Monday, July 30, 2012

...down the plughole

Yes, it is the middle of winter in Australia, and yes, it is actually cold. So cold, in fact that N is taking an impromptu ski trip tomorrow and expects snow to fall while he is there.

So I made a beach blanket. Of course.

I used a pattern called Down the Rabbit Hole still in the production phase from Angela at Cut to Pieces. I found it again when looking for some quilty inspiration for a baby gift having first seen it posted last year during the Blogger's Quilt Festival. I don't think this pattern will end up in that gift but I do love it generally. It is a great larger small quilt - perfect for beach days and picnics. Plus I think it is a cool shape.

I used three Spotlight Prima Solids, in Peacock, Marine and Aqua - like waves! The binding is another Spotlight Prima solid in, appropriately named, Sand.

I thought long and hard about what to put in the middle of the quilt - in the end I went with these bikes, with the blue one almost exactly matching the Peacock solid. If I had planned a little better I would have included a picture of the quilt rolled up on the basket of my bike!

As Angela suggested in the pattern I quilted with lines parallel to the outermost edge of the triangles. The only modification I made was to quilt lines 1" apart at the middle, 1.5" apart in the middle section and 2" in the outer ring - like ripples on the water.

I'm calling my version 'Down the Plughole'!

Friday, July 27, 2012

...DUQS and some thoughts on favourites

I've joined in with the Down Under Quilt Swap on Flickr and as is mostly requested with swaps of this sort there has been a request to make a mosaic to help our secret partner narrow down the sort of thing we would like to receive to help in the planning process.

And as is also mostly the case I've found it difficult. I've always found identifying something 'I like best' difficult - from subjects at schools, to book, to songs, to genres.

I guess my taste is eclectic. And really heavily influenced (as I am sure it is for many) about what is going on within and around me when I form an opinion on something. 

How do I know I like something? - I just do. 

What is it about something that it like? It makes me feel, it could be interest a warm fuzzy or something else all together. 

So partner. with this in mind I've made a few mosaics (because I was having trouble with the internet not because I was categorizing which may have been a good idea, in hindsight) with things I liked this week. I guess looking at these I like textured backgrounds, pieced or turned appliqué, hand stitching. Dare I try to categorize - a modern vintage look?

I'm sure I'll love whatever you come up with. Do you have trouble defining your 'type'?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

... A Hexy MF update

There isn't really a lot to say except that I have based all of the centre hexagons and am doing the 'petals' as I   go. My aim to to get 10 done a week. So far I have done that twice in he four weeks I've been working on it so I am only two weeks behind!

I lay them out tonight to have a better look at the mix of the patterns/colours together. Obviously there are a few I would around when I sew them together.

Looking forward to working on this some more.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


A few weeks ago I joined the second round of the Handprinted fabric swap, I also participated in the first round of the swap but I don't think I have ever shared the packages I received so take this as thanks now!

On both occasions I just couldn't pass up the opportunity to have an excuse to print some things. After first learning screen printing at high school and then refreshing my skills in a class from Louise Snook at the Craft Show last year I think I should keep using the skills so I don't lose them.

The inspiration for the prints came from the (old and needing to be replaced!) ironing board cover.
I couldn't work out how to cleanly cut such small spots so mine are a little larger - cut with this great little craft  knife with a turning blade. I was really surprise how neat the edge of the circles were and how close I could get to staying on my drawn line.
Each fat quarter required two stencils - one for each colour printed on it. There are a few technical changes I would make on a future printing adventure but generally I'm pretty happy!
And I came up with these!

And in case you are interested this is what I have received in turn from Alli, Brandi, Katie and Kelley.

Thanks so much to them, and to Leslie for running it again.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

...more hexagons

Remember when, almost two years ago, we move to Melbourne and I had grand plans for a hand or EPP project I was going to sew for a week or two in our hotel while we found a house and waited to be able to move in.

How this grand plan was developed on a Friday afternoon, just after the movers left and I raced over to the Remnant Warehouse, my former LQS for one last visit there during the sale. How I bought a couple of template sets and then discovered and bought the rest (I think I have all of them new - and there are more than five) in the set.
These are the three I got done those weeks. These are the only three that I have got done since the wild scheme was conceived. These won't go in the final quilt I don't think. I'm not going to EPP the rest.

Until yesterday that is. I took the templates to the Sit and Sew day yesterday and knocked up a few more, this time by machine.
 They are all Victoria Textiles/Matilda's Own Template sets.
Merry-go-round Option 1
Whirligig Hexagon
Merry-go-round Option 2
Curved Star Hexagon
Merry-go-round Option 2

Hexagon Slices

Hexagon Party

I am hoping to be able to salvage the three original and unpick and resew the others by machine. Another long term project.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

...Kaleidoscope Christmas - in July

Remember when I made this cushion? I put a few pictures of it up on my flickr page as well, like I usually do, and I got so many comments, including one suggesting I submit it to the Moda Bakeshop and I thought, "why not?".
To me I could see it in nothing but Christmas fabric, cause that is what I was thinking of when I designed and made it but I'm sure others can come up with other versions that will point out how versatile any design can be. 
I also up-sized it from the original and added a border and some cornerstone, so it will be the Christmas quilt on our spare bed over the season. I have another design in the works for our bed. 
The recipe is already up on the Moda Bakeshop - it was a nice surprise when I woke up this morning. 

I was really hoping to take some pictures of this one in the snow - but our holiday there isn't sorted yet so it's a Christmas Quilt at the beach. Pretty Australian really. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

...making links

When I posted about my vision for the May do. Good Stitches quilt by the cherish circle I was thinking the block would be a good scrap buster for the bees in the circle, would make a decent sized quilt and the blocks would look like little chain links, hence the name. 

When I went to think of a title for this post I also though - hey, it links us all as well. I'm not too quick with things like that sometimes. 

The top came together really quickly thanks to the 12 oversized blocks it is made up of and basting was completed over the weekend when I scrounged enough basting pins from the already quilted sections of the other 4 I am currently quilting (3 hand, 1 machine - yes I know, I'm crazy). 

I've been working on practising my free motion quilting for a little while now, mostly on smaller pieces and I felt ready to tackle a larger project. In the centre of the links I FMQed some lines, Amanda Jean style, and then in the larger white squares went back and made some spirals to soften some of the lines. I'm pretty darn pleased for a beginning effort. I'd like the spirals to be a little more round and a little less egg shaped but I can't draw that well with paper and pencil so I don't think I can expect miracles with thread and fabric. 

I used a Gutterman Sulky 30wt in white cotton and I found it really good to use with only a few breakages (which I really think was down to my technique and not the machine). 

It's bound in a white solid from my stash which I think frames it nicely and blends well with the Little Things fabric used on the back. 
It measures about 59"x 78" so it is a good size and it will be off to Needy Stitches later in the week when I head down that way for work. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

...spaghetti a la Della Bosca

I have been on leave the last couple of days (and working a little more friendly hours the days before that) so have been place on dinner cooking duty. And while I like to bake and cook some things the daily dinner part of it has never been my favourite thing to do - and deciding what to eat, really no fun.

So earlier this week saw me wandering Woolworths about 4:30 looking for inspiration when I decided we would have Spagetti a la Della Bosca. I am sure this dish has a real name but I don't know what it is. When I was growing up that is what it was called, named for the family of one of  my Mum's bridesmaids who gave her the recipe. Which also means it is not specific and isn't written down anywhere in a cookbook I can search online with my phone while I'm at the shops.

So there I was, calling Mum, Dad and anyone else that might have been able to clarify the ingredients list to save me coming home, checking out my hand scralled directions and coming back. I'm posting this here now to share it with you - and stop me ever needing to do that again!

Spaghetti a la Della Bosca

onion, diced
garlic, crushed
750g gravy beef, trimmed and cut into small chunks
1tsp Allspice
3/4 cup tomato paste
1/2 cup claret or red wine
parmesan cheese and pasta to serve

Melt the butter in a large heavy based pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft. Try not to brown them, so low temperature for about 10 minutes works for me. 

Add the beef, salt allspice and enough water to almost cover the meat (the amount of water you add now will affect the saucyness later). Simmer, uncovered, for about 30 minutes. 
Add the tomato paste, claret and simmer for another 20-30 minutes until beef is tender and the sauce has thickened (simmer a little longer if you want thicker sauce or you added a little too much water earlier)

Serve atop cooked pasta and sprinkle with a little freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

...Hexy M(ini)F

It is Mini because there is only 2 so far!

I've finally started, what feels like weeks after everyone else.

I got my fabric chosen just after the papers arrived in the mail. In the end I went back and bought the fabrics from this post that I really liked, rather than those I thought I needed to co-ordinate, and then took this bundle to Amitie during the sale to add the extra 4 prints (or more if it turned out one I chose wouldn't work but that didn't happen).

Somewhere in between the first fabric purchase and the visit to Amitie I came across this series of posts - I found the one about bundles interesting but it wasn't so helpful in the store as I looked at shelves of fabric with a feel rather than a picture of what I wanted in mind. I also chose the chartreuse from Dear Stella for the flower centres, I didn't catch the name of the colour on the end of the bolt.

I made a start at the Sit and Sew evening on Friday night and now I have a couple of flowers sewn, all the centres basted and all the petals cut.

I have cut my strips at 3.5"and then cross cut at 4" to give me a 3.5"x4" rectangle - and then cut this into hexies with a template Lisa made me with the 3/8" seam allowance I like for EPP. Cutting this way I was able to get all the centres cut from just over 3/4 yard of fabric.

Katy has given a couple of different basting methods. My preference is to secure the fabric to the paper with a circle of glue to hold it steady (I find pins move or fold the papers) and then baste through the paper with a stitch at each corner and one in the centre of each side. Leaving the knot at the front when I start makes it easier to remove the basting threads later.

There are 74 of these flowers to make - I'm labelling them as I go.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

...crafty time

While I'm not a teacher I work in schools and with students so when school holidays come around I don't have to leave for work so early in the morning or work quite so last. This weekend marks the beginning of two weeks of this quieter, less frantic work time and in just my style I have a long, long list of crafty plans.

This weekend saw me have a very crafty themed weekend with a fun Sit and Sew evening on Friday night (with the start of my Hexy MF after my papers arrived and I finally decided on my fabrics - but more on that later), a very sad craft show on Saturday with some not sad at all company and lots of sewing and other things. Let's hope I haven't burnt myself out too early!

Top of the list was the blocks for June for the Cherish circle of do. Good Stitches. Melissa had asked for Granny Squares with and extra rounds and pink as the last one (she had sent us the spots to be used for one of them). Given the larger size someone had dubbed them Great Granny squares - a good name I think!
It was good to be able to put some of the 2.5" scrap stash I cut up ages ago to good use.

She has asked they be sent back untrimmed but I folded some of the sawtooth edges over to see how the pinks will look together - OK, I think and I love the concept - looks much more like a 'real' Granny Square!

The other was also to get the top together for the May do. Good Stitches Cherish quilt - for which I was responsible for the design. I posted about my plan here and I am so please it has come together a lot like what I had in my mind. I have the backing and the batting ready to go - I just need to do the next thing on the list and finish quilting one of the quilts I have on the go to gather enough basting pins for the basting and quilting!

I hope to have this one quilted and bound in the next couple of weeks!