Saturday, December 31, 2011

At Last Some Sewing!

Thank goodness, I can put some pieces together to finish off the year.
We had beignets for breakfast this morning - it was a packet mix brought back from the States a wee while ago, so time they were made up and eaten - I think I may have had the oil a bit hot, but they were great with a cafe au lait
The weather was wet and windy (what a way to finish off 2011) and a let down after 9 days of sun and heat, just like we used to get when we were kids! But, a great day to get on to some sewing for a S.I.X. challenge.
We each had to make 6 blocks measuring 10 inches. No theme, they could be the same or different, and they were to be quilted. Each member of the S.I.X. group was given a block and then it had to be made into a quilt measuring 20 inches square. So we could cut up the original block if we wanted or just add blocks to get the required measurement.
This is the block I received from Rhonda:
The fabric has been coloured with distressed ink, then painted, inked and embossed grunge paper cut into cogs stitched on the surface.
Here are my three blocks:
colour wheel stitched with sunburst thread into a vortex
background - still needs to be embellished
picture printed on to fabric, hand and machine stitching
Rhonda's label had a clock face, the Eiffel Tower and the words take time printed on it. Can you guess what my blocks are going to part of?
I am going to stitch a casing on to join them altogether, then finish with the embellishments.
Watch this space! :-)

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

and peace to you and yours!
Often I make hand crafted or food to give at Christmas. This year I wasn't very organised to make kitchen gifts, but I have been blessed to receive some already from friends - how lucky I am! something to look forward to using in the weeks ahead.
I just wanted to share a photo of the Christmas cake this year:
It is a classic fruit cake but the topping is cherries, nuts and dried apricots (the black pieces). I mixed it with golden syrup and spread it over the cake 30 minutes before it was finished baking. It has been doused with whisky since coming out of the oven this week.
Today I made a German stollen - a fruit bread with an almond paste filling, topped with rum icing and roasted almonds - yummy!
The family are making a few things tonight so that we can relax and enjoy tomorrow.

Blessings to you all!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hand-made Christmas Decorations - Part 3

This is the final installment of the hand-mades.
The next two I made when we lived in Singapore. I hadn't made soft toys before (well that is not counting the 2 piece felt hanging decorations which babies/toddlers can't damage), but really enjoyed the Santa and his reindeer. First problem; where to buy fur in Singapore? Found a kit, but I didn't know then how to cut it - as you can see, Santa's hat doesn't have a good brim (when making teddy bears years later I knew then to cut the backing not the fur!). Second problem; the reindeer's leg wasn't holding him up! It is important to stuff the legs firmly. I did unpick and re-stuff, but this guy is made with corduroy and it frays, so it wasn't an easy job - do it once and do it properly :-)
The rejoice sign hangs over the back of the sofa.  Finding suitable cotton fabric lead me to many market places and it is not quilted nor does it have wadding.  But it means heaps to me. After I came out from hospital in 1993 (second time), Derrick didn't want it up, but I figured that we had a lot to 'rejoice' in, especially as it had been a very difficult and scary year. This year we are both rejoicing in that we still have our jobs with Defence.
The next 2 decorations are relatively easy to make. The Yule log - it gets a renew most years, this year I have taken off the 'fresh' leaves and added the 'plastic' ivy.
This little tree is made with a polystyrene ball and fabric squares poked into it. I have found that it is probably better to use a little pva glue where the fabric goes into the ball, so it stays in. I also added tiny cones, stuck it in a terracotta pot and weighted it with plaster of paris.
Final piece: I attended a workshop to make this hanging which hangs in the front entrance-way. But I have to admit that I was a terrible student! I didn't learn much from the workshop and rebelled at making some of the embellishments! I haven't dated it, nor put a photo in my album, so I'd guess that it was made around 1999. Very simply quilted in the background - now it would have much more on it (if I was to make it anyway!).

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Hand-made Christmas Decorations - Part 2

We lived in Singapore in the 1980's. It was a wonderful time for young children - the exposure to different cultures, language and food around them all the time.
My handcraft at that time was cross-stitch. It was relatively easy to find material, threads and patterns and getting articles framed was not very expensive. My first piece shows how much I didn't know about working the thread, but I still put it out to remind me of how much you can learn (I haven't shown it here).
So here are some cross-stitch pieces that make an appearance at Christmas:
Viewed from inside
 Little pictures of the Christmas tree
Viewed from outside
This is a large picture which I had to re-size and re-frame after breaking the glass. The matt board is a modern shape of a tree - the original was very triangular:
This olde worlde Santa is made with plastic canvas and wool - my first attempt at the long stitches - he is free standing:
When the girls were very little I made them each a cross-stitch stocking. They were an ideal size to put little stocking fillers in, but because of the age of them, I've asked that they are treated as decorations - besides, the stocking fillers don't fit in very well now!
So here is Rebecca's stocking plus the newer, quilted ones:
Hope you enjoy looking at these!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hand-made Christmas Decorations - Part 1

Every year, since 1979, I have tried to make at least one Christmas decoration. This year's one was made for someone else because there are a lot to show and/or pack away now. But I thought it might be quite nice to take you on a trip along Memory Lane.
A small Christmas tree banner made in 1983. I was in hospital for some cancer surgery in this year and someone had made beautiful decorations which hung in the hospital's corridor. This was one that really appealed and I have made it several times for family and friends - each time adding buttons that were appropriate. As you can see, this one is not quilted (2 layers though!).
My first 'real' quilt. Hand turned applique and hand quilted. 1994. I will never do either of those techniques again - it took far too long and this is a small quilt! The batting is polyester and too bouncy, but the work is OK for self-taught.
The next 2 are kits I bought from the craft section of a department store in Hawaii and made in 1994. I really did enjoy doing all the hand stitching. They came together really quickly.
I can't remember when I made this little wreath. I loved making the felt leaves and they have florists wire inside so that they can be 'shaped'. We had a mouse nesting in the decoration boxes one year, and it fancied the polystyrene berries - fortunately everything could be washed and the berries replaced.
I think that this is still my most favourite hand-made decoration.
More to come!!

Monday, December 19, 2011

It's Starting to Feel Like Christmas

Thank goodness! I was afraid I'd lost my Christmas mojo. But this past weekend I made some Christmas fruit mince pies:
Mmmm! Yummy!
I have another Christmas cake in the oven tonight which is going to fill the house with lovely spicy smells - the first one I forgot about when I was multi-tasking, and it's rather dry (I think that it may have to be reworked into something else).
I have enjoyed turning on the lights every night (thanks to Santa's elves for putting them up) and here are a couple of decorations that have survived the years:
Snowman candle on the dining buffet
This is about as much snow as we'll have - according to the weather forecasters - sun for the next 10 days and very little wind on Sunday - yay! 
This is a hand painted glass bauble I bought at Harrods (London) on my first visit (1986 I think). It's one of those things that continually amazes me how it has survived this long.
Last day of work tomorrow. The library has been pretty busy and now that I'm the only one there, I am really looking forward to some home time with family and not having to worry about managing everything work-wise with reduced hours and staff.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Paper Leaves Revisited

My leaves which I showed you here how to make and were subsequently made into a necklace/collar for the 12 days of quilted Christmas has now been re-jigged into a table centerpiece.
Here it is with a lovely scented candle from Hawaii in the middle:
The leaves that seem to dominate are the ones with the silk coil veins couched on top. I have made some smaller ones (just to use up the scraps) and will use them in a block (or 2) for a S.I.X. challenge we have to finish by the end of January. Show you later when it's almost completed.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Decorator Elves

Santa sent his Decorating Elves to visit our house this past weekend - which is just as well, otherwise the decorations would still be in their boxes!
The tree has been decorated with love and care as well as the dining room, entrance-way and the kitchen.
Ahhh! the memories!
The dog got pretty exhausted with the supervising.
Three cheers for Santa's helpers!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Little Bit of Christmas Sewing

I thought that this might be quite nice to give as a secret Santa type of gift. Pattern was through my Interweave Stitch newsletter and is by Carol Zentgraf. I modified it a little, because time was running out to do the lovely circular shape Carol has.
Anyway, I hope someone likes it.
It measures 90cm x 36cm

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

12 Days of Christmas - Quilting Style

When we had the Rose City Quilters committee play day (see my post here), we were actually working on pieces to present to the Club last night.
On the ... day of Christmas my true love gave to me:
a brand new sewing machine
2 pairs of scissors
3 library books
4 rolls of ribbon
5 paper pieced leaves
6 Velcro hanging sleeves
7 measuring tapes
8 rotary cutters
9 fabric flowers
10 cotton reels
11 beautiful buttons, and
12 new thimbles
My number was 5 - I wanted to do something that I could keep, so made my leaves into a 'necklace'.
But I think I'll cut out a few more leaves to make it into a circular tabletop setting - candles and pine cones might look good in the centre!
Here's a close-up of a leaf - the only stitching I've done in 3 weeks, and 'gems' glued on top for sparkle. You can just see that pattern tissue underneath the organza:
If you go to my friend Lynette's blog, she has photos from the evening and the lunch bag swap plus the 'present' from the committee to all members - it's a challenge for next Tote and Gloat.
I still have a bit of laryngitis from last week - so the 'singer' in the group was the frog on the night (how sad was that!).

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Shearing is Done

Last weekend, we had a shearer come in to do all the ewes, plus 3 of my neighbours' sheep. Everyone had a funny story to tell at the end of the day - Derrick tackling Coco in the yards and then the 2 of them going down in the corner, Kerry slipping in the mud - glasses flying off - in an effort to nab another ewe, and Glenda trying to 'steer' her ram home by riding him!
The important thing was that no-one (or animal) got hurt, all the sheep were shorn, lambs drenched and we got pretty good prices for the wool.
Here is Beauty at one year with a new shear - and she still demands preferential treatment!:
The lambs are just coming up to 3 months of age - I pleased with how good they look and how well they are growing. Here's and lovely family snap:
Mum's wool is almost grey, and her twins have beautiful faces :-)

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Voting Is Now On For Remembering Veterans Quilt

Hello, all you lovely visitors to my blog.
Please go here to vote
Mine is the New Zealand's Gallipoli Campaign 1915 quilt (see previous post), but please only vote for it if you LIKE it - I'm not into twisting any arms here! :-)

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Remembering Veterans - Contest

I have entered this quilt into the Quilting Gallery weekly themed contest.
New Zealand's Gallipoli Campaign 1915
Please go here to vote from this Friday (11th) evening until Sunday (13th) evening (NZ time).
Tomorrow, Friday 11 November 2011 at 11:00am (notice how all the 11's line up) is Armistice Day. I thought that this was the most appropriate of my military quilts to enter.

Armistice Day
Wreath-laying ceremonies mark Armistice Day at the National War Memorial in Wellington and at many local War Memorials throughout New Zealand. As part of these ceremonies, two minutes silence is observed at 11 a.m. on 11 November in memory of those New Zealanders' who died while serving their country.
The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month marks the moment when hostilities ceased on the Western Front in 1918.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Lunch Bag Swap

I needed to make a lunch bag for the Rose City Quilters swap for the last meeting of the year. As I have made a couple of these already, I wasn't sure why I was procrastinating about it!
While I was rummaging through the fabric stash I found this fabric, which is so lovely (if you like French/Parisian things), and I thought would make a beautiful little bag for the swap.
So here we are - it even has an ohh! la! la! type of button (well why not!):
Pattern is here.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Committee Play Day

Rose City Quilters committee members had a play-day today. We could make something for a special surprise or just play, so here are some photos of playing happening:
Barb is sorting colours for her jacket
Wendy has a basket full of treasures, what is she up to?
The weather wasn't very good for working outside - so I decided to do something other than painting.
I have 'made' fabric from sandwiching (with Misty Fuse) pattern tissue and organza, plus previously painted florists' 'paper' onto kunin felt.

Cut out the shapes, used the  soldering iron around the edges to make it more organic, then couched threads and stitched.
You can see the pattern tissue underneath. This is stitched with rayon
Main veins are couched silk threads, other stitching is with variegated cotton thread
 My piece is coming together OK.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

It's Not Just About The Numbers

Number 7 of my ANZAC series of quilts is now finished. I ended up painting, with brush and Tsukineko ink, the words and numbers. I did try stamping but it was too fiddly and not clean enough. The biggest worry was spilling or dropping ink into unwanted areas, but I was patient and careful and am pleased with the result.
I also painted the background fabric and over-painted the backing (I also used it as the binding).
This banner is very simply quilted so that your eye follows across the lines to the numbers.

On the right hand side I have quilted a Maori motif over the words (this is the backing which shows the quilting better):

 Here is what I wrote for the label:

"The statistics for this Roll of Honour for the 1st New Zealand Expeditionary Force (1914 – 1918) came from the book Some records of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force, by Lt. Col. J Studholme (Wellington, Govt. Printer, 1928).
The numbers are of deaths only of N.Z.E.F. while on active service.
They include:   Officers
                        Other Ranks
                        Those killed in action
                        Those who died of wounds
                        Those who died of sickness
                        Those who died from other causes

Total: 16,697

Those who died after discharge (up to 31st December 1923):  964
Those who died while under training in New Zealand: 505

Let us never forget. May they rest in peace."

It measures  105cm x 56cm.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

My Challenge Winnings ...

... arrived in the mail today!
This is what I had been eagerly awaiting:
Leah's book and a professional photo of my quilt.

Plus I also received my purchase from Superior Threads (using some of the winning money):
Thank you so much Leah. Your designs are great to use and I am looking forward to being able to use your book!

An Unwelcome Gift

This was left lying in the middle of a Wellington motorway intersection:
As it was raining heavily at the time, it was not seen until:
All I can say is; thank goodness no-one was hurt. Derrick was driving and was able to hold the car on the road, then safely manoeuvre it to the side and change the tyre.
Thanks to the fool person who had an unsafe load - you have cost me another tyre.
I am NOT impressed!