Ovarian Cancer Quilt: TTOF #4

The mail has started to come in!

Today, I received Kjerstin’s block for This Teal’s on Fire. And my word, it’s a stunner. Just look at all those tiny hand-sewn hexies. I could not have asked for more perfect colours, either.

For those who don’t see how painstaking and meticulous the work is, here are detail shots, first of the front:

And then the back. I mean, the back’s almost perfect enough to show on the front, like a textured version.

Kjerstin, thank you so much for your beautiful work on behalf of ovarian cancer patients and their families.

I love this stage of putting the quilt together. Every package is like Christmas!

Ovarian Cancer Quilt: TTOF #3

Number 3 is done.

I like the combination between giant and regular-sized hexies, and it’s also a combination of hand- and machine-stitched. The wheel aspect is a bit more abstract in this one, but I feel the ‘wheel on fire’ idea still comes through clearly.

And now, I’m going to stop until some of the other blocks come through, so that I can see where colour intensity and shapes need balancing across the quilt, and what kind of other blocks I’ll need to make to achieve a harmonious result.

C’mon, Australia Post. Show me what you can do!

Ovarian Cancer Quilt: TTOF#2

… and my second block.

OK, it’s not a New York Beauty, but it sort of made itself, a kind of hybrid Wedding Ring block with prairie points.

I can’t seem to take a straight photo. It’s round in real life!

Next time for the New York Beauty, maybe. Or perhaps something completely different!

I know that there are 4 different sets of blocks already in transit to me, so that’s exciting. My design wall will be filling up soon.

Meanwhile, my work table badly needs a tidy-up!


Ovarian Cancer Quilt: TTOF#1

I thought I’d post my first block, to encourage people.

Not that anyone seems to need it, I’ve had some great responses with news of blocks posted already! The Trudy Crowley Foundation is thrilled that we’re producing our annual fundraiser, so the quilt will be going to a very appreciative audience.

So then, here it is. Block #1 of This Teal’s on Fire. Can you visualise it now? A quilt of teal/cream blocks which have circular motifs, or give that impression, touched with flickers of flame orange. In this photo the background looks dark blue but it’s actually a deep teal. The spikes are pieced, but the majority of the block is appliqué.

I’ll be posting everyone’s blocks as they come in. Next on the agenda is a New York Beauty block, which, for the uninitiated is a spiked circular design set in a square and made up of 4 quarters, often paper pieced. These blocks can range from simple to very complex, and some of the most interesting versions have different layouts for each quarter. I’ll be keeping it simple, myself…

Back to the box of teal scraps!

Going round in ovals

Not a typing error.

I could have done circles, but I doubt the effect would have been satisfactory!

Pattern booklet

This is a jelly roll rug. I bought the pattern years ago with the best intentions, but once I’d read the first three pages of it, I was much too lazy a bit intimidated and put it and the jelly roll aside. For years…

Finished size of mine is 48 x 27 inches but may vary. It was easy to make, but the preparation is pretty tedious and took twice as long as the actual assembly. None of it is hard, though. I do think the pattern instructions about the assembly are unnecessarily complicated, as they involve shifting furniture about. You do need an L-shaped return of some sort on your sewing table to hold the growing size of the mat as you stitch, but that’s about it.

You need a jelly roll. You join it end to end with neat diagonal seams until it’s all one strip. You cut batting strips a fraction narrower (the pattern says the same size, but I found that resulted in making it hard to fold the strips), and I cut them at 2¼ inches wide. You can join these strips too, with batting tape, but I didn’t bother.

Finished rug

You lay the batting on the wrong side of the jelly roll strip. You fold both edges towards the middle and fold the whole thing in half lengthwise. Pin together. Repeat this for the whole endless length. You taper one end down to half an inch, over a distance of about 6 inches. Stitch the strip down along its length, about ¼ inch from the open edge.  You end up with a sort of flat, chubby ‘yarn’. Roll it into a ball, secure with a pin. Start the rug with a straight length (1 used 16 inches) and spiral out, securing with zigzag stitch. You need to ‘feed’ the free yard actively towards the stitching or it’ll get tighter and tighter and end up as a bowl, edges curving upwards. End up with the tapered end tucked neatly under. It’ll need steaming and pressing and possible a night spent under your heaviest books. Total time: 2 days.

This rug is going into the caravan, between the bunks, and will be cosy under foot instead of the vinyl planks.

VanEssa: the shakedown trip

Well, it’s been great.

We’ve just spent 4 days at Airlie Beach in the Whitsundays. We took our caravan VanEssa up for her maiden voyage with us, and because Airlie is only 150km/90ish miles away, it was the perfect spot: beautiful, warm, but close enough to home to head back easily in a couple of hours if anything went wrong. But nothing (much) did. With one or two notable exceptions, of course. I mean, it wouldn’t be us if there weren’t at least two issues. Since they relate to the, ahem, sanitary facilities, I’m going to gloss over that bit hastily as no-one wants to hear about things like that. However, on the plus side, VanEssa is amazingly well insulated for both heat and sound, the reverse-cycle aircon is a dream for both heating and cooling, the beds were even comfier than I thought, the fridge/freezer was fantastic, the stovetop worked beautifully, the range hood was efficient. I could go on…

Airlie Beach has always been a bit too close for our holiday trips, and it’s a major tourist centre, but off-season we found it was perfect for the Husband’s 4-day off shift, so we’ll definitely be going back. Because of this, we hadn’t done much exploring in the area, and one of the places I wanted to visit was in Proserpine, about 30km from where we were staying. It’s a small, busy sugar town, not the sort of place you’d expect to find a shop like Colour Me Crazy. From the name and the look of the website, you expect a certain degree of kookiness, but believe me, there’s nothing kooky about this place. It’s crammed floor to ceiling in multiple rooms with utter fabulousness. I can’t describe it, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

The Husband and doggo decided that it was not their kind of thing, and sat outside in the sunshine while I drifted about inside, coveting and fingering the merch. It’s not cheap (although worth every penny, I’d say), and I just couldn’t justify spending the sort of money my acquisitive little heart pined to… Gorgeous clothing, jewellery, bags, shoes, homewares, candles, pictures. aaaargh…

So after I tore myself away we went and investigated Prossy Pies, because it was lunchtime, and you know what I’m like about pies. Nice, but not as good as some we’ve had recently (although Doggo did appreciate his share). Not something I can say about Fish D’vine, where the fish and chips were indeed Divine. The coral trout was off the boat that day, the batter was light and crispy, as were the chips, and we got a generous side order of aioli. Worth going back to Airlie just for that, and the place is very dog friendly, having a large outdoor seating area overlooking the sea and out to the reef.

We did other stuff too, including a short visit to the Peter Faust Dam, which is beautiful, has a very nice unpowered camping area, several pristine picnic huts and is extremely peaceful and beautiful, with an open horizon, distant hills and a remarkable volcanic plug visible on the other side of the water. I’ve been unable to find a name for this very distinctive bit of geology.

Panoramic photo, do click for a larger image

I’d have loved to stay longer, but 4 days is all we had. Doggo, however, is delighted to be home and have his own backyard to zoom around and a wide choice of places to snooze. And now that we’re back, it’s time to fix up those issues, give her a clean and get her ready for our next trip to Cairns in August.

Oh, and I have sewing projects calling my name!

ScrapHappy May

Welcome once again to ScrapHappy Day!

It’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

I’d fully intended to have my little scrappy fabric-covered drawer unit ready for today, but it kept getting pushed to the back of the queue. Never mind, I will get it done for a future post. In the meantime, I have a small scrappy project I did get done and another one that’s singing a siren song to lure me away from other more constructive things.

Firstly, a small key pouch to go in my colourful backpack, using scraps of the backpack fabric and pieces from the Harlequin coat. I had some leftover piping I couldn’t bear to throw out, and it seemed to be telling me it would look very nice around the outside of a small scrappy pouch. Keys are hard on bag linings, and this one is double lined to preserve the interior of my lovely new bag. The zipper is a recycled one from an old pair of pants and actually determined the size of the finished thing, the ribbon pull is a scrap from a garment swing tag.

The other thing is all the fabulous Harlequin scraps. I simply cannot let them go. I trimmed them out very frugally to tidy shapes, throwing out only the barest slivers. Jigsawed together, they form a piece about 80cm square. I would need to join all the pieces together with sashing, but it would be a spectacular piece of scrappiness, and I believe there might actually be the potential for at least part of another garment in there. Maybe a waistcoat/bodywarmer? These bits are all basted to the charcoal grey 60% wool batting, so it’d be moderately cosy for the forthcoming not-very-cold North Queensland winter, and although there’s not enough for a whole anything, I could easily cut a pattern and piece something together using some other fabric to supplement it. No silk lining on this one, of course, but I have plenty of quilting fabric needing a home.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. Anything made of genuine scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful or useful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at). The list below is the most current one I have, so if you’d like me to update something, let me know in the Comments. Please note that Jule has asked to come off the list as she will be turning her attention elsewhere for a while, and we are delighted to welcome Hannah for the first time.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, 
JanMoira, SandraChrisAlys,
ClaireJeanJon, DawnGwen,
Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue LVera, Edith
 Ann, Dawn 2, Carol, Preeti,
DebbieroseNóilinViv, Karrin,
Amo, Alissa, Lynn, Tierney and Hannah

We also have a special one-time guest appearance by Kym’s blog, The Byrd and the Bees, featuring creative scrappy recycling by her husband, The Engineer. You’ll find it here, so do pay a visit.

Batala/Harlequin backpack done

It was a really good pattern.

Two big sewing sessions were enough to get the job done. I did take a few liberties with the pattern as written, mainly because I was making the bag from leftovers and needed to improvise. I didn’t have quite enough of several things. So, for example, the lining has several seams in it, I made the drawstring instead of using cord, the straps are fitted to size rather than adjustable, and so on. The fact that I could do this within the parameters of the pattern was a mark of its versatility, in my opinion, and doesn’t compromise the end result.

So, we have a small, neat but capacious bag with three pockets: two internal and one external, two of them zipped, a flap with a magnetic clasp to cover the drawstring, straps attached to a D-ring which doubles as a hanging loop, and lastly, an opportunity to showcase a really pretty fabric.

It’s also very light, feels sturdy and sits comfortably on my back. I don’t think it’s firm enough to hold anything very heavy or bulky, but as this is essentially a handbag rather than an actual backpack, I feel that’s perfectly OK. Obviously, I ended up using the paisley straps, but this was because I simply didn’t have enough of the geometric. Some-times the universe makes decisions for us.

If I ever want a heavier version, I’ll make it in leather, oil cloth, canvas or decorator fabric. 10/10 would recommend. #batala backpack #pinkponydesigns. The pattern is available to download on Etsy.

And because even sewing isn’t enough, I tried out a new bread recipe/process.

Four ingredients. Zero effort. 100% delicious.

Tender, open crumb, crust a combination of crispy and chewy. Can’t wait to see what it’s like as toast…

And now, on with the next thing.

Batala/Harlequin backpack

What’ll it be, then?

Which of these two webbings will I use for the Batala/Harlequin backpack?  My personal preference is for the colourful geometric one at the bottom but I’m inviting opinions in case someone has cogent reasons for preferring the other one.

So, progress: I’ve got the front and back panels done, the flap done, the D-ring hanger done, and the dark blue sides attached to the colourful front and back. There’s also a zippered pocket on the back panel you can’t see. Still to do: the phone pocket, second zippered pocket, the straps and the lining. That last bit will be fun, since the whole thing is attached to the outside, and then the whole bag has to be turned back out through a 3 inch slit in the bottom of the small zippered pocket on the back. Which will be fun. Not.

So far, I’m impressed with this pattern. If anyone is planning to make it, I strongly recommend mounting the pattern pieces onto card and then cutting them out. This is partly because you have to draw around things several times. Not only is it harder to draw round just paper, but the card will stand up much better to this treatment long term.

Making the bag is easier than I feared. The piping is the hardest part, and even that isn’t hard so long as you have a zipper or piping foot for your sewing machine, and you handle the bias strip gently.

I think I’m probably over halfway through, and it’s going to be fab!

The Harlequin Coat #8

Well, rats

Those ribbon froggings were a spectacular fail. I pinned them on and got stitching… endlessly. Only to discover towards the end of the process that the ribbon coils were held together with a single thread that wasn’t properly secured. They not only fell apart very quickly, they were also pretty hard to use successfully because the satin ribbon was very slippery and the turk’s head knot that was the ‘button’ would not stay inside the loop once any slight pressure was applied.

I re-did all the tedious hours of stitching. But in reverse. 😬

Time for Plan B.

I found these black metal clasps on Etsy and ordered two pairs. I’m hoping they’ll do the trick. Otherwise I might end up having to use the dreaded toggles; this is not a duffel coat. On the upside, I got the pockets on and the coat is done apart from the closures.

In other news, as if I didn’t have enough on, I’ve decided to make myself a purse/backpack to match the coat. I’m no bag designer, so I once again resorted to Etsy to find one that was a) simple and b) interesting. There are so many of them out there, but I wanted an adult/classy version without a frenzy of pockets and zippers.

In the end, I chose this Batala backpack design from Pink Pony Design, and while mine won’t be in purple and green with a tiger on the flap, I promise you it’ll look good with the coat, since I have a large piece of my favourite fabric left, plenty of the dark blue and some fun contrast fabric for the piping. Fingers crossed I don’t discover any issues on this project. All reviews of the pattern are very positive, and I’ve seen photos of some completed examples which look great. I really like all her bag designs, so this may not be the last one I make!

Now I just have to hurry up and wait for those clasps.