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:



Source

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.

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

Source
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 
NOW AU$75
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 
NOW AU$80
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

Monday, 6 October 2014

The songstress

Our youngest daughter Olivia loves to sing. She always has, from the time she was first conscious that she had a voice! Here she is at age four:




The girl with the cheeky grin has grown into a strongly creative and pensive soul. Her voice and her love for music and song has grown with her. At the age of 13, singing makes her happy, and she expresses herself through writing songs. As it happens, she is still hanging about in deciduous trees! 



Our local music store is running a competition called 'The Next Big Thing' and Olivia has entered. One of the songs she performed is her own composition. The winners are determined by popular vote, so please consider voting for our sweet girl (Olivia Mirrington). The truly dedicated (i.e. her mother!) can vote every twelve hours up until 26th October. There are some very talented young performers to vote for, so make yourself a drink, pull up a chair and check them out. 



Thursday, 11 September 2014

Charm square backpack PDF pattern

Whoever dreamed up the idea of fabric charm packs was a marketing genius ... and the nemesis of every fabric addict! The addict enters a fabric shop, and no matter her level of determination to resist, those little sample packs just draw her in. And she says to herself, "If I just buy one of these, it's cheaper than yardage, and I'll have a little bit of every fabric in the range. Win, win!" And so I have an untold number of random charm packs in my stash. 

I set myself a challenge to come up with a pattern to whittle down this collection. Something practical, something quick to make, and that can make use of a single random charm pack. I'm happy to say that I have written up a pattern for my Charm Square Backpack.



I have designed a drawstring backpack, made from a single charm pack, combined with a half metre of lining fabric.

At approximately 18" square, it is a perfect size for that quick trip to the shops, or a swim at the beach. It would also be great as a kid's library bag, or for their next sleepover with friends.


The backpack is fully lined, has an external zippered pocket for safe keeping of valuables and a loop for hanging.


I've made four of these backpacks now, and I confess they are quite addictive! But then it seems I'm prone to addiction :) The backpack on the left is made from Bonnie and Camille's 'Happy-Go-Lucky' range, while the one on the right is Zen Chic's 'Sphere', both by Moda of course, the leading culprit in charm pack world domination.



I also made two backpacks for some entomological friends of mine, using 'Bee My Honey' by Mary Jane.


I was lucky enough to find some fabulous braided cord at one of my local quilt shops. It is apparently an 'end of line' item, so is not readily available. If you find some, I suggest you buy it all (like I did). It just seems to blend with any fabric combination you can think of.



The Charm Square Backpack pattern is available as a PDF download in my shop.



If you happen to subscribe to my Newsletter, you will find a discount code for this pattern in your inbox. If you don't subscribe, but would like to, there is a newsletter subscription link at the top right of this page.
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