Thursday, 19 February 2015

'Studying' the inner city

I had forgotten just how long the summer break is for University students! After three months of being at home, our eldest blossie has been champing at the bit to get back to Sydney. 

She is studying at the University of Sydney, which means I get to re-visit familiar places from my time there 25 years ago.

I also get to hang out with the girl in Newtown and Glebe - 'hang out' is probably wishful thinking; 'stand out' is more accurate. These days, I loiter around the windows of florist shops - actually I did that 25 years ago too! But oh, how amazing inner city florists are now.

We were waiting one evening at a bus stop in Newtown, conveniently located outside an amazing florist called The Flower Room. The photos are confusing because of reflections from King St, but can you see the fabulous aloes growing suspended from sea urchin shells? So imaginative, and very spectacular.

I will definitely be returning in opening hours for a closer look.

The coffee shops were good in my day, with many an hour wiled away at Cafe Latte in Newtown, or Badde Manors in Glebe. Today, they are mind-blowing (and waist-thickening)! The girl took me to La Banette, a French pattisserie on Glebe Point Road. Oh my! Where to start?

We started with mille-feuille and coffee eclairs, and finished by walking out with a sample box for 'ron!

The benefits of having a daughter in Sydney ;) I haven't even made it to the fabric shops yet!

Friday, 6 February 2015


And so we are well into February, the kids are back at school and my time is a little more my own again. I am keen to get back into some sewing. I was looking for something easy and quick to get me back in the groove.

My scrap basket was overflowing, with lots of surplus jelly roll strips from previous projects (like this one and this one).


I decided to make 'Candy Coated' by Amanda Jean @ Crazy Mum Quilts. The pattern is in her book 'Sunday Morning Quilts' (co-written with Cheryl Arkison).


It is a really easy project, not requiring too much thought in terms of fabric placement or colour - the things that usually slow me down! 

I can spend 10 minutes on it here or there and it is coming together nicely. It feels good to be using up fabric scraps and to be dusting off the machine!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

The bold and the beautiful

We have had some good January rain at the farm, and the ground is perfect for pulling weeds, digging up plants and dividing bulbs.

Pineapple lily (Eucomis comosa 'Sparking Burgundy')

My summer flowering precious plants are loving the heat and moisture.

Snail creeper (Vigna caracalla) 

I have been keen to dig up my Brunsvigia josephinae clump for several seasons now, but have been procrastinating. The bulbs are rare and I don't want to risk losing them. Yesterday, the conditions were perfect: the ground was soft and the bulbs dormant; I took the plunge!

I have blogged about this rare beauty before, here and here

Josephine's Lily (Brunsvigia josephinae)

It is ironic that something so lovely can emerge from a bulb so ugly! The bulbs are simply enormous. The biggest were 8" across!

Also in the garden today, amongst some eucalypt leaves I was raking:

How gorgeous is he? He is a type of scarab beetle, Eupoecila australasiae. He is commonly known as a Fiddler beetle because of his violin shaped markings. Beetles typically emerge in summer as the weather warms up and summer storms bring plenty of rain. Fiddler beetles are strong fliers and move between eucalypts and other trees to feed on nectar. They are common to Australia's eastern states:


They are completely harmless to humans, and it was fun to find one. I'm always on the look out for insects in the garden. The kids think it's funny and weird when I yell out excitedly about some new find. They think I'm a bit mad, but they all still come running to see!

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Last minute gift making

I have just finished a couple of small gifts for my girls. The littlest blossie has claimed this hexagon purse.

It was a kit from Hatched and Patched. As usual, their fabric choices were perfect! How I love piecing hexies - very relaxing.

The eldest blossie requested a charm square backpack. She rummaged through my stash of pre-cuts and emerged with a charm pack of  'Hello Luscious 'by Basic Grey for Moda.

Never one to be bound by convention, she decided she wanted one side pink, the other blue ;) And a zippered pocket on both sides if you please! Happy to oblige.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

A sad day in Australia

Blooms express love and kind thoughts, 
in the happiest of times, and in the tragic.

The people of Australia are reeling from the events of the past 24 hours. 

I am very proud to be counted as Australian today. 
The authorities and those involved in the siege in Sydney have been calm in crisis, and strong in tragedy. 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

In full bloom

In my garden today, and making me happy: Rosa 'Zéphirine Drouhin' in glorious bloom.

'Zéphirine Drouhin' is a grand old dame of the rose world. She is a Bourbon rose and was bred in France, way back in 1868 by Bizot. 

That 'Zéphirine Drouhin' is still grown in gardens almost 150 years later is testament to some very desirable characteristics.

Its blooms are abundant, and a cheerful lipstick pink. It is perfect as a small climber, especially planted near pathways because its canes are virtually thornless. It has a heavenly 'old rose' perfume. 

My 'Zephirine Drouhin' receives very little water, and yet it puts on an impressive display. It repeat flowers, unlike many old roses. While mine is planted on a north-facing fence, it is well known for tolerating shady conditions.

I first saw 'Zéphirine Drouhin' at an Open Garden in Mudgee, and it took me several years to find one. But I'm very pleased I did - she's gorgeous!

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Handmade Holidays starts today

Every November, I look forward to Sew Mama Sew's roundup of sewing tutorials. So much inspiration and some great ideas for Christmas gifts!

For each day of November, there is a different sewing theme, with links to excellent, free tutorials, and a chance to win some great prizes. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Special offer

One of my local quilt shops is sadly closing its doors on 22nd November. After over 10 years of supplying sewists across the Central West, Allyson Tilston is closing her beloved Marally Craft. However, in her usual optimistic style, she is seeing this as an opportunity for a new direction in her business life.

The good news for you is that Allyson has several kits of two of my quilts available at drastically reduced prices.

Spin to Play quilt
Size 53" x 57"
Detailed description here and here.
All kits include hard copy pattern.

Quilt kit (without backing) 
WAS AU$150 
plus AU$14.50 postage

Quilt kit (with backing) 
WAS AU$195 
NOW AU$97.50
plus AU$14.50 postage

Lovebird flannel quilt
Size 58” x 56½” 
Detailed description here.
All kits include hard copy pattern.

Quilt kit (without backing) 
WAS AU$160 
plus AU$14.50 postage

Quilt kit (with backing) 
WAS AU$220 
NOW AU$110
plus AU$14.50 postage

If you are interested in these quilt kits, give Allyson a call on (02) 6362 3860. I'd be quick though because they won't last long.

Allyson has reduced most of her stock, including fabrics and many other quilt kits, by 50%.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Name this plant

Calling all gardeners! Can anyone tell me what this plant is:

I went for a walk in a friend's beautiful garden on Friday, 
and she has this lime green lovely planted in some shade. 
She says it is a perhaps a type of may bush?

Thursday, 9 October 2014

New journal cover tutorial

One of my most popular free tutorials over the years has been my journal cover tutorial. I have returned to it over and over to whiz up a quick gift. 

I've updated my tutorial to provide instructions to custom fit the dimensions of any journal. I've also come up with a couple of nifty options for elastic closures. Enjoy!

Step 1: Preliminary measuring

Measure and record the length (A) of your journal in inches.


Measure and record the total width of the back cover + spine + front cover of your journal(B) in inches. Do this by wrapping your measuring tape around your closed journal. 


A = length of journal
B = total width of back cover + spine + front cover of journal

Step 2: Gather your supplies

  • Main fabric - yardage required = (A + 2)" For example, a journal with length 9" requires 11" x width of fabric
  • Lightweight fusible batting, e.g. Vilene H630 - (A + 2)"
  • Lining fabric - (A + 2)"
  • ½" wide elastic - (A + 2)" length
  • General sewing supplies
  • Purchased white crocheted flower, approximately 2" diameter (optional)
  • White stranded embroidery cotton (optional)

Step 3: Cutting

From each of the main fabric and the fusible batting, cut: 
One rectangle that has a length of (A + 1)" and a width of (1.5 x B)".

From the lining fabric, cut: 
One rectangle that has a length of (A + 1)" and a width of B".

Step 4:

A ¼" seam allowance is used unless otherwise stated. 

Fuse the batting rectangle to the wrong side of the main fabric rectangle. 

Overlock or zigzag the short edges of both the main fabric and lining rectangles. Note: Overlocking or zigzagging the edges is optional - it just gives a neater and more robust finish.

Turn the short ends of the main fabric rectangle to the wrong side by ¼" to form a hem. Top stitch the hem in place.

Step 5: Optional embellishment

If you would like to embellish your journal cover with a crocheted flower, mark the centre of your cover with pins as shown below. Using a pencil, lightly mark a line 6½" long, at a point 4½" to the right of centre.

Please note, my journal is approximately A5 size. If your chosen journal is significantly different in size, you may need to 'eyeball' the position of your stem and flower.

Using 6 strands of embroidery floss, work a running stitch along this pencil line. Hand stitch the crocheted flower in place.

Step 6: Elastic closure #1

Cut the ½" wide elastic to the length of your cover. Position the elastic 1" in from the right hand edge. Baste the ends of the elastic in place at the top and bottom edges using ⅛" seam.

Step 7:

Place the main fabric rectangle wrong side down on a flat surface. Fold each of the short ends of the rectangle in equally, right sides together, so that the total width of the cover measures B". Pin the ends in place. 


Step 8: Lining the cover

Lay the lining rectangle on the cover, right sides together. Pin all layers together.

Using ¼" seam, sew along the top and bottom edges of the cover through all layers. Overlock or zigzag to neaten the seams if desired.

Step 9: Turning the cover

Turn the cover right side out and press well. This is the only step that can be a little confusing. I've addressed this in the following (rather dodgy!) clip:

That's it! Nothing remains but to slip your journal inside your cover and stand back to admire your work!

The elastic closure should extend from the front cover and wrap around the back of the journal.

The journal that I used had a transparent cover, which by chance was perfect because it allows you to see the lining fabric you've chosen when the journal is open.

A variation: Elastic closure #2

I made a second journal cover to show you an alternative elastic closure.

Follow the previous instructions up to and including Step 4. 
Place your main fabric rectangle wrong side down on a flat surface. Using a pencil, lightly mark vertical lines at equal distances from the left and right edges of the rectangle, so that the width between the lines measures (B + ½)", as shown below. 

Mark each of these lines at the midpoint. Place marks 2" either side of the midpoint on the left hand line.

Cut three 1¾" lengths of ½" wide elastic. Fold them in half to form loops and pin them at the three points that you just marked. The raw ends of the elastic should meet the marked line. Baste each of them in place using ⅛" seam, as shown below. 

Fold each of the short ends of the rectangle along the vertical pencil lines, right sides together. Sew a ¼" seam at each short end of the cover. This seam encloses the raw ends of the elastic loops.

Complete the journal cover by following the previous instructions from Step 8. Note that the width of lining fabric should lay between the two seam lines that you have just sewn. 

On turning your cover, it should look like this, with elastic loops at either end:

Insert your journal, and slide a pen through the loops to secure the journal closed. Nifty huh?

I hope you have as much fun with this tutorial as my previous one.

I would love to see your creations, so please send me photos! Best wishes, Bloom x
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