Monday, 28 December 2009

New Year's Clean Up

Our business has been closed for 4 days over the Christmas break. Christmas Day was a wonderful visit with offspring, in-laws, grandkids and turkey; and then we had three days at home. Three days in a row. If you've ever owned a family business or a shop you'll know how precious time at home is.

So I've been having a clean-up. I need more room for the stash so I emptied the top of my sewing room wardrobe. This is where I stored my botanicals when I was making potpourri from my garden plants. Some of the containers are dated and were squirreled away in 2003 and 2004, although the record was 1998.

I emptied everything into the compost and now I have the biggest potpourri container in the country.

I try to avoid New Year resolutions but it's hard not to think and plan for the new year. I have the chocolate heart quilt to finish for the April wedding. I have a pile of fat quarters to upload to Two Bits Patches. And then I have my Big Project.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

And the winner is...

Finally I have some time to choose the giveaway winner. I was going organise something clever to choose the winner but in the end I went for the tried and true method of name on slip of paper and get hubby to pull one out of the ice cream container.

I am pleased to say that Anne A was the winner. Well done Anne, the squares will be sent ASAP. Thanks to everyone that posted a comment, and big thanks to my new blog followers.

Anne's favourite colours are rosy pink, burgundy and green. My favourite colour scheme is, without a doubt, autumn tones. I grew up in Ohio and the autumn trees are just gorgeous.
When I see orange, yellows and rust colours I just have to spend.
My choice for our patchwork groups' 2007 Round Robin was autumn shades. I've been quilting the finished result this month, I'll have to get organised and finish the quilt so I can show you all.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Northside Makers Market

Just in case you don't read the Northcote Leader newspaper (local paper in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia), here's an article about the market on Saturday (my daughter Jennie is on the right).

Am I proud? Not half!

NORTHSIDE Makers Collective will give a stronger identity to the growing handmade scene in Melbourne’s north, say its crafty founders.
Northcote’s Margaret Lawson, Jennie Barnes and Jay Falkner from Reservoir recently set up the non-profit craft collective and markets as well as branding to distinguish work from Melbourne’s north.
Ms Lawson said market stall prices were often prohibitively high - between $60-$180 a day - but the collective could offer affordable rates to those starting out.
“We wanted the market to be non-profit so that we can support crafters to get their businesses up,” she said.
“It’s a challenge for craftspeople to find an affordable way to share their products with the public.”
The collective also offers a crafts club, including coffee and crochet afternoons, and a Northside Makers Mums Group.
“People can try new crafts for the first time and socialise with other people who share a passion for craft,” Ms Lawson said.
Northside Makers Collective’s coffee and craft meeting is next Sunday, September 13. There’s a meet and greet for market stallholders on October 2 before the first market at Northcote Uniting Church on October 10. For more information, go to

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

I Spy Blue Borders

I've finished the borders on the blue I Spy. I did the sides first - dark blue, random novelty prints, then another dark blue. When the sides were finished I did the same borders on each end. It's the first time I've sewn borders properly - you know, measure across the centre of the quilt, average the results, blah, blah, blah. I usually attach a border and cut off the excess. I did it properly because I was added three borders, I don't know if I will bother next time.

I'm very excited with the blog giveaway, 15 entries so far. It's not too late, you have until Sunday night to write a comment.

This Saturday is the first Northside Makers' Market in Northcote, Melbourne. I wish I was attending. If you are attending, you'll find my daughter Christine selling my charm square packs alongside of her Teddy Buggs furry boots for babies; and my daughter Jennie will be racing around organising the market as well as showing her W Class Tram cushions and postcards. The weather will be perfect and the stalls will be marvelous. Put it in your diary!

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Competition Time

I thought I'd be brave and offer a competition on my blog. I've seen it done on other blogs but I'm not sure if there is a blog comp etiquette - feel free to correct me if I get it wrong.

The prize is novelty charm squares; 20 in all and measuring 3.5 inches/9 cm. You can see the squares on the right of screen (waves towards picture). To win this little prize you need to leave a comment on this blog post. I even have a question for you to answer:

"What's your favourite colour scheme for a quilt/craft project?"
You have until midnight on Sunday 11th October to leave your comment, then the winner will be chosen at random.
Looking forward to your comments. Good luck!

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Two Blues

On the cover of the latest Down Under Quilts was a lovely pink and yellow quilt by Erica Spinks called Sunshine on Roses. I thought the pattern would work well with my I Spy scraps. I used two blues as you can see and with some quick strip piecing and lots of prints I put this top together. Everything was from the stash, so it's a free quilt .
I'm putting some borders on it now. I was going to go around the center with light blue and then dark blue because that was easy. Fortunately some other ideas popped into my head before I cut the border and I'm trying something a little different. Photo next posting.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

It's Official

I finally got around to registering my business name. Last time I googled "Two Bits Patches" I got 183 hits and they were all mine. Very pleasing, I thought smugly, until I realised that if someone else wanted my name it was free for the taking.

So I went online to register the name. What name would you like, the site asked politely, and make sure the spelling is correct. No worries. Now, list three more possible names if your first choice is not available. Not Available!? It's my name, I don't want something different! I courageously left the Three More Options blank, and clicked Submit.

Two Bits Patches could not be approved online, because one of the words was suspect. Which one?


How could the word "two" cause any problems? You don't read "two" and think, terrorist plot, do you? Perhaps the grammar police thought I meant "too" or "to" and I would be responsible for misleading the public with the incorrect homonym. Perhaps two has a secret meaning that I'm unaware of and my blog will now be followed anonymously.

Anyway, the certificate arrived in today's mail, so now Two Bits Patches is legitimate.


Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New site ecraftpatterns

For a long time I've admired the products and presentation of Christine Abela's Gecko Gully. Christine is a web designer too so when I wanted to take the plunge last year I got in contact with Christine and she designed Two Bits Patches for me.
Christine has a brand new website which is quite exciting. ecraftpatterns is a site to buy or sell downloadable craft patterns. There are 10 different designers on board with patterns for quilting, embroidery, bags, stitcheries and so on. You chose you pattern, make payment and the pattern downloads straight to your computer.
If you are a craft designer you can add your patterns to the site and Christine handles all the technical side for you.
I've been looking for some patterns for I Spy quilts to add to my website; now I reckon I'll design my own and put them on ecraftpatterns!

Thursday, 10 September 2009

A Round of Stash-Busting

My favourite book at the moment is Bonnie Hunter's "Scraps & Shirttails: Reuse, Re-purpose, Recycle! The Art of Quilting Green". The book has loads of ideas for making scrap quilts.

Bonnie recommends pre-cutting fabric into useful sizes, so when you need, say, 2.5 inch strips you already have a box full.

My I Spy remnants are overflowing from all corners of my sewing room so I thought I would do some scrap busting. I'm trying out a pattern that uses 4.5 inch and 2.5 inch pieces, so I started cutting those first. I added 2 inch strips as well. Then some pieces were still too nice to cut into strips so I fussy cut 3.5 inch squares as well.

Ideally I would cut useful sizes from the fabric when it was new and not after it had been jammed into tubs six months before. But I am pleased with the morning's work. Now to get my swap blocks finished before tonight's patchwork meeting.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

I Spy In the Pinks

This is a new I Spy quilt I've made, In the Pinks. It's a really easy pattern. I used 24 6.5 inch I Spy prints for the centre of the blocks. The border for each block is 2.5 inch strips, 8 fat quarters are enough to do all the blocks. I often quilt with diagonal lines, it's easier to ease the 'crossings' on the bias than on the straight.
Do you use metric or imperial measures? My brain still thinks in inches but I'm happy to work with centimetres too. I was in our local discount fabric shop waiting to be served when a customer asked the staff, how much is a yard? After three different staff members didn't know how to answer, I volunteered the information that if she bought one metre she would have a bit left over. I proceeded to explain the conversion from yards to metric but no one was listening.
Why don't I shop in my local quilting shop? There isn't one in our country town, the closest one is 20 kilometres away.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

More Chocolate Hearts

The chocolate hearts quilt is starting to take shape....I wish that posting photos to a blog was as easy as patchwork!
The wedding isn't until April 2010 so I have plenty of time for this quilt. That means I will take my time and probably start half a dozen more projects before this one is finished. Still, that's one of the best things about a hobby - you only have to please yourself.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Crochet Coffee Break

I was looking for a little project to take with me to Ballarat last weekend, and I came across a cute crocheted coffee cup on the Cravings Frocks website. Just right! Followed the blog trail to the original instructions. Managed to find the wool aisle in Spotlight and purchased some coffee colours. The photo is my result.
Cravings Frocks belongs to the Northside Makers collective, a very new group from Melbourne's northern suburbs.
"Membership is open to all crafty residents of Melbourne's northern suburbs, whatever your crafty genre: art, sculpture, jewelery, photography, knitting, cooking, patchwork, upholstery, design. Anything and everything."
The group's focus is on the practical - market stalls, craft sessions, publicity - as well as socialising, eg. crochet and coffee sessions. Worth a look!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

My Creative Space

Last Sunday our brass band travelled to Ballarat to perform in the Victoria Band League State Championships, a part of the Ballarat South Street Eisteddfod. We were the first band on stage after lunch, so us percussionists were given all the time we needed to set up on stage. I took the opportunity to take a photo of my spot in the band. Our band room only has two timpani so it was quite exciting to play with four.

And come Sunday evening, Sale City Band became the Number One D Grade band in Victoria. Very satisfying.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

And I Spy Emma Too

I gave Emma her QAYG hexagon quilt on Saturday, you can see how impressed she was! Machining the hexagons was the way to go; she would be at school before I finished a hand pieced one.
But... hand piecing is very pleasant if you have no deadline. I've always wanted to make a double wedding ring in 1930s prints. When I was in grade 6 my best friend and I would watch TV after school; on the couch at her house was a double wedding ring quilt her grandmother had made. I loved all the cheery yet faded colours.
I've found my sheet of cutout vinyl templates that I bought years ago. The set of Matilda's Own templates have been recommended but I thought I would try I ones I already have. I'm not quite ready to start but the idea is floating up to the top of the queue.

Monday, 10 August 2009

The Virgin Retreat

The retreat was great. Our group of 15 went to Rawson Village, a very popular venue for patchwork and scrapbooking groups on the East side of Melbourne. Great food, no washing up and all day (and night) to sew. We made our booking for the same time next year; if you don't book early you miss out.

I finished Project No.1, the QAYG quilt for granddaughter Emma. It took longer than I thought to top stitch each hexagon but then it was very quick to sew together.

I made 7 more blocks for Project No. 2 the Chocolate quilt. I need more dark chocolate fabrics, so stopped on the way home at Lily Lane in Rosedale and found 3 more dark chocolate prints and a metre of milk chocolate.
Nice to get away, quite nice to get back home.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Introducing the Chocolate Quilt

Project No. 2 for the retreat weekend is the Chocolate Quilt. DS is getting married in April 2010, and I asked him and his fiancee what colours they were after in a quilt. Chocolate, cinnamon and vanilla; the same colours as the wedding invitations.
The pattern I choose was colourwash hearts - dark on light in one corner, light on dark in the opposite corner. My fabrics aren't really colourwash designs, more of a scrap quilt in six shades: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, caramel cocoa, honeycomb, creamy nougat and white chocolate.

My sewing materials are all packed. I'll pack myself in the morning, do a half day at work and go on my adventure after lunch.

I wonder what I have forgotten...

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

I Spy Jack

Project No. 1 for my Virgin Retreat is QAYG hexagons, all machine done. I bought the perspex templates from Kiwi Quilts at one of the Melbourne shows and they do a great job. The first quilt I made with the templates is modeled above by grandson Jack. He got his playrug for Christmas 2008. Granddaughter Emma is already 4 months old; if I wait until Christmas 2009 she'll be crawling around.
The hexagons are all pinned and ready to be machined. The I Spy pieces are a mix of my favourite fabrics and leftover squares from the charm packs on my website - 61 different prints in all and backed with five different pink fabrics. I hope to finish the whole quilt on the weekend.

Monday, 3 August 2009


I was amazed to find that I created my blog over two years ago; last post about two years ago. Took me a while to find it.
So, found the blog, dusted it off, and ready to have another go.
I am packing to go to my first ever quilting retreat. I have two projects to take and fancy dress is not required. I am looking forward to just sewing and Not Cooking.

Just a small post, hopefully a great leap in blogging.