Monday, December 21, 2009

Flag Quilt Completed

One of the few things I've managed to finish this month is the flag quilt I showed back in early November. It took me a while to settle on a quilting design because some of my initial ideas didn't work well, given the odd number of rows in the upper half. I wanted a pattern that would give the feeling of movement on the quilt but wouldn't be too sharp and angular.

I ended up deciding to use a flame-inspired motif, but I turned it on its side so it looks more like a wood grain (at least I hope), as I don't want anyone misreading this as a "flag burning" motif. Not the intent at all!!! Here's a close up of the quilting through the stripes (I stippled the blue banner and stars):

Ultimately, I think the modified flame worked well, as I could free-hand it and didn't have to work in rows or change the scale from the upper to bottom rows. (I did do much practicing, both on paper and small sample pieces.) The most challenging aspect for me was figuring out how to move from one knot/flame to the next.

Here's a picture of the completed quilt before I wrapped it and shipped it off to its intended recipient:

Sunday, December 20, 2009

New Zealand and Australia

I've taken a somewhat extended break from blogging, in part because I haven't done a whole lot of sewing, in part because I was out of the country for a fair piece of time, and in part because holiday preparations have taken most of my free time since I returned from vacation. Finally, today, I think, I may have an opportunity to catch my breath and relax a bit.

We were in Australia and New Zealand from November 14-30. Both countries are beautiful and we'd go back in a heartbeat as there's still so much more to see. Highlights were most definitely the outdoor activities: snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef, hiking a portion of the Routeburn Track from Glenorchy, going down (and UP!) the Giant Stairway at Katoomba in the Blue Mountains. We almost got used to the opposite-side-of-road driving, seeing deer farms, and the possum fur-merino blend clothing and accessories. We took WAY too many pictures - on the order of 1,600. On Friday night, we found some time to narrow them down and posted a little over 100 on my Picasa album.

While there are most definitely some amazing Australian and New Zealand quilters and quilt shops, we didn't have time in our schedule to get out to visit them. My one stop at a sewing center in Cairns was to purchase a thread cutting pendant because the Brisbane airport wouldn't allow my sewing scissors through security and I had to forfeit them as I wouldn't check my backpack (luggage was already checked). I was rather ticked and pointed out that the American security hadn't batted an eye at them, the New Zealanders had measured them and ascertained the blades to be short enough to fall within legal range, but it didn't make a difference. They were "too pointy" for an Australian domestic flight. And even were I tempted to purchase fabric at the sewing center, the prices were exorbitant compared to what we're used to paying here, prices like $22/meter for Moda lines, $50+ for jelly rolls, etc. The conversion rate isn't that favorable, believe me!

I did find some quilt design inspiration, particularly among Maori carving designs. Check out these traditional designs. Wouldn't they be perfect for quilting?

I'd taken along a bit of handwork to keep me busy, but didn't get as much done as I'd have hoped (I got caught up in a couple of books on the flights, etc.). However, I did make some progress on 1-1/2" hexagons using Daiwabo fabrics:

I'm not really sure what I'm going to make with these, but it's nice to have a small grab-and-go hand project for those in-between times or to work on in the car. I'm thinking of using it sometime as the background to another design, but really it's all up in the air. And I'm sure it's likely to be years before I've done enough to amount to anything.

I hope all of your holiday preparations are going smoothly and you're able to find time to relax and enjoy the season!