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

Monday, March 31, 2014

Maple Leaf Quilt now finished

My Maple Leaf quilt has been an extremely long drawn out affair.  It all started way back in 2001 when I took part in a Birthday Block swap with members of the Australasian internet group Southern Cross Quilters.  We were put in groups of 12, and each month we made and sent off blocks to the person celebrating a birthday that month.  For my birthday, I requested a 12in Maple Leaf block, and posted out the pattern and supplied the fabric for the background.   Most of the blocks arrived in time for my birthday, so it was exciting opening up the envelopes to see what was inside.

The blocks then sat in a box for several years until 2006 when I finally stitched the blocks together, and made the half square triangles for the borders.  It was sandwiched together and I started machine quilting around each block.  Then just prior to Christmas that year I received my cancer diagnosis, which put paid to any quilting for some time as my life was taken over with months of treatment and recovery.  As I slowly got my life back on track again, the Maple Leaf quilt, together with my Christmas Stars quilt, which I had been working on as well, held too many memories of this upsetting time, and I couldn’t bear to look at them.  I did finally return to quilting again, but worked on other projects.

I finally completed the Christmas quilt late last year, and started work again on this quilt last month.  With most of the quilting already done, all I had left to do was to quilt the borders, and inside each leaf, then attach the binding.  So after all this time, it is finished at last.

P3310019 My Maple Leaf quilt

Most of the blocks came from Australia, one from Corpus Christie in Texas, and I stitched the final one.  The quilt glows with autumn shades of red, russet, brown and green, and it is now residing on the back of the couch.  Many thanks to all the ladies who took part in this birthday block swap.

P3310020 Looking good on the couch

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Stitching and Food required for a weekend away

We are off and away for a weekend in the caravan tomorrow, so some packing needs to be done.  In went a bag containing my Maple Leaf quilt, with the binding all pinned neatly in place, matching thread, and my container of pins.  I’m hoping for a nice sunny day or two when I can sit outside, attend to my stitching, and chat away with our caravan buddies.  Ever hopeful, I’ve also packed some “secret squirrel” stitching for upcoming birthday gifts, maybe I’ll have time for some of that as well.  And mustn’t forget my library books, there’s nothing better than reading an exciting book in bed, is there?

The caravan club members have been asked to bring a contribution for a Pot Luck meal to share on Saturday night.  I’m making a Cottage Pie and have simmered the mince for this today.  I’ll take the topping with me and assemble it on the day.  Not sure if dessert is required, but just in case, I’ve whipped up some chocolate balls, yummy.  Must remember to pack a pretty dish to serve them in.

P3270030 Just made – chocolate balls

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Now I’m up to the binding stage of my Maple Leaf quilt, the end is in sight.  I didn’t have any of the exact green fabric left that I used in the quilt, but had some that was almost the same colour.  So that would do nicely.  After a quick measure up, I then made a whole lot of green binding.

P3200013 Lots of dark green binding

Usually I trim the extra batting and backing from the quilt before stitching the binding on, but I stitched first, then trimmed, this time.  What do others do?

P3200015 Sewing the binding on

I always have trouble stitching the last mitre to join the ends of the quilt binding together.  This is where you work out where to join the binding after adding in the measurement of the width of the binding, put pins in two places, draw a line, then stitch.  Does anyone know what I mean?  I often get my diagonal seam running the wrong way, so have to rip the stitches out and try again.  Can anyone point me in the direction of a fool proof tutorial please?  Sometimes I get it right first time, but more often than not it is wrong!

With the binding finally stitched on, (with a couple of tries to get that last bit to fit), it is all pinned down in place ready for the final hand stitching.  I’m a great pinner, and liked to have it all pinned ready to go.  We are going away in the caravan to Himitangi over the weekend, so will take it with me and stitch it down then.  That’s the plan, anyway.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Maple Leaf quilt almost finished

I’ve been working away quietly at the Maple Leaf quilt, trying to get the quilting finished.  Since my Bernina has come back all nicely serviced, it has certainly been busy again.  The serviceman Barry showed me a couple of pointers on free motion quilting that I must have known at one stage, but had completely forgotten.  With my new found, or should I say, remembered knowledge, the quilting went very well.  My maple leaf blocks now have “leaf” quilting in them, all done freehand.  Not too bad, if I do say so myself, and I’m rather pleased with my creativity.
 P3200008 Maple leaf quilting

This quilt is another one that has been languishing half forgotten for much too long.  But the next step is the binding, so I’m getting there!

Friday, March 21, 2014

Selvedges in the Mail

How exciting – there was an unexpected parcel in the mail today, and it was addressed to me!  Sent from quilting buddy Roz from Dannevirke, it was chocker-block full of lovely selvedges all all hues.  I know that Roz does a lot of sewing for charity, and all these selvedges show just how busy she has been.  Thanks so much Roz, I really appreciate your kindness.

P3210017 Lots of lovely selvedges to play with

I’m currently half way through doing a selvedge project, which I will show shortly as soon as it is completed.  And now I have plenty more to replenish my supply!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sew Wot Tuesday Morning

It was my turn to be the hostess for yesterday’s Sew Wot get-together, so I spent Monday afternoon with my head in the oven.  After all, I had to cook some home baked goodies for morning tea, didn’t I!  The rain came down and the guests shed their damp rain jackets as they arrived.  There was a major birthday coming up, and Rae didn’t know if she was coming or going as she was presented with cards, small gifts, and a lovely pot of chrysanthemums.

P3180002 Happy Birthday Rae

Heather had been busy sewing at home and had several bags to show us.  One in particular took my fancy, and Heather used an existing low cost shop bag as the base, then turned it into a thing of beauty.  Such a pretty garden scene viewed through a wrought iron gate. 

P3180006 A plain shopping bag made pretty

Rae had something to show us too, which certainly raised a few giggles as she lay it on the carpet.  This play rug had been made for a new grand-child.  And after I wondered just what it was, we were told it was a dog, anyone can see that!  I can just imagine a little one crawling all over the rug, hugging that big doggy head, and chewing on it’s ears.

P3180003 Doggy play rug

Once morning tea was underway, I whipped back into the kitchen to stick some candles into the cream sponge, (thanks to Moira for bringing this)  and carried it out to the unsuspecting Rae.  Then we all sung Happy Birthday while she valiantly tried to blow the candles out.

P3180004Heather and Rae with the blazing candles waiting to be blown out

Throughout all this excitement, Muffy was quite happy perched on top of the couch above Pam and Mary, keeping an eye on things.  She settled down and snoozed off after a while

P3180005 Muffy with Pam and Mary

It was a lovely get-together, catching up with the Sew Wot ladies and seeing what they had been working on.  Everyone was busy chatting so I don’t think much stitching got done.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

More Coach House Quilts

There were so many lovely quilts made by members of the Feilding Kowhai Quilters exhibited at the Coach House Museum, that I just had to show some more photos.  Like this “Raggedy Jeans Quilt” made by Marion Hamilton.  Her inspiration came from the book “Cut, Sew, Quilt as you go” book.  Can you see the wooden wagon wheel peeping out at the side?

P3140082 Raggedy Jeans quilt by Marion Hamilton

The white horse looks very cosy with “Red Hot” draped over him.  Mary Lloyd made this quilt from a kit from local shop Cherry Pie and it has been commercially quilted  by Paula Shailer.

P3140019 Red Hot quilt by Mary Lloyd

The chooks would be quite at home in this farmland setting, no doubt.   Norma Dugmore stated that she smiled from beginning to end while she was making this quilt.

P3140024 Here, chook, chook, chook, by Norma Dugmore

“Stripes”, by Dulcie Stantiall was a very striking quilt indeed, with the innovative striped background piecing.  It is very clever, and I certainly wouldn’t have thought of using stripes this way.

P3140022Stripes, by Dulcie  Stantiall

“Morning Glory”, a Michelle Hill design, was lovingly hand appliquéd by Stella Allerby, and quilted by Jenny Allen.  What a lovely quilt, with the designs inspired by William Morris.

P3140056 Morning Glory by Stella Allerby

There was a nice story behind this pretty hand embroidered Afternoon Tea Cloth.  It was started then donated to the club by Mrs Margaret McDonald of Ranfurly Manor, Feilding.  Rosalie Stead then finished the embroidery.

P3140080 Hand embroidered Afternoon Tea Cloth

Another item in a “just right” setting.  Tractor cushion by Rhondda Berg was displayed on a bright and shiny John Deere tractor at the museum.

P3140069 Tractor cushion by Rhondda Berg

And lastly, I just couldn’t go without another peep at Elvis.  I’m a real Elvis fan, and fell head over heels in love with him at quite a young age when I first heard his song “Love me Tender”.   Liz Gates screen printed the Elvis heads, then finished the piece off with free motion quilting.

P3140036 Colourplay 2 by Liz Gates

This marvellous exhibition was a little different in that it was not judged at all, and the show did not have a Viewers Choice.  Kowhai Quilters can be very proud of their wonderful work on display.  There were vendors galore, including several I had never seen before, so there were plenty of goodies to look through.  Refreshments were provided as a fundraiser for the Manawatu Riding for the Disabled.  I had a great day out, thanks very much ladies.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Quilts at the Coach House

It was only a week ago that I visited this museum, but what a transformation had taken place.  Quilts had been artfully draped over gigs, carriages, and farm machinery.  I was there to view the Feilding Kowhai Quilters exhibition, and what a great variety of quilts were on display. 

Just in the door was the Kowhai Quilters Silver Anniversary quilt, made by members in 2011.  The quilt contains a diverse range of blocks which had to include some of the kowhai fabric supplied, and tell what belonging to the club over the last 25 years had meant to them. 

P3140006 Kowhai Quilters 25th Anniversary quilt

It must be my Scottish blood, as I’ve always liked the look of tartan in quilts, and this quilt was displayed draped over a model of a horse.  “Study in Tartan” was made by Joyce Waugh, who wanted to use up some old work shirt fabric.  The simple piecing shows the tartan fabric off nicely, and I rather like the flying geese in the borders.

P3140011 Study in Tartan, by Joyce Waugh

And look, there was Liz Gates, friendly  blog reader and quilter extraordinaire.  I watched for a while as she was free motion machine quilting on her old treadle machine.  It hardly seems possible on a treadle, does it?  But in no time at all, she was stitching a doily into a work of art.  Liz is very prolific, and I noticed many examples of her work throughout the museum.

P3140015Liz making it look easy

P3140018 Some of her beautiful work

“Brothers and Sisters” was the name of this fun golly quilt, a Li’l Blokes design by the very talented Lynn Hyland.  E McDonald lovingly created this delightful quilt over three years.  So cute!

P3140028Brothers and Sisters, by E McDonald

This super black and white quilt is super king size, and incorporates added texture, such as chenille and pin tucks.  Liz Hallidan made “Starry, Starry Night” constructed using the quilt-as-you-go technique on her domestic sewing machine.

P3140053Starry, Starry Night by  Liz Hallidan

I love Christmas quilts, and Robin Coleman made “The Night Before Christmas” as a block of the month.  Such a lot of work with all that appliqué, but it certainly looks great.

P3140049The Night Before Christmas

I’ve been doing a bit of selvedge sewing myself lately, so I was interested to see what others had been doing with their selvedge strips.  There was a selection of bags and place mats  on show.  Marino Kitto had stitched this bag using her red, black and white selvedges.

P3140047 Selvedge bag, by Marino Kitto

There was so much to see, so I’ll have to give you all a return visit tomorrow.  This is a general view of quilts draped over gigs and horse carriages.

P3140060Lovely quilts everywhere

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Town and Country Quilters March Club Night

The monthly quilt club night had rolled around again, and club members chattered happily as they gathered in the hall waiting for the meeting to commence.  Show and Tell is always the highlight, and Helen was the star of the night when she produced a whole bunch of quilts to be donated to Ronald McDonald House.  Some of these were made from 6 inch squares, and Helen told how her grandson enjoyed helping to put the colours together.

P3120010 Some of Helen’s community quilts

An expected grandchild always means a new quilt, and Katherine made this lovely Eye Spy quilt for the new baby who is due is May.  This was made in the ever popular post card design.

P3120017 Eye Spy quilt for new grand-child

Yvonne’s appliquéd Quilt Garden looked great on a dark background.  This was designed by the very clever duo at Piece of Cake Designs.

P3120018 Yvonne’s Quilt Garden

During the last few months of the year, the club presented patterns for Block of the Month Star Quilts, and this was very popular.  Members chose their own colours, and several were brought along for Show and Tell.  I didn’t take part in this, as I was struggling to finish my Christmas Star quilt from many years ago.

P3120014 Star BOM quilts

And for something completely different, Karen brought along the reason why she didn’t have much time for patchwork and quilting.  She had been working hard finishing off her cross stitch sampler.  Every stitched motif means something in her life, she said.

P3120019 Karen’s Sampler

Our speaker for the night was well known quilter and designer Jenny Hunter.  Most quilters will know her from the patterns she designs for New Zealand Quilter magazine, such as her beautiful native bird series.  Some of these are on my Bucket List to do one day.

P3120020 Jenny Hunter’s native bird designs

Jenny Hunter has recently moved to Levin, and has started a small shop.  She decided to stock items that she was particularly keen to use, such as  imported silk threads, silk rods and cocoons, a small range of fabrics including lovely packs of shot cottons, dyes and paints.  She has been accepted as a merchant at the upcoming Symposium and club members were quick to check out some of the more unusual stock items she had brought along to show at the meeting.

P3120022Checking out interesting items

I had a quick chat to Jenny Hunter and reminded her of a class I had attended with her ages ago,  probably about 25 years years ago, I should think.  This was for a bag to carry cutting board and rulers to class, and the design had lots of pockets, large and small, and places to safely store scissors and rotary cutters.  I made mine in black fabric with pink  and blue flowers, and it has been in constant use all these years.  I’m sure that there have been many versions made of this handy bag.

P3130024 Almost an antique – carry bag for my cutting board and rulers

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Washing and Ironing new Fabric

There’s something about washing and ironing new fabric, isn’t there?  I purchased this lot while on our recent holiday when I visited a couple of quilt shops.  The batiks came from Wright’s Fabrics in Morrinsville, some of the prints came from Grandmother’s Garden in Gordonton, and I picked up a couple of pieces in Katikati. 

The fabrics will be going in a new quilt for my daughter, Nicky.  She asked for a pink and grey/green quilt, with a cream calico background.  Nicky particularly likes small patterns, she told me, so that’s what I’ve been looking for.  I’ll need to get more fabric, of course, but with this lot I’ll be able to start cutting strips and get sewing.  I’m sure I have some extra soft pinks tucked away that I can use, she doesn't like lolly pink.   We tossed a couple of ideas around, and came up with a plan – so this will be my new project of the year.  Of course, all those UFOs still hanging about, I’ll probably start work on the new quilt, and then alternate it with an older one, depending on what I feel like doing at the time.   Variety is the spice of life.

P3110002 New fabrics for a new quilt

I collected my sewing machine from Barry the Technician yesterday and mentioned that I was having trouble with my free motion stitching.  So when I called around, he sat me down and ran through a few points with me.  One particular point I had completely forgotten about, so no wonder I was having trouble.  MY 6 year old Bernina has done 3,297, 032 stitches, he told me!  Guess there is a counter on the machine that I didn’t know existed.

I was planning on doing some more quilting on my Maple Leaf quilt, but haven’t the heart to disturb Muffy who has just recently taken to sleeping on the chair by my sewing table.  Now she is getting on in years, she gets agitated and unsettled quite easily, so I would rather leave her sleeping peacefully while she can.

P3120005 Leaving the sleeping cat lie

Monday, March 10, 2014

I’ve got Mail!

We’ve finally returned home after tripping away in our caravan for a couple of weeks.  While we were away, we took advantage of the “Hold Mail” service provided by the Post Office.  For oldies like us, this service is free on production of our Gold Card.  And an important looking red bag containing our held mail was delivered today.  Amongst the boring bills, (Robin will take care of those)  were three overseas letters from my pen-friends, one each from USA, England and Germany, quilters all.  How exciting! 

P3100019 In the mail box today

So I sat down quietly with a drink, opened my mail, and savoured each one.  Nothing beats a real letter, does it!

I’ve been busy since we have returned home, and done two loads of washing, unpacked the caravan, cleaned the caravan fridge and bathroom, and lugged the vacuum cleaner out to vacuum the floors.  So it is all nice and tidy for our next trip away. 

Didn’t get a lot of stitching done while we were away, never mind.  But we caught up with a couple of rellies,  checked out a couple of quilt shops,  visited new places and travelled roads previously unexplored, and had a great time. 

Friday, March 7, 2014

Colonial Times at Coach House Museum

We’re still slowly travelling homewards in our caravan, and overnighted outside The Coach House Museum at Feilding, in the company of other assorted caravans, a couple of large buses, and a 5th wheeler.  Of course, we just had to visit the museum too, as I’m always interested in checking out the lovely old clothes from earlier times.  Living arrangements for the early settlers was tough, with everything from laundry to butter making done by hand.

P3060041 Life in colonial times

I was intrigued to see this cart decked out as a travelling showroom.  The farmer’s wives in rural areas would have loved to see this salesman approaching with his wares.  He carried fabric, threads, all sorts of necessary items.

P3060038Travelling sales cart

As time went by some lucky people starting making their fortunes, and they could afford to buy a shiny Model T, in any colour as long as they wanted black, so the story goes.  Plus a fancy dress and hat to wear when going for a spin in the new car.

P3060057Henry Ford’s Model T

The museum has plenty of interesting exhibitions.  In fact, I’ll be returning here next week when the Feilding Kowhai Patchwork Quilters are holding their quilt show in these premises.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Holiday Stitching

My holiday stitching is coming along slowly.  Depending on plans for the day, sometimes I get a little stitching done, and sometimes I don’t.  It doesn’t really matter, I’m just pleased I have it here in the caravan to do when I have a spare hour or so.  I have several things packed away to do, a couple are nearly completed a a few more are all traced out ready and waiting.  Most of these are “secret squirrel” items for future gifts!

P3030022   A peek at what I’m stitching

There's a job for Robin coming up soon – I want him to hold these threads for me when I’ve cut the hank in half and then plait the strands together.  That’s a trick I was told a while ago, and it keeps the hanks of thread relatively tidy and knot free.

P3030023New threads waiting to be plaited.

We have just spent several days at the huge caravan and motor-home show at Mystery Creek Showgrounds in Hamilton.   Lots of brand new caravans and motor-homes on offer, we were certainly tempted but they are well out of our price range.  It’s nice to see what is available though, and the new innovations that the manufacturers come up with.

We’re travelling homewards slowly, stopping off here and there on the way.  Once I’m home, I’ll be hurrying around to see Barry and claim my overhauled and serviced sewing machine which I left in his care!