Trees for Christmas

September 2009

We were staying with Blue and Leah, who are not interested in anything involving needle and thread, when I ran out of work to do. There was nothing much in their house of use in this situation, and I didn’t want to spend a fortune on a new project to fill in the remainder of the holidays. I had a sewing room full of fabrics, threads, tools, patterns, UFOs etc ….. I just wanted something to work on! I had assorted needles, scissors and a pencil, and Jordan had left a battered ruler and eraser on the kitchen table after doing his homework

The nearest craft shop had some wide cream homespun meant for a quilt backing as an end of roll special. They also had Perle thread and some thin iron on wadding to use as stabilizer. Leah had an iron and ironing board stored in the spare room which was our bedroom, so there was one tool I could make use of.

I started sketching ….. my skills are limited, but I managed the stick figure version of some different trees. I decided I would make them all the same triangular shape, but vary the style of foliage and branches. I found a cereal packet in the recycling bin, cut a rectangle as a template for the background block, and a triangle for the tree. I used the template to cut a heap of background pieces, and to mark the triangle onto some pages of the scrapbook I had found in Cheap as Chips – now my design book. A black marker turned the sketches into something I could trace onto the fabric.

(I chose a rectangle because it was easier to draw a rectangle when I was using the edge of a magazine for a ruler for anything longer than 5 inches … the length of th least battered edge of the ruler. The magazine also provided the right angle!)

By the time we came home I had six trees embroidered with simple variations of stem stitch.

November 2009

A weekend in Beachport …. more sketches, more embroidery.

July/August 2010

Took the bag with my holiday project to the Golden Harvest Quilter’s Retreat and did a couple more trees, but without the decorations at this point …… I think I am making a book of Christmas Trees …. there are too many trees now for a wallhanging, don’t see the trees making a wonderful quilt, so I will make them into pages of a fabric book. (PS 2010 have officially run out of room in this house for any more wall hangings .. don’t tell anybody, because I might still want to make some more!)

One of the new sketches was drawn from some young Norfolk Island Pines I could see from the cabin we stayed in during our stay in Beachport when I last worked on the stitcheries.

I have no idea how to decorate this one …. have ideas for all the others, but nothing for this one!

November 2010

Back in Beachport for another weekend of golfing (for Butch) and some stitching time for me.

All the photos so far were taken on this trip to Beachport.

Next outing … Marion Bay in December….. wonder how many more holidays before I need a new holiday project!


The optimist is wrong as often as the pessimist, but he has a lot more fun.

Photo taken Beachport 2009

You Can’t see the Forest for the Trees

Wherever Judy and Butch live

This book is about Christmas decorations.

I would be happy t to decorate the whole house

just for me,

even if no one came to see the display,

and we will not be home for Christmas Day.

Christmas is really about celebrating

a special birth,

and it doesn’t matter if we are

Christians, Atheists, Moslems, Jews,

Hindus or whatever,

we all celebrate the birth of a child.

The most important part of the celebrations

focus on families and friends,

And I am lucky to have the best collection

of family and friends

to make all year special,

not just Christmas.

Decorations are just my way of making

the Christmas period different

to the rest of the year.

When I was growing up Mum and Dad managed to give us every thing we needed with very little money, but we didn’t know just how poor they were. They managed to buy most of the presents we needed, even some we wanted, and there was an abundance of great food on the table, courtesy of a budget wise housekeeper who doubled as a great farm cook. There was also something new amongst the decorations every year. Mum obviously wanted to house to look the part to go with the presents and food.

Christmas is Catching

Decorating the house for Christmas was always important to me, and though Brian still plays it down, I think he has caught the bug. He doesn’t like to stop putting up lights outside until he runs out, and invites friends to inspect inside the house,

Start of a Tradition


4 Gale street, Woodside, about 1984

In Woodside we lived in a dead end street, along with several other young Married with Kids. Nigel was one of the oldest, Megan was one of the youngest, and there about 25 kids all up.

We took our two to the Christmas pageant in Adelaide when Megan was about 2, and she sat on Dad’s shoulder all the way through. The next year we didn’t get to the pageant, because Brian was on call. Kids wanted something special if they couldn’t go to the pageant, so I asked if putting up the tree would be a good idea. They fell for that big time. The tradition started!

So, on pageant day , the two kids sat down and watched the pageant on TV, while I put together the Christmas tree and added the lights. Then we decorated the tree.

The next year we didn’t got to the pageant again, so I set up the tree while it was telecast. Got the lights on just in time, because word had got around.

Some of the neighbourhood kids were at the pageant, but the rest arrived on our doorstep just as Father Christmas entered the Magic Cave in Adelaide. Some of the kids were little, so they added whatever they could grab to the low branches. Some were tall so they decorated the top. The middle sized kids decorated the middle. Five minutes later the tree was decorated. It looked fabulous. Even if we had a movie camera the action was too fast for any movie! Besides, the tree disappeared in the crowd there for those few minutes.

The kids stood back, had a quick look at their handiwork, decided it looked great, and went outside to play!

I still put up the tree, make that trees, on pageant day, or make some start to getting the decorations out of the cupboard, even though the kids have grown up, moved and live far away.

Up in Lights

When we arrived in Kadina we both looked at the big blank walls which faced the street .

Brian bought the lights, then asked me to what we could do with them.

I laid out strings of lights in a tree shape on the lounge room floor, drew up the plan , and Brian put it on the front of the house.

More lights made another tree on the end of the shed.

Before we had moved into Bordertown Brian had decided that he could put lights up on the water tower next to the house.

More trees in lights were attached to the house to add to the trees inside.

I won blocks in a Christmas draw years ago, and the name of the quilt was Can’t see the Forest for the Trees. That is a great title for our display of decorations inside and out.

PS This year the water tower has not been dressed for Christmas, as last year Brian repaired lights three times, and there was still three sets of lights which had been chewed throught by birds. A lot of work for him climbing up the ladder, and expensive!

Santa Collecting

One day I went to Kadina shopping and found a tiny Father Christmas. He was meant to be a cake decoration, but I loved him anyway!

When I got him home I put him on a shelf, but he was so small he just got lost, so I went looking in the cupboard for something to draw attention to him.. I found 18 more father Christmas’ so sat them on the old treadle sewing machine near the front door..

Now I had a small collection, it started growing . The first additions were all quite small, and eventually I decided the display needed a centrepiece. Keeping the budget in mind, as larger Santas cost larger sums of money, and I was designing and making rag dolls for pocket money. I designed a rag doll, and called it the Santapiece. He was joined by Merry Christmas, and most doll bodies I created after that got a Santa makeover.

Twenty years later there were 220 Santas, including one Brian bought for me, and one tree was decorated with 60 of them, in addition to those on shelves, filling the dolls house and on the floor. Even broom handles got the Santa makeover!

Tree Trims

When we first got married there was little money to spend on Christmas decorations, so I made some with whatever I could get.

Our first tree decorations were matchboxes covered with used Christmas wrap with some gold thread to hang them on the tree. Gradually the wrapping and the trims on the matchboxes became more elaborate, and when the boxes got crushed they were replaced with shapes cut from Styrofoam packaging.

While we were living in Snowtown I made an angel to go on top of the tree, and entered the tree in the local Christmas Tree Festival, with all hand made decorations, including a few Styrofoam ‘boxes’. It won the competition, but was more pleased that finally the tree had no commercially made decorations.

Most of our Christmas trees still have hand made decorations, using fabric and thread, paper and glue, ribbon and lace, new and found objects. I have made most of them myself, and I have designed many of them as well.

Others are decorated with items purchased for the purpose, though not all of them were intended to be placed on a Christmas tree by the manufacturer.

I use very little tinsel, but make alternatives from yarn to match the theme or colour of the other decorations.

Even some of the trees are handmade, using broomsticks, Dowels and cotton reels to hold wire branches, which in turn hold fabric, yarn or string foliage.

Moving Christmas

We have lived in many different areas of South Australia, moving after just 12 months or staying 8 or 9 years.

It is always nice to know before the decorations go back in the boxes if we will move before the next Christmas. It takes just a little bit of extra time to pack the decorations away with a little more packaging around them to keep them safe during the shift. When the real packing of all our goods and chattels starts there are all those boxes of decorations ready to go!

Decorating a different house can be very time consuming, trying to fit decorations tailor made for a previous address into the current one, so I use what I can, and then make some new ones. Over a few years I usually manage to incorporate most of the older decorations plus the new ones into a house …

And then start again at the next address.

Magnificent Obsession


Magic Cave

My sister Sue says I have an obsession, but I can only think of it as a magnificent obsession. It was the same sister who unwittingly encouraged me to carry on when she told me that the Jamestown Magic Cave had been decorated with donations from members of the community, so when I no longer want to deck our halls with all I have, I will look for a Magic Cave to take the excess.

She also asked me if I had considered opening the house as a Magic Cave for Mums and Grandmas, though Father Christmas should be given a room to meet and greet the small kids too.

Perhaps there will be one or more in the family circle who will give the boxes and boxes of decorations and a small forest of trees a home! My Mum always made the effort to put something up even when they were going to be somewhere else on Christmas Day, so perhaps its in the genes, and it may be showing up in one of her great granddaughters, Rachel

Christmas Mail

As we have moved around we leave family and friends behind, but though they may not be a part of our day to day lives anymore, we like to keep in touch. With each move the list has grown, and in 1989 I started publishing the Butcher’s Bulletin. It has become an annual addition to the dozens of Christmas cards we send each year, much assisted by a computer after the first few years.

The Bulletin is simply a brief overview of what we have done through the year, incorporating as many word beginning with ‘B’ as I can , so Brian playing ball games and me making blocks and adding borders is a consistent source of news each year

Many of the cards are recycled into decorations. To hand on trees and walls and sit on windowsills.

Christmas in July

In 2002 I exhibited Christmas collectables and hand-made decorations in a ‘Christmas in July’ Exhibition in the Ascot Building in Kadina. I had so many tree trims I had to borrow trees to hold them all.

Glenice brought in grandson, Matthew, who spotted Brian’s old boots which I had painted green and used to display tree sticks, pop-up dolls and heads on sticks. He asked me if they were meant to belong to Father Christmas, because if they did they should be black.

Angela brought her then 8-year-old and very crafty son, Sam, to have a look. She looked at the sewing collectables on a tree and spotted the little reels of cotton and said she had just thrown some out. Sam piped up “I rescued them. Knew they would be useful.” I copped my share of criticism because I had a big embroidery hoop up too high, and he thought small decorations should go up high, big ones down low. He’s right!

Angela had just given away a doll’s house, and was lamenting while looking at Megan’s dolls house full of my Santa collection. Sam said “The whole trouble with you, Mum, you just don’t think things through. You could have used it in the shop!” (The shop in question being Country Crafts and Fabrics in Minlaton, which is a favourite spot of mine.)

He asked me how the cork trains were made, and I explained that I had cut the corks with a sharp knife, and if he wanted to make them he would have to get Mum or Dad to cut them. Angela shook her head and told me he had claimed a craft knife about two years earlier because she didn’t do exactly what he wanted.

That Saturday night they went to the pub, and Sam fronted up to the bar to ask for some corks, counted them, went back for more, and made cork trains for everyone for Christmas that year!

Five years later I was teaching a ‘Three Santas’ workshop in the Barossa Quilt and Craft Cottage, when one of the girls asked me if I was the one who had been responsible for the ‘Christmas in July’ exhibition in Kadina!

Wonderful to be remembered.

Christmas Gold

14th January 2005 to 2.25 pm 16th December 2006

In 2004 the Golden Harvest Quilters presented me with quilt blocks with a Christmas theme as a farewell gift when we moved from Kadina to Bordertown

Before the blocks became threadbare from me playing with them, in Jan 2005, I put the small borders around each one and got them together, two days later. the project was left a bit rough around the edges for more thinking time while I planned the border. It was not until the day the Golden Girls celebrated their 20th birthday on Wednesday 13th September 2006 that it became less ragged, and while the Golden Girls were celebrating at the 2006 Christmas Party, I completed the top, sandwiched (with out the filling), and quilted and within days it was completed and on the bed.

It looks absolutely wonderful, and every time Brian wiggles a toe bells ring! (I’m not telling you what is going on when the bells ring for extended periods of time, but we will have to curtail that sort of activity while we have guests!)

I am delighted with the results, and will be sad to put it away during the colder months, but what a thrill it will be to get it out when the Christmas decorations come out for their annual airing. It is unlikely that I will ever forget the Golden Harvest Quilters, but I have no doubt that the memories will come back every Christmas despite age and old timers disease!

The pages were printed from the computer then glued to thick cardboard, painted and decorated with scrapbook trims.

Thick gold wire was bent into rings to hold the pages together, and a bunch of ribbons and yarn was tied together and glued to the front cover.

For more Christmas stuff, every day of the year click here

Tinsel Alternative

When we could afford to spend a bit of money on Christmas decorations (after a few years of no spare money for such trivialities) it was the disco era, and tinsel was widely used, readily available, and very, very shiny. It got bigger and brighter by the year. In defiance of the trend I wanted something a little less in your face so that the decorations I was making wouldn’t be overpowered by the tinsel. I had a couple of  lengths of skinny tinsel and refused to add the big, bold new varieties.

To add a bit of colour (red) I used three strands of 8 ply yarn knotted together about every 12 inches, and the kids made a few red pompoms to match. (Unfortunately the pompoms were not tied together very well and disintegrated within a couple of years. Must make some more red ones….. I have already made white ones.)

Some time later I used red and white 8 ply yarn to crochet a chain and draped them around the tree. Then I worked out that if I did a double crochet every five to ten chain stitches and then continuing with the chain it looked much more interesting. Found instructions to do loopy crochet and found some bumpy yarn to make loopy strands of tinsel alternative.

Then came fancy yarns ………… the faux feathers yarn was a bit one sided as it was, but as a single chain …….. beautiful. Then ostrich, and even some with tinsel like bits mixed into the yarn. Perfect!

I found a card with 20 metres of Craft Fibre in Cheap as Chips a couple of years ago. It has some sparkle, and similar to some of the sparkly knitting yarns around, but much finer.

I have just sat down for about half an hour with a crochet hook and worked it into a single chain. There is a little bit of the thread at the top of the photo.

It looks like a subdued version of tinsel, and still being fairly fine it will be suitable for a small tree, though there is about 6 yards or five metres, so maybe there is enough for two small trees!.

The hard part will be deciding which small tree to put it on!

This photo shows it on a tree in the garden and it is so light it hasn’t bent the fine tips of the new foliage. Next time you see it it will be as part of the decorations on a small indoor tree.

Home Gardener

This is the original cover of a gardening book I found in an Op Shop which has some lovely illustrations, some nice photos, and text which is either repeated in other gardening books I have in my library, or about plants which are unsuitable for our climate. I wanted to keep the cover illustration, so the cover remains untouched.

On pages where there was unwanted text I found suitable photos from magazines to cover the text and leave illustrations or photos as they appeared in the unaltered book.

I removed some pages so the book didn’t bulge with the added scraps of paper, tearing them off about a centimetre from the spine so the signatures remained tight.

Next time I think I will use some paint to cover some of the text ……. finding pictures the right shape and size of things I wanted to keep was a big challenge, and took a lot of time.

Pretty Things

Purple patch! New scrap book with a purple plastic cover!

All the magazines which have provided the scrappy contents are all published in the last few years.

That’s a Jenny Bowker creation top right, don’t know who did the one bottom left …… and some dragon flies. I sometimes use them as quilting motifs on flowery quilts.

Lots of collectables cluttering a cottage, and a tree of life quilt and some sewing collectables.

All in the House

New scrap book, contents are from magazines, most of them within the last five years.

The left page above is instruction sheet which came with one of my Westalee rulers ………. purchased in Beechworth on our way home from Canberra early this year!

The quilt on the right is the computer drawing of a quilt design I did in 1995 to be made by members of the Golden Harvest Quilters in a Friendship Quilt group in 1995-1996. The quilt was finished in January 1997, except for the binding, which was done in the last minute before the 1998 Calendar of Quilts Exhibition.

(I just checked all that information, and lots more, on the back of the quilt which resides in our lounge room.)

Drawing of a doll which was used on the requirements list for the Basement Babies workshop. This is a good indication of why I am a quilter rather than a painter ….. my drawing and sketching skills are pretty limited! Dated 1996.

I would love a veranda like that!

And the other side is a requirements list for another workshop …. this time Jigsaw Baby. I had a computer, but no drawing program of any sort.

Don’t know why I chose these pages to when I got the camera out …… they are probably the least pretty in the book, but they also probably have more memories than most of the other pages.

Scrap Books filled and covered

This is two scrap books which I started filling about 10 years ago……… maybe longer.

I pulled them apart, mixed the filled pages with the blank pages, and then filled the blanks. Some of the new additions to the pages are probably as old as the scrap books themselves.

Those drawings are old, but though the coloured picture from some wrapping paper was only added recently, it has been floating around in boxes for at least two shifts ……. and we have been here for over five years!

The coloured additions are a little less travelled on this page. The two double page spreads above are in the Australian Wildflowers and Landscapes scraps, and the leaves on the left are gum tree leaves.

I don’t think the duck and drake were my original drawings, but you can see where I was adjusting the bonnet on the duck!

These drawings were traced from the original rough sketches ….. you can see where a stem or leaf was removed or redrawn. The clocks were from a magazine purchased about six or eight years ago.

The Christmas Tree who fell to pieces…..

Just like an old quilter!

I store Christmas trees in a cupboard with bags made from old curtains and sheets over them so they don’t get tangled together. (There are about a dozen in there.)

The biggest one is store bought, and comes apart for easy storage. However I store it in one of those bags standing straight and tall. Six feet tall. I removed a couple of smaller trees and started shuffling the big one out of the cupboard, and thought a little lift might be good weight training and assist getting it out of the cupboard into a small hall space already cluttered with previously removed trees.

I did say the tree would come apart for easy storage, didn’t I?

Well, it also comes apart when you lift by holding one of the upper sections. And come apart again when I tried to lift by gripping it a little lower, but still above the bottom section. I had managed to wedge myself in the cupboard to make more room for the tree in the limited space outside the cupboard.

The tree was still in the bag, but totally out of control, and sort of collapsed in a bent and twisted shape in what now looked like a body bag containing a very broken body, in this case held together by not one, but three, sets of lights.

At this point the five foot tall tree which had already made it’s escape from the cupboard, and the bag which it had worn over it’s head for ten and a half months, decided to join the party and fell over the big bagged tree and landed back in the cupboard to embrace me.

You are going to have to picture the scene all by yourself.

The camera was out of reach until I managed to get Humpty back together again. And thankfully there were no witnesses.

Bit tree with Handmade Tree Trims

This is what the tree looked likefor a previous Christmas, and all the decorations are still on there even after I untangled the lights and got it all back into one piece. Wonder if superglue will hold it all together. Or perhaps a few screws ……….

Pieced Pockets


Quite a few years ago (early 1990s?) Jackie Robinson was on holiday in Australia with her family, and I was lucky enough to be able to share an afternoon with her, along with a few members of two quilt groups. This was before she wrote the book, but Jackie was kind enough to show us how she was piecing folded fabric into the seams of patchwork to create little pockets, and to use these pockets to create block designs.

I went home and made up some sample bits and pieces so I would remember what she had showed us. I used these bits and pieces when two of us shared what we had learned to other members of one of the groups. Robyn made her sample bits into a wallhanging, Until now mine were in a box with some scribbled notes..

I took the box and some cream fabric to the August 2009 Hi-Fibre Retreat at Pt Hughes, and pieced the samples into fabric pages, and sandwiched them ready to construct a book.

In the photos of the pages some magnets have be placed in the pockets so that you can see where the pocket opens in each of the samples. The photos of individual pages were taken before I added cutting details onto the pages with a pen, because I thought there was every chance I would make mistakes stuff up and have to cross out bits and pieces on the pages, just like my scribbles on bits of paper or in more conventional scrap books.



Each of these use a base square of fabric and a folded square of contrast folded either on the diagonal or straight.


Two folded squares placed over a rectangle.



One large square with four folded squares placed on each corner.


Equal sized squares folded over the base, the first two on opposite sides of the base, the third one has the folded squares on adjacent corners.



Pinwheels constructed using the folded squares on adjacent corners of the base.



Four folded squares placed on a base square, with the bias folds folded back to reveal a small keyhole in the centre.



A square is folded in halves, then folded so that all raw edges are together, and placed over a rectangle.



Squares folded for inserts as the last example, inserted into the seams of a four patch.



A double folded square is stitched into the seam between two squares, then pressed to one side of the seam, or flattened over teh seam.



Two rectangles are folded in half and then cought in the seams between two more rectangles. Ideal for the points of Ohio Star, as the two foundation rectangles can be contrast colours.



To me this is the classic use for 3D patchwork.


A double page spread showing the 3 steps required to make the 3D Bow Ties



Same construction as the knot of the bow tie, but with a bigger square for the inserted piece.



Using four squares folded in half diagonally, one on each corner of teh foundation square. Because the fold is on the bias of teh fabric it can be easily folded back to make a slight curve.



Same construction as the Bow tie using a bigger square for the insert, then folding the bias edges back. The folds can be held in place with a few stitches in the centre.


The pages were joined toghther much as the Colouring book, except that this time I secured each page as I stitched it to the pile, and left a little room between the pages so the book would open flat.


I could have added beads to keep the spaces even, but it seemed to work without them.


Otherwise the book was constructed the same way as the Colouring Book, but with the threads secured and hidden instead of the bows on the front


So now all those scrappy samples are housed in my 3D piecing sampler book ……… and as a result of making this book I will be showing a group of girls at next years retreats how to do some of these bits and pieces …………..


………. or I will just give them the book and let them work it out for themselves!


Colouring Book

5th September, 2009


My colouring book is completed!

The cover is cut a little bigger than the pages, with extra added to allow for wrapping around the spine.

First up I made a cardboard template and punched holes with an awl so I could mark the stitching spaces on the inside of the book cover.

Ooops, I was in a hurry, so the photo is blurry! Should have used the setting for action photos!


I found a lot of needles and threaded them with upholstery thread, and took a stitch through the back cover with each thread ……… stitches about half an inch or a centimetre, with about double the space bewteen the stitches.

Each thrread was then taken through each of the pages, just a tiny distance from the folded edge.


Pulled all the threads firmly ……..

(I was still in a hurry to see how this would work!)


……….. then took them through the cover ……………..


……………….to the front ………………….


………………tied a little bow in the thread and trimmed the ends!


The pages open rather well, and are held close together in the spine.


Opened up towards the centre, it is not quite flat, but I can live with that.


I still like the blank cover …………..


……….. but may have to rethink that when I use more of this fabric for another book cover!


Now all I have to do is remember that this is where all the experiments I did with colour pencils on fabric are to be found!


I have since bought three more sets of pencils, one generic set of 36 watercolour pencils, plus Pastel Pencils and Charcoal Pencils by Mont Marte. I will have to add a few scraps of fabric to the book with future experiments!

Stitching Circle

Completed September, 2009


This scrap book was put together using empty pages saved from a few old books which were almost full …………. by reomving the empty pages they suddenly became full! Just add a cover!


The new book was filled with pages and scraps of pages saved from several magazines from the 1980s and 90s including Ladies Circle Patchwork Quilts. Most of them feature quilts and quilters, including Lee Cleland (not shown) and Amy Emms (below).


Did anybody miss me?

We have been away for three weeks staying with friends and family ……… on holiday. I use the term holiday loosely, as Butch doesn’t like sitting around or being a tourist, so he did some cementing, tidied up some paving, did some welding ……. generally got his hands dirty. I went to a quilt meeting, checked out all the op shops, quilt shops and secondhand shops, visited a couple of art exhibitions, ate fish and chips at the beach and enjoyed the company of good friends.


If you heard about the dust storm which almost closed down Syndey, this is what it looked like two days earlier over Burra, South Australia, just before it rained mud for a sort time. Later in Spalding we found a house  without a roof and a severely damaged roadhouse, and in Cowell we saw golf ball size hail stones which fell that same day, and wind damage on farms. I managed to skirt around it somehow!

I broke the quilt hoop I took with me the first time I sat down to quilt, so bought materials for a new project I could start on the run without my usual sewing, drafting and cutting tools.


During the 3 days of the Paskeville Field Days Butch cooked breakfast for about 100 clients in one of the vendors sites, and the staff lunches, and found time to check out tools and tractors between the two meals. I went one day and became footsore wandering around the general interest sites, finding some fabric and some plants.

We also helped babysit grandies of friends, patted a standardbred horse or two, and watched as the ‘scrappies’ loaded three generation of farm trucks onto a trailer to be recycled. One of the trucks was the biggest truck in thte world when my Dad brought it home when I was a preschooler. That was in the days before childacre centres, kindies etc, and I got to ride in the truck to deliver wheat to the silo. And even that was after we carried bagged wheat to the station.


I am back, with snuffles and sneezes which indicate spring, with a backlog of washing, and lots of ideas for future projects, and for finishing some of the UFOs.

Colouring Book …..

…… for quilters and embroiderers


The cover is rather blank. It is two layers of lined curtain fabric with a layer of wadding between them. I like the embossed design, so it’s staying blank!


This was one of my first experiments with coloured pencils on fabric. Lots of depth of colour, but way too much medium and it feels like slightly sticky plastic. Yuk!




This is the first page of serious testing. the five rows of test squares on the left of the page are repeated with different pencils on later pages, always in the following sequence.

Row 1 Pencil applied dry

Row 2 Pencil applied dry, water added to blend it later.

Row 3 Pencil applied dry, medium added later.

Row 4 Pencil applied to wet fabric, water only

Row 5 Pencil applied to wet fabric with medium

Note that medium (Jo Sonya Textile Medium) was mixed with water,

just two or three drops in a tablespoon of water.

All the sample pages were allowed to dry naturally or given a hurry up with a dry iron when I couldn’t wait, then washed gently in warm water with detergent, and ironed dry.


The text was just to see what it would look like as a background pattern, because I had drawn the tree and realised it was a bit too fine to to colour in with wet pencils!


The pencils used on this page were some cheap pencils with no markings. The rows are treated as the first sample page. The blended areas on the right were done dry at the top, applied dry then water added to the centre patch, and the bottom patch was blended on wet fabric with medium added.


Outline was printed direct onto untreated fabric using an Epson printer with Durabrite ink., but it was washed before it was ironed! The pot is fused fabric with shading added by pen. (Pens will be the subject of another textile sample book.)

Colour was added with wet watercolour pencils, and recoated when medium was added.


This page was coloured in dry using Staedler Mars-Lumochrome with a little bit of Dats Kids metallic pencils. The top part of the design was coloured dry, the bottom was coloured on fabric wet with plain water. Medium was added to the right side only before page was dried, washed and ironed dry.


On this page I was just filling in time and playing with the pencils, in particular white coloured pencil for shading, and used a HB lead pencil as a colouring pencil. Ironed it beofre washing and ironing.



I have two of these pencils, but that’s enough to play with. The top left patches were applied to wet medium. Derwent make a pencil, I think it is called an outline pencil, which would stop the bleeding, but I didn’t have one to try.

Bottom two patches were applied dry, then wet it with an almost dry brush, and there was much more control.The blob top right was applied with a wet pencil ….. diped the pencil in water before applying.

The light patches were applied dry, no moisture added before ironing, then washed and ironed the whole page.


Another page where the picture was too fine for real colouring in! The birds are coloured with HB lead pencil, and used the same to add texture to the ‘border’ by writing some text arounf there.



Another test page with the added blended patches on the right. Top one blended dry, middle blended water added, bottom blended medium added. The medium tetnded to make thse pencils run a bit, so the outline pencil would be a handy addition to the pencil case.


Coloured with Derwent Artist pencils, medium added, extra colour added with wet pencil to get that bright orange, then embroidered the outlines.



Watercolour pencils.

These were not as easy to apply dry as Prismacolor, and you definitely need a blender pencil to help control the flow. This set of pencils faded more without any moisture added before the ironing,washing, ironing routine.


Stems done with Unipin Fineline, leaves colured with Derwent Artist pencil, and the patch on the right was the same pencil applied dry, water and medium added.

Fabric urn was fused on, with shading added with pens.



Metallic Coloured Pencils

The smudges down the left hand side were the sample patches I did before colouring the picture with dry pencils, washing and ironing. Oooops! Everything faded quite a bit.

Added the second lot of samples and a little extra colour to the picture dry, then added medium to them, the originals and the picture. The smudges on the right were added wet with medium.

The metallic look is very, very subtle, and rather nice. I found these pencils in Cheap as Chips quite some time before I tried them, and haven’t seen them since.


Derwent Artists Pencils, applied dry, embroidered outlines, added medium, and a little bit more colour while it was wet. Reminder that I use tow or three drops of medium in a tablespoon of water.

Now it’s starting to come together!


This is the effect I wanted all the time. Just like my favourite pages in long gone school books. Subtle colour, easy to apply dry,

Outline with Pigma pen, coloured with


pencils, ironed, washed and ironed again. No change in the amount of colour. No mess. I like it! I forgot to do a sample page with these pencils but they were used in quite a few of the picture pages with and without moisture and medium.

I found that the easiest method was applying the pencils dry, and applying wet is harder to control. If I want stronger colours I will continue to use Fabrico pens rather than fuss with pencils and the wet stuff!

Making the book itself will be another post soon.



I have started covering all the old scrap books in the filing cabinet, and filling up any empty pages. This one just needed the cover.


I got my first computer in 1992 and I suspect this book was full a long time before that. Wish I had thought to date all those books which still fill a drawer in the filing cabinet after me rescuing quite a few earlier this year to fill and/or cover.


It contains 82 quilt layouts to use with various assortments of blocks, and I started out with a piece of wrapping paper to show where the blocks would go in each layout.


The wrapping paper ran out a long time before the ideas stopped flowing. A long term plan now that I have found them again is to add these layouts to Electric Quilt. I am sure the Virtual Quilter will like that!

Scrap Books


As I went through magazines and pulled out pages I wanted to keep, I pulled out pattern pages, but not because I wanted to keep them. The patterns piled up, and noone seemed to want them without instruction pages, and I had mutilated some of those because I wanted the picture or the article on the other side of the page, and I design all my projects myself so I didn’t want them …………… but there was a big pile of them!

So what to do with them? Make them into scrap books of course! These three are now waiting to be filled by scraps of paper I do want to keep!

I have used pieces of fabric I just had to have (to dress dolls) on the covers, because unless I change my style of quilts completely, they are not going to be used in quilts, and so this is one way of destashing, while still keeping some of those conversation prints I needed so much!.


To make the books I fused two covers and the spine to fabric, leaving a tiny gap between covers and spine to allow room for folding to close the book. I have stitched signatures of 6 or 8 pages to the fabric covered cardboard spine, leaving a little space between the signatures so there is room for expansion when the pages are filled with scraps of paper, fabric etc.

Black Velvet Lillies


Cannot remember what is is called. Cannot remember when I planted it.

Do know it has grown each year for at least four years, but has never flowered before.

There is another flower about to come out as well.


I didn’t exactly make these black lillies, but I am the only gardener in our household so I am willing to take some of the credit!


Scrapbooking with Scraps

I think I have pretty much cleared the sewing room of loose pieces of paper and old magazines. Though every time I think I have finished I find another scrap of paper or pile of magazines!

(I do still have Quilters Newsletters in bulk ……. over twenty years worth.)

I have learned a few things along the way, so I am going to put them here so I remember! (Though writing on a piece of paper usually works even if I hide the paper.) If I do forget perhaps someone who has read this might remind me!

About scrap booking …..

Cheap glue sticks don’t stick as well as UHU or Bostick glue sticks. And certainly don’t save money when you have to restick everything you glue into a sketch book.

Scrap books cost $1.20 when my kids were going to school and I used the same scrapbooks as they did. Fifteen to twenty years later I bought better quality scrapbooks (Prestick) with better paper and with an extra staple for $2! The cheaper one in the same shop was $1.50, so inflation hasn’t really effected the price of scrapbooks.

They look much better with a fabric or paper cover hiding the fairies and super heroes they usually come home with, though the best ones had dolphins.

You cannot heavily embellish covers of books if you want to put them on shelves or in a filing cabinet…..

….but you can embellish the spine, though I have to admit some of the threads I have left hanging would look much better on a shelf than they do in the filing cabinet.

Altered books make interesting scrap books.

Hard covers from old books make great covers for scrap books with new pages.

I can make books using paper (pattern sheets from mutilated magazines) I would otherwise have thrown out.

The last two things can be combined.

Sometimes I threw out three quarters of a page because there was only a small picture or sketch I liked in the first place.

If I had sorted and scrapbooked the keepers every few months I could have spent more time playing and embellishing as I went.

If I do it regularly I can call it journalling!

If I get into scrapbooking the family photos I will not cram twenty photos to a page and fill in the spaces with other stuff! (Some of the pages in these scrap books have so much crammed onto them they are likely to cause headaches as soon as you turn the page!)

About things I like.

My favourite colour is green.

I like monochromatic colour schemes with a splash of a bright contrast.

I like restful colour combinations with one colour being about 70% of the whole, with one other colour.

Multiple shades or tints of each colour is good.

My least favourite colours are blue and orange.

Early sketches of long completed projects now suggest new and different projects.

I like all the variations of country style, from formal, Victorian country to naive and rustic country, and I like primitive much more than I thought I did.

Most of what I liked thirty years ago I still like, but have found more things to like.

I do not follow trends and fashion closely, but pick out any bits I like and do my own thing with it.

Things I remember without the pieces of paper.

(But the pieces of paper reminded me anyway!)

I have met some wonderful people since I became a quilter, and knew some of them before they were featured in magazines. A lot of the profiles I have kept are about real people!

The people I read about first turned out to be real people when I met them.

Archived July 2009

2009 Scrap Books July 015Old and new contents in a new book with new cover.

2009 Scrap Books July 016

Quilt photos which have been floating around looking for a home for quite some time.

The strippy quilt was put together by a friend from donated quilt blocks and strips. The sampler quilt was made by another friend from blocks made in a friendship group in the Golden Harvest Quilters, which went on the be judged best of show at an exhibition in the group quilt section. The other two quilts were at an exhibitionby the Woodpatch Quilters.

The scribbles at the top left were done recently when I was blog browsing and were inspired by Feathered Fibres.

2009 Scrap Books July 017A copy of my workshop notes for Monet’s Garden in Closeup, and how to add the centre.

Other contents include an article about Yvonne Rein who was one of the founders of Down Under Quilts, Heather Ridley who is a fellow South Aussie,  Eileen Campbell, an article by Marian Russell who is another South Aussie, article by Jan T Urquart, and stories about South Australian quilt shops The Patchwork Apple, Riverlea, Quilts and Threads.

This book is the last of the books filled with the backlog of paper scraps I have found in the cupboards, drawers and boxes in the sewing room, but wouldn’t you know it, as I was writing this up I found two double page spreads which are blank!

Friendship and Fabric

2009 Scrap Books July 011

New book,, new cover, and bits and pieces from the past and the present. (1985-2009)

Spiral bound sketch book, fabric cover with hand made cord, printed label. Title came from a friendship calendar.

2009 Scrap Books July 012A mixture of subjects because It was reserved for pictures which fitted the landscape orientation of the book.