Monthly Archives: February 2017

Many triangles


Designing a quilt made of leftovers is a slow process. Here is the the sketch that is my starting point.


After sewing the triangles into 4 patches with zero to four triangles in each patch, I tried different layouts of the 56 units. I quite like the movement from lighter to darker.


To emphasise this I shuffled the units into a 4 by 14 array and joined them into larger squares which are easier to handle. Next I needed work out how the blocks with the appliqué circles will interact with the triangles. This involved a lot of maths, as the two types of units are not the same size.

Today I am thinking the band of falling triangles will be intersected at two points by the circle bricks. To lock in this thought I have sewn them into three panels and will move on to finishing the appliqué units.




Painterly quilting

I had the good fortune to go with a friend to see Kimono Portraits that was the latest exhibition at Kimono House in the Nicholas Building. The works are created using a collage technique and vintage Japanese textiles on a heavy linen base.


Hiroshima Rain

Theo and Maria Giannoukas work collaboratively, on this occasion inspired by a visit to Japan. They were both on hand to answer questions and were most generous in describing their process and how they got started in this joint endeavour. Theo is a painter who is inspired by the impressionists and prefers portraiture from real life. Maria moved on from making clothes when her boys got to that age when they thought store bought was better. She began patchwork and quilting and then dying her own fabrics. Stuck with where to go next while doing a challenge for her quilt guild she asked Theo’s advice. So began his exploration of fabric as a medium instead of paint. In 2012 they were finalists in the AQC challenge “What the world needs now” with a very personal work focussing on peace and love.

Theo makes many sketches before settling on the final design which is then outlined on the linen. This is supported on an easel and he snips at fabric from bundles Maria has sorted by colour. The small pieces are kept in place with a little glue. There is much overlapping and hunting for just the right piece, with lots of stepping back to take in the whole effect. When he is satisfied, Maria presses the piece and begins the stitching phase. She uses a sturdy straight stitch Singer and adds to the work with careful choice of stitch pattern and thread colour.


img_5230Recently they have had a turn of swapping roles, which has increased Theo’s appreciation of the challenge of the stitching. Maria also dyes fabric when just the right shade cannot be found as was the case with the flesh colour of some Sumo wrestlers in one work. More images from this exhibition can be found in this post by Jacaranda.


Now for the leftovers

Just like a great meal, a quilt’s leftovers can be made into something even more delicious. I finished making the quilt top in the Bonnie Hunter En Provence mystery in January. The missing borders are now on, as you can see a tweaked them a little to bring in a tiny bit of colour.

Since then I have been playing around with ideas for the left over bits and pieces. So far I have made some units with the half square triangles cut off the ends of strips when making the hourglass units in the mystery quilt. I have added circles made from a set of 2.5″ squares I received late last year and appliquéd onto grey rectangles. The bits leftover from cutting strips for the mystery will also go somewhere.


There will be more solid greys in the finished piece – it is still very much a work in progress.

The final link up for En Provence can be found here, there are lots and lots of finished tops and quilts to see.

Night light

A perfect birthday present to give is one where you also get the treat. This year my daughter suggested that my present to her could be tickets for the National Ballet of China’s performance of The Red Detachment of Women.

I thought this an excellent plan and of course my ballet student granddaughter was included as well.img_5170

The curtain at the State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne, is stunning; 5000m2 of fabric, painted in gold. Note the almost centre seats, towards the rear of the circle which provided an excellent view of both dancers and the State Orchestra of Victoria.

The ballet was in Melbourne for Asia TOPA, the sumptuous sound and colour can be sampled at this promotional clip.


Choreographed in 1964, the story of  good triumphing over evil is classic ballet fare, this time based on true stories. However the dancers’ strength, athleticism and beauty is not hidden under metres of tulle, instead shirts and shorts feature with rifles and grenades. At one point a seemingly endless line of dancers with rifles at the ready executed a precisely synchronised series of grand jeté across the stage. It was amazing, like they were flying.

Coming out of the theatre into the night, we were met with light and colour everywhere. An inflated lotus on the forecourt provided a soft light contrasting with the wash of colour over the building, while the spire sparkled.

The NGV was preparing for White Night on Saturday, the projected test pattern provided an opportunity to play in the light.

Living with trees

It is common practice that when tree loppers are working at one property they will visit others nearby to see if they can get more work. This afternoon while I was doing a little weeding, Pauline from a team working at the other end of the street came up the drive to say that they would be taking down the tree next door and to find out if I had any trees needing some attention, which I did, more on that later.

I was not surprised that the big lemon scented gum was to go, it is a lovely tree but very close to the house.  It was planted when the Merchant Builders house was new, about 35 years ago and there had been some damage when it dropped a limb not long ago. Sadly I watched as first the lower branches went, then the top, and finally the trunk, until it was just a stump. A grinder took that away too.

I have a bay tree that flourishes despite the rocky ground and lack of special nurturing. I cut all the stems back hard to keep it in check, but have neglected to do this for too many years and the branches had grown way past roof height. It proved to be a small job for a skilled chainsaw operator. Hopefully it won’t be too long before all these stubs are sprouting. As they are all cut at the same height it should be an interestingly shaped tree once more. An added bonus is a possum pathway from roof to ground is now gone.


Second task was to take three small branches off a eucalyptus as these were also overhanging the roof. The ivy clad tree behind is on the next property, hopefully this will be cleaned up soon.


On to the most difficult job, to take the dying top of a tree without damaging the weeping wattle Acacia vestita below or the lilly pilly behind.

Every branch section was carefully lowered on a rope, then the trunk sections dropped carefully to the base.


No damage done to the nearby plants even though one is very close. This tree has lost its top before and regrown successfully, so maybe it will again. If not it could become a support for something interesting.


The useful ropes are kept neat by looping them into a chain.

Clamshell solution

My carry around hand project for last year started in a Waverley Patchworkers workshop on 1 May with Irene Blanck. It is a very simple method of piecing clamshell units without paper backings. It has been quite addictive and I am really happy with the palette of hand dyes, hand painted and batik fabrics which have come mainly from my stash.img_5142I have been making panels of 6 across 8 rows down and so far have made seven of these. The usual way to make a clamshell quilt is to appliqué the curved edge to a border, cut off the pointed bottoms and trim the sides to a straight edge and add borders. While I have been stitching I have been trying to think of a way to join the panels so that top, bottom and both sides will all have a curved edge. img_5141I considered joining the panels with a mitre seam, but that would introduce straight lines. After playing around with the way the top and bottom panels might meet in the middle I decided that circles would be the way to link them. They are not to stand out, so I am using the same fabrics as the clams. First I made units with the same radius as the clams, then joined them in a quatrefoil with no overlapping, to be the centre of the quilt. This was done by appliquéing a fifth circle of the same size on the top.

The next step will be to make triangular panels of clams starting with a single one which will fit in-between the circles of the centre unit. Further circles will link these panels in a ridge capping style. Eventually the piece will be wide enough to incorporate the panels I have already made plus more triangle units and more panels. This is not going to be a small quilt!