Saturday, 31 December 2016

Twelve Red Robins

It has been an absolute delight to have the sewing machine perched on the kitchen table for use in the cool of the morning and the evening.  It's going away tomorrow... perhaps to be brought out at night, and used in the morning, then put away during the day. After all, it is the dining table, where 5 people eat every day.

I've made a wonderful use of the machine time over the holidays, but the family are all home tomorrow night, and we like to do things as a family. That includes eating at the table. (plus, I don't really want play dough and spaghetti on my sewing!)

Twelve Red Robins stitchery designed by Cinderberry Stitches

Just in time to end the year this little wallhanging is finished. The pink Twelve Red Robins (designed by Natalie Lymer of Cinderberry Stitches) was stitched when I first lived in a caravan while I was travelling. I started it sometime in 2013. Then, it took about a year to find the right fabric to match the stitching.

I didn't want to frame it, as it was designed, so finally today it received borders, and I really enjoyed the quilting of the little quilt. Even just a few quilted lines make it look like patchwork over the stitchery. Can you see the holly and berries quilted into the borders?

The more I look at it, the more I love the colours. The dusty pink and beige are just so soft and natural.

Just this morning I finished blanket stitching around the fabric squares. After all this time I had run out of the thread colour, and I remembered to pick some up at Lincraft's 50 percent off sale yesterday (what a great time to stock up on threads!!)

I am so glad I used the green Artline fineliner pens to trace the stitchery. It washes out very, very easily in water, even if you've ironed it. And for longer term projects it doesn't fade away before you've stitched it.

A warning though: I used it to mark in quilt lines once, and they never, ever washed out. It's like the ink stuck into the batting. If you use these pens, make sure you wash the stitchery in the hand basin with plain water, before it is quilted into a project.

used some new FQs bought last week on the back of the wallhanging

I was rummaging under the bed (where the UFOs are ), and I found the 12 Days of Christmas Birds. I looked at the borders where the blue pen has faded sooo many times after they've been redrawn, and decided stuff it! It doesn't need the final borders all the way around (I've been making those blocks since 2010. That's six years. Oh my.

Twelve Days of Christmas birds

I do think it needs some pretty fabric around the outside though. I will keep the project in the car now for the next time I go near a quilt shop.

Sounds like I have been clearing the decks? Well, yes actually. I have the Pears to keep working on, and I want to start a little(?? who knows? I bought enough fabric to sink a battleship, but I will design my own quilt with the Red Brolley stitcheries)  redwork Christmas wallhanging  for my sister's 40th birthday in 2017...

Plus, I am keen to challenge myself. Something I really miss is the inspiration and drive that comes from a quilt group. Just in time I have found Project Quilting, where we will have 8 challenges over 3 months to start and finish a small quilt following particular guidelines. I will do what I can, and see what I can get up to! I am excited! I even joined Instagram to share the photos. It starts tomorrow.

In the meantime, Happy New Year.

This last one is for my DH, as our whole house is a sewing room at the moment.

Friday, 30 December 2016

I did it!

I did it! I stuck to it, and I've finished machine stitching the six QAYG table runners!

Trois Oiseaux  (Three Birds) QAYG tablerunner

And I need to buy 10cm of fabric for the last one. It was pretty close I can tell you! But, somehow I had cut up more of the red squares than I needed (I have enough for another table runner), not yet! Not now!

I like to use the pre-printed labels to attach the label before quilting, then the label can never be removed. I usually remember, and I've even done it on 5 of the runners (not that they are likely to be stolen). It is a good practise, nobody can ever remove your information without ruining your quilt.

I enjoyed studying quilt history a few years ago, and there are so many quilts with no known story. Are you telling the story of your quilt on the label?

Keeping along with the pears, 4 calling birds is finished. A few more have been hand stitched, but I cannot cut them out yet. I've been economical with the fabric and put them close together, which means if I cut them out without stitching all of their neighbours the hoop wont fit.

Three pears so far

I have a tendency to keep projects in bags like this.

 I am often called the "bag lady" for taking so many bags around with me. I like to keep each project in its own bag. I also like to see what is in the bag. I wonder what I could make from tea towels as projects bags, maybe with a clear window. And my threads are becoming tangled. It looks like my baby boy has been into the threads, or perhaps I have dropped some, there are less colours in here than when I started...

Hmm... what to do on the sewing machine next? I might finish another Christmas project... let's have a rummage.

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Counting the 12 days of Christmas

I think I must have the most lovely DH in the world!....  *LOVE* .....Feeling very pleased with myself, instead of starting to cut up my new stash into bits and pieces, I continued with the last two table runners (which now have the backing spray basted on, and the centre is started for each one).  When I professed how well behaved I had been, my sweetheart says I don't have to finish everything now, I can have bits going here and there.. oh! My Heart! He really is my True Love. Hee Hee. You know you have Mr Right when he says "You can never have enough stash", although, that was before I went shopping yesterday. xxxx

It is wonderful to read other dear quilters' blogs and hear about their families who support their crafts whole heartedly too.

As for evening handwork, I am working on the Pears for the 12 Days of Christmas.

I haven't yet decided whether they will hang off a dead branch or a little appliqued tree mini quilt type thing.

I bought fabric to make two of these, I wonder who will end up with the other one. Maybe I could have one in the house and one in my studio, and keep them both?

I modified the Hatched and Patched pattern a little bit. The stitcheries are the same - I am hand stitching them onto muslin, then I have machine blanket stitched them onto synthetic felt from Kmart, and inserted a ribbon and used a triple stitch on the sewing machine to join the front and back.

Ooh, I have cracked open yesterday's new stash - the 75c ribbon. It's a lovely jacquard cotton.

I had to google when the 12 days of Christmas start. They start on the 25th December. I wonder if I will have them all finished by the 5th January, which is the 12th night.

Happy 4th day of Christmas. xo

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

SEX and another runner

Hahahaha! Don't be fooled by the title of the post! SEX is Stash Enhancement eXpedition... and yep, another QAYG tablerunner.

I was up early, out and about in the sales this morning. I only went to one shop! I was in there one and a half hours! I think it must have been the sales assistant's first week on the job... bless her...

Last night I was swanning around on here feeling awake and inspired when I should have been sleeping. *hand slap*. Somehow I found a swag of free redwork and Christmas stitcheries by Bronwyn Hayes of Red Brolly. I downloaded all the PDFs and went to bed with redwork in my head.

I love sewing and making, and quilters are usually so giving that we give a lot away... (for example, out of 6 tablerunners I am making, one is for me). but I have decided to be good to myself, to love myself more, and that means to make more for me.

If I am going to make a little ornament for someone else, I am also going to keep one. That's my new rule. And to celebrate, I found this little Santa ornament stitchery also by Red Brolly. And... this tree skirt on the moda bakeshop site.

That was it! I was inspired to get out of the house early, and got to the Spotlight Christmas clearance before it opened. We were accidental earlybirds! Oh my goodness! I've never been to the frenzied after Christmas sales before, and luckily it wasn't too bad. Actually, I might have been the one everyone was talking about afterwards that was taking all the sales assistant's time!

With Christmas redwork on my mind, It should be no surprise that I bought stacks of these fat quarters. Silver and gold on white in FQs and red and cream scandi FQs.

An absolute bargain, it worked out at $4 per metre.

Keeping in mind Jo's recommendation to buy on sale, and use it throughout the year, I bought a stack of tea towels.

Such a big stack they are nearly falling over. 

Under $5 for a pack of three high quality tea towels. Ooh! I am going to be looking for tea towel projects. Do you know of any? Jo directed me towards some aprons and I found a pattern here. There are so many tea towels. I won't want to make quite that many aprons, even though I do seem to have a run on a particular project now and then (see sidebar for mini quilts, oven mitts, journal covers, 12 FQ quilts, QAYG runners... you get my drift?) . Any other ideas?

Ribbons on sale, I thought would be useful for apron strings and Christmas tree skirt ties. Ah. And can you see the batting I went in to buy? It's there in the back left corner. Ooh, and on the right you can see a Christmas mug. A couple of those went into the stash, a mug and mug bag can be useful gifts.

Coloured homespun to use with the Star Wars and Motorbike fabrics I already have under the bed.

And I became quite excited about these napkins. At under $5 for a pack of 4, with a bit of redwork on them I thought they would be very special gifts.

Honestly, I don't think I bought myself anything much. Except for my new rule to make one for me!

It's all still Christmas, Christmas, Christmas in my brain!

And then here is the fourth QAYG tablerunner finished so far. I pieced fabrics from the panel to create the centre.

Now I have more batting I can start two more. ... as soon as I finish googling for tea towel projects!

Monday, 26 December 2016

Sshh... be very quiet

Ssshhh! It's early in the morning on Boxing Day (the day after Christmas here in Australia), and Mummy is up to do something she wants to do. (Sew and read blogs! Giggle.) while tired kiddies and Daddy are still sleeping off yesterday's excitement.

What a wonderful family day we had, and I am so grateful....

6pm - the end of a wonderful day - still smiling!

I had finished all my Christmas gifts this year, and I wasn't sewing madly Christmas Eve (actually, that's not quite true. If any were unfinished, I replaced them with something else a bit earlier, and I was still sewing on Christmas Eve morning, but that was for fun)....

As well as this pavlova (with secret ingredient glace ginger), I made a parsnip and cashew nut roast. Ooh! Vegetarian heaven! It tasted like stuffing! Kind of sweet and chewy with crunchy bits and lots of herby flavours!

This is the Bird and Berry tablerunner. I just love birds and berries! I think you might be able to tell!

This one is a birthday gift for my MIL Gail, which is in January.

Maybe there will be none of these next-year- Christmas gifts left by then! Let's see, out of six runners I think: one for me, birthday gift for MIL Gail, birthday gift for my Mum Wilma, Christmas gift for sister Libby, 40th birthday gift for Robin, birthday gift for Aunty Ann! That's it. All spoken for! Hahahahhaha. Or should that be Ho! Ho! Ho!

Well, I'd better get sewing. Merry Christmas. xo

Luckily I have been given a fabric gift voucher.

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Ahem. I also found...

I feel like I am being such a good girl using up all the Christmas fabric I bought last week. I had enough batting for two table runners. Finished those. Now what to do? Bit of a rummage for some other sewing projects, and yippee! I found enough batting for two more! Hurrah! No need to try to get into town for batting during the crazy, busy week before Christmas.

 Two Birds table runner is finished

It is wonderful to see sew many variations when quilters make similar projects. I think that's why linking up is so much fun. It's inspiring and motivating. We get back on here and "report" (or write our blog), and it keeps us on track with our projects.

Berry Bird tablerunner is sewn, just needs binding

Dollan Design made a Christmassy table runner in a similar design and it looks so different. She has used scrappy fabrics for the centre squares. What a different effect is achieved!

I also love her Christmas tree placemats. Such lovely colours.

Ahem. Did I mention... during the rummaging...  I also found...that I have a stash here after all. I thought my stash was in storage. Nope. It seems once a quilter is a fabric hoarder, she is always a fabric hoarder. Here I am, thinking how good I have been using up all that fabric I just bought, and using up stashed backing and batting.. but there is SO MUCH FABRIC, mostly organised as projects, ready to be sewn under the bed.

When I wondered why I collected so much fabric here in under three years. I thought about it.  I had packed up my life into a caravan and wandered with no stash, only a few little projects to keep me sane. Eventually I settled 3000km away from my old home and started to collect fabric. But this time, I wasn't buying a fat quarter here or there, I was buying for a whole project. Um. This goes back to a few years ago when we had so much fabric, that Andrea and  I decided  we were only going to buy fabric if we knew what it was for. Sometimes I would stand in the shop and make up a new project. Hahahahhaha! And so, I became used to buying for an entire project. Or in my case 6 table runners!

It looks like I will finish four out of six QAYG Christmas tablerunners, then turn towards other projects for a while, until I buy more batting.... And I was trying so hard not to be distracted! It could be a disaster where two are left undone. Maybe I could work on one of the UFOs under the bed?

Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Finishing a Monster Quilt

Eight years ago when I first started this "Monsters" quilt (designed by Sue Garman), I couldn't have known that it would be perfect for my 6 year old son as a Christmas gift this year.

Every day I count my blessings for the three beautiful children in my life.

Oh yes, they certainly cut down on sewing time... Hahahhaha... but I adore my family life!

Mum has quilted every monster differently. Each monster block has a different background quilting pattern, and every monster has a different pattern in matching thread quilted  onto their body.

Mum had owner her Statler Gammill machine for only a year or so, and loved doing the machine quilting for me.

I am very lucky that Mum still enjoys professional machine quilting as a hobby and business. I love to machine quilt too, but I also love getting quilts back from  Mum with such a fast turnaround. I get to finish more projects!

Finally, the binding is on this quilt, and now it just needs a label. Then it will be wrapped under the tree ready to give in a few days time.

Just for a giggle, here is the back

I hope you are feeling ready for Christmas too.

Monday, 19 December 2016

Sewing in the kitchen

When one is sewing in the kitchen, it's not the same as having a permanently arranged studio. For one thing, I have to clear away all the dishes and wipe the island bench immediately after dinner - it's my cutting mat area. (Usually a quilter on a sewing spree would just leave the dishes undone.) The freezer has a towel and iron over it. There are leads extending across the room.

Oh no! I am sorry darling! Are you ok? Ouch. He tripped on a cord. Luckily he is ok. Iron hit the concrete floor. Well, let's see if it still works.

A bit later... What's that smell? I rub the iron over an old towel on top of the freezer. Eww. Lots of brown is now on the towel. I'll turn down the temperature.

A bit later... Pew! That smell! Oh My God! The thermostat must be broken! The iron is so hot it is melting itself. YES! The plastic half an inch away from the metal plate has melted on one side.

Ok. Unplug and it's time to throw it out. Hahahhahahhaha. Oh! The casualties of sewing in the kitchen!

Because I had been sew conscientious yesterday, I had all my pieces cut, pieced and pressed. I was able to start the second tablerunner.

Meanwhile, adjustments are being made while trying to work out the optimum times to sew in the "Darwin kitchen". (This is Australian jargon for a covered roof with 'walls' enclosed only by shadecloth, with electric lights and fans on the ceiling. Cooking inside the house heats it up too much). It was lovely out there at 5am this morning and too hot by 7:30am. Slowly fitting into a schedule that allows family time, and sewing in the cool of the day (ha! Whatever that is!)...

Winter birds tablerunner is finished.

The binding should be finished on the Monsters quilt today.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Sewing Adventures

It's been a wonderful week of sewing adventures. I've finished a quilt, and started new projects. Feeling inspired and happy!

Now I have to slow down on the machine sewing and cutting mat part, and lean towards more handwork during the day.

It's too hot here to be outside, even under fans, and I've had heat stroke symptoms three times in the last five days.

Before it happened today, I was able to start the binding on the QAYG Christmas bird table runner.

...And a whole lot of cutting out - I cut the rest of the fabric, and found I had enough for another 5 table runners - that's 6 in total with the same fabrics. Yippee! Lots of presents on their way.

While I pieced pictures from the panel to make the 8 inch square centres, I also stitched the red squares that form the centre line of the runner, using them as leaders and enders. (There are so many projects going around at the moment with four patches, I am tempted to make one, just while I am doing other things. Hmmm. Maybe I could use this bag of fabric scraps I put aside for a wedding quilt for my sister, and actually make her something.)

Pieced centres

Scrap bags - looks like I started a double wedding ring by hand. Groan. Next!!

Daytime sewing of binding on the monsters quilt, and stitchery is going to follow. Perhaps I can make the next table runner tomorrow night in the cool.

Started one of the pear tree stitchery projects

Friday, 16 December 2016

The Horsey Quilt is finished!

Last night my baby boy was asleep at 6:35pm! I started sewing at 6:37pm, and had a dream couple of hours at the already-set-up sewing machine! Woohoo!

First I started this QAYG table runner. As it was the first one, it took a bit of time to set up. I have the measurements now, and will be able to make more much faster. (More? You say. Of course! I have enough fabric for another three.)

Really, I think I need to take a leaf of out my friend Jo's book. She has been making Christmas gifts all year. I need to do the same. Maybe I can say one per month. Surely I don't need to give a hand made gift to more than 12 people?? Even for me, who loves to give hand made. Twelve should be more than enough.

Then I moved onto the couch for some hand sewing, and finished sewing the binding onto the Horsey quilt. Hooray!

I am really excited to finish it in time for Christmas.

It's reversible, so you get to see both sides, and the dog.

And here is a gorgeous pic of the 40th birthday doiley in its new home.What a lovely place for it! On a lamp! And now, who minds it if sits flat or not?

I hope you are having a simply wonderful day!

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

A Sewing Holiday At Home

Today, for the first time in a long time, I realised that I had my quilter's head back. I'm not sure you could say it's my "normal brain", but it's a "normal quilter's brain".

What I mean is, I am actively enjoying the projects I am working on, and I have the next three projects planned, because I know I will be onto them soon.

What do I mean?

I went to Sunlit Blooms local quilt shop for the first time today. I had barely been there 5 minutes when I had been greeted and welcomed by 3 different staff, and asked if there was anything in particular I was looking for. It was such a contrast from the other LQS I had been frequenting -
 where they don't seem to take any interest in what I'm making or ask me if I need anything (although I do like their fabrics). I enjoyed myself immensely, and found out that SB have two sit and sew mornings each week! Although they are about to finish up for Christmas until February.

Next thing you know, I am fondly caressing the Christmas fabrics, and there was nobody there to stop me from buying things for the next project! Well I did go into the shop holding this pattern I'd had for a few years.

Right now I have finished the quilt top for the wedding - it was quite windy today, this is the best photo so far. I am hand stitching the binding on the Horsey quilt.  The binding is machined onto Monsters. Soon I will have the bindings on, and I will be looking for some handwork.

This will be the border fabric for one pear tree 12 Days of Christmas.

This will be the border fabric for another pear tree 12 Days of Christmas.

Now I can choose the colours for the stitcheries, ready to work on in the evenings. I've had this pattern for absolutely years, and hadn't made it. The pattern says to use cereal boxes to keep the pears stable. Erm. No. That's not my style. I did have this cheap stiff "felt" from Kmart, and it looks like it will go with the border fabric. Terriffic.

Now I need to wait a couple of days before measuring myself to make the Christmas skirt. And yet, there is more time available to use the sewing machine before it is put away for a while. The next project in mind is a Quilt As You Go tablerunner in Christmas fabrics.

This means I have six projects in my head: Time For Love wedding quilt, Horseys quilt, Monsters Quilt, Christmas skirt, QAYG tablerunner and the 12 Days Of Christmas wallhanging I've been meaning to finish since 2010 - that's six years ago.

Does this ever happen to you? Hahaha. I made sure the bobbin was full so I wouldn't run out just before I finished machine stitching the binding onto the Monsters quilt, and instead I ran out of binding. Dang it! Had to cut another strip. Thank goodness I have a whole bolt of black Emma Louise muslin.

Totally exhausted and it's not even 7pm. I think it's time to hang up my brain for a while.

No wonder I'm tired - look at this. I've used a whole reel of thread this month.

I usually use the large cones of Signature cotton thread in grey or ivory, but I had a few reels in this colour and was able to use some up in the projects I've been working on.

Thank you for joining me. Rest assured, there will be more to see in the next few days.