Handmade Christmas Pledge!

To begin, I thought I’d share some beautiful spring flowers from our garden – I absolutely adore their rich yummy colour!

It’s a grey drizzly day here in the western suburbs of Sydney – perfect whether for a blog update and perhaps a few wonderful hours spent creating with my sewing machine…

I’ve been busily continuing to sew up more Union Jack blocks, in preparation for a new quilt to be made next year.

I’m hoping to make something similar to this quilt- as made by talented quilter Amy Smart @ Diary of a Quilter ~ click here for her blog post about this quilt ~ & click here for the link to the original quilt design by Busy Bee Quilt Designs: Victory Garden.

I’m not sure how many blocks I’ll make – I’ll possibly keep going until I become thoroughly sick of making the same block over and over again! At the moment I’m having too much fun mixing and matching different colours and prints with mixed results…

This week’s embroidery comes from an applique design I found in one of Cath Kidston’s books – Make! – the pattern is called Antique Rose, a classic design of hers and is one of my all time favourites!

An update on my Jacob’s Ladder Quilt: All hand quilting has come to a dramatic stop – it’s been abandoned; sadly crumpled up on an unused armchair on the opposite side of my sewing room.

The reason for this is…well…is mainly because I can’t be bothered to stitch any more of it. There, I said it! It’s a terrible terrible excuse…but the quilt is just so big that I can’t see myself finishing it in the near future. I admit I chose the wrong thing to begin my first attempt at hand quilting – but hey, I still learnt something new; I openly made mistakes and I’ve learnt from them. Remember: always start small when attempting a new technique and work your way up from there!

My impatience is also a driving force to get the quilt finished. I just want to snuggle underneath it and to wrap my nephews up in it when we’re watching a movie as well as to add a burst of welcome colour to rooms it will reside in.

So it’s back to the drawing board for Jacob’s Ladder – I’ll unpick all my handmade stitches (there’s not that many) and I’ll re-baste and iron it all the while figuring out the best way to machine quilt it…

So as I’m currently an unemployed university student, funds are unfortunately low…boohoo! But, this is the perfect excuse to pledge my promise to making this coming Christmas season a handmade one. Everything I give this year will be handmade by yours truly! This includes the presents, wrapping paper and cards/tags.  The wonderful ladies at The Makery over in the UK gave this spark of inspiration to me– they’re a great little organisation that offers all types of crafty/sewing classes, providing a wonderful sense of creative inspiration to their community!

I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve of what to make, starting with a sweet little embroidery I’ve designed myself. Here’s sneaky peek…

So with only 40 days until Christmas, I’m pretty confident I can pull it off (don’t quote me on that!) and give out some pretty nifty gifts to my loved ones. Hopefully too, a sense of appreciation and thankfulness will come alive as only a handmade gift can do.

Happy Sewing!! xx


A Few Of My Favourites!

I thought, for today’s blog entry, I might share a few of my favourite recipes with you. I’ve had a few requests for the recipes of a few things I’ve made and shared previously on my blog.

First one up is Orange Shortbread! This little beauty of an afternoon tea snack is at it’s best to eat straight out of the oven, all hot and crumbly! Nom-Nom!

I’ve sourced this recipe from one of Jamie Oliver’s brilliant cookbooks – Cook with Jamie: My Guide to Making You a Better Cook.


The Best (Orange) Shortbread in the World

Jamie says “This recipe will make buttery, crumbly, delicious fingers of shortbread, but, if you’re feeling adventurous, why not try adding some orange or lemon zest or a bit of lavender to your dough” (p. 412).

Makes up to 12 chunky finger-sized pieces (or more depending on how you cut it)

You will need:

  • 250g/9oz unsalted butter at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
  • 125g/4 ½oz caster sugar plus extra for sprinkling
  • 250g/9oz plain flour, sifted
  • 125g/ 4 ½oz semolina or cornflour
  • Zest of 1 orange

Now to make…

  • Preheat the oven to 150.C/300.F/gas 2
  • Butter a 22cm/9inch square tin
  • Cream butter and sugar together with a whisk or wooden spoon until pale, light and fluffy.
  • Add in the plain flour and semolina or cornflour as well as the orange zest.
  • Mix very lightly with a wooden spoon and then your hands until you have smooth dough.
  • Press the dough into your buttered square tin, poking it into the corners with your fingers (the more rustic looking the better!)
  • Prick the dough all over with a fork and then pop it into the oven for 50 minutes until lightly golden.
  • While still warm, sprinkle with a generous dusting of caster sugar.
  • Allow the shortbread to cool slightly, cut into 12 chunky finger-sized pieces.
  • Eat, Eat, EAT!!!

This is such a super-dooper easy recipe to make and by adding the orange zest the taste and pure satisfaction you receive from eating it triples the pleasure!!

This next recipe is for all you lovers of chilli!

I’ve been making these power-packed biscuits for the last six years and are usually all eaten in less then two days! They’re just too YUMMY! I’ve tweaked the recipe just a bit from the original, so I’ll write it up from the perspective of how I make them.

Brought to you (and me) by The Australian Women’s Weekly magazine, they would make the ideal gift to give for Christmas or to bring along to a dinner party etc.

Cheese and Chilli Biscuits

Makes up to about 50 biscuits depending on what size cookie cutter you use.

They’re suitable to freeze, but I guarantee they won’t last long enough to even worry about freezing them!

You will need:

  • 2 cups (300g) plain flour
  • 1/3 cup (50g) self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of mild paprika
  • 250g butter, chopped
  • 2 cups (160g) of finely grated parmesan
  • 2 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
  • 1 tablespoon of poppy seeds, optional
  • 6-7 tablespoons of tepid water

Now to make…

  • Preheat oven to moderately slow – 160.C/140C fan-forced
  • Sift together both flours, salt and paprika into a medium sized bowl.
  • Rub in the butter
  • Stir in the cheese, chilli flakes, poppy seeds and enough water to make a soft dough.
  • Gently knead the dough on a floured surface with your hands. (There’s no need to be too precious about it, the more rustic looking the better!)
  • With a cookie cutter (size and shape is your own choice) cut out biscuits and place them onto greased oven trays, about 1cm apart.
  • Bake the biscuits for about 30 minutes or until lightly golden brown.
  • Leave to cool on trays or transfer them onto a cooling rack.
  • Eat, Eat, EAT!!

Just like the orange shortbread, these little delights are best for mouth stuffing straight out the oven with a cooling glass of milk!

I’m more than happy to give all credit for these delicious recipes to their original writers/creators and heartily thank them for sharing their creativeness with us home cooks! Referencing can be found at the end of this blog post.

Soooo, I suppose I should also share some of my current sewing adventures with you…

Yesterday, I plunged into the first steps of hand quilting my Jacob’s Ladder quilt.

I bought all the necessary products that I needed to start this enormous task (plus more fabrics that I didn’t need!) down at my local Spotlight store and then got stuck into it!

It was the very first time I had ever done hand quilting and desperately felt outside of my comfort zone!

However, after persisting with it all afternoon and into the early hours of the morning, I felt like I was finally getting somewhere regarding my technique along with what I had achieved so far.

I know the stitching isn’t perfect, but I’m not aiming for perfection. My aim is to try and experience a new quilting technique and to be proud within myself for attempting it as well as finishing it to a standard that I’m happy with. Well, this is what I keep telling myself anyway!

I still have a very, very, very, very long way to go until it’s finished BUT have now finally got something to work on while parked in front of the TV of an evening waiting for the ads to finish!

I will continue to update my progress with this new learning curve, sharing my triumphs and down-right frustrations with hand quilting such a big quilt as the start of the Australian summer begins!

God give me strength!!

Happy Sewing! xx



Oliver, J. (2006). Cook with Jamie: My guide to making you a better cook. London: Penguin Books

The Australian Women’s Weekly. (2006). Made for giving. Sydney: ACP Magazines

The Queen of Piecing!

I’m so happy to proudly announce that I am no longer a machine paper-piecing virgin! Yay!

October’s Craftsy’s BOM where all about machine paper-piecing, making the Friendship Circle Block…

And the Circle of Geese Block…

I was always a little wary of how machine paper-piecing worked. I had watched countless Youtube videos without an ounce of understanding of how or what to do.

And yet, this past weekend, I put my sewing-thinking-cap on and the technique finally clicked in my head and I successfully completed these two sweet little blocks.

I now feel more confident and less wary to tackle a project that features the machine paper pieced technique and will definitely go out of my way to find a suitable one to start very soon! Like this one that I’ve been dying to know how to make (but with cuter fabrics!)…

Getting back to the topic, here all my of 20 BOM blocks together!

Today in Sydney, the weather is coldish and overcast with a little peek from the sun: perfect to wile away an afternoon on the sewing machine. After completing some of my heavy loaded uni work this morning, I’m treating my self to an afternoon centred on my darling sewing machine! I need to get started on the backing for my Jacob’s Ladder quilt so I can baste it and start quilting it. I’ve almost convinced myself to give hand-quilting a go on this quilt. It’s a technique I’ve never attempted before as I’ve always machine quilted my quilts. I know the basics of how hand-quilting works in my head and have all the accessories to start but haven’t quite perfected it in the actual ‘doing’ bit.

Here some hand quilted quilts that have been inspiring me over the past week…

Spinning Stars by Anna Marie Horner

Prism Quilt by Sundance

Pillow by Sunny in CAL

Come to think of it, I really should give hand quilting a go. I love a challenge as well as the thrill of learning something new and accomplishing it!

The decision has been made! Stay tuned!

Happy Sewing! xx