This patchwork top was made for a lovely couple who wanted to bring a little part of the sea into their home.

…. and it’s just about big enough to swim in!  At almost 3m square, this will drape over the sides of their fabulous king size bed. They fell in love with my stash of vintage sheets (who wouldn’t?), picked some of their favourites, and we worked from there.

I’ve chosen a green polka-dot binding, but because it’s so big, this one will have to wait until I can book it some quality time with a long-arm quilter.  (Melbourne quilters — if you’re interested, let me know!)

This was a big challenge for me: my design wall (AKA 2.4m square piece of batting nailed to my studio wall) was too small and I had to work in quarters.  The first time I saw it whole was in GJs when I went to find some batting and backing.  I’m feeling pretty happy with it, all told.  It has the right mix.


(which needs an iron!  That’s the problem with cameras these days — they show you things you miss in real life!)

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I made a block for my sampler quilt.  Seriously — the last one was in April last year.  0_O !!

So then it’s appropriate that this be something special, something I’ve been saving.  Like a tribute to the ‘Sundial Coverlet’, a patchwork and applique extravaganza held by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London:

It’s around three metres squared — an enormous quilt worthy of the largest of king size beds, and then some.  I seem to remember reading somewhere that beds used to be a lot larger in the 18th century.  Any historians out there who could back that up with some actual facts?  There are ducks and stars and pinwheels and all manner of geometric motifs, all dancing around a sundial and a date from long ago.  I’m just going to go out on a limb and imagine that 1797 is the date it was finished, but that would be because it’s the date a modern quilter would use, and I may be wrong.

In any case, I’ve been in love with this quilt since I saw it reproduced in Kaffe Fassett’s V&A book oh, around ten years ago, before I had made any quilt more complicated than a puff patch.  Kaffe and his team didn’t reproduce any of the applique, instead choosing to recreate the impression of the patchwork in their version — they were working with time constraints, of course, and the quilter who took this on would never see the light of day again!

I chose two particularly appealing applique blocks to reproduce, one with scissors and thimble, the other with a clamp and heart.  A clamp was a sewing tool back in the day — one might clamp the end of the seam to a table, then stitch towards it.  Makes sense for a straight and even line of stitching.

I took a photo of the quilt from Kaffe’s book with a macro-enabled camera, cut the photo down into the pieces I wanted, blew it up in Photoshop until I got around about the right size, and then used the Trace tool in EQ to create applique shapes.

Could I have drawn it freehand and saved the bother?  Probably,  but this way makes me feel a lot more connected to the mysterious quilter who made all these wonderful, magical blocks.  It must have taken so many years.

Patches in this block: 5

Patches so far: 878

I’m slowly finding more moments of time for patchwork.  What a joy it is to build something so simple and so sweet.

We just got back from a week’s honeymoon on the Surf Coast.  In between defragging the house to make it kinda worthy of amazing wedding gifts, I’ve been watching this.  Over and over.  It really was the best day.  And now I’m Mrs Shea, which feels weird of course — and very awkward when I need to sign my name — but it’s wonderful.

The dress — well, you know about the dress!   I was worried it would look odd but I loved it and I’m so glad I made it myself.  My sister-in-law Mel (yay, I can call her that now!) made my earrings and the bridesmaids’ jewelry.  My brides-men refused to wear jewelry but Evan and Peter rocked their hot pink ties!  Everyone went to a huge effort to decorate the clifftop, to look their best, to get music going, to make cake… it was an overwhelming day of special kindness.

If you would like to see static photos, there are a few on Jessie’s website and I’ll share more as I get them.

Excitement aside, I am very much looking forward to having more time to spend here on the blog, not least to share with you the fun DIY bits and the final details on the dress!  Hint: that weird-looking guest book is not destined to be a book for long…

Take a little bit of this…

Add a little bit of that…

Add a dash of standing on a table, waiting for people to stop taking pictures and start pinning lace on your hem…

And you feel pretty much ready to get married.  Almost… (I’m writing this the day before…)

I’ve scheduled this post to publish at around the same time Dan and I tie the knot, so if you’re reading this, the deed is done.  I’ll be off on holidays for a week — if you’d like to see photos, the lovely Jessie will put a few up on her site within a day or two.

Thank you so much to all of you who’ve helped out with helpful comments, sage advice, and helping hands.

Well, here we are, it’s almost time to get married.  Two days from now in fact.  Am I overtired, worrying over every detail, convinced SOMETHING will go wrong?  You betcha.  But I’m also loving it!

Today I baked many batches of a cake that’s traditional in Sri Lanka, called Love Cake.  Our plan is to incorporate it into our marriage ceremony, and then give a piece to each of our guests.  For us the cake recipe is very special: Dan remembers it from his childhood but the grandmother who made it for him is long gone.  I recreated it from five separate recipes, then fine tuned it until the flavour was just right: taking his expert advice as I went along and making changes to suit our tastes.  It seems like there are as many Love Cake recipes as there are Sri Lankan mums and grandmas.

This is ours.

  • Take three mixing bowls — one needs to be large.
  • In bowl one: mix 10 egg yolks and 800g sugar.
  • In bowl two: beat six egg whites until soft peaks form.
  • In bowl three (the large bowl): mix 500g semolina with 250g melted butter.
  • Add yolk mixture to semolina.
  • Add to this 500g finely chopped cashews, 200ml mild honey, 200ml rose water, 2tspn rose essence, a dash of dark rum, chopped zest of two lemons. one heaped teaspoon ground cinnamon, and one heaped teaspoon ground cardamom.
  • Fold whites in, gently, a little to begin and then the rest.
  • Pour into two greased, lined, 9″ square pans.
  • Bake at 150C for at least an hour or until a knife comes out sticky but not with liquid mixture attached.  If the cake is dry and firm, it’s overcooked by Sri Lankan standards.  If tops show early signs of browning, cover with aluminium foil.
  • Take out of the oven and, when cool, slice into bite-size pieces.
  • Share it with those you love.

I hope you enjoy this.  There’s no picture of the finished product yet because they’re still in the oven!

See you all on the other side!

Better late than never.  My little brother played this for us on Christmas Day, and for me it’s just perfect.  A secular Australian Christmas with my mum, my dad, my brother, my husband-to-be, two dogs and the cat.  And a drink in the sun.  Sorry to be late but — I hope you all had a wonderful and restorative holiday.