Tuesday, January 29, 2008

During this year I also started a quilt for Chloe’s first big bed, which was to be a quilted bedspread. I found a lovely fairy fabric range all with a pale lemon background. One fabric had alternating strips with fairies standing and younger fairies sitting ideal for fussy cutting blocks from, the other fabric had small posies of flowers on it, the colours we bright pastels. I found a half log cabin pattern in a very old Quilt World which the parents loved. We sourced coordinating Home Spun for some of the strips and alternated with the posy fabric. I machine quilted this by following the lines in the log cabin part of the quilted in the squares I quilted a simple flower design. Chloe ‘helped’ me finish the binding on this quilt by moving the clips for me, when we had finished stitching down the binding, her bed had to have clean sheets and pillow case and all the family came to her room to watch the quilt go on her bed, this was Christmas 2004.

In 2002 LPQ had a ‘Fat eighth swap where we cut 1 metre of fabric into eigths and gave them to the swap divas, who them sorted them and handed each participant back a mixture of 8 fat eighths to use for a quilt to be finished by the November meeting of that year. We were allowed to add a background fabric and I think 1 other. (a good reason for a quilt journal to help you remember what occurred when you made your quilt). For my quilt I made a medallion style quilt with an on point centre with machine appliquéd blocks I sourced from EQ, the background I used was a light coffee coloured Home Spun and the other fabric I added was the Fossil Fern featured in the outer squares. The flowers in the centre basket were made from gathered strips of fabric to give a 3D affect. I machine quilted the quilt using a garden themed pattern, in one of the plain blocks I quilted in an arched garden gate, which gave the quilt its name ‘Through the Garden Gate’. On the backing I included all the left over swap fabrics around the printed label which I stitched into the backing. I gave this quilt to my sister for her 60th birthday in May 2006.

Gaining Experience

To broaden my knowledge of patchworking I attended as many workshops as I could to learn different technique and patterns. One of the workshops I did in 2002 was 'Hidden Wells' technique, for this workshop I used an assortment of 'cat fabrics' that I had sourced from many quilts shops and catfabrics.com which unfortunately has closed its business, I added a motley fabric which had a wavy look to it that bought all the colours together. In the workshop I completed two of the blocks, later I finished all of the blocks for a single bed quilt and the top languished in the UFO box until 2006. This quilt was one of the quilts I finished in TGQ's UFO Challenge and as I had one too many blocks it became a quillow. Pam Jarman of Burnie machine quilted it for me and the quillow was given to our granddaughter Chloe for sleepovers and too use in their caravan.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mystery Quilt

A member of scquilters was hosting a Mystery Quilt the instructions where to be posted on the Internet one Saturday. We were given a list on fabric requirements and a short time later we were given the cutting instructions each lot of cuts were given a name. I had difficulty with the colours as I didn't have a finished article/photo to refer too and I wasn't confident with choosing colours. I persevered and followed the sewing instructions on the day completing the top the next day.

I was never happy with the top and it languished in the UFO pile for quite a while. In September 2001 I attended a retreat outside of Mansfield Vic. where Dawn (Gypsy) Isherwood was the tutor for the weekend. Gypsy was teaching us her technique for embellishing and making pictorial quilts on pieced backgrounds. The top I started in this workshop is still a WIP which will be worked on in 2009.

2005 saw me delving into my UFO pile and looking at the MQ top I came up with an idea to embellish it with an ocean theme. I added coral, reeds, mermaids, fish, dolphins, whales, yachts and a lighthouse with a sun shining down from the top corner, then I machine quilted it in a wavy pattern to represent the waves. The completed quilt was given to our eldest grandson Connor on his 10th birthday in 2006 and he loved his fishy quilt.

Memory Quilt

My mother was celebrating her 80th birthday in January 2001 and I decided to make her a memory quilt. My mum had her hair done every Friday morning and I took the opportunity to go into the house and copy down the names and addresses of her close friends and other family members. I contacted them all and asked them to make embroider, cross stitch or paint a 6 ½ " square of quilters muslin which I had included. Expecting only half to complete the task, I was pleased that all but one returned the blocks. Luckily I had holidays over the Christmas to get the quilt together. I printed photos onto fabric of our family and mums brothers and sisters and the centre piece was mum and dad's wedding photo. I machine quilted it and it was ready for mums birthday on January 10th. We went to dinner at a local hotel and I had let everyone know the time and place, mum was expecting 8 people to be there and was pleasantly surprised to see 50 of her family and friends waiting to celebrate with her. The staff at the hotel had set up an area covered by a curtain where I could hang mum's quilt and while we were waiting for the birthday cake the quilt was unveiled. Mum was thrilled with the quilt and it gave her great comfort in her final months as she wrapped herself in it when she had her afternoon nap. As mum's final Christmas neared she wrote a goodbye letter to all and asked me to include a photo of her and the quilt that everyone had contributed to. Later I froggy stitched the quilting and re quilted it as I was not happy with the quilting. My sister in Queensland is looking after it while we are travelling around.

Christmas Blocks

At the Launceston Patchworkers and Quilters Christmas lunch December 2000 I was lucky enough to win one of the set of Christmas Blocks. Each year members of LPQ make a 8 1/2 " block with a Christmas theme to go in the draw. The committee divide them into sets of 9 and the blocks are displayed at the Christmas lunch. The names of the members who haven't won a set are put in a hat and then draw to see who are the lucky winners for that year. The winners are supposed have their quilt made to show at the lunch the following year. In January 2001 my mother was diagnosed with Motor Neurone disease and in March I gave up work to become her carer. Over the months I assembled the top and decided to hand quilt it. As time to quilt was limited I didn't get the quilting finished in time for the luncheon. I completed the quilting in December and January as I sat with my mum in the hospice. It is a very special quilt for me as my mum was able to see the quilt finished.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

First Year quilting

When I look back at the photos of the quilts I have made it is hard to remember in what order I made them. I did not keep a journal of my quilting progress which I am now sorry for and some of the first quilt photos were pre digital camera.

The first challenge quilt I made was a Launceston Patchworkers and Quilters Presidents Challenge 'Portrait of a Country'. I chose to do a wall hanging of the Waitomo Glow Worm Caves in New Zealand. It was one of the photos in a Readers Digest book of scenes, after contacting Readers Digest for appropriate permission I started on the wall hanging.

For the background I went through my dressmaking leftovers and found the black pieces they were satin, taffeta, gabardine, velvet and crinkle taffeta. These were cut into squares to make the background. I found a piece of silver and bronze lamé to make the roof of the cave and a few scraps of tan suede for rocks. From the lame and suede I cut pieces to represent the rocky roof of the cave, I then satin stitched them onto the black background stuffing the pieces as needed to enhance the rocky look of the ceiling. The next step was to baste the hanging, then I machine quilted it freehand to represent the darker rocks in the background. Once the binding was finished the next step was to reproduce the glow worms from the ceiling of the cave used a variety of silver threads, embroidery and machine, plus crystal seed beads. I was very pleased with the finished wall hanging.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

First Real Quilt

This quilt top was started in 2000 and I finished it in 2006.

The first quilt I made from 100% cotton fabrics was started in a ‘Stack’N’Slash workshop at Launceston Patchworkers and Quilters. The colours I used were Khaki, blue check, cream, dark green and variations on these.
We did one block in the workshop as it was to teach the technique only. After the class I went home and made the other 11 blocks and added 3 borders.
The next lesson was to sandwich and baste it which I did the next week and the quilt hung on the back of my sewing room door for 5 years.
In 2006 the then President of the Tasmanian Quilting Guild issued and UFO Challenge, members had to list their UFO’s and nominate to finish 4 for the year. To qualify to enter you had to have 20 or more UFO’s. When I counted mine I had 35, this is one of the quilts I finished before we packed up our house and started our nomad trip. The reason I have so many UFO’s is because I try to learn as much as I can about our craft/hobby/addiction so a lot of UFO’s can be classified as workshop samples.

I machine quilted this quilt by following the lines in the blocks. A few of the blocks have the slashed star look to them, in the other blocks I made too many cuts, a good learning curve.

Friday, January 11, 2008

About me.

I learnt to sew at my maternal grandmothers knee. Nana had been employed by the local tailor as an outworker when her husband died in 1920 leaving her with 2 small boys to provide for. Firstly Nana taught me hand sewing and I remember the first doll’s dress I made out of Nana’s scraps. When I could reach the treadle I was allowed to use the Singer in Nana’s room. When I took sewing in high school the teachers would not believe the work was my own. By 1962 I saved enough from my pay to buy my own sewing machine on which I made all my clothes basketball uniforms and ball gowns. When I married in 1968 the sewing machine got a lot of use making curtains, cushions and chair covers for our army house in Seymour Vic. As the children came along I made the majority of their clothes and bedding. I have always sewn for myself and others over the years I made extra to help with the family budget undertaking various courses and workshops to learn new techniques
After the breakdown of my marriage in 1982 I studied Fashion and Design at TAFE learning all the basics of design, pattern making, use of colour, fashion accessories. After completion of the two year course I worked for a local designer making up her design for clients. One of the clients was a news reader on the local TV station and it can me a buzz to see her wearing garments I had made while she read the news. Then I branched out and went to work for a fancy dress costume hire firm, here I could let my imagination run wild making all types of clothing, Scarlet O’Hara type dresses, Edwardian Styles and fantasy outfits. This job ended when David bought the stock from a rival.
Then I started a baby Manchester business of my own, making quilts, sheets etc all from 100% cotton, this was not a roaring success as I did not have the capital to rent premises etc.
Eventually in 1998 I discovered patchwork and quilting and became a devotee. My first patchwork quilt was a cot quilt made from poly cotton with poly wadding, a simple design of plain and printed squares in pastel colours with Teddy Bears Rocking Horses and Hearts had quilted with embroidery floss. Unfortunately I can’t find a photo of it, the quilt is packed away in our boxes we left in Launceston. I joined the local quilt group did as many workshops I could read every quilt book in the local library and absorbed all the information I could on quilting.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

This is me

I am Fran Cox a quilter from Tasmania. At present my husband and I are residing in Melbourne.   We have been here for the past 8 1/2 years.   We traveled Australia in our caravan for 18 months.  Then came back to Melbourne to help out family for a few months, then did some house sitting.   Then found a live in arrangement with a person with special needs we stayed with her for about 6 years and now I work as her case manager as she is now in Aged Care.   Still quilting and crafting and loving life.