Home Sweet Home, Part 5

The quilt is done, and was a great surprise for Opa. I’ve never had a quilt travel abroad before, and this one has already been to some cool places. First to Venice, Italy, then to various towns in Austria…. apparently, “have quilt, will travel” 😉 We visited Annaberg, a mountain ski village with cooler weather, and Opa took the quilt for the trip, and loved it. It’s back in the Lake District now.

What I loved about making this quilt:
1. I stepped a bit outside my comfort zone, and explored chocolate, greens and purples.
2. The quilt is to scale! thanks Google Maps 🙂
3. I’m so glad I took the time to trace the entire quilt onto the white fabric. it made the reverse applique process much easier.
4. All the ppl that helped me make this happen – my partner, his brother and mum, my sister, mum and dad, Judy and her crew at Sew Sisters, the fellow quilter who gave my fabric selections a thumbs up when I was sitting on the floor in the Hamel’s booth. Thank you.

What I can do better next time:
1. Plan for more time. I was really rushed with the quilting and binding.
2. Add more detail. I had wanted to put in landmarks, stitch in the railroad, and add the river.
3. Use a plain fabric for the background (ie, the roads). The white fabric had a shiny white print on it, that sometimes made it difficult to see the grey chalk lines.
4. Draw the quilt lines. I simply cannot sew a straight line free hand, sigh.

We visited a grand house last weekend, and I got some great pictures there of the quilt…

hanging out on a bench in the park.

sunning on the front lawn of the castle.

here’s a closer look at the map.

I managed to applique a heart to show the location of the home.

Hence, the quilt is entitled “Home is where the Heart is” 🙂

I have to admit, it was unusually easy to give this quilt away. Don’t get me wrong – I absolutely love it very much, but the joy it has given my partner’s parents has made the effort worthwhile 🙂

Now, what shall I sew next?


Home Sweet Home, Part 4

The first batch of “floor board” borders came together rather quickly. I knew I wanted red, to tie in the 4.5 metres on Stonehenge red that I picked up at Sew Sisters… this fabric was first cut into two lengths for the backing… then I trimmed away some of the width for strips on the front. I opted for brown and purple floorboard borders next, the finished with 3 shades of green. I had enough of the outermost border fabric left to whip up some binding.


I sandwiched and pinned this quilt VERY quickly. The snapshot above shows the quilt sandwich before I trimmed the excess batting – I used a queen size organic cotton backing. Even though I chose a 2″inch grid quilting design, it still took a couple of days to finish quilting. I was quilting right up until 4 hours before my flight to Venice. I was exhausted when I got on the flight… I have been sewing every night for hours after work… for about 4 weeks prior to the trip.

3 relaxing days in Venice, 1 day of train travel to Austria, and then, back to the grind – 4 hours of sewing and pressing this afternoon 🙂 I had cut the binding in Toronto, borrowed a sturdy Pfaff sewing machine from my partner’s mom here in Austria, and acquired use of his brother’s airy living room today. After a rocky start (the instructions were in German, yikes), I got the machine working. Soon the binding was pieced, folded and pressed, and attached to the quilt. Not my neatest work, but the quilt will withstand regular usage 🙂

It’s currently being washed and dried, and I will trim away any threads tomorrow. Hopefully, all this covert activity has gone unnoticed by Opa, and he will be surprised for his birthday this weekend 🙂

Home Sweet Home, Part 3

It’s been weeks. I’ve been confident and persistent, and I’ve done it! The panel is pieced, and I’m satin stitching the edges in pale grey thread now to stabilize it….. I omitted one of my colours, on my partner’s advice… but the fabric is not wasted, it will work for the quilt border and binding. I don’t have a backing pieced, and I don’t have time to piece one, so I’m just going to buy some yards of a sale fabric at Sew Sisters, or an extra wide fabric. I have not done a single fabric backing since 2010, I always piece my leftovers to make a coordinating backing, to maximize use of the leftovers, to whittle away at my stash, and to be economical. But since my leftovers are batik, I’m not worried, they will get used on another project.


Confessions of a Quilter: during the piecing, I kept thinking I was certifiable. To get here took long hours late at night after work, and quite a bit of my weekends. But I’m really excited to finish it now…. wish me luck. the deadline is looming!

Phoenix Quilt continues – Part 5

20130505-233152.jpg Managed to complete the back of the quilt today. I wanted to incorporate the stars (above) which I had originally sewn for the quilt front into the quilt back. Lots of scraps, lots of colour, and I even threw on a new print… a strip from a fat quarter of Space Invaders themed fabric, which I had picked up at Creativ Festival. I know, I know… I said I would not buy any more fabric for this quilt, but who can resist something as nostalgic as space invaders?

Here’s the back, not as yet squared up. I’m pretty happy with the bright colour, especially as I had a chance to use all those 2.5 inch strips of that yummy orange hawaiian print – I had originally cut that for the borders on the front, and changed my mind at the last moment.

20130505-233343.jpg The quilt sandwich is now pinned together, and I’ve started machine quilting. Hope I have some time this week to work on it.

Phoenix Quilt continues – Part 4

How many times will I change my mind? I completed 3 of the 4 two inch “floorboard” borders, and cut the orange and red Hawaiian print for the 4th. I laid it all out, and decided I did not love it. So I’ve decided to try something completely different. I have this gorgeous green, black and white African print which I’ve mixed with a green, yellow and black numbers print (the “matrix” print) to create a final border. Here’s a snapshot of the border strips laid out next to the quilt top. I plan to sew them on during the week… I believe it will work, although none of the green fabric is referenced in the quilt top. So it’s risky – but I’m gonna try anyway. If it does not work, I can always pull out my trusty seam ripper 🙂


Project Phoenix continues – Part 3

I’m psyched! I had a really productive day yesterday. After squaring up the centre panel, I added 2 sets of blue pieced borders, that extend the panel by a few inches and subtly frame the Phoenix centerpiece.

Then I took stock of my stash. I had dreams of a wide substantial border, but I don’t seem to have enough of any one fabric to make a statement. Then I thought, why not mix several reds to make a modern pieced border of 2 inch wide (finished) strips? I got the idea from floor boards, often set in random lengths, but even widths. I’ve finished 2 “rounds” already, and am eyeing a gorgeous orangey-red hawaiian print for my next 2 inch border. Mind the poor lighting, it was really late – hopefully I will get better light soon to show off the stunning reds in the “floorboard” pieced border.

I have some ripping planned first, as I found more of the purplish red circular batik (in the left corner of the photo) – much nicer than the smaller circular orange and red batik that’s in the bottom border of the quilt.

Project Phoenix continues – Part 2

One of my struggles with this quilt is a constraint that I cannot buy any more fabric for this quilt. I’ve bought tonnes of fabric towards this quilt, and I’ve got to make it work with what I have. I had an Ohio star sewn in at the top right of the existing quilt top, and while it was gorgeous, it just did not work. So, I ripped it out and replaced it with more blue random patchwork. The picture below shows the quilt top with ripped out section, and a righteous mess on the living room floor as I pulled out tonnes of fabric to audition for borders.

my plan for today is to resist other projects, and focus on moving this quilt top along. It’s time to make this a reality. Wish me luck!


Project Phoenix continues – Part 1


So, life has gotten really busy in the last couple of months. I meant to continue project Phoenix, but quilting time has not materialized. I started a new job in January, following a trip to Carinzia over the holidays. Thought I would share a few pix of the centre panel of the patchwork – the back of it against the light makes me want to do a stained glass quilt 🙂

The interesting thing is that I’ve shown a few people this and they cannot see the bird… this is a bit disappointing. On the other hand, the eventual recipient of this quilt knows this motif (it’s on the wall in his room) 🙂

My dilemma now is how do I finish this – borders, no borders… and I have no idea what I want to do for the quilt back. I have made some star blocks from the same fabrics, that I want to intersperse randomly on the front (this panel needs to grow another 12″ all around before binding).


Project Wünderkind = Project Phoenix

This project has changed so many times, and I keep finding fabric that I want to incorporate – somehow. Editing has taken a back seat to whim and fancy. Reason was thrown out the window weeks ago. I’m just going with the flow, and boy, is it scary!

This quilt started off with the idea to represent a far away galaxy from a video game. I bought lots of Stonehenge from Sew Sisters, sand colours for the terrain, blue-ish green for the planets, deep blues for the night sky. I love Stonehenge, the fabric FEELS scrumptious. But then, I changed gears and wanted to do something “techie”. I bought reds, and greens, more blue (!), lots of batiks with geometric patterns.

Then I read Daniel’s blog (Piece and Press). This guy is incredible. Go check out the dinosaur. I’m inspired. This is the challenge I’ve been looking for. But I have no idea how he does this… so I google around, and discover that this is called raw edge reverse appliqué. A couple of YouTube tutorials later, I’m 150% sure I can do this.

So I dive in. head first. ha! what was I thinking? I should have bought that plane ticket to Oakland, and signed up for one of his classes. Raw edge reverse appliqué is time consuming. But more importantly, raw edge reverse appliqué scaled up is really really hard to pull off. [Daniel needs to have a Surgeon General’s Warning pasted on those gorgeous quilts].

I created a paper template of the figure I wanted to represent. I used free software on the web to scale up a digital image to produce a printable PDF – it prints a portion of each image on 8.5×11 paper. Mine was 7×5 = 35 sheets. I numbered the sheets, and taped them together to create the massive template.

I patchworked a scrappy look quilt top of blue fabric – random rectangles and squares of fabric. Then I did a second quilt top using strips of red, yellow and orange – different lengths and widths.

I sandwiched it all together – paper template on top of blue quilt top, with the red underneath the other two layers, and all layers sandwiched with right sides facing up.

Then I sewed through all the layers, using small stitches with blue top thread. I followed the edges of the template. This was really hard to maneuver under a small sewing machine. I ended up working top to bottom, from the edges inwards, which sewing gurus will chastise me for… but I promise, there was no way I could get the fabric/paper sandwich under the machine throat in the centre! As I sewed, i kept ripping away the paper to reduce the bulk. I also did have to stitch in reverse mode on the sewing machine at certain points to complete this step.

After sewing, I carefully ripped the paper away, using tweezers to get at those pesky small bits that get wedged under the stitches. Despite my best efforts, I did loosen some of the stitching, so had to repair those areas with a second round of machine stitching. sigh.

Now the scary bit – cutting away the blue quilt top to reveal the underneath quilt top. I used a seam ripper to make the first incision, but some advice – please (please, please) switch to an appliqué scissors once the hole is made! The seam ripper was doing a good job, until I realized it was catching and ripping through the bottom layer at points. sigh.

I had to make a side trip to my local quilt store with a “quilting emergency” – Judy helped me find the right interfacing to lay on the underside of those rips to stabilize the fabric so I could repair it.

Here’s the kicker. I realise that I absolutely don’t like the raw edges. So I satin stitched the whole thing to conceal the edges. That took hours. and hours. But it helped hide the repaired bits beautifully 😉


So now I’m at the part where I can cut away the parts of the underneath quilt that don’t show (to reduce bulk) and the continue on to finish the quilt top. Hoping to finish the quilt top this weekend.