Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Elvis Festival

Elvis Presley had his birthday on 8 January.  To celebrate, the town of Parkes in central west New South Wales puts on a little shindig each year.  Why Parkes?  Why not.  It is a good way to get people to visit the town in the hottest time of the year.

Mick and I have been saying that we should go for years, but each year comes around and the weather is stinking hot - like 40 degrees C.  All I can envisage is middle aged men in lycra jump suits.  It doesn't sound appealing - it actually sounds sweaty.  We keep saying we will go if there is a year when the weather is a bit cooler.

This year the temperature on the Saturday was only forecast to be in the low 30s and Mick's Saturday job had been cancelled, so we decided to head on up.

We dressed in nice cool clothes and lathered on the sunscreen ready for a nice day out.  Take a cardy?  Nah - it's still going to be hot.  Take a rain jacket, as there were showers forecast? Nah - it's still going to be hot. As we drove up - about two hours from home - we had some spitty rain and it was nice and cool.

When we arrived we had a bit of a wander around - lots of stalls selling everything Elvis, cool drinks, slushies, neck coolers.  They really are geared up well for the hot weather, which is good to see.

The main event on Saturday is the street parade.  We found ourselves a good spot and settled in to be entertained.

The town cryer set the tone.

There were lots of large classic American cars.

Many with Elvis impersonators as passengers or drivers.

Love the hair.


The firies got in the swing of things.

Lots of kids were involved in the parade.

That's novel.

Celebrity spotting - Rock music historian Glenn A Baker wearing his typical hat.

How cool.

I want.

Don't these girls look great.

Every parade needs a band.

Marilyn even turned up for the party.

So many nice cars.  So many Elivses (or is that Elvi?)

The parade went for an hour and a quarter.  Quite a turn out.  What we noticed as it progressed was that it was trying very hard to spit rain, but fortunately held off for the duration.  It also was getting progressively cooler.  It had been about 25 degrees C a bit after 9.00am.  When the parade finished my phone told me it was 19 degrees C, feels like 14 degreesC!!! Say what??  That's crazy.  It had been 39 degrees C on the previous day.  No wonder I was starting to get goose bumps in my summer sundress.  Not many neck coolers or cold drinks would have been sold on the morning.

After the parade we had another quick walk around the stalls and then we made the decision to drive across to Forbes (33kms away) and have some lunch.  You see, you couldn't exactly call either of us Elvis fans and we had seen the fun bit.

So, we had a yummy burger in a coffee shop in Forbes, which was really quiet on a Saturday afternoon, and then took the scenic route home via Eugowra and Canowindra.  

A nice day out, we can now say we've been to the Elvis Festival, ate well and drove through some scenic countryside.

Meanwhile, we have continued to have cooler weather, Sunday was quite cool - I needed a cardy. However, that is to be short lived with temps back to the high 30s again in the next few days.  Oh, the joys of summer.

Tuesday, 9 January 2018

January Rainbow Scrap Challenge Blocks

A actually did even more sewing on Sunday.  As I was on a roll and the blue fabrics were still out I decided to make a start on the January blocks in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I"m making the 10 inch version.

I planned to just cut them out, but once that was done I kept going and got them all pieced.  Yippee!

As there were half square triangles involved I used the shortcut method for making eight at a time. However, some of my scraps weren't large enough to cut a six inch square and my chosen placements meant that some blocks only required either four or six small blocks.  I don't like using the method where you sew around the outside of a square and then cut diagonally across to make four block.  It means that you have bias edges and your pattern placement is out of alignment.  Here is how I do it.  It's probably quite common, but isn't a method I see in most tutorials.

I just mark out two blocks side by side, adding one inch to the finished size of the block.  For my finished blocks of 2 inches I cut my fabric 6 inches by 3 inches.  Unfortunately it isn't showing too clearly, but I marked a vertical line to divide the blocks and then drew zig zag diagonal lines.  Then I sewed a quarter of an inch either side of the zig zag, just zig zagging up and down the fabric.  It was all sewn in one go.  You can use this method to make as many blocks as you like.  Handy when you have a long strip of fabric.

Then just cut on the drawn lines to create your blocks.

I like to press the seams open on my blocks and then trim to the finished size with seam allowances, in this case 2 1/2 inches square.  

Do you see my nifty little rotating cutting board.  I won this some years ago from Spotlight.  I love it.  I also have the round rotating mat, but this one works so much better for me.  The mechanism is simply a hole in the base and a round bit stuck on the bottom of the cutting board that sits in the hole. Very low tech.  It rotates nice and freely and the size is so handy.

I decided that when I get a few finishes under my belt I would treat myself to the larger version of this, but I was able to snag one on special just before Christmas, so I now have to do some finishing to earn it.

Not only will it be useful for squaring up blocks, it is also rather handy to use as a mini design board.

Now for the finished blocks......

Ta da!

I'm so pleased with them.....but when I downloaded this photo I noticed something.........

Do you see it?  The top right hand corner of the top block is rotated incorrectly. Blast!!! How did I miss that at the time?  Time to get out the quick unpick and fix it up. That will be another day's worth of 10 minutes of stitching.

Now for a proper Ta Da!  That's better.  I can put the blue left overs away now and get out my next project.

I've linked up with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge here at So Scrappy.  Details of the sampler blocks are here on the Academic Quilter.

Monday, 8 January 2018

Another Finish and Progress

Yesterday, as planned, I prepared the binding for my blue and white sampler quilt, ready to get stitching when the quilting has been completed.  That took more than ten minutes, so I'm up to date on the challenge.

Then, I got to work on the steamer basket sewing box.  As I mentioned previously, it is the hand sewing that brings me to a stand still, or in this case the hot glue gun work.  After I came home from Nundle I finished off the main stitching and I even added another coat of paint to the steamer itself to hide the annoying little bits of the bamboo that were showing.  I just haven't used a hot glue gun very much, so was a bit nervous about it.  So, I bit the bullet, trimmed the quilt top to fit and got gluing. No problems.  There was nothing to worry about.  I'm just a big procrastinator.  Then it was simply a case of appliqueing the panel of the needle keep to the sheet of felt.  Job done.  So happy to tick another finish off my list.

My One Monthly Goal for January is complete.  Happy dance.

Now, where to put it? 

I have recently put Mum's old magazine rack to the side of my chair.  It is a little shabby and doesn't really match anything, but boy, is it handy. (I may give it a spruce up one day.) However, I didn't have anywhere to put my pen and pencil that I use to do some puzzles and had nowhere to keep the basic sewing bits and bobs.  Now they all have a nice, neat home.  I'm glad I have found a use for the basket.

Sunday, 7 January 2018

A Fresh Year

I have been reading lots of posts with recaps on the previous year and what people wish to achieve in 2018.

I too have been reflecting on last year and thinking about the year ahead.  Here is the post where I was looking forward to 2017 and I nominated a word for the year "Reconnect".  How did I go? I planned to review this every month.  Unfortunately, that seemed to peter out, as did my blogging in general.  Life does that sometimes. Let's have a look now...

READ MORE BOOKS - Fail.  I read a few, but not many.  We did cull the majority of our books to the Lifeline Book Fair.  We have since bought a few more, but we intend to just keep what fits on our bookshelves. Hopefully, I will read more this year.

EXPLORE - Yes, but not as much as we had wished.  We had a few days out around here, attempted to travel around Australia, only to have it aborted.  We did have a nice trip up the east coast.  We then had a nice week or so down into South Australia before Mum got sick and that was aborted too.  Our trip down the south coast of NSW in November was lovely.

CREATE - In 2017 I achieved very little in the sewing room.  I did, however, finish my drunkard's path quilt right at the end of the year.  At least that was something.  Of course I participated in the SSCS organised by Chookyblue.

ORGANISE - Fail.  I procrastinate too much on this, and then when Mum moved into residential aged care we ended up with most of her possessions here as well.  I just don't know where to start.

NURTURE - So so.  It did seem to be home improvement central around here at times and we have spend quite a bit of time in the garden.  Cooking and baking?  Not so much.  

NEW EXPERIENCES - Yes!  There were a few. 

Firstly, getting a new pushbike was a very unexpected thing.  I'm not using it as much as I should, but it does get ridden.  At least I'm not wobbly on it now. 

The second surprising and major new experience was me transitioning to working only three days a week.  This is fantastic.  Have I made good use of my time?  Mmmm, not really.  Do I feel better for it?  Definitely.  It still doesn't seem real.  I think as I get used to it I will be more productive. 

Finally, I've started to experience the aged care system.  Not an experience we were expecting, but once it was organised, it is all good.

ENJOY FRIENDS - Yes.  We have spent time with local friends and we really enjoyed catching up with friends and relatives on our trip north.

CARAVANNING - Yes.  We only expected to use it for weekends away at this stage, so our trips to South Australia and down the South Coast were bonuses.  They were only because of our aborted motorcycle trip around Oz, but were very enjoyable just the same.  We have decided we like this caravanning.

TAKE TIME - This was always a bit vague.  Now that I am only working three days a week, I can take time to spend with Mum without feeling guilty.  Mick is also trying to work less on Thursdays and Fridays, so we can spend time doing things, or not doing much at all.

So, what about 2018?

Last year I commented that I thought things may settle down in 2017.  Maybe that will happen in 2018?  We'll see.

I've been thinking of a word again.  I tossed around a few ideas, which all would have been relevant, but in the end this is what I have come up with.


Most of what I wanted last year remains the same.  However, to achieve my goals I need to focus......

Focus on what is most important to us.

Focus on spending quality time together.

Focus on making our home a pleasure to be in.

Focus on finishing a sewing project before starting another and reducing the number of UFOs I have.

Focus on organising one thing at a time.  Work on a small step and finish it.  Once organised, focus on maintaining it.

Focus on completing a "To Do" list, not just writing it.

Just generally not getting distracted and not procrastinating.

And finally, try not to bite off more than I can chew, as that will certainly lead to lack of focus.

We'll see in twelve months how I go.

My Sewing Plans for 2018

This year I would love to be more productive in the sewing room, as last year I achieved very little.

Firstly, I need to sort out and organise the room.  That is a major job in itself.  There is so much of my stuff in there, and quite a bit of Mum's stuff was added as well.  I will try to do it a bit at a time and make sure I put things away and tidy up at the end of each sewing session, rather than having it pile up on the table.

I've made a  list of most of my UFOs. Some of them are very old.  There are a few more, but I'm not even going to think about them, as they are buried deep and I know there is no way I would get them all done.  I've listed them in a very loose order of priority, but that is by no means set in stone.  I've also listed how long I think they will take to complete.  Those times are very achievable and the projects generally shouldn't take anything like that long.  What I have noticed is that they nearly all need some hand stitching.  I think there may be a strong underlying theme here.  It is the hand stitching that is turning them into a UFO.  I'll have to try and do a little each day. 

To help me work through this list I have decided to join in the One Monthly Goal challenge hosted by Elm Street Quilts.  The goal doesn't have to be large, so hopefully it will be something I can achieve.

For January I have decided that my goal will be to finish the Sewing Box made from a steamer basket that I started at Nundle in March 2017.  It won't take long at all.  I just have to attach the pincushion to the underside of the lid, glue the stitching and trim to the top of the lid and make the needle keep.  Quite achievable.  

I'd like to finish my blue and white sampler quilt, but that is very dependent upon when the quilting is finished, so I won't include that this time.

At the other extreme, I have been tempted with a new project - the Rainbow Scrap Challenge - after watching it for a couple of years.  

My initial plan was to make log cabin blocks, but the girls are hosting a sampler quilt along, so I have decided that I may as well do that instead.  They nominate a colour each month.  This month is light blue.  Funnily enough, I have all the leftovers from a certain blue and white sampler quilt nice and handy, so that will an easy one to start with. The idea is that you make three blocks each month to end up with a medium sized quilt.  I will make mine 10 inches square.  Nice easy maths.

I do hope to use only my stash during the year, and not impulse buy.  Fabric required for a specific project is allowed. Believe me, there will still be oodles for me to work on, if I so desire.

I think that I may reward myself when a major finish is achieved, or several smaller finishes (no, that doesn't mean more fabric).  There needs to be some incentive, other than the wonderful feeling when something is completed. 

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Quilt Top Finished

Chookyblue and Googy Girl have decided to egg each other on to get some stitching done. (Oops!  I that bad pun wasn't intentional.) (Click on the links to see what they are up to.)  Anyway, they are attempting to do at least ten minutes of sewing each day for 30 days.

As I want to make a serious dent in all the projects in my sewing room I thought I could play along as well.

The project I am focusing on at the moment is my Modern Half Square Triangle Sampler Quilt.  I have all the blocks done, and I was undecided whether or not to add sashings.  Mick liked the idea of the sashings, and as I couldn't make up my mind, I went with that.

On Thursday I cut out the rows of sashings and cornerstones.  That took about half an hour.  Challenge met. I was doubtful if I would have enough of a suitable dark blue, so was thrilled to find that I had just enough of this one that I have used in the blocks.  I have less than a charm square left over.  That means that the entire quilt, including backing is from stash. You have to be happy with that.

Late yesterday afternoon I thought I could join all the rows of sashings to their cornerstones.  That took about twenty five minutes.  What the heck, let's join the short sashings to the sides of the blocks and create those rows.  Now I was up to three hours!!!! Time to get some dinner on.

I could see progress, so why not keep going after dinner and get the sashing rows joined to the rows of blocks.  Eleven o'clock at night and it was done - five and a half hours of stitching later!! So much for ten minutes.

What is it about cats.  As soon as you put a quilt on the floor they have to walk straight onto it.

I was really on a roll now, so I got up very early this morning and cut out the final border and stitched it on.  Two hours of stitching before breakfast and I have a completed quilt top - 84 inches square. Woo Hoo!! Happy Dance!!

After lunch I thought I'd better join the backing fabric.......then I thought about it some more. I couldn't just sew two widths of fabric together, as that doesn't provide enough for overhang.  Blast!  Get out the leftover fabrics and piece a strip for up the middle.  That took a bit longer that anticipated, but it is done......and no photo....I forgot.

After a phone call to see if my friendly quilting fairy was at home it has now been delivered for her to work her magic.  Hopefully it will come back in a couple of weeks.  I was aiming to get the top done this month, but depending on how soon it is returned, it may now be a goal to have the whole thing finished this month.  Wouldn't that be wonderful.

Tomorrow I think I will prepare the binding.  That shouldn't take too long, but will meet the challenge.

Does all this work give me credits?

Monday, 1 January 2018

Making Progress on my Modern HST Sampler Quilt Along

I have made some progress on a quilt that had become a UFO.

At the start of 2016 I joined in on the Modern Half Square Triangle Sampler Quilt Along hosted by Blossom  Heart Quilts.  There were to be 24 blocks, released fortnightly, starting with very simple blocks and getting progressively fiddlier.  We would learn different tips and techniques as we went along.  At the end of the year we would we would have a lovely quilt.

I was going along famously until life got in the way and I lagged behind. You can see where I was up to here and here.  I was determined that this quilt will get finished. but life continued to get in the way.

The Bathurst Blog Meet retreat at Perthville this year was the ideal time for me to get started again, so I kitted up each block, ready to go.

On the day I did manage to complete a couple of blocks and got the rest started.

I decided that I would make a 25th block, so that I could make a square quilt, which would be a bit more practical for us.  This is the bonus block that I added to the mix.

That was back at the start of November.

I really wanted to at least have all the blocks completed by the end of the year, so yesterday afternoon I got cracking and finished off the last ones.

It was such a good feeling knowing that all the blocks had been made and now I was up to working out sashing and borders.  Phew!  Time to go and celebrate the end of the year.

This afternoon I got all the blocks and lay them out on the floor.  Hang on.....there is a gap!  We looked for a block stuck at the back of another, then I went right through the list of blocks to see which one was missing.  OK, worked that out and I can't remember stitching it! Darn! Blast! Let's look to see if I at least had the pattern printed out..... Yes, there it was, at the bottom of the project box with the block half made at Perthville.  Phew!  At least I didn't have to start from scratch.

Just over an hour later it was done.

Time to lay the blocks out on the floor again.  This is what it looked like after Mick and I had a fiddle with placements.

I had planned to sash it with a stripe from the main range of fabric that I used and have dark blue cornerstones.  Everything has been from stash, so I would have to have a hunt around for a suitable blue for the corners.  My dark tone on tones have been somewhat depleted.  It will then be finished off with a dark blue floral border.  

However, now that I'm looking at the photo of all the blocks together, I don't know if it needs sashings.  Maybe just the stripe as a narrow border around the outside before the floral? Thoughts please.

I'm really pleased with how it is turning out and can't wait to finally finish it. The quilt along was a great exercise.  I didn't like the method of making four units at a time, which ended up with edges on the bias, so after the initial block didn't use it again.  I'm amazed that I am now fairly confident to even make small half square triangles with the points working out well and hardly any unsewing required.  Quite a change from a couple of years ago when I avoided them like the plague.