Bee, Myself and I #1

Despite all my best intentions, I missed my promised January kick off for Bee, Myself and I, Carla’s selfish sewing bee.

I had good reasons, but I make no excuses. I’m here now…

Background cuttingI don’t, however, have a nice stack of lovely blocks to show you. I’ve been prepping piles of pieces (sorry, sorry, can’t resist a bit of alliteration) for my long-deferred, long-desired Hatbox Quilt.

Passionate PatchworkMany years ago, I bought Kaffe Fassett’s Passionate Patchwork. While I’ve never wanted to make any of his quilts, I’ve always loved all his books as a treasury of exuberant colour and pattern combinations. The Hatbox Quilt was an exception. I fell in love with that quilt, and the book has lived for years in my quilting bookcase with a marker permanently at the page showing it.

Hatbox quilt spread Hatbox quilt closeupCarla’s wonderful idea has given me the excuse I needed to start. To begin with, I decided I wanted more consistency of background tone and colour for the interiors of the display than in the original design, which meant selecting a small family of fabrics which will support and showcase the hatboxes without being too emphatic themselves. I also wanted the interiors to be a bit more modern in feel; some of the hatboxes will use quite vintage or reproduction type fabrics, and too much reproduction or busyness is not what I’m after.

Selfish Sewing collectionI have a selection of 26 fabrics ready for the hatboxes themselves. There are 36 blocks, so some of the boxes will have mix and match colours. Now that I have some fairly tedious preparation behind me, catching up and making three blocks a month for the next year should be pretty straightforward (famous last words…?).

If you click through the Bee link given above, it’ll show you everyone else who’s participating, and it’s a sure thing there’ll be lots worth looking at.


See you next month, with the first of the finished blocks!



SAL 25: Big letters

Travelling has meant a whole lot less sewing time this month, but I’ve managed a few stitches in spite of everything!

Here’s where I was last time:

Sampler 7 Feb

And here’s where I am now:

Sampler start of top left

For those of you who have been wondering how much bigger this little sampler is going to get, now you know! That’s the top border… So, still about 25% to go.

As always, it’s worth your while visiting the other SAL stitchers, even if they’re not posting progress today. Don’t forget about the difference in time zones; if you’re seeing me first, you may need to drop in to theirs a bit later to give them a chance to get their posts up.

Avis at
Claire at
Gun at
Carole at
Jule at
Wendy at
Lucy at
Cathy at
Jacqui at
Jess at

Foot²Freestyle: February round up

The end of February always comes with a rush, being such a short month, and this year, it’s worse than ever.

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmI’m posting the F²F round up early this month because I have a post coming out already tomorrow, and come Monday, I’ll be away from home, down in Melbourne having huge fun (more on that another time). In any case, all but two lots of blocks are in, and the final two sets will, I’m assured, be in the mail this weekend, so I’ll upload the photos when they come in and close the month down after that. Emmely is getting the most sensational selection of green blocks, ranging from fully traditional to totally improv, from darkest to palest green and all shades in between. She’s making not only her own 3 blocks this month, but is also making 3 on behalf of Pat too, so I’m hoping that at some stage she’ll find time to draw breath and send me all those photos as well! Head over to the F²F gallery page to see the full range, and get a sneak preview of the first two contributions for March.

I’m also hoping that one day soon one or two of you will send me a photo of a finished F²F quilt to add to the gallery. So far, the only complete one is January’s special effort for Pat, and I’d soooo love to see another couple….

March is Claire’s turn, and her colour choices are:
Background cream to beige to tan. Colors: Brown (deep, rich , or ordinary), red, orange (any variation of orange: red-orange, yellow-orange, etc). If your block asks for a wee bit of green, that would be okay too. I like modern/minimalist/asymmetry just as much as traditional.  Plenty of choice there to play with!  You should already have Claire’s contact information and address, but if not, let me know.

So far, we have a number of repeat sign-ups for F²F 2016/17, and a couple of new members:


Gun Adrian, my ScrapHappy buddy from Sweden
June Dodge from the US, who spotted F²F on Esther’s blog and asked to join

UPDATE: We now have Esther joining us again for the next session, and a new member, Claire Hupin from France, who has been following along and building her skills so she can participate in the next session. Claire is already an ‘honorary’ member, having been the secret maker of some of Pat’s blocks from late last year, so we’re very glad to have her along.

We need a minimum of 12 or the scheme doesn’t produce enough blocks, so if you have a fancy to take part in a fun, undemanding and very rewarding block swap party, leave a comment below. The rules are few, the choices are endless, and you’d be most welcome. Oh, and if there are more than 12 of us, so much the better!

On with March. Let the fun begin!


A sneak peek

This week, I have been assembling a gift.

It’s to be handed over on Monday 29 February, so I can’t show the whole thing till then, but here are snippets to give you some idea.

Closeup1 Tag Closeup2After our big trip south, it has been surprisingly hard to get back into my ‘sewzone’; many distractions, a lot of dirty, dusty house to clean, but finally I’m making some progress. The patio paving has sprouted a thicket of weeds, the vegie beds have disappeared under a thatch of nutgrass, the lawns are mid-calf length, thanks to all the lavish rain that appeared just as we went away. I look at all of it, and resolutely turn my back and sew, before I realise that it’s time to make lunch, or supper, or bring in laundry, or make a cake because the Dowager is coming round for coffee.

Once we’re into March, and my next short trip to Melbourne at the end of this month is over, normal service will resume. I think… I hope… I have F2F blocks to make, some Selfish Sewing and a couple of items of clothing to finish.

Speaking of F²F; the first year is coming to an end in May. For the 2016/17 session, the participant list will be finalised in April and the next round will start in June this year, so if you would like to join in, let me have your name, blog/email address and contact details and I’ll add you to the list and send you some information. We can easily do it with more participants, but any less and either everyone has to make more than three blocks 😦 or there will not be enough blocks at the end to make a good sized quilt 😦

CaneFinally, I just wanted to share a lovely piece of non-fabric loot. I have widespread arthritis, especially bad in my left hip (replacement one of these years, I hope) and my hands. On bad days, I lurch along with a cane to take some pressure off it. Up to now I’ve used one of those collapsible telescopic canes that you can fold up and put in your bag. Trouble is, they’re not very rigid, a big defect when you’re putting most of your weight through it. My lovely BIL down in New South Wales, a talented cabinetmaker, has tailor-made me my own cane. The shaft is American oak, there is a small collar of Australian oak at the top, and then a hand carved rosewood handle. How lovely is this?  Solid as a rock, elegant, and made to fit. He’s planning to make more to show and sell in the local Easter Art & Craft show. I reckon he’s onto a winner. And he takes commissions…

Right, back to the chores.

Work for idle hands

I had a hand stitching project to play with while I was away.

Well, you didn’t seriously imagine I wouldn’t be sewing for a whole eleven days, did you? Really? You did? No, I fear the depth of my stitchy addiction is much greater than that, and I don’t do well without a handwork project while away from home.

Cushion half done

Stitch detail Thread detailI did a lot of hand quilting of a not very neat but hugely enjoyable sort. This nearly-finished square is going to be a cushion cover, a large one of the sort you prop behind your back while you drink your morning coffee in bed, which I do every day, so it’s going to be well-used. The fabric was a gift from my friend Mrs R over a year ago. I knew what I was going to do with it immediately, but the piece sat at the bottom of my project pile until this trip. It’s easily portable: needle, thread, thimble, scissors. No hoop. I don’t need to worry about a tidy back, either, as it’s for a cushion. The gorgeous variegated orange thread from Aurifil was a no-brainer too, it’s meant for this job. Watch this space for the finished thing… eventually.

I took along Cloths of Heaven on the trip. The plan was to get Niece No. 3 to take it home with her to Niece No. 1 in the UK at the end of her visit to Niece No. 2 in Sydney, but it turned out she was taking in most of south-east Asia on the way, and I didn’t want my labour of love turned into a grubby rag in the bottom of her rucksack, so I bit the bullet and sent it over by courier. Having it with me, though, meant I could show it off to several appreciative people, which did my morale no end of good.

Selfish stash While I was draping it all over her shop counter, I bought several pieces of fabric from the lovely Carolyn at Misty Threads in my former tiny home town of Dorrigo in northern NSW. If you’re a quilter and ever get the chance to visit, do yourself a favour and nip in to see her. She has thousands of gorgeous fabrics, notions, a longarm quilter in the back, a comfy sofa for gossiping and lots of helpful suggestions.

The three small pieces are intended for my Selfish Sewing, which I will be starting soon as part of Carla’s Bee, Myself and I (click on the button in my side bar to go over there and see what it’s about).

Fabric for Coral Reef Coral Reef detail 2 Coral Reef detail 1This larger piece will be another hand quilting project. The fabulous fabric (not at all my usual colour choices but I couldn’t resist it – I do live next to the Great Barrier Reef, after all) is by Brandon Mably for Westminster Fibers (he’s Kaffe Fassett’s partner and is producing some impressive designs of his own these days). A plan is forming, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet. It’s interesting that I can now contemplate working with yellow, a colour almost entirely missing from my stash. I think F2F has been good for me in that respect, opening up colours I haven’t traditionally wanted to work with.

My sewing time this month has been seriously eroded by travel. I’m off again for 3 days at the end of the month to catch up with a number of fellow bloggers assembling in Melbourne for what promises to be an epic meeting. Before that, though, I have to complete an only-just-started secret sewing gift for one of the assembly. I’ll post about it once I’m back so as not to spoil the surprise.

I’m longing to get back to my sewing room, but first, a bit of highly necessary housework 😦

Foot²Freestyle: February progress report

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmJanuary was a special month for F²F, but now we are back to normal, and progress so far is good; there are only three of us who have not yet finalised their blocks for February. Emmely is making not only her own this month, but also Pat’s three blocks, and I’m very much looking forward to seeing those. It’s so interesting to see how different all our blocks are. This month, Emmely’s choice was “green, any shade”. Just that.  It both limits and gives us tremendous freedom in our work, especially as Emmely loves modern, improvisational design.

I have been asked if we are going to repeat the F²F block swap for another year. Sue and I are both game to go round again, and if those of you who would like to go again will let me know, we can see how many of the original team are left, and how many new members we need to recruit.  You don’t have to decide now; I will be issuing a reminder in early May. If there’s enough interest, we’ll probably do it again. I think the basic concept will remain the same: a 12 inch block in any style, in a scheme of up to 3 colours. I’d also like to hear any suggestions you may have for improving things – I don’t promise there will be changes, but if there are things which are a problem for some of the members, we can try and resolve them. Going forward, I would probably set up a separate blog for F2F, because the gallery page has made a big hole in my space allowance, but it would probably just be for the gallery, and I’ll keep the updates, etc, here.

Head on over to the gallery to see how we’re getting on so far.  There’s a great variety of colour and design, and I think Emmely’s quilt is going to be spectacular!

ScrapHappy February

This month, it has come around so fast!

February Scrappy BlockOnce again, it’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

As you’ll appreciate if you follow my blog, it has been a busy January and early February. One block is not a lot, but I promise to be a bit scrappier in the coming months; I’d like to have two or three each time from now on. There is a plan in play for using these blocks, and once I have enough, all will be revealed. Then, of course, I’ll have to find something else to do with my scraps. I’m sure something will emerge…

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps – no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful 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 shown on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. You don’t have to worry about a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance whether you’ll have something to show.

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):

Gun at (in Swedish and English)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Eva at (in Swedish only)

Viv at (in English only)

Nanette at (in English only)

Lynn at (in English only)

Norma at (in English only)

Birthe: (in Norwegian only)

Turid: (in English and Norwegian)

See you again, same time next month