Friday, 26 February 2016

Melba magpies

I purchased this little bundle of joy from Linda @ Gum Valley Patchwork just recently. They are from Emma Jean Jansen's latest range 'Melba', inspired by her time living in Melbourne as a student. 

'Melba' is manufactured by Ella Blue, a fabric house developed by Australian designers. Ella Blue is such a breath of fresh air in the Australian quilting fabric market. They are producing high quality quilting fabrics, at refreshingly competitive prices - AU$16/metre compared with the AU$24 and AU$28 price tags that Australian quilters are used to paying.

I also found a couple of Ella's Basics at a local quilt shop. It's a real treat to find some text fabric with local names! I was not so happy that this shop insisted on charging me $24/metre instead of the RRP $16. Hmmmm ...

I have been collecting a few text fabrics lately. I think they are a calm foil for busier fabrics.

As a sometime proof reader, I couldn't help but notice the typo in this one:

Can you spot it?

Enough whingeing! Have a great weekend everyone. Bloom x

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Some summer sewing

One of my 14-year-old daughter's good friends has ventured to boarding school in Sydney. This friend has been very kind and supportive to my Olivia as she has struggled with her health. So it was an obvious choice to make her a snuggle quilt to remind her of how much she will be missed.

(Sorry that the photo is dark and awful. I'm having issues with my SLR lately, but that's another story altogether).

It is a simple raw-edge layer cake quilt, our 'go-to' method when a gift is required in a hurry! Olivia chose 'High Street' by Lily Ashbury, a very happy collection of fabrics. 

Image source
She sewed it together herself across the summer holidays ...

... but somehow ran out of time to do the binding. Hmmm, guess who got that job?!

Not that I minded. Thankfully, I belong to that half of quilters who find binding meditative and relaxing!

Her friend was very thankful for her gift, and thought the quilt was, and I quote: "the most awesome present ever ... and I'm not even faking"! Sweet!

Here is a photo she sent of it on her bed at boarding school. 

She says she wraps herself in it when she is feeling homesick :) Now that would warm the heart of any quilter, young or old!

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Today's pickings

From my garden today:

Geranium sanguineum
Rosa 'Camille Pissarro'
Salvia microphylla 'Cyclamen'
Burgundy dahlias, unknown variety, tubers gifted to me by a neighbour

Friday, 22 January 2016

Show me your corymbia!

I am popping my head up from my summer hibernation just long enough to share this lovely thing with you. I spotted it in someone's garden next to Short St Cafe in Dubbo the other day.

The tree was absolutely loaded with blooms. Isn't it just beautiful?!

My guess is that it is what is loosely called a grafted flowering gum, and is a form of Corymbia ficifolia.

These grafted gums have only recently become available in Australia. They are relatively expensive at over $50 each, but surely the expense can be justified when you get a show like this!

All good health and happiness to you for 2016. I have all sorts of grand plans for 2016, but after an unpredictable 2015, I'm not brave enough to venture them any further than thoughts just yet. I sincerely hope to blog more regularly though. Here's to that! Best wishes, Bloom x

Sunday, 22 November 2015

In times of stress ...

I get my best gardening done when I'm stressed! Our wheat crop is due to be harvested any day, and it is my job to deal with contractors, organise trucks and generally make it happen. To say I find it stressful is an understatement! There is significant (for us) income at stake and every decision can be the difference between making a profit and not. And so, one of the things I do to calm myself is to pop outside into the garden and pull a few weeds. The upside of this is that the farm garden is looking a picture!

There are new plants to enjoy. Leucospermum glabrum x tottum 'Carnival Red' is a particular show-off.

Some plants are flowering for the first time, like Iris sibirica 'Sapphire'. 

Parts of the garden that seem to have been struggling for years are finally coming into their own. I planted this bank of roses years ago now, and underplanted them with ox eye daisy (Leucanthemum vulgare). Many times, I've almost pulled these daisies out, but I'm glad I didn't. They are giving this part of the garden a pleasingly ethereal and dainty look this year. They can stay.

The daisies are mixing quite prettily in with Rosa 'Granny's Bonnet'.

Just behind these roses is a brand new garden and I'm looking forward to watching it evolve.

The roses, as usual, don't disappoint.  This is the lovely David Austin, Rosa 'Jubilee Celebration'.

 I took some garden photos just recently, and managed to catch some of the roses in the early morning dew.

Rosa 'La Reine de Victoria'
I've read somewhere recently that the prime time for taking photos is in the early morning and late afternoon. I had sort of worked this out over the years, but in photographic terms, these times are called the 'golden hours', and are defined as the period shortly after sunrise or before sunset during which daylight is redder and softer compared to when the sun is higher in the sky. 

Rosa 'Reine des Violettes'
There is even an app called GoldenLight which can help you to determine the perfect time for taking photographs in your location in the world. It really can make a difference to the quality of your photos.

Rosa 'Double Delight'

Rosa 'Pat Austin'
We've had barely any aphids this year, presumably because it has been so dry, at least until recently.

Rosa 'France Libre'
Having said that, we have had 5 inches of rain in the last few weeks which has not been good for anyone trying to get crops harvested. Rain late in the season can mean that crops fall over, or grain can shoot while it's still on the stalk, causing harvest to be slow and expensive, grain to be downgraded in quality and prices to be lower.  This is our wheat before the rain. It remains to be seen how badly the rain has affected it.

And so for now, I'm waiting patiently for the harvesting contractor to arrive.

Rosa 'New Dawn'
And enjoying to solace of the garden in the meantime!

Sunday, 30 August 2015

Winter gardening?

We have had a very wet winter, and our garden is so sloshy underfoot that the roses are still to be pruned! So my 'gardening' has taken a new turn:

I have been planting in miniature and indoors!

I found some inexpensive glass containers at Kmart which I thought would work as terrariums, and went about collecting all manner of plants and pebbles. 

I've had a lovely time playing with form, texture and colour.

I suspect I've broken every rule of terrarium planting by combining succulents, air plants, mosses and lichen, each of which require quite different conditions. I figured I'd just play with different combinations and see which ones survive.

Inspiration and helpful instructions for making my terrariums came from this post by lovely Amelia. 

The weather is a little warmer today, 
so hopefully I can get to the rose pruning soon! 

Monday, 10 August 2015

Library bag tutorial

While my days of making library bags for my children are well and truly over, I find myself still making them for nieces and nephews. This is my tried and true method for a lined, drawstring bag, with an optional personalised nameplate.


You will need:

  • Two 15" x 21" rectangles outer fabric (I would recommend a heavier weight fabric such as cotton drill, denim or furnishing fabric because these bags get a pounding from the kids)
  • Two 15" x 21" rectangles lining fabric
  • One 15" x 8½" rectangle for nameplate background
  • Scraps of fabric for appliquéd letters
  • 2 yards cord
  • Fusible web

Appliquéd name plate

I used Microsoft Word for Mac 2011 to prepare the nameplate text. If you are using a PC, the commands should be similar.

Open Microsoft Word. Go to File : Page Setup. Change Orientation from portrait to landscape. Click OK.


Go to Format : Document. Click on the 'Margins' tab. Set the margins to measure 0.5". 

Click on the 'Layout' tab. Set the Vertical alignment to Centre. Click OK.

Go to Table : Insert : Table. Set 'Number of columns' to 1 and 'Number of rows' to 1. Select 'AutoFit to window'. Click OK.

Go to Table : Table Properties. Click on the 'Row' tab. Select 'Specify height' and set to 4". Make sure 'Row height is' set to 'Exactly'.

Click on the 'Cell' tab. Set Vertical Alignment to Center. Click OK.

Type your desired text in the table. I typed 'Jessica'. Select your text and set the alignment to centre.

Go to Format : Font. Click on the 'Font' tab and set the font to 200pt Arial Rounded MT Bold.

Click on 'Text Effects'. Select Text Fill. Set Color to No Fill. 

Select 'Text Line'. Set Color to Black. Click OK. And OK.

Print the template. 

This template can now be used for tracing letters for your appliqué. Place the template face down on a light box or window pane, and trace the letter outlines onto fusible web. The letters will be reversed. Cut out the fusible web letters roughly, approximately ⅛" beyond the traced lines.

Fuse the letters to the back of your desired appliqué fabric. Cut letters out exactly on the traced line using a short, sharp pair of scissors.

Fold the 15" x 8½" nameplate rectangle in half lengthwise. Using a soluble fabric marker, mark a line 1" from the folded edge of the nameplate. Position the letters on this line, using the template as a guide. Fuse the letters in place. Appliqué each letter using a machine blanket stitch using a thread colour matching the letter fabric.

Constructing the bag

Using a soluble fabric marker, mark a line 8" from the lower edge of one of the outer fabric rectangles. Align the raw edge of the appliquéd nameplate to this line, right side down, as shown below. Attach the nameplate to the rectangle with a ¼" seam. 

Flip the nameplate downwards so that it is right side up and press. Topstitch the nameplate ⅛" from the top and bottom edge..

Stitch the outer and lining rectangles together, end to end, as shown below.

Fold in half, right sides together, matching outer to outer rectangle, and lining to lining rectangle. On each long edge of the outer rectangle, mark a 1¼" opening, 1¼" down from the seam line. On the short edge of the lining rectangle, mark a 2" opening.

Stitch the three sides together, stopping and securing with backstitching at each opening.  

Turn the bag right side out through the 2" opening in the lining and slip stitch the opening closed. Tuck the lining inside the bag and press.

Using a soluble fabric marker, mark lines 1¼" and 2½" from the upper edge of the bag, front and back. Stitch along these lines to form the casing. 

Cut the cord into two 1 yard lengths. 

Attach a large safety pin to the end of one length of cord. Starting on the right side of the bag, thread the cord through the front casing, past the casing opening on the opposite side, and through the back casing, to return to where you started. Knot the two ends of the cord together securely.

Repeat this threading process with the remaining length of cord, starting on the left side of the bag. These cords are pulled from either side of the bag to close.

Of course, this method can be adapted to make any sized drawstring bag for any purpose.

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