Cats & Quilts - a match made in heaven... (except maybe those stubborn little clouds of fur that latch on to the fabric!)

Kitty Quote of the Day

I love cats because I enjoy my home; and little by little, they become its visible soul. - Jean Cocteau

Friday, July 26, 2013

Christmas in July / QAYG Update

I have already shown two of my Christmas in July items that I sent for the swap as I made them. I can tell you now that my partner was Kaye from Kitten Stitching. Doesn't Kaye & her blog sound like just the most purrfect match for Hun-Bun & I. Kaye has two delicious kitties called Milo and Furio, more about those pretty kitties later.
My first parcel was the Christmas bon-bon filled with toffees.

Next was my star garland in it's little bag.

The next present was an added bonus - Darrell Lea Chocolate Bites, Blueberry and Pomegranite Licorice. This was a new product to me so I had to buy a pack to test for quality control before I could confidently send one to Kaye. I'm please to say it passed the test and scored very highly on the Yummo scale so was added to the parcel.
Earlier this month I did a post here about the fun I had at a WAQA Quilt As You Go workshop. This is one of the few classes I have done where I put what I learnt straight in to practice. I knew for my main Christmas in July present I wanted to make something for Kaye commemorating her beautiful furbabies Milo & Furio. Finally I decided on a free stitchery by Red Brolly of her famous cat Brutus (or my famous cat Brutus (Brunnie) - opinions differ but he always thought those patterns were all about him) opening Christmas presents. I personalised them by making the cats the correct colour and adding their names on their presents.

For Milo I used a variegated black and grey thread. For Furio it looks like I used Hun-bun fur but who knew DMC would have a variegated thread in the colour Ginger Ninja???
I was very happy with the finished stitcheries and I took a few weeks to ponder what sort of table runner I would design to show them off best. In the mean time I did the quilt as you go workshop and thought that would work perfectly. I broke out some of my favourite red and grey Christmas fabrics and a table runner was born. I am very happy with the front but the back could be a little neater. I warned Kaye that her gift was my first full QAYG project but of course she was very kind about it and aren't we all harder on ourselves than is sometimes necessary. Whose going to be looking at the back when there are kitty stitcheries to admire?
I did some basic line quilting through the layers and watched a YouTube video a few times to get the 90 degree and 135 degree corners bound correctly. I also machine sewed the binding and find it gets a much flatter result that my usual masses of tinsy wincy hand stitches.
Kaye said she loved all her pressies especially her kitty runner so my mission is completed!
Another great swap - thanks again to our beautiful swap mama Cheryl from Gone Stitchin. If you go to Cherll's latest post there is a link to all the blogs of the Christmas in July swappers - so many great Christmas gifts to look at. I can see my to-do list growing longer & longer....
It's all wet & stormy tonight in Perth but at least our 2 degree lows are now up to 8 for a few days. If this rain keeps up I won't have to mow the lawns, more time for sewing....
Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Christmas In July

Today was opening day for all of us that took part in Christmas in July organised by our swap mama Cheryll of Gone Stitchin.

I found out this morning that my partner was Jeanette from Jeanette's Place. Don't the parcels look beautiful!

We were to send our secret partner three Christmas in July gifts. The first parcel I opened contained these gorgeous wool felt and stitchery ornaments. Why did I open this parcel first - because it tinkled as I lifted it from all the little bells on the points of the stars. Aren't they a beautiful set. I almost feel like putting the tree up so they can be displayed on it right now!

My next parcel contained this sweet and bright candle mat, again made of wool felt. I love purple too making it zing. My pressies all feel so soft. I have never used wool felt myself, just the craft shop stuff so now I am seeing what all the fuss is about.

My third pressie is a jolly chap who will feel right at home at my place. I do admit a love of snowmen and have a winter Christmas on my wish list where I can make my own too. He has a fine top hat, a big neck tie bow and such a happy face. He makes me smile!

My camera has washed out his nose carrot a bit, it lovely & bright and he has a cute red Robin on his hate. As you can see I love every bit of my presents. I really am a bit crazy about Christmas crafts so will have to learn to be a bit more of a Christmas decorator come December now that I am getting a fine collection of beautiful crafted decorations.

Thanks you very much again Jeanette! xx

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy Birthday To ME!

Earlier in the month it was time for my birthday for another year & boy did my beautiful bloggy friends, along with friends & family far away, keep my Australia Post & parcel delivery men very busy. It reminded me of birthdays as a child when the parcels just kept coming and everything made me want to giggle with delight.
This year I joined the Fat Quarter Birthday Club which has been a lot of fun. Up until now it has just been posting of little parcels of fabric goodness to others & hoping they were to their liking. If my 13 parcels were any indication then I think everyone in the club must have been tickled pink by their parcels. We are supposed to send one fat quarter which is a great present on it's own but the range and amounts of fabrics received made me grin like a Cheshire cat!
Here a glimpse of all the fabric goodness... all star fabrics in my book!
And here's the little added extras..... minus the M&Ms included. It has been 15 days since my birthday so I think that is a good excuse & one I will use again later in this post. Threads, ric rac, buttons, tiny scissors, bookmark, coaster, kitty stitchery, braid, coffee, buttons, charm, labels, magic needle book & needles, mug rug, soaps...... on and on and on.
Even the cards are treasures including one beautifully creative masterpiece at the bottom right. Spoilt!
Then there is a few pressies from dear friends you know. Anthea from Hibiscus Stitches made me this wonderful bag. She knows me well - lime green with pussy cats on it. The black & white spot lining is delicious too. No longer am I the plastic bag lady of work. Every day I take those vital things I always seem to be needing back & forwards in my lime kitty bag. Beautiful Anthea, Thanks again!

Shez from Enjoying Life sent me a mega birthday gift in her usual kind & generous style. My dear friend Shez wins the prize for being the first to make tears come to my eyes on seeing what beautiful gifts were in my parcel. You will have seen some of my pressies on Shez's post for the Birthday Love Club but of course I never realised they were for me. Shez knitted me one of her gorgeous scarves in blue, green  & coral. I am loving that coral colour in tops so great choice. The fat Qtr, kitty button & label were my Birthday Club pressie. There is an Astor Manor charm pack (yum!) and the gorgeous pink and black candle holder that looks like saucy lingerie with pink candles. It is part of my decoration in the bathroom and looks wonderful. I should photograph that too.

Here we get to the weepy part. Shez made me her pink and chocolate teddy bear bag with glorious stitcheries on the front. I saw this on Shez's blog and went 'oh lucky person, wonder who that is for?' Me! Me! Me! I couldn't believe it. The inside is as pretty as the outside and with a pockets and a clip to hold the keys I am always searching for. It's a good size too so will be my craft fair shopping bag. It will get its first outing in just over a week at the local Craft Fair on the first weekend of August.

A close up of the stitcheries too. Too cute & stitched in one of those lovely variegated threads. Thank you again Sheryl, you know I love everything!

The big win in this is that I am over the moon to get two bags from these gorgeous girls, both so different and for different purposes. I have made many bags for gifts but only ever one for myself & it is a smaller handbag style. Hence my being a plastic bag lady. I have even brought a Japanese fabric patchwork bag from the op shop for $3 as I hadn't made one for myself. Now I have my lovely work bag that I take along with my handbag and my special stitchery bag that is so roomy and pretty to take to guild meetings and show off at craft fairs etc. Lots of room for purchases too! Of course, with both, I will get asked 'did you make that?' and will love telling everyone, 'my gorgeous friend made it for me for my birthday!'

Now here is where the tears came a second time, to be expected from my dear friend Leanne from Lizzie the Quilter. You may have already read on Leanne's post that she wanted to include cats in my present due to my love of the furbabies and the passing in February of my little man Brunnie. I knew as soon as I saw the stitcheries that it was my little Brunnie so was choked up at Leanne's thoughtfulness. The stitcheries are by Bronwyn Hayes from Red Brolly and are of her Brutus the Cat but my Brunnie (& I) always saw them as being tributes to him so these gifts are very special. Of course the fabrics, threads and ribbons are also gorgeous and the stitching and sewing immaculate. Leanne is a master of our craft. Thanks you my dear, they will be treasured always!
See it just goes on & on & on. Next is my birthday swap present from the Mrs Martin's Lets Celebrate swap and my partner Glenys. She is lucky enough to have two family members who do woodwork so she sent me a lovely wooden mini quilt holder her father made. It's gorgeous and I am thinking of using the green Red Brolly stitchery that Glenys made me here to make a wall hanging to go on it. It should fit my mini club wall hangings too - yippee!
In the photo at the back is the stand, hard to see from the front, I'll need to do better pics once it has a wall hanging to show off. There is also a charm pack of Joy Christmas fabrics, two boxes of choccies (this is where the excuse - it's been 15 days since my birthday - again comes in to play), some lovely napkins that looks like pretty patchwork quilts and a set of 5 cute decorative lanterns to hang up to make a space pretty & fun. I have plenty of spaces needing that. Another great swap gift Glenys, thanks again!
Well aren't you all birthdayed out - there's more I would like to show you that have a crafty theme from friends and family but I think that can wait till another post.
Thanks again to all my generous Fat Qtr Club senders plus Anthea, Leanne, Sheryl & Glenys - it was a wonderful birthday, better than I every thought possible (in my advancing age.....).
Happy stitching - I do have some to show soon too.
Tracee xx

Monday, July 22, 2013

Hacked in Vietnam

Hi all, been trying to get in & do a birthday share post but haven't quite made it. However woke this morning to a message from Google & many of you that I have been sending out a spam email.
If you get one from me that says 'Hello' in the subject line & just a link in the body of the email, please delete it.
Evidently I have new friends in Vietnam who decided to hijack my Gmail account, change the password and send out spam. All fixed now & glad I don't have a virus but aren't they annoying little nasties.

Sorry for the nuisance email!
Hopefully I will get to that post tonight or tomorrow night. I had a great afternoon yesterday playing with all my birthday goodies & photographing them.
Hun-bun was in the sun playing with mouse. I brought him some new toy ones hoping it will be better company than the deceased ones he likes to bring inside to visit with me. So far so good.

Happy stitching
Tracee xx

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Quilt As You Go Workshop QAWA

Hi all, I've been trying to do this post for two days my camera wouldn't come to the party. It suddenly decided that downloading it's pics was so 2012 and it was going to hang on to them thank you very much. NO amount of swearing & cursing, jiggly, changing batteries & playing with settings was going to change it's mind. Today it has decided to work as normal. I think the change of mind came about because I got my old camera out of the cupboard to get some pics of Hun-bun looking angelic in the sunlight so Nikon thought, oh crap! I'm going to be replaced and decided to get back to work.

Doesn't he look so cute & fuzzy. In pure cat style, he had found the only warm spot in the whole house, on my sewing table in the window of what is supposed to be the formal dining room. It is a much more enjoyable room as the study, sewing machine room and cat sitting room. As you might have guessed Perth is experiencing winter, lovely sunny days & bone jarring 2 degree mornings. I hope to have two days at home next weekend so the fire is going on to warm up the place. It might take me 30 minutes to get the fire so it stays alight but I'm going to do it! Boy would us Perthites complain if the temps ever got into the minus degrees. I am definitely an acclimatised Perthite now & not used to the -10 degree frosts we got regularly in my youth in NZ.
Now on to the real news - my day at the WA Quilters Guild Quilt As You Go Workshop. It was conducted by one of our local superstars Stephanie Knudsen. Stephanie is a convenor of our Contemporary Quilt Group, an accredited Quilt Competition Judge, an award winning quilter and travels far & wide giving classes. More importantly, she is lovely, imparts her knowledge in a way that is easy to understand, is generous with her time and has 101 samples to look at to get further ideas. It was a very enjoyable day and jam packed full of happy quilters.

Now on to the fabric goodness. In the morning we used a charm pack to do some blocks both with & without wadding, the lighter ones perfect for a tablecloth with top stitching & two layers of fabric for stability.
The block on the left is the same back & front, has wadding inside & made by an ingenious method where you turn all layers right side out at once, no struggling to get the wadding through a tiny opening. This is currently being used in our Community Quilts as it is super quick to make blocks and they just need a decorative & strong joining stitch and the quilts are ready for their new owners. The block on the right is the unlined one.
If it was up to me I would still be trialling top stitches for these blocks but time was short & there was lots to do so Stephanie (obviously sensing a ditherer when she saw one) pointed out a stitch on my machine & with no change to the default setting we were off. I used some leftover Oasis charm squares so my samples are very pretty. I seem to have a vague memory of Stephanie telling me 'just use the one on the top of the pile' as I was spending much time matching my squares again.....
Next we tried mock cathedral windows - I can see myself using this in future projects. Again there was top stitching & while I hated my choice for this one (too big & bulky), that will be easy to rectify in future projects.
Below is our next block, both the one I managed to get horribly wrong & gappy and the better second try. I think I got my cutting wrong on the first one - how hard is it to cut a charm square in to 4 squares??? Trying to hurry I think....
Next we moved on to doing multiple blocks in the foundation piecing method and how to join them together. A little more care on my stitching in the ditch is on the agenda with this all machine sewn method
In the afternoon we moved on to doing multiple blocks in the foundation piecing method with or without the backing attached straight away and the numerous ways to join them together. I chose to make foundation pieced blocks without backing while I did the top layer then adding the backing with some simple machine quilting (YES I choose that!) and then joining and stitching the double borders down. I had this fabric already put together for a quilt so sliced off a few strips of each to make these blocks. I love the fabrics but wonder if too many blocks would be a bit overpowering. I am thinking maybe a plain block between each one that contains all the fabrics. You know I won't rush in to anything, I'll ponder that for awhile.....

That's my day & it was a great one, helped along by my good buddy Tracy being there sewing beside me (from Outback Craftaholic blog) and looking after all of us as the Workshop Convenor of WAQA. Cuddles with her scrumptious baby daughter were a highlight too.
So last night about 1am I cut out a tablerunner to make in this method for one of my swap partners so can't wait to see the end result with the addition of a stitchery or two - can't possibly make the leap to machine piecer & stitchery free projects just yet....
Happy Sunday friends. HB is back on his sunny spot with the addition of his favourite farmyard blankie to lie on. Life is good!
Happy stitching
Tracee xx  Hun-bun xx