Friday, February 25, 2011

Spots, dots and circles...

My latest cushion is full of spots, dots and appliqued circles.  There's something about these shapes that I seem drawn to at the moment. It was a fun cushion to make especially going through my fabric scraps picking out all the spotty, dotty mainly green prints.

Using my walking foot I quilted some random wavy lines around all the circles.

Here's a more close-up shot of the quilting....I used a blue/green/yellow variegated thread for both the applique and the quilting which I just  love the look of.

And we have more polka dots on the back teamed with a small scale blue and white gingham. I did the same tied backing that I learned how to do on this cushion.

Another cushion I'd like to keep but this one is also available for purchase in my shop.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A sweet summer tart.....

Okay if you're not into cooking and came to look at pretty sewing projects I'm sorry to disappoint but I just had to share the following 2 recipes with those that maybe interested. I love to cook/bake and have far too many recipe books but these following recipes are two that I use a lot.
I love it when I can make a meal with 90 % of the ingredients coming from my little vegetable garden. It gives me such a good satisfying feeling feeding my family good organic food that has cost very little.

This tart is perfect for this time of the year when tomatoes are ripening up faster than you can use them,

...capsicums are waiting to be picked because they are weighing down the plant.

Red onions strung together by my clever Mum and bigger than both my hands put together...not kidding, one feeds us over 4 meals!

Okay here's my Summer tart ready to go in the oven and here's the recipe;

2 sheets of pre-rolled flaky pastry (sometimes I make my own if I have time)
2 tbsp tomato paste, small handful of fresh marjoram, 1/2 tsp salt, black pepper
1 tblsp basil pesto, 1 tblsp water.
250gms tomatoes, 1/2 a medium capsicum, 1 small red onion or half a large one, 1 medium courgette, 1-2 cloves garlic, crushed, 8 basil leaves, roughly shredded, 2 tblsp olive oil, 100gms feta cheese, crumbled. Salt & pepper to taste.

Pre heat oven to 200C. Lay pastry on lined or greased baking sheet joining together to make a rectangle. Without cutting right through, run a knife around pastry about  2cm inside the edge marking out a smaller rectangle. Mix together the next 6 ingredients and spread over the inner rectangle. Place the following in large bowl; quartered tomatoes, roughly sliced onions and capsicum, courgettes sliced lengthwise, oil, garlic and basil. Toss together so everything is coated in the oil then spread onto the prepared pastry. Sprinkle evenly with the crumbled feta and season with salt and pepper. Bake until the crust is golden brown and the veggies begin to brown at the edges.

Serve hot or warm with a green salad. This recipe really is simple to prepare and the best bit is my girls devour it!

Okay so this following recipe is another favourite of mine because  it uses up those over ripe bananas that no-one wants to touch ( and don't they ripen far too quickly at this time of the year) plus I always like to make the most of having the oven on so this "Banana bread" went into the oven last night when the tart was done.  It is a 'Donna Hay' recipe that I have changed a little to make it a nice dark loaf.
You will need;
125gms butter, 1 cup dark brown soft sugar,1 tsp vanilla extract, 2 eggs, 2 bananas, mashed, 1 1/2 cups plain flour,sifted together with 1 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp baking soda and 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup sultanas, 1/4 cup treacle, slightly  warmed.

Preheat oven to 160C. Cream butter, sugar and vanilla till pale and creamy. Gradually add eggs beating well after each addition. Add banana, sifted dry ingredients and treacle, mix to combine. Spoon mixture into a lined loaf tin and bake for 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 hours or until skewer comes out clean. Cool in tin.

This is great for school lunches or afternoon tea and for those of you who don't like traditional banana cake like myself believe me you will like this. I make this loaf once a week at the moment and we never tire of it.

Also just wanted to say that my thoughts are with everyone down in Christchurch that is reeling from the devastating earthquake that happened yesterday afternoon. We have been glued to the TV watching it unfold. It is just not fair that they are going through this again...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Cut once, make two...

One Friday a couple of weeks ago I decided to have another go at making a round segmented cushion. I made up a pattern for the segments, selected my fabrics ( the fun bit!!) and started cutting and soon realised it was just as easy to cut out 2 pieces of each fabric as it was to cut one plus one pillow could be a present for a friend of Caitlin's who was having a birthday celebration the next day. Her favourite colours just happened to be blue and yellow, perfect :)

The back is made up of 3 spotty blue fabrics I had in my stash with 3 large buttons for the enclosure.

When we gave it to her she was really pleased and apparently carried it around with her for the rest of the afternoon.

With the second one I added some extra 'circles' of quilting to the top and added the same blue/white check piping to the edge.

The fabrics are predominately from Heather Bailey's "Nicey Jane' and 'Pop Garden' ranges and it is my favourite colour combo of green and blue with a splash of yellow. Can't believe I actually cut into my precious 'Nicey Jane' fabrics at long last!

I decided to add a bit of interest to the back with a 'scalloped' button enclosure which was easier to do than I thought it was going to be. The hardest part of making these cushions ( apart from getting those points perfectly matching in the centre on the front) is to end up with a perfectly round cushion. After a couple of sessions of unpicking seams and restuffing the inner I think I've got it to as near perfect as I can. I tell you, square cushions are a lot easier to make than round!
I read this quote recently about failing and trying again which I found very inspiring after making these cushions. This second cushion is available for sale in my shop:)

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

My Wonky houses quilt reveal!

Here it is finally finished. I say finally because I pieced this way back in September/October 2009. Wonky log cabins were Round 3 of  The Old Red Barn Quilt along  and we were expertly led by John aka Quiltdad. The centre blocks are wonky bento box and the inner border is 1/4 log cabin blocks.
Around the same time that I was making this quilt top, wonky houses were around the blogosphere and flicker and I was keen to try some out also thinking they would  look good paired with the wonky log cabin blocks.

After it was all finished I was pretty stuck as to how to quilt it so it was on my too hard pile for a few months. I also had issues with what sort of batting to use and where to buy it from. Eventually I purchased a bamboo batting from Spotlight. The large middle area is free motioned quilted with swirls and the inner border just with some straight-ish lines.

I used 4 colours of Perle cotton  to echo quilt around the little houses (and little trees too)....

and some really random wavy lines around the outer border which I loved doing. I really love the extra texture and zing of colour that Perle cotton gives to a quilt although it was very hard on my fingers and frustrating until I found the right needle to use. The needle I ended up using was quite thick like a darning needle but still quite sharp. Also I used a number 5 thickness of cotton, which was a little too thick. I think a no. 8 thickness is the one to go for.

The backing is made up of strips of varying widths and lengths of leftovers from the front with some more complimentary fabrics from my stash that needed to be used. (to make way for newer fabrics!) I have to say I like the back as much as the front.

I didn't really love this quilt while it was in my 'too hard' pile but now its all done and with the addition of the Perle cotton quilting I like it a lot more now.
Oh and if your keen to participate in a quilt-a-long I hear The old red barn quilt-a-long on flicker are talking about starting round 10! Go on over and see how much fun they are having!

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A work in progress........

I have a cushion to finish and a quilt to bind but this is my creative space today, painting the window frames in our spare room that we are redecorating for Amelia. As our new carpet is being laid tomorrow I thought I'd better do the painting beforehand, white paint on new grey carpet would not be a good look.
To make the painting more enjoyable I listened to some podcasts of Pat Sloan interviews with Elizabeth Hartman ( Oh Fransson! blog) and Heather Bostic (a la mode fabric blog) amongst others. Have you listened to these interviews? It's really interesting to hear the voice behind the blog and find out a little about their background and how they got into quilting etc...
What's your creative space this week and what do you listen to if anything??

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Finding time to read...

Over the weekend I managed to find some time to get my teeth into this book "The time traveller's wife" and now of course I'm finding it hard to put it down. I took Caitlin and her friend to the beach on Sunday afternoon and after a quick dip to cool me down I settled into reading while the girls played in the water and built sandcastles. I got a good chunk of it read and now I'm keen to see the film. I think it's always good to read the book before you see the film, as sometimes the film-makers get it right and sometimes they don't or leave bits out that change the story too much. Has anyone seen the film of this book? Was it as good as the book?

A sneaky peek of another project I worked on over the weekend using some yummy blues and greens. I have one more to make then I shall reveal all. I also managed to finish hand quilting my quilt and now have the binding ready to put on. The next couple of days are going to be busy in our house as tomorrow we have to lift up our old carpet ready for the new carpet to be laid on Thursday. Can't wait to have soft spongy carpet with no worn holes!

And in case you're wondering our baby quail died over the weekend :( I had gotten rather attached to it in the short time we were its surrogate family. We're not sure why it died, maybe the shock of what it had been through or an internal injury from the cat. It got lots of love in its last few hours of life though. 

Friday, February 4, 2011

Shhhhhhhhhh our baby is sleeping.....

 Last night Caitlin's cat walked inside with little feet hanging out of her mouth. She often catches insects and little birds and always wants to bring them inside to show us. Nice! Usually I don't let her in but last nights catch was so small I didn't notice until it was too late. When she let it go ( so she could play with it) it ran very quickly away which was unusual because they usually fly away. My husband manged to catch it again and we put it safely in a cardboard box away from the eyes of cats. It was so small and different to anything we had seen we couldn't figure out what sort of bird it was. After a little search online we found that it matched to a photo of  baby quail. It's probably about 2 weeks old and about 2 inches long.

Isn't it cute and adorable! It's little chirping has been breaking my heart all day. We have no hope of finding its parents so we will be its surrogate family for a while I think. We have special recovery food from the vets and we are keeping it well away from our 2 cats...

It has been sleeping in Caitlin's hand all afternoon since she came home from school.

For the last few nights I have been working away hand quilting the border of this quilt. I'm hoping to have it finished by the end of the weekend. Don't hold me to that promise though will you... I do have a baby to care for...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Sassy headbands!

I made these sweet and sassy headbands a couple of weeks ago and they were a hit with my girls so have just added them to my shop. The black and white one above is made using this tutorial from Sandy Henderson's blog. I'd bookmarked ages ago and finally decided to give it a go.  It did take me a couple of go's to get it sitting right plus I added a little ruffle around the bottom to finish it off.

This cute little flower has been living in my hand sewing basket waiting for a suitable "something" to embellish.  I think the purple and white lace band is a perfect match plus Caitlin instantly liked it.

And here she is modelling it beautifully. It was Caitlin's last day of school holidays today and since it was her sister's first day back at school she relished being at home without her sister. We spent a good hour at the beach cooling down in the calm ocean waters, making sandcastles and watching a kite surfer skim along the beach.
Today I also spent a little time playing around on "Facebook" setting up a 'page' for "Thesewingattic". Not easy but I'm getting there. I find facebook very frustrating to navigate around but I'm sure it's worth it in the end. If you have any facebook tips and tricks I'd love to know!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I've been making..........

....little handmade buttons from Michelle's tutorial except instead of a ribbon shank I made a loop with the embroidery threads then stitched over the loop with a blanket stitch.

The buttons were made for these bright and fresh cushions that were inspired by the cushion I made for Deb here. I had some left over half square triangles which I added to, then played around with some designs and ended up with 2 cushions.

A zig-zag design....

and this one with alternate colours. They are both simply machine quilted with straight lines echoing the patchwork design.

I used up some scraps for the backs which I like as the fronts.
Although I'm sure I could find a place for them in my home they are up for sale in my etsy shop here.
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