Monday, 29 September 2008

this is ... what i want to show off

Two posts in one day - ha ha!

Actually, I want to have a bit of a boast about I op therefore I am, Melbourne's collaborative op shopping blog which is my other bloggy hobby.

I started the blog in July 2007 because I needed a space to ramble on about all of my latest op shop treasures (and I needed to stop boring some of my friends). Also, I thought that some other people may like to share their op shopping adventures with the world.

Turns out that I was right. There are now dozens of people regularly contributing and hundreds of people reading the blog. It got a mention in The Age a couple of weeks ago and last week on Wednesday evening I presented (albeit remotely) at the Sustainable Cities Round Table - Waste Not Want Not organised by Sustainable Melbourne (thanks Ferne!).

Many thanks to all who post, read, comment and participate in the blog - it truly is a collaborative blog and you make it the success that it is. Everyone else - why not click on over right now?

this is ... what i want to be when i grow up

It's a bit of an "are-we-there-yet?" topic.

When I grow up, I want to be a grown up. No delayed adolescence, no mid-life crisis, no Peter Pan, no mutton dressed as lamb. It's not so much what do I want to be when I grow up (because how do you know, really, when you've got there?). It's a question of
how do I want to grow up?

Gracefully, and with every grey hair on my head.

Incidentally, while I was at the library looking for a book on Christian Lacroix (because his house muse is the terribly beautiful and totally grey Marie Seznec and I just can't find a good photo of her online), I came across this book instead - Going Gray by Anne Kreamer. At age 49 she realised, dyed hair and all, that she still looked 49 anyway and that it was time to stop with all the artifice, get authentic and go grey. Good on her, I say. I'm enjoying reading it and amongst her findings are that being grey doesn't make you look old, it just makes you look your age, it's not an impediment to dating and it saves thousands of dollars on hairdresser appointments. Truly, just thinking about the tyranny of the Clairol packet gives me the shivers.

So, growing up - am I there yet? Well, grey hair-wise, about half way.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

mixtape 6

Oh, I love this cover. Simple, sweet, retro.

Issue 6 of mixtape, the craft zine about making time for the small things, has gone into pre-sale mode and you can order your copy here.

What's in this issue?

Guys Should Sew
Natural Dyeing
Nicole Mallalieu
Microsoft wife
creative journal
Crafting on the rollercoaster of life
The twelve days of Christmas mix
working from home
A short history of Sticky
Kristen Doran
10 ways to green your holiday
Crafty Lady Profile “Rummage"

Microsoft wife? Oh, that would be me.

Friday, 19 September 2008

in a bind

Ok, so finally, after much procrastination and thinking about it, I got around to the binding on my quilt. It also took me a while to psych myself up for it. Above is a not-quite-finished shot of the one side that I have done so far. It is not quite finished in the sense that still I need to slip stitch the binding to the quilt back (the dusky rose).

I started by cutting out my strips of binding fabric - Essential Dots from Moda in sage green. I am delighted with this fabric, it is exactly what I envisioned when I thought, hmm, what binding does this quilt need? A good shade of sage green and the dots are not quite tan but maybe a light beige, instead of a stark white, which tones nicely with the quilt top.

And then I used my trusty 2" Clover bias strip maker to make
miles and miles of binding. As the quilt is square I didn't actually make it on the bias but on the cross grain instead and where I sewed the strips together I took care to try and match the dots up.

Then the tricky bit - sewing the binding on. I always find myself doing a few mental gymnastics about how the binding should sit to do the first seam and inevitable end up having to place it down a couple of times. Anyway, the drill is that you enfold one edge of the tape and line the raw edge up with the ray edge of the quilt, right sides facing, and sew along the fold line. To get this:

I am thinking though that it might be advisable to line the raw edge of the binding up with the raw edge of the quilt, but slightly overlapping it. This is because the next step is to fold the binding on the seam and wrap it around the edge of the quilt to the other side and you want the edge of the binding to cover the stitches on the back of the quilt. I think that with a little coaxing mine will be fine.

That's one edge almost down, three to go. I am not going to mitre the corners of the binding on this one, just overlapping will suit it fine. So, I'm not actually in a bind about anything at was moment, it just the only title I could think of. It could have been 'the ties that bind' but then I would have ended up writing about my family's recent visit and that is a whole other story ...

Thursday, 18 September 2008


Just over a week ago baby bear turned two - hip hip hooray! Sunday past we had a morning tea party in the park.

'Turtle' is a word that she is very enthusiastic about at the moment so we ate one. Bit macabre really, isn't it?

Sunday, 14 September 2008

this is ... what I do with a spare 10 minutes

Ha, ha. The opportunities for sardonic reflection are endless here. Try "I wouldn't know what to do with a spare 10 minutes because it's years since I've had one" or a long list of household chores and that's just the first three minutes used up, etc. etc.

But, truth be told, with a spare 10 minutes I would probably pluck my eyebrows. Yes, I am very fond of a nicely maintained eyebrow line. Tweezers are first thing on my list of what I would want on a desert island.

Apologies to those who were hoping to discover some amazing time-management secrets. I have received a lovely compliment just recently on my apparent endless energy (thanks Peta-Jane!) so I guess that's part of getting things done. Otherwise I just think about things a lot, think them thoroughly through and when baby bear is in bed or it's a childcare day, then it's just a case of do as much and as quickly as possible.

And lists, I do like to write lists. They help me to organise my thoughts and being organised is probably one of the great keys to good self- and time-management. The first item on your list should always be 'write a list' because no sooner have you written it than you can already cross something off and that feels soooo productive. That is, when the first item isn't tweezers.

Friday, 12 September 2008


Ah, way back when, in my uni days, we would sit around and 'unpack the text', by which was meant we would draw out all the little nuances and allusions leaving no phrase unturned. Since my uni days all I have done is unpack boxes after moving house. And finally I have unpacked all of my yarn and can show you the delicious handspun that was sent to me by my secret pal, along with other goodies.

It really is hard to capture all of the beautiful shades in this yarn- there's a pumpkin orange, some pale blue/grey, a little green and a touch of gold. Wonderfully soft, I am really impressed with the skill that has gone into this. Apologies that it is belated but secret pal, heartfelt thanks for this lovely gift.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

coming up roses

Here it is, the low down on the roses quilt and all that has gone into it so far:

darning/free-hand quilting foot

This was the first time that I had used a foot any different from the regular one I think. And it was heaps of fun. With this you can move the fabric around freely underneath the foot, stitching in any direction you like. It requires some practice because the length of the stitch depends on how fast you are sewing and how quickly (or slowly) you are moving the fabric. I did practice a bit but inevitably improved as I went. However, I did enough of the quilting late at night after I was too tired to do it anymore so there is pretty consistent quality throughout!

quilting needles

No idea how these are different from regular sewing machine needles but really, I don't need any excuse to buy sewing stuff. They have a nice green dash on them to distinguish them from other needles.


I chose a 100% cotton backing which you don't need to pre-wash. And as it is bonded (I think that's the term - just means that the fibres are stuck together and don't pull apart from each other as you work with it) you don't need to quilt too closely.


I chose a plain colour fabric as I wanted the freehand quilting to make a pattern of its own on the backing.

basting pins

These pins are great. The curve in them allows you to pick up the layers of the quilt quite easily. I bought two packets with 60 pins in each but still don't think that I had enough for my size of quilt. The layers really do need to be pinned at quite small intervals, otherwise the backing tends to bunch and pucker which happened in a couple of spots for me.

quilting thread

This is special quilting thread, although I can't remember if it was special for hand- or machine-quilting. Regardless, I used it for machine-quilting, in both the bobbin and the needle. One 800m spool was enough for the entire quilt.

As I think I have mentioned previously, for a $4.00 quilt top, this all cost rather a lot of money, although a lot of the items are reusable. For the planned vintage fabrics quilt I want to do something different for the batting (backing is easy enough, just more sheets). I was thinking about a double layer of cotton flannelette sheets or perhaps some kind of cotton waffle weave blanket (like the one from the yard sale). The only difficulty I foresee is finding something large enough - the quilt is going to be 87" square (I can't help it, the Omnigrid is in inches) - and what I want to avoid is having to piece the batting. Queen-size flat sheets should be ok, or a queen-size blanket. I must get into the habit of taking my tape measure along when I go shopping.

tape measure

I shop there a lot.

Monday, 1 September 2008

this is ... my favourite fabric/craft shop

Well, it should be evident from the previous post that my favourite place to buy craft supplies is the op shop, that is, the thrift shop here in the US. I have been haunting the bed linens aisle of late:

Top image, from the left:

- dark purple self stripe queen-size doona cover (or duvet cover in some parts of the world) - Value Village I think - destined for the vintage fabric style quilt
- Ikea single bed doona cover, floral on one side and coin spot on the other - $1 at a local yard sale - perhaps big floor cushions for baby bear's room
- deep red doona cover - thrift store -
destined for the vintage fabric style quilt
- curtain swag (as mentioned in the previous post), floral on one side, blue and white stripe on the other - thrift store - vintage fabric style quilt
- Ralph Lauren floral queen-size sheet - Value Village -
vintage fabric style quilt
blue doona cover - Goodwill - vintage fabric style quilt
red floral pillow shams - thrift store - I really like these, I think they may escape intact!

Lower image, from the left:

- length of fabric, white with floral - thrift store - undecided fate
- length of fabric, polished chintz with a check - Value Village -
vintage fabric style quilt
- two small pieces of fabric, hemmed - thrift store - undecided fate
- two purple pillow shams with a geometric floral print - Value Village -
vintage fabric style quilt
- blue floral pillow sham - thrift shop
- vintage fabric style quilt
- dandelion sort of print cream and black fabric shower curtain - thrift shop -
vintage fabric style quilt
- pale green waffle weave cotton blanket - $2 at
a local yard sale - could this be batting for the quilt?

Of course, there are some great shopping stories behind a couple of these purchases, particularly the two from the yard sale. I was walking baby bear to child care that day and came across the sale. A woman was negotiating a price on a great floral doona cover and I was very disappointed to have not left the house five minutes earlier. Ok, I thought, there will always be more and continued on.

I was, however, of course, drawn back to the sale on my way home and there was the great floral doona cover. It turns out that the other shopper decided that she didn't want it at the last minute, leaving it there for me to come back to. And the cotton waffle weave blanket? Same yard sale, found the day after I decided that was what I was looking for. Kismet, I say.


My blog seems to be in a bit of a slump at the moment, it's all a bit random, rambling, lacking in focus. In this sense it is actually a very precise reflection of my life in general. I finally came to my senses and withdrew from that second uni subject - sigh, bittersweet - and was rewarded with a great sense of relief and wellbeing. Nature, however, not liking a vacuum, swept in with a million little things to fill the void and I somehow seem to be further behind myself than ever.

Part of that is of course a whole new slew of craft ideas and perhaps that's where I should focus on the blog, at least for the moment. Difficulty is that I haven't taken any photos (despite this being on my daily list of things to do. I completed the first thing on my list at 5:45pm today, just before the garage closed at 6:00, if that gives you any idea of what things are like). Might have to use some stock footage:

I love this book - Vintage Fabric Style: Stylish Ideas and Projects Using Quilts and Flea-Market Finds in Your Home (isbn: 1841724165). Love it. It's one of those books where almost every page has me wanting to dig out a doily or an old pillow case or go shopping at Value Village for second-hand bed linens, which is precisely what I did yesterday.

One of the things I love is that quilt on the cover. The simplicity of it - big square blocks, the bold colours, a bit of floral. And now that I know how easy it is to make a quilt (well at least by machine) ...

(intermission for update on roses quilt)

Quilting complete - hooray. Did it free-hand with a darning foot and loved it. Need to trim the edges now. Bought some fabric for the binding - green with small tan dots - and realised after the fact that I had bought the wrong colour (I wanted sage and somehow settled for moss). So I have ordered the sage online, having had no luck finding it in the Seattle area
, and hope that it will be a good shade. If not, I can always go with the moss. Have also bought a Clover 2-inch bias tape maker gadget in preparation. I love the accessories.

(return to normal programming)

... I am planning my very own version of that very quilt. Yesterday I picked up a queen-sized fitted sheet, Ralph Lauren no less, blue and white stripe background and some pretty rose bouquets. Another fitted sheet - deep red. A curtain-type attachment thing (I think) - blue and white stripe on one side and floral on the other. I have a lovely blue floral pillowcase and a deep purple doona cover in the cupboard (but what will mum sleep under when she comes to stay if I cut it up?). And some lovely polished chintz somewhere, and two purple geometric floral-type print pillowcases. I'm excited.

I also bought an Omnigrid 15" square template which is perfect because I have calculated that the 36 blocks need to be approx 14" square. And some black hat elastic ...

(intermission for update on recycled shetland wool tam)

I knitted the tam, then I blocked the tam, over a plate. Perhaps this wasn't the best idea because really, it has made the circumference of the opening way too loose. Dismayed, I cast it aside thinking, oh, I'll buy some hat elastic someday. Yesterday was that day - Hancock Fabrics was having a half-price sale (or half-off as they say here) on all their notions and threads and what not.

(return to normal programming)

... so I'm just about ready to start cutting out some blocks. Which I'm going to do with my Clover rotary cutter and my Clover self-healing cutting mat (neither of which were purchased yesterday but as I said, I love the accessories).

Ok, I think that I have adequately put the craft back into the craft blog. On the right is a freebie arty photo taken at the Japanese Garden in Washington Park Arboretum. Those decorative carp are huuuuge.