Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Nature of the Blogosphere and Smalltime Blogging

Linking up to Lily's Quilts' March Small Blog Meet.

One of the things I remember reading about the internet in the early 2000s was about the behaviour of people as the internet grew larger.

Although there was more content - more sites, blogs, and data than anyone could ever track - the internet world was most likely going to be dominated by one or two behemoths: an internet site oligopoly.

As an example, name me eight social networking sites not including Facebook or Twitter.

I'm waiting!

Still waiting!


If you got eight then very well done! If not, you've got lots of company. I don't think I could name eight social networking sites without including FB or Twitter. And the truth is that a lot of those I could name are now dead or dying.

The truth is that most industries, trades, and organisations - including the internet - are dominated by a couple of big names who are followed throughout their area of specialisation, and a lot of others who have a handful of people following them but nobody else really cares much.

And so it is with the blogosphere. We all follow those famous people with hundreds, nay, thousands of followers. But there are thousands of us who will never be heard beyond the occasional peep.

Hence, the Liebster Blog Award, to promote bloggers with less than 200 followers.

I haven't been able to discover the origins of the Liebster Blog Award - the nature of it is a network of links going back and back and back and back for years.

The requirements of acceptance of the Liebster ("beloved") Blog Award are simply these:
• Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog.
• Link back to the blogger who presented the award to you.
• Copy and paste the blog award on your blog.
• Present the Liebster Blog Award to 5 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed. (Some say just 3 or more blogs of less than 200 followers each).
• Let them know they have been chosen by leaving a comment at their blog.

I was nominated by Marjorie of Marjorie's Busy Corner who's a wonderfully skilled quilter, who does all kinds and types of quilts - simple, yet stunning. It's definitely a great compliment to have been noticed by her! Thank you so much, Marjorie!

My three Liebster Awards go to:

Susan's Patchwork Blog: Susan is a personal friend who I met through other interests - sci-fi/fantasy shows, in fact. She does a handful of small projects very slowly, but she does things carefully, methodically, and with a delicate skill!

Penny Poppleton: Penny is another personal friend who somehow juggles having a six month old baby with quilting, house renovation, writing, and a husband. She's been my fabric ennabler and quilting companion for the better part of the last nine months and her work is always fresh and bright!

Pinky-ing: Pinky is the organiser of the Sydney branch of the Modern Quilt Guild, along with her friend Suz. I met her through the local Sydney Southern Cross Quilter's Guild and we've been doing a little bit of "sewing out" (like hanging out, but with sewing) every couple of weeks with Penny, and Pinky's friend K.

So go check out these ladies, and friend them if you like their work! Pinky and Penny are having a Nicey Jane Finish First Mini Quilt showdown ("There can only be one!") and it promises to be very good fun!

WIP Wednesday!

I vote we change this to WWIW: Wait, what? It's Wednesday? That hump day creeps up on the unsuspecting (or maybe it's just me) so swiftly!

So, not much progress this week, due to the state of the sewing room:

It's presently one part kitchen, one part storage space, one part sewing room, and a complete mess!

In contrast, the kitchen is almost empty!

All the cupboards and benches gone - pulled out to make way for the new.

The new kittehs are settling in quite happy as larry!

Well, not entirely happy as larry. Smokey (the grey tabby)insists that we're starving her - the little grublet is always eating. Her food. Mal's food. Any food that happens to be left lying around. Things that aren't necessarily food but which might be. (Oy vey!)

So it's been a fairly busy week all around....just not that busy in quilting!

I did, however, finish my February Bee Block for the Books and Blocks Bee group!
February Bee Block

Now I have to remember to post it out!

(I am notoriously bad at three things in sewing: exact seams, sewing blocks in the order in which I laid them out, and posting my bee blocks on time.)

Paper Piecing Stars (a.k.a. "The attempt to be modern and mini")

The lack of space means I'm in a block-ish mood. One can do individual blocks, but whole-quilt layouts are somewhat beyond my capabilities with the present space constraints.

And of course, is always ready at hand to assist in my corruption! This time, she did it by buying Carol Doak's 50 Fabulous Paper Pieced Stars. Okay, so she didn't buy it specifically to corrupt me, but corruption took place nevertheless!

50 fabulous paper pieced stars

It's a good book - I was initially skeptical about the value of paper piecing these stars together, but I believe I may be a convert now!

After photocopying some templates for Jenn (who's busy with an adorable-yet-fractious baby and the renovation of a 1950s house) I copied some for myself - specifically the Alabama, Alaska, New York, Ohio, and Oregon blocks. (Each of the 50 paper-pieced star patterns are named after a state of the US.)

I was trying for a rainbow look: not entirely sure I succeeded with either of them.

The Alabama Star block:
Alabama star block

The New York Star block:
New York star block

Both of them together:
Paper pieced stars

Yes, the NY star is smaller than the AL one. That's deliberate. I was going to make this (and others) into a Modern Mini quilt for the challenge. I don't know that I have the time and energy for it right now, what with everything else going on.

Also, after piecing the New York Star Block, I will always, always, always double-check the order of pieces to be pieced. I caused at least an hour of extra work for myself by just sailing in happy as, and then realising I'd started at piece #4, instead of piece #1.

Something else I'm not good at: following instructions!

Simone's Floating WildFlowers (a.k.a. "Modern Traditions")

The wedding quilt for my friend Simone and her new hubs has begun!

Right now this is mostly in the 'cutting and piecing' stages. I'm trying to make sure that I have enough of everything - you can see my calculations in the planning notebook. Whether it actually works out...that's another matter!

Simone's Floating Flowers

The fabric is 'Wildflower Serenade II' - by Moda, I believe. It's very old-fashioned, but the house Simone and her guy are living in is another 1950s creation and I think it'll suit the decor pretty well. Plus her guy is kinda sweet old-fashioned. And I hope that it'll look pretty good with the more modern style layout.

I hope to get the blocks sewn together in the next week. Then we shall see floating flowers!

- Scrap Attack: Dirty Dancing (a.k.a. "Askew")
- Disappearing Harvest: needs binding, will do it on Saturday at SCQuilters group.

Lately I feel like this is becoming less a status update and a bit more of a huge report. Which probably isn't in the spirit of WIP Wednesday. Should I cut it down to just the bare facts? ("Just give me the facts, ma'am.") Or keep going the way it's been going before?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

WIP Wednesday: interruptions 'r us

Laptop cases!

After the fiasco of the TARDIS laptop cover, I remeasured, and cut and sewed anew...and it's all done!

Laptop cases

cot quilt: disappearing harvest

This is the first quilt top I've quilted myself using FMQ. I borrowed a friend's Bernina 4400 and, after basting and a practise run, I plunged in.

The front: disappearing squares with a harvest/fall charm pack.
disappearing fall

The back: harvest/fall fabric.
Disappearing fall back

It's not perfect, there are sections which could definitely do with improvement, but on the whole I'm pretty happy with it.

It'll make a nice cot quilt to sell on eBay!


Books and Blocks bee

The only thing I still have in progress is my February block for Lauralei143 - the Diamond Ripples block - but I didn't take any photos of that.

- Scrap Attack: Dirty Dancing - didn't have a chance to begin sewing before we had to move everything out
- Modern Traditions - ditto - no time, and now no space due to kitchen renovations


March is going to be a very quiet month for me - we're renovating the kitchen and it's a big project, involving moving all the stuff in the kitchen out into the living room - my sewing space.

So right now, my sewing room looks like this:
my sewing space

Not exactly conducive to quilting, is it?

We also have two new members of the family!

Meet Smokey (grey tabby) and Mal (brown tabby with orange):
mirror image snoozing

They're running me off my feet right now, and I'm kind of exhausted.

So it's going to be slow going in the next couple of months.

That's my week: how was yours?

Friday, February 17, 2012

Finish Friday: The Laptop Cover That Did!

Laptop Cover Ahoy!

Laptop cases

All finished! The Garden Gate fabric is the perfect size for the cover, and the keys fabric makes a lovely inside lining!

Book: Cassie Barden's "The New Handmade"
Pattern: Laptop Cover

laptop bag

I quilted this cover, following the circles of the pattern to add a bit of texture to the surface. I think it looks pretty good - and the extra quilting holds it together just that little bit better when you're sewing everything together.

Once the calculations were done, the cutting was pretty simple, and putting together the pieces of the whole - inside lining, outside sleeve, and flap closure - was easy enough.

The tricksy part came when setting everything up to sew together. For at least half the final seam - the one seam where the lining meets the outer sleeve and the flap - your needle is going through around 10-15 layers of fabric, batting, and interfacing. That's a lot of layers!

On the plus side, it does provide the laptop with a lot of padding protection!

snug cover

However, it's advisable to be careful to pinning everything together. While sewing the 'original' cover (the blue-green one, a.k.a. "TARDIS"), I screwed up one of the seams...

seam issues

Guess I have a date with my unpicker. Or a needle.

I also made a boo-boo with the flap of the red cover: the pattern doesn't 'match' the line of the cover underneath it.

laptop covers: back

Still, it's functional, it's rather pretty and it's great to have a laptop cover again!

My new cover

Now to make a cover/case for my e-Reader...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Is it Wednesday again? Already?


January's Birthday Block for aphoenixrain:

birthday block: jan

It's late. I know. Later even than I expected, because the instructions told me to cut 3.5" squares to make 2.5" HSTs... That's way more fabric wastage than I was willing to condone.

The result? A spare 32 3" HSTs. Which will probably be turned into another scrap quilt.

Two Strong Hearts

A block I designed and put together for V-Day, along with a post of my thoughts on "that word, say it clear now, L-O-V-E - LOVE!" and how it is most miserably abused on the 14th February.

V-Day block

heart block

They're probably the forerunner blocks of a heart quilt, made out of the Dazzle fabric line by Melissa Averinos (for Andover Fabrics).

Still On The Move

Laptop case
a.k.a. "the oopsie of the TARDIS laptop case"

It should have been easy - simple instructions from Cassie Barden's "the new Handmade" book, cut pieces, sandwich and sew, turn and iron, attach and finish, TA-DA!

Due to a "clerical error" of calculation brought on by my fevered brain at 10pm at night...I made the inside bigger than the outside:

laptop case: flap, outside, inside


Lacking the Gallifreyan technology capable of making the laptop case bigger on the inside (or Hermione Granger to hand with some handy charms), I'm going to cut the inside down to fit the outside.

Unfortunately, it will then no longer fit my laptop.

Guess I'm making two of these babies...

All Askew

Blocks! Lots and lots of Dirty Dancing blocks! (Because nobody puts baby in the corner!)

DD blocks: baby in the corner

Enough to make a quilt top? Hm. That's another question.

Askew layout

I'll start sewing this one together this week. Since we're doing kitchen renovations, the room where I do my sewing is about to become a makeshift kitchen. So laying out big quilt stuff will be out of the question.

Oh drat. I'll have to tidy up my scraps. Again.

angled askew

It's going to need borders, isn't it?

Modern Traditions

I've known Simone for at least fifteen years now - since we first started playing hockey together at uni. She's one of those friends with whom I just slip back into sync with, not worrying too much about the time apart.

And she's getting married in April.

I promised her a quilt for her birthday several years ago and never delivered. (Bad Sel! BAD!)

Her hubs-to-be is a lovely guy from out the country - a farmer. Yes, she is literally going to be a farmer's wife. In a rural area. With 90 acres of land, two dogs, three hundred sheep, and hay bales. No, I am not going to make her a farmer's wife quilt. Although that would be amusingly appropriate, I can't quite manage to summon the wherewithal to actually make all the blocks and put them together.

Having been to her house - a rather traditional-style house - I thought a quilt made of traditional fabrics would be the go to suit the house.

Just perhaps with a slightly more modern block?

tradit fabric, modern quilting?

That's a mock-up with the layer cakes and charm squares. The fabric line is Wildflower Serenade II and it's a very traditional fabric. While it may not 'pop' the way the bright colours do, I'm hoping the finished quilt will still be a stunner.

I'm a little curious, though: is it possible to make a "modern quilt" with traditional fabrics? Are there blocks or designs that are particularly "modern"?

A post with musings in later.

Anyway, that's it for me! Go check out the other WIP Wednesday posts at Freshly Pieced!

My 100th Blogpost!


It's been about a year since I set up this blog and it's been a great deal of fun.

Sure, I'm not doing anything someone else hasn't done before, but it's good for me to look back and ponder, and then look forward and hope!

2011 Quilting Mosaic

Thank you to all my readers - to the people who've started following me in the last year - whether out of genuine interest, or because I followed your blog, or because you spotted me in the crowds at WIP Wednesday, or even because you were bored and went on a blog-follower spree. :)

I have doubts that you all read me (especially since some of you are BNQs - "Big Name Quilters" - with hundreds, if not thousands, of followers) but I appreciate that you gave me the courtesy of putting me on your reading list, even if you never read!

And thanks to the friends - RL and online - who found me through quilting groups and social activities and LiveJournal and Dreamwidth and Facebook and Twitter, and who encouraged me in my quilting for the last 100 posts! (Special mention to Jenn @ for being an Enabler Extraordinaire! ILU Jenn!)

Everyone have a biscuit! (A cookie, if you live in the US and think biscuits are scones. Those wacky Americans...)

almond butter crisps

They're almond butter crisps and you can eat through a tray of these babies in a crazy short time! Perfect for a party! (Recipe to come some other day.)

Oopsies and Whoopsies

I started making a laptop case last night for my laptop, which has been without a protective slip for several months now. Every time I take it out somewhere, I just slip it into my bag, which isn't as cluttered as some bags I know, but still isn't good for it.


The pattern was from Cassie Barden's book 'The New Handmade' and was actually very simple once the cutting-out was done: put together the flap, put together the inside sleeve, put together the outside casing, sew together, attach a velcro fastener and Bob's your uncle! (Where did that phrase come from? Anyone know?)

Yes, that is 'frankenbatting' - the sewn-together pieces of old batting...

There are instructions for how to customise the size of the laptop case, and I was scribbling down the measurements on a post-it notes and making changes on the fly.

Unfortunately, somewhere along the way while trying to customise it...I managed to make the inside sleeve larger than the outside casing.



Yes, that is Sandi Henderson's Secret Garden! And I deliberately used the Keys material for the sleeve because it was not one of my favoured prints. And chose the Garden Gate fabric for the casing because I thought it would look awesome...and it will!

It's just that the inside doesn't fit inside the outside...


The Outside casing isn't even big enough to fit my laptop!

Oh dear.

So, it looks like I'll be making two computer for a smaller 10" computer (or possibly an iPad?) and one for my computer!

secret garden

Luckily, I have most of the Secret Garden fabrics, and I've been wondering just what to do with them - the prints feel too big to properly sit in a quilt. This is an excellent alternative!

I am going to call this "The TARDIS Laptop Case" - all I lacked was the knowledge of how to put it together "bigger on the inside"...

And I will be very very careful about measurements in future!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

V-Day: A Labour Of Love

V-Day block

I generally have a horror of Valentine's Day (or V-Day as I call it, to match with D-Day) simply because the advertising for it depicts what I see as an insipid view of "love" - one day of the year? Please. Any idiot can find romance one day of the year. It takes someone dedicated to show love every one of the other 364 (or, this year, 365) days a year.

In short, my definition of love is not one the media generally endorses. And the truth is that I don't have a partner, but my life is full of love all the same.

I have family who love me - who'd pause their lives to help me out if I was in trouble and who'd defend me in a moment if defence was needed. Who descended upon me once because I had cut my finger, lost a bit of blood, and my head went spinny for a few moments while I was on the phone: "Stay there, we're coming."

I have friends who want to spend time with me when I'm here, who miss me when I'm away, who listen without prejudice, and both argue and advise me with love.

I have a life that is good, hobbies that satisfy me, and work that I'm good at. I can love who I am and what I do. (Most of the time, anyway!)

I live in a world that is beautiful and lovely, if flawed; one that has joy in all seasons, even when my spirits are low.

I have a God who is Love, who opened a door into His house at great cost to Himself, and invited me to come in and be His guest.

And so, in honour of the love that is mine - even if it's not the traditional, romantic love that V-Day enshrines - I put together a quilt block:

heart block
(And it's a heart, because there are some cliches you just can't escape...)

I wanted to make a whole quilt of them, but I only had the time and energy for the two I made. :)

Happy Valentines' Day, and I hope and pray that your life is also full of love!

Monday, February 13, 2012

The Generosity And Helpfulness of the Blogosphere

It's been pretty much a year since I started blogging here, and I'm nearly at 100 posts. It's been an interesting journey and learning experience, both following the BNQs (Big Name Quilters) and the 'little people' or friends I've met and made along the way.

And some people have been very lovely!

During the massive WIP Wednesday bloghop in November last year (the one where Lee of Freshly Pieced offered entry into a giveaway if you commented on every blog at the link party), Felicity of Felicity Quilts displayed a secret project with a very adorable flamingo fabric in it.

I inquired after the fabric and the maker, and discovered it was a scrap from a scrap pack she'd received from Elizabeth Harman of Oh, Fransson! A Google search showed it to be almost impossible to find, so I figured it was in the "twelfth of Never" category - ie. I had Buckley's of finding it. C'est la vie in the wonderful moving world of quilting fabric.

Then Buckley unexpectedly beat the odds! Felicity spotted some in a shop and bought me a half-yard of the fabric!

Flamingo print swap

We swapped fabrics - I sent her two fat quarters from my collection, she sent me a half yard of the flamingos.

And now I have flamingoes! Badly photographed flamingoes, alas, but flamingoes nonetheless!

This is one of the things I love about the quilting blogosphere: they're largely wonderful, helpful people willing to assist complete strangers. Oh, I've seen some bitchiness here and there - a few catty comments - but mostly, people are lovely.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday: what a busy week I've had!

Two tops finished, progress on two WIPs, and big plans for the coming weeks!

Stick A Fork In Me, For Lo, I Am Done!

California Girl

This thing came together so fast!

California girl quilt

Apologies for the washed-out photography. Between the weather, the indoors lighting, and the decor, it's not looking at its best. I think it needs a pretty white room to frame it - or something in pretty pastels. Unfortunately, my family tends to creams and beiges, not white, and we wouldn't know a pastel if it covered us in powder blue chintz.

I really like it, though: two charm packs and a jelly roll, a day or two of cutting and piecing and bazinga! Quilt top!

Charmed Prints

TA-DA! (*Apple Mac moment*)

Done in Odyssea by MoMo, framed in white, and definitely queen-sized!

Charmed Prints

My friend Jenn from Penny Poppleton was the one who nudged me into buying the Odyssea layer cake while we were out fabric shopping and she was, as ever, very right to do so!

Bright colours, sinuous shapes, cute fish! And the Charmed Prints design by Anne-Marie at GenXQuilters has turned out an excellent match for the Odyssea collection.

I was going to leave it at that, but my mother suggested a border was needed to really tie it all in together.

Charmed Prints top finished!

She's got a good eye for design, does my mum!

Of course, the border makes this one a big 'un at some 80" square. But I can chalk this up as another quilt top done for 2012! Huzzah!

Slow And Steady

Scrap Attack

Two words for you: spray starch. How did I survive this long in quilting without the assistance of spray starch?

o_O <- my "great googly moogly" face

My ironed pieces stay flat! And are just that much easier to handle! It's a miracle! Hallelujah! Praise the Lord! (Yes, you may laugh. But I never used it until now, and I am henceforth a convert.)

scrap attack block pieces

So with the assistance of spray starch, I started putting the square-in-the-corner HST blocks together. It takes a bit of getting used to, making two blocks at once, but it's much more convenient (and less risky on the bias-stretching).

scrap attack blocks

There's definitely a satisfaction in mindlessly making blocks, and all the more when you're getting through the backlog of your TV shows while doing so! I'm all the way through Season 3 of Leverage, and making headway through Hawaii Five-0. Lost Girl is next on the list, although it may require more detailed attention, and I have S1 and S2 of Sherlock, which is definitely going to require my attention.

Scrap attack - the lot

Incidentally does the block have a formal name? Right now, I'm calling it 'the Dirty Dancing block' (a.k.a. 'DD block') because "nobody puts baby in the corner". Yes, I am aware that my brain does not work like other people's brains...

scrap attack: askew layout

I like the Askew layout.

Drunkard's Path

I sewed a slew of these at the Sydney Southern Cross Quilters Guild meeting last Saturday. I expect to sew a slew more of them at the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild meeting next Saturday!

drunkard's path

I like this layout better than the circles: it's got more movement, and it looks pretty funky. Does it have a name?

On A Road To Nowhere
- Uberquiltfest: I think I might put this on the 'someday my prince will come' list, ie. "the twelfth of never"

In The Pipeline
- Simone's Quilt: a friend is getting married in April, and I've owed her a quilt for several years, so now it's time to take that kikc in the pants and get a move on!
- Silk Quilt Cover: Need to work out a block and a pattern for this!
- Labour Of Love: a V-Day project, not for anything in particular, just because my life is full of love (although not the V-Day love).

Other ideas for upcoming quilts include: a colourbrick quilt (Stitched In Color) - perhaps with Sandi Henderson's Secret Garden collection, Half-Square Triangle block of the month (In Color Order), or Oh My Stars (Thought And Found).

Hopalong to the other WIP Wednesdays and check them out!