Monday, April 28, 2014

Flower Progress

At my neighbourhood house quilting group today I made a little bit more of my "Flower Ball" quilt:
All arrows pointing the correct way, this time.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Still Puzzled by This

A month ago when the slabs were poured for this development over my fence, I was surprised as it didn't match the plans I had seen. I went to the council offices to look at the plans, and discovered that the whole arrangement had been changed. The council believed that neighbours had been notified, but I never saw a sign, and I definitely never received a letter advising me of the change of plans.

However, the new plans were actually better in some ways than the original. The buildings are much closer to me, but the windows now do not overlook my back yard, so I was relatively happy.

But now the walls are going up, and what they are building doesn't seem to match even the second set of plans. I have no idea what the huge steel girders across the block are for:
 In the plans I was shown that area is open; it is the new spot for the car-park. But this definitely looks like the area over the car-park will be built on. It doesn't affect me, as it won't be visible from my property, but it is still a bit puzzling!

Saturday, April 26, 2014


It is hard rubbish time in my suburb again. I have disposed of a lot of stuff this year, but I couldn't resist bringing home this pair of terracotta pots:
One is chock-a-block with some sort of bulbs(?). They need to be split up, but it will be interesting to see what they actually are. Best guess so far is that they may be some sort of crinum lily.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Make Do and Mend in the 21st Century

When the hinge at the bridge of a pair of Ray-Ban folding sunglasses broke rendering the glasses unwearable, the local optometrist couldn't order the spare part, and the Australian Ray-Ban site has nothing about spare parts or repairs (unlike the US site). I wondered at the time if it might be possible to make one with a 3D printer, but I didn't know anyone who had one.

A couple of weeks ago, I discovered that a friend's husband does. Today we took the glasses to show Rob, and although he explained that the original part was actually metal, not plastic, he was able to fairly quickly create the design in a CAD program (this evening I found that the design is actually available for download at Shapeways here, which would have saved this step), and print a plastic piece:
Amazing! It was fascinating to see the machine build it up layer by layer.

And here it is, installed in the sunnies:
Above, half open, and below fully-opened:
Expensive sunglasses wearable again, thanks to a little bit of plastic, a lot of expensive technology, and Rob!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

CBD Get-Together

Oops! Something's not quite right here:
Just a short while earlier I had been explaining to someone that the arrows on these templates are to help you to put them together, as every piece is a slightly different shape. Of course I noticed only after completely sewing that side, and finishing off with some very tiny, hard-to-undo stitches. Must have been concentrating too much on the conversation at the monthly quilting get-together in the CBD. Maybe having made this mistake on the very first "flower" for this quilt will ensure that I don't do it again?

A bit of "reverse sewing" and then some more in the forward direction:
Much better!

And many thanks to Jenni who not only brought along some specially ironed pink fabrics for me, she also gave me a cutting from this lovely "poor man's orchid" or Epidendrum (possibly Epidendrum secundum).

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Almost Climbing

My sweet peas are nearly climbing their trellis.
A couple of them had their tendrils wrapped around the trellis before yesterday's rain knocked them down. No doubt they will grab hold again soon, tightly enough to stay put.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Not Much Pink

Today I searched through my fabrics for those which could represent flowers in my garden:
I have a lot more pink flowers than I do pink fabrics! I might have to see if I can do a swap with some of my quilting friends.

Monday, April 21, 2014


Because our regular venue is closed for the public holiday, my book club met today at the home of one of our members. After an interesting discussion of a book that no-one was particularly impressed with, our host sat us down to a very elegant afternoon tea:
Cloth serviettes. Cake forks. Delicate teacups. Crystal cake stand. Azaleas from her garden. Everything was lovely.

Thank you, Pat!

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Are these roots growing from the top of this plant?
Closer look:
They definitely look like roots. This is an Epiphyllum anguligar cutting which was my only purchase at MIFGS (Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show) last month. So I hope there are some roots growing at the base as well!

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Spray Basting - Still Not Convinced

Four years ago I tried spray basing a small quilting piece, and didn't like how it behaved. Here's that post:
Not convinced by spray basting.

Recently I did a Craftsy course called Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine, taught by Ann Petersen.  There are a couple of large quilts on my list of unfinished projects, and if anyone has a small machine it is me. I did get a few ideas, but was a bit sorry to see that spray basting is the basis for all Ann's techniques. She has a "How To" page on her website here if you are interested to see how she does it.

I was prepared to try it again, because maybe my previous issues were due more to operator error than product failure. Rather than tackling a large quilt immediately, I spray-basted a 40cm square piece. Here's how the back looked immediately after completing the basting:
This had me worried before I even started stitching. I could smooth it flat with my hand, but as soon as I removed my hand and the wool batting relaxed, the surface became bubbly-looking again. It did look smoother after I ironed it (one of Ann's techniques).

However, with only a small amount of actual quilting, the layers began separating. This is the same problem I had last time. To try and hold it all together, I ran a line of stitching close to the edges, but you can see here that the layers have shifted so I'm getting pulling and buckling:
I will have to unpick the stay-stitching, then pin-baste this small piece to get it smooth again, before I can continue quilting. And there is no way I am going to try this method on a large quilt.

I know people who love spray basting. I have read lots of blog posts by other people who love spray basting. I did find one other quilter who had the same problem as me, and interestingly what we have in common is the woollen batting. Anne (and maybe everyone else who loves this method) uses a very smooth cotton batting. I think wool just has too much inherent springiness for the spray adhesive to bond it successfully with top and back fabrics. Once you start manipulating the piece through the machine, the layers separate.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Orphan Annie - the Continuing Saga

In spring 2009 I planted a hebe "Orphan Annie" in my garden. In May 2010 I questioned if it was a dud plant, as it had not grown at all. It looked like this:

In June 2011, I noted that it still hadn't grown, and that any surviving plants in the neighbourhood also hadn't grown. Here's how mine looked then:

By October 2012, I had decided that it definitely is a dud plant. At that stage, every example I had seen in anyone's garden had died. Mine was the only survivor. Here's how it looked:
I know all those photos look as if they were taken at the same time, but that is 3 years of "growth"!

At that point I had decided to just let it die over summer, if that's what it wanted to do. But amazingly enough it survived two summers, and here it is today:
It has actually grown! It has thickened out quite a bit, but it isn't much taller. It is nowhere near the 40cm it is supposed to reach. In 5 years, it has never flowered.

However, it does have this now:
One branch without the variegation. So now I have a dilemma. Should I trim off this branch or leave it alone? Orphan Annie was originally a sport of hebe "Marie Antoinette", which looks like this branch and grows to 75cm or so. This branch could be reverting to that, or could be something different again. Left alone it will probably take over, as with all that extra green energy-producing chlorophyll it will be much stronger than the variegated leaves. What would you do?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bethel Sage

Salvia involucrata 'Bethelii' starting to open:
It is a couple of weeks earlier this year than previously. It was planted in January 2012, and that year and in 2013 flowers started opening in the first week of May. It is also much, much bigger this year! This branch is over 2 metres tall. I had to reach up and pull it down towards the camera to get a shot.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Light Green

Spent a little time sorting my green fabrics:
A few of those are in the wrong place, but somehow that is easier to see on the computer than in real life. Also the darkest ones disappeared off the left-hand side of the photo.

Then, starting on the right-hand side, I made some pieces for my new project:

Pattern is Geta Grama's Flower Ball.

Added to Sarah's Hexie-aholics link up.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

AQC 2014

The 2014 Australasian Quilt Convention is on, in the beautiful Exhibition Building:
I spent most of my time looking at the amazing quilt show. The section you can see in the first photo has the "Best in Show" winners from each state and territory displayed. One of them will be crowned best in the country later this week.

This section had a collection of quilts by Jenny Bowker, the current holder of the Rajah Award for her outstanding contribution to quilting in Australia:
I saw some of these quilts close up at the week-long workshop I did with Jenny last July, but there were a few I hadn't seen before.

Of course there are lots of opportunities to spend money, too. The commercial end of the building was very busy:

I didn't spend much, but I did put an entry in Bernina's "Guess how many bobbins and buttons are in the big glass jar" competition:
It probably has a much snappier name than that, really. The prize is the 350SE machine to the left of the bottle. Pick a number between 1 and 9999!

A stop on the way home:
GJ's Discount Fabrics, where I bought batting for my mystery quilt. It turns out GJ's don't normally stock 3-metre-wide batting, but fortunately they had a special purchase of various size and composition battings for sale this week. That's all those bags in the front window (sorry about the reflections of the street on the window - no fancy polarising filters on my little camera). Happily I found a piece the right size for less than I had thought it would be.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Cosmos Flower

It has taken a while, and something has already had a munch our of this one, but I finally have some flowers on the cosmos plant which grew from seed last July. (And if you follow that link, the unidentified seedling is a lavender which hasn't flowered yet. It will be interesting to see what it produces, as there are several lavenders in my garden that it could have come from.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Final Border

Sewed the final border onto my summer mystery quilt:
Now the top is officially complete, the next step is to make the back. I've got the fabric for it, but will need to piece it. Unfortunately the quilt top is about 5cms wider than the 240cm batting I have on hand, so I will have to either find someone who sells the 3m stuff, or do some piecing for that, too.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Next Project

 Started planning my next hand-piecing project:
This will be my "take to meetings" project for the next few months.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

To Box Hill

Tram terminus in Box Hill:
I've never been to the end of this line before, but after attending the AQA quilt show at the town hall in Whitehorse Rd, Box Hill, the tram was a nice way to get back into the city.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Sweet Peas

Traditionally in Melbourne one should plant sweet pea seeds on St Patrick's Day, 17th March. I was too sick that day, so these went in a couple of days late:
They don't seem too fussed, do they?

The seeds were a gift from a friend's garden. Picture of hers last year here. It will be interesting to see what colour flowers these ones have.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Merle Auntie

When Jack arrived, only Sam would let him snuggle up, but today for the first time, Merle and Jack shared a dog bed at nap time:

Lahti Flight Bag

When I posted a photo of Nikki's advance copy of "The Better Bag Maker" on Saturday, I had no idea that soon I would be holding my very own copy:
Nikki sent me it as thanks for testing one of the patterns in the book. I made my test bag last April, and Nikki had spent about a year designing and sewing and writing before the pattern testing phase. Since then there's been editing, and photo shoots, and to-ing and fro-ing about the final format. So the book represents a couple of years of work for Nikki. I hope it does well when it is released next month!

On the "You Sew Girl" blog on Monday Nikki talked about the book and showed pictures of some of the projects. She added the good news that the publisher has given the OK for pattern testers to show what they made. So here's my carry-on luggage!
Each project is named after a world city, and this is the "Lahti Flight Bag". I have to admit I had to look that up; I had never heard of Finland's ninth-largest city. Have you? Maybe someone at the publisher is from there?

I used some African fabric (printed in Zimbabwe) for my version:
Each side of my bag has two external pockets like this. In the book Nikki presents various techniques that you can add to any of the projects. Someone else making this bag might use a different selection of pocket types and placement. Inside I chose to add three open pockets and a zipped one along each side :
If you look closely you can see the openings of the three interior pockets here - look for where the fabric pattern changes below the zip. So all together my bag has 4 external and 8 internal pockets.

The base is reinforced, and has purse feet to stand on:

There is an adjustable shoulder strap as well as the grab handles:
Sorry, that photo is on its side, but it is the end of the bag where the shoulder strap is attached.

I haven't flown anywhere with my bag yet, but it has been to a few workshops and quilt-ins with me already. All those pockets come in very handy when I have lots of bits and pieces to carry.

Finally here's the picture I couldn't show you when I was heading home after "Quilt at the Winter School" last July.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What's in Flower - April

Warning - lots of flowers ahead! Here's everything flowering in my garden today, and there are even more than last month.

Rosa "Queen Elizabeth":


The lilac crepe myrtles are just about finished:

But the deep pink one is still going strong:

New this month, the sasanqua camellias. This one is "Showa No Sakae":
There is another one just starting to flower too, but it looks pretty much the same as this and I'm not sure of its name.

Gaura lindheimeri "Whirling Butterflies":
Gaura lindheimeri "Siskiyou Pink":

Dahlia "Marie Antoinette":
There are buds on the Mystic Star dahlias, but none open today.


Verbena "Candy Cane":

Pink trumpet vine (Podranea ricasoliana) is nearly finished:

Another new one - night-scented jessamine, Cestrum nocturnum, has been perfuming the night air for the last couple of weeks.
It is lovely to have a window open and sleep in a room filled with its scent. In previous years it has flowered when the nights were too hot to have the windows open, but this year it has waited until just the right time.

Salvia "Indigo Spires":
Bees do love the salvias.

I had to search for a flower on the fringe flowers, Loropetalum chinense var rubrum, which surprised me:
I was expecting them to have more flowers this month than last, not fewer.

Mexican sage (Salvia leucantha):

Salvia "Mystic Spires Blue" has been flowering since June. I thought it was just about finished last month, but here it is again:

Red valerian or kiss-me-quick (Centranthus ruber):

This sedum was just starting to flower last month and has almost completely finished now, but fortunately one small piece still has open flowers:

The last of the belladonna lilies (Amaryllis belladonna):

Vireya "Chayya" is new this month:
But vireya "Princess Alexandra" is now in her eighth month of flowering:

Bromeliad (Aechmea fasciata):

Another new one, a callistemon popping open:
I don't know which variety it is, unfortunately.

The mint is still going:

The lemon tree is another new one:

And last of all, a succulent which may be a species of Pachyphytum:

Actually it is not quite all, because the "4 o'clock plant" (Mirabilis jalapa) is still flowering, but they were all closed when I took these photos this morning.