Thursday, 26 September 2013

Another UFO Bites the Dust

I haven't had a lot of time to sew in the last few days, but was determined to get something done anyway, so I rummaged in the back of the cupboard until I found a UFO to work on.

This started out as a bundle of pink fabrics with fairies and castles and cartoons on them which were donated to Stitching Hearts ages ago.  The fabrics were slightly heavier than regular patchwork cottons, so probably curtaining.  We had a sew in one day while there and did a couple of stack and slash quilts.  This one never got finished and it sat and sat and sat in the cupboard at Cabarita for months.  So Bug-a-lugs brought it home and guess what?   It sat and sat and sat in MY cupboard for months! 

Here is what it looks like now:

It was a challenge!  I had 7 completed blocks, with none of the feature fabrics to work with.  As it was too wide and too short with a 3 x 2 layout and too narrow and too long with a 2 x 3 layout, I chopped up the 7th block to make a strip through the middle.  I sashed the whole lot with dark pink.  The dark pink fabric was a cow to work with; a cheap patchwork cotton which was quite unstable because it wasn't a firm weave.  Never mind, I think the finished quilt looks OK and I am sure there will be a little girl somewhere who will love the bright colours.
There are princesses.....

And some cutie girls....

And I pieced a backing from the pink polka dots.....
I will make up some binding in the dark pink fabric before next week & take it to Cabarita for pinning.
Next, I made up some 4-patches.  Jan-Maree at Aussie Heroes sent out an email request to her faithful slaves, asking for some 4-patches to go into a special mystery quilt.  There were 2 lots required and I offered to do four of each.  This first batch has fairies, butterflies & other pretty things, bits and bobs I had in my stash.  With 3 grand daughters I had thought this would be an easy task, but Jan-Maree's request was for pink & all my fairy fabrics were in blues, greens & every other colour of the rainbow other than pink!  I had to raid friend Jan's stash as well.  Good to have friends who don't mind you coming on a raiding excursion.  LOL  That is her fabric in the bottom 2 blocks.  Thanks Jan.

This next batch was a bit easier as it was all pink/white. 

We are in full Spring mode here with the garden ablaze.  This shrub is just outside my sewing room and has a lovely gentle fragrance which wafts in occasionally through the open door.  It is called "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow".  Don't know Latin names for plants!

Here is a close-up of the flowers.  As you can see they go from white through to mauve and onto deep purple.  Hence the name.

Also in full bloom at the moment is the Pig Face.  It is a hardy succulent which spreads at a great rate - good to keep the weeds out.  We have three varieties.  This is the magenta one:

And here is the pale pink one.  The yellow one has finished blooming for the year.

These Day Lilies come up in clumps in a variety of places in the garden.  This clump is in the front garden. 

I am linking this post up with the Brit Sewing Thursday linky at Dandelion Daydreams.  How about going on over there to check out some of the inspiration there.
Grab button for Maybush Studio

Til next time...... Keep on stitching.

Monday, 23 September 2013

A glorious Spring day & a ferry ride

Yesterday I was invited to a Chantilly High Tea to celebrate a combined double 60th birthday and the same couple's 30th wedding anniversary.  With DH still overseas, I went on my own.  It was a glorious day, and as the party was being held in an outer NW suburb of Sydney, I decided to go via the Berowra Waters ferry.  It is a very long time since I have been down that way, and I wasn't disappointed.  It was a beautiful drive.

The first part of the trip is the usual trip down the F3 freeway.  The powers that be have decided to rename that the M1 Pacific Motorway.  Why do we have to have a useless, expensive name change??  Think of the wasted money spent on signage, road markings, letterheads, maps etc. etc. etc.  Its been the F3 for 30 years, why change??

Enough ranting.  After leaving the F3, you cross a bit of the northernmost fringe of Sydney and almost immediately enter the Berowra National Park where you begin the descent into the Galston Gorge.  The road is very narrow, steep and very winding, with hair-raising steep hairpin bends. 

Almost to the bottom there was a tiny lay-bye where I stopped.  This is where I was headed:

You can see the vehicular ferry wharf just left of the centre of the photo.  Before I left, I checked on the ferry times.  So impressed!  It runs 24/7 and is a free service.
On a little further, and here is the ferry itself, just leaving the wharf to go to the other side.

And here we are all loaded up, and on our way
On the other side, the road runs through several villages in a semi-rural landscape.  There are horses and cows and orchards and lovely houses.  Our rural villages outside urban areas don't resemble villages I have visited in any other country.  They are few and far between and cover several miles with just a slightly denser grouping of houses than in other locations.  Often there is little more than a service station and a small school, perhaps one or two streets and then you are back out in the country.  This being the fringes of the Sydney Metropolitan area, the plots of land are mostly not more than 100 acres, with many of them smaller of course. 
The high tea was great fun.  I have been friends with this couple since before they were married, and know many of their friends and family, so I caught up with everyone that I don't see except on big family occasions.  There are many new additions in the form of spouses and babies, and lots of gossip to catch up on.  They have recently extended their beautiful home with the addition of a lovely garden room connected to the main house with a walkway.  In typical Cathy fashion, the whole place is beautifully decorated and stylish. 
And here was the cake:

I loved the Mad Hatter theme and the addition of that huge fish!  That was such a hoot.  You can just see the fisherman lounging in the row boat at the back.
I chose not to come home on the ferry as it was quite late when I set off and the road was pretty isolated.  Besides it was dark and it didn't matter that I was not on the scenic route.
On another note entirely; once a year, in Spring, I have a chap come in to do the heavy pruning and to put a layer of mulch down.  We need mulch here to help retain as much moisture as possible as the summers are hot.  Chris usually prepares the garden beds by weeding where necessary first.  This year he had a Steam Weeder here.  This is a machine, which came on the back of a ute, with a tank of water on one side and an impressive looking engine with many dials on it
All this machinery is used with a hose and a wand which looks vaguely like a vacuum cleaner
This is Chris' mate Jeremy operating the equipment.  They used it on a largish patch of couch which we struggle to keep under control.  Couch has deep very frail roots which are the devil to remove.  If you just pull it out, the roots break off, and regrow.  Here it is about 2 hours after they steamed it.  As you can see it is already dying - hardly any green in it at all.

Such an exciting concept!  Weed eradication with no poison, completely organic.  Anyone interested, the company is called Weedtechnics, and they have a Facebook page as well
Til next time.... Keep on stitching (not weeding LOL)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

A Commission

Yep.  I have been commissioned to quilt a quilt.  More by default than good management though.

This saga began about 8 or 9 years ago.  A friend came to the patchwork classes I was giving because she wanted to make a quilt for her daughter, so I helped her put it together.  She made, but had not quite finished, a beautiful quilt with Dresden Plates on it before she and her family moved to London.


Fast forward to about 3 months ago, and said family is now in Hong Kong.  She emails me to ask me if I knew anyone who could quilt a quilt for her.  Sure, I said.  There is a lovely lady called Jenny at Coastal Quilting in Umina, who would be pleased to do it for her, and if she could get the quilt to me I would co-ordinate it.

So the quilt duly arrived, and I discovered that a) it was pinned, b) the backing fabric was not large enough to go on a long arm and c) it was partly quilted with perle cotton.

So the upshot of this is that I am going to continue quilting by hand with perle cotton in the design already there, and I am going to machine quilt in the places which have not been done by hand. 

Here is what it looks like close up:

As usual, my photography leaves a lot to be desired and the colours in this lovely quilt have not reproduced.  Maybe I should do a course in digital photography.

As you can see there is a row of quilting inside each blade of the Dresden Plates, and two rows around each plate.  I am planning a design in the centre and in the empty green spaces which I will do by machine.  Will also do something in the border by machine.  It should work out OK as I have done something similar in the past.  I have completed just over 1/3 of the Plates, and the double row of stitching around 3 of them.  It is a slow process as my poor hands are really complaining.

Til next time...... Keep on stitching.

Friday, 13 September 2013


Over the last week or so I have finished quilting the first of the two snowball quilts I have made for Stitching Hearts.   I have also put the binding on it, but will take it down to Cabarita for someone else to sew it down (that's why it looks unfinished).  There are several ladies who enjoy doing that, so that is something I don't need to do.  Here is my effort:

I used a Signature Mercerized Cotton 40 weight in a variagated green/beige as the top thread, and a Mettler 40 weight cotton quilting thread in the bobbin. 

I FMQ'd spirals in the centre of each of the blocks, going downwards in rows, and along each of the rows I FMQ'd in the ditch around the squares between the blocks.  Stitching free motion in the ditch was a total learning experience!  It is SO hard.  My poor spirals were all different sizes but mostly fairly even.  As my friend said today "if you can't see it from a horse, don't worry".  LOL.
I continued the spiral theme on the border.  Wonky spiral on show here!  Overall it looks good and I am happy.  It would not win any ribbons in a show, but it is a quilt for charity and will likely be thrown into a washing machine, so that is fine by me.
The other snowball quilt top using the same blocks which I made is currently at Cabarita waiting to be pinned.
Another finish today at Friday Quilters was Verna's Garden.  I just love this quilt.  I have loved every single bit of the planning and construction process, and have now embarked on piecing the backing.  I don't have enough of the backing fabric, so I have begun to construct a GT stripe, which will be two rows of the same piano key border I used on the front of the quilt using the left over fabrics with a row of backing fabric between them.  All I have done of that so far is the cutting.
Now, just because I haven't enough to do during the day (and night), here is what I started yesterday:

Yep.  A Jigsaw.  But not just any old jigsaw, a 1500 piece jigsaw!  Yesterday afternoon I had to pick up Miss 7 from school, and we were sitting together playing with the pieces and the conversation goes something like this:
Me:  "This is a very big puzzle.  It has 1500 pieces."
She: (seriously) "You know Baba, you could just put in one piece a day and then maybe it would get finished"
Me: (snort) "Yes, well....  You know that would take rather a long time", (trying hard not to shriek with laughter)
She:  "How long would it take do you think?"
Me:  (silent snigger) "Oh, nearly 5 years I should think - you would be in Year 7"
Stunned silence ensued.  Little mind was visibly thinking "this woman is maaaad"

I can't leave it exposed and unattended, as Tibby thinks that the pieces make marvellous toys.  So it has a sheet over it when I am out of the room.
Here is the box.  It was my mother-in-law's, and I dragged it home from the UK the year before last, having scored it (and a couple of others) when we were clearing out her house for down sizing.  It is a picture of Queen Mary's Doll's House.  The doll's house itself was built for Queen Mary, the wife of George V in the early 1920's and is now on display at Windsor Castle.  The picture on the jigsaw is just beautiful, with unbelievable detail.  It has made me want to see the doll's house in real life.
Til next time..... Keep on stitching.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Decisions, decisions

This afternoon I came home from my voluntary Wednesday job fairly early.  The first time I have had a chunk of time to myself for almost a week.

The decision was:  To blog or to sew?  You know what I chose of course!  I went downstairs & sewed the last of the pieced borders onto my Vernas Garden quilt, and have cut and pinned two of the final borders. 

So a short blog tonight.

Before I go though, I have a bit of a quiz for you.  Anyone know what this is?

I do.  I just wondered how many others did.  Hehehe.  So leave me a comment and tell me what you think it might be.  I will reveal all shortly.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Weekend Shenanigans

We have had the busiest weekend!

Friday started with my usual trip up to Friday Quilters.  My lovely friend Di brought her AcuQuilt Go Cutter, and I took - you guessed it - the remnants of the green stash.  I cut masses of green tumbler blocks and threw in some purple to vary the theme a little.  I have no idea how many of these I need for a lap quilt for Stitching Hearts, so I guess I need to lay them out to see.  Here is my little stack:

Doesn't look like a huge pile, but in fact it used quite a bit of the fabric.  There is a bit of wastage cutting tumblers, but I thought it would be a bit different and a change from squares.

You will see that there a few fabrics there that I used for the Wonky Crosses!

Then Friday night there was a trip to the local theatre, to see a David Williamson play called "When Dad Married Fury".  It was full of verbal repartee, and sadly, none of the actors used a microphone, so some of it was lost on me, which spoilt it a bit for me.  It was a fun night nevertheless.  We are so lucky in these parts as we have 2 nice theatres here, and the performances often have well known actors playing.

Saturday morning we went to watch eldest granddaughter playing in the Netball finals.  They won!  So they are through to the Grand Finals next week.  The team they played had only lost one game - the semis last week.  So that was an exciting game.

All three girls play netball and love it, but the two youngest did not get as far as the finals.
The rest of the weekend we spent up in Blackheath at a bridge congress.  It is literally decades since I was in Blackheath, and I had totally forgotten how beautiful it is.  We had glorious weather, but unfortunately did not have any time to explore as we were playing bridge.  We stayed in a big old house with 6 others, and had a great time at dinner on Saturday night.  We are now planning to go up to the mountains again, and spend some time there.  The area used to be a favourite honeymoon spot all through from the early 1900s, but seems to have fallen off the radar these days.  Guess there are too many cheap deals in Vanuatu and Bali.
Yesterday I drove down to Pennant Hills to a sewing day for Aussie Heroes.  I took along the fruits of my labour for the last few weeks including the Wonky Stars I had made.  First thing we did was cut backings from 3 rolls of fabric.  Have you any idea how many backings that is??  I lost count, but it was a lot.
Next up, Jan-Maree had me lay out some of the blocks I had brought with me on the design wall, and then Rita sewed them up into a quilt. 

You can take a look at the result here.  The rest of the day, I spent piecing backings and putting extra borders onto quilts.  Pretty productive day for the 4 of us who turned up.

Sunday was Father's Day here, (as well as officially the first day of Spring), and as we were up in Blackheath, we had the family celebrations on Monday night.  The two eldest girls were off to Guides, but we managed a quick photo opportunity before they left. 

The mysterious parcel in brown paper, turned out to be a gorgeous wooden box made by Miss 12 in her woodworking class.  I was super impressed!  It had a lid which slides open, and decorative burnt wood engraving.  DH is a mathematician, so hence the designs on it.

Here he is with the artist:

I have linked up with the Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts again this month.  This is designed to encourage new bloggers and to expand their little band of followers, so please either click on the link above or on the button to the right of this post, and go visit some of the newbie bloggers.  Thanks heaps.