Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

It's a fun day when your kids have an Oma who likes to celebrate Halloween as much as they do! One that arrives armed with big boxes full of fun activities and games for them to play. I wish I didn't get so caught up in the moment though so I could share more pics. Happy Halloween! (And thankyou to Oma!).

Homemade pinata, by the 10 year old. Four layers of paper equals a very sturdy pinata!


Last minute bumblebee

'Dead Head', made by the 10 year old (paper mache). Hideous!

Alice in Wonderland
(Thrify costume - a blue sheet and one of my skirts, re-purposed).

Happy Halloween. Do you celebrate? How?

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Bear's Paw cushion

Earlier in the week I sat down and made a new cushion cover. I had borrowed a couple of great books from the library, and our friendly librarian had a new book that had just come in that she almost put on my card to notify me to collect. Isn't that nice! I caught her before she got around to it though. The first one is The Quilter's Recipe Book,  a collecion of soooo many different blocks it will blow you away, plus basic instructions to get a new quilter started. The one the librarian was eyeing off for me is the The Ultimate Quilting Bible, which covers pretty much every technique an eager patchworker may want to try, plus instructions on piecing all sorts of different shapes using a range of different methods. Really great books!

I wanted to try something small to get me started and a cushion seemed like a good idea. I had some unused fabric in my drawer that was begging to be cut up and turned into something useful. My brain had to sit for a time over a hot, hot cup of tea figuring out the complexities of making a half-square triangle the right size so that it would fit it's square friend when butted up against it! (It's ok! I figured it out...add 7/8" to the measurement of the square....I think!!).

This block is called "Bears Paw". I chose it because I like the design as well as the name. The block is constructed of four identical corner segments...

....then joined together in rows with strips of fabric called 'sashing' in between. The seams are all stitched with a quarter inch seam allowance, so there is no trimming the seams afterwards, hooray! Theoretically, the units should all match up, although some gentle persuasion was needed in parts on my little cushion cover here.

A fantastic resource online is The Quilter's Cache. And here you can see the page on the Bear's Paw block. with full instructions. I should've checked out this page first, it has all the measurements!!  Ah well, I'll know now for next time....

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Sneezy season in the garden...

There are a gazillion things to get done in the garden at the moment. The weather is glorious and we have had some fantastic rain. Only problem is, I want to pull my nose off. I don't lie - I thought I had escaped the sneezy season symptoms, smugly nodding sympathetically when others told of their allergy woes. Alas, it hit me over the weekend with a vengeance. It doesn't hold back. The nose drips like a tap and I want to claw my eyes out. Medication is a laughable teaser, offering no relief. Ugh! I hope it passes soon...

Meanwhile, I have still been attending to my long list of garden jobs, just in a sniffling, sneezing style:

The duck is actually sitting. One really has to admire her, giving it such a good try. I don't recall how much incubation time is actually needed per day, but I somehow think she is falling short. She's a feelgood sitter!

The fenced off area of the veggie garden has become a weed haven. They're everywhere! I have also seen several slugs around so called in the new pest controllers...

It's hard to believe that they were yellow and fluffy just a few weeks ago!

The raspberry canes have grown so much with the recent rain, I hope we get more than garden pickings this year...

I know I've rambled on and on about them, but those calendulas just refuse to give up! This is the first season I've tried growing them and will definitely be making room for them in the garden again....

Apple blossom
Strawberries in hanging baskets are springing into action. I'll be keeping an eye out for pesky birds as the berries ripen....

There is the beginnings of a new berry grove out the front with some gifted currant cuttings from generous veggie group friends.

A mixture currants to live alongside the blueberries and raspberries
And also from a veggie group friend, we have purple orach. It can be eaten as a salad green, either raw or cooked. It looks great in the garden too!

Purple orach
Finally, it only took me three years to figure out that no one was sitting on the bench near the front door, so I got off my backside and heaved it around the side/back of the house into a much better position. You'll find me sitting here most days at some time, either for my lunch or for a cup of tea after school pick up.

Sometimes it's the little things that please us most!
May your tissue box be full and your sneezy fits less and less frequent :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Vintage Sheets

Vintage sheets have been creeping their way into our house lately. I have a friend who keeps a lookout in opp shops for them and we have been known to share our finds.  Pillowcases are also a favourite too. And you wouldn't believe it, but my mum still had some of my old bedspreads in her linen cupboard from when I was a young girl!

They make lovely cool, summery dresses, skirts and tops for young girls. And perhaps big girls too!

Not to mention bags!


These 12 1/2" squares are destined for a vintage sheet swap over at Down to Earth forum to make a picnic/beach blanky. I'm very excited!

And this is my favourite that I can't bare to cut up yet. My bedspread. Just as I remember it!

What would you do with such a find?

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Inspiration = Motivation

My mum recently got me reading some books she had been finding herself reading lately. They are the Elm Creek Quilt  novels by Jennifer Chiaverini. Now let me tell you, for the last couple of years I have snubbed my nose at fiction, turning my eyes towards the gleaming shelves of bountiful non-fiction books in the library. SO much to learn! How would I ever fit in everything I wanted to learn, raise 3 kids PLUS find time to read *cough* novels *cough*? It was out of the question. Absolutely out of the question!

But a change can be a good thing, right? As much as I love to absorb a good manual on how to build a gate (and hang it!), or what to feed our chooks for sunshine golden yolks, nothing takes the place of a story with characters that linger after you turn the last page and leave you looking around for more. Maybe it's because they're such light reading (I'm talking really light - SO light that the character's appearances are not even described so the reader is left to visualise their own image), they are easy to fit into my day. They have interesting storylines that don't need my fatigued brain to work overtime trying to figure out for example, the angles needed to construct a bean frame or the science behind food preserving...

They're relaxing and fun.

But what is the point of this ramble I hear you ask?

Well.....since being drawn into the language of quilting again, I have been itching to thread a needle, cut some scraps of fabric and make something. Something that doesn't need to be a work of art or truly beautiful. Something functional to keep someone warm...I know you know where I'm heading with this one. It's a funny thing, inspiration, isn't it. If my mum hadn't told me about these books, my scraps would still be sitting in the bottom of the linen cupboard where they had been abandoned nearly 10 years ago!  I am sure you are just itching to know why on earth I would've put such a positively rewarding task as that of joining patch after patch together in a monotonous stint of handsewing, finger jabbing and pin pricking already sore fingers away? Why such a riveting exercise would be merely cast aside?

It was babies. My babies to be exact. They were active and demanding and what was originally a project to keep me sane while they were small was abandoned as their (and in turn my) lives grew busier and they grew older.

Anyhoo, the scrap bag has been dusted off from cat fur where the feline family member had set up her cosy napping quarters and the treasures revealed from within....

It's been a long time since they've seen daylight...
My homemade templates made from used milk cartons were still good to go and my fabric pile had grown considerably especially with my newfound fondness for vintage sheets (a whole other story!). My inspiration had suddenly turned into motivation! Thanks Mum!

I find the hexagon tumbling blocks a natural progression from my crochet hexagons.  It is a different feeling working with fabric than yarn, I like the way the seams are exact and the points meet. They don't offer me the same calming feeling as the repetetive motions of crochet though but they are satisfying all the same. Plus the quilt won't be finished any time soon so there's no hurry to get it done....kind of like the crochet hexagons. It's all about the journey, right? Oh, and the love that goes into it. And I am very excited to use some materials from my kids clothes from when they were smaller...SO many memories in those fabrics!!

Maybe one day it might look a little like this, all joined neatly together though, nicely quilted and bound, ha!

Maybe. ;)

A glimpse at 'one day'...
In the meantime, even though every day seems full to bursting with stuff to get done, I'll try and squeeze in a little time for myself now and then for some 'piecing' (and a little less finger jabbing)....

Thursday, October 14, 2010

In the garden... Oct '10

There is a big basket full of calendulas ready for drying. They are coming thick and fast at the moment and add much cheer to the garden with their bright yellow and orange heads....

In the garden our potatoes are very happy. I just noticed the first flower today.....

In the garden, we have been collecting 6-7 eggs a day. A day! I don't check them anyore (ok, maybe I might take a leeetle peek), instead leaving the task to the 7 year old, who races in after school to grab the 'egg basket' and off she gallops to the nesting boxes to collect her treasures. Time to share some with friends I think.....

Silverbeet is finally getting to a harvestable size. Just. Continental parsley fills in any bare spots, which I find myself using daily in anything and everything....

In the garden, the oregano (marjoram? I can never tell the two apart..) grown from a cutting from a generous friend is the most active thing around at the moment! It has gone berserk with the recent rain.....

Cherry blossom (Stella) graces us with her presence......

...and Mr Green enjoys a prance....

In the garden, our duck has made a nest and started to lay eggs. Oh, yes, and an escaped chook also found the nest and kindly made her donation to the pile. This would be exciting, if our duck wasn't such a lousy sitter.

And finnnalllly in the garden, the peas are arriving!!


Is anything interesting happening in your garden at the moment?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Easy tiered skirt

Recently, I came across an amazingly simple way of making a tiered skirt in one of my 70's opp shop sewing books. What so great about this method is that the skirt can be made to fit any body size, so what works when making a girls skirt will be the same when making an adult size skirt. This style of skirt would also lend itself to using up offcuts of different fabrics, creating a mix and match skirt. It is also super fast to whip up!

To start off with, you will need to decide how long the finished skirt is going to be. I made this one for my 7 year old and was after a length of 40cm. To this measurement, I added 5cm for the top hem/casing, 5cm for the bottom hem and 3cm for the tier seams, equalling a cut out length of 53cm. Jot your number down in your notepad.

Next, the waist measurement of the skirt's recipient will need to be taken. To create a nice full gather, a width 1 1/2 -2 times the waist measurement will need to be used. Jot your increased waist measurements down on the paper and draw a rectangle  (not necessarily to scale) detailing your calculations:
Decide where the second tier will begin and how high it will be. Draw a horizontal line through your diagram detailing this.
Bottom tier will need to be1 1/2 -2 times wider than top tier (not illustrated in diagram).
To make life easier when cutting out the fabric, I used my measurements to draft two pattern pieces out of some old newspaper. The second tier will need to be 1 1/2 -2 times the width of the upper tier, to create enough gathers to puff out.

Both the paper pieces were cut half of the width measurement and then pinned on the fold of the fabric (centre front),  and cut out.


Gather lower (2nd) tier by stitching with a long stitch 1.3cm along upper edge. Pull up threads to gather lower tier to fit upper (1st) tier.

With right sides together, pin gathered edge to top tier.

Stitch (1.5cm seams). Remove pins and finish seam with a zig-zag or overlock stitch.

Press seam towards top of skirt.

With right sides together, stitch center back seam finishing with a zig-zag or overlock stitch. Press seam to one side.

Using the upper hem allowance, create a simple casing to hold the waist elastic. Fold 5cm of the upper edge over and press, then open out and fold under 5mm along the raw edge. Press. Fold the casing back in place and stitch close to the folded edge, leaving a gap to insert the elastic (3/4"-1" wide):

Cut the elastic to fit the waist with a small overlap (10-12cm shorter than waist measurement). Insert into casing through opening and stitch ends together. Stitch casing closed close to folded edge.

Hem the lower edge and you are all finished!

This skirt was made out of an old sheet. I'm looking forward to making some more with different fabrics for the tiers. If more tiers are required, just follow the same procedure, making subsequent tiers 1 1/2 -2 times the width of the previous tier.

And here is the skirt being worn for the first time.

Saturday, October 9, 2010


It was show day in our world today. This year in addition to eyeing off the poultry, farm animals and horses, I was excited to enter some items in the homecrafts pavilion. Several pictures, so I'll let them do the talking....


Eggs, half dozen - Second prize

Eggs - any other colour -Second prize.
Blue eggs from Violet,  our Araucana. Thanks, Violet!

Calendula - Third prize.
Proud as I am over my multicoloured calendulas, I notice the second and first place calendula entries are both a uniform colour......

Yes, that would be the 7y.o's hand sneaking a touch..

Relish, not tomato - 1st prize (Zucchini Relish).  Well done, yellow zucchinis, will be growing you again this year!

Lemon Butter - Third prize. Quite a number of lemon butter entries this year. Still using my favourite recipe.

Pickles, any variety - Third prize (Bread & Butter Cucumbers)
Berry jam, any other variety (not strawberry or raspberry) - Second prize ( (Blackberry Jam)
My daughters also did some baking and did not go away disappointed.....
3 pikelets - First prize to the 8yo. There they are, down on the bottom right. Recipe from Lady Flo Bjelke-Petersen's cookbook 

Decorated cake, 7-10 years. First prize to the 10 yo! I'm very proud and she's super pleased!!

I couldn't resist admiring all of the handiwork on our way out. Some inspiring quilts.... knitting and crochet too!
 Much, much fun.