Foot2Freestyle October round up

The end of October already; where has the time gone?

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmWe’re almost done in time this month, just a couple of people have found life catching up and getting in the way, but I anticipate they’ll be done in a couple of days. I’ve really enjoyed working with Lynn’s colour choices, and from comments from some of the others, I think they have too! Lynn has been very conscientious about not peeking at all the loveliness going up in the gallery, so I hope the postal system relieves her curiosity quickly, despite the hiccup of a couple of transposed numbers in her post code…

Head over to the F²F gallery page to browse through all the blocks from June – October; the variety is amazing and I’m amazed at how everyone keeps coming up with something different each month.

Next month is Avis‘ turn, and she has opted for a vivid and colourful palette of bright blues and purples. If it’s any help to participants looking for block inspiration, Avis likes symmetry and has a preference for solids and marble prints rather than busy prints. Click on the link to visit her website for a look at her work.

A quick reminder to the F²F participants: please don’t post about the blocks you’ve made for Avis until she confirms they’ve been received. We’re mostly following each other’s blogs, so the photos will appear in the Reader or our email inboxes, and the surprise of what she’s getting will be spoiled for her. I will post the photos in the gallery, and Avis can avoid looking there if she wants to be surprised. Once she has them, it’s safe to post!

One final thing: Pat, our Miss May, is about to participate in clinical trials for a new treatment; she’s not at all well, and needs all the positive thoughts and encouragement you can send her way. For the next couple of months, Sue and I will be making Pat’s blocks for her, to give her one less thing to worry about. I will be making the ones for Avis, and Sue will be making the ones for Christina in December. After that, we’ll see how Pat’s getting on and we’ll work out the next steps from there. Either way, I want to make sure that Pat ends up with a beautiful, colourful quilt to remind her of a year of quilting friendship.


The Cloths of Heaven 1: And so it begins

Every so often, a quilt comes along that demands serious process.

CoH, initial fabric pullBy that I don’t mean the normal round of picking blocks, colours, size, fabric and quilting design. What I mean is that it demands to be considered, mulled over at length, sketched, rubbed out, re-sketched and amended. It needs decisions, notes to be made, and usually, a good bit of time to digest the flood of initial ideas and then reissue them as a design that will work. Usually, I can’t make it up or change things as I go along, or it’ll go haywire.

(Click on any of these images to enlarge)

CoH, ConceptKnowing I had no hope of getting a quilt to my niece Claire in time for her wedding last year, I promised her a large and spectacular quilt to celebrate the wedding, and it would be ready when it was ready. She’s fine with that, but I’ve allowed too many other projects to insinuate themselves between that promise and now. So it was time to knuckle down and get everything out of my head and onto paper. I have to say, I’m loving this design. It will be very difficult to let it go when the time comes, but that only means I’ve put a lot of myself into it, and that’s as it should be.

CoH, constructionSo, allow me to introduce The Cloths of Heaven.

The name comes from one of my all-time favourite poems, ‘He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven’ by W.B.Yeats. If you’d like to hear it read aloud by that wonderful actor Antony Hopkins, click this link. It’s beautiful, romantic, heartfelt, and perfect as inspiration for the celebration of a marriage in fabric.


CoH, quiltingIt all started with the idea of a starry night, the ‘heavens’ embroidered cloths’ of the poem, twinkling above a peaceful night time landscape. But I didn’t want a narrative, pictorial quilt, so there’s more to it. The poem will be calligraphed in gold ink around the outside of the landscape, there will be appliquéd trailing ivy, which she loves, a surround of beautiful, intense colours selected with my niece’s favourites in mind, and finally, a lush, heavy border.

CoH, element detailsI’ve tried hard to think the whole process through, from initial concept through to quilting and finishing, to anticipate the sort of problems which might arise from a project as complicated as this. Undoubtedly there will be curve balls and hiccups, and I will get round them. It’s all part of the journey.

I have two more days of work on something else, and then I will start. Not quite sure where, but probably with cutting 4½” squares for the frame around the central image… I will need more fabrics than those shown above, particularly dark blues, but that’s OK. The finished quilt will be 88″ square, which is why I’ve decided to make it in 9 separate sections, up to and including quilting. I’ll join the sections as almost the last thing, just before binding. It will be far more manageable like that, quilting will be less arduous, and so long as I’m meticulous about keeping to measurements, all should be well.

Lots of potential here for process posting, I think you’ll agree… And I’ll probably be asking for advice or suggestions from time to time, so I hope you don’t get bored of the thing before it’s done. However, you stayed with me all the way through the year of Worldwide Friends, so I can hope!

I have half a year to get it ready – just in time for her first wedding anniversary!

An hour’s work

That’s all it took.

I’ve been getting more and more annoyed by the need to constantly shift things out of the way when I want to use the entire top of my cutting table. I pinned elaborate storage concepts on my Pinterest ‘Sewing Room’ board for inspiration, I tried finding homes for everything, but it was all a bit haphazard. The last straw came last week, with the self-inflicted black eye. One more example of what I call ‘the blind animosity of inanimate objects’. Something had to be done.

I looked at pegboard sheets in Bunnings, our Australian DIY superstore. I was aghast at the cost of what was basically a large sheet of masonite with a lot of little holes drilled in it. I could, I thought, do better than that. And I have. Here is the result:

Pegboard & contents

That big yellow thing on the right was responsible for my black eye…

In case you are tempted to whip up something similar yourself, here’s the shopping list:

1 x sheet of 6mm MDF, 120 x 60cm (or ¼” MDF, a 48″ x 24″ sheet)
1 x 120cm length of 6mm dowel (or 48″ of ¼” dowel)
2 x 120cm lengths of 1cm batten (or 2 x 48″ of ½” batten)
6 x 20mm (7/8″) wood screws

Total price: approximately $12. (I already had the screws and batten)

And here are the tools you’ll need:

Cordless drill/screwdriver
1 x 6mm (¼”) drill bit, plus one smaller one to fit your screws, and screw-head to fit screws
Jigsaw or tenon handsaw
Spirit level and pencil

Pegboard & cutting table

My cutting table is raised on extra ‘feet’, which makes it a good 13cm (5″) higher. Now I won’t have to bend for the tools either!

Lay the sheet of MDF flat on a table. Arrange on it the tools you want to hang there, and mark with the pencil the location of the holes they’ll hang from. Either take a photo to refer to later, or draw lightly around the item to remind you of what goes where. NB: Hang the heavier items at the edges, near the mounting screws, to prevent bowing of the MDF.

Next, locate the studs in your wall (if timber and plaster-board/ gyproc), since this is where you’ll need to drive in the mounting screws. If your wall is brick or block-work, just choose three equidistant screw locations, and you’ll need to add wall plugs/anchors to your shopping list. Mark the locations of the studs and translate the spacing onto your MDF sheet. Place the battens behind the top and bottom edge of the sheet, and drill through both sheet and batten using the screw-sized drill bit. Drive in the screws from the front till the tips just come through the batten at the back. Determine how high you want the pegboard to hang. Mine’s on the other side of my cutting table, and I can only reach a height of 71cm (28″) above that, so that’s how high I hung it. Mark the top edge, check it’s level. If you are fixing to a brick or block-work wall, now is the time to drill the holes to receive the screws and place the wall plugs/anchors.

Take the larger drill bit, and drill holes through the MDF sheet in the marked locations where you want pegs to hang things on. Mark 5cm (2″) lengths along the 6mm (¼”) dowel, and cut through with the jig- or tenon-saw. Now it’s time to hang the sheet. This is the only part where you need 2 people. Get someone to hold the whole thing straight and flat against the wall while you drive in the screws. It’s not heavy, so a large child will do in a pinch (I held it up while the Husband of Chiconia did the drilling). They can now go back to whatever they were doing while you finish it off.

Basket trick Let there be lightDrive in the bottom 3 screws. Push the 5cm (2″) lengths of dowel into the drilled holes; it should be a nice snug fit. Hang the tools on their pegs. Step back and admire.

You could go all Homes & Gardens and paint it. I’m not bothering. You’ll see there’s a couple of baskets there. Two pegs for each, through the mesh on the side, and a couple of rubber bands stretched tightly between the pegs hold the baskets in place. High tech, eh? I’ve also used the rubber band solution to hold my folding LED work light up there, so I get better lighting when I’m cutting at night. I’m rapt with the result.


And yes, it all took just an hour.

AHQ: …. Ad Astra

The Corporal’s Quilt, front and centre!*


Once again, the wind made a straight shot impossible, but at least the sun obliged with some shadows to show up the (somewhat wobbly) quilting. The Corporal won’t care… Started 8 October, completed 28 October.

It’s done. Once I’d taken it down from the line I folded and packed it in the prescribed manner, to fit the free posting box and allow a little room for home comforts and edibles. It’s on its way to Iraq, to give chilly winter night-time comfort, something to wrap up in, and most of all, to remind the Corporal that his service is gratefully appreciated and remembered by those at home, even total strangers.

My next job will be to test a block for Esther at ipatchandquilt; she has designed a lovely new paper piecing pattern, and it will make a nice little break between this and the next quilt, which is going to be large, complicated and long-term – the deadline is the beginning of May 2016.

*front and centre!
(idiomatic) A command to come to the centre of attention of an assemblage of military personnel.
(From Wikipedia)

Super citrus

I’m talking about cake, of course.

Orange poppyseed cakeWell, a person needs something to keep her going when in the final throes of quilting something. And I’d seen a perfectly yummy orange poppyseed cake on this post from The Cheergerm and The Silly Yak, which I felt morally obliged to try in a gluten free form. The Husband wasn’t too averse, either…

I’m not one bit sorry. It’s fabulous.

Get over there now and collect her recipe. The only thing I’d change is adding a bit more orange zest, but perhaps my orange was a bit weak and feeble and not zingy enough.  The juice wasn’t very tart either, so the icing sugar/orange juice frosting (1 cup icing sugar, 2 tblsp orange juice) I made for it wasn’t zingy enough. All useful learning. Next time I might add some lime or lemon juice if I don’t think it’s up to scratch. The other difference was that I substituted a commercial gluten free self-raising flour for the wheat flour, same volume, and it worked perfectly. The Cheergerm says she’s also going to experiment with different GF flours to get what she feels is a healthy and balanced equivalent.

And actually, I really want to try the same recipe with limes, and maybe half a cup of coconut flakes instead of poppyseeds. You see what happens when I get my teeth into a slice of cake…? Yup. More cake.

I’ll keep you posted.

SAL 19: even more blue

There’s been a lot of that around here recently…

First the big blue Doggies quilt, then the smaller blue and white one I’m making for AHQ  in many of the same fabrics (still in progress, more on that tomorrow), and finally the poor little neglected navy blue and white sampler.

Here’s where I was last time with that:

Screen Shot 2015-10-04 at 7.19.16 am

And here is the pathetically small progress I’ve made. Quilting is taking priority over all other handwork at this point, and I’m sorry to say it shows.

Screen Shot 2015-10-21 at 10.57.27 pm

As always, it’s worth your while visiting the other SAL stitchers, who have, I’m sure, been much more industrious than I… Don’t forget about the difference in time zones; you’ll need to drop in a bit later to give them a chance to get their posts up.

Avis at

Claire at

Gun at

Carole at

Jule at

Wendy at

Lucy at

Cathy at

Jacqui at

Jess at

AHQ: Per ardua

The top of the Corporal’s quilt is done.

I gave myself a whole heap of trouble when I decided to have the RAAF motto and roundel at the top and initials at the bottom. 20 different appliqué elements – what was I thinking? ‘Per ardua ad astra: Through adversity to the stars’ indeed… Only on this quilt, the stars came first and the adversity followed!

finished topA day off sewing to fill a bakery order (Oh no! More cake…), and then I can look at getting the sandwich done. I’m going to use a blue and white checked flannelette for the back – the same stuff as I used for the Husband’s Truck Quilt. It makes it nice and cosy, and I have the fabric already so there’s sadly no need to expose myself to the temptation of going to my LQS, where there’s a new fabric line in stock I want to check out. Must…Not…Buy…Fabric…

You’ll be glad to learn that I got through the whole day yesterday without pricking, cutting,burning or otherwise injuring myself. No cake required… 😦