Slow-cooked pork

29 06 2014

I’ve made this several times now, and I keep changing the basic recipe 😉 This time, I brushed the boned leg of pork with smoky BBQ sauce before putting into the cooker, and during the cooking process. And on the advice of the butcher, I took off the skin before putting the pork in the cooker and cooked it separately in the oven for an hour and a half to make a wonderfully crisp crackling (olive oil and salt rubbed in to the skin first).

And this time, I also made jalapeno poppers (baked not fried) and baked some ready-to-bake baguettes to serve with the pork.

Instead of pulling it apart at the end, I sliced the pork quite thickly and we had it on the hot freshly baked baguettes, with extra smoky BBQ sauce and the jalapeno poppers on the side. The pork was unbelievably tender and delicious (the butcher also said he only ever gets pork from sows as it’s much tenderer and less ‘smelly’ than pork from boars).

The jalapeno poppers were good too — I didn’t make the ‘essence’ that’s in the recipe, just added cumin and a Cajun spice mix to the cheese mix. Interestingly, the jalapenos varied in heat — some were quite bland, others very bitey! Four jalapenos resulted in 8 halves — 3 for me and 5 for my DH, which was plenty.

The photo below is while the pork is cooking after a basting of BBQ sauce. It’s doesn’t look very appetising, but it sure tasted good!



Community Quilt 150

29 06 2014

I called this one ‘Quivering Butterflies’!

I started by stitching in the ditch around each butterfly block (inside and out), around the border, then around each appliqued butterfly to stabilise the quilt. Next, I echo quilted around each butterfly, giving a quivering, shaking, scared effect 😉

As the floral fabric was so ‘busy’, I just did a large meandering stipple in that area, followed by a simple straight line echoing the edge of the border.

It took about 3 hours to quilt this quilt — I was able to really speed along (70% speed on my Sweet Sixteen) in the meandering stipple as I have a lot of ‘muscle memory’ for this motif.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)




Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco-Bob tan thread for stitching in the ditch (80 wt, colour DB 414); Fil-Tec Glide ‘Cornflower’ (40 wt, trilobal polyester, colour 80120)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide Classic pre-wound bobbin (white)

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here:

Gwen’s quilt

29 06 2014

This was a BIG quilt (68 x 83 inches), and HEAVY (the batting, I suspect — see my notes on the batting below the main pictures). It was a bit of an effort to quilt it as the drag and weight of the quilt did their best to usurp my attempts! I had it attached to my bungee cord system, and while that helped, it only mitigated against the weight of this quilt, not eliminating it completely.

Gwen had made the quilt for a ‘traditional’ friend, and wanted me to do cathedral windows in the 9-patch on-point squares and just outside them, which I did, but only after I’d stitched in the ditch around all the blocks and along the strips — this was a puffy quilt. She had suggested an infinity rope design for the long dividing strips. I had an old stencil for that pattern, but I couldn’t find a single marker in my extensive collection that held the markings enough to quilt with, or that didn’t fade into the fabrics, or that I could quilt along with the puffiness without going off the markings. I attempted some markings and quilted them in small sections, but to be honest it would’ve taken about 20 hours just to do it that way — that’s just not cost-effective! So I unpicked the small section I’d done that way and went with more ‘traditional’ feathers in the striped sections — the feathers go up one strip and down the next strip, alternating across the quilt.

As Gwen didn’t want this quilt too heavily quilted, I didn’t do anymore quilting in the main top, and for the border I only did a large semi-circle motif, using a 4″ clam shell ruler.

Gwen had initially started quilting this beast on her domestic sewing machine — I’m surprised and impressed that she got as far as she did. But she had trouble not only with the sheer bulk and weight of the quilt, but also choosing a colour that blended well and didn’t stand out. I auditioned several threads, settling on a light tan 80 wt thread that would hardly show (the colour blended well, and 80 wt thread almost disappears into the fabric), thus letting the fabrics and the quilt top design take centre stage.

It took more than 10 hours to quilt this quilt.








Now, about that batting…

The batting used in this quilt seemed to be a high-loft polyester batting. It was very heavy, and as a result caused a lot of drag. It was also very puffy and the fabric slipped on it, so I had to stitch in the ditch around almost everything to stabilise the quilt and stop any potential pleats and puckers before they could occur. Gwen had already pin basted the quilt for me, so that at least was done. She’d also stitched in the ditch down some of the strip seams, so that helped too.

With flatter battings (e.g. cotton, bamboo, wool), the fabric will often stick to the batting easily, thus requiring fewer basting pins and possibly not even requiring stitch in the ditch (though for a quilt this size, I would have stitched in the ditch around the major areas anyway).

Until I quilted this quilt, I hadn’t realised how much difference the batting makes to the quilting… now I know — a lot.


Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco-Bob (80 wt, colour DB 414)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (60 wt, white)


23 06 2014

Back in February, I used a photo on fabric of my friend Char’s dog Cassie for one of my thread painting ‘portraits’ at Pam Holland’s class at Empty Spools, Asilomar (Pacific Grove, California). You can see the progress of this piece here:

I finished it off a few weeks go and sent it to Char, who lives near in Boston. A lot has happened since I made this piece — after many years of faithful companionship, Cassie has left Char’s family to play with all those dogs in the big dog park in the sky; Char has had a kidney transplant (within hours of notification, it was done and she’s healthier than she’s been in several decades); and she’s getting a new dog from her friend Sassie — the new dog was trained to be a guide dog for Sassie, but couldn’t cope with aircraft, so has had to be retired from that program.

I hope Char and her family like this memory of their beloved Cassie.




The back showing the thread stitching before I added some stiff interfacing and covered it with the same fabric as the background fabric


Quilting makes the quilt

22 06 2014

Because I was making two baby quilts basically the same, I decided to take some photos to show how quilting makes the quilt and brings it to life.

A bit of background for quilting newbies…

While the term ‘quilting’ covers the entire process of making a quilt, it also refers specifically to the stitching used to secure the three layers together (the quilt top, the batting, and the backing fabric). This stitching can be very simple (straight lines in the seam lines — also known as ‘stitching in the ditch’ or SID), or can be very elaborate, with lots of stitching motifs or patterns enhancing the design of the quilt top and/or its fabric.

Quilting can be done ‘free motion’ (no markings, no rulers, no pattern to follow except what’s in your head or how you guide the fabric under the needle — think of doodling with the needle being a static pen and the fabric sandwich being the paper that you move under the pen… try it with a real pen and paper to see how hard it is!), or can be done using markings, rulers, and other tools. I reckon life’s to short to mark quilts 😉 so I prefer free motion quilting (FMQ), which means not all my lines are perfectly straight, not all my circles are perfect circles etc. I’m looking for an overall ‘feel’, not perfection, so I’m OK with slightly wonky lines — in fact, in some quilts I’ve deliberately stitched wonky lines for effect (see this one:

Anyhow, back to the baby quilts…

In this first photo, I haven’t done any stitching to hold the layers together — I’ve only joined (basted) the layers together with pins, ready for stitching. If I only did SID, then those wrinkles and puffiness would remain with the quilt forever. You could iron them out to a degree, but essentially, what you see is what you’ll get once the quilt is finished. It doesn’t have a lot of ‘life’, in my opinion.


In the next photo (below), I’ve quilted the the three layers together quite densely, using a free motion spiral motif, with joining long U shapes (I was trying to emulate the hot sun on the African plains). The wrinkles and puffiness have been stitched out. While this quilting is quite dense (there’s not much more than a quarter inch gap between each stitching line), this quilt should hold up well to many years of laundering as the chance of the layers separating is pretty slim. You can still see puffiness in the cream band at the top — I deliberately didn’t quilt this area.


This final photo (below) shows both quilts on the line — the one on the left has no quilting, while the one on the right is quilted and is now ready for trimming and binding.


In my opinion, quilting makes the quilt, and brings it to life.

Baby elephants

22 06 2014

I have twin nieces in the US, both of whom are pregnant. No, they didn’t plan it that way! One is due in October; the other in December.

The one who is due in October has a thing for elephants for her nursery, so I decided to make a gender-neutral baby quilt for her in yellow, featuring elephants. And as I had enough fabric, I thought I’d make two at the same time, just in case the other twin got pregnant… And sure enough, she did! So now I’ll be taking two baby elephant quilts with me to the US in October.

I really enjoyed making these quilts — the pattern was super easy to put together (‘Little black quilt’ pattern available free from: Just 6.5 inch strips, with a reverse strip part way up, separated by two bands of sashing. I didn’t have quite enough of all the fabrics to use exactly the same in each quilt, so the fabric choices are slightly different in each. But that’s OK.

I also quilted them differently. For the first one, I made up a spiral motif with long U shapes, and outlined more elephants in the reversed panel; for the second I did all-over spirals, with bubbles/pebbles inside the reverse strip.

The charcoal grey elephants were fused on and then I blanket stitched around them in black. I stitched their ear shapes and toenails in yellow thread, and their eyes and tails in black thread.

Finally, I added a binding made up of multiple pieces of leftover yellow fabrics.

Oh, and the backing fabric was an alphabet print from the dressmaking poplins in Spotlight — it even has E for Elephant!

(Click on a photo to view it larger)

Auditioning fabrics

Interestingly, almost every yellow fabric I had had dots, spots, or circles of some sort!


Quilt 1









Quilt 2









The back on both


Threads used:

  • Top: Isacord (trilobal polyester, 40 wt, colour 0640 [a soft buttery yellow]); Robison-Anton (rayon, 40 wt, black)
  • Bobbin: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (white)

Community Quilt 149

22 06 2014

Every appliqued centre of this quilt was a ‘B’ word. My favourite was the banksia; I wasn’t quite sure about the very hairy baby in the bathtub!

How to quilt it? I started by stitching in the ditch around all the blocks, then around the appliqued pieces, then echo stitched about a quarter inch around each appliqued object/set.

I decided to do largish motifs in each block — I still wanted this quilt to have some puffiness. Finally, I switched to a blue thread and stitched deliberately wobbly lines along the sashing, with spirals in the corners and joins.

For this one I used quite fine thread — an 80 wt and a 100 wt in the top (with a 70 needle), and a 60 wt in the bobbin.

(Click on a photo to view it larger)












Threads used:

  • Top: Wonderfil Deco Bob (80 wt, colour DB112); Wonderfil Invisifil (100 wt, colour IF311)
  • Bottom: Fil-Tec Magna Glide pre-wound bobbin (white)

Photos of all the Community Quilts I’ve quilted are here: