Sunday, October 28, 2012

Christmas kisses

Well, it is nearly November.

So I'm having to get my act together and start to do some Christmas crafting. I have barely touched a needle and thread for the last month or so, so it has been great fun to get back into some creative activities and I was thrilled to finish this project today. (My house is just a sad trail of started projects .......)

The above "kissing ball" is a Buttonberry pattern from Homespun No. 62.

Apart from that I've been having fun in the garden. I still need to do a lot of planting in the vegie garden but am excited about some squash and cabbages that are coming to fruition.

The birds have been pretty excited about Spring too. The little fairy wren below has taken to spending his days tapping on my kitchen window - he must be able to see his reflection in it.

Meanwhile, his bride has been building a tiny nest in my overgrown jasmine. She's been spending some time trying it out for size but hasn't laid any eggs yet., and I'm so looking forward to that.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Nothing much happening

I'm back at work now so there hasn't been too much happening on the craft front, although I do have quite a lot of half finished works in progress all over the place.

Two of them are these Christmassy table runners. It may be a tad early but my Mum asked me to make one for her to send to a relative overseas so I thought I had better get cracking. These still need quilting and binding - I just haven't been in the mood for it yet.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Bits and Pieces

Here are a couple of cute crochet hexagon bags made from this pattern at Lion Brand Yarns. I made the darker one a couple of months ago and have been using it as a library book bag. I found the handle a little too long so made a much shorter handle on the lighter coloured one.

I really liked the Papillon layer cake quilt I made for my Mum in an earlier post, so decided to make a quilt in the same pattern for myself. I chose the Vintage Modern range - this simple pattern is so good for showcasing beautiful fabrics, and who can resist gorgeous florals and red polka dots?

So I've finished piecing the quilt top but need to get some backing fabric before I can quilt it.

Other things I've been working on lately include this courthouse steps log cabin quilt top. I made this from one of the bargain quilt kits I bought at the Penrith show a couple of weeks ago. The fabrics are kind of unfashionable, but I guess they suit the design.

Finally, on the quilt top front, a simple jelly roll quilt from Gypsy Girl fabric.

I also finished a table runner made from the sashiko fabric I bought recently. This fabric was fantastic! It had the embroidery design printed on it, and it washed out with a quick dunk in water, so I could choose which lines I wanted to stitch and which I wanted to leave blank. Believe it or not, the below three blocks were made from the same pre-printed fabric - I just sewed different bits of the design in each.

It was kind of fun and relaxing sewing these blocks. I think I will have to get some more of this amazing fabric!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Scarf marathon

I had so many nice comments on my ruffle scarves that I made a few more to give as gifts. I'm over knitting these now - time to move on to something else! They are quick and easy to knit but the "yarn" is not really pleasant to work with as you have to keep stretching it out to find the next loop in the mesh to knit into. So it feels like really slow going although they knit up quickly in under two hours even for a slow knitter like me.

I'm still working on clearing my sewing room of old quilt tops. Here is the latest that I have quilted - an old Bento Box quilt from whenever there was a mild craze for this pattern .... a couple of years ago I guess. I've quilted this one simply with straight(ish) lines 2" apart so it was quick and easy to quilt and only required marking on the borders. This quilt is about 180cm square.

I just need to find some binding fabric for it now. It's a cold and blustery day today so a good day to rummage through my stash to find the right fabric.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Catwalk dogs

I quilted another old quilt top made from pre-cuts yesterday. There seems to be an unlimited supply of these quick quilt tops in my sewing room!

I enlisted the pups' help to model my quilt and some ruffle scarves I knitted up the other day. They were not very enthusiastic or cooperative. (They thought we were going outside to eat bones so were a bit disappointed when I just wanted to take photos).

Still, they have mastered the moody, looking-into-the-distance-in-an-aloof-sort-of-way pose.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Mad Quilters' Gathering at Penrith

I had such a fun morning at the Mad Quilters' Gathering at Penrith this morning. It was a lovely quilt fair - just a nice size and not too crowded, so it was easy to see everything and chat to the stall holders and see all the latest gadgets. All of the stalls had the most beautiful quilts on display ..... so inspiring! 

And of course, I couldn't resist picking up some patchwork goodies!

Firstly, this Art to Heart book and a pre-printed Rosaline Quinlan stitchery kit I've been admiring online for a while.

From Craft Depot, some bargain Fat Quarter sets, including this lot of 10 citrus coloured flannels for $20. I was also lucky enough to find some matching yardage for borders for only $7.95 a metre.

And this lime and green coloured set as well (modelled here by my grapefruit tree!):

One stall had some quilt kits massively reduced - they were too cheap not to buy, even though they weren't really to my taste. This bright quilt kit was reduced from more than $100 to about $40:

And this log cabin quilt, including ruler and buttons was just over $20:

I also bought some sashiko fabric with the embroidery design printed on - you just sew the design you want and rinse it and the rest of the lines wash out. Wonderful stuff!

I was also lucky enough to catch up with a patchwork friend and her hubby for a nice cup of coffee at the show. Altogether a great day! I just have to decide which of my goodies to play with first now.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Some works in progress

Here's a little peek at some other things I have been working on lately.

I absolutely love the Aunt Martha's iron-on embroidery transfers from Grandma's Attic. I've bought a few over the last couple of years and have had hours of fun with them. At about $2 a pack they are such great value too!

The latest pack I bought was a fruit themed one, and I have completed four embroideries (about 6" x 8" finished blocks each) to turn into a little quilt:

The pack included 7 different designs plus some extras for borders, but these four were my favourites.

I'm currently in the process of turning these stitcheries into a small quilt (it looks like it will turn out about cot sized) using Farmer's Market charm squares.

The postman brought me the first instalment in the Among The Stars Block of the Month yesterday.  This BOM is designed by Kimberley Jolly of Fat Quarter Shop and uses the beautiful Moda Sentiments range of fabrics.

The BOM goes for six months with two blocks every month. I couldn't wait and made my first two blocks straight away! One is below, the other is the same design but with the red and green reversed.

Now I'll have to wait another month for the next instalment! What I love about Fat Quarter Shop kits is that they provide enough fabric to allow for mistakes (which is lucky because I did make one!). There was just about enough fabric in the first pack to make two more blocks, which I might eventually do .....

Thursday, August 2, 2012

One and a bit

Another week of my annual leave is just flying by ..... I'm not sure where the days have gone. I certainly haven't managed to do all the things I planned to do this week! But I did get my tax done (and yippee, I may actually get a refund this year instead of having to pay more - although mainly because they have been billing me extra tax quarterly in advance this year, so I'll just be getting my own money back!) and spent a day cleaning out the vegetable garden and planting some seedlings.

I also finished another quilt. This was a simple quilt top I pieced a couple of years ago from Mill House Inn charm sqaures and a jelly roll. At the time, I hadn't purchased any yardage for borders or backing which is why it remained unfinished - as I had nothing in my stash that would do.

Luckily, a quick search of a few quilt shops online turned up the elusive fabric and I was able to finish this quilt.

I quilted this one quite sparingly ..... I am a bit over quilting ..... but I quite like the simplicity of it. This quilt is about 160 x 180 cm.

I also finished quilting this quilt top, made from a jelly roll quite recently, and plan to sew the binding on today if my raw fingertips will permit! The finger I use to push the needle through is all bloody and pulpy and the thumbnail I use to receive the incoming needle actually has a groove worn in it! I just can't use thimbles, although in more sensible moments I wrap elastoplast around my fingers like a boxer preparing for a fight before long bouts of hand sewing.

The bottom border looks a bit fluted in this pic although it looks ok when lying flat so I think it is just the way it hung on the line - the house is too dark and the ground outside too damp to photograph any other way. This quilt is about 160cm square. I think it really misses not having a narrow inner border but I couldn't find the right fabric for it so decided to do without.

Finally, I'd like to give a big thumbs up to The Fabric Patch and Stitcher's Cupboard. I ordered some fabrics to finish some quilts from each of these stores and the courier came 2 days later. Great service! I've bought lots from the Fabric Patch before but hadn't even been to the Stitcher's Cupboard's site before - it's great and has lots of Moda fabrics on sale at the moment. Postage was a little high, although I did buy lots of batting too so I guess my pacel was quite big and heavy. The service was so fast and the prices so good, I'll definitely be a return customer.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Quilt Finishes

It's been a while ..... even I was a bit taken aback when I realised my last post was more than six months ago - time just goes so quickly. My only excuses are work pressures, long hours and the fact that I haven't had any significant crafty finishes to post here in my quilty diary.

But all that has changed! I had a heap of annual leave accrued that our auditors were quite keen for me to take and I managed to get my main projects either finished or past the critical phases to a point where they could be overseen by someone else. So, I am on 7 weeks leave. Yes, 7! That will get my annual leave down to a respectable 12 weeks accrued.

I've already been off for 3 weeks. My, that has flown! I had to see to a few car repairs and have had a few days catching up with friends. I managed to spend a lovely day in Bowral catching up with some patchwork friends I haven't seen in ages.

Apart from that, I've been sewing! And more shockingly, finishing things!

First up is a quilt top that I pieced from a kit years and years ago and never got around to finishing. This one is big, about a queen bed topper size.

Before going on leave I stocked up on some goodies from Fat Quarter Shop, including a Papillon layer cake. After piecing the top and quilting, I decided to give it to my Mum for her birthday so had to take a hasty photo on a windy day:

The Papillon quilt is a good queen topper size too. I quilted this one a bit more laboriously - 1/4" lines on both sides of each seam, so it took me a little while to quilt but it looks great and I am so pleased with it - although the photo does not do it justice.

And my last finish is this little stitchery quilt I pieced a while ago.

Inspired, I've been dragging out old unfinished quilt tops and working out what I need to finish them. I was lucky enough to find some quilt shops online still stocking some Moda fabric ranges from years ago so was able to find appropriate borders, binding and backing fabric for some of them so watch this space for more finished quilts. I wonder if I can average one a week for my leave?

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Good intentions

 As usual about this time of year, I start making resolutions involving stash-busting, and yet every year the situation becomes even more dire than the one before. It is always too hard to resist the crisp newness of brand new fabrics, the exciting new designs that come out, the pleasure of not having to try to match fabrics that comes with buying a set of pre-cuts or fat quarters from a new range.

But this year will be different! I will start making scrappy quilts and will be a bit more prolific about piecing too. By the end of the year, I'll have cleared some room. I promise.

So today I rummaged through some scrap bins and started making some scrappy houses.

I couldn't find a block the size I wanted so had to draw up my own. These are 12 1/2" unfinished blocks. The windows and chimneys used 2 1/2" squares and the doors 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangles, so these were perfect for little scraps.

I put them together without rhyme or reason, totally randomly except for trying to get some degree of contrast between the main house colour and the windows and doors.

I'm not sure how I am going to put them together. I have seen a lot of lovely house block quilts on the web where the houses are tilted a bit wonkily. Or should I make scrappy sashings to use even more scraps? Or not use sashings at all and make them into row or town houses, a bit like the pic above? Or maybe add a few tree blocks in between? Hmmmm, there are too many options, it is hard to make a decision.

I also finished hand quilting my little autum hourglass quilt this week.

While rummaging through scrap bins I found a good quantity of some deep purple, hand-dyed fabric which will be just perfect for the binding, so putting that on and finishing this quilt will be my task for this week.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Happy 2012

I've spent this morning preserving some produce. Despite the coolish summer so far, and probably as a result of the heavy rain, everything has just been so productive except for the tomatoes which are yearning for some heat. I have been eating spinach and leek pie, zucchini slice, eggplant bake, miscellaneous quiches etc constantly for weeks! And still can't get rid of everything in the garden!

This morning I preserved some zucchini strips in olive oil and pickled some beetroot. To do the former, I degorged the zucchini overnight in salt and cold water, then drained and pressed out the excess water. I brushed the strips with olive oil and grilled. Then tossed them in some cider vinegar, lemon thyme and garlic, packed into jars and topped with olive oil. These will good for antipasto, pizza toppings, pasta sauces etc throughout the zucchini-less months.

This is my favourite project of late ..... a cute little bag made from Ruby charm squares a Secret Santa gave me.

These fabrics are just so fun and lively. I used some ribbon that came on one of my Christmas presents for the drawstring, but I think I'll look in my stash for an appropriate fabric to make some more dainty ones.

I've also put together a small lap quilt made from 80 charm squares and a couple of other fabrics. The fabrics are from the Bittersweet range, a lovely autumny collection. I love the way they appear so radiant and jewel-like when set off by a neutral background.

I'm handquilting this one, and not doing a very good job of it. I'm not using a frame, but even though my stitches are sometimes a bit too taut and the fabric isn't quite flat, I really like the antique, puckered look this is giving it.