Monday, April 22, 2013

Sewing Binge

I've been on a real sewing binge lately. Finished this top from Make It Perfect. It's the waterfall blouse which can be used as a maternity top. The fabric is from my stash. The blue/grey fabric at the bottom, I found at my local Vinnies for $3 (I think there were at least 1.5m there). So it was bargain.

It was quite fast to make. Took me around 2 nights after work but probably can be whipped up in a few hours.

Waterfall blouse
This weekend, I took the train down to Goulburn to meet with a real estate agent. I'm a bit sad, but I'm looking at selling the farm. I'm quite sentimental about it as it was my first property and my Dad put a lot of work into it. And he loved the place. But I know financially, it's the right thing to do as the maintenance on the farm is probably too much. My mum is happy to move back to Sydney and I think it will give us some peace of mind to know she's close to help if she needs it (not that she can't take care of herself).

On Sunday, I drove down to Canberra with my mum to go to the Bus Depot markets. Crazy right? They were having a retro themed market that day and I had marked it in my diary for a while. I have to say, I was a bit disappointed with it as everything was just so expensive! But it was still nice to see all the things I'd like in my house.

Oh well, I've been spending enough money lately so probably a good reason to watch my finances. I saw this cute caravan out the front. Parked on astro turf - what's not to love?

Old bus depot market
I had been itching to finish this quilt but had to wait till I got home to finish the binding. I stuffed up when I was cutting the fabric for the arrows and ran out of the green for the binding. I wrote to Sisters and Quilters (the Etsy seller I originally bought the kit from) and she still had some so I bought the extra I needed. Talk about fast shipping. I got it within a week - shipped from the States.

Pow Wow Quilt
I machine stitched the binding on one side and hand stitched the other side. I thought I'd get bored quickly but it really didn't take as long as I thought it was going to. This is my first quilting project and I'm amazed at myself that I didn't completely stuff it up. I'm imagining my new baby holding onto it like Linus from Peanuts.
Pow Wow Quilt

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Weekend relaxing

I've been following Buttontree Lane for a little while - not for her quilting but to see the clothes she makes, but I am keenly reading her quilting posts now. She did a review of her Elna Lotus sewing machine and I was thinking - cute! I need to get my hands on one of these. Like Michelle says, these machines goes for hundreds on eBay and Gumtree.

Recently, an Elna Lotus Elnita came up for sale on Ebay but the owner was on the Central Coast. This is the pretty much the same model as the Elna Lotus but it just doesn't have the flaps that make up the case. It just comes with a soft case. I ummed and ahhed about whether I wanted to bid as it meant having to drive about an hour to go get it and I don't always have access to a car.

I figured I could always bribe one of my sisters to take me or take the train. I was hoping this one wouldn't go for the price of the Elnas with the flaps. I put in my maximum bid and woop woop, got the winning bid. The seller offered to deliver it to me for $30 so I took him up on that.

I got it this morning.

Elnita Lotus ZZ
I don't actually need another sewing machine as my sister has pretty much lent me her Janome machine on permanent loan and I also have a vintage Empisal machine which works great - except it's a real bitch to load the bobbin which is probably why I don't use it as much as I should.

It is just so cute! I love it already.  I'm also looking into doing a quilting course but need to find one that I can do on the weekend as weeknights feel too hard and I'm not keen to be rushing from work.

Anyway, since discovering the leash free park, we've decided to take the Stooges there every weekend if we can as they are just so excited with the freedom. It's a bit easier on me as it means I can let them run around without having to walk too fast along with them (I'm so unfit since I got pregnant!).

However, while the dogs love it, it's quite stressful for me as they have never really been properly socialised with other dogs. My parents, pretty much kept them on the farm and they led a very sheltered life.

Every time another dog comes bounding towards them, I completely freak out. The BFG seems to take it all in his stride and seems to have a lot of faith in the Stooges and that there won't be any doggy carnage.

Leash free freedom
Back to my relatively productive weekend, I'm trying to finish off this quilt for my sister. She started this when she decided to try her hand at quilting. At the time, she didn't have a sewing machine so actually hand stitched all the blocks. It's been sitting around since 2005 (I think). So I pulled it out and pieced them all together.

I went to Material Obsession to pick a backing fabric and hope to finish this soon. I think her plan to make this bed size is not going to happen. I found it quite hard to get all the blocks to match up as they weren't exactly the same size.

I'm just making it into a sampler she can hang on the wall.

Quilt sampler
Update on pregnancy news, I started doing pilates at a physio near my work. I realised that I need to really get my abdominal muscles in better shape. Particularly since they have been MIA forever. But I've finally made 25 weeks and I think the second trimester "goodness" is starting to kick in. My skin is clearing up a bit and I have way more energy than I remember in the last 4-5 months.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

A colourful weekend

Someone on Ravelry who lives close to me was destashing some "taste of Wollmeise" and so I took some off her hands and went to pick them up on Saturday. These are pretty small balls and so I'm thinking about knitting baby things with them. I've been wanting to try this yarn for a while but couldn't be bothered stalking the website for updates.

Also, there always seem to be some one in the Aussie Ravelry group destashing surplus skeins anyway.

Taste of Wollmeise
While picking up the yarn, we went past a leash free park and so we took the 3 Stooges to see how they behaved. Two of them were all right but we were quite cautious with Charlie so he was on and off the leash. Off when it was just us and on again when we saw other innocent dogs or people.

Leash free - except for Charlie

This weekend, I also managed to finish something. This is the "Bits" kit by Hanne Falkenberg which the BFG bought for me in Copenhagen last year. It still needs to be blocked but I'm so glad it's done. This seemed to have taken forever. The cotton yarn is quite splitty and not that great to work with. But I really love the bright green contrast.

I really like the idea of kits - pattern and yarn selected. That's because I really do suck at colour. I generally pick the same colours over and over again and find it hard to pick good coordinating or contrasting colours.

Bits - Hanne Falkenberg
I also managed to persuade my sister to take me to Balmain to finally visit Calico & Ivy. I heard that they were closing down which is disappointing, but were having a clearance on their quilting fabric and Liberty of London fabric.  I was going to buy some Liberty fabric but even at $45 per metre, I still felt that was a bit spendy (especially seeing as my sewing skills are still a bit iffy). 

What I did end up with was a new quilting pattern by Denyse Schmidt and enough fabric to make the cogs. I'm attempting a queen size this time for our bed. The lady at Calico & Ivy was really helpful with picking out the fabric - like I said, I really suck at colour and would probably just buy a mish mash of cats vomit.

On Saturday night, I had a bit of an epiphany. I've been practising free motion quilting on bits of scrap to see if I can do it for my baby Pow Wow quilt. I've concluded that it was probably a tad ambitious to try free motion quilting for my first quilt.

Luckily, my sister who's sewing machine I am using was going through a quilting thing at one point and had bought both a darning foot and an even feed walking foot. I looked up some tutorials on youtube and have decided to just quilt using straight lines. Once I decided to do this, it seemed like such an easy solution! I'm going to do this pattern on the quilt.

Even feed walking foot
Felt like it was quite a busy weekend!

Monday, April 01, 2013

Easter - well needed break

The BFG had plans for us to go to Coonabarabran and at the eleventh hour, changed his mind. So we had 4 whole days with no plans to leave Sydney. I was secretly happy but also freaking annoyed about it as I could have organised a trip to Tasmania or somewhere nice before the baby comes.

Anyway, I'm generally quite unproductive when faced with long stretches of free time. This long weekend was no different. I've been quite tired from work and the idea of being able to sleep in every day was very appealing.

We organised an easter egg hunt for my nephews but did this in the front yard as we didn't want the dogs finding the chocolate first.

I also managed to attend my monthly book club meeting (we read Steve Job's biography - I really enjoyed this book - boss from hell but I can appreciate the dedication to good design). I made this cake to bring as I had some oranges that have been sitting around for a while. I also added a lime as our lime tree is now quite prolific. Seeing as I can't have the lime with gin and tonic, I have to find other uses for them.
Whole orange and lime cake - recipe here
Today, I went to Castlebrook Memorial Gardens to see where my father's ashes were interned. It's quite a lovely spot and I'm glad we chose it. I do think that a lot of funerals and creating memorials are more for the living than the dead. My dad would have thought it was too much trouble.
Castlebrook Memorial Park

In loving memory
When I found out that I was pregnant, I ordered a baby quilt kit off Etsy. I finally managed to finish the quilt top this weekend and have basted the quilt sandwich together. There are about a gazillion mistakes but what the heck, I'm pretty happy with how it has turned out for my first!

The pattern is called Pow Wow and the hardest bit was getting all the points to be pointy. I'm using a cotton batting and a chevron backing (not shown).  These are really bad photos off my iphone so hopefully will be able to get better ones when I finish it.

I'm still deciding whether or not to try my hand at free motion machine quilting it or just hand quilt it. I'm worried that I'll stuff it up with the machine (it will take ages to unpick) or I'll get bored very quickly if I hand quilt it. 
Pow Wow Quilt

Pow Wow Quilt
The dogs have also been really happy seeing us home quite a bit this weekend. I think they get really bored at home by themselves even though we have a large backyard for them to run around in. The BFG tries to take them out for walks as much as he can but Charlie (one on the right) is getting a bit nutso in his old age and gets quite anxious and aggro when we walk them together or encounter other people and dogs. We basically have to walk them separately which is a bit of a pain.
Snowy and Charlie keeping an eye on proceedings inside the house.
My pregnancy is progressing quite well. I can finally feel the baby move so that is exciting. We can't agree on names so will be a hot topic of discussion in our household. We still have to set up the nursery which I'm dreading as it means I lose my craft room. I'm going to see if I can still save a bit of space for me but I have so much stuff that some of it has to go. Where, I'm not sure as our house really lacks storage. At least I still have about 3 more months to procrastinate.