Saturday, March 17, 2018

Last day of the Adelaide Festival today, thank heavens.  Depending on Shonny's workload I could be home as early as Friday, but we'll have to wait and see.  I'm really looking forward to getting home and catching up with friends and family, and seeing what's happened in my absence.  Autumn is my favourite time at home, and I'm missing it while I'm away.  I'm trying to arrange to take Isla home with me, so Shonny can sleep for as long as she wants and make changes to the house uninterrupted.  That new baby is only 2 months away, and we need to sort out a new bedroom for Isla, and put the nursery back to tiny baby mode.

I've been trying hard to use up every available scrap of time, I don't want to go home and think. well I got nothing done down there. 

I've sorted through my charm packs and weeded out the multiples in each one, and pulled out ones that I don't love. 

They've been cut up into 1.5"strips and I've made nine-patches from them.  It's such a good way to get variety, there are colours in those blocks that don't occur elsewhere in my stash, so the finished Tumelo Trail blocks are going to look different from my normal quilts.  I'm really loving the charm packs, I'm pretty sure I'll buy another stack next Christmas.

I forgot to bring my all 1.5"strips, I only had a handful of little bits.  I've been using up every last little scrap, and I have a renewed appreciation for the little offcuts and scraps.  They are useful, if I take the time to deal with them.  But in future I'm still going to give most of them to Mereth.....

I'm way behind on cutting up my shirts, but it makes such a mess.  I've been very good about vaccuuming up all the threads and snippets, but I'm sure Shonny is a bit appalled at the mess.  She's nothing like me in that respect, I can live in the chaos quite happily, knowing that one big clean up will see it all put to rights again.

Isla and I went to Bunnings yesterday, and I found these cute little boxes. 

My 9" blocks fit in them perfectly.  I'm so addicted to plastic, and finding just the right containers for everything.  But it does help me keep everything organised, so I'm unapologetic.

Dear me, that baby is awake, I'm off to fed her some lunch. Maybe we'll go back to Bunnings for more plastic boxes and a Bunnings sausage....


Friday, March 16, 2018

Sew good

I'm not getting a lot of sewing done unfortunately, life is busy and there is not a lot of time when I can sit at the sewing machine, or cut up strips.  Hayden came home for his week off, and we organised a seven year old's birthday party and cleaned up afterwards; 15 kids and 13 adults.  Seonaid would have done a much better job I'm sure, but she was working so we did the best we could.  So much Sugar! But everyone was happy, there were no accidenets,  melt-downs or tantrums from the kids or the adults, so we're counting it as a success.
I've accumulated about 20 shirts, it's been a lot of fun finding opshops and visiting them to see what's available. 

This is my favourite so far, I love the blocks I've made with it.

They have to be washed, then cut apart, which seems to take forever.  I don't use scissors or the quick unpick around Isla, she would want to snatch them and run off and I can't be chasing an armed toddler around the house.  She's too quick, and I don't want there to be any accidents with sharp things.  She sleeps about one and a half hours in the late morning, and then goes to bed at 7.30, so my sewing time is limited to those hours.  When she's in daycare I cook and clean, put the house to rights and do whatever shopping we need, so there's not a lot of free time there either.  But I have made a bit of progress.  

I've made 6 blocks, and I love how they turned out.  I fear that I'm also making a Churn Dash block that I saw on Jo's Country Junction blog.  I might be a bit obsessed with this quilt as well; I'm cutting the pieces as I cut for the Tumelo Trail.  Lots of cutting, no blocks made yet, but I'll be ready to start swing on that as soon as I have time.

I have quite a few of the 3.5" HSTs that I need, enough for 8 more blocks.  Now I need to concentrate on the nine-patches and build up a stash of them so I can get those blocks done.  It's nice to have something to think about besides babies and housework. 

One more day of the Adelaide Festival, and then Shonny can go back to regular working hours as they wind up the admin over  the next week.  I'm so ready for things to go back to some semblance of normality, and so is Isla.  She misses her mum....


Fun day out

Mereth and friend Deb came down to attend an auction, and I went along to catch up.  I'm not really into the auction scene, it's a lot of sitting around in uncomfortable, hot surroundings, with some very dubious people, watching them buy a whole heap of really weird stuff.  Deb and Mereth enjoy it though, and they got some wonderful bargains. 
There was nothing there this day, except maybe a couple of dolls that were quite nice.

But I wasn't going to pay $75 for a job lot of really ugly dolls to get the one I wanted.  The auction was an estate auction of a collector, and she had hundreds of dolls and paintings and china and collectible plates.  I have a lot of stuff too, but it's not as indiscriminate as this lady's collections.  Some of the dolls were like little nightmares waiting to happen; the cast of every creepy doll movie ever made.
I wasn't upset about not getting anything at the auction, because I visited three op shops and got three bags of cheap men's shirts for my Tumelo Trail quilt, and that made my day.  I was wondering if I"d be able to afford to make a shirt quilt, at the prices I was seeing.  $5 a bag is affordable, especially when I can cram it as full as I want.  So my quilt is off to a fine start.


Sunday, March 04, 2018

All set up

I've been down here for 2 weeks already, that time has flown by so fast.  Isla and I are having a good time, but she's starting to miss her mum.  Shonny gets to spend about 40 minutes a day with us, then she's off to work and we don't see her again that day.  It's hard on a little girl, but she's tickled pink to have me around.  When we go out she tells everyone 'My Nan!!' and points at me. I don't do any housework when she's around, so I'm a lot more fun than Mum apparently.

I've set up my own little space so that I can sew in any spare minute, and I even have a coffee set-up, so I don't have to disturb anyone else when I get up early.

The desk was left out on the footpath as hard rubbish, and Shonny and I  carried it home minutes before the truck arrived.  

It has lovely big drawers to hide all my sewing stuff from Miss Busyfingers, and I appreciate it all the more for being free.  I'm hoping to get some machine time in today or tomorrow while Isla is at daycare.  I miss being productive, but I have to cram in as much housework as I can before Isla gets home. 

I have a handwork project started, and it's a pattern that I've wanted to do for years. 

 I decided to use a colour scheme of pink and grey, also something I've wanted to do for years.  I'll be glad to get a single block finished at this rate, but it's a long term project.
Well I'm off to hang the first load of washing out, and tidy up the lounge room, but then it will be sewing time.


Saturday, February 17, 2018

State of the Stash

Last year I didn't finish a single top or quilt, so there was nothing in the fabric used column.  I did do a bit of buying as compensation, or consolation, (both apply).  Luckily I didn't keep track of it last year, because I think I'd be horrified it I did total it all up.  I have a lot of fabric to find homes for in the overcrowded stash drawers.

Time to sort through all this....
Doesn't look any better from this angle either.

I'm keeping track of the Stash this year, because I like to know what I've used, and I think I"m going to be adding quite a few finishes to the tally if I can just stay focused.  But I need to track the purchases as well, so I've made up a Google spreadsheet, and I've entered the totals of the three shopping trips I've made this year.  The running total is 31.3m so far, about 4m a week :) which seems a lot.  I've bought even more than that, but I shared some pieces with Mereth so they don't count.  She has several colours that she just seems drawn to, so when I see rich, rusty, mahogany colours, or that antique pale green, I pick them up for her.  No complaints from her!

Nearly all the fabric I buy is reduced in price, so I don't feel guilty.  My batik stash is growing nicely, I think I need to move them into their own stash drawers instead of the baskets they now occupy.  And I snap up cheap yardage for backings, I scored one from Spotlight that was $2 a metre.  I love having a backing stash on hand.  Alas, it's been absorbed into the sewing room, and I can't even find it right now. 

A couple of years ago I went through my yardage stash and cut FQs from the longer pieces.  Most of them have been on the shelf for 10 years, and in that time I could have incorporated them into quilts but I was 'Saving' them.  It's been good to have them in the FQ stash, so I can get an idea of how the colours behave when mixed with others, and if it's a nice fabric to work with or just thin and nasty.  I'm going to go through the yardage again, and take out more.  A 3 metre piece can easily lose a half metre and still be useable.  I figure this will give me a whole 'new' set of fabrics for piecing and keep me entertained for no extra cost.

I recently found a FQ of a nice green from at least 10 years ago, and it had faded beyond redemption, and it wasn't stored in the light anyway.  All the fold lines had turned a dirty yellow, I don't even know if I want to put it on the back of a quilt if it's so unstable.  It's a very old piece, so hopefully the more modern fabric won't lose colour like that.  And I would show you a photo of the FQ except, the sewing room ate it and I haven't seen it since.

I have GOT to clean up, but I'm off to Seonaid's  today for an extended stay, so all I can do is turn out the light and I'll be back when I can.  Sob.....

I made an extra couple of blocks in between my computer work (taxes, blech) and now I have 6 blocks on the wall and about 5 more complete nine-patches.
I'm loving this, and if I have time I'll organize a tub of parts to take with me, but I also have to take the machine and the iron and the pressing board, because Seonaid doesn't own an iron. I know I"ll be so grateful to have those things to help keep me sane, but I have a ton of work to do before I leave and I don't know if I have time to sort through stuff.  Life doesn't slow down, when there's grandchildren involved :) .


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Nine-patch scrap

I don't want to take the Hunter's Star off the design wall just yet, I'm enjoying seeing it there.  I can't work on my other projects until the design wall is empty, so..... nine-patches it is.  
I have heaps and heaps of 1.5" pieces in boxes and baskets all around the sewing room, so I collected what I could easily find and put them in the project box for Tumelo Trail.  These four-patches will be built into nine-patches leader-ender style, I have boxes of 1.5" squares as well.
I like the completely scrappy nine-patches, but I'm going to use these ones in two fabrics just to get them out of the orphan pile.  They are left over from my Double Nine-patch quilt, and it's time they found a home.
Lots of white prints in the strip drawer, so I don't need to cut any just yet.
And I'll be using up lots of little ends of strips to get the variety I need.  I don't have a colour scheme, I just want to get things used up, so anything goes.  It doesn't take long for the finished blocks to build up, but I need 200 more, so there's a fair bit of sewing ahead of me.  I like knowing I have everything set for a few hours of sewing happiness.

I picked up another sewing machine in Adelaide; I've wanted a Pfaff for 15 years, but never found one at a price I was happy with, or that was close enough to pick up.  This one came from a lovely quilter who upgraded, and I was so delighted to have her old machine.  I'm going to name her Pauline, after Pauline Rogers of Quilter's World in Toowoomba.  I taught quilting workshops there for many years, and Pauline always loaned me a Pfaff to demonstrate on.  I fell in love with them, but in those days I couldn't justify the expense of a new machine when my old one worked perfectly.

I'm going to get Pauline Pfaff set up with her new 1/4" foot, and stitch my nine-patches on her, fine-tuning the seam allowances and getting used to her Pfaffy ways.  In future, when I say I'm just faffing around, I might just mean sewing.


Monday, February 12, 2018

Shirts, shirts, shirts

Bonnie Hunter's workshop slideshows often include quilts in the Tumelo Trail pattern, and the more I see of them, the more I want to make my own. It's in the Scraps & Shirttails II book, and it's on special! 

 I love the shirt prints in this block, and just lately I've come across a fair few cheap shirts on my op-shop visits.  I guess it was inevitable that I would start this quilt before long.

On my trips to Adelaide I try to pop into a few op-shops, but I was gob-smacked at the prices they are charging. $14.50 for a second hand shirt??  That's insane. Pity the poor guys trying to find a new outfit at that shop.  I did find a few at another place for between $2 and $3, but they were marked down from much higher prices.  I won't be adding to my stash in Adelaide.
The local op-shop is a whole lot more reasonable, so I bought up big when they threw a heap of stuff out for .50c.  That's more like it.  I don't have enough yet for the whole quilt, but it's a start.

I'm hoping to clear out the 1.5" strip drawer making the nine-patches, and use up lots of teeny little strips that are very messy.  They will make great leader-enders while I get busy on those remaining borders that need to be sewn on.
One block made, 41 to go...


Sunday, February 11, 2018


Well that took most of the day, but the borders are on and this top is finished at last.  
It's heavy, and those last borders were a struggle, trying to support all that weight and guide it through the machine smoothly.  I had to sew a bit and then take a break till my arms and neck relaxed, then I'd go back and do a bit more.  It was very sensible of me, normally I'd grit my teeth and soldier on, and damage myself in the process.

It looks very impressive, completely filling my design wall.  I'd like to leave it there for a while, but I need the space for the next project, which will be the last row and the borders on the Pretty Tumblers.  I don't think I can take any more blue, at least not for a few days, so I will do the borders on the blue squares quilt at a later date.

Last time I went down to Shonny's I was surprised to see this quilt on her bed.
She pinched this as soon as I finished it, and took it back to Emerald with her.  It's been packed away in storage since she came down here. I'd forgotten about it, but there it is on her bed.  She bought a set of blue sheets, and had to have a quilt to match so went digging to find this.

It took a colossal amount of blue scraps to make this, and I had a lot of fun piecing it. I do seem to fixate on blue though, don't I?  Nice to see it being used again, and extra nice that my girl appreciates my quilts.


Friday, February 09, 2018

Hunter's Star progress

Sometimes a little time away from the sewing room can be a good thing.  Before I went away I made a decision about the borders on the Hunter's Star, and I cut out all the pieces I would need.  By the time I'd finished all the cutting I was pretty sick of blue and white, and sick of trying to find the perfect fabrics, and sure it had been a colossal mistake to make the quilt in just two colours.

Now, after I've had some time and space between me and the design wall, I'm really happy with how my two colour quilt is working out. 
I chose to use the big triangles from the die as the border, knowing they would tie in to the actual piecing really well.  It was pretty easy to cut some strips and send them through the cutter till I had enough. I did choose to use one light print throughout the whole border, and the blues were scrappy.
I have a heap of leftover shapes from that, and I'm going to incorporate them into another design that is yet to be decided upon.  I like this pattern enough to make another one, but it will be scrappier and have a lot more colour to it.

So now all I have to do is get busy sewing.....


Playing catch-up

The last post was written more than a week ago, and I forgot to actually hit 'Publish'. Then I went to Adelaide and was very busy there, and only discovered the poor old post languishing unread when I got back.  So I just published it anyway, even though it was all out of date. 

I'm too hot to think anyway.  The temperature this week has ranged between 102 -114º, and I'm ready for a cool change on Sunday.  Just one more stinker of a day to get through.

I had a lovely time in Adelaide, helping Shonny prepare for a family get-together to find out what the next baby will be.  Hayden was away working when she had the scan, so she didn't peek at the screen, and asked the technician to write down the babies sex, and put it in a sealed envelope.  The envelope went to a lady who makes up party balloons, and only she knew what colour balloons and confetti to put in a giant black balloon.  On the day of the reveal, poor Hayden was so nervous, he almost didn't want to break the balloon in case it was pink.  I had my 'It's a girl, how lovely' face ready, but I didn't need it.  BLUE balloons.  I'm going to have a grandson.

There were three toddlers present when the balloon popped, and all the adults yelled in triumph, and the babies cried and cried at the huge noise.  But they got lots of celebratory cuddles, and we were all so overjoyed.  Hayden has had a boy name picked for 8 years, and finally he will get to bestow it on his son; Thomas Charles.  Love it.

Shonny's only half way through this pregnancy, and I'm wishing and praying good thoughts for her, because we don't want the drama of Isla's birth to be repeated.  Here's hoping the arrival of little Thomas is drama free.

So now I can try and get some sewing done, and finish cleaning up the sewing room, and put the house to rights before I set off to Adelaide again.  I'm determined to make some progress on the borders, and to get my handwork project up and running.  I just need this weather to cool off and I"ll be sewing madly.


Monday, January 29, 2018

Goodbye scraps

Lordy me, the weather has just been insane!  It was 45º yesterday, the worst day of this summer.  Then today it's 25º with a breeze that makes it seem even cooler. 20º difference from one day to the next is a bit extreme, but I'm just grateful that it's cooled down.

I've used my time today sorting out the sewing room.  I am done with the scraps, they are making me miserable and I can't find anything I want in the mess, so I'm donating them to Mereth, or (gasp) throwing them away.  It may seem a bit drastic, but I was overwhelmed with all the baskets and boxes and piles that needed to be dealt with.

This is the first installment of what I gave Mereth;

there is more than this, because I dug down to the bottom of some very old containers and pitched heaps more stuff out.  I'm being ruthless, and it's easier this time round, because this stuff has sat there for 6 or 7 years and I haven't touched it.  I'm certainly not going to miss it now.

I found pieces of blocks left over from projects, and I sewed them into blocks and put them in the orphan box.  Soon I will go through that too, and make a scrappy album, or backing, or donate the whole lot to someone who wants them.

It's been boring and irritating; all those decisions make my brain ache, but I can at last see the difference so I'm going to keep at it.  I want to be able to take a photo of my sewing room and see surfaces, not towering piles of fabric and project boxes.

On the sewing front, I'm up to the dull stuff.  It was so much fun to keep swapping from one thing to another, but now I have to buckle down and finish them.  There is still blue fabric everywhere, and I can't put it away until I put the borders on the blue squares and the Hunter's Star.  I have one more row to attach to the Hunter's Star, and then I can design the border.  I will do a piano key for the squares, so that's fairly easy and will be a good leader-ender.

And the Pretty Tumblers needs one more row and then it can have borders.  That will be three tops finished if I can just stick at it.  Alas, I'll be off to Adelaide on Wednesday, so there won't be much achieved until I get home.  And on the 18th of next month I"ll be helping Seonaid out for a month, while she works a festival and a concert.  I'd better make sure my hand work is ready by then.


Friday, January 19, 2018

Charm Square stash

Three Christmases ago I cut up nearly all my charm squares and made nine-patches from them.

I'm making these blocks with them; 2½" HSTs turn them on point, it's a real stashbuster.
It was a lot of fun, and I remember thinking, Oh good, that's got them out of the stash!  Like it was a virtue or something.

Then two Christmases ago I mourned the loss of my charm pack stash, so I ordered about 10 from The Fat Quarter shop when they were on special.  My stash was restored.

Last Christmas I did the same again.
The trouble is, I hadn't used any from the year before, so now I have quite the pile.
I'm not sorry about this at all.  I've used so much fabric over the past few years that I need to buy certain things to fill in the gaps.  I have very few shirtings with white backgrounds, and almost none with blue prints on them.  I've nibbled away at my yardage, so I don't have any decent amounts left of good background prints.  So much of what I order online turns out to have a yellow cast, or a mottled background (HATE the mottle!), and I end up disappointed.  The charm packs allow me to see the fabric in real life, and decide what I should and shouldn't buy.

I prefer white backgrounds, or a very light stone colour, not yellowish.  It changes the whole look of the block, makes it too warm and cosy for me.  Of course everyone else in the patchwork world must love it, because that's mostly what's available.  When I find a shirting I like, I buy yardage now, it's so hard to get.
My stack of charm packs is waiting for me to go through them with an eye to ordering some new pieces.  And when I've done that, I can start thinking of another project to use a few of them up.


Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pretty Tumblers

One of our customers asked for a Queen Size quilt in summery colours of blue, pink and green.  It has to measure around 95 x 80, which is large but not daunting.  I immediately thought of one of my UFOs, a tumbler quilt of my pretty fabrics.  Unfortunately I'd included a lot of brown in the bit I'd already made, so it was back to the cutting table to amass a lot of clear pretty shapes.

I seemed to cut for days, and then spent ages at the design wall, arranging pieces exactly so.  It's so much fun to work with these fabrics, I'm really enjoying it, and it puts me in a good mood.
It's so annoying though, when I agonize over each piece and get it all juuuuust right, and then I go and sew things out of order.  I added a row to the top of another one instead below it.  Really?  But I didn't unpick it because it looked fine, and I just had to spend a bit of extra time blending the new arrangement.
This is 12 of 18 rows, so I'm nearing the end. 
I've added the darker shapes for the next 4 rows, and I quite like the effect of an alternating plain block, in dark or light,  That's just the colour of my design wall showing through, but a pretty tone on tone in white or cream would really pad out the pretty fabric.  Something to think of for the next quilt....

I'm going through my border stripes to see if anything suits it, I think it would look pretty special with a large floral border.

I don't know if this is what the customer had in mind, but I'm perfectly happy to keep it if it doesn't sell.  There are some delicious fabrics in here.


Tuesday, January 09, 2018


I've been watching the English Paper Piecing craze for the last few years.  I made my first project using this method more than 30 years ago, and there have been many, many others since then.  I do like it, but my hands hurt after a while, and I have to give up.  
However, I think I need to have a hand work project for all those times when I'm not near my machine, and so I'm going to have another go with a slightly different method.

I've always tacked through the papers when I cover them, and preferred to do it this way because it was so secure.  I was a bit sceptical of just tacking the material around the paper template because I thought it would shift too much without the stitches anchoring the paper and fabric together.
But what if the paper shapes were cut from freezer paper and ironed to the fabric?  They wouldn't shift then, so tacking would work.  And if I wanted to applique the hexagons to a background then the edges would stay turned down once I took the paper out, because the tacking stitches stay in.  And the seam allowances wouldn't kick up when I ironed the finished units.  This started to sound good.
I have a hexagon cutter, it's by Creative Memories I think, with two sizes of hexagons.  It says the larger one is a 1½" hexagon, but that's from point to point.  It's actually ¾" along the side, which is a bit small, but still comfortable.
I'm using the larger one, and cutting shapes out of my ancient roll of freezer paper.  That roll is nearly 20 years old, I bought it on my first trip to America in 1998, just shows how much I use it..
My first rosette is finished, and I enjoyed the process and it didn't take too long.  The freezer paper is softer and more flexible than other paper templates, and my hands don't hurt.  I even have a little box that's just the right size to make a sewing kit for this project.  I chose the madder stripe for no other reason than that it was close at hand, but I think I'll go through my wonderful madders for the next blocks too.  Madder, black, grey, cheddar;  I think that would be a lovely colour scheme for these little fussy cut hexies.

Another WIP to add to the list.....

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