ScrapHappy January

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.

It’s only a small one this month, as endless photos of blocks you’ve seen before, only quilted, are not interesting for anyone.

I love my local library, and my local librarian, Sally. She has boundless energy and enthusiasm for her job, and we share many tastes in books. I strolled in there the other day wearing one of my home made masks, since we’re back on mask wearing in any indoor setting due to Omnicrom. She admired it on sight, and while in any other situation, I’d have whipped it off, stuck it in its plastic bag and given it to her, obviously that’s not a good idea right now. So as I had enough scrap of the same fabric, and time, I got snipping and stitching and made her one for herself. She has a black uniform shirt, so I think it’ll add a cheerful note.

The Husband gets the disposable surgical masks from work, and I used a spare to dismantle it and use the elastic, nose wire and blue lining material to make Sally a triple layer mask. Outer as you see, inner made from a tightly woven batik, and the blue in the middle. These masks are washable, and when the strips holding the nose wire and elastics eventually disintegrate after too many washes, I can just run a ripper along the stitching, remove the old ones and replace with fresh wire and elastic. That hasn’t happened yet on any of the masks I’ve made for myself or the Husband, so maybe they’ll last us out. I like the pattern, as I can wear it for ages without discomfort and without my glasses fogging up.

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). Bear, your email address appears to be not working, so I wasn’t able to send you a reminder, sorry.  If you’ve changed it, can you please let me know?

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

A cushy number

Well, it’s Mouse’s turn.

He’s now also immortalised in a cushion. There was lots of dudgeon and side-eye when I made the Lotti cushion, as he felt that as I was His mum, I should have prioritised Him. So I gave in to the hounding (see what I did there?) and made him his own.

The front isn’t black, it’s a dark charcoal with a black graphic overprint. I need to get a cushion pad the right size, what’s in there is a bit floppy as it’s not quite large enough, but it can wait till the next time I have to go to Spotlight for something else. For the back, I used my remnant of the pretty Jocelyn Proust gold fabric with a pattern of leaves and zebra finches.

I did get a photo of Mouse all stretched out, doing a Lotti, but it was just too long and skinny to make a cushion, wouldn’t you say? Not to mention that his grey blankie isn’t exactly a colourful background for a black dog…

Anyway, his Lordship is now content that he’s been respected satisfactorily!

Better late than never

You know those jobs that just won’t come into focus?

The ones where you have a nebulous idea, a great idea, but one which just won’t reveal its details to you? Yeah… This was one of those jobs. I knew I wanted to make a Christmas gift for my friend Lyn, Lotti Greyhound’s mum. I knew I wanted it to be a Lotti-themed item. But I couldn’t get it to come into focus. A few days ago, it finally clicked, but I didn’t have everything I needed.

And here, finally, it is. Lovely Lotti in all her sleek and slinky glory,  stretched at ease on her comfy bed, with a silly greyhound grin on her chops and one balletic paw poised at exactly the right angle… I picked out colours from within the photo to frame it out as a cushion. I cropped and tweaked and added a soft, vintage-y filter. I added a caption and flipped the whole thing, then made an iron-on transfer. The rest is pretty straightforward cushion-making, and I won’t bore you with it.

Mouse approves of the portrait of his girlfriend, even if he’s not sure why this cushion is going out of the house, since all cushions are apparently his property…

I’m glad I got it done before Christmas is entirely over!

Christmas cookies

My first venture back into baking…

I stopped baking when I got the diabetes diagnosis. It just wasn’t safe to expose myself to any quantities of tasty baked goods, as my willpower, initially at least, wasn’t up to the challenge. The Husband, a true saint, backed me up, and has willingly sacrificed his own access to the good stuff in order to support me in losing the excess weight and maintaining my blood sugar at safe levels.

Seven months down the line, I’m able to control myself! So it was time to do some seasonal baking for the benefit of the Chiconi Fam, who came for Christmas lunch. No need to impose my dietary restrictions on them… Everyone got a little carton with five bickies to take away afterwards. Tasty, but not a sweet overload.

The red velvet cupcakes with white frosting and sprinkles were fine, but nothing spectacular, so I’m not bothering with them. The bickies (cookies to my American/Canadian friends) are another story. I haven’t baked bickies/cookies much, aside from my default, 20-minute start-to-finish Peanut Butter Cookies. But I saw this recipe on the Emmy Made YouTube channel, and wanted to give it a try. Y’all should give it a go, it’s a winner.

Ready to go into the oven. Top left to bottom right: spice thins, jam drops, raisin, peanut butter and double chocolate

You make a Master Dough, to which you subsequently add a variety of flavourings for different variants. It’s a smart, time-saving idea, and it works really well. I made her suggested variants except for one, and tried one additional option of my own.

The dough is delicious, versatile, well-behaved and forgiving. It’s not too sweet, and is yummy enough to eat raw, if you’re not concerned about raw egg (which I’m not). It cooks up quickly and responds well to both dry and oily additions.

Plus, Emmy is such a delightful, funny and inspiring presenter, and makes me laugh out loud at least once every time I watch her, whether she’s testing a recipe or trying some weird food. Worth a visit, people!

And in case you’re wondering? No, I didn’t have any bickies! 😇

Happy Christmas!🎄

It’s that festive time again.

To all my lovely friends, followers and casual drop-ins, a very Happy Christmas or other festive celebration of the season, whether Diwali, Hanukah or Solstice. It is a time for light over darkness, joy over sadness and love over misery and anger.

Here in north Queensland, the traditional snowflakes, snowmen and Christmas trees can look a bit incongruous as the temperatures soar and the air conditioning struggles. So I leave you with our own local version of the festive colour scheme, the beautiful soccer-ball sized blooms of the Flamboyant Tree, aka Poinciana or Delonix Regia. Tree and ornament in one!

Best wishes from the three of us in Chiconia for health, peace and prosperity in the coming year.

Pink Christmas, all sewn up

It’s done, and I LOVE IT!

The tree is finished, quilted, bound and baubled. I made 20 or so yoyos from scrap. I had 6 little silver baubles from a Secret Santa gift. I also had a long, thin gold-coloured wire of tiny ‘grain’ sized lights on a battery pack, which looks perfect.

It’s hanging in front of one of our living room bookcases (steel ruler through a rod pocket on the back, sitting in a couple of Command hooks on the bookcase. It looks so sweet, twinkling away in the corner.

And let me just tell you, the quilting was a breeze! Aretha came up trumps. While I’m on the subject, can I just give you some pros and cons after a day’s use?

The yellow thimble gives you an idea of scale…

She’s a Quilter’s Choice 300E, which is an Australian rebrand of the BabyLock Jazz. I was a bit dubious about a non-computerised machine at first, but I must say, I’m beginning to appreciate the benefits.

First, the cons: No pedal speed regulator; speed is entirely down to how hard you press. The dials and knobs are a bit chunky-clunky. There’s no knot-off button to finish off your thread. There are fewer settings for tension, stitch length and stitch width. Threading the needle is a fraction harder. Threading the machine is definitely very different and it’s going to take a while to get really comfortable with that. Pulling up the bobbin thread is a little harder. The knee lift for the presser foot is very firm (but may ease off a bit in time).

And now, the pros: Very powerful. Much quieter. The LED light is much brighter and better positioned. The stitch quality and consistency is very good. There is no on board computer to go wrong or be vulnerable to power surges or cuts. LOADS of work space in the 30cm (12 inch) throat. Lots of storage space at front and back. All the stitches I wanted, plus a few more I’m looking forward to trying. Knee lifter means I can keep both hands on the work if necessary. The bobbin winder is very smooth and less prone to tangles than my Janome. Most of the knobs and dials are on top and disappear tidily under the cover when in use, so fabric doesn’t get caught on stuff. And best of all, the presser foot has adjustable pressure; I quilted the entire Christmas tree hanging in half an hour without having to shove the quilt about by force in order to prevent puckering.

In all, I’d say it was a bit of a revelation. This machine would be worth its original $1,000 price tag. The fact that I got it for just over half price is a wonder and a blessing.

Can’t wait to give her a run on something really challenging!

R.E.S.P.E.C.T.

I’m still feeling a bit breathless.

I’ve been quilting for many years. About 18 years ago, when I was still a well-paid executive, I bought myself a good sewing machine. My Janome DC3018 is still going strong and Ariadne, as she’s called, is a faithful friend. However, she has two design issues which matter to a quilter. The throat/harp space is only average-sized, and she does not have adjustable pressure to the presser foot. The first means that getting a large amount of quilt under the machine is hard and demanding on the back and shoulders. The second means that the machine uses the same pressure to feed fabric through the machine, whether it’s a triple layer of denim or a single layer of chiffon. Not ideal.

Yesterday, I went to Spotlight for some thread and other small bits and pieces. I was wandering back down the aisle towards checkout, when I saw this.

Say what??!! $400 off?

I read the box. Yes, it has adjustable presser-foot pressure. And you can see for yourself how wide the throat is. I took a photo. I thought about it a lot.

This morning I told the Husband about it. 5 minutes later, I was ordering it online to Click & Collect in the next 24 hours. Have I mentioned recently that I love my Husband A LOT? A machine that originally cost $1000 is now mine for $600. His view was that it was the cost of a new set of tyres, which would wear out and be gone. Anything that made things easier for me to sew was a Good Idea.

This machine will hopefully last me the rest of my quilting life. In addition to the two obvious benefits, it has a bunch of other features and accessories.

I’ve also come up with a name for the new girl. She’s going to be called Aretha. Why, you ask? She’s one helluva girl and she has a BIG throat on her, of course! Also, what I want? Baby, she got it! One thought strikes me, though. I’d better get my sewing room straightened out pronto and the work tables cleared and tidied in preparation for her arrival.

This baby is going to need a lot more room than Ariadne.

ScrapHappy December

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.

This month, it’s something completely different. A while ago, I offered to test a tutorial written by the lovely Jill of Nice Piece of Work. She had created a really gorgeous necklace from fabric scraps and beads, and being the clever thing she is, realised it would be a popular, inexpensive and pretty easy thing for other people to make, hence the tutorial. Reader, I made it!

And it’s easy peasy and produces a really fab result which is going to be a Christmas present (you know who you are, you’ll just have to be patient!). I fiddled with things a bit: I made the necklace a bit longer. I made the beads a bit larger, and more of them. But it still worked just fine, because the idea is genius enough to permit that kind of tinkering and messing about. Also, every single piece of it is either a scrap or has been recycled from a previous item. Even the threads are leftovers. Just goes to show, scrappy can be not only fun and quirky but also lavishly gorgeous!

If you’re interested in making one yourself, head over to Jill’s Etsy shop where she is offering this tutorial as a pdf.

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). Please note that Esther has a large ongoing project at present and needs all her time for this, so she has withdrawn from ScrapHappy for the time being.

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Claire, Jean, Jon, Dawn, Jule, Gwen,
Bekki, Sunny, Kjerstin, Sue L, Vera,
Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear, Carol,
Preeti, Edith, Debbierose

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Dreaming of a Pink Christmas

Where does it say it has to be white?

My decorations are, and have always been, silver and pink. I’m not a huge fan of the traditional Christmas colours of red, green and gold as a combination, I’ve never done seasonal quilts, or worked with Christmas fabrics. So when I was inspired by fellow blogger Kym Byrd Lucas’ reply to my comment on her recent post about creating a Christmas tree quilt, it was never going to be… traditional.

Because this was spur of the moment, it was also going to be, if not scrappy, then at least made from what I had. And what I had lots of was jelly roll strips. Not much green, but an awful lot of pink, red and pinky-purple. So I’ve made myself a pink Christmas tree hanging. It’s sized to hang in front of one of my book cases, like a sort of half-sized colourful tree.

This is only the first step. Next I have to sandwich and back it, do some light quilting and then make my baubles. I’ve dug out some colourful scraps and will be cranking out lots of yoyos (Suffolk puffs) to hang from the tree ‘branches’.

But before I finish it I have a project to do for my SIL, involving making cushion covers. I just needed to get this first stage done so I could stop it niggling me! I’m going to press the yoyo scraps and then they can all go in the project basket to wait patiently till I have a bit more time.

Plenty of time to finish it before Christmas.

 

An antidote to grey

…Is sometimes colour, and sometimes, more grey.

First, the grey. I’ve shown the fabrics for the latest shirt previously, but here they are assembled into the latest of three comfortable Hawaiian shirts. Grey, because that’s the background colour, even if they’re pretty colourful otherwise. Oh, and the hair, of course!

I’m showing the back first, because to be honest, it’s the more interesting side. At the top, the collar is a green batik on top. The underside is the same grey floral Kaffe Fassett fabric as on the yoke. I didn’t have quite enough length of the grey background lotus fabric for the back, so I added a strip of the front fabric to the top before cutting the back out. I think it works. The sleeves are also the lotus fabric, but cut a little shorter than the pattern dictates, as again, I didn’t quite have enough.

On the front, it’s the same scallop pattern as the strip on the back. The patch pocket on the front is the same fabric as the yoke, cut so that the flowers are nicely framed. All the fabrics are quite different, but they tie into each other in some way. The scallop fabric has lilac, blue and green, and touches of pink. The lotus fabric has grey, blue, lilac, pink and green, but in different proportions. The yoke fabric has grey, blue and pink, with some very small touches of a matching green.

It shouldn’t work, but it does.

And now for the colourful antidote: my new dupatta! I have always loved the combination of orange and pink, and while I was browsing Etsy recently, I discovered the most gorgeously juicy hot pink and burnt orange dupatta decorated with gold embroidery and a more complex decorative gold border.

It’s made of Banarasi (Benares) silk and is both light and cosy. it’s beautifully decorative and striking, whilst also being functional: sometimes I find air-conditioning a bit chilly for me while it suits other people. Plus it’s lavish enough to dress up a plain black or white tunic/t-shirt and pants combination. I just love having grey hair, it lets you wear stuff like this where my original mouse colouring would have receded and been overwhelmed.

So, despite the grey, overcast skies, the pouring sheets of rain and the misty veils of humidity, I have a radiant sun of lavish colour from Jaipur to light up my life!

Oh, and it’s getting really green outside!