Tuesday, January 31, 2012

And.....begin again...!

I feel like I could write exactly the same as I wrote this time last year! We got up, we got uniforms on, lunches made, bags packed and we were out the door in enough time to snap off a 'first day back at school photo'. Mind you, I looked down at L's feet as his name was being called for his new class and saw that he had his old school shoes on. The new ones are still packed in the box. I was also standing behind him and saw that that gorgeous spiked hair he'd spent so much time on held a glob of gel right at the back of his head...nice work L! What you don't notice won't hurt you!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

What a star....

After a couple of marathon quilting and binding sessions, I managed to finish my Made in Cherry star quilt. Wow! This quilt turned out huge. Mine measures 84" x 84" and even with straight line quilting it felt like I was lifting a tonne or two. But I'm thrilled it's done and delighted with how it turned out and can tick that holiday project off the wish list.
We took a few days off to our shack for the last of the school holidays and these shots were taken at the old milk depot at the end of our road. I've always wanted to take a photo of a quilt here and given the enormity of this one, it was the perfect spot....even though my quilt holder upperers got a little bit tired during the procedure. It's hard to get good help these days!The fabric is Sugar Creek by DS Quilts (Australian releases) and the binding is the pink/blue/grey argyle which I love as a binding.The back features some left over blocks set in a chequerboard pattern. I had to buy some more grey for the back and ended up buying it from a different bolt so it's ever so slightly different. Given I was the one who purchased all the rest from the other bolt I'm not really in a position to complain. And as Kay always says...."we're the only one's who notice these things!".Now I'm off to iron a whole bunch of blocks that I put together whilst I was away.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Sugar Creek for Made in Cherry....

I've finished my top for the Made in Cherry Quilt-Along. I've used fabrics from Denyse Schmidt's latest Australian line for Spotlight, Sugar Creek.
I purchased 14 prints when they first hit the store but have since discovered more pinks and a few more designs. Oh well, a bit of green and maroon hasn't done me any harm! I've also used a Spotlight homespun in grey as the background and I'll also use this on the back with some left over blocks.
The pattern is really easy to construct however my top turned out much bigger than the pattern's 80". I'm currently sitting at around 84" so I'm not planning any extravagant stippling on this one! I don't think my back, neck and arms (not mention my blood pressure!) could take it.
You can get all the details from Pins & Bobbins who is hosting the quilt along or download the free pattern from the Lecien site.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Peach jam....

The latest in the quest to beat the birds to the peach tree! This is peach jam using Maggie Beer's recipe minus the amaretto....just who does have that lying around the pantry? Whilst the amaretto would have been divine the jam is pretty delicious without it. And seeing as it was close to midnight when I'd finished I got to taste the left overs. Cook's treat!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A bit of fandom for back to school....

It's almost time to go back to school with only a week remaining. New books are being covered, lunchboxes and drink bottles checked and pencil cases are holding pretty new, sharp pencils.
These are two new pencil cases for a couple of special girls. Both feature their favourite bands. One is having a birthday and is mad keen on One Direction. The other features the Australian band, Short Stack and their logo, Maurice (the skull and cross bones).
I made R a version of the Short Stack pencil case some months back. Long story but she wanted a t-shirt to go to the concert and she wanted Maurice on it. I had carefully traced and cut one from visoflex only to have R insist that it was wrong. I'd made it in negative (white out of black) but R wanted positive (black). It wasn't a drama and I made another but I didn't want to waste this lovely Maurice so he was turned into a pencil case....much to the admiration of many of R's friends. So this is another (positive version) for one of her dearest friends who introduced her to the band in the first instance.
Linking up to Crazy Mom's last Finish it up Friday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Banana cake.....

My attempt to make something each day during my holidays has succeeded again today with a batch of banana cake. I used a Donna Hay recipe and bananas that I'd stored in the freezer. I really don't care for soft over-ripe banana, so I feel less guilty about them not being consumed straight away by chucking them in the freezer for later. You don't even have to bag them! The skin goes all brown and wrinkly but inside is wonderful banana pulp that is perfect for cakes and muffins!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Just peachy....

We are blessed to have the most amazing freestone peach tree in our backyard.
Blessed because it came up wild in our yard from a seed which I transplanted about 15 years ago. I also attempted to espalier it....but didn't know what I was doing at the time and cut off several important branches in attempt to shape it. WRONG as it turned out. So, having said all of that, it's lucky to be alive!
The tree receives a good watering during winter from a diverted down pipe which makes for wonderful blossom in spring and stunning peaches in summer. But it also produces a plethora of branches which stops our clothes line rotating for about 6 moths of the year!
There are members of this clan however, that are not big fans of the peach and I generally end up giving bags of them away when they are juicy ripe. It's such a shame to see them fall and get pecked by the birds (and other creatures!) and scoured by ants. And several times I've seen the neighbour duck in embarrassment as she leans in and over the fence to pluck a treat....and I've yelled, "take it, take another, help yourself....anytime!"
So this year, I thought I'd get in early, use up some fruit before it over-ripens and make some chutney. Peach chutney is a great solution as it works well with slightly under-ripe fruit.
So this morning I was up the ladder picking a bucket of night cooled fruit. Twice as much as I needed as it turned out, so after a quick trip back to the supermarket for some ingredients, I doubled the recipe. The recipe is Stephanie Alexander's Peach Chutney from 'The Cook's Companion' (AKA Bible!).
I have to say, I'm on leave at the moment so time wasn't an issue but it took me the best part of the day. I haven't made chutney for years and never peach....so the preparation took some time.
But look at this wonderful, colourful chopped bounty.Now bubbling in all it's syrupy, foaming gorgeousness.And finally....gifts from the backyard!It's pretty yummy too....not sure how many will last the month before it's really ready to eat!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Made in Cherry....DS Quilt style....

There are a plethora of quilt-along's happening at the moment. Probably something to do with the Winter months ahead on the other side of the world which makes for a very comfortable sewing season.
There's the Swoon-Along, the Sparkle Quilt-Along, the Sparkle Punch, Soltice Stars (which is based around a series of tutorials), Scrap Attack, AND Made in Cherry!
Well given my recent finishes, I'm thinking I deserve to start something new.
I've made a Swoon and as much as I'd like another, I'm not quite ready to commit just yet.
I have plenty of scraps....but....they can wait....after all, they're almost a given, there'll always be more!
Sparkle Punch is pretty gorgeous....but looks tricksy!
So I'm jumping head first into the Made in Cherry.
pins & bobbins
Made in Cherry is a pattern designed by Sarah Fielke and was designed around her new range of fabric known as St Ives. Cherry is the colour-way of the fabric. The pattern is a free download from the Lecien site but all the details are given as part of the Pins & Bobbins quilt along. Chelsea who's hosting has also worked out the block size and quantities for a smaller and larger version to the standard 80" size.
I've decided to use my stash of Spotlight sourced Sugar Creek by Denyse Schmidt quilts.I'm using 15 of the prints which will be set against a grey background. The fabric's cut and it's currently laid out on the floor with a few triangles stitched and numbered! Here's to a great weekend of stitching.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Floral Bouquet...an epic finish....

Now according to my little notebook I started this quilt back in November 2010. Yikes! I recall the fabric arriving (jelly roll of Bliss by Bonnie & Camille), cutting out the components with gusto and piecing virtually all of the blocks in a weekend. And then the top stalled. The pattern is Floral Bouquet from the clever Jelly Roll Quilts book by Pam & Nicky Lintott.
Some months later, in a fit of WIP reduction, I finished the blocks and completed the top, showed it off at Show and Tell with the girls, and there that top sat in my cupboard for months.
Last year I re-measured the top and ordered the fabric for the back. By this stage the colours I wanted were no longer available in large quantities so I compromised and chose the green medallion. It arrived. I had a bit of a think about how I'd build the back and then, you guessed it, it stalled yet again.
Well fourth time lucky on an absolute mission to finish this quilt, that I must say is my absolute favourite from the book and cannot explain to myself with any reasonable excuse, why I didn't finish it! I pulled it all out, set about piecing the back, basting and quilting it all in a matter of days.
Free motion quilting was an epic adventure. This quilt measures 90" x 62". The biggest dimension I've encountered so far is 80", so that extra 10" plus 3" of backing overhang was a real test. I have to admit I got lost in the quilt on a couple of occasions and couldn't work out where I was and more to the point, how I was going to get back to where I needed to be to keep the quilting moving around to finish back at the start. But I got there in the end!
I debated long and hard with myself about binding. Primarily because I'd chosen the green medallion for the back. I was worried that the aqua and lime dot would clash too much with the green. But now that it's on, I'm really happy with it. It's quite lovely on the front and works quite well surprisingly on the back.
The biggest thrill with this finish is the fact that it's finished and what's 14 months between friends! Another spectacular Finish it up Friday that makes me smile....a lot!
Quilt specs:
Pattern: Floral Bouquet
Fabric: Bliss by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, and a Moda solid that I've forgotten the code for!
Size: 90" x 62"
Quilting: free motion by me!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The quest....

As blogging quilters we are always on the hunt for photographs that will show off our quilts in the best possible light.
I stayed up late last night watching the 50 millionth re-run of 'A few good men' to finish the binding on my Nicey Jane quilt all the while thinking that I must get up early to take a shot before the thunder storms hit. It's currently 31 degrees celcius and pretty steamy....the calm before the storm.
Now this quilt measures 76" x 60" so it's reasonably big, too big at least to hang right side up on my clothes line. But I've been down this path before and thought I'd employ the newly discovered verandah porch/skirt hanger technique that I developed for my Swoon quilt. So I moved the car, swept off the spiderwebs, got the hangers, got the stool and started to rig up the quilt. But for some reason this time the hangers wouldn't grip the quilt and it kept dropping out. Hummm....everyone else is asleep, so they won't take kindly to being quilt holder-uppers.....try the swing.
The swing whilst a noble attempt chops off the top of the quilt....and I like to see ALL the quilt....! Well I can at least take a photo of my new tags while I'm here.I'll just have to settle for the clothes line then....OK for the back. Oh well, now for a shot of the the binding. "Where's the stool? Oh, out the front still."
So I take another look at the rigging and think, why not try different hangers? Doh! Success....!Now back to the binding, grab the stool, fold up quilt, try an outside shot. Too shadowy. Try for inside, move furniture, turn on light, turn off light. Of course the whole time I'm thinking, "this quilt is going to get filthy before too long...&^%^&**!"So after all that scurrying around, I managed to get a few views of the Nicey Jane quilt....and I'll go back and move the car....!
Quilt details:
Fabric: Heather Bailey Nicey Jane (pinks), yellow homespun for the back
Pattern: I'm a Ginger Monkey with 2 1/2" borders
Size: 76" x 60"
Quilting: stippled by me!
Linked up with Amanda Jean's Finish it up Friday

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

A nicey start to the new year....

A Nicey Jane start that is!I have cut into my precious collection of Heather Bailey Nicey Jane, reacquainting myself with why I bought this fabric in the first place. It's nothing short of delightful with its mix of vintage floral illustrations with modern stripes, dots and patterns and the colour combinations leave me sighing at how gorgeous this quilt is looking. The fabric is so lovely I couldn't bear to cut it up too much and decided to use the pattern that Katy plotted recently. Out of 12 fat quarters I created 12 x 16" blocks and added a couple of 2 1/2" white and one left over fabric borders which yields a quilt top of 76x60". It's now all pin basted and ready for quilting.