Thursday, December 10, 2015

Making an ironing table

I've started to notice that quite a few quilters are making themselves a larger ironing surface either by adapting their ironing boards or putting a larger top on a bookcase. I had a small cupboard that can be rolled around on castors, it's 45x60cm. It used to be my mother's microwave cupboard. I had a board cut to size at the hardware shop, I wanted it to fit into a space 110cm long when I'm not using it.

I attached the board to the cupboard with screws, countersinking them so they wouldn't affect the ironing surface.
I covered it wth two layers of tin foil. I'm not sure if that was necessary but it should help the board to resist steam from the iron and might help stop it getting too hot.
Then I added a layer of cotton batting but it was a bit bumpy so I added a layer of wool coat fabric on top. I turned it upside down to staple down the padding.
Then I covered it with some blue cotton drill that I had in the cupboard. I might order some of the ironing board cloth from Amazon but this should do in the meantime. I only safety pinned it on, so I can remove it easily.
Then I noticed all the wasted space under each end and used some racks which we had in the garage left over from a previous project. They hold all the ironing paraphernalia. The baking paper, Teflon sheet, spray bottle, fluff remover roller.

So now I have a mobile ironing station in my new studio and I love it.

Out -takes
The turquoise fabric needed to be ironed before I covered the padding, but my ironing board was covered with tools and nails, then it occurred to me - DING- I could use my new ironing board.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Quilts on sale now!

To help pay for the set up of my new studio I am having a sale of my smaller quilts. They range from $150 for the biggest down to $30 for the smallest. I have pinned them to my new design wall. Let me know if you are interested. I just made two sales so there are gaps - which will pay for another bookcase. Yay! 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

My new studio

I've been working in a long thin room which has become so full of 'stuff' that I have found it harder and harder to find a space to work in. Recently I have been working in a 50cm square spot on a 4 metre long bench because of a lack of storage space and an inability to organise my stuff. 

We have just done major renovations across the whole house. These were long overdue as the kitchen was a 1970s brown horror. It was so authentically awful that it was used as the set for the movie 'Via Satellite' when we rented out the house while we were overseas back in 1997. It has taken until 2015 for us to brave the disturbance of kitchen renovations. Anyway after months of painting walls, waiting for tradespeople, moving furniture around so we could recarpet etcetc, we moved to the downstairs part of the house and my husband kindly vacated his office ( he moved into one of the kids bedrooms as they have left home) so I could  have a bigger studio at the front of the house. I will have a space to teach a few students or have a few friends over for crafty 'play dates'. I should have enough space to make voluminous theatre costumes in there too.

I have painted the walls and ceiling, ripped up the old disintegrating carpet and had 9 new lights put in. Yesterday I had new Lino installed, tomorrow Lisa Call is going to help me put up a large design wall, and I should get the bookcases and cutting table set up by next weekend. I'm really looking forward to putting my books in place. The books have been moved 4 times already, as each room was cleared for recarpet game or painting. I am so over moving books.
Nasty brown floor is transformed by instant plank like Lino.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I just spent a week in Barcelona and Tarragona with my cousin and her son from the Uk. I loved Barcelona. The week zoomed by and now I wish I could have had another week. I followed the tourist trail and mainly visited Gaudi buildings such as the Sagrada Familia, Batllo house, & Palau Guell . By going late in the day I didn't have to book in advance except for the Sagrada Familia.

I look forward to seeing it completed one day if I live long enough, there is still an enormous steeple which isn't even started.

CASA Battlo by Gaudi ( aka house of bones)
Arches inside Batllo house
Doorway inside Casa Battlo

ceiling in Palau Guell. The Guells were patrons of Gaudi. They spent mega bucks on the house but didn't live there long as Mrs Guell didn't like it. I can understand why, it's very dark compared with other places Gaudi designed. It was the start of his career and its full of wrought iron and dark wood.

We also went to the musical theatre , Palau de la Musica catalana, which was designed by a architect Lluis Domenech I Montaner. I found it incredibly busy. I prefer the simplicity of Casa  Battlo.
The skylight over the auditorium
Mosaic pillars on the balcony.

I found Barcelona exciting, easy to get around and it was great fun. I found the queues for the major attractions and having to book in advance annoying. I would definitely not try to do anything big at a weekend.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015


I fond Mostar fascinating and although there were lots of tourists, it wasn't anywhere near as bad as Dubrovnik. You could actually move through the streets and the tourist shops seemed much more interesting. The story of the fighting in Mostar is very sad and very complicated, there are damaged and abandoned houses everywhere. They have rebuilt the beautiful old bridge which is the star of the town.
Embroideries and woven rugs in the Turkish house in Mostar.
Walls pock marked with bullet holes 
The beautiful bridge in Mostar.
Souvenir 'Turkish ' patterned purses and pens made from old shell cases.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015


I have just spent the last 4 days in Dubrovnik. I love the old roofs, the stone walls and the marble paved roads but the crowds of visitors make it difficult to get around. I know that I'm a tourist too, and I'm part of the problem , but I don't know how the locals stand it. 

You can tell the tourists because they are dressed in shorts and singlet tops, they take photos inside the churches, they take photos of people's washing hanging up in the streets and pictures of vegetables. They put their bus ticket in the slot the wrong way round which annoys the driver. They must buy the horrible tourist 'tat' otherwise the shops wouldn't sell it, would they?
Dolls in National costumes
Candles and fridge magnets

The monastery, a tranquil courtyard away from the hordes.
Stair rail in the Rector's Palace
Washing hanging in Trogir
Fruit stall in Zagreb

Sunday, October 4, 2015


For the last week I have been travelling in Croatia. We started in Zagreb then travelled to Split and Trogir, and we are now in Dubrovnik.
I haven't found many textiles of interest but the history of Croatia is fascinating. Split is a town built on and around a Roman palace, I found that incredible.

The retirement palace of the Emperor Dioclesian was huge and the town was built inside its walls. It would be impossible for archeologists to excavate the town because so much of it is still lived in.

There is even an intact Temple of Jupiter with an actual roof! I have only ever seen ruins and floor mosaics before.

Friday, September 18, 2015

6 Sewing tools that make life easier

Where would we be without an Unpicker (Quick Unpick), would we still be using snips or scissors?

How would I manage without my rotary cutter (s) - one for paper, one for fabric and one spare because I can never find them in the mess. Of course then I need the plastic ruler to go with it.

Cutting mat - can't do without that, I use it for cutting fabric and paper. At the moment I am making class samples for The Embroiderers Great Escape 2017. It does seem an awful long way away at the moment but they need pictures for the brochure and publicity.

SewEzi Table - allows me to drop my sewing machine down into the table which helps move flat projects easily under the machine. I've got two of these tables now and I find it hard to work without them. I take one to classes and leave one set up in my sewing room ready to go.
I've got 2 different sewing machines, a Juki and a Bernina 550 so I have separate table inserts for each machine and now that I have two  tables I can have both set up at once and not have to keep changing thread when swapping from quilting to costuming projects. The SewEzi table folds flat to go in the car and was designed in New Zealand.

Walking Foot for the sewing machine
I use it for quilting my quilts, sewing on bindings and for slippery fabrics or ones which move like velvet. I don't think I could manage without it these days.
Gardening gloves
I use these to give me more grip when I'm machine quilting, the brand I use are fabric on the back of the hands and rubbery on the palms. I buy them from my local supermarket and the brand name is Showa.

Donate to a textile cause!

We are getting close to our goal of getting freight money to get our Textile show to the UK for the three Knitting and Stitching shows but are stalled at 80%. Can anyone help us get to goal? We have about $600 and 10 days to go. If we don't get there, we lose all the money that has been pledged so far, as it never gets taken out of the donors accounts.
There is a tax credit for donations of over $5 for donations from New Zealand. Thankyou to all those who have already donated.

Boosted Appeal for New Zealand Textile to get to the Knitting and Stitching Show

Here is a detail of one of my pieces going to the show. It was made by sewing shapes on the back of the fabric (raw edged appliqué) then running dyes and pigments from cups at the top. In this piece I have added a backing layer to see what would happen if I turned it into a 3 layered 'quilt'.
Detail of Harvest

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Judging quilts and fixing dyes

About once or twice a year I'm asked to judge a quilt show and last week I was one of two judges for for the Canteen Quilt Challenge.
Canteen is a charity which works with kids who have cancer and their siblings. Each year they raise money by selling bandannas and this year Canteen Manawatu initiated a challenge to make quilts using Canteen bandannas. The range of quilts was extraordinary and pretty amazing considering how bright and 'in your face' the bandannas are. The quilts ranged from extremely subtle to woah! There were 4 sections to judge, the Open section, Secondary school, Primary school and Special Needs student section.
Its always difficult to choose the top 3 quilts in each category, there are always some that get left out that should really have won a prize but between the two of us we were pretty well in agreement over the prize winners.
Canteen is keen to run this challenge again and if I'm not the judge I can enter the competition. After seeing the amazing range of quilts this year, I'm looking forward to the next show.

Here are a few favourites but my camera hasn't done them justice.
Open section quilts with the winner and 2nd prizewinner in the middle at the top.

The winner of the Secondary school section

My pojagi style wallhangings recently flew back from the exhibitions in the UK and now I'm fixing the dyes by running dilture soda ash solution down the front of them. I never have any idea of how they will turn out after the dyes are fixed, as the road ash change the patterns by running wherever it wants.
This is before fixing the dyes

before fixing the dyes
Soda ash starting to spread.

I'm doing this today, as this week I'm getting new carpet in my sewing room/studio and don't want dye going everywhere.  I ripped out carpet and underlay and then found carpet tiles underneath all that. No wonder the carpet felt squishy. The old carpet is a danger to anyone who touches it as it has 20 years of pins and needles stuck in it. When rolled up, they poke out like hedgehog quills. I really wanted to have lino put down on the floor to make it safe from pins but the carpet tile backing is still stuck to the floor and impossible to remove so I've had to go for an industrial nylon carpet with very little pile.