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Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FMQ my Maple Leaf Quilt

How do the experts make it look so easy?  I have to say that I’m not really enjoying this free motion quilting business at all.  Probably because I don’t often do it, I always forget exactly how to start.  My Bernina machine has one of those BSR feet (stitch regulator) but I still have problems.  And I’ve done some unpicking too, so it hasn’t been an easy afternoon sitting at the sewing machine.

I’m not much good a FMQing

Today I’m been trying to quilt vein lines in each of my maple leaf blocks, which just happens to be my UFO number 3.  They are going OK, but are not perfect, by any means.  I’ve a few more leaves to work on, and I’ll hopefully finish them off tomorrow.

I know, to get really good at a skill, we must practice, practice and practice some more.  Perhaps, on reflection, I’m better just quilting with my walking foot.  Or maybe I should go somewhere for lessons to see where I’m going wrong?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

M is for Mouse

At last – another block finally finished from my Christmas ABC blocks.  Although I’ve been concentrating such a lot on my UFO collection, and winning the battle with one or two of them, I’m pleased to say, I still like to do a little work on my stitchery blocks when I can.


I’ve just completed “M is for Mouse”, a cute little Christmas mouse peeping around from the Letter M.  This is another delightful design from Michelle Ridgeway’s Alphabet Noel booklet.  When completed, all my Christmas ABC blocks will finally get made into a Christmas quilt – but that’s a long way off yet.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my "slow stitching".

Monday, June 27, 2016

Another UFO Round-up

The sewing machine has been humming, and another UFO is completed – what a great feeling.  So that means I have to find another addition to put on my UFO List of Six. The current list as it stands is now:

No 1:  Caravan Quilt
No 2:  Stitchery Tote Bag.  (This replaces the now completed Amanda Jean Apron)
No 3:  Maple Leaf Quilt
No 4:  Candle Wick Quilt
No 5:  Black/grey Horse Quilt
No 6:  Duvet Cover

As it’s Monday, it is now time for another roll of the dice.  And the lucky winner is my Maple Leaf quilt.  That’s good, not a great deal to do to finish this project. 


Wonder if I’ll be lucky enough to have a finish three weeks in a row?  I’ll be trying my very best,  working around a couple of meetings and a social lunch out at the end of the week.

But before I actually get to sit at the sewing machine, I’ve promised to patch up Robin’s favourite pair of jeans.  And I must prepare some “leader and ender” sewing to feed into the machine as well – it’s just like getting something for nothing.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

And another Apron

I’m on a bit of an apron roll this week.  Completing my Amanda Jean apron (UFO number 2) by Friday, and the prospect of a weekend at home, got me thinking.  Perhaps I could whip up another apron which was waiting in the wings, and hadn’t even made it to my UFO list?  So I did.

Like most of my projects, this one has a long history.  I made and swapped a whole lot of Signature blocks when I attended the annual Southern Cross Quilters Retreat in Auckland way back in 2004.  (SCQ were an internet quilt group, although most of the traffic seems to have changed to Facebook these days.)  We also had to provide a square of black and white fabric with each signature block we swapped.  My black and whites went into a quilt I made for my daughter’s 25th wedding anniversary.

I had already starting stitching a few of these blocks together, then put it away – seems to be the story of my life.  But they were reasonably big blocks at 6 1/2 square, so it didn’t take too long to assemble.  Although I had originally planned to line the apron, in the end I stitched green ric-rac over all the seam lines, which should hold it all together through repeated laundry cycles.  The neck band and ties were made from a New Zealand floral print.

My new apron

The signature blocks were a mixture of applique, embroidery, stamping, photo transfers, and free hand drawing, in all sorts of colours and styles.  There were a couple of maps showing where the swappers lived, two versions of Mt Egmont from Kiwi swappers, hearts, butterflies and the expired dog from Dead Dog Gully.  Such an interesting, eclectic mix which made me smile each time I looked at them.

Embroidered rooster and Beach Babe

With the apron done, I still had a dozen blocks left over.  Then inspiration struck.  Stephanie had recently blogged about making some new kitchen tea towels.  I stitched 6 blocks together, adding a little of the NZ fabric as narrow borders, and backed it with some lovely soft cotton waffle cloth I had stashed away and didn’t know what to do with.  And the result is this.

Two tea towels with soft cotton backing

To be honest, I don’t really need more tea towels.  They are the sort of thing I tend to buy on our travels and there were so many in my cupboard that I gifted a lot to my daughter a while ago.  But it gave me the chance to finally use up all those signature blocks, and also the untold yards of green ric-rac, so that’s a good thing, I feel.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Amanda Jean Apron

It’s taken me a while, but there’s nothing unusual in that.  But once I saw Amanda Jean’s Scrap Happy Apron, I knew I had to make one too.  Luckily I had already made a whole lot of little twosies as scrap “leader and ender” sewing some time ago.  These were waiting in the wings to turn into another project when I finally got around to it.  So I raided my box to start putting the apron together, and made lots more from my coloured strips .

It started out like this

The two patches doubled into four patches, then I made longer rows.  Other projects intruded on my time and the whole lot got packed up in a bag and put away.

Progressed to this

Then way back in February I decided I really had to deal with all those bags of half finished projects.  Not ALL of them – that would be too much to cope with, just 6 at a time.  So I selected and listed six, and  each week with a roll of the dice, that was the one I will work on during that week.  And so it continued each week, another roll of the dice, another UFO, and another week to work on it.  My Amanda Jean apron was on my list as number 2, and after some serious sewing time at my machine this week,  I’m thrilled to say that I’ve completed it this week.

My Amanda Jean apron

Those 2 1/2 inch squares resulted in an awful lot of seams so I decided to line the apron.  And I had just the thing, a pretty length of hand dyed cotton purchased from a market in Rarotonga during a long ago holiday there.  The soft cotton had splodges of purple, green and blue, and I stitched through both layers in a large grid to help secure some of the seams.

Hand dyed fabric on the back

So with this completed project I’ve now crossed number 2 off my “List of Six” and will have to find a replacement.  Mmmm, wonder what it will be?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sew Wots Tuesday

Another Sew Wots Tuesday rolled around and we gathered at Mary’s lovely rural home.  I gathered my things together, I would be working on my Christmas ABC stitchery project once again.  And mustn’t forget my items  for show and tell.  The ladies would be interested to see my lovely new “hospital appointment bag” from Jean, and my just completed Little Letters quilt.

For show and tell

We all watched as Mary helped Helen stuff the skinny little anorexic arms and legs for Helen’s Christmas angel.  The arms were no bigger than pipe cleaners!

Mary and Helen working together

Pam was kept quiet all morning, head down over some unpicking.  She had brought along her finished mystery quilt top, which will be going to her son.  It’s nice and masculine in shades of green.

Pam’s mystery quilt top

Amongst all the chatter, everyone was busy working on their projects.  Rae was knitting a couple of beanies for Pam’s son, nice and warm for the chilly morning workouts with race horses.  Both Carol and I were busy on our stitcheries, and Heather B was embroidering over printed flowers on a cushion cover.  It’s pretty now and will be looking even lovelier when the stitching is completed.

Heather B with her pansy cushion cover

There was a quick tutorial when Mary showed us how to make easy pillowcases with just a few seams.  These make a lovely “extra” gift when making a quilt for a child.  We took note of the measurements as Mary showed us how to fold it together – hope I remember that important bit. 

Mary (why are her eyes closed?) and Helen with the pillowcase

We stopped for morning tea, and Mary wheeled her tea  trolley laden with goodies – it was just like being out in a tea shop.  No wonder one of the husband’s called our group the Eat Alots!  As we were packing up to leave I spotted Carols pretty bag, which has a story to tell.  Carol had stitched up the pretty little bear stitcheries, then didn’t know what to do with them.  She was all set to donate them to the charity quilt box but Helen was having none of that.  Quick as a wink she whisked them away, took them home and made them into the pretty blue tote bag, which was duly presented back to Carol.  That’s Sew Wot friendship for you.

Blocks stitched by Carol, bag made by Helen, and gifted back to Carol

And speaking of gifts, many special thanks to Helen who brought me along some pumpkin soup to take home and enjoy and show she is thinking of me.  Thanks so much Helen, I appreciate your kind thought.  So that’s another Sew Wot stitching morning done and dusted – good fun and company as usual.  Thanks ladies.

Monday, June 20, 2016

UFO Round-up

Oh, the excitement of finally having a finish on my UFO List of Six!  It’s been a long time coming, so please indulge me in a little boast while I show it off once again, my colourful Little Letters quilt.  My grand-daughters have assured me that there are no baby plans on the horizon, so I’ll be keeping the quilt in my possession for a while longer.

Little Letters quilt

Perhaps you were wondering about the state of the other UFOs on my list?   I feel it is now time for a round up to show how I’m getting along with them all.  And of course I need to slide another project in to the now vacated number 4 slot.

1:  Caravan quilt.  The top comprising of stitchery blocks and alternate nine patch blocks is assembled,  and the first border added.  There is a whole pile of two patch blocks stitched for the final  border and waiting to be applied.

2:  Amanda Jean Apron.  Not too much more to go on this one, although I will need to line it as there are so many seams and I don’t want it all coming apart in the wash.  It will need to be cut to shape, then the straps added, and the apron hemmed.

3:  Maple Leaf quilt.  This too is almost at the completion stage.  Partially quilted, and just needs some  free motion quilting in the leaves to finish it off, then bound.

4:  Candle Wick quilt.  Please welcome the newest addition to my UFO list.  Quite a bit of work needed on this one, which is currently a pile of candle wick blocks finished more years ago than I care to remember.  These blocks bring back lots of memories, so it will be great to catch up with this project again after all this time.

5:  Black and grey horse quilt.  This wasn’t technically a UFO at all, just a bunch of fabrics, embroidered horse blocks, and the idea to make a quilt for my horse loving grand-daughter Emma.  I’m really pleased how it is all coming together – a million 9 patch blocks stitched, sashing put together, and the quilt top is now about half assembled.

6:  Duvet cover.  Another new project on the list, just because I could.  The cream and green Mega Churn Dash top is pieced, waiting for me to make it into an envelope style duvet cover.  I’ll be making it up as I go along, but it shouldn’t be too hard to work out, I hope.

So that’s the list as it now stands. Although I’ve only had one finish, I’m really pleased at how the others are coming along too.  It’s really just a matter of what number gets picked every week, and a couple of projects don’t need too much sewing time to get them over the finish line.  What with hospital visits, trips away in the caravan, and other commitments, I’m pleased with my progress so far, and can’t wait for Monday and rolling the dice each week.  

And which project wins the roll of the dice this week?  One I’ve been hoping to get for ages, number 2, my Amanda Jean apron. 
Scrappy Amanda Jean apron, in need of a good press

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Little Letters–Finished!!

At long last, a finish.  After beavering away at one UFO after another, it’s such a good feeling to finally have a finish, I can tell you!  So here is my version of Little Letters.  This project was designed by the Temecula  Quilt Company and offered as a free weekly Quilt-Along.  I was a little late starting, but soon caught up, and had fun making all these little letters every week. 

My Little Letters quilt

The binding is machine stitched on , folded to the back, and all pinned down in place and I plan to hand stitch this tonight in front of the TV.  I know that some quilters use those special binding clips instead of pinning.  Perhaps I should invest in some of those?  Then I wouldn’t be stabbing myself on the pins  the way I often do.  I’m always a little behind any sort of new technology and ideas - would you recommend me changing to the binding clips?  Any thoughts welcome.

Then all I need to do is add a hanging sleeve and a label.  Don’t tell my (grown-up) grand-daughters, but I’ve really made this little quilt to put away in my Grand-mother box for when the next generation comes along.  I can just see it being used as a play mat with a lovely chubby chortling baby having a little tummy time.  In the meantime, I’ll keep it here, perhaps hang it is my sewing room occasionally and enjoy colours.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Carry on Quilting, and the Pink Ladies

It’s been a matter of “Carry on Quilting” as I’ve been slowly quilting around each letter of my alphabet quilt.  Pinning, stopping , and starting, then sewing in the ends, it’s been a long slow grind.  And reflecting, that if I had mastered the organic wavy lines which I tried earlier, the machine quilting would be well and truly completed by now. I really need to try this technique again, as I was not pleased with my first attempt.  I think the secret to success is to have the quilt well supported so that it does not pull against the needle.

Machine quilting around each letter

Today I went to my first monthly meeting with the local Pink Ladies Support Group.  This group supports  ladies in our community  with their breast cancer journey, and the local businesses very generously support the cause.  I was presented with a lovely gift basket from the Pink Ladies group a few weeks ago, full of all sorts of gifts, goodies, and vouchers. 

From the Pink Ladies Support group

Included in the basket was one of those lovely little heart shaped cushions to tuck under your arm to ease the discomfort after undergoing surgery and radiation treatments.  My quilt club, Town and Country Quilters had been asked to provide heart shaped pillows for Breast Cancer patients, and we were happy to rally to the call – read about our sewing night to help out here.   Call it fate, or karma, but I received one of the cushions I had made!  And I was more than happy to welcome it back.

Back home again, my very own heart cushion

I continue to be humbled by messages of support and Get Well cards, they mean such a lot.  Quilt club member Kaye heard that I was unwell and called around with a little gift to cheer me up.  Inside the pretty blue gift bag was a cake of home made berry soap, which smells good enough to eat!  Thank you so much Kaye, I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Get Well gift from Kaye

Monday, June 13, 2016

LIttle Letters…..again

The UFO dice roll stopped at number 4 this week, meaning I get to work on my Little Letters quilt two weeks in a row.  Not that I’m complaining – with any luck I might just get a finish by the end of the week.  Wouldn’t that be great!  Last week I stitched in the ditch around most of the sashing strips.  I’ve now finished that job, and have started to stitch around each of the alphabet letters.

The Letter K

This little quilt is a riot of colours, with all the letters being constructed from my scrap box of 2 1/2 inch strips.  Some of the fabrics I recognise, the music fabric on the black and white “K” was used on a quilt I made for my son’s 40th birthday.  But other fabrics are a bit of a mystery.  I don’t remember buying them, or using them, and can only conclude that they were scraps I picked up somewhere along the way, or maybe even small pieces gifted to me.


Saturday, June 11, 2016

Relaxing with a great new Book

Look what the postman brought me –the book which everyone is talking about in blog land.  I’ve just received  my very own copy of Crafted Applique, by Lara Buccella.  I entered a competition on Cynthia’s blog called “Quilting is more Fun than Housework”, what a great name.  I was so thrilled when Cynthia got in touch to tell me that I had won a copy of this book.

Delivered by the postman

I’m all set to relax on my Lazy Boy (recliner) chair, with a coffee close to hand, and start reading my new book.  It certainly arrived at a very opportune time, as I’ve just returned home from an overnight stay in hospital after my second breast cancer surgery.  A review of my scan showed another small area of concern, and the surgeon advised another small op, just to be sure.  Can’t complain about my medical care, and I’m just so pleased that the team is so vigilant.

So what better way for some R&R than to sit and read an exciting new book, or even, just relax and doze off for a while.  Here’s me on my return home, hospital bracelet still firmly attached, and my neck and chest slathered in bright pink antiseptic paint.

Happy to be home again, pink neck and all

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

And the Dice rolls……UFO number 4

With my (current) UFOs listed from 1 to 6, it’s been interesting how often the same numbers appear week after week.  Not so this time, the roll of the dice called up UFO number 4, which hadn’t been worked on for a while.  This is my “Little Letters” quilt designed by the Temecula Quilt Company and offered as a free pattern sometime last year. This colourful letters on this lovely little quilt were all made with scraps from my 2 1/2 inch box.

Ready to quilt wavy lines

The top was completed, it was all pinned up ready to quilt, and I wanted to try the “Organic Wavy Lines” type of quilting.  Lorna from Sew Fresh Quilts uses this design on many of her animal quilts, and it always looks great.  So I gave it a try, and had to admit defeat.  My effort pulled at the back, and didn’t look good at all., sadly, although I was using my walking foot.  So out came my trusty unpicker, and I spent ages undoing 8 lines of quilting.

Have to unpick these lines of quilting

So it was on to Plan B, which entailed stitching in the ditch around the sashing strips for a start.  All nicely pinned to stop any movement.  I’ve recently purchased some new pins, and one of these days I’m going to weed out all those nasty bent and damaged pins and replace them   with nice new ones.

Plan B quilting, all pinned up

Needless to say, with all the extra time it took me to unpick the earlier quilting, I haven’t done as much today as I hoped.  But never mind, I've got till the end of the week to  keep  plugging away at UFO number 4.  Then I'll roll the dice again!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

A Trio of Birthdays for the Sew Wots

To celebrate the birthdays of Sew Wot ladies Pam, Helen, and Mary, we met for morning tea at Fox’s Cottage Quilt Shop.  Armed with plates of food for a birthday morning tea, a project to work on, and some spending money, we had a very enjoyable morning indeed. 


I hadn’t been to this (newish) shop since it had changed premises, and what a delight it was.  Light and airy, with plenty of room, and a wonderful selection of fabrics, notions, quilt patterns and knitting wool.  Plus a beautiful selection of hand crafted wooden boxes to fill with your threads or anything else which took your fancy.  The lovely collection of quilts and wall hangings on the walls certainly added to the colour and inspiration of the shop and classroom.

Views of the shop

Birthday girl Pam held tight to the bowl as Rae whipped the cream to go on top of something yummy for morning tea,  both of them laughing away.

Pam and Rae

I don’t know what we had the most of, birthday gifts or plates of morning tea.  Both covered the tables, and the birthday girls had a fine old time opening one parcel after another.

Mary with lots of birthday goodies

The birthday trio, Mary, Pam and Helen

And here we are all together, the Sew Wot Ladies.

Friday, June 3, 2016

What’s a little subterfuge amongst friends

It was a first time visit from Jean and Hugh to our home, although we had previously called in to see them several times for a cuppa and chat when staying at the caravan park in their home town.  Jean (who writes her blog All Points of the Compass) was fabric shopping in  Levin she told me, and wondered if I would be home that day.  “Certainly, come for lunch”, I replied.  So they did.

Unbeknown to me, because of my recent health scare, Jean had been in touch with several blogger friends we have in common, and came bearing gifts.  Robin knew all about this little act of subterfuge, but had been sworn to secrecy.  What a lovely surprise.

Jean and Hugh came with bags of goodies

Mmm, what was in the blue bag, packed full of interesting little parcels?  All sorts of goodies, as it turned out.  Jean’s friend and house guest Joyce, whom I had met a couple of times, had sent a lovely bottle of Anti Stress Shower Gell – that will come in handy to calm the frayed nerves.  Thanks so much Joyce.  And from blog reader Jan, from Wanganui,  came a pretty burgundy hand towel and tissues.  As  burgundy is the furnishing colour of choice in our “home away from home” it will go very well in our caravan bathroom.


Then there were parcels from sisters Peggy and Linda, fellow bloggers and quilting sisters who live in Taupo, and we had met up with them too at their lovely home.  Peggy, who blogs as Kiwi Klippings, had made me the most gorgeous pink applique zipped  fabric pouch, so pretty, thank you so much.  And Linda, machine quilter with panache, who writes as Razzle Dazzle Quilter, sent some home made skin cream and lip balm.  Linda listed all the ingredients in these potions, with the extra special ingredient  being “love”.


Then last but not least, I opened Jean’s parcel, which turned out to be a pretty tote bag made with Jean’s signature batik fabrics, which she loves to work with.  Lots of lovely shades of different colours, green and purple,  with touches of pink and pale blue, Jean made the bag in mind of my future hospital appointments, so I can pack a book, hanky, snack, and whatever else I need to get me through the day.  The bag is just lovely Jean, thank you so much.  All these gifts came with sweet cards from all concerned wishing me well on my upcoming treatment and “journey to wellness”  I like the sound of that phrase.

Tote bag from Jean

Thank you so much to all bloggy friends concerned in this little venture, and special thanks to Jean for arranging it all.  I appreciate each and every one of you – the cancer treatment journey is long and it is wonderful to know so many are thinking of me and sending their good wishes.

After the excitement of opening all those wonderful gifts Jean came down to my sewing room for a little peek at some of my UFOs waiting for their number to be called.  Then we settled down to lunch, and plenty of lively conversation flowed between the four of us, trains, trips, pets, and the great outdoors.  It was a super day indeed.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Mega Churn Dash

The roll of the dice landed on UFO number 6 this week – which is the duvet cover I’m making for our bed.  I’m using the Mega Churn Dash pattern from Kathy Doughty’s book, Adding Layers.

Last time I worked on this UFO, it finished up looking like this.  One baby churn dash block inside a medium sized one.

It started off like this

Then with another afternoon or two sitting at the sewing machine, it grew like Tospy and ended up this big.  That’s certainly a mega churn dash, wouldn’t you say?

Mega churn dash on top of our bed

I’d laid it on top of the duvet cover to see how it was going for size.  What I’ve done so far is just right for the length, and I’ve measured and cut two strips to sew along the sides to make it wide enough.  Then I’ll have to make an envelope, and add fastenings.  Having never made a duvet cover before, I’ll be making it up as I go along.  Hopefully I’ll get a bit more time at the sewing machine in the next day or two.