Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas 2012

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  Mine certainly has been as  I've been surrounded by family and friends, with some more very welcome visits still to come. 

I didn't get any sewing done, but for the first time in years I did manage to do some traditional Christmas goodie baking, which was very rewarding.  And my nieces and nephews now tell me that 'my' rocky road (secret recipe courtesy of my sister) has now taken over the number one position from 'jelly slice'!

I was lucky enough to be spoilt with a very nice new camera.  I have been frustrated with the quality of my old one for a while, especially when trying to photograph detail in quilts, so I'm hoping to bring you lots of lovely pics this year.  Of course it is not all down to the camera, the person behind it has just a little to do with it also, so I'm thinking a little course might also be on the cards!

Speaking with on the cards..... so is lots of quilting!!  I can't wait. I can't wait to get my hands on some fabric and let my creative juices flow. And I wish the same for you.. may your 2013 be filled with many blessings, not the least being time to create...

Much love,
Michelle xx

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Binding Tutorial

I did promise to get back to you with my binding method...
I also contemplated doing a video tutorial but that would involve you (and worse still... ME!), listening to my voice, and I just couldn't cope with that just yet!

So, I use a 2.5" strip for binding (unless using flannel in which case I use 3").  It needs to be the length of the perimeter (outside edge) of the quilt, plus a minimum of 15" (40cm).  It needs to be continuous and ironed in half lenghtwise.

Pick a starting point (I usually pick a side, about 2/3 the way down).  Leave a tail of at least 8" (this gives a little wriggle room at the end), and on the right side of quilt, match raw edge of binding with the raw edge of quilt.  Pin from here down to the first corner.

I stitch about a 3/8" seam allowance (1/4" is too narrow and will leave your binding too thin, 1/2" will be too thick and when you pull your binding over to the back to hand stitch down, it will not cover your stitch line.

Stop 3/8" from the corner, you can reverse here, then take out from the machine.  Turn your quilt as if you are about to sew down the next side (which, oddly, you are!). 
Fold your binding up, so the raw edges from your binding are in line with the raw edges of your quilt.

Now fold again downwards, so that raw edges are aligned on the side and the 'fold' of the corner is in line with your raw edges on the previous side. 

You can now sew down this side (right from the top) until you get to 3/8" from the corner.  Repeat all corners the same way. 

When you are on your final side, stop, and leave a gap of no less than 8" from where you started. 
Now for the fun bit!

You have two tails.  Cut one tail so it is just over half way (make sure it is a straight cut and at 90degrees). 

Lay the other tail on top, and measure on overlap of exactly(!!) 2.5".  And cut (eek!!  ... make sure you have this right). 

Now, join the two ends on a diagonal by placing them at right angles (as you do your binding strips).

Before you cut off the seam allowance, pull out and make sure it sit flat, which it should do perfectly of course (that's because you're an expert now!!), then trim off, sew the binding down to the final gap and your done... well.... except for hand sewing in down on the other side of course!

when I pin my binding down , I tend to do so only one section at a time, otherwise as I manoevre my quilt, it pricks me, causing me to say less than savoury words (I have no control of course.. especially since binding often involves a glass of wine!).  It is a simple blind stitch, taking care to travel your thread within the layers so as not to be visible.  Fold the corners neatly, like you would wrap a present.

Incidentally this is actually one of my favourite parts of quilt making, sewing down the binding.  To me, you have put a lot of love, time and effort... perhaps passion (and maybe even a tad of blood sweat and lot of tears) into this quilt, and now this is it.  The 'piece de resistance', or as I like to say the 'icing on the cake'!  I find it completely satisfying, if not a tad time consuming (especially when I have to stop to pat myself on the back regularly!)

So sit back and enjoy crossing the finishing line!

Michelle xxx

p.s. It might amuse you to know that I had almost finished sewing the binding down and taken most of the photos, when I noticed that I had sewn it to the back of the quilt... arrrghhhh (more unsavoury words!!).  Another lesson.. when you aren't feeling well and dosed up on cold and flu tablets, perhaps it is best to leave sewing til another time! (this is why, if you are really observant, you will notice a difference in fabric on the border.. its because in some photos, its actually the back!)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Quilting my bargello.....

I finally got to sit down in front of the machine on the weekend (and today), and have loved every minute!  I have been having a lot of fun quilting my bargello quilt (remember that??) with an all over free motion.  I can completely lose myself when I free motion quilt.. I just get in a groove and off I go... lose track of time (as daughter #2 impatiently waiting to be picked up from work will confirm! ...oops).  But fun I had, which after all, IS the main aim of the game!

Here is a close up of my little 'wiggly jig' that I did.. just a big doodle really.. and as usual I got in the groove of it by practising on paper first, just to get an idea of 'where' I would go. 

I used a specialised thread, something which I have not really had a lot of success with before.  It was 'wonderfil' and I placed in both the top and in the bobbin.  It was perfectly variegated in the colours of my quilt.  The only problem was it came off the spool too easily whilst sewing, therefore knotting up often.  Liisa had told me a tip to help with this was to pop the spool in a cup on the table, this helped a little but not entirely.  My cup accidentally fell over at one stage, and with it 'accidentally' finding me a solution!  A cup on the side, who would have thought? But it worked! 

So tonight? Binding!  I will do a little tutorial on this as I have been asked to show my preferred method. So pop back in a day or so to take a look at this.

Oh, and my little Elsie has been sewing up a storm recently... although I must teach her NOT to cut into the middle of my fat 1/4's when she needs a little scrap (eeeek!).  I let her have the use of my machine as I believe experimentation is the best teacher... But.... what I am most intrigued about is her technique... The chair has gone, which I understand as she often stands up to sew, but now the foot pedal has turned up on the top of the table, and I have no idea how she can possibly operate the machine!

Michelle xx

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Goes With That....

I have to admit to being just a tad surprised at how long since my last post...
There has, as usual, been just a tad going on, and I think since finishing a number of projects around mid year, I have been thoroughly enjoying (ok.. maybe slightly 'obsessed') with 'This Goes with That'.  It is a block of the month project, designed by Sue Daley (of Busyfingers) being an 'English Paper Piecing' Hexagon Project. 

English Paper Piecing Hexagons was in fact the first ever 'patchwork' project I did when I was 15, taught as an end of year elective at school.  I became obsessed then too, and used to go down to the local fabric shop (no quilt shops in Adelaide back then) and spend my pocket money on a few snippets of coordinating fabrics.

I have done a couple more similiar projects over the years, but am absolutely in love with this one.  It is highly addictive and a lot of fun.  I have chosen to do my project in civil war fabrics, and maybe this is part of the reason why I am having so much fun also, as it completely different to what I normally work with.  It has lead to me looking into the history of such fabrics, and therefore the women sewing them at the time. Do you know that the women used their quilts in the civil war era as vehicles of political propaganda? They used to embroider little messages to the men on the front line... I love it!

So here are a couple of pics of my work so far.  I have chosen to join my hexies with triangles, but there are other options.  I just like to separate them so can be seen more clearly (and damn it! ..if I've gone to the trouble to make them, I want them seen!!).  The project runs for 8 months, and each month you get 2 hexie patterns, with the template, papers and thread to match.  At The Quilters Corner, we have two colour ways available, civil war and bright florals.  Please note however, that I have used mainly my own collection of fabrics as I started well before the shop :)

Enjoy your week,
Squeezes, Michelle xx

Thursday, July 26, 2012


This term I have the pleasure of my eldest daughter Jen (on the right) and her lovely friend Anne coming along to the beginners course that I teach at The Quilters Corner.  It is a lovely opportunity for Jen to see more about what I do, learn an AMAZING craft all while spending time with her 'bestie' (which is a little more limited these days as they are at different uni's).

Jen is a complete and utter 'studyaholic', so I was very keen for her to try her hand at a hobby which, with a bit of luck, may also offer another outlet for her brain.  And quilting, offers that smart little brain, an opportunity to relax and unwind ..... its TRUE... science even backs it up!  (mmmm... might have to find some data on that and post it...)

So! Jen and Anne have chosen completely different fabrics.  Jen has gone for her usual bright, bold and cheery fabrics, while Anne had something completely different in mind.  Anne took a gap year from uni last year, and had the privilege of working/teaching in a school in Malawi, Africa.  She brought home some amazing fabrics which she wanted to work around.  This is the girls with their 'Rail Fence' block and don't they look fabulous?
I will bring you more photos of their work as the eight weeks progress.

Have a great weekend everyone.  I'm off to the school fete (Prince of Peace Lutheran College) this Saturday, always loads of fun, then head off to Adelaide early Sunday morning.  I'll just be there for a couple of days helping Mum and Dad pack up the house after 31 years as they prepare to move into a smaller home in a retirement village in the Adelaide Hills.  Apparently after 20 years, its time for ME to store my OWN wedding dress!! (how rude!) I also have the top layer of my wedding cake there somewhere, not sure if I want to disturb that though... all sorts of science experiments may be lurking.

Squeezes, Michelle xxx

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Funny little finds.....

Isn't this what you find on your sewing machine every day?? 

The things I find 'set up' around our house constantly make me smile, and unfortunately a little sad.  I absolutely dread the day when I don't find them anymore.  Elsie has always been able to play so happily by herself.  She has this whole little world happening in her imagination and you often see her lips moving while she is playing out a little 'scene' in her head.  I just love it. On Friday she turns 7, and although she is beside herself with excitement, I wish she would stop growing.  Oh sure, some parts of life will be easier, but it will also be a lot less innocent.  So here's to you Mr Potato Head, long may you adorn my sewing machine! 

As for the beanie bears in stilettos, one can only wonder.....

have a great week,
squeezes Michelle xx

p.s. visited the graphic designer yesterday about getting my 'BOM' applique patterns drawn professionally in preparation for sale, very exciting...

Friday, July 6, 2012

Thankyou for your support...

Last weekend I ran the 10km event at the Gold Coast.  It wasn't my fastest time, but it was the first time I did it without injuries, making it my most enjoyable by far. 

This year was also made special as I ran as part of the 'MND and me' team, a foundation set up by a friend of ours in support of Motor Neurone Disease.  Scott is amazing man, with a young family, who has being diagnosed with this hideous disease.  Average life expectancy is 27 months, there is no cure or treatment and your mind is completely in tact while every part of your body is slowly paralysed.  Scott and his wife Sarah have done amazing things.  They have set up this foundation not only to raise money for research but to offer grants to families with MND.  This allows them to do such things as modify their homes so their loved ones can remain with the family as long as possible.  It gives them back some dignity. 

I would like to make mention of another special person, my friend Kath pictured with me.  Kath in an incredibly generous and compassionate person, and once she found out that I was running for MND, she wanted to join the cause too. Kath hadn't even met Scott, but was moved by his story and took to fundraising for him.  Thankyou Kath, you're a gem!

So, the team raised an amazing $58000 and I raised $1338.  Part of this was from a raffle I ran at the shop, for the little quilt 'A walk in the woods'.  Maree was thrilled to win this and picked up the little parcel yesterday.  Congratulations Maree!

I'm so lucky to 'work' where I do.  Everyone has been so supportive.  Once Liisa emailed about the raffle, lots of customers popped in asking for their ticket, and wishing me well.  Since the weekend so many people  have asked how the run went. I feel very blessed to be surrounded in such a lovely community of people... quilters I might add, what more could a girl ask for?

A humble thankyou,
Michelle xx

Monday, June 18, 2012


Deadlines are my friend!  Its true, I have to admit it.  They make me stressed and 'a little' harder (note I'm honest, and said hardER) to live with, but they do make me get things done.  I was having my quilts professionally photographed on the weekend so needed the 3 quilts in progress to be done.  And done they were!!  With a whole 16 hours to spare.... applause please, I think that's a record!

The first was "A walk in the woods", which I showed you last post.  Next was "Lemon Peel", a new design (well an old design actually but with my new take on it), using perle thread applique.  I really enjoyed making this quilt, it was great fun and gave me my handwork to do in front of the tv, while playing with a new technique (win win!).  I'm actually teaching this quilt next term at the shop if you are local and interested (or interested and local if you prefer.....ok... too much coffee....).

Next.... well..... I don't have the full photo.... just a photo of the photographer photographing...  but my new, very own design, applique quilt!!  I will post more photos as soon as I have them.

Phewwww......what a weekend! 
Hope you enjoyed yours, we had the most glorious weather here Brisbane.
Michelle xx

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A walk in the woods......

Last week I had another little play with a charm pack.  I made the exact same design I have made before, but instead of appliqueing a tree, I added toadstools to fit in with the theme of my fabric.  Quite pleased I was with the result! 

Its a great size for little ones, a cot, or perfect size for hosting a 'book club meeting with your teddies' (especially if you are 6 years old, and it is a rainy long weekend).  For anyone super keen, we have exact kits available at The Quilters Corner.

Have a great week,
Michelle xx

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Aussie Flags...

Why is it that when you most want to sew, your machine has other ideas??  I was totally in my quilting groove this morning, all jobs had been done early do I could make the most of the day.  That is super organised in my dictionary!  I did some more piecing on a project, then moved on to free motion quilting a little charm square quilt.  Next, consistent with the cold winds blowing outside in Brisbane today, an ill wind blew through my sewing machine.  It decided to put its little foot up, and call it a day!  The cheek! Did it not realise that 10 minutes more and I would have been done? 

So with my spare machine holidaying at the shop, I frantically looked around for 'what next'?  Of course I could put the telly on and hand sew, but that is definitely too indulgent, so instead I finished basting my 'Block of the Month', a very worthwhile task. 

Still suffering from that nagging feeling of a job nearly done, my next achievable task is to blog!  So here I am.... and the point of all the above ranting was that I wanted to share with you a cushion a lovely customer made using my 'Aussie Flag' pattern.  She started with the intention of making this as a birthday gift, but liked it so much she decided to keep it!  And I don't blame her, it looks gorgeous! Thanks for sharing Jenny!

happy stitching,
Michelle xx

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

A couple of pics of a distant memory......

Isn't it sad that holidays are gone so quickly?... All that planning and anticipation gone it what seems like a heartbeat?  Well, thank goodness for photos which help keep those precious memories alive.

I don't wish to bore, but I did promise a couple of pics, so I thought I should deliver.  And I can't (shouldn't) put off choosing a couple out of the 1100 photos that we took (and that's not including Elsie's camera!) 

Once I've bored you silly with these, I can then move on to much more important stuff... like retreats.... (yes Jenni, there may be a sneaky pic of you sewing, but don't worry, I won't name you!) projects.... updated old ones....  and maybe a FINISHED BLOCK OF THE MONTH..(nearly peeing myself with excitement over that one)... and .....well.... you'll just have to wait and see..

oops... I lied... it was 1289 photos.

elephants playing in the water just north of Phuket
Sally, Elsie and myself enjoying an elepant ride
Elsie and myself enjoying one of our fabulous meals in Phuket
The family, at a temple in Bangkok
Elsie with a little green friend...
total delight at being 'tickled' during a 'fish massage'
floating markets outside of Bangkok
yummy! Banana rotis from a street vendor
at Phi Phi island

the girls at 'McThai'.. yep, that's what the receipt says!
Beautiful Koh Samui, right out the front of our resort
me trying to work out what to do next... read, snooze, or just daydream....
the beach at Koh Samui is lined with all these little restaurants literally on the beach.. was heaven..
the day after Darryn and I did a Thai cooking class, I went back to the same place to take a watermelon carving class.  This is me with the 'fruit' (gosh I'm witty!) of my labour, with teacher Gino ( I know! an amazing local Thai name).  So much fun and it managed to feed my creative urges.

chip anyone??  yum yum!

Well, for anyone still reading,
happy stitching,
Michelle xx


Monday, May 14, 2012

The real world.......

indeedy... back to the real world.....
must I? really???  I have been a little slow, I have to admit, in rejoining the human race.  I have taken it nice and slow, but it is now time to hit the ground with my feet running.  I have a crazy week ahead, with a couple of deadlines, 3 classes to teach (two at night time), a friend from Canberra coming up to stay Friday night, then head off on a retreat Saturday lunch time.  And all this, of course, is in amongst working, mothering and house keeping!  Phew!!... I'm exhausted already.. 

I have a million photos to bore you with from our 'fantabulous' holiday in Thailand (actually there is only 1300, but I will try and limit it for you...), but I thought I would just start off with one today that tells you where my head was at while away. 

I had prepared my little 'indulgence' project to take away with me (indulgence meaning "I really should be working on something else" but is something different, that I haven't designed... therefore don't have to think about, just for me), and thought that I should at least get a couple of stitches sewn to make it worth my while taking away.  So, Darryn has taken the girls down to the pool, I sit on the balcony, and 'voila!' (french for 'oh crap look what I've done'), the first piece I sew is upside down and back to front!!  So I laugh, put it down, and go to the pool! 

have a great week,
Michelle xx

p.s. my project is an English piecing BOM, which I am making in civil war fabrics.  Yes, very different to a lot of things I do, but I am loving it, probably because I it is so different.  I have a very diverse taste when it comes to quilting.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sawadeeka from Thailand....

What a wonderful family holiday we are having! I really wanted a place where we could all experience a new culture and something very different from Australia. Well, I got it right! Can't tell you how much fun it is to explore together and share a laugh over some of the funny experiences we have had. They all love Elsie with her blonde hair and dimples and she has had to stop many times to have her photo taken. We are on to our next phase now, having just put the 3 girls back on the plane to Australia. Darryn and I will now spend a less crazy week in Koh Samui which we are very much looking forward to. I have to say though, it was very hard to say goodbye to the girls and I miss them already:( Have just tried to add a couple of photos and can't seem to manage it at the moment, will try again later. Until then, Thai squeezes, Michelle xx

Friday, April 13, 2012

IPad Sleeve

Well... I'm so pleased with myself at the moment that I will happily quote a friend of mine.. "if I was a chocolate, I'd lick myself!" I decided that before the big holiday (only 2 more sleeps eeeekkk), I needed a sleeve to protect my ipad a little more.  I knew the design I had in mind, and had the idea of fabric but was worried it would be a little drab... so I improvised and love how the colours worked.  I'm also extra impressed for two reasons.  One, I used scraps to make the little 1" squares, AND two,  I used fabric I liked from my stash for the lining (gorgeous grass green polka dot).  Now I know that seems a silly thing to say, but I have a real problem using fabric I love, "just in case" there is something else down the track I'd rather use it for.  But what this leads to is a ginormous (yes, it is a word... maybe) stash of fabric that you're too frightened to touch, and really... what use is that?  
* editors note... the fabric MAY have gone in and out of the drawer a couple of times...

So, da daaaa!  I have a new ipad sleeve. And we sharn't (that's another made up word I'm entitled to use because its after midnight and I'm tired..) discuss how many times it was unpicked and sworn at.  But, I swear on my Mothers Bernina, that the measurements on my tape measure must of kept moving! Surely there's no other possible cause? 

Squeezes and sweet dreams (but not at the same time because otherwise you won't be able to get to sleep!)
Michelle xx

p.s. I will post this pattern as a tutorial upon my return x

Monday, April 2, 2012

Productive Sunday....

They don't seem to come along too often here, but gee they're nice when they do.  I discovered about a week ago that I had made a silly mistake with one of my borders on my BOM, which made me toss it aside in disgust.  Not sure about you, but I really strongly dislike 're-doing' something, and it takes a fair bit of motivation to get my head back in the game, so yesterday was the perfect day.  I remade one border, which made me really strongly like it, and I have to say, the mistake I made meant I needed to add an extra colour and it looks so much better so ...yay! Some things are just meant to be!

I am also making the shop sample for the new Homespun 'Project of the Month' program, using all the gorgeous Amy Butler 'Lark' fabrics.  The first project is a suit carry bag (they are all travel related items), and this photo shows the feature panel.  The cream is stitched using pearl thread (very quick and a lot of fun) and the flowers are appliqued using vliesofix having been cut directly from Amy's fabric (again very quick).  I will post more photos as I go.  We are running this program at the shop with kits available in exact fabrics.  My sample will hopefully be on display very soon.

Last but not least, school holidays are again upon us, and I have decided that Elsie needs some serious mummy crafty time.  Yesterday we mastered the art of french knitting, which she loved and today we move on to 'real knitting'.  I will have to stay very close, but isn't that the fun part since I have so much stitching of my own at the moment?  Normally I'm running from here to there, or on the computer saying "hold on Elsie, I just need to read this and will be with you in a minute"... which she knows means at least half an hour.  guilt guilt guilt.....  So!  Today we will knit..(and stitch) and I will sit right next to her, which I know she will love. 

Have a great week everyone,
squeezes, Michelle xx

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Cat in the Hat is Back.....

I love The Cat in the Hat and have been loving all the fabric that has been coming out in the last couple of years.  I got my first Dr Seuss book from Father Christmas, and it is still going strong, having been read hundreds of times to my 3 girls as well. 

Sally was 16 last Friday so I was excited to have an excuse to make up one of the raggy kits that we put together at The Quilters Corner..... please note, the fact that my daughter is named after one of the main characters is purely coincidental....maybe....  The quilt is so bright and fun and makes you desperate for a cold night to snuggle underneath! 

I also dug this photo out for amusement... my sister Suzanne and I went as "thing 1 & thing 2" to my eldest sister Jane's 40th a few years back.  The theme was 'naughty 40', and lets face it, who could be naughtier than "thing 1 & thing 2"?  We had a lot of fun and people got us mixed up all night!

have a great week,
Michelle xx