Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Just a few more days

I've been feeling really good about my progress as lots and lots of this block (Secret Garden block 3 with my own Wonderland modification) is now stitched down.

this section is all stitched down

I was working on it at sewing group today when I thought "Ooh! I might have this finished in two days". Then I saw that I still need to fix the stem I unpicked near the cat's head.

I wondered if I should put in another leaf near the stem (have now decided No, as the stem on the left side is kind of bare). Maybe I will put a smile on the tiger to make it look more like a Cheshire cat? (No, it's beautiful just as it is).

More stitching and fixing to do on this side

Then there is embroidery to do on the flowers. Ooh! And the little appliqued circles coming out of the protea-ish flowers.

And then I'd like to embroider a quote onto the background.

Leaves, flower, and pot to be stitched

Well, that sounds like more than two days work stitching. Hopefully I will be finished it by the 1st of May when the next block comes out.

If you haven't seen the wide variety of fabric and colour choices used by other quilters with these patterns, you can see them on (the designer) Esther's facebook group page.

I am totally loving the fabrics on this quilt. So much fun and variation. There is no chance to be bored with the stitching.

I am also pretty pleased with my goal setting, to try to keep up with the 2 heavily appliqued BOMs. I am a bit behind on the stitchery blocks, but I feel certain I will catch up and complete the quilt by the end of this year. Especially if I keep up with Diamond Hill until July when the last block is released.
After Diamond Hill is released, I am looking forward to making a softie of some kind. Perhaps a toy or decoration. I also know I'll have to make it along with a friend for motivation and encouragement. When this block is finished I'll have a rummage in my pattern stash.

Linking up with Esther's blog today for Working on Wednesdays.

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Grooving right along

Moving right along, the 3rd block of Secret Garden is developing.

This week it's taken a chunk of time to play with the fabrics. Looking at the fabrics isn't enough, it seems to require preparation of starching under the seams to view the composition objectively.

And even then, in the old days we would use a door peephole to look at our project from a distance to gain perspective. Now we take a digital snap on our phone and look at it on the screen. Then we make a change, and switch between two photos to see what we like best.

Here is my latest progress photo of the block.

I am still deciding whether to use the tiger head/Cheshire cat to replace 1 flower or 2 flowers.

There is another flower to hang down over the urn, and a rim and sash on the urn too - maybe in teal? Not sure yet. I might not know until the flowers have been embroidered as this will also add balance to the colouring in the block.

I love asymmetry. Odd numbers of flowers. Tiger head on one side, not the other. One Queen head hiding behind leaves, one in front of them.

Adoring these Tula Pink fabrics (tiger from Eden range, and Queen heads from Elizabeth range). It's just a really exciting project to work on.

Looking forward to having all these pieces chosen and prepared so that I can work on Diamond Hill block 4. It's only 3 weeks until we have the instructions to put together the first four DH centre blocks. I am keen as mustard to put them together at that time to keep up with everyone, so I am keen to catch up (or is it keep up?) with both BOMs.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Ready for the next block!

It feels good to have a block of Diamond Hill finished! I have so many "almost finished" pieces on the horizon, it's time to share where everything is, ready to motivate me to keep going.

Diamond Hill block 3 is totally complete.

Diamond Hill block 3

These photos make the blocks appear to be made in a glow in the dark fabric. 

I really love the purple textured flower centre fabric.

When I went back, I realise I have a flower and a flower centre left to stitch on block 2!

So, this is what I have finished so far, in my MIL's favourite decorating colours.

And when block 3 is also finished I will be ready to start block 4, the next piece of the centre of the quilt. Next month on the 15th we will have instructions to assemble these four blocks together. I would like to have all four centre blocks finished by then.

Esther has released the free pattern for block 4. I tried to trace the design onto the background fabric today, but I had printed this one out on my own printer, and the lines were a bit feint. I realised I'd printed the rest off at officeworks, and the lines were much more solid and easy to trace.

This week I have absolutely adored the quiet stitching moments I have "stolen", even though there is a hole in my stitching finger. Ouch!

Tomorrow it's sewing group, and I will take my iron again to prepare as many pieces as I can. I seem to get lots done while I am there.

In the almost finished basket, are these two stitchery blocks for the Labyrinth quilt QAL at fandom in stitches.

these blocks are actually the same size, but they have photographed differently

I just need to find a quote for each doorknocker and stitch it on - that's my own personal touch. I can't seem to follow a pattern down the straight and narrow these days.

Friday, 14 April 2017

makings of a Good Friday

And so here we are, it's Good Friday already, and as far as my creative outlets go, it's hardly any sewing, and all about the children.

Aaah. Feeling so blessed.

Today we started a new family tradition - making our own hot cross buns. It was my first time making them and it turned out to be really easy, using the recipe from the free Coles magazine.

Miss almost-6 has quickly grasped how to knead dough

The dough rose quickly and easily.

To make the crosses I just made a flour paste, put it into a ziploc bag, cut a corner and ran the crosses over the buns.

The buns cooked quickly.

Glazed with apricot jam

I really feel like I am sowing memory seeds these holidays.

After we made these, I ate two while they were still hot. Yum!!! So I wanted to go for a big family walk. Ooh yes, it was very busy at the Strand at twilight, but there was a beautiful breeze. We walked for nearly 2 hours, which was almost a bit much for the kids on scooters, and two adults needing new runners... but it was an easy trip for bub in his new tricycle I could steer while pushing.

In other crafty news, we painted kids tshirts using fabric paint.

Miss almost-6 spent a lot of time and effort painting the front with a rainbow unicorn, and the back with spots and lovehearts.

We opted for a watercolour look washed over with glitter.

front and back of Mummy's jarma top

The watercolour technique helps to keep the tshirts soft, and also spreads the paint a LOT further.

We were lucky to have over $100 of paints that I bought half price when one of the Lincraft shops in town was closing down.

front inspired by the movie Trolls, painted for Master 18 months

If we use the paint a bit less generously, we can paint more items each.

The children had an absolute blast painting these, and cited it as the best part of their day.  Although I have to say, we spread the painting out over a couple of days while one side dried.
dragon or shark on the front, dino spots on the back by Master 7

We have some more tshirts. I wonder what else we will get up to on these happy Easter holidays?

Happy Easter to one and all. xo

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Me Time

It was my turn today for a few hours to myself at a local shop for social sewing group.

I took two things to work on, depending on my mood: maybe I will just want to stitch and relax enjoying working on the Diamond Hill block 3. Nope. (Although, I can report it is now about 20% stitched down from stitching in the evenings.)

I felt like trying out fabrics for Secret Garden block 3. I found some leaf fabric, tried it, and loved it.

Then I tried out the tiger face as the Cheshire cat's face. It needs a big cheesy cartoon-ish smile appliqued over the mouth. This is going to look good. The face is going to take the place of one of the flowers. There is no room for both.

Auditioning fabrics is fun!

Now that the cat face, leaf fabric, urn and stem fabrics are chosen, I can see a few changes need to be made.

The protea looking flower is far too pale and washed out. I bought a grunge hot pink to try for the outermost petals, and will audition other fabrics for the flower after that.

And, looking at the Queen head flower, I would like to change the lime green sepals into another colour. Maybe a warm apricot blush kind of colour. I will know when the protea flowers are made.

I love the way choosing fabrics and colours evolves as the block forms.

The new Diamond Hill block comes out on the 15th. It would be great to have all the Secret Garden fabrics chosen by then, ready to make DH4. After the fourth block, I suspect we will be piecing the centre of the quilt with the blocks we have made. I would like to have the first four blocks stitched for the release of the 5th month instructions so that I can move along with the next instructions straight away.

I only have enough background fabric for the first 4 applique blocks so far, so I'll have to buy more. Twist my arm!

My friend Sarah at 9658 Textiles has written a superb tutorial on dyeing wool fabric for rug hooking when you want just the right shade. Dyeing and rug hooking are definitely on my "to do"/"to drool" list.  I can only say go read the post and check out Sarah's work. Totally droolworthy.

Linking up with Esther's WIPs on Wednesdays.

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Slow stitching and fast painting

On Sunday I read Kathy's post about a suddenly deceased quilter whose friends and family were cleaning out her sewing stash. The woman had passed away with a  huge pile of kits and BOMs put away for later, without even the enjoyment of taking the first stitch.

I was prompted to start the slow stitching of Diamond Hill block 3, which is almost all prepared to stitch with seams turned under, but I had put it away for later. I worked on one large leaf on Sunday night.

reminder to self: insert progress photo here

It's just as well I had it all prepared, because the children are home for school holidays and I've suddenly found myself EXHAUSTED making their holidays the best yet... with no creative energy leftover for my own projects!

birds nests from noodles, chocolate and little eggs

Monday we had a pancake breafkast, went shopping to buy baking ingredients, then we made birds nest Easter cupcakes. First we made mini chocolate cupcakes, then we made nests from Chang's fried noodles, chocolate melts and little chocolate eggs. After that it was kids at karate, then we watched the movie Trolls. Ooh! What a big day!
nests atop mini chocolate cupcakes

I was so tired Monday night. What to do? Just sit and stitch in the evening to wind down. Another large leaf stitched.

Today we've been to the museum to see the interactive moving dinosaur exhibit, met up with friends in a wonderful chance meeting, then enjoyed lunch out at the Cowboys club bistro. The children are napping, and have declared it the "best day ever" (well, for these holidays at least).

Last Saturday before I had "brain fatigue", I practised painting a tshirt for Master 18 months.
Yay! School holiday project time

We have more tshirts for kids and grownups to paint. At only $3 per tshirt, I think we will do a few of these each.
In an amazing twist, last night we saw a rainbow and the word HAPPY at the start of the Trolls movie! Kismet.

This will be fun!
The back of bub's tshirt. Any pattern seems to work in the paint.

As for me? My brain might just let me choose some fabrics for Secret Garden in Wonderland block 3 tonight. Yes! My brain is working again!

Saturday, 8 April 2017

Off with her head!

I did it! I started early, and I finished late. Sewing with online friends on a Friday night, thank you. I enjoyed your company.

Diamond Hill block 3 is almost prepared. Just flower centres and a stray petal to prepare. This will be put aside for now, and stitched later. I am feeling as though I am on track, and that's the main thing.
Diamond Hill free BOM block 3

Secret Garden block 2 is ready for the last hour or so of hand stitching. (I hope to enjoy that process today).

Secret Garden block 3 is becoming interesting!
Secret Garden block 3 is in progress

I envisage very bright purpleish leaves. The queen heads are wonderful flowers for this block. Still auditioning the alternate flowers in soft, pale fabrics. I will know when I have made the leaves and trialled the Cheshire cat's head whether they need to be changed, or can be embellished with embroidery stitches.

Next: keep making Queen heads, and prepare the cat head. When I am in the mood for choosing fabrics, I really enjoy this process. This is so much fun!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Three blocks on the go

Ooh! I wonder if I can sneak in two nights quilty work in one night tonight? Bub is in bed early, and Mumma has 3 blocks out to work on. Eek!

Of course, getting two nights work done in one Friday night would actually mean restraining myself.
Yes. That's what I said. I am gagging to start the next thing, which is Secret Garden block 3. I KNOW that if I start the next block, the others will be kind of left behind....

I seem to be dragging my feet on Diamond Hill block 3 a bit at the moment... . So many daisy petals to prepare, and these aren't MY colours, they are for my dear MIL. I just don't really feel like working on it. That is why I will push myself to do it. This is what I've done so far.
Diamond Hill block 3, needs a couple more leaves traced off

 I am now thinking to just make one more daisy tonight, then reward myself by preparing flowers on Secret Garden block 3 with the Cheshire cat.

Secret Garden block 3 (still looks like a secret right?)

So far this urn looks like a cauldron! But it won't always be so. I have plans. Big plans! Ooh! It's so exciting doing something different! Totally Maverick!

And here's the update on Secret Garden block 2.
Secret Garden block 2, with flamingo

Still leaves to add and a few embroidery details to go. But only one stripebell left! yay!

Linking up to Friday Night With Friends... I hope to have lots to show and tell over the weekend!

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Kicking goals

Slowly, slowly I feel like I am reaching my goals for this week.

"Time For Love" wedding quilt

"Time For Love" wedding quilt is bound. It needs a label, and I need to check over it for threads to be trimmed. Then I can post it to the gorgeous couple!

A little bit closer

I need to take some closeup photos of the blocks to share.

Secret Garden block 2 is almost finished. The flamingo legs and head feathers are stitched on (it still needs an eye). Most of the stripebell stems are stitched on. The only thing left now is a few stripebell stems and the flamingo eye, and to replace the large pink leaves, then attach the last stripebell. (If I hadn't been tea total for 6 1/2 years, I'd have a few drinks to celebrate that last stripebell). Secret Garden is a wonderful mystery applique BOM, and I am so grateful to be stitching along with 5,000 other people on Esther's facebook group page. I need the motivation to finish one block, and start another.

I've spent an hour drooling over fabric for Secret Garden block 3. I've picked a lot of the fabrics, and thinking about adding other colours and dimensions with fabric paint or embroidery stitches. Instead of hiding the cat behind flowers, I think I will turn the head upside down, and "disappear" the body, adding a toothy Cheshire Cat grin.

More leaves are prepared and basted onto Diamond Hill block 3. I am not even going to start stitching it yet. I'm not in the mood at the moment. I am happy to keep up preparing those blocks on time at the moment. I guess when it gets closer to piecing everything together in 3 1/2 months I will feel very inspired to stitch the pieces down.

Next post should be much more photo heavy.

Linking up with Esther's WIPs on Wednesday.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Working it

It's the school holidays here, which means so many of our regular family commitments aren't running. It is just what I need to get up to speed with my stitching goals.

I love the stripey batik for the daisies

Diamond Hill block 3 has begun!

I made all these flower petals before checking how they looked on the background fabric. Oops. They looked a bit dark until I took a photo. Then I could easily see where the flowers stopped and the background started. If I feel unsure later, I can always embroider a line around the outside edge of each petal.

Next: stems and leaves

The petals are a little bit too long, and will need trimming before stitching down. My plan is to have all of this block prepared by the end of Saturday.

Slowly, slowly, the bluebells on Secret Garden block 2 have been stitched on. Working on one little section at a time really helped with motivation. I finished a section with the embroidered stems. Looking at it and patting it was just the right incentive to keep going.
It makes such a difference to have the bluebells stitched down. The block feels soft!

Next the flamingo legs need to be embroidered, and one more little fabric bluebell stalk needs to be made. Then, 6 more bluebells (or stripebells in my case) need to be prepared. And I still plan to change the large pink leaves to a different fabric.
your chance to "virtual pat" the stripebells

By Saturday night I hope to have completely finished Secret Garden block 2, and fully prepared Diamond Hill block 3, and stitched at least one more side onto the binding on Time For Love (still two sides to go).

Sunday, 2 April 2017

In the mood!

Starting to feel more energy bubbling in my creative juices, I thought I would take a break from stitching bluebells. It has always been my intention to have every block prepared within its month of release, and then it can be stitched at any time.

The preparing takes more space, more brain juice (to choose fabrics), and more equipment (iron, extension cord, paintbrush, starch, turning tools, scissors, glue, etc).

I was in the mood!

Last night I prepared 3 of the 5 daisies for Diamond Hill block 3. I have traced onto double freezer paper, and cut out, almost all the pieces for the block (I accidentally missed a few stems).
daisy pieces prepared from this fabric, hoping to give the flowers the feeling of movement

This morning I prepared another daisy. Woohoo! Only one daisy, stems and leaves to prepare! I am hoping to finish preparing the block tomorrow so that I can sink my teeth into the next Secret Garden fabric choices. Oh yay! The new block in the mystery BOM has a cat hiding behind some flowers! cue Cheshire cat, and perhaps some Tula Pink tiger fabric!
Tula Pink tiger fabric, arrived in the mail last week! Hurrah!

I am still thinking about whether to use pansies or something completely different for the flowers, or to make them in a similar way to the pattern. Oh decisions! Decisions! I am in the mood to make them too!

Then we went to a family Easter egg hunt and cooked breakfast near the beach.

The event is held every year to celebrate our children's great grandmother's birthday (she has now passed over, but she adored Christmas and Easter, as do I, and this is how she is remembered - in her favourite type of family gathering).

We are enjoying holiday time. It's almost my favourite weather of the year here (May-October), it's cool enough to enjoy parks and the outdoors.