Monday, 22 October 2012

Softie Cutie

Last week I completed my latest softie, Lamkins, designed by Pauline from Funky Friends Factory. I wanted something soft and cute for my cousin for her 18th birthday present & this pattern was just the ticket.

My version of Lamkins

I'm really happy with the way she turned out but boy, did I have some tough moments with her. Thanks to my pregnancy brain I kept sewing pieces in the wrong spot! ... and it took me quite a while to get my head around how to attach the ears. Eventually I worked it out though.

This is the first time I've made a softie with polar fleece and I really like how soft and cuddly she is. I definitely think I'll use this type of fabric again.

Happy stitching everyone.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Quilting Heaven Part 3

Wow, it's been a huge few weeks at work and home. Hence the delay in putting up part 3 of our quilting retreat...sorry.

As I mentioned in my last post, Mum's 2nd workshop was with Leesa Chandler. The mission was to make 2 of Leesa's bags and Mum absolutely loved it. She found Leesa very inspirational and enjoyed using her Under the Australian Sun fabrics.

Hard at work on the internal bag construction

The detail added to the sides of the bags was fiddly but fun (please note, I'm not sure which one is Mum's bag and which was Leesa's sample - can't check with Mum at the moment)...

Suffolk puff flowers

Ruched bottle brush

Gorgeous flannel flower (?)

Mum loves the fabric range so much she has bought more, and I have to say I love the range as well. Leesa has recently released the 2nd range, Under The Australian Sun II, and I believe there has been a limited re-release of the first range in Australia only. You can check both ranges out on Leesa's website.

The workshops were not the only wonderful thing about the retreat. Berrima Patchwork put on some wonderful food (morning tea, lunch & afternoon tea each day) and gave us some lovely gifts for attending the retreat. They also put on 2 major dinners, the first being a Xmas in July dinner and the 2nd being held at a local italian restaurant, which were absolutely fantastic with way, way too much food. 

They were well supported by their suppliers and were able to provide a huge range of giveaway prizes at the major dinners. Mum and I were both lucky enough to win a prize. Mine was a jelly roll of Xmas fabric which I love as Christmas is one of my favourite times of year!

My gorgeous prize pack - I was so lucky! 

You can't really see them but the fabrics are beautiful

We also had the opportunity for an exclusive shopping opportunity at Berrima Patchwork's store and bought some lovely fabric for some sort of future project :-)

And, of course, there were the amazing tutors that provided the workshops and instruction throughout the retreat...

The tutors - (L-R) Leesa Chandler, Carol Doak, Michele Hill, Sue Dennis and Melinda Bula

So all-in-all we had a fantastic trip with some wonderful experiences and lots of new friendships made. Berrima Patchwork have now announced the dates and tutors for their 2013 retreat. If anyone would like to see more photos and info on our 2012 retreat, or is interested in trying them out next year, you can find out more on their website and blog.

Well, that's it from me for now. I'll try not to leave it so long next time.

Happy quilting,

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Quilting Heaven - Part 2

Now, back to the story of our wonderful quilting retreat...

The second workshop I undertook was Sue Dennis's Opal Fever workshop. Sue is an amazing Australian designer who uses a range of different techniques and tools to create her fabulous quilts.

Sue talking about how she creates her quilts

The workshop participants had the option of creating either Sue's Opal Fever quilt or her Opal Necklace quilt. I chose the Opal Fever quilt (see below). The Opal Necklace quilt can be seen to the left of the big quilt in the above photo.

Sue's Opal Fever Quilt

We started out by preparing our fabrics that would be used to create the opals. Sue showed us how to use oil sticks and homemade rubbing plates to add 'glinty bits' to our fabric. (Sue was very big on technical terms :P) 

Sue demonstrating how to use oil sticks

Sue recommends using the 'Shiva' brand of oil sticks and the ones we used were iridescent. This is how my first 3 pieces of fabric looked after I added 'glinty bits' and heat set them by ironing between pieces of Glad Bake.

Tracy's fabrics with oil stick markings

We then added Vliesofix, cut out our opal shapes and laid them out on our backing fabric as per the pattern sheet. This is where I got up to at the end of the first day but there were several ladies who had actually attached their opals in preparation for day 2.

The next day Sue showed us how to use quilt basting spray to temporarily hold our quilt top, batting and backing together while stitching. Most of us wore masks during this process, due to the chemical spray, which made for a funny photo. Unfortunately I don't have a good one to show you.

I spent the first half of day 2 placing and securing my opals to my background fabric. This is what it looked like at this point (and still actually looks like now)...

Tracy with quilt top half done

I then had to make a small sample quilt swatch from left over fabric so I could have a go at the stitching technique. However, before I had a go at stitching I also had to create some 'glitzy bits' (more technical terms) with Angelina fibre. These were used to highlight portions of the opals and create some shine.

We used the 'organic shuffle' (again with the technical terms) to secure the opals and Angelina fibre (if added) to the backing fabric. We then used some meandering free motion straight stitch to create the opal 'veins'. I was extremely happy with my sample quilt swatch. This is what it looked like...

My sample quilt swatch

I then took some time to create some further Angelina fibre 'glitzy bits' to take home with me to finish my quilt top off. It was very obvious by this stage that I would not finish the quilt top before the end of the day. I did, however, have about half an hour left and I was determined to at least stitch my main opal shape to the quilt.

Unfortunately my sewing machine had other ideas. My poor old machine had been overworked (it hadn't done that much work in 4 days in the whole 17 years that I've owned it!) and it decided it had had enough. We were using rayon threads for the 'organic shuffle' and during the last 1/2 hour my thread snapped 4 times until I eventually gave up trying. (It has now had a service so I am hoping to get back to my quilt top in the next couple of weeks.)

Sue was also generous enough to show us some additional techniques during the latter part of the workshop. These included using oil sticks with store bought templates as rubbing plates and using Lumiere fabric paints with the same templates. All in all we came away with a 2/3 finished quilt top and a huge range of new knowledge, techniques and experience in our repertoire. It was a fantastic workshop!

If you would like to check out more of Sue's work and travels you can visit her blog here. She also has a picture of all the workshop participants holding up their quilt tops in her post dated 1st August.

Well, that's it for part 2 of my retreat recollections. In part 3 I will show you some of the work Mum did in her workshop with Leesa Chandler. Until then, happy stitching.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

A New Treasure

Today I'm linking in with Melody's Tuesday Treasures at her blog 'The House on the Side of the Hill'.

My treasure is my new favourite tool for quilting - the 'Add-a-Quarter Ruler'. This amazing little ruler makes it incredibly easy to cut even seams when paper piecing!

We were introduced to this little beauty by Carol Doak at the Quilting in the Highlands retreat that we went to recently. It was created by a colleague of hers to allow quilters to easily add a quarter inch seam to patterns, but Carol worked out how to use it for paper piecing. Combined with a straight edged postcard (a little trick Carol showed us) it certainly made our lives easier when piecing together our sections in the workshop.

Happy stitching,

Monday, 6 August 2012

Quilting Heaven - Part 1

As I mentioned in my previous post, Mum and I spent 4 wonderful days at the Berrima Patchwork 'Quilting in the Highlands' Retreat last week. We had an absolute ball! 

After getting back into the swing of our regular lives and recovering a little from the time difference (and exhaustion of 4 intense days of stitching) I have finally found some time to share some of our memories and photos with you.

After a 4:30am start we flew to Sydney on the Friday with our 5 suitcases, 2 handbags and a camera bag (no, we don't travel light!). Both of us had to bring our sewing machines so 2 of the suitcases held these. We were a bit stressed about how they would travel but they travelled just fine (thank goodness). Unfortunately the taxi that was sent for us broke down on the way, so we had to wait an hour for another one. We then had an hour and a half drive to Mittagong RSL and the Springs Motel where we were staying. We arrived very tired but excited.

We had both booked in for 2 x 2 day workshops. The first one we were doing together - Diamond Delight with Carol Doak. Carol is a well-renowned US quilter who specialises in Foundation/Paper Piecing. Berrima Patchwork were extremely lucky to get her on board as a tutor as she is doing very little travelling these days. 

Carol Doak with her sample 'Diamond Delight' quilt.

Carol was a lovely, lovely lady, an absolute character with a fantastic sense of humour! She was an excellent tutor and shared a wealth of knowledge, hints and tips which made us feel that we could take on any paper piecing project and accomplish it with ease. 

Day 2 and hard at it!

Mum and I were pretty much the slowest in the class as we are fairly new to quilting and were complete novices at paper piecing. However, early on the 2nd day we had finally finished our centre blocks. Even though we were novices, Carol's instruction and support had us both completing perfect points!

My centre block

Carol with Mum holding her centre block against Carol's sample

Carol then had a great idea to lay all of the centre blocks created by the group on floor of the workshop room. Amazingly, even though there was a huge range of fabrics involved, you could have easily created a quilt just using the centre blocks, with a bit of tweaking. Carol commented that it just goes to show once you get more than 10 fabrics in a quilt, any colours will go together.

Centre block composite

At the end of day 2, several people had completed their quilt tops. Mum and I had finished placing and stitching all of our 'A' and 'B' sections so that all we need to do now is stitch it all together. We left Carol's workshop having made some lovely new friends and gained a huge amount of inspiration.

Group photo at the end of the workshop

After a lovely dinner at the RSL club we retired to our room to relax, relive the highlights of the workshop and start thinking about the next workshop. We took the opportunity to lay out our centre blocks, 'A' and 'B' sections, and remaining fabrics on the beds to see what our quilt tops will look like when they are finished. Can't wait to get stuck back into it when I get a free minute (ha ha)!

Preview of my quilt top

Preview of Mum's quilt top

We experienced so much at the retreat that it is not possible to fit it all into one post. So, that's it for now. Next time I will tell you all about my 2nd workshop, 'Opal Fever' with Sue Dennis. If you would like to find out more about Carol Doak you can check out her website here or her blog here.

Happy stitching,

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Quilting, quilting, quilting!

Mum and I have just finished the last day of our 4 day quilting retreat in Mittagong, NSW - Quilting in the Highlands organised by Berrima Patchwork.

We have had the most awesome time! We have learnt from some of Australia and the USA's best quilting teachers and made it at least half way through our projects.

Berrima Patchwork have announced their 2013 retreat details which will run from Sat 27th July to Tuesday 30th July. They have confirmed that their USA teachers for next year will be Sandra Leichner, Barbara Olson and Deb Karasik. Australian teachers to be confirmed soon. If you have any opportunity to get over here in 2013 we highly recommend it!!!!!!!

Can't wait to share lots of stories and photos with everyone when we get back to Perth.


Saturday, 14 July 2012

The Best Laid Plans...

Well, life can certainly throw you some curve balls! It turns out that the reason I have been feeling so unwell and tired over the last couple of months is that I am pregnant. 16 years after the birth of our last child my husband and I will be welcoming our next child into the world. A complete surprise but we are over the moon.

And now I have the chance to make lots of lovely baby things :-) ... once I stop feeling so tired that is.


Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Home is where the heart is

You may have guessed from my blog title that I love the Australian outback. We have some of the most beautiful scenery and places to visit in the world, often in places you would never think to look.

Take, for example, Marble Bar which has a reputation as the hottest town in Australia. During summer the temperatures get up to well over 47C and it is hot, dusty and full of flies. However, during winter it is a different story altogether. Here are a few pics from some of our visits to this beautiful area...

The Coongan River

The Coongan River, just down from Chinaman's Pool

Some of the gorgeous rock in Marble Bar pool.

I could go on all day and have thousands of photos I could show you. Suffice to say, the Pilbara will always be 'home' in my heart. 

We have also travelled around Australia by caravan. Here is just one of the many beautiful places we found on our travels...

Twin Falls, Northern Territory

The Australian outback, and particularly the Pilbara, is my Tuesday Treasure. To see what other people's Tuesday Treasures are, or to join in yourself, visit Melody at The House on the Side of the Hill.

Have a great week,

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Stitching with the Embroiderer's Guild

I joined the Guild for their Stitch Day today. It is essentially an open house, predominantly for new members to find out about the Guild but it is open to all members and prospective members.

Each Stitch Day has a focus on a particular stitch and today's was Straight Stitch. We had a lovely presentation from the Curator of the Textile Group showing us a range of work from the Collection that used only straight stitch. The display cabinets were also filled with works that used only straight stitch. It is amazing what can be done with just one single stitch and its multitude of variations!

We started a small project where we were shown different variations of straight stitch - a segmented leaf pattern with different stitches for the stem, edges and each segment. Unfortunately I had to leave early so only got 2 done but they were good fun - couching and a loopy stitch I think they called double threaded running stitch (which was beautiful). Once I do a bit more I will post a picture.

Happy stitching,

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Almost back on board

Unfortunately I have not been very well for the last week and a half with a 5 day migraine followed by a mystery virus that has me feeling sick on and off throughout the day. Combine this with preparing to take on a new job at work and I have not had any chance to get on the computer at home. However, I did manage to drag myself out of bed today and go fabric shopping with Mum :-)

As a present for a significant birthday my wonderful parents are paying for Mum and I to go to a quilting retreat being organised by Berrima Patchwork in NSW later this year. We are very excited as you can imagine!

We will each do 2 x 2 day workshops while there. The first workshop we are both doing is 'Diamond Delight' by US quilter Carol Doak. The lady's at Carols of Midland were quite impressed that we were doing a workshop with Carol and were fantastic this morning in helping us choose fabrics. These are the fabrics I have picked for this workshop.

Quilt top

Backing fabric

The main patterned fabric for the top is absolutely gorgeous & Mum ended up buying some for her stash for a future project. It is a new range from French Dress which had just arrived in the shop. I'm sure it won't last long!

The other workshop I am doing is 'Opal Fever' by Australian quilter Sue Dennis. The picture for this looks absolutely stunning and I can't wait to do this workshop. Here are the fabrics I picked for this one.

Quilt top

Backing fabric

Mum's 2nd workshop is a bag with Leesa Chandler using her new 'Under the Australian Sun II' fabric range. You can check out photos of the projects on Berrima Patchwork's website here

Anyway, I am (hopefully) on the mend and will be able to get back to regular posting this week. Hope you all have a wonderful stitching week!


Wednesday, 18 April 2012

My Beautiful Babies

I am joining in with Melody at The House on the Side of the Hill for Tuesday Treasures today. My treasures are my...alright, our...beautiful puppy dogs, Jasmine and Leo.

They are Maltese Shitzus and they are just over 3 years old. I have had dogs most of my life and I just love the fact that they always give you unconditional love. Jas and Leo are just so excited to see us first thing in the morning or when we arrive home after having been out somewhere. It's nice to feel so loved!

Mind you, Jas is actually more like a cat 70% of the time. The relationship is all on her terms, she will only come to you or follow instructions when she wants to (and even then it's often reluctantly), and she sulks when she doesn't get what she wants. She is so cute though and it is absolutely worth putting up with this behaviour when she finally decides that she is going to curl up on your lap and keep you warm while you stitch. She loves, loves, loves chasing the ball at the park too.

Leo, on the other hand, can't wait to be your closest best friend and gets very jealous if Jas gets more attention than he does. This is his favourite toy and when we go to the park he just carries it around all the time, squeaking it. He often sits in my lap or close to my legs while I am stitching and is a great companion.

Hope you all have a great week.


Sunday, 15 April 2012

The right tools for the job

It is amazing how much easier it is to complete a project with the right tools. I have finally finished my soft toy camel, Buttons (aka Chrissy the Camel), but it took a while because I didn't have all the right tools to start with.

First, I ran out of toy fill. Luckily I was able to improvise and remove some from my niece's camel, which I will be able to replace before we stitch together again.

Then, I had to attach the legs with buttons. This was quite a tricky job and not helped by the fact that I only had doll sculpting needles to use, not the proper large doll needles. Picture this, my husband and I sitting on the couch late at night (after watching telly), him holding the legs to the body and squeezing them together so I could grab the needle on the other side (no mean feat), and me stabbing my fingers and thumb several times while trying to grab the needle. When finished, I had to undo everything as the front of the body was so squished that the camel looked anorexic! I would have laughed except my fingers were hurting and I was beyond frustrated. We put her aside and decided to try again after getting better tools.

(Note, it would also have helped if I had read the instructions properly instead of racing ahead in a gung-ho fashion. I actually should have attached the legs securely first and then added the buttons afterwards. This would have been much easier. A lesson learned for finishing my niece's camel!)

The next day I took a quick trip up to The Teddy Tree after work to get the right tools. Unfortunately I had to fight peak hour traffic and they were closed by the time I got there. More frustration! Luckily I had another project to work on that evening.

Finally on Friday afternoon I was able to get to The Teddy Tree before they closed and pick up a 3 pack of large doll needles. The Teddy Tree is a small shop in Mt Hawthorn and they have a fantastic array of bear fabrics, quilting fabrics, notions, teddy kits and completed bears for sale. They also have, I discovered, balls of DMC Perle 8 thread, mostly in variegated colours, which you can't get from Spotlight anymore. I will definitely be going back to stock up on some of these.

So, on Friday night I had myself a Friday night sew-in and completed my camel. It was so much easier with the correct size doll needle that I didn't need my husband's help at all (much to his relief). The ears were the next tricky bit. They took several goes and I was getting a bit worried because I didn't want the fabric to fray, but Fray Stopper helped me out a bit there. And finally, Buttons was complete...

Buttons in front of our beautiful Marble Bar rocks

A birds-eye view

Those tricky ears!

I am delighted with the end result and very happy to have her finished...and the lessons I have learned should make it easier to help my niece finish off her own version. 'Chrissy the Camel' was designed by Pauline McArthur of Funky Friends Factory and was featured in Homespun No. 86 (Vol 11.7). Pauline's blog can be found here. My heartfelt thanks to Pauline for such a challenging and beautiful project.

I hope you all have a great week of stitching.


Tuesday, 10 April 2012

I Love Magazines!

I have to confess, I am a magazine-a-holic. These are the magazines I currently 'collect'.

Some are purchased, some are free. I have been collecting for years. They are stashed...

next to my bed,

in the wardrobe,

in the cupboard,

next to my stitching chair...

... and various boxes in my parents' storage shed! 

I just can't help myself. I love all the gorgeous new patterns and projects and have a list a mile long that I want to create one day, and the delicious new recipes that I would love to make one day. Mind you, I have enough projects and patterns to keep me going for probably 20 lifetimes, and I doubt that I would be able to make every recipe I wanted to even if I made a concerted effort to cook 1 per day.

For all that, I still purchase them. I used to be an avid reader of books (and still like reading books) but when the kids were young I found magazines easier to pick up, read an article and put down again fairly quickly (read...while they were sleeping!). Now I like nothing better than curling up with my favourite craft magazines.

Currently my favourites are Homespun, because I love the stories/articles that go with each project, and Stitch, because the Embroiderer's Guild of England produces this and they have amazing articles on new techniques etc. that I would love to try.

I'm joining in with Melody at The House on the Side of the Hill today for Tuesday Treasures. Be sure to check out her blog and all the other wonderful bloggers who are participating to see what they are thankful for today.

Happy stitching!


Saturday, 7 April 2012


Well, it has been another busy week in the lead up to Easter and school holidays. Luckily for me my darling husband and children have been otherwise occupied for most of the last 2 1/2 days so I have had some free time on my hands!

I have spent a couple of days tidying and organising most of my craft supplies. I now have all my fabric sorted into boxes (3 altogether), my threads all in one place and most of my UFOs in 1 (large) box.  I also found a few tools (labelling pens, needles, scissors, etc.) that I have bought over the years and not quite taken out of the shopping bags. Oops.

The main thing I have learnt from re-organising is that I have way, way, way more UFOs than I thought I did! Some of them are almost complete, others have just been started and still others are patterns or kits waiting for the right time for me to start them. I will have to update my UFO list over the next couple of days.

I did get a bit nostalgic while sorting everything out. I came across some projects that I started years ago while a member of the Joondalup Embroidery Group. During that time my best friend had her first baby and to honour the occasion I made my first baby blanket. As Sheena had married into a farming family the blanket definitely had to have a farming theme. I can't remember which magazine held the pattern but here are some pictures of Sheena and Rourke with the blanket...

Now that all my supplies are organised I have been able to turn my attention to sewing. I have spent a blissful 3-4 hours this afternoon working on 'Chrissy the Camel' and she is coming together nicely. She will probably have a different name once complete because of the fabric I am using. She is a present for someone so I was hoping to finish her off today. However, I got so carried away with sewing her that I forgot to keep an eye on the time and did not get to Spotlight before they closed to get some more toy fill. Oh well, hopefully I will get a chance to finish her off during the week.

I hope you all have a wonderful Easter and a safe long weekend. Happy stitching!


Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Thanks to those that share...

...their knowledge, their passion, their experience, their hints and tips, and most of all their time. I am joining in with Tuesday Treasures at Melody's blog and my Treasure this week is the Embroiderer's Guild of WA. You can view their website here.

The Guild has over 500 members throughout the state and I have been one of those members on two different occasions. Previously I was part of one of the metropolitan groups and meeting with them every Monday was the highlight of my week. The lovely ladies who joined me helped to teach me and cement my love of embroidery and I developed friendships that still exist 10 years later.

Currently I am a lone member due to work and family commitments. I love to take advantage, when possible, of the workshops the Guild offers and am seriously considering undertaking their teacher training. I was also lucky enough last year to be able to join them for part of their annual retreat in beautiful Muresk. The skills, knowledge and experience of many of the ladies is incredible and very inspiring. I am forever grateful for their willingness to share.

See below some of the stitches I learned at a couple of the Foundation classes. These will (eventually) be turned into some lovely, useful items.

The Guild has an amazing collection of historical textiles and masses of information on all types of embroidery. They also have a library of approx. 2,000 books and a range of 'technique files' that they loan out to members who wish to learn a particular type of embroidery in more depth.

There is an Embroiderer's Guild in each state. I highly recommend checking them out if you are interested in stitcheries and embroidery as they are a wealth of knowledge. It doesn't matter whether you are a beginner or more experienced, there is something for everyone at your local Guild.


Monday, 2 April 2012

Finally some quiet time!

Whew! What a hectic week it has been. With school meetings, high workload, year 12 school ball and family commitments to attend to there has barely been any time for stitching.

However, as I worked on the weekend I was able to take some time off today. Yippee! Luckily for me Quintessential Quilts had a beginners hand quilting workshop on today so I was able to go and try my hand at it. Here are the results...


The wonderful teacher, Robyn, said I did pretty well for my first time and I was very happy with how it turned out. I did have difficulty getting the required 'rocking motion' but Robyn assures me this will come with practice.

I was also able to sneak in a little stitching on one of my table runner tops on one or two evenings last week and finished appliqueing the stars on while waiting at the doctor's this arvo. Now I just need some star trails and it will be ready to quilt. Here is a sneak peak...

Looking forward to my workshop in a couple of weeks so I can learn basic machine quilting and finish some of these items off.

Now, where did my gold thread go?...

Happy stitching,