Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Christmas time.

Last weekend we decided to put up our Christmas decorations. There was a lot of discussion about where our Christmas tree should stand this year in our new home. It was decided that the tree would be placed in the corner of the lounge room closest to the kitchen so it can be seen from most areas in the house.

We spent the evening arranging the tinsel, lights and decorations 'just right' and were really happy with the result. However, Sophie wasn't at all impressed with our arrangements. The next morning we were to discover most of the decorations on the floor and the tree standing at a crooked angle. Seems our new kitty has a passion for Christmas too...

Hanging our decorations made us quite homesick. Over the past few years we have hosted, and attending, many Christmas parties/dinners/lunches and a habit of mine is to steal take a little something from each gathering (such as a bonbon prize, ribbon from a gift, table decoration) and keep it to hang on our tree. My heart beat a little harder when I unpacked these this year, and it made me sad to think just how much further away these friends and family are this year. Granted, we still live in the same State, and are driving distance away, but it is still a distance and it is just not easy anymore to 'catch up' with those we love.

Some of these decorations include:
* Felt reindeer faces from my parents-in-law's Christmas lunch.
* A metal star mobile phone trinket (not as tacky as it sounds), a prize won from a bonbon during a dinner at Mel and James'.
* White and silver ribbon bow saved from a gift from Michelle.
* A tiny piece of plastic holly taken of the end of one of my Mum's bonbons.
* Felt stars made with love and in the company of Mill.
* A knitted bell that Ally helped me to cast off.
* Christmas baubles purchased from David Jones with Jamie.

This new house has an authentically old fireplace and mantle. It was nice to be able to decorate the mantle place also, although our Christmas decorations don't stretch as far in this house as they did in our tiny apartment.

And my piece de resistance this year is this absolutely beautiful antique Grandmother's Flower Garden quilted stocking. It was made by a lady in America from an old quilt that was quite damaged. I bid for it on eBay and won, and it now hangs waiting to be filled on December 25. It is such a treasure.

Can you imagine what the entire quilt must have looked like?

This week my goals are:
> Weed my veggie garden (as it has seriously become overgrown due to my not being able to bend thanks to knee injury from running too many km's).
> Decide on some Christmas crafts and gather all the supplies necessary.
> Sew sleeves onto my scalloped pick jacket. I have sewn up the main part of the jacket... will be able to show you all soon.
> Finish my handmade Christmas presents. Not prepared to post about these yet as some of the recipients may see them on here.
> Type up instructions for pinwheel quilt.
> Begin soaking my fruit for my Christmas cakes.
> Build a gingerbread house.

Phew. Better get started!

Sam xox

Friday, November 25, 2011

A finished quilt.

Let me tell you a secret... making a quilt completely by machine is sooooooo much quicker than by hand! Don't worry, I have not completely turned my back on hand quilting (it is such a beautiful method of quilting), I just have a new found appreciation for quilting on my machine.

I have always been a strong 'hand quilting' advocate, but for quilt gifts that need to be made in a reasonable time machine quilting really is a good option. Some benefits of machine quilting:
> You don't need to plan quilt gifts two years in advance (yes I am not the quickest hand quilter around).
> Your stitches will be even.
> There are so many different stitch options - classic stitches, fancy stitches, embroidery stitches.
> The quilt is able to be washed by machine.
> Machine quilting is perfect for summer when it's too hot to have a quilt on your lap when working on it.
> A machined made quilt perfect gift for babies as it can be washed umpteenth times if it gets dirty.
> A machined quilt makes a perfect picnic blanket.

I made this quilt for a friends new baby boy (the one I made those bibs for). I had started this quilt prior to our move, and had not had a chance to finish it until we moved and unpacked all our boxes. These friends visited us recently so I was finally able to give it to them.

The quilt is made up of nine pin wheel blocks (five blue and four yellows) set out with a 3" calico sash separating them. I chose 1930's reproduction fabrics and tried to stick with a 1930's feedsack and cotton theme. I had wanted to bind this quilt in blue, but I was unable to find the 'right' blue, so settled on yellow. My friend said she preferred the yellow binding as it made the quilt a bit more gender neutral.

He appeared to like the quilt! It was always intended to be a floor quilt, something my friend could lie him on and scatter his toys around him. He is such a sweet little boy :-)

And of course, I couldn't leave out some machine quilting photos...

What is it with quilts and cats? When ever you take out some sewing to do, suddenly the cats appear!

Machine quilting is simply a breeze on my new machine. There is enough space to the right of the needle to fit a rolled up quilt, and the IDT system means that there is no bunching of the bottom fabric when stitching.

I didn't stray too far from the familiar - choosing the mock hand quilting stitch.

Babies are wiggly!!!

I will put up a post later this week with some basic instructions on how to make this quilt yourself.

Hope you're all going to have a brilliant weekend!

Sam xox

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Machine quilting.

Following my stressful beginning of this week I decided I need to do a bit of sewing 'therapy' at sewing class. I didn't want to face the tricky scalloped jacket I have been working on. Instead I decided to do some experimental quilting on my new machine and see what I could create...

First I did some "mock hand quilting" on a simple pin wheel block. I will bind this in blue and hang it somewhere in the house. I then decided to test out some of the machine quilting stitches. First I tried all the different straight quilting stitches, both stitched in the ditch and also 1/4 inch from the seams. This is what my practices looked like...

Then I decided to be more adventures and try out some of the "crazy quilting stitches". Some of them are beautifully vintage in style!

I had tried machine quilting in the past on my old Janome My Style but found, even with the walking foot, that the stitches would never be right and the machine would struggle. Because of this I have shied away from machine quilting. Now I have a machine that can handle the job, the sky is the limit.

Any machine quilting tips people?

Sam xox

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The latest Liberty.

I'm falling in love with...

Emma & Georgina...

Emma and Georgina 03631251A
~ found here ~

Emma and Georgina 03631251C
~ found here ~

& Dora...

Dora 03631254B
~ found here ~

Dora 03631254C
~ found here ~

Sam xox

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My new sewing machine!

I was a super lucky girl this birthday! For my other gift Jamie gave me a brand new sewing machine! Good bye 13 year old machine from the 90's, with your 10 different stitches and very difficult button hole stitch. Hello brand new Pfaff Ambition 1.5.

I am in complete love with it. It has a ridiculous amount of stitches, which I have been testing out on lots of scraps of fabric. It has a touch screen that is used (amongest other things) to select stitches, adjust width and length, and even stitch in words and phrases.

There are lots of other neat gadgets on this machine. Like the button foot which actually sews a button onto fabric. And the button hole foot which automatically sews a button hole, simply by placing the button you are using at the end of the foot, it senses the button diameter and sews a button hole to the perfect matching size! Or the needle down button which makes the needle always finish every stitch in the down position, making it easy to pivot fabric around corners (such as in quilting). Or the automatic beep when it senses your bobbin is running low! Or the securing stitch button, which stitches a couple of securing stitches at the beginning and end of your stitching. No more reverse sewing here.

The machine can also quilt, which is really exciting. I had tried machine quilting on my old machine, but as it only had bottom feeders it would always end in a mess. This machine has top feed dogs too which makes quilting much neater. There are even a few "antique" quilting stitches to choose from which gives the illusion of hand quilting. Love it.

And because I couldn't snap a photo of myself using the machine, here is a photo of a random chick using a Pfaff Ambition 1.5...

Watch those fingers under that needle!

So I am officially in total love with this machine, and have been very tempted to take a day off work just to play with it. But I haven't. I've been good. Can't promise the housework will get done tomorrow though...

This makes turning 27 just a little bit easier ;-)

Sam xox

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


For my birthday this year my lovely husband gave me two very generous and wonderful gifts (the sewing-related one I will get to later this week).

My first gift was Sophie, a kitten we rescued from the RSPCA on Sunday. She was previously named Meow and had been through a lot in her short 10 month life. She began life as a kitten at the RSPCA, and found a new home quickly with a family. However, after scratching one of the children (you know what children do to cats) she was quickly returned to the RSPCA as 'unacceptable'. She was in a cage with a sign saying "no children", and no one was even considering her for adoption.

We saw her photo online a week ago, and finally met her in 'person' on Sunday. We spent over half an hour in her cage playing with her and cuddling her, trying to assess her personality (which is very hard to do mind you, when the poor thing is surrounded by other cats in their cages, the sounds of barking dogs close by, and three massive roosters walking just outside her enclosure!).

It was agreed that she would become part of our family. We paid the money, put on a brand spanking new pink diamante collar, and brought her home to meet Prada.

So far things are going brilliantly. She is a super loving cat who wants to snuggle up to us where ever we are. Prada has accepted her quickly and day by day they are getting to know each other. We are still keeping them in separate parts of the house during the day when we are at work, but hopefully this can stop sometime next week.

Thanks again Jamie, she is simply delightful!

Sam xox