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