Thursday, October 27, 2011

With Love from Finland

Hey bloggers! Do you remember when someone left the very first comment on your blog? Wasn't it just amazing and weird and awesome all rolled into one?

I had no idea how fantastic the interaction through blogging could be, and for me it all started with a comment from the lovely Eva at Eisblumen.  She sure made me happy that day.

Eva is German, living in Finland, blogging in English. Got that? She is not only an all-round sweetheart, she's also a wicked seamstress. Look at what she sent for the baby:

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A gorgeous flannel hooded jacket - perfect for the fall season here in southern France.

I absolutely adore the Anna Maria Horner flannel on the inside:

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And how it ties in with the button loops and topstitching.

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Sure he looks grumpy. He's just realised he's not old enough to eat any of this:

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Check it out, Finnish sweets. So far I am close to polishing off the blue/purple block: teeny crunchy balls of liquorice in milk chocolate. Finland has been holding out on us all.

Aren't these lollies so pretty? They are also almost gone, between me and occasionally using them to bribe my children.

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Best of all, Eva sent this book which is telling me everything I need to know about Finland. (Oh, and the kids too).

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I have to share this TV advert from home which shows why Australians need to read this book.


Dear Finland. Sorry about that. Love Australia. x x  

The kids are loving the nicky-nar-nu cartoons about saunas:

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I'm dreaming about Scandinavian men who apparently can all cook like this:

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But best of all I am loving the Finnish sense of humour:

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I think Finns and Australians would get along just fine. Thank you, Eva!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Spray Basting and Binding with Backing Tutorial

A while ago I made this coffee table mat whilst on a half-square triangle jaunt:

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I really love the colours but the reality of living with a 2 year old means it spends a lot of its time here:

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I considered selling the toddler to a wandering band of gypsies, but in the interests of their coffee table mats I decided to sew something with ties instead.

I used two new-to-me techniques as I made this: spray basting and binding the mat with its own backing (instead of sewing on a separate binding). I'm now going to bore you all by documenting it for my future reference, or for anyone else with a 2 yr old who likes undressing tables. (I won't be offended if you scroll away.)

A friend who moved back to Australia gave me this half-full can of spray baste, a popular brand used worldwide. I really, really (really) liked it - it's super quick and easy and didn't give my machine any problems. Drawback: it ain't cheap.

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The thing to remember is to always spray it on the batting, not on the fabric.

Here I've put the batting down first, then positioned the quilt top on top. Once happy with the layout, you just peel half of the top back, spray the batting, then smooth the top back down. Lift the other half of the top and repeat.

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That's right baby, I iron my seams open. Can you handle that? 

I then cut my batting back and placed the two layers on the backing.

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Again it's a matter of peeling the top layers back, spraying the batting and smoothing it back down again.

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And here it is all basted:

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If this were a bigger quilt I would have taped my backing to the floor and laid out the quilt sandwich as normal before lifting and spraying each level in turn, from back to top. As this is so small and I wanted to trim the batting to the top first, I did it the other way around.

Sore brain? Let's move on to the quilting:

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Easy peasy; no safety pins to move or accidentally sew over. 

After quilting I used my ruler to trim the backing to 2 inches longer than the top on all four sides. This overhang gets folded over to the front to make your binding.  While I still prefer the look of a separate binding on the back, for something like a table runner where you never see the other side, this technique is handy.

To prep your corners you fold the tip of the backing to the tip of your top (try saying that three times):

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Then snip on your fold line:

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Fold it back up again, so the fold is on the tip of your top and press. (I have marked the underlying top's position in removable ink to show what I mean).

See how the backing is lined up with my cutting board lines - that way you can make sure you get a true 45 degree angle - this makes your edges come together nicely at the corner (a tighter mitre, one might say).

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Then you iron the binding in half on itself all the way around:

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And finally, fold it up again onto the quilt top, enclosing the raw edges, press and pin in place:

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Add in your ties (I marked their edges in pen so I could do some extra yank-resistant backstitching there). I would also hand sew the 45 degree edges of the corners together at this stage (not shown below, premature photo, sorry):

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Then machine sew the whole thing down, nice and quick:

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You're done, yippee! Tie it on. Double bows if necessary. Feel smug that you still have enough wits to outsmart a 2 year old.

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This is the part where I now confess that I don't like my new table topper. Well, I like it, I just don't like it there. It was made to match this one, but with the neutral couch I think the mostly neutral mat is too blah - I need more colour. So I guess I will have to make another one at some stage (hence this mini tutorial).

But that can wait because I've already moved onto this: scrap tumbler blocks from the Go! Baby.

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I just need to figure out how I'm going to quilt it.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gorgeous Gordes

Firstly, a big thank you to those who popped over to see Rachel's Celebrate Colour competition (and virtual smooches for those who voted for me). I didn't make the top two, but there is still two months of competition to go - why not whip something up and enter it? The prizes are gĂ©nial!

My parents are visiting us at the moment and I took them to Gordes, easily one of the prettiest villages in the Luberon Valley, on Thursday.

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Gordes is a gorgeous medieval hilltop village with stunning views:

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And cobblestones (or calades [streets paved with river stones] as they are known in Provence) worn smooth with age:

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Everywhere you will find picturesque alleys like this:

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Where the local bakery looks like this:

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And you stumble upon treasures like this:

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Can you imagine spending your winter in this sunroom, overlooking the Valley?

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Or buying some veg here:

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Gorgeous doorways:

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Plenty of charismatic restaurants off the main square:

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This medieval chateau (built 1030s) lies at the heart of the village and now houses the Mairie (Town Hall), the tourist bureau and a small museum dedicated to Pol Mara, a Flemish artist (and past resident of Gordes).

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Within the walls it was also a centre for resistance activity in WWII:

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Looking out from the Chateau - you can see the restaurant from the photo above on the left. We had a coffee there solely so the toddler could run around the square and leave us in peace. If you do visit - please order tea. The coffee is terrible.

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Just near the chateau is Espace Simiane. Originally built as a hospital in the early 1700s, I'm not sure what the building houses now, but the gardens are beautiful and open to the public.

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And of course it wouldn't be a Bonjour post without a visit to the local church:

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The church of St Firmin. I'm not sure who St Firmin was when he was home lounging on the couch in his underwear, but the church was full of beautiful colour and pattern.

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Joseph and his Son:

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I loved the pattern on the edge of his robe:

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A poignant reminder that our time on this earth is fleeting - use it wisely.

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So that was Gordes - not for the faint of heart in summer (heat and dirty, stinkin' tourists) but definitely a place to visit if you find yourself in Provence.

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