Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

I need a new Stitching Bag

My MIL sadly  passed away six months ago and the family has been busy in recent times cleaning and sorting out the house before sale.  Furniture was given to the designated family members, and then we started on cupboards, drawers and wardrobes.  Being the only quilter and sewer amongst one daughter and three daughters-in-law I was thrilled to lay claim to a good supply of doilies, both embroidered and crotcheted.  As it turns out, these appear to have been made not by Robin’s Mum, but his Grandmother, so they are doubly precious.  I certainly have grand plans with how I will use them a little later.

There was one blue embroidered doily which didn’t seem to go with all the others.  But, as it turns out, I will shortly be attending a class on how to sew with doilies.  I have decided to start making myself a new bag at this class to keep my stitchery projects in.  So this blue doily will be getting a new lease of life, and I backstitched my name in the centre panel which will be cut out and centred on the front of the bag. 

P7280003   I added a few words to the centre of the doily

I’m planning to use the outside embroidery and lace trim which will be cut into smaller pieces and applied crazy patch style, using other fabrics too, to the front of the bag.  I’m not quite sure how to go about this yet, but that is what the teacher will show me at the class, I expect.  I’m gathering together other blue fabrics, buttons and laces, and really looking forward to attending this class next week.  Wish me luck – It’s been ages since I attended a sewing class.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Out of the Glory Box

Cook Islands tīvaevae (quilts) are cultural treasures, painstakingly hand-sewn and often stored for safekeeping in family glory boxes. This exhibition at Te Papa Museum shows these treasures in all their glory.  Many of these quilts were presented as gifts to family members and reflects the vibrant cultural life of the Cook Islands.  The light and airy exhibition space showed them off perfectly,  some displayed on the walls, while others hung from rods down the middle of the room.

P6240058Tivaevae quilts on display at Te Papa Museum

Some Cook Islands women in New Zealand prefer to work alone, while others form vainetini (working groups) who sing, share stories, and catch up on news while they sew together.  This quilt was a joint effort by the ladies of the Porirua Cook Islands Community Group, and was completed in 1989.

P6240047 Burgundy and white appliqué quilt

Embroidery stitches are also sometimes used on appliqué quilts.  The maker is unknown, but embroidery stitches have been used to add detail and texture to the design.


P6240053 Appliqué quilt with embroidery

It is unusual to see merio (mermaids) on tivaevae as many Cook Island women believe they bring bad luck.  This blue and white quilt was designed, cut, and partly sewn by a tifaifa (quilt maker) in Tahiti, then finished by her Cook Islands relatives in New Zealand.

P6240049 Blue and white mermaid quilt

I did not realise that tivaevae quilts were also made from patchwork pieces, and as I read, are the most highly prized of all the Cook Islands quilts.  Mothers often present them as gifts of love to their daughters on their wedding day – with the understanding that the quilt will one day be used as a funeral shroud for the daughter’s husband.  This colourful version was stitched by a Wellingtonian Cook Islands mother for her daughter’s wedding.

P6240035 Patchwork quilt

The tinier the pieces, the more skill and time it takes to stitch together a tivaevae ta’orei (patchwork quilt).  This one was a wedding quilt and took (only) 3 months to stitch in the 1960s.

P6240039Such tiny pieces in this quilt, hand stitched together

Stitched by a group of “Mamas” in 1990, this quilt tells the story of Ina and the shark.  Headstrong Ina fled her island home in search of Tinirau, the ocean god, whom she loved.  She took some coconuts along for sustenance, which she cracked on the shark’s head.  The shark flung her off into the sea, and this is how the hammerhead shark got it’s oddly shaped head, so the story goes.

P6240037 Ina and the Shark

This is just a taste of the exhibition, and I loved the variety, the different colours and styles on display.  If you are in Wellington or passing through, do pop in to Te Papa Museum and have a look.  “Out of the Glory Box” exhibition will be on show on Level 5 until October 2015 - free entry.

Friday, July 24, 2015

A bit of this, and a bit of that

It’s been a funny sort of day today, I’ve been doing all sorts of bits and pieces.  But nothing momentous – if you know what I mean.  First job of the day was to get the washing hung outside in the wintery sunshine.  Not that doing the washing is much of a chore for me, I really like to keep it up to date.  And would you believe - I even enjoy doing the ironing!  Sad, I know, but I really can’t help myself.

Then I sat myself down in the sewing room for a couple of hours for a bit of “secret sewing”.  I’m making a gift for someone who will remain nameless at the moment, and today was a good day to get it started.  I measured, and cut, and stitched and then lunch time came along, so it was time to stop for a while.  I considered packing the project away till tomorrow, but then thought better of it.  Working away after lunch, it only took another hour and it is finally all done!  I’m so pleased I persevered and  didn’t stop halfway through.  So now I feel quite proud of my burst of creativity today which resulted in a finished project.  Being a secret gift I can’t yet show what I made, but these are the colours I used.  I hope she who is nameless will like it.

P7240033 Fabrics used in my secret sewing

Later in the day I made some “Bird Pudding” for the hungry native birds to feed on over the winter.  This is a mixture of beef dripping (fat), bird seed, bread crusts cut up small, an apple, and a big spoon of honey.  I have two new feeders I purchased so the mixture has been shaped into balls for one, and flat cakes for the other.  They are currently in the fridge to harden and I will put them out tomorrow.  Then I will find out if I shaped the mixture correctly to fit inside the feeders.

Meanwhile, the wax-eyes are busily feeding on an apple on the wooden feeder, and the sparrows are gobbling up some crusts I put out on the lawn.  The apple has to be peeled so that they can get at the flesh and generally lasts a couple of days.  It is so nice to see them outside feeding, and occasionally I give them other fruit too, depending on what I have. Luckily the birds don’t mind if it is getting a little squashy and over-ripe.

P7030036 Wax-eyes on the apple feeder

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Yesterday was Sew Wots Tuesday

Yesterday was Sew Wots Tuesday, and I was the Happy Hostess this time.  So it was a matter of getting up bright and early, whizzing around with the duster and the vacuum cleaner.  It was no good doing much cleaning on the previous day, as I was busy in the kitchen with my apron on baking for the ladies – and I admit to being a messy cook!  Everyone duly arrived (with only one absent who was feeling under the weather) and Helen came with a big bunch of sweet smelling Daphne for me.  How kind, what a lovely surprise. 

P7210008 Helen brought me some lovely Daphne

Three sets of knitting needles were soon clacking away.  Not quite sure what project Carol was starting with her pink wool, Moira was knitting a scarf, and Helen was knitting a vest for her son-in-law, as requested.

P7210007 Two happy faces, Carol and Rae

Of course, there is always some Show and Tell to admire.  Here is Moira peeping out from one of her lovely William Morris appliqué blocks.

P7210003 Moira with her hand appliqué

Heather B had just purchased a new sewing machine and was slowly coming to grips with it.  She had done some machine quilting on this whole cloth quilt which will be going to the local hospital.  Both the front and the backing were Op Shop finds, she told us – just goes to show that we should keep checking these shops out regularly.

P7210005 Heather’s whole cloth quilt

There were two more lovely quilts shown.  Carol had just finished this lovely floral quilt for her youngest daughter.  For her birthday? I asked.  No, just because…. was the answer.

P7210004 For Carol’s daughter

And Helen just had the binding to do on this striking blue and yellow quilt for her Mum’s birthday.  It will be a table topper, we were told.

P7210002 For Helen’s Mum

Everyone was busy stitching, knitting or just chatting, and Muffy kept Pam company for the morning.

P7210001Muffy sitting with Pam

We were very impressed with the clothing Heather had made for her dolly, which we could see in a state of undress peaking out of her bag.  The doll is a gift for daughter Mandee, who requested it dressed in a kilt “just like Nana used to make us”.  Heather had made the clothes, including knitting that tiny pair of lacy socks in  super-fine cotton.  Very clever indeed – Mandee will love it, I’m sure.

P7210009 Heather with her now dressed Scotty dolly

It was lovely to have everyone here at our home – another great Sew Wot Tuesday.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Starting on Christmas ABCs

A wet weekend away in the caravan gave me some extra time to sit and stitch while keeping warm.  And I’m pleased to say that I have now completed the first two stitchery blocks in my Christmas ABC project – A is for Angel and B is for Bear.

P7200001 My new stitchery project

The patterns are from Alphabet Noel, by Rag Tag Stitching – designed by the very talented Australian designer, Michelle Ridgway.  I love her designs and plan to eventually make a Christmas Quilt from my stitchery blocks.  Obviously, this will be a long term project.  I like to have some hand work to take away to stitching days with friends, and when we are travelling around the country towing our caravan behind us.  So it is two blocks down, 24 more to go!

We only travelled a short distance in the weekend, about half an hour’s drive up to Foxton.  Before the wind and rain came calling we had a little drive around the local area and were delighted to see some birdlife in a nearby stream .  Such as this elegant White Faced Heron, quietly waiting at the water’s edge for some prey to swim past so that he could quickly gobble it up.

P7160022 White Faced Heron

There was a brightly coloured Pukeko busily feeding on leaves and grasses, they also dig up and feed on small tubers with their strong red beak.


And what could be cuter than this pair,  a Sparrow and a Blackbird sharing a bath together?

P7160023Sparrow and Blackbird 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ever Increasing Circles

While I’m waiting for my daughter’s birthday quilt to come back beautifully machine quilted from Rabbit’s Patch Quilting, I’m slowly working on yet another of my UFOs.  I’m being very brave and trying a new (to me) technique for the first time, “spiral quilting”.  This is where you start in the centre and gradually spiral out, and out, in ever increasing circles.

P7030052 Starting right in the middle

This is quite a slow process for me, with a lot of stopping to move the quilt around, and slowly start on my way again.  My lines aren’t perfect, but I’m slowly getting there.  I have found that I like to stop from time to time, give it all a good press on the back, and then the front, re-pin if needs be, then slowly continue on.  I might finish some time soon, before the birthday quilt comes back, if I’m lucky!


I had seen this technique at Amanda Jean’s blog Crazy Mom Quilts.  Check out her explanation of the technique here, if you would like to try it too.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Town and Country Quilters July Club Night

How nice to attend the monthly club-night without battling wind and rain, that certainly made a nice change.  After the formal notices were read out, and the raffles were drawn, and then the ever popular Show and Tell took place.  I had taken along my “Give Thanks” cushion to show the members, the second one I have done in this pattern.  Kaye showed her lovely table runner and told us the story behind this elegant purple piece.  She had originally purchased the fabrics to make it up as a gift, but when it was completed, decided that she couldn’t bear to part with it.  I wonder what the friend received instead?

P7080018 Kaye’s table runner

Diane had brought along a quilt she had finished for her great niece.  Made in the postcard pattern with pink and blue sashings, and just bursting with happy little teddies, it is sure to be a big hit with the little girl.

P7080019Diane’s teddy bear quilt

And Avon had made the most wonderful wall-hanging for a special friend featuring a cute little voltswagon car.  What a lovely gift.

P7080017 Avon’s car wall-hanging

Our speaker for the evening was Sonya Revel, President of Rose City Quilters.  Sonya loves doing appliqué, and McKenna Ryan patterns in particular, and brought along some wonderful quilts to show us.  Christmas quilts are another great love, and there were several wonderful examples of these.


P7080016 McKenna Ryan designs

Sonya took part in a row-by-row quilt with a difference.  Patterns were not supplied, just the idea each time, and this row-by-row has been put together quite cleverly.  Showing the Manawatu wind farm on the hills, and other local items of interest, it is very clever indeed.

P7080023 Row-by-row quilt

And how about this rock’n’roll quilt, that brings back memories of my teenage years.  So colourful and graphic, it was such a fun quilt.

P7080022Rock’n’roll quilt

Another great club night, with such an interesting speaker, and  the chance to catch up with other club members at supper time too.  Well worth coming out on a cold dark night to attend!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Sew Wot Tuesday

After missing the previous get-together with the ladies, Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again  today, so it was good to see everyone again.  Pam was our hostess for the morning, and we were pleased to see her looking better after her recent stay in hospital.  Some of the ladies came bearing plates of goodies for morning tea, as we wanted Pam to rest and take things easy while she was recuperating.  And once again, we had a birthday to celebrate.  This time it was Moira, who was swamped with cards, lots of interesting parcels to open, and plenty of good wishes.   She received fabric, and more fabric, fancy choccies, some pretty serviettes, and a beautiful wardrobe hanger with an attached “smellie” inside to make the the clothes smell nice.

P7070005 Happy Birthday to Moira

As always, there was some beautiful Show and Tell to admire.  Carol had been busy making a quilt each for her twin sisters birthdays.  One sister loves all things vintage and her gift was a lovely wall hanging made with 1930s fabrics and pretty stitchery blocks done with variegated thread.


P7070007 1930s wall hanging

Both twins have different tastes, so a pretty scrappy fence rail quilt made in lavender, green and a touch of mustard was Carol’s gift to her other twin sister. I’m sure they appreciate having a big sister who quilts!

P7070008Fence Rail quilt

Mary was working on the borders of her beautiful Chocolate Roses quilt, button-hole stitching the roses in place.  This is so lovely – it looks good enough to eat!

P7070009  Mary’s Chocolate Roses

I showed the group my Give Thanks cushion with the stitchery front, (see previous blog post).  This one is version 2 which I made for myself, after making one and posting it overseas last Christmas.  I thought it was such a nice pattern I wanted one just for me.   I have since started a new stitchery project, ABC Christmas.  More on that later when I have something interesting to show.

There was a bit of knitting going on, and both Rae and Carol had knitting needles clacking.  And Heather B had to leave early as she was going to check out a new sewing machine – how exciting.  She had worn her previous one to death, she was told.  It was a lovely morning, as always, thanks ladies.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Give Thanks Cushion – version 2

I’ve been quietly stitching away on my cushion panel for some time, and at last the stitchery was completed.  An afternoon or two at the sewing machine, and I’d completed the cushion cover.  Or had I?  No – I decided I hadn’t made the cover firm enough, so it had to be unpicked and re-stitched a little smaller.  Can’t have a saggy cushion now, can we?   There – that’s much better.  I made it especially to sit on the couch in my sewing room.

P7030049 “Give Thanks” cushion

If this cushion looks familiar, it is because I stitched another one last year and sent it off to South Dakota as a Christmas gift for my penfriend Carol.  I enjoyed doing it so much, I decided that I wanted to make one for myself too.  The pattern is by Kim Goodrich of “Once Upon a Vine”.

Lucy the rabbit also sits on the couch.  She was a lovely hand-made gift from Lucy who used to live in Hawaii – sadly Lucy moved away to the main-land and I lost touch with her.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful if she just happened to be reading this blog?

P6120004 Lucy the rabbit came from Hawaii

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A couple of Hang Ups

Not a great deal of sewing has been happening lately, but I’m pleased to announce that Robin has been busy lately helping me hang up an extra quilt or two in the sewing room.  Not really a matter of banging hooks in the walls, these days he is a firm believer in using Command hooks with adhesive backs.  I don't really mind what method he uses – I’m just pleased to get a bit more colour on the walls. And a couple more quilts get liberated from the cupboard.

First up went the hanging rod.  This necessitated measuring, a check made with the a spirit level to make sure it went up straight and even,  tiny pencil marks made on the wall, then on went the adhesive hooks.  Then up went “Angels to Watch over You”,

P6120005 Angels to Watch over You

This pattern is “Redwork Angels”, designed by Susan Claire, and was stitched while enjoying trips away in our caravan.over quite a long period of time.  It was finally completed it in 2012, and as I have told my grown-up grand-daughters, I have made it for when they finally get around to having babies!  Goodness knows when that will be.  So in the meantime I will enjoy seeing it hanging up here in my sewing room.

Also newly hanging up on the wall is “High Tech Tucks, Garden Window”, completed in 1998.  This was started in a class with Caryl Breyer Fallet many years ago when she came out to New Zealand to teach at the Wellington Symposium.  Sadly, the wall-hanging languished unfinished for several years before I really made an effort to get it completed.  I think it is quite  clever design using a large scale print, and it is one of my favourites. 

P6120003 High Tech Tucks, Garden Window

It’s nice to see these gracing the walls in my (very small) sewing room, thank you Robin.