Tuesday, 21 December 2010

In the nick of time

Having promised Janellybelly way back in the year that we would do a bag swap, she has finally received hers, just in time for Christmas!
In a deal that works well for me, Janelle chose the fabrics and I made the bag up for her.
She chose a gorgeous range of fabric called 'Zest' from the Stonehill Collection by Donna Wilder for Fabric Traditions. The pattern is 'Frilly Dilly' bag by Janelle Wind.

I hope your Christmas preparations are fun and stress-free. I have finished my shopping which is always a relief.

Things are otherwise a tad stressed in the Bloom household right now. Our harvest is not in yet. And there is a lot at stake financially for us. However, I keep reminding myself that we are in a much better position than many other families.

We are supposed to have Christmas with my husband’s family on the South Coast, but that is all hinging on harvest happening in the next few days. We have a contractor lined up, and providing he doesn’t break down, or get bullied into harvesting someone else’s crop instead of ours, and it doesn’t rain, he will be here very soon.

Hopefully, I will be in a better place for my next post!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Christmas rocky road

School holidays ... kids at home ... time for some Christmas cooking. Everyone surely has their favourite recipe for rocky road. This is ours:
rocky road

marshmallows, 250g, pink & white
cooking chocolate, 150g
copha, 40g
salted roasted peanuts, ½ cup (80g)
1 packet raspberry lollies

Line 20cm x 30cm lamington tin with baking paper. Chop marshmallows and raspberries in half. Place approximately half of the marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts in lamington tin. Melt chocolate & copha together in microwave, or use a double saucepan. Pour half of the chocolate mix over marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts. Place remaining marshmallows, raspberries & peanuts in tin. Pour over remaining chocolate mix. Leave to set. Cut into generous, decadent pieces and forget about the diet!

Saturday, 11 December 2010

2010 teacher gifts completed!

My last post generated plenty of comment, much of it empathy and encouragement that I am not the only one to leave things until the last minute at this time of year! The 'pencil roll' gifts were completed and delivered to respective teachers. At least I know that they won't 'double-up' with this gift!
Teacher gifts 2010
Kirsty at You Had Me at Bonjour rather cheekily commented on my last post: "Ha, ha, yes I seem to remember a post like this last year??" Hmmm, well yes :), last year, and the year before and the year before! You have a good memory Kirsty! Each year, they vary just a little depending what pens/pencils I can source. The thing that doesn't vary is my last-minute stitching! The pens I have used this year are Stabilo fineliners, in lots of colours, perfect for easing the drudgery of marking for primary teachers. 
'Pencil' roll
Cherry Red Quilter asked how long it took me to find just the right colours to match the pens. Dare I say, they are all from my rather extensive stash?! I have been quilting in some form or another for 15 years, and have a fabric collection to match!
Teacher gifts 2010
Quiltilicious of Little Island Quilting has excellent eyesight, particularly when it comes to fabric! She said, "Great to see someone with fabric that goes back as old as my collection...I can spot some Jinny Beyer '2000' fabric in there ;-)" Great spotting! There is a piece of bright blue Jinny Beyer 'Millenium'. And there is a story that goes with this fabric. It was purchased originally for this quilt. Never again will I purchase fabric with a date on it, in this case '2000' printed all over. When I presented the quilt to my son in 2004, he quick as a wink calculated just exactly how long it had taken me to make it!
Teacher gifts 2010
I had two pencil rolls to make this year, the 'cow print' version being for a man, the spotted one for a woman. I recently had an email from someone lovely hoping that I would be writing up a pattern for 'my' pencil rolls.  While I would absolutely love to be able to do a pattern for these, they are unfortunately not my original idea. I would be treading on thin ice from a copyright point of view. I can point you in the right direction though. The idea originally came from the lovely Kathy Mack at Pink Chalk Studio and she has some simple instructions on this post.
Teacher gifts 2010
I jazzed the pencil rolls up with some very cute downloadable tags by Amy Moss at Eat, Drink, Chic.

Naturally Carol commented on the amazing job that teachers do, 'teaching all those kids, day in day out'! Absolutely!! I am married to one, and I know the inordinate number of hours devoted to this most admirable of professions. A pencil roll at the end of the year is small recompense really, but given with sincere gratitude! 

Friday, 10 December 2010

Will I never learn?

Every year ... last day of school ... crazy last minute rush to finish teacher gifts.
Rainbow of sorts
Why don't I allow myself more time? Here is the progress:
Teacher gifts in the making
Hopefully more time to talk soon!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Voile scarf tutorial

This light scarf is made from Anna Maria Horner's 'Little Folks' voile. To achieve a similar look, you will need very sheer, soft fabric. I have used a print on one side of the scarf, and a plain white voile on the other side.

Summer scarf

I have edged one side of the scarf with a lace trim, and stitched rows of shirring across the scarf to give some structure. The ends of the scarf have frayed edges.

AMH voile scarf

The first thing to decide is how long you would like your scarf. I prefer a longer scarf and have made mine 70".

For a 54" scarf, you will need:
One 7" strip across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton voile print
One 7" strip across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton white voile
54" lace
shirring elastic

For a 70" scarf, you will need:
Two 7" strips across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton voile print
Two 7" strips across the width of the fabric, of a 54" wide cotton white voile
70" lace trim
shirring elastic

Note: I found the voile to be a little slippery to handle. I pulled a thread across the width of the fabric and cut along this to get my 7" strips nice and straight.

Call me fastidious (you won't be the first!), but I have used french seams to join my scarf pieces. Being such fragile and transparent fabrics, I thought french seams would give the cleanest and most robust finish. You can choose to use normal 1/4" seams if you like.

To construct a french seam:

1. Place the two fabric pieces to be joined, WRONG sides together.  Sew together with a straight stitch, 1/8" from the edge. Press seam to one side.


2. Fold the fabric along the seam line, this time with the RIGHT sides together. Sew a line of straight stitching, 1/4" from the edge. This will enclose the raw edges of the fabric really neatly.


The wrong side of your joined fabrics should have an enclosed seam that looks like this:


The right side of your joined fabrics will look like a normal seam:


So, if you are making a long scarf, you will need to join your two 7" strips along their short edge with a french seam, to make one long strip. Cut this strip to 70".

Join the print strip to the white strip along their long edge with a french seam.

Sew a line of straight stitching across the short end of the scarf, 1/2" from the edge. You will fray the fabric to this row of stitching later.


With a sharp lead pencil, mark a line lightly, 3/8" in from the long edge of the print fabric, on the right side. Align your lace on this pencil line and stitch in place.


The next step is to add the rows of shirring across the scarf. Shirring elastic is readily available, and looks like this:


Wind the shirring elastic onto a bobbin, without stretching it. Place the bobbin in your bobbin case. The top thread remains the same.

With a sharp lead pencil, mark a line lightly across your scarf at the half way point. Mark more lines either side of this centre line, approximately 8" apart. (This gave me 7 shirring lines for my 70" scarf). These lines are not critical. You can place them as you please.

Using a normal stitch length, you simply stitch straight lines along each pencil line. As you stitch, the elastic will magically draw up your fabric to give a soft gather. There are two important things to remember at this point:
  • reverse your stitching at beginning and end to lock the elastic,
  • and, stop stitching (and reverse) just before you get to your lace trim, as shown below.

Almost done! One final french seam to stitch. With WRONG sides together, sew long edges of scarf together with a straight stitch, 1/8" from the edge.


You should now have a long tube. Turn the scarf through one end so that the RIGHT sides are together. Fold the fabric along the seam line you have just stitched. Sew a line of straight stitching, 1/4" from the edge, EXACTLY ON TOP OF the line of stitching that secures the lace.


Turn your scarf right side out and give it a good press. Fray the ends back to the row of stitching.


And there you have it! One light and summery scarf, ready for Chrismas gift giving.


As always, please ask questions if anything is less than clear. With best wishes, Bloom x

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A lot of AMH love

Today, I summoned the courage to cut into my precious stash of Anna Maria Horner voiles. The word that sprung to my mind to describe these fabrics is 'diaphanous'. On checking, diaphanous = 'light, delicate and translucent, esp. of fabric'. Exactly!
My luscious stash of AMH voiles
I have had this in my head for a while:
Voile scarf for summer
A light and pretty scarf for summer. I have been hoarding the divine lace edging for several years now. My sister-in-law bought it for me at a laceworks in Italy, and I have been keeping it for 'something special'.
Summer scarf
I took photos as I made this scarf, so I hope to be back soon with a tutorial. It makes for a very quick and easy Christmas present.
AMH 'Innocent Crush'
I am on a bit of a Anna Maria Horner binge at the moment. This is my stack of 'Innocent Crush' just waiting to be transformed. I purchased these from Cathy at Wondrous Woven Fabrics who I highly recommend. While it waits for inspiration to strike, my stack sits prettily and is stroked regularly!
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