Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Best Ever Rocky Road

I've seen a lot of people make this 'best ever' claim, but I stand by this rocky road. It's amazing! I got the recipe from my sister, Kelly, a few years ago, and now I make it every year at Christmas time. Its a great gift for the preschool teachers and neighbours. (Tip: Its worth using good quality cooking chocolate for this recipe)

2 180g white chocolate
1 cup unsalted roasted peanuts, chopped
250g packet raspberry and vanilla marshmallows, cut in half
3 55g bars turkish delight, chopped
2/3 glace cherries, chopped
1/3 cup shredded coconut
2 200g dark chocolate

Grease rectangular (19cm x 29cm) slice pan and line with baking paper.
Melt white chocolate and combine with half of everything else (except dark chocolate).
Spread over base of pan.
Melt dark chocolate and combine with the other half of the ingredients
Spread over the top.

Cool it in the fridge for at least 2 hours.
Cut with a hot knife.

The only hard thing about this recipe is not eating it all before you give it away!

PS. I did have a bit of a disaster with my last batch when I accidently put some of the chocolate alfoil wrapper in the microwave with the chocolate - not a good idea. It was smoking when I took it out and had a horrible smell - whoops! I had to whip down to the shops for some more chocolate, and it turned out perfectly.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

And the winner is...

number 240 - Brigette Joy who said "I like the nursery fabric. Names I like, Lily, Pheobe, Rose, Daisy, Gloria, Celeste, and Fern. I just really like girls names."
Congratulations! I'll be in touch.

Thanks everyone, for all of the wonderful baby name suggestions. It opened my eyes to a few names that are beautiful that I hadn't considered before. I wont decide on a name before the she is born, but I'll have a few lovely ones up my sleeve. I thought Dane was going to be Nate, but when he arrived we knew he was Dane. I suppose I should think of some boy names too just in case the ultrasound was wrong (I have a couple of close friends that that happened to!)

Thank you too for all of your kind words about my quilts. The new pattern will be available some time in January after all of the family celebrations wind up and I have a moment to sit down at the computer.

On another note, I finally got around to finishing a few little baby blankets and sent them off to the Neonatal Nursery at John Hunter Hospital. I'm grateful to all of the women and young women at church who made  these 23 soft little blankets.  It was a project that became very real indeed with the passing of baby Chase. I'm not sure whether these blankets will make a difference in such tragic circumstances, but what I do know is that they were made with much love.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Fussy Framed quilt and Giveaway Day!

I've been really bad at posting progress on my Fussy Framed blocks, but I'm so pleased to show you the finished quilt top. I'm thinking of calling it "Fussy Framed Fairytales" - is that too much of a tongue twister? Maybe just "Framed Fairytales" or "Fussy Fairytales" would be better.

Anyway, I tried something new - floating squares - for the border and fortunately I love how its turned out, phew! With a combination of strip piecing and chain piecing it came together surprisingly quickly. I decided not to fussy cut the little squares in the border (that would have taken a lot longer) and I'm loving how some of the squares look like solid fabric. Aren't Heather Ross' fabrics just beautiful!

You can find my free tutorial for the Fussy Framed blocks here. I've also decided to write up the pattern for the whole quilt including instructions for the border, a list of the coordinating solids I used, and fabric amounts needed to make the entire quilt. Maybe some of you will find that useful. I'll let you know when its listed in my shop.

Enough about that... what about the giveaway?? You know I love choices, so how about these?

You might like 1/2 yard of Heather Ross' lightening bugs bike fabric straight off the bolt...

or 4 fat quarters of Cloud9's new "My Happy Nursery" organic fabric (it feels heavenly) in either the blue or pink colourway...

as well as any two of my patterns from my downloadable patterns page (including the pattern for the quilt shown above).

To enter just leave a comment, and if you want to be extra helpful you could suggest a baby girl's name. I find it hard enough coming up with names for my quilts, let alone baby names! With 3 months to go, I had better get cracking... This giveaway is open internationally and I'll randomly choose a winner on Friday 17th Dec. Make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you win. Thanks - comments now closed.

I'm off to see if I can snag some Giveaway Day goodies. Thanks Sew Mama Sew for hosting such a fun event!

Addit: I'm loving all of the baby name suggestions! They're really making me smile ... thankyou.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

1/2 yd Echino, 1 evening, 3 tutorials

 A little something for my husband who tells me that one day he'll fly helicopters.

In the mean time he'll have to make do with a helicopter sunglasses case (tutorial here)...

... zippered pouch (tutorial here)...

... and shoe bag (tutorial here) for when he travels.

He just laughed. I assume that means he likes them :)

Lucky I didn't have more of that fabric, or he would have had a passport holder, luggage tags, placemats, bean bag, libary bag etc... don't you just love all the online tutorials!

P.S. I used a linen/cotton fabric for the linings. Each project took under an hour. His main birthday present was a part for his jet ski - boring, but it will be fun once he gets it working!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Warm Fuzzies

Every Christmas we set up a beautiful white ceramic nativity set on top of the piano but the children are not allowed to play with it. This year I decided to buy a wooden nativity set that they could play with and they love to act out the nativity story with these cute little figures.

I still get a little stressed about losing baby Jesus when they play with it as he's a bit little, but we've had it over a week now and its still all there so we're off to a good start. There's something lovely about wooden toys. I bought mine from mywoodentoys.com.au in Perth, along with some other little pressies that I've hidden away in the top of the cupboard (check out this lock box - I'm planning on using it as a reward when they do something great - I'll put a little treat in it and they have to open one of the doors to get it out).

A family tradition that we started last year and is working really well is the "Warm Fuzzies" jar. Each time someone in the family does something nice they can add a warm fuzzy (cotton ball) to the jar. Sarah just loves to add them and goes out of her way to do and say kind things (lots of bed making and hugs!). Then on Christmas eve we put the jar under the Christmas tree as our present to Jesus. Throughout December we talk about how our best present to the Saviour is to do and say kind things to others. Even though our children are very young they seem to really understand this concept, and its so so simple. The whole warm fuzzies idea started with this talk.

Life gets so busy and stressful at this time of the year (I've organised hardly any presents and I'm starting to get a little panicky with all that needs to be done before the 25th but I have a feeling I'm not alone). I'd love to hear your suggestions of how to keep Christmas meaningful.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Manly quilt

I love it when I see a quilt that is great for a guy as there doesn't seem to be many manly quilts around. I find it hard to find fabric that I would describe as masculine, but a while ago at Material Obsession I found some fantastic hand printed linen/cotton fabric by Cloth.  I loved it's bold geometric prints on more rugged fabric, but I wasn't sure what I would do with it and because of the more expensive price tag I let it slide. I couldn't get it out of my head however, and overnight I found inspiration for it in my hotel room - the wooden shutters/blinds on the window (you can see pictures of the fabric and shutters on this post). The next day I was back and the lovely staff at Material Obsession helped me buy what I needed to make this...

The simplicity of it reminds me a little of some of Victoria's work quilts from The Silly BooDilly (I'm in love with her work - including her magnificent hand quilting). I'm so happy with how the brown sashing frames the blocks, and the touches of orange gives it a lift. The orange strips are pieced and the round splotches are added using raw edge applique.

Then I added a bit of a wild border. At first I wasn't sure about it as it's certainly different from what I've done before, but thanks to a little encouragement from Victoria I've decided to go with it and see how it comes together with the quilting.

I've already started on a mixture of hand and  machine quilting and I'm really enjoying stepping outside my comfort zone and working with these beautiful fabrics.

By the way, thanks for all the lovely comments on my Fussy Framed tutorial. It's good to know that it makes sense. I've been beavering away and have finished 20 blocks so I'll upload them to flickr soon. And thanks to everyone who added a quilt to my new flickr group - they look fantastic!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Fussy Framed Block - Tutorial

This block combines fussy cutting (so your favourite prints can become the star of the block) as well as the stack and slash method, so there's very little wastage of fabric and the outer border will look continuous around the framed fussy cut part. You will be making two blocks at a time and if you maintain a scant 1/4" seam when piecing you wont need to trim your blocks at the end. It may seem a little tricky at first, but if you follow the steps carefully you'll get the hang of it quickly.

For each pair of blocks you will need fabric with a large print to fussy cut and one with a small print (that doesn't need to be fussy cut). You will also need two 1" strips (selvedge to selvedge) of solid fabric (I have opted to use lots of different colour solids in my quilt, but you may choose to use just one solid fabric). I cut my blocks 10 1/2" x 10 1/2, but you can cut them whatever size you like as long as they are the same size and there's a couple of inches all the way around the print you want to fussy cut. You wont lose anything in the length, but you will lose 1" in width, so my finished blocks will measure 9 1/2" (wide) x 10 1/2" (tall) raw edge to raw edge.

Stack and iron your two squares of fabric on top of each other, carefully matching the edges. Ironing helps them stay together as you cut them. Make sure the fabric that you want to fussy cut is on the top and the print on the bottom square is aligned correctly (especially if it has a directional print)

Place pins around the image you want to see in your final fussy cut window. Ensure the pinned image is atleast 1 1/2" away from all sides of your block.

Line up your ruler parallel to the side of your block and make a cut 3/4" away from the left side of your pinned area (see photo). I made a guide by cutting a 3/4" strip of white (from scraps) that I placed momentarily on my block to make it easier to judge where to cut.

Using your ruler and rotary cutter cut through both layers.

Turn your cutting board around and do the same on the opposite side, cutting 3/4" outside the pinned area.

Turn the cutting mat again so you can cut below the pinned image. Move the two side strips you just cut slightly to the side (but still maintain their position and orientation). Aligning the ruler so it is parallel to the bottom of your block, make a cut 1/4" away from the bottom of the pinned area (not 3/4" this time). I just eyeballed the 1/4", but you could cut a 1/4" strip from scraps or use 1/4" tape as a guide if you wanted.

Do the same to the top of your block, cutting 1/4" away from the pinned area.

Now, this is important ... you need to cut a 1/2" strip from the left and a 1/2" strip from the right of your pinned middle piece.

And then discard those 1/2" strips you just cut (they will be the only bits of fabric wasted from the blocks).

Take out the pins and arrange the block pieces so the small print fabric surrounds the larger print, and the larger print surrounds the small print fabric. Make sure you maintain the orientation of the outer strips. Decide which 1" solid fabric will go with each block.

I added a pin to the centre of my inner rectangle to maintain the correct orientation (force of habit) but this really isn't necessary.

Working on one block at a time...

With right sides together sew the solid strip to the bottom of the inner rectangle (the fussy cut part). Make sure you use an accurate 1/4" seam. Trim the strip in line with the rectangle.

In a similar fashion add a solid strip to the top of the rectangle. Iron seams away from the centre.

Add a solid strip to the left and right side of your block, trim and iron seams outward.

Then add the top and bottom outer strips, ironing seams outwards as you go. If you have cut and pieced accurately the strips should fit nicely without any trimming. If you do need to trim a little, no big deal!

Add the left and right strips and iron seams outwards.

There you have it!

My block looks a little skew - I must have ironed a little too vigorously! But I'm sure it will all come together nicely once I add sashing.

Now you can put your other block together in the same manner. The design on the outer fabric should look continuous (except for a small loss in the seams).

Please let me know if any of this doesn't make sense or you have any questions. I usually get one or two people to proof read/test my patterns before I put them out, but I haven't had a chance to do that with this one yet. I'll post new blocks as I make them.

I would love to see blocks you make using this tutorial (and any other quilts that are inspired by my patterns or quilts). Today I finally started a flickr group, so please feel free to add your photos. Its looking a little pathetic at the moment with nothing in it :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Australian Quilt Market recap

I had a fantastic time at Quilt Market in Melbourne last weekend. It was great just getting away for a night without the kids (thanks Ellen and Regan for taking great care of my little ones!) and even better spending time with some wonderful people. Becky and I left early Saturday morning to catch a flight  and we found this waiting on our hotel pillow when we arrived - a hand made gift from Saffron.

Me, Saffron and Becky
What a sweetie! Saffron Craig's stand was gorgeous, and a welcome place to take a load off and look at all the wonderful designs that she's bringing out. Boy, she's been so busy! Even though I'm having a girl, I'm still keen to play around with her adorable Beetle Bugs fabric.

C'mon peoples, I'm pregnant and have been up since 3am!

It was also fantastic to meet Toni from Make it Perfect in person and see her wonderful new book which has just come out this week (signed copies are now shipping HERE). What a lovely and very talented person she is, and so much fun - it felt like we were old friends almost instantly.

Me, Toni, Becky
Other inspiring people that I had the pleasure to talk to were Melanie from Melly and Me (check out her great giveaway), Kellie from Don't Look Now! (AMAZING quilting), Sarah Feilke who co-authored Material Obsession, Elissa from the fabulous Kelani Fabrics (I'm not sure how much she appreciated us looking over her shoulder 'helping' her pick fabrics for her shop, but is was so much fun), and the girls from Umbrella Prints (very exciting hand printed fabrics).  There wasn't too much fabric I hadn't already seen on the internet but it was great seeing fabrics up close and personal. Becky and I spent quite a bit of time oohing and ahhing over Kokka's new ranges.

I bought some hand dyed wool felt from Hatched and Patched that I will use for doll's hair - lovely stuff.

That evening the four of us (Becky, Saffron, Toni and I) went out for dinner and talked until early in the morning. It was wonderful sharing ideas with such talented, inspiring and generous people.  By the time we crashed at 3am we realised we'd been up for 24 hours! I can't remember the last time I've done that, but it was so worth it. I've come away refreshed and motivated. Maybe one day when I grow up I'll have a stand at Quilt Market too.