Christmas Presents

*blink* I totally missed that, where did the last couple months go?

During November I was mostly working hard and travelling all over the place including two cycling trips down to Bright, VIC which is the most beautiful place and highly recommended! December has been… interesting. I’ve had to put on my nurse cap after the other half broke his collarbone in a race on one of said cycling trips. The plus side of that has been that he’s home more (not always out riding) and I’ve naturally retreated to the safety of home and doing the things that bring comfort – like working on quilts and other sewn gifts for Christmas.

Most of these items were finished just in time to be gifted, so I didn’t get a chance to photograph them properly, but was able to get a few decent pics on my phone & up on Instagram. So here goes… Insta-Christmas!

It was the year of the zippered pouch, I think I’m up to 6 so far and had a great time choosing fabrics and matching threads from my Aurifil suitcase (best prize ever!). I love this tutorial by Make it Perfect for zippered pouches, and I finally mastered which way to fold the zipper for nice neat ends, woohoo!

Choosing Aurifil threads for Xmas gifts

Below is one of the finished zippered pouches. The front is a screen printed panel featuring the Eye of Horus, I printed a stack of these as part of a 2 day screen printing workshop with the delightful Saffron Craig back in October with the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild.

Xmas zippered pouches with screen printed panels

A quick collage of some of the items I made for presents.

  • Top left & bottom right are three of the zippered pouches I made, these went to my three closest friends filled with goodies.
  • Top right is one of the cushions I made for my nieces. The side shown is part of a panel from the Magical Lands line from Saffron Craig from a couple years ago (not that I was hoarding it or anything). Both pillows have this on one side and the other side uses different prints from the same line, with each of the girls initials added using raw edge applique, to help prevent any fights about which cushion belongs to who. These finished at about 12″ square and have a hidden zippered in the bottom.
  • Bottom left is a log cabin pin cushion made with Liberty fabrics for the Wollongong MQG Kris Kringle swap. This finished at about 6″ square.

Xmas Gifts Collage - Zippered Pouches & Cushions

And finally, I may have gone a little overboard with washi tape, but how cute are those trees!

Xmas gift bags decorated with washi tape

Here’s hoping you had a wonderful holiday season with family and friends. So long 2013, bring on 2014 and all that lies in store.

Tea Cup Block

Back in July one of my favourite quilters, Sarah Fielke, put out the call on her blog The Last Piece for tea cup blocks for a birthday quilt-a-long. The tea cup block is from her pattern All That and the Hatter from the book Hand Quilted With Love.

I was immediately drawn to this quilt when I saw it in the book, and loved it even more when I got to see it at the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair, there’s a picture of the full quilt on Sarah’s blog. The amount of piecing involved seemed a bit daunting. Making this tea cup for Sarah was a perfect way to try out a single block that would go to good use. I also made my first cut into one of my pieces of Liberty. That was a bit scary but oh so worth it.

Tea Cup Block

If you’d like to see more of the blocks, Sarah has been posting pics on Instagram tagged with #birthdayquiltalong to show the many beautiful and varied tea cups she’s received so far. I can’t wait to see the quilt top when she gets to making it.

Quilting podcasts that keep me company

Sewing and quilting are always much more fun with company. Even with breaks for chatting or nibbling on yummy morning or afternoon tea, I get a lot more done when sewing with others. I’m also one of those people who will turn on the TV for company at home but always end up distracted. When sewing or quilting, a little more attention to what is in front of me is required so I’m really loving podcasts for a bit of company and quilting podcasts are great when you’re playing with fabric.


If you don’t know, a podcast is a like a recorded radio show, you can download them via services like iTunes or often you can listen directly from the hosting website. I subscribe to a number of podcasts through iTunes and sync these to my iPhone so I can listen to them where ever I am.

The beauty of podcasts is that nearly anyone can host one. There are plenty of high quality, professionally produced podcasts out there, and there are also a lot of really great podcasts created by passionate people who just love to talk about whatever it is they’re into, and they do it all on their own computer then share it with the world, thanks to the power of the internet.

Some of my favourite podcasts are by quilters. I don’t just listen to them at the sewing machine, but also when I’m walking to or from work, when I’m doing the washing up or other jobs around the house, and in the car. I wanted to share some of my favourite podcasts I like to keep up with in the hope you might give them a try to, or if you have your own favourites that you might share them with me, I’m always on the look out for more.

The first two are examples of podcasts where the conversation is pretty free flowing and casual. It’s mostly just the podcaster chatting away, occasionally they’ll have a guest as well. The second two are more structured shows with regular segments and guests.

Katie's Quilting Corner

Katie’s Quilting Corner

This was the first quilting podcast I began listening to. After a quick search on iTunes and a flick through some reviews I thought Katie’s perpective of a being a relatively new quilter around my age was something I’d relate to. It’s been great to start from the very first podcast and listen along, following her growth as a quilter and into teaching. She also shares fun stories about her Corgi’s and other interesting bits and pieces, I love her honesty.

Hip to be a square podcast

Hip to be a Square Podcast

“Your place for things quilty and geeky”. This podcast tickles my geeky funny bone like nothing else. Pam is absolutely hilarious, and somehow manages to create so many beautiful, varied quilts, all while keeping a detailed spreadsheet of her incoming & outgoing fabric, and sharing her love of cats.

This is another podcast that I started listening to right from the beginning (and naturally had to go back to the very first blog post and read those along with my podcast progress… stalker). I started listening to this podcast while still playing World of Warcraft and every now and then it reminds me of a certain place in the game, bit random but there you go.

Canadian Quilt  Talk

Canadian Quilt Talk

This is a fairly new podcast, starting just a few months ago so I didn’t have to go back all that far to start at the beginning, and was caught up in no time. Brandy Lynn discusses a range of quilting topics, often with a focus on Canadian quilters and groups. I find it really refreshing to hear from someone else outside the US and there are regular segments I always look forward to, particularly “the gentle judge”.

American Patchwork & Quilting Radio

American Patchwork & Quilting Radio – Hosted by
Pat Sloan.

This actually is a radio show, that is recorded and made available for download/listening afterwards. Pat Sloan hosts the show and usually has 3-4 guests who she interviews in each program. It’s a great way to hear from your favourite quilters and also discover new ones.

And if you’re looking for something a bit different, or have to occasionally bargin with your fellow travellers on a long road trip (like I do), then one of my favourite general knowledge podcasts is the Stuff You Should Know Podcast. If you just enjoy learning about new “stuff” or tend to be absorbed for hours in the wikipedia rabbit hole then you’re bound to enjoy this podcast. You’ll learn about the things you’ve heard of but never really understood or thought much about. For a quilty reference, listen to the episode on “How The Amish Work”.

You can search for podcasts on any other topic you like to. There are sports podcasts, music podcasts, movie & tv show podcasts… you name it, there’s probably someone out there talking about it on a podcast.

Sydney Quilt & Craft Fair 2013 – Part 2: The Loot

If you don’t know about the Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair, go check out my previous post, where I share how my interest and experience has changed over the last 4 years.

On top of the gorgeous quilts and great workshops & seminars, there are aisles and aisles and aisles of stalls selling just about everything for sewing, quilting, knitting & crochet, card marking, scrapbooking, beading and other crafty things, you’ll also find a lot of amazing gadgets and products you never knew existed.

Before heading to the show I put together a list of the things I was looking for and did a bit of research on some options before hand so that I was prepared. Included on the list were:

  • A good desk lamp for my new sewing area
  • Creative Grids 18 degree wedge & 60 degree triangle rulers, recommended in Sarah Fielke’s Craftsy class
  • A supreme slider & new quilting gloves
  • Some perle 8 cotton in pretty colours
  • Some mini scissors & another thimble since I’ve lost mine somewhere…

It was a great show and very successful for me, I found almost everything I was after and of course, a few things not on the list as well. I didn’t manage to find the rulers, but did find a vendor and have since bought them online.

On to the loot! How pretty are these Perle 8 Cottons?

Perle Cotton

Perle Cottons by Valdani (top row) and Presencia (bottom row).

I got a great deal on the lamp from the Daylight Man stand, it’s perfect for my new sewing space (more on that soon). It’s a Daylight Slimline Table Lamp which clamps on to the back of my table and has a flexible arm so I can get it wherever I need it. It uses an energy efficient daylight bulb which is great for colour matching, easier on the eyes than normal lights and the bulb will last for ages. I love it so far and the difference in colour between the lamp and other lights is amazing.

I may have also found some fabric I just had to have from Material Obsession – an Alexander Henry print, Atzlen, from the same line as my first quilt back which I’ll be using to back the brother of my quilt.

Alexander Henry - Atzlen & Fiesta Firecracker

Alexander Henry fabrics – Fiesta Firecracker as my quilt back (bottom) and Atzlen (top) for the back of another quilt to come.

Another favourite vendor is Kelani Fabric, every year they have amazing fabrics and patterns, this time I picked up some Echino bicycles, I’ve already used a piece of the green in a cushion back. It’s always lovely to chat to Saffron Craig at her stall and I can never resist her fabrics.

Echino Nico CyclingSaffron Craig - Valley View

Left: Echino Nico Cycling in Chocolate, Fuscia and Green. Right: Valley View by Saffron Craig

I got a couple little presents for friends and decided to get a decent mini iron & rest. I have a cheap mini iron which is super handy, but it has a collapsing handle which is really annoying and it doesn’t get all that hot, but I know I’ll use it so figure it’s worth getting a decent one, especially since there won’t really be room for a full ironing board & big iron where I’ll be sewing from now on.

By far my favourite not-on-the-list finds was some awesome washi tape.

Washi Tape

Super cute washi tape!

That’s it for another year of the Quilt & Craft Show. Maybe, just maybe, I might try to enter a quilt in next years show, and can continue to discover new aspects of the show.

Sydney Quilt & Craft Fair 2013 – Part 1: The Show

Just over a week ago my feet hurt, my brain hurt, my wallet hurt a little bit to.

This is my fourth year making the pilgrimage to Sydney, which is about an hour and a half by train from where I live. The Sydney Craft & Quilt Fair combines a quilt show organised by the Quilters’ Guild of NSW, with over 400 quilts on display, as well as hands on workshops, seminars, textile displays, guest artists and 2 huge halls of stalls.

Check out this awesome timelapse video of the show setup,
it’s so hard to imagine those halls as being empty!

The first year it was all about beads for me as that was my hobby at the time, and maybe a few costume trims. The second year I was getting into sewing but missed out on pretty much every workshop I wanted to try (didn’t get in early enough, silly girl).

Last year was all about trying new things, I’d planned out all the workshops I wanted to take and was there when the doors opened with a map of where I had to go to register. I learned English Paper Pieceing, Felt Appliqué and made a small mirror wallet on a Bernina sewing machine to try one out as I was considering upgrading.

English Paper Pieced HexagonsFelt Applique Needle Book - Marg Low Designs - Outside

My sample projects from the 2012 show.

This year I wanted to see the quilts. I’d wandered through the quilt show the year before but really just skimmed through a few aisles, maybe paused in front of a few quilts with bright colours but I couldn’t really appreciate them. This time I stopped, I looked at the overall quilt, I looked closely at the piecing and quilting, I read the makers story, and I could appreciate all the work that went into each quilt, whether it was to my taste or used my favourite techniques, or not.

Believe me when I say, the quilts were amazing! Some were ginormous (including this rainbow stunner by the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild), many had tiny, itty, bitty pieces, a few we’re blinged out with beads or Swarovski crystals. I saw at least 2 of the Bonnie Hunter mystery quilt Easy Street and while the show is predominantly more traditional it was great to see some classic styles made in bright colours (Kaffe Fasset was popular) and a handful of more modern quilts as well.

I can’t share photos of all my favourite quilts, photography was only allowed for personal use and not to be put online without permission, so I’ll respect that. Luckily a day or two after the show I saw one of my favourite quilts pop up on twitter, I found the maker who has very graciously let me share it here, thanks Jenn! The colours, the quilting, the scrappy binding… this quilt was just a breath of fresh air.

Prism Perfect Quilt by Jenn

Prism Perfect by Jenn, go check out some of her other awesome makes at
Thank you to Sel who let me share her photo instead of my crap, indoor-lighting phone photo.

Honestly, after maybe 50-100 quilts I think my brain was so full of inspiration I don’t think I took much more in, I didn’t even get around to see all the quilts. I think next year I might split up my trip over 2 days so that I can take my time looking through the quilts and also get to some workshops and look around the stalls.

If you haven’t been before I’d highly recommend going, the Fair takes place in capitals around Australia throughout the year, though I’d assume the quilt show portion is put on by different local groups in each state. Take your time, enjoy the quilts, make a shopping list and try to stick to it. Check out my next post – Part 2: The Loot (coming soon) (finally here!) – to see what was on my list (and what wasn’t).