Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Happy Japanese

When I started making Happy Japanese, I have to admit that I was completely clueless as to what to do.  My good friend, H, was turning 60.  She rang me in September lasted year and mentioned her significant birthday.  I knew I wanted to make something for her, but was struggling as to what when she said she liked red and black in a Japanese style.

After some ruminating and sighing, I happened to glance at the fruit bowl, which was a gift from her some 8 years ago and was the perfect scheme for what she told me she liked.  Good grief, the right choices were there, under my nose in plain sight the whole time!!!

Here is my initial pulling of fabrics, which I sent a photo of to her for confirmation.  Yes, she liked my choices - phew!  By the way, H was thinking I was going a bit peculiar at the time and luckily for me hadn't put two and two together.
Now I needed a plan.  I toyed with Drunkards Path, circular patterns, and all sorts of things until I found this plan of squares on pinterest.  Apparently it is a plan for a crochet blanket.  I followed this plan, with my own fabric square sizes in multiples of 2.5in to get the size of quilt I wanted to make.


Here's how it started.... Lots of cutting and laying out on the floor for options.  I didn't use the white fabrics because they stood out too strongly and looked very out of place. 

Slowly, but surely the quilt grew.  I hand embroidered some sashiko pieces to add a textural and visual element to the other fabrics.  

Turns out, there was more variety in my stash and some newly purchased fabrics than I thought!

Here's the completed quilt.  Hubby was having a hard time holding it up for the photo, standing on a chair, outside in the wind.

And, lastly, some pics of the backing fabric, lovely red with gold ginko leaves and calligraphy on the centre fabric panel.  



 Finished off with fire engine red binding.

I quilted "Happy Japanese" on my domestic sewing machine with YLI threads in an all over swirl pattern to add movement to the very 'square' quit pattern.

I have kept the design idea page because this has turned out to be a true favourite quilt. 

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Pink!

When I realised we had a family gathering at our house for Easter Sunday, and that my neice's birthday is close to that date, I couldn't help myself, I had to make a cake with pink.  Something that is very rare in my house of boys.

A pale pink, nice and subtle is what I had hoped for, nope, I poured a bit too much food colouring into this icing....


A beautifully, feather light chocolate sponge, made by me.  I am so pleased with how the actual cake turned out - it was perfect and I quite surprised myself with that one!


Decorated with wafer flowers and Persian fairy floss, my niece's eyes lit up when I showed it to her.

Gathered around the outside table, we managed to shield the cake enough to stop the wind from blowing out the candles and sing happy birthday.  There was very little cake left afterwards - it was  delicious.

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

March is for Donating

During March, the time of Lent, it is a time to give something up and also to think of others in their struggles.  For me, in my own personal life, there are two amazing women who do a lot of work to support very sick children.

As I've written in some previous blog posts about donating quilts, here are some quilts that I've finished over the past 12 months and they have not found homes, so I'm donating them to the Very Snuggly Quilts program, which supports long term or terminally ill children at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne.
Squared Away - Green

Squared Away - Purple

Little Big Stars

Orange and Green 9 Patch


And for my beautiful friend E, who runs a Royal Children's Hospital fund-raiser each year since her daughter died, I have donated:

Blue Stars

Red and White Checkerboard
* As a side note, I took the two quilts (above) to a professional appraisal/valuation, so that their true value can be put onto the silent auction form.  A very interesting experience, if a bit nerve-wracking!  You leave your quilts and then pick them up a few hours later.  It's all in their hands and you really have no idea until you read the valuation certificate after collection.  And... my nerves were all for naught - the valuations surprised me and the ladies who are the "officials" of the day were wonderful.  A process I shall certainly take part in again.

And..., one more donation to the Lions Club of Quilters for their bushfire victims collection, I am donating "Cobblestones and Bricks", which was my very first quilt that I made a pattern for.  It now has a chance to go to a good home and be loved now that the pattern has been retired.  A good "manly" quilt this one to be sure.
With donating quilts and being asked to take part in a donations program, you know there is always someone out there who will receive a good quilt hug.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Cake and Cross Stitch!

Mmmmmm - cake.  Chocolate Cake - just love it!

Once again I made a cake for a 50th birthday, this time the husband of a friend.  He also loves chocolate cake and breeds Bull Mastif dogs.

Finding a Bull Mastif figurine was quite difficult as they are not common like a German Shepherd, Spaniel or Labrador - however, after quite a bit of searching I found one.  A little bit stylised, but that didn't matter, he was ecstatic there was his favourite dog breed on the cake.
The recipe I used has been handed down through many generations of the family, so it won't be shared outside the family, it's a secret, but I'm always happy to make the cake for special occasions and husband of a very, very close friend was special enough. 
Unfortunately, it was an extremely hot day and the lunch was held outdoors, so the chocolate did start to melt a bit, but that did not stop guests from having second and third servings.


And... after the birthday celebration, I had a tidy up of my sewing room (to find something that is hiding), I found this little cross-stitch kit, which was mostly stitched and completely forgotten about. 
According to the packaging, I had purchased the magazine the kit came from in 2002.   I think I had put it aside because I wasn't overly keen on it; but, now that it's stitched, I like it.  
Often, I find that I have some self doubt when making things, which causes them to be stalled, then some time later, I pull it out, finish it and then wonder why I didn't persevere at the time.  Anyway, I'm going to purchase a frame for it and then I can have something pretty to display.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Squared Away - Purple or Green??

It was supposed to be one project - "Squared Away" it was called; an easy summer mystery quilt, with free clues from the local quilt shop.  Two colours, plus a colour to place circles over 4 patches.  Easy right?  No.  I loved my colour selections, however, when I started to make the quilt,  I didn't like the blocks together in my chosen colours.  Even with the border/sashing strips added, no, no, no.....  In frustration, I put the whole lot in a zip-loc bag and left them to marinate for a very long time. 

During 2017, I decided that each time there was a 12-hour sewing session with my local group, or a Retreat weekend, I would pull out a few of these zip-loc bags (I have a lot of them) and work on the contents until it becomes a finished - done done - item.

After consultation with a couple of friends at the 12 hour sewing day - I came to the decision that these would be two little quilts.

First - here's purple;



Second - here's green; 

I ended up with two of the same greens next to each other and it looked a bit "blobby", so I used left over fabrics to make a half Dresden Plate (sunflower) to make it a bit more interesting.

Both quilts were simply cross-hatched through the squares to keep them soft and cuddly.  They both have the same spotty backing and striped binding.




Moral of the story, sometimes, time away from a project can turn what seemed to be big problem - for such a small quilt - has turned into two delightful quilts for little ones.

These two little quilts will be donated to the Very Snuggly Quilts program run by Victorian Quilters.


Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Red and White

The great thing about fabric swaps is that you always get a good variety of fabric.  I took part in a 2½in x Half WOF* fabric swap for a year.  Each month you sent off your package(s) of fabrics and received the same number of sets in return.  I was always amazed each month that no-one sent the same fabrics to anyone else - all completely different.

I started to play with the red fabrics.  Initially I was going to include pink fabrics as well and make an Irish Chain quilt.

The final "red" selection


Not being completely sure of my plans, I took the reds (and pinks) off to a sewing day at a quilt shop.  There I found a lovely, slightly off white plain fabric.  This was the cause of the pinks being dumped.  Just red and white - I found my brain whirring overtime with ideas.  In the end, the simplest idea has turned out to be the best.

I used almost all of the reds and I'm super happy with the result.

It was lovely, rhythmic piecing - red and white alternating.  First I joined each red strip to a white strip and then I cross-cut them and sewed 4 patches and the quilt top grew from there.  I had a bit of indecision with the border before deciding to make a 'solid' red frame to complete the top.

I quilted this quilt simply with cross hatch red in the red squares and white in the white squares and a white cable pattern overlapping the two border colours.  

Cable quilting on the border.

It was then finished off with a pink backing and red binding.   Oooohhh lala........
Contrasting back
So simple, yet so pleasing to make, I am super happy with my red and white checkerboard.  To be donated to a Royal Children's Hospital (Melbourne) fundraiser as one of the silent auction items.  I do hope it will reach the $$$ value given from the professional appraisal (valuation).


*  WOF = width of fabric.

Monday, 15 January 2018

Children at the Gate aka "Happy"

I didn't think it had been that long since I made the quilt top and folded it up with the backing and binding, ready for quilting, until I started to write this particular blog post.  Hmmm....  Apparently it was 3 years ago, as you can see here in this previous post!  It was a shock to me that it has been that long.

However, there are always new babies being born, so it's a perfect gift for either boy or girl and with some wool/cotton wadding, it'll be nice and snuggly for a little one.  And, true to form, at the time of pulling out this quilt to look at it, we received news that there is to be a new baby in the extended family soon.

In mid-November 2017, I attended the baby shower for my 2nd cousin and his wife.  This quit was perfect for them.  I had two quilt tops and asked Hubby which one to give, he chose this one, which I'm glad of because they loved it.


I gifted "Happy"  for their first baby, which is due Feb 2018.  We had a beautiful afternoon, outdoors on the verandah,  playing silly games and talking.

 A nice fun and happy quilt with Dr Seuss Characters, frogs, animal alphabet and bright colours to wrap up in for some snuggle time and sweet dreams.

A peak at the animal alphabet backing fabric.
Finishing at 37in x 51.5in (94cm x 131cm), it fits beautifully into the cot.  

My cousin came out into the yard and said to me "You need to go inside and see what Master 4 has done..."  Not sure what I was going to find, I discovered that he had gone inside with the quilt, took a cushion from the couch to use as a pillow and made up the cot, ready for the baby to go to bed when it comes home from hospital, which was super adorable - he melted many hearts with his thoughts and actions. 


Pattern used:  "Garden Ladder" in Australian Quilters Companion, issue 60 (Vol 12 No 2).