Morello Cherries

Hello again. Very long time no post. I’ve been busy travelling, working on gifts and a large project that has so far escaped being posted here. So to get my hand back in, I’ll share with you what I did with my first tiny crop of morello cherries.

Teeny crop. Young tree. First time I’ve had more than one fruit.


What to do with them? Morello cherries are sour, so they are more for cooking with than simply eating. A friend semi dries hers to good effect. So I pitted and halved them, and dried them in a low oven.


How to make better use of such tiny scraps of dried fruit? Toast some pistachios, melt some dark choc with a bit of brandy and mix the lot together. The chocolate siezed but blended into a semi truffle sort of consistency.


I’d not repeat that exact chocolate mix, but the resulting little balls made lovely little morsels. Papa and I demolished them with enthusiasm.



Liberty nights

I’m publicising my nightwear again. Completely decently I promise. Fine lawn is cool to wear and folds up small and light for travel. Add a busy print and it’s more decent in the opacity sense. Liberty Tana is of course perfect. I made a kimono style robe for summer traveling some years ago from a beautiful orange tulip Tana. I’ve been wanting a gown to go with it. I decided to use some of the left overs from the lattice patchwork, including the tulip print.

While working on the lattice, I found this second hand purple dress. It didn’t fit, but I rather thought the fabric might be Liberty Tana. It was home made, so no label to identify it. I now think it probably isn’t, but it’s very close in quality.


I used a little of it in the lattice. I deliberately kept the skirt whole, figuring it would be good for something needing acreage. Then I realised I could build a patchwork bodice, and use the skirt for this gown. I got a few squares out of the purple, enough to tie the bodice in visually. Measure the pattern. Work out a good size for the squares and how many are needed. Start laying them out:


Assemble the rough shape. This is for the front.


Then cut the pattern out of it, cursing when you realise you need to put darts in it.


Assemble the bodice, all with flat felled seams to keep it single layer and minimum weight, maximum cool. Adjust the skirt so it can be attached flat to the bodice. To maximise fullness neatly, I put an inverted pleat at centre back. The hem is the original with a bit of tweaking where I redid the seams.

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A quick pic of it on. It’s baggy deliberately but the colours, though strange, work for me. No smile, I had a grump on.


The neck and armholes are finished with teeny straight grain facings, a trick I’ve adopted from my medieval costume work. It uses little fabric, is fairly quick to do and strengthens the edge.


Here it is with the robe over. I’m pretty happy with it.


and a gratuitous label shot. In this case the label is recycled from a now too small shirt.


Lattice is Layered

I had meant to do just one post to cover the latest stages of the insane lattice quilt. I’ve broken the prep of backing and binding down into two separate posts or this would have been a huge monster post. This post is really just a pic-fest celebrating having gotten this far.

Using proper layering technique as taught to me by a good friend makes more sense when working on a queen size quilt rather than the small cot quilts I’ve done more recently. There is just so much fabric and batting to deal with. This is the (wool) batting half laid out. The backing is already positioned underneath it.


The patchwork beginning to be added, still folded in quarters.


Last chance for pictures of the back of the patchwork sans papers



All layered and safety pinned


A final arty shot


Now I need to refine my plans for the quilting pattern. I started to chalk it in but I’m glad I had to leave the house for an appointment because I’m not happy with plan A. More thoughts needed.

Quilt Pre-Binding Experiment

I spent all day Sunday getting the lattice quilt ready to layer. This was the second stage after piecing the backing. This lovely cotton shirting woven satin stripe fabric is what I landed on for the binding.


It looks good with the backing (and you will see it with the patchwork a little later)


I had spent a bunch of time thinking on how I was going to bind this quilt. The way I had stitched the blocks meant that I couldn’t open the edge seams without cutting the fabric or unpicking the hand stitching, neither of which I was up for. I usually apply the binding after the quilting is done. However if I did it then, I really didn’t think I could apply it this close to the edge with the squishy batting as part of the mix. So I thought I’d try sewing the binding strips on before both layering and quilting. It worked fairly well, but I had forgotten that all the edge pieces are on the bias. So sewing on the binding had the risk of stretching or condensing the edge. I seem to have stretched it just a bit, but I’m pleased with the accuracy in terms of closeness to the edge. I very much hope that slight stretching is tolerable in the finished piece.

First the binding strips are joined to be long enough for each side, then pressed in half lengthways. No pics of this, sorry.

Then I cut the protruding edge squares back to provide a cut edge guide. Leaving a neat 1/4″ from the block edges was the right measure to use the machine foot edge as the seam guide and just barely catch the block edges in the seam.


The little black offcuts look a bit like moths or bats 🙂


Machining the binding on:


Pretty happy with this


Then the binding is pressed away from the edge. I do like the colours and the stripe effect next to the patchwork. It will be a little less than half this width in the end.


Pattern Matching Success

This rather pretty large scale print is going to be the backing for the lattice quilt. I had enough acreage but needed to piece it to make the right shape. I haven’t done a lot of pattern matching, big prints not being something I work with much. When I had tried, it hadn’t gone well. With prints, you can’t rely on the pattern being positioned squarely or evenly on the weave and they can be hard to match by eye when seaming them face to face. So I came up with a technique that worked a lot better than my previous attempts. I shall share it here, though I rather suspect I’m not the only one to use it.

Cut (or in this case tear) your sections with some extra seam allowance for shifting of the fabric to match the print. In this case, I had 2cm on one side, about 4cm on the other. Press under the smaller allowance and pin close to the fold over the other piece, matching the print as best you can.

Flip over the top piece without shifting the seam allowances. Pin as close to that soft fold as you can.


Flip back and take out the first lot of pins.


Flip over again and sew along the pressed fold


I was pretty pleased with how this came out. It’s now all ready for the quilt layering.


Lattice patchwork finished-again


There. The two new strips of blocks have been added to make a slight rectangle. They have blended well, as I hoped. You wouldn’t know they were a late addition except that I’ve told you.

Now I need to decide on edge treatment before I remove the papers in the edge pieces. I had thought I would put this aside for a few months, but I really want to continue with it and I think this will fit as the next major hand work project in my (extremely rough) project schedule.

Peacock Dress

I think I’m supposed to be making some new lightweight jeans type trousers, but this fabric snuck out of the cupboard and demanded to be made up. 2.5m of peacock feather border print rayon. Not a lot of thinking. It just wanted to be a simple sleeveless bodice frock with a gathered long skirt. Having just proven that the bodice pattern I made last year still fits, this was quick to cut.


I don’t enjoy marking or sewing darts. Sometimes one just needs the shaping though. A lined bodice like this requires a dozen darts. Sigh. The skirt had to be cut on the cross grain to put the border on the hem. I cut the bodice on the straight grain from the less feathered side of the cloth. This was to better take the weight of the skirt and leave more length for the skirt. It also put seams front and back and caused some awkward feather placement at centre front. Hence the addition of the brown lace, which I happened to have (in the large and overflowing lace box, ahem). The lining is fine slippery and cool bemberg rayon left over from lining some wool trousers years ago.


The advantage of invisible zippers is that they are mostly invisible. Der. One can use a coordinating but non matching zipper from stash without problems.


A better shot of the glorious hem print. I was lazy and just left the selvage as the hem.


and a couple of shots of it on in the fading light:

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Reworked Hair Sticks

About six months ago, I nearly jabbed a friend in the eye with my hair stick when turning my head for a hug. I decided that my over long and too pointy hair sticks had to go or be altered. I’ve put aside some of the metal and plastic dpns* I was using and have had fun converting a couple of wooden ones and paint brush handles into appealing and somewhat safer hair sticks.


The only one that went as planned was the white pearl stick. That was a worn out paintbrush with the ferrule pulled off. Sanded back, coated with white gouache paint, said paint rubbed off as much as possible with a damp cloth, let to dry, then varnished. I’m really pleased with the effect.

The wooden dpns were much more troublesome. That wood turned out to be very brittle, so I couldn’t achieve plan A. The shorter one splintered several times during both sawing and drilling before I gave up on plan B and came up with plan C. I’m amused by the piercing effect. Hoping that one is in fact long enough to function properly (edit: Woot, it does)

This is a better shot of the first two I made:


A demonstration of one in use:


The smaller paint brush one was previously my favourite hair stick in it’s paint brush form. I didn’t want to clean it up too much so I didn’t at all. I just pulled the ferrule off, glued a wooden bead on the end and gave it rough coats of black, then gold acrylic paint. I love the finished piece despite the grungy handle.


*dpn=double pointed (knitting) needle.

Chocolate Sack Shirt

I wanted a shirt like garment to sew on the new Bernina 1120. I had a rifle through stash and came up with this.


A pure cotton single quilt cover set with a really appealing pretend sack print, that I had found for $20. I didn’t want to sleep under it, I wanted to wear it.  I unpicked a few bits to maximise the text print lengths, washed it, cut off the backing (sadly just plain white, will be put aside for other use) and spent a bit of time doing some large scale fussy cutting.


I used pretty much all the printed fabric, including the pillowcase and produced this:

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Buttons are shell as usual, only with the shiny side down. The backs of these are such a good match for the fabric.


Here it is on. Ah breasts, spoiling the drape of simple garments for eons. I’m not yet sure if this will be worn as a dress, a tunic or nightwear. Possibly all three at different times.



Good news. The 1120 performed like a champion. Mostly. I tended to forget I was sewing on a different machine, it is so like the one I’ve used for 24 years. There was a little hesitation during buttonholing and once the needle position didn’t reset on turning her on. We will see.

Sewing machines: Latest Acquisition

My old 1230 came home from that service in early September. It behaved well for the first garment worth after it came home. After that it resumed having small hiccups occasionally. These got more frequent and severe, until 10days ago the misbehaviour was so bad I gave up on her and went to working with the (older but new to me) 830. I’d had to turn her off and back on again maybe a dozen times to just get through the front bands on that black shirt.

So I resumed looking for machines. This time focusing on ones of a similar vintage to my 1230.  My wanted features list has been refined. It sure helps to know what you are looking for. I very nearly committed to buying a 930, which as best I can tell, is the first machine from Bernina with a stepping motor. Before that, I had another quick look to see if anything better had turned up. Lo and behold, there was an 1120 on offer!! I decided to grab it, having not seen anything of the 1100 or 1200 ranges in the months I’ve been looking.  It’s very similar to my 1230, a bit simpler and a bit older.

Today, the 1120 arrived by courier. All the essential stuff is there. I’ve been trying to work out how much use she has had. It’s hard to figure. I was initially saddened by what I thought was yellowing of the stitch selection buttons…. but the machine has a bit of a brown theme. The dials and buttons are all pale brown. The power cord is a darker brown.


I laughed, relaxed a bit and looked further. Below are a bunch of pictures. In all cases, my old 1230 is on the left, the 1120 on the right. The yellowing story is interesting. The overall body enamel on my 1230 is a little darker than the 1120. Mine has lived out on a sewing table for most of her life, sometimes covered with a cloth, rarely in full sun. The 1120’s carrying handle is more yellow, as is the inside of the accessory box. The 1120 has more chips out of the enamel and a bit of damage to the upper dial.

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Other observations are that the knee lift, flat bed table and stitch plate are all very stiff to install/remove. I presume then that these were not used very much. On the other hand, the foot pedal is pretty dirty. I reckon the machine spent a lot of time set up, but with the carry case used as a cover. The accessory box must have been left out and open a lot (mine has mostly been in a drawer so has little yellowing. None of this tells me how much use she has had. The flywheel doesn’t help, one barely needs to touch it given the stepping motor. The bobbin shuttle running surface looks worn to me. I’d say that speaks of a fair amount of use, possibly with less frequent cleaning and oiling than it ought have had.

However. The important thing is that the 1120 sews well. On a quick test she does. The motor hums a bit but the stitch formation is excellent and she is nice and responsive, including reverse which has been playing up on my 1230 for ages.

Oh, and the 1120 cost me a bit less than the quotes for fixing the 1230 (yeh, various diagnoses and no witness of the bad behaviour by the fixit people…. I’m therefore not trusting that a fix would be straightforward).

Now to decide on something to sew to give her a bit of a run.