Posts Tagged ‘Dreams’

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!


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!


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?


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…


Stitchin’ Up A Dream

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

Hi Bev.

It looks like you’re making some nice progress on your quilt and even finding time for illicit stitching, too. Good for you!

I skipped my usual pre-planning and child-like sketching this time around and decided to design my quilt by moving the fabric around and let it tell me where it wanted to go. I’m finding this is actually a more freeing approach for me because I’m no longer restricted by my inability to sketch the images I see in my head. I just cut shapes and move them around until something it looks right. I know this is a pretty random method, but it seems to work for me, so I’ll likely stick with it.

My first two quilts involved appliques with finished edges. This time I decided to include some embellishments with unfinished edges to achieve a different look I’m actually considering the possibility of not binding this quilt, but even as I type this sentence, I realize I’d never be able to consider the quilt completed if it didn’t have a binding. So, this quilt will very well end up with a binding when it’s all said and done.

I’m surprised at where this quilt has led me. I originally was planning to make a quilt based on a dream, as in the that R.E.M. state people experience while sleeping. But then, when I opened the parcel of fabric you sent I decided to go in a completely new direction. And I like this direction much better. This underscores once again the challenge and benefit of creating art with supplies selected by someone else. I have incorporated bits of fabric from my stash, but I think I will use at least a bit of all the fabrics this month.

And I have to tell you that I’m having a great time working the beads into the piece. A few of the beads you sent will have a very prominent role in this months quilt. What a kick it is to spread out all the materials and see where each element fits. But it’s challenging, too, like putting together a puzzle without the picture of how it’s supposed to look.
I’ve made more progress than what I’m revealing here, but I don’t want to give it all away before the big reveal. It will come as no surprise to you that I’m also working on what I thought was going to be the back of this quilt. However, I think I might have to let it stand alone. I can’t really decide on that yet. I’m just going to keep stitching and see what happens.

I think I’ll be happy with this month’s quilt, but for now I’m just enjoying the creative journey. Thanks again for agreeing to share in this experience.

Happy stitching!


Flamingo fling-bling

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

For all that there’s progress around here, I still haven’t figured out what exactly I’m going to do with this piece of fabric:


It’s about 3″ x 5″ and it’s a piece of wild loveliness that demands to be used in some creative, wonderful way. It’s bizarre, painfully blingy-bright, whimsical. You’ve definitely posed me a real challenge here!

I am wrestling with flamingos. Oh, what shall I do? What shall I do??


Making progress

Monday, August 25th, 2008

Hi Jennifer,

It’s a construction zone around here! I’ve finally moved off the stage of drawing and thinking and looking (and worrying) – and I’ve started to build. Late in the month, as usual!

Ready to start

Here’s all the fabric on my desk, ready to get started! There’s even tea – creative juice – in my new and lovely Moomin mug. (I love that Moomin mug!)

Today’s construction started with a foundation of a stiff interface, Timtex, which I ironed nice and flat then cut to the 10×10″ size of the anticipated finished quilt. I’ve also roughed out a circle – or a ring, actually – which will be a main part of the design.

Drawing the ring

I knew the pudding basin my Mom gave me was more than just decorative!

After drawing the ring in pencil into very fine fusible interfacing, I folded the interfacing in quarters and pinched the corners between my fingers. I also folded the base in quarters and pinched the corners too, which makes little crease marks that I can follow to line things up. If I’m going to have a ring in the middle of the quilt, it should be centred!

a ring of interfacing

I’d be the first to say that this doesn’t look like much yet, but given the wacky and wonderful selection of fabrics you sent me, I don’t think ‘subtle’, ‘refined’ or ‘understated’ are going to get a look-in on the final piece. Watch out for the wildness, it’s just about to be unleashed…..