Monday, 25 February 2013

Missing In Action

Quilting Amelie's quilt

Oh my goodness! Where has February gone? I promise, I haven't been sitting around, twiddling my thumbs. It has been a bit crazy here with Liam starting school, and Noah off to "big kinder". We have had short kinder sessions, school weeks split into two, days on, days off, teacher strikes, kinder meetings, school meetings, tests.... ugh! Hopefully things will start to settle down soon and I will find my routine.

Liam's a big school boy now!

I have been working on Amélie's quilt, I finally decided on a nice all-over floral pattern for the quilting. It's just a basic 5-6 petalled flower (depends on how it is going, haha) with a leaf or a viney-tendril here and there to fill in the gaps and move between flowers. I was originally going to try to fit them into a pattern around the pinwheels, but then decided that random works better for me.


I am really pleased with how it is going. Someone asked me if I was having lessons, but apart from the workshop I did with Kellie Wulfsohn, I am mostly self-taught. You can pick up heaps from the internet, but I think the main thing is just to have a go and then practice-practice-practice! I always sketch out my ideas first, over and over, until I can naturally work out where to go. Then, I do a practice on a test sandwich. Sometimes, it may only be one or two repetitions of the pattern, just enough to feel confident enough to do it on the real thing. Then I just go for it.

It isn't perfect, some of the flowers are a little wonky, there are places where I think the vines are too prevelant, but I know that the more I quilt, the better I get and it all looks great from a distance.

Some tips:
  • Draw it first - it helps to have a plan, even if you are working in a "random" pattern. Drawing is part of that plan
  • Practice - make up a test sandwich, using two fat quarters with a layer of batting in between.
  • Plan where you are going before you start - I aim for where I want the centre of the flower to be first and head there. It is a bit like chess sometimes, in that I also plan where the next flower is going to go, and maybe even the one after that.
  • One step at a time - one petal, one leaf, one tendril at a time, stop, look around and decide what you are going to do next before you start stitching.
  • Work out which direction works best for you - it might be clockwise, or anticlockwise, but if one way works better, plan around that.

I love Elizabeth Hartman's blog, Oh Fransson! for tutorials and tips. I also have her book, though most of the technical information is available on her blog.

Practical Guide to Patchwork: New Basics for the Modern Quiltmaker
(affiliate link)

I have also found this book to be a really good reference:

200 Quilting Tips, Techniques and Trade Secrets
(affiliate link)

Friday, 1 February 2013

Pink With Purple Polka-Dots (Amélie is two)


It seems like only a few months have gone by since Amélie was born. I guess it has been. Twenty four of them. To celebrate I made her a polka-dot cake with hundreds and thousands around the outside. As my nephews were staying with my parents, they came along for the birthday dinner and were quite impressed with the polka-dots hidden within the cake.


I've always wanted to do a cake with hundreds and thousands around the outside edge too, and now I can say that I can do that as well (tutorial here). I learned a neat trick about making an evenly risen cake as well, with a nice flat top, so there will be no chopping off of the big extra lump in the middle from now on.


The polka-dots were inspired by this polka-dot cake and one day, I would love to have a go at this lady-bug cake as well. My cake did not bake without incident however, there was a failure cake with large pustule-like protrusions instead of lovely polka-dots. Due to the birthday dinner being postponed due to a local bushfire, I had extra time to get it right, though you can see that it was not quite baked properly at the bottom in the middle. I do recommend if you are baking a polka-dot cake that you use the same recipe for the spots as the rest of the cake, and use the tip I linked to get that nice flat top and stop your spots from bursting from the top of the cake. (I am sorry I did not take photos of the pustule cake - we just ate it instead!)


Happy birthday, Amélie!
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