Thursday, January 31, 2019

Farewell, January

One of the crepe myrtles today:
The crepe myrtles are looking good this year. They are starting to grow. In a couple of years they
might be looking like a row of trees, rather than shrubs.

Progress on reducing my stash in January:
Quilt fabric minus 1.3m
Dress fabric minus 4m
  Three spools emptied!

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

A Bit of Rain

It has been very dry lately, so it was a bit exciting today when this happened:
Lal Lal is under that red patch of rain on the left between Ballarat and Meredith. The storm looked promising, but by the time I had persuaded my camera not to focus on the window:
The rain was finished. We did get 1mm, which was better than nothing, but it would be nice for the garden to get some proper rain.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Deja Vu

No, this is not the same tunic as yesterday:
This is my second finish for the year. Tunic made with the rest of yesterday's fabric. This one is a little shorter, and has narrow cuffs on the sleeves instead of ruffles. Two new items in the wardrobe, 4 metres of fabric out of the sewing room.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Tunic Top

My first finish of the year:
 StyleArc "Culliver" tunic.
Using up some fabric I bought in India, which means I have owned it for more than 10 years. The fabric was sold as a set for making a salwar kameez. The cream fabric is for the top (kameez), and the dark green for the trousers (salwar). There is also a matching dark green dupatta (scarf or shawl) which is a much lighter fabric. I could have made the whole top out of just the cream fabric, but I wanted some contrast. There is enough fabric left to make another version in the opposite colours, with a bit of creative fabric joining.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

A Walk in the Cemetery

It may sound morbid, but I quite enjoy walking in cemeteries. They are usually very peaceful, and sometimes quite beautiful.

Roses and greenery in one section of the Ballarat Cemetery:

Moon gate entrance to the Chinese section:

Chinese graves:
The inscriptions are all on the side facing east (which was in deep shadow this afternoon), but I don't know if the stones mark the head or the foot of the graves.

I'm sure many Australian children have had nightmares about banksia men after reading May Gibbs' stories. This tree has a good crop of potential banksia men:

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Wind Farm

Two weeks ago we went to look at progress on the Lal Lal wind farm (which is not actually in Lal Lal, but a few kms on either side of us). This is what we could see on the 5th of January:
A few towers beginning to grow, and on the ground beside each of them, three enormous blades.

Who knew the blades have serrated edges?

While out driving yesterday afternoon I saw that one of the towers has now got to this point:
Sorry about the terrible photo. I did not have my camera with me, so had to zoom in with my phone. I was about 3km away from the tower, to give you some idea of how much zooming I had to do and how big it is.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

Bloom Block One

I am participating in the 2019 Bloom Stitch-Along with Cheryll at Gone Stitchin'. My quilt will be "inspired by Bloom" as I am not using the correct templates.

This is the story of my first block.

Lori Holt's appliqué method for this quilt involves backing each piece with sew-in interfacing. I haven't tried this before, but I have a big roll of interfacing helping to clutter up my sewing room, so let's give it a go!

I drew the shapes on the interfacing then stitched along the lines. I found that the lines were hard to see because of the shadow of the presser foot, so I missed the line in a few places. However an LED lighting strip arrived from China on Tuesday, which should help with the next blocks.

I didn't sew across the narrow end of these petal shapes, as that end will be hidden under the centre of the flower. It also made it easier to turn the shapes right-way out. I trimmed away a lot of the seam allowance at those points, but still had trouble making them nice pointy points. I also had difficulty turning out the leaf shapes. As a result I have ordered a skinny Clover point turner, which I hope will arrive before I tackle block two.

For the centre of the flower I used one of Karen Kay Buckley's "Perfect Circles" templates:
The advantage of the "perfect circles" is that they are made of mylar, not plastic, so you can iron over them. The strip at the bottom of the picture is my stem, made with a 6mm bias tape maker.

Then I had a slight difficulty. I planned to hold the pieces in place with dots of Roxanne's Glue-Baste-It, but the top was glued firmly on and I couldn't budge it. Instead I used a glue pen, but some pieces, particularly the stem, shifted as I sewed:
Stitched down with a machined blanket-stitch. I wasn't at all happy with my stitching, particularly on the stem. I also realised round about now that using a fabric with straight lines for the petals had not been a good idea, as it emphasised the wonkiness of the shape and of my stitching. But I'd come this far so I continued:
Now I had more things I was unhappy about! Because the fabric in the centre is quite light, the long pieces of petal underneath it are quite visible. Not in the photo so much, but in real life they are. If I had used the interfacing method the extra layer might have helped disguise them. The other thing I don't like is the big gap between the lower petals. The flower in the pattern does not look like that.

Eventually I decided that this was my practice piece, and I made it again. In the intervening hours a friend told me that the Roxanne's glue nozzle can be freed up by giving it a soak in warm water. Hooray! That worked beautifully, so for my second attempt the stem was attached more firmly and didn't move:
Changes I made: The petal shapes didn't need to be as long as they were, as a lot was hidden behind the flower centre. I drew them shorter this time. I also used a less transparent fabric for the flower centre, which helped hide the ends of the petals. I spread the petals more, although probably could have spread them a little further.

I haven't yet added the sashing to the block, as I am still considering my options for that.

Anyway, it has been a learning experience. By the time I get to the 20th block of this quilt, I hope there will be visible improvement.

See the other participants at Cheryll's Bloom Sew-Along link-up!

Friday, January 18, 2019

Light and Dark

Crinum lily flowering:

Honeysuckle opens to be light yellow inside:

And the dark? Sewing black shadecloth:

which is hard to see even with the flash. And it is not easy to sew because it is scratchy and doesn't behave nicely.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

After Dinner Drinks

Two magpies drinking from the birdbath late on a hot day:
Our resident magpie family has (we think) three babies this year. It is hard to be sure as there are quite a few members of the family. The bird in the rear is definitely a juvenile. The bird in front looks older, as its beak has white on it which the juvenile is lacking, but not completely adult. Is it possibly an older sister, maybe from last year? The youngster was hopefully asking it for food, but not getting any!

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Quilting Started

Beginning with stitching in the ditch between the blocks.

Added to Bonnie's link-up here.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Flowers and Pins

The sea of gladdies early this morning:

This amazing one is in a different part of the garden:
I do not remember seeing it flower before. It would be a corm dug up in the garden rescue mission of 2015, but perhaps it was very tiny and has only this year grown enough to start flowering. It is beautiful!

My job today was basting my Good Fortune quilt:
It is too big to be done all at once so there was a lot of unclipping, moving, and reclipping between pinning bouts.

Eventually most of it was pinned:
But I ran out of pins before I made it to the edges:
so most of the borders are not pinned yet. I will have to quilt the centre of the quilt, then use the removed pins in the borders. I wonder where the rest of my pins are? Perhaps there is a basted charity quilt or two that I had forgotten about...

The highlight of my day, better than seeing a beautiful new flower, or getting the mystery quilt basted, was receiving a parcel all the way from Norway:
This very sweet pincushion is a special gift from Turid at Den syende himmel. It is wonderful how the internet has brought us friends in all corners of the world. I first met Turid through one of Bonnie's previous mystery quilts. If you haven't visited Turid's blog, you should check out this post:
La Passion from a drone, where you can see her amazing "La Passion" hexagon quilt (16,762 hexies!), as well as some of the beautiful area of Norway which is her home.

Friday, January 11, 2019


Mum or Dad shows how it's done:

Then baby has a go:

Then I needed to top up the birdbath!

Inside the house, this happened:
 I will have to find somewhere to hang it up or spread it out to get a picture of the whole thing.

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Much Bordering

My goal today was to add the 2nd, 3rd and 4th borders to Good Fortune, i.e. to finish the top!

I had already assembled the 2nd and 3rd borders, so I didn't expect sewing them on to take too much time. But attaching them took much longer than I expected, and involved a lot more stabbing myself with pins than I would have preferred.

It took me all morning to get the 2nd border on, as I could only do one side then I needed to take a break from it.
Pressing the final side of the 2nd border.

Lots of pins for the next border:

On the ironing board with the 3rd border fully attached, but not pressed yet:

On the clothesline late in the afternoon, and still not pressed as the sky was clouding over and it looked like it might rain. I wanted a photograph before that happened.

Once the final border is on I will not be able to hang it like this on the clothesline, because it almost touches the ground now.

Here's this week's link-up. There will be another link-up on Monday, by which time I will have the last border on.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019


A few blooming things:

This rose is "Joyfulness":
It is another of the lucky-dip box of roses.

First flower on one of my transplanted dahlias:
Something has had a bit of a nibble at the petals. This is the unknown orange dahlia that was meant to be purple, looking quite red.

The sea of gladdies is blooming marvellously:

 A couple of weeks back I heard about a sew-along using Lori Holt's pattern Bloom:
The pattern is free, and it looked like a good quilt for using up some scraps, so I thought I would join in.

But like last year's "Friendship" quilt along:

the pattern is a free download, but the templates have to be purchased. I was lucky with "Friendship" because Amanda Herring the designer sent me the templates herself, and only charged me the actual postage cost, which was $8. The Bloom templates are available from a few retailers in the US, but the postage charges put them outside my budget. Not helped by the current exchange rate of course. So this is what I didn't buy:

Photo from Lori Holt's blog here. There's also a link to the pattern download there.

I dropped the idea of making the Bloom quilt, but Cheryll at Gone Stitchin' said I was welcome to join in the sew-along anyway. Rather than making the Bloom quilt, I will be making the "Inspired by Bloom" quilt, using the Friendship templates, or other templates I have or can draw.

I have already cut the background squares, but I haven't chosen all the fabrics I will use because I have been concentrating on finishing the Good Fortune mystery quilt. So I am linking to Cheryll's first Bloom link-up without having done what we are supposed to be showing off, our fabric choices! Next time I will have something to show.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Quilt, Interrupted

Yesterday I assembled all the blocks of Good Fortune, so the first job today was to press all those blocks. And here they all are:
I forgot to mention: Blue won! Most people I showed my test blocks to liked the blue chain (or "train" as I mistyped it) best. That was actually my favourite too, but it was nice to see that others felt the same.

First I sewed most of these blocks to each other:
 Then into rows:

Round about then it was time to check the letterbox, but outside there was a very strange and loud grunting noise. Further investigation revealed the source of the disturbance:

Two koalas up a tree! I don't know if they were two males arguing about territory, or a male pursuing a female, or what their story is. But it was fantastic to see them. It is a while since we saw a koala, but I've never before seen two at once.

I did get back to the piecing later, and now the body of the quilt needs two more seams sewn, and the first border is assembled ready to be attached. But there is still a lot of sewing to do before it is a completed top.

But I saw two koalas up a tree!

Sunday, January 6, 2019


Back in November I mentioned visiting a friend and coming home with a car load of curtains. She had had new drapes made, but when they arrived some of them were not correct for her order - the lining had been left out. The manufacturer remade new drapes for her, and told her to "dispose" of the incorrect ones. She disposed of them to me!

Since then I have been busy with other stuff, but a few days ago I bought a track, and today we hung a couple of the drapes in the bedroom:

They are a perfect length, and the colour is so close to our wall paint that it is amazing. You would never imagine that they were actually made for a completely different house.

I do need to do some sewing to change the widths of the drapes, but that can wait. For now I have a window with curtains, and I am happy! A new house is about to be built on the block directly across the road from this window, and I will be glad to not have builders looking into our bedroom when they start work before I've even woken up.

Thank you Jenni, for thinking of me when considering how to dispose of your incorrect drapes!


Neutral chain or blue train? (Added later - this was meant to say "blue chain", but I'll leave "train" here because that's how some answered.)
That is the question for today.