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May 2013

I have lost track of time.

I know that I had things I should have done  the last couple of weeks, (like a couple of on line classes,) but this time have been a blurr.  I picked up a virus from one of the grand children and have been confined to bed, (at least the house) .    I would wake in the morning, after being awake most of the night because I couldn't breath properly and come into my sewing room and sit at the computer and pretend to myself that I am busy, then back to lying down.  I was diagnosed with viral pneumonia but had forgotten that I suffer from asthma.  It was only exercise induced asthma and I wasn't moving. (I need to get to the shop to buy more flowers for the house, these are dieing.)


Then I realised that I had been ill for nearly three weeks, and hadn't been out of the house for two.  My husband wasn't home and I wanted a coffee so I walked the one block to the coffee shop.  Bad move.  Next thing I knew I was in the doctors surgery with a mask over my face and hearing him say he thought I should be hospitalised. 

The upshot of all this has been that I have more antibiotics to take for the infection to my lungs and am now classified an asthmatic, as well as the other conditions, and have to take another lot of medication every day.  The good part is I can breath, my mind is returning and I will be a lot better soon.  But I need to reassess my life.  I am going to have to work out how to manage my health not just ignore it, push on and say it will pass. (I love these flowers)


I have lived with a cronic illness all my life and took the approach that I would live every moment to the full because there might not be another.  I kept jumping over the barriers but now I have hit a wall.  I had thought that giving up full time work would take the pressure off but I have filled that space with teaching, committees  and responsibilities. 

Looking back I can see that I have been at this point a number of times in my life.  Mostly I made good but difficult decisions about change.  I don't have as many options now that I am getting older but that is what life is all about.  Learning how to live with what you have and doing the best you can with it.  All this doesn't slow down that voice inside that notices everything around me, questions, is inquisitive about everything and drives me on.  That voice needs a good talking to about what is appropriate.  I know, you like the way the buds on those flowers open up. Now stop it because I have to consider other things.




Jasmine (my grand daughter) is one year old.  It is her first birthday and she is super excited by it all.  

She loved the ride at the supermarket, that was exciting.


What do you mean I can't sit in the box with all the dishes?


I can get rid of those dishes.  And the excitement just keeps going.


Needle turn applique

The method I like using for needle turn applique requires me to sew on the top edge of my work.  (Most times you would sew using the bottom edge.)   I always start on a straight edge, not on a curve or point.  I turn the fabric with my needle  on the outline I have drawn and bring my thread through on the fold of the fabric. (The outline should be right on this fold.)


For accuracy I never needle turn more fabric than that which will allow me to stitch two (2) stitches, even on the straight edge.  On a curve I will only turn enough for one (1) stitch.  Using this method I can get smooth curves and no lumps.


That valley at the top of the heart requires that I snip the fabric so that it can be turned back.  This is then the weakest point.  Because of this I take three (3) small over stitches to anchor and secure it. ( You often have the same problem in dressmaking, usually at a V neck opening.  Here I would reduce my machine stitch length to less than 1 to anchor and secure this edge.)


You will be able to see these stitches but only if you look closely and when this quilt goes in the washing machine the fabric will not fray away at this point. Plus I cheat.

The next part that some people find diffictult it the point at the bottom of the heart.  There is quite a bit of fabric here so reduce it by trimming that point off.


When you get to that point reduce the size of our stitches so that by the time you reach the point they are very close together.


Stitch right to the point and then needle turn your fabric to turn, just for one small stitch..  Turn your fabric again, another small stitch.  By the third stitch you will find you have a sharp point.

Now that cheating I was talking about.  I am using a grey thread and where I take little stitches on the top of the fabric it shows, not much but I can see it.


I take the fine end of my fabric pen, which uses a fabric dye, and change the colour of the stitches.  You have to be careful because this is a perminent mark you are making . If there are any other grey stitches showing I would mark them as well.


And there is my finished applique.


Progress on the Sweet Hearts Challenge for May

The end of May and I am fast approaching the half way mark and am glad to see that I am just about keeping up with everyone else.   Now that I am only two rows from the middle I can see just how big it is. Big.  It will be for my Dutch daughter-in-law Inge.  I have only made her one quilt, so a second will be good.  (My son is one lucky boy to have such a beautiful wife.)

By the look of it I will not need to add any borders but I will decide that when I have finished the piecing.


I was looking at how other people do needle turn applique and realised there are a number of different methods used.  Also, because I am using so many diffent fabrics, not many of which are designed to be used this way, I am finding that they are all looking a bit different.

I started this project using a fade out pen to mark the hearts but now find that I prefer the mechanical chalk pencil.  The chalk just rubbs off and I am going to see if I can get the refills in other colours when I am in Sydney for the Quilt Show next month.


The other thing that it pays to do, as these blocks are on point, is to prepare each block before your start.  After tracing around my template I trim back the seam allowance so that it is even.  (In this example I forgot so did it after I had tacked the heart in place.)

I have a number of pairs of small sharp scissors that have very good cutting tips for cutting into that valley at the top of the heart. These were cheap, about $5.00 a pair.  I use them until they are going blunt and then use them as paper scissors.  When they are really blunt they go in the bin.

I line the heart up by eye.

 But have learnt that you don't trust this, use your ruler to make sure it is square.


Then I tack it in place using a tailors tack down the middle,


and normal tacking around the edge.  I use no knots so that this will pull out easily when I have finished my applique.


I use a' between' needle to do my stitching.  I like this needle because it is short, fine and the eye is so small it forces me to use a thin thread.   For fine applique I would use a silk thread but I know this quilt will be in the washing machine so I am using Rasant.

 Doing all these steps before I start to sew just about guarantees me a good finish.    One can always 'stuff up' but with this many hearts you can hide some of your mistakes.

The first 100

On the 27th of July 2012 I started my quest to collect, graph and stitch as many of the Hishizashi patterns that I could find.  Today I am posting No 97 - No 100.  I have kept to my schedule of 10 patterns per month, which when I began never thought I would achieve.  But there you go.

What have I learnt? 

  • There seems to be a group of basic patterns with a myriad of variations.
  • I have found the names of the some of patterns.
  • They can be stitched out on linen fabrics.
  • That although they can be stitched out on linen or other even weave fabric the finished pattern looks best on the original hemp.
  • The unmercerised thread look the most effective but other threads can be used.
  • The traditional pieces combined only a few patterns or were one pattern repeated many times.
  • Although I have found the names of two (2) Japanese pattern books I can find non of these books for sale, anywhere.
  • That the 2011 tsunami has disrupted (or perhaps destroyed) the lives of many who stitched in this geographic area and they are un-contactable at this time.
  • I love stitching these patterns and my admiration for these women who originally stitched them has grown beyond all bounds.

Pattern No 97

Download No 97

Pattern No 98

Download No 98

Pattern No 99

Download No 99

Pattern No 100

Download No 100



Mother's Day Swap

My Patchwork Group always celebrates Mother's Day with a 'swap gift'.  That means, we choose a gift, something like a needlecase or small quilt, make it up, wrap it and put it in the middle of the table.  In the meanwhile a member of the group will randomley attach a number to each gift and each person will pick a random number from a hat.


This usually takes place when we meet to have breakfast together.  (I always pity the other diners because of the noise we make.  We try to get a separate room or book the whole cafe.)  This year the pattern is a Fold up Tote Bag from a free tutorial on the web.

It was such an easy pattern I am tryed to be a bit different and made my bag fully reversable.  This was helped by the fabric I have.  It is check on one side and spot on the other. 


It was fun getting those corners to sit flat but I did in the end and I didn't take a photo, blow!

We all gathered for breakfast and the noise was even more than I had thought it would be.


There were some interesting colour combinations.

And I personally liked this bag that used a printed panel as an outside pocket and had a bias trim inseted in the join.

As an added extra one of the members had included this heart shaped hanger.

Now we have to think of something to make for next year.

On the beach

We have one small stretch of beach on our reach of the Brisbane river and it has been covered in logs and trees brought down by the last flood.  Now someone has built a Dragon Boat out of the driftwood. (We have a big dragon boat club not far from here.) Since I first saw it a sail of flags have been added.

There is a printed sign on it asking for name suggestions.

The explanation at bottom of the page reads;

When Oblix and Asterix came to New Farm for the French Film Festival last month they borrowed a ship from Geriatrix which was known to be in poor condition and was wrecked.  We think this could be the site and are trying to put it back together so they can get back to the village in Gaul to feed Dogmatix.

It doesn't look all that seaworthy to me but that dragon is fierce.


I think it could almost breath fire.

Both adults and children keep checking it just to make sure it doesn't come to life and make a nuisance of itself.

The clothing

Besides the young man,s wedding coat there were three other pieces in the exhibition.  A widow's dress from Palestine.

You could tell it was owned by a widow because it had been torn down the front.

Those cross stitch patterns are so distictive.

Then two outfits, with different embroidery designs, from Pakistan, or near Pakistan.  They both had coins from Pakistan sewn onto the pieces as decoration.  Both were very heavy.  This was caused by the metal that was sewn onto the surface and the material used.  The material was a heavy cotton but the fullness at the bottom of both pieces was formed by adding lots of inserts, with lots of seams.  They would have moved beautifully when the person wearing either of them moved.  They were made for movement. The sleeves in both pieces are a work of art in their own right.

Outfit No 1


The coins, beads and metal pieces added to the weight and the fabric inserts came in from under this.

Press studs were used as decoration as well as coins.


And buttons.


You an see Pakistan stamped on this coin.


These sections on the sleeves must have taken ages to stitch.


Outfit No 2

Not as much metal used in this one, but lots of buttons.


and beads.



Then just to finish, from some other pieces.  There was this use of herringbone stitch.

 And this well used rug.


With small squares of fabric appliqued in place around the edge.


Some elephants from the exhibition.

Sorry about the quality of some of these images but I love these wonky elephants and wanted to show them.



This is a very wonky one.


I love those pink feet and that closed herringbone works well at covering a large area.


One of the few embroideries I have seen of this God.


I like how they have used negative space to define the ear.


Tomorrow some of the clothing.

Helping hang an exhibition

I spent a day helping hang an embroidery exhibition in a large gallery at Bribie Island north of Brisbane recently.  The bulk of the exhibition was antique Indian embroideries contained in clothing, wall handings and curtains for doorways.   It was hard but enjoyable work.

There was one display bay that was painted blue.  No-one wanted to use it, I thought it was great and immediately took it to display a young man's wedding jacket and a selection of skull caps.


I still haven't got my camera back so these images are taken with my iphone.  (Lots went into the trash and some are a bit fuzzy.)  Four of the five skull caps are cross stitched, the fifth is Shiska mirror work.

This image is fuzzy but I liked the colours and the design.


Considering these pieces date from the mid 1980's the colours have kept their brightness.



This one is stitched in tent stitch.

The mirrors used in this one are very small and the fabric is worn and fuzzy, it's not me shaking the camera.IMG_0492

More tomorrow.