Thursday, January 29, 2015

Branching out

Dusting off the poor old blog again - it's just that Facebook and Instagram are so much quicker and easier!  Anyway, I am going to try and do one blog post a week and see how I go.

As always, I have greater ambitions than I have time to sew (or cook or read). But I've done fairly well recently in making a doona cover and pillowcase for my space fixated three year old nephew.  The space fabric is a gorgeous print from Prints Charming that I originally bought around 2 years ago.  As it wasn't wide enough, I had to frame it with something else; in this case a solid from Spotlight.  Sounds  easy but there was a bit of fiddling around to get the fabric to the right size (which didn't result in an even 'frame' anyway because of the double hem at the bottom) and the sheer logistics of cutting and pinning such large pieces of material.  Anyway, with the help of a neighbour's trestle table and a few applications of the seam ripper, the job was done:
My nephew and sister were very happy.  I was then asked if I could make a pillowcase to match.  As I only had a small amount of the space fabric left, I was going to make a green one.  After all, I wouldn't be able to get more of the print after two years.......  Then in Spotlight last weekend, I saw a bolt in the clearance section and before you could say Jupiter, I grabbed it and ran to the counter.  So the budding astrophysicist can now dream of outer space to his heart's content!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Sunday Stash

Dilemma - what is one to do when faced with a 20% off special on a line that you have been coveting but trying to bravely resist because you do not need any more fabric and have no more room in which to hide store it?  Answer - nothing, give in.  After all, it was on sale after and it's not what you spend but what you save.  Welcome to a selection from Caroline Friedlander's Botanics and Architextures ranges.  I bought 8 in total but these beautiful low volume fabrics lose their impact en masse, so I have just posted a picture of my favourites.

Once the current lot of baby quilts are out of the way, I'll be looking for a very special project to showcase them, although maybe that's the wrong way to think about low volume!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Modern Quilt Guild challenge piece - finished

Finally done and posted on both the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild Inc. Flickr page and on the Modern Quilt Guild community page a day before the deadline.  I finished hand stitching the binding down last night while re-commencing a 'Mad Men' marathon.  I do love the cosiness of having a quilt on my lap on a winter's night and rhythmically stitching - it's very Little House on the Prairie (except the Ingalls didn't have television, but let's not spoil the image.

What was concerning me was getting a decent photo to post given that the weather has been gloomy but low and behold, the sun came out this afternoon, so the dogs and I raced out to snap away - well, I took pictures and they curled up in the garden.  I convinced Penny to take part in the photo shoot, but she didn't want to sit still.

The front of the quilt is inspired by the half log cabin quilts by the Gee's Bend Quilters and the back is a few wonky stars.  They were going to be crazy, foundation- pieced stars but it was going to take too long, so I'll save that idea for another project.  After seeing the amazing creations on both sites, I'm know I'm not going to win a prize but I met the deadline and have made a quilt that will look really good on my couch.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Stash

For this week's Sunday Stash, I thought I would share our Guild fabric.  The Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild has been in existence for four years now but last year we moved to an incorporated structure, reflecting the size and nature of the guild.  The formal membership applications opened in December 2013.  One of the things that we wanted to do as part of this change was commission a logo that was very 'Melbourne', but not a local icon that is typically associated with our city, such as the Melbourne Cricket Ground or the Arts Centre Spire.  The very talented Shannon Lamden (also know as Auntie Cookie) came up with a very fabulous and modern design based on the much maligned Melbourne sculpture Vault (more commonly known as the Yellow Peril).  We decided that we would have this made up into a fabric that would form part of our members' welcome pack, together with some coordinating Kona solids.  These things take a bit of time to organise and I finally got my pack two weeks ago.  I love it.  Already some of our clever members have put this to good use, so the pressure is on.

Friday, July 18, 2014

MQG fabric challenge

There is nothing like a deadline to get a girl going and what a deadline this is.  For someone whose craft output is maybe 2 or 3 items a year, having a month to produce something quilted is a bit of a stretch.  However with free fabric on offer from Michael Miller, via the Modern Quilt Guild challenge, I really wanted to have a go at this.  The problem is that the Guilds outside America receive their allocation later and the fabric arrived and was being divvied up after I left for holidays.  So by the time I got back, there was a month remaining until the deadline.  On top of that, I have just had surgery on my feet, right when I should be basting this baby which has to be done and dusted by Friday 25 July! So after taking on board some suggestions from the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild Inc. members, I used the kitchen bench and sticky tape to get this done and as my quilt is only lap sized, it was fairly quick.  Now to get it quilted, bound and photographed within a week.....

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Sunday Stash

Here goes, the first entry in Sunday Stash under the leadership of Molli Sparkles.

Last weekend was the most recent Super Sewing Saturday for the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild Inc and what a great day it was.  Twelve hours of sewing, eating and chatting with a group of wonderful ladies.  We all had a lot to discuss, including progress on the Modern Quilt Guild's Michael Miller Fabric Challenge , but the highlight of the day was our guest speaker Emma Jean Jansen, who talked about her career in fabric design and shared her wonderful quilts with us.  It was fascinating hearing about her design process and seeing the beautiful fabrics that she has created.  Her current range is called Terra Australis and Terra Australis II is being released later this year.  I have to say that I am not normally a fan of any sort of .....ana fabrics but even though you see the Australian themes in the prints, they aren't in your face and in some cases, you really had to look for the theme. The Harbour Bridge design looked more like fans to me and I thought the waratah print was just a fabulously bold print (as wallpaper, wouldn't it make a great feature wall?).  As usual, we got a goodie pack for the day and, GJ's did not let us down!  This time we received a gorgeous pair of Terra Australis fat quarters, a coordinating Kona solid FQ and thread.  I managed to score some of my favourite teal and then had to run downstairs to pick up a couple of extra FQs from the range.  Here are my awesome foursome from the Terra Australia range, which I will be looking to add to soon.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A new hobby

All I need is another hobby.  Yes, more equipment to be stored in the spare wardrobe and new UFOs to leave in my wake.  But I have to say that I love the look of hand printed fabric and over the years have done a couple of screen printing courses and really enjoyed them.  But I've never got around to buying any equipment and the time required to set up and clean up seemed a bit daunting to do any printing at home.  So when the opportunity came up to do a hand printing workshop using carved stamps with Leslie from Maze & Vale textiles, I thought that this would be a more viable option and was very quick to sign up.  So with 7 lovely ladies from Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild Inc. we carved stamps, printed on fabric and had a wonderful time.  This is really quick, easy and effective way to get a gorgeous result and the girls really came up with some great designs.  Now I'm looking forward to getting my supplies in so that I can continue on with this addictive, simple and portable hobby.  Thank you Leslie for a fun and instructive session.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013


This year I have been trying to do different things.  Not radical, but moving away from the familiar and the tried and true.  This has included making an effort to try different restaurants and learning new things.  For the latter, I've started cooking lessons at the Ministry of Food and I'll write a post on this at a later stage.  With my sewing, I thought I would try to do something other than quilting - as much fun as it is, I'd like to be able to make something that involves other techniques.  So, in addition to the Sewing Circle Tote (which is still a WIP), I decided to make a sewing gadget roll.  After admiring one made by a lovely lady from the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild around two years ago, she lent me her pattern (Burda 7980) and this sat on my shelf until around April this year, when I decided that I wanted a project that would be relatively quick to complete.  So with some fabric given to me by another Guild member as the base, I dived in.  While a project like this wouldn't be a big deal for a competent sewer, it involved some techniques that were new to me, including sewing from a paper pattern, attaching velcro, using elastic and sewing on bias binding.  I also had a few frustrating moments of turning casings for elastic, painstakingly using a chopstick, before another lovely person from the Guild suggested a tool that I could use to make the task easier.  I think the answer actually is not to make narrow casings out of drill, but the tool was a help. Anyway, it was finished a few weeks ago and while a bit wonky in spots, I am really happy with it, particularly the measuring tape ties that I picked up from Spotlight.  And my rotary cutter won't be just rolling around the bottom of a bag when I got to Sit and Sew Events, which was the real reason that I wanted to make the roll in the first place.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The week that was

Oh dear, the blog has been neglected.  Facebook has a lot to answer for.  Despite being enthusiastic about keeping a blog about our fabulous holiday, the time required to keep things up to date and my inability to work out how to upload photos from the iPad meant that this just did not happen.  It was so much easier to update from Facebook with quick sound bites on what we were up to.

One meme that I did really like to keep up with was Sunday Snippets by Tinnie Girl.  However, due to life changes, she cut down blogging activity earlier this year and it looks like the blog has now been retired for the immediate future.  So I am going to try and keep this up by myself under the title 'The week that was".  So this was mine:

A beautiful evening earlier this week that gave hints of the wonderful late winter weather to come.
Pretty drinks with a special friend.
Perfection - the last day of winter was one of the best we've had this year and this gorgeous camellia summed it up for me.
The first day of spring was spent celebrating Fathers' Day and a special boy's second birthday.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Holiday Day 5

Well, my liking of Dublin increased further with the fact that it was easy to get out of by car.  Still, if we can get through Chicago and driving on the other side of the road, we think we can drive anywhere (well, maybe not New York, Paris or Rome.  Just shut up now!)  We made out way north and visited the neolithic grave sites of Newgrange and Nowth which were amazing.  It is fascinating that such ancient people could construct such buildings of great complexity and precision - apparently the stone roof at Newgrange has never leaked in the 6,000 odd years the structure has been  in existence.   And the transporting of the materials is also a miraculous feat, with some of the stone traced to the Wicklow Mountains some 70 odd miles south of the site.  After living the experience of those who came thousands of years before us, we moved to more relatively modern times with a visit to the site of the Battle of the Boyne where William of Orange imposed a significant defeat of James II.  It wasn't the end of the Jacobite wars but it ended with James II heading back to exile (presumably a very comfortable one) at the court of his cousin Louis XIV.  A pity his son and grandson didn't take the hint.  The opening of the centre was another step in the reconciliation between Northern Ireland and the Republic as the equivalent of the Prime Ministers of each country opened the centre in 2007/8.

After sating our desire for culture for the day, it was then on to Belfast.  This should have been an easy run, but I suspect Stos had the GPS set to avoid toll roads as we found ourselves in some odd spots along the way, including finding ourselves outside the wrong place at our destination (although I think this was a GPS thing rather than a Stos thing).

Anyway, we have spent our first full day in Belfast and I have a number of observations on the place:
- The wind in Wellington has nothing on the howling gale we experienced in downton Belfast this morning.
- I am sure that the reason Irish people emigrate is the weather.  It is nearly summer here and the top temperature today was 7 - 10C and with windchill, I am sure that this is a generous estimate.  Such was the severity of the cold, that Stos wore gloves.  Those who know him will understand from this exactly how cold it must have been for this to occur.
- The people are delightful and love a chat. We were told by our tour driver that this is possibly because of making up for lost time during the Troubles when the walls had ears and people needed to be very cautious about what they said and in whose hearing (real and electronic) they said it in.
- Black cabs can be white, or any other colour.
- The pubs are charming and meals consist of  huges servings.
- When you order a roast, you get both roast and mashed potatoes on the same plate.  I am assured by my host that this is normal.
- I totally get why you need two serves of potatoes with your meal and why comfort food is big on menus.  See comments on the weather.
- Heating is terrific in Ireland.  It needs to be - again, refer to comments on the weather.  For the same reason, I suspect that lack of airconditioning is not a problem.
- I talked myself out of bringing my ski jacket on this trip.  I shouldn't have.

Belfast is a city of very grand Victorian buildings that reflect the  affluence of the past; the result of the being a leader in the linen and ship building industries.  I like it more that I expected to (weather excepted).  However the real revelation of the day was our Black Cab tour of West Belfast and the murals.  The driver is a Catholic who was personally impacted by the conflict that reignited in the 1960's, yet does not appear bitter about the past and is hopeful for the future of Northern Ireland.  Most shocking to us was the continue presence of the dividing wall and lock out zones between the hard core Protestant and Catholic estates in West Belfast plus all the stories that didn't make it to Australia about the sectarian violence.  I thought I had a good idea of this but there is obviously a lot that we didn't know.

Tomorrow we head to the Northern Coast to Carrickfergus and Giant's Causeway.  Our host tells us it is going to be a nice day tomorrow but I will have gloves, coat and scarf at the ready.