Thursday 29 November 2007

'Secret stitching' - DONE!

Just finished my little birthday gift for Happy in Quilting. Do hope she likes it! It is a Leanne Beasley stitchery and is a 'couch companion' designed to rest over the arm of your chair as you stitch. It has lots of handy pockets & a pincushion on the inside. The design was published in Australian Country Threads Vol 5 No 6. Happy birthday, my friend!

Wednesday 28 November 2007

A request to all lovely bloggers ...

Still busily stitching a little gift for Happy in Quilting for tomorrow (Thursday). She is trying hard to keep her birthday quiet, but she's 'got buckleys' (Australian for 'not a chance in the world)! Please be sure to inundate her blog with birthday wishes. You will make her feel very special on a very special birthday. I have imposed a temporary ban on her reading my blog, which is driving her crazy, poor sweet! Hope I can get her gift finished in time. Had better get back to it! These treasures (Zephyranthes rosea or pink rain lilies) jump up out of the garden every now and then. I have to be quick to see them, here one day, gone the next.

Tuesday 27 November 2007

Quilt-a-long, week 3

The dreaded pinwheel block! Amandajean is demanding a little more of the quilt-a-long crowd this week. Triangles & that tricky 8-point join. Mum has it conquered though.

Bring on the heat

These are two of my favourite salad recipes at the moment, served for our Club Quilt day on the weekend. Sorry, not helpful for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, but just right for those of us heading into summer & mango season! 


Fresh mangoes, sliced ripe avocadoes, sliced mignonette lettuce, pecans 
Dill dressing: 150ml carton sour cream 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/2 cup French dressing 1 tablespoon chopped chives 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill 

Arrange lettuce, mango & avocado on a large platter. To make dressing just whisk all ingredients together. Pour dressing over salad & top with pecans. I add prawns sauted in some garlic to this salad for Christmas lunch – YUM! You can use pine nuts instead of pecans. Add a bit of red onion if you like – just make it up really. The dressing is what makes it, & the mango of course!


Mixed lettuce leaves, sweet potato, peeled & thinly sliced cucumber pine nuts, toasted cherry or roma tomatoes, halved avocado 

Basil dressing: basil leaves, 1 cup, loosely packed, 2 cloves garlic, crushed, 2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated 1/2 cup mayonnaise 1/4 cup light sour cream Preheat oven to 180°C. In a bowl, place sweet potato. Drizzle with olive oil & toss gently. Transfer sweet potato & tomatoes to a paper-lined baking tray. Season with salt & pepper & bake until sweet potato is cooked & tomatoes have semi-dried. Cool. Arrange on plate with avocado & cucumber. Sprinkle with pine nuts. For dressing, combine basil, garlic, pine nuts & parmesan in a food processor. Process until smooth. Add mayonnaise & sour cream. Process until smooth. Dress salad just before serving. Sprinkle with pine nuts. (This dressing is also really good on a potato salad). You can substitute pumpkin for the sweet potato.

Monday 26 November 2007

Secret stitching

If you have a 'significant' birthday this Thursday, look away now! That means you, Happy in Quilting! Hopefully, more will be revealed later in the week ... just don't know if I've got enough fabric in my stash to finish it - ha de ha, ha, ha!

Fabric, food & too much fun!

Had the lovely company of the Club Quilt girls at my place for the day yesterday. They are all such good fun. Had a fantastic day. The photo is blurred, but reflects the flurry of activity! These women do not dillydally. They are talented & proficient quilters & churn out projects quickly & beautifully! Didn't get many photos so head on over to our club blog to see what everyone got up to.

Thursday 22 November 2007

But I don't know what you're talking about, Ms Bloom!

Fiddling with felt today. I need to come up with a simple Christmas craft for some 11 and 12 year old boys and girls for tomorrow. My guess is that they may not ever have used a needle & thread, and I know for sure I've not tried to teach embroidery to such an audience, so it will be an education all-round! Wish me luck!

Wednesday 21 November 2007

Quilt-a-long progress

Here is second of Mum's quilt-a-long blocks. She's loving it. Mondays won't be the same for the next few weeks as she waits anxiously, sewing fingers at the ready, for the next set of instructions. It is not too late to join the quilt-a-long. This is only week 2 of 12. Pop over to Crazy Mom Quilts to join the fun.

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Lovely liliums

I have grown liliums for the first time this year. I always thought that flowers this beautiful must be terribly difficult to grow. Well, I'm here to tell you they are a cinch! Stick the bulbs in a pot, water them & look at the reward! This is a very old photograph (probably almost as old as me!) of a lilium my Dad grew. I remember him pointing this photo out to me in our family album many times as I was growing up; "Look, I grew that"! We lost my Dad to bowel cancer in February this year, and I find myself planting things in my garden that remind me of him. And so here are my first liliums. "Look Dad, I grew that"!

Monday 19 November 2007

Now there's an idea

I will never lose embroidery floss in the middle of a project ever again! Keep your floss colours for your latest stitchery on a binder ring. Inspiration from here.

Sunday 18 November 2007

'Faux piped' handles

I suggested in this post that I would do a tutorial for 'my favourite handles'. Well, here it is. Please ask questions if I am less than succinct in my instructions!Choose two fabrics for your handles. The contrast fabric will be the one that appears to 'pipe' the edge of the handle. Cut one 1.5" wide strip of main fabric, one 2" wide strip of contrast fabric and one 2" wide strip on iron-on pellon. The length of these strips should be your required handle length. For a small bag, I cut them about 16" long.
Fuse iron-on pellon to 2" wide strip of contrast fabric.
With right sides together, stitch the main fabric piece to the contrast fabric piece with a 1/4" seam, down one long side.
Stitch the other long side of the handle with 1/4" seam. This seam is a little more difficult as the handle doesn't sit flat. The wider contrast fabric tends to curl up a little to the left of the foot. You may need to pin the handle at intervals to assist in sewing this seam. Persevere at this point - all will be OK!
Turn handle (I have a really nifty way of doing this easily, which I will attempt to post about soon). Press handle carefully. You should have a nice narrow contrast strip on each edge of the upper side of the handle.
Top stitch either side of handle, just outside each seam, using a cotton matching the contrast fabric. I use a #10 edge stitch foot on my Bernina as it runs nicely along the seam & gives a neat 'in the ditch' line.
So hopefully, you now have before you a robust but sweet handle that looks for all money like it has narrow piping down either side. Let me know if it works for you! Best wishes, Bloom.

Friday 16 November 2007

Mother to the rescue … again

What to do, when Crazy Mom Quilts comes up with the enticing idea of a 'quilt-a-long' and I have too many projects on the go to participate? Ring Mum of course & talk her into doing it instead! (She didn't take very much convincing!) Here is her first block.My mum has taught me everything I know about sewing. She has done the most meticulous stitching in her time. Tiny, perfect stitches.This d’oyley would have been stitched when she was in her early twenties. It is difficult to communicate the fineness of her work in a photograph. ‘Big’ day today – 2nd cricket test between Australia & Sri Lanka is on the radio, and I’m trying to get all my jobs done before the World Netball Championship semi final between Australia & England on TV this afternoon.

A mother's protection

I couldn't work out why I was getting dive-bombed by this everytime I walked out the front door: Here is why: Baby willy wagtails in the lilly pilly pot plant (say that 10 times quickly!).

Thursday 15 November 2007

Harvesting at last

Harvest started here today. We only have a tiny farm by Australian standards, and our main income is off-farm, but we planted our whole place down to wheat & barley this year. The crops are terrible because of the drought, but we at least have something to harvest. Many families have no harvest at all. This is taken from our front verandah this morning. Gotta love a nice, big, new header with a wide comb when there is rain coming!

Wednesday 14 November 2007

Golden beauties

David Austin rose 'Graham Thomas' in its glory. This is one of his signature roses, well known for its prolific flowering & disease resistance. A beautiful buttery yellow.

Any ideas?

A little while ago at a local quilting expo, I picked up these pieces of gorgeousness at the bargain price of $2 a fat quarter. This was the day I met Chookyblue in person and I have her entirely to thank for these Amy Butler treasures. She was standing next to a basket of them when we were introduced and it went something like, "Oh hello Bloom, nice to meet you - will you look at this? Amy Butler FQs for $2"!! An instant friend!I have always loved Amy Butler but have never been quite brave enough to use her fabrics in quilting as the prints are so large scale. But at $2 I figured it was worth a try. But what to do with them? I feel I need a design with at least some really large pieces so as not to lose the style of her fabrics. Oh how I love them - fresh & happy, perfect for a cheerful Australian summer quilt. Would love to hear what you would do with them.

Tuesday 13 November 2007


I apologise to any of you who have not been able to see photos on my blog. Please let me know if this happens to you by leaving a message. This has happened a couple of times now, and on both occasions, the photos are visible on my computer so that I have no idea there is a problem. Very weird. I have reloaded the photos on my last post, so I'm hoping that has fixed the problem. Best wishes, Bloom.

So many ideas, so little time

This is the last of my Club Quilt Christmas swap gifts I have to show you. I made this for Christmas 2006. I ran out of time last year & unfortunately was not able to make something with a stitchery incorporated. The handles for this one are ruched fabric over Rigilene. A little fiddly to do, but they worked really well. The pattern is called 'Pieceful Bliss' by Liz Newton & was published in Australian Country Threads Vol 6 No 11.

A 150 year old rose?

My 'Reine des violettes' rose is in full bloom at the moment. It is a hybrid perpetual rose & was bred way back in 1860 by Millet-Mallet in France. My rose is only 8 years old, but I think it has earned a spot in my garden with such a long history. It is a 'living antiquity'!

Monday 12 November 2007

Have I mentioned my Bareroots fetish?

Oooh, I was really happy with this one too. I made this for the 2005 Club Quilt Christmas swap. It is a Bareroots design from a Country Threads magazine published a few years ago. Photos of this one aren't great. I remember being in a raging panic trying to get it finished in time, so the photos were taken hurriedly before heading off to our dinner together. There are three embroidered & appliqued heart panels, lots of pockets, and an embroidered band around the top. The handle was supposed to be embroidered too, but I ran out of time & opted for my favourite handles mentioned in the last post! I loved the little hearts attached to the end of the drawstrings. Hmmm, it was hard to give this one away! Always intended to make a second one for myself, but of course, it hasn't happened!

Sunday 11 November 2007

A humble offering!

I made this little bag as my first Club Quilt Christmas swap in 2004. I was really very pleased with it. The stitchery is a sweet design by Anni Downs of Hatched & Patched. I made a lined pocket behind the stitchery & I think there were pockets on the inside. This is the reverse side of the bag. The handles on this bag are my all-time favourite way of doing handles. I must do a little tutorial on them sometime. I love how they look as though they are piped on the edges.

Saturday 10 November 2007

Club Quilt Christmas swap 2006

Opening last year's gift was another gobsmacking moment. This gorgeous creation was made by Carol and is a stitchery by favourite Australian designer, Bronwyn Hayes. And of course, the bows on each side undo to reveal more treasures; a needlebook on the left, a scissor keeper on the right & a drawstring bag for threads & stitchery WIPs. Carol is another of our very prolific Club Quilt members & always has something new to show us. How talented & generous are these women & how lucky have I been to receive such beautiful things for the last three years? Very special. Now I suppose it is only fair that my next few posts should be about what I GAVE for the last three years! Let me tell you, you have seen the very best, so be prepared for things much more ordinary! I may well even chicken out in the next 24 hours & decide not to show you at all! BUT comparing quality of gifts IS NOT what it's all about is it? ... it's about the spirit of the giving, isn't it? ... see you tomorrow!

Note to self - must do a photography course ... soon!

I have been trying to get a decent photo of this beauty for days, and this is as good as I'm going to get. It is a flower from our Cape Chestnut tree (Calodendrum capense), native to South Africa evidently. Very pretty. For my local friends, there is a stunning specimen of this tree in the front garden of The Abbey.

Friday 9 November 2007

Club Quilt Christmas swap 2005

If I wasn't blessed enough in 2004 by receiving Dale's stitchery basket, look what I received the next Christmas! Against amazing odds, I drew Dale's name for the second year in a row and received her stitchery portfolio. It opens up to reveal plastic zippered sleeves for storing bits and bobs ... and came with matching scissor holder & needle case! The inside of the needlecase looks like this. To say Dale is a prolific quilter & needleworker is an understatement. Her blog is here. She would love to hear from you, I'm sure!

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