Another one bites the dust, well turns 50 anyway…

  I have another school friend who turns 50 in December so I have been making her a wall hanging also. This one is made up of tiny little squares, and when sewn together, make an interesting pattern. It reminds me of the Amish style of quilting. This one was also in a kit that I purchased a while ago now. After washing the fabrics I started to cut the pieces as instructed. The pattern requires several different colours cut into strips and sewn together, then recut.

I used pins to wedge the layers

I used pins to wedge the layers

The kit came with an instruction book but it also contains a couple of different projects in it, so I might have to look at tackling them in the future.
I had forgotten how fiddly those little pieces were and how careful you have to be when joining them together. A few millimetres over the project can really add up. Fortunately most of it lined up, a couple didn’t quite match but overall it isn’t too bad.
I had started learning patchwork over 16 years ago with a wonderful patchwork club in Dongara. The club had experienced ladies and some complete novices like me. Over the years we were able to attend some terrific workshops, with visiting guests from all over Australia. We learnt different techniques for sewing, and even learnt how to dye our own materials. I used that knowledge to make a baby quilt for my niece. It’s great fun and was so easy because you did it in the microwave. It is an Australian business too.

I use tape to get a straight line

I use tape to get a straight line

About 11 years ago we lost my mother-in-law to cancer and then barely a year later I lost my own mum. That sure took the wind out of my sails. We had moved to Perth and I guess without the wonderfully inspiring patchwork ladies to get me going again I just stopped sewing. I just didn’t feel inspired anymore. Then about 5 years ago my darling father-in-law, who passed away this February, dobbed me in to sew a QUEEN sized quilt for a family friend! He thought I needed something to do…

You can just see the stitches on the quilt

You can just see the stitches on the quilt

The family friend had a picture of what she wanted, oh dear not even a pattern. Oh well I got out some graph paper and started to draw what the photo looked like. After we were happy with the look we went off to buy some material. I loved this part of the process! We spent the morning deciding on patterns and colours. The graph paper pattern helped me to work out how much to buy, well fingers crossed lol.
So after a couple of months I had finished the quilting and handed it over to a lady who uses a large machine to quilt your work. We decided on a pattern and then I waited for it to be finished. Once that was done all I had to do was bind it. I was very nervous when it was time to hand over the quilt. It is hard to make a quilt for someone who has a pattern in mind. You just don’t know if they will like it until they see it. It turned out to be quite an emotional hand over. There were tears all round and she loved it! Phew!

A closer look at those stitches. If you squint they look terrific lol

A closer look at those stitches. If you squint they look terrific lol

Well back to this project. I decided to hand quilt this wall hanging. I had some lovely multicoloured thread in my stash and thought it would look great. Which it does but the thread is a nightmare to work with! It is constantly breaking and always right in the middle of a run, grrrr. I like to use wool wadding in my projects, it sits nicely and is easy to sew. When I started to put the sashing on I realized that the measurements they had given were a bit out. I had to use the longer pieces for the shorter sides. Fortunately the backing material is the same as the sashing, so I used that to get the longer lengths. It meant I have to use something else on the back but that was not so bad, at least I have the right sashings. I learnt a valuable lesson. From now on if I am using a kit I won’t be cutting the sashings until it is time to use them. That way I will know that they are the correct length.

After much swearing, tutting and sighing I have finally finished the wall hanging. I will be seeing my friend next week so the big handover will happen then.

The finished product

The finished product

Fran’s wall hanging

I made a wall hanging for my friend who, like me, was reaching a respectable age of 50. I remembered a kit I had bought many years ago called “Psycho Chickens” and decided that it was perfect. If you follow my friends blog you will know the trials and tribulations she has gone through with her chooks :).

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The pattern for the two types of chickens

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Sorry it’s sideways?? Thanks Donna Warren for your excellent design

     

I was feeling a bit excited to be using more than the straight stitch on my shiny new sewing machine, as the wall hanging required some applique.

After washing and cutting the necessary bits into the necessary sizes I began my new project.

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Material’s washed

50th birthday projects 002  Putting the background together was the easy bit. Yikes it turned out to be quite large in the end. 

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I love this chook wire material

Next was to sort out which bits to put with the chook material. The feet and wings were pretty obvious, but the giblets and coxcombs were not so easy. The down side to a kit is you don’t necessarily like all the choices, but I think, in the end, it turned out ok.

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One of the chook combos. this is when it had been vlisofixed on but not embellished

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Version number 2 of the chooks

Then came the fun part! What stitch to use on the chooks. I spent a bit of time using a rectangular piece of material that had the wadding and backing on too. I use it to do samples of the stitches, taking note of which one and if I adjusted the size etc. Once I had picked the stitches I wanted to use, it was then time to get going.

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These are the 4 chooks ready to be appliqued

I had a great time doing the applique stitches on my machine. It purred along nicely and I learnt alot about some of the functions on it. I love the button that does a few stitches at the start and end of your work, also the scissor button that pulls the threads to the back and cuts them. I was not sure what to do in the borders but decided on a stitch that looked like chickens walking. Well that’s my story and I’m sticking to it! I decided to cross hatch the outer boarders, and that is when I discovered how rusty my sewing skills had become… after unpicking one of the borders, I hate unpicking :(, I was happy with the results and put the binding on.

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Another chooky version

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Last of the chooky versions

Finially it was ready to wrap. Only one day before I flew out, phwew! I’m glad to say that Fran seemed to like it and it looks wonderful on her loungeroom wall. I’m a little biased but hey it’s my blog lol

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The wall hanging in situ 🙂

Happy birthday Fran, it was a labour of love x

Turning 50 sure can be fun!

Learning to throw snowballs

Learning to throw snowballs. Never too old to learn something fun

I know you have seen the fun photos from Fran’s blog “theroadtoserendipity” but I thought I might add a few thoughts from my perspective as well.

I usually don’t let a number that denotes age worry me, but I must admit I was feeling a little daunted by 50. I rather liked the 40’s, the 20’s were even better lol. I found myself reminiscing over my life. This led me to wonder if I might spend some time with my high school friend, Fran, as I knew we shared the same month and remembered what good fun we had together back then.  I asked Fran many months ago if she would be happy to share a week with me over our birthdays, and was very excited when she said yes!

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Mmm birthday cake worthy of a number like 50

I made the necessary bookings and then pondered what to sew for Fran. I knew I wanted to do something for her but wasn’t too sure at the time what thing it might be. I also had a box full of old school photos so I thought, rather than a card, I would make a photo book of our time together at school and a little beyond. As the weeks flew by (don’t they seem to go faster..) I worked on the photobook and kept looking for a project that would be a nice fit for her. At last I found a patchwork kit featuring chickens called “Psycho Chickens” and just knew this was the one for Fran. Now whether it is the chooks, Fran or both on Serendipity which are psycho, is for you to decide :).

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One of the psycho chooks

I wanted to share this project with my small little followers, thanks all three of you x, but of course, couldn’t, because Fran would have seen. I have taken lots of pictures of it “in progress”, and will write a post about it too. Nice to have a post in the hand, waiting… I’m sure Fran will have posted a picture of it “in residence” on her blog too.

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These pretty blossoms were everywhere

So I packed my bags and winged my way to Tassie. I had hired a car and set off with my printed google maps instructions and the advice from the lovely lady who sat next to me on the plane over to Launceston. I managed to miss the little turn off after the Batman Bridge, where the wonderful Steve was waiting to show me the rest of the way to their house, bugger! I had put my phone on “airplane” mode instead of turning it off like I usually do. Be warned, it keeps roaming and makes your battery almost flat, this piece of advice came from the lovely lady on the plane also. I can highly recommend her as a plane buddy :). Anyway a quick call to Steve, with my fingers crossed, soon had him driving to where I was.  A car came along side me flashing his lights and I followed. I’m glad it was Steve! Bit embarrassing if I followed an unsuspecting person home.

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I just love this house! Bruce….

Long story short, I was soon safely ensconsed in their lovely home with the wonderful Brunhilder warming my derrier. I was also greeted by two very excited dogs! I had booked a stay over in Hobart as a birthday treat for Fran and I so after a lovely cuppa and a piece or two of the legendary stromboli, very tasty by the way, we said our goodnights and hit the sack. I slept well after my adventurous day and soon enough it was time to get up, have some breakfast (thanks chooks) and head off to Hobart. We had a lovely chat along the way, lots to catch up on, and quickly found ourselves in Hobart. Nothing like a good chin wag to while the time away.

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Earl and …

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Bezial (the shy one), are just beautiful and enthusiastic lol

We were staying right near the Salamanca Markets and the view from our little apartment facing over the port, was delightful. The markets were an eclectic mix of craft, clothes, food, music and various other stalls.  I purchased an ABBA cd to play in the car while we travelled here and there. It had us singing some old favourites and all the songs are now completely stuck in my head 🙂 . I was delighted to see, feel, touch and throw snow the next day on Mt Wellington.

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Our accommodation was right on this port

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Mt Wellington peaking out from her cloud cover

I was surprised by how easily we fell into the old rythm of our friendship from all those years ago. We picked up right where we had left off and I must say I haven’t laughed so much in a long while. It got me thinking about how easy some friendships are. We had plenty to chat about and I don’t think there was much down time over those 7 days. Poor Steve, sorry mate, hope you have recovered 😀  What a lovely man he is too. They make quite a pair.

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Snow lined road up to the peak

I loved Tassie! It has the most amazing houses. I love the old houses and they are everywhere, just wonderful eye candy. Next time I will make it back with my husband, Bruce, in tow. I’m sure he will be just as impressed with it as I was. We managed to stay in touch with the magic of skype. It was nice to share some of the frivolity and fun we were having with him. Besides, Steve needs an ally next time lol.

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Another lovely house

After a week of laughter, eating way too much lovely food, drinking too much lovely wine and talking our heads off it was time to drive back to the airport and wing my way home.  I had plenty of time to think over the past few days, our adventures and the wonderful chats we had. It made me realise that 50, though a rather daunting number, really is just another number in my timeline of life. No matter what age you are, find time to reconnect to the things in your life that give you joy. It is a worthwhile pursuit.

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Pretty view from midway of Mt Wellington