Wednesday, 15 April 2015

WIP that has to be finished ASAP

I am making a baby quilt for my NZ neighbours' latest grandson, Max. We are returning to the UK in just over two weeks so, as they say, time is of the essence!

I bought the fabric almost two months ago, from two Quilt shops: Cushla's in Mapua and Quilter's Barn in Renwick and the backing was a bargain end of roll from Spotlight.

I didn't make the quilt straight away as I wanted to make the String Quilt I finished a few days ago.
And then of course there were two trips away, to Sydney and the Bay of Islands, which all meant that starting the baby quilt got pushed onto the back burner.

But earlier this week  I started the quilt.  I had drafted out the design way back when I bought the fabric so it was just a case of cut and sew.  I sandwiched it yesterday and started the hand quilting so I now feel my target to finish by next Thursday is achievable.

How it looks at the moment:

As you can see the Perle cotton and scissors are ready to be picked up as soon as I have a minute to put in s few more stitches.
I have made lots of baby quilts over the years but this is a "first" in many respects:
  • I bought every bit of fabric for this quilt just for this quilt.  I have lots of fabric stashed away(what quilter hasn't?) but 90% of  my stash is back in the UK.. I only keep a small stash here in NZ and I really had nothing suitable for this quilt.  Hence the shopping spree.  It was lovely to buy everything for one project and there is enough left over to make another baby quilt and have scraps for my ever-growing Scraps Stash! Just got to decide whether the left-overs stay here or travel back to the UK with me on 2nd May. What do you think?
  • I have made a few Coin Quilts before but never combined that design with a band across the top with baby's name appliqued on it.  This is an idea I got from an English quilting friend of mine, Sarah.  So, another "first".
  • This quilt will be going to South Africa (taken by NZ Granny when she visits in July) and I have never had one of my quilts end up in SA. Lots in the UK, Canada, NZ, The Netherlands and Germany, but this is the first one destined to live in South Africa.
I am very pleased with how the quilt is progressing, the bright colours really sing and the novelty prints are very apt, I think.  Dad is a Kiwi so sheep and tractors are good ( Granddad has a tractor). Dad and Granddad are keen bikers so the bike fabric is good too.  Orange for the South African link and a few hearts to show how much this baby is loved. The backing has a pattern of dogs on it, again suitable as Mum and Dad have two large dogs.
Off to do my housework and cooking so I can get back to hand quilting!

Saturday, 11 April 2015

Making gifts - such fun

I have been a follower of Rachael's Blue Mountain Daisy's blog for a long time. (
Last month my husband and I visited Sydney to see friends and do some sightseeing and I had hoped to meet Rachael in person. We made arrangements to meet - all very exciting - but unfortunately they didn't work out as unexpectedly Rachael had some work offered her.  I had made a little gift for her but as I couldn't hand it over at the coffee shop I posted it instead.  I had a lovely "Thank you" email from Rachael which I very much appreciated but then then a few days ago I discovered that she had included my little present in her blog post.  I was thrilled!  Even more pleased as Rachael's photo of my drawstring bag and needle case was much better than the ones I had taken for my Flickr page!

Here's my gifts:


Check out Rachael's super blog if you haven't had the good fortune to read it yet.  You will love her quilts, photos, flower arrangements and quirky posts and stories.

I have been looking at binding clips for a while as they kept popping up in lots of blog posts.  The ones I saw all seemed rather expensive but then whilst I've been in NZ I found a real bargain at Spotlight.  I bought the last two packets in the shop - one for me and one for a quilting friend's birthday gift.  I have just used the clips for the first time, binding this String quilt:


What a fantastic idea they are.  Simple to use, no scratches and blood spots on the quilt from using straight pins. Definitely the way to go!

Coincidentally, Rachael said that she was going to use the drawstring bag for storing her clips and lo and behold, they are the same ones that I bought - Rachael's were from Spotlight too. So, if you live in NZ or Australia, check out your nearest Spotlight store.

If you haven't tried clips yet to hold your binding, I definitely recommend them.

Off to embroider the label for my quilt.

Friday, 3 April 2015

A quilt that I forgot

Last week we were visiting friends in Sydney.  The first few days of our trip we stayed in their new house, a farm out in the country, nearest town is Goulburn.  We were shown into the guest room and on the wall was a quilt.  Of course I commented on it and our host laughed and reminded me that I had made it as a gift when we stayed at their previous home, an apartment overlooking the beach at Cronulla!  She said that now she lived in the country she thought the quilt was just right for the Guest Room as it had a "country theme".

When I looked at it again I did remember making it: it was from a pattern in a book I have back in England.  As I always label my quilts I was able to find out that it was a gift I made them for Christmas 2004. I know that I made another little quilt from the same book, in similar colours, which I gave to my sister.  She used to display it on her kitchen wall but now they have a new kitchen it doesn't "go" with the more modern d├ęcor. Probably hidden away in a drawer, but it will have been kept, as my sister keeps everything I make her.

Here it is, my long-forgotten Australian Country Quilt:

I was really pleased to see it again.  Not my usual choice of colours but ones suggested in the book and ones I thought were right for this particular quilt.  All hand blanket-stitched applique and hand quilted.  I am still amazed that I had forgotten all about making and gifting it!
I had a good look at it and was pleased with the sewing.  Here's a couple of close ups of  the applique:

I agreed with our friend, it is very suitable, especially as they have a mob of red kangaroos that come around their property.  Sadly we didn't see them.  We have been to Australia several times and I have never seen a kangaroo in the wild.  I did see a wombat though!

When I get back to the UK I shall have to find the book and perhaps make something else from it.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Using up stash

I was thrilled to get my sewing machine back, fully repaired, on Thursday afternoon which meant that I was able to go to my Quilting Group this morning. I had a very productive few hours, sewing together the String quilt blocks I had all ready to go.  I am still a way from finishing the quilt top but I made a good start today. 
This made me think back to the String Quilts I have made in the past and how much stash went into their making. Reminiscing on all the different fabrics I had used over the years and how many quilts some of the same fabrics appeared in.
This is the first one I made, back in July 2010 which I called Rainbow Quilt:

Then came Rainbow Nation String Quilt, a 60th birthday gift to a New Zealand friend.

Handed over in Christchurch just four days before the big 22nd February 2011earthquake.

Then Cat from Auckland (, had a quilt drive for quilters to send comfort quilts which were handed out to earthquake victims. By then I was back in the UK and made this quilt which was sent over to Cat:

Christchurch Earthquake String Quilt:

Then came a quilt I made for a three year old boy, back in July 2013.
This time, an I Spy String Quilt:

Since then I have made several String Quilt blocks as contributions to charity projects, blocks which were included in this Group quilt, a gift for one of our members to celebrate her 70th birthday:

And several String blocks turned into cushions like this one:

So, I think you could say I am addicted to String blocks!
I have enjoyed looking back over some of my older quilts, remembering the different fabrics which I included - and finished up - in the process.

We all have pieces of fabric which seem to hang about in our stash and appear in quilt after quilt.  However, I have been pleased to notice that as the years have passed, some fabrics no longer appear so are DEFINITELY used up!

Perhaps the message of this post is: Make String quilts to "use it up"!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Busy sewing and baking

This is only my second post for March and it's already the 18th!

But I have been busy, sewing mainly and some baking and gardening too.

Most of the sewing I can't share just yet as they are gifts, three already en route via the mail system.

But I have been busy making string blocks for a quilt I want to make for a friend who is very ill.
I need to make this quickly but have already worked for two weeks to get this far:

100 individual string blocks, laid out into sets of four to make one large block. Then they are arranged into five rows of five large blocks. Here they are laid out on the floor in our Guest Room. Actually there is only enough room to lay out four rows, the fifth row was laid out on the bed!
As you can see I then pinned numbered labels to them and gathered them up ready to take to my Quilting Group today. I had over four hours of sewing time so I really thought I would make a good dent in the sewing of these blocks, and rows and even, with luck, get the top completed.

However, I was all out of luck because as soon as I sat down to sew I needed a new bobbin.  No problem, wound another, inserted it and nothing worked.  I tried a few times, found another bobbin, even changed the needle at the suggestion of the friend sitting beside me. NOTHING!
So, I packed everything up and drove 50 minutes to the repair man, the lovely Dave.  The machine is there, I have to check on Friday afternoon to see if he has been successful in repairing it and then, if so, I can collect it on Saturday morning.

I am keeping fingers and toes crossed that the machine is repairable as it was a second hand one I bought from Dave 10/11 years ago. It's only used for three months of the year when we are here in New Zealand but it has had a lot of use.  So, I am hoping all will be well.  On Sunday we fly to Sydney for a week so more time will be lost before I can finish my quilt top.  I have already decided to tie the quilt so that should make it quicker to finish but it's not what I had hoped.

So, please cross your fingers that the machine comes through for me!

We have been doing some more entertaining and I tried out a new (to me) biscuit recipe. I have a lovely recipe book called The Edmonds Classics Book. All Kiwis will be conversant with these recipes - I have a copy here and another back in the UK. Some great recipes, including this one:

I call them Walnut Brownies and they are delicious.  Went down well with visitors yesterday and another friend this afternoon.
So, no sewing as planned tomorrow but if the weather holds out, another gardening session beckons.