Quilting on the Road

So you’ve decided to pack it all in and take off. Maybe for a year, maybe longer. The house is sold, the kids are settled, the dog’s going to be looked after and the van is packed. Now what are you going to take with you for quilting supplies? This was the question faced by one of the Apatcheez recently when Robyn did just that.  She and Brucie have said farewell to the ordinary life and are off travelling around Australia. And because she’s a caring, sharing kind of gal we know exactly what she took with her. I’ll leave it in her own words –

“Tried to be conscious of space. The plastic box I bought from a hardware store and it fits almost everything including my cutter.

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My handy cotton reel holder fits in my cotton box.

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Travel iron is great for the odd wrinkle on my clothes when requiring not to look like a camper (the occasional  dinner out)and my hexies and of course the LED light for embroidery.

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Yes you do need electricity for the iron but Brucie has an inverter that creates 240 v from the battery.”

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Robyn’s been thrilling those of us who have Facebook with regular photographs of her and Brucie’s travels. This is the sort of thing we see –

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Jealous? So what would you take with you?

Those of us left behind have been consoling ourselves with finishing some UFO’s. Here’s what the Apatcheez have been up to –

Julia finished her bag –

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And Joananne hers’ –

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And Estelle brought some beautiful vintage pieces of embroidery in for us to admire –

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I have been wandering the land, not quite as dramatically as Robyn, but nevertheless I have been away from my sewing for some time now. I’m hoping that will all change from next week. You do pine for the fiords as-it-were when you’re away and you see quilting everywhere – like in the teacher’s chair at the kindy open day last week –

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Luvvy and I had a taste of winter when we travelled to Coffs Harbour for my brother’s wedding. The wedding was at the very beautiful Orara Valley Estate and was a very intimate affair. It had a country theme – the groom wore his RM Williams and bride cowboy boots with roses. We worked together to decorate the wedding space and for those who’ve asked here are some pictures from that day –

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family

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Maybe things will get back to normal now after all the weddings and travelling. Then again, define normal? Until next time happy quilting

Kaye

Four cities and a wedding in China

Strange place China. One minute you’re revolted by some of the customs – like  the excess of phlegm its inhabitants seem to be able to produce (and the public spitting IS quite gross) or the inclination to eat….anything!. The next minute you’re absolutely charmed by the abundance of roses cultivated on the median strips and along the highways into town. And then you’re overwhelmed by the extent of the development of the cities.

A couple of weeks ago we flew into Guangzhou – the city that used to be called Canton – third largest of the Chinese cities with a population of around 13 million (yes that’s right 13 million!). As the plane descended to land, the sun set over the Pearl river illuminating, not a frontier town but the metropolis that is the portal to mainland China.

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Reminiscent of Hong Kong with humidity and perpetual activity, this port city is sprawling and very busy.

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Naturally we found a quieter area to walk through and found ourselves on Shamian Island, a sandbank island across a canal from the city.

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Shamian Island is little different from its time as a foreign concession in the 19th century and that legacy reveals a charming leafy area, mostly pedestrian, filled with grand houses where European merchants once facilitated the trade for silk, porcelain and lacquerware. When the British and French took over they planted trees that now overhang the streets and the whole place is like an ornate garden. Throughout the area the streets are sprinkled with  the bronze statues depicting life in the area past and present. This one reminded me of Apatchy –

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And this one depicts the development of the Chinese woman – from the woman of the past wearing the cheongsam to the modern woman in shorts with a phone to her ear.

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We shared the area with bridal photographers and other tourists as well as some locals including this lady practising tai chi in the park – complete with sword! I might take this up in my later years – I wonder what Brisbane City Council would have to say about that?

We could see the dragon boats on the Pearl River from our hotel room window and the strong rhythm of the drums and gongs as the crews practised for the Dragon Boat Festival added to the exotic atmosphere of this city.

Two days later we were in Wuhan, further north than Guangzhou, and a not inconsiderable city that nine or so million people call home. It was here that we attended a family wedding. Luvvy’s son married a local girl, both of them now living in Sydney, but who travelled back to her parents’ country for the nuptials. And what a wedding it was – imagine a talent show crossed with a game show and you get a bit of an idea. The MC, whose banter was not translated into English, kept the crowd enthused and cheering throughout the event. The vows were made in English (him) and Chinese (her) and the food served could only be described as a feast. A wonderful day – I won’t impose too many photos on you but here are a couple –

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bubbles dinner rachel

After the wedding the bride’s family took us sightseeing around Wuhan – what a beautiful city it is.

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We farewelled our new Chinese family with promises to catch up again soon and flew to Beijing. After relaxed Wuhan the capital seemed somewhat tense with soldiers and police everywhere, although, as one local said “It’s the capital so it has to be safe”. Strangely it seemed less so with the abundance of security and we fancied everyone we met were spies or secret service agents.

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We had only a short time in Beijing – enough to visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City –

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and then an hour’s drive to the Great Wall – which we did climb. What a monster this is – a monument to the sheer ingenuity, accomplishment and bastardry of man in equal measure. Taking hundreds of years to build, the bodies of those unfortunate enough to be conscripted to work on the wall and perish in the undertaking were buried within it – making it the longest wall in the world and also the longest cemetery.

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Back in the city we walked through the lanes to the Old town and through the silk shops – laden with their bolts of colourful fabric that, alas, was very expensive. We came across a night market with some local delicacies –

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Seahorse anyone? What about a scorpion kebab for supper?

The reputation of the Chinese gardener is well-established and we were not disappointed at the skill of the locals in this regards

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The last stop on our short journey was Shanghai – apparently the most populous city in the world. A walk along the Bund highlights the difference between the old China and the modern with the historical buildings on on side facing the modern skyscrapers on the other side of the river.

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Again we found quieter areas to walk and marvel at the local architecture, open spaces and scenes we found interesting. Fu Xing park and the French concession area is in stark contrast to the noise and busy streets. Again we saw older residents practise tai chi while younger ones practised ballroom dancing to Chinese melodies.

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Apart from the small oases of tranquility we found, the development in these cities was overwhelming. I have never seen so many skyscrapers and all the while cranes everywhere building more. Alas we live in a homogenised world and many of the central areas of the cities looked the same as every other city. The shops in the main thoroughfare resembled those elsewhere – Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Salvatore Ferragama – you get the idea.

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This means that much that is valued is also very expensive so there were only minimal purchases of silk and other ‘souvenirs’. We did find masses of some items – from teapots to jade bangles –

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And we did find beautiful handcrafts at the Shanghai Arts and Crafts Museum and at the Old Town –

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And we saw the incongruities of modern life – like the devout praying at a temple while a priest checks his text messages –

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Away from the main streets just around the corner though you can glimpse the real China – and from what we saw it is boundless.

Speaking of impressive the Apatcheez have not been idle while I’ve been wandering through the back lanes of Shanghai. Congratulations to those who took out prizes at the recent Brookfield Show – Chris for her winning tea cosies – a Best Use of Colour and Most Unusual Tea Cosy award –

Chris teacosies

and Lesa – a highly commended for one quilt and 2nd prize for another –

Lesas house quilt actual size

And there were other finishes too –

Joan’s peg bag –

Mums peg bag

Suzanne’s kanzashi flower wedding cake that I should have shown you in a earlier post –

Suzannes Kanzashi cake

Robyne’s hexagonal beauties –

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June’s bag – one for herself this time – and another – the first project made with the new fabric Tokaido –

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Pat’s eye-spy quilt for a lucky grand-daughter –

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Now Margaret didn’t disappoint either. Here’s a great Valentino Rossi-inspired quilt for a very lucky man –

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And then this very interesting coldie/picnic bag that starts out like a quilt with two zips –

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and ends up like a very useful coldie bag –

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So it’s certainly been a busy month – and more to come!

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Until then happy quilting

Kaye

 

Best of the Best quilts in Melbourne

A little tardy I know but here is some eye candy – some of the inspirational quilts from AQC in Melbourne:-

Firstly – from the ‘Paws and Whiskers’ competition…

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And while we’re in the animal world – have a look at visiting tutor Susan Carlson’s work – Dingo Dreaming….

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and the AMAZING Stevie – Crocodylus Smylus – 20 foot long…

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There was a display of red and white quilts from Sydney –

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I don’t think I’ve ever seen needleturn that small – this quilt was quite incredible.

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And there was another competition fro ‘Tradition with a Twist’ – here’s some of what we saw in that category –

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There were war quilts from Annette Gero – quilts that had been made by soldiers – often from uniform fabric and whatever else was available –

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and there were the best of each state and the best of the best – quilts selected by each state guild to represent that state-

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There were fabulous art quilts and quilts by the tutors at the festival –

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And there was my quilt

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And there was fun times with friends –

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I think you should come with us next year – don’t you?

Until later happy quilting

Kaye

 

 

Goodbye April

Another month gone and you haven’t seen what the clever Apatcheez have been up to for a while now. So here’s what they’ve been doing….

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Faith finished this wonderful quilt – the flowers are entirely made from the fabric she won in the Apatchy Christmas lucky door prize – thanks XLN Fabrics! And thanks Faith for a wonderful job.

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Another surprise was Julia’s bespoke ‘beaded’ necklace – what a wonderful gift!

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Suzanne may have a Kanzashi-related problem – but we’re pleased because we get to see creations like this

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Sharyn spends her free time creating these little beauties – we especially like the fancy-pants signature.

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Dee is off travelling the world – and a very lucky girl on the other side of the world will be the recipient of this Smee designs stitchery/quilt combo

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And Bev isn’t one to shirk gift-giving either – here’s her very modern take on a baby quilt

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While we’re on the subject of gifts – I think Faith’s latest creation might be headed for someone else too – sorry about the deck lighting in this shot – not the best background.

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Angie finished her bag from our class a couple of weeks ago and she look very pleased with it – as she should!

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And Elaine finished her version – with her fancy embroidered bee!

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And Joananne finished hers – a chic navy blue version

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Jan was busy with the Tilda block of the month but still managed to finish this pretty Tilda Club stitched bag.

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Oh and while she was at it also finished this bag – made from hexies sewn from her leftover Fiesta project – see what you can do with scraps.

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Joan was the first to complete the project-of-the-month with this bright mesh bag made with Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric – way to go Joan!

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Chris took a break from quilting to create one of her amazing tea cosies

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Debbie finished one of her projects (!!) this lovely hexie purse

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Carol came to visit us a couple of times and impressed us with these picnic placemats – complete with cutlery (another project made from small pieces of fabric – I won’t say scraps because they look too good to be described like that)

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The youngest Apatchee, Baileigh finished this lunch bag for a school project – well done Baileigh!

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Bev finished her February project-of-the-month with Melba magpie fabrics – but we forgot to take a photo – here she is now

Janes bag side 1 Janes bag side 2

Jane sent me a photo of her finished bag

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And finally, Joananne sent me a photo of another finished project – a very clever way of using bunting and soft toy fabric to make a child’s quilt – and the back of the quilt has the back of the owl – very clever too.

There’s lots more of course as well as AQC but that’s for another day.

Until then happy quilting

Kaye

 

 

15 minutes of fame…

Excitement at Apatchy this morning. I may have mentioned (a couple of hundred times) that my quilt ‘My Top 40’ was chosen to represent Queensland in the upcoming Australasian Quilt Convention in Melbourne. Indeed several Apatcheez will be making the pilgrimage to the Exhibition Building and will see it there.

So… the latest email from AQC talks about the quilts that are on show and provides a link to the ‘Best of the Best’ page – and whose quilt is featured do you think???? So proud – thanks Lesa for early phone call telling me!

AQC page

Until next time

Happy quilting – really happy quilting

Kaye

And they’re racing……

Broadcast from the supplementary course – bag-making in the tropics – a short course to complete the project started two weeks ago in Gail McMahon’s class …….

And the field has gathered for the running of the supplementary bag-making course. There are two scratchings – Faith and Julia were unable to take the field and, as a result, Joan, previously on the reserves bench has been given a run.

So a great line up this morning with the field eager to start. But wait! Under starter’s orders and there has been a late suspension. Di has failed to bring her equipment so she is unable to participate today and has been relegated to the viewing enclosure. What an upset!

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The field is now down to seven but these are the thoroughbreds. Jane would have to be the favourite being the first to finish the zigzag quilting leg at the last start. Testing her will be Elaine who came up well after the last run and started today with a bespoke embroidered bee on one of the flowers on her bag which caused some anxiety among the other runners.

So Gail starts the class and they’re away. Jane has gone out strongly, Debbie also steaming forward, Angie settling down well and Elaine pressing on with Tracey not far away.

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The speed is on early on this track and the novice Joan appears to be hemmed in on the rails by the veteran Joananne. Both are two lengths back at the cutting table and appear to be struggling with the multiple strips required for the piping and handles.

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Jane is keeping Debbie out wide and Elaine has settled in nicely on the rails. Tracey, opposite the air conditioner, is nicely placed for the length of the race and Angie is striding along well, after an initial problem at the start of the race.

The officials have called for an early suspension to the race so tea and coffee can be dispensed and then the field settles in for the final leg. Joananne has tired badly and is well back as her sewing machine becomes affected and starts to sew by itself. Clearly there is a problem here and Joananne has had to retire from the field and consult the vet. She may well claim interference and lodge a protest but for today her race is over.

The remaining field are travelling well. Joan has overcome her initial problems and is now up with the leaders. Oh and here’s another upset! Jane has not followed the starter’s orders and has chopped the ends off her piping cord before sewing the pocket onto the bag. Can she recover at this late stage?

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Angie, the quiet achiever is in the clear and will start her home run soon. Elaine is assembling the lining and looks set to finish well. Debbie has pulled away and is two lengths away from the field.

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The starter has signalled the end of the course as the field take the last turn. Jane has the whip out and looks set to test the frontrunners but it’s Tracey! Here comes Tracey! This outsider has come through on the outside and is ahead two lengths. Debbie is trying everything to peg her back and may have taken a unwarranted detour that will cause problems at the end, Angie is out wide and is giving it her all. Elaine is putting on speed here at the end but Joan is tiring badly and it looks like she is packing up. But it’s Tracey a length in front and Tracey takes the ribbon for the first completed bag. What a win!

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Elaine and Jane in a photo for second, Angie not far off, Joan in next with a brave effort, Debbie disqualified for inappropriate pocket application. A very controversial win and another great course for the Apatcheez and we look forward to the next event.

Until then happy quilting.

Kaye

 

Bag making in the tropics

Isaac Singer has a lot to answer for. Not for his bigamous private life that resulted in more than 20 children, but for his alterations to the mechanics of the sewing machine that resulted in his claim to fame – the Singer sewing machine – the forerunner of all the others we enjoy and curse today.

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While Isaac didn’t invent the sewing machine, his improvements turned the machine from an expensive, industrial device to one that Isaac envisioned in every home. Does that remind you of the computer or maybe the mobile phone? Yes the antique treadly was the moby of its day.

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Although they were expensive, Isaac and his business partner ensured that everyone could afford one of his machines because they utilised the installment system that had been used for purchasing farming equipment. So a small down payment and a few dollars a week meant they were very affordable. Remember this is before the personal loan or credit card. And so then they went global. Way to go Isaac.

As a result we quilters each have a machine. Maybe not a Singer but perhaps a Jerry Janome or maybe a Bernie Bernina. Whatever the livery I reckon it’s a fair bet that you don’t really know how to use it. Sure you can sew straight and maybe you can recognise the 1/4″ foot. Perhaps you’ve dabbled with the darning foot for free motion quilting and even tinkered with the occasional zigzag.

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Ah yes the inoffensive zigzag, but have you ever used the twin needle that came in the little tool box that slides off the front of your appliance? What about the blind hem foot? And don’t even start on the stitch regulator. And who of us actually understands tension and how to regulate it? The actual sewing of the sewing machine looks quite a simple process…

So why is it so difficult to make ours work the way they are supposed to work? And how come we don’t even know about half the features? Fortunately there are those among us who do actually know about all the hidden secrets of the sewing machine – sewing machine whisperers if you will. Those who can speak the secret language of edge stitch feet and stitch regulators. Sometimes they will share their secrets.

And so it was that some of the Apatcheez gathered together in the humidity of the subtropical world last Saturday to learn from the wise. The very clever Gail McMahon took the girls through their paces while they marvelled as she revealed switches that created decorative details and knobs, previously hidden to the operator, that produced the most marvellous stitches. The project was a rather attractive bag and another day is needed for anyone to actually finish one, such was the intricacy of the design (or was that because of the ignorance of the operators?). Nevertheless the ladies enjoyed the day (apart from the heat which was not very conducive to learning as more than one of us noted). Wondering what it was like? Here’s some pictures..

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It was a very serious business as you can see. I blame Isaac Singer.

Until next week

Happy quilting

Kaye