Monday, 27 April 2015

Fun at the AQC!

Hello lovelies, once again I have been lured in by an unloved sewing machine sitting in an antique warehouse.  They are like abandoned puppies... just waiting for someone to love them lol.

Miss Janome was found last weekend and at only $38 she was a steel!  She came in good condition, with original manual and extension table in a vinyl case.  After a bit of TLC I'm pleased to say she is sewing beautifully.  Unfortunately she didn't seem to have any accessories/additional feet but thats ok.

The Singer 201K was found on ebay for only $20!!!!! thats insane!  She came with a case and has a knee lift to make the machine stop and start.  After a little cleaning and rewiring she sews quite well, having to make a few tension adjustments but we are getting there.  The 201K was said to be one of Singer's greatest successes.  She has a wider throat space than other models and was designed to be a heavy duty machine.  More about her here.

I've now made a separate page entitled "My Vintage Sewing Machines" which can be found on the right hand side of this blog if you are interested.

Now onto the big event... the Australasian Quilt Convention!  Last Saturday I attended the AQC at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne (a truly stunning piece of Melbourne architecture).  Each year this show just gets better and better, and this year was no exception.  All quilting related stalls so that was fantastic.  I usually get there just on opening and leave just before closing.  I park underneath in the secure underground carpark which makes it easy for me to get a pass out and take purchases back to the car though out the day (my neck and back thank me for this!).  It's a big day but there is just so much to see, and you never see everything the first time around.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't take any (nope none) photos whilst I was there because, frankly I just wanted to take it all in.  Follow the link and take a look at the gallery pics - the exhibition display was amazing.

For some time now I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a new sewing machine.  I've looked at the big players, Bernina and Janome but oh there are so many features I just wouldn't use.  I adore my little Janome QC4618 (Jan as she's affectionately called), she's getting on a bit now but still going strong but the more I'm delving into my free motion quilting the more I'm feeling a little restricted.

For starters, I need more throat space, Jan's is just too limiting and having to push and tug a quilt into that confined space is really annoying me.  I also would like the needle down function, a knee lift, an extension table and thread cutter.  I really don't need fancy stitches and computerised screens.  Then I stumbled across a few bloggers who raved about their Juki 2010Q... quilters such as Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts.

A WHAT?????? a JUKI?????? virtually unheard of in Australia except in the industrial machine world.

Apparently these machines are the domestic version of an industrial machine, all metal housing, nothing fancy, but fast (1500 stitches per minute) and tough as nails.  They need to be oiled and they just do straight stitch (simple - just like my old vintage machines).  I hunted high and low for a Juki 2010Q in Australia but they just don't exist.  But alas at the AQC I see a Juki stand *angels singing* and find out from the Australian Juki ambassador, Mollie Sparkles, that this machine was never released in Australia but the Juki TL-98P is the Australian equivalent and quilters are raving about them.

I touched it, I played with it... and... I loved it!!!!  It goes from zero to flat out with ease and quilts like a dream.  I WANT ONE!!!

After visiting my local Juki dealer and having yet another play, I have placed a deposit on one.  Three weeks wait as they are sold out at the moment, but oh I just can't wait!

Anyway, back to the AQC, here are a few of the things I purchased at the show:

  • '15 Minutes of Play' and 'Double Wedding Ring Quilts' books by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  I've just discovered this woman and until recently I didn't think much of modern quilts but Victoria makes it seem so easy.  Her creativity is contagious and she really helps you to step outside your ideas of what a quilt 'should' look like and just create.  I love reading about her process, and how she links her quilts to her past, making her work personal.  Victoria also loves her Juki and is the American ambassador for Juki and, my other favourite company, Sizzix.
  • A practice panel for quilting feathers from Pauline's World.  This is a panel printed with various feather designs.  You simply pretend this is a quilt top, sandwich with batting and backing and then quilt away FMQing the feathers but without thread.  You can do it over and over until you get the feel and motion of FMQ feathers, what a great idea.
  • Gail Pan's 'Vintage Sewing Collage' and the items to make it - it was fun hunting for all the items required - sewing machine print linen, ruler trim, mini lace motifs, buttons, etc.
  • Some laminated fabric - I've never sewed with this before but I'm thinking some little make up bags might be nice - they would make great Xmas presents too.
  • Two new Sizzix dies for my Fabi Cutter.  It was great to see a Sizzix stand at the show.  There are sooooo many more dies available that what Spotlight carry.  I'm saving my pennies for the next craft show where I can stock up on more dies.  They are so hard to find and the prices at the show were very reasonable.  I haven't mentioned my Fabi Cutter but Santa was very generous to me last year (er um this was my Xmas present to myself lol),  I must remember to do a separate post on how much I love it.
  • I didn't buy a lot of fabric this year because quite frankly I have so much and I really need to be using what I have.  But these were just a couple that appealed to me.
  • A gorgeous little miniature sewing machine - the right size for a dolls house... so cute!

So thats it, I think I was pretty restrained actually!

Well until next time, I'm linking up with Mollie Sparkles Sunday Stash.

Yours in stitches

Leanne x

Monday, 20 April 2015

A sewing retreat and 'Vintage Happy'

Hello lovelies, it's been pretty busy over here at Crystalbrook Cottage.  So I have loads to share with you so this might be a long post.  School holidays have been and gone, Easter too, and now the weather has decided its indeed time to prepare for winter.  Downpours of rain and some amazing lightning shows have occurred (usually at night which is convenient) so I'm afraid the heater has been put on a few times.  It's during these cold cold nights I am truly grateful for the roof over my head, the food in my belly, the clothes on my back and people who love me.  All this time indoors is a wonderful excuse to sew, would you agree?

Well last post I promised you a look at my Harry Potter Quilt... well its far from being a quilt at the moment... but its a start.  So far I've only managed three blocks.

Block 1

Block 2

Block 3

 I thought this project would be a good excuse to practice my foundation paper piecing skills.  This pattern was designed by one of my favourite designers/bloggers, Jennifer Ofenstein from  Check it out - there are loads of free patterns on her site.  If you don't already know Jennifer she is a paper piecing fanatic and lover of all things Harry Potter.  Jennifer does a vblog every Tuesday called Talk to Me Tuesday and her enthusiasm is contagious.  This Harry Potter quilt along is called the Project of Doom.

Jennifer's Harry Potter Quilt
Close up!

I'm afraid I wasn't much into Harry Potter when it first came out.  After reading Jennifer's blog for some time now I got curious and bought the books and the movies - wow, what a ride!  JK Rowling has some serious imagination!

Back in March Royal Botanic Gardens in Cranbourne held the Australian Textile Exhibition to showcase patchwork and craft items with an Australian theme.  Whilst I'm not much into Australian themed prints, it was wonderful to attend and see what some very talented people have made.  Here are a few of the pics I took of things that made an impression on me:

Late March I decided that I really needed a few days away to recharge the batteries - a sewing retreat just for me.  So I scoured the internet for a little country hideaway and found Sinnamons Cottage, just a few hours out of Melbourne.  Its a renovated miners cottage as this area has a rich history in gold mining.  I intentionally chose this area as there are some lovely patchwork/craft shops as well as antique shops in the area - two of my favourite things.

I was not disappointed.  It was beautiful, quiet, quaint, charming, simple and luxurious all at the same time.  I must admit it was a little daunting at first... going away on my own.  What if I got lonely?  What if something happened?  Who would be there to help me?  But then I reminded myself that I'm a strong woman, who raised three children, part of the time on her own, and that I would most likely be too busy to get lonely.  And guess what??? I LOVED it!

From the street

Hidden behind a lush cottage garden is a little hideaway

Through the side gate

Sit out on the verandah and listen to the birds

A stunning rose in full bloom

Tea in the garden anyone?

Four chickens who said hello every morning
Fresh eggs for breakfast!

The garden path along the back

The lounge room - I sat by the fire each night with my hand sewing

Fresh cotton linen with fluffy pillows and a thick doona - oh and an electric blanket adds extra warmth - nice and toasty!

The dining table where I set up my sewing machine.

The back room containing the kitchen and laundry.

The kitchen has all the modern appliances.

I only had to look after myself, I could spend as much time as I liked doing exactly what I wanted.  And, I was so busy, that I didn't get much sewing done lol.  On the way up I visited Pick Up Stitches at Kyneton (a lovely selection of yarn and fabrics), then in Maldon The Village Patch (a great selection of general fabrics and novelty prints with wonderful prices) and of course, Threadbear in Castlemaine (an oh so gorgeous shop specialising in reproduction fabrics).  Everyone I met was so friendly and helpful.

Whilst I was away I managed to finish 'Vintage Happy'.

As I've mentioned in previous posts, the pattern for this quilt is here:

I am so so pleased with how she turned out (the pics don't really do it justice).  I was a bit skeptical about the orange binding, but once it was on it looked great.  I can't bear to part with this one.

Well I think thats possibly enough for this post but I have so much more to share - I'll leave that for the next post.

Until next time

Leanne x