Thursday, May 31, 2012

Taking over the lounge room

The size of this quilt is scaring me, it's bigger than our living room rug! That's AFTER I trimmed those edges - I'm glad I did and it was pretty easy thanks to my square ruler.

I'm so intimidated to quilt this on my sewing machine since I have only quilted cot sized quilts before. I am considering doing it in two pieces and then joining them - kind of a quilt as you go technique. I know I read a blog last year where the quilt was quilted in 3 pieces and joined together - I just can't remember where it was.

Maybe I should just wait until I get my new, bigger, fancier sewing machine. I've got time to think about it as the batting won't be here for a few weeks since it's on backorder.

Anyway, I've got the blocks labelled into rows and ready to piece together. Does anyone remember reading the tutorial I mentioned or something similar?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Bowties. To trim or not to trim, that is the question!

55 out of 56 blocks done. Just putting the last one together this morning - I lost the little squares but found them in my stash drawer before I cut new ones.

I'm tempted to skip trimming these blocks, I can see they are not perfectly square but I'm feeling lazy! Do you always trim your blocks?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

SMS Giveaway Day Winners Announced

What a great week of give aways.  Did you get around and enter a few?  I didn't get to spend as much time entering give aways as I would've liked but I entered some give aways that truly spoke to me - fingers crossed that I'll win something!

The entries are now closed on my give away and I've already drawn and notified the winners.  I was too excited to leave it until later!  To see the announcement head back to the original give away post.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Sew Mama Sew May Giveaway Day

Welcome if you're visiting to the first time, and hello to my regulars.  It's give away time over at Sew Mama Sew and I jumped at the chance to join in on the fun.  Since it's my birthday next week I wanted to celebrate with my readers by offering up these goodies.

I'm going to be giving away two prizes.  Both packs contain a fabric range that doesn't really need any introduction - Good Folks!  The reason I have decided to share this coveted fabric range with you is that the Good Folks Gods have been shining down on me lately and I have managed to acquire the last few prints to finish off my collection.  Happy dance!!

Prize 1:

Three fat eighths of Good Folks prints in my favourite colour pink.

Ric Rac owl embroidery panel

Two sets of vintage style buttons

Purse Frame Bag 8.5"x7" lined in dupion silk (handmade by me!).  
You can use it to store your notions or add a little chain and use it as an evening bag.

Prize 2:

Good Folks Fortune in Sea (12"x22") with matching zip & Gutterman thread

Make It Perfect - Versatile Wrap Skirt Pattern

Monaluna Shopping Tote 17"x14" by Green Bag Lady


1.  Leave a comment below letting me know what sewing machine you use and whether you would buy it again.

2.   Leave a 2nd comment if you are or become a follower via Google Friend Connect, stating as such

3.   Leave a 3rd comment if you are or become a follower of me on Twitter (@DoloresALOL), stating as such

Remember to leave an email address or make sure you have one on your Google profile so that I can contact you if you are the winner.  

This competition is open to everyone internationally and will be open until May 25th, 5pm PST at which time two winners will be drawn randomly - the first drawn will win Prize 1, the second will win Prize 2.  The winners will be notified by email and announced on this post.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!


Draw 1/Prize 1:

Draw 2/Prize 2:

Congratulations to:

No. 16 Michaela &
 No. 221 Crunchy Con Momma!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Roadtest - Pfaff Expression 2.0 & Janome MC5200

So I had a couple hours of kid free time today to go check out potential sewing machines per my post here.  I decided to go to Chatswood Sewing Centre (CSC) because they sell and repair both Pfaff and Janome.  These were the two brands of interest to me and I wanted to talk to someone who wouldn't be too biased one way or the other.  I'm not sure whether Chatswood Sewing Centre is truly impartial since Shane the owner's main background is with Pfaff but the fact that he sells Janome means that he obviously thinks they are a good brand too.  Both Shane and Joanne the saleslady who helped me said that Pfaff was their preferred brand, in fact they thought the Expression 4.0 was the best machine in the shop.  At $2,699 (sale price) the 4.0 is over my price range.  The other thing they mentioned was that the internals of the Pfaff Expressions were built better than the Janomes.

Here's the two machines I tested
L-R: Janome MC5200; Pfaff Expression 2.0

I got Joanne to demo the Expression 2.0 for me (remember it's currently $1299 - $700 off).  Joanne got the machine set up for FMQ which included manually adjusting the tension which didn't take long, just a couple of tweaks of the knob down from 5 to 3.  She did a bit of FMQ and then let me have a go.  Considering I have had hardly any experience FMQ I did pretty well and it was fairly easy.  The speed had to be adjusted to medium but that was it.  I played around for a few minutes and was pleasantly surprised with how well my stitch length was.  So much better than what I'm getting with my current machine and the open toe (an extra) was quite large so you could see what you're sewing really well.  I would probably be happy to FMQ a quilt straight away with this machine.  I loved the 10" harp space, the menus looked pretty straight forward and I liked the fact that it told you everything you need to know for a particular stitch (which foot, stitch width and length etc) without having to pull out the manual.  It also has a nice little compartment at the front for holding all your feet neatly and it has a tie off function which you can do manually (with a little button above the presser foot) at the end of a seam or you could set it to auto and it would tie off your stitches at the beginning and at the end of a seam without you having to do anything.  Joanne also demo'd the buttonhole function, and it seemed surprisingly simple. The only negative thing I could pick was the plastic on the external body - to me it felt and looked cheap when you compare it to the Janome.

Pfaff Expression 2.0 (photo from here)

Shane and I talked about the Janome's, we narrowed down the selection to the MC5200 (I was told that it is very similar to the MC4900 QC minus a few stitches and the knee lift and a few hundred dollars).  I haven't checked the specs to see if there are any other differences.  In fact, he doesn't even stock the MC4900 QC because he said it doesn't sell that well.  The MC5200 is currently $999 ($500 off). It looked like an impressive Janome machine except the harp space was just a regular 7".  Again the menus looked pretty straight forward and the body looked nice and sturdy and there was a front compartment for feet same as the Pfaff but the open toe which doesn't come with the machine is small (it looked the same as the one I have already).  Joanne got the machine set up to FMQ and then handed it over to me.  I had a lot of trouble FMQ with this machine, the first pedal Joanne put on was small and probably not the one that comes with the machine.  I found the response time to be really poor, there was a definite delay between putting the foot down and the machine responding.  I found I had to put my foot down the whole way, after a second or two it would start working slowly and then go full speed.  We swapped the pedal to a different one and it was the same.  After a few minutes of FMQ I actually felt like I had had a work out.  Mentally and physically it had taxed me.  This was disappointing since I wanted to like the Janome more than the Pfaff.

Janome Memory Craft 5200 (photo from here)

So I am keen to go to another Janome dealer to try out the MC5200 and see if I have the same problems.  I would also like to at least check out the MC4900 QC for myself.  When we talked about the MC6600, CSC recommended buying the Elna version (supposed to be same machine but different badge and a fair bit cheaper - I think it was $1500).  I'm not so sure I would be comfortable with this.  The MC6600 at around $2500 is really out of my price range.

Pfaff Smarter (photo from here)

On the matter of the Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro - I contacted Pfaff head office yesterday.  Maybe I just spoke to the receptionist, she wasn't too knowledgeable and was quite cagey about giving out any top secret information.  All I wanted to know was would this model be available in Australia since you can buy it in the US/Canada/UK and probably lots of other countries.  For starters she didn't even know what model I was talking about.  What I was told was that there have been some new machines released and no one will know what we will be getting until the Managing Director orders them.  However, they will be launching in August.  Not even the staff at CSC knew this!

So the search continues and I'm almost tempted to wait until August in case the Smarter is available (although it retails in the US with the Quilters Companion for around $1500 -  I'm assuming the price tag here will be around $2000).  To me the Smarter looks like a sturdier machine since it has more metal parts than the other Pfaffs.  I figure a good sewing machine is something that you buy every 10-20 years so it's best to do your homework and maybe it's worth paying that little bit extra (here we go I'm already willing to blow the budget!). 

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Sewing Machine Recommendations

Here's my trustee sewing machine.  Before she lived here, my good friend Christy owned and loved her for a few years.  She's a lovely and reliable machine but for quilting she's a little basic.  I have been dreaming about upgrading for a little while and with an impending significant birthday looming in a matter of weeks, I thought that it might be the perfect opportunity to go sewing machine shopping.

Janome MyExcel 3018
I have actually been mulling over this for about a month or two but with the birthday approaching fast I thought that I really need to do some proper detective work.  You see if I find out I can get a great machine that ticks all the boxes for around $1000 then it will probably be a done deal BUT if I find out that the machine of my dreams is looming closer to the $2000 mark (or more) then I'll just have to put this idea on hold or start scouring eBay or Gumtree (ie our version of Craigslist) until something comes up in the second hand market.

I can blame all this lusting on Rachel from Stitched in Color who planted the seed when she purchased her new Pfaff Smarter 1100 Pro.  That particular model is not showing up on the Pfaff Australia website, I'll have to call them tomorrow to find out if it's coming in the near future.  I just spoke to a local Pfaff/Singer dealer (Oatley Cottage) who has the Expression 2.0 on sale for $1300 ($700 off) until 30 May.  I am aiming to go there on Saturday to have a try out of the machine.  On paper it looks great, the harp space is 10" plus it has all the other features like needle up/down, feed dogs down etc.

On the other hand, I have been happy with my Janome.  It turns out that Janome are also having a "Mothers Day Sale".  The problem is all the machines in the $500-$1000 range in that brochure sound really similar.  It looks like the only way I'm going to be able to narrow it down is to go to a Janome dealer and compare the machines in person.  There's also the MC4900QC and MC6600 to consider as well.

I'm not even going to consider Bernina since they are too expensive and the harp space is small on all their machines except for the really, really expensive ones ($5000).

Mum's old Singer sewing machine RIP.
(You can see how my sewing space has grown since 2009)

Oatley Cottage also recommended a Singer for $500 but I didn't find out which model.  Not sure about Singer since I've heard the quality of these machines is not what they used to.  I'd have to do a bit more digging on that.

So please people, I'm putting this out there to you.  Can you let me know what machine you're using, what it cost and would you buy this machine again? Pros & Cons would be awesome as well.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Masterchef and kids

How many of these veg do you think my kids will eat? Clearly Masterchef is back on because I'm taking a bit more interest in cooking.  Not that these roast vegetables are anything gourmet, they are accompanying a fennel, rosemary and garlic roast pork. Right now I'm hoping for some decent crackling...

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mothers Day

I'm enjoying a lazy day, it's 3pm and I'm still in my PJs!!  The kids wanted to make me breakfast in bed, nothing fancy - muesli & passionfruit yoghurt, sourdough with vegemite and coffee (don't you love my latte art?).  

I got Mad Men Series 4 on DVD which I have been hanging out to watch, it's only running on Foxtel now so we had to buy the DVD to keep up.  JB Hi Fi is a good place to get these fairly cheaply in Australia, if you order online it can take a couple of weeks though.  (We are 6 episodes into Breaking Bad Series 4 too, OMG it's such a great show).

I also got three Haighs midi chocolate frogs (125g each) - milk, dark & milk peppermint (the kids got to give me one each and told me that I had to share them).  Haighs is my favourite chocolate, the only place you can get it in Sydney is at the Strand Arcade.  

I also need to go shopping for a new pair of PJ's which I'll do this week.  Last year I bought two pairs from Target that are really soft and stretchy, one pair has totally had it - I accidentally ripped a hole in the pants on the safety gate and the top has stretched too out of shape.  I'm aiming to get to Target before Wednesday as they have 20% off sleepwear.  Very practical presents.  

A couple of us have the sniffles so a lazy day is not a bad thing, it's a bit chilly and very windy outside.  We all had a big day yesterday, I'll update you on the markets tomorrow (I scored the most amazing thing!!).  We will venture out a little later to go visit my Mum who went to a nice fancy lunch with my brother.  

I hope you're having a lovely day and you get a little spoilt.  While I'm writing this I'm talking my husband through how to make bolognese!!  He hardly cooks but I really appreciate it when he does.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Destashing - Stash & Treasure Market

Making labels for market

I am so not organised for tomorrow's Stash & Treasure Market.  So much to measure and put prices on.  I should've started this earlier in the week, I didn't realise how little I would be able to get done today (it's been a trainwreck).  Looks like I'll be chuffing away this evening.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Destash Teaser

Pulling fabrics for destash markets

I've been pulling fabrics from my stash in preparation for my destash sale at the Stash & Treasure Market this Saturday.  Besides quilting cottons there's laminate, voile, corduroy, dupion silks & Vintage Silk Japanese Obi's plus patterns, zips, knitting supplies.  You can't even see it all, the blue bag in the back is full of DS stuff!  I'll give you more detail later after I've sorted it all out.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I didn't mean to leave it so long between posts! I've got some really exciting stuff to show you though.  Last Sunday I went to the Fabric-A-Brac market for the first time.  Even though I've actually decided to do some destashing of fabric I do not love anymore (more on that later), I was still on the look out for bargains and treasures.  I am very pleased to say that I found both.

Fabric-A-Brac was held in the historic Petersham Town Hall.  Apparently they filmed Strictly Ballroom here which I was surprised to find out since I went to primary school nearby and we used to have our school dance concerts there.  There were a lot of sellers keen to destash fabric, patterns, notions etc.  There was a band Evan and The Brave and even Black Star Pastry selling some yummy baked goods.

As I walked in the first table I went up to had a huge box of FQ's.  Straight away I spotted a FQ of Amy Butler Coriander but someone else was handling it and I thought, bummer she's taking that.  After she paid and left the Coriander was still sitting there, she hadn't bought it at all so I snapped it up for fear of anyone else grabbing it first.  I rifled through and even though this seller had heaps of stuff there wasn't anything that really grabbed me.  $4 later, and on I moved to the next table.

I ran into Belinda and Zoe, kindy Mum's from school.  Belinda turned me around and sent me straight to a table at the front I had walked past.  Her words were "go there NOW".  What a good friend, there was heaps of great stuff for sale on this table.  I had to think about budget and restraint so I only walked away with these items:  
  • 1.5m (54") of AMH Folksy flannel $10
  • 25cm (10") strip of Fun@Hart for Freespirit A Dog's Life $2
  • 90cm (1yard) Echino Glasses $6
  • FQ of Liberty $6.  
Seriously, these ladies were destasing heaps of Liberty FQs for $6 and lots and lots of other really cool fabrics.

Finally I was almost at the end when I spotted this blue fabric hanging on a rack.  It reminded me heaps of the Coriander or a Florence Broadhurst fabric.  It has a really beautiful sheen and it was big 2m x 1.5m (78" x 54").  The lady selling was lovely and told me I could have it for $10.  Still, I procrastinated and said that I wanted to keeping looking around and come back.  Literally, I was at the top of the last aisle, I did a quick scan of those tables and didn't see anything that made me want to stop and look so I hightailed it back and snatched it up before anyone else.  I love it, it's so beautiful, the colour has amazing depth and it's just the right weight of cotton for quilting (I suspect it might be a lighter home dec fabric because of the 54" width?).  I don't even know what I'm going to do with it but it's such a big piece that I would love to see it on the back of a quilt.  Anyway, after some morning tea I went to say goodbye to Amy.  As usual she wanted me to show her what I bought.  When she saw the big floral she took one look at the selvedge and told me that the font looked vintage.  Really?  Really?  

So I came home and started Googling.  I couldn't find anything to do with that particular fabric collection.  I keep finding tidbits here and there about Greeff, he was a designer or manufacturer or both but had fabrics printed by Warner and Sons.  It looks like Warners and Sons mill closed in 1971?  So I'm trying to solve this mystery and date this fabric.  Anyway,  I have emailed the Warner Archival Trust to see whether they could give me any information.  How cool though, I'm really pleased with this treasure even if doesn't end up being 40 years old or worth a zillion dollars.

"Ivy Geranium" from a "GARDEN PARTY" Copyright by Greeff Printed in England for Warners and Sons

So all up I spent:  $38.  To put it into perspective, retail prices of quilting cottons in Australia are approx $24/metre, Liberty is $56 (which is why I do buy most of mine online from the US).

IN OTHER NEWS:  Thank you to everyone who voted for me in the SMS Fat Quarter Idol, I did not win.  Congratulations to Tanya!  This is the last week of the competition so your last chance to play along.  The theme is "My Style" so anything goes really and if you're already on Pinterest it's pretty easy to put your bundle together.  Check out the Sew Mama Sew blog for details on how to enter.