Thank you so, so much to all of you who bid and commented on my quilt auction for the Victorian bushfires.  The response was really humbling: so many of you, from such disparate places, made such generous bids.  Nettie was successful with a bid of $380 plus postage for a vintage sheet cot quilt.  It’s made to order in blues, purples, and pinks.

Extra surprises came from Josie, who threw in $50 just because she’s a sweetheart, and Dan’s aunt Ange, who offered to donate $200 for a tiny scrap quilt she could use as a wall hanging or on the table.  How could I say no?

And that’s how I managed to donate more than I earn in the average week — certainly not something I’d be in a position to do without your help.

Nettie and Ange’s quilts will be in the mail today, along with copies of the thank you letter sent by the Red Cross. Thanks again to all of you for your kindness.


I’m pretty sure this is my favourite.

Unexpected ‘incidents’ with inset seams aside, it’s been far too long since I tried doing a historical reproduction block or learned a new skill.  But I should have been smart enough not to try both in one go!

This picture, sticky and yellowed at the edges from a combination of time and cheap glue, has been sitting in my old visual diaries and nagging at me (‘Show me! Make me!).  It’s part of an old photocopy I made while visiting America in 2002.  I had two days to myself and spent them, nerd that I am, taking ridiculous numbers of photocopies at the New York Public Library: quilt books and out-of-print Richard Brautigan poetry.   Ahh.  Here is the full original: the block is at A6 (6th across, top row).

Way back then in the library, I fell in love with this sampler quilt.  It’s long ago been separated from the notes I took of the maker(s) and even the title of the book it was in. I feel sure the block I chose to copy was done in Turkey red.  It represents a hand (possibly, probably, traced from a real hand), wearing an abstract thimble and decorated with a heart. 

These complex applique samplers were almost always done as gifts from a group of friends to a new bride or a departing friend, hence the heart.  I think it’s a touching and imaginative design, one that I’ve not seen before nor since.  I decided I’d like to copy it.

To make a block design, I took the photo above (a photo of a photocopy: classy) and blew it up by about 1000% on the PC.  Then I traced the design on to fabric and proceeded to reverse applique the design.  Nooooo… tried to reverse applique the design. 

This method worked surprisingly well; it would be much more problematic for detailed picture blocks like Baltimores.  

Somewhere along the line, I forgot that in the original block, the hand is skewed to face the corner.  No problem, because the white fabric points where the fingers meet the hand is so knobbly and frayed that the block is unusable.  You can see in the photo that the lines get wobbly there.  The fabric is also bubbled and knobbly.  One look at a quilting frame or a wash tub and this baby’s just lint.

I vastly underestimated this block’s degree of difficulty, and/or my decidedly average skill in applique.  Plus, black thread was not a good choice.  After I made the heart I switched to white, but the damage was done.

I’ve decided to go on a little self-guided applique course, starting with reading this book.

Despite trials and tribulations, I still think that this is a neat way of copying basic designs and I hope to use it in the future.  I’m especially pleased with the results since the only image I have of the quilt is a terrible and tiny photocopy.  But I want this block in my quilt — badly, I now realise — and I’m only waiting on applique skills before I can also make this composite block with figures from the Victoria and Albert Sundial Coverlet.

I’ll let you know how it goes…  if you have mad applique skillz, please tell me how you learned them!  A book I can read?  A site I can look at?  Don’t say ‘grandma taught me’ unless she lives in Brunswick and can be bribed to teach me.  I have chocolate, jelly babies, and a decent stash of novelty egg cups.

Some days, the sewing goes slow, and you enjoy the little bits and pieces.

Little Red Schoolhouse, in blue.

I thought this would be a nice easy one.  But… inset seams with paper piecing!  aaagh…

It’s an old favourite, and much more square than it seems in this photo, which makes it worthwhile.  And hey, new skill.

Patches in this block: 21

Patches so far: 855

I’ve never been to the Stitches and Craft show and had a free day last weekend, so went along.  I was looking forward to a huge expo where I could do workshops and see what crafty people outside the quiltosphere were doing.  Unfortunately I thought it was lame, and I feel confident in saying so because my friend Annemarie thought so too 😉

Seriously folks.  Does the world need fifteen stalls selling cross stitch patterns with twee verses, sad, dated little flowers, and stick on jewels?

Some good parts were worth going for.  A handful of brave crafters had stalls.  The ‘Handmade Nation‘ doco was an enjoyable way to look at cool crafters’ lifestyles while I drank an overpriced Expo coffee (although it was really a long advertisement rather than hard-hitting documentary).

Someone deliberately misunderstood a sign asking for  ‘craft secrets’, which made me giggle:

And someone else lent the show a gorgeous 30s quilt, though I don’t know who as the quilt display was strangely devoid of names.  Perhaps the maker labelled the quilt, but like most quilters I don’t feel comfortable touching display quilts.  Does anybody know the name of the pattern?

Another plus: on the way home I saw the overexpensive and undersafe Southern Star looking beautiful for the first time.  It took Melbourne’s first hard rain in four years to show me its happy face.  Of course: white against a stormy grey sky.  This is from North Melbourne station.

And then the best part: getting home and laying everything out on the bed.

There were only three or four stalls selling fabric, and less with interesting fabric, but of course I did find some bits and pieces to buy.  The fabric here is all for my hexagons (even finished a flower on the train home!).  It is odd to be buying new fabric for a ‘scrap’ quilt, but when the pieces are small, I’m sure it’s fine with the Quilt Goddess.  I bought some applique scissors and pins for reasons that I’ll explain in another post, some variegated embroidery thread, twenty little pieces of the most gorgeous feedsack fabric, and I especially love the yellow rose print and the little owls.

So to wrap: unless there are some major changes to the Expo, I’ll stick to quilt fairs.  For I need not your smocked and bedazzled toilet roll holders.

Pile of cuttings?  No, that one’s huge.

It’s 16 little log cabin blocks made into one block, 15x15cm.  I saw an ultra-miniature paper pieced quilt at an expo last year, and wanted to see if I could do something similar.  Pencil for size reference:

It wasn’t too hard until it came to sewing the little blocks to each other.  That’s when I needed to be precise, and wasn’t, so a fair bit of unpicking had to ensue.  I like this one.

Sandy, I did try freezer paper, but it doesn’t work for me.  I can’t seem to sew right on the seam, or get sharp points.  Maybe it’s just me!

Patches in this block: an ass-whooping 208

Patches so far: 817