Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Washing day

Washing day, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

It was a rare 17 degree day, with a warm winter sun and a stiff breeze slowly building up to this evening's expected gale force wind warning.

A perfect opportunity to wash and dry the crocheted ripple rugs mum made years ago. I sat in the sun and watched the Hills Hoist twirl, and crocheted some granny squares.

A very nice day to not be working.

Tomorrow is expected to be raining, windy and 12 degrees - also a very nice day to not be working.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

On the farm it's rabbit pie day

On Friday I finished my first quilt in a year. I made it for a wee girl's first birthday, so I didn't want to show it off here until she'd received it.

Bunny quilt - close up

I used a stitchery pattern from Bronwyn Hayes' book "Sunshine in My Pocket". I had actually stitched this many years ago, and found it again the other day. My original intention had been to border it with 1930s reproduction fabrics, using similar colours to the stitchery. So that's what I did.

Bunny quilt

I cut a couple of one inch strips from 6 different fabrics, sewed them together and then trimmed them into 2.5 inch "blocks" which I then sewed together again to make up the borders. I added a cute lilac tulip print for the corner blocks, and machine quilted it very simply in the ditch around the stitchery, and then in even lines around the border.

A label is always attached to the quilts I make. I'm usually hopeless at labels, but I have a little helper. It's a book of iron-on transfers for quilt labels. I iron the print onto homespun, and then lay the fabric on a sandpaper board and draw over the print with fabric pens, and then I feel really clever.

Bunny quilt - label

I've got the quilting bug again. And this is what is so nice about not currently working - having the time and freedom to dream and play. I wonder what I'll make next?

Friday, June 26, 2009

Oh happy day!

A while ago, my very clever friend Cathy suggested we do a swap - a box for socks for something she'd created.

I told her to surprise me. Today I got my parcel, and it was more fun than Christmas! It was one of Cathy's tinnies! I was seriously impressed, and I suspect Cathy might know me better than I thought she did.

First up we have the tin - it's old, red, oval and it's got a beautiful picture of magnolias, one of my favourite garden flowers.

Tinnie #1

Oh my goodness! Orange!

Tinnie #2

And here's where I fainted from the beauty.

Tinnie # 3

A variety of vintage sheeting in oranges and yellows. Vintage Sheridan canvas weight fabrics in browns and oranges. Broderie trim. Lace trim. Crochet thread in varous shades of bone. And vintage (sigh) buttons.

Thanks so much Cathy. You have totally figured me out. I had no idea that so much excitement and happiness could be gained from a simple tin box!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

My creative space

I am so excited about my sewing this week!

I have a new design of Buttontree Lane purses waiting to be sewn up. I just love the elephant fabric. I love it so much I want to buy squillions of metres of it and cover my sofa in it. And make a skirt out of it. Except I don't wear skirts. Or pink. It's a quandary, I tell you.

And I'm making a little quilt out of the embroidered panel. It's a Brownwyn Hayes design that I embroidered years ago. I found it in one of my UFO boxes the other day, and thought it would be perfect teamed up with 1930s reproduction fabrics for a little girl's doll quilt.

Want to see more creative spaces? Go on! Be inspired!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Keeping warm

Big ferris wheel on the Brisbane River

I'm a bit out of sorts. The other person who lives here would tell you that I've got my cranky pants on. I don't know why. Maybe it's because I've still a bit sick from the tonsillitis and flu that I've had for the last two weeks. Kind of like the burnt bits on the BBQ that you can never scrape off - that's me and my sore throat. Or perhaps it's because I've just spent three wonderful days in warm, albeit wet, Brisbane celebrating Dad's 70th birthday with the rest of our crazy extended family.

And now here I am in cold, wet, foggy Canberra and I am really, really missing Queensland.

Anyway, onto happier things. I finished my hot water bottle cozy late last week and it is totally the bomb, as the young 'uns say. Fer shiz.

Hot water bottle cozy

I used the orange bias binding, and orange buttons, all vintage. I'm distressed that my vintage button collection isn't as big as it used to be. That happens when you use your collection, I suppose. I'd better get collecting again.

Maybe I'll do a tutorial for the cozy - how to make this was in my head so long it would be a shame not to jot it down in writing.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

My creative space

There hasn't been much creating this week, but today I rustled up enough energy and enthusiasm to start making a quilted hot water bottle cosy out of vintage pillowcases.

Teal or orange bias binding? I am sometimes crippled by having to make such simple decisions like these.

A couple of weeks ago, a few people commented on my 'tidy' space, and asked if it was always like this. Well, it is when I'm using the sewing table - I can't sew anything if it is full of clutter, mainly because clutter is a plug to my creativity, and have you ever tried to sew anything when there is crap everywhere on your space and machine? So before I sit at my sewing machine, I clear everything off first. And usually put it on the floor (kidding).

Want to see more?

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Down roads

Track, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

Am quite ill. Cannot speak and the natives are overjoyed. There is a well worn track on the floor between my bed and the tea kettle.

I've been dreaming delirious dreams of bright colours, yarns, granny squares and Masterchef. Must be the drugs.

Accepted offer of old job. Also must be the drugs.

I don't think these drugs are very good.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

International jetsetter arrives in Canberra

I've had a very special guest stay with me in Canberra this weekend. It was a bit intimidating, really. She is gorgeous, her makeup is perfect, and she's fashion obsessed, having spent the last 12 months visiting fashion designers from Japan to Europe, the US, Asia and now Australia.

Her name is Coco Moon. Poor little thing - she arrived smack bang in the middle of a cold spell, direct from steamy Hong Kong. But today she rugged up in appropriate (but fashionable, of course!) clothing and I took her for a tour of my town, man-flu and all. It was a bit cold and blustery but we planned for refreshments along the way, and I had a wonderful time showing her the sights of what I think is a pretty special part of the world.

First stop - Parliament House. Check out those gorgeous blue skies!

Coco Moon at Parliament House

Coco Moon really wanted to see the Vanity Fair exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, but wasn't impressed by the banning of photographs inside the exhibition. So we decided not to go inside.

Vanity Fair exhibition

(I suspect she thinks she might make a good model for a future issue.)

We walked down to Lake Burley Griffin. I love the south side of the lake. We sat on the lake wall and soaked up the winter sun.

Basking in the Winter Sun

Despite the sun, we were starting to freeze through and through. We had a lovely cup of hot chocolate and some apple crumble at Tilley's.

At Tilleys

Coco Moon was impressed that the girls at Tilley's had a Blythe-sized cup for her hot chocolate!

With fingers and faces warmed up, we changed into our hiking gear and headed up the slopes of Mt Majura.

Coco Moon bushwalking

Any international guest in our house gets taken to the bush so they can see some wildlife and smell the eucalypts. We were lucky today, and got to see some kangaroos!


Coco Moon leaves for Japan tomorrow - even though her stay has been super-short, I'm really going to miss her.

You can see some of her other travels over at Flickr and on her blog.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Oh dear - I have the man-flu and it's bad. I was going to go on a couple of walks in the bush this weekend, and swim tomorrow as usual, but all that is off now. I am just going to wallow in my own misery and eat dry toast and drink lots of tea, all preferably made by someone else.

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On Wednesday I flew to Sydney to see the Craft and Quilt Fair. And then 12 hours later I flew back home.

As most of you have worked out by now, quilting is my first love, But I have been out of the loop for so long I was risking being left in the dark ages with techniques and new fabrics! I haven't been to a quilting class in years, and earlier this year I was so busy with work that I didn't find time to rejoin Canberra Quilters, and now I can't enter anything in the quilt show (not that I would have had anything to enter ...)

So going to this show was sheer extravagance, especially given that I'm not working at the moment, but it was also a bit like quenching a really terrible thirst. Thirst hereby quenched - mission accomplished.

I went to the Material Obsession stand and gasped over their Harperville quilt, but didn't buy it until late in the afternoon. I couldn't stop myself, and neither could my credit card.

Harperville quilt kit

And before you think it's just "any" old quilt, let me show you what is inside the kit.

Flannels! In tweed designs!

Flannel fabrics with tweed designs. I was a goner the moment I saw that. I love the feel of flannel quilts, but some of the designs in the last few years have been a little ordinary, in my opinion - over printed, over dyed and not at all "cuddly soft". This tweed flannel is beautiful - soft, well dyed and lovely.

I attended a workshop on how to use "Jelly Rolls". I'd seen this term used on the SCQuilters forum, but had no idea what or how. Basically it is a group of fabrics (usually 40 different ones) cut selvedge to selvedge into 2.5 inch strips and presented in a roll. Like this.

Batik jelly roll

I bought this from the Tulis Textiles and Kiwi Quilts stand. I have the special "tube" ruler and I am itching to get started.

While at the same stand I was stopped in my tracks by the Abundant Ferns Quilt they had on display.

Adundant Ferns pattern

So I bought the kit for that too. Ooh, pretty batiks.

Batik quilt kit

I went to the quilt show too, and was amazed at the 400 odd quilts they had on display. I could have spent hours there. Actually, I did. The quilts, particularly by the amateurs, were incredible. I applauded every time someone was brave enough to make a red quilt. I took lots of photos, but as the rules prohibit me from blogging them or putting them on Flickr, I'll just send you over to the special awards, and amateur, professional, open and junior winners.

My day away was made even more special by meeting up at the show with my dear friend Kali from Hobart. I first met Kali when she lived in Brisbane and I used to go up there for work all the time. Kali used to pick me up from the airport or my hotel and take me shopping or quilt-showing or to dinner. It was so nice to see her again. Later in the afternoon I met up with Patricia at her work and she took me out to a very flash winebar for dinner , before she rolled me down the stairs at St James station to catch the train to the airport.

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In shop news, I'm pleased to announce that all Australian orders now have free postage! FREE! I'm sure you are as tired as I am with the yo-yoing dollar, so I figured this might take some of the pain out of having to deal with the USD side of Etsy.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cold day in the city

Boxes for Socks, originally uploaded by quiltingmick / michelle.

It was an exceptionally cold day in Canberra today - it only got to 4.1 degrees Celsius, and it was the coldest June day time temperature since 1966.

It's just not feasible (or sensible or environmentally or fiscally sound) to keep the central heating on for one person in a four bedroom house during the day, so I switched the heating off, closed the sewing room door, cranked up my little oil heater, tuned the radio to local ABC, and sewed and sewed.

Next on my list is sewing a quilted hot water bottle cover using some pink elephants fabric. I think it's the right weather for thinking about making such a thing, don't you?

But first I'm going to put on every piece of clothing I own and head outside for a walk. Wish me luck that I don't get frostbite or chilblains!

Monday, June 8, 2009


I'm waiting for these socks to be finished, so I can start crocheting something new (and continue ignoring my WIP pile).

Socks in progress

I'm waiting to find the perfect pattern in my Kaffe Fassett books so I can use this glorious pile of KF fat quarters I bought years ago. This is my latest Kaffe book, which arrived last week courtesy of Hyena in Petticoats. It's a wet and gloomy day here, but the cover of the book makes it seem almost sunny.

Kaffe Fassetts' fabric and book

I'm waiting to think how best to deal with this sock yarn, hand dyed by (again) the lovely Hyena in Petticoats. It's the colour of the lichen on the old roof tiles of the inner north where I live, and I think a very nice pattern is in order.

Hyena in Petticoats

On Wednesday morning I'll be waiting for an airplane to fly me away, just for the day. It's such an extravagance, but I still haven't rewarded myself for surviving through the busy times at work. I always meant to get a pedicure, so I think this little trip will be a very nice (albeit much more expensive) substitute.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

My creative space - now with more heart

All year I have been enjoying seeing the creative spaces of other crafters, thanks to the meme organised by Kirsty over at Kootoyoo. Knowing that I was not going to be working for the next few weeks, I figured my chance had come - I would have the time during the day to take a photo of my own creative space.

Which is why this photo was taken in the dark.

My creative space (now with more heart)

Kirsty's challenge at the moment is to hide a heart in your photo. But as a person who prefers to state the bleeding obvious ... well, I just couldn't help myself.

I've got a couple of bags for custom orders on the go at the moment. At the back of my table is a pile of quilted and overlocked bits, ready for their turn with the zipper foot.

At the bottom left are the fabrics I bought today when I went for a little jaunt to my not-so-local quilting store. Elephants and bicycles, which I love. No, not on the same fabric, but wouldn't that be fun?

Want to see more creative spaces?

How to relax #1

There's been a little bit of this, using Pip's recipe.

Chocolate cake

Eaten during the Farside Quilters' meeting at my house on Monday night, but there's still some left over. Lucky, lucky me!

I've also been taking in the beauty of a winter garden, cold and soggy after a day and two nights of rain. Most of the deciduous trees are now bare, except for a couple of viburnums who are hanging on to their red leaves as long as possible. And it's hard not to smile at the berries on our Nandina domestica.

Most importantly, there has been a little bit of couch-sitting, rain-gazing, catching up on my beloved crime shows, and crocheting.

Socks in progress

And most importantly I've been learning to breathe again.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ode to Odette

Sewing machine

Over at Sew Mama Sew they are having Sewing Machine Month, and there is a meme to kick off with. I'm acually quite hesitant to answer the questions, for reasons that will become obvious as you read on. But it's important to get these life-traumas out in the open sometimes, don't you think?

What brand and model do you have?
I have a Bernina 153 QE. (I also have an old Elna Lotus, a little Toyota workshop machine, and a very old Janome MyLock 3 spool overlocker)

How long have you had it?
Since early 2004.

How much does that machine cost (approximately)?
It cost me about about (gulp) $2 400 when I bought it. It was part of a kind-of inheritance. My nana had passed away the previous August and my dad gifted some of his inheritance to both my brother and I. My money was to buy a top-notch sewing machine - Dad is a great believer in spending the money to get a good, reliable piece of equipment. I was very touched, I can tell you.

What types of things do you sew (i.e. quilting, clothing, handbags, home dec projects, etc.)?
Quilts, pouches, bags, doll clothes, human clothes.

How much do you sew? How much wear and tear does the machine get?
During a normal working week I sew about 4-8 hours a week. Given than I'm not currently working, I'm probably sewing 10-20 hours a week. Just since Sunday I've sewn for 7 hours.

Do you like/love/hate your machine? Are you ambivalent? Passionate? Does she have a name?
Oh, I named her all right. When I first got her, she was never quite right. She jammed the threads, she didn't like chain piecing, her bobbin was obnoxious. She hated machine quilting. I named her Odette so that she might buck up a little. I took this blasted machine to the store I bought it from, they changed a few parts around, and still she wouldn't work properly. The store owner drover her to Sydney to the Bernina people, and nothing. The whole episode had me in tears - I was frustrated, and very distraught that my dad had given me the money to buy a machine that was supposed to make my quilting adventures so much more enjoyable, but it wasn't enjoyable at all.

Sewing machine - flood January 2006

On New Years Day 2006, we woke to find that the sewing area of the dining room was flooded by a broken sprinkler that was spurting through the open screen door. Odette was saturated, dressmaking patterns were dripping wet, magazines and books were ruined, and quilts were sodden. Scott spent hours drying hundreds of half hexagon quilt pieces with a dry iron. The sewing machine however wasn't touched for weeks for fear of electrocuting myself. I waited for it to dry out, and I called my trusted machine mechanic (i.e. not the shop) Within a couple of days he had it back, had given it a clean bill of health and *gulp* fixed it.

He swears he didn't do anything to it to fix it, but I've had hardly any jamming or quilting problems with it since.

(How's that for a long and drawn out answer?)

What features does your machine have that work well for you?
I don't think this is a perfect machine. It hasn't ever delivered what it promised, and I don't think I could ever be fond of it. it Doesn't stitch very evenly, it complains about thicker fabric. It's a pain in the arse, to be honest.

Is there anything that drives you nuts about your machine?
The automatic magic-eye buttonhole? Not so magic, or automatic for that matter. I think it's broken.

Do you have a great story to share about your machine (i.e., Found it under the Christmas tree? Dropped it on the kitchen floor? Sewed your fingernail to your zipper?, Got it from your Great Grandma?, etc.!)? We want to hear it!
See the part about how much I hated my machine, above.

Would you recommend the machine to others? Why?
I won't normally recommend any machine to anyone. I do tell them they need to take in a swatch quilt, or fabric they like using, into the sewing machine shop and spend at least an hour with that machine to see if it suits them and the way they sew. I also tell them to tell the sales person to BACK OFF.

What factors do you think are important to consider when looking for a new machine?
It has to suit you. It has to work the way you work. Go for a workhorse if you sew a lot - sewing machine manufacturers apparently only factor on you sewing for 20-40 hours a year when they make the machine. That's crazy.

Do you have a dream machine?
My old Janome MyStyle 28 was my dream machine. It cost $300 new but unfortunately didn't have drop-down feed dogs, pressure settings on the foot or needle settings so it was hard to quilt with. A machine that works and delivers would be my dream machine. I have heard great things about the Husqvarna long throat sewing machines, but I think I'm going to have to stick with this one for a lot longer yet.

Monday, June 1, 2009

And the winner is...

To be perfectly honest, the response was overwhelming! There were 491 comments, however only 484 counted as they got in under the deadline (which was 11 pm AEST Sunday). I read (and loved ) each one of your comments. There are some great imaginations out there, so thank you!

Unfortunately there can be only one winner, but if you still want your very own Box for Socks (or Box for Snacks/chocolate/meds/ladies' things/camera/bits and pieces) or even a Sunnyboy pouch, you can head over to my Buttontree Lane shop!

The winner of the Box for Socks is ...
Summers Designs! She makes the most beautiful quilts too, so go on over and check her blog out (and congratulate her!)

I'll email you shortly, Summers Designs, and will post your box bag out tomorrow.
Thanks everyone for entering! I hope you had a ball with the Giveaway in May.