Beauty - of people and things

I have been privileged to know many beautiful people throughout my life. Coral, fighting a terrible disease courageously, with dignity, and full of faith, is one of those. Coral is unable to do very little sewing now and so she has given me much of her beautiful fabric stash.

Some lovely oriental fabric was one of her gifts to me and I wanted to make something practical and beautiful from it. I came up with this bedrunner and cushion set:

It uses my original block design, "The Disappearing Square" and I love the opulent colours against the black and gold. I couldn't go past calling it "Coral's Gift".

The pattern is in the latest Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 15 No 8. I will be making the pattern available in a couple of weeks for any international readers who might wish to make this design.

Apart from beautiful people, there have been some beautiful things in my life this week. We live just a couple of houses from a pond which is full of delightful surprises whenever we visit it. A quick walk to the post box on Monday discovered our friend, the Rakali, there again on Monday. I didn't have my camera with me but I've included a photo I took of him last year. They are fascinating Australian native creatures and we were delighted to see him. You can read some information about Rakali on my clever grandson's blog, Ten Random Facts.

Sunrise yesterday, was another beautiful sight. God had his paintbrush out again:

I don't know whether you can call a cake 'beautiful', but it sure tastes Yum! I don't know that I've ever shared a recipe with my readers - that's probably because cooking is right down the list of my priorities! I do it because I have to, not because I love it. I would much rather be in my sewing room!!!

Being senior citizens, my husband and I need to watch our health and that's another reason I don't bake lots of cakes and wonderful desserts! However this fruit cake is on the healthier side, if there is really such a thing as a healthy cake. It boasts being Cholesterol free, having no fat or added sugar. The bonus is that it always turns out brilliantly, is lovely and moist and is super quick and easy to make. A beautiful friend shared the recipe with me, so I'd like to pass it on to you.

You can find the recipe here - I hope you enjoy it!


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The 'ins and outs' of Broderie Perse

Broderie Perse, or Persian Embroidery, is a lovely applique technique first used in the 1700's. Originally only the wealthy could afford the expensive Chintz that was used, but today we have a huge range of gorgeous patterned fabric that lends itself to this technique.

It really is very simple; it's a method of cutting out a motif from fabric and applying it to another fabric - cheat's applique if you like!

 I used the process in my Elegancia Bed Runner and Cushion. Just imagine trying to applique lots of small bits and pieces to obtain the effect of the different colours in the fan and flowers. Then there are the sticks on the fan - it would be difficult and time-consuming to applique them in position on one fan, let alone six that I have used in the project.

This design lent itself to Broderie Perse. The fans were so pretty that they cried out to be showcased on their own. I simply cut around the fan shape very carefully, including some adjacent flowers. Other flowers were then cut out to add to the design where I felt they were needed. 

The steps involved are:

*   Choose the motif and cut out roughly an inch outside of it.
*   Apply a piece of fusible webbing to the wrong side.
*   Cut out carefully around the chosen design, using very sharp, small scissors.
*   Fuse everything in place.
*   Finish the edges and other embellishment by machine or hand embroidery - blanket-stitch, zigzag, satin stitch, straight stitch or whatever you choose.

For Elegancia, I used a clear mono-filament to stitch the fan and flowers to the background.

One of the key things in making Broderie Perse work is the choice of background fabric. 

You can see that the background fabric from which I cut the fans is black, so by choosing the same colour on which to applique the motifs, the process is seamless. Imagine what it would look like if the fan had been appliqued onto, say, a white fabric. The black fabric between the fan sticks would stand out like a sore thumb!

It IS possible sometimes to get away with a different colour background. In my Persian Rose cushion, I have cut away all the background fabric from the motif. You can see that the leaves, roses and buds have no background fabric showing:

This meant that I could applique them to the burgundy background without worrying about any colour clashes. I then blanket-stitched around the cut edges and continued the blanket-stitching around the flowers to pick out the shapes:

Broderie Perse is a technique that I really should use more often. There is no way that I can draw or paint anything like the fabulous artists who produce such beautiful images on their fabric. Then there's the time-factor, Broderie Perse is quick! I recommend you try it out!

Talking about quick projects, my husband and I are going on an overseas trip in a few weeks, so it was time yesterday to think about how we were going to carry all our travel documents, passports etc. I found a travel wallet pattern at Spotlight and made a few modifications to suit what we needed and made one for each of us in just a couple of hours. Hubby's is just plain dark green, but mine uses some pretty blue oriental fabric left-overs - entirely appropriate since we are off to Japan:

Plenty of pockets for all the documents:

Now I think I'll go through my stash and pick something pretty to do some more Broderie Perse!

Happy stitching

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt Pattern 7

I have the next block in the free "Shining Like the Dawn" Block of the Month quilt for you today. It has a great message - very short but full of meaning in our busy world:

You can download the pattern here.

Felt is such a delightful medium to use so when I needed to make a project suitable for a fete, felt was my first thought. I came up with the idea of some embroidered keyrings. Of course they could also be used as a scissor keep or a bag dangle. There's a fan, an icecream and an owl:

The owl was a cover girl!:

You can find the pattern in Handmade Vol 32 No 9 (same magazine as my Chevronetta Table Runner):

If you follow me on Facebook, you might have seen some of the bits and pieces that I've made as part of an interactive children's wall hanging: 

All the parts are removable for play and then can all be put back in place to make a delightful wall hanging:

I've made eight so far in what I have called "My Cupboard" series.  My Kitchen Dresser is probably still my absolute favourite - a fabric tea set:

This one is especially for the boys and includes a tool apron:

So now I'm on to my ninth in the series. It won't take much guessing to work out which room we're in this time!  You can see the rest of My Cupboard series on

Happy stitching!

Chevrons - the easy way

Just occasionally I drag myself out of my vintage dreams and design something with a modern touch! 

It wasn't too hard to do as I am rather fond of chevrons, love red and aqua together and there was enough applique on the ends of my table runner to keep me happy.

These are super easy chevrons! They are made from 2½ inch strips cut across the width of fabric, then red and white are joined along the length, and aqua and white the same. The strips are then cross-cut into 4½ inch squares.

The squares are laid out on point and then stitched together in diagonal rows - very quick and easy.

"Chevronetta" is in the latest edition of Handmade Magazine, Vol 32 No 9.

If you can't find the magazine, then keep an eye out for the pattern which I will make available for purchase in a few weeks.

I made a momentous decision a couple of weeks ago - earth-shattering for me anyway! I decided to free-motion quilt a complete lap quilt!  Free motion quilting is something that I have never been able to conquer and all previous attempts have been disastrous.

Recently I have been trying out a few quilting designs on small blocks so I made the bold decision to go bigger!

I was SO tempted to pull it all out after the first hour ... and the second .... and even the third! Eventually I decided to put my perfectionist trait behind me and just go with the flow. It is definitely far from perfect but I was surprised that it didn't actually look too bad overall! 

I'm not sure that I would do it again, but who knows? I don't like to let things beat me!

 We had a couple of quite cold days last week and our morning walk along the beach wasn't all that comfortable with the cold winds. Apart from needing our daily exercise, we like to spot what lovely birds we can find. Braving the cold was all worthwhile when we saw a rare Beach Stone Curlew. We've only seen two in our four years in the area.

It's not amazingly attractive, but is quite large 55 cm (22 inches) and we were over the moon to see it. The next day we saw these two branches protruding from one of the trees we pass regularly:

... No, not branches but brilliant camouflage by two Tawny Frogmouths!

We find joy every day in living in our beautiful area. God has 'blessed our socks off'!

Happy stitching.