Friday, April 30, 2010

Back to the future...

About 2 years ago Clare talked me into coming to Thursday night art classes at Nest Studio. It was a regular commitment, our time away from the hussle and bussle of work and home and a lovely creative outlet shared with a group of girls on a similar path. These are the classes where the Sew & Sews originated....the name we gave the group as we continued to meet on a Thursday evening whilst Carly went on maternity leave.
One of our early projects was Gokko screen printing. We made simple single colour line screens, then printed the designs onto fabric. I created a cupcake screen and printed up 6 aprons. Over the past few years I've embellished several and given them away as gifts.
A couple of Thursday nights ago Clare made G an apron. R was over last weekend and the girls spent the afternoon cooking. As soon as R got home she requested an apron of her very own. Not only that....she wanted one of the cupcake ones....and she wanted one of the red ones.
Well....if they've sat around for 2 years....they needed to be finished and put to good use. So last night at Sew & Sews I edged a red one in my favourite and recently washed red and white polka dot binding. A fantastic, no cost (no extra cost!) finish.

I would have loved to have popped a tiny red and white spot covered button cherry on top of the cake but I was all out. Just might have to go on a hunt for some self covered buttons tomorrow in MELBOURNE!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pyjama Party Finish....

Thanks to a public holiday day of sewing earlier this week (and a lack of commitment to my studies) I've managed to finish my Pyjama Party quilt.
Roughly 141cm x 128cm (55" x 50"), this little 1/2 square triangle layout features 12 fabrics, one of which is a leg from my discarded rose print pyjamas plus white for the borders and Kona Coal on the back. The back also includes a row of the offcuts boardered in white.
I wanted to keep the quilt soft so I opted for a double line of straight line diagonal quilting either side of the direction of the triangles in one direction. The white border is stippled in a small meander.
I agonised over the choice of colour thread and tried all sorts of colour combination tests. Whilst I would have preferred the back stitches to be less obvious by using grey in the bobbin, I hated the show through of grey cotton on the top. A case of the lesser of the two evils by choosing neutral for both top and bottom.
The binding is red and white polka dot. I love red and white polka dots but red can be problematic. The fabric used in the body of the quilt was tested before using and didn't run. That used for the binding does so I pre-washed and washed and washed it. You should have seen the dye that escaped leaving several rinses pink. Not even with the addition of salt (which I swear by) helped. And the problem escalates with low water use washing machines (which I have), leaving your lovely quilt ruined with red run stains. So hopefully I now won't have a problem.
I really love this little quilt and think that this is the classic hand made quilt I've had sitting in the back of my mind for some time now. And....I'm certainly not done with 1/2 square triangles just yet because a few other possibilities have popped in my head recently. However, I'm resisting the urge and will wait to see what other inspiration strikes on the weekend as Clare, Kay and I head off to Melbourne for the day on Saturday for the Australian Quilt Convention. We're very excited to say the least!

Monday, April 26, 2010

A good day....

A good day was had by all. A public holiday, the last day of the ANZAC Day long weekend and this little family got stuck into things.


Clare made a comment the other day about the pile of quilts on the chair and their lack of growth. What she actually said was...."you haven't added to this pile lately". So even though I wasn't offended because I know I've been making quilts for others it must have sent a subliminal message because after I'd finished measuring some batting for a birthday quilt, and worked out what I had left, I got stuck into my 'Pyjama Party' quilt even though I had absoloutely no intention what-so-ever to do so when I woke up this morning! Spooky! And, naughty's taken all day!


Has spent all day on "St Andrews" his driving/practice swing range. He's cleared. He's levelled. He's even fixed that back fence (as best he can). (He must read this blog!) I think he needs a trompe l'oeil on that back wall.

R & L.
Did some cooking.
"No I think creme brulee is a little hard". "We don't have the ingredients for tira misu." "Spooky cupcakes would be great....let me light the oven...."

And we had bacon and eggs for brunch and roast lamb for dinner! Oh I love a busy long weekend.....don't you?

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Baby boy quilt challenge.....

A couple of weeks ago I found out that the PR consultant we use is due to have a baby....probably about now. (We obviously haven't needed any PR for a while!) Now I love hearing about people I know having babies....particularly as my close circle of friends have all finished having babies and we're all quite a way off having grand children. I love making baby quilts because they are so satisfying....they're generally quick to construct and they're generally easy to manage in the machine and given my last tension disaster that's still not quite un-picked and now back in storage, a little project was just what I needed to get me back in my quilting saddle.
But, challenge number one emerged pretty quickly.
Sarah knows she's having a boy and I don't have a lot of boy fabrics and I'm on a fabric diet.
So using a basic pallet of red, blue and green I went through the left-overs and found that I had enough to make some scrappy squares-in-squares using these three colours surrounded by white. My fabric choices are pretty tame and I end up with lots of solids, spots and stripes so the squares work quite well. (Here it is being held up by my little baby!)
This little quilt is all from the cupboard....some small bits from the zip lock stash, some a little bigger from the plastic tub. Even the white sashing was mostly from the white off-cuts bag. I only had to cut some for the wider top and side sashings. It became a bit of a game after a while setting my own personal challenge to only use left-overs but I'm really thrilled with the outcome and the fact that I managed to build a 1m x 1m quilt.
The binding uses the very last of some fabric that I've had from when I first started quilting about a year and a half ago. Originally used as backing for another quilt and commonly referred to by me as the 'man's pyjama' print. I just had enough for this binding with only about 30 cms of binding zipped away in the binding left-overs bag. So I guess it has at least one more chance of an outing!
The back is from the stash. It's the Ikea hippo fabric in lime. I love this fabric, it's so happy and balanced and I've been looking to use it for ages in the right project and this is it. (I also scooped a 3m bolt of the red hippos a few weeks back....I don't know where it came from, it's been sold out here for ages but there is was right at the bottom of the pile begging me to find it and buy I did with the voucher my sister gave me for Christmas....and seeing as that was a was OK to buy fabric!)
The final challenge? The quilting. I was pretty nervious about the quilting after my last disaster. But I made an early start yesterday. Cleared the decks, got out the instruction manual, made a few tension adjustments and it all worked out OK. It was all stipple quilted in a couple of hours.
Baby boy quilt challenge completed!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

More party goodness.....

Some party food I forgot to share.....
Lotus cakes (aka pink meringues).... to make you stay with me Percy Jackson fans! Nectar of the Gods cakes (aka honey joys).
And I couldn't resist sharing this shot of the bowls and content used to create the rainbow birthday cake. (Yeh, yeh, yeh....totally artificial colours and flavourings but it is a birthday!)
The result?
A very happy birthday.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Good Goddess.....

It was a Percy Jackson theme for R's 13th birthday party with her girl friends so it was Greek Goddess's a go-go and blue food. If you're a fan of the Percy Jackson books, you will know that PJ's mum works in a lolly shop and brings home blue food every birthday! (You will have to read the books to know the reason behind the blue food obsession/ritual...!)
Our menu included lamb and chicken yiros (I know the Gods don't eat the meat of the animals they create....but it's a Greek theme....too!), pizza (because everyone eats pizza!), cup cakes in blue patty pans with blue M&Ms, honey joys (because I couldn't get any ambrosia) in blue patty pans and blue jelly with cream.
The birthday cake was the lightening bolt.....the one stolen from Zeus (Uncle Zeus to those in the know!). The body of the cake was the fabulous rainbow recipe from here and iced in blue to keep the blue theme going. L chose to go as Percy Jackson. (Doesn't this look like the book cover!)He and R made the lightening bolt during the holidays (I added the glitter!) and made the shield. We cut out the shape from the top of the Weber lid from a cardboard box specially picked from Bunnings (they weren't too impressed when we asked for 'that box right up there'), added a few nuts and bolts and sprayed the lot gold. He carried them around all day...well done L for staying in character!
The party was lovely, the guests were divine. We had lots of fun!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


Look what Joe found under a tree whilst weeding this afternoon! Our recent feathered visitor left us a present. I just wish she'd let us know....they look like they used to be perfect size 60 eggs!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Did you hear the whip cracking?

The hallway is finally finished and sadly (because I've been banging on about it for so long!) too hard to take a good photo. After all the colour deliberation and problems we experienced along the way with show through of repair areas, and buying low sheen instead of satin, we're really happy with the outcome. I even stayed up late on Saturday night to put a coat of danish oil on the skirtings and architraves and they now look worthy of the spanking new wall finish!
Now it's onto the next project!
It's the second week of first term school holidays. I've taken the week off and Joe took a couple of days either side of the weekend. The sewing machine has been packed away....I know unbelievable.....and we've been working in the garden.
We used to have a lovely old plum tree that for years delivered an abundance of plums that allowed me to make Plum Rum and Raisin jam every Christmas. Over the years the tree slowly died much to the jam recipient's chagrin and mine because I've had to buy plums these past 2 years! Back in September Joe decided to chop it down and put the branches out for the hard rubbish pick up. He made it to the trunk then it got too hard. (Imagine 1.5m of tree stump.) I told him that he should have invited the lady who was stashing the off-cuts in her car boot as fast as he put them on the footpath to come round and finish off the job.....! (I have since learnt that plum wood makes an excellent, slow burning fire...and that 'help-yourself to our wood' woman must have seriously been dancing around her wood stove, chiminea or whatever she needed our wood for...!) So needless to say, the dead tree trunk has stood right at the end of the garden path mocking me every time I looked out the back door. I don't know what possessed him but on Monday Joe finished chopping the tree down. After much swearing, bow saw blade changing, huffing and puffing and a noon deadline he got the trunk out.
In its place will go a raised garden bed. We've recycled the frames from the 'no-dig' beds, stacking the two on top of each other. A bit of resizing, new screws and a paint job. New soil will be ordered on the weekend.
Actually, I confess. I do know the motivation for this flurry of activity. It's called a driving net that Joe's planning to build in the corner of the backyard behind the shed. It's a big project and will require a lot of clearing and construction. So given Joe's libran tendencies and the time it takes him to get anything may be some time before it materialises. I best not mention the fact that the back fence could do with replacing so I bought some pittosporums instead!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


Happy 13th birthday special girl....
Born amidst much flurry on a Friday evening...
You're fun. You laugh. You're good and we love that you love!
(Posted pretty close to the time you were born 13 years ago!)

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Definition of annoying....

Discovering that the bottom tension in the last third of stippling is out of kilter.
Unpicking takes longer than stippling the same area.
Sore finger from pulling threads.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

It's a sign......!

We arrived home yesterday afternoon to find a lovely looking red hen in our backyard. She was a having a gay-ol' time foraging around and looked quite settled in amongst the agapanthus. The funny thing was that I was hanging clothes on the line, heard a noise, looked and then did a double take as I had to process the fact that we don't have chooks!
R and I have wanted chooks for such a long time. Joe is not a fan and when he heard one had mysteriously arrived in our yard, he hit the roof. Whilst his anxiety was more about 'acquiring' someone else's chook mine was about making sure she didn't freeze in the event she would still be with us over night.
R quickly sprang into action and emptied the scrap bucket for chook scraps, cut up a new cucumber (grrrr!) and got stuck into bread slices. She called a school friend who has chooks and between them they worked out a few tactics on how to encourage her to stay. She also spent quite a considerable amount of time converting the long-time abandoned cubby house into a chook pen.
She even named her....Haigh's (as in the chocoloate) in honour of this Easter season!
By the time I'd returned home with Joe our little friend had moved on....hopefully back home to her own chook family.
It was a bit of a laugh and I found it difficult to suppress the irony of a chook landing at our house on the eve of the Easter season. It's a sign....and now that the cubby quite obviously is capable of hen-house makeover perhaps Joe might relax about having some hens permanently in the yard. Happy Easter everyone!