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May 2020

April 2020

Into that bottom draw

I found another one!

I have this all pinned up to quilt but I can see I need to stitch the applique first.  I think I can partially unpin this and machine applique the edge design.

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I must have started this some time after yesterdays quilt as those triangles are playing a major role in the design. I am going to use this to do the machine quilting from the Phillipa Naylor course.  I have no idea what fabric  I planned to edge this one with.  I might have to purchase something.    I vaguely remember designing this to use up some leftover fabric I had.  (The story of my life!)  Still, this will make Quilt No 4 of my donation quilts.  Yippee!!!

I know I have another unfinished quilt lurking somewhere, I just have to find it.

Finally Finished! (Well almost)

Back in the 1990s I did a needle turn applique class with Diane Johnson.  Back then I had never seen this kind of work and was really impressed with Diane's work, so when the opportunity arose to learn I jumped at it.

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Her flowers were just so perfect.  After I met her I found that she dyed all her own fabrics to get the colours she wanted.  I think I made a panel for a cushion and I remember that she was a strict teacher saying there was only one way to replicate her applique.  I've learnt differently since then but still this class gave me a good foundation.

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Then in the early 2000's I discovered traditional Baltimore quilts.  These were beautiful but I didn't want to make one.  Come 2003 and Alma Allen and Cherie Ralston published a book with patterns for another type of applique quilt.

Screen Shot 2020-04-27 at 2.09.54 pmMy local patchwork shop had a year of classes with Denise Lawson to make this quilt.  (Sadly soon after this Denise died from cancer.)  So I signed up for these and made the quilt.  I hadn't made many quilts at this time and that saw tooth border was a challenge. 


Scan 10
This quilt really taught me a lot about needle turn applique.  BUT, (there is always a but) I wanted to hand quilt it and I just couldn't find the time.  I had three children, was working full time, completing a Masters Degree and this was bottom of the list.

Years went by and every so often I would pull the quilt top out and then I decided I didn't like it and wouldn't use it.  There were other quilts I liked better, so it went back in the draw. 

Fast forward to this lock down.  Going through that bottom draw again I found that quilt top and decided this would be the perfect time to finish it.  (There was 10 metres of hand stitching in that binding.) I couldn't face hand quilting it, so just settled on a large stipple pattern.  And here it is.

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The almost finished bit refers to the quilt bag which I still have to make.  But, looking through my stash look what I found?

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I have been keeping this fabric all this time just for this purpose.  I have some other unfinished work in this draw that I either have to finish or dispose of.

Recyling project for April

I have known for ages what I wanted to do for my April project, a pinwheel pin holder.   But could I find a pattern?  No.  I spent days searching the web, but to no avail.  I did find lots of images of antique pinwheel pin holders mostly from sale houses.


Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 11.25.36 amI like this silk one.

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And this one as well,

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and I even found a butterfly shape.

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But no instructions anywhere.  Result, I made my own.  I'm not sure if this is how others make this but this is my version.  (you will find a downloadable PDF at the bottom of this post.)

So what do you need?

  • An old piece of embroidery to cut up.
  • A backing fabric for the reverse side.
  • Soft, light weight wadding
  • Waste card  packaging (post card from book packaging is great)
  • Tacky glue.
  • Needle and thread.

I cut my cardboard into a 1 X 4" circle, cutting on the outer side of the line  as a template to cut the embroidery and reverse side fabric.  I added an iron on interfacing to stablise the embroidery.

  2 X 3.5" circle cutting on the inner side of the tracing line for the mounting shape.

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I glued the wadding to one side of each of the mounting shapes using a tacky glue.

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Using a fine needle and a length of poly-cotton thread I ran a line of small gathering stitching around the edge of the embroidery and the reverse side fabric, starting with a firm knot.  (A small stitch gives a much more even gathering line.)

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I found it helped to slightly gather this before inserting the mounting shape.

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I then inserted the mounding shape, pulled up the gathering thread and secured the fabric in place.

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Placing the inner sides of the circles together  I stitched the two shapes together.  I used a double poly-cotton thread, this is stronger and will not break under pressure.  I also used a fine needle that had a slight flex so that I could sew, using a ladder stitch to pull the two sides together.

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I sewed 3 or 4 stitches loosely, just below the edge of the cardboard  and then pulled the thread tight.  When I came back to the beginning of the circle I secured that thread.

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Next I decorated the edge of the pinwheel with pins.  These are great for berry pins or any long pin that has a fancy top.

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These are a great way to use embroidery from damaged pieces.  My piece was full of holes and parts of the design had come undone.  Now it will have another life as a sale item at the Queensland Embroiderers' Guild sale table.  Also, there is now a set of written instructions.

Download Pinwheel pin holder


I am starting to get on top of the lack of thyroxine in my system but find I am still having trouble thinking and reasoning.  I am just going to have to wait for the levels to normalise.  In the meanwhile I have to stop trying to do things like I am normal, like joining my patchwork group on-line!  All I managed there was to throw everything into a mess.  I did realise the problem when I joined the community stitch challenge 2020, and have only now started to do the exercises.  I have lost nearly a month and am way behind.  There have been four fantastic sessions with great instructor.s

Sue Stone, Cas Holmes, Emily Tull and Richard Mc Vetis to date.  There are now over 60,000 members in this group.

So this was the week one challenge exercise from Sue Stone.

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I decided to use Sydd Tofs stitch ,which I saw on Queenie's Sunday Stitch School

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I started with the traditional stitch using Appleton's crewel wool but then started to play around with different threads, direction and spacing.

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This little stitch shows lots of potential.

A bit of dressmaking

One of the blogs I subscribe to is Tessuti Fabrics.  They have a shop in Sydney and the most wonderful exotic, expensive fabrics and they have a great blog, full of useful information. This month they included a free pattern for an apron in their post.

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  Now I am a born grub.  I always drop things all down the front of me and when I sew I get threads everywhere.  I thought this apron was just for me.  Only trouble  I don't have any linen, so I just used a fabric out of the draw.  It was the first time I have down loaded a pattern from the web and printing and assembling all 25 pages was a bit of a challenge.

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But I got there in the end.

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There was 11 pages of sewing instructions and they were clear and concise.  They said to add your favourite label so I took the logo off my letter head and printed this onto fabric.  (This might be a good apron for putting on whilst I'm teaching?)  I have to say this was a pleasure to sew.

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By lengthening the straps I found it fitted my fuller figure better but I don't think I would make it for anyone who was size 18 or bigger without re-drafting the pattern.

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I do think it would better made in linen and these would make great gifts.

Some reflection

I read somewhere that self isolating has seen how people revert to their basic personality type.  If that is so I am basically a solitary person.  I know I shouldn't admit this, but I am loving every minute of this lock down.  I love being in my own bubble and doing the things I like to do, like stitching.  I don't have to apolgise when I sit and stitch or knit or read.  I don't have time to watch Netflix or partake of many of the other entertainments out there, I have so much stitching , reading  and listening to music, or playing music that I want to do.

I think I have always known I was a solitary kind of person.  I deliberately joined some groups and became involved in some organisations because I believed it wasn't good for my own mental health to be isolated.  But now I can indulge myself.  I will have to watch that this doesn't become 'the new normal'.  I know I have to make an effort to rejoin the world again.  But, just at the moment it is "bliss".  I have to add that I live in a beautiful place to do all this.  Being on an island gives me so many advantages, like sitting on the beach or walking in the bush.  I'm not sure how I would go if I was sitting in my townhouse up in the city stuck indoors.

What have I been stitching?  Well all those blocks from the Facebook group.  They are simple designs but they have given me so much enjoyment.  The latest one is by Gail Pan Designs.  I have used Stef Francis thread and selected 2 strands of Fine Perle  to do the stitching.

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Without thinking about it I found myself selecting some other stitches than those recommended.  Like the leaves and the French knots in the centre of the flower.

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Another thing I am learning is there are lot of ways to stitch flowers.  I knew that but didn't really appreciate it.  Opps! maybe that shows I have been on my own too long?

Not what I thought at all!

This is not the kind of embroidery I like normally but you know I did enjoy stitching Block two of this quilt.

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Again, it took a lot longer than I thought it would even though the stitches used were basic.  But, with basic stitching you still have to take care. The eyes are just satin stitch but they are probably the most important part of each bear.  They are the part that show their character.  The other thing is the children just love these bears so what does it matter that I think they are basic?  This may turn out to be the block that the children enjoy the most.

Waiting for books

Because all the borders are closed and there are very few airlines flying we have stepped back to the pre1960's when it comes to buying books from overseas.   The websites say 10 to 15 days, but for some books I have been waiting longer than that.  I realise now that I have been spoiled by the supply chains of quick delivery facilitated by the airlines.  The things this virus is teaching us!

But I have received a knitting pattern book from Kate Davies Design & Co.  Colour Moves by Claudia Fiocchetti.

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I would like to purchase that yarn from KDD& Co as well but the exchange rate on our dollar is so low I just can't afford that kind of expense.  But I know that I am going to have to knit gloves and hats now that the ferry and barge services have been severely reduced.  Soon those South East winds will blow and standing on the open deck of the barge will be very cold.  The ferry isn't running between 8am and 6pm so it looks as though I will need all my winter woolies in a few months time.

There are some really challenging patterns in this book, well challenging for me.  I would like to knit this colour work set.  Those colours look just like looking through water.

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And the second pair of gloves would mean I could use my fingers and keep warm at the same time.

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Now I have to find a similar type of yarn locally and that might be easier said than done.