Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Ahhh, the Smell of an Old Book...

 When I started this blog years ago one of the first topics I discussed was my love of old books.  Not just any old books though, books pertaining to women's sphere of work, i.e. domestic chores, cooking, household management, sewing...with my particular interest in any publications prior to the mid 1960's.  I suppose I find books on this subject before the 70's really interesting because it's so foreign to my time of growing up.  I was born in the 60's, was a preteen in the 70's and a high schooler in the 80's (damn, I'm showing my age...).  Over the years I've accumulated a respectable amount of old books covering women's domestic life.  I just love them and they have a pride of place in both the French secretary in my living room and on display shelving behind my couch.

What do I love about them?  Just about everything really.  I love the style of writing during those periods.  It was so formal in its structure yet filled freely with descriptive adjectives "This smart frock of iridescent blue and peach, is based on the shirt style, can be worn equally well for casual day wear or accessorized appropriately for evening entertaining."

No one writes like that anymore!

I love the way how any problem had a simple domestic solution.  If your husband is stressed after a long day at work, handing him a cocktail as soon as he gets home while sitting in his favorite easy chair soaking in the stress free home environment puts him in the right frame of mind for consuming the three course meal you have slaved all day to make him.  This will take away his woes.  If your children are unruly, make them a nice new outfit and bake them a cake.  That will fix the problem.  If you feel depressed, well there's nothing like a trip to the hairdressers and a new frock (in your husband's favourite color) that won't work wonders for your psyche.  As long as a woman had these books in her reference library no problem was too big or too small to tackle in the table of contents.  I suppose what I love most is the innocence and nativity in these old books in the belief that all problems were solvable through domestic bliss.

Perhaps quilt books today are out modern day replacements for our foremothers Better Homes and Gardens, Betty Crocker and Readers Digest domestic bliss books.  Feeling depressed?  Make yourself a Kaffee Fassett color filled quilt to cheer up your room.  Children driving you crazy?  An eye-spy quilt is just the ticket.  Husband having work problems?  Make him a manly quilt that's just the right size to fit in his briefcase (or man bag) so he can bring it into the office and smother his boss with it in style - problem solved.

Bet you never thought quilting could be so therapeutic....

Monday, April 29, 2013

Pin Interest

Danielle's unbelievably busy pin cushion
 I have a real interest in pin cushions.

I don't make them and I don't collect them but I do love to photograph them.  All my friends in my quilt groups know I'm nuts about this because I'm always taking pictures of their pin cushions.  They obviously think there's something wrong with me.

I don't know exactly why I'm so drawn to them.  Perhaps to me they are functional pieces of art.  And each pin cushion is unique in a way to its owner not just because of the beauty of that particular choice of cushion but also because it's customized by it's owner with their pins.  They each tell a little about the person who uses them.

I have many, many more photos but I won't bore the be-Jesus out of you with them as you may not be as enamored with them as I am.  But here's one last one - my own.  My husband calls it 'the bad fruit'.  I wonder what this says about me?

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Messy Room Organized Mind

 THIS is what my sewing room looks like when I'm knee deep in projects.  It's a complete and utter mess.

I've tried keeping it neat and tidy while working on projects but it always ends up back to this.  I pull out fabric to audition, dig out books for reference, use this tool and that, grab rulers and pens and sew and cut and let all the bits fall to the floor.  And there you go, a mess.  *heavy sigh*  The only time my room looks presentable is when I'm doing no sewing at all.  Am I the only sewer who lives like this?....

The most wonderful aspect of my sewing room is evident by 9am - the glorious morning sun streaming in through my ample windows.  I adore my sewing room first thing in the morning.  It's bright and cheerful and such a happy space to be in.

Though my present sewing space is smaller than the one I had in our old house it's more open and light filled.  I'd take a smaller light filled room over a large dark cave any day.

 I'm fortunate to have plenty of table space that encircles the room but I tend to fill it up quickly with fabric and such.  Sometimes it gets so bad I move to the dinning room table which is great fun for my husband.  He just rolls his eyes and comments that "the three rooms you use in the house already for your sewing isn't enough?"  - "dah - obviously not" is my look back to him.

Since I've started using Stella as my main sewing machine she's been an absolute trooper.  I just adore my 1957 beauty.  The table she sits on was made by my loving and tolerant husband specifically to suit my Janome 6600.  Where Stella sits right now is over the hole he cut in the table to slide in the Janome making the entire table top an extended sewing bed.  However Stella has an ample bottom (very much like her present owner....) so she doesn't fit.  I've played around with the idea of asking the husband to cut a larger hole to fit Stella as I plan to use my Janome mainly on the machine quilting frame, but I haven't decided yet to commit.  Once the hole is cut, it's cut.

I've been pulling all my novelty fabric out to make blocks for the +X quilt.  Yesterday in my quilt shop travels I purchased some cut offs that I'll incorporate into a sewing themed block.  These new purchases of course add to the clutter already spread about the room.

I console myself with the opinion that even though my room is messy my brain is somewhat organized.  All I have to do really is put blinders on to the room as a whole and just focus on whats in front of me - then it's all good!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Current Hand Piece Project

Here's my first block finished using the Hands All Around pattern.  I'm pleased with how it turned out.  I wanted to make a test block first before committing myself (and my wallet) to future fabric purchases as the reproduction fabric doesn't come cheap (here in Australia on average you pay $21.50 a meter). 

I've figured that the most fabric I'll need for piecing the blocks will be for the background - probably around 5 meters.  I'm going use white on white and I've decided to use different white on white patterns throughout the quilt.  I'll stay consistent within the block but I'm not going to be concerned whether its the same white on white pattern from block to block throughout.  Actually I think I'm going to ensure the white tone changes a bit too.  Maybe throw in a few darker off white - white on white for visual interest.   I'm definitely going to use the the brown Jo Morton designed print throughout for the 'square' within the flowered units.  I invested in 2 meters of it and that should cover the creation of a queen sized quilt.  I haven't thought too much yet about the border - though I should because I'm thinking that same print would look awfully nice in the border.  I'll see.  Each 'flower' point I'll use two different tones of the same color.  In this one it's green.  I cut the fabric and pieced this block in one night so if I do a block or so a week it should come together pretty quickly.  But I'm in no hurry anyway.  It will be finished in it's own time.

This is the first time I've pieced this particular pattern.  I'd say its definitely not for the faint hearted though as it mostly consists of set in seams as well as curved piecing.  But if you're a really keen newby piercer with a little patience (and some wine) you too can make this block without loosing your mind.

Here's a photo of the back.  As you can see I don't concern myself much with which direction I let my seams fall.  As long as the finished block lays flat without bulky seams then I'm happy.  Sorry for the shadowed photography.  I took these photos first thing in the morning with lots of light streaming in from the windows into my sewing room.  It makes for a lovely bright room but when taking pictures it really throws a lot of shadow.

I plan to photograph my latest quilt completion as well as a few in-the-works projects but I just haven't gotten around to it.  I will soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm Easy But Never Cheap...

I just know that every single quilter out there will be able to relate to this post.  I am completely ADDICTED to fabric.  If I walk into a quilt shop there is no way in Hell I'm walking out again if I have any money whatsoever in my pocket.  It's a sad, sad state that I can't control my textile urges.  Thank goodness I'm not a drug addict or I'd be in serious trouble.

At lunch today I went to a local quilt shop.  It's one I haven't been to before, which for a Perth resident, is pretty rare.  We have a very small community of quilt shops here in this state so if you're a quilter word travels fast when there's new shop to be explored.  This 'new' shop called Southlands Fabric & Sewing Centre (29 Yampi Way, Willetton WA) is actually a reincarnated previous quilt shop that has changed hands and location.  So really, it's a new shop and unbelievably I hadn't visited it yet.  So at lunch today I rectified that.

I went in with a purpose in mind.  I want to start a new hand piecing project as I've finished my last one and have only one other on the go that I call my '10 year project' so really there's no end in sight for that one.  I wanted to begin another hand pieced quilt and finally chose the pattern - All Hands Around.  It's pictured below from a Google search.

All Hands Around Block

 I'm going to complete this project with Civil War reproduction fabrics because I just love them.  Also for me it doesn't feel quite right to hand piece a modern quilt.  Perhaps because I associate hand piecing to the traditional it seems only fitting to use traditional patterns and textiles.  To me hand piecing is living history so I feel most content hand piecing blocks of a less contemporary nature.  Anyway, now that I've chosen the block I wanted to look at reproduction fabric.  God only knows I do not need anymore reproduction fabric.  I have tons at home left over from my Brother Against Brother Civil War quilt and also the Civil War quilt block of the week I participated in from Barbara Brackman a few years back.  But it's not about need.  It's NEVER about need.....

I came away from this lovely shop poorer in pocket but richer in textiles.  This is what I bought:

Jo Morton in brown, two tones of CW repo in greens and blues
Along with the fabric I purchased something new I hadn't seen before.  I'm sure most of my readers in the northern hemisphere probably have but here in Australia it takes TIME for stuff to make it down under.

Wonder Clips

I also picked up a fat quarter of chicken fabric.  This is hilarious of course because if any of you read my posts as I was reorganizing my fabric stash you would have heard me pronounce I have a disturbing number of chicken prints.  Obviously there's a chicken quilt in the making in my head and I'm stocking up early.  This is doubly odd because I don't have a country-fied house.  I don't know where this chicken quilt (if I ever make one) will end up.

So, there you have it.  Just one more quilt shop to add to my growing list of places where I deposit my hard earned money.  At least I'm supporting the local community.  I admit I'm a quilt shop whore.....

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Where has the time gone?

I can't believe the last time I blogged was in January.  Wow.  I knew I'd let time pass without posting but the reality hit recently when someone asked me about my blog and I thought - jeez, it's been a while.

I'll try and do a bit of a catch up but everything comes with time.  Real life always comes before blogging life.  Though I'm a 'modern' quilter in that I interact on a fairly regular basis with quilters far and wide through the Internet, my feet are firmly planted in the non-digital world and that's where my priorities lie.

So, what have I accomplished quilting wise in my absence?  I finally finished my psycho-70's apple core quilt and it's serving its purpose right now on my bed.  I haven't set up a photo shoot to show it in all it's glory.  That will come shortly.

I've started a few new projects (of course) and have let a few fall to the bottom of my projects to do list.  In good time they'll make their way back up to projects I'll work on soon.

I've been away on a quilters retreat and another one is coming up in a week.  I love retreats.  They are a lovely respite from the everyday and a great time to get together with like minded quilters to 'talk shop', oogle fabric and just relax.

Perth Modern Quilt Guild Retreat April 2013

I started a new project during the retreat.  It's the +X quilt.  I've having a lot of fun with this one because it's an everything goes quilt - literally.  Each block has a theme and then you put all the blocks together.  No color matching, no agonizing over fabric choice.  Definitely my kind of quilt.

My 'Ode to Mad Men' block
So, my wonderful readers this is all for now.  I will strive not to let so much time pass again before I post.