Thursday, November 1, 2012

Well hello there friends!

It has been an embarassingly long time since I've blogged. That's not because I've not being doing anything worth showing, ohhhhh no! If you happen to follow me on Twitter or Instagram you'll know there's quite a bit happening chez Petitselefants.

But today I'm posting to tell you:
1. I admit I'm a hopeless blogger.
2. I will try harder. I promise.
3. I really appreciate the fact that hundreds of visitors are still reading my blog, even though it hasn't been updated in 3 months. Thank you.
4. I'm so excited about everything that's happening at the moment, I can barely begin to think of where to start. And that's just the sewing stuff.
5. So I'll just start by telling you I have another quilt in Fat Quarterly, just out today. It's full of Christmas projects. Including this little one here which was great fun to sew and I hope that somebody out there will make one! How excellent would that be?

My absence from the blogosphere is in part due to stuff happening here:

We've been rearranging the furniture, a little.

(Yes we have moved out, don't worry).

In six months time this little spot here will be my NEW SEWING STUDIO. And we will have half a brand spanking new house. I'm excited about both of these points. But at the moment it feels like a hard slog. Even though we're not doing any of the actual building, there's a lot of brain power going into choosing fixtures and fittings, paint colours, layouts, etc etc. I won't show you my list, it's scary.

2013 is going to be a great year. I can't wait.

If you've made it this far along, please leave me a comment and tell me what you've been up to! There might be a little something in it for you. I've been storing it up.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Off to London

Perhaps it's a total coincidence, but there's a bit of a sporting shebang going off in London at the moment and in case you hadn't noticed, everything Brit-themed is big news. And Fat Quarterly is in on the act this quarter with their new Sew Britannia issue, full of Brit-themed projects, including this one! My very first quilt pattern!!!! (Please forgive excessive use of exclamation points in this post, I am a little excited).

It's no secret I have a bit of (well, OK a big) soft spot for Britain, England and London! I'm married to a proud Englishman (who's lived here in Australia for way longer than he lived in England) and I love visiting London (and I can't wait until December when we'll be back there again!)

I was sent a pack of Laurie Wisbrun's new London range by Robert Kaufman to play with. The line is just four prints, two each in two colourways. As you can see I've done a little take on the Union Jack theme, but these are big, chunky blocks that are very quick to put together. If you're looking for a true Union Jack, look no further than Lily's Quilts Jumping Jacks quilt which also features in Fat Quarterly.

(Fun fact: I was in a Flickr bee with Lynne and contributed to the Jumping Jacks quilt! Sadly, I found the paper piecing all a bit much and earned a few grey hairs in the process. Happily, that was a couple of years ago and I have advanced beyond that point...)

Anyway, the purpose of today's post is to show you how to cut squares on the bias! Why would I ever want to do that, you ask? Well, if you want to feature motifs from your fabric running on the diagonal, as they do in the corners of each of the Union Jack blocks above, then you'll need to fussy-cut on the bias. Otherwise, you'd end up with a decapitated Big Ben or London Bridge, and that just would never do.

This block is based on a 6 inch square. To work out how much fabric you'll need for your fussy-cut squares, just take a regular 6 inch square, and measure the diagonal. This distance is 8.5 inches. (If you're working off a different-sized square, just do the same thing - measure the diagonal and cut your fabric to that width).

Cut a strip of fabric 8.5 inches wide, across the width of the fabric. Line one edge of the fabric strip up against the bias line on your cutting mat. (Never noticed it before? It's the diagonal line running across your mat - if there are multiple diagonal lines, use the longest one available).

It helps to have your mat positioned on the corner of a table as you'll be cutting from both sides of the mat for this exercise.

With the fabric lined up on the bias line, take your ruler and line it up carefully so that your first cut will be exactly 6 inches across the fabric, as in the photo above.

Now go around the corner of your mat, and make another cut of 6 inches. You'll see now you've got the first two edges of your 6 inch square!

Go back to the other side of the mat, line up the ruler at the corner of the bottom edge of the 'square' and cut - this time it will be 12 inches - made up of the 6 inches from the square you're currently working on, and 6 inches of the next square.

Go around the corner again and make another 12 inch cut. Now you've got one whole square cut, as well as two edges of your next square.

I've separated out the pieces in the photo above to show you what's going on. Clever, innit?

Keep cutting in alternating directions all the way along your strip (you will need to move the strip back down the mat to give yourself room to cut).

And there you have it, perfectly positioned buses and taxis ready for their Union Jack treatment.
As you will notice, there is a bit of fabric 'wastage' doing this, but you end up with triangles large enough to be used for another project, or pieced for the back, or whatever you like!

I'll be back in a few days with a little announcement! In the meantime, I'd love to hear your feedback on   this method of bias-cutting squares, or on what you think of my pattern! Or on any of the other patterns in the Fat Quarterly Rule Britannia issue. If you haven't got your issue yet, head on over now!

Monday, July 30, 2012


Even though I'm not hanging out on my blog as much as I would like these days, I am working harder at getting more sewing (and knitting! and crocheting!) done, and even finishing some projects! (Shock, horror!) And although I'm not 'here' very much, you can often find me on Twitter, having a little natter about all things fabric, quilts and a lot of other stuff too. I really love Twitter (my husband would even say I'm addicted. No comment). And best of all, I'm amazed at how many lovely people I've met through Twitter, and some of whom I've been able to meet in person too!

One of those lovely people is Jane. Jane lives in Brisbane, is a prolific quilter and quilts for others too, as well as running a fabulous online shop selling Moda pre cuts (amongst other goodies).

Jane had admired my little leafy appliqué escapades and very kindly sent me a jelly roll of Serenade by Kate Spain to have a play with. If you've had a wander around my blog or have been reading here for a while (thank you!) you'll know I have a thing for appliquéd leaves....

I soon got to work, cutting out lots of leaves with the gorgeous Serenade fabrics. I love the colour palette in this range, beautiful autumnal oranges and browns through to greys, purples and blues. I love the marbled effect prints which show a graduation through the whole palette.

The leaves are hand stitched onto a background of Essex natural linen - beautiful to sew on to, lovely and soft! And then I attached a piece of batting and machine quilted around each of the leaves to make them standout.

The final touch, a pillow back made with the jelly roll strips, echoing the colour graduation effect of the leaves layout. This is a pretty big pillow - 20 inches. I didn't even have a pillow form to fit it, so sadly it's looking a little baggy at the moment!

Thanks again Jane, for these beautiful fabrics to play with!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

What's happening round here?

Well the truth is, I hardly seem able to come up for air these days. I know I'm not alone - the constant daily, weekly grind of school, homework, activities, work, housework, kids not sleeping, kids being sick, me being sick, husband being sick. Arrgghh!

There is light at the end of the tunnel though. I'm planning on finishing work around the middle of November, and having at least all of next year off. Time to breathe. Time to spend with the kids without being in a rush and thinking of what task needs to be done next. Time to enjoy the things we enjoy doing together.

So enough of my life philosophy for now! A few things to share with you today. I recently received three quilts back from Jeannette, an online friend who I've now met in person a couple of times and she's lovely! And she's also a long-arm quilter! Many of you will know her from her wonderful blog Gone Aussie Quilting. I set about binding them straight away. I was never a big fan of the hand-sewing part of binding, but I tell you, I think I'm converted! Loved it! What a lovely way to spend the evening, snuggled on the couch, under a quilt that you're sewing the binding down on. Perfect :)

First up is Swoon - if you follow me on Twitter (I'm @petitselefants) you will have seen these pics multiple times by now. I do apologise. I'm bloody proud of this quilt. It's a monster at 80 inches square. That was fun laying it all out on the lounge room floor, let me tell you!! It's so big I've realised you only really get to see two stars in full, the rest are squished over the sides of the bed.

Unless you have been living under a rock, you'd know that Swoon has pretty much taken over the online quilting world, spurred along by a Quiltalong started by Katy on Flickr. You can see all the amazing variations of the quilt in the group here. The pattern is by one of my favourite designers, Camille Roskelley. And I did actually buy the kit from Fat Quarter Shop in Bonnie and Camille's Ruby line. And I did have it quilted with baptist fans. So, yes, my Swoon is almost identical to Camille's original. What can I say? I love it!

The other two quilts I still need to take some photos of so I will save them for a later post.

Meanwhile, this little birdie has gone to its new home in England. You can read all about it here. I'll be going to visit it (and its new owner) later in the year!

And in other news, a couple of weeks ago I was lucky enough to attend the Sew It Together bloggers conference here in Canberra! A fun-filled day of chatting and crafting with fellow bloggers, including meeting some lovely girls who I'd been chatting to online but hadn't yet met. It was fabulous to put faces to lots of names. Unfortunately, I was completely useless when it came to taking photos, and it seems, even more useless in trying to upload other people's photos of the event onto my blog. One day I will actually get it together. But in the meantime, please go and visit Bron's lovely blog where you will see the name tag I made for her and the one she made for me (it's so cute!) as well as a number of other pics of the day. Oh, and the other exciting part of the day was that I learnt to crochet, thanks to my lovely friend Suzyhausfrau! More on that another time.

My little one has just learnt the thumbs up sign and is proud to show it off at any opportune moment. Just thought I'd throw that in because I can't resist a cute photo.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My creative space... is all about scissors and glue for a little appliqué project I'm putting together to demo my appliqué technique at Brown Owls this Sunday! My first 'teaching' foray, if you will. I'm excited!

I'm also experimenting a bit with the background - normally I appliqué onto a solid background. This time I thought I'd try something a little different. So far I'm pretty happy with it. What do you think?

And yes, perhaps I should think about appliquéing something other than leaves, leaves and more leaves....

I wouldn't want to get typecast or anything.

More creative spaces over here, and works-in-progress over at Lee's.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bloggers Quilt Festival

A running-late entry to the 2012 Blogger's Quilt Festival

I'm afraid this one remains unfinished as I'm trying to gather up the stamina required to (a) hand baste it ready for (b) hand quilting it to within an inch of its life. Eek! But it must happen soon because I had planned that this would be my winter sofa project!

I had a huge amount of fun making this quilt top.  The scrappy leaves medallion is like a walk-through my fabric stash. I was worried when I embarked on this that I didn't have enough fabric to achieve a scrappy look. But even though some of the fabrics appear multiple times, I think it still looks scrappy, yet unified.

Likewise the tab border. Somehow I managed to scrape together around 200 squares of fabric to make the tabs (I can't remember the exact number now!) 

And finally, let me recommend this quilt to you - it was a delight to make! And surprisingly fast!

The details:
Pattern - Whirligig from Sarah Fielke's Quilting 
Background fabric - American Jane Pindot in taupe
Setting triangles - from Loulouthi by Anna Maria Horner
Borders - Green stripe from Sunkissed by Sweetwater

Now off to continue browsing more fabulous quilts in the quilt festival!

Amy's Creative Side

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

WIP Wednesday


It's been a whole month since my last blog post. Nothing new there, but today I thought I'd pick a random selection of photos to demonstrate my little problem of craft ADHD. I haven't tallied up my projects that are in progress at the moment, because I think it would be scary, and also my husband may read this and use it to once again ask what's happening with the 5 year old's baby quilt... Hmm, yes.

So first random pic off the ranks is block 1 of the Amitie Block of the Month Gypsy's Wife quilt. Please note I now have the fabrics for blocks 2 and 3, and they remain untouched in my cupboard....

Second is another new quilt in progress, this pattern is On a Whim by Camille, and I've chosen to dig into my Bliss stash for this. Although I'm now rethinking the solid grey for the triangle corners and have just ordered a grey print from Camille's new line Vintage Modern, yardage of which just arrived at Fat Quarter Shop yesterday, and I ordered it pronto! So only one block of that so far.

Third random photo is a layer cake of Sweetwater's forthcoming line Mama Said Sew, which I mentioned recently, and is my current fabric lust object. Still procrastinating over what to make with this. It must be PERFECT. (Joke) Still, it is indicative of my creativity-paralysed-by-indecision predicament.

And final random photo today is a little knitting shot. I've taken up the needles again with gusto after a couple of years off. And I've been enjoying it immensely. I especially love knitting on winter evenings. It's very cosy. Cup of tea and my knitting and I'm as happy as a pig in mud (cake). Embarrassing as it is to admit, however, the top scarf in that pic is one that I completed TWO YEARS AGO, and had simply failed to finish weaving in the yarn ends. There were literally only three ends left to do. It is my least favourite part of knitting, but really, that was ridiculous. Anyway, now they are done and the scarf is ready, although it does need blocking (which I've never done before). On the bottom is my just completed Honey Cowl. Yarn ends not yet sewn in, but that will happen imminently, not in two years, because it fits perfectly and will be beautiful to wear this winter!

So that was rather a long post although I had not intended it to be. Lots more to tell, but I will save for another time. In the meantime, please tell me about any projects you've just started (even if you probably shouldn't have because you have a hundred other things on the go!), or ones that have been going for a ridiculously long time. I'd love to hear I'm not alone in my craft-ADHD!!

Linking up today to Lee's WIP Wednesday Linky Party.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

A slice is nice

I've made this slice around about 100 times. It's my go-to recipe when the kids say "can we cook something?" or I feel the urge for something sweet and homemade that can be thrown into lunch boxes for the kids' morning tea (or mine, for that matter).

I've also taken it to a few afternoon tea gatherings and am often asked for the recipe. So here it is, super easy - even if you have less than an hour, you can easily whip this into the oven and go and paint your nails, if you're into that kind of thing. I'm not. I'm more likely to go and hang out a load of washing. Or pet some fabric while I wait for the oven to beep.

Jam Slice (the coconutty kind)

For the base:
1 cup plain flour
1/2 cup rolled oats (I like to use oats when I bake because it makes me feel like what I'm baking is full of healthy goodness).
1/3 cup caster sugar
125g butter, melted

Mix everything together in a bowl, then press into a lined or greased slice tin (not too big, mine is around 18 by 28 cm). Into a 180C oven for about 10-12 minutes or until it is just starting to go golden-brown.

For the topping:
1 cup coconut (shredded or desiccated - shredded gives a nice, chewy texture - or you can use a mix of both)
1/3 cup caster sugar
1 egg
your favourite jam or whatever is in the fridge (for us it's always strawberry or raspberry, nothing too fancy)

Once you've taken the slice base out of the oven, let it cool just for a few minutes. Then spread it all over with jam, about the same thickness as you would spread on a piece of toast. This probably uses 3-4 tablespoons of jam.

Mix the coconut, sugar and egg together in a bowl with a fork. Then use your fingers to drop it all over the jammy slice. Aim for even coverage, but leave a few holes here and there for the jam to peek through.

Back into the oven, this time for around 12-15 minutes. Once it goes nice and golden-brown on top, that's enough. Allow to cool then cut into squares and watch it disappear.

And then you can go and bake something with this!

Yummy, isn't it?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

This is why it's called Swoon

If you've been paying attention, you'll know that I'm a big fan of Ruby (and it seems that a lot of others are too!)

When Camille's beautiful Swoon pattern came out in May last year, I might well have been one of the first people to buy it. But I wanted to wait for Ruby to come out, because I just absolutely adored her version of it (you can see it here). As luck would have it, the clever people at Fat Quarter Shop put together a kit for Swoon in Ruby, and I snapped it up late last year and got to work.

Individually, the blocks are beautiful. I've enjoyed every single one of them.

But together, they're something else again. This is why this quilt is called Swoon, because that is what you can't help doing when you see it. (By the way, it's a mahusive quilt - around 80 inches square, requiring furniture to be moved...)

Thanks Camille, for an awesome pattern, and beautiful fabrics. This is a very special quilt I'll treasure forever.

Linking up today to Lee's Work-in-progress Wednesday and Our Creative Spaces.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Fat Quarterly

Have you seen me? I'm on the Fat Quarterly blog with my curvy cushion. Please pop in and say hi and check out some of the other curvy projects too.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Here's something new!

It's about time this quilt saw the light of day - it's been complete for quite a while now and just waiting for its moment with the long arm quilter! Only the other day I realised with a slight sense of horror that it's almost a year since I started it - in May 2011 to be exact. Sherbet Pips was one of those fabric lines that I waited on with great anticipation and chopped into almost as soon as it arrived in my letterbox.

The pattern is one I came up with myself, and I even went the whole hog with the pieced back (which took pretty close to forever, by the way), and which I think makes the quilt as close to a double-sided quilt as you're ever going to get!

It's destined for my little girl's bed, just as soon as the long arm has done its work - which will hopefully be within the next couple of week! I'm really not sure why, but this quilt makes me think of a box of chocolates... Or maybe that's just because it's Easter this weekend. Anyhoo.

If anyone is interested in a tutorial for this pattern, please let me know! It's really quite a simple pattern and very quick to throw together.

In other news... I've been busy Swooning. This is block number 6 and could be my favourite so far. Block number 7 is nearly finished and then we're a cool two blocks away from completion. Hoping to finish up pretty soon so that this can go to the longarmity place together with Miss Pips up there.

Linking up today to Our Creative Spaces and Work-in-Progress Wednesdays.

Happy Easter everybody if you're celebrating. Don't eat too much chocolate :)

PS Have you seen this? I love fabric, but this one has got my heart racing. Very excited - only another 6 months to wait...

Sunday, April 1, 2012


A little teaser - I was lucky enough to try out the 'Quick Curves' Ruler for Fat Quarterly magazine, and this is the result. It will be featured on the Fat Quarterly blog in the next little while - I'll be sure to let you know when it's up!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Please forgive me my little hiatus (again). I've been a little distracted, as you can see.

Lots of gorgeous details in this quilt which have kept me wanting to press on to the next stage. I thought I'd be far too bored cutting out 240 squares of scraps and sewing them into random tab shapes. But no! It was a bundle of fun. And that's said without the slightest sense of sarcasm.

I mean, look at them - eep!!

This is undoubtedly the biggest, scrappiest (in terms of delving into the scrap bags - there are a few of those. Come on, I know you've got some too!) quilt I've ever done. Such a dent has it made in my scraps that I would have trouble starting another scrappy quilt in a hurry. OK that may be an exaggeration. But the problem would be, the scraps would look very familiar and that might get boring...

The only hiccup in the whole process was the doubt that set in once I'd pieced the large setting triangles. I just wasn't sure the fabric (Loulouthi by Anna Maria Horner) was right and that it might detract from the centre. I was persuaded otherwise by a bevy of Twitter friends and pressed on and am happily in love again.

So - I've thoroughly enjoyed this little journey - and a rather quick one it's been too, I only started this at Christmas. I know there's a huge hand quilting palooza ahead of me (more on that another time), but it is so fabulous to get this far. I hope I've done Sarah Fielke's amazing pattern justice.

If you'd like to make your own Whirligig, you can find the pattern in Sarah's gorgeous book 'Quilting from little things'. I highly recommend this fabulous book, if only for the amazing quilt eye candy. But also for the Whirligig. I love it.

PS Sarah was lovely enough to feature a progress pic of my quilt on her blog - see if you can spot it!

PPS And because it's been such a long time since my little petal featured here, a couple of pics of real live peeps, not quilts.

Linking up to Lee's Work in Progress Wednesday today, and to Our Creative Spaces.

And this being virtually the only thing I've worked on in the past month, I'm linking up to Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day too! So if you're coming from there - hello!

Butter wouldn't melt in her mouth. Seriously.