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June 2017

Adventures with my sewing machine

My inability to see clearly does have it's funny side you know. 

The quilt top I am working on along with the cushions requires me to use my sewing machine. 

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This is great.  I can see the stitch guides clearly and it is only straight sewing I'm doing.  Putting in the zippers was a bit more challenging and as I  shorten my zippers by sewing across the teeth, this  was nearly my undoing.  You have to watch that the needle doesn't hit the nylon teeth or it can break. 

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  I can't see the needle too well at the moment, so I sewed slowly.  Then I hit the teeth and the needle got stuck there.  I managed to get the foot off the shank and release the needle without breaking it, twice.  Third time I wasn't so lucky.  It broke the top of the needle around the eye region. Then that small part of the needle fell into the bobbin area and didn't come out.  I turned the machine upside down.  It got my dyson onto it.  I shook it. Nothing came out. 

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Back when I was newly married I had a new you beaut Singer sewing machine that had cams that you inserted to do fancy stitches.  It was an expensive machine and my pride and joy, and nearly the death of me.  The foot pedal blew up and somehow I managed not to get electrocuted.  The whole pedal melted into a molten mess, and I blew the fuse box as well.  What had happened was when they machined the housing for the engine they didn't clean out all the metal shavings.  One was left in there and that one fell into the motor and it blew up.

The image of this close call has stayed with me all these years and now I had a part of the needle in the machine and I couldn't find it.  The bobbin case is isolated from the motor but if I didn't find the needle shard who knows what damage it could do?  As a last resort I went to my elderly neighbour and asked if I could borrow his magnifying glass, he uses it to read because his eyes are worse than mine.  He wasn't about to let 'his eyes' as he calls it be taken away by a woman, so he came over to help me look.  What a picture we must have made?

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The upshot was that we found that tiny piece of metal and extracted it with the point of a long pin.  While I had the machine in pieces I cleaned and oiled it, well.  Living on the waterfront means that metal can rust easily hence all the oil to protect it.

I don't know.  Nothing is easy, is it?

Interesting day trip

I had an interesting trip this week up to Toowoomba.  The weather was terrible and the trip up took me almost 4 hours and then another 3 to get back home again.  I was really tired after all that driving.  I went to a trunk show talk by Michelle Hill who is hanging up her hat and not doing any of this kind of thing again.  So it was a must do.

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I bought a copy of her new book 'Stitching with Beatrix Potter' not that there is anything that I will stitch, rather, just to have a copy for reference.

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After my stay in Cumbria a few years ago when I visited Hill Top Farm, (again, and again, and again), I was just enchanted by the Stitching done by Potter.  I wasn't allowed to take photos and there were no post cards for sale of her work.   But she was a great embroiderer as well as being great at lots of other things.

Michelle is best known for her William Morris inspired fabrics and quilts which you can see here.  But I was able to look up close and her stitching is so fine and that quilting is to die for.

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And when you get up close you can see all kinds of embroidered embellishments.

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When I got home I found a gift from my husband on my desk.

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Isn't that sweet.


I have returned to work on the Xmas ornaments that I started earlier in the year,  (January actually) , with some interesting results.

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  The patterns I have stitched are not quite the same as the patterns I printed out.  Reason, I'm having trouble seeing the thread of the fabric and hence my count has become a bit creative. 

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  They still look like snowflakes just not quite the ones I started out to stitch.  These 4 designs I will stitch in re perle 8 cotton on the same linen as the white ones.

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Oh well 2 down and only 2 to go and then I will have to assemble them.  I have some ideas of what I want to do but this doesn't always work out as I expect.

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I'm a sucker for a sale

When I came to find fabric for the back of the quilt I have been working on I found I had really gone through my stash of fabrics.  I had to piece lots of bits to get enough fabric for the backing.  Then I got an email saying that East Coast Fabrics were having a sale.  Now that was timely!

Monday is my babysitting day, so once I had dropped the girls off at school I drove directly there.  My goal was to get backing fabric for the next few quilts I need to make. ( Well, I know that all my grand nieces and nephews are lining up for a quilt now that the youngest is getting a new one.)  I was one of the first into the shop.  I got a trolley and loaded up.  I was only going to buy the $4 per metre fabric but I actually bought some at $8 per metre as well.  I was one of the first in the check out line which by this time was getting rather long.

The cheap stuff, 2.5 metres for a single bed backing, cost me $10 per quilt.  (Considering that price would have been at least $50 from a quilt shop I think I did well.)  

I will have to add a little to sides of this one but it will make a great backing.  I don't think I would use it on the front of a quilt though.

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And I also bought these at the same price.

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I'm still a couple short but I thought I had better finish these first. 

I have bought a couple of overnight bags for my grand daughters for Xmas and I want to put all the bits in there, like pajamas, brush  comb, tooth paste etc.  And I found the perfect fabric for the wet pack.  I intend to line the bag with a waterproof fabric and use a different coloured zip for each girl.  They both love pink, good thing the tooth brushes were a variety of colours.

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This nautical themed fabric just jumped out at me and I had to have it.

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And I'm not sure why I bought this one.

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And finally, I'm sure I will be able to incorporate this fabric into the piece I am planning for the next children's embroidery class in which the embroidery design is all about hands.

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Now I have to find somewhere to put all this loot.


I pressed the little send button

I have been debating with myself about taking a trip to South America later on this year.  I have had a few health problems, which seem to be under control but I worry about leaving my husband.  He has had the serious health problems.  But I might not get this chance again, so I have sent off my reservation request to travel to Guatemala latter in the year.  This is a trip with my friend Pam and you can read all about it on her blog here.

The colours that shine from Pam's photo's just call to me.  I want to see the embroidery.

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

The weaving,  which I have admired for ages..

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(image from I am Pam Holland)

I used to be an intrepid traveler but over the past few years haven't been anywhere very much.  A broken arm and foot being the main reason.  So I have committed to hitting the road again.  My great aunt rode a camel around the pyramids  to celebrate her 80th birthday and although I'm not nearly that age I did so admire her spirit.  Maybe this will be the first of many trips.



So, what have cushions to do with Marvel Movies?

Well here they are decorating "Hulk's" bed.  Giant sized cushions I have to say.

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This bed will be in the new movie Thor:Ragnarol 2017 .  The bed is made of plaster, wood, styrofoam, paint, metal (frame) Cushions (various sizes) throws, doona, rug, bedspread, hammock (bedding).

The top throw is hand painted onto a hession like fabric and uses a 'tribal' design.  I have seen similar designs from Africa and New Guinea.

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It is used again in one of the bolster cushions.

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The geometric design on the central cushion is based on an African design.

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The other design used incorporates a lot of platted cord.  It has been made in blocks and then pieced together.  The medallions that decorated each corner, where the blocks are joined, are hand embroidered and then sewn in place.  The different coloured square of fabric in every alternate block are also hand sewn in place.

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There are some very nice design ideas in those cushions.  I know a number of teenaged boys who would love something like this on their bed.  I just wish I could have got closer to really see the detail.   I think that each of the panels of this cushion were all sewn by hand  and then machined together but I can't be sure.    So many questions.  Are they commissioned pieces after being designed by the set designer?  Were they sourced from Africa, India etc.?  What inspired the selection of tribal theme?

When you see this at the movies it will probably just flash past on the screen and you won't even notice it.


It's the season ticket

My husband took me to the "Marvel Exhibition" at the Art Gallery and it is fantastic.  All those costumes, up close, but still not one costume designer was named.  Some of the set designers got a mention but not one costume designer.  And Oh those costumes!

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I rushed back out to the entrance and changed my ticket to a season one, because I know I have to go back.  Only draw back is the noise.  There are so many school groups coming through.  One of the attendants told me they sold 4,000 tickets last Sunday.  I'm not going on a weekend.  I will have to try and get there early or late and miss all the kids.  And it isn't just kids.   We went in the middle of the week and there were lots of young people there , in fact more under 35's than I've seen in one place for a while. There are the 'art gallery apps' you can log onto while there but so many people were trying to access them I didn't have a look in.   I can see why schools are embracing this exhibition the resources for schools that are available for teachers are wonderful.

There is just so much depth to this exhibition.  It works on multiple levels, design right through all the steps to the finished movies.  All the stages of the process are on display.  This is going to turn into a serious study I can see.  Inspiration, inspiration, inspiration.



Well, the knitting is a write off.  I am still trying to get the pattern right.

I started on some cross stitch, but all I do is make mistakes because I can't see it.

So, I have settled on finishing some quilt tops that have been languishing in the bottom draw.  I was making this one for Jasmine, but it isn't pink.  My grand nephew Leon is going to get this one.  I decided on the layout back in September 2014.

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I must have done some sewing on it because it was partly put together.  I had cut the left overs into pieces so continued with this to make the quilt wider.  Then I found I didn't have enough of these to go right around the blocks so ended up just keeping them in the middle sections.  After doing this I realised that it was too long and narrow with the 8 blocks so cut it back to 6 blocks and used the other 2 to make cushions. 

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I managed to buy some fabric at East Cost Fabrics where the fabric is very cheap, but good quality, for the borders.  They are all in place and the next job is the quilting.  I might send it out to be quilted but then again I might do it myself.  I just have to think about that one.

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I'm glad I made it shorter.  It is still the length of a single bed and looks more balanced this way.  So all was not lost over the last week.  Making the cushions is the next step.




Jasmine's Birthday

This birthday seems to have taken ages to arrive.  But then there it was.  Jasmine is now 5 years old, (going on 30 something.)  We all decended on Karawatha Forest Park where there is a great nature play centre for children.

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Water pumps.  Keeps them busy but not too much water comes out.

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great places to run and play.

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And the bigger kids looked after the little ones.

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It was a Smurf themed party and the 'Smurf Brains'  (blue jelly) was a great hit with all the kids.

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This lot of kids are being raised on 'healthy food' so the chance to eat popcorn, chips and lollies is a rare treat. There was one little boy who just ate and ate.

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His parents would move him on but next time I looked he was back again.

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For some of the little ones it was their first time with these foods and the expressions were wonderful.

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And that kid was back again.

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Young Rose just couldn't resist the popcorn.

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Then it was time to cut the cake and open the presents.  This took some time because Jasmine would notice that some kid was missing and they all took of to find him or her.

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Finally everyone was together and she could open her presents.  And she got sooo many.

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Each one was discussed and inspected.

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I think it will be birthday that she remembers.

Where I live

Well I got through the first procedure without too much trouble, still 3 more to go.  The next one is a couple of weeks away and my eyes need to rest until then.  I thought I would knit but even that caused me trouble and I ended up with blurred vision so I took a walk.  The weather is fine with a real chill in the air.  You have to rug up if you go to the mainland on the barge.  There is no protection from the wind and weather so one feels like an icey pole when you get to the other side.

But on the island the weather is beautiful, as long as you can get out of the wind.  It is very dry and the skys are clear. It shines through the trees in the middle of the day making the trees throw great shadows.

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When it is shining directly overhead you can see all the spiderwebs that have been flung up in the trees.

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Some of them are very impressive. 

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There are lots of bugs around at the moment because some of the trees are in full bloom and they swarm around the flowers.  Then the birds come in to get the bugs.  Which is great, as long as they are not interested in biting me!  My neighbour, in the house behind, is an elderly gentleman and I wish he would have some of his trees trimmed back.  My garden isn't getting much sun at the moment.  I walked around to have a word with him but found that he is having a stint in hospital.  His garden is invading his lawn and the lawn needs some work along with the trees.  He lives alone so I know these things will not be easy for him.

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He does have a beautiful bouganvilla growing, which is also getting out of control.  But the variagated leaves really set off the colours of those flowers.

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I do like this cooler weather.