Tuesday, December 29, 2009

What I've been doing.

We had a very quiet relaxing Christmas with just the two of us for most of the day and a visit with DH's kids and grandkids in the afternoon. Just lovely and quiet. I'll tell you about my wonderful gift later.

Since I was here last, I have another Mary Mannakee block done. I thought I had only made eight but when I trimmed them to put on the wall, I had done nine, what a nice surprise. Sorry the picture is a little fuzzy but you get the idea.

This is the one I finished over Christmas. When you have an applique pattern, you rarely get instructions on how to tackle certain elements. You should just know. Sometimes, it takes a bit of thinking out because there is always more than one way and you end up choosing one that will work best for you.

This was the part I had a think over. I ended up photocopying the bottom circle and spraying the paper with basting spray. Next I lay the bias strips over the pattern and wove them. I then used a small dot of basting glue to the intersections and pinned them until it set. Voila, I could then lift the whole piece off and place it on my background.
I didn't sew it down at this stage, just used abit of basting glue to keep it in position. I then appliqued the inner part of the circle, the woven part, and finally, trimmed the seams of the bias strips and appliqued the outer part of the circle.

Christmas and holidays is my time to have a good read and this is what I've been enjoying,  with chocolates of course. Chocolate goes with everything you know.

Mr Q and I celebrated our wedding anniversary yesterday with a lovely meal out at a restaurant overlooking the beach. We enjoyed watching the swimmers and surfers from our table while we dined on a three course meal. You can see some of the yummy food on the left of the photo.
On the right, you can see I've been making bread and enjoying cups of tea with that Christmas cake I made. I've done very little cooking around here, that's one of the things I love about summer and holidays.  DH becomes the main cook.

Mr Q spoilt me by finding these coloured pencils and a big sketch pad to play with. I want to have a go with coloured stitchery and other things using these and a fabric medium. I'll keep you posted.

And my Christmas present? It's not a thing, it's an experience. I get to hop on  a plane and head off to New Zealand again to see my two children and my four grandchildren towards the end of January for three weeks. Priceless!

This is my last post of the year so I'll wish you all the very best for a wonderful and happy year ahead.
See you in 2010

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The last post before Christmas.

Apart from the unpicking which I'm happy to say is all done, I was glad to be able to get this Mary Mannakee block finished. I have seven completed now. Another blogger friend has just completed one too. Pop on over to see Deb. Her applique is wonderful and she has some other gorgeous projects on the go as well.

Another three Joseph's Coat blocks, a total of 10 done and right on track. I fully expect to fall behind at some stage but it is a long termer so no big deal if I do.

I've had some wonderful surprises in the mail this week that have really given me such a smile on my face.
Darlene sent this gorgeous wee quilt which is now on the wall in my sewing room.

Not only that, she also sent these two great magazines, woo hoo! Thank you dear Darlene, you really are an angel, I love the gift so much and it really touched my heart. I love the doll quilt!

Another wonderfull blogger friend also surprised me with this parcel. Kathie sent me this Calendar which has her quilt on the cover and pattern included.  look at this gorgeous charm pack she included, it has some beautiful fabrics in it. Thank you dear Kathie, you have a heart of gold too. I'm just thrilled to bits, I can't tell you.
Watch out, this is the year of RAK (random acts of kindness). Lots of bloggers are doing this and when you least expect it, you may end up being the recipient of some blog love.

To you all, dear friends and readers,  have a wonderful Christmas wether you are in the snow or the sun.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The good, the bad, and the plain ugly

The good.
I noticed a lot of bloggers showing us some favourite Christmas decorations so I thought I'd join in.
This is my all time favourite because it was made by my DD, SIL and two of the grandkids in 2007. One of the grandkids was only two at the time. It has very special meaning for me and It reminds me what Christmas is all about on so many levels.  Note the sheep!

Another goodie, this parcel arrived last week. I love these dots. In fact there aren't many dots I don't like but these have a retro feel and will go with thirties fabrics as well as the brighter designer lines. It's Kai Honeycomb and I got it from here.

I decided I'd better get onto quilting the cot quilt for my grandson before he gets too big for the baby hammock and goes into a cot. You might remember this one from earlier this year. I got a bit lazy and decided I would machine quilt it in a simple way. Since it's small, why not use basting spray?

I lightly starched the backing and pinned it to the mat in the sewing room. Placed newspaper around the perimeter to catch the overspray and opened up the doors for ventilation.

So far so good, I'm using a beautiful wool batt, Tuscany by Hobbs. It's so soft and luxurious.

The bad.
I merrily quilted some loop de loops over the majority of the quilt. All the time, I'm thinking how puffy the wool looks and I prefer the look of cotton. I carry on because this baby will need the warmth in cold New Zealand in winter.
About 3/4 of the way through, I look on the back and notice some bad tension problems that weren't occuring at the beginning. I'm too ashamed to show that part but I really hate the puffy look on the front.

The ugly
I can live with some things that aren't exactly what I'd like but this was just too yucky and embarrasing for me to pass it on as a gift so I decided I would have to bite the bullet and unpick it. One evening of unpicking and I'm over half way there to getting this back to the starting point.

I't's been another valuable learning experience and now I'll hand quilt this using perle cotton in a big stitch, it should go fairly quickly. The hard part is that it's pretty hot weather here so sitting with wool might get a little uncomfortable.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The pouch saga

Remember that pouch I was making up? I know there's patterns for these but no, I had to make it up, how hard can it be?
Well, it's  had a complete makeover that required some serious tools, like the unpicker. Here it is all finished. Casing removed, slit for drawstring with a small piece of  fused matching fabric over the channel and  the slit stitched with a hand buttonhole.
Next time, I'll do a machine buttonhole in the outer fabric first.

I discovered that it's quicker to use a lint roller to get those pesky thread bits out so I learnt more than a couple of things.

I had to replace the circle for the center, it was too small but I really could have made it bigger again, like 1/2" below the casing. I also sewed a circle in the bottom of the pouch and put a piece of batting inside it. That could have been bigger too.
Thank you for all the suggestions, it made things easier and now that the prototype is done, I may just make myself some notes for next time.

I entered a giveaway earlier this month on Mary's blog and wasn't lucky so I ordered the pattern for the Snap Happy bag by Stitchin Sisters. At the same time, I ordered their pattern for the Snap Happy bag and Tote. It's called Snap Happier.
The neat thing about these patterns is that you use cut pieces of metal Carpenters' tape for the top and by pulling on the praire points, the bag snaps open. I loved making this. It's destined for my daughter. These all co-ordinate with that needlecase I made her. I know, I just don't know when to quit, I was on a  mission.

I think I've done enough small projects to get it out of my system for now and I'm dying to get back to my applique.
I've prepped pieces for the next Mary Mannakee block and needed to join two pieces of bias stem. Have you had that problem where you put it through the bias maker and the part where the seam is goes all weird on you?
I decided to glue stick the seams of the join down so it would feed through better and it worked a treat. This glue stick is great, it completely washes out and is not as hard as basting glue and is great for a temporary hold.

See, no bumpy bits or twisted seam.

Now to sew it all down, the best part!

Have a great weekend and I hope you find some stitching time for yourself.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Here's the strawberry stitchery all made up into a needlecase for DD. It's so her with it's varigated thread and the fabrics used. The stitchery came from the December kids issue of Homespun magazine. There are about five designs for strawberries that were made into a baby bunting. The needlecase pattern came from a Hatched and Patched book called The World As It Should Be

The stiffness of the case comes from the heavy interfacing used.

Craft failure
Being an overachiever type, I thought I'd make a drawstring bag, to accessorise the needlecase of course.
Hitch #1
I didn't have a big enough fabric piece for the outer. No problem, I think to myself, I'll just make a piece of fabric big enough. I like it! Improvisation is good but it created extra bulk I think.

Hitch #2
I didn't want to sew a channel for the drawstring and have to cut a slit to thread it and then have to handstitch around the cut.
I made a bias strip for the casing. Now the bag won't pull up well with the cord threaded trough. Too much thickness? Type of cord? I tried several types. It's starting to not be fun, sigh.

The inner circle is sewn on in sections to create pockets. I'm making this up as I go by the way based on a common design that's out there.

Hitch #3
Which was a hitch from half way through the *&*%#*! project.
I had just bought this low lint Aurifil thread for piecing. I had heard great things about it. I had it break in the needle so many times, I was nearly ready to throw it out but being too lazy to change threads, I persisted. I wasn't saving time I can tell you. Anyone had a similar problem with it? I had a new #10 needle in.

I nearly threw it out but decided to sleep on it. I thought I'd unpick the casing and sew the chanel in for a start, then  un-pick some sewing and re-sew with my old thread. Good idea?

Onto more pleasant things thread, this is 35wt varigated Valdani thread which is going to be used for some handquilting on a Kaffe project or two. I ordered it from here with Judy's recomendation. It is 100% cotton, I love it! La la la la la la.!

While in a stitchery mood, I finished off another Cinderberry Stitches block. Slowly but surely, they will all be done one day.

Now I did say I was an over achiever, or is it persistant? I made yet another Christmas cake. Don't worry, they freeze well. I made this mix lighter than the last and cooked it in my old tin. I wanted to make the comparison between using the tin and the cake box.

I lined the tin with cardboard and baking paper then I lined the outside with a rolled up sheet of newspaper tied around. I even put a folded square of tinfoil loosely over the top and cooked at a very low temperature.

Guess what? It burnt around the edges which surprised me. I'm going to use the cake box from now on which didn't require the lining saga and it didn't burn.
The utensil you can see in the bowl is a Danish dough whisk I got from here. It does bread dough and biscuit (cookie) mix with ease.

Off to do my last bit of shopping today, the incentive is that the patchwork shop across the road is starting a sale, I may go there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Santa's coming you know.

The Grandkids are ready, with the tree up and the sacks out no doubt. These are the Santa sacks I've made for the grandkids from Christmases past. I'm behind, I need to make one for my GS but he's just a baby and won't mind this year. When I was a kid, we never called him Santa, he was always known as Father Christmas, when did that change?

This was the first,  from a Homespun magazine, (vol 6.4) with the same Robyn Pandolf fabrics and it's my favourite, it looks oldy worldy. The pattern is called Santa's Treasure sack by hugs n kisses.

I have found the pattern here, if you scroll down the page, you'll see it.

I made use of the newer Christmas fabrics at the time for this one. I've smudged out the names I embroidered on the name pillows.

This was the last one I made, fairies were requested so instead of redwork, I made the fabric do the work.

I've been playing with a little stitchery the last couple of evenings so next time, I'll show what I'm going to do with this.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Don't visit me.

The housework hasn't been done and it's just lucky we don't have to eat off the floors is all I have to say on that. In the sewing room I think I have about 20 inches of space to work at on a very large table. I've been out every day this week and I think Friday will be my only day home. It's the rush of the season and I don't work well under pressure. I have not been organised at all which is not the usual for me. It's my own fault for procrastinating.
Sewing has been happening though.

Thank goodness for generous bloggers who provide free tutorials.
I have a tradition I started with my Grandchildren which was to give a Christmas decoration each year so that they would have them for their own trees one day. Sometimes it's hand made and sometimes it's bought. This year there are four to send away. I needed something quick and easy because I wanted to avoid the shops like the plague. I swear next year I'll start earlier, it's just that somehow I missed November.

What's not to love about red with polka dots. This really easy peasy quick tutorial is from A Spoonful of Sugar. I googled heart templates to get a nice shaped heart to use and decided to hand buttonhole stitch rather than machine stitch it.
Of course I needed more than one.

I also had this tutorial for these half eaten gingerbread men, again really quick and easy. These suit my sense of humour. The tutorial is from Elsie Marley

And because the baby boy may not appreciate red hearts when he gets a bit older, these star templates came from a google search. Whew, all done.

I've been the lucky recipient of a RAK ( random act of kindness) from Mary of Quilt Hollow. I love the sentiment on the lovely card. Click on the picture to read.
I'm more into the idea of this as opposed to PIF (pay it forward) So that's what I'd like to do over the next year.
Thank you Mary, I loved the surprise.

I made a boo boo on the cushion I was making and so it now has a striped border instead of a flange. I picked up the wrong sized zip for the back and wasn't keen to unpick so this is it and I think I like the size of a 14 inch cushion for Miss E better. This is not for Christmas, I'm trying to get ahead now to avoid a rush down the track.
I definitely have to make more from Kellie's pattern.

Until next time, I hope you find some moments to do what you love.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Time out

It's coming up to the silly season and I've been so busy that I haven't even had much time to catch up on some blog reading. All of our Christmas shopping has been done but I still have the wrapping and posting to do yet.

I took some time out yesterday to play and when I'm in the mood to play, I do whatever I feel like. A small project is just the ticket to have some fun. This is fun with fusible, some raw edge stitching and a bit of machine trapunto.
I'm a bit rusty with the machine quilting but as we say in our sewing group, blind man Freddy would be happy with it. I'm sure a little two year old would be too. It's going to be a small cushion and the pattern is from Kellie at Don't Look Now
I couldn't finish it off for the want of a zip but I'll show it again when I do.
On a whim I decided to make the family recipe for a rich dark Christmas cake. Really it needs to be made about six weeks ahead to let the flavours mature and to make cutting it easier. Note the special ingredient on the right? I had no brandy in the pantry but I tell you, the Cointreau I used is probably better.
This is the first time I've used a cake box, it's made of Native New Zealand wood called Kahikatea. The theory is that the cake won't dry out as much around the edges and cooks more evenly. You also don't have to line it as heavily. I've seen these boxes online in the States but with a different wood. I won't know how good it worked until it's cut.
My house smells like Christmas today.
I've been dragging my feet over this vine panel for the Susan McCord quilt but I'm loving it when I get a chance to sit and sew with it. Two branches down out of eleven, I'll get there.This is how far I got with the star quilt, I'm leaving it alone until the New Year now that I'm happy with the direction it's going in.

I hope you all get some time out for yourselves this week. Until next time, happy stitching!
P.S I had to put the word verification back for comments, I started getting spam.