Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Lessons in Futility

Every school holidays I fall into the trap of futile sorting. No not my fabric stash...but Lego pieces. You think I would learn that it is almost a waste of time. Time that I will NEVER have back again. But still I do it. 

Years ago Lego reinvented itself from the verge of bankruptcy with a the production of thematic kits and a clever Lego club with catalogues sent directly to children. I have 2 boys aged 6 and 71/2 who have been into Lego since my firstborn turned 3 and assembled his first basic kit.

Kits are wonderful, the first time you assemble, because every piece is in the box.  At least it should be.  Last Christmas our 'Wild West Toy Story train' came without a wheel and 2 left Rex the dinosaur legs. You can imagine the tears. )And even after 3 phone calls to the Australian office, still not replaced! But that is another issue)

But my kids have a tendency to morph the completed kits into other things (mostly hundreds of small pieces) and then it is almost impossible for them to re-make anything because they can't find the pieces. This is where I step in in a act of mercy and self sacrifice and sort the Lego into containers. 

I brought our outdoor table inside and desinated it the 'Lego Table' 
but Lego still finds its way to every table and counter around the house. 
Mostly the floor though.

I know it is shifting grains of beach sand with tweezers...but I feel an almost compulsion to do it. Perhaps I am secretly an OCD candidate because once I start, I can't seem to stop. Does anyone else have this affliction?

This time I had purchased some great see-through-lid containers to help the process of organisation. And I got out the permanent marker and labelled the boxes.

I find Lego sorting quite therapeutic. But my favourite is to use the instructions to make the kits. Plus I had threatened no more Lego kits for birthdays and Christmas unless things were re-made and kept in one piece until next holidays (famous last words).

So we got out some of the instruction books and re-made some of the helicopters and cars. The boys managed to make some of their own 'Cars 2' designs complete with an oil rig and then proceeded to take them to the bath to re-enact the opening scenes. (nb: bath Lego is still drying out on tea towels).  

So the moral of the futile sorting the Lego can fit into crates and be put away until the next holidays (at least that IS the plan).

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Astor Manor D9P is finished!

Although I finished the front of the quilt more than a week ago, the back was finished only tonight. Normally a quilt back involves calculating an extra 4 inches to each of the front measurements and then buying a wide back fabric with those dimensions. Sometimes you can piece together normal sized fabric to achieve a similar effect. But in general, the back of the quilt is usually one fabric and plain.

Modern quilts have turned quilt backs into their own art form. I have been so impressed with some of the quilt backs on other blogs and much so that the back is almost as good as the front! At the very least they offer a different interpretation of the original fabrics.

When my mother handed me her Astor Manor scraps...there was certainly enough to make another quilt front, but also nearly enough for a quilt back. 
I had managed to find two floral prints yardage at Easter time when the gorgeous 'Ribbons and Rainbows' at Blackheath was having its closing down sale. 

Moda also produced 3 wideback fabrics for their 'Astor Manor' range. One was a cream, another brown/stone and the last a burgundy. After looking on their website, I rang the lovely Brenda from 'Widebacks Australia' and she happened to have some of the stone in her end of the bolt sale section. She also gave me 20% off the cream as well and delivered it from Western Australia within 2 days! 
But then I had so many scraps and yards and half yards that it made it MORE difficult to decide what to use and how to use it. I kind of agonised over it and there was more than one incarnation. I'd do a bit and then I'd have to leave it to ponder some more...hoping that some time and distance would help the process...sort of evolve into something beautiful.

But it didn't.

So I left it some more. 

Did some scrapbooking and regular sewing and sorting of Lego (it was school holidays afterall).

And then it started to come together.

Piece by piece...
until it was beautiful.

And it is HUGE...a whopping 94" x 76". 

Monday, 18 July 2011

Gypsy Skirt and Scarf

This weekend I wanted to do a small dressmaking project. I needed some headspace from the piecing of the back of the AMD9P quilt...and also to refresh my skills as a dressmaker. 

Quilting can make you forget the other skills of sewing. Anyway, my daughter is forever choosing twirly skirts to wear around the house, so I pulled out my copy of 'Making Children's Clothes' by Emma Hardy, and found a pattern for a 3 tiered Gypsy skirt. Perfect! So I rifled through my fabric stash and came up with some pinks and reds. 

Frangapani Spots - This is the pink version.
Patchwork Strawberry - This red one had a bit of quilting 30s fabric added to it.
And I couldn't help but add a scarf, out of some gorgeous 30s fabric, to complete the look.

 Cute? Chic? Bretheren? Amish?

Still it was nice to finish something the same afternoon I started.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Un-sticking and Un-picking

I was given sage advice from my mum warning me never to quilt when I am tired or not in the right mood...that's when mistakes happen. I was well aware that I needed all of my wits to solve the problem of the 2nd and 3rd borders on the D9P 'Astor Manor' quilt. 

Most of the feedback from my online quilt group, 'Quilt Club Australia' on Facebook, was positive. They felt the corners needed to have a red or other dramatic colour. So I put little red square hedging the corners.

So I had to unpick and re-sew a lot of my pieced border #2. I tackled the horizontals on Saturday and the verticals today (Monday). The seams at each end did not match up and so I had to steal back some fabric by unpicking and re-sewing some of the pieces with a smaller seam allowance...or I had to add a whole new section to stretch the fabric far enough to match up.

But now the 2nd & 3rd borders are finished and it looks just lovely.

It fits the top of queen-sized mattress but I want to add another final border. That's for another day!

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Astor Manor Reprise

My mum, Audrey (the Grandma of Grandma Macs Quilts) came down to look after my boys last week so that I could attend a 3 day course run by Aspect. In the evenings we got a chance to sew and cut. It was lovely to spend time chatting whilst hand sewing bindings on the same quilt, cutting from both sides of the cutting board and having someone else iron the seams as I sewed. 

Audrey had already made a stunning quilt out of the Astor Manor range of prints for her friend's 80th birthday. I secretly coveted that quilt, So when she offered me the leftovers I was more than happy to receive them. 
As we were going through them we both discovered  that she had already sewn 60 squares (she had forgotten)using the Disappearing 9 Patch pattern.  I was gob-smacked. Quilt blocks just begging to be sewn up. This range of fabrics is just divine when you lay them all out.
So after my mum returned home after 3 days, I set about assembling the blocks to sew. I found that I needed to make 3 more D9P blocks to balance it out into 3 rows of 7. If I am wise with the leftovers I will hopefully make it into a stunning queen-sized quilt. 
Next I cut 2.5" strips from my wide back brown fabric (GASP! I know....but I have plan to use more of the scraps to piece my back together) and sashed the rows into equal thirds and completed the first border. I am very happy with that decision. I find the D9P a bit overwhelming all I need the length and width to bump this out to a queen size.
I actually find sashing and borders a bit of a challenge to be honest. I have miscalculated a few times and come up short and had to piece the border. It takes away the charm and passion for the quilt if you have to cover up your mistakes. This time I made sure that I was over on both ends (as you can see in the photo above).

Now because I am fortunate to have some strips from a jellyroll, I am able to trial a new border for Border #2. It comes from a pattern I found in a library copy of Australian 'Patchwork and Stitching'. Here it is using a white base for the border and the white pieces from the Moda 'Spring Fever' collection.
So I have made my own version.
(I was trying to be cheeky with the bottom row...)

Then after pressing the seams I cut them into 2.5" strips.


Problem #1 - I was hoping to put a lighter fabric in each corner but that makes the first brown border look like it continues into the pieced border.

Problem #2 - the second border does not a perfect match measurement make. That means I am going to have to fudge the sequence of 2.5" somewhere along the way in order to line up the seams.
So I had to walk away from it last night, unsure of how to solve either. I have put out a mayday to my online quilt buddies at 'Quilt Club Australia'. I had one of my son's classmates come for a playdate today so I am hoping to have the issues resolved tomorrow when the boys are at 'Active Kidz' vacation care and my daughter at Family Day Care ( I so need vacation care for my own sanity as these holidays are 3 weeks for my 2 boys at an Anglican school).