Wednesday 23 December 2009

Merry Christmas 2009

Thank you for sharing 2009 with me online
Merry Christmas & a Happy New Year

The year has just flown by – I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. Christmas feels like it’s crept up on me this year, I’m grateful that it’s forecasted to be a cool day so I can bake without becoming too flustered- I envy all of you enjoying a white Christmas this year.

It’s been so much fun sharing my quilting journey with you online, I find that blogging helps keep me focused and committed to statements I make at home, such as ‘ I’m going to be stash busting’. Of course, sharing Red Delicious with you all has definitely been a highlight – as has working through my fabric mountain.

Thank you to everyone who left comments, shared your thoughts and opinions and emailed me throughout this year. It’s so nice to connect with you as I go through my fabric and design folios.

I have a lot of ideas and plans for next year…and my New Year’s Resolution is to be better organized, and attempt to finish my ‘To Quilt List’. I don’t know yet if that’s possible – but I’ll keep you posted, that’s for sure.

Thank you all for your support, have a beautiful Christmas and New Year,
Love Esther

(this pic is from a Hallmark card, design by Lucy Cromwell – I just love her card designs, and it’s one poinsettia that’s indestructible!)

Thursday 17 December 2009

Let's set the table!

It's time to finish your table runner: Cherry Thieves
Part 2 is now launched

Red Poinsettia

Some love christmas trees and pine needles, and while those things are all nice, nothing says Joy in December to me like a flowering red Poinsettia (although the white vaiety is also breathtaking).

Here is a pic of a young poinsettia plant

and here is a pic of the same plant after my cat has finished with it. I forgot to put it out over night (and my cat apparently prowls the house looking for foliage to chew on)

Sadly, all the major stems were destroyed

and this leaf even had a feline bite

Oh well, I guess I'm going to have to sew a poinsettia wall hanging or table runner or something impressively red so that I can enjoy this flower all year round.
Something else to add to the To Do List!

Wednesday 16 December 2009

Busy Sewing

It's been scorching hot today - and being near my sewing machine was impossible, however I am very close to finishing the table runner and will have it up and available by the end of this week, most likely friday. How is yours progressing? Are you ready for Part 2 ?
I was luckly enough to receive emails from some of you sharing your favourite Cherry Thief themed photos - thank you so much for sharing these moments with me, I always love to hear from you and find out where and how Red Delicious quilt blocks fit into your world.. we all seem to have so many stories to share. Quilting really is such an evocative art and as always, it's such a pleasure to share my designs with you.

Tuesday 8 December 2009

Christmas baking

Sewing, what sewing?

The Christmas party / group get togethers have started and so has the Christmas baking. We've been really lucky as it's not to hot to have the oven on yet, in fact it's raining - for which my garden is super grateful!

I feel very strongly about not commercialising Christmas as much as is possible - baking, gratitude and family time are the focus. The supermarket is avoided at all costs! (unbelievably the queues are already insane).

It's still to early for the really special baking that I like to do from the 20th onwards (and that's usually weather dependant over here) but the biscuits have started rolling out. Luckily my DD's enjoy making them so I get to 'supervise' without getting flour all over me. What can be easier than Classic Shortbread? So easy to make, bake beautifully - the perfect Christmas baking warm up.

Here's the recipe my DD's are using, they make a double batch of the Classic Shortbread , separate it into batches and then make each batch different with added extracts, nuts, zest, etc

Classic Shortbread
2 cups plain flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup butter (225 grams)
1/2 cup caster sugar
1 teaspoon true vanilla extract

Cream butter with sugar until smooth, add vanilla and mix well.
Stir in flour and salt.
(for batches, break up mixture now and add extracts, nuts, etc)
Wrap each batch in cling wrap. Chill for 45 minutes.
Ensure work surface and rolling pin is well dusted with flour.
Roll out dough to 1cm thickness
& bake at 180c for 10-15 minutes or until lightly crisp and golden.

Thursday 3 December 2009

More Stash Busting

Using my time as productively as possible before the
Christmas season really sets in and I have no time for actual sewing.

More stash busting. This time I'm using a really great tool from Westalee Design, its called a "Stash Buster House Set" and it's easy to use, and I found myself getting through my fabric easily. It's so nice when stash busting can be fun.

I haven't actually made a Jelly Roll (this tool is ideal for Jelly Rolls) or House quilt before, then a few weekends ago I caught up with Leonie and Bill at the AQM in Vic and Leonie had a sample of some fabric worked with this tool...and my DD who was with me instantly fell in love with the pattern it makes. She calls it 'honeycomb' and promptly demanded a big throw for the house in
cool yellows and forest greens (added to the growing
quilt list) so I had to buy it and give it a go.

Of course it took me a few weeks to even sit down and open the packet, but just yesterday I started playing around and I'm so glad I did.

Although I always love designing new quilts, most end up on the wall, and with so much fabric in my studio,
it's ridiculous that I don't have more 'throw' quilts
that I can just have around the house or add to a bed when its chilly. My DD's are always complaining about the lack of quilts in the house...for a quilter!

Here I'm using a 'christmas set' of fabrics which also happens to be heavy on reds. However, I am also planning on making a large 'multi coloured' version.

This tool is perfect for those days when you want to
work on something productive, without having to
think too hard...

You probably all know Westalee Design Quilting Rulers, and I've added a link on the sidebar to their website. I definitely recommend their rulers and products. I was lucky enough to win $500 worth of their goods when my Quilt Sunshine and Shadow (won Best Original Design) and since then Bill has even gone to the trouble of 'inventing' a modified ruler (which I havent had time to trial yet *Sorry Bill, I'm getting there!*) for me.

Prior to Westalee Designs, I simply made my own templates for quilts I had designed but now it's so nice to know that there are great tools available to make quilting faster, easier and more accurate than ever before. Another great bonus is that Leonie and Bill are so approachable and willing to answer any questions you might have about their range and uses.

So I really don't have any excuses not to charge through my Quilting To Do List!

Friday 27 November 2009

Cherry Thieves is launched

I've mentioned that Red Delicious just doesn't feel finished yet, so this month I have continued into a "Red Room" theme.

The Red Room will continue Red Delicious’s themes and incorporate them into a room’s decor. That’s right, we’re not finished stash busting reds just yet!

Now that Red Delicious the quilt is on
my wall, my table is looking a little
empty... so what better than to create a
‘Red Room’ table runner? Delicious.

This pattern is made available to you in 2 parts. This month is part 1.

I am finishing up a few more Red Room ideas before ending Red Delicious. There will be at least another project after The Cherry Thieves Table Runner is completed...I'm still thinking about it!

I will be keeping those fabric stashes dwindling until the New Year when a new Mystery BOM will be launched.

As always, I'm struggling to bring you good pics of my work ( I think Red and White is somehow particularly hard to photograph) but I know you will all make it your own and do great things with it.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Red Delicious Quilted

Red Delicious is quilted!

Wow it feels great to finally finish this BOM (not that I was embaressed to see that others had finished my own BOM before me or anything!)

My only disappointment is the photo - it really doesnt do RD any justice. It looks much better in real life. Actually I have this problem with nearly all my quilts - I don't have the 'perfect' hang and shooting spot so I am always having to work around lighting and space...and the space can be something of a problem in my home. I dont know how to work around this. I always love it when my quilts are made available as 'projects' in magazines because then at least I am guaranteed a perfect photo. Oh well....

A few have asked via email and I've noticed the same question in the comments a few posts ago, so to all you who are curious: I am a domestic machine quilter. I do all my quilting on a domestic Elna 1950's model sewing machine. I also have a back up Husquarna 1950's model for when the Elna is over heated or just plain tetchy.

In my house I have several sewing machines including a Singer and a Brother and they are good machines for other sewing work, however I have found that the old Elna and Husquarna are best and I am not a big fan of the plastic fantastic generation of sewing machines that are so present today.

Don't get me wrong - I'd LOVE a long arm (think of all the projects I could conquer!) and I wouldnt mind a new domestic as well. Again though, once you are used to solid metal construction, the new machines cant help but feel flimsy. And I dont think I will ever get used to having a machine tweet or beep at me! But, in saying that - I'm always excited at new machines on the market and would give anything a trial. If and when I upgrade my machines, they will definitely be introduced right here on my blog.

Tuesday 17 November 2009

Mess means Progress!

Don't put your reds away just yet!

I know, the 15th has come and gone... but you'll just have to believe me when I say, I'm working on it.

Many of you are working towards finishing Red Delicious and I am, amongst other things, working on the next BOM... however, as I've said before, Red Delicious is not yet finished.

The Red Delicious work so many of you have created has inspired me to create a few more pieces to compliment the wall hanging. I know we all still have plenty of red in our stash (although I have seen some amazing RD's made in other colours too!) and so here is a sneak peak at what is coming.

It's a table runner. Of course! what better way to show off your wall hanging???

Thursday 12 November 2009

Fancy a Challenge?

It's not like I don't have enough to do... but I am always keen for a challenge! So I thought I'd share this one with you. I don't actually think I'm going to get time to enter this one, but you never know, I might enlist one of my DD's to enter, I can't easily let a challenge pass.
Why not enter yourself?

Love Birds

There have been many times when I’ve seen something flit by, or seen something magical out in the garden and wished that I could have captured the moment to remind myself of it’s beauty later.

Almost always, these moments pass so quickly that I just don’t get a chance to do anything other than enjoy them. So I was really thrilled to catch these love birds on the roof frolicking about yesterday.

I didn’t actually manage to get a photo of them ‘kissing’ however they were rubbing beaks and heads and it was very cute. It reminds me of my first RD block, Love Birds – so to see a pair come to life was just wonderful.

Ok, now it's time to get back to work!

Wednesday 11 November 2009

Quilting Red Delicious

Here are some progress shots – I’m almost finished quilting RD, normally I love quilting and take my time about it, but at this time of year, the heat and my ‘things to do’ I’m glad to be almost finished and ready to move onto my next challenge.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

Thank You Mornington Peninsula Patchworkers!

Yesterday I was honoured to be a guest speaker at Mornington Peninsula Patchworkers. I had a wonderful time sharing and discussing my quilts with the ladies there.
Unfortunately, I forgot to take a single photo while I was there, however I have taken a snap shot of this beautiful pot of double reds, that I just love, which was so generously given to me by the ladies. As you probably all know, I simply love flowers, but potted flowers are best as I don’t have to watch them die! I’ve given them a good soaking to help them out today; it’s very sunny in my part of the world - 34c!

I’m not good in the heat and with a list of quilting things to do, I’m going to have to do my quilting very early in the morning (it’s just too hot to sew during the day), to stay on track.

Friday 6 November 2009

Picassa Info

Just a quick one: when you are adding your Red Delicious image to the ALBUM at Picassa, upload your image, then click on EDIT once your photo is uploaded. Under the EDIT tab, select CAPTION and this is where you add your name and location or anything else you'd like to say.

Hope this helps!

Thursday 5 November 2009

Red Delicious Quilts

How's your Red Delicious looking? I'm still finishing mine up - I started quilting it today. Once it's done, I'll be adding it to the Red Delicious photo album (new link on side bar). If you've been following this BOM, why not add your quilt to the slide show? Details in the Red Delicious Yahoo Group.

Is Red Delicious finished? Well the quilt top is, but this story has another project coming...stay tuned.

Back to blogging

Thank you to everyone for your well wishes. I have been down with the flu and totally unmotivated to get down to any of the many things that are waiting for my action.

Yesterday I celebrated my birthday, so it was a cheering day. Today I have post birthday cake and pampering overload – but I’m not complaining, it’s a nice problem to have!

I sold my middle sized polar bear this week, so I’m packing him up to be shipped. I always get newly attached to my bears when it’s time for them to go to new homes, so I took a farewell photo.

I’m finding flowers in the house so nice, I’m dreading the summer that is quickly coming upon us here, as it scorches the garden and wilts bought flowers within hours.

I have much quilting to get done before summer is here, so I really have to get down to it. I was unhappily surprised to find the supermarket full of Christmas decorations, menus and ‘stuff’. Only a matter of weeks until the end of December. Must get busy!

Sunday 25 October 2009

Fighting the flu

Well, haven't done much, as I'm fighting the flu. Have some exciting Red Delicious developments taking place - will update in the next few days.

Thursday 22 October 2009


Thank you to everyone who left a comment on Sunshine & Shadow, my Quilt Festival Entry. I love stenciling and was hoping to share my enthusiasm for this technique by offering 25 free PDF patterns for Tulip Delight to randomly selected posters who left a comment.

After writing down all names and popping them in a teapot - 25 winners have been selected. Actually a few more because some names 'popped' out or 'latched' onto other drawn entries and we decided to let both win in those instances. Ok, I say both, actually I got my youngest DD to do the honors while I watched on with a coffee, its been a busy busy week in my house!

For the lucky 25, I hope you enjoy stenciling as much as I do and I'd love to see the results!

Carrie p

F. gina



Julie Q

Mrs Moen
Quilt Rat


Costa Rica

* Winners: If you have NOT received an email invite from me, please email me directly at

The Quilt Festival is finished

The Fall Quilt Festival is now finished and I'm pretty sure that a lot of you probably spent as much time as I did browsing through all the great sites and admiring all the inspiring quilts out there. A great idea and so rewarding to be part of it all.

Thank you to everyone who left a comment under Sunshine and Shadow, I hope it did something to invoke interest in stenciling for those who had to chance to scroll through.

Since my last post, I attended a wedding and made TD as a gift. I think it turned out beautifully. My DD prefers the new colour scheme to the original, she's not keen on the lime green. Frankly, I love them both!

Wednesday 14 October 2009

Red Delicious Mystery BOM upload 12

This month the Red Delicious upload covers
BORDERS & SASHING for finishing your quilt top.

It's an exciting time! Those of you who joined in my free Red Delicious Mystery Block of the Month these past 12 months will know that the blocks have now all been posted. But Red Delicious isnt quite finished yet... as well as finishing the quilt top, there are a few more Red Delicious suprises in store. More to come later...
Have you been keeping up? Is your quilt top nearly ready? Why not join the free Red Delicious Yahoo Group and look in on some great images of what others have done with this BOM? If you need some motivation, there's plenty to go around in the 'picture' file!

Tulip Delight is re-visited

Blending the hues on the fabric directly

Organising the medium, brushes and paints

Laying out the stencil for working (notice the tidy surface?:)

I've been wanting to re-visit Tulip Delight since I made it. It's one of those designs which can be worked in so many different ways. As a stencil table runner, I'm especially interested to see the difference colour can make. Last week I was working on a design for an upcoming wedding when I received an email from an Etsy shopper who wanted my opinion on whether it was suitable as a Wedding gift for her best friend- worked in the Bride's favourite colours of (cornflower blue, butter yellow and magenta). Did I think it was suitable? With a wedding of my own to attend at the end of the month, it got me thinking about how much use I've had from this table runner and how practical table runners are. (Obviously quilts are my first preference - but my own DD has demonstrated that taste can vary significantly). So I decided to take my own advice and set to making Tulip Delight myself for the wedding I will be attending.

Today I've gotten down to business and will keep you posted as I progress through. I am working in Fuschia, Green, with Gold highlights on a hand dyed marble background (yes, technically this beautiful piece is a stash buster!)

Tuesday 13 October 2009

The Studio Gets Tidied

First things first - look at that beautiful work surface! CLEAR!

I ran out of bench space so I really had no option but to get my act together and tidy my studio. The most important item in there is my design table which was looking like a great shelf. But not any more. Now it is free! I have been thinking about the next Mystery BOM as well as my other pending projects - and sometimes you just need to lay your work out flat and take a good hard look at it.

This is the area beneath my desk - boxes of bundled projects and UFO's - some which are more than half way completed. I have them shelved and ready to be actioned. I know, I know, it could be tidier, but for me - this is organized. And I'm so delighted I can see my floor. It was a carpet of threads only yesterday.

This is my 'immediate' design shelf. As you can see, it still needs a bit more work. The only problem is that everything in there is -vital- and can't be sorted away any further.

This is my shelf top of rolled up patterns, designs and master sheets.

Now it's time to turn out some work!

Monday 12 October 2009

Inspiration in Natural Shapes ... Updated

I too, love seeing a bouquet reach it's full here are a few snaps of the pink lillies in full opening. I love the hue of pink here.

I know that technically speaking, lillies arent the best flowers to celebrate with, but sometimes you have to overide traditional flower language for the sheer beauty of it.

As for the delicious cake - it was from a cake bakery my DD works for on the weekends. The cake is called a croquembouche - its a stack of profiteroles held together with caramel.

Last year both my DD's actually made an impressive croquembouche (held together with chocolate instead of sugar) and it was equally delicious. And it turned out great on the first 'try'. It's such a pretty cake - but definitely achievable at home. If you havent tried to make one - go ahead, it's delicious. The only draw back (and the reason we purchased one this year) is because it is time consuming and as it was my DD's birthday, she didnt want to spend all day in the kitchen (and you do have to eat this cake the day it is baked).

The Fall Quilt Festival is underway and I have spent so much time browsing through the great sites that I havent really done much else.

But ohhh, the inspiration!

Friday 9 October 2009

Tulip Delight Stencil Table Runer

Tulip Delight Stencil Table Runner PATTERN
This is a pic of the Tulip Delight Stencil Runner which you can make by either winning the pattern via the Fall Quilt Festival 2009 (see previous post) or purchasing online via my Etsy Shop. To be in the running to win this pattern, simply leave a comment on the Sunshine & Shadow Post. 25 winners will be randomly selected at the end of the fair. Good luck all who take part!

QUILT FALL FESTIVAL 2009 - Sunshine & Shadow

(click on the logo at top of this page to join in!)

Sunshine & Shadow

by Esther Aliu (2009)

2m x 2m

'Sunshine & Shadow' is my latest stencil quilt. Inspired by ironwork and french motifs, particularly the Fleur- de-lis, it is an original design.

I love stenciling - as a technique it allows you, as a quilter to create original designs from beginning to finish. This design started out as a sketch in one of my journals and grew from there. After some drawing up and defining lines, I transfer my designs and stencil them directly onto fabric. A really rewarding aspect (although sometimes frustrating too!) of this stage in the work is that you have total control over your coloring and hues. With stenciling, you create around your own sketches, blend your own colors and control the whole process.

Although a lot of quilters have met stenciling for the first time in 'modern quilts' and designs, stenciling is actually an heirloom technique. It was used as a technique in the first generation of New England quilts - a method which arrived with the European settlers who were in the midst of a 'stenciling craze'.

Unfortunately, due to the paints available for use during this era, few stencil quilts have survived. Paints available today however will last as long as commercially available 'printed' cottons, so there's no reason not to get stuck in!

Obviously I'm biased - I love stenciling! If you havent tried stenciling as a technique...what's stopping you? If you want to try stenciling, but arent ready to take on a whole quilt, why not try stenciling a table runner?


To celebrate the Fall Quilt Festival, I will be giving away my Stencil Tulip Runner pattern (PDF format) to 25 viewers who comment on this specific post. At the end of the fair, I will place all names in a teapot and draw 25. Please ensure you include your email address at the end of your comment.

A pic of this table runner is available on my blog!

Why Not Try A Stencil Quilt Today?

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