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November 2013
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January 2014

December 2013

The last day of the year

Here it is. The end, tomorrow is a new beginning which will also see a lot of things end.

I look back at the year with mixed feelings.  Maybe I need more time to put everything into perspective.  I suspect that this has been a watershed year and I'm too close to it to really have any clear view of it.

I have always been a very resilient, positive person but this year has seen that tested and I find that I am rather fearful about the future.  My wish for the next year is that I can regain my previous composure and face all the coming challenges with equanimity.

The most positive things about this year past is that my love of embroidery and quilting has been a constant pleasure and that my embroidery and quilting friends have been supportive and loving.  Also my fellow committe members in the Josephite Associate Network have held my head above the water spiritually this year when life was difficult.  I have many blessings to be thankful for and am inspired to follow the example of the life and work of Saint Mary MacKillop.

The Mary MacKillop rose.

Friend Pammy had a great image on her facebook page and I told her I would take it with me into 2014.


I think in the end it will be the love and support of others that will be the most memorable things about this year past.  I hope that your lives have been blessed as well.  Now for the future...

Kogin Project No 12 - Table Mat

I have put off designing an item that required a hem due to the fact that the hemp fabric doesn't 'bend well'.  But, I couldn't put it off for ever so this table mat has a bound edge, similar to that used in quilting.  The best tutorial I have come across for this kind of edge is by the Quilter Sharon Shamburg, but it is very detailed and aimed at quilters who want to enter competitions.  I have adapted some of her methods to suit this table mat.  (Quilters use a double thickness of fabric I have used a bias edge.)


Because the edge was bound the back of the mat had to be reversable.  This is achieved by using the Kogin/Sashiko 'lock stitch' when beginning and ending a thread.  Threads are woven into the back of the embroidery in the previous row.   (I have a tutorial here on a past post.) At one point I tried to reverse stitch this and found it almost impossible, it is a very secure way to start of end a thread. The Hishizashi pattern used is a combination of No 40 and No 41.

You will find the tutorial for how to bind the edges of the mat in yesterday's post here.

The other thing about this project is that you can sew a set of mats or you could take it to your print shop and have a good scan taken.  This could then be copied onto card stock and laminated making a set of mats that can be wiped down after use.  (A lot less stitching as well.)  This mat is sized so that you can use an A3 photocopy.  Some people have home printers and laminators that take this size so could do the whole process at home.

This is my final free project for 2013 so I hope you enjoy it.

Project No 12 Place Mat


This project is now available as a kit.

This project is now available as a kit.





Edges for Hemp Fabric - No 1

 No 1 Bound Bias Binding Edge with Quilters Mitred Corners

This edge is 1cm (3/8") wide finished and is the narrowest measurement I have been able to sew that didn't pull away under pressure.   You could of course use a wider bias binding.

When machine stitching on the hemp fabric you will find that it doesn't look  quite straight.  This is because the needle bounces to the side of the hemp threads and is very noticeable if using a contrasting thread.  You can't see it at all if you use a self coloured thread.

Photos from 23 Dec 2013

You could round your corners and just sew one continuous binding around your piece.  I have square edges on this mat so have used a quiter's mitre.

To begin

Photo from 21 Dec 2013
Make sure that you withdraw threads in both direction, on all sides, to mark the size of your piece, then cut to size along this mark.  (Because the threads are "chunky" you may not get an accurate line if using a pen or tailor's chalk.)



Photos from 23 Dec 2013 - Version 3  

Cut your bias binding 4cm wide (1 1/2").  You will need  to measure the perimeter of your item plus another 30cm (12") to allow for corners and finishing join.  This allowance is generous and you will have fabric left over but that is better than having to join another length of bias binding if you are a bit short.

 I want to have a machine stitch finish on the front of my work so am beginning on the back.  If you want to finish with a hand hemmed stitch finish , start on the front.

Photos from 23 Dec 2013 - Version 3

I like to mark my mitre point at the corners with a tacking stitch.  This gives me a clear mark where to turn.  (Five threads from the edge of this fabric is equal to 1cm.  It is the same width as the presser foot on my Bernina sewing machine.  Many brands of sewing machine have the same width of foot and this is a good quide to keep your seam straight.)

  Photos from 23 Dec 2013 - Version 2

Start at the middle of a long side, leaving a 15cm tail of bias binding and pin in position ending at your corner mitre marks. Using a straight stitch, a little longer than normal, sew to this mark and stop with needle down, pivot and sew OUT off the edge.

  Photos from 23 Dec 2013

Hold your bias strip level with the corner and fold back at 45 degree angle.  Fold again level with the top edge and the side and pin in position.

 Photos from 23 Dec 2013

On this next side, sew IN from the edge to the 1cm mark, pivot and continue onto the next corner to the tack mark, pivot and sew OUT off the edge. Repeat this at each corner

After sewing your last corner stop and join your bias strip so that it fits the perimeter of your piece. Trim the seam and continue sewing until all the strip is attached to the edge.

  Your stitching should look like this. That is, you sew in from the edge at the mitre mark, pivot, sew to the next mitre mark, pivot and sew off the edge.  You repeat this for each corner.  If you sew past the mitre point you will catch the folded edge of the bias strip on the other side of your work.  By just meeting at the corners the bias will turn unhindered to the other side.


Turn your work to the right side and press the seam to set it.  Fold the edge of your bias strip under all the way around to set a 1cm width to the binding.  It will sit in an awkward position on the corners at this time.

Photos from 23 Dec 2013 - Version 4

Turn this fold to just cover your stitching and pin in position.  When you reach the corner lay flat until you reach the mitre point.

Photos from 23 Dec 2013 - Version 5

Turn the edge of your bias strip to meet the edge you have just completed at the mitre point.  Tack into position.  I find the tacking keeps those edges and corners accurate.

Photos from 23 Dec 2013

Lengthen you stitch a little more, (so that everything lies flat) and stitch close to the edge all the way around your piece. 

Photos from 23 Dec 2013

By placing a sheet of printer paper in the corner you can check that your corner is square.

By binding your fabric with this bias edge you are able to have a finished product that lays flat and the fabric will not fray at the edges.  I have found this a most successful method to use when working with hemp fabric.




For Xmas 2014

Back in 2012 I was wrote about a Sri Lankan embroidered table cloth and how much I admired the work.

I even got so far as drawing up a pattern but just haven't got around to doing any thing with it.

A day or so ago I got a comment from Rose A C Howard  saying how this image had inspired her to make holiday ornaments for her family and friends.  What a brillant idea.


I have dug out that old pattern I made and included it here, just in case you want to get ready for Xmas 2014!


PDF Pattern Download Sri Lanka

Boxing Day 2013

Xmas started with the discovery that one naughty little dog had gone under the Xmas tree and found the children's chocolates.  She was so pleased with herself and the kids missed out. There were lots of other chocolates for the kids and presents.


Monique received a princess costume, which she loved.  She stood in front of the mirror and said Oh My God, I'm a princess!  (She's been listening to adults me thinks.)  After this she was given the job of handing out the presents to everyone.


Jasmine was like a fly in a bottle and looked super cute in her wings.  She ditched them after a while because she couldn't get lift off.


Both girls got a pair of crocs each, I think the little one will sleep in her's, but the big hit was an old school desk that Aunty Laura painted and decorated.


Inside the draw was a small world.  (Supplied by Uncle Guy.)One for Owls and the other for Rabbits.  I bought this desk from an auction 30 years ago and my boys loved it when they were small. The lid is split down the middle so that each part of the desk is separate. On the lid Laura had painted the girl's names with a butterfly for Monique and a bee for Jasmine.  This was very fitting and reflect each of the girls personalities.

There was just family at dinner.  Not a lot of fuss.  We had chocolate santas for the centrepiece. Plates of fresh king prawns.  Cold ham off the bone and chicken sliced on plates.  A hot pork roast with crackling and apple sauce with cold salads finished off with pavlova with cream and icecream.

We still have the rest of the holiday season to get through with friends arriving from the USA to keep us on  our toes.   This is the last Xmas we will all be together for a while so I'm glad everyone enjoyed themselves.

Xmas Eve

With all the packing and clearing out of the house Xmas has not been the same as previous years.
 I made sure that I put aside my Nativity Setting so that it could sit on the hall table as usual.


I also left out the wreath for the front door and


the straw decoration for the table on the verandah.


I have a table under the window at the side of the front door so here I put a little Xmas tree with some of my decoration that I have had for years.  This was my attempt to keep up our family's Xmas traditions.


What I hadn't counted on was my children.  They all arrived and dived into the box room to find the Xmas tree.


It was erected and decorated, just like every other tree in years past.  "Well Mum," they said, "it is Xmas and we must have the tree decorated.  This could be our last Xmas in this house and it has to be special."

Photo from 22 Dec 2013
I hope that your Xmas will be special tool

Sample stitching

Here is an idea that I found in my cyber travels.  It would work great to mix old, from charity shops, and new, from the TAST stitching, and it looks good..

The blog is thread and thrift  and she has an interesting etsy shop as well.

I am working on my final Kogin Project for 2013 and should have it posted before the end of the year.  This has seen me undertake a series of experiments on how to finish hems using the hemp fabric.  I'm not all together please with the bound hem that I am using in Project No 12 and this has been the imputus to these experiments.  I will post these in the new year for those who also are also learning how to work with hemp fabric.

I have no trouble working with linen and cotton, even fabrics with a man made component.  But hemp fabric is completely outside my range of experience.   It will be interesting to see what I can do with it.


I have just taken an audit of my UFO's and they number fourty (40).  How does anyone get that many UFO's?.  I know that about five (5) will take no time to finish and some like my rabbits and doll will not be needed for a couple of years but that still leaves thirty two (32).


There is no way that I can get them all finished in one (1) year, this is going to be a five (5) year project at least.  So what to do?  I think I need to put the list on the wall and think about this. I will get those five (5) I know I can get finished done first. 

There are six (6) quilts on this list.  All the tops are finished it is the quilting that is the problem.  One (1) I can get quilted commercially, the others require hand quilting.  Two (2) are already sandwiched so these have to be top of the list.  Another is for me to practice my machine quilting so that will be No 3.

My top New Year resolution will have to be not to start any new projects until I have this list under control.  Oh heavens, I missed all the knitting and I just found another embroidery project and yet another!!