Saturday, 19 October 2013


After a pretty hectic week I was quite tired last night so rather than sewing for Friday Night Sew In, I cut out most of the pieces for my next project.

These will be Christmas presents for little Miss M (floral fabric) and her cousin Mstr J (blue spotty fabric). I still have to find a coordinating fabric for Mstr J's softie for the snout and ears. I had the perfect one but unfortunately didn't have enough of it in my scraps. I can't wait to get sewing and see how they turn out!

Wombat Softies in progress
Even though it was a busy week I was lucky enough to be able to go to the WAQA sewing night on Wednesday and catch up with some of my wonderful friends. One of them, Tracee of Quilt Kitty Loves Life fame, was returning a book to the library which I pounced on as it looked very interesting.

The WAQA library has some fantastic books, of which this is one.
It is a fantastic book with some very useful tips around cutting up scraps ready for turning into lovely quilts and quilted projects. Luckily for me I am still fairly new to the quilting game so have not collected huge amounts of scraps yet. Maybe I will be able to get reasonably organised before I get too many bits and pieces.
We also enjoyed the show and tell session of the night. My other good friend, Phil of The Guilty Quilter fame, showed off 2 of her quilts which both won a 3rd prize at the Royal Show recently. She is an amazing hand quilter and appliquer, and her machine quilting is beautiful as well. You will be able to see some of the quilts that were shown off on the WAQA blog very soon.
If you would like to check out what everyone else did for FNSI you can visit Wendy's blog, Sugarlane Designs, here. I'm off to have a quick look myself now.
Happy stitching,
Tracy xx

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

A Wonderful Surprise!

Last month I joined in with Friday Night Sew In hosted by Wendy from Sugarlane Designs. A couple of days later I received a lovely surprise when Wendy e-mailed me to let me know I had won one of the prizes she had on offer that night. I was so excited as it was my first win since joining the blogging community!

Well, I have been waiting and waiting and waiting (not so) patiently and today my prize arrived. Hooray!!! Doing my happy dance :-). Look at the beautiful, bright fat quarters that Wendy so generously sent me, all wrapped up with this very pretty ribbon. Thank you soooo much Wendy, I can't wait to use them.

Friday Night Sew In (FNSI) is on again at Wendy's this Friday night. If you'd like to join in you can sign up at Wendy's blog. Who knows, maybe you could be the lucky winner of this month's prize!
Now, for all those readers out there, I thought I'd share what I'm currently reading. Some of you may already have discovered this series but I only came across it through an article in one of my magazines (Down Under Quilts, I think) earlier this year.
The series is 'Elm Creek Quilts' written by Jennifer Chiaverini. The first book I was able to get hold of, 'The Runaway Quilt' is actually number 4 or 5 in the series. I borrowed it from the library and took it to Marble Bar.

Normally I read horror (Stephen King, Dean Koontz), crime/thriller (Kathy Reichs, Patricia Cornwell, Tom Clancy, Michael Conway) or historical fantasy (Barbara Erskine) type novels so I wasn't sure whether or not I would enjoy a series about quilting. But after reading the first one I'm hooked! I am really enjoying them and have gone back to try and read the series in order. Unfortunately my library doesn't carry the first 2 novels and there are gaps along the way, but I am doing my best.

Jennifer is a wonderful author who has created a range of captivating characters. Her novels are a mix of historical based fiction and a contemporary quilting community. She shares the stories from the different perspectives of her characters which is a style I am really enjoying. I am currently reading 'The Quilter's Homecoming' and also have 'The New Year's Quilt' on my bedside table ready to go when I get a spare 5 minutes (ha ha, not very often).If you get a chance I would definitely recommend them.

Anyway, I must head off to bed as tomorrow will be a long, busy day. Hopefully I'll see you at FNSI on Friday.

Have a great week,
Tracy xx

Friday, 4 October 2013

Friday Night With Friends

Hooray! Another reason to if I really need a reason :-)

Thanks to Cheryl at Gone Stitching I was able to join in with her Friday Night With Friends event. This is what I've been working on...

It's another of Claire Turpin's cushion designs, Pip and Ellie, which will go to my other niece. I really love the bright fabrics I managed to find and I find the stitching so relaxing.

I can't wait to see what everyone else did tonight. If you'd like to see too you can check the list here.

I also have to share some photos I took on our walk this afternoon. We now live close to a lake and took little Miss M for a stroll this arvo as the rain had disappeared for awhile. Spring has definitely sprung as the 2 swans we have recently seen on the lake now have a nest and, apparently, 4 eggs. We can't wait to see how things progress and look forward to showing Miss M some cygnetts soon.

Mama swan resting on her nest

Papa swan being all protective - so cute
I'll keep you posted on any new arrivals. Have a great weekend!

Happy stitching,
Tracy xx

Monday, 30 September 2013

Stained Glass Sunflowers

You may recall my post on 20th June where I shared a photo of the fabrics I had chosen for a new project, a birthday present for my sister's birthday. A BIG birthday calls for a special present and as  sunflowers always remind me of my sister, Mrs J, I sought out a pattern for a quilted wall hanging with sunflowers on it. I was delighted when I found Nikki Tervo's 'Sunny Window Quilt' pattern which she markets under her Brandy Gully brand.

After receiving the pattern and buying the appropriate fabrics, I spent several weeks frantically creating whenever Miss M was sleeping and my dear husband was away. I was on a mission to complete it, not only before Mrs J's birthday party but before I returned to full time work. The pressure was on!

Each of the numbered pattern pieces were traced onto Vliesofix, fused to the correct fabric, then cut out and individually fused to the full pattern traced onto calico. Unfortunately the way the instructions were worded meant that my image is a mirror image to that on the pattern but, after some initial frustration, I was happy with it.

Sky, stems and leaves. 
Gorgeous bright petals
Then I added the fusible bias binding to make the 'stained glass' effect. I don't normally like ironing but I happily ironed away for hours while watching telly. The bias binding was expensive but quite easy to work with. It was exciting watching the individual components of the image start to stand out.

Outlining the elements
Once the bias binding was all in place I created my quilt sandwich. The floor was quite sticky from the basting spray for a while, even though I put down lots of newspaper!

The quilt sandwich
Then it was time to quilt. This was a quilt-as-you-go project so as I secured the bias binding in place with stitching I was also doing the quilting. I had to stitch along both edges of each piece of bias binding. That was quite a challenge using my domestic sewing machine. Stitching down the first side of each strip was relatively easy but when I did the other side the majority of the quilt was quite often rolled up in the throat of my machine. Manoeuvering the quilt along the curved shapes was very tricky at times and the bias binding that wasn't stitched down quite often lifted and had to be re-fused. Eventually I completed it though and I was pretty happy with the result.

Next came the borders and binding, and the quilt was ready to be wrapped up. I completed it on time and was a very happy camper! I was also very excited to have completed my first proper quilt, albeit a wall hanging, and excitedly showed it off to my friends at the WA Quilters Association sewing day. I even made the WAQA blog that day :). 

Completed quilt
Mrs J was very happy with her present and can't wait to hang it on her bedroom wall, much to my delight. Now I just need to work out how to add hanging sleeves that will make the hanging rod invisible behind the quilt. 

Mrs J and I holding her wall hanging
Another project to add to my completed list. Yay!

And speaking of completed projects, to all those lovely people who left me kind messages about my owl cushion I'm embarrassed to say that I forgot to put the buttons on the eyes. If it hadn't been for my wonderful husband (not so) subtley asking me where the eyes were I probably would have sent it off incomplete. I must say though, it does look much better with the eyes on! Here is the final, final completed project...

'A Family of Owls' cushion
Alright, time for an early night as Miss M hasn't been sleeping too well the last couple of nights. I hope you all had a great weekend of stitching and have a wonderful week ahead.

Cheers, Tracy xx

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Celebrations and Contemplations

Well, what a fun & busy weekend we had despite still feeling under the weather. Miss A had her 18th birthday party which went off very smoothly. All her friends were lovely and very well behaved. A big thank you to them all for making her birthday so special.

After a few challenges working with chocolate ganache for the first time, I finally got the cake looking respectable. It was well received by all. Here is what it looked like...

The actual cake was a marbled chocolate effect. A big thank you to Super Foods magazine for the inspiration & recipe!

Then, after a very late night and broken sleep, I co-ordinated and attended my final workshop as the WAQA Workshop Convenor. I will be handing over the reins to someone else at next week's AGM. 

The workshop, The Value of Value, was facilitated by one of our local tutors, Judy Campbell. It was an excellent workshop that got us thinking about and experimenting with different fabric values. We created a ranged of samples each incorporating hues, shades, saturated colours and tints that we can refer to for our future quilting endeavours. I feel a little more confident now in working with values and colours, and experimenting rather than following a pattern. Thanks Judy.

The other celebration, of course, was the Dockers winning their football game and making it into the 2013 AFL Grand Final. While the Eagles are my favourite team, I also support the Dockers (whenever they are not playing the Eagles!). Congratulations to the team and all the best for this weekend's game.

I hope you all have a wonderful, crafty week.

Tracy xx

Friday, 20 September 2013

Friday Night Sew In

I was lucky enough to spot a link to Wendy from Sugarlane Design's Friday Night Sew In on Michelle Ridgway's blog while posting today. After our dinner guest left I jumped to it and finished off the Owl Cushion I have been working on (for about 12 months!) for my niece. All I have to do now is sew on the buttons at the back and it can be posted off as a belated birthday present.

I look forward to seeing everyone else's efforts over the weekend. If you'd like to check them out too you can visit Wendy's blog here.

Thanks Wendy and Michelle. Happy stitching, Tracy.

It's Been Awhile

So much has happened since I last put up a post that I don't really know where to start. Our annual pilgrimage to Marble Bar, going back to full time work, moving house, all getting the flu, and as much crafting as I could fit in between times. On top of that we have had 4 very significant family birthdays (40, 50, 60 & 18yrs) that have needed celebrating. It's been busy, busy, busy.

We were very lucky to have had rain at Marble Bar before we arrived so there was water in the Coongan River again this year. Last year it was the driest we have seen it (in 20 years) and it was quite sad. This year we were again able to visit and enjoy 'Paradise Valley' (discovered and so-named by our kids several years ago) and take the kayak out on the river, plus the birdlife was plentiful again. Here are a few pics...

Marble Bar Pool - Looking down the Coongan River
Babies, big kids and dogs alike enjoyed paddling in the river 
'Hillview' at sunrise
The Shaw River crossing - water was flowing over the road
I gave Fergus to my little sister and she loved him. He now takes pride of place on her bookshelf. Occasionally he moves to the top of the bookshelf to stay out of reach of little hands that just want to hold and cuddle him.

I have been home with the flu for the last week but, even though I have felt absolutely terrible, this has had some unexpected side benefits. In our new house I have my own little sewing space where I can set up and leave my sewing machine all the time. Yay! As a result, I have been able to rest up while doing some small sewing projects when I have felt up to it. I have been able to finish 2 more blocks for the WAQA Community Quilts program and I'm very happy with the results.

                  Scrappy Trip Around the World block 
Wonky Pound Sign block

These were quite fun to make but the first one was a bit challenging while feeling woolly headed. The Community Quilts program donates quilts to organisations for people who could use a little comfort (eg Princess Margaret Hospital, women's refuge, Cancer support organisations). People donate fabric and finished or unfinished quilt tops they no longer want. Members then take these and turn them into completed quilt tops and return them. Some very generous quilters then donate their time to quilt the finished product.

This year they introduced a 'block of the month' program. Each month they will choose a new block, pre-cut a selection of fabrics and write out instructions. Demonstrations of how to make the blocks are held at the WA Quilter's Association (WAQA) monthly sewing days/nights and members can choose to take a pack and make up the block, returning it the following month. The blocks are then combined into 1 or more quilts for donation. This is a great option for someone like me who does not have time to make a whole quilt for the program, particularly given the number of personal projects I have on the go!

It is also a fantastic way to learn how to make a variety of quilt blocks and practice/improve my piecing skills. I was impressed with the Scrappy Trip Around the World block. In the month prior to demonstrating this block the Community Quilts team asked members to donate their ugliest fat quarters. These were then cut up, mixed up and distributed for this block. The results are amazing and quite beautiful. I'm looking forward to seeing the final quilt/s. You can see some of the previous results on the WAQA website here.

Ok, time to go and finish off my project for today - Miss A's 18th birthday cake. She turned 18 on Wednesday and the party is tomorrow night. The cake is going to look fantastic - I'll post a pic when I can. Then I might lay my head down for a bit to clear away some of the wool!

Happy stitching,
Tracy xxx

Thursday, 20 June 2013

A finish, a workshop & a new project

Hooray! I have finished my baby sister's birthday present. Frogs are her thing and so I decided to create Fergus the Frog from Homespun Vol 13 No 8 for her. Here he is ...

Fergus the Frog

And here he is all dressed up, sitting with some of Miss M's friends after being proudly shown off at the WA Quilter's Assoc. sewing day...

All dressed up and ready to party!

The pattern for Fergus was designed by Anthea Christian of Angel Lea Designs.  It was a very easy pattern and instructions to follow and I only had 1 major hiccup - the pattern for his pants was printed upside down in Homespun. This did not matter for people who used a non-directional fabric but for me it meant that all the bugs on my fabric were upside down! This necessitated a mad dash to Quintessential Quilts to try and find more fabric. Luckily I was able to find 1 lonely fat quarter and had just enough scraps left over to make 2 pant legs between the 2 bits of fabric. He is not a toy for babies or small children as he is stuffed with a combination of toy fill and rice to make him sit nicely on a shelf. I am very happy with the result and hope my sister likes him as much as I do. I may even have to make one for me :).

 Now, I promised to tell you about a workshop I did during the week of the May craft fair. The WA Quilter's Association brought Amanda Daly to WA to help judge the QuiltWest exhibition at the fair. While she was here she ran 2 workshops for us. I went to the first one, The Art Quilt Process, and it was absolutely fantastic! She is a wonderful teacher and we had so much fun.

 Amanda showing how she highlighted some of her work with Inktense pencils

Amanda showing us how to use Shiva Sticks

Not only did we learn about the process Amanda uses to help her design some of her amazing art quilts but she allowed us to try out and experiment with a range of products that we otherwise might not have tried. We had fun with Tyvek, Inktense pencils, Shiva sticks, Angelina fibre, Solvy, foil, acrylic paint, fusible web, wire mesh & florist's wire. We also had a go at raw edge machine applique & reverse applique, and designing our own design & inspirations journal cover.

Some of the samples that Amanda brought to show us

Miss M joined us for the 2nd day and also enjoyed herself. And who knew that some chocolate wrappers react to heat just like Tyvek?!

 Miss M's on the move

 A great excuse to eat more chocolate!

All in all we had a fantastic 2 days & I would like to thank Amanda for her tuition and inspiration. You can see more of Amanda's projects and workshop info on her website here.

And so, to my next project...I am making a birthday present for my other wonderful little sister who has a BIG birthday this year. Her birthday is in August but her present is quite a bit more involved than Fergus was so I am going to need every little bit of that time to get it completed. Here is the fabric selection...

I will keep you posted on my progress. I hope you all get the chance to do a little stitching this weekend.

Happy stitching,
Tracy xx

Sunday, 9 June 2013

QuiltWest and WA Craft Fair

In the middle of a very hectic week hosting workshops for the WA Quilters Association I managed to fit in a visit to QuiltWest and the craft fair. There were some amazing quilts on display. One of my friends, Phil Thomas, was talented enough to win a 2nd place prize in the 'All Traditional Professional' category with her gorgeous quilt 'Purple Heather'. Congratulations Phil! You can visit Phil's blog, The Guilty Quilter, to see more of her wonderful work.

 'Purple Heather' by Phil Thomas

You can see all the other winning quilts on the WAQA website here.

I then had a bit of fun shopping with Mum & Miss M. Here are some of my purchases. I also bought some Solvy to play with.

I also went back to the fair on the Saturday morning to catch up with some of our wonderful WA bloggers. Tracee of Quilt Kitty Loves Life is an old friend so it was great to see her again. It was also lovely to meet Anthea of Hibiscus Stitches, Maria of Life on the Block and her daughter, Sandra, of Playing Tiddleywinks, along with Julia of Julia's Place and her daughter-in-law Janete. Unfortunately Miss M and I couldn't stay long as we were taking WAQA's guest tutor, Amanda Daly, to the airport but we hope to meet up with them again at some point.

During that same week I was lucky enough to participate in one of Amanda's workshops. I will post info and pics from that in the near future. 

Happy Stitching. Tracy xx

Saturday, 8 June 2013

New Project

I have started my next project for another special person's birthday. Here is the fabric selection I've made.

I managed to join in a little with Cheryl for her Friday Night With Friends event last night and was able to get the initial shapes cut out and half sewn. I then finished them off today. The results...

I was also able to start putting on the facial features today and hopefully will finish these off tonight.

Thanks Cheryl for continuing to host this event. 

PS - Our friend's daughter loved her bag so I am one very happy camper! Happy stitching, Tracy xx

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Mixed Results

Wow, what a busy few weeks. It's hard to believe almost a month has passed since my last post. Lots to tell you so will have to do it over a few posts.

I must admit that I have had to choose between a sewing project and blogging in my spare time recently as I have had less spare time than usual. The project won out of course :). Luckily for me I have been able to set up a temporary sewing room so that I am able to grab 20 minutes here and there when Miss M is sleeping to run in and do a little more sewing.

My latest project is an 18th birthday present for the daughter of a very dear friend. She will be receiving it this weekend as I was finally able to get enough time to finish it last night.

I started with some beautiful, Indian looking fabrics and the 'All Patched Up' pattern by Shirley Jenkins from the 'Crafts to Inspire' magazine. After cutting and piecing my squares I laid everything out ready to sew. I was a little nervous as it was the first time I had made pieced squares.

Eventually I was able to sew everything together and this became the outside of the bag. I was really, really happy with the resulting fabric. It looks awesome. The light purple fabric was used for the lining.

Outside of bag

Inside of bag

                                       Close-up of outside                    Close-up of button
                                       I love these fabrics

And ... drum roll please ... here is Miss A modelling the finished bag for me...

I'm happy with the look of the bag overall and very happy with how the pieced fabric turned out. 

I was very disappointed to get to the end of the construction process and realise that the instructions had not included any information on putting in the pockets, except for the zips. So, I went to all the effort of putting in 2 zips only to find that anything put through them would simply fall to the bottom of the lining. It was very difficult to add pockets after the fact because of the way the bag was constructed but, thanks to Vliesofix and fusible hemming tape, I managed to do so. I'm not sure how secure they are though and am not really happy with them.

The final step of construction was to sew along the seams to secure all 3 layers of fabric together (there is quilters muslin between the inner and outer fabrics). Not having done this before, and having no further guidelines from the instructions, I assumed this was easy. In hindsight I should have pinned the bag along the seams before sewing to get an even spread of fabric, so I am not happy with the sewing along the outside seams. However, you can't tell these faults unless you look closely. Suffice to say I will not be using this bag pattern again!

Hopefully our friend will like her present. I'll give you an update over the weekend and let you know how it goes.

Must get off to bed as Miss M has just over 3 hours on me now. 

Happy stitching everyone.