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Monday, November 29, 2010

Selvedge Christmas Tree Quilts

I am a big fan of Karen Griska and her Selvadge blog and am always amazed at all the different projects that can be made from these interesting little strips of fabric that we all used to discard before we learnt the error of our ways.   What about using some Christmas selvedges, I wondered.  Out came my collection, and I carefully looked at all the Christmas ones, seeking inspiration.  How about a simple triangular Christmas Tree?  Selecting my strips, I stitched them onto a triangular homespun base, overlapping each raw edge with a selvedge.
DSCF4443 Close up of the Christmas selvedge's
I then trimmed the edges, then stitched the whole thing onto a plain background, and finished the edges with green ric rac.  It was so easy I soon made two Christmas  triangles.  I finished the quilts with a Christmas print border, and with a bit of simple machine quilting, the two wall hangings were soon completed.  Last step was to sew the hanging sleeves on the back, and stitch on a gold start button on top of each tree.  This smaller one with the red and green border is for me.
I used a lighter Christmas print for the second one.  This  has been made as a gift for my pen friend Carol who first introduced me to Karen and her Selvadge Blog some time ago.  I hope she likes it.
DSCF4732  For Carol
These were so quick to make that there would be time for any of you to whip up something similar for a Christmas gift. 

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Christmas Sewing Completed

All done, in time for Christmas.  What a great feeling, no last minute rush.  Maybe there are one or two more uncompleted?  I’m not telling.  I was a bit slow finishing this Santa.  He looked like this part way through.  Bare headed, and unclothed, with black hands and feet and a big nose, he did look rather strange, didn’t he?
DSCF4010 Bare Santa
Santa’s clothes were put on hold while I finished other sewing tasks.  Once I got started again, it did take a while longer than I thought, as I made a few changes to his clothes.   Now fully clothed and with hair and whiskers, he looks like this. His Santa hat sports a bell and white bobbles, and he has bobbles around his trouser legs.  I’ve added a little ribbon loop to hang him up, because he really didn’t know how to sit nicely with those big feet of his.  This is the second Santa I’ve made this year, so I’m really quite pleased with myself!
DSCF4825 Santa’s all finished.
I like to decorate our caravan while we are away over Christmas and there was room for one more Christmas cushion cover.  I just replace the existing burgundy cushion covers with my hand stitched Christmas ones for the holiday season.  My quilting buddy Jenni lent me her stitchery pattern, and I made a change or two, as you do.  Then I hand quilted the front.  Another Christmas project finished with time to spare.
DSCF4827 Christmas cushion for the caravan

Friday, November 26, 2010

Come dressed for a Christmas Party

Pinestream Quilters had their last club night of the year and it was quite a night.  We took along some festive food items for the local food bank to bring a little joy for those less fortunate.  There was a special Christmas supper planned, a competition or two, and we  were asked to come dressed for a Christmas party.  Now, my colour range of clothing doesn’t really extend to Christmas red or green, but I did my best, dangly Christmas earrings and all!  Here I am all ready and waiting for lift from my quilting buddy along the road, we take turns to do car duty each month.
DSCF4811 Ready for a quilting party
There was a Christmas table runner competition this year and the results were amazing.  Big and small, there must have been over 20 entries.  They were judged by “Viewers Choice”, and being quite a procrastinator, I had trouble deciding on which one to choose. 
DSCF4817 Christmas table runners
To be quite honest, any one of them could have won, they were all great.  In the end, I chose a log cabin table runner, with the narrowest logs I had seen.  I couldn’t sew anything with such tiny pieces, I am sure.  This was made by Anne, and many others must have been impressed with her work too as it took 1st prize.
DSCF4818 More Christmas table runners
Our monthly “Show and Tell” is always the highlight of the meeting.  There were some particularly spectacular works this time.  I loved the quilt that Sharon had made with Vietnamese fabrics which her daughter had brought home.  These fabrics shimmered and shone under the lights, and the gorgeous quilt was backed with sumptuous velvet.
DSCF4814 Sharon’s quilt made with Vietnamese fabrics
Gillian’s tapa cloth quilt in an eye catching design using two different shades of this beaten bark cloth.  She had brought back a couple of rolls of tapa cloth from her time living in Fiji.  Once stitched, don’t unpick, Gillian advised, as it damages the fibres.
DSCF4815 Tapa cloth quilt made by Gillian
This New York Beauty quilt came to our meeting straight from Sue, the commercial quilter, and Linda has yet to bind it.  It is a wonderful design, perhaps a bit out of my league with all those points.  Linda didn’t seem to have any problems though, and I loved her choice of colours.
DSCF4816 Linda’s New York Beauty quilt
I love quilts with a New Zealand theme and June’s tui in a kowhai tree is beautifully framed by tiny flying geese set in a wavy border.  This small quilt is just exquisite, and so beautifully quilted.  Another UFO finished, June declared.
DSCF4812 Tui in a kowhai tree, by June
Marg loves collecting doilies and buttons and has combined these two when she made several doily dollies.  They came along to club night safely nestled together in a box for safe keeping.  Aren’t they just beautiful with their embroidered doilies and buttons for hair?
DSCF4813 Marg made these doily dollies
We then had a musical quiz to guess the name of Christmas Carols being played from just a snippet of the tune, and sadly my team didn’t do very well at all.  Song sheets were then delivered to each table and we all joined in with some rousing renditions of our favourite carols.  Mother Christmas travelled around the hall dipping into her basket full of fat quarters for us all.  That was a lovely surprise.  Then it was time to enjoy our special festive supper.  Joyce had made a lovely Christmas cake, using her secret family recipe.  When I told her how nice the cake was, and the icing was especially tasty, she told me it would be because of all the brandy she put in the icing.  What a great night we had.
DSCF4819  Joyce cutting the Christmas cake

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Nation in Mourning - Pike River Mining Disaster

New Zealand police said the 29 miners missing in a coal-mine blast five days ago are presumed dead as a second explosion yesterday ended hopes of a rescue, marking the nation’s worst mining tragedy in 96 years.  The second blast occurred at the Pike River Coal Ltd. mine at about 2.40 p.m. local time and lasted for about 30 seconds.  The miners’ families were told it was unlikely there were any survivors from the explosion, Gary Knowles, police superintendent, said in an interview.

“New Zealand is a nation in mourning,” Prime Minister John Key said in a speech in parliament following the news. “The 29 men whose names and faces we have all come to know, will never walk amongst us again.”

Twenty nine fathers, husbands, partners, brothers, and sons will not be coming home.  After days of waiting and hoping against hope that some if not all of these men would be saved, the whole of New Zealand grieves at this terrible tragedy.  Our thoughts are with the families, the rescuers, and the West Coast communities in their time of grief.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hoffman Exhibition at Thimbles and Threads

Several months ago I viewed the Hoffman Exhibition at Minerva, and sadly no photos were allowed at those premises.  After travelling around the country the exhibition has now arrived at my local quilt shop, Thimbles and Threads.  It is on show upstairs in the classroom, and although I noticed a sign warning not to touch the quilts, I could not see a sign prohibiting taking photos. 
DSCF4797A view of some of the Hoffman Exhibition quilts
I was pleased to get a second chance to look at these beauties.  The rules were that the entries were not allowed to be square or rectangular, and had to use a recognisable amount of the challenge fabric.  “High Five”, by Joanne Mitchel was quite different from the others.  Very cleverly constructed of angular zig zag folds, it was made up of two  different pictures, which could be seen when viewed at an angle.  The face of Sir Ed Hilary was on side, and a mountain scene on the other. 
DSCF4796 “High Five” by Joanne Mitchel
The view from her bedroom window inspired Jenny Broadbent to make “Through the Cabbage Patch”.  Rows of cabbages all growing in straight lines, and was that an appliquéd rabbit I noticed nibbling on the cabbage leaves?  Hills and a lake fill the  background and I like how the  foliage frames the top edge of the quilt.
DSCF4795 “Through the Cabbage Patch”, by Jenny Broadbent
Another scene which caught my eye was “Lake Ruataniwha”, by Marie Temple.  The challenge fabric reminded Marie of autumn in the McKenzie Country, and her quilt was inspired by one of her own photos.  She has done a wonderful job of stitching not only a lake scene but a lake reflection too.  I particularly like the clever way the she has done the borders.
DSCF4793 “Lake Ruataniwha”, by Marie Temple
Lastly, I took a snap of one of the several cloaks exhibited.  This one is “The Cloak of Fire”, and is by Jenny Skudder.  Inspired by a Quilting Arts magazine, this certainly needed a close look to see the different techniques used.  The cloak was bargello, and the flames were double sided with organza overlay, and the hanging fine black threads added another dimension.  This was a very striking piece.
DSCF4794  “The Cloak of Fire”, by Jenny Skudder
As I had only popped in to the shop to buy some cord for a Christmas gift, it was a nice surprise the find this exhibition upstairs.  It is always interesting to see all the different ideas that come from using the same piece of fabric.  Do call in to Thimbles and Threads if you are passing through Upper Hutt.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Off with the old, on with the new

Handbags!  We love our handbags, don’t we?  I had a navy leather handbag (I don’t wear black) which was getting rather worn and scruffy.  But, I thought, it was good enough to take along to work each day. DH Robin didn’t like this bag at all.  Not so much the bag, I think, but the fact that I had a couple of items dangling off the ring at the side.  One was my digi camera,  I can’t really go anywhere without that.  And the other little pouch was a leather glass case, for both my sun glasses and reading glasses.  And the reason that these items were dangling off my bag is because I couldn’t fit them inside.
However, several months before my work days came to an end, I found a replacement.  Navy leather of course, as this is my preferred colour.  This new handbag was tucked away till after my final day at work.  Then…….. it was out with the old and in with the new.  My nice new handbag doesn’t have any dangly bits hanging off, Robin is pleased to note.  That is because it is so much roomier that I can fit my camera and glasses case inside.  There is even a little pouch to fit the cell phone into.
DSCF4438 My new bag
My make-up purse needed replacing too, and luckily I remembered that I had a pretty little blue and yellow purse tucked away.  This was a gift from my pen friend from several years ago, when she travelled to Provence.  So that fits nicely into the new  bag too.  I’m not really much into  make-up,  but I like to carry a comb, nail scissors, and a lip stick, not that I remember to apply that very often.  I’m more of a “take me as you find me” sort of girl!
DSCF4662 Make-up purse from Provence
I guess my new leather hand bag will last me a good while, especially as my working days are over and I won’t be using it every day.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Lots to see at the Log Cabin

We were visiting the wonderful Wairarapa region in the weekend and Robin stopped the car outside Log Cabin Needlecrafts.  We had often driven past this cute little shop, but had never called in.  (It is not always easy to stop when we are driving past on an adventure towing the caravan behind us). This time, our caravan was on site at the motor camp, so Robin waited patiently outside in the car, while I entered this delightful little shop.  It is full of all sorts of goodies for the crafter.  Patchwork and dress fabrics, ribbons, lace, threads, beads, and no doubt other items that I didn’t have time to discover.
I made a beeline to the patchwork fabrics, then browsed though the buttons and trims.  Eventually I picked out a couple of fat quarters that I really must have, together with a small kit, and a pattern.  I don’t know about anyone else, but it is next to impossible for me to enter a fabric or craft shop and come away empty handed.
Sharon told me she had been in her log cabin premises for several years, so I was pleased that at last I had the opportunity to call in.  She was very welcoming and quite happy for me to take photos.   Do call in if you are passing by, you can find the shop at 289 High Street, Solway, Masterton.  A big part of the fun of travelling is discovering new shops that cater for my patchwork passion.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Every day spent sewing is a good day

It is so nice sitting outside under a shady tree in Carterton Motor Camp doing some hand stitching.  The breeze is making a shower of white petals fall down all over the grass, and over me as well.  I must admit,  it’s rather like being in a bridal party.
DSCF4742 White flowers that fall down from above
I’m working on a stitchery.  “Every day spent sewing is a good day”.  The original pattern  is made to be framed but I’m changing mine around.  This is going to be a runner to go on top of my sewing machine cabinet when it is all closed up tight, and all the sewing “stuff” put away neatly.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

November Stitching Monday

Four of us eager ladies were waiting outside the door at 9:30am, loaded up with baskets, bags, and sewing machines, waiting to get in to start our day.  Along came the man with the key.  “I’d better unlock the door and let you all in”, he said.  We went into the hall, pulled the curtains back to let in more light, and set up our sewing machines.  The hot water zip was filled up and switched on, ready for that first cuppa.  Others arrived shortly after and amidst all the greetings and chatter, the sewing machines were soon humming away.  Betty was working on a very pretty quilt made up of nine patch blocks set against tulip focus fabric, then bordered with pin wheel blocks.  This is going to be for a grand-daughter, Betty said, but she’s just not quite sure which one yet.  Which ever one gets this quilt, I’m sure she will be thrilled.
DSCF4720 Betty with her tulip quilt
It was no wonder that Gaye was working on her Christmas Star quilt, with the festive season fast approaching.   Made with Christmassy reds and greens, and lovely rich buttery creams, all the fabrics have a touch of gold.  Even the backing fabric shone with gold thread.  The pattern was from a Australian P & Q magazine.   It’s been hanging around for a couple of years, she told me, and now is the time to finish it.  I understand completely, I know I have a Christmas quilt pinned up somewhere that I have started machine quilting then put aside!  Wonder when I’ll get around to finishing mine?
DSCF4723 Gaye’s Christmas Star quilt
Pamela was working on a Christmas quilt too.  She is making up her own design, using patterns that she fancies from various magazines.  The top row is completed, hand appliquéd  Santa’s sled with reindeer against a starry night sky.  She was working on another row for a good part of the day, these cute little pieced Christmas trees.  And the Santa block is gorgeous too. 
DSCF4728 Pamela’s Christmas quilt
My machine was kept busy too.  I can’t really say what I was doing just yet, as it is for a Christmas gift, but will post a photo when it has been presented.  But as a clue I will say it is something brown, and cuddly, and I was appliquéing letters on it.
DSCF4727Doing my secret sewing
“Good golly, Miss Molly”, is what Joyce has named her work in progress.  Full of bright fabric, curved piecing and appliqué, it is certainly going to be one of a kind  when it is completed.  Joyce is having such fun doing this quilt, and keeps saying, “I don’t do brights”.  We all think she is doing brights very well indeed!  There are two curved borders to go on yet, and knowing Joyce it will probably be well on the way to completion by next month’s Stitching Monday.  And special thanks Joyce,  for letting me cut a few selvedges off your fabrics for my collection.
DSCF4725 “Good golly, Miss Molly”
We were very impressed with Jo and her free motion quilting skills.  Pansies and twirly bits were stitched without any effort at all.  She made it all look so easy.  I certainly wish that I could stitch like that.  It’s just a matter of practise, we were told.
DSCF4729 Free motion quilting on Jo’s quilt
The hand stitchers were also being very industrious.  Marg was busy stitching down her quilt binding, and we all know how long that can take.  Then she worked on her intricate looking bargello tapestry.  Faye traced out the pattern for a set of nice round Santa's to be made out of felt, then pulled out her hexagon project.  And Maureen always likes to have some “take along” hand work to do, the current project is  appliquéing her 1930s blocks.  
DSCF4724 Maureen’s 1930s blocks
Our next get-together in December will be one week earlier, and will involve a shared lunch of goodies, so that sounds like fun. 

Monday, November 15, 2010

And the winner is……

Sixteen lovely ladies put a comment on my Bloggerversary post, with a chance to win a couple of New Zealand inspired batik fat quarters.  Now I know that somewhere in cyber land one can download and use a random selector but that is all too modern for me.  My random selection was done the old fashioned way, by cutting up squares of paper and numbering them!
DSCF4733 The lucky numbers
Robin, my own personal random selector, put the folded up numbers in his cap, screwed his face up hard, and pulled out the winning number.  Which was number 11, Faye, of www.fayes-space.blogspot.com.  Congratulations Faye!  I hope you enjoy using the fabrics.  Please get in touch to let me know your postal address, as I have not been able to contact you via your blogger profile.
DSCF4734 Robin playing the part of Random Selector
Thank you everyone for taking part, it has been fun.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Fashion with a Flair

There is a wonderful exhibition for those with an interest in glitzy fashion currently showing at Te Papa Museum, Wellington.  Entitled “Enriching Fashion”,  it showcases all sorts of fashion details, from sequins, beads, and embroidery, from the 1800s up to the present time.  These items are arranged in  “Eyelights”, a series of large display cases on the 4th floor, looking remarkably like vintage shop front windows.  The first display featured  “Printed Cotton”, and amongst these modern items was a man’s quilted waistcoat made by Malcolm Harrison in 1993.  He had used a bright and colourful screen printed cotton featuring Sergeant Dan of porridge fame.  Other items were screen printed cotton dresses, a black tee shirt and bag.
DSCF4711 Sergeant Dan waistcoat
The next selection was “Embroidery”.  I often wonder if I had a former life in Victorian times, as I have a real love of vintage embroidery.  There were lots of beautiful items in this display, but none so lovely as this cotton embroidered christening gown, stitched in the 1800s.  Sadly listed as “maker unknown”, we can appreciate the amount of time and love which the mother, or perhaps grand-mother, spent in making this gown for her new baby.
DSCF4709 Embroidered christening gown
Things were really jazzed up in the next display case, aptly titled “Shimmer and Shine”.  This gold fringed dress would certainly  have caught the light on the dance floor.  Although looking rather like a flapper dress, it is a New Zealand creation and was made by Kathleen King in 1956.
DSCF4707 Gold fringed dress made in 1956
And how about tottering around the dance floor in these black high heeled shoes set with sparkles?  Made in England in 1980, they were no doubt seen as the height of fashion in some posh London shop.
DSCF4693 Fashionable black high heels
I just couldn’t pass this pink beauty by, which was originally part of a 1920s beaded dress, then converted to a cape. It is made of silk chiffon, and encrusted with sequins, glass beads, and plastic spangles.  You would certainly shimmer and shine when you stepped out of the limousine with this draped around your shoulders.
DSCF47081920s pink cape
The next selection was “Ruffles and Lace”.  Lots of lovely items to admire here, including lace collars and cuffs, and a rather dashing black ruffled evening dress. I loved this pretty red print cotton dress with lace bodice and sleeves.  It was made by James  Shadbred and Co, of Scotland, in 1900s.
DSCF4704 Cotton dress with lace details
This beautiful sprigged muslin bonnet trimmed with lace from 1850 is a real work of art.
DSCF4705 Muslin and lace bonnet
“Feathers and Fur” featured in the last case, including a Mary Quant style shift dress made from tan and white calf skin, I certainly didn’t like the look of that.  This pretty wool cape edged in swan feathers was so much nicer, and was made in the late 1800s.  I could image feeling very glamorous indeed if I went out in the horse drawn carriage wearing this beautiful cape.
DSCF4694 Wool cape trimmed with swan feathers
Another glamour item is this ostrich fan, which certainly has a story to tell.  It was carried by the wife of New Zealand Premier Richard Seddon, when the couple attended the coronation of King Edward VII in London, 1902.
There were so many beautiful items on display that I could only show a small selection, and it is well worth a visit.
Our trip to Te Papa also took in the Brian Brake photography exhibition.  Read about this on our other blog:  www.romanyrambler.blogspot.com

Friday, November 12, 2010

I’ve been a Busy Bee

I’ve made time for stitching over the last few days and have been as busy as a bee.  First job was to get my light box out and do some tracing.  I love my Slimline light box which we ordered  from Australia, luckily it arrived safe and sound and is a good size to use.  Whipped up a padded and quilted cover to keep it safe when it is packed away.  So what was I tracing?  Something for a “secret squirrel” Christmas gift, so can’t show that just yet.  And I was one short on the redwork blocks which I am working on.
DSCF4665 Redwork stitchery traced off
The ladies in my friendship group is are all taking part in a pincushion swap for our last meeting of the year in early December.  Yesterday I finished stitching my little pin cushion, after some unpicking because I had put it together wrong!  How can such a little item take so long to put together, I wonder?  Today I will stuff it and sew up the opening.  Phew – I’ll be pleased when the little finicky thing is finished.  I hope to take photos of all the pincushions at our next meeting.  Then I stitched up very easy “block of the month” organised by my quilt club, Pinestream Quilting.  This is designed to be used as a border and we were asked to make it in Christmas red prints and cream.  Made with rectangles and flip and sew corners it was very simple to put together.  It will be nice to see them all up on the design wall together at our next meeting, and one lucky quilter will get to take them all home, to use as a border in a Christmas project.
DSCF4666 Candy-cane border blocks in Christmas red prints
I was gifted some yummy 30s fabrics from my Birmingham pen friend when we were on our UK trip two years ago. They languished lost and lonely for some time then at last I had a brainwave, and sliced them up with my rotary cutter, adding two other prints which I thought went quite nicely with them.  What do you think of these Cobblestone blocks?  I have enough blocks to make a lovely cot quilt.  Perhaps sashed in cream and with a simple border.  With a 21 year old grand-daughter, I could well become a great-granny one day.
DSCF4667 1930s cobblestone blocks for a cot quilt
So that’s what I have been doing over the last couple of days.  What about you?  And don’t forget, there is still time to enter the give-away, if you haven’t already done so.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Plenty to celebrate on my Bloggerversary

Not only have I reached 150 posts on my quilt blog, (this is 151) I’ve celebrated my 65th birthday and given up work! So I’ve certainly had plenty to celebrate, don’t you think? To mark these milestones in my life, I would like to offer 2 lovely batik fat quarters to someone who takes the time to put a comment on this blog, purchased today from my local, Thimbles and Threads. These fabrics have a New Zealand flavour, with the colours reminiscent of our blue skies, deep blue sea, and our green coloured hills. I think they are lovely, but then I am a biased Kiwi. I will leave the draw open till after the weekend, and then will make a random draw of the winner. You’ve got to be in to win!

DSCF4650 Up for grabs, two batik fat quarters