Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Oldest UFO

It's time to move this quilt along a bit:
"Red Delicious" was Esther Aliu's first BOM design. If I had known it would be all appliqué I probably wouldn't have joined in, as at that time I hadn't done any appliqué. My stitching is rather inexpert, but it probably got better as the months went by.

You can see I wasn't particularly interested in making a quilt all in red and white, so mine became "Berry Delicious". It has been a top since July 2010. I assembled a back for it in September 2010. 
Now it is basted and ready to quilt.

Monday, January 30, 2017

First Finish

The pink waterlily opened this morning:
Very pretty! It probably didn't stay open long, as the sun hid behind clouds for most of the day.

My first job of the day was to try to fix this sort of thing:
Yesterday I sewed the binding onto the back of the quilt, but I had lots of wobbly bits where the weight of the quilt pulled me off course. So I stitched nearly the whole thing again, trying to sew straighter:

Then it was time to turn it over and stitch it down from the front:

And here's how it looked when I finished:

I braved the march flies to go outside and photograph it:

But as you can see from this enlargement, the march flies found me very quickly:

Here's the back so you can see the quilting better:

First finish for the year! I'm very happy to have finished this quilt without it turning into a UFO.

Post linked to: Patchwork Times January UFO Link-Up

Also linked to the final En Provence link-up. Check out all the amazing versions of this quilt around the world!

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Garden Promise

First bud on another waterlily:
This one will be pink! The white one is still flowering, and has had about 5 or 6 flowers so far. It sends up a new one every couple of days.

While I've been busy in the sewing room for the last couple of days, this has been happening outside:
Gravel path which will divide the back yard into the classic "charbagh" Persian-style garden. There will eventually be garden beds along the paths.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Binding Preparation

Adding a flange to the binding of my mystery quilt appealed to me, but I found a couple of sites with instructions for a faux flange, which intrigued me. Here's one, and another. This is a little test I made to try out the concept:
From this I learned that the measurements given make the binding very wide on the front. Also, stitching in the ditch on the front is tricky if I don't move the needle position.

Although the faux-flange binding is all applied by machine, there is a lot more preparation involved than for a normal binding. First I had to make 8 metre lengths of two different strips of fabric:

Then sew them together:

Press them open:
Strip wrapped around a small cutting board, as it was getting tricky to manage it.

Lastly, press it in half length-ways:
Another small cutting board would have been handy about now, but this book worked to keep the strip tangle-free.

After all that I needed to take a break. Tomorrow I will tackle applying it to my quilt.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Another Acacia

Wallowa, Acacia calamifolia, seedling:
This means there is only one TreeProject species which has not yet germinated.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Quilting Completed

This probably looks pretty much the same as the photo from twelve days ago when I had the top all in one piece:
But it is not quite the same, as now it is all quilted.

Here's what I did in the blocks:

And here's a view of part of the back:
At the top in the centre is one of the blocks, and the lower sections on the right and left are magenta stars. Similar quilting in each, but the designs are slightly different. I quilted all the four-patches with continuous curves.

Many people seem to be of the opinion that complex piecing isn't worth custom quilting, as the quilting design doesn't show up. That may be the case, but quilting the same design over the whole surface would have driven me nuts. Just doing the continuous curves around the border was very boring. Quilting different patterns in different parts of the quilt made the process a bit more interesting, and gave me a chance to practice ruler use on a quilt that hides the wonkiness.

Now for the binding...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

An Acacia!

This was a bit exciting this morning:
One acacia seedling! Acacia rigens, nealie wattle. Only one seedling out of four boxes of acacias, but at least it is a sign of hope. There are now only two species of TreeProject seeds that have not yet germinated.

And one of the crepe myrtles has started to flower:
It could be "Sioux", which started flowering on the same day last year. Then it was in a pot, but now it is in the ground.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Even More Quilting

I've now quilted all the magenta stars, all the neutral border, and all the purple 4-patches:
But that leaves some important sections unquilted:
The actual blocks!

I'm still on track to finish this by the end of the month, as long as I can work out how to quilt the blocks very soon.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Surprise Table

This morning I was presented with this lovely thing:

I was given the rusty base last February. That linked post shows the rust removal process. Since then the parts have been in the garage, but I had no idea that in fact they had been painted and reassembled. And had this beautiful red ironbark top made!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Tiny Trees

The TreeProject seedlings have been very slow to germinate this year. Each day I look for some sign of growth, and today I found a couple.

Out of five boxes (240 potential trees) there is now one slender-leaf mallee, Eucalyptus leptophylla, growing:
Just one. But I hope that there will soon be many more! Perhaps the thunderstorm overnight will have triggered mass germination?

Two boxes of moonah, Melaleuca lanceolata, have also begun to germinate:
These teeny-tiny plants look almost exactly the same as the callistemons that started appearing 10 days ago. Not surprising, as they are closely related.

So now there are three species growing (being optimistic about those eucalypts), and three which have not germinated at all yet. The ones I'm waiting on are two species of acacia and one of hakea.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Trois En Provence

I have not been alone on my journey with this year's mystery quilt. Hundreds, or maybe thousands, of quilters around the world have been working on it, but most importantly two friends from my Melbourne CBD group did too. Today we met up, and got to see our three versions of the mystery in person.

Jenni made hers the same size I did:
She just has a section of the outer border to go.

Jeanette made hers larger, and made a couple of alterations to the pattern:
In the background of these two photos you can see some of the lovely fabrics that Morris and Sons now have added to the shop. Very tempting!

And here's all three beautiful quilts together:

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Roses From the Heart

My sister alerted me to an exhibition at MADE (Museum of Australian Democracy at Eureka) of bonnets made to commemorate the 25,566 women convicts brought to Australia between 1788 and 1853.

Each bonnet is embroidered with the name of a convict woman, the ship she arrived on and the date. Some were made by descendants of the particular convict, and others by interested people such as my sister and one of my nieces.

The number of bonnets on display meant we would have been very lucky to find the particular ones they made:
But it is a very moving display.

It is only on for a few more days, so I'm very glad I didn't miss it.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

More Quilting

Finished quilting the magenta stars, and started doing continuous curves in the neutral border:
Back view:
The backing is a soft, pure cotton sheet I purchased on sale a couple of days ago. I haven't used a sheet as backing before, but I'm happy with how this one is working out.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Mystery Progress

I discovered a new use for my cutting table today. I needed to press two long seams on my mystery quilt, and doing it on the ironing board was driving me nuts. I'd get one bit pressed, then move the whole quilt to get the next section lined up on the board, which caused creases in previously-pressed sections. So I took the cutting mats off the table, spread the quilt out there, and ironed it there! I wasn't using steam, which might have been a different story, but no damage to the top of the table was apparent. It became a much easier process!

Once the pressing was done, it was time for some pins:
Quilt basted in sections. Don't worry about those wrinkles in the foreground, that wasn't the part I was pinning.

Once the whole thing was basted, I threaded up my Sweet16, and did some of this:
Flower-like shapes quilted over the magenta stars, using two different curved rulers, one for each of the different sized "petals". About half of these magenta stars now have been quilted.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

Pond Plants

The pond now has a few more plants:
They are sitting on racks suspended in the pond to provide appropriate levels of submersion.

And here's that waterlily flower, open in the sun:

Saturday, January 14, 2017


The crinum lilies are doing brilliantly this year:
At least five flower spikes either open or about to.

This family of Australian wood ducks (Chenonetta jubata) crossed the road in front of us:
They seemed to have have a huge number of ducklings. After a close look at the photos I was able to get, there seem to be eight young ones. That's dad at the front, and almost at the back is mum, who is only a little larger than her babies. They seem to have done a good job of parenting, having raised eight ducklings to this size.

Friday, January 13, 2017


For the first time in a while, forecast rain actually fell! We had 11.4mm, which was enough to give the garden a good drink, and have water flowing into the tank for the first time since before the pipe sprang a leak over a month ago.

View from the loungeroom this afternoon.

In other excitement today, this happened:
Waterlily flower! It was more open earlier in the day, but by the time the rain eased up so that I could go out and take a photo, it had started closing again. I'll try again tomorrow.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

One Piece at Last

When I started sewing this morning, my En Provence mystery quilt was still in 41 pieces. I ran a countdown as gradually pieces were joined to other pieces.

It was quite satisfying to press the seam between two blocks:

which reduced my piece count by one.

Adding the last border pieces to the last sashing pieces, and in the process reducing ten pieces to two pieces:
At that stage the piece count was down to nine. But by 5:00pm, the countdown reached the magic number:
Hooray! I rather like the effect of those neutral borders, even if they were a lot of work to do. I ended up with one square of fabric beside itself in that border, but I'd be surprised if anyone ever noticed. I didn't notice as I sewed them together! I also have one dark purple fabric beside itself, but by the time I realised that was happening there was nothing I could do about it. It just validates Vireya's Law of Scrap Quilts, first formulated in 2011, that "No matter how careful you are about layout, you will always find two pieces of the same fabric beside each other after you have sewn the whole quilt together."

I'm rather late for the link-up this week. There are already 124 other links. It is fantastic to see how everyone's different colour selections came together in the end. Some people have not just finished putting their top together, they have actually quilted and bound their mystery! You can check them all out here.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

More Pond Progress

I was out all day today, but came home to find this:
Jack walking around the edge of the pond. But more importantly:
The pond is now covered with a black metal mesh. It looks much better than the white bird-netting! And look how much the water lilies have grown already.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

First Trees

We have 14 boxes of (potential) TreeProject seedlings this year, but there has been no sign of germination yet. Today I thought perhaps I was seeing a slight tinge of green in one of the boxes. The only way to be sure was to take a photo:

And then zoom in:
Definite tiny leaves between the grains of gravel. Hooray! These teeny-tiny plants are scarlet bottlebrush, Callistemon rugulosus. (Although apparently since 2006 the correct name is Melaleuca rugulosa.)  I hope there will soon be another thirteen boxes of germinated seeds.

In between other events today I managed to do a little more work on my quilt:
Two blocks sewn together, with their full complement of border bits. This is a decent-sized chunk of quilt, but after a quick count, I discovered the quilt is still in 47 pieces! Quite a way to go before it is all together.