Thursday, 24 December 2009

Peace on Earth

As a child, Silent Night was my favourite Christmas carol. When I was growing up, I would walk around the farm (probably while I was chipping Bathurst burrs for $1/hour!), singing it to myself, trying to hit every note perfectly. It remains one of my all-time favourites, and this version is delightful!

A very blessed Christmas to each and every one of you, as we celebrate our Savious Jesus' birth. Lots of love & Christmas cheer from my family to yours, and peace, health and happiness to you for 2010. Bloom xxx

Friday, 18 December 2009

Travelling north

We are just home from a 2400km round trip to a hot and humid Brisbane for a family wedding. And that's a relatively short trip in Australia! Here are some of my favourite images from the wedding, which incidentally was held at a golf course!
The nieces & nephews had a front row seat, but were more interested in each other than the nuptials!
Cousins, from eldest to youngest - a rare gathering.
Playing with rose petals after the ceremony.
At the end of the night - all that dancing wears a girl out!
I did manage to get a little 'something blue' finished (in the car on the way!) for the bride.
The pattern is one of Marg Low's latest releases, the delightful 'Sweet Heart Birdies'. It was a perfect gift for the bride - she wore it tied to her wrist at the reception - special!
The timber embellishment is one of many gorgeous designs by Barb of Theodora Cleave Designs.
Brisbane was hot, and since our accommodation was basic and pool-less, we spent a lot of time at South Bank keeping cool:
Of course, travelling north afforded me the luxury of taking photos of all sorts of exotic blooms that I never usually see.
I can't tell you what these blooms are. They are completely beyond my limited botanical expertise - feel free to educate me!
A long trip, but a truly brilliant one! Now, to get organised for Christmas?!

Monday, 7 December 2009

Teacher gifts? Tick!

Yes, I did make the Friday afternoon deadline for our teacher gifts. I just haven't had a moment to post since!
The inspiration for these pencil rolls came originally from this post by Kathy at Pink Chalk Studio.
I used some gorgeous 'Follow Your Imagination' by Prints Charming for the outside of one of the rolls.
And some black & white 'Trio' by Timeless Treasures on the other. I love the little yellow birds on this print. This is one of the beautiful prints that my fellow fabric-holic friend Janelle has sent me this year. It was perfect for this project.
Next on the 'to do' list? A little 'something blue' for a wedding next weekend. Back with news on that front soon I hope!
Have a great week. Bloom x

Friday, 4 December 2009

Fabric rainbows

Have made some progress with my pencil rolls. The tedious (but pretty!) part is done:
Last day of school for us today. It has been another huge year that has simply flown by. Looking forward to having time to chill out with my 'babies'.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

It's that time of year again ...

... when I lose my grip on reality & decide that something handmade MUST be produced as gifts for the teachers of my children! Why can't I just buy a box of chocolates like normal, sensible parents?
For the last two years (here and here) I have made pencil rolls for our teachers. They have been received with sufficient enthusiasm that I am sticking with basic idea. I have made a start - stationery purchased and fabrics selected. I bought felt tip pens this year rather than pencils (Staedtler Triplus Fineliners from Officeworks if you're interested). I have 24 hours to come up with two rolls. Could be a late night!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Settle petal!

In amongst the madness that is December & the last few days of our school year, there is just a little time for some stitching self-indulgence!
One of my 14 year old daughter's favourite sayings at the moment, in response to any family member who is feeling a tad frazzled & impatient, is "Settle petal"! Goes down a treat when the said frazzled & impatient one is me!! So in an attempt to 'settle' myself, I have my own strategy. When my day is manic, I take a couple of minutes & go sit & stare at these little buttons & muted colours, & calm is usually restored! (More of this project to be revealed soon).

Thursday, 26 November 2009

How to cut Dresden plate wedges from 5" charm squares

You may remember my Mum's table runner that she has been working on? The pattern is called 'Plates for your Table' by Kim Walus at bitty bits & pieces. I said that we had modified Kim's instructions to suit two charm packs, instead of using fat quarters. This was followed closely by a query from a reader who 'couldn't for the life of her' work out how we had done that!
So, in case you were wondering ... Take a 5" charm:
Fold the charm square in half & press.
The dresden plate piece in Kim's table runner pattern is 3.75" long. I put a piece of tape across my ruler at 3.75" because it wasn't marked. Position the ruler as close to the unfolded edge as you can.
Cut around the wedge ruler to give you two wedges.
Open up the remaining folded piece. There should be JUST enough fabric left to cut one more wedge.
You will get one more wedge from this piece, with very little to spare!
So one 5" charm will yield 3 wedges.
This will only work for the table runner pattern. The wedges for the plate charger are bigger. We managed to cut all the dresden plate wedges and half square triangles for the table runner from two charm packs, with a few charms left over.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Moda Bakeshop journal cover tutorial

Just popping in briefly to let you know that my next tutorial for Moda Bakeshop is finished & posted. You can find it here.



I have made two different journal covers, each using Moda honey bun strips. The range I have used is Minick & Simpson's 'Wiscasset'. I can really see these in 'Rouenneries' too, especially with the linen. Of course, they can be constructed with 1.5" strips of any fabrics. You don't have to use a honey bun.



These would make really quick & easy Christmas gifts or teacher presents. Have fun, & send me photos if you make one!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Frequently asked questions

My inbox is overflowing and threatening to break out, & grab me by the throat if I don't answer some of your many questions soon! In an attempt to keep it at bay, I have decided to start a Frequently Asked Questions post. So if you have been waiting patiently for me to answer a question, you might just find the answer here.

If you have a question that is not covered in the following topics, please feel free to email me at bloom97@bigpond.com and I will endeavour to provide an answer as soon as I can.



Embroidery


WIP - gift for my mum


How do I prepare my stitcheries?
I transfer the pattern to my fabric using a sharp lead pencil & a light box. I also fuse a layer of Weaveline, a light fusible interfacing to the back of my stitcheries.

Do I use a hoop?
I always use a hoop when I embroider. I use an everyday, inexpensive wooden hoop. It holds the fabric firmly, but not stretched drum-tight.

Does my embroidery go lumpy after I remove it from the hoop?
Not usually. Sometimes this can happen if you over-tighten the fabric in the hoop. It is also important to avoid stitching with a tight tension. Stitches should rest flat against your fabric, but not pull tightly.

Do I iron my stitcheries after they are stitched.
I always press my stitcheries on completion, but always from the back of the work. I put a big fluffy towel on the ironing board, place my work face down, and press gently. This ensures your stitches won't flatten.


Quilting

'Simply-a-Bloom' quilt

Can you quilt with a normal sewing machine, or do you have to take it to someone with a large professional quilting machine?
Until recently, I always quilted my quilts on my domestic machine. It is difficult to manoeuvre a large quilt on a domestic machine, but it is certainly possible & less expensive. I have taken my last two quilts to a professional quilter, simply because it is a whole lot quicker & I have decided life is too short to be wrestling with quilting my own. I feel like I am 'cheating' to a degree, but I'm sure I'll get over it!


Bag making

Wintery frilly dilly bag

Do I make and sell 'Frilly Dilly' bags?
How I'd love a dollar for every time I am asked this question! I don't make Frilly Dillies to sell. I make them for friends and family. As is so often the case, by the time you add up cost of materials and time invested, it is simply not profitable to sell these bags. But most importantly, it would be quite wrong to do so, since the original pattern is designed by the very talented & generous Janelle Wind. I would never consider breaching her copyright in such a way.


My designs

Do I sell my own patterns?
Well, no ... Do I dream of selling my own patterns? Daily! Do I have time to sell my own patterns? I don't think so. My family & work commitments preclude it really. Am I brave enough to give it a go? Probably not!



Moda Bake Shop

How many yards are needed for the backing and binding to make my 'Sweet Menagerie' quilt?
5.5 yards backing
0.75 yard binding fabric


Dear Jane quilt

How many Dear Jane blocks have I made?
I think I am up to 52 out of 221 as at November 2009. What was I thinking?! These are my blocks thus far:



General blogging questions

What type of camera do I use, and have I done a course in photography? Do I have any photography tips?
In terms of photography, I am entirely self-taught. I have always been interested in photography, but a course is on the 'to do' list. I use a point-and-shoot camera, which frustrates me enormously. So many of my photographs of embroidery or blooms require a macro setting, and my camera is very limited in that respect. The lighting has to be 'just right' for me to take a good image. I often take many images before I am happy with one. I have been dropping hints to my Sweetness about our 'need' for a digital SLR for some time now, but don't seem to be making any progress!

If, like me, you are limited to a point-and-shoot camera, I would offer the following tips:
  • Use the macro setting (usually a tulip symbol) when taking closeups.
  • Work on getting perfect natural light. Avoid direct sunlight. Bright, solid shade is good.
  • Avoid using a flash. Opt for natural light if you can.
  • Consider taking shots of projects or blooms at an angle, rather than front on.
  • Read your camera manual - boring I know, but usually helpful! Often cameras have presets for certain types of shots eg. low light, portraits, etc.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

How to make my day!

I have received a very exciting message from Annie at Sew Nutty, a fellow Aussie girl, who has just finished her beautiful version of my 'Simply-a-Bloom' quilt. She has used 'American Primer' by Minick & Simpson for Moda.
I think you'll agree, she has done a fantastic job. Congratulations Annie on surviving my tutorial. It is an enormous relief to me that my instructions made sense! And very special to think someone else liked my pattern enough to make it!!
I have set up a Flickr group, Made with Bloom. Please feel free to add your photos to this group if you happen to make things from my tutorials. I would love to see your creations. There is also a Moda Bakeshop group which is a great place to visit for inspiration.
Mum has returned to the farm, but not before she made some significant progress on her table runner.
The pattern and fabric details are on my previous post. She is up to appliquéing the Dresden plates & it is looking beautiful.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Hey Mum, look what I can do ...

This week, I learned to pin butterflies - real pins, real butterflies! My job at the moment involves curation & identification of all sorts of insects. So I have added the skill of pinning specimens to my rather eclectic list of achievements! Aren't you proud Mum?
Speaking of Mum, she is visiting at the moment. A quick visit to the patchwork store, some 3 Sisters 'Glace' charm packs on special, and a great pattern from Moda Bakeshop has yielded at least the beginnings of a table runner:
The plan is that it will grace Mum's dining table for family Christmas. The pattern is called 'Plates for your Table' and you can find it here. It is designed by Kim at bitty bits & pieces who has posted some great free patterns for Moda. We modified Kim's instructions to suit two charm packs, instead of using fat quarters.
And speaking of my work, I couldn't help but photograph these beautiful blooms outside my building.
It is Liriodendron tulipifera, or Tulip tree.
Annie Flowergarden has been showing us some gorgeous photos of her blossoming spring garden, which inspired me to snap these shots.
The centres of these flower cups are quite mesmerising. They look like there should be fairies living inside I think! Mind you, any fairy would be living a dangerous life outside my work. They would probably get frozen, pinned, classified & archived for posterity!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Tidbits

Not a lot I can report on the stitching front right now. I am working on my next Moda Bakeshop tutorial, teaser below!
I have also managed to revisit my Dear Jane at long last, and put this solitary little block together over the weekend.
The rays are freezer paper foundation pieced and the circle needle-turn appliqued. So nice to see you again Jane!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Not so Grumpy

No more Little Miss Grumpy for me - the mail has come! You may (or may not!) remember this bag that I made for the SEWN giveaway some time ago?
Bag from Amy Butler fabrics
Well, I entered it in the Amy Butler Midwest Modern competition way back in June. And blow me down, I was one of 15 lucky winners. My prize parcel arrived this week.
There are certain packages which should come with the following label:
WARNING - Considerable risk of hyperventilation upon opening.
This is one such package.
In the most generous of prizes, I received four of Amy Butler's newest patterns; 'The Liverpool', 'Sweet Harmony' bag, 'Field Bag' and a very cute Mini Dress/Top. All are delicious!
New & delicious Amy Butler patterns
There was also a copy of Amy's recently released software which is a gorgeous package of 22 more projects for my 'to do' list! My favourite? This super cute floor cushion with my favourite of trims, pom poms.
And then there was fabric too!! Can you see why I was hyperventilating?!
Amy Butler gorgeousness
Sandi Henderson has posted a great video interview with Amy Butler at the recent Quilt Market. You can watch it here, and see for yourself what an unassuming, gracious & genuinely sweet person Ms Butler is. I am very thankful for her generosity in offering up such an unbelievable prize.
You can see all the competition entries here, and the winning entries here.
(My Amy Butler obsession can be traced back, fairly and squarely, to the influence of Chookyblue. The first time I met her was over a little basket of bargain AB fat quarters. I spent a fun morning last weekend with the Chook, talking incessantly about gardening & quilting for the limited time we had).

Monday, 26 October 2009

Grumpy!

In a grump today, chained to the desk doing farm accounts. But, at least I have these sweethearts to keep me company, the first Lily of the Valley I have ever grown.
Lily of the valley
And then there's this little pile of stitcheries waiting patiently for me to make into quilt blocks, when the paperwork is done.
Tractor stitched up
Things could be worse - I could be at Cadet Camp with my daughter hiking in the cold & the rain! Get some perspective Bloom!

Friday, 23 October 2009

Plus quelques roses de mon jardin

It seems I'm not the only 'rose-tragic' out there! Thank you for the many lovely comments on my last post. Because I promised, here are just a few more roses in bloom at my farm garden right now - I couldn't resist a little French title for this post considering so many of these roses are French Delbards!
Rosa 'Henri Matisse'
'Henri Matisse'
Gorgeous soft red splashed with white paint strokes. Works beautifully with all my David Austins.
Released by Delbard 1995
P1110314
'Camille Pissaro' Another painterly rose, a real stunner, golden yellow, red striped Released by Delbard 1996
Rosa 'Citron Fraise' 'Citron Fraise' A very pretty rose, ivory edged with raspberry. Released by Delbard 1998 Rose 'France Libre'
'France Libre'
Not sure if I will keep this one. It is an 'in your face' orange. I don't mind a soft burnt orange, but this screams at me a bit. I will keep him a little longer & see if he grows on me!
Released by Delbard 1995 P1110311 'Le Reine Victoria' Another amazing old rose, always laden with heavily cupped blooms. Released Schwartz 1872 Rosa 'Angel Face' 'Angel Face' A cute, frilly lavender coloured rose. Released by Swim & Weeks 1968 'Jumpin' Jack' A low grower, with beautiful stamens on open blooms Released 1997 Happy weekend everyone! Bloom x
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