Monday, 30 September 2013

My Favourite Craft Book

I've always loved books and I've always loved craft - and now it is easier than ever to indulge both with the amazing array of craft books that are readily available.

Here are some of my favourites...

Today I saw that Craft Buds were having a 'Craft Book Month' and had a competition to submit an item you had made in 2013 from a favourite craft book. 
Craft Book Month at Craft Buds
So, despite it being the last day for entries I would like to share my favourite book...

This book is fantastic because it is a delight to use and I have made many things from it - probably more than any other book I own.  I've made several bucket hats, a cape, a hood and a backpack.  I've also cut out a painting apron and have promised to make a puppet theatre for K's Playcentre.  Oh, and I have definite plans to make the tutu, explorer vest and the mittens.  Everyone I show the book too loves it as well - it garnered many 'oohhs' and 'ahhhs' among some friends recently.

But today I can share the bear carrier from it that I made for my daughter K earlier this year...  Except today it is being used as a lion carrier... it still works well.

This pattern (like all Oliver + S) is fantastic to follow and actually great fun to sew.  The bear carrier gets used frequently in our house and would also make a great (and not too fabric hungry = not expensive) gift.

Note:  the skirt K is wearing is the O+S Swingset Skirt made in a light denim with pink ric-rac.  I only lined the waistband and it is a very popular skirt with K!

I love seeing all the other craft books that people have shared projects from and it shows we all have very similar tastes in good books - we just make our creations from them slightly differently.

Saturday, 28 September 2013


I was really keen to try my hand at Camille Roskelley's 'Swoon' block and have recently bought a copy of the pattern.  But it is a very big block - each measuring 24" (60cm) square.  So I had a go at scaling it down and managed to do so very succesfully.  I ended up with a block that measured 16" (18" with border). 

I made this all up a few weeks ago with some Lynette Anderson mushrooms, co-ordinating Kona in tan and snow. I started quilting it, then needed some thinking time to ponder how I was going to quilt the whole thing and what I was going to do with the finished project.  So it stayed like this for a month and a bit....

 Finally yesterday I finished it into a cushion...

This is a slightly closer photo so you can see the quilting...  Most of it was done using my walking foot and involved a lot of corner turning.

And a picture of the back....  I quilted a chevron design so that it would continuous over the two pieces. I made the parallel lines probably too close - it took ages to do and would have been less stiff with larger gaps.
I used the fantastic Sew Mama Sew Pillow Backing tutorial again.

The pillow/cushion also has piping around it - I had never done this before and it looks really good, but was tricky with all the layers.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts 'Finish it up Friday' for the third week in a row.  Can't keep this up for much longer.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

A Work in Progress: Lots of Crosses

I should be doing dozens of other things but last weekend I started a new quilt - I felt like piecing and I had just finished three other quilts!

I'm using the pattern 'Dream Big' by Camille Roskelley from her book 'Simplify with Camille Roskelley'.  It is a quilt with crosses as I have noticed that they are particularly popular at the moment.

The fabric is 'Flats' by Angela Yosten and I have used a jelly roll.  I've got some of the reds for the border... but still need to do some thinking first.

It is going together really well.  I cut it all out and planned then sewed all the single rows in just over a day (less helping on the farm), with K helping me place out the pieces.  But my quarter inch seam allowance must be a fraction out as now that I am on to sewing the rows together the crosses were not lining up quite perfectly.

I have fixed that as I have gone to pinning from the left.  This enables me to leave the removal of pins to the very last moment - my quarter inch foot has a guide on the right side so the pins need to be out of the way by then.  I think I'll have to re-do the first few rows as I plan to quilt it with simple lines later.

My magnetic pin holder is twenty years old but fantastic.  I got it from Bernina when I purchased an overlocker.

I've pinned all the rows on to a piece of flannel and can therefore sneak a few rows in my schedule without worrying about them getting out of order.

Now trying to link up with 'WIP Wednesday' at 'Freshly Pieced'.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 23 September 2013

Garden Plans

After lots of dropped hints I got some tractor work done in my garden.  Not by my H, but by his fantastic mother and father who are sublime at rescuing me from garden frustration!

I had a shrub I wanted gone.  I'd attacked it with my hand-held clippers but it was far too big to disappear that way.  Our telehandler had it gone in less than 5 minutes, then the 'Little Suzue' Tractor came along and tidied up the leftover area in record time!

Sorry - not a great photo!
It was all done in such a rush I had to use my cell phone camera
Became this...

Can you see which trees and shrubs I would like pulled out next time? - I'm happy to wait though!

Then yesterday my dear H remembered I was owed a birthday present (from six months ago) and he made me three raised garden beds from some macrocarpa timber.  They're all 2" x 8" pieces of wood.  The faraway bed is 4 foot x 6.5 foot and the other two are 4 foot by 8.5 foot.  We didn't need to make the beds very high as the soil underneath is quite good.

Today K and I have been busy layering newspaper, pea vine straw and chicken poo into the beds and hopefully H will bring in some telehandler bucket loads of soil from a worked up paddock to put on top.  I'm very lucky to have access to so many wonderful resources and a fantastic family!
 K helping me plant more rhubarb.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Finally... A Very Hungry Caterpillar!

I'm on a roll... this is the third quilt I've finished in the last three and a bit weeks!  I will be honest and say that the sandwiching, quilting and binding was all I had to do on the last two, but they still take time.  I'm relatively new to free motion quilting and as I'm using my home sewing machine it is a focused effort.

So here we go:

'A Very Hungry Caterpillar' Quilt.  Fabrics by Eric Carle from Andover Fabrics

K loves the Very Hungry Caterpillar book and can almost read it by herself.  She just gets caught up on the food names!  She will love sharing this quilt with others - I can see it visiting Playcentre and Preschool.

I started this quilt at least three years ago.  It is from a pattern in an 'Australian Patchwork and Stitching' (Volume 9, Number 4) that you might still find around (there is one on 'Trade Me' today but that is only good for New Zealanders).  The pattern was available singularly but I can't track one of those down as I borrowed the one I used from a friend.  The fabrics are still widely available.  I found them still sold at several online shops.  I did make this from a kit.

I used the same butterfly template (as my 'Papillon' quilt) to quilt single butterflies joined by long wandering wiggles.  I used a Mettler variegated thread on the top and white on the backing.  I marked the quilting lines on the backing and worked from that side.  My tension was really tricky to get right and I'm not completely happy with it - from the backing (white) side you can see lots of small dots from the variegated thread.  Otherwise I am very happy with my work, especially as once marked it only took a couple of hours to do.

I'm also getting much better at my bindings and am especially pleased with my corners on this quilt.

As I was out in the garden taking pictures of my quilt here is a gorgeous, huge, 'Mt Fuji' (we think) cherry tree in blossom.  It is right outside my sewing room (that is the square window in the centre).

K has a swing under this tree, but it is hung up higher to avoid the lawn mower - and you can also see my (or K's) quilt in the bottom pic.  We think the tree is at least 60 years old.

I'm linking up again to 'Finish it up Friday' on 'Crazy Mom Quilts' as well as 'FMQ Friday' on 'The Free Motion Quilting Project'.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Some Knitting - and a pattern to share!

I have had some time to finish off some knitting projects recently.

Firstly these finger-less mittens:
I used Knitsch Sock Yarn in 'Caboose'.

Sorry but these pictures aren't great:
I developed the pattern myself but I'm not completely happy with how it was made.  I really like the lace pattern so will try to make another pair and then write it up as a pattern.

However I have finally found the 'man-cowl' I made for dear H's birthday recently not being worn so have snapped a quick picture of it...

This isn't a great picture either - and the cowl/scarf has been so well worn that it is pilling like mad.  H has worn it almost constantly in our early spring days.  He's outside all day on the farm and even when on the tractor or other vehicle he is at the mercy of the weather.  I'm very chuffed as it is the first item I've ever knitted for him - and will make a great gift for a few other farming males in our family.

So I now have a 'rough' pattern for this:

I used a 50g ball of 8ply (Double Knit) woolyarn - it was on sale at a local shop and had a very torn label.  I think it has some lambswool in it - perhaps that is why it has pilled easily.
I also knitted with 4mm (US6; UK8) circular needles.  You will need to use the 'magic loop method' but there won't need to be much of a loop if the needle circumference is similar to the cowl size.  In the above picture it is knitted from the bottom up to the top, so there are no joins and you only have to thread in the ends.

My finished cowl is 23"/58cm around (twice the above picture's width).  This means that the tension would be about 16 stitches per 4"/10cm.  You don't need to be exact as this item will stretch with use.

Cast on 90 stitches using the 'Long Tail Cast On' method or another stretchy method.  I like this as it gives an edge similar to a bind off.

Join stitches into a loop then:

Knit 1 row
*Purl 2 rows
Knit 2 rows
Continue from * until desired length has been reached and/or wool is nearly finished.  It is preferable to finish with 1 knit row before binding off.
The cowl needs to be at least 5" (12.5cm) deep, but I advise making it longer if you can, so 75g of  yarn might be more useful.
Bind off using a stretchy method - I did a standard bind off with a larger needle.  Otherwise use a method such as 'Suspended Bind Off'.
Sew in ends and enjoy.

I made a similar cowl for my four year old daughter and know that there is less chance of an end getting caught and pulling on her neck compared to a normal scarf.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Almost blown away... and a quilt to share

At the top of my to-do list has been a quilt for my mother - and five days ago I finally finished it.  I went out on Monday and took photos, then on Tuesday we had the strongest winds I've ever known - I think they were the worst in forty years.  Canterbury, NZ, is known for strong north-west winds that come over the Southern Alps and gust across the plains.  Luckily no-one was hurt and most of the damage is to trees,  power lines and irrigators - and so we have had no electricity for three days.

Everything is now back to normal - and we were lucky we had a generator, a log-burner and gravity fed water in the meantime.  K even enjoyed running around with torches and getting to see almost as many candles as a birthday party.

So... here is the latest quilt I have finished.

It is made with a jelly-roll of 'Petite Odile' by French General.  I had seen a picture of a quilt made like this then tracked down this tutorial on how to do it.

I really free motion quilted it using this fantastic tutorial from Oh Fransson! and although I have certainly not made the most even shapes, they look quite good as a whole.  I did 'stitch-in-the-ditch' between each 6" square to add extra stability.  The size of my squares was on the big side for quilting like this - but it worked.

Once again I've had great fun taking photos in my garden -

 You can almost see in this picture (above) that I backed the quilt with some more of this FG fabric and used the same fabric for the binding.

So 'Happy Belated Birthday' Mum... I hope you enjoy your quilt... I'm looking forward to giving it to you in a month's time.

Here are two pictures of the damage the wind this week did to trees...

...this is a large cedar that fell in the garden - luckily I was wanting it down anyway - and it fell in exactly the right place, avoiding the rhododendrons around it.

... and this is a plantation near us - that was a whole block of trees, once.

I'm going to try linking this all up with 'finish it up Friday' on 'Crazy Mom Quilts'.  My first time trying this - we'll see if it works.  :-)

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Spring Sewing

K and I have started thinking about new clothes for the warmer seasons.  She wants dresses - and I want colour.  Here are some of our early plans:

A pair of Colette 'Clover' pants for myself in a 'greywacke' cotton with a slight amount of lycra.
A Colette 'Jasmine' blouse in this cotton/lycra 'coolio' fabric that I got for $5/metre.  Yeah!  I got these patterns from '' when they had a 20% sale and their postage for patterns is also very reasonable.
 A selection of Lisette cottons from Spotlight for Christmas gifts for little nieces.  Love the colours!
An orange reproduction quilting-weight fabric with tiny bows - I'll make a dress for K - but I'm not sure which one yet.  Either the badminton outfit as a dress, or the croquet dress.  What do you think?
And I have to make another Ice-cream dress - this time using the pink ice-lolly print from the Lisette range and a contrast colour.  I've already made this pattern six times - but it is such a lovely summer outfit.
Some gorgeous bamboo/cotton knit to make a slip for myself and singlets/slips for K.
For a loose blouse/shirt for myself.
And I have this silk with a green base that I purchased from 'The Fabric Store' in Dunedin when it was 'Global Fabrics'.  This chain of New Zealand fabric shops has spread to Australia and I see they are opening in Los Angeles soon.  Lucky them!  I'm looking forward to the re-opening of their Christchurch store sometime soon - it has been closed since the February 2011 earthquake.
I am lucky living near Christchurch and having access to some good fabric shops - my current favourite is Harald's in Birmingham drive - a very old-school retailer with great service.  I've picked up some great bargains there.  
Clothing fabric in New Zealand is reasonable - I can usually get good quality cotton - knit or otherwise for about half the price (or less) per metre than I would pay for quilting fabric.  I would never sew garments with quilting fabric I've paid the usual $28/metre for... it's just uneconomic.  Spotlight always has bargains - and a good selection - but I've got my best deals from shops that have random rolls of fabric.  You have to look through the 'trash' to find the treasure.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Oliver + S Sewing 21- 40

To continue on with my counting here are the next twenty O+S items I have made:
  1. Swingset skirt in chambray (not fully lined) with pink ric-rac trim- pic here
  2. Swingset top in plain pink (pic to come in summer for these)
  3. Sand-box pants in grey cord with pink trim
  4. Bubble dress in yellow with white spot
  5. Jump-rope dress (view B) in chambray with red top-stitching
  6. Jump-rope dress as top in pink voile
  7. Puppet show shorts in brown drill
  8. Class Picnic blouse in pink voile (see above)
  9. Ice-cream dress for 5 year old niece
  10. Ice-cream dress for 4 year old niece (yes, that's K)
  11. Ice-cream dress for 3 year old niece
  12. Ice-cream dress for 2 year old niece
  13. Ice-cream top in Cape Ann fabric
  14. Music Class blouse with long sleeves in white on white fabric
  15. Hopscotch top as night-gown - here
  16. Nature Walk pants in grey knit
  17. Nature Walk pants in mauve knit
  18. Lazy Days skirt in cream with children and red trim 
  19. Lazy Days skirt in blue cord with babushkas and green trim
  20. Music Box dress in brown - here
  21. and more to come... see future post... :-)
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