Sunday, 31 October 2010

A special surprise

One of the many things I love about blogging is that it occasionally throws up the most unexpected of connections. Some time ago, I posted a series of photos that can be used as wallpapers on your computer. (You can find them here). Perhaps you remember my ranunculus?
I received a kind and gracious comment from Zarina in Malaysia requesting permission to use this image as a colourway for one of her range of hand-dyed threads. I enthusiastically obliged and here is the result. How. Cool. Is. That?
This amazed me. How clever is she? Zarina has carpal tunnel issues with her hands which limits her handiwork, but not so much that she couldn't create this beautiful tatting from her ranunculus thread:
You can purchase Zarina's gorgeous threads at her Etsy shop and read her blog here. It humbles my heart to see such a beautiful product inspired by an image from my Aussie garden. Thank you Zarina! 

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Killing me softly with his song!

At my window today, and in fact, for the last week are this pair of lovers.
I do love birdies. Unlike blooms, I barely know one species from another. With the help of this bird finder, I now have them identified as Striated Pardalotes (Pardalotus striatus) - a very impressive name! Lovely huh?
There is but one downside to these sweet little creatures at my window: I am being driven to distraction by his constant call! I can even share it with you: have a listen
I reckon even she is thinking, "Will you just shut up"!! What's outside your window today?

Monday, 25 October 2010

Raw-edge layer cake quilt tutorial

This is quite possibly the quickest quilt you will ever make! Mini 10" quilt 'sandwiches' are sewn together with a 1/2" seam. The seams are clipped to give some great 'cuddle-up' texture. 

For a 54" x 63" (6 x 7 squares)quilt you will need:
1 x layer cake or 42 x 10" fabric squares 
2.9 metres (3.25 yards) backing fabric, 112cm wide
1.4 metres (1.5 yards) fusible batting, 240cm wide
0.4 metres (15") binding fabric 

Edit: The layer cake used for this quilt was Bonnie & Camille's 'Bliss' for Moda.

I chose to add an extra row to my quilt by cutting a further 6 fabric squares from my stash. 

For a 54" x 72" (6 x 8 squares)quilt you will need:
1 x layer cake or 42 x 10" fabric squares
6 extra 10" squares from your stash
3.1 metres (3.5 yards) backing fabric, 112cm wide
1.6 metres (1.75 yards) fusible batting, 240cm wide
0.45 metres (17") binding fabric

The fusible batting I used was Hobbs Heirloom Cotton Fusible Batting, 2.4 metres wide. It is fusible on both sides. You can use any quilt batting you like, but you may find some quilt basting spray will be handy to keep the layers together as you stitch.

Cut the backing fabric into 10" squares. 
Cut the fusible batting into 9" squares.
Cut the binding fabric into 2.25" strips across the width of the fabric.

Lay a 10" backing square on your ironing board. Place a 9" fusible batting square on top, centring it 0.5" in from each side of the fabric square. Place a 10" layer cake square on top, and fuse the three layers together to form a quilt sandwich.

These three layers are now quilted together. I have chosen to quilt a straight line pattern like this:
To avoid having to mark each square with the quilting lines, I devised a cunning plan! I cut two strips from scrap card, one 2" wide and one 1.5" wide. These will be used as guidelines for your quilting.

Mark a spot on your machine 2" out from the needle. For me, this was the edge of a hole on my machine bed. Start stitching a straight line 2" in from one edge of your 10" quilt sandwich.
You need to stop stitching 2 inches from the next edge. To avoid measuring this, align your 2" wide strip of card against the edge of the square and stitch until you reach the card. 
Stop, with your needle down, and pivot 90 degrees. Continue stitching 2" from each edge, pivoting as described, a further two times. 

As you work your way to the centre, you need to stop your stitching and pivot 1.5" from your previous stitching. Align your 1.5" wide strip of card against your previous row of stitching and stitch until you reach the card. 
Stop, with your needle down, and pivot 90 degrees. Continue stitching 1.5" from your previous stitching line. To do this, use the 1.5" strip of card as a guide, and stitch along its edge as shown:
Continue stitching 1.5" from each previous row of stitching, pivoting as described, until you reach the centre of the square. Backstitch to secure your thread. Hopefully, you will have something that looks like this: 
I know this all sounds a bit complicated, but if you can get your head around it, it makes the quilting step very speedy. 

After quilting all your sandwiches, arrange the squares in seven (or 8)rows of six squares.

Stitch the squares in each row together using a 0.5" seam. Make sure you put WRONG SIDES TOGETHER (ie. the backing side) when joining the squares. The seam allowance needs to end up on the FRONT of the quilt.

Stitch the rows together using a 0.5" seam.

Bind your quilt using the 2.25" binding strips. (If you're not sure how to bind a quilt, there is an excellent tutorial here).

Using a sharp pair of scissors, clip the seam allowances at approximately 1cm intervals. Clip to within a few threads of the stitching lines, taking care not to cut through them!
Throw the quilt into the washing machine for a quick wash. Then fluff your quilt up in the dryer. The more you wash & dry your quilt, the more the seams will fray and the cuddlier your quilt will become. It is a very utilitarian quilt, great for kids. The more they abuse it, the better it becomes!
Now, I hope all this makes sense. Please feel free to ask questions. If you happen to make a quilt from this tutorial, I would love to see it. There is a Flickr group here for your creations from my tutorials.

Have fun! Bloom x

Edit: I have been asked, "When sewing the rows together, do I press the seam allowances open or do I push them to one side"?

On joining the rows, I opened the seams. But it really doesn't matter either way because the join is disguised under the fluffiness of the seam allowance and you don't really notice which way the seams are going.

Monday, 18 October 2010

A quilt for me!

We spend a lot of time travelling between our farm and our house in town, a distance of a couple of hours. My Sweetness usually drives and likes to have the air-conditioning in the car set on 'fridge' temperature to keep him awake. Inevitably, I sit shivering in the passenger's seat. I made this cuddly quilt to travel with me!

It is a quick raw-edge quilt made from a layer cake of Bonnie & Camille's very happy and fresh new range 'Bliss' for Moda.
I thought I might put together a tutorial for this quilt. It is a quick and fun way to use those layer cakes that are accumulating in the cupboard!
And it is a perfect size for the car. No more freezing car trips for me!

Friday, 15 October 2010

A 'hoot' of a birthday

It was my firstborn's 15th (!) birthday yesterday. When she was born 15 years ago, my husband who teaches high school maths exclaimed, "Oh my, we're going to have a teenage daughter"! Thankfully, we've had 15 years to warm up to the idea!
Celebrations were understated as she is in the midst of a very busy time at school. But I quickly whipped up this very cute owl bunting. I used printables from mini-eco, a fantastic 'handmade for kids' site. The owl printables can be found here.
The birthday menu requested was homemade gnocchi, followed by white chocolate, raspberry & almond ice-cream cake. Happy birthday sweet girl!

Speaking of bunting, I found this brilliant mini version this morning at You had me at bonjour. What a great idea - don't know if I have the patience for it though.

A happy weekend to you. Bloom x

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Are you awake yet?

A little sensory overload to kickstart your Thursday! Get creative today!

Thank you for the kind advice offered from my last post. The pain my boy was suffering on Monday has passed. We returned to the doctor who is convinced there is no post-operative concern. No fevers, tenderness or risk of infection. We have a follow-up visit with the surgeon on Friday. So his pain is a bit of a mystery at this point. I am wondering if there is some secondary digestive oondition happening. Perhaps a food intolerance.

Wishing you a creative Thursday, Bloom x

Monday, 11 October 2010

Felt better ...

First day back at school and my boy lasted 3 hours. It seems recovery from appendictis is a slow process. He had his appendix removed three weeks ago, and is still occasionally doubled over in pain. The pain lasts for a half hour or so, and then subsides, after a dose of Panadol or Nurofen. Any advice?
Between times, I am sneaking in just a little bit of feltwork. This is a needlecase, purchased recently, and designed by Diane Leftwich. It is called 'Bluebirds in the Hedgerow'. The bluebirds are yet to make an appearance!

Friday, 8 October 2010

Our school holidays, in 10 photos or less

In a blink of my eye, the two weeks of school holidays have passed. But in the eye of my camera, much was accomplished.
There was time for long and relaxed strolls
 in our farm garden ... 
... the irises resplendent.
There was time to smell the first of these:
Beautiful weather for plenty of this:
And blow me down, even a little time for some of this:
And what would spring be without a wedding:
I have but two cousins, and the elder of them married his bride in a beautiful country garden in the Riverina.
The guests were transported 75km by bus, to a station homestead for the wedding. 
 Thankfully, the weather was perfect. An inclement day could have been disastrous, since the access road becomes impassible with rain! 
 And if that didn't make for a perfectly romantic day, there was even a piper. Awww, how I love a piper!
For the Aussie mums, I hope you have enjoyed a great holiday from school with your kids. Now surely fourth term will be quiet and uneventful ... won't it?!
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