Monday, December 27, 2010

Day tripping

Boxing Day in Sydney is always hot and sticky with a brisk southerly hitting late in the night to cool things down and true to form this year was no exception. Today we woke up to a cool, grey, drizzly sky and thought it was a good day to drive to the Southern Highlands. Equipped with coats and brollies off we set and as you can see from the photo below those coats and brollies were definitely needed.

Time to head off for lunch and this sign caught my attention as we entered a quaint pub.

Now I have to tell you that this pub is situated right opposite one of my favourite patchwork shops and judging by how busy it normally is - however it was closed today - I think that this sign is meant for all those poor husbands who are abandoned in Berrima.

If there are any keen gardeners out there in blogland could you let me know what the name of this gorgeous and unusual tree is please. It is right outside the patchwork shop and being closed I could not ask the name of it. Many ladies who were peaking through the locked door were also admiring the tree but could not name it.


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Happy Christmas and bon appetite

This is what my kitchen started out like at 7 am on Christmas Day morning.

And by 1 pm this is how those veggies ended up.

After the family made their way through the first course - with all coming back for seconds and one or two for thirds - it was time for the christmas pudding and for those who do not eat pudding a cheesecake or two and some yummy chocolate fudge.

Somehow the afternoon just got away and it had rolled around to after 4 when it was time for tea or coffee along with some Christmas cake and mince pies for those you had room.

Needless to say the kitchen was closed in our house for dinner last night. Around about 8 oclock hubby and I enjoyed a nice cold glass of sauvignon blanc on the patio and watched the sun set. Tonight's dinner will be leftovers from yesterday and so will tomorrow's dinner.

Christmas day is a time to spend with family and friends enjoying their company along with fun, laughter and sharing a meal which is what our family did yesterday. Lots of lovely presents were received and given.

Happy christmas to all and best wishes for a happy and safe 2011.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

All things bright and !!!!

Last night was FNSI and I took the opportunity to finish off a Christmas gift for hubby.

Several weeks ago I decided that his summer weight dressing gown had seen better days and it needed replacing. Now hubby is a person who likes big, bright bold prints so when I was fabric shopping I kept this in mind and I recently found the perfect fabric to fit the "bill".

Warning - time to put on those sunnies

Ta dah what do you think - big, bright and bold.

Should he venture outside in it to collect the paper I am sure he will be bright splash in the neighbourhood.

Sunday, November 21, 2010


I had good intentions of joining in again this month however after a week of feeling "blah" with a stomach bug that is doing the rounds I did not feel up to sewing on Friday night however it was a lovely day yesterday (Saturday) so I spent the afternoon being very productive - cutting out a very bright summer gown for hubby - more on that when it is together, cutting out borders for a quilt that I am currently working on and finishing off two more bags for my giftie box.

The first photo shows the bag for my sister-in-law and the black, white and red one is for my mother.

As well as the above I also managed to do some magazine research for one or two future projects. So all in all whilst I was not able to accomplish anything on Friday night I was pleased with my effort yesterday and I will be ready for next month's FNSI. I look forward to checking out everyone's blogs to see what they achieved.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

All done

Well I am pleased to report that I have finally finished my scrap quilt and I am pleased with the result. After spending last weekend trying to overcome my fear of FMQ which I did on the blue outside border the binding was finished off last night. It is a true scrap quilt in every sense of the word and I even scrapped the back with left over backings from other quilts. All the fabric used on the backing and the binding can also be found in the quilt top.

And here is a close up of my FMQ although I did use a colour to blend in so all mistakes will be hard to see.

It is another gorgeous day here so me and my sewing machine are going to go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while I make another bag for my giftie box.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Friday night sew-in

Now that the weather is warmer and the nights brighter I thought it was time that I resumed my Friday night sew-ins and last night being the 3rd Friday in the month I was ready to go.

I have been working on a scrappy quilt and up to the point where the borders needing to be quilted and as I have been practice, practice and practicing my free motion quilting (FMQ) I was feeling confident enough to give it a go on the real deal. It was my half day of work and as hubby and I had treated ourselves to a lovely lunch neither of us wanted any dinner so I sat down about 5 to make a start. I did my warm up practice piece and all was going well - feeling relaxed, mind in a gentle meandering mood, cotton and tension all checked.

Off I go and after about 6" of meandering the top stitches look great I do a quick check of the back - WHAT POODLES - and not miniatures. Quick stop the machine and unpick. During the half hour that it took to unpick the mess I was thinking what could have gone wrong. Then I think that the practice piece was a different thickness to the quilt so I do the necessary tension adjustments and get ready for take two.

By this time I am feeling rather tense in the neck, shoulders, arms and my hands are beginning to sweat and itch in my little quilt gloves. Take a deep breath and make a start and after about 6" I do a quick check on the back and all is good. I then go along about another 6" and do another back check and it is looking rather good so then I start to relax. As I edge my way along I begin to notice a "drag" on the quilt. Quick check the back - no problem. Stop the machine and pull another chair over to rest the quilt on to stop the drag and off I go only to being to feel the "drag" again.

Now by this time I have somehow positioned my knees up around my armpits to try and lift the quilt and eliminate the weight from pulling it down and me fighting against it. A check of the back now reveals another problem - not poodles but big stitches that are about to unravel before my eyes.

By this time it is now 7 oclock and I am feeling very discouraged. I have now decided that in the morning the feed dogs will be returned to their upright position with the walking foot firmly clamped on so I can do a zig zag pattern on the border which will fit in nicely with the scrappy quilt.

I spend the next two hours sitting in front of the TV unpicking the take two mess.

In the photo below you can see what I did in four hours for my Friday night sew-in

I went to bed feeling very unhappy and disappointed with my effort. I woke about 4 and began to think about my problem, Others can do FMQ why can't I. Then I remembered reading on the internet about someone else having the same drag problem and she turned her machine side on which solved her dilema. Up I get a day break and turn the machine on it side position books and magazines on either side of the quilt table to give me a large even surface, put my little quilt gloves on and off I go.

What a difference it made by turning the machine - I found that I was not fighting against the weight of the quilt and I could guide it much easier. Now my stitiching is not going to win any prizes and practice, practice is still needed but all in all I am happy with my first effort.

There were a couple of lessons learnt last night. Firstly the "sandwich practice pieces" do not prepare you for the weight of the quilt. I had been doing these for a couple of weeks and whizzing around them with no problem never giving a thought to the quilt pulling against me and causing stitch problems on the back. Secondly quilting should perhaps be done early in day so when you encounter a problem you can think it through and do some research while you are fresh and thirdly where there is a will there is a way. FMQ is something that I have been aiming to try for sometime and I am glad that I left the feed dogs down and gave it another bash.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Mum's oldest friend

I would like to introduce you all to mum's oldest friend. They have known each other since mid 1951 and have spent many hours together "singing" along and enjoying each other's company.

This was the sewing machine that I learnt to sew on when I was about 8 years old and used up to when I got married in 1973. Mum made all my clothes - including my wedding dress, some of my brothers clothes and still makes all her own clothes today using her "faithful" friend. She would not trade her for all the tea in China.

The only maintenance needed is the occasional drop of oil and dad replaces the belt from time to time and she is ready to go again. I would love to know just how far these two have treadled over the last 59 years. I always think that sewing machines should be able to register just how far is sewn on them like a car is driven. I am sure there would be some interesting figures out there in sewing land.

They certainly do not make machines as sturdy as this one as I am onto my third machine which this one still "hums" away and even though it has no fancy stitches it does a nice even stitch and never "skips".

Happy sewing "girls".

Saturday, September 18, 2010

How does your garden grow?

During the last week whilst on holiday I found time to do quite a bit of sewing. I am enjoying all stages of making hexie flowers from cutting the fabric, to making the petals and then forming the flowers. I have not done much hand sewing in the past always preferring the machine for speed and neatness however I am really hooked on these hexies and am happy with the look and speed with which they are going together.

I am happy to present to you my "hexie garden" which you can see in its various stages from papers, squares of cut fabric, individual petals and full flowers

With all this gorgeous spring weather and lovely flowers surrounding me I thought I would celebrate the season and create a bag to match the lovely soft colours. I have made this pattern many times and this time around I have used a variation on a theme and I am pleased with the end result. I will add this bag to my giftie box and hope to add a couple more before Christmas for gifts.

And lastly I have made good progress with my "planned" scrap quilt. All the blocks are now sewn together and the next step is the borders. Back into the stash I delve in order to find suitable fabric. I am going with a narrow white border then a wider blue border to keep in with the theme. Now that I look at it from a distance I could have balanced some of the yellow a bit more evenly but I have to remember that it is a scrappy quilt and I will have to learn to live with it.

Friday, September 17, 2010

The week that was....

My holiday - I have taken the last week off work to have some "me time" and enjoy the lovely Spring weather that Sydney is experiencing at the moment.

Just a couple hours drive north of us is the historic township of Morpeth. A step back in time and a lovely way to spend a Sunday meandering around the quaint shops. Of course the first thing on arrival is to check out the coffee shops and order a devonshire tea complete with freshly baked scones, jam and cream.

A wander down the street uncovers all sorts of wonders starting with this lovely old clydesdale.

And of course Morpeth is famous for its unique collection of teapots of all shapes and sizes. Tea anyone!!

The next day saw us on the bus into the City. This was the business end of the holiday - an appointment with our accountant. We thought why not make a day of it and make our way down to the area of Sydney known as "The Rocks". One of my favourite parts of the city. I love the juxtaposition of the old buildings in the front of the photo and the modern looming up behind them.

And of course an outing to Sydney would not be complete without a photo of the Opera House.

I have lived in Sydney all my life and until a couple of weeks ago I had not heard of Fagan Park at Galston. What a hidden treasure and only 1 hours drive from our doorstep. This park was donated by the Fagan family to the community for all the enjoy and enjoy we did. Lovely wide open spaces and beautifully maintained as you can see by the photos below.

Of course all this fresh air and driving around certainly works up an appetite. We stumbled across this lovely restaurant in a quaint garden setting which seemed to fit the bill admirably.

Today is the last offical day of my week off - where has that gone - and being the lovely day that it was we headed off to Balmoral Beach about 30 mins drive from us. This photo was taken as we drove down one of the very steep streets around the Mosman area

On arriving at the bottom of the hill - and paying the inevitable parking fee - we took ourselves off for a walk along the beachfront enjoying the view across the harbour

Of course it was getting close to lunchtime and what did we spot but the local fish and chip shop aptly called "Bottom of the Harbour"

So the decision was made - fish and chips it would be for lunch - and they were delicious.

All goods things must come to an end and after my week of holidaying and eating it is back to work on Monday with my packed lunch. I know when I open my lunch on Monday I will be thinking of my fish and chips by the beach.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

I have been bitten by the bug.....

Well it was inevitable I suppose that this was going to happen. I have been bitten by the "hexie" bug. For sometime now on the Craft Forum the ladies have been doing a framed hexie swap and a flower hexie swap and I have been drooling over these gorgeous creations for weeks. I was awake in the early hours of the morning...which I believe is the time when we are at our weakest point... and it hit me hard. When I woke the next morning it was still with me and I knew that I could not ignore this and had to act straight away.

I had signs all around me pointing me in this direction. Yesterday Google featured a picture of the buckyball - hexagon shapes - and one of the patchwork books given to me as a birthday present had hexies on the front.

Off I went to my sewing room knowing that I had to follow a few rules (my rules)

1. I was going only to use what I have in my stash
2. All the centres are to be white
3. Only using small/medium floral prints
4. Backgrounds with not too much white as I wanted the centres to stand out and be a contrast.
5. Equal number of light, medium and dark hexies flowers

Bearing all of the above in mind after couple of hours I had cut out quite a few flowers and centres and sorted out the dark prints which need to be washed before cutting here is my progress to date.

At this point I have to give an honourable mention to my dear hubby - a very patient man - who I have seconded into cutting up hexie shapes for me. As you can see he has made a good start with only a few thousand left - but I won't tell him that at this point! I will just keep adding a couple of sheets to his pile each day. I don't think he will notice - do you?

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Thunder and lightning and

What started out as a lovely sunny morning with a line full of washing swinging around in the wind suddenly changed to banks of large black clouds chasing the sun away, a mad dash to grab the washing off the line and a sudden clap of thunder followed by hail lots of hail

I am glad I closed the glass door on my sewing room as I dashed between the raindrops to grab the camera. Could have been a very wet mess to return to.

This picture was taken from our bedroom window looking out to the road

Not sure who owns the car out the front..I am only glad it was not there could be quite a bit of hail damage. Mother Nature doing her work again.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Quilting retreat

Last weekend I was lucky enough to be invited to attend the annual quilting retreat of the Eastwood Patchwork Quilters which was held at "The Hermitage" Mittagong. Setting off on Friday morning after breakfast we headed south across the Harbour Bridge which as you can see is hidden in all the fog which shrouded Sydney until mid morning.

After arriving in the Southern Highlands and fortifying ourselves with some lunch and of course some retail therapy in all those lovely patchwork shops we arrived at the Hermitage mid afternoon.

After setting myself up - or should I say spreading myself out - as you can see I have claimed a couple of chairs I made a start on my weekend project which involves using up my ever increasing scraps.

I cut up 6 and 3/4" squares of flannel (80 of them) on which to stitch and flip 1 and half inch strips. Each block has a medium blue in the middle and it goes out dark to black on one side and light to white on the other.

And looks something like this when pressed, squared and cut in 6 and 12" squares

I surprised myself just how quickly these sewed up and I managed to get just on 30 all sewn up and cut into neat squares.

After a day of sitting, sewing, eating and talking I took myself off for a walk just on dawn to have a look at the surrounding countryside and catch up with a few of the locals.

I know that I had a great weekend away and I am sure that all the other ladies that attended do so as well. I was even lucky enough to get some expert advice and tips on free motion quilting which I will have to put into practice sometime this weekend.

Thanks for stopping by and happy sewing to you all

Monday, August 2, 2010

Lucky me

My next door neighbour was doing the mail collection duty while I was away for the weekend and has just handed me a parcel. On opening it this is what I found

All these lovely goodies were sent to me by Barb of when I left a comment on her lovely blog. I will have to get my thinking cap on and come up with a project to do justice to all these gorgeous goodies. I am sure I will find something to fit the bill inside that delightful book.

Thank you once again Barb I feel very spoilt indeed.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Time flys

I have just noticed that is is over 2 months since I have posted on my blog. That begs the question what have I been doing in that time. Not much when I look back. The office where I work has moved location same suburb but different direction from my house. A piccie of my work station and view that I have from my window is below

One of the townhouses that I can see has two lovely big cats that love to sun themselves all day in the window. Lucky cats I say...I wish I could join them sometimes.

Onto the business of sewing...lots of ideas and I did finish off a dresden plate cushion cover. Looking back on it now I should have bought the next size up cushion in order for the plate to sit better however I was pleased with how the method turned out.

Believe it or not there is a plan in that mess on my work table. I have been invited to attend a quilting weekend away at the end of the month held at Mittagong and I thought it was about time that I started using up my ever increasing pile of scraps. A scrappy quilt I thought was the way to go however my personality does not allow me to do "scrappy scrappy" so I got out the coloured pencils, workbook and ruler last weekend and designed a scrappy quilt. Hence the pile is being sorted into lights, medium lights, medium, medium dark and dark.

The last photo shows a quilt that I am working on using batik fabrics using the square in the square method. I love the colours and designs in the batik fabrics. There is still a long way to go on this quilt but I have put it on hold so I can prepare my scrappy for my weekend away.

I hope that I am able to get back here before another 2 months goes by with piccies of my scrappy and batik quilt progress.