28 March 2011

A Little Off-Tangent

I’ve been away for a while.

We needed a little break, so off we went to an island up north. An island with a story. And because I’m a romantic, I’m going to tell you the story. So go away if you must, if not, grab a cup of coffee, and keep reading.

Once upon a time, there was a princess.

Ok, she wasn’t actually a real princess, but let’s just imagine for the sake of romance that she is.

So, this princess’s name was Mahsuri. She lived on an island, called Langkawi, just off the coast of Kedah, on the Malay Peninsula. At the time (circa early 1800s?), Langkawi was a beautiful island, encircled by pristine sandy beaches, the inlands lush with green. Rivers and streams bearing sweet, clear water flowed from misty green hills, providing irrigation for acres and acres of padi fields and other crops. Yes, once upon a time Langkawi was flourishing. And this is where the story of Mahsuri begins.

Mahsuri herself blossomed to be a pretty maiden, a real beauty. She was sweet and virtuous in nature and not surprisingly was reknowned all over the island. News of her beauty reached the household of the island’s chief (I forget what his name is, so let’s call him Penghulu*). Now Penghulu was a no-nonsense leader and presided over the islanders with a legendary firmness. He lived in the royal court with his beautiful consort Wan Mahora. Penghulu also had a handsome brother, Wan Derus. Wan Derus too was familiar with the stories told of Mahsuri. One day, while  attending harvest festivities in the villages he caught a glimpse of our princess, and as the story goes, fell instantly in love with her.


To cut a long story short, or shorter, Wan Derus and Mahsuri were soon married, and lived in blissful happiness. They were even blessed with a little baby boy, Wan Hakim.

Behind the scenes, however, trouble was a-brewing. Mahsuri’s sister-in-law, Wan Mahora, became increasingly jealous of Mahsuri’s beauty and happiness, which far surpassed her own. Her jealousy grew into ugly hatred and obsession.

One day Wan Derus and a number of the island’s warriors were called away to the land of Kedah to attend to the Sultan. One morning during his absence, Mahsuri went into the village market and chanced upon a traveller, Deraman. They exchanged a few innocent words, and (perhaps just as innocently) this encounter reached the ears of the scheming Wan Mahora.

And then all hell (Oops! Sorry, pretend you didn't just read that) broke loose.

Wan Mahora ran to Penghulu with allegations of infidelity, accusing Mahsuri and Deraman of adultery. She even had her faithful servants support her accusations. Penghulu, being the strict leader that he was, was enraged, and immediately ordered for Mahsuri’s execution. Mahsuri was duly captured and bound to a tree. In the days that followed her family and the villagers did their utmost best to secure her release, but Penghulu was adamant in his decision. The only concession he agreed to was to delay her execution until her husband, Wan Derus, had been summoned back from Kedah.

And so Mahsuri remained tied to the tree for days, suffering in agony in the sun and the rain, never ceasing to maintain her innocence. Finally the day of the execution arrived, and as the kris was plunged into her heart, she uttered her famous curse: The Penghulu and his family, and the entire island would be cursed to suffer for seven generations to come. To everyone’s fear and amazement the blood that then spurted out of her wound was not red, but milky white. A tribute, they say, to her innocence.

Now much of this legend is true. Mahsuri did in fact exist, and her bloodline is traceable up to this day. After her execution her family fled to Siam (can’t say I blame them, can you?). As for Langkawi, for a long while after it did experience a decline, barren and forgotten. Whether this was due to her curse, who’s to say? It was only a couple of decades ago that Langkawi really re-emerged on the map of Malaysia, when tourism began to blossom. Today, it is a little crumb from paradise - a gem on the edge of the Andaman Sea.

And there ends my little story.

But this blog is about fabric, so a word or two on the subject is a must. There are several cottage industries in Langkawi, one of which is the production of batik. There're 2 types here, the HAND printed type and the HAND painted type (Have I emphasized the HandMade part enough?). I have to admit I was never a huge fan of the hand painted batik that's produced in the northern states of Malaysia before, but when I visited the craft centre on the  island and saw the painted batiks, I was sold. And just couldn't resist coming away with some of these:

I can't wait for them to be framed and hung.

And before I go I must, MUST show you this:

This is a Kekabu tree. There were kekabu trees EVERYWHERE. They're really easy to spot because they look like they're bearing puffs and puffs of cotton candy!

And this is the 'fruit':

It looks just like an ear of corn, no?

The creamy white stuff you see on the inside is the kekabu. In Malaysia we use it to stuff pillows and mattresses. It's very much like cotton I suppose, although I'm not really sure if it can be spun into yarn and wove into fabric.

Lastly, I'm very proud to report that my reversible bucket bag came with me for this trip...

 and I'm ever so pleased to say it travelled very, very well indeed :-)

* Penghulu - Malay meaning village chief
Kris - traditional Malay dagger
Siam - now Thailand

21 March 2011

Little Outfits

Here's something you don't know about me :

I used to make clothes.
Little clothes for little people.
But this was a looong time ago, before I discovered patchwork and quilting.

So when I was cleaning out some of my stuff this last weekend, I chanced upon some of the books/magazines I used to buy on dressmaking. And had a little trip down memory lane. I have no idea what happened to all the little dresses I made. I think Mum might have found them and given them away. But I digress as usual.

Now the point is, I can't really see myself sewing little clothes anymore. So I think these magazines might be of better use to someone else.

Magazine No. 1 : Cover

Pages from the inside

Pages from the inside

Magazine No. 2 : Cover

Pages from the inside

Pages from the inside

Price : RM15.00 each + RM4.50 postage within Malaysia.

Things you should know: These books are used. And in Japanese. But there're plenty of illustrations so it really is quite easy to follow.

Do let me know if you're interested.

20 March 2011

Princess Fairies Tote

I must say the Sew Along organized by Sue of MyBotang has left me a bit more adventurous than usual about making bags. So I'm riding the wave, and this weekend came up with another tote:

I made another attempt at using the 'plywood' interfacing, this time taking Sue's advice about trimming the interfacing to just inside the seam line, so that I don't actually sew on it. It worked much better (thanks again Sue!), but I'm still not getting the feel of this type of interfacing. Which is a shame, as I'm sort of liking the 'body' it gives to the bags.

I even tried my first ever attempt at magnetic snaps (told you I'm feeling adventurous). I've had a few of these in my sewing box for a while, but have always been too nervous about using them. Turns out they're easy as - snap!

I just love these pretty princesses. Now all I have to do is decide which one of the many little princesses I know will get this cute tote.

Have a good week ahead all!

17 March 2011

Prayer Quilt - Pattern

You know how I've said that I'll be posting more tutorials on my blog? Well if you do, you'll also know that I haven't really been keeping my word on this, shame on me. 

Truth be told, there're so many other talented individuals out there that I'm often rendered a little intimidated to tutor anyone on anything, especially as I'm not much more than a beginner myself.

But promises are never made to be broken, so in this post I'd like to share a pattern. It's not so  much a tutorial, but I hope there's enough material for you to follow. This is the pattern for my Prayer Quilt, you can see a link to my post on it here.

This prayer quilt is a perfect little rug for reflecting upon in (inreasingly rare) quiet moments.

Note, I've never written a pattern before so please excuse any shortcomings. I'm not very precise - I know, I know, precision is key in quilting - but I normally just eyeball my way along. Also, the illustrations are just sketches, but I hope they're clear enough to understand.

So here we go!

  • 1 charm pack
  • ¾ yard coordinating fabric for background
  • ¼ yard binding fabric
  • 1 yard backing fabric


1. Centre Block - Choose 9 charms and set aside.
2. Medium Blocks - Choose 4 charms and set aside.  
(Centre and Medium blocks are highlighted in pink in the illustrative diagram below)
3. Small Blocks - Choose 4 charms and quarter each into 4 smaller squares of 2.5” X 2.5”.
(Blue in the diagrams)
4. Triangle border -
• Take 10 charms and cut once on the diagonal. Be careful not to stretch on the bias.
• Take another charm and cut twice down the diagonal, to yield four small triangles. These will be the corner triangles.
(Half square triangles are red in the diagram, quarter square triangles - yellow)  

5. From background fabric cut:

• 16 - 5” X 5” squares.

 • 2 – 14” X 5” rectangles (referred to as "A" in diagrams).

 • 4 – 9.5 X 5” rectangles (referred to as "B" in diagrams).

 • 16 – 3” X 5” rectangles.

 • 16 – 3” X 2.5” (small rectangles)

1. Take 1 of the small 2.5” X 2.5” squares and sew onto one 3” X 2.5” small rectangle.

2. Repeat for all 16 small squares and 16 small rectangles. 

3. Attach each pieced unit from step 2 to the 3” X 5” rectangle on the 5” edge. Repeat until you have 16 blocks that look like this:

 4. Referring to the diagram below, piece the prepared blocks into rows.

 5. Then sew each row together, like so:

6. For my Prayer Quilt I had charms left over from my charm pack, so I pieced some of these together into 2 rows, which I then attached to the (short) ends of the quilt to add some length. You can see this in the photo of the finished quilt. There's no rocket science there, you can piece them however you want, I did mine in rows of 2.5" squares.

7. Finally, you're ready to layer, quilt and bind.

And that's all there is to it! If you do give this a go, let me know, I'd love to see some photos.

14 March 2011

Scrappy Yards

This week I have 2 scrap bundles up for grabs.

Each bundle is made up of scraps of different fabric for a sum total size of approximately 1 yard (36" X 44"). Great for patchwork beginners, and miscellaneous craft projects.

The first bundle is made up of mostly flora and fauna fabrics:

Mostly Floral Scrap Bundle : Pic 1
Mostly Floral Scrap Bundle : Pic 2

And the second is mostly cut from bright fabrics:

Mostly Brights Scrap Bundle : Pic 1
Mostly Brights Scrap Bundle : Pic 2

Each scrappy bundle is RM25.00 (postage included within Malaysia).
Shipping will be via Pos Express. 

Also available are 2 Moda's City Weekend Charm Packs:

Each pack is RM38.00
Postage is RM3.50 via Pos Express within Malaysia.

Happy crafting everyone!

13 March 2011

It's a Finish!

And my Reversible Bucket Bag is done!

Hanging pretty!

Close up of the outer fabric - Little Eiffel Towers!

And a view of the inside...

To be honest, making this bag wasn't as difficult as I had thought it would be. Sure, some of the time I made up my own instructions : when I couldn't really understand (or read - I printed out the font so tiny!) the pattern.

Now, don't be misled by my earlier post on fusible fleece. That event occurred solely within my imagination. As it turned out my fave quilt shop (aka Cottage Patch, Ampang) doesn't carry fusible fleece, so Yummy Hubby actually came back with 1. fusible web, 2. batting (the type for bags and totes) and 3. stiff interfacing.

So I improvised with this bag, using the batting with the outer fabric, and the interfacing for the inner fabric. Which was fine, until I started sewing everything together. If you've never worked with stiff interfacing before, here's a warning : It's as stiff as a board, and sewing it is like trying to sew 2 planks of plywood together. Not too bad if we're only talking straight lines. But a nightmare when sewing curves (in this case the bottom of the bag). All I can say is thank goodness the bottom fabric and inner fabric are RED, as it hides all the drops of blood I shed, heheheeh. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but really, it was quite a struggle.

But, notwithstanding my little adventure with stiff interfacing, I won't be put off making another one of these pretty bags. Overall it was pretty easy and enjoyable, although I certainly won't be using too many layers of 'plywood' next time.

A HUUUUGE thanks to Sue for organizing this Sew Along. Sue, I do hope you're not too affected by that massive earthquake and tsunami in Japan. My thoughts and prayers are with you all.

Until the next post, have a good and grateful week ahead!

11 March 2011

Quilters' Husbands

I don't know about you, but sometimes I just can't find the time during the day to visit the craft shops. I have a day job, which takes me away during the business hours of my local quilt shop.

And so what's a girl to do, but bat her eyelashes at her other half and ask sweetly if he'd mind picking up some things.

Which happens quite a lot with me.

So far, Yummy Hubby has been very good at coming back from Cottage Patch with my orders.

I've sometimes wondered what transpires everytime he goes there, and in my mind I picture it to go something like this...

*Door buzzer*

Yummy Hubby : Hello!

Alice Cottage Patch: Good morning! Oh, it's you Sir, I see your wife has sent you again.

YH : *Looks sheepish*

Alice : So, what can we get for her this time?

YH : *Hands reach inside pocket, pulls out some fluff, a bit of paper. Reaches into other pocket pulls out some keys on a ring and some loose change. Stuffs everything back into another pocket and looks at Alice* Eerrr... she wants to make something from fabric?

Alice : Uh huh, that's generally why people are here...

YH : Oh yes, I remember! *cheers up considerably*  Floosy pearl fleas!

Alice : *Silence*

YH : *Silence?*

Alice : And what would she be using the floosy pearl fleas for?

YH : *Blank look*

Alice : Okay, lets do this another way. Do you know what she's making currently?

YH :  *Thinks : Why oh why do I always agree to do this?*

Alice : *Sighs* Let's start again. Do you remember if she's mentioned any particular project lately? Quilters usually talk about what they're making or planning to make... quilts, applique, patterns, bags...

YH : Yes, bags!! A bag. I think she mentioned something about making a reversing bag. She says it'll look like a pail. Although I cannot imagine who would want to make a bag that looks like a pail.  Even if it does reverse.

Alice : Uh huh, but let's stay with the bag for the moment. If she's making a bag, she will need fabric of course - did she ask you to buy fabric? I don't think so, she normally chooses them herself. So then she would need some interfacing, some lining for the bag. Something fusible. Wait, fusible...floosy pearl?? Oh! *light bulb goes off* She needs some FUSIBLE FLEECE! *Looks expectantly at YH for confirmation*.

YH : *Blinks* Yes, isn't that what I said? Floosy pearl fleas.

Alice : Of course you did, Sir. *big smile*. I'll go get some, I think a metre would be more than enough. *Starts to walk away*.

YH : Thanks, and oh, before I forget, she's asked for a couple of metres of her usual backing too.

Alice : Got it. Half a metre of fusible fleece, and 2 metres of low loft batting coming right up.

06 March 2011

Reversible Bucket Bag - Sew Along

Ok, I've been putting this off for long enough.

I signed up for My Botang's Reversible Bucket Bag Sew Along last month, but am ashamed to say that I've yet to get started... I have an aversion to making bags and totes, because I tend to struggle with them. For me, they're a challenge, and I take my hat off to all those lovely ladies who seem to effortlessly produce beautiful bags and purses.

But now I've decided, enough procrastinating. It's time to tackle this baby.

I know I'm a bit late. Okay, who am I kidding? I'm a lot late, eheheh. So I'm setting myself a deadline. I'm going to concentrate on this project this week. My blinkers are on, and I'm not going to be distracted *fingers crossed*. No, really.

I've got my fabric and supplies (well, sort of). Sorry no photo's this time. It's a sleepy Sunday and I'm too lazy.

But there will be in my next post.

Wish me luck!

01 March 2011

The Last BB Quilt ...

....  well, for now at least.

This one is made from cutesy CUTESY dinosour themed fabric, ooh!

And I've plenty of pictures to share so this will be more of a photo post than a wordy post.

First up, draped over an armchair...

Close up of the centre blocks:

A photo of the whole quilt (bad lighting though, sorry! Also I think it's the wrong way 'up', can't find the rotate button now, arrgh! It helps if you tilt your head to the left, ehehee)

And the back. Made from some super soft cotton I had stashed away, think I got it from the local Kamdar. It says it's some kind of Japanese cotton on the selvage, but it has such a soft feel to it, I wished I had stashed more.

A bundle of cuteness! Aaah...

And a whole half yard left over from this project. Too cute to go to waste, so it's up for grabs if anyone's interested. RM20.00 postage included.

Three baby quilts in a row, so it's now time for something different.

And lovely Sue from My Botang has got just the perfect thing... more on that next.

Hope everyone's having a lovehly week!