Posts Tagged ‘August’

Flashback to August Goodies

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Hi Bev!

I didn’t want to let another day go by without showing the world the great mini-quilt you sent me. What a treat to find it in the last parcel that arrived in my box. It’s a lovely sample of the dream quilt you made last month. What a wonderful surprise! It so nice to be able to see your work in person. Thank you!

Here’s a look at the reverse side…

Also thank you for the great issue of the MixTape zine. It was my first chance to check it out and I’m really impressed.

Thanks again!


Make a Wish

Monday, September 15th, 2008

Hi Bev.

Before I move on to discussing the task at hand this month, I want to post about side B of my August “Dreams” quilt. I dedicated this one to my daughters who seem to have inherited my love of dandelions. Many people consider them weeds, but I not-so-secretly enjoy their presence in suburbia and celebrate them in photo shoots with the girls out on the front lawn.

I’m often inspired by my children, so it wasn’t much of a surprise when I got another idea while watching them play while work on our August quilts was well underway.

We were playing with sidewalk chalk when I heard Amelia pipe up: “Look, a wish flower! I’m gonna get it!” Then she dashed across the lawn in the direction of a dandelion topped with a circle of fluffy white seeds.

So of course, big sister, Abby, took off running full blast for the fuzzy white looking flower, too. Abby got there first even though Amelia hustled as fast as her little legs could carry her.

I intervened as Abby plucked the flower from the lawn, and told her to let her sister have it. Abby complied and we watched Amelia’s repeated and unsuccessful attempts to blow the seeds off the head of this delightful little weed.

So Abby stepped in.

“Let me do it, Amelia,” she said grabbing the dandelion.

Before I decided whether or not to intervene again, Abby said: “I wish for a castle with both of us in it.” Then she blew all the seeds away.

I’m pretty sure my heart skipped a beat, but it was clear that Amelia didn’t hear Abby wish. Amelia looked like she had just been robbed.

I stayed quiet and let Abby explain.

“A-me-ya, (that’s how she says Amelia when she’s exasperated) I wished for both of us, for a castle we can both share.

And this is why I won’t ever put weed killer on my lawn. I live for dandelion moments like these.

When I saw what I thought closely resembled a “wish flower” on one of the prints you sent, Bev, I knew I had to make something to celebrate this awesome and under-rated flower I love so much.

I started by embroidering a stem onto the “flower” then, ended up cutting just a single flower from the print and adding strips of muslin to build a quilt block up to our 10-inch standard size.

At one point I used a fabric pen to write out the wish flower story around the flower and I seriously considered trying to embroider the whole story in green thread, but realized the text would not accomplish the grass effect I was going for.

So I got out my fabric scraps and got to work cutting blades of grass to top stitch in place.

This quilt celebrates the flowers that bring my family incredible joy. These weeds rock.

Okay, now moving on to September.

I hope your next quilt is going well.



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.


How the dreams came to life

Thursday, September 11th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

little detail

So, now that I accept that we’ve finished those August quilts, I have to let you in on some of the trials and tribulations I had when it was all coming together.

I knew from pretty much the beginning that the quilt would be a “spinner selector” for the dreams you have when you go to sleep. Some nights, around here, we badly need a good night’s kip and then nightmares come along – you just never know what you’re going to get when you toddle off to sleep-land.

But the very start was to jot down and think in broad terms about all the different kinds of dreams you can have and anything related to dreaming. Here’s what happened: (click on the image for a bigger picture that you can read)

Dreams sketches

I jotted down every word and phrase that related to the concept of ‘Dreams’ and let myself scribble whatever came to mind. Here’s a photo of that page from my sketchbook.

The big 2-columned list in the middle reads:


  • Daydreams
  • Aspirations – wishes and hopes – plans [sketch of star]
  • Night Dreams – do you dream in colour?
  • Bizarre/incomprehensible
  • Nightmares
  • Recurring dreams
  • Subconscious revelations
  • Hidden meanings
  • Jung… interpretation
  • … auras/afterlife
  • Monster under the bed! [a little sketch - that was my first possibility]
  • What do animals dream of?
  • Out-of-body
  • Counting sheep
  • Insomnia
  • Fever/illness – hallucinations!

Rough ideas and word association

The fabric with the pink, orange and green shapes and dashes on it immediately asked to be drawn on, so I played with that idea and then dived in with pens blazing. This is what happened..

The sweet dreams scrap:

Sweet dreaming

The bad dreams fabric strip:

Bad dreams

(Gosh, those blobs did remind me of jellyfish, didn’t they?)

Unfortunately, some of my favourites got cut off when I made the final piece – eg the little alien under the word “Odd” in the bottom right – I rather liked him! (I’ve kept the scrap).

What happened next?

I cut a 10×10 piece of Timtex. Then I stitched together four squares of the “WoobWoobWoob” fabric to make a 4-patch, which I sewed into the centre of the Timtex square. These crazy words are – as a friend suggested – meant to represent the words and images floating in your head as you try to get off to sleep.

I made the circle and fused it to the polka-dot fabric, but I didn’t iron it to the main piece yet. (You can see the post I did about the circles here).

The main thing next was to audition the layout for the rest of the piece. You had sent me a scrap of purple fabric, which looked great but wasn’t quite enough, so I went to my stash and matched it as closely as I could with a piece out of an old shirt. Perfect! Here were some attempts at a layout:

layout one

Layout one with the scrap of purple: nice.

layout two

Layout two with ribbon: a bit bright?

layout three

Layout three: oh, look, there’s exactly the right amount of ric-rac left over from last month’s parcel. Hmmm….

Laying out the purple

The purple strips were added, trimmed, and ironed.Then the rest of the base was built, out to the corners, which was where I used the wild flamingo fabric. Slow and careful sewing the ric-rak around the outside of the fusible polka-dot circle, and then the whole thing was ironed to make sure it was all flat and tight.

Dreams - the base of the front is done!

Next post: inserting the spinner!


An August “Dream” Quilt Becomes A Reality

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008

Hi Bev.

Here it is side A of my August “dream” quilt. (I’ll post about side B in my next post.) It’s a tad late, but it’s finished at long last.

I think I mentioned earlier that I decided to take this quilt in a new direction after opening the parcel of supplies you sent. When I unfolded all the fabric and started moving pieces around, I saw a landscape begin to form on my dining room table. And I got to thinking about the dream I inherited from my parents. As a child I would often hear my parents talking about how great it would be to have a little place on the water. Now I catch myself saying the same thing to my husband.

I decided to make a red kite the focal point of this piece and decided as the design progressed that I wanted this piece to be interactive. It’s my intention that viewers will come up and grab that kite string and take a moment to think about what it would be like to be flying that kite on the beach. I plan to get this quilt up on my wall soon because it reminds me of a happy dream from childhood.

This quilt is a combination of hand and machine sewing. The buttons you sent worked perfectly as kit string embellishments and the green swatches were just screaming for gardens of French knots in bloom. I used rough edged applique this month to build the scene and don’t regret it. It seems appropriate that the edges are frayed on this dream because I’ve dragged in around with me for most of my life.

The cool thing about this quilt is that in making it, I now have a little place on the water. I stitched a dream and made it real.

Life and work got in my way a bit, so I had to sneak in a few stitches whenever possible. August was a tough month for quilting on deadline, but we kept at it and stitched our “dream” quilts. I’m so glad we’re doing this project and sticking to our commitment to make art.

I’m on another work deadline, so I gotta go. I’ll be back soon with Side B of this quilt.



Sweet, strange dreams

Tuesday, September 9th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

It was great to talk to you this morning! Revealing these quilts is always a surprise and a delight… It’s amazing how you always come up with something totally unexpected from the fabrics I send you. I love the fact that I went for wild and weird dreams at night-time, while you went for aspirations and hopeful dreams of the future. Both of them are fun readings of the same theme!

Here’s the front of the quilt, caught in the last of the afternoon sun. (Yes, my thumb is in there to provide scale! Right?)

Dreams - Finished front Bev

I decided to go for a wild approach, based on the fabrics you sent me. The quilt is a spinner, selecting what types of dreams you might have when you go to sleep: Romantic dreams, Nightmares, Hallucinations, Lust, Anxiety Dreams, Daydreams, Fever, and R.I.P. (oops, you died in your sleep…).

The hardest part of this quilt was getting the spinner to spin freely and ensuring that the arrow stays on it! That took me several days, and I’ll post lots of photos about how it’s done.

Dream finished back - Bev

The back of the quilt shows the night moon and some lovely little owls snoozing in their tree. Whoo!

More details tonight or tomorrow, with lots of photos of the construction process.


Quilting with technical difficulties

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

I know I’ve gone quiet on you. I’ve run into a few unforeseen technical difficulties with this month’s quilt. I thought it was almost finished…. ready to zip up and show to the world, but then I ran into a few technical hitches.

Yes, it\'s a hole

Yes, that’s a large hole in the middle of the wadding. That was on purpose, just not quite foreseen.

And, more prosaically, printing onto fabric. My first technique didn’t work. My second technique involved a special trip to the craft supply store, and they didn’t have what I needed. So I opted for good old-fashioned tracing.

Tracing on the window

Ready to reveal tomorrow?


Are you ready for September?

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

The August challenge is barely finished and already I’m thinking of the next one! Are you ready for the reveal yet?

Actually, I’m not quite ready. The ‘Dreams’ quilt still needs a little final construction, such as zipping around the edge of the binding, but our electricity’s been off all day and I am not sewing by hand through two layers of Timtex, three layers of fused fabric and seams!

I can get to it now that the juice is flowing and the workmen are no longer tramping around on the roof.

Aussie stamps reversed(Aside: The dog has been looking most upset about the workmen on the roof. We have a tin roof that amplifies every noise, but his only experience of footsteps overhead up until now has been possums scampering around chasing the neighbourhood cats, or whatever it is they do.

I wonder if he thinks we’ve got the mother of all possums up there? – It’s enough to make anyone’s tail droop.)

Your parcel of fabric for the September theme should arrive at any moment now. Here’s a little playing around with a scan of the stamps….

Can’t wait to show off that August quilt and to get started on September!


Getting there…

Sunday, August 31st, 2008

Hi Bev.

This month’s challenge has led me in an interesting direction. When I opened the package you sent, I immediately saw a landscape forming, which isn’t what I expected I would be stitching this month. After watching Michael Phelps win 8 gold medals for the Team USA this month, I thought I’d stitch my childhood dream to compete in the Olympics or something like that, but instead I’m stitching a dream that has been passed down to me from parents. I’ll explain more about that later.

I’m not going to finish my quilt today, but I hope to complete it in the next day or two. I guess it all depends on when I can stop myself from adding more. I’ve been stitching French knots like crazy. How do you know when enough is enough? I struggle with that question every time. Okay, back to stitching…



Dreaming of spring

Saturday, August 30th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

Spring has arrived in Melbourne! For the first time today, it’s warm enough to have the doors and windows open, and it’s lovely to be in and out of the house into the yard.

Our house feels so small during the winter, because it’s like we’ve lost an extra living room, the yard, with its green walls of tomato plants, lemon and orange trees, and the breeze and the big tree over it all.

I’m pleased with the progress on ‘Dreams’ – maybe the sunshine is affecting my mood! – but this feels like a spring, energetic quilt already.

It’s weird, and I think, quite pretty. Now, this is a nice new sensation for me, because with the previous two quilts I had a crisis of faith at about this time. I didn’t like them that much, but I knew I was going to have to keep going until I loved them. And then they’re done.

Will I finish tonight? I hope so! I have booked the assistance of my mechanically-minded other half to help with the workings (ooh, what could that be?)

Let’s see how it turns out.

That is, if I don’t go to sleep in the sunshine instead…