Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Round and round and round it goes…

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Ring o rosy

Ring o rosy

Posted Stitches has been on the go for almost a year now. A year of sending parcels back and forth. Dreaming up themes and making up quilts. Missing deadlines and hanging out on Skype (we introduced our dogs to each other, and I just love it when the girls want to show me their latest craft treasure!)

We’ve had a hiatus of an autumn (your spring), while I dealt with post-bushfire shock and wore myself out with crafty charity. You’ve had ups and downs in the turbulent economical climate of newspaper journalism. We’ve had illnesses and family events to take our attention and time away from the creative arts that capture our dreams.

But, do you know what? It’s always been there. Sitting in the background as a promise that creativity would be and is still a part of who we are.

‘Way back when we started Posted Stitches, we didn’t know each other. I was picking up my backpack and quietly shutting my front door behind me as we headed off around the world to see what we could see. Scraps of fabric and needles and thread: my entire stash in one zip-lock sandwich bag in my pack. You were working on your craft column, new then, and the idea of teaching and TV, well, they weren’t materialised (ha ha) yet.

Now, we’ve got almost a year of stitching and thinking under our belts. We both talk about our art quilts with a confidence that is so far from the tentative and under-confident first forays. ‘Can I even MAKE an art quilt?’ we both asked ourselves — first, privately, then openly. Now, it just seems a fact of life. We make art quilts. Little art quilts. Little reflections of a life lived, a friendship formed, and themes to explore.

There’s a whole world out there: it’s in our heads and our hands and in the minds of all crafters as we make up something new.swallow_tiny

What craft worlds have you built for yourself and, if you haven’t made an art quilt before, will you join us?

There’s a little list of the themes that we are considering next. I’m going to put a selection of them (plus a few surprises just for fun!) into the Random Number Generator to let it choose what we make next. The interwebby-thing can decide. After all, it’s where we met!

Bev

Bug fixes

Thursday, April 16th, 2009
Bugs

Bugs

Whew! It looks like Jennifer’s clever husband has fixed the bugs we’ve been struggling with over here at Posted Stitches headquarters. Some wizardry involving software and the server. Thank you!

Now I can post pictures again, and do you know what?

- That makes me happy.

Neither here nor there

Friday, April 10th, 2009

It seems that WordPress has caught me in limbo. I can post, but I can’t post pictures. How strange!

Tomorrow I’ll be playing about with a new and different browser, and let’s hope that works.

Bev

Back in the swing of things

Friday, March 20th, 2009

Quilt swing

I’ve been out of the loop for far too long, and I wanted to post a quick note to let people know what’s been happening, and why I’ve been away.

Last month, we had the worst natural disaster that Australia has ever seen in recorded history – bushfires that destroyed whole towns, killed over 210 people and made 7,500 homeless. The fires burnt over 1,700 sq. miles (450,000 hectares; 1.1 million acres) and came with a ferocity and a speed no-one here has EVER seen before. 

If you are in the US, or overseas from Australia, you may have seen it on the news for a day, perhaps a couple of times over a week, but for us here it’s been weeks of living with the horror, shock, grief and more complicated emotions as the days unrolled. I don’t want to write a lot about it: much, much has been said on my own blogs, friends’ blogs and the sites of the relief efforts.

For the craft community in Australia, which is tight-knit (pun intended) and strong, we were and are still aware of the friends whose towns were obliterated, who mourn good friends and family, and who live in camps, trailers or temporary accommodation, surrounded by ash. For so many, nothing will be the same again. We have an overwhelming desire to give, to do something to help. We can also burn ourselves out with the extended emotion over weeks. Crafting for anything — other than another quilt to place around a kid and their single Mom whose house is gone — well, it just doesn’t happen. 

Jennifer, you’ve been wonderfully supportive of our efforts through initiatives such as Handmade Helps, the bushfire fundraising cookbook I am co-editing with a handful of crafty ladies, and the sewing bees run by wonderful crafters. Thank you for understanding when I disappeared from Posted Stitches. 

There are still quilts being made, packs of fabric and sewing notions packed in my front room, ready to be delivered to crafters who lost everything, the cookbook to be edited, friends to keep an eye out for, and above all, money to be raised for the long term, for the rehabilitation and those extras beyond the basic needs for shelter and food. Winter is coming here in Australia, but now there are many hands to help and the load is slowly getting lighter. 

We’ll be back to Posted Stitches soon, with the previous quilt, a new one to show you — and perhaps a mid-year challenge to pitch the Aussies against the Americans in a good old-fashioned art quilt challenge bout. (Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! -Oi Oi Oi.)

Oh, hang on, I’m Canadian. What do we shout, eh?  (It’s probably something like – ‘Excuse me, pardon me, but if you don’t mind, that’s my quilt, eh?’) 

xo

Bev

 

Return to PS

Friday, December 5th, 2008

We’re here! You would be forgiven for thinking that the project has been abandoned as everything went quiet over here at Posted Stitches central. Rest assured, there’s been a lot of quiet stitching going on off-line, and plenty of activity.

Piles of work

After a hiatus of several months, and my round-the-world trip, I’ve started a new job. Not just one, but three, not being one to do things by halves. Thank heavens they’re all part-time! However, I’m discovering that it’s true: part-timers put in extra hours, and work harder in the days they are at the desk. I’ve been feeling the crush a bit, and the sewing time got squeezed. There was a bit of late-night sketching and a few crazy early-morning sessions, but fun time got cut down a lot.

I’m getting back on top of it now: perhaps I need to learn from Jennifer, who juggles more than I thought it was humanly possible for one two-handed crafter who needs to sleep sometimes.

But now we’ve both finished our Myths and Legends quilts, and we got together yesterday for the usual very long Skype chatter-fest with guest spot appearances by dogs and husbands, including disembodied voices off-stage (Jennifer’s husband) and 3-minute stand-up pontifications from the Professor (my husband). It’s a whole lotta fun – and the quilts look great.

So, sit tight: the reveal is happening. We’re back!

Bev

You’re going Greek? I’m going green….

Monday, October 27th, 2008

I don’t think a day goes by when I don’t think about or plan out a part of this Myths and Legends challenge. It’s such a great topic, and I want to do so many images to explore myths and their place in modern life.

But I’ve decided. I’m making a Green Man.

Green Man

Green Man carvings – and they are nearly always men – are often found on churches in England. When we lived in Oxfordshire, we used to look for them every time we visited a country church. They’re often at the top of pillars or perched in a corner, looking down on the church nave through the mask of foliage and leaves that sprout from their mouths, sometimes from their nose and ears as well.

Sutton Green Man

Green Men can be disconcerting and they can be surreal, they often invoke shadows of the power of the ancient religions from the time before Christianity came to Northern Europe. Wood spirits, folk deities, ancient gods and spirits, they are associated with Pan, Herne the Hunter, Jack in the Green and the Old Man of the Woods. Some say the Green Man is a source behind the Robin Hood legends and Peter Pan, even early images of Father Christmas.

It’s an ancient myth – as old as the hills – that strikes a chord with me for the basic love of the earth and the seasons, and the quiet power of the forest; sometimes benign, sometimes dangerous, always powerful.

A quick search for good material about Green Men gives me three interesting articles:

An Introduction to the Green Man

The Mystery of the Green Man

Wikipedia entry for the Green Man

Life is busy at the moment, but I’m going to enjoy creating my own version of this ancient symbol. Stand by for reports: Wednesday afternoon is open for crafty business, and I’ll start my Green Man then.

Bev

Myths, lies and the truth:

Saturday, October 18th, 2008

“Myths define enemies and aliens and in conjuring them up they say who we are and what we want, they tell stories to impose structure and order. Like fiction, they can tell the truth even when they’re making it all up.”

- Marina Warner, Managing Monsters: the Reith Lectures 1994

Art On Deadline: This Seems to be a Recurring Theme

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Hi Bev.

Here’s a preview of this months quilt. Can you tell what it is? I still have about five hours of work to do before it’s finished, but here’s a preview. I have a couple design decisions to make. I plan to consider those subconsciously while I write next Sunday’s craft column. I’ll go on and on about the new favorite craft supply that I mentioned in my last post after my writing is done, so stay tuned.

I hope your project is going well.

Cheers!

Jennifer

Lovely leftovers make delightful after-dinner treat

Saturday, September 20th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

One of the things about this challenge is that there are sometimes bits and pieces left over from one month to the next. For example, that pretty pale blue ric-rac you sent me for the ‘Home’ challenge, which ended up rimming the circle on the Sweet Dream dial quilt.

‘Way back in June, you sent me some bright flowery fabric, which went into the Self Portrait quilt, as raw edged applique. But I’d backed a whole lot of flowers with the fusible interfacing, so I wanted to use them on something else.

Monthly collaboration has got those creative juices moving, which is another benefit I’m noticing. Are you finding that you’ve got new ideas faster than you can blink? I do. And also that I’m learning to enjoy just playing around with fabric to see what happens.

This little project is the result of that play. Here’s another official Daughter of Posted Stitches: a fun little applique tea-towel, finished off earlier this week.

Detail of towel

Freehand cut-out shapes fused to a bought teatowel. Embroidery floss stems, some scraps to add leaves and a butterfly, and blanket-stitch around all of the raw edges. Quick, simple and colourful!

Now if only it would do all the dishes, too….

Bev

Here’s how I made the spinner…

Sunday, September 14th, 2008

The spinner was the hardest part of the quilt, but it’s a challenge I set myself, and now I know how to do it! There was a lot of trial and error, so here are the detailed steps showing how I did it, and the problems I faced.

Detail of the spinner

The main problems with getting a spinner to work are the flexibility and friction of fabric. Flexibility means that the arrow points might touch and bend, dragging on the quilt, and friction means that the spinning piece would drag on the fabric if it touched it in any way.  So, this is what I did:

The front of the quilt was complete and sewn down to stiff piece of 10″x10″ Timtex interfacing to hold it flat. I also cut the same size of Timtex on which I was going to build the back.

To build the spinner, first I cut some circles out of washed yogourt tubs from the deli/market. (I’m a bit of a yogourt fiend, so I had lots of tubs lying around.) The idea was to sandwich the spinning works in between two shiny circles of plastic so that they would turn without catching on the fabric (the friction problem).

Cutting the first disk

Cutting the disk of plastic.

I bought some split-pins or paper fasteners at the local stationery store, and I checked that they would fit through the centre of the grommets I had. I did a few practise grommets just in case.

I took one of the plastic circles I’d cut, and with an Exacto knife, I cut a little hole in the centre to snap the grommet through. I made sure it would fit tightly.

Inserting the grommet into the spinner

Cutting the hole to fit a grommet.

Once I was happy with that, the scary part was cutting a hole through the centre of my quilt. The hole is very slightly off-centre because the four-patch meets in the centre, and I didn’t want to have the entire bulk of four pieced seams inside the grommet. You didn’t notice, right?

Cutting the quilt - eek

Carefully cutting a tiny hole, slightly off-centre, and inserting the grommet through the layers.

At this point, I took a deep breath and closed the grommet through the quilt front and the plastic disk. Then I tried fitting the paper pin through it all. It didn’t spin as freely as I’d wanted, so my husband suggested that we file down and compress the flat edges of the pin to make them more round. That should, we thought, make it spin better, and it did!

Here’s the first of the dials in place:

The front half of the spinner completed

Spinner inserted – the front half of the quilt is now complete.

After this, I started making the arrows. I wasn’t entirely sure of the best shape and size, but I was looking for:

- A shape that looked good – not too big, not too small.

- A shape that would balance on top of the pin – because if it was heavier at one end than the other, it would bend and flop and drag on the front of the quilt. So it needed to be equally balanced as well as stiffened.

So I cut several possibilities out of fusible interfacing and I tried them out.

Making a few arrows

When I had a shape I liked, I zig-zag stitched around the edges to hold it to the fabric, and then carefully cut it out (taking care not to cut the threads of the zig-zag). Then, I hand sewed in a little ‘hourglass’ of metal underneath (it came off a new pack of socks I bought!), and that held the pointy ends up off the quilt when I balanced it on the pin.

Finally, I cut another piece of stiff Timtex to the same size and shape of the arrow. I sewed it to one side to hold it tight, and then I checked and marked exactly at the balance point, which is where I cut a tiny ‘keyhole’ slit.

This meant that I was able to slip the ‘keyhole’ over the round head of the pin, checking that it grabbed snugly. I took it off and sewed the rest of the way around the arrow with zig-zag stitch, then popped it back on. A few tiny hand stitches to keep it closed, and the grip of the keyhole keeps the arrow locked to the pin. No glue needed!

This was good, because I had been worrying about glue coming through the fabric or about it actually sticking hard enough to enable the arrow to spin without popping off!

That’s it for the front half of the spinner – compared to this, the back was easy!

I assembled the owls and their tree (fusible raw-edged applique)

Arranging the  applique on the back

Arranging the applique for ironing.

When it was done, I basted the edges tightly around the second 10″x10″ piece of Timtex, because I was planning to slip-stitch the front to the back (no binding strips).

The completed back - before quilting

The completed back, before quilting.

Then, adding the wadding: this is where I had to take into account the question of friction again. I didn’t want the pin to show through to the back, but if it was touching the wadding, it would snag and possibly rip the wadding. So I cut a hole in the wadding to fit the second circle, punched holes around the outside of the second disk, and sewed it down in three places so it wouldn’t slip.

The wadding, some quilting and the big hole

The hole in the middle of the back.

Detail of the hole and the plastic disk sewn in

Detail of the second disk sewn to the inside of the back half of the quilt.

Et voila! The two halves were carefully matched up and slip-stitched around the edges.

One finished quilt, with working spinner and hidden mechanism.

Bev