Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Monday, November 30, 2009

100 handmade Santa's

That’s what the small ad in the local newspaper said – a collection of 100 handmade Santa's on show at the home of local couple Moira and Allen. So I collected my friend Adele and we went for a drive to see all these Santa's on display. After all, Christmas is coming up fast so a “Santa fix” will get us in the Christmas spirit. Just inside the door was a large decorated Christmas Tree. A couple of youngsters were enthralled as they watched the train circle around and around the base. Allen was chief train driver and and he seemed to be having just as much fun as the children. Moira told us that she had made most of the faces for her creations, using tin foil and clay. Each figure was exquisitely dressed and we were invited to pick them up and check out their clothing. The display covered three rooms and we wandered slowly around admiring each and every Santa.

DSCF2258One of the many groupings

There was a delightful Nativity scene in the dining room, all dressed in hues of blue and purple. The three Kings were dressed luxuriously in shades of purple and gold. Mary and Joseph were more plainly dressed, and the shepherd was carrying a little black lamb. Moira told us that she had made the figure of baby Jesus herself from clay.

DSCF2257 Nativity scene

There were other figures too. We noticed Charlie Chaplin, Merlin the Magician, Genghis Khan, an Inuit Eskimo and a setting of carol singers. Christmas wreaths and wall hangings adorned the walls and there were Christmas cushions and stocking scattered around. We loved the snow white Polar Claus, whose outfit was made from their daughter’s wedding dress. Polar Claus rides astride his own polar bear.

DSCF2263 Polar Claus with his polar bear

There were Santa’s of every imaginable style, even a Surfboard Santa. All the items on display are lovingly made by hand and as a crafter myself, I can appreciate the time involved. Thank you Moira and Allen for so generously sharing the magic of Christmas.

DSCF2264 Allen and Moira

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Christmas Apron Challenge

I had been sewing away diligently on my Christmas Apron challenge to get it completed in time for our November club night. Whew – did it with one week’s grace, that’s a relief. There is nothing worse than stitching right up to the moment you step out the door!! The challenge was to make a Christmas themed apron, of our own design. I am definitely a wearer of aprons – probably because I am a messy cook, so this challenge certainly took my fancy. So I went hunting for that commercial apron pattern that I knew I had from years gone by, (Butterick 4066). Remember those tissue paper patterns? And the trouble you have trying to fold them all up neatly afterwards and get all the bits back into the envelope? I decided to stitch the selvage from the Christmas fabric across the apron bib. The print was used for the straps, pockets and the apron hem, teamed with cream homespun. It didn’t turn out too bad, if I do say so myself.

DSCF2249 My Christmas Apron featuring a selvedge bib

Last night my apron joined about 16 others hung up during my quilt club meeting. There were all sorts of variations on the theme, some had appliqué, some were embellished within an inch of their lives, and some just let the fabric speak for itself. There was a lovely Christmas Fairy flitting about the hall, and she stood still by the Christmas Tree just long enough for me to take her photo.

DSCF2253 The Christmas Fairy

Voting time arrived and we oohad and aahed as we checked them all out and finally made our choice. Judging was by Viewers Choice, and I am happy to report that the apron I voted for was 1st equal. This was a fun competition and everyone enjoyed seeing the end results. Great work from all who took part.

DSCF2256 First prize equal goes to Margaret and Anne

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Wish I could stitch like this!!

I popped in to view the Upper Hutt Embroiderers Guild Exhibition today, titled “Labours of Love”. These ladies do wonderful work and 60 pieces were exhibited. The Upper Hutt Embroiderers Guild recently celebrated their 25th Anniversary and has approximately 40 members. I marvelled at the 2009 Challenge Embroider your Initial”, which really needed close inspection to see all the different stitches and techniques that went into the various initials.

DSCF2219 2009 Challenge – Embroider your Initial

On display were items of stump work, black work, gold work and cross stitch, and all sorts of other techniques. There was a display of hardanger, which I really love. Hardanger always looks beautiful and is something that I would quite like to try. But could I trust myself, I wonder, to snip the fabric so close to that stitching without causing damage? Perhaps not. Perhaps I will just have to be content with the two lovely hardanger pieces that my daughter Nicky made me a few years ago.

DSCF2221 Display of hardanger pieces

There were several glorious bead encrusted camels on display. These were obviously made at a class and were all so different, and just as lovely as each other. Such a lot of work went into making these beauties.

DSCF2220 One of several camels on display

Another class was crazy patch cushions, as a quilter I can certainly relate to this type of stitching. But the piece that really took my fancy was a banner glowing with gold.

DSCF2224 The golden banner

Wish I could stitch like this! With my fat fingers I am more comfortable using thicker threads and needles, and I like to do a little candlewick embroidery and red work. Fine embroidery is not really for me, but I love to view exhibitions and can certainly appreciate all the talent that goes into making such beautiful items.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Saturday night at the Quilt Shop

Saturday night is not usually spent at a quilt shop. No indeed, but a group of keen quilters were invited along to Sawmiller’s Quiltery to view recent purchases from the huge annual International Quilt Market in Houston. This quilt shop is the “new kid on the block” here in Upper Hutt. Nestled in a beautiful garden setting with towering trees and it’s own babbling brook, Sawmiller’s Quiltery is the former family home of Kevin Bold. After buying it back some years years later, in 2007, Kevin opened the Stonestead Tea House. Then Kevin with the help of Yvonne Matthews decided to move forward with the next phase in the project – a quilt shop. The shop is situated in a building that was relocated and restored onsite especially for the Quiltery.

DSCF2203 Sawmiller’s Quiltery

An eager bunch of ladies gathered in the Tea Shop and after a little bit of mix and mingle settled down to watch the presentation about the International Quilt Market in Houston. Such a huge place and Kevin and Yvonne admitted to getting lost on a few occasions! We viewed all the goodies brought and watched a demonstration upstairs about the X block. Lucky me won a spot prize, one of the many that were awarded during the evening, two fat quarters of fabric with a 1930’s look, plus a little shoulder bag. The bag has a plastic pocket on the front, think I will have to make a special little quilt block to pop in there.

DSCF2218My lucky spot prize

Then it was time to draw the main prize of the evening, a wonderful basket full to overflowing with fabric and assorted quilting goodies. “And the winner is …… Adele”. There was a moment of confusion as there were two ladies with the same name present. My friend and workmate Adele was the winner, and we were all so pleased for her. As a new quilter, she was absolutely thrilled and couldn’t wait to get home and look through her gift basket.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Secret Sewing and goodies in the mail

I have been doing some “secret sewing” over the last few days. With Christmas coming up fast my quilt club is having a Christmas Apron Challenge at our last meeting of the year. The aprons will be judged by Viewer’s Choice, so I can’t really show my offering just yet. It will be interesting to see what everyone else comes up with. Watch this space!

DSCF2205Is there an apron in here?

The postman brought me a lovely surprise today. It was a parcel of fabric from my pen friend Elaine in Australia, a belated pressie for my birthday last month. On her card she had written, “I always think of you when I buy pussy cat fabric”. She sent me 3 half yard pieces, cats in a cottage garden, cats wrecking havoc in a sewing room, and a striking black and white print. We met Elaine and Steve through our love of caravanning, and I have the honour of introducing Elaine to the pleasures of patchwork and quilting.

DSCF2208 Three lovely pussy cat fabrics

Had a bit of an “Ooops” moment last week. The rotary cutter slipped and ran over my fingernail, slicing it about half way down. Luckily it didn’t draw blood but I will have to keep it covered until the split nail grows out, I certainly don’t want to catch it on anything. Just goes to show that I wasn't taking enough care.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Minerva – home of New Zealand Quilter

Tucked away in Cuba Street, Wellington, is Minerva, textile bookshop and gallery, and the home of the New Zealand Quilter magazine. Minerva was a virgin Roman Goddess of, amongst other things, weaving and crafts – the decorative arts. I am proud to be one of the foundation subscribers to our very own New Zealand Quilter magazine, and have kept every single copy. (Not so some of the other mags I buy, but this one is very special to me). Over the years I have watched it grow and go from strength to strength.


New Zealand Quilter magazine is produced quarterly. Editor Anne Scott produced the first issue in October 1992 and it had 21 pages. These days the magazine runs to 70 pages. It is chock full of articles, reviews and patterns by New Zealand designers. I even like to take a copy when we go on our caravan trips, the advertisements for out of town quilt shops are invaluable. Who knows when I might need to do a bit of fabric shopping!

DSCF2198 Minerva bookshop

Inside Minerva there are books galore for quilters, embroiders, crafters and knitters. Plus a small selection of cards, threads and giftware. The small gallery showcases exhibitions of different crafts. The quilters of New Zealand are so lucky that Anne decided to take that gamble way back in 1992 to produce our own magazine. Check it out on www.nzquilter.com

Cuba Street in Wellington is one of the quirkier parts of the city with many interesting shops and ethnic restaurants. In the middle of Cuba Mall is the colourful Bucket Fountain, made by Burren and Keen in 1969. It was designed so that water entering the top buckets suspended in a frame is tipped into those below which, in turn, would tip. Much of the water splashes over the sides of the lower buckets and thus their tipping is unpredictable as it takes time for them to fill up. Visiting children laugh when the water splashes over unwary passers-by. The Bucket Fountain is a much loved Cuba Street icon.

DSCF2194The Bucket Fountain in Cuba Street

Monday, November 9, 2009

Muffy goes caravanning

Muffy, our beautiful Birman is getting to be a well travelled cat. We took her to Koputaroa, in rural Levin, last weekend, when we joined 70 motor homes and caravans at a Guy Fawkes Rally. I had to pack her little drawstring bag, which I had made especially for her. It has a cat stitchery on the front, and I used cat printed fabric, of course . In it is her comb, her little pink harness, and a very light lead. There is no way we would let her out on her own in a strange place in case she took fright and ran away.

DSCF1495 Muffy’s special little bag

Not that she goes outside a great deal, she really does consider herself an “indoors” kind of cat. Lying about on top of the quilt covering our caravan bed is really more her style. She eats her breakfast, goes outside for a brief look around to see what is what, then curls up and sleeps for the day.

DSCF1892 On the caravan bed

Always inquisitive, Muffy finds any sort of open cupboard irresistible. What’s in this one under the sink? And what about the outside locker? Perhaps she can squeeze in if she tries hard.


DSCF2165 These look interesting, let’s see if I can squeeze in

When we returned home, Muffy had a sniff around the garden, walked down the hall, jumped up on our bed, and promptly went to sleep. What a life these cats have!!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Looking for Dollies

On our recent trip to the Wairarapa my friend Kathryn and I went to check out a new doll shop. Kathryn loves dolls was given a really nice (and expensive) one for her major birthday last year. I just went along for the ride as there just happened to be a craft shop in the vicinity, they are always worth checking out as well.

DSCF2059 Chestnut Gallery in Greytown, Wairarapa

As it turned out the doll shop wasn’t really a doll shop after all. It was a doll house shop. As well as having the imported kit set houses on offer, there were many designs of doll house sized sheets of wall paper for interior decoration. And of course the shop sold all sorts of miniature furniture and fittings. The owner told us that there were over 30 clubs in New Zealand dedicated to dolls houses and miniature furniture.

DSCF2057 One of the many cabinets full of furniture

We enjoyed checking out all the delightful little treasures. The large American dolls houses were wonderful to see. Three stories high,with gables and plenty of large windows, we could see how interesting they could be to start decorating. These beauties are obviously not the kind of thing for clumsy little kiddie fingers to touch.

DSCF2056 One of the American kitset doll houses

But sadly for Kathryn…. there was not a dolly to be seen. Never mind, we had an interesting morning browsing. If dolls houses are your interest, check out the website at www.chestnutgallery.co.nz

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Hawkes Bay Patchworkers & Quilters Exhibition

We travelled up to Hastings for the weekend to visit my sister and her family. “Did you know there was a quilt show in town?” she asked. No I didn’t, but we soon found out where it was and went to check it out. The Hawkes Bay Patchworkers & Quilters Biennial Quilt Show was held in the Hastings Community Art Centre. The show had free entry and a steady stream of quilt lovers arrived to admire what was on offer. The juried quilts hung in the centre of the exhibition, and were surrounded by many more non judged quilts. Christmas quilts, wall hangings, banners and toys made a nice display in the front window.

DSCF2089 The Christmas window display

I was interested to see that many of the quilts incorporated stitchery blocks, and several had a New Zealand theme. One of my favourites was a candlewicked quilt which featured NZ birds and flowers. I also noticed that several of the quilts on show had pin tucks stitched on the lattices and borders, not something I had come across before.

PA310146A view from the top of the stairs

There was something for everyone to delight in. Quilts in 30s fabrics, hexagons, raggy edged quilts, quietly refined bed quilts and vibrant kiddies quilts. There were several striking red and black quilts. Even one lovely satin offering made out of discarded ball gowns, now that is certainly a memory quilt, isn’t it?

DSCF2092 Selvedge quilt

I had been reading about quilting with selvedge strips recently, and sure enough, there were a couple of selvedge quilts on display. All the quilts were well hung and there were interesting touches in the items used such as furniture and old suitcases to give added interest to the display.

PA310149Japanese wall hanging

The Hawkes Bay group put on a wonderful exhibition and are to be congratulated on their wonderful work.