Monday, November 24, 2014

Fast & Furious

The Festival of Forties has literally taken over my life these past few weeks......My best friends and I are all turning 40 over the next 12 months, and the first two are now done and dusted!  So between parties, Cuban Jazz Festivals and a WHOLE weekend child free in Sydney - there hasn't been much sewing getting done!  I've also been very blessed with the company of another best friend, who arrived here on Friday for a long weekend with us!

Anyway...... Monday last week, I drove down to the local Officeworks and got myself some old school supplies and sat down to draw up the idea for my Quiltcon Challenge quilt, that had been rolling around in my head for weeks!

So I just went to officeworks and bought a grid book and supplies because I really need to pull my finger out and get my #quiltconchallenge quilt designed and finished by the end of this month! #thiswillbeinteresting #canidoit also had a lovely chat with

Can you believe I had never used grid paper to design a quilt??  It was very cathartic.

And we have a start! #quiltconchallenge 

The next morning, I put that plan in to action.  Using very basic math, I made a tonne (OK, not a tonne, but lots) of teeny little snowball blocks, and then set about trying to make the before-mentioned "pattern" work.

I did it! My #quiltconchallenge top is done! Now I just need to baste, quilt and bind it! #graphpaperisthebomb #pastelisthenewblack @michaelmillerfabrics 

It was no easy feat, but I did it.  It's a lovely little splatter of pastels.......something I never thought I would ever say about a quilt I'd designed and made.  But yes, I did.

This could break all records here for quick quilt finishes! Just need time to quilt now! #quiltconchallenge 

It is currently basted, rolled up and patiently awaiting quilting.  Which will hopefully happen tomorrow.  Because it's the only day I have between now and the end of November - when this little creation is due for submission!  Another thing I never thought I would ever do!

So - there you have it.  I've almost finished my first ever Quiltcon Challenge quilt!  Watch this space.....

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sunday Stash - Tokyo Part Two

Now, where were we?  Oh, that's right - the fabric!


In total, I returned to Melbourne with 14 kilos of fabric.  Which is quite considerable!  But what I can tell you is this - I was actually very picky about my purchases!  I really thought about the fabric I chose, basically because I knew I'd have to get it home and also be able to fit it in my house.  I'm pleased to say I am very happy with each and every piece of fabric I chose....So, here goes.....


When Alyce and I walked in to Tomato, we stepped in to an alternate universe, where bolts of Melody Miller fabric were sitting patiently awaiting attention.  I knew there was plenty there, so whilst they continued waiting, I walked around the corner from the bolts and nearly fell over my jaw which was dragging on the ground.  Huge rolls of wide Melody Miller prints.  HUGE I tell you!  AND $4 A METRE!  Just let that sink in for a minute.  $4. A. METRE.  It took about 30 seconds for Alyce and I to crash tackle the rolls and join them to our hip.  I'm proud to report we emptied the roll of arrows between us.  I think we got four metres each.  There's about the same of the other two up there also.  Great quilt backings in my future.....


We returned to the smaller bolts a little later, and I happily got myself some telephones and roller skates.  What for?  Who knows!


I bought these gorgeous linen blends from Pandora House.  I think I have three metres of each, but once I was home, I wished I had more!  I've fallen in love with linen this year.


All of the little precuts on the bottom of this photo are from Tomato.  Some Sarah Jane, Kate Spain and Cotton + Steel to name a few......  The geometry print and Ghastlies Xmas were from the shop I can't remember the name of!


All of this deliciousness came from Pandora House also.  Love me some low vol prints.


Tomato's extensive range of American Designer prints was very satisfying.  I was able to get some Cotton + Steel prints I didn't have, as well as stock up on a couple I really love.  These were all around $10 a metre.


Now, if you ever head to Nippori, there's a little pre-cuts store down the street from Tomato.  The cuts are all in clear packaging and they are all DIRT CHEAP.  The pink C+S butterflies was a 2m cut for $12!!!!!!  AMH was from Tomato in the remnants and the pretty deer print was from Yuzawaya in Ginza.  I had a morning to kill time one day by myself, so printed off the address and hailed a cab.  I had been told great tales about the Yuzawaya stores (think Spotlight, but way better), but I have to say I was a little disappointed with the newly opened Ginza store.  I think it's quite small compared to others!  I still managed to find some goodies though....


These two double gauze prints were from the precut heaven.  Enchino on the left and Nani Iro on the right.  I bought both to make dresses/tops for my big girl.


And another win from precut heaven - Jolli Pomme.  I think these were about $6 per metre!!!!


Japan obviously has an amazing supply of Enchino!  I picked up various different prints from all of the stores I went to.  And they were all around $10 per metre.  A few were remnants and were even cheaper.


And a close up - because the colours of these fabrics are sublime....


I grabbed a few novelty prints!  Frozen fabric for my husband's cousin who wants me to make her nurse scrubs, as she works in a children's hospital.  And princesses and unicorns, because - why not?


One of the few things I specifically marked on my shopping list to purchase whilst in Tokyo was Liberty.  I am one of the few quilters who did not own any Liberty.  And basically only because of the cost factor.  Here in Australia, we pay around $60 per metre for Liberty, which is just so far out of my budget it's not even funny!  Given it was half that price in Japan, I selected a number of prints I REALLY liked (because it's still frigging expensive!) and got myself 30cm cuts of each of them.  I really adore the Hello Kitty range of Liberty, so made sure to get some (far left).  I also realised I really am more of a geometric girl when it comes to their prints.  But there are a few florals I threw in for good measure.

Oh and probably my favourite find..... My Enchino umbrella! 

But you know what I really got excited about??  I bought myself an Enchino umbrella!!!!!!!  I was bummed I couldn't get one of the long ones, but hey, who cares!

And this is my mum's fabric. #imustloveher

Last but not least - I also did some serious fabric shopping for my Mum.  She put in a special request for lots of indigo fabrics - which I had absolutely no problem finding!  I also got gorgeous precuts of Japanese fabrics and a few bright American designer prints.


I hope you're still with me!  That, my friends, is my fabric tale from Tokyo!  I did SOOO much more than fabric shopping whilst there, and have a million tales to tell.  But will save them for another day.  Tokyo is an amazing city, and the Japanese people are sooooo beautiful.  If you ever have the opportunity to travel there - GO!!!!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

London Calling!

It's finished!  

I feel like this quilt has taken me FOREVER, but in reality, it's just been a process of patience and lots of love.  It all started in April, when it was my turn to be Queen in our paper piecing Wombat Stew bee.  I knew I had lots of quilts to make for 40th birthdays in the coming 12 months, so tried to think of one in particular that could use some paper piecing blocks.  It didn't take me long to propose London themed blocks, and the lovely Kristy designed some amazing patterns for us to use, as well as Alyce designing her own Big Ben block!

London Calling Quilt 

The finished blocks started arriving and I was gobsmacked at how fabulous they were!  I received seven in total, so then just had to make up the rest myself.  I ended up with 13 paper pieced blocks, and added two fabric blocks to make up the numbers.  The lovely Deborah Gun on Instagram sent me a fat quarter of London subway fabric - it's amazing!  Putting the quilt top together was painstaking......literally, my brain was in pain with all the maths required.  Nine of the blocks were the same size, the others were all over the show!

So I just sat on my loungeroom floor with a calculator, pen and paper, and worked out how big each row of sashing needed to be between every single block, in order to end  up with a balanced quilt top.  I'm incredibly proud of myself for making it work!

London Calling Quilt 

When it came time to quilt, I really had no idea where to begin.  I threw it open on Instagram for suggestions, and I believe it was Melanie Sim who mentioned cobblestones.......  When I sat down at my first ever Melbourne MQG day, I thought I'd give it a go.  If you ask the ladies I was sitting with how much I enjoyed the pebbling process, I think you would hear a few expletives.  I think in total, the pebbling over the entire quilt top took me about seven hours.  I tried really hard to make the majority of them largish, so as to cut down the time - but really, who was I kidding?!?!?  I am very glad I stuck with it though, because I love the texture and character it has given the quilt.  I used a gorgeous variegated Aurifil thread #4060 - which is creamy/mossy/grey tones.

London Calling Quilt 

The backing I actually picked up at the beginning of the year!  I was at a Spotlight sale and this Union Jack/British newspaper print was reduced to $3 a metre!  I bought a few metres and stashed it away for the quilt I knew I'd make.  I did THE BEST print joining on the seam - you can't even notice it's two pieces of fabric!

Now - let me just take you through each block, because they're all so special!

London Calling Quilt 

I knew I had rain drop fabric stashed away for good reason.... Kristy upsized her umbrella pattern for me!

London Calling Quilt 

Marieka made this super cute Bus!  I free motion quilted the LONDON on!

London Calling Quilt 

I pulled out my stash of these dots for the Beef Eater, and was able to use the same prints throughout the quilt.  I also use felt for faces in paper piecing - it adds a great texture!

London Calling Quilt 

Gina sent me my London Bobby!  Isn't he fabulous!?

London Calling Quilt

Alyce's fabulous Big Ben block!  The fussy cutting of the Comma fabric is spot on.

London Calling Quilt 

I also added the teapot. Another Quiet Play pattern.  It's actually one of my favourites blocks in the quilt.

London Calling Quilt 

A very simple but great Underground sign.

London Calling Quilt 

And my London Cab.  I wish I had "London" on fabric to use for the bumper bar, but thought French would work!

London Calling Quilt 

Kristy made the Guard block, and her fabric choices just make it pop!

London Calling Quilt 

Jane made the telephone booth and embroidered all the details.  Love it!

London Calling Quilt 

And Lara's crown block is awesome!

London Calling Quilt 

When I was one block short, Kristy just "whipped" up this post box block for me - she's amazing!

London Calling Quilt

So - there you have it!  I finished it all off with a lovely navy and white spot for the binding, which I think works beautifully.  I am reallllllly looking forward to handing this over to one of my best friends tonight, she's receiving this as it is being published!

The Stats:

Size:  61" x 44" - Lap Size
Fabrics:  A cast of millions!
Thread: Aurifil #4060 40wt
Batting: Wool/cotton blend - it's fabulous!
Recipient:  Karen - who just happened to live in London up until 18 months ago, when she returned to Melbourne!

I'm linking up - This was ready to post yesterday, but I didn't want the recipient to see!

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Sunday Stash - Tokyo Part One

It has been two weeks since I returned from my trip of a lifetime to Tokyo.  I had many a plan to blog about my trip earlier than this, however, it took me a week to actually recover from my holiday!!  It was literally exhausting - but incredibly exhilarating!  The one question everyone asks me when I tell them I went by myself on a holiday to Tokyo is "Why?"  Well, I am lucky enough to have a handful of amazing friends I have known since grade one.  And one of those friends has lived in Tokyo for around 17 years.  You will know her as my Tokyo BFF.  Last year, my husband wanted to buy a new TV.  I panned this idea and suggested that when we got our tax returns in 2014, he could get a new TV and I would go to Tokyo..... All in jest..... Fast forward to earlier this year, and we both changed employment and got generous payouts.  He bought his TV.....and much to my surprise, I went ahead and booked tickets to Tokyo!  It was one of those pipe dreams that I never thought would be a reality.

Soooooo, this post is a little entree to my fabric shopping during my nine days in one of the most amazing cities I have ever visited.  I arrived very early Friday morning and literally hit the ground running!  From the time I was greeted at the Tokyo bus station, I did. not. stop.  I spent the first few nights sitting on the lounge nodding off, doing that hilarious head roll whilst trying to stay awake!  It was a long weekend in the city, so I was fortunate to be able to see a bit of everything!  Friday we spent the day wondering around the Tokyo Dome area - where I woke up when I stepped on to this monster....

I'm about to get on this......

We then did what I'm sure was completely normal, and headed to the HUGE day spa at L'aqua.  Cue the hilarity of me finding out I would be spending the next couple of hours naked and surrounded by complete strangers - all naked too.  And then being told I had to leave because I had body art....too funny!  It was certainly a great introduction to Japan.....

Saturday morning was my God-daughter's sports day at their kindy, followed by an afternoon and evening walking all around Tokyo - taking in Ginza (OHEMGEE) and the Imperial Palace.....

Beautiful Nijyubashi bridge outside the Imperial Palace.

Seeing parts of a city that are hundreds and thousands of years old is mind blowing.

Sunday we travelled a couple of hours out of the city to Hakone.  A pirate ship took us to a port where we hopped on cable cars that travelled WAYYYYY up the mountains to some amazing geo-thermal sites.

Steaming volcanic mountains. There were plenty of big rumbles!

The sulphur steam spewing from the ground smelt awful, and when we went for a big walk up one of the hills to see everyone eating the black eggs the area is famous for, I spent some considerable time gagging!  No black eggs for me, but I was most interested in the decent rumbling under foot.....

Monday.  Now known as the day I first spotted fabric in Japan.  We headed to a couple of local shopping centres.  At AENO, we wandered around getting bits and pieces for my friend's children.  She then casually mentions there's a fabric store up the other end, called "Pandora House".  I hot-footed it over there and was greeted by this.....

Hello pretties! The fabric buying has begun.  #midgetakestokyo

Little pre-cuts of Yuwa and other Japanese prints.

And a little bit of this! Soooooo cheap! #midgetakestokyo

And a rack of Enchino.  So freaking good!  I also found some beautiful cotton/linen blends solids.  Lovely start......

We then drove over to Lalaport in Toyosu.  Found the most amazing stationary store EVER and then was led to a fabric store that I cannot for the life of me remember the name of!


It was FULL of amazing fabrics - all the popular Japanese designers as well as a fabulous range of Liberty.  I actually made my first ever Liberty purchase here.  And for around $30 a metre, it was completely justifiable.

So Monday was a great day :)  Skip forward to Wednesday.......

I have tomorrow all mapped out. I just have to get from the bottom circle to the top circle. By myself. Easy. #nippori #fabrictown see you there! @blossomheartquilts

And I had my trip planned out.  Simple really?  Just had to navigate the Tokyo subway system all by myself.  Ahemmm.......

And I'm off to fabric town!! #haveluggage

I set off in the morning, tugalong case on hand.  A 15 minute stroll to Tokyo Central Station, a minor panic attack through a million travellers, and I eventually got myself to Nippori.....

In what can only be classed as a minor miracle..... I made it. Thank god for the few people who spoke limited English and helped me change trains when ours ceased moving!! #hallefreakinglujah

Nippori Textile Town (a whole freakin town!!) is what I would call Heaven.  It's only around 15 minutes from Tokyo central and is a rather quiet little hub FULL of different fabric and notions stores.  Before my guide arrived, I sat in a lovely little coffee shop and read the Woman's Weekly I had brought her with a hot chocolate to boot!

Yay!! @blossomheartquilts

Then my guide arrived!  The delightful Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts has been an online friend of mine for quite some time now, so it was very exciting to finally meet in the flesh!  This is a shocker of a photo, but I love it, because it was before the rush of fabric hit me in the face!

We headed down the road to a humble little store called Tomato.  And by humble, I mean frigging HUGE!  Over five floors of different fabric, the ground floor was more than accommodating.  Straight in the door and we find multiple racks of old school Melody Miller.

IMAG0275 IMAG0274 

And on the quilting cotton floor - jackpot!  Rack upon rack of Japanese designer fabrics as well as walls FULL of American quilting cottons.  I very happily took advantage of the hour we spent on that one floor alone...... It was like quilt candy every direction you looked!  It was with great self control that I managed to not buy one of everything.....


And thankfully the thoughtful staff had reminders around the store in regards to their cutting practices......  I'm still trying to figure out whether I am separately competent.......

I don't think I need to tell you I had a brilliant day?  We cleared Tomato, had a reallllly yummy lunch and talked and talked, then headed to a couple of amazing smaller stores.  And with my tugalong jam packed and overflowing with fabric, got on the train and headed for home.

To be continued........

ps.  I'd normally be linking up with Glamour-puss Molli, but the glitter is on the shelf at present.  Go send Molli some love!
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