Friday, March 26, 2021

Three Blocks!

This week I got most of block three finished. All the pieces are in place, and I would say I'm about one third the way through stitching the shapes down. I cannot wait until the fourth block is made - even though I declared I wouldn't, I know I'm going to want to trim and sew them together!

I can't even tell you how thrilled I am with how it's coming along. And I just love the background fabric that I chose - it's a backing fabric from the Jane Austen at Home range. It was like to treasure hunt to find it a few months back - and I had some slip through my fingers when I waited a few days to order it. But now some places have had it come back in stock so I've ordered more so that I can use it for the back of the quilt as well if I choose to do so.

In this post I wanted to share a couple of my absolute favourite 'tools' I've used so far while making the blocks:

The wonderful tutorial for glue baste applique on Teresa's Fabric Therapy blog is something I have read repeatedly, and on one of the pages she talks about using Elmer's school glue for positioning the applique pieces. I wasn't sure if we could get it here in Australia, but when I looked - OMG, it's everywhere, so I bought some, and found the little bottles on ebay. It was a revelation! I had been using a different specialist glue that will remain nameless, and despaired over how much trouble I had with blockages in the fine tip nozzle. Well - I have had no trouble since!

I had also been using the tiny fabric glue sticks for turning the edges of the applique pieces under - and I've trained myself to use the somewhat larger (but still small size) purple disappearing glue sticks. The glue goes so much further and it's great with the purple colour seeing where you've got the glue in place. I'm also saving so much money because the refills of those little sticks were kind of expensive.

Lastly, I invested in a 3/4" circle punch - I have soooooo many circles to make for this project, and it was tedious tracing and cutting out freezer paper circles. They really only last for about three uses before the plastic side of the paper doesn't adhere anymore. At some point I think I'll buy some more sizes - they will be handy!

These are some of the extra circles (berries) I've been making as I go - I have lots of red scraps (some pieces are just shards) and I'm making as many circles up as I can so I get a big variety across all the blocks. It's always fun seeing the bits and pieces of fabric and remembering the other projects they've been in.

I don't have any pictures of baking to share with you this week - I didn't have time to make any macarons, and the cupcakes I made for one of the quilting ladies birthday, I managed to forget to take any pictures. Even after all these years, I'm still not in the habit of taking photos often!

Last of all, I made a couple of pattern purchases this week, Bonnie Hunter's Tulip Time - it's delightfully scrappy and I thought it would be something lovely for a little granddaughter some time. And also the Lovely Quilt Pattern by SherriQuilts on Etsy - I bought it for the very same reason.

Which leads me to the lovely news that on the 13th of this month I became a grandmother for the very first time - Mary Louise has arrived and we are all absolutely beyond thrilled. I now have a new reason to make little quilts and toys and outfits, and I promise to share with you all as I can.

That's it from me for this week, chatter soon! xox

Friday, March 19, 2021

I just snuck in!

Friday finishes here in one hour and twenty minutes, so I'm just getting this post done in time. It's only March, so I don't want to drop the ball with this years resolution already!

This has been one hectic week however, so I have not gotten very much done in the sewing room. But here goes:

I made up some log cabin blocks for a long term scrap project. There are only four blocks so far, but I never cease to be amazed how much you can sew and not make a visible dent in your scrap stash! I have some of the Thursday ladies working on these blocks too. It will be fun to see what we all come up with.

And because I'm so determined when faced with a challenge, here are the results of this week's macaron experimentation:

I can definitely say I'm getting on top of the browning problem. So that's entirely great. I was wondering how the macarons you see in shops have such vivid colours - and according to my new favourite macaron resource, to get big colour, you need to use lots of colouring. So there's that ... 

My friends/family are probably growing tired of eating these almondy treats, so I probably should  slow down the production - but I do want to keep plugging away and getting better at baking them.

Anyway ... it's getting late here, and even though I'm a total night owl, I'm really flagging, so I'm going to head to bed. If I get all rested up, hopefully I'll have lots of quilty inspiration to share with you next week. Chatter soon! xox

Friday, March 12, 2021

Small UFO and a fabric burp!

 After I finished stitching down all the pieces on block two, I was feeling the need to work on something different - though it's not really all that different:

This block was designed by Teresa of Fabric Therapy and was in a magazine I bought a while back. I'd prepped the block but not stitched any of the applique down, and this week I was determined to finish it. The applique stitching didn't take long, and I was looking forward to doing some machine quilting.

I really do need to broaden my horizons quilting on my machine, and I am slowly getting better. Is one of the hardest parts of the process choosing how to fill in spaces? I feel like it's right up there. With so many resources like YouTube available to us, it's bound to get easier ... what a shame there aren't more hours in each day!

But back to the second Lily Rosenberry block. As you know I'm being scrappy with my fabric selections. This is wonderful for making a quilt visually interesting, but sometimes it can unleash a rogue fabric or two on your project! Once I had finished stitching down all the applique, I spritzed the block to remove the blue washout marker - and when I came back to it later on, a couple of the red fabrics had bled!

These were the two culprits! I've grabbed the little pieces I haven't used yet, and I'm currently washing them until all traces of the red dye runs clear. Fortunately after I soaked and spritzed the block a couple of times the red dye has released from the background fabric, which is such a relief, but I will be more vigilant about my red scraps going forward. Whew!

And just for reference, here the little leftover scraps having a soak - look how much of the red dye has released already:

Last of all for today, I'll share my latest macaron testing results:

Doctor Google helped me with the browning issue I'd been grappling with. It is remedied by placing the tray of macarons on a lower shelf in the oven, and putting another empty tray above it to shield the macarons from direct heat. When I read that information it made perfect sense! For fun this time I decided to try a different colour, and subsequently regretted it. Can you believe that the macarons above started out a purple colour? And they baked to a weird looking greige. Rather unappetising looking, but still delicious. I'll try the pink again next time, and though I'm using paste colours recommended for cake decorating, maybe there is a better option.

Today I'll start prepping the next Lily Rosenberry block, I'm having fun watching this project grow. Chatter soon! xox

Friday, March 05, 2021

Second Block/Macarons/Wildlife

This week I've managed to get the second block of Lily Rosenberry put together, and last night I started stitching the pieces down. I am loving this project!

Only a few of the pieces are stitched down, you can see that a few are sitting a little proud and wonky, but it'll look wonderful in just a few days.

And here are my two blocks sitting together as they will be placed in the finished quilt:

Both blocks are well oversized - I'll trim them to their finished size after I've completed all of them, and then soaked the glue out ready for pressing. I'm using scrap red and green fabrics for all of the blocks, and I'll run out of some of them as I go. So that I can scatter all the different fabrics across the quilt top, I'll leave construction until all the blocks are made so that I don't have clumps of all the same fabrics together. Did that make any sense? Haha

Last week I promised I'd share the results of my macaron baking session:

You can be sure I share pictures with you warts and all - the results above are certainly not perfection, I still have a lot to learn. I'm still very puzzled about why my macarons prior to baking have a lovely pink hue, after baking they've definitely browned. With this batch I experimented with a lower oven temperature for a slightly longer baking time, and it's still happening. Research will continue until I get better piping results and more vivid colours. In the meantime, the results of my experimentation are delicious! :-)

And last of all for today, two pictures that Marty took in the garden (he is a much better photographer than I am - also with much fancier equipment!)

We have a couple of conifers in the rock retaining wall, and the Rosellas just love them. There are 12 birds in the photo above, they are so pretty! They make such a lot of noise, you definitely know when they are around.

How fun is that cutie there posing for his close up?

So that's all from me for this week - I'm hoping I'll have some more exciting quilty content for you next week. Let's see how that goes! Chatter soon :-)


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