Friday, 20 November 2015

MiA from blogger land...

As Chris H rightly pointed out recently, I've once again gone MiA from blogger land... Things have been a bit stressful lately, work starting going into a different direction from what I had in mind, so I ended up giving my notice at the end October. The company decided to make it effective immediately, so in effect I finished work 3 weeks ago.

We had decided from the outset that we would go for at least 1 or at least 3 years to allow our oldest son to complete the last two years of his secondary schooling in one place, and I have been missing friends and family a lot over the last two months, so in a fortnight we will be heading back home to New Zealand for good:) We'll be missing the weather, the shopping, the new friends we made, esp. the girls from the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild!

I have been sewing, though, and enough so to wear our the knee lift on my Pfaff machine :0 With encouragement of the BMQG girls I have given Instagram another shot, here are some of my recent posts:

This was a Community Quilt I made from some donated orphan blocks, backed with Minky:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

I also had fun with some smaller projects:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

Even the Giant Chevron is getting some much needed attention:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

With my machine due to disappear into the container soon for the next 5-7 weeks, I better get my sew on while I can - amidst trying to find a rental, applying for jobs, sorting out, packing, selling the cars etc. etc. Wish me luck!

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

I had forgotten...

... how heavy a full size quilt is - jeepers! As I need a little rest, I thought I finally update the blog. I have become a very boring blogger, with far too big gaps between posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing.

Remember this?
25 blocks, each 12 1/2" 

with sashing and keystones

with the first border

as this is for a built-in bedroom suite (bed same size as ours), the side borders have to finish short of the top.
pin basted - I had Mst15 help me move the dining table to have enough space

Crystal is showing where the border finishes - just before she started biting the white pinmoor...

instead of SID I follow Ms Lottie's advice and quilt diagonals
I have now stitched three of the diagonal lines (only about 35 to go...), hard work! This thing is heavy on my small sewing table! Still, I am pleased that the polyester batting I chose gives plenty of 'puff'. I tentatively have in mind to fill the large squares with fmq, I was contemplating feathers, but I'm not sure yet. I recently treated myself to a Westalee quilting ruler foot (plus ruler), and I am considering to use one of their rulers - what do you think?

By the way, do you know how hard it is to get polyester batting in Brisbane? Everyone carries cotton and bamboo which is great, but in this case I wanted loft and less weight as I will have to post it. Saying that, the whole thing is very heavy, and it won't get lighter with quilting...

The cubes are put together and are waiting to be appliquéd onto the middle strip:

The Metro Rings quilt (aka Double Wedding Ring Cheater?) has been sorely neglected, I have pieced these blocks and they have patiently been waiting for me...

Suz and I have started our trans-Tasman block swap for our Vintage Quilt Revival Samplers. This little block winged its way over to NZ last month

I am obviously a slow learner, it's taken me all these years to realise you get much nicer points when you open the seams...
and this is what was left over after making block 2. My first proper attempt at Foundation Piecing and I liked it, though I missed the memo on trimming the seam allowances after adding each piece so I had to cut some of the surplus out by hand ;)

Middle DS needed a new pencil case:

to be perfectly honest, the left end of the zip where it meets the seam on the side is a bit dodgy but I haven't had complaints about it :)
Lastly, a quick little community quilt / baby throw made from gorgeous orphan blocks. A very nice collection of fabrics, I just had too add one block and then piece it all together with plenty of borders. The back is a minkey I found on special at one of the LQS, add a generous stipple, and now I just have to finish stitching on the binding:

Life has been interesting... the boys are doing ok at school, they have just enjoyed the first week of school holidays which I had taken leave for, too - my first proper break since January, it was long overdue. We have travelled a little, at short notice we went inland to Toowoomba to watch the flower parade, took the boys to the Gold Coast to Ripley's Believe or Not and the beach. On Thursday the lovely Ms Lottie and kids came to visit which was lovely.
Next week I'm back at work and need to get ready for my trip home to NZ for a conference - can't wait to meet up with everyone! While I enjoy living in Brisbane, I have really been missing home over the last few weeks - the weather is much warmer over here though, so they better order some sunshine for when I come over!

As always I'll endeavour to make the gaps between posts shorter... Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Progress update

It's been a while since the last post, but I've still been busy sewing.
The cubes have been multiplying...
Once again a night-time shot in poor light - sorry!

in fact I currently have the last 6 cubes in progress. DH made the suggestion that I keep an irregular gap running through them (see above) - I like it, what do you think? Might have to work on where exactly that gap runs through to keep the 3D look intact. While oldest DS still hasn't quite accepted my offer to make this quilt for him, I'm still working towards that which will have an influence on the border fabric; as a T1 diabetic white is impractical as finger pricking to test their blood easily leaves stains on the bedding, so I am aiming for some charcoal or similar. Unlike the original patter for Opal Essence I won't be adding partial blocks to the outside, I think I might just have them 'float' on top of the border (if you have any suggestion how to achieve this without a million y-seams, please let me know!).

The Metro Rings are all pieced into 'sort of' triangles, and I have pieced two of them into one block so far:

Originally I was worried I might not have pieced accurately enough, but the pattern is very generous so you have to cut the triangles down a fair bit to the correct size. I have decided I won't obsess too much about how far the green triangles reach over the curves as long as both curves are sort of symmetrical. Originally I had this grand plan to arrange the circle segments in colour ways to create 'cold' and 'warm' circles, but after I arranged them all on the bed (the only decent sized space in this house), I gave up on that, it will just be random. (I am sure I took a photo but that must be on a different device).

I could have been a lot further with this if I wouldn't have had the grand idea to make a quilt for MiL's 80th birthday in December. FiL turned 80 last year and DH flew over for that occasion, but I don't think that will be possible this year. After some browsing through various patterns, I decided on "Puddle Jumping" from thimble blossoms by Camille Roskelley - 'approved' by DH:
Image Source
DH had requested 'pastel' colours (actually his original request was to make another Pastellation quilt which I declined due to time pressure and my 'been there, done that' attitude lol), and given I still had quite a few marbeled pastel jelly roll strips in my stash led me to resize the blocks and end up with this:
Pretty awkward angle but the best I could do last night
With white sashing and white + [something else - not sure yet what] borders this satisfies my need for some negative space to quilt in and yet should still be traditional enough to appeal to the intended recipient. My problem is that at this stage I still don't have exact measurements of the bed (they purchased a new bedrooms suite a few years ago) so I am hoping the husband will get to spy that out of other family members soon. In Germany, people tend to use single duvets despite sharing a bed, so this quilt is intended to be used as a day cover only.

Suz and I have been talking for months about getting started on our Vintage Quilt Revival sampler. Apart from life getting in the way every now and then, we had to settle on a feature fabric that both of us could get at a reasonable price. We ended up choosing a Spotlight fabric, but had real difficulty matching it with a background. We have narrowed it down to one of two Moda Solids (Porcelain or Bleached White) and this morning I was in my happy place, cutting and piecing, hoping I picked out the same background as Suz :) As we are making this as a swap, I'll just leave with you with a little tease...

So what else is going on?

Work has its ups and downs. I have spent a lot of time away, especially during the last term break, so have really enjoyed working more around Brisbane for the last few weeks. After too many weeks of not enough to do, I now had to schedule a webinar for the upcoming public holiday as I simply couldn't fit it in any other way.

DH has completed his training and has started work.
Graduation Day
Oldest DS has turned 15 and built himself a computer to his own specifications, partly financed by 'brother sitting' money.
Family outing to watch Jurassic World in 3D - oldest DS is hiding :)
The other two boys are enjoying spending time with each other incl. regular sleepovers in each others' rooms, I keep on thinking about moving them into one room, but I don't think that would work out in the long run. In difference to their older brother, they don't mind going out with us:
Australia Zoo - Madagascar Island; can you see King Julian? 
Three of my boys :)
Both younger boys loved climbing around in this Banyan tree at Maryborough
Going for a swim at Hervey Bay in the middle of winter
The pelicans were very impressive, but we decided to stay clear of them
after we noted the white stains below the lamp posts lol
The longest wharf I have ever seen in the background (Hervey Bay)
Their Minecraft creation at the recent local Buddyverse camp
There's lots to like about living in Brisbane but it's not home - at least not just yet. Can't wait to catch up with family and friends one of these days :)

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Are slowly multiplying after I decided to hand appliqué the circles. The most recent six (with solid dark diamond) were done on the plane and I'm not 100% happy with the curve of the circles but I'm not redoing them! This is what the project looks like to date - 18 blocks down, about another 24 to go:
Please excuse the quality, it's hard to photograph when you are short and the room is really small! Here they are laid out on Mstr(almost)15's double bed, I think 42 blocks would make a nice double size quilt. As you can see I have included some solids into the Malka Dubrowsky collection as several of you had suggested. I tried to find a selection of neutral fabrics for the circles but it remains very busy, so I'm thinking I'll put a similar weight cream around it as a border once all the blocks are joined rather than following the pattern with half blocks etc.
The rest of my sewing has been sorely neglected, work has been very busy with a week in Darwin, a trip to Sydney and 5 more nights away over the next fortnight. I even skipped the last sew-in as I had just gotten home but I plan to go to the next one.
Suz and I have settled on our feature fabric and will sort out details of our trans-Tasman block swap soon.

Hope life is treating you well! Happy Sewing!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Stitching the weekend away....

It's been a few weeks between posts, but I have kept myself busy:
  • Giant Chevron: After I quilted all the inner, I started with the coloured parts of the quilt, adding very organic matchstick quilting to the black and the red - maybe chopstick quilting would be a better term for it as my lines are 1/8 - 3/8'' apart? (I will have to take a photograph to add here). For the blue and the yellow parts I've been thinking about Judi Madsen inspired quilting, parallel lines to fill in with different designs. I attempted to fmq my straight lines and fill the spaces in as I went along, but I was not happy with the result, so for the second blue side I used the walking foot and then went back to fill the spaces after - much happier with this look! While it is time consuming, at this stage in my quilting journey I might just stick to this method otherwise the result will forever annoy me.
  • I have also worked on my Metro Rings (aka Double Wedding Ring made easier), I forgot to count how many blocks I was up to last night but I managed to cover most of the top of my California King Size bed and I have run out of the white homespun - but realistically I think I'm about half way. I am a little worried about the weight (or lack thereof) for that homespun, but I hope if I put a decent weight batting under it and a good quality backing, it will work. Megan from Canoe Ridge Creations recently posted how she is making a Double Wedding Ring Quilt for her upcoming wedding, so I think I will set myself a goal of having this quilt done and dusted by our 20th wedding anniversary in December :)
    I need to get smarter about taking photographs; our house is rather dark, and with the sun going down so early in QLD I forever show you these poorly lit photographs - sorry!
    Suzanne, nothing has changed, I have already worked out that if I do enough blocks (possibly intersperse these pieced block with the odd 'blank' one), I just need to add borders on three sides to make it fit my bed ;) While I see the rings in this pattern, all three of my sons told me they saw flowers - love a quilt with secondary patterns :)
  • Then on Saturday, I went to the Opal essence class by Lorena Uriarte. She was a very cool person to work with, full of helpful tips and advice. While together we discovered an issue with the templates, Lorena did her very best to remedy this straight away. This is a selection of the blocks we completed in class:
    Obviously we were all taking pictures at the same time lol. Can you spot my block? One quilter from the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild used different measurements that's why her block on the left is a bit bigger than the others.
    Lorena covered lots in her class - about colour values (everyone went off to get the red plastic thingies or used the greyscale function on their phones), about rules and breaking the rules, y seams, about applique by hand and piecing circles. I had been really worried about fabric choices, ended up buying some black, white and red charms for the circles but didn't use them lol. The Malka Dubrowsky fabrics seem to work fine for the tumbling blocks (though being fqs I need to be a bit careful about how I cut them as I get a fair bit of wastage), and while I started out with the Seville City map fqs for the circles, I have since added a collection of fabrics to that.
    My rug in the lounge doubling as a design wall - sort of...

    The colour value part of the workshop has been very interesting.
    Originally I had started out wanting to machine piece the circles - it worked ok for the large circle (I think that was bottom right), but I had a lot more trouble with the medium one and did not even attempt the small circle. After talking with some of the other ladies I have decided that this might be a good travel project so I should hand applique the circles. Last night I did two more and I think I could get used to this! Unlike my usual MO I have not sussed out yet what finished size this quilt will have and where it will go; I have been thinking with the geometric shapes this could be something for Mstr (almost) 15's double bed and while he was showing no particular interest, he wasn't totally against it either, so we'll see what happens...
So there are three projects on the go which is great, and while I find it annoying not to have my own sewing space, having all my stuff in the lounge has made me organise it better and tidy up after use, and I feel I'm a bit more part of what is going on than when I hide in my sewing room. In the long run, though, I would like my own space again.

A couple of Sundays ago I finally made it to the Sew Day of the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild. They are a lovely bunch of people, all women when I visited ranging from early thirties to retirement age I would guess. They were very welcoming, people were working on all sorts of projects, modern and not so modern. I loved the company, I have signed up and will go back next month (if my family lets me lol). This little footstool especially appealed to me:
This quilter made this Minecraft cake footstool as a birthday present for her daughter - very cool!
Our life has been very busy lately, DH started work 2 weeks ago, so that means I get the boys ready in the mornings now. Mst15 has gotten extra chores like walking home from school without ditching his younger brothers, looking after them until the parents get home while avoiding physical violence lol Soon he will have to add 'getting all 3 ready and to school in time' to that list as I am traveling a lot over the next few weeks. In return he gets small monetary rewards towards the new computer he wants to build himself (don't ask...). He's been to the big Career Expo last week and has an idea what he wants to do when he is finished with school at the end of 2017 (guess what... it will involve computers...). As we are just in the process of inquiring about braces for all three boys, we better start playing lotto to afford all of this... We are also starting to think about the next place to move to, our lease will expire in September, so we are starting to check out the rentals to see what is becoming available. However, we are really enjoying the opportunities we have around us here - here are some photos of the boys rock climbing at the high school last month:

I will be talking Minecraft over the next couple of days at EduTECH - hope you get some sewing done while I do that! Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Ideas galore

Another month gone bye, another repair of my machine done and dusted arrgghh The technician found that the knee lift problem was due a shattered pin; he observed that obviously the machine was well used, I wore out that pin and he put in a more substantial one now:0 Makes you wonder about the amount of use these machines are expected to have, my machine is 2.5y old and I had to have the tension thingy-ma-bob and the knee lift pin replaced already (and I'm obviously not quilting daily). My husband is getting rather suspicious of the quality of this Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0, and as I still end up with the odd jumped stitch during fmq and some tension issues I'm starting to wonder, too.

With the Tokyo Subway Map finished, it has been well loved especially by the cats including been barfed on - great! Two washes later I can still see some faint stains on the light blue fabric (typical, couldn't have hit the red or orange?!) but at least the amount of cat fur on the quilt has reduced to previous blog post state after the washes and time outside on the washing line (would you believe that I found two more unburied threads while it was hanging on the line?!)

I have been working on the Giant Chevron; the inner of the white star in fmqed now, and I have begun the 'matchstick' quilting of the black and red parts on the next star. For the yellow and blue parts I plan to alternate dense quilting with parallel ribbons - I have been browsing Judi Madsen quilts and will try out if this fits with the overall quilt.
late yesterday afternoon on the washing line
and this afternoon on the dining table
close up
and another close up
It's already May and I'm still on the hunt for a suitable feature fabric for our trans-Tasman Vintage Quilt Revival sampler project! I have my heart set on Daydream by Moda (Kate Spain) and as my budget doesn't stretch to the cost at the local quilt shops, I might have to order from overseas...
From Pinterest
As an alternative, I bought this on special the other day, 

but Suz and I agree it's not quite going to work for what we have planned, so I have something else in mind for this material...
Image from Pinterest; I had bought the ruler last year and thanks to PDF patterns I got the Metro Rings pattern in an instant yesterday :)

What do you think about this combination?
Some homespun fqs, a white homespun and a green print from Spotlight as well as some solids from a  Jelly Roll (Moda?) I found in my stash
I have looked at the Double Wedding Ring patterns for a long time and this looks like a quicker and more simplified version of the traditional pattern. This afternoon I washed the fat quarters, the green print and the white homespun, and I was very disappointed to realise that I got 4m of the white while I paid for 5m! It was cheap (AUD7.99) but that's beyond the point. Not sure they will do anything about it after I took it home and washed it, but it's not really good enough - I had asked the sales assistant to measure what was left on the bolt and thought I had counted 4m but accepted her word for the 5m.

The closest local quilt shop Patches at Indooroopilly are putting on a number of classes, and I signed up for the Opal Essence workshop with Lorena Uriarte on 30 May! Really looking forward to learning some new techniques! I received my requirement list and started looking through my stash; this Melka Dubrowsky pile has been calling me for a while, and it's quite distinct so I'm not sure I can mix it with anything else I have got but I'm really not sure - what do you think?
I tried to split this pack of fqs up into light, medium and dark, and I have a few more fqs that could fit more than one category
I have lots of batiks I could use instead - would this be a better choice? Really value your advice! I pulled out some prints that could work for the applique circles (using my Seville city map prints amongst others), but I'm not often working out of one line of fabric, I'm really not sure what to do... I'm sure they will have lots of lovely fabrics at Patches I add to the project but realistically my stash should be large enough to make it work??

I'm happy to report that I spent more time in schools over the last few weeks, one trip led me to Roma, about 500km inland. I didn't take many photographs, but here is one of the bottle trees which lined most roads:

So I have lots of ideas - I just might need to find a few more hours in the day...

Happy Sewing!