Tuesday 21 December 2010

In the nick of time

Having promised Janellybelly way back in the year that we would do a bag swap, she has finally received hers, just in time for Christmas!
In a deal that works well for me, Janelle chose the fabrics and I made the bag up for her.
She chose a gorgeous range of fabric called 'Zest' from the Stonehill Collection by Donna Wilder for Fabric Traditions. The pattern is 'Frilly Dilly' bag by Janelle Wind.

I hope your Christmas preparations are fun and stress-free. I have finished my shopping which is always a relief.

Things are otherwise a tad stressed in the Bloom household right now. Our harvest is not in yet. And there is a lot at stake financially for us. However, I keep reminding myself that we are in a much better position than many other families.

We are supposed to have Christmas with my husband’s family on the South Coast, but that is all hinging on harvest happening in the next few days. We have a contractor lined up, and providing he doesn’t break down, or get bullied into harvesting someone else’s crop instead of ours, and it doesn’t rain, he will be here very soon.

Hopefully, I will be in a better place for my next post!

Tuesday 14 December 2010

Christmas rocky road

School holidays ... kids at home ... time for some Christmas cooking. Everyone surely has their favourite recipe for rocky road. This is ours:
rocky road

marshmallows, 250g, pink & white
cooking chocolate, 150g
copha, 40g
salted roasted peanuts, ½ cup (80g)
1 packet raspberry lollies

Line 20cm x 30cm lamington tin with baking paper. Chop marshmallows and raspberries in half. Place approximately half of the marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts in lamington tin. Melt chocolate & copha together in microwave, or use a double saucepan. Pour half of the chocolate mix over marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts. Place remaining marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts in tin. Pour over remaining chocolate mix. Leave to set. Cut into generous, decadent pieces and forget about the diet!

Saturday 11 December 2010

2010 teacher gifts completed!

My last post generated plenty of comment, much of it empathy and encouragement that I am not the only one to leave things until the last minute at this time of year! The 'pencil roll' gifts were completed and delivered to respective teachers. At least I know that they won't 'double-up' with this gift!
Teacher gifts 2010
Kirsty at You Had Me at Bonjour rather cheekily commented on my last post: "Ha, ha, yes I seem to remember a post like this last year??" Hmmm, well yes :), last year, and the year before and the year before! You have a good memory Kirsty! Each year, they vary just a little depending what pens/pencils I can source. The thing that doesn't vary is my last-minute stitching! The pens I have used this year are Stabilo fineliners, in lots of colours, perfect for easing the drudgery of marking for primary teachers. 
'Pencil' roll
Cherry Red Quilter asked how long it took me to find just the right colours to match the pens. Dare I say, they are all from my rather extensive stash?! I have been quilting in some form or another for 15 years, and have a fabric collection to match!
Teacher gifts 2010
Quiltilicious of Little Island Quilting has excellent eyesight, particularly when it comes to fabric! She said, "Great to see someone with fabric that goes back as old as my collection...I can spot some Jinny Beyer '2000' fabric in there ;-)" Great spotting! There is a piece of bright blue Jinny Beyer 'Millenium'. And there is a story that goes with this fabric. It was purchased originally for this quilt. Never again will I purchase fabric with a date on it, in this case '2000' printed all over. When I presented the quilt to my son in 2004, he quick as a wink calculated just exactly how long it had taken me to make it!
Teacher gifts 2010
I had two pencil rolls to make this year, the 'cow print' version being for a man, the spotted one for a woman. I recently had an email from someone lovely hoping that I would be writing up a pattern for 'my' pencil rolls.  While I would absolutely love to be able to do a pattern for these, they are unfortunately not my original idea. I would be treading on thin ice from a copyright point of view. I can point you in the right direction though. The idea originally came from the lovely Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio and she has some simple instructions on this post.
Teacher gifts 2010
I jazzed the pencil rolls up with some very cute downloadable tags by Amy Moss at Eat, Drink, Chic.

Naturally Carol commented on the amazing job that teachers do, 'teaching all those kids, day in day out'! Absolutely!! I am married to one, and I know the inordinate number of hours devoted to this most admirable of professions. A pencil roll at the end of the year is small recompense really, but given with sincere gratitude! 

Friday 10 December 2010

Will I never learn?

Every year ... last day of school ... crazy last minute rush to finish teacher gifts.
Rainbow of sorts
Why don't I allow myself more time? Here is the progress:
Teacher gifts in the making
Hopefully more time to talk soon!

Saturday 4 December 2010

Voile scarf tutorial

This light scarf is made from Anna Maria Horner's 'Little Folks' voile. To achieve a similar look, you will need very sheer, soft fabric. I have used a print on one side of the scarf, and a plain white voile on the other side.

Summer scarf

I have edged one side of the scarf with a lace trim, and stitched rows of shirring across the scarf to give some structure. The ends of the scarf have frayed edges.

AMH voile scarf

The first thing to decide is how long you would like your scarf. I prefer a longer scarf and have made mine 70".

For a 54" scarf, you will need:
One 7" strip across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton voile print
One 7" strip across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton white voile
54" lace
shirring elastic

For a 70" scarf, you will need:
Two 7" strips across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton voile print
Two 7" strips across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton white voile
70" lace trim
shirring elastic

Note: I found the voile to be a little slippery to handle. I pulled a thread across the width of the fabric and cut along this to get my 7" strips nice and straight.

Call me fastidious (you won't be the first!), but I have used french seams to join my scarf pieces. Being such fragile and transparent fabrics, I thought french seams would give the cleanest and most robust finish. You can choose to use normal 1/4" seams if you like.

To construct a french seam:

1. Place the two fabric pieces to be joined, WRONG sides together.  Sew together with a straight stitch, 1/8" from the edge. Press seam to one side.


2. Fold the fabric along the seam line, this time with the RIGHT sides together. Sew a line of straight stitching, 1/4" from the edge. This will enclose the raw edges of the fabric really neatly.


The wrong side of your joined fabrics should have an enclosed seam that looks like this:


The right side of your joined fabrics will look like a normal seam:


So, if you are making a long scarf, you will need to join your two 7" strips along their short edge with a french seam, to make one long strip. Cut this strip to 70".

Join the print strip to the white strip along their long edge with a french seam.

Sew a line of straight stitching across the short end of the scarf, 1/2" from the edge. You will fray the fabric to this row of stitching later.


With a sharp lead pencil, mark a line lightly, 3/8" in from the long edge of the print fabric, on the right side. Align your lace on this pencil line and stitch in place.


The next step is to add the rows of shirring across the scarf. Shirring elastic is readily available, and looks like this:


Wind the shirring elastic onto a bobbin, without stretching it. Place the bobbin in your bobbin case. The top thread remains the same.

With a sharp lead pencil, mark a line lightly across your scarf at the half way point. Mark more lines either side of this centre line, approximately 8" apart. (This gave me 7 shirring lines for my 70" scarf). These lines are not critical. You can place them as you please.

Using a normal stitch length, you simply stitch straight lines along each pencil line. As you stitch, the elastic will magically draw up your fabric to give a soft gather. There are two important things to remember at this point:
  • reverse your stitching at beginning and end to lock the elastic,
  • and, stop stitching (and reverse) just before you get to your lace trim, as shown below.

Almost done! One final french seam to stitch. With WRONG sides together, sew long edges of scarf together with a straight stitch, 1/8" from the edge.


You should now have a long tube. Turn the scarf through one end so that the RIGHT sides are together. Fold the fabric along the seam line you have just stitched. Sew a line of straight stitching, 1/4" from the edge, EXACTLY ON TOP OF the line of stitching that secures the lace.


Turn your scarf right side out and give it a good press. Fray the ends back to the row of stitching.


And there you have it! One light and summery scarf, ready for Chrismas gift giving.


As always, please ask questions if anything is less than clear. With best wishes, Bloom x

Thursday 2 December 2010

A lot of AMH love

Today, I summoned the courage to cut into my precious stash of Anna Maria Horner voiles. The word that sprung to my mind to describe these fabrics is 'diaphanous'. On checking, diaphanous = 'light, delicate and translucent, esp. of fabric'. Exactly!
My luscious stash of AMH voiles
I have had this in my head for a while:
Voile scarf for summer
A light and pretty scarf for summer. I have been hoarding the divine lace edging for several years now. My sister-in-law bought it for me at a laceworks in Italy, and I have been keeping it for 'something special'.
Summer scarf
I took photos as I made this scarf, so I hope to be back soon with a tutorial. It makes for a very quick and easy Christmas present.
AMH 'Innocent Crush'
I am on a bit of a Anna Maria Horner binge at the moment. This is my stack of 'Innocent Crush' just waiting to be transformed. I purchased these from Cathy at Wondrous Woven Fabrics who I highly recommend. While it waits for inspiration to strike, my stack sits prettily and is stroked regularly!

Friday 26 November 2010

Boy zone

One of my three brothers celebrated his 40th birthday recently. My mum was keen to make him a quilt for the occasion.
40th birthday quilt for my brother
He is a farmer, so something unfussy, practical, non-floral and dark was in order. This is a very simple pattern and uses plaid fabrics. They look like they could be flannel, but they aren't. It was purchased as a kit from Marally Craft.
40th birthday quilt for my brother
Belinda at Eucalypt Ridge Quilting quilted this beautifully in a 'boy-friendly' edge-to-edge design called 'Quill' by Anne Bright.
40th birthday quilt for my brother

Tuesday 23 November 2010


I'd like to show you the very first version of my 'Abracadabra' quilt pattern. Kirsten kindly purchased my pattern on November 9th, and emailed me to say that she was hoping to make it up using 'Neptune' fat quarters by Tula Pink. I couldn't wait to see it - Neptune is one of my favourite fabric ranges. By November 16th, just a week later, she was done!! Look and be amazed: 
Kirsten says she has only made 3 quilts before, which only makes this more impressive. 
She has done a great job of quilting either side of each seam line.
Just a gorgeous outcome I think. Congratulations Kirsten - you have me looking for 'Neptune' all over again!

Sunday 21 November 2010

Rack 'em up!

Another birthday party safely negotiated today. My boy had his 12th birthday, and requested 'pool ball' cakes!
We cut a deal. I did the cakes, he did the party 'bags'. Yes, he has a mathematical bent ...

All ten energetic 12-year-old guests are still alive and well, and safely home with parents. An achievement in itself! I am ready for sleep.

Saturday 20 November 2010

Blogger's cross stitch display continued

Last week's cross stitches are by far the more impressive in my portfolio. This week, the wheels fall off! I went through a period when I was smitten by all things William Morris (I still admire his designs in fact). This little cushion was stitched in my William Morris phase. It has a Morris feel about it somehow.
I loved that this design incorporated tiny Mill House beads. It is a pattern called 'Among the Berries' by Homespun Elegance. I remember seeing these made up in a beautiful needlework shop called 'Stadia Handcrafts' in Sydney - not sure that it still exists.
The rabbit has a ducky little friend. Here is where the wheels fall off! Poor ducky is languishing in the box of 'things to finish', dusty and forlorn.
There is so little to do to finish this stitchery, although there is a bit of work in making the piped cushion. I think the arrival of children put an end to this project.
And continuing an animal theme, here is my cute sheep in plaid. The pattern is called 'Woolen Sheep' (!) by The Cricket Collection. I loved creating the effect of tweed with stitches with this one.
But I confess, there should be four sheep, all with different coats. I managed one legless houndstooth variation! You could say the legs fell off this one (groan)! And what brought this one to a screeching halt? I mucked up the border, and never got back to fix it.
There my illustrious cross stitch phase limps to a close. But if ever life slows down, and I still have my eyesight, I have this in the cupboard ready to go:
I have always been intrigued by blackwork, and this design has a modern twist which I love. It is called 'Three Black Back Lace Flowers' by DMC.

There are many other bloggers sharing their cross stitch works today. You can find a full list over at Chookyblue's blog. Thanks so much to Chooky for organising the cross stitch display. It has been fun!

Friday 19 November 2010

Looking for a virtual pinboard?

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? Pinterest is a fun 'virtual pin board'. It is somewhere you can 'pin' any image you come across in your browsing that you are keen to remember. 
It is a bit like Flickr favourites, but so much better. You are not limited to Flickr images. You can pin absolutely any image you find online. And you can categorise your pins however you want.

I simply requested an invite from Pinterest, and within a few days, was granted my very own pin board. You can have a look at my pin board here. It is a really interesting to see a snapshot of things that appeal to you, and to notice recurring themes in design, colour etc. Fun!

Tuesday 16 November 2010

Promises, promises

I promised my poor mother a black and white frilly dilly bag. I won't say when I promised! She is a very patient woman, but in sheer desperation, she made it up herself on a recent visit to my place.
How cute does it look in black and white? And on the shoulder of my 'Miss-Fifteen-With-The-Blonde-Locks-To-Die-For'?!
From top to bottom, the fabric details are:
Unknown by Timeless Treasures
'White Swirl' from  Not So Basic Black & White by Avlyn Inc.
'Everything but the Kitchen Sink' 2006 by RJR Fabrics
And, as if I need to say it, the pattern is 'Frilly Dilly Bag' by Janelle Wind. I've lost count how many times I've made this pattern up, and I still love it.

Good job Mum!

Saturday 13 November 2010

Blogger's cross stitch display

Inspired by the unbelievable display of cross stitch samplers by Jean of Linen and Raspberry, Chookyblue has coordinated a blogger's cross stitch display, starting today. She has brought together at least 20 bloggers to display their stitcheries. Check out Chooky's blog for a full list of participants.

My cross stitch days were limited to a very narrow window of my life, stitched between finishing university and having children. The idea of having extended periods of uninterrupted time to concentrate on cross stitch is but a memory now! Oh, but I did enjoy it.

Today I will show you what remain my two favourite cross stitch projects.
This is my very first cross stitch, a wildflower sampler, stitched on Aida. I am afraid the details of the pattern are long gone. If anyone recognises it, I'd love to hear from you!
I do remember that it was supposed to be stitched in one strand of Danish Flower Thread. This thread was certainly not readily available in Australia at the time, so I substituted 2 strands of DMC equivalent threads.
My second project was a collection of four stitchery samplers, predominantly cross stitch, but with some drawn thread work thrown in.
I remember really enjoying doing these. I loved conquering the different types of stitches.
Of course, they are 'bloom' inspired, depicting bluebells, violets, amaranth and buttercups. My love for flowers is as old as I am!
Hmmm, it is stretching my memory for the details of these too. I remember buying the graphs at a craft show at Rosehill Racecourse in Sydney. It was probably 20 years ago!
'Shepherd's Bush' is ringing a bell?
It is such a relief that 20 years after these were stitched, I still love them. They took an inordinately long time to complete! They have pride of place in our living room.

I'll be back next Saturday to show you the other half of what constitutes my short and sweet cross stitch phase!
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