Sunday, 7 November 2010


In my last post I promised pictures of the Indian patchwork that I made for Parramasala so here they are.

getting rigged into position

hung during the bump in

and finally in all its lit glory with performers on stage.

Well done to my friend Jenn for conceptualising such a great backdrop. I think it looks wonderful, it is so rewarding to see my work in such a practical application (and to actually see it all laid out for the first time!)

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Pinwheel for giants

Ever since I started quilting I have wanted to make some pinwheel blocks. I just never thought that I would end up making one as big as my house.

My friend is working on an upcoming festival called Parramasala. In order to dress one of the performance spaces she had ordered 20 2meter x 2meter pieces of Indian fabric. She asked me if I would be interested in sewing the pieces together into a patchwork backdrop of sorts. My first paid sewing work!

I knew that the area that needed to be covered by fabric was about 14meters wide by 6 meters long but apart from that when a huge box packed full of fabric arrived at my door I pretty much had free rein. I wanted to do SOMETHING a little creative with the fabric but at the same time I was quaking at the thought of wrangling 14 meters of fabric through my grandmothers old sewing machine. 14 meters is BIG people. My solution was to create a simple pinwheel in the center.

Laying out folded squares of fabric to check colours

My numbering system

The real challenge of the project was not being able to look at anything that I had sewn together because of the size of the fabric. I literally didn't have enough room in my house to lay things out to see if the seams were in the right places. I had to draw a pattern on paper and devise a numbering system for each piece of fabric to try to keep track of what went where. How organised of me!

Fist pinwheel block sewn together

Still I really wanted to look at the pinwheel when it was done so I channeled Christo tried hanging it over my back upstairs veranda. Turns out just half the pinwheel was bigger than my house.

My pattern

R and L coming to find out why the living room had just been plunged into darkness

After a few mishaps and a few unpicked (very long) seams I THINK the final product is correct. I still haven't seen it all laid out. My creation has made its way to the Stud Factory (best name ever) to get eyelets along to top so that it can be rigged. I will post pictures of it in all its festival glory soon!

Monday, 11 October 2010

Sleep 'til you're hungry, eat 'til you're sleepy

When it is Sunday and outside it looks like this:

There is no choice but to do this:


Two lovely friends live a convenient 10 meters, if that, from my front door (in a house, they don't sort of camp at my front door, we just have a skinny street, an alley really). So when the rain was whipping the spring jasmine outside we both expressed our desire to bake and more importantly eat, baked goods. A few hours later I was lucky enough to open the front door and be met by these:

I made this:

There was supposed to be an element of competition to the Bake Off but seeing as I was instructed 'not to win' by my opponent, I don't think we were taking the competitive side very seriously.

But to give credit where credit is due my pecan pie was slightly undercooked and some of the oozey (but yummy) pie filling had oozed under the pastry as it cooked (how? I have no idea). On the other hand, Jenn's chocolate and salted caramel biscuits were LUSH. Plus, they were not made from a recipe, they were invented in Jenn's ( i do believe that 2 batches had to be made though before they were deemed edible). So I declare the winner of the Rainy Sunday Bake Off Round 1 to be Jenn Blake!!

Who wants to join us for round 2??

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

My Place: Henson Park

I live in the inner west of Sydney and I'd like to share some of the places that I feel have become part of 'My Place'. First up is Henson park.

The inner west of Sydney was full of brick pits in the early part of the last century. Henson park was once a huge gaping brick quarry. After the brick pit closed the quarry filled with water and became somewhat of a hazard so in 1937 it was transformed into a stadium. Henson park was originally built as a velodrome for the Empire games ( a forerunner of the commonwealth games). The cycle track was later filled in and became a grass oval and home to the Newtown Jets (NRL), who still play here today.

Henson park is a pretty amazing space, I find it hard to do it justice with pictures. When you enter the park from the direction of my house you enter right at the highest point. You can very easily imagine the days when a great yawning quarry was spread out at your feet rather than a grassy hill. The air has a very open feel to it and I always find it very relaxing to be in. When Lewis was a newborn I would walk laps of the park with him in a sling. I was reeling with all the emotions that come with being a new mother and the quiet symmetry of the park always helped calm me and my fussy baby.

Trying out the sling at Henson park a few days after giving birth

I love the late 30's architecture in the stadium, you see it dotted all over the inner west, old pubs and chimneys all made out of the local bricks. Henson park features a great old grand stand called the King George V Memorial Grandstand

A lonely spectator

While Henson Park is still a functioning sport stadium it is also a favourite dog walking park. At dusk on most days locals come and let their dogs roam as they chat. It is very rare that I have visited the park and not stopped to have a chat with at least one dog or their owner. Henson park feels like it is part of our community.

It may seem underwhelming, an old oval ringed by concrete but Henson Park feels good to me, it is a space that I enjoy being in, an so does Lewis. Oh and of course it wouldn't be part of the inner west if it didn't feature...planes! Again this is hard to photograph but when the huge A380 lumbers into the sky above the park you really do feel like you could reach up and tickle its tummy.

I found out recently that Henson Park is also a Geo Caching location. Geocaching is a global treasure hunt where each 'treasure' location is identified by following a co-ordinate using a GPS. The idea is to locate a geocache (canister) and share your experience online. It is meant to promote community and the environment (somehow) and I guess teach GPS skills. I haven't really gotten into it on a large scale (though I am intrigued) mostly because I don't have a GPS (maybe if I get my hands on an Iphone4) but I was delighted to learn that inside a crack in a wall in my own little Henson park was a little treasure just waiting to be discovered!

So that is Henson Park. Part of My Place. Why don't you come for a walk there? Lewis and I will gladly join you!

Thursday, 30 September 2010

LOOK! A distraction

At the moment I am trying to make a quilt that is making me feel like this:

and my sewing room look like this:

Yes I am actually trying the pattern out with paper first to see if I can manage it. More on this project later if I stick with it and don't jump out of the window first.

So to distract myself from maths and angles that this quilt requires I have been making pretty little things....for pretty little people!

First up a fabric flower that I have turned into a hair slide, this is winging its way to Brisbane for a special little girls upcoming birthday.

This is my first attempt and there are a few corrections I would like to make next time around but on the whole I am happy with the style. I thought these might make lovely broaches as well so watch this space...

I have been wanting to try making a bag for a while now so my next distraction project was the perfect opportunity. I downloaded the free pattern from Made By Rae and in the space of one Lewis nap time I was more than half way there! Half an hour yesterday evening was all I needed to finish this:

It has pleats. It has lining. It has magnetic snaps. It has an interior pocket. I never thought I could make something like this. Thanks to Made By Rae for the great pattern and instructions. I feel ready to attempt a bigger bag soon so that I can fit in nappies, wipes, snacks, water bottles, keys, general crap...

Lewis was quite taken with it as well and he knew just what to do with it!

ps. I'm working my way through my Bird Textile scraps can ya tell?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

I like big butts

Lewis wears cloth nappies which mean his little bottom is slightly more padded than a disposable nappy covered baby bottom. For the most part we find trousers that fit him but most baby clothes these days are not designed for a cloth nappy bum. I came across this pattern for 'big butt baby pants' on this great blog and I decided to give it a go. Voila!

I am not very good at sewing clothes but this pattern has great instructions. I used left over Anna Maria Horner fabric for Sarah's birthday quilt. I can't wait to make more!

Lewis the model demanding grapes as payment.

Lewis modeling the added rear panel

Lewis took them for a test drive this morning and proclaimed them good for skateboarding,

good for exploring the jungle,

and good for a relaxing stroll

I love the little cuffs...

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Pins and needles

Inspired by the talented Kirsten Smith who blogs here, this great tutorial she shared and a week away from my sewing machine, I ducked into my spare/sewing room while Lewis slept this afternoon and whipped up this pin cushion.

My pins were living like this:

and are now much happier like this:

I LOVED using some Bird Textile scraps and am already thinking up other projects to use more!

We spent a wonderful morning today at the local school fair day. I wish I had taken my camera to share the cake stall, pony ride, sausage sizzle etc with you but here is the AWESOME jungle animal portable play mat that we nabbed from the craft stall.

The mat open with the animals and tied up and ready to travel with the animals inside. Apparently the design is based on a type of Japanese bathroom bag.

Here is the LOVELY pile of kids books (and a few adult ones) that set us back about 10c each.

It was nostalgia central as Rich and I compared the differences between an Australian school fete and an English village fair and I was happy to learn that Rich won a cake baking prize as a child. Just another reason that I am glad I married him.

What a good Sunday. How was yours?

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Cosy Nest for a delicious bubba

A beautiful little baby friend of mine turned one a few weeks ago which provided the perfect opportunity to use a luscious little charm pack that has been waiting in my drawer. A charm pack is a stack of 5x5 inch pre-cut squares from an entire fabric line. I love things like charm packs and layer cakes (10" version) because they are cheap and easy way to get a diversity of fabric and the pre-cuts make them super handy (less fiddly cutting!). I have read that Charm Packs can be used to make lovely bags...maybe one day soon! My charm pack was by Tula Pink and was cuts of her collection Nest.

The birthday girls is called Billie Miro Mystic Merrill and she is a gorgeous little thing whose bright, lively, vivacious attitude to life suited the fabric perfectly. Billie is already a bookworm (following in the footsteps of her poet father and journalist mother) so I decided to make her a quilt from the charm pack that she could curl up under or sit on with a good book ('Where is the green sheep' anyone?).

I only had a week to make this quilt in so I wanted a pattern that was simple (no wonky blocks this time) but I also wanted the quilt to look interesting and quirky. There were 40 squares in my charm pack so I made a 4 nine patch blocks (traditional style).

Then I cut straight down the middle of these blocks, so I found the middle point of each the middle top square and cut directly down. I then had 8 new pieces which I twisted around and laid out on the floor till I had a jumbled but attractive ( I hope) pattern.

This technique took me about 2/12 hours from beginning to end, this included a stop for poached eggs with the boys and various interruptions for a one and a half year old.

I then had four charm squares left over so I decided to cut them each diagonally into triangles and sew different halves together to make different colour squares.

I found a lovely patchwork shop near to my house called Quiltsmith which also happened to be selling the Nest collection half price so bought a few larger pieces of the collection to make borders and used the coloured squares I made to make border posts on each corner.

I also chose this fabric for the backing

In the charm pack, the 5" squares meant that the amazing bird pattern was hidden so I HAD to display it in the quilt somehow :)

I decided the try the 'stitch in the ditch' style of quilting for this project. I have never done it before so I was keen to try and also I love the pattern on the quilt top and I didn't want to have stitches running across them. Stitch in the ditch in when you quilt or stitch in the 'ditch' left from joining the patchwork pieces on the quilt top. The quilting is then effectively hidden in the seam that is already there. I found it surprisingly easy to quilt this way (although my quilting is not always invisible due to my inability to sew in straight lines) and I was super happy with the effect for this project.

All in all this quilt was made across two Saturdays and the binding was happily hand stitched on while catching up on Big Love season 3.

Happy Birthday Bille Miro Mystic Merrill!