Friday, October 30, 2009

Star Wars, Scienceworks and a darning foot!

There are some days when you just need to do something different, you know, something spontaneous!

So yesterday, Mr SUDs and I took the kids to visit Scienceworks, and in particular, the Star Wars exhibition :-)

It was such a beautiful, warm, sunny day and after our humour-filled car journey we arrived at the museum to be greeted by Darth Vader himself! Isn't that an impressive sight?!

In no time at all I was *cuddling* up to a Storm Trooper, and believe me, with all that shiny plastic, they're not very cuddly! But I gave it my best shot. I had a little giggle to myself when I read the sign on the wall behind me - it says "Getting around"... and I sure was! Because here I am buddying-up to a Jedi Knight...

I didn't attempt to cuddle this chap, but he generously shared his lightsaber with me! *giggle*

My DS, Aaron, got to hold a lightsaber too - a replica of the ones used in the more-recent movies. Careful Aaron - "you could poke someone's eye out with that thing!"

Rosie wasn't *quite* as impressed with Star Wars. It was noisy in the exhibit and the Storm Troopers freaked her out a bit. But we enjoyed plenty of fresh air at lunchtime and a trip to the park soon lifted her spirits. I took the above pic of R2D2 (on top of the building) while we nibbled on our sandwiches, mainly so you could see what a gloriously sunny day it was.

Oh - and another 'view' while we were nibbling our "sangas" (sangas is an Australian term for sandwiches)...

...Can you guess what it is?

Go on - have a guess - I'll tell you in my next post :-)

Back in to
Scienceworks, and Rosie was in her element investigating everything. I tried to take pics without other people in the shot, but in actual fact the place was packed-out with school kids. Here is Rosie learning how to use a calculator. We had a conversation a bit like this:

Mum: "So Rose, how much yardage will I need for that quilt?"
Rosie: "Hang on a minute Mum, I think it's going to be 2.4 but then you'll need your binding as well, don't forget..."

he he he... Well, I hope that was the scenario - if she was working out how much I've spent on fabric this past month, well - I'd have to get Mr SUDs out of earshot!

Scienceworks is great for kids of all ages, and having an eight-year gap between my two children was unnoticeable. There was even some memorabilia for adults to enjoy. I *loved* looking at the 'old toys' on display.

Check out this little sewing machine - how cute is that?!!

Now you may be wondering why I took a photo of the washing machine?

Well, it was so that the following pic would make sense...

Mr SUDs is humoured by his new nickname - and now it's official - he's an "o-matic" as well!!!

It was a truly magical day, full of fun, learning and laughter. Even the views on the drive home were magical. This is Melbourne City, I wish I could tell you what bridge we were on but I have no idea, I have a memory like a sieve!

And now for something completely different! You guessed it... A darning foot!

Cynthia asked me if I used a 'whizz-bang' sewing machine for free motion quilting, after reading
this post, and I promised to put up a pic of my darning foot.

I have a really old Husqvarna 2000 sewing machine, it hasn't got any special features, but it is very reliable. I use a generic darning foot, lower my feed-dogs, and away we go. Give it a go Cynthia - honestly - it is easier than you think it will be! When I say "easy" I don't mean to say that you'll get the desired result straight away - but it is SO much fun!

Before I go I just want to give you the 'heads up' that
Jenny is having a sale in her etsy shop and she has some really beautiful designs on offer. The sale ends in less than 24 hours so if you haven't done so already, you may want to head on over to elefantz and grab some bargains :-)

Until next time (and for all of you Star Wars fans....)

May the force be with you!!!!

Ah c'mon...It had to be said didn't it?!!! *giggle*
Hugs! Vikki x

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Inspirational shapes, Kellie's designs and a sneak peek!

Time flies by so quickly and it seems like only yesterday that I was sharing stories of my *teenage crush* with you! It was wonderful to hear about your teenage crushes too... thank you for sharing! :-)

A dear friend of mine confessed to having a crush on the famous 80's pop-singer, George Michael, and I had a giggle to myself because I remembered that my very own darling mum had a small poster of Georgie-boy on her bedside wall. And she was aged 50 at the time! I think she was all for supporting me with my teenage *crushdom* so thought she'd join in the fun. My mum continues to be the angel she always 'was' and her love and support still radiates to me from heaven. I wonder if she still dons the poster of George, though?! :-)

Have you been downloading your freebies from Among the Gum Trees? They are darling aren't they? I really love designing for Christmas - nearly as much as I like *making* stuff for Christmas! Here's a little sneak peek of one project I've been working on... I wonder who the little Robin Redbreast is singing to? :-)

Changing the subject, I went for a trip to Ikea with my dear friend Anne. I could have spent a small fortune and..umm.. ahem... I think I did! But a girl can never have too many cookie cutters or magazine holders, right?

But what I found fascinating stemmed from the inspiration I gleaned from Stephanie's post about random shapes. If you fancy an interesting read with loads of architectural eye-candy, click here. I started noticing *shapes* everywhere! In particular, two net curtains in Ikea caught my eye. Here's the first:

And what it reminded me of...

Yep! The first is the same shape as the Jacobs Coat quilt pattern. And I read about
Kellie's quilt-along for this design just a few days ago! This is one of Kellie's photos of a quilt she quotes to have pieced "another lifetime ago"! Thanks Kellie for letting me use your photo!

Here's the second curtain:

It reminded me of the feather shapes I had free-motion quilted in a workshop (of Kellie's) I attended recently.

Have you checked out Kellie's two new pattern releases? The pic below is of "Willow". Gosh it's gorgeous, isn't it?! If you visit here you can see the other fabulous design and enter Kellie's giveaway while you're there. Good luck!

Until next time, I wonder if you'll start seeing *shapes* everywhere now? I hope you do because it's so much fun!

Hugs! Vikki xx
footnote: Thanks Kellie for allowing me to publish your pic of Willow too!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thank you and A-ha!

Thank you my darling friends for your comforting words after my last blog post! I decided to heed your advice and take the pressure off myself. So once my DD, darling Rosie, was tucked up in bed, I headed to the sewing room, closed the door, got out my needle and threads... and then put the headphones on so I could listen to music really, really loud!!

I couldn't actually stitch for a while because I was jigging about in my chair too much! he he he... Mr SUDS and I have an extensive music collection and as I was browsing I came across an album from the 1980's Norwegian band A-ha; whose keyboard-playing member was my first teenage crush! Do you remember the group's debut song, "Take on me"? If so - do you fancy a blast from the past? Check out this link!

And yes I still have a crush on Mags Furuholmen! :-)
(Amendum: He's not as cute as YOU darling Mr SUDS! *wink*)

In fact, my friends bought me two tickets to go see A-ha play in Wembley, London, on their come-back tour in 2002. I was 30 at the time and Mr SUDS came with me (bless him!) The stadium was FULL of 30+ year-old women screaming at the tops of their voices! The men just stood around with vague expressions on their faces! Lol...

So the question is - who was your first teenage crush? Go on... I dare you to share? :-)!!

After my night of fun and creativity, I certainly woke up bright and bubbly as you can tell by Rosie's rendition of me during craft hour! Notice the big smiles?

he he he... I'm just having a giggle to myself remembering the last post I pictured her rendition of me - go have a look here if you fancy a chuckle!

Here we are - the two girls - Rosie and mumma off on a day out, full of sparkle and pizazz... and don't you just love that nail polish?!

Until next time - happy reminiscing! Hugs! Vikki xx

Friday, October 16, 2009

Christmas, free-motion quilting and art quilts!

I have been getting really excited about Christmas recently! Well, if I'm honest, I get excited about Christmas all year round :-)

In Australia, the festive decorations are filling the stores and the big "lead-up" has begun. I am an ex-pat, and after five years of living in this wonderful country I still get confused when the temperatures start rising at this time of year due to the summer sun, and NOT due to the thermostat being turned up on an English heater!!!

A summer Christmas is still novel to me, and I embrace it's new-ness wholeheartedly! In fact I've only just this minute realised that the colours in one of the recently-designed Christmas projects (sneak peek below) is symbolic of an Australiana Christmas. Summer skies are vivid blue, so rich and beautiful. I had never experienced the same colour skies in England.

Hypnotised by the festive spirit, I bought a holly-leaf cookie cutter. This beautiful tea-cup cookie cutter came home with me too... *just because*!

And I was so thrilled to discover this wedding-cake cookie cutter because Mr SUDS and I will be getting married next March! I thought that themed cookies would make a lovely gift for our special friends. The shop where I made my purchase is called Hand to Heart, and an online store can be found here. I've put the link direct to the novelty cookie cutters. There are so many novel and quirky ones that my Christmas list for Santa is full already!

Last week also saw me attending the second day of my workshop with Kellie of Don't Look Now. Wow! What a wonderful day it was. Kellie is a great teacher and so inspiring. We practiced free-motion quilting and I think I could get addicted {giggle}. Pictured above is a sample of my work from the day. I have a long road to travel, but I am sure going to enjoy the journey!

I have been wanting to immerse myself in the world of free-motion embroidery for quite some time. I want to build up confidence to create an art quilt. I love drawing faces and used to practice quite often in preparation for creating arty cloth dolls. I also learned how to make silk paper so that I could incorporate it into my creations. Here is a photo of my favourite *face*!

In the background is the silk paper I made. I drew and coloured the face using a brown pigma pen and prismacolour pencils.

Do you like her groovy hair? I plan to free-motion embroider all over it. I am not sure whether to keep her as a portrait, or to create a bigger art quilt with her being a mermaid... Hmmm... what do you think? I have plenty of time to ponder as there are a lot of other things on my *to-do* list!

I have put so much pressure on myself lately. I've been immersed in designing and pattern-writing and am loving it to bits. But I have struggled to spend as much time as I'd like with my family, the housework has fallen by the wayside, and my cooking hasn't been quite up to scratch. (Note to self: It never usually is! lol...)

I have been berating myself for not being *perfect* at everything! There are only so many hours in the day, and us women are the best jugglers with balancing family life and work and all of the things in between. :-) But with time stretched out to the limits it is impossible to achieve *everything*. I think the answer to my inner turmoil is just to accept that this is the way of life, and not to expect perfection of myself, but to be happy with "good enough".

I want to apologise to you - my friends - as well, for not leaving comments or replying to emails as often as I normally do. {{hugs}} I'm just adjusting to a busier lifestyle at the moment. This doesn't mean that I don't want to hear from you, on the contrary, it would be wonderful to know that you have taken the time to pay me a visit! If you have any words of wisdom, they will be gratefully received :-) You know what would be really nice? If you could come on over for a cuppa! I'll make the cookies shall I?!!

Hopefully I will soon get back on track, but for now I've decided to be kind to myself and take the pressure off.

I'm trying! Oh yeah... Mr SUDS would agree... I'm very trying!!! :-)

Until next time - love and hugs! Vikki xx

Friday, October 9, 2009

Hug swap beauties!

My mailman visited this morning with an envelope for me that had flown all the way from USA! This could only mean one thing... my hug swap had arrived! Yippee! How exciting!!

When I opened the envelope I was absolutely blown away by the beauty of my mug hug and mug mat, so expertly made by the lovely Marj of Eclectic Quilts.

Have you visited Marj's blog? Oh wow - this lady is an amazing quilter! And as you can see by these gorgeous gifts, she is so very clever at piecing fabrics as well. I couldn't even begin to work out how it had been done, but I can see it would have taken time, patience, a lot of love and a lot of skill! So Marj {{{thank you}}} from the bottom of my heart!

Marj and I both share the same favourite colour - blue! I was so thrilled to discover that this morning, as this is what I sent her:

If you haven't already downloaded my angel dreams stitchery design, please feel free to do so and use it for your personal use. The button is on my sidebar. If you do, please email me with your photos of your creations - I'd love to see them!

On a final note, I just want to share this one last photo with you of my mug-hug. I decided it should hug my collection of prismacolour pencils - dare I spill any of my tea on it! As you can see, it goes perfectly with my desk and with the screen saver I have on my monitor at the moment! Notice how the shadow of the pencils echoes the shape of the palm tree leaves in the screen saver picture? I thought that was really cute!

Love and HUGS to all! Vikki x

Journal cover Tutorial - long post!

Following this post, I had a few enquiries about how to make a journal cover. So I have prepared a little tutorial for you. I had to cut back the photos from 30 to 12! It wasn't easy!

The measurements for this tutorial are based on creating a journal cover to fit an A5 notebook (hard-back, 85 pages). However, I have shown you how to measure a book so you can make the journal cover for any size notebook you desire.

In brief, the journal cover is made by sandwiching together the front fabric (which I refer to as the feature fabric or panel); the backing fabric and the inner section of the sandwich is the batting or Vilene. If you haven't used it before, Vilene is an interfacing that has one adhesive side to it. It is ironed on to fabric to give it body, to hide stitching threads, or as a 'batting' for quilting.

The journal cover comprises of just one long panel which is folded over at each end. It is in these 'folded-over' sections (which I refer to as envelopes*) that the notebook sits inside.

Note: you can click on any image to enlarge it and view it more clearly.

Requirements list

A5 hard-back notebook

1 Fat Quarter cotton feature fabric (for front panel)

1 Fat Quarter coordinating fabric for binding (and possibly for the 'envelopes' too)

19"x9" backing fabric (this will not be seen)

22"x10" batting of your choice (I used fusible Vilene N 640)

Quilt basting spray

4"x3" scrap of red wool or kunin felt (for label)

3"x2" scrap of tonal fabric (for label)

DMC threads: 347 Red, 738 Sand.

Quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat

Embroidery needle and scissors

Water erasable fine-liner pen (or pencil)

Sewing machine and general sewing supplies

Light box (optional)

Pinking shears (optional)

Note: A 1/4" seam allowance is used in all sewing.

All measurements are in inches.

Measuring the notebook to glean the size of your journal cover

Open your notebook. Lay your tape measure underneath and bring it 3 inches over to the inside back cover as shown above. Secure the measuring tape with your finger. Now close the book and bring your measuring tape around to the front. Measure up to the right-side edge. Note the measurement, and add an extra 3 1/4 inches to get your final measurement.

My measurement from the inside back cover to the front right edge was 15 3/4", so I added the extra 3 1/4" which brings my final measurement to 19 inches.


Using a quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat, cut:

One 19"x8 3/4" rectangle of feature fabric

One 19"x8 3/4" rectangle of backing fabric

Three 25"x 1 1/2" strips of coordinating fabric for binding strips (cross cut one strip in half)

One 20"x10" rectangle of Vilene or batting.

Positioning the feature fabric and trouble-shooting!

If you are using a large design for your feature fabric such as I have, before cutting, consider what area of the fabric design you want to be prominent on the front cover. You need to remember that 3 1/4" of the fabric will be folded over to the inside of your journal to form the envelope*.

For example, I wanted the country of Australia (large red lower 'blob') central on my front cover, but it was right on the edge of the fabric I'd cut and would therefore slip inside to become an envelope (see example A)

The look I wanted to create is shown in example B. So I needed to trouble-shoot and decided to add a border of coordinating fabric to the right-hand side of my feature fabric.

I cut an 8 3/4"x3 1/4" rectangle of coordinating fabric (that left over from my binding) and sewed it to the right-hand side of my feature fabric, right sides together as shown in the photograph below.

Once sewn, iron the seam towards the coordinating fabric. The front 'panel' will now be too long, so you need to cut it back to 19 inches. Use your quilting ruler, rotary cutter and mat, measure 19 inches and cut the surplus from the opposite end of your recent sewing.

Putting it all together

Following manufacturers guidelines, iron your feature panel on to the fusible Vilene. Ensure the sticky 'bobbles' are facing the wrong side of your fabric. If you are using batting, use a quilt basting spray to affix the two layers together.

Once affixed, cut the excess Vilene or batting by using your rotary cutter, mat and ruler. See photograph below.

Now use the quilt basting spray to affix the backing fabric to the reverse of the Vilene or batting. You have now made a 'quilt sandwich'. Allow sufficient time for the basting spray to dry before sewing on the binding.


Pin the top and bottom binding strips to the longest length of your panel, with right sides together as shown in photograph below.

I used a walking foot on my sewing machine to sew the binding on, and used a 1/4 inch seam allowance.

To complete the binding:

1 Fold your binding strip over to the reverse side (your backing fabric)

2 Fold under once

3 Align with your stitching line and pin in place

4 Blind-stitch your binding on using a coordinating thread.

Snip the leftover fabric on the ends so your sides are straight and level (Fig A).

Now pin the two shorter binding lengths to the sides, placing them centrally so there is a little bit of fabric overhanging at each end. Now use your machine to sew the binding strips on in the same way you did before.

Once sewn, fold the end of your strip in to the centre to hide the raw edges (Fig B) then pin, and blind-stitch in place (Fig C).

Adding the label

1 Use the pinking shears to trim your rectangle of red felt to 3 1/4"x 2". Ensure you cut straight. Now position it on the front of your journal with the tonal fabric on top to check the dimensions look right. I cut my tonal stitchery fabric back to 13/4"x1 1/2".

2 Use running stitch with DMC 347 thread to secure the felt to the journal.


3 Using your word processor, type up the title of your journal (eg. Travel Journal) in various font sizes. Print it out and choose the right size for your stitchery by placing your tonal stitchery fabric on top over a light box. (Alternatively you can use a window in daylight).

Trace the title on to your tonal fabric using a water erasable fine-liner pen, or a pencil.

Affix a slightly smaller rectangle of fusible Vilene (or batting) to the reverse of your stitchery rectangle. (Mine was 2mm smaller all round.) This will give it a nice padded, quilted effect.

4 Using back-stitch, stitch the lettering using DMC 347.

5 To secure the stitchery rectangle to the red felt rectangle, use blanket stitch and DMC 738.

6 Stitch the top and bottom first followed by the sides. This will prevent puckering. If you need a good tutorial on how to blanket stitch, click here.


1 Place the cover on to the notebook and pin in place. Ensure the notebook is closed when doing this as it will be fully stretched in this position.

2 Leave in the pins while you remove the notebook. Reposition pins above the binding fabric.

3 Using DMC 347, use cross stitch to sew the envelope and front seams together.

4 Put the notebook back into the finished journal cover. Ta-da!

You're Done! :-)

I hope you found that useful! Now all you need to do is make a cuppa and sit down with your travel magazines to find that next holiday destination!

Happy sewing! Hugs! Vikki x

Monday, October 5, 2009

etsy is almost ready and sneak peeks

This weekend I decided it was time to open the doors to my etsy shop :-)

On stepping inside I was greeted with the debris of tumbleweed... snips of cotton threads gathered in the corners... and somebody had inscribed the words "dust me" on the "open for business" sign that lay idly against the door window. So long have I had this shop and not opened it to the public!

Well that is all about to change! I've had a good spring clean, pulled back the curtains; dusted and swept; and I am just days away from offering my FIRST for-sale designs to the newly-polished shelf!

Do you remember this sneak peek? Well, I just thought I'd show you a couple more from my newest design called *A Mothers Love*

I hope you will like it as much as I do :-) I think it would make a lovely design for the front cover of a journal for a new mum-to-be. And if you are unsure of how to make a journal, check back in a couple of days as I will be offering a tutorial. :-)

Until then - have you visited Among the Gum Trees for your first Christmas freebie? It is exquisite! If you haven't done so already, go take a look!

Until next time - happy stitching! Hugs, Vikki x

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A trip in to the City

I took a break from sewing last night, wrapped up warm, and had a night out in the City with my two boys!

We parked the car and took a little walk to our final destination... past some yachts...

Waving to the passengers on one of Melbourne's trams...

A quick detour to a fast food restaurant... and I really loved this view from the top of the escalator, so out came the camera again!

And here we are.. ta da! The Etihad Stadium (formerly Telstra Dome) in the heart of City and home to our favourite soccer team,
Melbourne Victory!

These were the only two photos I took of the players. I was too busy during the game, "yay-ing" and "whoa-ing" and shouting "WHOOOO-HOOO" at the top of my voice! :-) And because I'm from England the good ole' Cockney faithful, "Go on my son!" probably escaped my lips a few times as well! Lol...

I really love the picture above, Scott (DH) and Aaron (DS) went to watch the junior players during half-time. I love this stadium. I love how we shared the space with nearly 20,000 people, and yet it is so incredibly spacious and energising that there is no way in the world you could feel claustraphobic!

And here is the Englander herself, and her *real* son! We are smiling even more due to the winning score:

Melbourne Victory won 2-1 against
Brisbane Roar.

Go Victory!!!!! :-)

Until next time - WAH-HOOOO! Hugs! Vikki :-)

Footnote: I don't look much like a soccer supporter do I? What a poor effort! Looks more like I am going to check out the show dogs at Crufts!!! Lol...


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