Very Bright Coral pink

Very Bright Coral Pink Diamonds for my quilt

This week I have been playing with these very bright diamonds, working out a pattern for the next ring on my Wheel of Fortune Quilt.  I have just completed a ring of purple squares, like the background in this photo.  In real life the pinks are possibly brighter than they appear on your screen.

If Mainland Australia represented the colours that I am most comfortable with, then these bright babies would be Tasmania, just a little beyond my usual palette and comfort zone.  I like it.

Very bright coral diamonds, peach fabrics and brown fabrics for my quilt

I have assembled the colour for the next couple of rings as well.  Soft peachy colours for the next ring of squares, and cocoa-powder browns for the following ring of diamonds.  These are softer than the chocolate brown of a recent ring, and more like the diamonds in the centre of the quilt.

Bubbles quilt close up 1

I fell in love with the very bright pinks of the pink, peach, purple and green of this grape fabric by Martha Negley.  I have used it in two projects on the go, with fairly similar colour schemes – this is my quilt in progress, which features large “bubbles” of fabric on it.

bubbles quilt close up 2

I am gradually hand stitching down the bubbles, which are mostly just basted in place.

bubbles quilt, close up 3

So lately it has all been about handwork, with very little sewing machine action.  I think I will probably be revving it up for Christmas though.

How about you – handwork or machine work lately?

Vienna – Art and Design

Vienna - Art and Design Catalogue

This week I visited the National Gallery of Victoria for the wonderful “Vienna – Art and Design” exhibition.  Luckily it wasn’t too crowded, so I was able to have a really close look at the exhibits, but I still wanted to be able to pore over them at my leisure, so I bought the exhibition catalogue.

Cutlery Service for Fritz and Lili Warndorfer, Designed by Josef Hofmann

This cutlery service, designed by Josef Hoffmann (for Fritz and Lili Warndorfer), is a great example of the things that really appealed to me – understated elegance and simplicity bestowed upon ordinary household objects.  Blow is a Tea and Coffee service designed by Jutta Sika.

Tea and Coffee Service designed by Jutta Sika

Many of the paintings in the exhibition were really lovely, but I was much more drawn to the design of everyday objects, because they relate directly to my degree in Industrial Design (which could be summed up loosely as the design of products and furniture – mostly).  Anything that is useful and still manages to be elegant and proportionally pleasing, really makes my heart sing.

Surface Design by Koloman Moser

I was also very taken with the surface design works of Koloman Moser for textiles, and wallpapers.  The one above is called “Silvanus”,

Surface Design by Koloman Moser

and this one is called “Arlette”, for use on silk.  It was my favourite.

Writing Desk designed by Dagobert Peche

Lastly, this was a piece of furniture that I was, quite unexpectedly, really enchanted by; a writing desk designed by Dagobert Peche.  This was at the end of the exhibition, and taken from a period where there was much more ornamentation and surface decoration.  While the piece itself looks to me to be slightly unbalanced on the whole, the individual decorative elements are quite charming.  They are very graphic representations of different vegetation.  Looking at them closely gave me an urge to pick up a pencil and get sketching.

This exhibition is on at the Nation Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, until the 9th of October.

Have you been?  What did you think?

Wrap Skirt

Wrap Skirt Complete

After a 6 week absence, I finally sat behind the sewing machine, and made something!

This is my new wrap skirt – made using the “Make it Perfect” pattern – “The Versatile Wrap”.  I love the fabric, but I have to say honestly that the pattern is a great disappointment.  It is very basic and shapeless – something that would not bother me much if it were a free tutorial, but bothers me a lot when I paid $16 for it.  I suspect that all the bloggers who wrote about this being a “great pattern” had not made clothing before.  Having grown up with a prolific sewer for a Mother makes me quite aware of what should be expected of even a basic garment pattern.

Low Light photo of skirt

Forgive me for this low light photo -it has been very grey here, so this is the best “self-photo” I could accomplish.

I made several modifications to the instructions, to try and give the skirt more shape and to finish it more neatly.  I added 2 darts to the back panel (4″ long 1″ wide) and 2 darts to each of the overlapping front panels (3″ long 1/2″ wide).  I also sandwiched the raw edges of both the top and bottom of the skirt, inside the waistband, and hem trim.

I probably would not have made this up at all, once I had a look at the pattern itself, had I not already purchased exactly the required amounts of fabric.

I am going to have to get a copy of Nikki’s book, next time I want to make a wrap skirt, I know that that girl can write a great pattern.

collection of lego minifigures

I thought I would share with you the little collection of characters that are behind me on the window-sill in the self portrait, (beside our front door).  The kids and I have been collecting the occasional Lego Mini-figures.  These little folks come in opaque packs, and it is luck that determines who you find inside.

Lego Minifigure - Vampire

One of my favorites is the Vampire.  The kids have arranged them in order of which series they came from – series 4 is the series in Australian stores at the moment.

Lego Minifigure Kimono Girl

Kimono girl is another favorite – there was much squeezing of packs, trying to work out which one contained her solid-block “legs”.

We are a Lego-loving family, and currently have 9 mini-figures in our collection: Zombie, Demolition Dummy, Deep Sea Diver, Vampire, Race Car Driver, Samurai Warrior, Kimono Girl, Sailor and Artist.

Do you have any at your place?


Making Pretty

Paint Swatches

I have a new long term goal.  You noticed I said long term didn’t you?  As in, I have made a purchase, but I am not quite sure when the next steps will happen.

Michaela has a lovely bedroom, most of which is painted a soft lavender.  Sadly, not all of it is.

Purple Orchid coloured Wall

One wall is painted this intense purple, which is hard to photograph, but is the colour of Singapore Orchids, when you are standing in front of it.  It probably suited the grown up daughter who used to live in the bedroom, but it is a little much for a 5 year old, even with the butterflies stuck on it.

That is where the swatches come in.  When we get around to repainting the orchid wall, I would like to repaint the whole room with a colour that is similar to what is on the other walls, but a tad clearer (the current colour has quite a bit of grey in it).

Before Shot

Before all that happens, I am hoping to make curtains, to replace the horrible vertical blinds that currently hang on the windows.  They don’t block out all the light, and they rattle noisily when the evaporative cooling is on.

The floral fabric is a piece that I recently found that fits in perfectly with the current pale lavender, and with the potential new colours.  It is only dress weight cotton, but I have bought 10m of it, and 10m of block-out lining, gathering tape, lining tape, and curtain tracks.  This means that once the tracks are up, and I have exact measurements for the drop, I am good to sew.

Quilting Swirls

Yesterday I finished quilting the swirls in the border of the baby quilt that Mum and I are making.  Now it is going back to Mum, who is going to bind it, before posting it off to the USA.  This is what the swirls look like on the batting.

Swirly Quilting on the back of the quilt

Mum is very nervous about trusting the postal service with this quilt.  Can anyone give me any advice (or anecdotes) on using Australia Post or a courier service to send precious things to the USA?

Stretchy Water Balloons (A tutorial on altering a t-shirt neckline)

Check out my new, (modified by me), Threadless t-shirt – “Water Balloons”.

I just love Threadless T-Shirts, but have long been frustrated with the shape of the neckline on the ladies tees (tiny and round – close to the neck).  They now produce some of their tees with an altered neckline – but not in my size (for “tall” ladies).

Now I don’t need Trinny and Susannah to tell me that I look terrible in tees that have tiny, round necks.  I know I look much better in scoop or vee necks (as does any lady with fair sized ‘boobage’), but I really wanted this tee, so I took the scissors in hand and cut off that tiny neck.  You can see the original neckline here (it’s the girly tee – not the boat-neck).

I looked at many online tutorials on altering necklines on tees, but mostly came across ones that left the neckline raw, or finished it with binding.  I didn’t have any left-over fabric to make binding, and wanted something that looked a little more professional than a raw edge.  I decided to try to work out how to sew a “self-bound” edge.  As you can see above, it turned out pretty well, (in spite of all my fears).

At this point I have to acknowledge the superior sewing know-how of my mother.  She couldn’t really picture how I was going to finish the neck (from the other end of the phone line) but advised me to get some of that clear stretchy stuff to stabilize it.  I am sure it made the difference between me proudly wearing my shirt, or having it languish in my chest of drawers.

If I knew it was going to work out so well, I would have taken pictures of the steps involved, as I worked on this top – instead I will have to recreate them.

So, here is the tutorial for altering a t-shirt neckline and finishing it with “self-binding”.

Self-binding is a method that actually uses the fabric edge itself, folded and sewn to look like binding – “faux-binding” if you will, as the raw edge is still visible on the inside of the t-shirt.

You will need: The small necked tee (pictured is my finished neckline), another tee with a great neckline, water soluble marking pen, scissors, pins, 1 yard (or 1 metre) of 1/4″ wide clear elastic tape, polyester sewing thread, jersey (ball point) sewing-machine-needles, sewing machine, and an iron.

1) The first step is to put your tiny-necked-tee inside another tee that already has a great neckline (scoop, not vee), and trace the desired neckline onto your tiny-neck-tee.  Your finished neckline will end up about 1/2″ lower than the line you trace, so bear that in mind.

2) Cut a nick in the too small neckline, to make a start, and then cut it away until you have the drawn neckline with a 1/2″ remaining seam allowance.  For the photos I have used a piece of woven patterned cotton, because I didn’t have another tee to cut up, and I thought the pattern would make showing right and wrong sides easier.  Sadly this means that you will have to image a rounded, knit neckline; instead of a straight, woven edge.

3) Fold the 1/2″ seam allowance to the inside of the tee (the drawn line will be on the fold).

4) Concertina fold the seam allowance back, towards the right-side of the tee and pin (the pin is through 3 layers of fabric, with a fold to either side).  You may have to make a small clip, in the seam allowance, at the shoulder seams, to ease the curve of the fabric smoothly.  Use lots of pins to get a smooth finish.

5) Pin one end of your length of clear elastic tape to the middle-back of your new neckline, (don’t pin any more than this) about where the label usually is.  The pins in the picture above represent the stitching line, which is where you will want the clear stretchy stuff.

6) Select a stretch stitch on your sewing machine – mine was somewhere between a straight-stitch, and a zig-zag – sort of z shaped.  Start sewing at the centre-back (where you pinned the elastic), about 1/4″ from the raw edge.  As you sew, hold the clear elastic in one hand, slightly stretched (this is why you don’t pin it any further), while you guide the fabric of your tee with the other.  Go very slowly and stop frequently (with the needle down) to remove pins as you go.  Each time you stop, manipulate the fabric to make sure that the right side of your t-shirt body is not puckered on the part that you are about to sew – did I mention go slowly ;-).  Overlap the stretchy stuff, slightly, to finish, and cut off the remaining clear elastic (you will not need the entire metre or yard).

7) Using steam, carefully press the finished “binding” up, away from the front of the tee – it will look somewhat like this.  Use a pressing cloth to avoid ironing on any screen printing on your tee and avoid ironing on the clear elastic (because I am not sure how much heat it can take).  I had my iron set on medium or “silk”.

8 ) Put your new tee on and admire it!


Now that I know I can do this, I will probably buy more Threadless tees and alter them – next time I will be sure to take step by step photos and redo this tutorial.

Oh, and check out this Threadless tee I got Luke for Christmas – perfect for anyone who works a lot with fonts.

Feel free to email me if you have any questions… claire(at)matchingpegs(dot)com ….I can even explain the font joke if you don’t get it ;-).

Have you ever purchased….

…….something that you know you will need to alter, before you wear it?  I did today.

This dress looks even more lovely, vibrant, floaty and summery in real life.  It almost fitted perfectly.  It attracted me with it’s interesting palette and unique look.  The weather today was adding to the dress’ appeal – Spring is well and truly here in Melbourne, and it was quite warm (and I was quite overdressed).

The fly in the ointment was how high the yoke was sitting, and how high the dress sat, up under my armpits.  The obvious, and perfectly achievable solution is to add some length to the straps at the shoulder seam.  I already have several fabric candidates in my stash, and next I just need to take up the quick-un-picker.

I have started my sewing-for-Christmas-regime with these lovely faces, on a present for Amelia’s teacher.

This is a stitchery that I designed last year, that features both my school aged children – only problem is that neither of them are wearing glasses in the design, as they both are now in real life.

Rory’s hair is also quite different now.  It is a little too late to change it – I actually started stitching this up 6 months ago, and gave no thought at all to the specs, or the hair-dos.

Have you started thinking of your presents for the teachers at the end of the year?

De-lish Fabric

Who whould have thought that I would find fabric like this at Lincraft?

I bought 1.5 metres this afternoon – it’s 100% cotton, and quite lightweight.  I like it so much, that if I can master my fear of matching check, I might even go back and buy enough to make a skirt.

It actually made a charming backdrop to photograph my other recent fabric purchase, all the way from Pink Chalk Fabrics in the States.  The dollar hit parity, and I just had to get some. I have been eyeing off this “Moda Grunge by Basic Grey” fabric for a while, because I love the way it is almost a solid colour, but it has other colours that look like they have been dry-brush painted over the top.  I got a 1/2 yard of each of these colours – the one on the far right is called “Basic Grey Fruitcake Grunge Avalanche” and is my favorite.

Sleeping Beauty (by the always enchanting Heather Ross) just had to come home to my place too.  Heavens knows what I will do with her, but for the moment I am happy just to stroke her fabric as I pass by.

Have you been buying up things online too?

Happy Apple

The Internet and blogging are such a double edged sword.  I love the inspiration and connection of blogging and reading blogs, but they can be an amazing time devourer as well as a purchase inducer.

Lately I have been loosing the battle, spending more time reading than making – I think because I am tired and the weather has been cold and dreary.  Admittedly, some of my reading matter is from the library, and not online, but I think it is time for spring weather to get me more motivated.

Here is a purchase that I made for no good reason at all, except that I thought it looked fabulous.  Meet my Happle.  I really have to blame this purchase on Design*Sponge, because if I had not seen it on their site, I would never had “the wanties” for it.

Without bloggy sharing I would never have tried making my own Chai Tea mix either – thanks Suse for the recipe, it is yummy – pop on over to see how to make it, just don’t expect it to last long – it does contain Sweetened Condensed Milk, after all.

These last little acquisitions have nothing to do with the Internet, and everything to do with the generosity of like minded people.  My lovely friend Barbie, from my quilting guild, gave me these pegs last night.


Just because they are “the best pegs ever, and they are all one colour, so they will all match”.

Thank you Barbie – I have tried them and they are pretty snappy 😉

oh, and the bright orange goes really well with denim……

Of Library Bags and Glasses

I have been busy today with the fusible web, whipping up a quick Library Bag for Michaela.  If I had more time I would have needle-turned the flowers, but we were only given a weeks notice that we needed one for Kindergarten.  I am planning on raw edge appliqueing, on the machine, around all the shapes.

These pictures don’t really do the fabrics justice – it is awfully grey around here.  Playing with different fabric combinations for each flower was lots of fun, and although I am not really a big fan of fusible applique, it can’t be beaten for speed.

In other news around here, Rory has just received his first pair of glasses.

This means four out of five of us in the Matching Pegs family now wear glasses.  I think they really suit him, and at least poor vision is a relatively easy thing to correct.  There are much worse things to pass onto your kids.

It is hard to see in this photo (thanks again to the winter light), but the outsides of the glasses frames are bright blue and the insides are bright green (like a light-sabre), so we have both of Rory’s favorite colours covered.

Like another birthday

Last Thursday I met this lovely lady at “Patchwork on Central Park” for a little shopping, tea, chat and political discussion.  I am sure that many of you will know that this is Patch Andi, (on the right, that’s me on the left) and I was recently lucky enough to win her giveaway.  Rather than mail my winnings, (see below) I suggested that we meet for a cuppa.  When Andi suggested meeting near Patchwork on Central Park, I certainly didn’t need my arm twisted.  I used to pass this shop twice daily, back when I lived nearby and was working in the neighbourhood, but I had never crossed the threshold!

As I drove over to meet Andi, there was the successful leadership challenge in parliament, resulting in our first female Prime Minister.  I was glued to the radio.  Political talk was everywhere that morning, including at our table.  Andi is really easy to talk to, I fear I talked her to death.

I was excited that the book I won was signed by the author, Kathreen.  I have followed Whip Up from the very start, (and had two tutorials on the site).  The book is full of loveliness.  The Anna Maria Horner fabric is already spoken for, Mum loved it, so it is to be a scarf for her birthday, with the left over going to both of my girls for mini scarves.

While we were at Patchwork on Central Park, I fell head over heels.

How had I never seen this Gypsy Caravan Amy Butler Fabric before?  I quickly put together this little pile to compliment the divine fabric (on the right) which I believe was from Amy’s first fabric line for Free Spirit in 2003*.  I have decided that this is a birthday present for me.  I have made a much larger pile or co-ordinating fabric from my stash, and have spent hours and hours planning a quilt with graph paper and Illustrator.  It will have an applique medallion centre which I have already designed and stitched up – Tea in the Garden.  I will make it again in this colourway.  I have added 5 borders which include pieced stars, and a little more applique.  I can’t wait to get started, but the 2 weeks of school holidays will slow me down somewhat.

I finished off the day at the regular Thursday night “sit and sew” with the ladies from the Guild, where I received more birthday presents (my birthday was the previous Friday).  The pressies including some very special handmade ones – check them out here and here.  I am off this weekend with some of the NOTYQ Guild ladies to the Daylesford Craft Experience, which I am sure is going to be lots of fun, and brighten up the darkness of winter.  When the sun eventually shines I may even get a chance to photograph the fabric postcard I have made for the official swap – It took me 4 days before I got enough light to catch the fabric pile above.

Thank-you Andi and the NOTYQ ladies, for a day that was like another birthday.

* I have since called the shop to buy a little more Gypsy Caravan- my quilt design got quite big.  Have you even needed a fabric that much?