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Dear Jane

Far Flung Bee 2012

Holly

Finally finished

I’ve had a lot of time off recently (I broke my ankle back in April), and it’s been frustrating and relaxing and boring – but most of all it’s been really productive!

I’m really enjoying working on a lot of long-overdue projects, and getting them finally finished. I know I’ve confessed about my project A. D. D. before but I’m not sure you guys really understand the depth of my short attention span! I have things I’ve been working on since 2009! (And that doesn’t include my Dear Janes, which I quite expect to take many more years still).

So it felt good to get these little mini quilts finished and finally up on my studio wall.

 

 

 

(Sorry for the grainy photos! It’s winter down here, so we have very poor light!)

I started this mini quilt top waaaaay back in October 2008 (!!!) and since then it’s managed to survive through 3 house moves and almost four years of languishing in the bottom of a box! I’m glad I kept it as I don’t have most of those fabrics anymore, and it’s a great reminder of the past when my entire fabric stash fit into two CD holder boxes!

My other recent find was a mostly-finished mini quilt of my very first Dear Jane blocks. I started this one in 2009, and it managed to make it all the way to the quilting stage before it was forgotten in the middle of life drama and house shifting. All it needed was some binding (right now I’m crushing so hard on grey binding on quilts! This one has it, my zig zag quilt has it, and judging by the size of my crush I’m guessing many more quilts in the future will be bound in grey!) and a label and it was finished!

 

 

 

Here it is up on the wall in my studio with some other minis I’ve received. I’m slowly making this space my own, and finding that perfect place between chaotic and useable, and beautiful yet realistic.

 

On my mind, in my heart:

  • Still sewing down the binding on my zig zag quilt.
  • Finishing up June’s blocks for the Far Flung Bee.
  • Getting into strength exercising.
  • Spending some time in the evenings with (Dear) Jane.

 

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Bunny: a one in a million experience

The thing about reading blogs is you never really get the full picture – only what’s being shown to you. And whilst most bloggers (myself included) try to be really honest and authentic when blogging, it’s only natural to leave some things out.

The 73 prototypes it took to get to the finished plush you’re seeing.

The 2 hours of unpicking the wonky free-motion quilting and starting again from scratch.

The countless counting and recounting and recounting of each stitch in every row of an amigurumi.

It just doesn’t make for very interesting reading.

So let me be honest with you here. Usually I have a mixed experience at some point during the creative process. Usually I am happy with the outcome, but sometimes it’s a rocky journey to get there! Sometimes I struggle so much that, although the project looks great when it’s finished, I can never really love it because of the struggle to get to the finish line.

Not this time!

This is one of the rare, precious precious precious few times that something has turned out pretty much EXACTLY like the dream in my head. And as you can imagine – I was pretty excited!

This is Bunny:

 

 

Bunny was made for the first birthday of a super sweet little boy, and the whole way through the process (from design sketch, to pattern drafting, to sewing up) he evolved just as I’d hoped.

Even though all softies develop a personality and a name as you make them, I deliberately didn’t name this guy because I know how much fun it is to name your own toys and I didn’t want to take that joy away from little E.

 

 

I made him from thrifted wool jumpers, felted on a hot hot hot wash (about 4 goes round the washing machine, and then the dryer!) into super soft merino felt. His little paw pads (eek!) are made from hand-dyed wool felt from my favourite felt shop, and his tail (looking back at the photos I snapped before I gave him away, I seem to have been a little obsessed with his tail. But I can’t help it! It’s so fluffy!) is made from a thrifted angora crocheted beanie all felted up.

I’m kind of (a lot!) digging on the frenchy/pirate vibe of his outfit. And I’m kind of (a lot!) happy that the only new materials I used were the stripes for his scarf, the felt on his feet, and his stuffing – everything else was thrifted! (His shorts are made from a skirt that no longer fits me.)

 

 

But what I love the most is the experience I had while making him. No unpicking. No weird pattern flops. No mishapen heads. No wonky limbs. No tears! I hope little E has as much fun with Bunny as I had making him!

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{how to} recycle batting scraps

 

Craft and sewing supplies are pretty expensive down here in Australia compared to our lucky American cousins, so consequently I’m pretty thrifty (read: stingy!) with my supplies and I like to get every bit of use out of them I can!

This is a little trick I picked up ages ago and found it invaluable when making mini quilts. It also works really well for regular quilt batting – but of course you have to have access to larger scraps (I wouldn’t recommend as many seams in a regular quilt sized pieced batting).

First, lay out your batting scraps and arrange them so that you form a big square (or rectangle, or whatever shape you need for your quilt) with no gaps.

 

 

To join your batting pieces together, you’ll need to use a zig zag stitch. Any zig zag stitch will do, but this is my favourite, my special Batting Zig Zagging Connecting Super Stitch! (This is a great one for “melding” the edges together, but be warned – it does use a lot of thread so make sure your bobbin is full before you get going!)

 

 

Pick your first two pieces of batting to join, and use a quilting ruler and rotary cutter to trim away any wonky pieces to achieve a straight line on the meeting sides of both pieces of batting. To join your batting, you need to butt the straight edges firmly together. You really need to make sure they’re firmly butted – it should create a small hill (see below). If the edges aren’t pressed closely enough together you can end up with a weak join or small gaps.

 

 

Sew the two edges together, then trim the edges to square up, and add your next piece, log-cabin block style.

 

Keep adding pieces in this style until you’ve used up all of your scraps and turned those little unusable pieces into a big recycled patchworked batting! (Again – for a regular lap/bed sized quilt that will be used and washed a lot I wouldn’t recommend this many seams in your batting, so please make sure you save your bigger batting pieces for big quilts, and your little batting pieces for your minis!)

 

Done!

I just love seeing something that would have ended up in the rubbish being saved and remade into something useful and thrifty!

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Cheese scones

cheese scones

 

One of my fondest food memories growing up is weekends that seemed to last forever (ah for those days again!) and my whole family sitting around our cramped kitchen table at lunch, pulling apart my mama’s cheese scones and slathering them with butter.

I recently inherited her prize recipe (passed on to her from my Aunt) and I made my first batch today. Being my mama’s recipe I was nervous to do it justice, but as the scones cooked in the oven my kitchen smelt like home.

 

 

 

Mama Cheese’s Cheese Scones

Ingredients
2 cups SR flour
2 tbsp margarine
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup grated cheese (about 125g)
pinch cayenne pepper
Instructions
Preheat oven to 200C.
Sift flour into medium bowl, rub in margarine lightly.
Add milk & mix to a soft dough.
Knead gently on a floured board (if it is a bit sticky add a little more flour).
Pat out to 3/4″ thickness, cut into rounds with small floured cookie cutter.
Place in a greased 8″ round cake tin, sprinkle cheese over & dust with cayenne pepper.
Bake in hot oven for 15mins. If cheese isn’t browned enough for your liking, finish it under the grill/broiler.
Pull apart warm scones, cut in half, butter halves & eat!
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Works in Progress

I find I tend to only want to blog when I have something finished to show off, which I find amusing since some of my favourite blogs are ones where I feel totally immersed in the person’s whole creative process because they share their works in progress, their inspiration, as well as their finished projects.

So with that in mind…

I have started quilting my zig zag quilt, and although my quilting is rather *ahem* “rustic”, I’m really quite enjoying the process. I’m loving seeing all the wrinkles – and I haven’t even washed it yet! I’m loving having it heaped on my lap as I sew, and gently removing each pin, and imagining what it will be like to properly snuggle under it when I’m done.

I realise I’ve not shared it up on here yet, so I thought I would post some pictures I took along the process (from my Instagram – I would love to see you over in my little IG space! You can find me there as “twocheeseplease”)

 

pile of half square triangle blocks

half square triangles

 

rainbow zig zag quilt layout in a visual diary

planning

 

rainbow zig zag quilt top pinned to the wall

nearly finished

 

zig zag quilt being basted

press-ganged my mum into the basting crew

 

zig zag quilt being quilted in a pfaff sewing machine

"just ram it all in there, she'll be right..."

 

The back is this lovely (but hard to describe) peachy, orangey, gelati shade of orange corduroy. I’ve never seen a quilt with corduroy as the backing, so I took a bit of a gamble when I bought it but so far I love the weight and fuzzy-wuzzy-ness it’s adding to the quilt! Definitely not a summer quilt, but hey I live in the mountains and as they say in Game of Thrones – Winter is coming! A few friends recommended spray basting and I’m sooo glad I followed their advice! I’m not having any fabric slippage, and it was very nice not to have to spend hours on my hands and knees putting in all those pins! (Although as Jacqui did warn me, the very edges didn’t stick so well so I pinned those down – thank you for the advice!)

The binding is a soft grey and white polka dot (much like the kei honeycombs but more within my budget, heh) which I think will go really well with the front – not sure about the back, but we’ll see! I’m hoping to be sitting on the couch sewing on the binding this weekend, eeep!

 

Thank you for sharing in my progress. This one is a special journey for me, as this is the making of my very first quilt! I can’t wait to show off some more pictures when it’s done, and washed, and dried, and warm and crinkly!

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Hello

My name is Holly and I live in Australia. This is where I blog about the stuff I make (mostly quilts, stamps & plushies). Sometimes I also write about things that inspire me. Thanks for stopping by!

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I hope your visit here has been inspiring, but please respect my designs and idea as my own. You are welcome to use my patterns & tutorials for personal use (for you, for gifts, etc.), but not commercial use. Please feel free to link to my tutorials, but please do not reproduce them in full on your site. Thank you! © HOLLY McGUIRE 2008-2014

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