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

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Over the hill and far away

Julie Lister, of Coastal Quilting, phoned me last night, to tell me that my black and white quilt is all finished. I wasn’t required at work today, wasn’t that fortuitous, so off I went to collect it. The rain hasn’t stopped all day, so I took my time as I drove over the Wainuiomata Hill. Wainuiomata was known as “Nappy Valley” in earlier years, as the reasonably priced building sections attracted many young married couples. (In a former life, my family and I lived in Wainuiomata for several years). Once through the township, I drove down the winding coast road in the incessant rain, past life style blocks and small farms. This ramshackle barn must have a few stories to tell about life on the farm.

DSCF4271 Old red barn

The stock all looked miserable as the rain kept falling. Horses stood dejectedly, heads down, and their horse covers dripping wet. The sheep and lambs didn’t look any more comfortable, but this mother and lamb were lucky enough to have some shelter under the trees.

DSCF4273 Sheep and her lamb

I finally reached my destination and drove up the steep drive to Julie’s studio. My quilt looked lovely, and I was very pleased with the pantograph design of feathers that I had chosen. Julie had done a great job with her quilting. There is no doubt about it, quilting really does bring a quilt top to life. After attending to the business side of things, the quilt was packed up, and I began the long drive home.

DSCF4277 Back of quilt showing the quilting design

Cutting the biding strips, and stitching them on is the next step. Oh, I mustn't forget to make a nice label too, after all, it is a special gift. This quilt is going to my daughter Nicky and her husband Robert who celebrate 25 years of marriage next month. I am so pleased that I have plenty of time to get these last couple of steps done before the due date. I just hope they like it!

DSCF4278 Corner of quilt

Monday, September 27, 2010

Magnificent Magnolias

Hidden away at the back of the council buildings were these two magnificent magnolias in glorious full flower, one taller specimen and one more compact. Just had to take a photo as I passed by on one of my trips to the gallery to view the quilt exhibition. A passer by said to me, “Aren’t they lovely. Do you know what the trees are called?”. Of course I did. I’m not really much of a gardener, but I can certainly recognise these magnificent magnolias, one of the loveliest winter flowering trees around.


Friday, September 24, 2010

September Club night

Our speaker at the September meeting of Pinestream Quilters was the highest ranking woman in the Defence Force. Dr Anne Campbell, Brigadier (Rtd), told us of the trials and tribulations of starting an army career over 30 years ago. It was not easy to be a lone female in the male dominated defence forces. Becoming pregnant caused a uniform crisis, which Dr Campbell solved by having a loose fitting dress made in army green, modelled on one of her army shirts, complete with epaulets. This allowed for her expanding figure, as the months went by. Her work as a doctor took her all over the country, and more recently, to help with the medical issues after the various tsunamis that have ravaged so many countries over the last few years. We were fascinated to hear of all her adventures over the years, and she certainly paved the way for women in the services today. After retiring from the Defence Force, Dr Campbell is now health advisor at Veteran Affairs. Dr Campbell was introduced to patchwork and quilting during one of her postings, but admitted it was not really her thing at all. She did however, admire all the quilts brought along for show and tell.

DSCF4260 Dr Anne Campbell and her medals

Gaye brought along a lovely floral Kaffe Fassett design quilt, which every one oohed and aahed over. The colours were just lovely, so fresh and Spring like.

DSCF4254Gaye’s Kaffe Fassett quilt

Brenda is our President, and showed us her paisley quilt in glorious bronze colours. Made in the “Turning 20” pattern, this is being sent away as a gift to her daughter and son-in-law. Seems that Brenda’s daughter has a bit of a passion for paisley designs.

DSCF4256 Brenda with her paisley quilt

Quilters are very generous and often make quilts for good causes. Sharon showed us her blue and brown Log Cabin quilt, which will be donated to the hospital.

DSCF4258 Sharon’s Log Cabin quilt

New Zealand fabrics were used in Rosemary’s quilt, which she had just completed for her husband’s birthday, and made in the ever popular Disappearing 9 Patch design. An excellent choice of fabrics as Rosemary’s husband is President of the Forest and Bird Society.

DSCF4259 Lots of native birds on Rosemary’s quilt

All in all, another great club night. Lots of quilts to look at, friends to chat to, a nice supper, and an excellent speaker.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Different lives and different cultures

There are two quilts hanging in the Pinestream exhibition which celebrate different cultures. “Celebrating Diversity”, by Ruth Nicholas is made up of ethnic style fabrics and appliquéd figures of various colours, with the splashes of orange enlivening the browns. Ruth states that “each person brings special cultural values and benefits to the world”.

DSCF4204 “Celebrating Diversity”, by Ruth Nicholas

Maureen has made several African inspired quilts in her time, and this hand appliquéd quilt, titled “Under African Skies”, is a gift for her 13 year old great-nephew. With the sunset blazing in the sky, and the appliquéd motifs throughout the quilt, it is full of the rich colours of Africa.

DSCF4205 “Under African Skies”, by Maureen Adams

New Zealand is a land of diverse cultures as well, and what better way to show it off than the large traditional Maori carving in the foyer of Expressions gallery.The four faces on the carving represent the people in our community and their cultural diversity. The stones at the base have been gathered from the Hutt River, our local river which runs through the Hutt Valley and down to the sea at Petone. This carving is made from New Zealand Totara, weighs 1.3 tons and was carved by Dave Te Hira.

DSCF4206 Totara carving

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

September Stitching Monday

After the excitement of the opening of our Quilt Exhibition last week, it was nice to sit down with the stitching group and chat about the highlights as we worked on our projects.  I loaded up my sewing machine to take this time, and worked on three more little Christmas wall-hangings.  I took lots of sewing to do, but didn’t really seem to achieve much at all.  Never mind, it’s all about getting together regularly, isn’t it?  Jo was working on a “Disappearing 9 Patch” in lovely retro colours and was up to sewing the borders on the quilt top.  After applying a narrow tan border, she wanted some advice.  Which of the two fabrics she had with her would look better as the outside border?  This is the one which everyone decided on – interesting enough, it was Jo’s first choice too.

DSCF4248 Auditioning the border fabric

Maureen was busy stitching away on sewing down the bindings on  some place mats.  The fabric is a fun black and white print featuring chefs.  Maureen had earlier made a whole bunch of these for a craft sale, and this set is for a commission.

DSCF4247  Maureen and her “Chef” place mats

Sylvia had been very busy during the month and brought in six cute little neo natal quilts, using donated flannel fabric.  All different, they looked so nice and cuddly and the hospital and the new mums are sure to appreciate them.  There was only the binding on one to finish then they are all done.

DSCF4245 Sylvia made six neonatal quilts

Heather is the Hexagon Queen lately, and was working on another lovely quilt.  She was not happy with the look of her machine quilting, so had unpicked it all.  “The quilt is telling me it wants to be hand quilted”, she announced.  Here she is busily basting. the quilt to prepare it for  hand quilting.  Will there be another hexagon quilt?  Probably -  Heather has a bag full of prepared hexagons left over from previous quilts.

DSCF4246Heather basting her hexagon quilt

Monday, September 20, 2010

Flour bags, and a vintage Singer

A trip to the Railway Museum at Paekakariki in the weekend yielded some treasures that caught my eye. There was a selection of flour bags hanging up. These bags are often highly sort after and are quite collectable in some circles. No doubt all the flour mills advertised have long ceased business.

DSCF4212New Zealand flour bags

Also on display was a vintage Singer sewing machine. Ahhh, the memories that brought back. I think most households in New Zealand had one of these treadle machines in years gone by. Our family certainly did. I learned to sew on a machine just like this and made many items of clothing on our machine. There is something quite soothing about pushing the treadle up and down with your foot, while gently feeding the fabric under the needle. And those six long thin drawers always seemed contain all sorts of little interesting oddments to look through.


A very serious looking mangle was also on display. I could just imagine the poor colonial women and what they had to go through to do the weekly wash. Haul the water to put in the copper, light the fire and keep it going. Add the clothes, and boil for the prescribed time. How long – don’t ask me. Then fish the clothes out and feed through the mangle. Rinse in cold water, and through the mangle again. Don’t forget the blue rinse. Imagine the heat of standing over the copper, and the physical effort it would take to handle the wet washing through the mangle. No wonder the washing took all day. Life is so much easier these days.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Appliqué Quilts on show

I went back to Pinestream Quilters exhibition at Expressions Gallery today, to check out the appliqué quilts on display. Surprising, there were only a few of these beauties hanging up, most of the quilts in the exhibition were made of pieced blocks. First in the door was Heather Harding’s quilt, made to showcase our exhibition. Triangle shapes of various colours are stitched on to the black and gold background fabric. Metallic threads used in the stipple quilting add to the sparkle of this quilt, as does the variegated satin stitch which zig zags between the embellished triangles.

DSCF4197 Exhibition quilt by Heather Harding

“Celebrate William Morris”, by Sylvia Lambert is hand appliquéd and hand quilted. Sylvia mentioned that William Morris designs are from the late 1800s but still inspire us today. Sylvia is an appliqué devotee and has stitched two of these quilts, with similar designs.

DSCF4198 “Celebrate William Morris”, by Sylvia Lambert

“When Harry met Sally”, by Jenny Hughes Allen is a whimsical, highly embellished wall hanging with special little touches just waiting to be discovered. Harry the hedgehog had been used in a previous quilt, and Jenny thought it was time he had a little romance in his life. This lovely piece has it all, 3D appliqué, couching and embroidering, on a pretty colour washed background fabric.

DSCF4199 “When Harry met Sally”, by Jenny Hughes Allen

Here is Harry up close. The stitched detail is amazing, as are the appliqué leaves and flowers which adorn the quilt.

DSCF4200 Here’s Harry

Hanging at the back of the gallery was “Rambling Rose”, by Jan Cotton. The main body of this bed sized quilt was pieced stars blocks in creams. The magnificent needle turn appliqué border of embellished flowers, leaves, and fantails flitting amongst the foliage really sets it off nicely.

DSCF4202“Rambling Rose”, by Jan Cotton

The border is truly beautiful and here is a close up so you can see some of the details – can you make out the fantail bird sitting there?

DSCF4203 “Rambling Rose” border detail

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

And the Winners are……..

I went back in the daytime to take photos of the other major winners in my club, Pinestream Quilters Exhibition. Best in Show was Jenny Hall, (see earlier blog) who also took out the award for Best First Time Exhibitor. Well done, Jenny. Now, where did I put my notebook? The other awards went to:

“Welsh Traditions”, by Heather Harding, won two awards. Best Hand Quilting, and Best Traditional Wall Quilt. Heather’s quilt “celebrates the traditions that have been established and practised by women for centuries”.

DSCF4184“ Welsh Traditions”, by Heather Harding

The low lighting in the gallery did not make for a good photo, so I zoomed in on the central motif to show just how wonderful Heather’s hand quilting is. Heather is one of those remarkable quilters who win awards for both hand and machine quilting.

DSCF4185 Centre of Heather’s quilt

“Rhythm and Blues”, by Gaye Downes, won Best Use of Colour. This quilt was inspired by the book, Spectacular Quilts. The lovely turquoise fabrics made this quilt glow.

DSCF4177“Rhythm and Blues”, by Gaye Downes

“Shanes Journey through the Stars”, by Fay McGregor, won Best Innovative Bed Quilt. This was made for her son’s 18th birthday and showcases fabric in the many different varieties of stars relating to hobbies and interests, such as bikes, music, and sports.

DSCF4178 “Shane’s Journey through the Stars”, by Fay McGregor

“The Road to Cork”, by Gael O’Donnel, won Best Traditional Bed Quilt, and was made for her oldest son‘s 21st birthday. Made of lovely subdued colours which did not photograph particularly well in the low lighting.

DSCF4180 “The Road to Cork”, by Gael O’Donnel

“Keeping it Green”, by Margaret Rogerson, won Best Innovative Wall Quilt. Margaret made the wall hanging to celebrate the purchase of her new home.

DSCF4182 “Keeping it Green”, by Margaret Rogerson

“Bozinga”, by Jo den Harder won Best Machine Quilting. This stunning quilt with flowers and stars was made to celebrate a new home. I had seen Jo working on this quilt and just love the intricate design of the blocks.

DSCF4183 “Bozinga”, by Jo den Harder

And……last but not least, the President’s Award went to “Vriendchap voon Altyd”, Friendship for Ever, by Petronella Lazet-Polman. Made for a very dear friend who returned to the Netherlands after spending several years living in New Zealand.

DSCF4181 “Vriendchap voon Altyd”, by Petronella Lazet-Polman

These are the quilts which took home the awards, but there are many other lovely quilts on display as well. The quilters in our club are very talented and I am sure that you would like to see some of the others as well. I will be back to the gallery with my trusty camera snapping more beautiful quilts before too long.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Muffy’s looking after me

I’m feeling rather poorly today with one of those throats that went from prickly to very sore and a hacking cough in a matter of hours. So I’m having a day off work, not doing too much at all. No housework, not even any sewing. Muffy has been looking after me. She loves to have someone at home during the day.

DSCF2989 Are you writing about me?

What I have been doing, after checking the emails, it write a few letters to overseas pen friends. I mentioned this at work last week, and the reaction was interesting. “No one writes letters these days”, I was told, “with emails and texting”. Well I certainly do write letters, and my pen friends appreciate receiving them. Nice newsy letters full of what we have been getting up to over the last few months. I love to get letters too, it is something that can be read and savoured, and re-read again when you get around to replying. Emails have their place, and as for texting, I just can’t get the hang of it! And they don’t spell the words properly. Give me a real letter any day.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Best in Show

The Official Opening on our quilt show on Friday evening was quite an occasion. We mixed and mingled over wine and cheese. Important people made speeches, the awards were given out, and the quilt show was officially opened. Only then were we allowed to enter the gallery and finally see all the quilts hung on the wall. What a beautiful riot of colour they made, as we all crowded around to see who had made what, and check out those winning quilts. “Best in Show” went to Jenny, (no, not me) whose prizewinning quilt was composed of the New York Beauty block in reds, greys and blacks, with an intricate pieced inner border. I met Jenny some years ago when we took part in a Christmas Stocking swap together. She is thrilled with her win, and it is richly deserved, great work, Jenny!

DSCF4145 Best in Show

Our quilts are hung in Expressions Gallery, Upper Hutt, and the exhibition will last for 4 weeks. I plan to make several trips back to the gallery and will take more photos in daylight conditions to show on the blog. So…… watch this space.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Tonight’s the Night

It’s a special night tonight for members of Pinestream Quilters. It is the opening preview of our 2010 Quilt Exhibition, “Celebrate”. The exhibition will be celebrating 21 years of Pinestream Quilters and featuring quilts which reflect significant moments in life. The categories range from first time exhibitor, traditional and innovative bed and wall quilts, best use of colour, machine and hand quilting, President’s choice, and Best in Show. So we are off to partake in the Wine and Cheese, followed by the Official Opening, and the Awards Ceremony. It promises to be a great evening.

Exhibition flyer

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Off to the Quilter

Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to the quilter I go! I packed up my black and white quilt and the pieced backing and travelled over the hill to Wainuiomata to meet up with Long-arm quilter Julie. Julie lives on a rural property with bantam chooks running around. .

DSCF4143 Cock-a-doodle-doo

Polly the dog was put inside the house and looked forlornly out of the window, she really wanted to join in the fun. Polly is the sort of dog that will lick you to death, Julie said. Oh look, there’s a quilt on the bed. Julie makes quilts for herself, as well as quilting them for others.

DSCF4142 Polly wants to come and play

We went into the quilting studio and got down to business. I wanted some sort of swirly all over design on the quilt so we pondered over the pattern books. There were several nice possibilities and I finally narrowed it down to one. What colour thread did I want? Mmmm, that is always an interesting decision. Julie spread some black, white and green threads across the quilt. Then she brought out a variegated black and white spool. That’s the one, I decided. All decisions made, I left the quilt behind for Julie to work her magic on it. It should be completed in a couple of weeks.

DSCF4141 My pumpkin bag and quilt top on the quilting machine

Monday, September 6, 2010

Almost done

I made the most of a day off work today, and really worked hard finishing the black and white quilt I’m making for my daughter. It needed a plain black border to finish it off. Laying the quilt top on the floor, I smoothed it out and carefully measured it. Three times as you do – once down the middle and then down the sides. Pinning those long strips took ages. I am a real “pinner”, I like to pin plenty and often. Once I had stitched the black strips to the long sides, I did it all again along the top and bottom.

DSCF4138 Black border strip added

Then it was time to stitch the backing fabric. I had purchased many metres of white fabric with a small black spot – that should look good on the back, I thought. But……… all that fabric and it still wasn’t quite enough! Oh no, what to do? Luckily I had just enough of the lime green accent fabric to add a piece down the middle of the backing.

DSCF4137 Backing fabric

There are a few loose threads that need snipping off and then I’ll give the quilt top and backing fabric a good press. I’ve arranged to get this quilt commercially quilted and will drop it off on Wednesday.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Santa’s new Clothes

At last my Santa has some nice new clothes to wear.  No more standing around in the “altogether” and looking sheepish, he really didn’t want anyone to see him like that.  With just his snowy white beard to keep the chills away he was really feeling the cold.  Finally he is respectably clothed, and ready to meet anyone who comes to call.  Santa started out a little flat, and looked like this.


A large amount of stuffing filled him up nicely.  With his arms stitched on he looked almost human.  Pity about the legs though, he doesn’t have any.  I drew a couple of dots for eyes, and sewed his dainty little nose on.  With the addition of his beard, he was really starting to look like Santa.  Now, what about those clothes?


Once I finally started stitching the clothes, it didn’t take too long at all.  The burgundy check Santa gown covers his ample figure quite nicely, and the outfit is set off with matching hat finished with a tassel.  He certainly looks a whole lot more like a Santa should, doesn’t he?  This Santa was designed by Margaret Hart of Primitive Hearts and was published in Homespun magazine.


I must tell you that Santa has been threatened with grievous bodily harm!  I had him standing beside the fire just to show him off before he gets packed away till Christmas.  The man of the house said to me, “A couple of tennis balls would be handy.  Then I could knock that Santa over”.  How cruel is that!