Saturday, March 31, 2012

The week that was Alannah's 6th Birthday - Part 1

Alannah turned 6 this week, I know it's what we all say but how did that happen?  Unfortunately she was sick all week, so sick that on her birthday she only managed a few bites of her lemon delicious birthday pudding/cake (and nothing else for a number of days.)

Later in the week she was feeling better and went to school to share her birthday cake with her classmates, thanks Patch Andi for a very impressive decorating idea. (But I was called in later to bring her home when she came back down with fever and her asthma worsened.)

Today although still not 100% she had a great afternoon with her friends.  Our Easter themed party went just as she planned, although numbers were down as some of her friends were also sick...

Tomorrow after I have hopefully got some rest, I will fill you in on the party.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Pinwheels on Parade

So here is is the quilt I have been making for Philippa, Pinwheels on Parade.  I was inspired by Four Wise Monkey's pinwheels in the park, I liked the pinwheel design but wanted smaller pinwheels.  Loving all the colourful quilts around the blogs lately I decided on a rainbow colour scheme.  So I downsized the pinwheel block and set to work making pinwheels.  The pinwheels, including the white are made entirely from my scraps.  I had some of the on parade fabric from the children at play line and thought it would be cute with the pinwheels,  building up the rest of the quilt from there.  

I have more pin wheels that didn't quite fit, thought about using them for the back but ended up strip piecing instead.  Most of the strips are pieced, again to use up my scraps.  Possibly I should have made this up at two separate quilts but I love it how it is.  Below are my two little quilt holders showing off the back.  They didn't much like hiding behind the quilt!


It is quilted it by hand.  I took a long time to decide to do it this way, because of the doubled sidedness I was quite keen on an overall design and spent sometime working out an all over machine quilt pattern.  But I am not so good at machine quilting and really don't enjoy wrangling with my machine, even with such a small quilt.  So instead I used 7 different perle 8 cottons and ignored the reverse side, quilting to complement the front.  Spirals for each of the pinwheels, straight stitching around the boarders and complementary stitching the panel, with extra ghost balloons to fill in the white space.  I think the quilting works and I do like the look of hand quilting plus the process is very relaxing.

I finished the quilt with a scrappy binding to continue with the theme and as nothing else I had was quite right.  Finished size is 48" x 56".

So there it is.  Philippa has watched it being made and is very possessive of it, as any almost 2 year old is of something that they think is "mine".  But for now it will go away till her birthday.  It has been made to fit her cot which will, sometime in the next 6 months will be converted to her big girl bed!

Oh and I have entered it into Stitched in Color's festival of scrappiness.  Because of the panel I was a bit hesitant to enter, but I think it fits the 60% requirement.  Every bit of fabric except the white and pinwheel boarders and panels of parade fabric were scraps on the front and back.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Kids clothes week challenge

Yay my first sew along!  Elsie Marley is hosting her spring kids clothes week challenge in April, and I have made the commitment to sew along.  So, I don't need to have my own blog to join in, but participating more in the online sewing community was the main reason I started this blog and I really like the idea behind this sew along.  She is so right just an hour a day and its amazing what you can achieve!

I am also very motivated by all this springy weather to sew the girls some new clothes.  Spring and summer are definitely the cutest seasons to sew for.  Here is a shot of Xanthe this morning, in a dress I made last summer.

It is the Seashore Sun Dress by Oliver + S.  I used three Ann Kellie prints, taking advantage of the panel design to add some extra interest.  This is definitely a dress i enjoyed making and it has been well loved.  It is comfortable, cute and perfect for picking spring flowers in.  Perhaps I will work on dresses for her sisters, or a matching hat..........will have to see what is inspiring me that week.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Annual Photo Album

Over the weekend we recieved a book I ordered through Blurb.  A friend has been making annual family albums for a few years, which are fantastic.  So I decided to give one a go.  I love taking photos of the kids and our adventures but after they are uploaded to the computer I never do anymore with them, which is such a waste.  It took a year but I finally finshed our 2010, 150 page album, 10 days ago.

The girls loved looking through it they spent nearly an hour picking themselves out and reminicing all the places we went that year.  Totally worth all the effort, I have already started on 2011. 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Thanks, you made our day

I visited my local patchwork store today Cotton & Color, as I needed some more pearl thread to finish Philippa's quilt.  Guess who I bumped into Gail Pan and Helen Stubbings of Hugs' n Kisses, quilters from Australia who are running classes here over the weekend.  So nice to meet some quilting "celebrities" from home.  Also I got my thread and as always a few extras....  That is definitely one of the dangers of venturing to the local store (actually ANY sewing store) as I always come away with extras.  But I do like the gems that they hold stock of which have long since sold out online.  Today I spotted a bolt of Girl on a Swing on a pink background, oh how I was tempted to buy a couple of meters just because I could.

Also today, thanks to a lovely little girl clearing out her "baby" toys, I also got to be mum of the day by bringing home a lovely large dolls house home.  The house came complete with wooden furniture and dolls.  Not only were the girls in girlie heaven but I was very happy to get such a great bargain.  So it has a few paint chips, did the girls notice, no way they love it!  I have been looking for a dolls house since Alannah was a baby, but have had this crazy idea of what I was after, massive, wooden, the time I manage to find this or acquire the skills to build it myself my girls will be having kids themselves!  Absolutely no idea why I suddenly decided that this was the dolls house and now was the time, but everyone is happy.

So all in all a great day for the me + the girls!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


 View from our apartment

Not much sewing happened over this weekend but we had a fabulous child free weekend at Grindelwald.  As much as we love doing activities as a family, skiing is just way to difficult with young children and our youngest two really don't enjoy the cold.  So we did a swap with another family, we minded their children for a weekend and in return they minded ours for a weekend.  

Lunchtime view at Männlichen
 Looking across in the directon of Grindlewald from Männlichen

Conditions were definitely spring skiing at its best, great cover, blue skies but a little bit icy and a little bit slushy.  This was our first experience skiing in Switzerland and it was spectacular.  Skiing at the top of Europe, in the shadow of the Eiger is pretty fantastic.  We definitely look forward to bringing the girls back here in the future.  I try to live in the moment but it will be fun when we can all ski together as a family.

 The Eiger

Oh and I did sneak in a little stitching on Philippa's first quilt on the drive home. I hope to finish it this week....

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Cooking Apron

This year Alannah is participating in an after school cooking program.  She loves baking with me but I was a bit nervous to let her loose with a kitchen knife and really cook,  I thought it would be interesting to see what they do and get someone else to teach her some knife skills.  Turns out the teacher to is also not so keen to go there with sharp knives yet, so mostly it has been baking.  But Alannah is loving it and we get a recipe book with all the recipes at the end, which she is very excited about.

You can't do a cooking class without an apron.  The last apron I sewed, was the first thing I sewed as a mum.  Xanthe was maybe two weeks old, my Mum was visiting to help out and I wanted to try out the machine I bought at 39 weeks pregnant (yea pregnant women do crazy things) and see how it worked.  Mum sewed a lot when we were kids and I needed some lessons, I had no idea how to even turn on or thread the machine!  When I look back I can't believe how hard and complicated I thought it all was. This apron has been well worn and is still used but is way to small for Alannah now.

So I decided this was my chance to try and design something myself.  As this was a learning/tinkering exercise for myself I made the apron reversible, which is extra good at protecting Alannah's clothes but also gave me the chance to design two aprons.

The cupcake side is pretty with gathered pockets and I appliqued her name across the top. The spotty side is more traditional with two large square pockets in one piece.  I made a long tie so she could tie it herself in the front.  The frill and curved shape was to give it a pretty feel, it is an apron for a little girl.

The fabric was all from my stash, and definitely not my favourite fabrics. Online purchases where the colours were not quite what I expected, but they worked well together for this apron and it was great to use them! 

I know there are heaps of apron patterns out there, but this is all my own, so if I get 5 comments on this post I am happy to write up a free tutorial.  Xanthe and Philippa would like their own special aprons too, so sometime soon I will be making more.....

Friday, March 9, 2012

Zippered Pouches

This weekend we, well at least Alannah has two birthday parties to attend, yep it is a sad day when your 5 year old has a busier social calender than your own.  So we needed presents. When I can, I definitely prefer to make a gift.  Previously I have made skirts, shorts, dolls, and when I don't have the time or inclination its books or art supplies that we tend to gift.  This time I decided to make  personalised zippered pouches.

This is not the first time I have sewed these pouches.  I first came across Toni from Make it Perfect's tutorial for a zippered pouch, before we came to Switzerland.  I made them for my girls as gifts for the plane to have some small presents inside to keep them busy on the long journey.  This time I have made them a little larger, 10" x 6 1/2" finished size.  Plus I like to patch, bat and quilt back and front.

After making the first pouches for the girls, I thought the same pattern would make great cases for the headphones the girls use for travel.  So I used the same pattern but just changed the shape of the pattern to look a little more curvy (headphone shapely).  I used denim for the front with my own design owl appliques and on the back I used spotted owl in Blue on one and Natural on the other.  I also used iron on batting back and  front so no quilting on these. 

We also purchased a DVD player for the trip so yep you guessed it I made a matching case to the headphone cases.  I used Elizabeth from Oh, Fransson's tutorial simple laptop sleeve.  Again the applique is of my own design to match the ribbon on the front of the case.  The case is lined with Ta Da Dot in Bubblegum.

So there you have it, isn't amazing how one little bit of sewing spirals into so much more sewing.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Robyn's Quilt

You should recognise this quilt from my current banner.  This is a quilt I made last year, for my Mother in Law, as a Birthday and as it was gifted then, Christmas gift.  Robyn has embroidered beautiful blankets for each of my girls, so with it being a bit of a milestone birthday I decided to make her something special.

The fabric is all Laura Gunn from her Poppy collection in the Spice Palette.  I love these fabrics but   procrastinated over the fabric choice for a couple of months, which when i finally made my decision, made getting hold of them quite difficult.  I don't always make a quilt from a single fabric line, but these are so beautiful I really just wanted to showcase the fabric.  The pattern was 100% inspired by Abbey Lane Quilts Just Let It Be pattern.  I loved the overall effect of the fabric with this style of quilt but wanted to mix it up a bit myself.  Infact I loved the Big Poppy Print so much I used it for the backing with a strip of the other left over fabrics from the front. The binding was Poppy Silhouette in Denim.

I love hand quilting, possibly because I enjoy trashy TV so it gives me an excuse to watch without feeling completely lazy, or because I find it so difficult to wrangle a whole quilt through my machine.  So as with almost all my quilts this was hand quilted.  I used Pearl 8 thread in green and orange tones with large and small flower motif.  I use a washable pencil to mark the stencil on.  This was the first time I have used  a purchased stencil, normally I use straight lines or have made my own stencils.

 It was definitely hard to let this one go, but I know it has gone to a good home.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Muttenz Fasnacht Schlussparade

We thought fasnacht had finished for this year, but yesterday was the Muttenz Fasnacht Schlussparade.  As this is the village we live in of course we had to go and show our support! 

It was a smaller scale parade to the main event in Basel.  But really well done.  We all had a great time. The amazing spring weather we are getting certainly helped with a great turn out and festive spirit.

Again we came home with way more lollies than they could ever eat, or at least than Mummy would let them eat!  Plus eight blood oranges that we squeezed before I got a photo.


So it seems 3 year old girls, or at least my girls at 3 years old, only like to wear dresses.  Pants can be coaxed on for special events but given an option, dress it is, every time.  So with winter well underway, and being a big fan of Make it Perfect patterns I decided to try sewing a Sprout dress.

I made the dress in Sandi Henderson's, Vintage Iron Work in Berry and some of Anna Maria Horner's, Folksy Flannel for the lining.  The pattern was so easy to follow, and came together fantastically.  Initially I used piece of ribbon in a loop for the button loop.  But it frayed and pulled out.  So I replaced it with an elastic hair tie, as suggested in the pattern.

It is sooo cute and been very well worn over winter.  I will definitely be making more of these for all the girls next winter.

The headband is of my own design, and unfortunately got lost at Fasnacht.  But perhaps I will put together a tutorial when I sew a replacement......

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Alannah's 100 Day Quilt

On the 16th February the kindergarten classes celebrated their first 100 days of school.  As part of this celebration they were to collect 100 items and with the help of their families, put them together in a display to present to the class.

Alannah has been interested in sewing for awhile now and as it was the middle of winter and we weren't getting out much, I decided perhaps it was time to let her have a go.   She could gather 100 pieces of fabric from my scraps and stash.  I could cut them into squares and she could sew a simple squares quilt.

Of course before embarking on this project, we had a little trial run to see that she enjoyed the process and could kind of sew a straight line.  With a few modifications to the set up, presser foot on a stool and chair on its highest setting, she was all keen and ready to go.

Firstly we hunted through my stash and scraps for fabric, initially we tried for 100 unique pieces of fabric but it turns out that, that is a lot of different pieces, my stash is large but not that large.  Oh yeah and I did the cutting.  I was not too keen on my fabric being attacked by a 5 year old with a rotary cutter, and of course I was concerned for her safety, 10 fingers suit her!  To have a nice size finished quilt we chose 5 1/2 inch squares.  There was lots of playing with the layout and counting and re-counting of squares on my fancy design floor.  

Then the sewing, she did great but needed lots of encouragement to get the top all put together on the first weekend.

Second weekend and she put together a simple back.  I was quite surprised at how good she was at pinning the long strips together.  Then we stuck the fabric to the living room floor to baste. Unfortunately we ran into a few difficulties with it being -20 outside and the heating struggling a bit. The floor was to cold, or damp, I am not sure but the tape was not sticking (I have since basted another quilt with same tape fine?!).  We pressed on best we could with the quilt sandwich.  Basting pins turned out to be quite tricky for little hands so we recruited Daddy to help out.

Now it is not a big quilt but even I struggle with machine quilting on my machine and prefer to do it by hand.  So I decided she could try knotting the quilt, not a technique I have used before but 100 knots, one in the centre of each square would continue our 100 theme and be quite achievable, a handful at a time each day.  To save time and as I suspected the markings would not be accurately followed anyway, I decided she could eyeball the centre of each square for her knot.  She found threading the needle very tedious (hey don't we all) but completed all the knots.  Then trimmed the tails to about 1 inch.

Finally the binding, I had considered she could sew the layers right sides together leaving a gap and then turning the quilt out to avoid this step (would have had to do this before we did any quilting).  But she enjoyed the machine work so we went with a traditional binding.  She really liked a Sandi Henderson stripe I had, so I prepared the binding.  I would normally hand sew the binding down, but there way no way Alannah would manage that in the time we had left so I let her use the heart stitch which she had been begging me to use since starting the quilt.  I figured that would give her a better shot of catching the seam on the back as the stitch has depth. 

Yay she was finsihed!!  Time to remove all the basting pins.

Here is one very proud little girl presenting her 100 Day Quilt to her class.

So yes most kids stuck 100 bits or pasta, money or lollies to a poster which took them (or there parents) about an hour.  But Alannah has a quilt that she can keep forever to remind her of her first 100 days of school.  Plus other than the cutting, basting and some of the ironing she did it all on her own (supervised the whole time).

This was a great project, but I did learn that next time we sew together, we would both enjoy it more if there were no time constraints. To get a 5 year old to finish this in 3 weeks took a lot of coaxing...........So I guess her sisters will be starting their 100 Day Quilts on their first day of school!