Thursday, 18 February 2021

Butterflies are free ... and so am I

I was over half way through making the 120 framed nine patch blocks needed to make my own version of Lynne Dykstra's (Klein Meisje Quilts) gorgeous quilt (see my blog here) when I got sidetracked by this butterfly block tutorial by Mrs Schmenkman Quilts.  The blog isn't kept up-to-date any more, but please go to it to discover how the block originated.  This tutorial was written in 2010 when it seems the block was very popular.

Anyhoo, I became obsessed with making my own and, using any scrap I could find, I started making what has turned out to be one of my favourite quilts.

The tutorial is very clear and I had no problem putting these blocks together. I don't normally trim blocks to size, so that task was tedious, not to mention wasteful of the black background fabric, but I persevered to produce one hundred 6" blocks.  In the beginning I wasn't going to put a border on, but quickly found that the butterfly wings stretched too much to be simply left with a scrappy binding to hold them together.

Instead, I added a 2" black inner border, and then a 4" outer border.  Now that I see it up on the wall, I think the outer border is a bit too narrow, and I'm thinking of adding another.  The binding will be in the same Robert Kauffman fabric.

I am thrilled with how it turned out.  I especially like the secondary block that is created where four blocks join, and which, to me, look like wonky black pinwheels. I also love the wavy black line that is created both vertically and horizontally where the blocks join.  I think the butterflies look like they are wiggling.

There are all sorts of fabrics in this quilt, some of which are at least 20 years old, and they remind me of quilts that I made for my mother, sisters, friends, my new grand daughter and her cousins.  I only used each fabric twice, and some are used only once.  I used four different ginghams for the butterfly bodies (boy, were they hard to source in local quilt shops) and I decided to completely ignore what colour went with what print, and I also randomised placement of blocks to ignore the colour of the  gingham bodies.

I puzzled over why I was so attracted to the quilt in the first place and I remembered a blog post from one of my favourite quilters, Lynne at Patchery Menagerie.  In her blog she talks about the rhythm of the blocks - the repetition of elements - that attracted her to the Christmas Boxes quilt she made.  I feel that's what happened to me with this quilt.  

By the way, I have Lynne's bird tutorial, and I did think of putting a couple of birds in my quilt, but I wanted to keep the butterfly repetition going. I'm kind of interested in seeing what the birds would look like on a black, rather than white/cream background, so that might be my next experiment.

Now to quilt this.  I'm thinking of an overall free loopy pattern to counteract the rigidity of the repetitive blocks.

But that won't be happening until my house move.  I've  packed up the sewing room (apart from a couple of projects, like this one, to finish off) and I've discovered more fabric than I can handle. 

I just have to find a way to use up more scraps.


Thursday, 17 September 2020

Finnish-ed Bears!

Meet Otso and Fatso.

Otso means ‘bear’ in Finnish, and I knit these from a free pattern downloaded from London Loop Knit Lounge. 

Both are knitted from 10 ply yarn.  The hardest part (for me) is getting their faces right and there has been lots of ripping out of scary eyes. I love their fat bottoms and pudgy arms and legs.

I also finished six baby burp cloths mentioned in my last post.

These went together very quickly and I’m reasonably happy with them. However, even though I pre-washed the flannel it did shrink again after the prototype was washed.  This is probably not the best quality fabric, so before I make any more from the next lot of flannel, I am going to modify the pattern to make it slightly bigger – maybe a half inch all round.  I’m also going to cut on the fold as it will be a lot easier to cut out.

I’m now finishing up a gorgeous frilly cotton/wool mix cardigan for the new summer baby, as it can still get cool in our part of the world in November and December – especially in the evenings.   

I’ve sewn a few more framed nine-patch blocks, so I’m about half-way to the finish on this one.

And I found a beaut fabric in stash (at least 15 years old) to back Eli’s quilt.


The dogs found a possum stuck between a rock wall and a water tank on our property.  Thankfully they couldn’t get to her (and neither could we).  So I called the wildlife rescue service (WIRES) who came almost straight away and rescued what turned out to be a female brush tailed possum.  She was literally 'playing possum' stuck down the side of the tank as, from above, she looked a third of this size.

Possums can get very aggressive.  This one was a bit stunned, but after gathering her wits about her she shot up the nearest gum tree.  She was as big as a cat. Look at those claws - great for climbing and fighting!

We also showed the WIRES volunteers where we think we have a family of bandicoots living.  They are going to install a camera to see if they can get any pics.  A lot of wildlife was killed during the bushfires in January, so volunteers in WIRES are monitoring what is left. 

Yesterday I noticed that the male and female satin bower birds are back.  The male is a very showy blue/black and the female is a lovely olive green.  They start nesting in October.  We've never found the bower that is built by the male to attract the female.  You can read more about the bower, and the mating habits of these birds, here. 

Now we have to keep the back screen door shut as the birds love to come into the house looking for any food left in the kitchen. The fruit bowl is often attacked, and they love dog kibble of all things.  We don't feed them by the way. 

Unfortunately, when startled in the house the birds shoot out black poo everywhere, and then stun themselves flying into windows trying to get out.  This sets off the dogs and it’s pandemonium until we can rescue them (minus a fair few tail feathers).

I’m so glad our property provides haven for these creatures despite having three dogs that roam around.


Friday, 28 August 2020

Where’s a grindstone when you need one?

Not that I need to put my nose to the grindstone, as it seems I have managed to accumulate a lot of projects, and I’m loving it. With knitting and hand-sewing my evenings are completely taken up.

For daytime sewing I came across Lynn Dykstra's blog, Klein Meisje Quilts, a few months ago, and I fell in love with her solids on prints series of quilts.  She is a prolific quilter and encourages readers to use her designs ‘at your pleasure’.

I am particularly fond of the framed nine patch, and set about making my own using only fabrics from stash, plus any large scraps.

Here are my blocks so far up on the design wall.  At the moment I am just throwing them up there as I make them.  My intention is to make the quilt 10 x 12 blocks which is a really big quilt.  I find piecing these very soothing.

Around the time I read Lynn's blog I also read about Ruth’s framed nine patch (Gigi’s Room) and I’m really taken with the idea of doing a quilt-as-you-go using her technique on my domestic sewing machine.  I’m a walking foot quilter at the best of times, and this will be too big for me to push through my machine.  No idea what the backing will be yet - and this will have to be purchased as I don't have anything suitable in stash.

When I started making the blocks I only had blue/green solids from a bundle I bought years ago in Spotlight.  I am trying to be careful not to plan the blocks too much i.e. matching or coordinating the solids with the prints because, if you look closely at Lynn's quilt, that is precisely the opposite to what she has done.  I think this makes the quilt.  I will also only make no more than two blocks with the same fabric, and each must have a different colour solid.

Some of these fabrics are very old and I am reminded of which quilt I used them in – all given away now – and I have a little weep every now and again when I come across fabrics for quilts I made for my Mum.  One or two prints (like the 'peacock feather' print below) are from the very first quilt top I made way back in 2004.  It's still languishing on the UFO shelf.  I made it completely out of my head (no pattern, no real sense of how it would go together).  I didn't know it then, but I was improvising, such that I rarely use a quilt pattern now.  The background is white damask that I bought at a garage sale.  Must blog about it, and quilt it, sometime soon.

My friend, Belinda, bought me a red/yellow/orange bundle of solids on her last trip to Spotlight so I could get away from the blues.  I pre-washed and ironed these to make sure they won’t bleed.  This is why there are only a few blocks with red/orange/yellow combinations at the moment.  I need to make more.  I figure roughly 50/50 warm and cool solids will be effective.

My method of sewing is to pre-cut a whole bunch of fabrics for each block and lay them out on paper towels which I stack beside the sewing machine.  Then, when I sit down to sew, I just cut whatever solids take my fancy and sew the block up.

My grand daughter’s baby shower is set for the end of September!  Hopefully there won’t be any COVID 19 restrictions in NSW and I’ll be able to go to the city and stay a couple of days.  It’s been a long time since I saw my sons and my daughter-in-law.

I made a prototype baby burp cloth using this pattern from Treasurie.

It sewed up very quickly and is now in the washing machine to see how it washes.  The terry cloth backing cost a fortune in a local quilt shop so I'm keen to see how it washes before I make any more.  I'm using two different (pre-washed) flannels for the front - this is the baby elephant one.  

That's Fatso (one of two Finnish bears I have knit) taking a nap to show my daughter-in-law what size the burp cloths will be! I'll save Fatso (the scary turquoise eyes are about to be replaced)  for another post.

And I have another new project.  The Big Pocket Baby Pouch is something I hope to start next week.  Here are a couple of ideas for the fabric pulls.  I decided that I didn’t want the clutch to be too babyish so have picked out a few grown-up fabrics.

I might make two. This will be the first time I’ve EVER tried to do a buttonhole – wish me luck! 

And here are two of my fur babies who keep me company in the sewing room: Penny Farthing on the left, and Billy Bunter on the right.  Their sister, Teddy Bear, is out in the garden sunbathing in her favourite spot.


Linking up to the Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More

And Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty.


Saturday, 22 August 2020

Cupcakes and critters

My new grand daughter will have two cousins - Zoe and Eli.  I decided to make a quilt for each of them as a gift from the new baby.

Here is Zoe's quilt which I have named Cupcakes.  

I wanted to use only fabrics from my stash.  The multi-coloured strips came from a jelly roll that I bought years ago thinking that they would make good blending fabrics for my indigenous hexie quilt.  But they were far too loud and modern and I abandoned that idea.  The jelly roll has sat on the shelf for at least two years.  I never knew what to do with it.

Then I saw the cupcake fabric in my local patchwork shop a few weeks ago.  I teamed it with the small scale 'girly' animal and rainbow fabric.  The border fabric is left over from baby MJ's cot quilt.  The backing is from stash and purchased at garage sale just before our Corona lockdown.

I used a multi-coloured thread and the serpentine stitch on my Bernina to quilt this little quilt and I'm happy with the result.

Next is Eli's quilt.  Inspiration for this quilt came from Mary at Making Scrap Quilts from Stash.

Lots of Australian and novelty critters here.  Again, I used fabrics from my stash, except for the gorgeous lime green insect fabric purchased recently from my local quilt shop especially for Eli.  While I loved Mary's quilt, and I could rustle up enough solids from my stash to replicate it, I had a fair few fabrics in stash (some of which are at least 10 to 15 years old).  Like her, I didn't want to use plain black for the background fabric, so I also purchased half a metre of the round dot fabric from my local quilt shop.  

I didn't have quite enough to complete the quilt so several blocks are cobbled together from scrap fabric, and I had to make do with two plain black strips in the centre of the quilt to finish the top. I decided to put the narrow yellow border on the quilt to help stabilise the edges of the quilt as it is going to a little boy who will drag it around the garden and no doubt the dog will be lying on it too!  I'm really pleased to have used so many fabrics from my stash.

Now it's ready to quilt and I think this will be straight line quilted using the walking foot.


Linking up to the Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More

And Beauty Pageant at From Bolt to Beauty.


Well, you’d hope so after an absence of 4 months from the blog. 

I am going to be a first-time grandma in November this year.  I’m so excited that my eldest son and his partner are going to have their first baby.  At this stage I know that it is a girl, but that’s all, as Mum and Dad are keeping potential names and the due date as surprises for the rest of us.

Since hearing the news I’ve been busy knitting and sewing all sorts of goodies.  It has been many years since I knitted anything but I find it very soothing sitting in the lounge with the fire blazing and doing (what I call) mindless knitting – blankets, simple cardigans, even a dress or two for a little knitted bunny!

I’ve made baby MJ (as she is known so far) 3 quilts.  I blogged about the snowball quilt here.

Here is a little bassinette quilt that I made from scraps.  The centre panel is one that my daughter-in-law chose.  This little quilt has fabrics that I’ve used in a quilt for my Mum so it has extra special memories.  I hand quilted parts of the panel in Perle cotton.

Next is a cot quilt.  Again, this is made mostly from scraps.  I think this is my favourite.  I followed a tutorial on making pinwheels from 5-inch squares.  The top went together beautifully and was finished in a day.

I designed and quilted all the tops myself. 


Linking up with the Peacock Party at Wendy's Quilts and More.


Butterflies are free ... and so am I

I was over half way through making the 120 framed nine patch blocks needed to make my own version of Lynne Dykstra's ( Klein Meisje Quil...