Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Just like last year, we spent Christmas at home here in Canberra. At this time of the year, travelling so far to see family (either 800 km one way or 1400 km the other way) for only a few days is exhausting and ridiculous. For the last two weeks I've been flat out driving up Northbourne Avenue without some idiot wanting to kill me with his or her car, so I can't imagine travelling safely for such a long distance.

An idiot is how we found ourselves with unexpected guests for Christmas lunch. Our friends (not idiots) were on their way to Victoria to see their family on Christmas Day when they were cut off by another driver. They ended up totalling their car on a guard rail, but thankfully they weren't too injured apart from whiplash and seatbelt bruises. After the Mister drove in the pouring rain to pick them, their dogs and all their gear up from the side of the highway, they came back here and shared our lunch with us, because heaven knows I had more than enough food! I think we all counted our blessings that day. In the excitement I forgot to take photos of our lunch, but I can safely say that there was a lot of food, served on a lot of vintage Pyrex.

Since then there has been a lot of gardening, swimming and sewing. He's been gardening. I've been swimming and sewing. We picked 47 little nectarines off my tree and they are all delicious. I don't even know what day of the week it is. This staycation is really rocking my world and I can't believe I have another week off work (I think - I still don't know what day of the week it is).

Yesterday I made two A-Line skirts. Count them. Two.

Skirt #1

Excuse the poor photo- I'd already worn it riding to and from the pool, had it scrunched in the bottom of my bag whilst swimming, worn it in the car for an hour as we drove around town getting haircuts, and then made lunch in it. Plus I can't seem to keep still. I used the most beautiful Japanese linen given to me by Liesl and a Simplicity 5208 pattern. And no, I don't normally tuck my shirts in, but I wanted to show off the lovely yoke/waistband.

Skirt #2

Dress two is made from a navy blue linen blend that I have had in my stash for about 10 years, and Butterick 6841 which I'd had just as long. It was starting to look a little corporate as I made it up with all the darts, so I added details like an orange zipper and orange top stitching on the hem, side seams and waistband. Much nicer, and much more casual.

Contrast topstitching
Contrast zipper

Next on my list is a dress using Burda 8379, and another skirt using the fabric I bought from Tessuti's the other week. I'll report back!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

In the air there's a feeling like Christmas

Merry Christmas

Nineteen hours after my last post, the tree was up, the presents wrapped and posted, the cards written and posted and a Toy Society drop was made.

And now I can breathe. I'm looking forward to the next few days of longer coffee breaks and good spirits and finishing tasks off. I'm not looking forward to the fact that some people can be so cranky at this time of year (you'll note that I am ignoring the fact that up until yesterday afternoon, I was the cranky one in my neck of the woods).

And then from Thursday lunchtime I will have two weeks off to do nothing but, well, nothing. A lot of sleeping, a little sewing, a little gardening and morning swims and coffees with friends every day.

On the weekend I realised that there were a few boxes for socks that I hadn't listed in the Etsy store. If I can get online tonight (my ISP was out last night) I will photograph and list them. The bags are now listed! But the last day for me to post is Wednesday, I'm afraid. So you'll have to get your orders in by 10 pm AEST on Tuesday night to get your parcel otherwise you'll have to wait until January 6 for me to post it!

In the meantime, that's it from me! See you in the new year! And merry Christmas!

When Christmas is only 5 days away

Bunnies, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

When it comes to Christmas, I'm usually the most over-organised and excitable person you could know. I love Christmas. No, really. Love it. The tree goes up on the 1st, all the presents are organised and sent a week before they need to be there, and the baking and rumball-making is in full swing.

Not so this year. I have just been so busy with other things (including the market and that pesky day-job gig) that I haven't had time to put the tree up, buy presents (let alone send them) and work out what we are having for Christmas lunch.

Which is how I find myself still up at 12.35 am on Sunday morning, waiting for a fruit cake to finish cooking so I can go to bed. Christmas cards are currently sitting, half written, on the dining room table.

I did find some time last night to make up these little dudes. They look so relaxed lying there on the step. Gosh, I wish I was lying down right now... Anyway, Mustard Bunny Dude was given to a wee boy for Christmas earlier tonight. Red Bunny Dude is headed for a Toy Society Christmas drop sometime tomorrow.

In the meantime, I have just two more social occasion to attend and two more fruit cakes to bake. The tree will go up whenever and then I intend to relax. And sleep. Lots. Can't wait.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Roll up!

Buttontree Lane update

I've just updated my Etsy store with a heap of new sunnyboys and boxes. If you were after a unique Christmas gift, now is the time. These pouches aren't just for knitters and crocheters. You can use them for anything - lunches, notions, sewing projects, toiletries, overflow from your handbag, phone and iPod holder - you name it.

Plus there is free postage to Australia, always!

I'll be posting every day until Christmas, so if you purchase before the end of this week, you should hopefully be right for a pre-Christmas Day delivery.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

This little blogger went to market

Market stall at Manuka Childcare fete

My first market was so much fun! Unfortunately the crowds weren't there, but my friends came and visited (and bought!) and Michelle and I had a lovely day sitting, stitching, eating sausage sandwiches and lots of chocolate and talking to nice people. I was happy not to sell out, and very happy to just be sitting still for the first time in a fortnight. The weather was perfect. It was just a lovely day.

Of course I took my camera and took photos of us setting up, but then the camera was packed away and I forgot to take more photos. But our stall looked so pretty. Here it is being set up (we fixed the skewiff table cloths and mountains of boxes and cases, and put a screen up behind our stall shortly after). You'll notice the priority early on was finding a shady place to sit. We like to be comfortable, us Michelles.

Market stall at Manuka Childcare fete

Market stall at Manuka Childcare fete

I made way too many sunnyboys and boxes for sockses and most didn't even see the light of day, as there was no more room to display them. So we got creative and used the hooks I'd brought along.

Market stall at Manuka Childcare fete

I'll be photographing and listing stuff for my Etsy store tonight (hopefully), so if there's something you were after as a Christmas gift, keep an eye out.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

My creative space - to market, to market


It's been all systems go here at Buttontree Lane - I am participating in my first market this weekend. Nerves are jangling but I'm also super excited to be sharing a marquee with my friend Michelle from Poppy, Bean and Bloss. Not only is she super nice, but I get to die from the cuteness of looking at her Waldorf dolls and sock monkeys all day!

Boxes for Sockses

Anyway, every night after work I've been locking myself in the sewing room to pump out sunnyboys and boxes for sockses. These here are just some of them. I'm at that stage of wondering whether I have made too many or too few, but I get to play with fabric while I work out my dilemma. I love this job.

If you're in Canberra on Saturday and want to do some Christmas shopping with a handmade flavour, come by the Locally Made Fair and Fete at Manuka Childcare Centre on Flinders Way. I'd love to see you. It's on from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm and apparently the weather is going to be pretty nice! Phew!

See more creative spaces over at Kirsty's.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Summer photo #2

Hot afternoon, ice tea

Hot afternoon.

Face washed of grime and makeup.

I've changed into shorts and singlet.

A batch of peach ice tea is prepared.

Sit on the stairs.

Survey the burnt lawn.


Summer photo-ing along with Jodi.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How to forget life for a while

Moon over Elizabeth Bay

We've just spent a lovely few days in Sydney. Just the two of us, with no obligations to see anyone other than our bestie, and when it comes to her that is no obligation at all.

I walked up a beautiful leafy street in Eveleigh and visited the Finders Keepers markets, and left again with an empty purse and a head full of inspiration and ideas. We met up for lunch and got lost in a few hours of book shopping at Kinokuniya, and then we visited Tessuti's Fabrics in Surry Hills which was very husband-friendly with sofas and magazines.

We had dinner with our friend at the same place we'd had breakfast, and wondered at the magnificent magnolias on the street that were in bloom. We laughed and ate and drank and admired the view we've been enjoying at the same hotel for fifteen years.

Oh Sydney, I love you. But I love being back home just as much.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My creative space

Quilted and trimmed

I have my first market in nine days and I'm trying to maintain an aura of calmness and control. My day job is busier than ever, I'm going away for three days and my house looks like a cyclone went through it. Cyclone Michelle, that is.

I spent three nights machine quilting bags for the market, and last night I got to trim them all with my rotary cutter. It's very satisfying seeing the bags go from messy layers of fabric and batting to neat rectangles of cuteness.

It's even more satifying seeing them become useful little bags.

Play along with Kirsty!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Summer photo #1

Raindrops, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

It's the last day of Summer Spring, and we've been treated to cool temperatures and rain showers all afternoon. I took this photo during a sun shower. To me, tomatoes seem to come with the promise of warm weather - even though we've had a lot of warm weather in the last month or so. This week I'm happy for it to stay a little cooler, and for my tomatoes to keep getting their water from the sky.

This summer I've joined in with Jodi to post a photo of summer each Monday. As much as I don't enjoy the extreme heat of our Canberra summer, I do love everything else that comes with it, like swimming, Christmas and sitting under the elm tree. Can't wait.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

My creative space

My overlocker is back and it's fixed! Hooray! Not much sewing is happening at the moment though. I have a pile of fabrics to cut for sunnyboys, and this week a big box of vintage sheeting arrived courtesy of Cathy! . Lovely girl!

Oh, and an art folder from Poppy, Bean and Bloss. It's so clever and cute and practical, it really deserves it's own post.

I'm doing my first market (eeek!) in two weeks, sharing a marquee with Michelle from Poppy, Bean and Bloss at the MOCCA super fete and market in Manuka. Of course markets mean stock* and I have none, and I am busy or away for the next two weekends. Ooops! Wish me luck!

Head to Kirsty's for more!

* markets also mean being organised, having labels, having change, having a cashbox, props, bags .... and probably thousands of other things that I haven't thought of yet!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Getting some perspective

A month or so ago, a customer got in contact with me and made some very helpful suggestions for my Etsy store. She suggested that I include photos of the vintage sheeting I use as the lining for each bag, and also to include an item next to the bag so the customer could better relate to the size.

Apple for size #2

I thought they were both great ideas, and the search was then on to find a suitable item to compare size that everyone could relate to. I could use a cotton spool, but not everyone sews. If I used a jar of vegemite mostly the Australians could relate but not many other people. A ball of yarn? A lot of my customers aren't knitters or crocheters, so would they be able to work out what size I was comparing the bag to?

Apple for size

I ended up deciding on a medium-sized apple. Hopefully the concept of the medium-sized apple is the same the world over!

The shop has new stock and new photos in it. There will be more in the shop on offer once I get my poor, sick (and very old) overlocker back from the sewing machine repair guy. I haven't been able to sew all weekend and I'm getting a little twitchy, although thankfully the weekend has happened at a furious pace so the twitchiness hasn't been as bad as expected. Hopefully it's back with a clean bill of health very soon.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

My creative space - lunch duty

Lunch Duty, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

On most mornings my creative space is at my kitchen bench. Lunches are not my forte. I can't handle eating boring sandwiches, so I try and get a little inventive so I can enjoy my lunch and not be tempted to eat out most days.

A couple of years ago I got some Fit & Fresh containers - one a bento-style lunchbox, and the other a salad container. They come with ice packs which was handy when I rode my bike to work in the hot weather. Earlier this year I discovered a Flickr group for not only photographing your Fit & Fresh lunches, but all lunches! So exciting to see what people take to work for lunch ... although maybe that's just me. So most mornings I photograph my lunch and add it to the groups, because I'm a bit weird like that.

For more!

Edited to add - these are not kids' lunches. They're for me! I don't feed my children anything ... mainly because I don't have any.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can't sew - too busy being inspired

Handmade Nation

My copy of Handmade Nation arrived today. Thanks Justine!

I enjoyed watching it this time even more than when I saw it in Melbourne in March (and that was fabulous in itself, because Faythe was there).

I did feel guilty not attending to my sewing obligations. However I think the inspiration I gained was worth it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bean there, done that

Today I stripped six broad bean plants of their beans to make way for some more tomato plants. There are still ten broad bean plants standing.

Broad bean harvest

I spent the afternoon shelling them, but not all in one go. I'd sew for a bit, shell some beans, sew a bit more, shell some more, have a drink and a sit-down, shell. Repeat. It was kind of fun. Mind-numbing fun, but fun just the same.

I woke up at 6 am today, and not by choice. Bloody hayfever. I ended up in the sewing room, drugged to the eyeballs, and made a big effort on the sunnyboy sewing. By lunchtime I had eight all made, and that was with my usual Sunday swim-and-coffee in the middle of the morning.


Eight down, eight to go.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Amanda, Amanda, Amanda!

It's finished, and I love it.

Burdastyle Amanda

This pattern was a total pain in the posterior. Not only was the waist casing pattern missing, so were the instructions for the waist casing. On top of that the rest of the instructions were absolutely wretched.

My first attempt at this blouse took about 3 hours of sewing and millions of hours of pattern decipherment. But I love how it's turned out, and I will make it again because, dude, it will only take me 3 hours now I've mastered Burdastyle-speak.

Burdastyle Amanda

I made it in cotton voile in lieu of the recommended chiffon, because I live in Canberra and it's bloody hot here in summer and I need to wear cotton. I saw some pretty printed voile in the fabric shop today which will be perfect.

At the moment though any plans for more Amandas are on the backburner. Now that I can move the red thread off the sewing machine and the overlocker, I can finish off my sunnyboys. They are well overdue.

Burdastyle Amanda

Just let me cut that loose thread off first, OK?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

My creative space

Last weekend I was forced to stay indoors due to chronic hayfever, and I got a lot of sewing done as a result. But then the working week rolled around again, and the sewing table became the locals' dumping ground again.

Messy again

But never fear - this time it was my rubbish and I didn't let it get out of control. Five minutes after this photo was taken it was clean again and my projects sorted out. These are my two major projects for this week.

Ready to be made into bags

A monster batch of sunnyboys and boxes, already quilted, waiting to be sewn together and sent to Material Arts in Braidwood. Some will be for my Etsy store. The Ink and Spindle fabric which arrived yesterday will be made into some very nice bags indeed, but in the meantime I think it is too pretty to cut out and I'm just admiring it. Often.

Amanda blouse

My Amanda top. It's looking pretty good so far, and I only have a few more parts to construct and add on. But a big thumbs down to BurdaStyle's silly and illogical instructions. I've been sewing from patterns for 18 years and have never been so confused. The fact that there is a missing pattern piece (and corresponding instruction) from this pattern is not helping me at all. Still, it means the next Amanda top will be a heck of a lot easier to make, given I've wasted so much time already.

And as you can see on the chair in the first photo, I have a lot of mending to do too - four blouses and a pair of trousers need to be taken up. But those can wait until the weekend, I think.

Want more creativity?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

My creative space

Amanda, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

I've been a bit meh with sewing for others and for the shop and gallery. It's time to sew for me, I think. The weather has warmed up, and my mind is a-flutter with ideas of what I can make myself.

Enter BurdaStyle. My creative space today is what happens when I glue and sticky-tape 18 pages together to make one gigantic sheet. I'll wait for everything to dry and then I will cut out the pieces. I'm making the Amanda blouse in cotton voile. In red, of course. I hope it turns out OK.

You know where to go for more creativity. Go on.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Adventures in a Canberra Kitchen

Finally my broad beans are doing something, albeit wee little bits of something. It looks like I will have to leave them in a little longer than expected but that's OK. We found room for two tomato plants and we will plant another four plants when the beans have finished.

We have a public holiday here in Canberra today. It's actually called "Family and Community Day" and was a reaction by our local government to the WorkChoices legislation brought in by the last government which banned union picnic days. So the ACT Government, bless their little red socks, gave us a holiday that all, not just blue collar workers, can enjoy. This year I took the Monday off work too, so it's been a fun-filled four days, let me tell you.

It kind of sucks that the holiday happens on Melbourne Cup Day, as we miss out on a champagne and sweeps-filled boozeup at work while watching a horse race that I couldn't give two hoots about, but all that changes next year when the holiday moves to the first Monday of the school holidays, when the timing will just suck for children and their teachers. Plus next year it falls on my birthday, which is so nice. Thanks, government.

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, my broad beans.

See, yesterday I got this book in the mail - Chocolate and Zucchini: Daily Adventures in a Parisian Kitchen by Clotilde Dusoulier, a recipe book based on the blog of the same name. In a moment of good luck and fortune the book opened at the page with a recipe for Fava Bean and Mint Frittata, fava beans being the oher name for broad beans. So I made it.

Broadbean (fava) and Mint Frittata

Admittedly my beans were a little on the teeny side, especially by the time I'd double-shelled them, but the feral mint that grows near the back step was just fine. The frittata didn't rise as much as I would have liked, but next time I'll whisk the eggs more and bake it in a smaller dish.

And another photo, because food looks (and tastes) much better in vintage Pyrex.

Broadbean and Mint Frittata

And now another photo showing you the perfect lunch for the hot scorching days we've been having lately, and also proof that you can have salad without tomatoes, and lunch without bread. I mix together massive amounts of homegrown (feral) lettuce and snowpeas, some capsicum and carrots grown by someone else, and a can of flavoured tuna. Drizzle some balsamic and olive oil on top and lunch is served, ma'am.

Monster Tuna Salad

Zipper me this

This is the photo I took at 6 o'clock this morning, an hour after I got out of bed due to a bad dream that I couldn't shake. Don't you hate those? The bad dreams? Luckily it was nice and cool in the house after a couple of really hot days, so with a cup of coffee and the radio on I was a happy girl in my sewing room, dream almost forgotten.

I've just put my etsy shop on vacation for the next week or so. In case you are wondering what I am up to, don't worry - it's not permanent. I'll be back with new stock and better photos soon. I had to consolidate my stock and work out what I needed to make - with a request for bags for a school fete this Friday night, and also a re-stock of bags for Material Arts in Braidwood.

Speaking of Braidwood, the quilt event is on at the end of November. I haven't been for a couple of years, but I am going this year on Saturday, for the airing of the quilts. One year I might also enter a quilt into the show.

But of course, that would take some kind of organisation on my part.

I don't want to push it.

In the meantime I have 25 bags in various stages on unmade-ness that need my attention. Thank heavens for public holidays, hey?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

My creative space

Rhabarber and Rhubarb

My creative space this week is NOT in the rhubarb patch. I'm just showing off my rhabarber socks. But I have been working on these socks on the sofa when I get the time. I think I've come a-cropper in the instructions somewhere between the leg and the gusset, but I might have just worked out a fudge so it'll be OK.

I hope.

Take a look at other creative spaces, rhubarb-filled or not.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Things I learned on Wednesday

* You really can get a fever and chills with hayfever.

* Getting four parcels in one day is a huge thrill. I got my Sew Hip subscription with a Cloth Kit included; an enormous giveaway prize; some inspiring art from Etsy; and a Handyman magazine (the Handyman magazine was not mine).

* It makes me feel happy I see people being kind to each other.

* Curried sausages will burn if you leave them by themselves while you go outside and pick snow peas.

* I quite like Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

Monday, October 26, 2009

Things I learned today

Crabapple blossoms

* Rain does wonders for the garden. In the four Springs that we've lived here, the garden has never looked so good. It's also never look so weed-infested and overgrown, but we take the good with the bad around this place.

Broad beans

* Broad beans, when you give them a good talking to, can really pick themselves up. They get harvested in one week but still have a little way to go.

* People who make incorrect assumptions can often come off looking like a horses' posterior.


* Wollmeise, even when bought on behalf of friends, can be especially difficult to let go of when the colours are all so pretty. I never thought I wanted a pair of fuschia, teal, or even purple socks. Until today.

* Having a job outside the home both rocks and sucks. I love the company and the feeling of doing something good for the country. And the pay is a lot better than the alternative. But I miss my sewing room, my fabric, listening to the local ABC radio during the day, and watching Ellen during my lunch break.

And because it's Monday and because I still have a Brown Owls post to write tonight, here are some more garden photos.


Back garden in late spring

Thursday, October 22, 2009

My creative space - something new

Usable surface

My messy sewing table (here and here) has been finally sorted out and so I have given myself permission to start the Adirondack socks.

WIP - Wollmeise crocheted sock

Last night I babysat for a friend, and once the wee lad was in bed it was time for a cup of tea and some crocheting. I did quite a bit for my first night at it. I'm using Wollmeise, the colour is called Rhabarber (Rhubarb) and I'm in love.

Check out the other creative spaces.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Progress is in the eye of the crafter

With reference to my post last week, I have some progress to report.

a) Quilt row sewn, although I have still much more to do on it. For now, I need a little break from it. No photos, as I'm sure you all need a little break from it too.

b) Well, hello lovely red Malabrigo scarf, in all your unblocked glory!

Malabrigo scarf, unblocked

c) The sewing table. I'm not too sure I should be bothering. It's gotten worse, and now appears to have become the household's dumping ground. Half of this stuff is not even mine. The exercise band, for example? Totally not mine. The black plastic bag is holding a brand new men's wallet. And I'm not a man. Only one other person lives in this house and he is. A man. Just sayin'.

The sewing table gets worse

Will Michelle ever start her crocheted sock? Will the promise of New Yarn arriving soon for a New Project encourage her to clear off the sewing table? Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

My creative space - dream time

The new Interweave Crochet magazine arrived in my mailbox today. As usual a new issue arrives and I want to make most of what's in there. It's ridiculous. I'm ridiculous. But this time I've promised myself that I won't start anything new until:

a) I've stitched down the latest row on my quilt (ooh! done!)

b) I've finished the red malabrigo scarf which has been dragging on for months

Mess mess mess

c) I've tidied up my sewing table

Between you and me, I think a) and b) are more achievable than c).

And then I can start these, already posed with preferred yarn during an hour of dreaming and stash diving late this afternoon.

Blue Ridge cardi

Blue Ridge Cardigan in some strange khaki/donkey/grey colour, preferably without the added leaves. Perfect cardigan for this strange cold windy wet weather we've been having, but my sources (i.e. the Bureau of Meteorology) tell me it's going to be in the mid-20s by early next week, so I should perhaps hold off until early next year.

Adirondack socks

Adirondack Socks in a red/green variegated yarn. It feels like ages since I made any socks, and they would make the perfect portable project once I've finished the Malabrigo scarf.

More creative spaces here.