The backing for a larger quilt was sewn together. Massive dots - I couldn't resist!


My physio gave me new exercises to strengthen my bad back this week, but he didn't mention anything about scrambling on the floor and pin basting a very large quilt. Probably because I didn't tell him I was thinking of doing it.


Result - one very sore Michelle, and a couple of big black bruises on each knee. But I don't care - the quilt is basted! Hooray!

I'm joining up with my friend Gemma's linky party this week.  (If you read Gemma's post you might also glean a little bit of exciting news that happened to me this week! But more on that next week when I get back from a little trip to Sydney.)

i quilt blog button

Saturday, July 5, 2014

How I quit Instagram and found true happiness

And doesn't that sound like a self-help mubbly jubbly blog post title?


Over 5 weeks ago I quit Instagram.

First I should preface the following post to state that I loved using Instagram, seeing others and what they were making, growing and experiencing.  I had just a touch under 1500 followers (which personally I found a little ridiculous and also out-of-control), and followed about 700 interesting people.  Some of those people were real life friends. Others were people I consider close online friends - people I correspond with outside of Instagram. The rest I wouldn't have known at all - I admired them greatly and would probably never meet them, but that was ok.


I know a lot of people get frustrated with Instagram - they never feel good enough, or slim enough, or whatever enough.  That's not me. I am who I am, and am perfectly happy with who I am, and not once did I feel inadequate based on someone else's life, or quilts, or amazing garden, or amazing garment. Instead I felt inspired! Look at that amazing technique! I should try that sometime. Ooh I love that t-shirt on that girl in New Mexico. I should look that pattern up.

So what was my problem then?

1. I was addicted to checking Instagram. I would check while waiting for a meeting to start, waiting for the bus or my coffee, and after waking up in the middle of the night from a bad dream.  Worst of all, I would check while I was spending it with pretty fine company.  Just for a minute. Maybe answer a comment, maybe add a comment. But how freaking rude is that? I hated it when people did it to me. It had to stop.

2. I started finding my own behaviour obnoxious.  Yes, I'm talking about taking photos of my food.  It wasn't even that amazing, but I just had to share it, you know?


3. I shared about 5% of my life on Instagram. But some people thought it was my whole life and would comment and judge accordingly. And I started getting tired of sharing that 5%. I wanted my life back for myself.

4. There are a few rude, judgmental and passive-aggressive people on Instagram. Everyone is entitled to a bad day, but if they were repeat offenders I would just block them or ignore them.

5. The sky looks bluer when viewed with your own eyes, and not with a filter on Instagram. It really does.


The morning I deleted my account I actually felt sick. Even though I'd given it a lot of thought and done a lot of research, I regretted it immediately.  I knew I would miss my friends, and miss the inspiration I got from all those gorgeous photos.  I arrived at the bus stop in the freezing rain and for the first time in years I didn't check my phone to see who had loaded photos in the ten minute walk from my home to Northbourne Avenue. Ten seconds later a very old friend showed up at the bus stop.  I would not have noticed her if I'd had my head buried in my phone. We talked all the way into town and it was the perfect start to my day.


That day three more "instances of connectivity" (as I have come to call them) happened that definitely wouldn't have happened if I'd been checking my now-deleted account.  By 6 pm I knew it was the best decision I could have made. I have been feeling more connected with the world ever since.

Suddenly I have more time. I am sewing more. I am not worrying about why he or she doesn't comment on my photos as much as they used to. I don't have that dilemma about whether I should be a private or public Instagrammer. I don't feel dirty that I was using IG as a business and marketing tool sometimes. I am sleeping better. When I wake from a bad dream, I get out of bed and walk to the kitchen and get a glass of water. My I-things are powered off at night. My mobile phone bill is now much cheaper. I am spending more time with friends that doesn't involve me being a complete jerk and checking my phone every 10 minutes. I am spending more time with friends, full stop. If I am making a quilt and need an opinion, I will text a photo to friends and family instead.

I'm not photographing my dinner anymore.

I am looking up. (Seriously, you need to watch this.)

A few friends contacted me when they noticed I was gone from IG and commented that they missed my photos and would miss seeing what I was up to.  To this I say
  • If you had coffee or lunch or a chat with me every now and then you would know what I was doing and I would know what you were doing and the time we spent together would be more fulfilling than logging onto an app (and there's also that 5% of life thing I mentioned)
  • Email. Texting. Phoning. They are all good things. 
  • I am still blogging.  In fact, I am blogging more than I was before and I find it a much better use of time and creativity. In a discussion with a (real life) quilting friend recently who also blogs and instagrams, we agreed that we'd rather read 1000 words and 4 photos about the creation process than 4 words and a single photo and a whole lot of comments we have to trawl through to get the full story.

Now this post is an extremely personal one.  I quit Instagram for my own reasons, to gain more useful time, and for my own happiness.  But I won't be judging anyone who is still on there. Everyone has to create the paths to their own happiness. Instagram used to do it for me, but the side-effects weren't worth it.  I am happier now, and I feel like I don't have to share every moment or every blue sky with 1500 other people to feel validated about how happy and lucky I am.


Because I am extremely happy and lucky, and I don't need to take a photo to illustrate that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Disclaimer #1: I do still use Instagram occasionally as the Canberra Quilters instagrammer. I load the app onto my iphone, upload the photos I need to upload, check it for 24 hours in case there are any questions, and then delete it off my iphone again until the next time I need it.

Disclaimer #2: I originally thought I might just give myself a long break from IG, and so I registered a new name similar to my old name just in case (and to stop anyone else stealing it). Having really enjoyed not using it for 5 weeks and 2 days though, I seriously doubt I will be back.

(Edit: just as I uploaded this post I received a postcard from an old IG friend who I have actually met and it was wonderful! And she wrote beautiful things! The universe keeps sending me reminders of true friendship. I am so grateful). 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Modern Wedges

Oh people - you have no idea how many times I have opened up this Blogger doodad to write a post about the most amazing quilt workshop I attended last weekend.  Lots and lots of times. And each time I start to write and try to work out which photos to load and I just.  Nope.  I can't.  Too much.

So the 73rd attempt. Let's give this a crack shall we?

Vintage Spin class
I went to a quilt class on the weekend with Kathy Doughty from Material Obsession. Canberra Quilters hosted it, and it was fabulous.

Vintage Spin class

What? You want more? OK then.

The class was called "Modern Wedges" and we learned all about cutting with a wedge (dresden) ruler, and how to put them together to make really interesting shapes.  I had decided early on that I was going to make the quilt "Vintage Spin" from Kathy's Book "Adding Layers". Once I saw that quilt at the trunk show that Kathy gave the night before the workshop started, I knew I had made the right choice.

Kathy Doughty trunk show

Kathy had us laying out the stash fabrics we'd bought into warm and cool fabrics. I'd never done anything like that before! But it was eye opening, and hey I love learning a new thing. And it really did help when deciding on the two colours needed for each block.

Vintage Spin class

Vintage Spin class

(My initial blocks are the 4 1/2 on the right of the design wall. You can see I had started to mix the wedges around a bit, getting away from "too safe".)

I did discover, for all my crap about breaking rules and the eye-popping colour I like to use, I do play it a bit safe in the fabric selection department. From Kathy, I learned to not trust my first instincts - to go with my gut, but then turn it up a notch.  It took me two days to turn it up a notch without my hand being held, but I did it!

Vintage Spin class

(Mine are the square ones.)

At the end of two days, we all had several blocks made, backgrounds chosen, and minds full of possibilities. We also had two large design walls absolutely chock full of blocks.  It was a marvellous sight.

Kathy Doughty class

Thanks Kathy for coming down to Canberra and showing us all about wedges. Your enthusiasm is infectious, and your company was wonderful. I had the best weekend, and I can't wait till all my deals are done and I can get cracking on finishing this quilt!

I'm linking up with my lovely friend Gemma at Pretty Bobbins for the Thursday iQuilt party!

 i quilt blog button

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Making deals with myself

It seems that every day I make deals with myself. Something good, something progressed, something finished, my physical therapy done in the pool (ha ha)... and then I can work on something. Or have some chocolate. Or both.

This is my current dealmaker.

Vintage Spin quilt

It's from a class that I did over the weekend with Kathy Doughty. And I freaking love it.  L O V E.  But as this is supposed to be the year for #finishit2014 and not #startit2014 I thought that I would reward myself with working on this one by finishing off a few other tasks.

Like sewing this together so that I might baste it this weekend (in addition to some extra physical therapy so that, you know, I can actually bend over and get on the floor and baste it!)

In progress

Finding where the heck I put this almost-sewn-together WIP so that I can measure it up and take it to the long armer sometime soon!!

Japanese scrappy tripalong WIP

And tidying up my stash (and not just because I think my Japanese scrappy tripalong is in those cubicles somewhere ...)

Fabric stash
(I've already tidied this bit up, although I'm not sure what the orange is doing in the yellow cubicle when it has it's own cubicle thankyouverymuch.)

I'm taking part in Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday.
 WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

And also Little White Dove's Aussie WIP Wednesday!
 Little White Dove