Friday, December 31, 2010

A traditional Christmas

We've just come back from an excellent week down the beach - traditional Christmas of prawns, surfing, beer and afternoon naps! Australians are a terribly predictable bunch; I think the whole of Canberra was there as well.

We arrived at the beach house Christmas Eve, so no chance for decorations ... but the boys found a couple of old banksia branches and hung chocolates from them! Perfect. And Santa found their stockings too. Who would have imagined it :)

I got some lovely quilting and art bookings for Christmas, and some proper watercolour paints with a book on how to do it!! Van Gogh didn't pick up a brush until he was 30, and 40 is the new 30 apparently, so I'm right on schedule. Unrealistic expectations? Hell no.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Design wall Monday - holy half square triangles, Batman!

When Bonnie put "600 half square triangles" on the latest step of the mystery quilt I nearly fell off my chair - HOW MANY???? But this is exactly why I'm enjoying the mystery quilt - if I had the whole pattern in front of me I would have discarded it before starting as Far Too Hard. But now I've spent hours doing the string blocks I'm not stopping!!! There will be HSTs!!

Actually it's not taking too long at all. I use the eight-at-a-time method with 6" squares then cut into eight and trim them back to 2". With 6" squares I can get seven across a width of fabric (I'm using random yardage, I don't have that many red or neutral scraps left) so I'm doing them in blocks of 56 and I'm up to 224! So nearly half way.

This isn't really a "design wall" as such because I don't know how they're going to go together! It's a mystery:) But I am enjoying spreading them out on the floor and seeing how pretty and scrappy all the bits and bobs look. I cannot figure out how they will go together though ... but my trust in Bonnie is complete...

Sunday, December 19, 2010

All shades of brown

I used a new dye on this batch - yellow ochre. Normally I only buy the unmixed reds, yellows, blues and black and take it from there myself; but this time I bought a little tub of yellow ochre. And it certainly has its own shade!

These are very autumnal orangey yellows. I mixed in a bit of red with some, a bit of black with others, and did some darker and some paler. And that's as unscientific as it sounds, I don't bother with measuring, or labelling or recording what I do. I have ironed them now and put them on the shelf and they look much more appealing than hanging like rags on the line! My shelves are bulging with oranges and browns and peaches and apricots and salmons and yellows ... I think blue and green today to balance it all up.

Thursday, December 16, 2010


The ever-reliable Hancocks turned up another free shipping event last month, regular as clockwork. Actually, not that regular really, because it seems to be unpredictable ... you never know when the wonder will strike! I like that in a shop. So, as usual, I cleared out their clearance items at one yard each to get to the $75 or $100 or whatever their minimum is for free shipping. And then there's three or four weeks of breathless anticipation to see what actually turns up!
To be honest, I tend to forget I've ordered it, and then buy some more, and get surprised when 19 yards shows in the mailbox. Or, in this case, the carport. I have had MORE words with Australia Post in my ongoing battle for them not to leave stuff where people can nick it. Or it can be rained on. You'd think this would be quite simple, wouldn't you? Hahahahaha.

Luckily, no-one in my leafy and semi-retired suburb bothers to steal my mail. But they would if they saw what was in it! How good is this?

Monday, December 13, 2010

A good day for scouring

I love that they call pre-washing fabric for dyeing "scouring" it. It has such connotations of scrubbing it with something caustic in a big cauldron. Putting it in the washing machine and pressing the start button isn't quite the same.

But today was a very good day for drying - finally some sunshine after all the rain we've been having. This unbleached might be a bit coarse on reflection ... but I'm going to use it anyway! I have used every dodgy fabric from see-through lawn to melting polycotton to hideous polyester satins in my quilting before now, and I see no reason to balk at unbleached calico.

It is also a good day to sit on the steps to have your morning tea (if you're a boy) and roll on the dirty concrete and have your tummy tickled (if you're a fat tortoiseshell cat).

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hard at work, honestly

All I've been doing this week is sewing on those neutral string blocks for the mystery quilt ... and it's Friday already! What if I fall behind! The pressure! I did have to go away for work for a couple of days, which I will give as my reason for not a very interestingly quilty post. But we still need a photo - so here is me hard at work in some Pacific country! You can tell which one it is by the local beer ... Tusker, so must be Vanuatu.

I went to Spotlight this morning (had to go another route because the river was up ten metres... a whole nother story there) and they had 50% off dress calicos so I got fifteen metres of unbleached for dyeing! And another three metres of bleached extra wide (that was all they had left) so I am gearing up for a full-on dyeing frenzy. Bring it on....

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

The mystery deepens

I'm still going with Bonnie's mystery over at I have never done one before and the enthusiasm remains strong! This is also the first time in my life I have followed any kind of pattern. My general method is to look at the picture, read the instructions and decide they're too complicated, then knock something up generally the same but much simpler!

Until this step I had never sewn on foundation papers, despite having made dozens of string and scrap quilts. It certainly is a much better finish, and you can use quite small strings. And because it's a mystery I can't look at the finished product and think about how I can make it easier, and skip some of those pesky middle bits .... very good for the soul I think, a bit of discipline.

Bonnie encouraged us not to use just cream or white tone-on-tones but to mix it up a bit. I think I've done that, in fact I don't think I own nearly enough neutrals for this. I've only made a dozen blocks (of the 60) and my scrap pile is dwindling! I might have to buy something, bummer :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

Design wall Monday - not much progress

I've finished my pink and purple and green puss in the corner blocks and now I've made the setting half-square triangles. Not too much excitement there!! I think they will look good together - I might just do a plain wide border. Not sure.

The point of the exercise was something small to hand quilt at the quilters' meetings. I've been doing bindings at every meeting this year - boring! It would be good to have something that didn't get finished while I was there and I could pick up and potter away at.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Dress form quilt ... from the vault

There's been no sewing because I've been away all week - so here's one from the vault! I made this late in 2007 for a friend's daughter for Christmas, I think she would have been five at the time. It's my version of the dress-form quilt that a few people have made ... I couldn't find either a pattern or any proper pictures at the time so just did it from very hazy memory. Fortunately it's not a difficult shape to draw.

It was heaps of fun if I remember rightly - matching the different scraps of fabric to the different styles of dresses and trying to make each one unique. Some are more successful than others definitely.
I like the one with the pink tiered ruffle skirt ... it's probably some kind of wish fulfilment of clothes that you could never wear in you're own life. Like paper dolls! I might see if the boys are interested in paper dolls ... chances are NO.