Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Plans for 2008

As 2007 is rushing to a close, plans are well underway for 2008 projects. I've been enjoying Take A Stitch Tuesday this year with Sharon B. (see sidebar for link) even though I've not stitched as many as I would have liked. I'm hoping to try out a few more stitches over the Christmas period. Recently Sharon asked all her readers what they would like to do in 2008 and she is proposing a "Take it Further" challenge, see the details at
This looks like a great challenge, the brief is very flexible really, so it should suit lots of people.
I can heartily recommend Sharon B.'s blog, her committment to stitching and her stitch dictionary is just so easy to use with great explanation pictures.

This photo is the result of the Inchies challenge, and is the finished project by Sara, see more on the blog at
What a wonderful imaginative use of a small one inch deorated square textile !!

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Counted Thread Band Round Robin progress

Well, this project was started earlier in the year, and here it is at the moment. 8 people from 3 countries will work on this band, not counting the 3rd section which was worked by a lady who has withdrawn from the group and was not able to complete her round. When the band comes back to me I will have to decide how to complete it.

I'm very pleased that Margaret decided to use some orange tones on the piece, and I think there is still some scope for some more. It's moving around a little slower than originally planned - not sure about everyone else but I've found 2007 to be a particularly difficult year for many reasons. Let's hope 2008 will be kinder to us all.

Making a feather bed.

Over at Hambledon Cottage at Parramatta I'm directing a group of volunteers to rehang the 1840's 4 poster Payten bed, and as part of that we decided to make a feather mattress. So yesterday was "feather day" and equipped with dust masks, gloves, 44 kg of duck feathers and a mattress casing Margaret sewed up, we made our way onto the front verandah at Hambledon to start. It was a sligthly overcast and breezy day, but not TOO many feathers escaped. Then we stitched up the opening in the casing and 3 people heaved the "matress" onto the stripped bed. The navy and white ticking cover needs to be made next so I needed to measure the feather bed in situ. It was so BIG that Margaret volunteered to jump on the top to push out all the air. The dust this created was incredible, so we all donned the masks again. We opened the windows, all ran out side for a breath of fresh air then remade the bed and put the famous c. 1860's Wood Quilt, see previous posts, back in place. I'm SO pleased with the resulting profile of the bed. The mattress is meant to come up to the fancy vasings on the posts, and it certainly does that. This bed will not be used in bed-making demonstrations like some of the other beds in Parramatta historic houses, but it will mean that Guides can lift the corner of the bedclothes to allow visitors to peek underneath to see what gives the bed it's height. There was already a small wool mattress on the bed which we will probably cover in ticking as well, to give the correct look. Sheets, a blanket which is being edged in red blanket stitch, and a Marcella cover will complete the bed clothes, and then the new curtains, tester and valances will all be added soon after. An overdue "facelift" for a lovely old 4 poster bed.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Why I blog.

Sharon B. (see link on my sidebar) has been asking some very thought provoking questions in the last few days. Sharon wants to know about if and why we leave comments on other people's blogs, and why we blog in the first place.

I belong to the TAST Challenge webring so I can easily manouvre around the blogs of those people who were taking part in the TAST in 2007. I also belong to about 12 Yahoo Groups (forum style groups with special interest focus) as well as a couple of online only groups, such as Australian Costumers' Guild and Southern Cross Quilters. Then there are my forum discussion groups such as LiveJournal, Truly Victorian patterns and Sewing Academy where people also put their blogs in their signture line. I usually click on these fairly regularly, you just never know what kind of valuable information you are going to find at the end of that link. For instance, one of this morning's posts in my 19th Century Women's group linked to the British Museum costume prints and I found this lovely print of two ladies sewing in the 1830's. Isn't it exquisite? Well it is to a costume nut like myself anyway.

So I tend to comment on blogs where I have something relevant to say about the post. I like to say a bit more than "well done" or "I like your work" without re-writing "War and Peace". I don't mind it when people post a short comment on my blogs, at least it tells me that someone is reading my blog, and since I put a Visitor's Map on the blogs I can see where people visit from, and that is very gratifying. I've never really kept a written diary, although I was writing a semi-biographical short novel in an exercise book once while a teenager. So I see my blog as a form of diary or journal I suppose, and since being encouraged by my friend Jenny B. (see link on sidebar) to start a blog, I have gone a bit overboard ! I guess I've always been a "communicator" but before blogs and forums I used to spend a lot of time on the phone when the kids were little, talking to girlfriends and relatives, because as a non-driver personal visits were difficult.

I've "met" a lot of very nice folk through forums and blogging, and I intend to keep doing it for a very long time. Have you checked out Olive Riley's blog (see sidebar link) Olive is 108 and blogging (well helper Mike does type her words) How wonderful to share Olive's world through her blog, and I guess that is also my reason to blog. Welcome to my world!!

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Wood Quilt

On Saturday I was the guest speaker at the Sydney Quilt Study Group meeting at Burwood in Sydney. A small but enthusiastic group of quilt lovers brought along some interesting old quilts for advice, and I spoke about my grandmothers' bed coverings and the Wood Quilt from Hambledon Cottage at Parramatta. I have posted about the Wood Quilt previously, but I thought you'd like to see another couple of photos.
In the first photo 2 of our volunteers are analysing and charting the quilt block by block, noting damage and possible repairs needed.
The second photo shows a highly decorated appliqued block typical of the 56 blocks in this unique old quilt. The final photo shows a mystery block. This one is situated on the top left of the quilt on the border. The same tailors' suiting samples form the backing to the block, but the appliqued fabrics are different while the stitching and the composition are definately different than anywhere else on the quilt. Was the quilt made over many years and the odd block added before the border fringeing was applied? Was the border added much later than the centre? Did a different person make the odd block? Unfortunately we will probably never know the answers to these questions. We Know a Mrs Wood made the quilt as one of her relatives inherited it and donated it to the Parramatta and District Historical Society. Mr Wood was reportedly a tailor in Queen Victoria's court. The quilt was used as a door curtain in 1927 when the donor visited her uncle Edgar Wood in London and admired it. This oral history is all we know, and the date of 1865 is also negotiable due to the odd block being "discovered" recently while analysing it for the conservation. A very interesting project, and the talk at the Quilt Group was well received.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

"Springtime for Hitler" costumes

This production number from the Producers by Mel Brooks is featuring in the Performing Arts Studio end of year show in early December. I should have started 4 showgirls by now, but events have taken over my life at the moment. Hubby is having surgery on a chronic back problem on Friday and he may be in hospital for up to 7 days depending on how extensive the surgery is. So I'll be juggling hospital visits, sourcing fabric, designing and patternmaking and making the Beer Stein lady, Weiner lady, Pretzel lady and Valkyrie lady. Thankfully the Studio has provided the basic sequined showgirl leotard. I'm making the skirts and draperies and headpieces. The teachers are wearing these, so I can go a bit crazy (no rude comments thankyou!!!) so long as they are easily transportable. Really looking forward to making these ones, just have to get through this difficult weekend first. So The Schedule looks something like this:
Friday - accompany DH to hospital, send him to theatre, read book, stitch, see him in recovery, go home for sleep (yeah, right!)
Saturday - visit DH in morning, go to Burwood in afternoon with antique quilt to give talk on conservation of same, take quilt back to historic house, go to hospital.
Sunday - Open House at Linnwood (see sidebar link) start 9 am finishing at 5.30 after clean up, go to hospital.
Monday - Book ME into hospital for a rest!!!

Here's hoping surgery will be more successful on the 3rd attempt and that a fusion is not required. Recovery will take longer and be more painful if this happens, so crossed fingers and toes, laminectomy will be sufficient. Nursing is not my forte.