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Only 2 weeks

I am up to my neck in Xmas parties.  I thought I was organised this year but I still have things to finalise.  My little ones are organised.  They have their clipboards and pens and are at the shops writting their lists for Santa,  "should we write the bar code as well?"  (I wish I could bend over like that.  I would freeze and have to get someone to unfold me!)  They girls went to have their Xmas photo with Santa taken and the little one insisted that she had to go as Rudolph.

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Here she is with the red nose.  Jasmine is really her own person.

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My husband is putting up the Xmas tree, slowly.  I have my little stand- by tree plus the Nativity Scene in place.  But sadly one of the wise men broke.  New one for next year.

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I'm off to Toowoomba (again)

This time of year always calls for a visit to friends in Toowoomba, So today is the day.   I had my Xmas party for the cottage patchwork group last night and stayed in town at the apartment so that I could get an early start today.  I love staying here.  It is close to everything yet still a bit secluded here in the trees.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 7.58.00 pmOn the other side of the apartment I look out over the roofs of the suburb.

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I have gifts to deliver including this lovely print  of skylines for Angela and little bundles of Xmas cheer for all the other ladies. 

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With all that has been going on I doubted that I would have all this ready in time.  But I made it.

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Count down to Xmas

Now that kind of crept up on me.  Xmas that is.  I have been putting bits and pieces away all year and now is the time to pull them out and see what else I need to buy.

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Plus I have a Xmas gift to finish sewing for Thursday based on this design.   

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I have the fabric, just need to put it together.  (Just!!!)

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After that is the Xmas cards.  On top of all this I have to have the next Children's Class finalised for tomorrow.  Talk about tight time lines.

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Sleeping, writting and getting my feet back on planet earth

I think I am back on planet earth again.  After arriving home the proverbial hit the fan and I was flat out just getting through each day.

The grandchildren were so eager to get their gifts, so they were first on the list.  Then I had to visit all the family and distribute their gifts.  Next came my quilting buddies and my daughter had to fly away to another job and I had to get the dog and fix the apartment for while she was away.  Then I had an assignment to write.  It was on a subject I know far too much about so I had to cut and cut my word count.  Then I just fell asleep and slept for 24 hours.  I hope the body clock is now back in sync.  OH. I forgot the washing.  I haven't got to the housework as yet.

For my quilting buddies I bought fabric in the USA that I was going to make into 'mug rugs' for them.  That was until I made one. 

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Then I decided they would 'much prefer' to make their own.  So I packed up some kits for them and 'showed' them the sample I had made. 

 

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I hope they have fun making these.  I have another lot of kits I have to put together for my friends up at Toowoomba but that is not for a week or so. 

I also got the painting I bought in Guatemala back on a wooden frame and up on the wall.  I carried this rolled in a piece of plumbing tubing all the way back home, cursing it all the way. but I am so pleased with it now.

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But first I have to organise my work room.  What a mess!  I have a list of projects that have to be finished before everything breaks up for Xmas.  OMG, Xmas.  I had forgotten about that.


Some odds and ends from the past few weeks.

I didn't post most of the images from my trip to Toowoomba for the flower festival and some of them were interesting.  Like the number of the platform at the Railway Museum.  Even Muggles could see this one.  (This was from my second visit, my husband was miffed that I hadn't taken him so I had to do the trip again.)

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There was also our breakfast stop at the Picnic Point Lookout and the surrounding gardens.

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It was a very hazy day.

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And all the tables in the park were taken with people who had brought their own breakfast.

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I realised that I had never seen 'Xanthorrhoea plants" in flower before.  There are just there in the bush.

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But on this day they were in full bloom and the parrots were feasting.  I am told they are rich in nectar.

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There were lots of tulips at this years display.

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I always look out for that one flower that comes up as a mixture of the two colours.  And there it was.

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They also had a display of vintage cars and the wonderful old bus was back working again.

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After our breakfast we headed up to Laurel Bank Park to have morning tea at the Croquet Club.  Being that time of year there were warning signs all over the place.

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But the morning tea was wonderful and there were very few spare tables.  They had even put out plastic sets of chairs and tables for the extra customers.

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All the old wooden sets were quickly filled.  (It rather looks like a scene from an Agatha Christie Movie!)

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There was a new recipe for the scone but they were still good and there were proper china cups and plates.  The only plastic was for the jam and cream.

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And every table had that vase of flowers.

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The park was full of children, on school holidays, and visitors and music and flowers.  The bees were very happy.

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Again, there were lots of tulips.

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And native flowers as well.

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Every older woman had an ipad and a pleased smile on their face.

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But the prize for best dressed had to go to this dog.

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What a lovely way to welcome spring.

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Two invitations

I got this great invitation to go to a dinner in Melbourne.  Very exclusive, very expensive.  It is on in conjunction with the Dior exhibition at the art Gallery.

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But I also got a 'better' invitation.  To go and stay a few days up at Toowoomba with my Embroidery Stitching friends.  It was a no brainer really.  So, while I am stressed out over the purchase of this unit and getting ready to go overseas, which is also stressing me out, they sent all my tickets and paper work to Boston USA, I have decided to leave it all and go away for a few days.

Now I have to decide what I will work on.  The small purse for the children's classes is one.  I have to finish that shawl is another and there is those dolls clothes still hanging over my head.  But just for fun and because I really don't have time to do it I thought I would crochet some toys.

At the Quilt Show, Kerry Lord was promoting her books and I bought  a copy of "Edwards Menagerie".  Over 40 animals, that should keep me going and I have a small bundle of alpaca wool that was given to me as a gift and I have been waiting for just the right thing to use it on.

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Looking on the Toft web page I see there are lots of other things as well.  There are lots of adorable kits.  Those dogs are tempting and there on the top right hand corner is Charlie.  Have to do that at some point.

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I think this could be the start of another obsession.    There is a great interview with Kerry Lord and some lovely images here

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Quilt Show

I am in the process of buying a home unit and settlement is today.  It is really difficult trying to juggle everything from the island and driving up and down to town sure takes time out of the day.  My daughter is studying for her Phd and has left her well paid job at another university to take a low paid job at the university where she is studying.  Parents to the rescue.  I want to be able to use this property as a city base also, so there are 2 women to satisfy.

We spent a day looking for furniture, which I will have to pay for.  The only thing I bought after a whole days shopping was the couch  and even then that was a compromise. With the rest of the furniture I wrote a list and then eliminated all the very expensive pieces she wants.  As this property could end up as a rental I think I will settle for Ikea.

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On Saturday I went up to town for a pre-settlement inspection and when that was complete I stopped off at the State Quilt Show.

The quilts were good, but not outstanding, with a few exceptions.  (And this is just my personal opinion.)  So over the next few days I will post some images. 

This quilt by Terri Ahrnes was one of the standout.  It was three quilts hung side by side to make a large image.

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She was very inventive with the piecing and used a raw edge technique.

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I also liked the way she linked her quilting to the fabric design, mirroring one against the other.

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The artist statement image had a terrible resolution. (Sorry I only had my phone with me.) I have put a link to her Web page which might be more useful and another link to the great story of her quilt which she has at this site.  She won at the Ekka  (State Fair) with this quilt.  Terri is from Gladstone in regional Q'ld  and this is a wonderful quilt.

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In Memory of Rosemary

When I was a little girl my best friend was a girl called Rosemary Gray.  She was a little older than me by a year or two I think and we remained friends till I was in my early 20's when our lives went in different directions.  We both sang in the church choir.  I have no photos of her, not one.  Not even one of her 21st birthday when I saved and bought her a pearl broach.  I looked on line to see if I could find any record of her life and there was one in a 1970 record of the Sydney Morning Herald, but they wanted my credit card details to look at it.  In the article she had won an award and was quoted as being a "Girl Guide, church volunteer and disabled".  Rosemary was a little person.  I knew this but I never 'saw' it.   (You didn't take photos of disabled people, they looked different.)

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I remember at Primary school the inspectors said she had to go to the 'Spastic Centre' school not our school.  Every child that knew her was shocked.  We never saw her as disabled.  But they moved her and through moving her we got to meet deaf and blind kids and kids with other disabilities.  They were just other kids much the same as us.

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When I turned 21 she gave me a small Stuart Crystal vase.  It is small and perfect, just as she was.  That vase has stayed with me all my life.  I treasure it.

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Every time I put some small flowers it it makes those flowers look beautiful.  They become more than just some small flowers, and I think of Rosemary.

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She taught me so much and I never even realised it until years later. When I became a teacher and they moved disabled kids back into mainstream classes  I never saw disabled kids as their label, they were just kids, like Rosemary, and were welcome and cared for in my classroom. She taught me that.  When I organised excursions I went that bit extra to make sure they could be included.  One excursion was to the Ekka (State Fair) and I lost  a child for a while there.  This taught me that the other kids could be counted on to look after these kids, like we would have when we were young.  Then I approached the organisers and they allowed free entry for a carer for each disabled child.  The carers turned out to be their mother or father who had a day of fun, one on one with their child.  The look of joy on their faces still stays with me. Some of those kids died in their teens and it was Rosemary who gave these families this gift.

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So every time I put a small bunch of flowers in this little vase, which is often, I say a prayer of thanks to God for this friend of my childhood.

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Some singlet dresses

I had to replace the foot pedal for my over-locker and whilst in the Bernina Shop I saw some children's singlet dresses on the wall that they had been teaching as a project.  I immediately thought of my grand daughters and quickly bought a couple of ecco cotton tops to make them one each.   Now there are lots of  instructions for these dresses on the internet and they are quick and easy to make but I made a couple of changes to get a better look.

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I like this tutorial for a toddler but I wasn't happy with the look of how the bodice and skirt joined.

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The things I considered first were:

  • The choice of fabric,  I used some Liberty cotton because it gathers, drapes and washes well. (The fibre used has a long staple - expensive- which means it doesn't crease like cheaper cottons that have a short staple - cheap.)

        But there are lots of fabric to choose from.  Most Mum's these days do not iron and hand washing is a thing of the past.  So if you don't want to spend a lot of money on fabric choose one that has a small amount of polyester in it.  Pure cotton is going to crease.  It will look good to start with but after the first wash it will be creased if not ironed.  After a couple of minutes in the dryer that fabric with some polyester in it will look great.  (The heat slightly melts the polyester in the fabric taking out the creases as it is thermoplastic.)

  • The amount of fabric.  Most instructions tell you to use the width of the fabric but this varies between fabrics and the weight of the fabric will effect just how it gathers.   I think pleating would be better for a heavier weight fabric and extra width is needed if you are using a light weight fabric.
  • The distance between the underarm and where you cut the t shirt.

This changes with the age of the child.  For a toddler I would cut the T shirt at about 9cm (3.5").  A toddler has a bit of a tummy and this will hang better over it.  For my girls, who are 5 & 6 years of age I made the cut longer 12cm (nearly 5") .

 

Then there was the construction.

After I cut the T shirt I ironed a 4cm (1.5") strip of light paper iron on interfacing above the cut to stabilise the knit fabric.  This also allows you to use a straight stitch when you attach the skirt.  After sewing you can easily peel the stabiliser back to the sewing line and trim it off.

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The gathering.

Most instructions will tell you to lengthen your machine stitch.  I only slightly lengthen the stitch but I also loosen the tension.  This makes that bobbin thread easy to pull up.  (I sew on the right side and gather on the wrong side of the fabric.)

I also sew 2 lines of gathering.  At the end of the first line I sew down 3 stitches and come back the other way.  (This is about the width of your presser foot. 

This allows you to pull up an even gathering and you can then sew the bodice and skirt together in between the 2 gathering lines.  To pull out the gathering threads you just have to snip the thread on the bobbin stitched side back at that 3 stitch turn. The loose bobbin thread pulls out with no fuss and the top thread just falls away.  This also means you do not disturb that line of stitching where you joined the bodice and skirt.

Make sure you mark the quarter and half ways points on the top of the skirt before you pull up that gathering thread.  This will then make it easy to line them up with the seams and centre front and back of the T shirt.  I then neaten this edge by over-locking it.

I thought about top stitching the join but decided it wasn't necessary.

The hem

If you want to allow for growth, and all kids grow ,  set a wider hem you can let down.  You could machine it but I like the hang of a hand stitched hem.

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The girls put the dresses on and refused to take them off.  They love the feel of that Liberty fabric.  They couldn't stop touching it.  Now there will be nothing to compare to this fabric.  I bet they are hooked for life, just like me.

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Grandma has been busy

Firstly she managed to catch the flu and lose her voice.  Some would say this was a blessing.  But I have "Children's Classes" starting tomorrow so it is lots of tablets to get my temperature down.  I will see how I go tomorrow.

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Then last Saturday we took to girls to see Cinderella at the theatre.  My eldest grand daughter is on the Autistic spectrum, in old terminology that is Aspurgers.  She falls into the gifted and talented range and although only 6 years old is more like a 15 or 16 years old.  One of the effects of this is that she suffers from terrible anxiety.  For weeks she has been stressing out about the colouring competition that she entered for the show.  Would she win, wouldn't she win, how terrible her work was.  She made a mistake here or there.  By the time we got to the theatre she was a mess.  She and her sister both won prizes and the day improved.

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She also has had to get braces.  Another thing that shouldn't have happened until her teens but it is better to have 6 months now than trouble later on. My daughter suffered for years with twisted teeth and got to the point she wouldn't smile at all until they were fixed.

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Then the girls put the heavies on Grandma.  Miss Bunny needed a proper quilt, she was getting cold!  (in all this heat). 

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And those 20 something Barbie Dolls needed quilts and new pillows on their beds.  Luckily there are only 2 beds and a cot.

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Then, in an aside, they told me a tail of woe.  They had no pretty dresses and Mummy can't sew.  So I am really under the pump to make some new dresses.  I have one under construction.

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And I managed to buy some Liberty prints in a sale at $18 per metre. 

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With the prices of fabric today I think it would have been cheaper just to buy them dresses.