Blue hexies: evidence of industry

The rain was good for something, after all.

I have 40 hexie flowers made, as well as a bag full of ‘intermediate’ hexies to place between the individual flowers. That’s… rather a lot of work! But I enjoyed it, it gave my hands something to do while I listened to talking books, or YouTube or music.I’ll probably carry on cranking them out when I get home, having got so far ahead these past few days. One thing past experience has taught me, though, is that I need to start assembling too, not just making the flowers. Otherwise the exercise becomes hugely intimidating. Make up blocks, stitch the blocks together, remove the papers, press. If I stick to that routine, it won’t be nearly so discouraging to look at once it starts to grow!

We’re heading home tomorrow. An early start should see us on the road by 9.30am at the latest, and we should have a fairly straightforward run to get back. I’ve made sure there isn’t a laundry mountain to tackle, but we’ll need some groceries, and Mouse will need a while testing out all his beds to see which one he wants to sleep in after being ‘forced’ to occupy just the one bunk while we were away!

When I get back, it’ll be time to choose which of the many projects swirling around in my head I’m going to make a start on.


Always with the blues

It’s a bit of a problem, sometimes.

I can’t resist dark blues. And now that I’ve started these hexies, I see lovely fabrics everywhere.

So… I had a fat quarter of a dark blue and cream tiny floral stripe pattern. I say had; it’s a pile of hexies now. But if this was going to turn into anything useful, I was going to need more. So I paid a visit to Cairns Creative and bought half a metre of a really nice dark blue tiny print, and also a dark blue and white Aboriginal meander pattern which will work with the blue and white lawn print I’m  using for the intermediate hexies in the layout. You’ll see what I’m talking about when I start to lay things out.

And of course while I was there I had a poke through their remnants basket and found this beauty!

Eden, by Sally Kelly

It’s the same fabric as some of the scraps I got when I visited Amitié Textiles in Victoria. The scraps I plan on using to make a patchwork coat. I loved the fabric so much I recognised a small corner of it halfway down the basket, and dived for it. It’s so lovely I can almost, almost not bear to cut into it. I may have to turn it into a large panel on the back of the coat, say, so that I don’t have to cut it too much.

But that’s for the future. First, more hexies, and sadly, the end of the holiday is upon us. Two more nights away, and then it’ll be time to start unpacking, cleaning and doing laundry.

Welllll, when you put it like that, I really deserve some lovely fabric, don’t you think?

A tiny teaser…

…of a future project.

This heap of wonderfulness recently arrived in record time from Sareeka, in Surat, in the state of Gujarat, western India. I have Plans!  Aren’t those colours and patterns just beautiful?

It’s going to take a while before I can get on with it, but I just wanted to share this foretaste with you. And while I’m waiting, it’s all sitting on my cutting table, where I can gloat and pet it, and where it shines in the sunshine.

Meanwhile, I have a quilt to finish. One-third of the way through…


Bee, Myself & I #57: Parterre Block 26

And finally, I got my act in gear and got another Parterre block done.

It’s been months… This is Block 26, a darker one because the collection needs a few more dark ones.

I still haven’t quite decided how many more I’m going to make, particularly given how easy I’ve found it to slack off with this project! The blocks are 10″ square, so I feel it needs to be at least 6 across. Probably 7 down, although I’d accept 6, for a 60″ square quilt. So that’s either 10 or 16 more blocks to to do. Still a long way from a finish…

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column of this blog.

And a small update on Choli #2.

Well, I decided not to progress with this one.

I got the bodice section finished. And I hate it on myself. 20 years ago, I might have gone with it, but I just felt too exposed, too tightly fitted, too Madonna. This link will give you an idea of what I’m talking about. All a bit ‘in yer face’. I’m just not an underwear on the outside kind of girl. So I won’t be showing you any more of that, I’m sorry. And for those who hate waste, don’t worry, I’ll definitely find a way to recycle that pretty fabric!

However, I do still love the princess-line Choli #1, so that will see a few more incarnations, I feel sure. And of course, it’s absolutely possible to buy ready-made cholis that have a bit of stretch so they’ll fit the most demanding figure. Not to mention the fact that the event for which I wanted the choli is in June in Melbourne a couple of years hence, and therefore it will be perishing cold…. I think I may be considering an even more covered-up outfit option, though hopefully one just as becoming as a sari.

I’ll keep you informed 😊

Choli #2: progress on the fully fitted version

So, it’s cut out, ready to sew.

I spent a solid hour cutting out and transferring all the pattern marks, but given how fitted this is going to be, it was definitely not optional!

This is a firm, tightly woven printed sateen. I reckon it’ll hold the shaping nicely without being droopy. I also love the print pattern, so I reckon I’d also be happy to wear it with a pair of high-waisted pants. I did have to be careful about not centring one of the big blue roses anywhere… inappropriate. Sadly, there wasn’t quite enough fabric to cut elbow-length sleeves, which I’d have preferred. Still, the cap sleeves I could achieve will be fine. The world will have to live with the sight of my biceps (not too bad) and bingo-wings (not so great)!

I still need to work out how much of/whether a front edge extension is needed as well as a facing for the fastening. Given that there’s a dart in the centre front edge and I have yet to establish if it still needs a little adjustment, I can’t cut the edge/facing yet, but I’ve cut strips that will do the job when the time comes.

Tomorrow, I have to stitch all the darts in and baste the shoulders and side seams. Only then can I see any minor adjustments that might be needed. Of course, at that point, I’d then have to unpick, adjust the pattern to match, and then reassemble. It’s a long process, but the end result is a completely personalised pattern, uniquely fitted to my shape.

This whole process is becoming increasingly interesting for me as I rediscover lost knowledge and skills: Ooooh, manipulating the grain for more ease in the fit of a tight sleeve! Hey, pivot points to help you reposition a dart! Rotating the shoulder seam further back for more ease of movement in a tight arm-scye… Well, you get the idea.

Which has made me think. The Husband is also going to need an outfit for the birthday event a few years hence. Hmmm…. sherwani or kurta? Salwar or churidar? Shall I bite the bullet and try and cut patterns for him, or shall we try and find something online?

This is fun, but it’s certainly distracting me from quilting!

Choli two ways

I’ve been cutting patterns.

It’s been many, many years since I really applied the pattern-cutting I learned in my 20s. But some things never leave you. My friend Chippy gave me a choli as well as a sari when I visited her in Melbourne recently. It didn’t fit, since she’d had it since her own 20s, but it wasn’t totally unwearable (we both have more, ahem, front than we used to, and I could put it on but not do it up). Also, I am no longer a young woman, and I’d want the garment to reflect that fact, with a more covered midriff. Choli design varies enormously, and this adjustment is perfectly authentic and appropriate. So I got modifying.

I started by taking the original choli apart and making a paper pattern from the pieces. I then added extra in the areas where I thought I needed it, based on multiple measurements. After that, I cut a ‘muslin’ (or mock-up) from the new pattern, basted it together and put it on. Well, it still needed a lot of adjustments, and it’s a fairly complicated pattern for such a small garment: there are 8 darts on the bodice front alone! So, I made the changes… and then put it aside for a while. I was feeling a bit over it, at that point.

I thought maybe I needed a simpler solution, so I decided to cut a pattern from scratch. Because, yeah, of course that was simpler. Not. But the resulting pattern is, actually, much simpler.

It has princess-line seams on the front that give shaping, rather than multiple darts, it has a simple V-neck instead of a rounded scoop that needs a facing, a higher back than the other one, and a rear zipper instead of front hook-and-eye fastening. For a fully-fitted shape I also added a couple of back darts and fitted the zipper on a curved centre back seam.

You need a load of measurements. A load…But it has worked pretty well. The photos are pretty crappy selfies, but you can see that it fits snugly. And because of the fabric design, you can’t really see the seams. So it looks like a stretch-fit, but isn’t. It’s a little more conservative than the original, but I do feel that’s more appropriate for a person of my, er, mature years and less-than optimal mid-section.

So that one’s done, and I know it works and is comfortable. Now to get back to the original one and all its multiplicity of darts and facings. We shall see how nicely that one fits when it’s all done. I may end up preferring the more authentic shaping, the slightly lower cut of the back neckline and the easier front-entry, but, maybe not.

Ultimately the plan is to have a couple of pattern options from which I can cut cholis to go with the beautiful orange/cream paisley sari Chippy gave me. It definitely needs a better blouse than a long-sleeved black t-shirt. A gift like that deserves time and effort to achieve a suitable pairing, which I propose to give it.

I’ll keep you posted!

ScrapHappy June

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 time for something completely different. Some of you know that I recently visited Melbourne, and part of that trip was spending some serious browsing time in Amitié Textiles in Torquay, south west of the city on the Great Ocean Road. They had a number of remnants bins filled with small, colourful pieces of fabric, and of course, I went scrap-diving!

This is my haul. There’s no real theme there except that it’s very, very approximately orange and teal-ish. There was just SO much choice that I had to narrow it down a bit. Now that I have it home, I can begin to insert other colours and patterns from my already very extensive personal scrap collection!

And the long term goal? The recent Melbourne visit underlined a major lack in my wardrobe. A warm and colourful long jacket/coat! I have a coat, but it’s very sober, and I do love, love, love colour. So I’m making myself a ScrapHappy coat, using Simplicity 4789 (the long red edge-to-edge coat in the image). I’ll probably add a button overlap to the front, either something interesting and asymmetrical, or simple and straight, I’ll see how I feel closer to the time.

Yes, it’s going to take some time and lots and lots of piecing. I need to decide what size/ shape to make the pieces, how to assemble it, what to line it with, etc. So, still plenty to do…

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).

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
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 and Viv

See you next time for more scrappy loveliness.

Chiconia meets Kolkata

Today is Chippy’s birthday.

So, as it’s freezing cold and pouring with rain, we decided it was a day to stay home and have some more domestic fun.

I had made her a bag, we got her some flowers, there is a gathering and a feast arranged for tonight.

Part of the feast involves a large batch of carrot cake cupcakes which are currently making the house smell divine, as well as a pasta dish, butter chicken samosas, chola bhatura, spicy chicken wings and various other lavish goodies.

Take me to the sangeet!

And as part of the fun, she had a rootle in her wardrobe and pulled out some saris so we could play dress-up. You hear stories about how insecure they feel to wear and how difficult it is to walk. Which is nonsense. The safety pin is your friend, and it’s a matter of the correct pleatings, foldings, tuckings and underpinnings.

None of her cholis (blouses) fit either of us as we are no longer the sylph-like damsels we used to be (plus it’s only 8°C today, no weather for bare midriffs), but we paired up in long sleeved black tops and she demonstrated how to arrange my orange and cream paisley patterned sari and then enveloped herself in teal silk with a slightly lighter border. Do we not look sensational?

Now, I don’t want to be a sad Indian wannabe, and this elegant style of dress is not my cultural heritage, but I’ve always felt it was beautiful and dignified, and wanted to give it a try. And I do feel Chippy as a native of Kolkata is entitled to share it with me if she feels it’s appropriate, and I’m honoured to be allowed to. I’m even more honoured that she’s made me a gift of this particular sari and the petticoat that goes under it, together with a choli that, while it doesn’t (yet) fit, can be adapted with an insert and some embellishment to look quite respectable. I shall be lengthening it to spare the world sight of my middle-aged spread, but that too is quite acceptable. Who knows when I’ll ever be able to wear the whole ensemble, but knowing Chippy, we’ll come up with something!

This afternoon, we will be frosting the cupcakes, then carrying out the unboxing of Chippy’s own version of Aretha. She bought the same machine at virtually the same time, but hasn’t got round to even opening the box, so I’ll be taking her through that, and I do believe she’ll be kicking herself she left it so long…

Sadly, this is our last day here, we’re already checked in for tomorrow’s flights, but we’ve had a marvellous time, and are already planning our next get-together (Dale, take note, we’re aiming for NH in early Feb next year, and maybe third time lucky).

I’m sorry to go, but I’m also looking forward to seeing my furry black companion again; hopefully he’ll forgive us in due course, helped along by lots of extra treats. It’s another long day in airports and airplanes, but worth it.

That’s it from me for now. I expect there’ll be plenty of photos to sort through and probably another post will be forthcoming on the party itself, but for now, Chiconia out.


Last one for a bit

And the final pair of table mats.

Both are orphan blocks from the Twilight quilt, one from the central panel and one from the border. Both just didn’t work because they were too bright for their context, but luckily they’re about to have a new career as table mats!  They’re backed with more of the purply-teal you saw on the last pair, and both are bound with scraps, which is why both sets of bindings are half-and-half in different fabrics.

Tomorrow I’m delivering the whole stack of recent work to Days for Girls, and letting them know I’m taking a bit of a break because I now have to concentrate on finishing Tyger and making a start on blocks for the latest Ovarian Cancer quilt, Can You Teal the Love. There’ll be some bags in the not too distant future, but other work has to take priority for now.

I’ve enjoyed making quite a big dent in some of my scraps, but it’s time for even bigger things!

A few more scraps

This is almost the last of my orphan blocks.

I thought a set of three table mats might be nice… It uses up blocks, bits and pieces of fabric and odd lengths of 2½ inch fabric strips, and you finish with something pretty and useful. More Days for Girls prizes.

Two more mats to go, and then I must finish assembling the top of the Tyger quilt. It’s been a bit stalled while I tried to put some prize material together, but it’s past time to get that bit done, sandwich and then quilt the thing.

I’m going to need the space on my design wall.