Sunday, November 21, 2010

Saturday Sewing

Yesterday was the most perfect late spring day in Melbourne. It was also the third Saturday of the month and time for the Sisters to gather, this time at Deb's, for a day of sewing and chatter. For the first time in ages all ten of the Saturday sewers were present as Barb and Kerry are back from their travels. It was not one of our most industrious days as there was so much to catch up on. In addition to hearing about Barb and Kerry's trips, Di has also been away, somehow managing to fit a visit to Houston in her busy schedule.

I took along a recently finished quilt top to show the girls. The top was started at Patchwork on Stonleigh's Summer School in January 2008. I took a class at Summer School with Karen Cunningham. She called the original quilt, Miss Emma.

As I am making it for my niece Erin I consulted her on colours. She wanted something 'black'.

After the initial burst of enthusiasm that marks the beginning of any new project, I had got this far. It then disappeared into my cupboard, not to see the light of day until 4 weeks ago.

I have done mostly hand stitching for the past 2 years, lots of needleturn applique and hand piecing. It was a nice change to get out the sewing machine to add the final 3 borders.
This little pile was destined to become 24 10inch blocks.

According to "Carrie Hall Blocks" by Bettina Havig, they are called Godey's Lady's Book Block. Such a mouthful! There must be a better name for it!

And here is the finished quilt top. As you can see, it is very black! (And very big, 94 x 94 inches.) These are not my natural choice of colours and therefore it was a bit of a struggle to finish. The Sister's assure me that I will like it more as more time passes.
Because of the darkness of the quilt top, I have made some alterations to Karen's pattern; removing the soft, rounded blocks that are in the original and replacing them with blocks that have more angles. I think I also need to rename the quilt. So, in deference to its original title I am calling it Miss Emma's Husband So much more appropriate don't you think?

Until next time,


Thursday, October 28, 2010

A big thank-you...

From left to right, Sue, Julie, Di, Clare, Meghan, Merri
Absent: Ann, Barb, Deb, Kerry and Chris

On behalf of the Sisters I would like to say thank you to everyone who visited Quilts in the Barn and for all the wonderfully kind and overwhelmingly complimentary comments we have received, both on the days of the show and following via this amazing online quilting community.

When we were first invited by Linda to be the featured exhibitors we were very excited and rather flattered to think we were going to have our very own quilt hanging. After the show all I can say is how humbled we have been by your reaction to our quilts.

To my fellow Sisters, a big thank you as well. I began my patchwork and quilting journey in 2004 to try and counterbalance a hectic working life that saw me frequently traveling overseas and sometimes away for extended periods of time. Little did I know that this creative passion would bring in to my life an amazing group of women, all unique, who quickly grew to become friends.

From meeting other quilters and from the many blogs I read, I know my experience is a common one. How lucky we all are!

Until next time....


Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Quilts in the Barn

Hi everyone,
Sorry for the long delay in posting. The sisters have been working their fingers to the bone, trying to finish quilts for the upcoming Quilts in the Barn exhibit which will be featuring our quilts this year.

If you have been to Quilts in the Barn before, you will know that Linda puts on a fabulous event with beautiful quilts, in a glorious setting. All monies raised are for breast cancer research. If you haven't been before, now is your chance! There will be afternoon tea available, Corliss from Threadbear will have a stall there and Di will have some of her patterns for sale- what more can I say? Oh yes - we have a raffle quilt

beautifully quilted by Helen Hayes. It is called the Sisters Peony quilt - we all love it so much we want to win it ourselves! Again all money raised goes for Breast Cancer research. Raffle tickets will be on sale at the exhibition and some local quilt shops also are selling them.

If you are reading this blog, and you can get to the exhibition, please do say hi to one of the sisters, we'd love to meet you and put a face to the names. Linda has a selection of around 100 quilts to choose from - I think she hangs about 70 depending on size, so we'll wait and see what goes up.

So where and when?

If you click on the poster it should enlarge so you can read the details.

Hope to meet some of you there and raise some money for this worthy cause.


Edited to add: In my haste to get this post out before something else happens at work - I neglected to say - "and of course say hi to Linda" who so generously hosts this annual event. In the meantime go check out her blog Quilts in the Barn

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Rediscovering Mary Brown

Having finished two quilts in the past month there was a small hiatus in my sewing. That is until I looked deep into my UFOs and pulled Mary Brown out of hibernation. This quilt is a reproduction of a gorgeous pictorial quilt from 1851 made by, who else but Mary Brown. A history of the quilt can be found in 'A Maryland Album', published in 1995.

I finished the top about 2 years ago and started hand quilting it. I had never hand quilted anything before and really struggled with it. I tried almost every possible quilting tool but eventually found not using a hoop was the best for me. I am sure you all agree that how you hand quilt is a very individual thing. Anyway, at the time I ended up getting quite dispirited by how the back of the quilt looked (it reminded me of chicken scratchings in the dirt) and cast Mary Brown aside.

But this is one quilt that deserves to be finished. And a second look at the back made me think it wasn't that awful.

I am echo-quilting the applique and then will do a simple cross hatching to complete the task. So far I have almost managed to finish the echo of the central diamond applique. Not that you can tell from the photo below, the quilting is virtually invisible.

This is obviously going to take a long time and my current enthusiasm for the task will surely wain over the coming months, particularly when summer arrives. But at least I have rediscovered Mary and won't leave her alone and neglected for so long again.

Until next time,


PS. The pattern for Mary Brown is available from Patricia Cox.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A little show and tell.

Last Saturday was the regular gathering of the Sewing Sisters, this time at Sue's. The day got off to a bit of a false start for myself and my fellow travellers. It was my turn to drive and after collecting Ann, Deb and Kerry, I headed off to the Western Highway via every route but the correct one. After a major u-turn we eventually headed off in the right direction. And we arrived on time - a pretty amazing feat given the detours!

And what a sewing day it was! First up we photographed the Morrell Quilts for Deb's blog special. (I wonder what you call such a group of quilts - an association, a gathering, a panoply?) Then followed show and tell. The Sisters have been busy and here are some photos of the finished quilts brought along.

First up is Barb's beautiful version of another of Di's patterns, Antique Wedding Sampler.

Barb's work is so precise - her broderie perse blocks are done by hand with the finest buttonhole stitch you will ever see.
Below are two of my favourite of the pieced blocks in the quilt. The 'fussy-cutting' is a sight to behold.
Julie has finished her Burnt Quilt. Talk about a labour of love - Julie added extra borders to make this quilt fit a king-size bed.
My favourite part of this quilt are these rather quirky broderie perse peacocks.
Di's contribution to show and tell was this new quilt (sorry, I am not sure what name it has been given) that she has designed for a class at The Ballaarat Quilter's Weekend.

The centre of the quilt is a combination of broderie perse and appliqued hexagon flowers. I am rather envious of the folk that managed to get a place in Di's class at the retreat.

Sue has started putting together her Art Deco inspired work - the colours are so rich. And isn't the lady and her dog so reminiscent of the period! Oh and don't worry about the blank spaces - Sue has made life difficult for herself by sewing together some of the finished components, but eventually these blanks will be filled with applique scenes as stunning as the first.

And this is my contribution to the day - an almost finished Turkish Tiles Reinterpreted. Just two sides of the outer chevron border to go.

And back from Helen Hayes, a beautifully quilted Deb's Not Quite Telling the Truth Applique for Beginners. I just love the feathers around the centre. Now for the binding - not my favourite task.
Most if not all of these quilts should be on display in October. For those who have asked, "Quilts in the Barn" will be held on October 15th, 16th & 17th. Opening hours, 10am-4pm. The address is 23 Hartley Road, Wonga Park.

Looking forward to seeing you all there,


Sunday, July 18, 2010

The Daughters of Sarah Morrell

Way back when the Saturday chapter of the SSS still met on Saturday mornings at PP, we were thinking about our next project. As we have said before, we originally met to do a class with Di and just decided to stay together. We had completed two projects and then Merri and Di started discussing quilts that thy liked that might be suitable for our next project. Of course it turned out that the quilt they both loved was the same one; the Sarah Morrell quilt. The original quilt was made in Pennsylvania and New Jersey around 1843. It is an album quilt which alternates pieced/applique blocks with broderie perse. Well at first we thought it was a bit daunting - but of course none of us would ever admit to anything being too challenging so we all decided to give it a bash. Here's the original

Some of the blocks are really gorgeous, some of them quite damaged.

Well we launched into the project and Di decided that the centre block needed something a bit more definite, so drafted a new block for the centre. Here is Di's version of the quilt.

Beautiful, yes? I would like to show you some close ups, but this daughter of Sarah is currently sojourning in Amsterdam! The pieced and applique blocks were relatively straightforward to do. Choosing beautiful fabric for each piece helps with the overall look of this quilt.

The next version is Merri's. Merri chose a beautiful pale ice blue background fabric.

The broderie perse blocks challenged our skills as floral arrangers, and our fabric stashes. Most of us didn't have a lot of large scale floral pieces to use.

You will see as we go through, that some fabrics appear in many quilts. Many of our sessions were devoted to sharing our fabrics and arranging these blocks.

Designing vases helped to fill the spaces.

The scale would suggest that these are the biggest flowers you have ever seen - but hey - it's not real life is it? We all love Merri's version. I think this now lives with her mum. I think Merri did her BP by hand - very dedicated.

Next up we have Meghan's quilt.

Meghan's background is a neutral with some strong blues throughout.

She has used some interesting figures in her quilt blocks.

And some bird life.

I'm not sure where Meghan's Morrell resides - and I don't know if it's hand BP'ed. I'm sure the girls will let me know and then I'll edit the post. Here is another way to incorporate a vase.

My quilt is next. Well actually it is still a quilt top - rather than a quilt.

Wow - I like it better in the photo than in the flesh! Here are a couple of close ups of pieced and appliqued blocks.

The background of mine is from the original Charleston collection.

Some bright blue from the first Smithsonian collection - it was one of my favourites. Sorry about the wobbly photos. The quilts are big and I couldn't get far enough away - or get the girls to stand far enough apart to get a straight hang.

Another luminous blue. I hope I have some more.

My BP blocks are machine appliqued. I love my Bernina and have no patience to do it by hand.

Each of these flowers is a separate bloom but look they are painted on.

The possibilities are endless if you can find the right fabrics.

My Morrell currently resides in a cupboard in my study. It will see the light of day one day.

Here is Sue's. It is a similar colour scheme to Meghan's.

Sue's quilt lives on her bed - that's a strange place for quilt Sue! Here is a beautiful red block.

And a couple of her BP blocks. Again not sure but I think Sue did hers by hand too.

I love these blue flowers

And another appliqued block.

Kerri's Morrell is still a work in progress. Here are some of her blocks.

I love the one embroidered with her initials. There are plenty of places in the quilt where embroidery can be added. Pulling out these blocks has spurred Kerry on to finish a few more blocks. So when she' s done I'm sure she will show you.

Here is a close up of the centre.

Now last but definitely not least is Ann's Morrell. As you can see this is very different. Ann made this quilt for her daughter and she asked for a yellow and blue quilt. It is not Ann's colour scheme of choice, and of course this palette limited the fabrics Ann could use. She's done a fabulous job in spite of the difficulties. Have a look.

Isn't it stunning?

Qhite different isn't it?

Don't you love the teapots?

Very French provincial colours.

Well I hope you like the variations. I think some of these will be at Quilts in the Barn for closer inspection.

The pattern for this quilt is now available at Threadbears, and for European readers, at Petra Prins Patchwork and Quilting. I hope these pictures give you some inspiration and ideas to design your own version of Sarah Morrell.