The Tighter The Curve The Trickier …

September 2nd, 2015

The Bungle Bungles series moves along.  I’ve started another one this week, to be 2.25m x approx 1m, destined for a particular wall in our house, which currently features either Ebb&Flow 15 or Timetracks 15 , which I rotate every couple of months.

If you’ve been following my posts you’ll know that this series involves a lot of setting curved shapes into background fabric.  This early one, called ‘Dreamtracks’ is a good example – the shapes are very small; when you consider this is a 30 cm square quilt, those patches are about 2cm – 4cm across.   Actually I don’t think quilted things this small deserve the moniker ‘quilt’, but this one is currently showing in a collection of 30cm quilts being seen in Australia, The Kimberley Dreaming Collection – I’m not sure where it is right now, but Dale Rollerson or Elizabeth Dubbelde will know :-)

Dreamtracks Kimberley Dreaming entry copy blog


The smaller and tighter the curve, the more pins I need to keep the cut edges of the shapes together for sewing!  With the machine sewing very slowly, my right hand darts back and forth, pulling pins and pushing them into the pin cushion centimeters away, just out of the range of this photo.  Like a lot of  really improvisational piecing, it’s very painstaking, but worth it, imho; and made a bit easier with the machine located in a well constructed in the  sewing table by our friend Dennis, so that the machine bed is mol level with the table top.

the tighter the curve the trickier!

It’s Friday Again So Have Some More Fish

August 28th, 2015

From childhood summer holiday memories – the very best breakfasts of all were fresh flathead, caught just a couple of hours before, served with buttered toast, plenty of lemon, salt and pepper.

What went with that was the great relief that my father and I had braved and survived the sandy bottomed waters around the rocky headlands towards which we constantly drifted as he always said  “… yes…OK… just another minute…” before pulling up anchor at the last possible moment and firing up the motor to move out to safety.  We got some great fish though!

flatties flattie 2 sideview


From Tas government files, the fisheries officers probably won’t mind me taking these photos of flathead and using them without their permission.  Fair enough usage in a critique !

Quilting Adds More Glitter

August 26th, 2015

Even with an interval of a couple of weeks and images taken by different cameras with different lighting, the same section of the work I’m almost finished quilting is comparable., and I’m thinking I like the totally smooth image on the left better than the other … nah, not going to undo it!  Now I’m going to add a couple of horizontal lines along the several bands of pain colour, bind and then it will be done.
BB 7 blog

Reviewing “Pattern-Free Quilts” Kathleen Loomis

August 24th, 2015

cover image pattern free quilts

Following traditions by doing things the way they have always been done is important in human societies. Traditions connect us to our past, and help us understand the ways in which we belong to our corner of the world today.  But it is equally human to want to change things a bit, or maybe a lot, to satisfy the creativity we’re all born with; but many somehow lose much of it in the process of modern education.

The art of traditional quilt making was to enjoy an incredible surge in popularity as the 1976 American Bicentennnial approached; but that process had not yet begun when teenager Kathy Loomis found in the early ’60s that no one around her could show her how to make the quilt she wanted.  Without benefit of all the guild groups, classes, books, magazines and videos that underpin this popular textile art today, she just had to work it out for herself.  Since that beginning she has continued making quilts without patterns or directions, and her experience of hundreds of quilts made over about five decades imbues every piece of information, tip and diagram in the book while assuring the reader that he/she can do this too, and it’s fun.

In “Pattern-Free Quilts: Riffs on the Rail Fence Block” Kathy Loomis’ enthusiasm for a free-spirited creative process sets the scene for an inspiring and very practical book on how to produce your own personally designed quilt projects, large and small: “Although I love the technical aspects of making quilts, I think the best part is the chance to make something that is mine alone, planning and designing each quilt to be exactly what I want. I want to share that sense of freedom and creativity with you.”

With the simple classic rail fence block design and using clear logically arranged text and diagrams in each chapter, you will understand how to use the block as a master plan, and how you can then devise infinite variations.  Levels of experience and sewing ability are taken into account where they might matter along the way, and the reader is taken through deciding on the blocks or units for the quilt, how to choose colours and select fabrics, the importance of sketching out possibilities, introducing elements of complexity, and the importance of the overall master plan. You’ll learn about the design wall or improvised pin board you’ll need to view your quilt vertically to consider changes to the composition as it develops before you sew it up.  There’s great stuff in every chapter, but I was really taken with the wealth of good advice on the nuts and bolts of putting your design together in Chapter 7 ’Making Your Pattern-Free Quilt’.  Here you’ll be introduced to the benefits of using Kathy’s stack, slice and swap process, several things to not worry about and why, plus how to work out your assembly line and keep track of it all.  The book concludes with some prompts to get you thinking about your next project, and a gallery of quilts made using variations on this simple but versatile block.

All the diagrams and most of the gallery examples feature straight cut lines and seams, which has a certain logic, since the traditional quilt maker branching out will be accustomed to using quilters’ rules, triangles, squares, rotary cutter and mat.   From here, though, it’s only a short step to totally freehand cutting without using rulers or templates of any kind; and considering the extent to which such methods have become a modern tradition, it surprised me that no reference to the basics of this technique was included, beyond saying “if you’re an accomplished sewist the rails can even be curved.”  (p15)   These skills are not at all demanding and I recommend they be included in any future edition.  But for people cutting and piecing totally freehand perhaps it goes without saying that the book’s concepts apply equally to how we work, too.

If you’re ready to approach designing your own quilts, I totally recommend using this book as a manual to get you started – and you can purchase it here.   Before long, Kathy Loomis’ ideas will have you enjoying satisfaction from producing personally designed quilt projects of any size, for any purpose.

It’s Friday Again, So Have Some More Fish

August 21st, 2015

For our enjoyment, today I ‘ featuring the wrought iron doors at the entry to the fish markets in the old part of Panama City, Panama.

I might have posted them a couple of years back, but they’re so lovely that they bear being shown again.  It was January 2013, and OMG it was hot and humid!


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