Saturday, May 30, 2009

I haven’t always made quilts

…but I’ve always loved creating with needle and thread.  This is the house we lived in twenty years ago which I commemorated in cross-stitch at the time.

IMG_2006 I started by making a sketch of the house on reasonably fine graph paper, but ignoring the grid. 

IMG_2007 Then I went over the sketch, translating all the curved lines into squared off outlines.

IMG_2005 The fun really started when I took out my trusty Derwent pencils and coloured in all the squares, then made a collection of stranded threads in corresponding colours.

IMG_2004 I loved ‘painting’ with the threads, and was quite relaxed about changing the outlines as I went.  The house has been extended since we left, and looks quite different, so I’m very glad I have this memento of our home.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Here we go. This is it. Taaa daaa...The Giveaway!

It's a double celebration - Sarah's SEWN Launch Party and my (almost) 10,000th visit.

I've used some leftover fabric from my Chocolat quilt to create two useful little items to have by your side when handstitching - a hexie pincushion and a handy threadcatcher.

In addition, I've included a whole metre of lovely chocolatey floral fabric from Moda's "Peace on Earth" range.

There might be a little something extra popped in too (the clue is in the name of the quilt these scraps came from:-)

To enter, please leave me a comment below before midnight (Australian Eastern Standard Time) on 7th June 2009. This is the only blog post on which I am accepting entries for the draw which will take place on 8th June 2009.

If you go and tell your friends about my giveaway through your blog I'll give you an extra entry - but you'll have to pop back here and leave an extra comment telling me you've done this because I'm using a numbered comments system to make using the Random Number generator easier.

I'm just a simple soul :-))

UPDATE Monday 8th June:
I've now closed comments for this Giveaway. Thank you to all who've kindly left comments and entered the draw. I will be choosing the winner this afternoon, using the Random Number Generator.


Clang!!! "Internet Explorer cannot display the webpage. Operation aborted."

That's the nasty message that flashed on my screen and jangled my eardrums every time I tried to open my blog this morning. It felt almost as if I'd been locked out of my own home and, like a woman possessed, I trawled the internet in search of a solution. (If you recall this episode you'll already know how much I hate to admit defeat when it comes to computer technology.)
The answer was a simple one in the end. If this ever happens to you, and you use Blogger, you can forget the advice that tells you to go into Tools and disable your computer Add-ons such as Skype etc: tried that, to no avail. Or to download the latest version of Internet Explorer: even when I had my shiny new Internet Explorer 8 installed and working, the lock-out continued.
What worked for me was removing the Friends Connect application.
It sounds a tad harsh, but I found this gem of advice in a user forum where an expert warned that this little widgety thing, nice as it is, can cause the doors to slam in your face. He recommended removing it, then reinstating it. However I haven't been brave enough to give it another try just yet, and I can't answer the big question as to whether you'll lose all your Friends this way.
Could be a choice of being homeless or friendless. Boo hoo.
[If you're wondering about the asterisks, I've taken a leaf out of Lurline's book - though not as pretty as the hearts she uses for the same purpose. It's just the easiest way to trick Blogger into leaving paragraph breaks. Not a happy Blogger bunny tonight....]

It's about time I had a Giveaway!

[Since I posted earlier today about my Giveaway I've been experiencing terrible problems opening my blog to view the new post - and judging by the lack of response, I know many of you have too. So I've taken down that post and will wait until this issue is resolved before putting up the actual post where I'd like you to comment to enter the Giveaway. Please wait until that post appears - hopefully the technical problems will be resolved soon!]

Goodness, I just looked at my counter and realised my 10,000th visitor (or 10,000th hit to be more precise) is only a few weeks off. I can almost hear the gate opening and footsteps on the path.

So I'm celebrating this 10,000th visit (just a little early) with a giveaway - my very first.

I was going to have one anyway, to coincide with Sarah's SEWN Launch Party on 8th June, but I'm sure she won't mind if I combine the two.

SEWN promises to be a wonderful new website for sewers of all kinds, just brimming with resources! 8th June is the date for the big unveiling and there'll be giveaways galore being drawn that day.

Please watch soon for details of mine!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Tutorial – How to applique a tiny (1 cm) circle/dot

At first glance Snowflake Medallion looks fairly straight forward, if on the repetitive side. 

But, as Linda and I have discovered, it has a couple of challenges - for example, appliqueeing 72 tiny 1 centimetre dots to the flower applique blocks.


For me, tracing the tiny circle onto mylar, cutting out the shape and drawing up the fabric over the shape with a gathering thread was not an option.  Try as I might I simply could not cut the edges of such a minute disk of plastic smoothly enough, and bumpy edges can really show when you’re dealing with pieces this small.  

And the thought of cutting out multiples of these babies?  No way, Jose.

The quest – Find 72 ready-made 1 centimetre circular shapes. 

The solution – Sequins!


(Forget the dimpling – the edge really was smooth.)

I held the sequin on the fabric while I traced around it, then cut out the circle leaving the smallest seam allowance I could get away with. 


Then I ran a running stitch around and gathered up the fabric over the sequin.  I drew it up quite tightly, and just left a small tail of thread (it held OK without securing it, and made life easier a little later). I had quite a bulky little bunch at the back, but this was OK. 








My sequin was ever-so-slightly convex, so I made sure the convex side was on top as it was much easier to sew to the background this way.  I was able to push any excess fabric under with my needle as I stitched the dot down, so the slight bumpiness in the photo above was easily smoothed in the process.

Once appliqueed, I turned my work over and simply cut a tiny circle out from beneath the shape.  Then I prised the sequin out, quite easy to do because I had left my gathering unsecured in that earlier step.








At this stage I could have done a tiny bit  more careful trimming of the raspberry fabric from the back, but I prefer to leave a little bulk so that the dots have more dimension on the finished quilt.

Result? A small (but reasonably perfectly formed!) 1 centimetre dot!

[Now bring on all those jokes about going dotty – I can take it!!]


Footnote: Another advantage of this method is that you can have a whole assembly-line of dots going.  My two packets of sequins together cost me $2 so I wasn’t in the least upset when my sequins often emerged bent and un-reusable at the end.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The fabulous Giveaway I won …. or did I?

I’ve been very excitedly awaiting this parcel from Kellie at Don’t Look Now, and when it arrived last week the contents – her “Sugar Candy” cushion and cheeky monkey Amy – didn’t disappoint.IMG_0569 Kellie’s workmanship is meticulous, and her machine quilting technique is to-die-for.  If you have the opportunity to take one of her classes you should grab it with both hands.IMG_0563 I managed to stop drooling over this exquisite work long enough to take these photos for you to see Kellie’s creation up close.IMG_0565 IMG_0566 The spots on the ladybug’s back are created by machine.  How clever is that?  And as for the lovely Amy…IMG_0570 Let me just say that Kellie sure knows how to stuff a monkey!  Amy has the firmest biceps and tightest abs of any sock monkey I’ve met and makes my own sock monkeys look positively limp-wristed.  You go girl!

Why the question mark over whether or not I won?  Well, my name didn’t actually come out in Kellie’s draw.  But my kind-hearted bloggy friend Lindi’s name did, and she had secretly entered  for me!!

Isn’t that just the loveliest thing you’ve heard today?

Let’s hear it for Lindi – Yaaaayyyy Lindi!!!   (Thank you again, dear friend)

Another Giveaway spotted

The Crafty Librarian is celebrating her 100th blog post with a SURPRISE giveaway! Just thought you might be interested.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Snowflake Medallion

When Linda showed me the pattern for this pretty quilt (by Emma of Ballarat Patchwork) it was love at first sight. My arm was already halfway up my back when she twisted it – in the very nicest way, of course! – by suggesting we each make our own version and swap notes as we go. I just love working like this!


Busy as she is (and jet-lagged as she was!), Linda wasted no time collecting her fabrics and getting down to business, but it’s taken me a little longer to send for the pattern and start my journey. At last I have my fabrics – give or take. Some are from my stash, always a good thing, but I needed to acquire the raspberry and the stripe, as well as a few fresh new greens. I may swap one or two once I see how they play together.


I could never leave out the pinks, but I’ve chosen to substitute lemony yellows for Emma’s blue fabrics. After quite a few years making reproduction and mellow-looking scrappy quilts, this is my first using a white background and I’m really looking forward to the change.

The look I’m after is light and spring-like, a good mood-lifter to work on during our winter months.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Houston, we have a finish!

Stop what you’re doing, pour a little bubbly libation and raise a tiny toast.  Di has actually finished a quilt!

It’s this lovely baby - “Chocolat” – made for my Dear Someone’s birthday a couple of weeks ago.IMG_0512 As I told you previously, I used the fabulous cheater yardage from Moda’s “Chocolat” range to make my quick and easy centre, since I lacked both time and energy to take on anything more complex.IMG_0516 IMG_0517 Moda’s “Peace on Earth” range co-ordinates beautifully with “Chocolat”, so I simply added a couple of borders in warm, winter red, muted teal and chocolate tone-on-tone.IMG_0521Then I finished it off with red binding.IMG_0522 It’s stitched now, but half the binding was still pinned when the big day came – ever tried to give someone a gift, at the same time warning that it might give a nasty scratch? – and it does need a little more quilting in the final border.  Oh, and a few threads snipped (see first close-up above).

But don’t let that stop you raising your glass.  Please be happy for me!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Look what my friend Di made!

She's an experienced garment sewer, but my friend (blogless) Di has only recently caught the quilting bug (I confess I infected her).

This is her very first quilt - isn't it fun and fabulous?

She adapted a pattern from a past issue of "Australian Patchwork & Quilting", called "Sophie's Bears", using brights instead of the pastels in the original quilt, and although we had one stitching day together (as I worked on my "Chocolat" quilt) she did it all herself.

I just love the fabrics she's already bought for her next one, hydrangeas in gorgeous blues and soft lime greens. Watch this space!

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Look who's giving away a whole quilt!

That's right, a whole quilt! Aneela is celebrating her 100th blog post and has created the prettiest lap quilt in soft pastels. She's hand-embroidered the centre with pretty roses and forget-me-knots, and used a wonderful array of florals from her scrap bag.

Pop on over to her blog to enter, and take a look at the spring-time tulips looking so bright and cheery beside her clothes-line.


A turn for the better

Mothers’ Day began with torrential rain.  My ants pants internet was driving me crazy.  And my children were all otherwise involved.

But my, how things can change!  The skies had cleared by the afternoon, and my DD arrived just in time to hear me swearing my undying gratitude down the phone line to “Kerry” in a Singapore call centre for finally configuring my wireless repeater. 

DD’s suggestion that we take The Princess  and Chloe for a walk to the park was just the best offer I’d had all day.   With autumn leaves crackling underfoot we wrapped our hands around warm cups of take-away coffee and watched while The Princess tried out all the new play equipment.IMG_0542 I had such a lovely Mothers’ Day – and even old Chloe had something to smile about!

I’ve been tearing my hair out

Bald 2

It started innocently enough. A quick call to Telstra 2 weeks ago to set up Messagebank on my mobile phone.

“Now, while you’re on the line, let’s take a look at your account and see if we can do anything to improve things.”

And before I knew it I was agreeing to a technician coming to set up cable wireless broadband which - I was assured - was the bee’s knees. It would save me many dollars, be faster and give a stronger signal than my current internet connection throughout my entire house.

I warned her I lived in a large sandstone house, and that the cable modem had to be situated downstairs while my study was, of necessity, upstairs. Not a problem for our whizz-bang cable wireless broadband, apparently!

The fact that the phrases “strong wireless signal” and “sandstone house” are almost never uttered in the same sentence seemingly mattered not a jot to our Telstra.

Even the cable guy who came to the house to do the job and saw the the thick sandstone walls was unphased.

Postcard_from_Sydney_3 Then the trouble started. I became a bar-watcher. Not to be confused with a bar-crawler. However, watching the signal hovering between one bar (low) and 2 bars (poor), with the very occasional peak at 3 bars (fair), and experiencing constant drop-outs, was indeed enough to drive a perfectly sane computer user to drink.

Telstra wouldn’t help me since they “don’t support” helpful items like repeaters or booster antennas. Nice. So if you do as I did and invest in one you feel like some sort of geeky criminal.

But before I slunk off to the shop I tried making one of these from aluminium foil (didn’t work for me). There’s a whole world of Heath Robinson antenna makers out there, and they love to trumpet their successes on internet geek forums. Other home-made designs, I soon learnt, even utilise Pringles cans. Hmm…If I wasn’t careful I could end up overweight and sozzled!

An onmi-directional booster antenna was no better, and the wireless G access point/repeater which promised me the Wizardry to set it up ‘in minutes ‘ defeated me after about 600! The manufacturer’s technical support line carries a not-so-welcoming message informing you that you can be charged $40 flat fee if you ask anything that you could have found out by just following the manual. Ouch!

Feeling an absolute dunce, I prepared myself to face the music this afternoon, and dialed the wirelwless repeater manufacturer's technical support line once again - this time holding onto the phone until a real person actually answered. To my grateful surprise I was told, with a dismissive laugh, “Oh, we never charge the $40”. (So, I wondered, is this really just a ruse to cut down on the number of calls these poor overworked geeks have to handle?)

My reward for being a brave girl and facing the possibility of a $40 ‘fine’ for not reading the manual? A sweet young thing who, quite patiently and non-judgmentally, took me step-by step through the set-up of my repeater.

And a strong wireless internet signal where I want it – upstairs. Yaaaayyyyyy!!!!!!!!!! (no thanks to Telstra).

Sunday, May 3, 2009

And while we're at it...

Pop on over to the Inklingo blog and take a look at the multi-giveaway these clever users of Linda Franz's creations are running! You have until 18th May. If you love hexagons and such you'll love these!

Another wonderful giveaway!

One day very soon I promise to write a proper blog post ... truly. I've just been too busy to blog, I'm afraid, but I'm never too busy to keep up with the doings of my bloggy friends!

This time I want to send you over to Robyn's blog where she's having a 'rosy' giveaway. Off you go now...