Saturday, 21 February 2015

Summer Picnic

My Spring Summer Picnic quilt is finished. And while i didn't quite have it finished to enjoy the Australian spring as hoped, it is ready to make the most of the last remnants of summer.

For me, this quilt is all about the colours. Colours that really please my eyes and say 'take me out onto some lush, green grass and enjoy the warmth, blue skies and fresh air outdoors'. The design is simple...super simple....but i really like how in it's simplicity, it's reminiscent of the table cloths we used on picnic tables when i was young.

I was inspired to make my Summer Picnic quilt after seeing Annie's Picnic Quilt by Malka Dubrawsky (p.122 of her book Fresh Quilting; Fearless Color, Design & Inspiration) (You can read more about that here).

I also really liked the colour combinations in Kaffe Fassett's Green Shirt Stripes fabric, so while the solids are primarily shades of green, i've tended to include some prints and squares of purple and blue to liven things up a little. I've used Kaffe's Green Shirt Stripes for the binding.

Today, we headed off to the sculpture garden outside the Australian National Gallery in Canberra to take some photo's. As usual, my assistants were very helpful and the perfect picnic quilt testers; 
1. rolling on it - tick
2. munching yummy things on it -  tick
3. jumping and running all over it - tick
4. Hurricane proof? - tick.

Lesson learnt - 

Rip-Stop Fabric is too slippery to quilt using my walking foot!

One of the reasons for the delay in finishing the quilt was because i'd decided to experiment a bit with some Rip-Stop as backing. I thought Rip-Stop would make the perfect backing for a picnic it a bit of water/dirt proofing when the ground is a little damp. So after whipping up the quilt top, i thread basted the quilt sandwich ready to go.

My plan was for simple 1/4 inch quilting either side of the seams with my wonderful walking foot. Sounds easy right? Well, i battled and fought with the quilt as it slipped and created horrible, irregular, messy quilting lines. I persisted for several lines of quilting before i was so disappointed, i turned off my Bernina and set the quilt aside while i decided what to do.

Now, don't get me wrong, my machine quilting is far from perfect at the best of times. My main problem usually happens when dealing with larger quilts and the thread length will vary as i tug and battle with the weight and size of the quilt and i often end up disappointed and not enjoying the quilting process (for that reason i usually opt to take big quilts to my lovely long-arm friends).

But this was soooo much worse. At times like this, a girl needs to consult her Mum and she agreed that i should unpick the mess i'd made, remove the Rip-Stop, make a new backing from the left over fabrics i'd used on the top, re-make the sandwich and quilt it as planned. And, i'm very happy i did. Despite a few wonky imperfections (aka Hurricane assistance) and some of the usual variations in thread length, it's ready and raring for picnics.

I can't wait to take it out for another date. I look forward to some lazy napping, sharing yummy nibbles with family and friends and the likely job of working out how to best remove the evidence that a good time was had; red-wine, homemade beetroot dip (my favourite) and probably some tomato sauce.

Cheers to many years of picnics ahead,

Linking up with:
- Kim at Persimon Dreams for TGIFF,
- Lorna for Lets Bee Social and

Amanda Jean for Finish it Up Friday

Monday, 16 February 2015

Secret Southwest Garden

I used to live in southwest Western Australia and i miss the people, the forests, the flowers and the amazing diversity of wildlife. Where tall karri trees reach far into the sky and people travel from far and wide to see the wildflowers in bloom each spring.

The Hurricane and i recently visited our good friends Adrian and Julia who still live in Smithbrook, not far from Manjimup in the southwest. The forests were crackling, cicadas so loud, average daily maximum temperatures above 35degC and the depths of a long dry summer were not nearly close to ending. 

A highlight of our visit was the most amazing summer storm. The smell of rain falling on the dry summer earth is one of my favourite smells. The storm was electrical and the thunder boomed on and off for hours. Despite receiving rain, the large number of lightning strikes started a plethora of fires in the dry forests and are still creating havoc and keeping locals and firefighters on their toes.

Adrian and Julia's property in Smithbrook is like an oasis this time of year with peaches, plums, avocado, lemons, grapefruit and potatoes all in season in abundance. Their house and the old school house on their property have a huge amount of character and i especially love the surrounding karri forests and the beautiful blue splendid fairy wrens that come visit each day.

My wonderful Mum, made Adrian and Julia the most beautiful quilt.

Mum said....'I've been collecting these beautiful and bright batik fat quarters at our annual quilt show in Sydney and when I saw the pattern "Secret Garden" by Wendy Whellum, in my AP&Q magazine, I knew I would have fun placing all my materials together.' 

'It's a cheerful quilt, made to brighten up any room and I hope it gets lots of use in their lovely home in southwest Australia'

So, Adrian and Julia, thank you so much for sharing your summer with us. We hope the fires will settle down and give you a break and that you'll soon be able to snuggle under and rest underneath your quilt.

Linking up with:
- Amanda Jean for Finish it Up Friday and
- Lorna for Lets Bee Social

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Peta's Framed Mini-Quilt

Our good friend Peta recently turned 70 years old. Peta is a wonderful, joyful character and enjoys creating her own wonderful art-quilts and handmade treasures.....including the most delicious sweets (so good, i've often requested recipes for!).

As a little gift, i made her this framed, mini-quilt using some of my very favourite fabrics (including some Kaffe Fassett and my favourite blues and greens of course!). You might recognise some of them from what i reckon is my all-time favourite quilt, Dreaming of Jacarandas.

I used a gold thread to quilt 1/4 inch from the seams and i love the way the it shines in the sunlight.

Happy 70th birthday Peta! Here's to a great year ahead and plenty more birthdays for us to celebrate together.

Linking up with:
- Amanda Jean for Finish it Up Friday and
- Lorna for Lets Bee Social