Sunday, 10 July 2016

The trouble with the day job...

... is that it really eats up my 'me time'! As I have mentioned previously, I have returned into the classroom, teaching 6-8y olds - a challenge in itself you could say, and especially so when it's my first time teaching at this level. There are many things I enjoy - letters and pictures that say "you're the best teacher", hugs from students when they race into the classroom in the morning, an "ohh" when you tell them you'll be away the next day - it really is all about relationships. The learning happens when relationships are in place, and I am very proud of the progress they have made. However, it does come at a price, it impacts on time with family, on time spending online in my area of passion, teacher PLD, and especially it affects the time I have to be creative myself - and to blog about it! Every now and then I have put an image up on Instagram, feel free to check out my posts here.

Over the last few months I have mainly worked on our Vintage Quilt Revival Sampler, right now I have 14 blocks sitting here. Suz and I are not following a schedule religiously but we generally aim at one block a month; at the rate we are going, we should have our 40 blocks each together by the end of 2017 :)

While we have learnt a lot about what NOT to do when deciding on a feature fabric for a block exchange sampler quilt (wow, there's a mouthful!) as Suz has written about here, I am really pleased how it is all starting to go together. I can see though that I'm starting to run out of sizeable pieces in some colours, so when budget allows I will have to go back and by more yellows and reds I think. 

I have had a really good play with my Moda Solids and so far ended up with this:

Next step will be to buy another half meter of each of the colours plus a dark blue to border it with. This will allow me to turn it into a double size quilt (a certain 13y old does not seem to stop growing...)

I have also sandwiched the damask whole cloth quilt (damask from MiL's hope chest) and started the straight-line quilting. It's been sitting there for a little while, would be great to get it completed these school holidays.

DH has complained for quite some time that I haven't been making any 'arty' quilts but I wasn't in the right headspace. The inspirational Charlotte got a group of us together to encourage each other with entering Aotearoa Quilters challenges, so this might get me back into it? I am interested in entering both the yellow and the floral challenges,  but I haven't found the right inspiration(s) just yet.
Should I play with silks?

There's also quite a few yellow scraps...
I'm glad there are two weeks of holidays to help me get my creative fix - might keep me going for the next 9 weeks of term time? How do you keep yourself going when time is scarce?

Happy Sewing

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Blogger App Monopoly

So there I was, typing away busily in the Blogger app on my iPad. I did not go over Start aka press Save Draft and straight went to Jail - my beautiful post simply vanished! That should teach me - again...

So here we are, 5 months later, and it has been an incredibly busy 5 months. We packed up the house and belongings in Brisbane and moved back home to New Zealand where despite a rather dire rental market in the local community with the help of family we managed to get a lovely rental. While it only had 3 bedrooms (meaning the two younger boys had to share a room) and NO DISHWASHER, it was in a lovely, quiet neighbourhood with a beautiful view of the Kerikeri Inlet.

I was lucky enough to be offered two jobs and accepted a position as classroom teacher in an innovative, small, rural primary school about 45min drive from home. It has been an incredibly steep learning curve for me, this is the first time I have taught at this age level, and we had a number of changes to organisation and class composition during term 1 which meant lots of adjusting and putting in very long hours. Currently it's the school holidays, and we have been busy setting up a new classroom environment because from term 2 we will be team-teaching two year levels together.

The boys have settled into high school life incredibly well, even middle DS who had complained about moving to Australia in the first place and then complained when we decided to move back. All three attend the same local high school, have made friends, and teacher feedback is very positive. They are very lucky as their bus stop is the first one from school which means they leave after 8am in the morning and are back before 3:30pm. DH has been organising the household and boys and is job hunting.

We sold our previous home in Okaihau at the end of January, and as if life wasn't busy enough yet we did a little house hunting. We literally looked at only 3 houses, fell in love with the third, and when the bank gave us the go ahead, we bought this property. At the end of February we moved yet again - but we promised ourselves this will be the last time for a VERY long time. This new home has 5 bedrooms so - I have a sewing room / office again! Please excuse the night time shots:

My big corner sewing desk is up again, with the butcher block / cutting station currently to the left, and a handy pressing station on the desk.
The shelf sits to the right of the corner desk, and on the next wall is my newlarge desk which doubles nicely for laying out blocks - when there isn't too much school work spread out :) Note the furry helper!

On the remaining wall are two closets: The one further to the left (out of shot) is open with shelves (not organised yet), the other is this double wardrobe which now contains most of my sewing and craft items: Threads and notions tucked around the left, current projects and bags of scraps on top of the metal shelf, stash in the middle (that needs better organisation...), more material in the roller box (with space for my fabric painting box to the left), and some future projects below.
I've found it very tricky this term to concentrate on sewing for any length of time, but lately I've had a little more breathing space again, and with better organisation it's easier to pull out projects and work on them.
  • Suz from All the Good Ones Are Taken and I are still working on our #VintageQuiltRevival Sampler Blog Exchange (much easier now with just 20odd km distance versus across the Tasman!).

Just a random layout for now; 11 down, 29 to go
  • Still quilting the #GiantChevron - I'm a bit over it, it takes a looonnnggg time, and I still have problems with random thread breaking and stitches skipping; I'm thinking I need to really observe what I am doing to see what is causing this...

  • Haven't looked at #OpalEssence in a while, but I think I might pull it out this long weekend, it's quite soothing to merely quilt shortish, straight lines...
  • The blocks of my #MetroRings are still in need of getting pieced together. I can't quite decide if it bugs me that the curves aren't all even or not - might have to come up with a clever quilt ing design to make this work?
During my tidy up, I rediscovered a number of my quilts, so will get DH onto setting up some hanging space. Our new home as sarked timber ceilings, he was talking about using fishing line and timber rods - no more drilling holes in the walls! I also found a number of pre-cuts and little - or bigger - collections of fabric for future projects. One of them is Bella Solid bundle, themed around 'Postage Due' from Dowry by Anna Maria Horner.

My middle DS selected it as it reminded him of his beloved video games, esp. Super Mario. Originally I wanted to use lots of squares and rectangles for a pixelated effect, but after some discussions with Suz I'm thinking about some pluses, or maybe sth. similar to this?

I saw this block pattern advertised one someone's online store just recently but couldn't remember where. To find it, I did a Google Search for the image, and I had to laugh when the results was Best guess for this image: super mario bros 2 toad sprite
Another little find during unpacking was this beautiful damask from MiL's hope chest - she gave it to me 3 years ago for making duvet covers. I think it's very precious, and have been thinking about clever ways of using it. It's about 1.25m wide and there's about 7m of it I think; I'm wondering if I could use this to make a large 'cover' / valance for our bed to showcase smaller quilts on it? With a now California King (2x2m) even my 100x100" quilts can look a bit small.

Hmm, should have ironed it first...

Lots of things I could be doing - might have to tend to the washing first though! I hope you, too get to enjoy a happy long weekend of sewing!

Friday, 20 November 2015

MiA from blogger land...

As Chris H rightly pointed out recently, I've once again gone MiA from blogger land... Things have been a bit stressful lately, work starting going into a different direction from what I had in mind, so I ended up giving my notice at the end October. The company decided to make it effective immediately, so in effect I finished work 3 weeks ago.

We had decided from the outset that we would go for at least 1 or at least 3 years to allow our oldest son to complete the last two years of his secondary schooling in one place, and I have been missing friends and family a lot over the last two months, so in a fortnight we will be heading back home to New Zealand for good:) We'll be missing the weather, the shopping, the new friends we made, esp. the girls from the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild!

I have been sewing, though, and enough so to wear our the knee lift on my Pfaff machine :0 With encouragement of the BMQG girls I have given Instagram another shot, here are some of my recent posts:

This was a Community Quilt I made from some donated orphan blocks, backed with Minky:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

I also had fun with some smaller projects:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

Even the Giant Chevron is getting some much needed attention:

A photo posted by Monika Kern (@belchick1) on

With my machine due to disappear into the container soon for the next 5-7 weeks, I better get my sew on while I can - amidst trying to find a rental, applying for jobs, sorting out, packing, selling the cars etc. etc. Wish me luck!

Happy Sewing!

Saturday, 26 September 2015

I had forgotten...

... how heavy a full size quilt is - jeepers! As I need a little rest, I thought I finally update the blog. I have become a very boring blogger, with far too big gaps between posts, but that doesn't mean I haven't been sewing.

Remember this?
25 blocks, each 12 1/2" 

with sashing and keystones

with the first border

as this is for a built-in bedroom suite (bed same size as ours), the side borders have to finish short of the top.
pin basted - I had Mst15 help me move the dining table to have enough space

Crystal is showing where the border finishes - just before she started biting the white pinmoor...

instead of SID I follow Ms Lottie's advice and quilt diagonals
I have now stitched three of the diagonal lines (only about 35 to go...), hard work! This thing is heavy on my small sewing table! Still, I am pleased that the polyester batting I chose gives plenty of 'puff'. I tentatively have in mind to fill the large squares with fmq, I was contemplating feathers, but I'm not sure yet. I recently treated myself to a Westalee quilting ruler foot (plus ruler), and I am considering to use one of their rulers - what do you think?

By the way, do you know how hard it is to get polyester batting in Brisbane? Everyone carries cotton and bamboo which is great, but in this case I wanted loft and less weight as I will have to post it. Saying that, the whole thing is very heavy, and it won't get lighter with quilting...

The cubes are put together and are waiting to be appliquéd onto the middle strip:

The Metro Rings quilt (aka Double Wedding Ring Cheater?) has been sorely neglected, I have pieced these blocks and they have patiently been waiting for me...

Suz and I have started our trans-Tasman block swap for our Vintage Quilt Revival Samplers. This little block winged its way over to NZ last month

I am obviously a slow learner, it's taken me all these years to realise you get much nicer points when you open the seams...
and this is what was left over after making block 2. My first proper attempt at Foundation Piecing and I liked it, though I missed the memo on trimming the seam allowances after adding each piece so I had to cut some of the surplus out by hand ;)

Middle DS needed a new pencil case:

to be perfectly honest, the left end of the zip where it meets the seam on the side is a bit dodgy but I haven't had complaints about it :)
Lastly, a quick little community quilt / baby throw made from gorgeous orphan blocks. A very nice collection of fabrics, I just had too add one block and then piece it all together with plenty of borders. The back is a minkey I found on special at one of the LQS, add a generous stipple, and now I just have to finish stitching on the binding:

Life has been interesting... the boys are doing ok at school, they have just enjoyed the first week of school holidays which I had taken leave for, too - my first proper break since January, it was long overdue. We have travelled a little, at short notice we went inland to Toowoomba to watch the flower parade, took the boys to the Gold Coast to Ripley's Believe or Not and the beach. On Thursday the lovely Ms Lottie and kids came to visit which was lovely.
Next week I'm back at work and need to get ready for my trip home to NZ for a conference - can't wait to meet up with everyone! While I enjoy living in Brisbane, I have really been missing home over the last few weeks - the weather is much warmer over here though, so they better order some sunshine for when I come over!

As always I'll endeavour to make the gaps between posts shorter... Happy Sewing!

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Progress update

It's been a while since the last post, but I've still been busy sewing.
The cubes have been multiplying...
Once again a night-time shot in poor light - sorry!

in fact I currently have the last 6 cubes in progress. DH made the suggestion that I keep an irregular gap running through them (see above) - I like it, what do you think? Might have to work on where exactly that gap runs through to keep the 3D look intact. While oldest DS still hasn't quite accepted my offer to make this quilt for him, I'm still working towards that which will have an influence on the border fabric; as a T1 diabetic white is impractical as finger pricking to test their blood easily leaves stains on the bedding, so I am aiming for some charcoal or similar. Unlike the original patter for Opal Essence I won't be adding partial blocks to the outside, I think I might just have them 'float' on top of the border (if you have any suggestion how to achieve this without a million y-seams, please let me know!).

The Metro Rings are all pieced into 'sort of' triangles, and I have pieced two of them into one block so far:

Originally I was worried I might not have pieced accurately enough, but the pattern is very generous so you have to cut the triangles down a fair bit to the correct size. I have decided I won't obsess too much about how far the green triangles reach over the curves as long as both curves are sort of symmetrical. Originally I had this grand plan to arrange the circle segments in colour ways to create 'cold' and 'warm' circles, but after I arranged them all on the bed (the only decent sized space in this house), I gave up on that, it will just be random. (I am sure I took a photo but that must be on a different device).

I could have been a lot further with this if I wouldn't have had the grand idea to make a quilt for MiL's 80th birthday in December. FiL turned 80 last year and DH flew over for that occasion, but I don't think that will be possible this year. After some browsing through various patterns, I decided on "Puddle Jumping" from thimble blossoms by Camille Roskelley - 'approved' by DH:
Image Source
DH had requested 'pastel' colours (actually his original request was to make another Pastellation quilt which I declined due to time pressure and my 'been there, done that' attitude lol), and given I still had quite a few marbeled pastel jelly roll strips in my stash led me to resize the blocks and end up with this:
Pretty awkward angle but the best I could do last night
With white sashing and white + [something else - not sure yet what] borders this satisfies my need for some negative space to quilt in and yet should still be traditional enough to appeal to the intended recipient. My problem is that at this stage I still don't have exact measurements of the bed (they purchased a new bedrooms suite a few years ago) so I am hoping the husband will get to spy that out of other family members soon. In Germany, people tend to use single duvets despite sharing a bed, so this quilt is intended to be used as a day cover only.

Suz and I have been talking for months about getting started on our Vintage Quilt Revival sampler. Apart from life getting in the way every now and then, we had to settle on a feature fabric that both of us could get at a reasonable price. We ended up choosing a Spotlight fabric, but had real difficulty matching it with a background. We have narrowed it down to one of two Moda Solids (Porcelain or Bleached White) and this morning I was in my happy place, cutting and piecing, hoping I picked out the same background as Suz :) As we are making this as a swap, I'll just leave with you with a little tease...

So what else is going on?

Work has its ups and downs. I have spent a lot of time away, especially during the last term break, so have really enjoyed working more around Brisbane for the last few weeks. After too many weeks of not enough to do, I now had to schedule a webinar for the upcoming public holiday as I simply couldn't fit it in any other way.

DH has completed his training and has started work.
Graduation Day
Oldest DS has turned 15 and built himself a computer to his own specifications, partly financed by 'brother sitting' money.
Family outing to watch Jurassic World in 3D - oldest DS is hiding :)
The other two boys are enjoying spending time with each other incl. regular sleepovers in each others' rooms, I keep on thinking about moving them into one room, but I don't think that would work out in the long run. In difference to their older brother, they don't mind going out with us:
Australia Zoo - Madagascar Island; can you see King Julian? 
Three of my boys :)
Both younger boys loved climbing around in this Banyan tree at Maryborough
Going for a swim at Hervey Bay in the middle of winter
The pelicans were very impressive, but we decided to stay clear of them
after we noted the white stains below the lamp posts lol
The longest wharf I have ever seen in the background (Hervey Bay)
Their Minecraft creation at the recent local Buddyverse camp
There's lots to like about living in Brisbane but it's not home - at least not just yet. Can't wait to catch up with family and friends one of these days :)

Happy Sewing!

Thursday, 25 June 2015


Are slowly multiplying after I decided to hand appliqué the circles. The most recent six (with solid dark diamond) were done on the plane and I'm not 100% happy with the curve of the circles but I'm not redoing them! This is what the project looks like to date - 18 blocks down, about another 24 to go:
Please excuse the quality, it's hard to photograph when you are short and the room is really small! Here they are laid out on Mstr(almost)15's double bed, I think 42 blocks would make a nice double size quilt. As you can see I have included some solids into the Malka Dubrowsky collection as several of you had suggested. I tried to find a selection of neutral fabrics for the circles but it remains very busy, so I'm thinking I'll put a similar weight cream around it as a border once all the blocks are joined rather than following the pattern with half blocks etc.
The rest of my sewing has been sorely neglected, work has been very busy with a week in Darwin, a trip to Sydney and 5 more nights away over the next fortnight. I even skipped the last sew-in as I had just gotten home but I plan to go to the next one.
Suz and I have settled on our feature fabric and will sort out details of our trans-Tasman block swap soon.

Hope life is treating you well! Happy Sewing!

Monday, 1 June 2015

Stitching the weekend away....

It's been a few weeks between posts, but I have kept myself busy:
  • Giant Chevron: After I quilted all the inner, I started with the coloured parts of the quilt, adding very organic matchstick quilting to the black and the red - maybe chopstick quilting would be a better term for it as my lines are 1/8 - 3/8'' apart? (I will have to take a photograph to add here). For the blue and the yellow parts I've been thinking about Judi Madsen inspired quilting, parallel lines to fill in with different designs. I attempted to fmq my straight lines and fill the spaces in as I went along, but I was not happy with the result, so for the second blue side I used the walking foot and then went back to fill the spaces after - much happier with this look! While it is time consuming, at this stage in my quilting journey I might just stick to this method otherwise the result will forever annoy me.
  • I have also worked on my Metro Rings (aka Double Wedding Ring made easier), I forgot to count how many blocks I was up to last night but I managed to cover most of the top of my California King Size bed and I have run out of the white homespun - but realistically I think I'm about half way. I am a little worried about the weight (or lack thereof) for that homespun, but I hope if I put a decent weight batting under it and a good quality backing, it will work. Megan from Canoe Ridge Creations recently posted how she is making a Double Wedding Ring Quilt for her upcoming wedding, so I think I will set myself a goal of having this quilt done and dusted by our 20th wedding anniversary in December :)
    I need to get smarter about taking photographs; our house is rather dark, and with the sun going down so early in QLD I forever show you these poorly lit photographs - sorry!
    Suzanne, nothing has changed, I have already worked out that if I do enough blocks (possibly intersperse these pieced block with the odd 'blank' one), I just need to add borders on three sides to make it fit my bed ;) While I see the rings in this pattern, all three of my sons told me they saw flowers - love a quilt with secondary patterns :)
  • Then on Saturday, I went to the Opal essence class by Lorena Uriarte. She was a very cool person to work with, full of helpful tips and advice. While together we discovered an issue with the templates, Lorena did her very best to remedy this straight away. This is a selection of the blocks we completed in class:
    Obviously we were all taking pictures at the same time lol. Can you spot my block? One quilter from the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild used different measurements that's why her block on the left is a bit bigger than the others.
    Lorena covered lots in her class - about colour values (everyone went off to get the red plastic thingies or used the greyscale function on their phones), about rules and breaking the rules, y seams, about applique by hand and piecing circles. I had been really worried about fabric choices, ended up buying some black, white and red charms for the circles but didn't use them lol. The Malka Dubrowsky fabrics seem to work fine for the tumbling blocks (though being fqs I need to be a bit careful about how I cut them as I get a fair bit of wastage), and while I started out with the Seville City map fqs for the circles, I have since added a collection of fabrics to that.
    My rug in the lounge doubling as a design wall - sort of...

    The colour value part of the workshop has been very interesting.
    Originally I had started out wanting to machine piece the circles - it worked ok for the large circle (I think that was bottom right), but I had a lot more trouble with the medium one and did not even attempt the small circle. After talking with some of the other ladies I have decided that this might be a good travel project so I should hand applique the circles. Last night I did two more and I think I could get used to this! Unlike my usual MO I have not sussed out yet what finished size this quilt will have and where it will go; I have been thinking with the geometric shapes this could be something for Mstr (almost) 15's double bed and while he was showing no particular interest, he wasn't totally against it either, so we'll see what happens...
So there are three projects on the go which is great, and while I find it annoying not to have my own sewing space, having all my stuff in the lounge has made me organise it better and tidy up after use, and I feel I'm a bit more part of what is going on than when I hide in my sewing room. In the long run, though, I would like my own space again.

A couple of Sundays ago I finally made it to the Sew Day of the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild. They are a lovely bunch of people, all women when I visited ranging from early thirties to retirement age I would guess. They were very welcoming, people were working on all sorts of projects, modern and not so modern. I loved the company, I have signed up and will go back next month (if my family lets me lol). This little footstool especially appealed to me:
This quilter made this Minecraft cake footstool as a birthday present for her daughter - very cool!
Our life has been very busy lately, DH started work 2 weeks ago, so that means I get the boys ready in the mornings now. Mst15 has gotten extra chores like walking home from school without ditching his younger brothers, looking after them until the parents get home while avoiding physical violence lol Soon he will have to add 'getting all 3 ready and to school in time' to that list as I am traveling a lot over the next few weeks. In return he gets small monetary rewards towards the new computer he wants to build himself (don't ask...). He's been to the big Career Expo last week and has an idea what he wants to do when he is finished with school at the end of 2017 (guess what... it will involve computers...). As we are just in the process of inquiring about braces for all three boys, we better start playing lotto to afford all of this... We are also starting to think about the next place to move to, our lease will expire in September, so we are starting to check out the rentals to see what is becoming available. However, we are really enjoying the opportunities we have around us here - here are some photos of the boys rock climbing at the high school last month:

I will be talking Minecraft over the next couple of days at EduTECH - hope you get some sewing done while I do that! Happy Sewing!