23 December 2009

Quilt delivered

I handed over the quilt today. It's now called "Going Places". If I wasn't so brain fried I'd tell you what book it's from, or at least which post I talked about it last in. The basic idea is you make six different blocks - rail fence, four patch, double four path, 2 solids, half square triangles. Each block is made from a different FQ and the background fabric. Instead of a single background fabric I used a mix of beiges. Once you've made all the blocks you then decide on a layout that you like.

I knew Iwouldn't be able to hide the quilt from Cara, the intended recipient, so I didn't even try. I bought the fabric at a quilting fair. I had too many FQs, so I said something about needing to decide which ones to use. She said "I like that one; not so keen on that one." I then sewed the top while sharing a table with her at retreat. When I was trying to decide on the layout, she was giving me a hard time about not being random, and kept moving blocks. We discussed the border options. I thought at some point I must have given it away; surely she would have worked out that the quilt was for her. But no, she was quite surprised tonight.

I like this pattern. I've never made a quilt to a pattern before, so it was an interesting experience - measuring everything just so. Usually I make it up as I go, and fudge what doesn't work. I was thinking tonight I'd like to make one in black and jewels. I'll add it to my "one day" list.

Original post: http://suebk.blogspot.com/2009/10/catch-up.html

30 November 2009

Christmas is under control

In case you haven't noticed, Christmas is just around the corner. And this year I am organised.

Pressies for scattered rellies - bought/made, wrapped, carded, boxed. Ready to post.
Christmas catch up letter - written, printed on Christmas cards
Cards - personalised, stuffed, sealed
Card envelopes - printed (I'm too darn lazy to hand write when technology will do it for me)

To do: get hubby to write on his mum's card; buy a present for brother (simply sorted); buy stamps; post boxes and cards.

Then all I have to think about is The Man, The Girl and my nana, for whom I want something special and I haven't had any brain waves yet.

Creative effort tonight? As part of our Christmas present for family we included a personally chosen Bible verse. I printed them out all pretty and nice with some Christmas clipart and fancy fonts. I also dreamed up 50 different ways of saying "have a great year/hope you had a great year/enjoy Christmas".

29 November 2009

Wedding Present

Forgot to add a new photo of the re-vamped wedding present. We had a discussion the other day about finishing. The receipients are Salvation Officers, so they move a fair bit. The general consensus was that it would look best in a frame with some light wadding, but a wall hanging would probably be more practical. I'm still not sure which way to go.


More pictures. My plan today was to do some 'real' sewing while the The Toy did its thing. But I got sidetracked by this and that. I actually spent most of the day on the net looking for miniature rugs done with machine embroidery. I found some for sale, and very nice they were too, but I want to make them myself.

Eventually, I found some patterns I could work together into a rug. Not entirely what I wanted, but for the moment good enough. (Why did I want a rug anyway, you ask? We're supposed to take a small Secret Santa to The Girl's miniature's club Christmas dinner. I don't do miniatures, too fiddley, too much time for small results (hahaha); but I thought I'd see what I could produce on The Toy.)

(Cradle by The Girl).

I've only been able to do these things with the help of Embird. The centre roses had to be shrunk to 25% to fit the centre of the frame, which I think I shrunk to 50%. Most of what I've done has been 'tampered' with some how in Embird. I've shrunk things, joined things, changed colours, deleted bits I didn't want, tested layout options. It's really been invaluable.

Two that I forgot to take of photos of the other day. My stripy frog:
I used a variegated thread and it didn't work quite how I imagined. The thread changes colours too abruptly. I think, even if the cheaper threads work out okay for plain colours, it's probably worth the extra expense for variegateds, just to get a more subtle colour shift.
Hmmmm. Not entirely happy with the Maltese. There's a lot of long loose threads. While it gives it nice shading and texture, it's makes it 'dangerous' embroidery for anything other than probably a frame. But, hey, it's all a learning process. And until I've learnt, my family will just have to wear the product of my trials :-)

These are the two I couldn't take photos of last night.
My shirt. Again, using a variegated thread. It's okay. I wanted something subtle; but if I was to do it again, I'd use a plain grey/silver.

My angel. You can't see it in the photo, but she's still a little 'disconnected' in places. Another trip to Spotlight this week I think :-)

28 November 2009

Branching Out

Someone, I believe me, left the camera turned on so it has a flat battery. No photos of my work tonight.

I've branched out :-) I've tried lots of normal embroidery patterns on stable fabrics, so it was time to move on.

I re-did the wedding present on a satiny sort of fabric. Probably a poly, not really sure, but lovely and shiny, and slippery and a bugger to sew (that much I do know). Looks very pretty though. I think I might have originally bought it for vest backs.

Today I tried my first t-shirt with sticky stabiliser. It turned out quite nicely. I used a grey/black variegated thread on a black shirt. The image I used is from cute embroidery. I rotated it so it runs down the neck line of the shirt.
My second branching out was a lace angel, also from Cute Embroidery.

I have some Solvy bought several years ago. The lady at the shop said it wasn't really very good for embroidery, and she's right. At least for this sort of heavy stitching. It tears too easily. I stopped one angel part way through 'cause tearing meant the stitches weren't catching on each other in some parts. I used a double layer and it was better, but not brilliant. I will have to 'invest' in some washable stabiliser better suited for this sort of work. I'd like to make some of these for a secret santa we have in a week or so.

I've also be investigating applique embroidery. Seems pretty simple; not sure if it's easy though. Applique embroidery has a fabric behind some or all of the stitches. Seems you stitch the outline of the fabric bits on to paper to create a template, sew the outline on your backing fabric, carefully place the fabric bits inside the outline, then keep stitching the rest of the pattern. One of my favourites on cute embroidery is this gorgeous heart. In the close ups on the website it looks like the inside fabric of the heart is a felt, which would allow this to be used as a brooch or similar.

One issue I've hit on already. The tutorial I watched on Embroidery Library Projects suggests creating the template by stitching on paper without thread. My machine knows when it has no thread - and it won't stitch. Normally that's a good thing, but in this case, it's annoying. Guess I might have to revisit the instruction book and see if there's a way around it.

26 November 2009


I found the website I got the duck and the lettering from :-) http://www.bunnycup.com On the left hand side there's a link to "free retired sets". Lots of goodies to be found.

New Toy

I've been away a while, but I have still been creative in my absence. On Monday I got a new toy :-) For the past couple of years I've been saving my pennies towards a new sewing machine. I wanted a you-beaut does everything except make the bed type machine, but some wise ladies advised me I'd be better off with a stand alone embrodiery machine. The u-beaut machine would probably take another two years of saving, the embroidery only machine I could afford now. Never being a person of much patience, I took the advice, and I now have a new toy to play with. And play I have!

My very first effort. I only had a limited range of threads to play with the first night. The clovers are supposed to be four colours, but they look okay. And The Girl was impressed. In fact, she got herself kicked out of the sewing room 'cause I got sick of her flights of fancy and the list of all the things "she" could do with my new toy!

My next trial was a couple of little double hearts on the corners of a sheet set. Double hearts for double bed sheets :-) (No photo, sorry.)

Again, this little flower was supposed be four shades of blue. I only have two so the leaves and stem are green (shock!).
We have a basket of serviettes in the dining room and we never use them. I'm wondering if I monogram all of them, will they get used more?
I bought myself some cheaper threads. I know there are some who will smack my wrist for that, but I just can't afford $7 a pop for thread. Amongst those I bought were some variegated threads, 'cause I love variegateds in quilting. I really love the green vine in this, but I was disappointed with the lettering. I'm currently redoing this panel (thankfully I saved it, so I didn't have re-arrange it all).
I love this duck. So cute. The lettering is downloade from the net. The built in alphabets have the advantage of working as a "set". That is, if you enter a word it moves around the screen as a whole word. Downloaded alphabets are actually individual images for each letter, hence the slightly random placement of this lettering. Works well for this style, but others might need more effort to be "right".

I don't remember where I downloaded these two from. I have some book marks on the main puter and some on the sewing room puter.

I then got adventurous. I downloaded a trial of Embird. It's got expensive bits and pieces that attach to it, but the basic thing lets you resize design, take bits of them, join them all up (which you can do on the machine, but much easier on a full puter screen).

I downloaded a lovely curly font to make monograms for serviettes. The letters were too big and the "C" had too many curls. I shrunk them by 50% (not possible on the machine) and removed the extra curls. If you look closely at the top left hand of the "C" there's just a wee bit of extra curl that I didn't quite manage to remove. Still, my first attempt, so I was happy.

I downloaded a second beautiful curly font. Again it was too big, so I shrunk it by 50%. The program adjusted all those swirls and curls beautifully.

Both of these alphabets come from http://alphabets.cuteembroidery.com/. It's AU$34 to sign up for 6 months, but you then get free access to all the designs on the site, and there's a fair packet of them!

Angel Bling

I promised photos of the angel bling I'm making for the Christmas carols. Still working on flowers, but here are the hair combs.
I cut a scrap of fabric slightly bigger than the sticky label of the parcel decoration. Didn't bother hemming it or anything, 'cause the whole lot is stuck to the decoration so it shouldn't fray. I folded over the top edge and added a strip of double sided tape.
Stick the fabric to the top of the comb using the double sided tape. Make sure the fabric is away from the comb, otherwise the decoration is going to make putting the comb in your hair problematic.
Sew the fabric to the comb. I went down the tines and then back up, just to make sure it wasn't going anywhere :-)
Peel the backing off the decoration and press firmly to the fabric. Make sure there's no sticky edges left uncovered. Sticky and hair aren't a good mix :-)
Finished angel bling. So easy, so cheap, so effective.

19 November 2009

Slow week

Haven't been posting; haven't been doing a lot of creativity. It's just been so unpleasantly HOT. I love hot, but not this hot. I have been 'dabbling'; keeping up the five minute rule. Most of my creativity has involved "angel bling". Blingy things for angels at the Christmas carols. Spray paint some flowers, glue on some glitter, play with some ribbons.

I have bought myself a Janome 350E embroidery only machine :-)) I pick it up sometime next week. I've very excited. To quote Hawkeye Piece "Goody, goody, goody. A movie. I'm so excited I could plotz." (Although it's not a movie, it's real life!) Funny thing about that quote. The sentiment is often appropriate except for that word "plotz". According to the dictionary it means to be excited, to faint from excitement. But growing up I'm sure it meant "number twos". So, I never feel quite comfortable saying it out loud.

Not a lot of creativity will happen over the weekend. Going south to attend my pop's (grand-dad's) memorial service. I feel for my nan, who I'm sure is struggling to come to terms with the end of a 70 year old relationship.

16 November 2009


Can't remember what my last post was about. Hmmm, Saturday. What did I get up to on Sunday? Seems so long ago even though today's only Monday. The Girl and I went shopping for bits and pieces, and dragged The Man along with us.

She wanted clay, I wanted fabric for my scrap quilt borders. I've been distracted however. It's that time of year again. Our annual Christmas Carols in the Park is just around the corner. I volunteered to look after the costumes. I love costumes. You can cheat like billy-o and no-one notices. Because it's in the park, in front a thousand or so people, under huge flood lights, everything has to be *BIG*. Last year I added large blingy collars and sashes to the angels. This year I stumbled upon arrangements of holly leaves and bells and such like, smoothered in glitter. The Girl and I agree they'd make wonderful hair accessories or brooches for angels. In my wisdom (BWAHAHAHA) I decided I could make them for about 1/4 of the price. I spent some time yesterday experimenting with glitter and glue and making mess. More experimenting to come this week.

I did make some wonderful (and cheap) hair pieces. Take one hair comb, one scrap of fabric, and one sticky backed over the top silver bow/ribbon arrangement (officially used on presents). I have photos but no camera access at the moment. I sewed the scrap of fabric to the comb; stuck the bow on the fabric. Sticking the bow straight on the comb had a few problems - sticky in hair, not good, and high likelihood of it falling off. I'll post clearer instructions and photos at some point.

The other thing I did yesterday was put together the "Mummy Care Package" for a baby shower I'm going to in a couple of weeks. I had lots of fun finding yummy things for mummies and probably spent far more than I planned. But it's so much fun to spoil someone with all the things you'd like someone to spoil you with :-)

Today I finalised my coaster pressies for rellies. I bought an assortment of tea and coffee bags to stuff them with. They're all wrapped and waiting to be posted! How darn organised is that?

One my cards for this week:
Borders on the scrap quilt
Finish quilting the last block of Thomas and cut binding to sew it all together
Further experimentation with angel bling.

I think that's enough to be going on with :-)

14 November 2009

Saturday Mixed Bag

It seems that the 'forced' creativity has had the desired effect. I now find it much easier to spend time being creavity without it feeling like a chore.

Yesterday, in addition to starting the coasters, I finished the Girl's skirt. I think my shirring elastic is old. To get the skirt to fit tight enough there was barely any give left in the elastic. I pulled it out and threaded normal elastic instead. And hemmed it :-) (Hate hemming almost as much as buttons and buttonholes.)

Today I continued making coasters. Have done nine so far. Also made a pentagon ball. Petagon balls are very easy. Cut 12 pentagons. Pick one for a base (doesn't matter which one, 'cause they all look the same when it's finished). Sew a pentagon on each side of the base. Then sew the sides to each other. Make two of these, sew them together, stuff. The original pattern used paper templates and hand stitching. I'm not much of a hand sewer. I machine sew. When working the base I start each seam at the beginning of the fabric, but finish 1/4 inch before the end. This gives neat corners. I won't post a picture 'cause it's a Christmas present, and it might be a bit obvious who it's for :-)

I also spent time in my garden. Pulled out the Madagascar beans. Grow fabulously, but we didn't particularly like them. I think if I soak them and then mash them before adding them to spag bol or something like that they should be fine. Pulled out the cabbages that had been destroyed by cabbage moth :-( And generally just tidied up. Found about half a dozen self planted potatoes. Not sure if I'm happy about that or not.

And now it's bed time.

13 November 2009

Pocket Coasters

I did some calculations and decided there was just too much work to make the number of placemats I wanted in time for Christmas. I remembered a clever pattern for coasters I saw on someone's blog some time ago. I wish I could remember who so I could give them credit. Here's my version of the instructions :-)

Each coaster requires six squares of fabric cut to 4.5 inches and one square of batting 4.5 inches. Quilt two squares and the batting. One side of this quilted square is the bottom of the coaster, the other one isn't seen. I cheated and used a single layer of track suit fleece instead of quilting. Another cheat would be to quilt a larger piece and then cut it into 4.5 inch squares (which may also be more accurate).

One pile of backing fabrics:

One pile of front fabrics:

I think maybe I have enough LOL.

Place the backing fabric right side up. That is, the side you want to show on the bottom of the coaster is facing you. The side that will be hidden is facing the desk. With the fleecy, I want the fluffy side to not show, so it goes down. The knitted side will be the bottom of my coasters, so it is up. (Clear as mud?)

Fold one front fabric in half and pin to one edge of the bottom, matching raw edges.

Fold a 2nd front fabric in half, and pin on top of and 90° to the first. Again, match raw edges of the front fabric to the edge of the backing fabric.

Fold and pin a 3rd front fabric in the same manner.

Fold and pin a 4th front fabric to the last side of the backing fabric.

The end of the 4th fabric must be placed under the end of the 1st fabric. Each fabric should have one end over and one end under its neighbours. You should see a small square of each fabric.

Sew 1/4" from the edge all the way around.

To keep the front fabric flat and even as I find its easier to pin them in the corners and then use another pin to pull the fold tight and flat as you sew.

Snip the corners.

Turn right side out. Give the corners a poke to make them as square as possible. Depending on the fabrics you use, you may want to topstitch close to the seam. I've used upholstery samples, which are quite thick, so I've decided to leave the edges as are.

In the pockets that are formed I'll add some fancy teabags and/or coffee bags. Cheap, easy, personal. Maybe next year I'll get organised in July and make placemats.

10 November 2009


I don't think any family read my blog :-) and if they do ... oh well.

Thinking of making placemats for Christmas. I want something simple that still looks effective. I figured out placemats are about (6 x4) 3 inch blocks or (3 x 2) 6 inch blocks. 3 inches is pretty darn small, and I'm not so hot on the accuracy. I think I've decided on simple half square triangles in dark & light scraps. If your'e not a quilter - take 24 squares of paper; draw a line diagonally through each one; colour one half in. Have fun arranging them in a 6 x 4 grid.

I have lots of scraps; HST aren't too hard. I figure on cutting the correct size square (think that's 3inch finished, plus 1/2 inch seams, plus 1/8th for the HST; have to check that), which will give me at least 2 blocks of each fabric. I can then layout each placemat slightly differently - diagonal lines, square in square, pathways etc. The repeating fabrics from placemat to placemat will make them a "set", but they'll each by unique.

These are a few of the options I came up with in EQ. Designing them is as far as I got today.

09 November 2009

Sewing Holster pattern

I've had a couple of people comment on my sewing holster (post here). The pattern comes from Inspired to Quilt by Melanie Testa (available from Amazon and probably a dozen other places, including the library, where I got it).

The basic set up is: quilt one long thin rectangle (5x42"); quilt two pockets (5x8", folded so the fold forms the top edge of the pocket); sack quilt one 5 x 7" (also folded) to form the pin holder. The pin holder has a magnet put in it (check its the right way around :-) before you quilt it. Then cut the neck and pocket patterns out of the quilted pieces.

The main piece has a long straight edge; the other edge is narrow around the back of your neck and curves out towards the ends. The ends are rounded. The pockets are shaped to fit the ends. The pin holder is shaped on an angle to fit nicely on the shaped neck piece. The unseamed edge of the pin holder is the one that attaches to the neck piece. The whole thing is bound, and the pockets are bound into it. A slightly smaller piece of felt is sewn under the pin holder.

I don't want to put the pattern on line 'cause it's not my copyright. I'm guessing if you're clever you can probably make one to your own design, or hunt for the book at your local library.

Better photo

A better picture of the quilt top.


My last post is dated the 6th, today is the 9th; but it feels like I've had about month in between. Firstly, Heavenly Harry (Mark II), aka "Kevin's Heaven". My boss was sitting on a different floor to us for a several months and it was a right pain in the proverbial. When he was finally moved to the same floor he tacked to his door a scrappy piece of paper, held in place by great globs of packing tape, "Kevin's Heaven". I try very hard to overcome my perfectionist nature, but after a while the untidy nature of the note started to irritate me. Last Thursday I had a brain wave. I remembered an applique pattern I had made called "Heavenly Harry". (In case you collect magazines, he's in Australian Homespun, No 19, Vol 4, No. 5). I made Harry in batik-like fabric 'cause Kevin spent several decades in Indonesia. I was pretty impressed that I whipped him up in a single night!

Friday afternoon I headed off to my annual quilting retreat. The lovely Julie organises this weekend every year and it my favourite annual event. Some of us know others of us in real life, but many of us only know each from Julie's retreat. We all take our own projects and work on whatever we want to work on. Last year I had the sewing blahs and achieved precious little. This year I was pumped and ready to go. I previously posted my plans and I came up with the goods:

Hopefully later I can get a better picture. It's rather overcast and gloomy today and I have no spare hands. I am quite pleased with the finished result. The plan now is to add a narrow blue border as most of the fabrics have blue through them, and then a wider pink border to keep the warm feel. Then I'll have a think about whether that's enough or not and what to bind it with.

It took longer than I expected but not as long as I thought :-) I was thinking "6 FQs, 6 blocks, easy done". But I've also never made a quilt from someone else's pattern and instructions.

The 1/2 square triangle instructions were to cut strips to something and some eighth. I don't have good 1/8ths on my large ruler so decided to go for the next 1/4. A good proportion of my finished blocks turned out the right size. That's a good thing, except it means either my cutting or sewing (or both) aren't terribly accurate! The four patch in the double four patch was also measured in 1/8th so I cut those to the nearest 1/4 too. And what do you know! All of them needed trimming. And because they're 4 patches I had trim every side to keep them even :-( Just can't rely on myself to maintain standards of inaccuracy!

It was fun and I will possibly make another quilt from instructions now. There's less stress, particularly for one who is mathematically challenged. I'm tempted re-try a Hidden Wells quilt. My last one was a disaster. Note: lots of ironing of seams and poly thread don't go together. And neither will your quilt when the threads all melt!

It's now Monday afternoon and although I had a great night's sleep in my own bed last night I'm still stuffed. I feel like I spent the weekend hiking not sewing.

06 November 2009

Heavenly Harry

Just a quick note 'cause I'm away tonight until late Sunday on a quilting retreat YAY! I started and completed a wall hanging for my boss's door at work last night. I took photos and will upload them when I return. Will post the entire story then too.

04 November 2009

Peasant Skirt

The peasant skirt, with the shirred elastic waistband is back. Strangely enough, this is a fashion The Girl seems to like. Whether she likes her mother's creative efforts or not is another matter.

The skirt still needs to be hemmed, but obviously that will have to wait til The Girl gets home from school 'cause not everyone got the day off today :-) I didn't use a pattern. I sewed two widths of fabric together and seamed into a tube, gathered the top back to a single width, put a wide waist band on, then added about 5 layers of shirring elastic.

I've never worked successfully with shirring elastic before. I think the difference this time is a couching foot I bought some time ago.

I don't use it very often, but its very handy for what it does. I bought after spending a day doing "arty" quilting with a friend, including couching wool threads to the background. She couched hers without any effort at all, while I muttered and mumbled and unpicked a lot. At the time, The Man did think that $40 for a single fancy foot was a bit much, but maybe now I've made a $30 skirt for basically nothing, he'll appreciate its worth :-)

The ribbon, or elastic, or wool, or whatever, goes through the ring at the front, then through the hole in front of the needle and under the foot to the back.

You can sew ribbon with a straight stitch down the middle, or couch finer threads with a zigzag. I guess if you're keen you could set the needle to the edge of the ribbon and sew one edge down, then sew the other edge with a zipper foot or similar.