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

Friday, June 29, 2018

Bye bye sewing machine

Today I waved goodbye to my sewing machine, as it was taken away to be serviced.  I’m sure it will come back better than ever and I can get back to my various projects.  Quilters tend to use their sewing machines continuously, so we shouldn't skimp of the cost of an annual service.

Off to be serviced

I’ve enjoyed a very social week, with one outing after another, which is a little unusual, but that’s the way it is occasionally.  So although I haven’t been rattling the dice and rolling it this week, I have done a little sewing before I packed up my machine for it to be taken away.  First job was to mend a pair of Robin’s jeans – they are the ones he usually wears to his Menz Shed days so it doesn’t bother him that they are patched and repaired.  Then I pieced the backing to use on my recently completed Christmas ABC quilt.  The piece of white fabric wasn’t quite wide enough, so I split it down the middle and inserted another fabric to make it the correct size.  I’ll be able to pin this quilt together while my sewing machine is being serviced.

Prepared some backing fabric

And then I did a little secret sewing.  Mmm, wonder what this is going to be?  All will be revealed shortly.  There’s plenty of hand stitching and even a little knitting to keep me occupied over the next week or so.  Plus a quilt to pin and future projects to be considered, so there will be plenty to do.

Secret sewing

I’ll finish up with this visitor to our garden.  Pretty little silvereye birds have been visiting, enjoying the mandarins I have been putting out on the feeder for them.  When we were growing up, we knew these birds as wax eyes.

Silvereye enjoying a mandarin

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sewing like Crazy

I’ve been sewing like crazy to get my Alphabet Noel top assembled.  The other day it looked like this, and I completed sewing the six rows in strips.


Then I needed more sashing strips to put the rows together, using a minty green for the .cornerstones.


Attaching the sashing and cornerstone rows

After a lot of pinning, stitching, and pressing, it  finally all came together and now looks like this.   I decided not to do any extra borders  as I felt it was quite big enough for a wall-hanging.  This is made up of the 26 alphabet blocks plus four extras.


The top is finally together

The next step is to quilt it – but that won’t be happening until I get my sewing machine serviced.  There seems to be a problem with my stitch length dial, which will not allow me to lengthen my stitch length – goodness knows what is wrong.  Must get in touch with Barry,  the wonderful mechanic and arrange a hospital visit for my machine.

And good news – it appears that blog comments are now appearing in my email in-box.   This of course makes it so much easier to reply directly to the commenters.  If you are still having problems, I can send you the directions of how we fixed this.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Sewing Afternoon

After a busy Saturday morning, I spent the afternoon at my quilt club’s  Sewing Day – or half day, in my case, and joined the half dozen already there.  Took some hand stitching along, two projects, in case I ran out of things to do.  It’s better to take too much, but you never do run out, do you?  In between chatting, coffee breaks, and checking out what the others are working on, the afternoon just whizzed by.  But I did manage to hand stitch the binding and hanging sleeve on my small wall hanging, so I’m very pleased with that.

Small wall hanging almost done

My quilt club has been stitching many Charity Quilts to donate to worthy causes, and there were quite a pile of these on the tables.  There has been a name change, and they are now referred to as “Gifting Quilts”, sounds much nicer, I feel.  A large box of blocks and fabric squares has recently been donated, which will find their way into many more quilts to gift.

Quilts for gifting

I’m a big fan of “leader and ender” sewing, so I was very interested to see that Wendy was using ideas from Bonnie Hunter’s Adventures with Leaders and Enders book.  She had a huge pile of teeny tiny squares she was working with. 

Wendy’s many fabric squares

Two of our members were sitting at a table together hand appliqueing mushroom, or maybe they were toadstool blocks.  They were both taking part in a BOM from one of our local quilt shops.

Liz and Kath’s BOM blocks

What else?  This striking blue and yellow gifting quilt was being machine quilted by Dianne.  Those colours always look great together.

Machine quilted by Dianne

And Jan had a great quilt kit “Scattered Triangles” which she purchased in a bargain bin recently.  With the pattern and fabrics supplied, it certainly seemed a good deal.

Jan’s bargain priced quilt kit.

And lastly, I just had to take a photo of Wendy’s caravan tote bag.  This great bag was brought over by friends from America who came to visit our country.  I want one of those!

Wendy’s tote bag

What with one thing and another, it’s been a while since I attended a Stitching Day, so it was lovely to spend the afternoon with fellow club members.  And I’m happy that one (of my many projects) has progressed further. 

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Trimming, Pinning and Sewing

Today has been busy, I’ve finished retrimming all my 30 Christmas ABC blocks.  You may remember that when I started assembling them into rows the other day, I was concerned that my wall hanging would end up huge.  Cutting very carefully, I must add, as I’ve been known to cut the same side twice by mistake.  After checking all my stitchery blocks, and seeing which were the largest, I decided I could only take half an inch off each side.  Not a huge difference, but by reducing the blocks down from 9in to 8in square  will reduce the overall size of the quilt.

Then I got busy laying the blocks on our bed, which saves me getting up and down onto the carpet.  Pin, pin,  and stitch, stitch, I assembled and pressed the first three rows.   This is the point I reached the other day before I decided to unpick the sashing and trim the blocks a little smaller. Here they are hanging on my quilt rack – still need to add the horizontal sashing strips.


So I’m pleased with this afternoon’s sewing.  Now I need to deal with this little lot next.  We are home this weekend, so I’m hoping for some more sewing time.

Christmas ABC blocks

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Mid Year Christmas

It’s mid Year Christmas sewing this week, according to the throw of the dice, which brought up number 5.  These are my Christmas ABC blocks from “Alphabet Noel”, designed by Michelle Ridgeway of Rag-Tag Stitchin’.


With the blocks all trimmed, and the Christmas sashing strips cut, I was all set to go, and started stitching the rows together.  The first few rows were looking good, but I wasn’t happy.  As I had increased the size of the stitcheries, this quilt was going to be much bigger than I anticipated, almost as wide as our bed.    Much too big, I decided.

So sadly, all my sashing is being unpicked, and I will trim the blocks down a little smaller.  There was no good carrying on, I decided,  knowing I wasn’t happy, better to stop now and do something about it.   Hopefully by the end of the week, I’ll have something more to show you.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Cutest Little Sweet Shop

During our weekend away in Hastings, we found the cutest little sweet shop.  In fact, it was recommended to us, as Robin had commented to a local that he really loved black ball sweets and was having trouble finding them anywhere.  So we were sent along to Birdwoods, not too far away in  in Havelock North.  As well as having a sweet shop, there is also a gift gallery, a café, and a sculpture garden to wander through.


Lots of cute ceramic birds for sale

We walked down the path to the tiny sweet shop, made out of recycled materials, we were told.  There were a pair of topiary birds by the fence.

This way to the sweet shop

And it was such a wonderland inside.  Large glass jars filled with sweets of every description lined the shelves.  Robin soon found his black balls, and I decided on acid drops and raspberry drops.  We find boiled sweets are handy to have in the car when we are on long journeys.

Robin busy checking out the sweets

There were all sorts of old toys, kitchen items  and containers displayed from days gone by, including these two little darlings, Teddy and his girlfriend Dolly.

Happy hanging out in the sweet shop

With our purchases made we checked out the gallery, peeped into the café which was full with customers enjoying their lunches.  Everyone looked happy and the food smelt divine.   The sculpture garden outside had such a variety of things to check out, and I was rather taken with flock of sheep.  Closer inspection showed that they were created from lots of tiny beads – amazing indeed.

Beaded sheep

This was such an interesting place to visit, Birdwoods will definitely be on our list next time we visit this area again – I can’t wait to try the cafe and Robin is sure to need some more black balls again.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Farewell to Jody

This weekend we set of on the 200km journey up to Hastings.  Rather a sad trip this time, to support my sister Kathleen and Dennis as their younger daughter died of a brain hemorrhage in Australia last week, where she had lived for some years.  We joined family and friends at a  memorial get together on Saturday to remember Jody and celebrate her life.  Her older sister put together a photo board showing aspects of Jody’s life, and friends had sent or brought around some lovely floral tributes.

We are staying at an apple orchard in Hastings, and apple picking is still in full swing.  Some of the people staying here in their caravans and motor-homes have seasonal work at the nearby packing houses.  Boxes of apples are waiting to be collected and taken to the processing centre.   

Staying at the apple orchard

After recently completing my yo-yo Rudolph the Reindeer, I had packed my bag of yo-yos to make the next seasonal yo-yo toy, a snowman.  And got this little lot gathered together over the weekend, so I’m quite pleased about that.

Yo-yos for a snowman

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Sew Wot Tuesday

Sew Wot Tuesday rolled around again, and it was my turn to be the hostess, a slightly smaller group with a couple of our ladies away.  There was a birthday to celebrate, and Mary had fun opening all her lovely little squishy parcels, and she was given a pretty little gerbera too. 

Happy Birthday to Mary

Mary had recently returned from an Australian holiday, catching up with family, and came home with a couple of lovely goodies.  Such as this pretty little tablecloth purchased in an Op Shop.  She just had to finish stitching two of the ballerinas, added the lacy edge, and then, another lovely vintage cloth for her collection.

Op Shop bargain

This beautiful crocheted cloth was hand made in Italy, and when Mary’s sister purchased it she knew it would be just the thing for Mary’s birthday.  It is so lovely with stunning workmanship, that we all would have happily spirited it away for ourselves.

Hand made Italian tablecloth

There was a little woolly scarf knitting going on, with both Heather B and Moira sitting there with clacking knitting needles.  Heather’s scarf was knitting up in colourful chevrons, and Moira’s was a pretty dusty blue.  Who will finish first, I wonder? 

Heather and Moira with their scarves

Heather had a finish to show us, she had been experimenting with appliqued butterflies.  This pretty quilt will be donated to a worthy cause, and someone is sure to love snuggling underneath it.

Heather’s butterfly quilt

Carol loves embroidery, and was working on her latest stitching project, a basket of flowers.
.Carol’s basket of flowers

As for me, I was stitching some binding down on a secret sewing project, so no photos yet.  And my Rudolf made an appearance, and was judged as not too bad as a first attempt.  I think he rather liked all the attention!  If he is very lucky, he may have his friend the snow man to join him sometime in the future.

Rudolph joined the Sew Wot morning

So that was our morning, always fun to catch up with the ladies, and help Mary celebrate her special day.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Welcome to Randolph

Completed at last, my Rudolph the Reindeer with his red nose.  After being packed away so long, (out of sight, out of mind), this project finally re-surfaced this week and I’ve been working diligently to get him finished.  There wasn’t really that much to do, all the yo-yos were done, and I used a mixture of tan and cream fabrics, most with a Christmas theme.  But I was a bit worried about putting all the pieces together.  The head needed all the features hand stitched in place, button eye, Rudolph's red nose and ears stitched in place, and his mouth embroidered.  My goodness, those antlers caused me grief.  Then came the business of stringing  him all together.

Follow the instructions

Lots of baby yo-yos for arms and legs

I had a few false starts, and a little un-stringing and starting again, but eventually Rudolph was all done.  Probably not perfect, but at least he is finished. Then cheeky little Rudolph decided he wanted to check out the rhubarb patch.


I must admit that I didn’t really enjoy this project, guess I’m not really a yo-yo lover or a toy maker.  But I feel committed to making the snowman too from this pattern.  After all, I’ve got all this much done, so far.  And I rather like Santa too, but I may or may not make him, I'll see how I feel after I struggle putting the snow man together.


Snowman parts done so far

My stitching yesterday was done sitting outside on the patio area under our new “Archgola” canopy, read about it here.  We got it installed to give us much needed shade in the summer, and it seems that it may well be handy in the cooler seasons too.

Canopy over the patio

Saturday, June 9, 2018

What’s happening with the Yo-Yos?

Remember this?  I purchased the pattern Yuletide Yo-Yos ages ago while on one of our caravan trips. I’d never made yo-yos before and rather liked these happy Christmas creations.


As I mentioned last blog, this project las been sitting in a bag for ages.  After all this time, I wondered what I would find inside.  I certainly remember working on making yo-yos for the reindeer some time ago.  And here are all the reindeer pieces, several bags of brown yo-yos in different sizes, looks like I’d finished making them.  Plus a stuffed head, four little black hooves, ears and a tail.  I stitched and stuffed the antlers from brown felt yesterday.

All the pieces

It’s all coming back to me now – I was rather concerned on how on earth to assemble this.  So I bundled it all up, and hid it away, but that doesn’t really make the problem go away, does it?  Just as well I finally listed this project on my List of Six UFOs and the dice called it's number this week.  Out came the instruction sheet and I’ve slowly been putting Rudolf’s head together.  Wish me luck that he will be in one piece tomorrow.

Thursday, June 7, 2018

One of those Days

Do you ever have one of those days when nothing seems to go right?  I wanted to do a quick bit of machine quilting “secret sewing” with my walking foot but the stitching just wasn’t going well at all.  Something was wrong, but what?  Perhaps it was the reel of thread I was using, I admit it was an old reel I’d picked up somewhere along the way.  No change, so I took the walking foot off and reattached it.  No difference, but the foot didn’t seem to be working as it should as the layers were shifting.  The backing fabric I had chosen was puckering, so maybe it was a mixture and not quilting fabric quality, so that was changed as well.  Each of these changes entailed a whole lot of unpicking, some more careful pressing and pinning, and a whole lot of time.  I concluded that my machine was due for a service, and I’d get the walking foot checked out as well.  What a pain, I’d wasted hours with nothing to show in the end.

Interesting though, was the fact that there was no problem with ordinary stitching.  So I joined a few lengths to make some binding for my hand quilting project, and prepared a hanging sleeve.  Thank goodness that small job went well.


It was time to roll the dice again, and with two projects on my List of Six up to the machine quilting stage, I had previously been hoping, before my troubles started,  that one of these would see the light of day this week.  But it seems it will be mostly hand sewing this week, as the dice landed on number six.  Which is, after several years of neglect  “Yo Yos – just do it” with all sorts of bits and pieces tucked away in this bag. This might take a bit of sorting out before I actually start – wish me luck!

Yo-Yos hiding in this bag

Winter has officially started down here in New Zealand, and will continue during the months of June, July and August.  It’s one of those cold, damp days today, so I’ve got my crock-pot (slow cooker) looking after the evening meal for me.  I’ve prepared steak and kidney casserole with heaps of veggies added in.  There's something quite therapeutic chopping up the meat and browning it, chopping and slicing carrots, parsnips and onions to add to the meat.  And then you get that lovely smell of slow cooking wafting through the kitchen as meal gently cooks all day – I love winter food!