Sunday, April 29, 2012


This used to be a terrible failure of a quilt. I tried to free-motion with that horrible horrible invisible thread - clear like fishing line - and it was awful. I've struggled through with it on a few quilts, but this little number had a whole pile of things wrong with it. It was made from some quite cute charm squares, and my own blue, but none of the points matched. I decided not to fix that, but I did pull out ALL the ugly invisible thread.

I threw away the nasty cheap polyester batting, and the pieced backing of mutant blends.

Then a simple straight line machine quilting, a proper back of pretty fabric and a striped binding. And it's rescued! I am so pleased, this has been sitting on top of my cupboard for ages. It was underneath a Carpenter's Star - baby-sized and piecing all done - that was so awful in colour and execution that it went straight to the bin. Didn't even stop to take a photo ... a moment of guilt and then liberation!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Just because

This is for no reason at all - I just felt I needed a half-apron, and why not make it flowery and gathered while you're at it. At the risk of being the most uncool person in the universe, I really like wearing aprons. They cover up your clothes. Not that my clothes are particularly precious, but I am a spectacularly messy cook. I get crap everywhere when I cook - over me, over the floor ... I wipe my hands on my trousers and forget to close drawers, so the bits of food go all through the cupboards as well. An apron goes some way towards preventing the worst of it.

I'm doing the knee bend again, not sure why. It's the last day of the school holidays here, it's been a very quiet one but the boys haven't objected to being at home most days... pyjamas until midday! They're doing something suspicious in the garden in their jammies at the moment, they seem to be poking sticks into the dirt. We've kept up the burning twilight tradition, so they might be gathering kindling for tonight's smoke-filled hoe down.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Looks much better in reality

For some reason this Dresden plate baby quilt just doesn't photograph well. In real life it's light and pretty and the colours go together really well - but the photos look drab and boring! Never mind. I quilted some flowers on the plates and straight lines in the background.

I will definitely use this pattern again - and my EZ ruler - the possibilities are endless. Especially with dots, there is something about this and dots.

And a nice green on the back too. I re-folded my fabric to fit the recent acquisitions in, and I think I might have ever so slightly more than I need.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

School holidays

I'm not one of those mothers that looks forward to having her little angels at home each and every day during the school holidays. I think children, like interpretative dance, are best in small doses from a great distance. But, apparently, they are still too young to be left on their own, so we all get on as best we can.

Luckily I have known plenty of Good Mothers in my life so I've learnt not to rely on my own instincts but to stop and say "what would a Good Mother do?" and then go with that. So when they asked if they could do some tie dyeing (they both learn Indonesian at school, and Ibu Fiona taught them tie-dyeing one day, strange but true) I checked my initial response "god no! what a pain" and decided that a Good Mother would facilitate this wholesome activity.

It took me an hour to set up, another hour to clean up, for just ten minutes of dyeing, but I think they had fun. The t-shirts are batching so we'll see how they turn out, and if they will ever wear them! My guess would be no. We won't be doing it again.

On a happier note, my 19 yards from Hancocks finally arrived - I'm no longer surprised by their five week delivery times. You get what you pay for, and this was free shipping. I went with neutrals and blenders for this pile, and I'm pleased with all of them! It cost me less than $90 Australian, which is such a bargain.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Finished the flying geese

I quilted up this little number in no time at all - random squiggles in the yellow and a sort of loopy thing in the geese. And a framing stitch for the green border, which was probably a mistake in hindsight, but I'm not about to unpick it!
The burning continues ... it's the boys new favourite thing to do. They're reasonably sensible with it (after being mildly burnt on the fingers, amazing how educational that can be) so it's an easy few hours entertainment. I've decided that twilight burning-time is "mummy cocktail hour" - I made myself mulled wine the other day! It was delicious, using Jamie Oliver's recipe which uses a sugar syrup with the spices and peel at a rapid boil, then you add the red wine and let it infuse over a low heat for a while. I'm not usually a fan of mulled wine but this was really yum - especially with the glowing coals and the crisp autumn air.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Dresden plates

You know how sometimes you think that something is just going to be Too Hard? And so you never do it? I had put double-fold binding with mitred corners in that category for years, until I sat down and did it, and it was incredibly easy. For some reason I had the same mental block about Dresden Plates so I did what any  normal quilter would do and bought a tool that had "easy" in the title. Or, in this case, "EZ". But I think the principle is the same.

It was genuinely easy, and lots of fun. Because there's a great round gap in the middle of the wedges, it is actually quite a forgiving block. If you don't mind ironing (steaming) any wobbles into submission, then it will sit flat no matter how randomly accurate my 1/4 inch seam is. I like that in a block.

I started with the border fabric and worked backwards to find the other colours - this is, again, a gender-neutral baby quilt. I machine-stitched the plates down so it should stand a fair bit of baby spit and subsequent washing.

It was the last day of term on Friday so we spent yesterday quietly - resting, and then burning things. I found this old brazier when we did the shed clear-out in January; it had been put away since the boys were born because toddlers and fire aren't so good together .... but fire and boys? Match made in heaven. Boom boom! Actually I don't let them near the matches, twigs and gum leaves are bad enough. We spent a happy hour toasting the last half loaf of bread and smothering it with butter and jam. Nothing like woodsmoke-flavoured toast! Although this one might have been a bit TOO burnt.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Garment sewing

I bought this stripey top for work a few weeks ago. I have trouble with work shirts; I like them to be not too tight, not too short, sleeves of a decent length, preferably not collars, not need ironing and enough of a pattern to distract from the bulges and wobbles underneath. It's not easy. So when this one was so good (looks better on the model but hey) I thought I would dip my toe back into garment sewing and try and make one. Just a few seams! Not much shaping? How hard can it be? I used this pattern, which promised easiness. And, in the main, lived up to that. I don't know if was two hours though.

I also used some pretty ghastly polyester print - it was cheap and I thought it would do for the first one - it's a nice colour but was a complete pain to sew. Slipping and sliding and not staying where it was put. Give me quilting cottons any time. But in the end it worked out fine, and the top looks as good as it's going to get on me ... I might make another one. This photo is a bit of shocker though! I wasn't really busting to have a pee, despite what it looks like. I think I was trying to slim my thighs. Oh dear.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

This is on MY bed

I'm linking up with Bonnie's "What's on YOUR Bed" linky party - it's not pretty (it's certainly not tidy) but it's real! I can guarantee I have never shown this utility quilt before, it's crumb blocks, sashed in some dodgy green print, and squiggle machine quilted. It's big and warm and belongs on our bed ... And the cats love it (but they are very broad in their quilt tastes, in fact I don't think I've ever made a quilt they didn't like). They look a bit perturbed here because I pulled the quilt slightly straighter. Can you tell?

You know the dodgiest thing about this thrown-together masterpiece? The light-purple cornerstone fabric has some metallic highlights, which I knew when I made it, but it also has some GLOW IN THE DARK flecks. Who would have thought of that? The first night it was on the bed, there was just a ghostly hint of flourescence. I couldn't figure out what on earth it was.

This is the only quilt on my husband's side of the bed, because he is a warm blooded creature. I am, apparently, a reptile, and need a lot more quilts than that. I dragged Crossbow up from the cupboard last night because it got down to 1 degree, and I've had this pink and purple peculiar number on the bed for a few weeks now. I made it before I realised that quilting fabric is quite good for quilts, and you don't have to pay $30 a metre for it if you shop online, and I think that cream is a polyester poplin. And some strange hand quilting there.

It's been washed and dried a few times now. My bed is designed for comfort rather than style...

Monday, April 9, 2012


We decided to have a little mini-break over Easter - to the fine town of Wollongong, a couple of hours away from here, on the coast, south of Sydney. We'd never been before, which seemed enough of a reason to go! On the way down we did the Illawarra Fly, at my suggestion. I must have been ON DRUGS when I thought it would be a good idea because I am scared of heights ... like my fabulous idea to do the Kosciusko chairlift last November. What was I thinking?

Number two son and husband loved it. Number one son and I clung onto each other and inched our way around (and refused to go up the wobbly wobbly tower). It was incredibly scenic and very safe but there is something about walking on steel mesh 30 metres in the air that freaks me out.
We had hoped to do some swimming - Wollongong has lovely beaches - but the weather crapped out a bit on Saturday afternoon and it was windy and cold. We still did some walking, checked out the Science Museum and Planetarium (was excellent, can highly recommend), and visited the Eggstravaganza downtown on Saturday morning. Free petting zoo! Can't ask for more than that...

It's so nice to get away, even somewhere close and unexciting, in global terms. The boys are so easy to please - the highlight was the breakfast buffet each morning and an hour spent chucking rocks in the sea! And for me it's exactly a year since the first chemo, and anything is better than that.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Individually consuming

Remember the flying geese I made for the sixteen patch borders and never used? No, me neither, until I found them in one of my boxes-o-crap at the back of the cupboard. We seem to be having an explosion of fecundity at work with wall-to-wall pregnant bellies SO I decided to use the un-loved flying geese to make a wee baby quilt for one of the mums to be.

Gender-neutral, they are all either not finding out if they're having a boy or a girl, or not telling me. Still to be quilted but I did find some very cute little fishies to put on the back.

I have been following the Kate Spain threatening to sue Emily Cier for copyright breaches with an enormous amount of interest - since the beginning when Emily, quite politely I thought at the time, shared the problem of being threatened without naming the designer. My sympathies are firmly with Emily - I think Kate has lost the plot a bit. I also think that if the matter had been litigated, Kate would have lost. The picture she was objecting to was primarily of Emily's quilt, not Kate's fabric. The most sensible discussion by far is over at Leah's blog, where she is basically saying that even though both points of view are arguable, the potential lawsuit has done irreparable damage to people's confidence in using recognisable designer fabrics in their own cottage industries. And that is really bad.

Anyway, as I was slicing away on this baby quilt, I saw something I'd never seen before! This phrase on the selvedge.

With my lawyer's hat on, this drives me nuts. Firstly, what does it mean? What is individual consumption exactly? I'm not going to eat it. Secondly, I bought this fabric off the internet with a picture that didn't include the selvage. Can it genuinely be part of the condition on which I bought this product if I didn't know about it? Thirdly, how does a retailer or on-seller fit in? Making thousands of kits with this fabric, is that allowed? If I re-sell on e-bay and someone else uses it for non-individual consumption (whatever the hell that is) do I have any liability? I know that this clause can never be enforced, and that putting this on the selvedge does not actually add to the designer's copyright ... BUT there is so much drama around this that if I was wavering between two bits of fabric, I would avoid this one because of some vague fear that it might cause me trouble in the future. Isn't that silly?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Why so huge?

When I was sewing these 49 patch blocks I consciously thought "I'll only make 16, so the final quilt won't be too big, I'm sick of wrestling enormous quilts..." But I must have had a brain explosion because the final version is 80 inches a side which is NOT SMALL. The borders for each block won't have helped. Originally I was going to sash it quite narrowly but I couldn't find a fabric that looked any good - white was too boring, cream was even worse, dark looked odd and striped looked so busy it would make your eyeballs bleed.

And I do like to pile on the different patterns. Why use a couple of fabrics when you can use fifty? It looks quite cheerful and scrappy, but I do think I have got this "large scrap quilt" phase out of my system now. I need to buy batting, then some simple machine quilting is all it needs. I briefly thought about hand quilting but Far Too Many Seams.

The boys decided to make cushions the other day. In truth, they pick the fabric and I make the cushions, although they do the stuffing themselves. It's a wonderful way to use up all the little scraps of batting.

After I did them they said they were dog beds, we don't have a dog, so one of them improvised.