Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Message in a Bottle Challenge

The last entry for 2013 was my entry for the "Message in a Bottle" Challenge organised by Thearica Burroughs.  It was shortly after this that DH and I went to England for three months to visit his 91 year old mother and also friends and extended family.  Unfortunately while we were there, DH developed terrible pains which the doctors in UK couldn't control and which turned out to be the spread of his bone cancer into his spine, ribs, hips, left leg and breast bone.

As soon as I got home and went to start blogging again, I couldn't.  I couldn't get into my blog to update or to post new entries.  I can get in to look at it and read it but that is all. So after all this time, I have decided to start again with a brand new blog and move on.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Message in a Bottle crazy quilting challenge 2013

At last I have finished my entry for the Message in a Bottle Challenge organised by Thearica Burrows from Crazy Quilting Supplies. I wanted to make something that would appeal to adults as well as to children and consulted my seven year old grandson Jesse who is learning about ecology in school for advice. The end result is a concertina style book which slides into a presentation box for safe keeping.

Here is the story in Pages.....there is a thin gold dotted line sewn across all the pages that tracks the journey that the bottle undertakes from being thrown into the sea to when it is washed up on the beach.
Page One
The bottle was thrown from a sailing ship by a sailor who was afraid of the approaching storm and the rocks below the sea. I stitched the sailing ship masts and hull first before attaching each white felt sail with tiny blanket stitches and finished off with the rigging. I thought that the two birds were not "flying" birds because they had no wings, so they are seagulls floating on the waves.
Page Two
Before it reaches the surface, the bottle is taken over the top of a brightly coloured coral reef.
Page Three
As it travels the world for one hundred years, the bottle is caught up in swirling currents. I found this block challenging because part of the kit was a piece of turquoise net on which was stitched these three ribbon roundels. I unpicked the roundels from the netting and re-stitched them back again onto the circular swirling current. The kit also included a ball of beige coloured Perle cotton which I used to make the length of tatting on the sandy sea-bed.
Page Four
The bottle is eventually picked up by the waves and carried by a huge surf towards the shore. In the block, I included the netting that was the background of the roundels and also included some of the sequins which were also attached to the netting. I enjoyed creating the waves out of lots of pieces of white lace, some of which were included in the kit and hopefully I have captured the movement of the surf.
Page Five
At last the bottle is thrown up onto a beach.........a beach polluted with dead sea creatures such as the turtle trapped in rope, the duck with a rubber band around its neck, dead fish caught in a piece of wayward net, more bottles, a rubber sandal, a tin can, beaded oil slick, plastic and now, our bottle.  The message spills out, a simple S.O.S., no longer for the sailor whom we assume sailed home safely but for our own Planet Earth. 
Eventually, people arrived who understood the problems facing our environment. They cleaned up the ocean and the beaches and educated  the general public to respect our world - the water as well as the land.
Page Six
The last picture shows the results of this campaign to clean up our environment. There is a pristine clean beach with butterflies fluttering over fresh sea grasses, there are dolphins playing in the sea and clean water lapping on the shoreline, all under a bright, warm sun. Two surfers have propped their surfboards in the sand while they take a break and their boards reflect the message. The most time consuming part of this block was the surfboards as both are cross-stitched onto 27 threads-per-inch canvas. 
I can only hope that I have helped to spread the message.......let's keep our world clean from pollution!!


Dollshouse Miniature Crazy Quilt in 1/12th scale

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Dolls House Size Crazy quilt

Today I finally finished the 1:12 scale crazy quilt that I have been working on for the last two or three weeks. The whole quilt measure 8 1/4 inches x 7 inches or 21cm x 17.5cm and there must be at least two hundred tiny patches, I haven't counted them all. Each one is embroidered around all sides just like in a real crazy quilt and the tiny black edging finishes it all off. The edging was one that I bought in England when we were there two years ago but it was sky blue, so taking up my husband's suggestion, I dyed it black and then slip-stitched it around the edges of the lined quilt once it was dry. I am posting this to both my crazy quilting blog and my doll's house miniature blog because it fits them both. The straight edge is the top while the curved bottom edge is designed to go down the end and sides of a four-poster bed.
I used the stitch and flip method of piecing the tiny patches by hand, using a 3 mm or 1/8 inch seam and tiny running stitches.
This is a close-up of the bottom right hand corner showing some of the decorative motifs such as a butterfly, Rose spray and fan.

Coloured Blocks 5 and 6 completed

Thursday, November 01, 2012

Block Six. Serenity Prayer Block

This is block six for my crazy quilt.  This was a nice, peaceful block to stitch and I really enjoyed it.  However, in the flesh the Serenity Prayer motif and beaded edge are fairly straight while squashed under the scanner it shows as crooked and all over the place.  Not to worry, I know that it is straight and that is the main thing........
I am finding that all my hoard of stuff from Flights of Fancy over the years is really coming in useful now, especially the motifs with beading and sequins attached. I get heaps of pleasure digging around in my large container of bits and pieces which I collected over several years.  The littte framed image of Violets under the prayer was a Charity Shop find.  It is cross-stitched on 40 holes to the inch canvas and requires a magnifying glass to even see the beautiful stitching. Obviously someone didn't appreciate the work involved or it wouldn't have been donated to the Op Shop for me to pounce on.....

Friday, October 26, 2012

Block 5. Butterfly and Owl

Here is block five finished.  I couldn't put this one down, it kept saying "put this here, add that there...." until in the end I couldn't put anything else anywhere else.  I like to cover every seam, I hate bare seams although I don't mind something trailing from one patch across a seam to another patch. Anyway as soon as this block is blogged, I am off to start block 6 which is sitting on the dining room table all ready and waiting.

The large Butterfly lace motif has been hand-dyed in mauve and lemon and then beaded with mauve beads.  The Forget-me-nots are tiny blue buttons while the tiny little Owl at the top was a cute brass charm that my husband wanted me to use on the block. 

Four coloured Crazy Quilt blocks completed

Thursday, October 25, 2012

New Crazy Quilt Happening

I have retired from full-time work.........yayyyy, clapping hands.........so at last I can get back to my crazy quilt which I started over five years ago.  I have just finished the first four blocks with about twenty more to go.  I have put my cream-on-cream crazy quilt on the back burner for now because I need to remove all of the gold brass charms and replace them with gold thread embroidery. As the charms tarnish and go dull and dark, there is no way that I can clean them without marking the cream fabrics and laces - I don't know what I was thinking of, putting metal charms on the blocks.

So I am back to the coloured one and I'm really having fun. I have no idea when I start stitching just what I am going to finish up with. It's like the blocks are telling me what they want putting on them next. Here are photos of the first four blocks which may all get sewn together into a very colourful and busy crazy quilt or they may get separated by strips of black velveteen fabric. Definitely NOT black velvet though or the house and my nose will be full of little specks of velvet pile.

Block One. Peacock is hand-dyed and sequins added to his eye and tail. I thought he went well with the Peacock Feather fabric to the right of the bird.

Block Two.  Angel block.


Block Three.  Floral Bouquet Block.  The floral embroidery in the centre was recycled from the lid of a trinket box which I did for a magazine article featuring Rajmahal Threads. The embroidery was all worked in a single thread. When the black fabric box got shabby from use, I unpicked the lid and used it on this crazy quilt block.

Block Four.  Fans Block with some gold metal fans which started life as a pair of earrings.

Crazy Quilted Christmas Postcards

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Southern Cross Crazies Christmas postcards finished

Today I took a sickie from work and made four dozen Spring Rolls for a Chinese themed dinner party we are having on Saturday, cleaned the kitchen, pulled up some weeds from between my bulbs and then finished these seven Christmas themed fabric postcards.   One of the two vertical ones I will keep for myself but I'm not sure which one I like the best yet.  There were seven participants in this swap so I hope the other girls like what I have done for them. Here are the photos.......and before anyone tells me, I KNOW that the reflection of Santa and his reindeers are going the wrong way to the actual silver charm ones, LOL. 

Stash Inheritance from Aunty Amy

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Inheritance from Aunty Ame

Click on each photo to see the contents clearly.

Mum's oldest sister Amy (my Aunty Ame) died in March 1970.  Her house and everything in it was left to my four cousins including a large box of laces, braids, ribbons and scraps of fabric. Aunty Ame was a professional doll's clothes maker during the 1950s and 1960s so every month or so, a man would leave dozens of naked Pedigree and Roddy dolls in their boxes at her house and he would pick up the previous lot, fully dressed in knickers, petticoats, dresses and bonnets. Some were dressed as brides and Bo-Peep while others were dressed as little girls in their Sunday best but all of them were absolutely gorgeous in their taffeta and flocked nylon frocks. I am not sure if this bloke owned a chain of toyshops or whether he was a toy wholesaler but this business transaction went on for several years that I know of.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, my sister and I met several cousins for lunch on Sunday and I shall always be indebted to my cousin Jackie who has hung on to the box of bits for over forty years. They have not been touched........until today, when we met for lunch and she gave me the box.  I think I have died and woken up in Crazy Quilter's Heaven!!! I have just been going through the box and I actually remember some of the braids but the part that really spun me out was several little bundles of short length of laces and braids (obviously scraps) tied in bundles with ribbon.  I REMEMBER doing that when I was about ten or eleven and I was staying with my aunt and uncle during the school holidays.  She was sewing and I was bored, the hairs stood up on the back of my neck when I found them.....just as I had left them over half a century ago.

Right now, I am so delighted and stunned by all these treasures, some will undoubtedly find their way onto crazy quilt blocks.  I can never repay Jackie for her generosity nor can I repay my aunty for stashing all this stuff in the boxes and winding a lot of laces and braids onto cut pieces of cardboard from old Pedigree Doll boxes. Here are some photos of the stash which has not seen the light of day in over forty years. 

Butterfly Stitch Tutorial and Block 13 finished

Friday, April 01, 2011

Step-By-Step How-to for the Butterfly seam

1.  Work a single fly stitch about 3/8inch on either side of the anchoring thread in the centre. Take the anchoring thread down just on the other side of the thread.
2. Work a second smaller fly stitch about 1/8 inch down from the first with each side being about 1/4 inch.
3. Work an upside-down fly stitch coming up to join the other two and take the anchoring stitch up over all three fly stitches.
4. Join the ends of the fly stitches with straight stitches to form wings.
5. With a thicker thread or a bullion stitch make the body in the centre of the wings.
6. With a fine thread sew two straight stitch antennai and work five small blanket stitches down the side of each wing.
7. Leave a gap of about 1/2 inch between the wings - ignore the body - and repeat the butterflies along the length of the seam.

Cream on Cream Block 13 finished

The apples in the centre of this block reminded me of high Summer, which means butterflies, dragonflies, bees and flowers. This was a quick and easy block to do probably because of the Summer theme and once the butterflies were stitched in place, it was just a matter of covering the seams.  One seam treatment was a row of tiny butterflies in cream thread with gold bodies and gold antennai and wing tips.  I made the stitch combination up as I went along then I thought maybe other people might like to use it as well so my next blog entry will be a step-by-step how-to on the butterfly seam......I don't know how it will look in colour but it looks fine in cream and gold. 

Hearts and Hands for Sendai block Completed

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hearts and Hands for Sendai Block Completed

This afternoon I finished my Hearts and Hands for Sendai block.  I'm happy with it (I think) although DH suggested I should put something in the corner with the crane.  As far as I am concerned, the Crane is so big and so glitzy that it doesn't need anything else in that corner. I will now post this block off so that it can be included in the fund-raising quilts for Sendai.  

Then I did a bit of tweaking to improve the block........here it is after it was finally finished.

Sendai Block is Really Finished

This is the block after I have worked some more Bamboo on the left hand side, thanks to Gerry's wonderful suggestion and the gold work on the Crane completed.  It will be winging it's way to Leslie in America before the day is done (the block, not the crane!).

Valentine Postcards

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Valentine's Day Fabric Postcard Swap

 I have spent the last three hours holed up in my studio finishing off these seven Valentine's Day Fabric postcards for a swap with my SouthernCrossCrazies group.  I really only needed to make five, four to swap and one to keep for myself but I know a couple of people who could do with a cheer-up so I made two extra.  I really enjoyed this challenge as it gave me a chance to use up all my little red bits and pieces which I would never use otherwise.  I rarely use red in crazy quilting as it is not one of my favourite colours.  I decided to stay with traditional crazy quilting this time seeing as last time with the Autumn leaves I went waaaaaay out of my comfort zone.
These cards are all "romantic" based on the printed images which I got from Flights of Fancy Boutique. I've been waiting for an opportunity to use them. I made four vertical postcards and three horizontal postcards and the one I have chosen to keep for myself is vertical one at the top right-hand corner with the two small images.

So, Faye, Maureen, Natascha and Alison jump in and choose the one you want to receive and the two left over can go to my friends who need the cheer-ups.  Email me with your choice and I'll address it to you..

Cream Block Nine in Detail

It seems as if 2008, 2009 and 2010 were taken up with working on other things such as sane quilting, knitting for the grandkids, dressing dolls and making all the grandkids a quillow each as well as working on my cream-on-cream blocks.  I wrote about each block in detail including close-up photos - for instance, here is what I blogged about Block Nine.  It is strange that I mentioned a cyclone because right now we are having cloudy weather and forecast rain because of Cyclone Christine which crossed the north coast of Western Australia yesterday.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Block 9 Completed

I have finished block 9 which started out with no particular theme and finished up being one of the main blocks in the quilt.  When I'd finished adding an elephant, a heart, a butterfly and a bouquet of Roses plus embroidery, the block was suffering an identity crisis but then my husband suggested that I turn the heart into a "cartouche".  A what?  "A Cartouche!" says he again.  He loves watching Antique Roadshow on TV and often in the jewellery section, Victorian watches, lockets, trinket boxes, serviette rings and cuff-links have a shape such as a heart, circle, oval etc in the gold or silver where people could get initials or names engraved.  So, I added my own initials VMG and the year 2011 in the blank section of the heart shape, in my own cartouche. I'm a bit disappointed that the heart edging has a "bulge" in it, it isn't straight. I tried to fix it but it's the way the motif was stitched originally and I can't do much about it. Suddenly though, the block felt complete, it looks happy again........I keep saying and it's true, these blocks develop a personality after awhile!!

Yesterday was actually a horrible day for doing anything, including stitching.  The temperature reached 40 degrees celsius which is 104 degrees farenheit and the humidity was revolting.  Everything felt hot and sticky until about 3.30pm when I decided that I really would have to brave the yucky weather and go shopping. The Heavens opened and heavy rain bucketed down accompanied by rolling thunder then just as suddenly, it stopped and it was still as hot and stickier than ever.  Today we were supposed to be hit by Cyclone Bianca but thankfully it has now been down-graded to just a heavy storm which hopefully will cool things down a bit. 

Easter Gathering of "Friends of Southern Cross Crazies"

Sunday, April 15, 2007

 Easter Gathering of Crazy Quilting friends

As soon as the UK holiday was over, the next exciting thing in my life was the Easter Gathering of the some of the Australia crazy quilters. In the end seven of us plus five husbands manage to get togther at Sandie's place near Port Pirie in South Australia. Pictured here are the other six cquilters. Back row: Brenda from Texas, Maureen from Victoria, Sandie from South Australia. Bottom row: Maria from Tasmania, Catherine from Victoria and Julia from Western Australia. Julia and I plus our DHs Eddie and Reno flew from Western Australia to Adelaide then picked up a hire car and drove to Pt Pirie. We had the best time ever, sightseeing, sewing, learning new skills to use in our crazy quilting, diving in for a Chicken Scratch (I didn't mean to bring home more stuff than I took with me......but everyone knows what happens during a chicken scratch when you see a beautiful piece of fabric that you simply MUST have!) Sadly six other ladies had to pull out for various personal reasons but everybody made a block for each of the others which meant that all of us made twelve blocks to give away and came home with twelve blocks made by twelve other people. Great fun was had by all!

Here are photos of some of the blocks that I made to give to other people, all with a vague Easter theme and in colours chosen by the recipients. I have to admit that some of these colour schemes were way out of my normal comfort zone.


My new Studio being built Sept 2006

In Sept 2006, the big thing that I was blogging about was the construction of my new studio.  After nine years, it is still wonderful to go in there, close the door and shut out the hustle and bustle of life. It is my safe haven, my own little piece of Heaven on Earth.

Men at work - on my studio.

I stood on the verge over the road to take this photo of the workmen's vehicles out the front of our house. I was standing in front of yet another truck with a bob-cat on the back while I photographed the cement mixer vehicle, a truck full of wheel barrows and shovels etc and one of the young "boys" car. As you can see, I live in suburbia, however we don't have houses across the road, we have grassy areas, a creek, then a railway line which carries freight trains and in the winter months we get the occasional preserved steam train and behind that, paddocks and the hills of the Darling Ranges..

It's finally happening!

The bloke in charge of the concreting team thought I was a complete nutter, running around taking photos of the wooden formwork, the black plastic and the steel re-inforcing mesh on top. It looks so small in the photo but the studio will actually measure five metres (nearly sixteen feet) across by four metres (just over 13 feet) deep. I hope it is big enough to keep my stash, my cutting table, sewing machines and overlockers etc..... I really can't believe that after all this time of waiting, it is finally happening.

Studio - Work in Progress

I took this photo from our patio at 6 o'clock this morning to show the work in progress on the studio from when the two guys arrived at noon and left at 5pm. This photo shows the proximity to the end of the patio so that I can walk out the family-room door and into the studio without getting rained on. The back wall has been insulated and cladded so I guess the other walls and roof will be done today. This is so exciting after the long 6 months wait.......at least things are moving along quickly now.

Now it is November 15th and the studio is still going up..........I remember now just how long it took to build, I think it was six months in total.

Side view of Studio

Another view of the studio frame although it doesn't look very big in this photo. The long window is on this south side looking into the garden while the door and smaller window face into the patio.

Another view of the studio and signal

This is another view of the studio showing how low the patio roof is compared to the wall of the building - it will have to go - this shot also shows Eddie's railway signal which is the reason I got the studio in the first place. I wanted to move to a bigger house with a bigger sewing room but Eddie just couldn't bear to go through the hassle of moving his precious signal which a fully restored, fully working 1911 West Australia Govt Railways signal. The post is solid jarrah and took eight hefty blokes to move it from the car trailer to the backyard while all the metal bits were imported from England. When we have a bbq, all the blokes think it's great fun to move the lever which moves the arm, which changes the colour of the light from the lamp from red to green and which also makes every dog in the neighbourhood bark like crazy! We saw it in the back garden of a house which was for sale on Great Eastern Hwy. It was the day that runners were taking the Olympic flame through Guildford so we there to watch. The agent came out and asked "Are you interested in looking at the house?" I said, "No, but how much do they want for the railway signal?" A month later we got a phone call to say, "$500". It was in a pretty dilapidated state but Eddie thought $500 was really cheap, so it's been in our garden ever since. Actually the signal makes the studio look like a signal box or some other station building - I hope Eddie doesn't want to use it for a model railway room...........nah, it's mine now, I've waited all my life for something like this!!!

96 Cream Blocks

My DH reckons that I need at least ninety-six blocks for a queen sized quilt - that is eight rows of twelve blocks.  I have made all the blank fabric blocks that are now waiting for embellishing with lace, beads, stitching and silk ribbon embroidery.  Here is a photo of sixteen completed blocks laid out on our dining room table.  I've finished twenty now which means that I only have another seventy-six to go!!!!

Cream-on-Cream Quilt Blocks

This was the first time I mentioned my Cream on Cream crazy quilt blocks.  I think that I have completed twenty blocks now.  When I posted these photos, I had used a lot of gold metal charms which I am now gradually changing to gold embroidered motifs.  There is no way that I can ever clean the charms if they tarnish without ruining the cream fabrics so they are all coming off to be replaced by various gold threads.

Wednesday 27th July 2005
Cream on cream crazy quilt blocks.
I have been working on culling my stash in the nicest possible way. I had a large box of white, ivory, cream and antique cream coloured fabrics and another large box of antique lace pieces which have been gleaned from old garments, antique shops, eBay purchases and some that have been given to me. It seemed a shame to have them all squashed up together in a box so I am going to make a quilt for our queen size bed. My husband measured out the blocks and decided that I need to have twelve rows of eight blocks - that's ninety-six?? so far, I've completed ten! I should mention that any fabric pieces which appear to be a greyish colour or have what appear to be black threads running through them are in fact cream and threads are metallic gold. I will also do a tiny bit of gold metallic embroidery to liven up some of the blocks. At the moment, I'm not doing any embellishment or embroidery but I'm collecting cream coloured threads including two wooden reels of 1920s Pearsall's rayon embroidery thread. Here are the first four blocks using my favourite pieces of antique lace.

Tuesday 31st Dec 2013
Here are photos of some of the cream blocks. Please ignore the metal charms as they are not staying there.  I am amazed at just how many shades of cream there are - ranging from ivory to deeper shades of milky coffee colour.
Block 1 

Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Block 8

Block 9

Block 10