Tag Archives: quilting

The Pub with No Beer

SPOILER ALERT -This post is about quilts, not about beer. If you want sunshine and unicorns, stop reading now. If you wish to read on you might want to listen to Slim Dusty sing his famous Pub with no Beer song.

Our visit to the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles at 520 South First St, San Jose was badly timed. Two out of three exhibitions on the day we visited were wedding themed.

mike_mcnamara_3The only quilts being exhibited were by Mike McNamara and were described as being inspired by the traditional double wedding ring design. When I say inspired, I guess they mean loosely inspired. It was hard to spot the double wedding rings at all as Mr McNamara’s quilts were hung in a corridor, making it difficult to get enough distance to view their designs clearly. It was only after I reviewed my photos (taken with permission) that the double rings became evident. Each quilt was accompanied by pictures of the mostly same-sex couples that the quilts were made for.

While I support marriage equality, when it came to the artistry of these particular quilts I wonder whether support for same-sex marriage didn’t influence the curatorial decision-making. These quilts did not inspire me, though they did confirm that for me, wonky edges are not an acceptable design choice. And while I’m being controversial, when the vast majority of quilts are made by women, it rather ticks me off to see a male quilter’s work being the only quilts on display at a quilt museum.


The technology in fashion exhibit did not hold our attention and the wedding dresses on display were historically interesting and were, I’m sure, carefully chosen from the History San Jose collection. The most interesting was a dress that was so tiny that the bride either had a developmental issue or, more likely, was well under what we would call marriageable age today. The age of the bride was not given, unfortunately.

My personal favourite was a checked gown, worn by Ann Elizabeth Smith at her marriage to Robert Francis Peckham in 1849, a time when a woman’s best dress had to serve on her wedding day and well beyond. There was no focus on weaving though there was a contemporary (1985) woven Moroccan wedding belt on display.


Moroccan Wedding Belt – Detail

As for the outfits worn by two men on their recent wedding day, while I celebrate their love, I just can’t get excited about (almost) matching contemporary grey suits.

This was a disappointing visit, mostly because of the small number of quilts on display. As my beloved put it, “Oh well, we’ve given them $16, maybe they can go out and get themselves some quilts.”

However from their web site I see that the permanent collection of the San Jose Museum of Quilts & Textiles contains over 1000 textiles and includes historic quilts, contemporary art quilts and textile-based art forms, as well as garments and textiles from world cultures.

But the quilt collection is not open to the public, so you could call the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles the pub with no beer.

Fancy Fox Finished


Seems we’ve hit winter here in Melbourne and the available light is not great for photography. The maximum temperature in Melbourne today was 14 C  (57F) and when I got up this morning the living room was not far above that temperature. So far I’m layering with woolens and resisting the temptation to turn the heating on but I expect to weaken soon.

I’ve been chipping away at hand sewing the binding on the Fancy Fox quilt. It’s a task I quite enjoy but one I prefer to do in natural light, which means on weekends, generally.

The quilting was done by professional long armer Pam Hammer, who suggested the modern design to go along with the modern quilt. Tinkerer dropped this one off to her so Pam and I chatted on the phone. Initially Pam thought it was a strange variety of house quilt but then she turned it around and the foxes leaped out at her.

I’m looking forward to handing this one over to a beautiful baby girl who I haven’t met yet, even though she must be getting towards a year old now.

Now, it’s back to the looms.



Fancy Fox

One of my friends gave birth to a baby girl four months ago, providing me with the perfect excuse to make some fox blocks. I first saw the fancy fox block on a quilt made by Wombat Quilts and fell in love with it then.

 Fancy Fox  Quilt Top made up of Four Fox Blocks  in Pink and Grey  

If you want to buy the pattern, it’s available from Oh Fransson. It’s easy enough to make the blocks. Each large fox block measures 20 by 24 inches, which is a whole different scale to what I’ve worked with before. I like the amount of negative space though and the blocks come together quickly once you’ve done your cutting. They’re also a good way to use up your stash though the amount of waste involved in sewing the muzzle/background triangle does trouble me a little. 

This top will be going off to the long arm quilter due to a shortage of free time and because my Singer quilting machine has developed a timing problem, one that’s too expensive to have fixed by a professional. Tinkerer and I are planning a DIY repair session over the summer. If we can’t fix the Singer ourselves it might be useful as a boat anchor. Meanwhile I can continue piecing with my trusty Husqvarna. 

Pandora’s Box – a manly (and belated) Birthday Gift

This one has been a long time in the making, even by my standards. It was intended for a male friend’s fortieth birthday and that friend is now 42. It’s a good thing he got an interim gift to tide him over.

pandoras quilt make with a jelly roll of batik fabrics

Pandora’s Box

The quilt is made using a Robert Kaufman Roll-Up, comprising 40 strips and equivalent to 2.8 yards, according to the label. I was disappointed at how ‘thin’ the strips were – they barely measured 2 1/2″ wide even at the pointiest bit of the zig-zagged edge and I had to adjust my cutting to allow for this. I wasn’t happy about that.

I used the Mineral Mining Colorstory (RU-182-40) and feel happy that it looks manly. The blue is homespun from my stash, bought originally at Spotlight. Next time I’d make the blue frame a little narrower. The Pam & Nicky Lintott pattern didn’t call for a border but I wanted to make a visual separation between the batiks.

My friend has a black leather couch, which is why I chose the black batik border and used the same for the backing. I hope he likes it.

A Book Bag

I walk and use public transport to get around town when possible, including when I go between different work locations. Typically, I carry some kind of bag along with me in addition to my handbag. Often I want to bring a book along, either a reference book for work or something to read on the train. What I don’t like so much is the wear and tear that results. Perhaps I’m old school, but I feel that books are precious and need to be looked after.

The Quilting Bible placed on my new Book BagFor a long time I’ve been thinking of making some kind of book cover. I thought of making of those wrap around ones that you slide the front or back cover of the book into but I could not think of a workable ‘one size fits all’ approach with that design.

Last Friday after work I decided to grab some fabric and see where I ended up. I took a batik fat quarter left over from my starry night cot quilt project, one that was too stiff to use in a quilt, and matched it up with a plain blue remnant from my stash. I squared them up, grabbed some batting, made a quilt sandwich and ran a few lines of decorative machine stitching across it to hold everything together.

Next I stay stitched around the raw edges and folded it in half to make a bag. I picked yellow for the binding as a little reminder of our recent trip to Sweden, blue and yellow being the colours of the Swedish national flag. It’s double binding because that’s what I do on my quilts, not because it really needed it.

The decorative stitching is more visible against the plain inside unpatterned fabric.

The decorative stitching is more visible against the inside unpatterned fabric.

The binding is continuous and doesn’t have any overlap between the start and end points. Accomplishing that was a real test of my spacial reasoning and I’m not sure I passed that test. Let’s just say I sewed three times and unpicked twice. I used the excellent instructions in The Quilting Bible: The Complete Guide to Machine Quilting (3rd ed). It’s one of my favourite reference books and also has a few projects I’m keen to try.

batik book  bag closed, showing completed binding

So it’s all done, a kind of book sleeping bag, with just enough padding to protect books from damage in my bag. It doesn’t have buttons or any other closure as a fold will do the job and keep the size flexible. The finished dimensions are 11 inches long and 7 inches wide, so it will fit most of my medium and some of my bigger books or alternatively, my laptop.

Paperback novels might need a special bag of their own, but in these days of e-readers, they’re not something I tend to buy so often any more, so that project can wait.

Red & White MYO Charm Quilt Finished

Started late in 2012 and painstakingly pieced and finally finished. MYO Charms Quilt 2 Finished

The dimensions are roughly 110cm by 120cm. I wanted to quilt it myself about a quarter inch from each seam line but I realised that would require more time than I had available. My professional quilter expressed a preference for an edge to edge design because it was easier for her to execute. I regret agreeing to that as I feel my design vision wasn’t delivered. I like this quilt, but I don’t love it as much as I was hoping/planning to.

MYO Charms Quilt Finished 1

The batting is Quilters Dream Poly (throw sized) in mid loft which was quite inexpensive and can be quilted as far as 12 inches apart. It will withstand lots of washing and doesn’t require pre-washing but I find it little stiff. So far I have not found a polyester batting that drapes in the way I want it to, ie like cotton batting. I have a packet of low loft Quilters Dream Poly ready for a jelly roll quilt that is yet to be started and I’ll be interested to see how that compares.

MYO Charms Quilt Finished 3

Note the quilt stand in this last photo. It’s my brand new (to me) Druva four shaft floor loom and it came home yesterday.

A Finish Just in Time to Pack the Projects Away

The last finish for 2012 and the third anniversary of this blog. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been blogging for so long. Thanks to all of you who have joined me on the journey. It’s been fun.

The time of year has come when the cutting table moves to the living room and becomes a dining table. I’ve packed away the projects, done an audit of the tablecloths and made many lists as we work out how we are going to seat and feed 14 people on Christmas Eve, for our big family celebration. This year we will be joined by family members from overseas, making it extra special.

There will be a smaller picnic on Christmas Day. The menu for that meal is certain – whatever we didn’t eat on Christmas Eve – most likely ham, ham and more ham. My beloved’s employer has preserved the tradition of giving their employees a ham before they close the plant down for Christmas. It’s a lovely tradition and I can’t imagine that it happens very much any more. Of course there are now many new Australians at that workplace, people who were born in Cambodia or Afghanistan or somewhere else where Christmas doesn’t feature on the calendar and where, in some cases, pork is considered unclean. I’m curious if those staff members get a leg of lamb instead, or if they just find they get a fresh boat anchor each year.

Here is the bento box quilt, finished, bound and ready to be wrapped. I machine sewed the binding this time as it’s for a little girl so needs to withstand play and laundering. I prefer the finish of hand sewn binding but this turned out OK.

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If you are among those who celebrate Christmas I wish you all the Compliments of the Season.

Peace on Earth and gun control in America. Surely it’s time.