Monday, May 06, 2024


 The effects of my chest cold linger on, lots of coughing and very little energy. In spite of my lethargy I have managed to do a few things.

I needed to get my garden in order, mainly because on a trip to Jamestown I couldn't resist some seedlings, and they needed a new home rather badly. My garden has been reduced to a 4m stretch just outside my door. I'm not supposed to handle potting mix, or dig in the garden, but the gardening habit is hard to break. My flowers bring me so much happiness, I'd hate to do without them entirely. I wanted to help preserve the plants I have, which have survived several harsh summers, and scatter in some new autumn colour where I could.

The seedlings were shifted into small pots to grow on, and with Mereth's help I moved a lot of old pots around, chucked heaps of things that were just rubbish now, and tried to design a layout that would enable me to have the most garden in the least space. That meant going up, and I've stacked smaller pots on top of the largest ones, and made shelves from bricks and wood that elevate troughs so I can see what's happening in them. 

Setting up the infrastructure of a garden is time consuming, plus I didn't want to spend anything if I could help it.  I just gathered together all sorts of stuff that's been lying around, and gave it a new purpose. The terracotta pots we got for 20cents a few years ago, and when I trim my geraniums back I'll put the cuttings in those pots. They're on an old metal hospital table that used to go over the beds. I picked that up from the side of the road about 15 years ago, and it's had many uses since then. I've been at this for days but I think I'm close to planting out what I want, and that will be the fun part. I have to wear a mask when I'm near the potting mix but once it's all finished it will just require watering and fertilizing, and I'll be able to handle that.

Mereth has always loved growing vegetables best, and I am a flower grower. I do have a few things like spring onions and peppers, but it's the flowers that make my heart go pitter-pat. And while it's all been fun, I need to get back into the sewing room, because playing with fabric also makes me happy. 


Thursday, May 02, 2024

Back again

Where was I? Last time I posted I was busy rummaging in my scraps, then I had a flurry of quilting at the shop, then I had to go to Adelaide to help Seonaid's family before the school holidays. Seonaid organises the school sports day, all the fundraising and catering. It's not something I'd ever volunteer for, but she's been in Events Management for a decade or more, so it's something she's more than qualified for. I was just there to babysit kids while she did the work, and I'm still qualified to do that 😀.

I brought Isla home for 5 days, so we could sew and visit with family here. We made a pillowcase, and microwave heat bags, and a nightie, so Isla gained some more experience with the sewing machine. I had to ask her to thread the needle on more than one occasion, my eyesight being what it is. 

Then we went back to Adelaide, and I stayed a few days longer, so I could babysit the kids while Seonaid went to some meetings and a dinner. It's so much easier to look after older kids, thank heavens; they help get dinner, help clean up, shower themselves. Isla even reads to the younger two, so I'm just there to break up fights and make them brush their teeth, basically. And hold their hands while they go to sleep.....

I came back exhausted anyway, with yet another cold picked up from Finn. It takes me ages to get over a cold, so it's been very slow progress in the sewing room since then.

I'd left a stack of pieces for Log Cabin and Disappearing 4-patch blocks by the machine, so I sewed all them together when I felt up to it. Eventually I had 56 blocks up on the design wall, and I'm slowly sewing them in groups of 4. I considered just putting them in a container and going on to something else, but I would not look forward to arranging them all on the design wall again, so I'll just spend a bit more time on it and get it ready for borders.
The 1.25" Log Cabin blocks now number 80, and I think I might just put them aside for now. The blocks are 6.75" finished ,so they would only make a 54 x 67" top. I don't know if I'd be happy with that size, I usually like to make tops a bit bigger than that. I need more pieces if I'm going to make more blocks, I've done a good job of cleaning out the strip box; I will amass some more scraps and see how I feel then.


I do love Log Cabins!

And I made a sample block with 1" strips, but I'm not sure I want to go down that rabbit hole just yet.

I had a bundle of rejected strips that I kept moving from place to place, so I sewed most of them into this 20"paper-pieced star. It's not something I want to make more of, so I'm going to border it with HSTs and a few more reject fabrics and call it a wallhanging.

And now that I'm in the process of finishing one project, and shelving another, I'm looking at concentrating on the tiny 9-patches.

I'm going to set them together with 1.5" strips, so they have a bit more breathing room. This makes a 12" block, and I'm really happy with how it looks. It's going to be hard to find a suitable sashing fabric, but I'll deal with that later on. 

Miss Isla is 8 years old now, and allowed to be in charge of the knife for the cutting of her birthday cake.

She's quite the young lady now; I miss baby Isla, but I've always loved spending time with her at any stage. Here's hoping she turns into my quilting buddy.


Thursday, April 04, 2024

Progress Report

I seem to have made the UFO situation much worse with my latest efforts to tame the scraps. I suppose I shouldn't call these UFOs, because I've only just started them, but I've added 7 new projects in a matter of weeks. I'm up to 40 projects on my Works In Progress list, and that's making me a bit uneasy. I don't really have the storage for that many projects, but it's been so much fun that I can't regret it, and I really have made a difference to the strip drawers.

The blocks on the ironing mat are 6 of the things I started in February/March alone.

  1. Housetop blocks; I have 26,  need 4 more and I will have enough for a couch quilt. They've been put in a box until I amass some more scraps.          
  2. Log Cabin from 1.25" strips; 36 blocks and counting.  These will be ongoing, I don't have enough strips left for the 120 blocks I want.                                                                                 
  3. Half Log Cabin; 21 blocks and counting. I will need to generate more strips so that I can make the 120 blocks I need for this.                                                            
  4. Antique tiny 9 Patches; 1 finished block, 80 9 Patches. The 1.25" strips I have left aren't suitable for this, so I have started in on the scrap pile to make more 9-patches, using Taryn's strip-piecing instructions.    I will need 1.25" strips for the little setting strips, and I'll have to cut those from yardage when I get to that stage.                       
  5. Disappearing 4Patch; 17 blocks, plus 64 cut out. I think I only need 56 for a quilt, so the extras will be the start of another top. I really like making these blocks, so they will be a go-to stash-buster like the Scrappy Mountain Majesty block.                                   . 
  6. Black and cream chain blocks; 8 finished, more cut out.  Why did I start these? To use up a bunch of black 1.25"strips and some really insipid cream strips. I imagine I'll set these with alternate sampler blocks, and it won't be a big quilt because I'm not cutting more black strips. when they're gone, they're gone.                               

I hardly know which one to concentrate on first, and which to use a leader-ender. Maybe it's time to investigate the project boxes and see if something there grabs my attention. I haven't had a finish for ages.


Monday, March 25, 2024

Getting there

I'm gradually getting back to my sewing, just short bursts of activity until my eyes start hurting and I literally can't see straight. At the machine I'm using a pair of 2.5 readers that I can look over, because my old glasses just don't work anymore. I had to remove one of the lights I was using by the machine because I don't need it to see what I'm doing now. It's mostly good, including not needing any glasses to cut fabric or work on the computer. It's pretty amazing.

I made another 4 Housetop blocks; 6 more needed, but I decided to take them off the design wall for now. I need that space to see what my other projects look like.

I had a stack of Log Cabins by my machine since before the surgery, and finally got them done. I now have 26, and I can see that I like the effect. I'm trying not to use very dark strips; the medium and medium-dark fabrics give more movement than uniformly darker fabrics.

I have 18 of the Half Log Cabins finished. I'm not sure I like this setting, but I'm just going to keep making them and I'll decide later how to put them together. The strip drawers are emptying out nicely now, and I may even have to cut some more pieces before too long. 

Once I have the 1.5" and 1.25" strips under control I want to go back to working on the UFOs. All I've done so far is add to the project tally, which is somewhat counter-productive. 


Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Almost Ready To Sew

 5 days after surgery, and I'm almost ready to resume my sewing. There was a bit of drama on the day after surgery, when I reacted very badly to the iodine they used; a quick trip to the hospital for antihistamines and pain killers and flushing my eye with lots of saline and I felt human once more. Poor Mereth had to wait on me that day; I'll have to buy her some fabric as a thankyou. And when she has her cataracts done she knows to answer YES when they ask her if she's sensitive to iodine.

I've been reading dreadful novels from the library, and catching up on blog reading with my one good eye. Today my vision is starting to get back to normal, so I spent some time in the sewing room. I went through piles of magazines and ripped out pages to keep; the rest are going in the recycling. The op shops here are full of magazines, and no-one wants them anymore. Everything is online, but I have some favourites from the old issues, so I'll make a scrap book of them. 

I did some sewing too, about half an hour, but it was giving me a headache so I'll wait a little longer before I go back to that. I'm not supposed to be in a dusty environment till my eye heals, and there is so much fabric dust around my cutting table. I'm trying to be good and do as I'm told, but it's an effort!


Wednesday, March 13, 2024


Oh my goodness, the last 5 days have been dreadful. 41° (105° F) and the night time temps above 25°. Yech! The weather didn't get the memo about summer being over already. It hasn't been too hot this year, so I didn't really miss my AC, but this heatwave did me in.  It was miserable. It's cooled down a bit today, and so of course I got a phone call saying my new AC has arrived and will be installed tomorrow. I'm just happy that it's here and ready for the next hot spell; we often get nasty hot weather into April here.

While the world outside was sweltering I stayed in our shop with the AC running, and tackled even more scraps. 

The scrap boxes at home are my patchwork scraps. The ones at the shop come from Op Shop bags, leftover backings, donations from friends and customers who are cleaning out their stashes. Most of it is modern children's patterns, there's a fair bit of Oriental themed stuff and Australiana, plus panels  and metallics. None of it is my cup of tea, but here it is, clogging up the shelves. 

Seeing as I was incarcerated for the duration I got stuck into the children's fabrics, cutting for Happy blocks and I-Spy hexagons. 

Very quickly I realised there weren't enough large pieces to make a 5" square for the centre, or a hexagon, so I started string piecing 5" squares from the scraps. I'm actually loving it, which surprised me because I've always been on the fence about string piecing.

 I like that it uses up every last piece of some tiny scraps, and everything finds a home somewhere, but the mess is so annoying!

This time I'm coping with the mess by tidying up every few hours, which means all the un-useable strip ends get weeded out, and all the remaining strips are sorted into various lengths and colours, and then I start making a mess again with new blocks. The tidying up is a bit zen, it interrupts the intensity of shoving fabric through the machine and I don't feel overwhelmed by the chaos.

I'm loving these bright colours for a change; it's so not me, but it's fun. I'm aiming for 30 or so blocks, which will put a dent in the boxes, and then I'll decide what to do with what is left. By that time the temperature might have cooled down enough for me to go back to my sewing room, and my regularly scheduled programming.


Sunday, March 10, 2024

They Say It Gets Worse.....

Before it gets better. The mess on my cutting table is certainly worse, but there has been much progress.

I have 20 Housetop blocks finished, and more cut out. I have no set ideas on how big I want to make this, but more a couch size quilt than a bed quilt I think. If there are still scraps left, then I'll pick another pattern to use them up.

The little Log Cabin blocks are multiplying, I have about 18 of them that just need another round of strips. And to deal with the 1.5" strips I may have started a Half Log Cabin project. I've always wanted to make one, so I just began.

It's so easy to cut, they start with a 1.5" square, then each log is 1" bigger. 2.5", 3.5" 4.5", 5.5", it's so simple. It's chewing up the strips. When I come across a longer strip I also cut 4 3.5" pieces for my Plaid quilt kit, which has taken a back seat to all these new projects. And when I run out of 1.5" strips I can still cut these sizes by slicing 1.5" from the end of my other strip sizes. 

I kept rejecting the red strips, I haven't got over my dislike of red. I was sick of them getting in the way when I went through the strips drawers, so I made them all into 16-patches. I have no idea what I'll do with them, but at least they're dealt with now. 

That Moth In The Window block was a little sidetrack because I had 1.5" and 2.5" strips in the same fabrics, and I wondered if I'd like to commence to cutting some of these blocks. It's definitely something I want to do, but it's not on the front burner just yet. It's another Bonnie pattern from her Addeicted To Scraps book that I've had on my list for years

So I'm very busy cutting and sewing and congratulating myself on dealing with the scraps, but you know what? I can't see a difference. This strip box just seems to refill itself overnight. I'll have to try harder.


Friday, March 01, 2024

Creating a mess

My strip boxes are overflowing. I need to get them under control.

I made 4 Housetop blocks with varying width strips to see if I liked making them and I did, but I can't cut them out of scraps alone. Those outer rings take 30" of a strip, and most of mine aren't that long. And the 1.25"strips are what I really want to get rid of. 

So I drew up the Log Cabin block I wanted to make using only 1.25"strips, and went through the boxes and pulled out every bit that wasn't 18" long. My chart showed every rectangle I needed to cut, so it was easy to measure a little strip, then cut the longest piece I could from it.

I dealt with the light strips in short order; it was satisfying to find a use for every little bit, down to a 1.25"square.

All these little smidgeons were converted to logs of the right size, with almost no waste.

Lots of teeny little dark strips found a home too. I haven't touched the larger scraps yet, and I have enough for more than 20 blocks. I have no idea how many I can make out of those 2 tubs, but it will be a quilt's worth.

All laid out waiting for me to start building. I was going to have 5 rounds, but I think I'll stop at 4 and that will make a 6" block. That 8.25"block just seems too big.

At some stage I will have to think about how I want the blocks set; there are so many possibilities that it's hard to choose.

I've always loved Straight Furrows, 

But then again I love Sunshine and Shadows, 

and Barn Raising.

In fact, my first quilt was a Log Cabin, made when I was 15, in the Straight Furrows setting.

I made it for my Mum, and she loved it, though it was all 70s dressmaking scraps, and pretty wonky.

Those decisions are a long way off yet, so I'll just keep on cutting and sewing.


Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Scrap Projects

While the strips I cut were out I decided to cut the 3.5"and 1.5" ones into pieces for a Plaid quilt. Some people call it a Crossroads block, I've always called it Plaid.

I had to make a couple, just to see what they looked like; I've made 2 quilts with these  blocks, but never with reproduction fabrics, so I was a bit curious.

They look fine. Now I want to be disciplined and put them aside to use as leader-enders, but I don't have a very good track record with that.

I also started playing around with the other strips sizes. I want to cut for a Log Cabin, but I also want to make blocks of surrounded squares.

I made one that uses 4 different size strips, and then thought that I could make lots of blocks with the strips varying in position. The finished size is 8.5", so I need to stay within that size. I tried a couple other combinations as an experiment, and realised that the outer rounds need quite a bit of fabric. That won't work with my short strip scraps. 

I think I need to cut as many of these blocks as I can with my long strips, and then switch to Log Cabin blocks where every log is different. That way I can use up all the little bits and pieces. Once I've cleared out the tubs and drawers I can start cutting from FQs and use the full strips for my surrounded square blocks. I've heard them called Housetop blocks, so maybe I'll use that name for them.

It's tiring trying to see what I'm doing, and I don't think I'm as accurate as I normally am because I just can't focus on the marks on the ruler. But I have a date for my second cataract surgery, in 2 weeks time, and I'm very happy about that. I don't expect it will cure all my ills, but I'll be closer to getting new glasses that take into account my changed vision. I'm looking forward to that.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Tiny 9-patches

 Everyone across Blogland is making little nine-patches, thanks to Taryn at ReproQuiltLover.  She is replicating an antique quilt with truly tiny nine-patches, and offers tutorials for 3 sizes. She calls then Teeny Tiny (1/2"squares), Tiny (3/4"squares) and Small (1"squares). I was intrigued, but not tempted to join in; I have enough to be going on with, until my eyesight improves.

However. On a recent visit to Mereth's sewing room she showed me an old Quilters Newsletter Magazine with an interview with Lee Porter. One of the quilts on a bed was a beautiful old 9patch with pink sashing, and I decided it would be perfect to use up my extensive collection of 1.25" strips. Mereth has already made a trial block, and I have unashamedly pinched her idea; that's the problem being identical twins, we usually love the same things.. 

I did some rough calculations and decided that the 2.25" 9patches would make a nice size quilt, with 25 or 30 blocks.  It would also use up those containers of 1.25"strips that have been hanging around since 2013. In order to use these strips of all lengths I'm making my 9patches by a different strip pieced method.

I cut a light and dark strip to 6.5", plus a 1.25"square from the dark. The strips are joined together, and subcut into 5 1.25"slices. 

I need 4 for the 9patch, plus there's an extra one to build into a scrappy block later on.

Three of the little units are sewn together, and the single square is added to the other one. Then that unit is added to complete the 9patch.

The scrap blocks are going to be cute; I'll raid my box of squares for the single piece needed to complete the 9patch.

 I'd probably prefer to strip piece 5 blocks at a time as Taryn details in this tutorial, but until I whittle these strips down I won't do that. My quilt plan needs 480 blocks, and even though each 9patch block only takes 2 six and a half inch strips I don't think I'll have enough.

The setting strips are also 1.25" strips, and I can use the longer strips for that. I'm really hopeful that I can clear out those 2 boxes, and then I'll have permission to cut new scraps. 

These will be a long term project, and I will have to start looking for a pink sashing fabric. EQ8 says I'll need 2.5m, so I may have to go shopping. Such a chore 😄.

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