Holiday in Tasmania | Alexander Turns 4

We have just come back home from a ten day family holiday in Tasmania. So many beautiful sights, great times with friends, so much fun! But, boy, do I need a holiday now!

We stayed in Sheffield, a town near the magnificent Mount Roland. Sheffield is famous for its murals and close to the Cradle Mountain national park, where my husband Nic was taking part in a bicycle challenge in honour and memory of our friend Nic Easton who died of leukemia on 1 January 2014. We were very lucky when we went to visit the park with the kids, clear blue skies and wonderful views from Dove Lake towards Cradle Mountain in the background (a rarity, apparently). The kids had a splash at the lake shore, and got themselves thoroughly drenched in the process.

Wacky road signs! We saw lots of platypus and tasmanian devils during our week of driving around Tassie, sadly none of them were alive.

Tasmazia & The Village of Lower Crackpot was another major highlight. A huge maze complex with 8 large mazes, and a wonderful model village built to 1/5th scale. The kids went nuts! And we had a few heart attack moments when we lost them briefly in the mazes.

This was our very first proper 'family' holiday since having kids. We live in a beautiful wine town in South Australia, with so much to see and to do, and the beach only five minutes away. It is a popular tourist destination, so living here is a bit like being on a permanent holiday (we have only been here for four years, so we are still exploring). So being our first proper holiday with the kids our Tassie trip was stressful, but they were real troopers and well behaved for the most part. And both slept for long stretches during the 8 hour drive to Melbourne and back (where the Tasmania ferry departs from). Thank goodness for that.

And the best part of coming back home, other than creature comforts? It's coming back to a CRATE full of happy mail waiting for me at the post office. Here is a selection of some of the fabrics that arrived last week - some old favourites and new discoveries! Oh and the best delivery of all - my new sewing machine (Janome Horizon Memorycraft 7700). Seriously, utterly, incredible machine. It's like getting behind the steering wheel of a brand new Mercedes when all I have ever driven is an old Mini (my entry level Janome). I am just stunned by its functionality and speed!

Gorgeous Liberty Betsy lawn - that grey one on top is my all time favourite Liberty print. They are from Ava & Neve who are a Brisbane based Liberty stockist with a great range, and who I am partnering with for an amazing project featuring these prints. More to come.

Oh and last but not least - this little guy turned 4 a few days ago! Happy birthday Alexander!

Hexie doll quilt | New year, new look

Notice something different? I thought it was time to spruce up the old blog and enter the new year with a fresh new look. I am LOVING this clean modern design, it's given me a real boost and getting me all excited about the year ahead!

Alice's doll quilt is finished. I had forgotten how hard hand-quilting can be on the hands, especially when you are trying to do it with a thimble not fit for the purpose. So it took forever, but it's done!

I had originally planned this quilt to feature cottage floral prints by Sevenberry, in a very structured pattern. A few hexagons in I decided I wanted something not overly planned, featuring a lot of my favourite fabric lines, kind of thrown-together rather informally.

It's almost entirely hand stitched, except a bit of machine sewing on the binding (just the front part, I blind stitched the back of the binding by hand). I just luuurve the crinkly vintage look hand quilting gives a quilt, isn't it just wonderful?

The backing fabric is a sweet strawberry print I found at my local Spotlight store, unfortunately there was no information on the selvedge.

The quilt is 50 cm square which I am told is a good size to fit an IKEA doll's bed (which I still need to get! Bad mummy!) I will be sure to post more photos after we get the bed - may need to make a pillow too?. So this lucky little doll has to wait patiently for just a little longer ;-)

Tutorial: Zakka Bookmark

Here are the step by step instructions to make the scrappy bookmark I blogged about back in October. I still use it every day.

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You will need:
- The pattern - download it from here as a PDF and print it to A4. I have provided the pattern for a rectangular bookmark as well as the curved shape I have used, pick one and cut it along the line.
- 10 x 20cm piece of wadding or felt
- Front patchwork: 8x9cm of floral fabric, 8x11cm of linen
- Back patchwork:  3.5 x 8cm strips of 5 different floral fabrics, and a 7x8cm of floral fabric for the top section
- Ball: A fabric circle of 5cm diameter and a small amount of filling material (polyfill or cotton wool)
- Stamp patch: A fussy cut scrap of fabric, a piece of felt 1cm larger all around, and a piece of fusible web the same size as the stamp
- 6cm of crochet lace, 15cm of leather cord, 4cm of decorative ribbon for the tag, a small button
- An eyelet and an eyelet punch / pliers

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1. Using a 1/4 inch seam allowance sew the patchwork pieces together for the front and back of the bookmark. Sew the crochet lace just above the seam between the linen and floral fabric.

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2. To make the stamp, fuse the piece of fabric onto a piece of fusible web using your iron (I used Heat'n Bond Lite) , trim the edges neatly, peel back the paper backing, and iron onto your piece of felt. Trim the edges of the stamp with pinking shears or scallop scissors as I have used here. Position on the linen and sew it on using a short stitch length.

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3. For the ribbon tag, fold the ribbon up and sew on the edge as shown, going back and forth a few times.

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4. Trace the pattern on the back of your front patchwork. Then sandwich the layers, with the felt at the bottom, back patchwork next, front patchwork on top. Pin the layers together, and sew along the line making sure you leave a 3cm gap at the bottom to turn inside out.

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4. Trim away the excess fabric using your pinking shears (use ordinary scissors to cut quite near the seam at the pointy end as shown). Turn inside out through the gap at the bottom. You may need to insert something pointy to make sure the top point is as shown in the photos. Tuck in any excess fabric along the bottom into the gap neatly, and give the bookmark a quick iron before top stitching all the way around (which also closes the gap at the bottom).

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5. Punch an eyelet at the pointy end of the bookmark. Fold the leather cord in half, thread through the eyelet (folded end first), pull out a few cms, then thread the loose ends through the gap between the folded end of the cord and the eyelet, securing the cord in place. To make the ball, sew a running stitch all around the circle of fabric approximately 1/4 inch from the edge, tug the thread ends until the shape resembles a ball. Insert the loose ends of the leather cord inside the ball, then add some stuffing. Push the edges of the fabric inside the ball as neatly as you can, pull the thread ends more to form a gathered ball. Sew in place with a couple of stitches to secure . Sew a small button on the ribbon tag and your bookmark is ready!


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Foxes and dragons

Everyone has a soft spot for foxes, don't they? Especially when they look as cute as this little dude. His name is Chester, and oh, how my kids loved him.

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He (she?) looks great in other colours too!

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And this little fellow here is Spike the Dragon. He looks rather dashing in blue as well as the traditional moss green.

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Both patterns are by Little Muggles and can be purchased here.

In other news, Alice's paper-pieced hexie doll quilt is progressing slowly, but surely. I have completed the quilt top and I am half way through the hand-quilting (yes, I like to make things rather difficult for myself. That's my idea of FUN.) It's been slow going both because hand-quilting is quite hard on the hands, but also because I had to take a few days' break from it to complete my fifth project for Homespun magazine. I wish  I could share some photos of THAT with you but I am not even allowed to give a sneak peek! Argh, it's killing me but I will just say this - it's a cracker! (wink wink)

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I have a little obsession going on with Japanese repro 30s fabrics at the moment. Exhibit A - this bundle of Lecien & Yuwa yumminess I found on Etsy even though I am supposed to be on a fabric buying ban. Oh my goodness. I look at these and I can see some cute quilts and cushions screaming 'Make me! Make me!'. Lecien make it just SO easy.

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