Monday, February 28, 2011

Rainbow blankets

I've been making, but not sharing. The first week the kids were back at school I did some dyeing. I dyed rainbow redondo skirts (they're in the Etsy shop). I also dyed some silk and flannel to make blankets. I had a couple of orders, so I made a few extra.

The silk side of the blankets dyed with rainbow mandalas.
16pt blue mandala1

8pt blue mandala1

8pt orange mandala1

8pt orange2 mandala1

16pt purple mandala1

8pt pink mandala1

To take the photos of the blankets I have to stand on a step ladder. Today I had the brilliant idea to pay Moo to be my stylist. So she laid out the blankets, flipped up the corner and turned them over so I could get all of my pictures. Now she will have a bit of pocket money for the Lorien Markets on March 12. I'm going to be at the markets peddling my wares too. I'll be hanging out with my Lorien Novalis Playgroup friends, so if you are in the neighbourhood and come looking for me, that's where I'll be.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

A pretty present

A friend had a birthday today. The other week she mentioned in passing that she liked the wallet that I made, and she wanted me to make her one. She wanted to pay me, and I scoffed at her and told her that I'd make her one for her birthday.

Before I made the wallet I had a quick chat with my friend. I came home and looked through the stash, and I saw THIS fabric. It was one of my first Euro fabric purchases, and I think it is perfect for a wallet. I love the colours and print. I wanted to keep the wallet for me which means it is perfect to give as a present to a good friend.



Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ooey Gooey Yummy!

Yesterday Ed came to visit. Ed and I have been friends since uni. I always think that I'm a very lucky girl because one of my very best friends lives in the same city as I do even though I moved half way around the world.

Moo has been playing with our old digital camera again. She took this photo of Col, Will, me and Ed.
col ed will me

Since we were having a visitor, I thought I would bake something special. On Friday I had a shopping day to restock chocolate, cocoa and spices. When I was at Herbie's, I bought some cassia because as I discovered, cassia is the spice that I most strongly associate with "cinnamon". I really wanted to make something with it, so I searched the King Arthur website for a cinnamon roll recipe as I thought I'd seen one in a blog post. I looked through the cinnamon roll recipes and found the one that had the best reviews.
(photo taken by Moo again)
cinnamon buns

I have to agree with the reviews. The cinnamon buns were excellent. Exactly what I was after, and I found the dough easy to work with. Although I did have to add a bit of extra flour to get the consistency just right. I should add that I used 2 tbs of cassia and 1 tbs of cinnamon. If you are after ooey gooey super yummy cinnamon rolls, I can recommend this recipe.

Yes, that is a little Lego man in the picture.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A worthy read

I don't normally talk political stuff, but this is an issue that is close to me as it is affecting a very, very dear friend of mine. And truthfully it affects all of us in Australia because if you want food to eat, we need land to grow it and clean water.

So here is the email that my friend, Carolyn, has asked me to share.

Dear Friends,

As you would know, I am not normally one for all out broadcast emails. However, this issue is so important to me not just on a personal level because we are so intricately involved, but also on moral, ethical, social and environmental grounds.

As you know, we purchased 170 acres of land at Ilford (halfway between Lithgow and Mudgee) about 6 years ago. A beautiful rural bush property with nice neighbours, stunning views of the surrounding countryside and mountain ranges, and abundant wildlife – a great place to relax and enjoy life with our family and friends. About 18 months ago we started to build a modest house to use as a weekender initially, but with plans to more than likely retire there in the distant future.

About 12 months ago, our tranquil bush existence was ripped away from us when we were told by our neighbours that the state government had granted a mining exploration license covering our area to a company named Centennial Coal. In August of last year we were advised (again by our neighbours) that the next door property (Mount Ilford Winery) had been sold to Centennial Coal. The information from the company about its intentions in our area, is vague to say the least. What has been said to our local action group is that the coal in our area is of very low quality, and that 95% is destined for overseas.

The coal seams in our area are apparently so close to the surface that open cut mining in some areas will definitely be the way that they will proceed for the old winery site. Our house is halfway to completion (almost at lockup) and our bedroom window will more than likely look out onto an open cut coal mine less than 300m from the house!!! To this day we have had no communication from Centennial Coal!!!

How is it possible that if my next door neighbour here in Sydney wishes to erect a pergola, everyone within the immediate area is advised and asked for input. Yet if my next door neighbour at Ilford wants to establish an open cut mine, no communication at all is needed ????? [Note: The length of time that is given to receive, read, digest, prepare and submit objections to that pergola are the same for the coal mine (just 4 weeks)].

The proposed mine (old winery) site has a creek running through it which flows to more than 100 small farms in our area – they rely on this water. Most of the flow from this creek ultimately ends up as part of the Murray-Darling River. If the mine proceeds this water will be hideously contaminated with a toxic cocktail that is the by-product of coal mining, and/or the water will just stop flowing – I’m not sure which will have the worst effect. Air quality in the surrounding area will be significantly impacted as dust from the mine (heavily laden with varying levels of nitrous oxide, heavy metals including lead and uranium, plus arsenic, cadmium and other toxic chemicals) is spread through the air. Its effect is compounded by many residents' reliance on tank water.

This is not just an issue for us and our little property – this is a very serious issue that is affecting vast tracks and fertile farmland right across (mainly) NSW and Queensland.

For your information, I am providing for you a couple of recent articles from the Sydney Morning Herald:

1. “Food security outranks mining in land use policy”

The Running Stream area referred to in this article is the proposed mine next door to our farm at Ilford, near Mudgee !!!!! The Bylong Valley area referred to in this article is owned by “Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid” and there is an article in today’s SMH regarding this property, and I quote:

Mr Obeid, who was once the minerals minister, told the Herald last year that he planned to retire to the magnificent Cherrydale Park, a rural property in the Bylong Valley, near Mudgee, which his family bought three years ago. The Obeid family may be in for a windfall with Cascade Coal about to pay a handsome price for the farm to mine for coal.

2. “Obeid joins the jetty set”

Hmmmm.....this is such a dirty, dirty business in all senses. The community has to know that this is going on!! Our current and future food and water resources are at serious risk, and the decisions that are being made are by those with direct financial links to these projects.

3. “Planning for food or coal”

Following is a link to the Sydney Morning Herald’s property blog from last week.

ABC Four Corners “The Gas Rush” Monday 21 February 8.30pm ABC1

The upcoming ABC Four Corners program on this Monday night will investigate the issue of gas coal seam mining, a potentially more serious issue that is set to devastate our country if allowed to proceed.

Right across Australia gas companies are drilling down through the earth to extract the resource that the industry says will be one of the answers to our future energy needs. Already some $31 billion worth of gas projects have been approved by the Federal Government, which are expected to generate thousands of jobs and billions in revenues. But this precious resource lies beneath homes and farms, and the food bowls of Australia. And this is where the gas companies are drilling; prompting a heated conflict over who should pay the price for our energy supplies.

The program shows local activists testing for leaks and finding highly explosive gasses leaking at alarming levels. Others talk of their fears that Australia's greatest underground water resource, the Great Artesian Basin will be contaminated and depleted. Four Corners details cases of water supplies being tainted by salty toxic water.

Many of those affected are beginning to work together on a national campaign to call a halt to "The Gas Rush".

Four Corners, presented by Kerry O'Brien, goes to air on Monday 21st February at 8.30pm on ABC 1. It is replayed on Tuesday 22nd February at 11.35 pm. You can also see the program on ABCNews24 at 8.00pm each Saturday, on ABC iview or on our website at Video on Demand.

Peter Cronau
Four Corners - ABC TV
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
GPO Box 9994, Sydney 2001, Australia
tel: (+61) 02 8333 4617
fax: (+61) 02 8333 4755

Free Screening of award winning documentary “Gasland” Saturday 5 March 1pm

And finally, the Ryde-Epping Greens are running a free screening of the award winning documentary “Gasland”. This film is a compelling story about gas coal seam mining and the devastating effects that it has on the environment and the community. This film has recently been awarded a Special Jury Prize for US Documentary at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival, and is a 2011 Oscar Nominee for Best Documentary !!! For more information go to

The screening will take place on Saturday 5 March at 1pm at Boronia Grove, 49 Rawson St Epping (behind the Epping Club – access via Coles outdoor carpark). RSVP to or just turn up on the day (bring a friend).

Please help

I don’t normally send this type of email broadcast, and I don’t normally ask for help, but we need it now. Will you please send this information out to all of your contacts via Facebook and/or your email list.

Coal for 20 years or Food and Water for a Lifetime ?

Thanks for your help in getting the message out.

Kind regards,

Carolyn Ballard

I was going to blog about the awesome cinnamon rolls that I made today, but this was more important. I'll be back tomorrow with those.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

14 years

cutting the cake

Wow, we look young there! It was super hot that day. You know how February in Sydney can be. And we were married way out west, so it was really hot. I think that is why Vanessa and I had to drink so many glasses of sparkling wine.

And this pretty much sums us up

(I have been making a fair bit of stuff, but a lot of it is in progress like an embroidery for the Little Woo that I am making for Moo. It's even cut out. I've cut/dyed/iron pieces for redondo skirts. I made some key fobs. I finally made my name badge for the SIT swap. It needs a brooch pin thing for the back. I'm not so good at in progress photos. Oh and I made a rainbow Olivia dress for a friend's daughter, but I didn't take a photo of it before I gave it to her.)

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

New wallet

I kept seeing this very cute wallet showing up in my Google reader, and I needed a new wallet.
My poor old Kate Spade wallet that I bought to match my very chic baby bag was showing its wear. Not surprising as it's 7 years old!

So I bought the e-book even though it's in German. Hey, I sew with German Farbenmix patterns, so I figured I could manage it. Plus the lovely Andrea told me that she would help me if I got stuck. In the end I muddled through with the excellent photos and my friend, Google Translate.

My next challenge was to pick fabrics. Initially I was thinking of some machine embroidery and then thought that I should keep it relatively simple the first time around, so I picked fabric that matches my El Porto bag.
wallet outside

wallet inside

I like it!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Will's lunch bag - the tutorial

Ok, so here goes. I don't usually do tutorials because I'm involved in the process when I create and grabbing a camera is the last thing I think to do. This is why this is mostly words and few pictures.

This lunch bag is designed to fit the Tupperware Sandwich Plus lunch box.

I have drawn the pattern pieces in half scale. This was so I could scan them. You might be able to enlarge them on a copier at 200%. Otherwise you can see the dimensions and shapes, so you can draw them with a ruler. The pieces do NOT include a seam allowance!!!! (this is because I didn't want to confuse you as I measured the lunch box in inches and my seam allowance is 1 cm). Please don't ask me why I did this! My brain works in strange ways and I am used to flipping around between imperial and metric measurements.

There are 3 pieces: the bag body, the flap and the strap.

lunchbag strap and flap

When you cut out the pieces, you need to add a seam allowance! Pick whatever you like. I used 1cm.

I have to be honest and say I don't know how much fabric that you will need. I'd guesstimate and say about 0.5m of each fabric. You also need snaps or velcro (if you are going to use velcro read my comments at the end of the instructions because I'd choose to sew on the velcro while constructing the bag, not when it's finished. Although you could do it when it's finished. The stitching will just show on the outside of the flap.

You need to cut
For the body
2 x fabric for the outside
2 x fabric for the lining
4x pellon H630 (this is to give structure and a bit extra insulation)
2 x insul-bright

For the flap
1 x outside fabric
1 x lining fabric
2 x pellon H630
1 x insul-bright

For the straps
1 x outside fabric
2 x lining fabric (or can be the same as outside fabric)
2 x interfacing (I used a medium weight woven interfacing and cut it without the seam allowance)

I also inserted a base into my bag. I used Nicole M's tutorial on how to make a bag base with Fast-2-Fuse. If you have some Fast-2-Fuse sitting around, I would recommend making a base as it gives the bag nice stability since the bottom of it is quite large. But if you don't want to bother, I think it will be fine as the lunch box will stablise the bag when it is in there.

So now that you've cut that big stack of pieces. Iron all the pellon onto the pieces, so each body piece and each flap piece.
Iron interfacing onto the straps

As I sew, I press all seams open. I also used a heavy weight needle 100/16. You definitely need a sharp needle for sewing through multiple layers of fabric like a denim needle.

Lets start with the strap
1. With the strap pieces wrong side together sew down one long side. Turn right side out and press the seam. Also press under the seam allowance on the strap pieces. Topstitch the long edges of the strap. I also stitched rows of stitching down the length of the strap to stablise it (in addition to the topstitching there are 3 rows sewn down the strap about 0.5" apart)
Set aside the strap.

Now lets sew the flap
1. Put the flap pieces right sides together. Place the Insul-bright on top of the outside fabric. I used some pins, so everything doesn't shift. I also used a walking foot to sew the layers together. Sew down one side around the bottom and up the side. Leave the top of the flap open.

2. Trim the seam allowance and clip the corners. Turn the flap right side out and press. Topstitch around the sides and bottom. Then baste the top of the flap closed within the seam allowance.
Set aside the flap.

Now for the body
1. With wrong sides togehter, sew the side seams and the bottom seam of the lining. Trim seams and clip corners. Press the seams open.

2. Now match up the side seam with the bottom seam, and sew across this diagonal. This creates the boxed shape on the bottom. Repeat on the other side.

1. Sew the Insul-bright to the wrong side of the body pieces just within the seam allowance. You want the stitching close to where you are going to sew the seam, but not on the line or too far into the seam allowance. Stitching it down keeps the Insul-bright from shifting when you sew the pieces together. I like to be able to trim the Insul-bright back as close to the seam as possible which is why you don't want to baste it down near the edge.

2. Sew the outside body pieces together like the lining pieces, so side seams then bottom seam. Trim the Insul-bright close to the seam. Press. For my bag I topstitched the sides and bottom seam before i sewed the bottom edge seams. For my bag I stitched 6mm each side of the seam using my 1/4" foot. Then I sewed the bottom edge seams. together.

3. If you are going to do a bag base then you need to sort it out now. I did mine according to Nicole M's tute and attached it to the lining.

4. Mark the centre back of the back of the outside of the bag and the centre of the flap. Place the flap and outside bag with outer fabrics facing, matching up the centre marks. Pin and stitch the flap to the back of the bag within the seam allowance

5. Mark the centre points of the short strap edges. Match those points to the side seams and pin the strap with the outer fabric facing the outer fabric of the bag. Stitch the down on each side within the seam allowance. This will scrunch the bag up a little bit because the strap isn't super long.

6. Now turn the lining so that its right side is facing the right side of the outside of the bag. Match side seams and pin. Stitch the lining to the outside of the bag leaving an opening of about 15cm along the front of the bag. Trim the excess fabric in the seam allowance (but not near the opening. I find if I trim too much there it can be hard to press under the fabric Leave an opening along the front of the bag.

7. Pull the bag through the opening. Press the seam and press the edges of the opening. Pin closed the opening (or use some Wash Away Wonder Tape). Topstitch the top edge of the bag all the way around.

8. The bag is basically completed except for a closure. I used snaps because my snap press is one of my new toys. On the top flap, I placed snaps on each side (1" up from the bottom and 1" in from the side). The snaps on the body of the bag are approximately 1" in from the side "edge" and 1.5" up from the bottom edge (there is no seam there, but you can see the "edge" based on where the corner of the bag is. Same for the bottom "edge").

Here you can see the snaps
lunchbag front

Velcro would make an excellent closure. I just wanted to use my snap press. If using Velcro I'd consider sewing the pieces of velcro on before construction. So sew the hook piece to the lining of the flap before construction and sewing the loop piece to the body of the bag before sewing it all together. That way the stitching from sewing the velcro will be hidden on the inside of the bag. I can't give you exact placement for the velcro, but you could figure it out based on the positioning of the snaps. I have to be honest and say that I decided where to place the snaps after I'd sewn the bag and picked the spot where the flap fell and I thought it looked good.

Have fun! If you've noticed an error, please let me know. I just knocked this up for Will, and never really had any intention of doing anything further. Feel free to make as many as you want. Make them to sell, just don't take credit for the design because that's totally not cool.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The weed

We call Moo the weed because she just keeps growing like crazy. I was once told it was all the good life forces in the organic & biodynamic food that we eat (although trust me, we have our share of unhealthy food too). Last week in the extreme heat Mollie chose to wore her Lore top.

I just noticed that I took this photo just over a year ago. And now her top is getting too small.

Being the nice mum that I am I offered to make her a new top. She wanted another velour on the front, so she rummaged through the velour stash and chose this sweet white fairy. I picked the fabrics, Chez Ami knits front and back and Hilco woven for the binding.
lore front

lore back

I wanted to take a photo of her wearing the top, but it's just been way too hot to venture outside. Thankfully today we had a cool change. 20 degree Celsius, BLISS!

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Been dyeing, again!

Towards the end of last year I'd run down my stock of hand dyed organic cotton/spandex knit. This is the fabric that I use to make rainbow sleeve Antonia tops and rainbow Olivia dresses (and whatever else my mind dreams up). So this week I dyed some fabric.
rainbow organic stella knit

This time I used a bit more dye to get slightly deeper shades. The photos is deceptive as the colours are richer and deeper in person. I dye my fabrics in a bucket with minimal agitation as I like the hand-dyed mottled look on these fabrics. If I wanted a solid even colour, I'd use my washing machine to dye them.

I also dyed some spandex French terry. I like to use this for Imke tops.
hand dyed french terry

This batch is deeper in colour than the French terry that I dyed last year. I really like this fabric for pull over style tops in cooler weather. The spandex gives it a nice stretch and helps the fabric retain its shape. French terry has a smooth knit side with loops on the back.
french terry close up

Will is definitely in need of an Imke. He's outgrown his other ones.