Thursday, February 28, 2019

Bee-utiful Gift and Stash Progress Report

Today I was given this gorgeous  "a-bee-c" pincushion made by a friend:
Actually I don't know what the real name of the pattern is, but it should be something like that. Isn't it lovely? Thank you, Jeanette!

Progress on reducing my stash in February:

Two spools emptied.
Year to date: 5 emptied spools, which originally held 2,350 metres of thread.

Dress fabric:
Nothing used, nothing added.
Year to date: Down 4 metres.

Quilt fabric:
Used 2.3 metres, unexpectedly given 7.75 metres!
Year to date: Up 4.15 metres.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Transferring Skills

I've been stuck on my Rajah Revisited quilt for quite some time. Since October last year to be exact. Four months of no progress because of this:

The flower with skinny pointy petals which is meant to be appliquéd in each corner of the second border. With skinny pointy points that are beyond my current appliqué skill level.

Today it suddenly struck me that I could try making these petals using the interfacing technique I've been using for the Lori Holt Bloom quilt. So I made a couple of test petals, but even with trimming away almost all of the seam allowance my points were lumpy and ugly looking.

Then another idea hit me, and I looked through the Bloom templates and the templates from the Amanda Herring Friendship quilt. I found that one of Amanda's templates was the same length as the Rajah petals, just a bit wider:

So I made a couple more test petals, and I think I can get a sharper point with these slightly fatter petals. I'm going to give it a go, anyway!

I found diamonds on this fabric in the colours I wanted to use for the petals, so now I have 24 petals ready as my next hand-sewing task.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Extension Table

This is why I went to Geelong on Wednesday:
To collect the extension table for my "new" machine. The lady I bought the machine from had just found the table when doing some more cleaning up at her mother's home, so contacted me to let me know. I was very happy to hear from her, as I had been wondering about ordering one (if they were still available).

It has taken me over two months since I bought it, but the Janome is now set up in my sewing room. And the extra flat surface of the extension table makes working on fiddly things like the next Bloom block easier.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Baby Banksia

Last month I showed this photo of a banksia cone:
Very like the big bad banskia men which were the scary villains in May Gibb's stories,

 although with with its eyes all closed.

A couple of cones came home with us, and after we had had pizzas one day, the cones spent some time in the hot pizza oven. That opened up the seed-holding "eyes", enabling the seeds to be collected. (And making the cones look more like the nasty banksia men.)

The seeds were sown in the same sort of propagation tubes we use for the TreeProject seedlings, and look at this:

A baby banksia tree! About half a dozen have come up so far.

Edited later - turns out that this is NOT a banksia seedling! Find out what it is in this post.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

I Might Need Zebra Clothes

Scientists researching why zebras have stripes have found that the stripes confuse blood-sucking flies.

Story from The Guardian: Why the zebra got its stripes.

In an experiment that involved zebras, horses, and horses dressed up as zebras, they found that Tabanid flies (think: march flies) didn't land on zebras or on the zebra-print horse coats as frequently as they did on naked horses or the exposed parts of the dressed-up horses.

Do I need to make myself some zebra-print clothes?  It's not all good news - the horseflies in the experiment still buzzed around the zebras, they just didn't land. They either veered away or bounced off. I don't really want march flies buzzing around me and bouncing off me.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Geelong Botanic Gardens

I had a reason go to Geelong today, so added in a visit to the botanic gardens because the Friends' Nursery is open on Wednesday mornings.

Perennial borders looking fantastic:

Also came across their wonderful ginkgo:
This tree is on the National Trust's Register of Significant Trees.

We enjoyed morning tea in the gardens. A few plants from the nursery came home, as well as a few more from the Wombat Gully nursery.

The main reason for my trip to Geelong will have to wait for another blog post once I have tidied up my sewing room a bit.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Slow Growing

Two months ago I was happy to see a little shoot appear above the soil in this pot, and now I am happy to report that it is still alive and growing:
It is Zanzibar gem (Zamioculcas zamiifolia), an allegedly indestructible house plant.  Although at this rate it may be some time before the shoot develops into a leaf and actually looks like a plant.

Saturday, February 16, 2019

Bloom Three and Four

I got a bit carried away and did two blocks today:
Which means now that I have the first row made, I really need to make a decision about what I am going to so for the sashing:

Linked to Cheryll's Bloomers Party, where you can catch up with the other people participating in the Bloom Sew-Along.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Quilt Finish

Amanda Herring's Friendship Quilt, which I made as part of a quilt-along last year:
The top was assembled in September, and I had the quilting finished by late October. Then I'm not sure what happened, but I didn't get the binding machined on until early January, and it has taken until today for me to finish the hand-sewing. But now it is done!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019


Today's job:
I'm going to a new sewing group tomorrow, so this will give me some hand work to do.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

The View From There

One day last week the slab was poured for the new house being built across the road from us. The next day, wall frames were delivered. Yesterday morning as I was going next-door to photograph my quilt, I noticed that the walls of the new house were starting to go up:
I hadn't really noticed before, but since they cleared so many trees, we can now see the roof of the house behind theirs, in the next street over.

A lot more of the frame was erected during the day. Last night after they had finished working, we went over to see just how much of our house will be visible to the new neighbours.

This is the view through a window of what appears to be an en-suite at the front of their house:
They can really only see the roof of our house.

Standing at their front door, and zooming-in:
They can't see our front door. So even though we will be able to see their house, we don't need to feel like we are being overlooked by the neighbours.

We have also planted a few more things along that side of our garden, to grow up and help screen the view.

Monday, February 11, 2019

143,191 Quilting Stitches

As of ten o'clock this morning,

the quilting is finished:
For the photo I took the quilt next door to hang on the neighbour's clothesline, because hers can be raised higher than mine is. This quilt would drag in the dirt under mine.

A look at the back so you can see how I quilted the blocks and borders:

I've decided to bind it with blue.

I will add a link to Bonnie Hunter's final "Good Fortune" link-up when it becomes available.  Here it is!

Jean's Good Fortune

A friend sent me these pictures so that I could add them to the Good Fortune link-up.

This is a graffiti-covered wall in Melbourne:
Jean made Good Fortune for her grand-daughter, who loves yellow and loves this wall.

Jean used the wall as inspiration for her Good Fortune colour scheme:
Her grand-daughter loves it!

I will add a link to the final Good Fortune link-up when it becomes available. Here is the Link-Up!

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Baby Plants

Some months ago at a market I bought an unidentified succulent that looked interesting. The leaves are a nice shape, and have attractive purple blotches on the backs. Since then it has grown, and it suddenly got a lot more interesting when this happened:

Tiny baby plants are growing from the leaves!

At least this allowed me to finally identify the plant. One of its common names is "Mother of Thousands", and it was scientifically Kalanchoe daigremontiana but is now Bryophyllum daigremontianum apparently. It is also potentially quite weedy, as it reproduces so prolifically. But it doesn't like frost so I won't be putting it outside anyway.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Getting There

Quilting this thing feels like it has been going on for ever,
but it is really only three and a half weeks since I started.

The photo may look like I'm nearly finished because I am working on the outer border. However I haven't completed the quilting in the centre of the quilt. The red and orange blocks are only half done.

Friday, February 8, 2019

Blooming Things

Dahlia "Mystic Sparkler":

The crepe myrtles are looking good:

Several salvias are already flowering, but this one with white flowers, which is the favourite of the birds, is just starting:


And today, this arrived:
The "Bloom" templates. I found a seller in Australia who had one set left. Paying $8 to get them here from Queensland was better than paying nearly $40 to get them here from the US. Having the templates will make the Bloom Sew-Along easier to participate in.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Bloom Block Two

This sew-along is a real learning experience for me. That is a good thing, but it is frustrating not to be able to do something well straight away!

The first step this week was to sew thin stems in an "X" shape on the block. That was a complete disaster.

I didn't take a photo of it straight away, but this shot after I had scrapped it and used it for a bit of experimentation might give you an idea of how wonky, buckled, just plain horrible it was:

It seems I couldn't sew straight, or stop the work buckling, without some help. The back view will give you one part of my solution:
Stabiliser! I used some Floriani "Stitch N Wash", which stopped a lot of the buckling. The stabiliser can be torn away, or if left in it will dissolve when the item is washed.

The second part of my solution involved slowing my machine down to the slowest possible speed (which is very slow!) and swapping to an open-toed foot:
Going at this super-slow speed I was able to make tiny adjustments as each stitch was sewn. Looking at the photo I think gives a clue as to why it wouldn't sew straight - the the edge of the green fabric is only just under the foot, and it had a real tendency to be pushed aside by the foot (except where there was a dot of glue). That meant that instead of sewing along the right-hand edge of the stem, I would find that the needle was hitting the green fabric.

So here is my block, back view:

and front:
I only added the stabiliser to cover the stem area, but it made sewing all the other parts easier as well. On future blocks I will stabilise the entire appliqué area.

Good news! I found somewhere in Australia that had one set of Bloom templates left, so for our future blocks I will be using the correct templates.

Linked to Cheryll's Bloomers Party #2. Check out blocks by people who are not beginners at this sort of thing.