Sunday, April 27, 2008

A little giveaway and a finish!

To mark 300 posts on this humble little blog, I am launching my very first giveaway! Leave a comment by Thursday night and Romily will help me draw the winner of a mystery prize :)

We've been busy since I posted last - 10 whole days ago. And I've been tired too. We've also been moving furniture - our computers and all the junk that goes with them from the top floor to the bottom floor, built a new chest of drawers for Rom (well, assembled would be more accurate) and moved the old chest of drawers, which doubles as a baby change table, up from our bottom floor to the top. All this physical work has tired me out! I guess that's allowed at 25 weeks pregnant!
I have also managed to squeeze in a little bit of quilting time, finally finishing 'Spring Breeze' - my little quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap - it'll be on its way to the US tomorrow. I am quite happy with how it turned out - although I am not sure I would have done such a complex quilt (for a beginner) if I'd realised how complex it actually was when I started:
  1. First time I've used organza/gauze over the fabric and under the quilting (centre panel)
  2. First time I've tried quilt as you go (and it was a bit rough)
  3. First time I've tried perspective
  4. First time I've tried a pieced border (not perfect, but hey!)
Click for a close-up of the effect the organza gives - quite effective! Learnt this trick at the Beth & Trevor Reid workshop I did recently...and the free motion quilting techniques!

Probably too many firsts for a 19 1/2" square quilt! Anyhoo, it's done now and I hope my swap recipient likes it - she asked for 'brights no pastels' and her favourite colours are lime, turquoise and purple. I'm thinking this meets those 'criteria'!
Click for a close-up of the quilting on the reverse side

I also finished off a dress I made for Romily, although my little model was being less than cooperative today, so that photo will have to wait. Meanwhile, you can see from this sequence of photos that Romily has taken to playing dress ups with her own clothes. There are four t-shirts and two pairs of track pants on in these shots. Goodness knows how she gets them on, but she is a determined little minx :)
I had some more wonderful mail during the week. The notecards I ordered from Doodlebug Gail arrived in super-speedy time from Canada - they are gorgeous! And one is on its way to the US! Talk about round-the-world mail :)

And the very, very generous Sarah over at Quilt Fabric Delights sent me a huge satchel of fabric she had left over from making clothes for her gorgeous girls. She refused to take any money for it - she said she'd be satisfied seeing it put to good use. I will make sure that happens!
We've also managed to do a bit of baking, with Romily loving helping me make these muffins. My goodness they are good! Jammed full of peach, coconut, white choc bits and brown choc bits. Yummo!Romily and I are continuing our crazy scrambled eggs tradition on Sunday mornings - experimenting with food colouring to make all different whacky coloured eggs. While they may look revolting (except to mad-keen Dr Seuss fans), they taste exactly the same! We still haven't worked out how to make blue eggs - the yellow in the egg yolk turns all of our combinations green! We tried for purple last week, only to end up with brown...hmmm, I definitely tried NOT to look that particular day :) So if you have any tips on how to make yellow into blue, please leave a comment!
Early yesterday morning (6.30am) we braved the cold and a pea-souper fog - our first for the year - to head down by the lake for the annual Canberra balloon festival. It was very cold and after an hour Rom was asking to go home...the balloons can't take off in fog, so it would have been a very long wait to see them take off. Fortunately we had hot drinks and some yummy muffins with us for breakfast - they helped, but it was still freezing!We also managed to squeeze in a visit to the biennial Queanbeyan Quilters show last weekend. I only took a few photos as I wasn't too impressed with the quilts I saw and my camera battery died anyway! But I'll save those photos for the next post...I think I've rambled on for long enough!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Ooooh good mail!

I came home to some wonderful mail yesterday!

First, there was my Four Seasons spring quilt from the lovely Tracy - very funny two Aussie gals making spring quilts in autumn! Look at the lovely tulip block - very spring indeed!
And Tracy spoiled Romily with some hair clips, hair ties, sticker ladybugs and a magnifying glass (which you can't see here as Romily has claimed it all for herself already!) all in a cute zippered bag. Thank you Tracy!

Then there was my fabric order from Virginia Quilter - yes, Very Hungry Caterpillar fabric. A centre panel x 2 and four metres of matching fabric. I am planning on making matching quilts for Romily and Bub#2 - a single bed quilt for Rom and a cot quilt for the baby. It's very cute fabric - the colours are exactly as you'd expect them to be!

Also last week a beautiful book arrived from the Book Depository - the Alabama Stitch Book. It's a wonderfully presented book that shows you how to recycle old t-shirts and make them into things of beauty. Lots of lovely ideas in here - and everything, I mean everything, is stitched by hand :-o - I was inspired to buy this after seeing it on Blair's Wise Craft blog. Gorgeous.
Finally, and by no means least, I have ordered some gorgeous quilty notecards from Doodlebug Gail. Get ye on over to her blog, where she's having a giveaway of some sample packs of her lovely cards. She's such a generous woman and now she has some fab notecards for you to buy and share with all your quilting buddies :)

No more progress on my Four Seasons quilt - better get a wriggle on! I have just been too tired to do anything. Tonight is the night - I MUST get that appliqué happening!!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Some Spring Breeze progress

LOL I just read over my last post...methinks I was a little too tired when I wrote it - not sure if it actually made all that much sense! Thank you all for your too-kind 'yummy mummy' comments - I just don't look too closely and I can almost believe it!

I was just cleaning up some photos in the huge photo gallery on my computer and came across photos of me pregnant with Romily - there are only two weeks (and three years) difference between due dates, so it's easy to compare how far along I was last time with how big my belly is now...I feel a lot bigger this time, but apparently I'm not! Gosh I was big from five months last time too! I can feel all my abs stretching up near my ribs and I know I've got a long way to go. At least I'm well past the half-way mark now :) I might even risk a side-by-side belly shot comparison one of these days!
I have made a bit of progress on 'Spring Breeze', my little quilt for the spring round of the Four Seasons Quilt Swap. I pieced and quilted the borders and was going well with the first two borders! I hand-stitched the back down where I joined the two quilted panels and all looked great. But then disaster - I had somehow mucked up my measurements and the two side borders were too long! I'd also mucked up the measurements of the corner blocks (which had already been quilted), and, because I'm doing quilt-as-you-go by-the-seat-of-your-pants (!), I had to 'unsew' the whole lot, remove one of the 'piano keys', get new corner blocks and sew the whole thing back together! Well, finally the borders are complete. I could really have done with some more practice in free motion quilting...I just hope my swap recipient forgives this novice machine quilter. Now to appliqué on the towels flapping in the breeze and then bind the whole thing. I hope to be finished by this weekend.

I've also started a little pinafore dress for Romily, which has some appliqué flowers and embroidery - that should be finished on/by the weekend too.

I've also realised something this past week. I have been taking classes and ordering more fabric (from Virginia Quilter - oh my! I'll post a pic when it arrives) as a way of procrastinating! I am a master procrastinator from way back and this is my quilty way of avoiding quilting! My 4SQS spring quilt has been a lot more work/harder than I'd anticipated, so I have been successfully avoiding more work on it by starting/imagining new projects!

This realisation dawned on me late Friday night when I was attending a 'strip' class at my LQS - they were basically teaching the class how to use a pattern designed for 2 1/2" strips, and flogging some of the fabric they were finding hard to shift! While there were lots of willing participants, I sat there realising I didn't like either the fabric or the pattern! I went with a mate from work and she had the same look on her face as I did! The class was a bit disappointing, as I think we were both there to learn new techniques and came away without much from it. I should have been at home sewing! We did both decide, however, that we were in love with Moda jelly rolls (which we fondled keenly in the shop after the class) and that we'd both find a way to use them! LOL - another project!

So, less time surfing online fabric stores and more time sewing is the answer here! Hear, hear!!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

I made something for me

My Year 8 sewing teacher would die laughing if she only mum is still laughing that I have actually made myself a dress. The last attempt was when I was about 18 years old. It worked out okay, but it stopped actually fitting oooh about 18 years ago! I was the most terrible sewing student at school (managed to break more than my fair share of machines) so my mother thinks it's a delicious irony that I'm 'sew into it' now :)

So, I bit the bullet, so to speak, and bought a pattern from Spotlight I'd walked past about 1000 times (reduced to $2 so I thought I couldn't go wrong) and grabbed 2 metres of semi-stretchy 'ocelot' fabric and went for it.

The pattern was surprisingly easy to understand and cut the fabric. The construction was also surprisingly easy, so from go (Sunday night) to whoa (last night) it took only a couple of hours. I finished it at 10pm last night and wore it work.

Here are a couple of touched up photos from my learner photographer husband :) (Thanks Carl for bearing with my instructions.)

Front on (I don't look so pregnant do I?)
And side on (NOW I look quite pregnant!)
I'm very happy with how the dress turned out. The hem's a little dodgy, but I know that would get better with practice. If I make it again I'll try to find some stretchier fabric, although I don't want to sacrifice weight - the fabric I chose is quite thick, which a) is much more forgiving to a lumpy, bumpy figure and b) is warmer!

Too tired tonight for spring Four Seasons quilting. BUT I promised myself I'd get the borders on tomorrow night. Hope to have some progress photos by the weekend.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Easy appliques a big hit

Howdy! Hope you all had or are having (for those of you in the North) good weekends. Ours was lovely. Got a bit of stuff done around the house in preparation for moving beds/cots around for our impending arrival (four months and counting) and got a bit of sewing done.

Pieced the piano keys for my swap quilt, although they're not attached yet, and put on the inner purple border. Will get the borders on and quilted this week and hopefully bind it over next weekend.
Once I was too tired to concentrate on that, I decided to applique some little tops I bought cheaply for Romily. For the elephant I just used a Clip Art image - perfect!Romily was in awe when she saw them! So much so, that instead of having her daytime nap we found her dressed in this outfit:
We never put her in that much pink - but she obviously likes it! Do you like the belt? I thought that was an especially nice touch. She is completely colour coordinated...a little 'Gold Coast' for my taste, but each to their own! Check out the size of the flavoured milk! She drank it in three sittings over one day...little wonder she wouldn't eat her dinner!

I also started to make a really easy stretch funnel dress for myself last night. First piece of clothing I've made for myself in nearly 20 years! I hope I don't mess it up!

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Four Seasons - spring sneak peek

I finally got started last night on putting together my spring quilt for the Four Seasons Quilt Swap.

Here's the design for the centre panel - my first attempt at perspective! It will be on a heavily quilted background of a sky and grass.Et voila! (Click for a close-up if you dare!)
I did some free motion quilting. It's not perfect, but with the towels/sheets flapping in the breeze appliquéd over the top, it will do the job! The centre has already been quilted, so this will be my take on the 'quilt as you go' method. Nothing like trying a few new techniques, eh?

I am going to do a thin first border in purple and then a second piano keys border in bright 'springy' colours. For me, nothing says spring more than sheets and towels drying on the line in a light breeze. Does it say spring to you?

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Lots of 'stuff'

Phew! We had a busy weekend, which left all of us exhausted, especially me - so much so that I took a sick day yesterday. I was feeling terrible, so, decided that it would be better for me to sleep and grump at home than be a royal pain in the you know where at work!

Over the weekend we went to the zoo, I went pattern shopping, got some crafty stuff for Rom, Romily and I baked some biscuits, I tidied up and rearranged Romily's room - including taking down the blackout curtain material from her windows - and bought one FQ for my Four Seasons Quilt project. Of course, all of that was procrastinating :) I haven't yet made a start on it yet, but will so this week :)
The biscuits turned out pretty well, considering we used PlayDo cutters - we didn't have any metal cookie cutters, so I went and bought some! Some of the duck heads were a little singed - a bit too small for my hot, hot oven :)
Romily's discovered the joys of a glue stick and miscellanea to make pictures...a study of concentration, no?

Something else we did was order a brand new bedroom furniture suite for Romily. It will be here in about four weeks, which is great, because we need to get her out of the toddler bed, and reconvert it to a cot up in our room. She is excited at the prospect of a 'big girl's bed' and I'm excited for her.Of course we had to go and order a Danish bedroom suite - which means we'll be up to our ears in Alan keys and impenetrable instructions! It's from the Tvilum-Scanbirk Jubee range. She had a great time climbing over the display suite at our local Harvey Norman's.

I also ordered a 'snap press' from Snap Australia. Retro Mummy kindly provided the link after I admired the gorgeous bubba bibs and clothes she's been making - go check out her blog :)

I think I'm going to be busy making 'stuff' for my little man, don't you?