Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Quilt Progress

You may recall that I posted some months ago about the vintage quilt pieces I bought in an online auction. I have been meaning to make them up into a quilt top, but it has taken a while to decide what quilt design they were intended to become. I've had some advice from the ladies in the Flickr quilting group and finally decided to sort the triangles into colours and then sew them into larger blocks. I'll alternate these coloured blocks with plain white triangles. It will be a variation of the 1000 pyramids pattern I think.

Here's a picture of where I am up to so far. I'm hoping to get the quilt top finished this weekend so I can move on to quilting it. I'm pleased with how it is coming together.
I will have quite a lot of vintage triangles left over, mostly in neutral floral prints (browns and creams). Not too sure what to use them for yet. If anyone has any bright ideas, let me know. They may end up back at the op-shop.

Monday, 26 May 2008

Chocolatey goodness

Some friends invited us over for dinner last night and we were asked to bring dessert. After leafing through a lot of cookbooks trying to decide, at Alex's request I settled on an old favourite: Apricot, Pistachio and Chocolate slice

SO bad for you, but oh so good, and really quick and easy to make. It is very rich though, so small servings accompanied by coffee are best.

Friday, 23 May 2008

New Sewing Books

I haven't mentioned it here yet, but I am counting down the weeks until we go away on holiday to the UK and Italy in mid-June. I have a work conference in Liverpool, so Alex is going to come with me. After the conference we'll spend a week in London and a couple of weeks in Northern Italy. We lived in London for 18 months about 5 years ago, and travelled in some of Europe while we were there, so we're not visiting so much for the touristy places as to see some of our old London haunts. I'm looking forward to going back to some favourite places, like the huge Waterstones bookshop near Picadilly Circus (Europe's largest bookshop according to Wikipedia) and the cute little french cafe in Soho we used to visit after an afternoon of browsing through books. Oh, and Borough Market of course. I wasn't that crafty when we lived in London (apart from doing the odd bit of cross-stitch), so I'm also compiling a list of essential craft must-dos for the time we are there.

Because I'm supposed to be saving for splurges at Liberty and Loop, I shouldn't really be buying new craft books. But when I saw the two Built by Wendy books at a good price (around $26 NZD each, including postage) on the Book Depository, I couldn't resist. I've reading a lot about these books and how great they are around blogland lately. I tried to justify the purchase by telling myself that I could use the books to make new clothes to take to Europe...

The first one, Sew U, has been out for a couple of years. It's a great basic garment sewing reference, and includes patterns for a skirt, shirt, and pair of trousers. The second one, Sew U Home Stretch, has just been published and still focusses on garment sewing, but with stretch fabrics. It includes patterns for a crewneck top, raglan top and dress skirt. In addition to great basic sewing advice, both books provide you with instructions on how to alter the patterns to make many other styles so really you are getting more like 10-12 patterns in each book. I referred to both books a lot when sewing my new skirts last weekend (though I didn't use their patterns) and I can see them becoming firm favourites. I wish I had the stretch sewing book to refer to when I sewed my first merino top a few weeks ago - it has lots of ideas for finishing hems (the part I hate) using either a sewing machine or overlocker/serger.

Other things:
- the lucky dip craft night at Juniper was really fun. Nikki and Tash were there and it was good to meet them in person. Nikki has a good summary of the night on her blog today, including pictures of the very cute felt sushi fridge magnets she made. Pictures of my project to come.

- I am compiling a list of essential crafty pit-stops for our trip. If you have any suggestions for places I should go in London, Liverpool, Milan, Florence, Venice or Hong Kong, please email me or leave a comment.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

Softies for Mirabel 2008

You may recall that I made some heart softies a while back for the I Heart Mirabel appeal run by Meet Me At Mikes in Melbourne.

The new Mirabel appeal is called Softies for Mirabel and I encourage you to take part if you can.

You can read more and see photos of the contributions here, but basically the deal is that you make a softie and send it to Mikes in Melbourne by 25th July. The softies will be auctioned and proceeds go to the Mirabel Foundation, an Australian organisation that supports the children of families affected by substance abuse.

I missed this appeal last year, but it sounds like a lot of fun. A good chance to try out some new ideas for softies and help a good cause.

Monday, 19 May 2008

Busy Busy

Another batch of feijoa jelly, plus much-needed weeding in the veggie garden, plus two new a-line skirts for work equals a productive weekend in my book...

*Apologies for the horrible pics of the skirts. My usual photographer had already left for work so I had to make do with mirror self-portraits.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Feijoa Jelly

When my grandparents retired in the mid-1980s they went to live on a farm in the Bay of Plenty. My poppa is a great lover of native trees and growing things, so instead of using the land to raise animals, a lot of their farm remained as native bush with some areas cleared for growing produce to sell and a couple of paddocks leased to neighbours. They had a large vegetable garden, kiwifruit and passionfruit vines, apple trees and a huge citrus grove. But by far the thing I loved the most was their huge feijoa hedge. Come autumn they would give us boxes of feijoas to gorge ourselves on. Visits to "the farm" meant Nana's feijoa and apple crumble, feijoa sponge pudding and best of all, feijoa jelly.

They have long since sold the farm, so I don't usually have a supply of free feijoas. I have been meaning to try and make feijoa jelly myself, and since the tree I planted in our garden last year only produced three fruit (!) this year, I had even considered buying some feijoas to make jelly. But last week my boss offered me some from his trees.

I used the Edmonds cookbook recipe because I don't have my Nana's recipe but I think it's pretty standard. This post at Laurasaur follows pretty much the same steps that I did. The end result is not quite up to my Nana's standard and is much cloudier than hers, but it sure tastes good and brings back memories. If you have access to a supply of feijoas, I highly recommend it!

Monday, 12 May 2008

An apron dress

Apologies for the unplanned blog break. I haven't been crafting much in the last week - my head cold is still hanging around so I had some more time off work.

I did manage to make it to the wedding of a high school friend on Saturday though and even wore an outfit I had made (first time for me).

I made a silk wrap-halter-apron-dress. I cut a pattern from a top that my step-Mum owns and made a couple of modifications based on some other similar tops I've seen in shops like Max, Principals and Carly Harris.

Here is a not-so-good photo of it, taken late at night, just after I'd finished sewing (I hadn't even trimmed the hanging threads). I wore it to the wedding over a short-sleeved deep v-neck black top with wide-leg black pants. From the back you only really see the skirt part of the dress and it's pretty see-through so you have to wear at least leggings under it.

You may recall that this is my second attempt at a top like this. The first attempt was consigned to the "chuck or restyle" pile. The problem the first time was that I was trying to use a rolled hem on my overlocker (serger) but because I was sewing on the bias, the hem stretched the dress out of shape. This time I went old school and used my sewing machine and did a basic double hem. I think it turned out OK. I can see myself getting a lot of wear out of this top - it looks great worn casually over jeans as well as dressed up.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

A spot of thrifting

One of my favourite things to rifle through in an op-shop (thrift store) is the children's books. I often find gems that either I owned as a kid and no longer have, or books that I wished I had owned as a kid. Here are some favourites from last week:

The New Zealand ABC. Each letter includes pictures of uniquely NZ things. My favourite is K. If you look carefully on the cover you might also be able to spot a lamb and a takahe. I think this will be a favourite with visiting littlies.

Horrakapotchkin! A Ready-to-Read book. It's a bit like a school journal, with short fiction and true life stories from NZ authors plus a play or two. I remember reading out loud from this book when I was in J2 at Primary School (I think this is now called Year 2)
And lastly, my favourite of this bunch: the New Zealand girls' book of crafts, pets, sports and hobbies. This one falls squarely in the "I wish I had owned it" category. It was published in 1972 and looks like an early NZ version of the Daring Book for Girls. You can see a bigger version of the index here, but it contains information on (almost) everything a young girl in the 70s might want to know about, from astronomy to codes and ciphers to kites, paper mache, tadpole collecting and so on. I've included a picture of the fabric printing page below.

Monday, 5 May 2008

Stripy Scarf

Wow, it's been almost a week since I last posted. I have been a bit sick with a head cold and also busy at work (don't you hate it when you are too busy to take much time off? I managed a day but I could have done with several days at home.) Despite the fuzzy head, I still managed to get some craft projects finished over the weekend.

Here is my new winter scarf, just in time for the icy weather that has hit in the last week or so.

I think I linked to the pattern in an earlier post, but just in case, this is the one I used. A simple diagonal lace pattern that shows off the variegated yarn nicely. The yarn I used is called Hummingbird Calliope. It still needs another blocking to stop the sides curling in and to get the stripes nice and straight but I'm pleased with how it ended up.