Saturday, March 31, 2012

Bloomfield gardens

Spring seems to have come for real this time. To soak in the sun and admire the outdoors, we strolled in Bloomfield gardens, that overlooks the city wall of old Jerusalem.  

Looking towards Jaffa gate and the Tower of David can be seen in the middle.
Church of the Dormition can be seen mid-picture
I was struck by the amount of thyme that is growing here, along side the cacti. Both plants obviously thrive in this climate.

It is a lovely park that has this quirky water fountain: lions spitting water, doves, a couple of mice at some of the feet of the lions and a tree-like centre piece perhaps inspired by the curly mains of the lions. Also pomegranates are a usual addition to such monuments, which can be spotted at the foot of the fountain. Perhaps I can find some inspiration here for fabric design.

Nice touch to add the tails intertwining.

I was pleased to find a lonely cherry tree, which stuck out in the landscape. It was blooming so nicely and will surely help to inspire me with my next quilting project. More on that soon...

Have a nice day!


Friday, March 30, 2012

Another set of draw string bags

My kids needed some bags for storing their extra clothes at pre-school, so I thought I would sew some new draw string bags for them. My son got a birthday party invitation from a little girl in his class, so it was appropriate to make a third one as a present.

Having had a hard time finding fun fabric prints in Jerusalem, it was only by a stroke of luck that I stumbled upon this dog print. White is not the most practical color for children's bags I know, but they are washable. Again I used the tutorial from In Color Order and the smallest bag is of the same dimensions - 7"x10"  (appr. 17cm x 25cm), while I went a bit bigger with the bags for my kids - 11"x14" (appr. 28cm x 36cm).

Blue polka dots for my son, purple for my daughter and pink for the little birthday girl. Their names were embroidered on with simple straight forward stitching on the one side of the bags to add that personal touch.

Have a nice day!


Thursday, March 29, 2012

A trip to Masada

Masada is indeed impressive. I remember having seen the film/mini-series on TV in the 80's and was quite astounded by the story of this place. One can understand the importance the Israelis put on this monument.
Image from
The drive there from Jerusalem is easy and the site very accommodating to children. It is possible to walk up to the summit, taking around an hour. However, with our little kiddies the obvious choice was to take the cable car; a first time experience for them.

It was indeed interesting to see the ruins and admire the view. Here is a section of the Dead Sea and Jordan on the other side.

 During this outing, it became pretty obvious to me that I needed to find a park with a sand pit, because every chance they got, these two would sit down and play with dirt and rocks.

Considering how dry it was on top and around Masada, those moments were quite frequent! We had a lot of fun. I would like to return to see the sunrise once, as they say it is spectacular.

Have a nice day!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Large car mat and storage bag

My son inherited my husband's cars from when the latter was a child and I admit I do get a bit carried away in toy stores, so my son's collection of cars was quickly growing. I thought it would be nice to make a car bag for storage, but then I started getting inspirations for a car mat. So why not combine the two.

There was this lovely tutorial on Freshly Pieced for a lego bag/play mat. I did a little tweaking (or a lot of appliqué actually) and made a car mat bag.

It was rather time consuming, but definitely worth it. I used up some animal fabric and made a farm, a zoo and a park. In addition I made a neighbourhood, a school, a construction site, an airport, a train station, a hospital, a helicopter pad, police station, a mechanic's garage, a shop, a post office/bank and most importantly of all a FIRE STATION. 

I had some fabric that had traffic signs on it. Perfect! The sewing method for the roads was not the best choice though, namely cutting up the base fabric and sewing the asphalt strips in, which caused some unevenness in the cross-roads. If I were to do this again I would just appliqué on the roads like I did with everything else. A very personal touch was to print pictures of the heads of my kids on ink-jet fabric and sew them on different places of relevance on the mat. Also, when I did not have a certain item in my fabric stash, like the mail truck for example, I found the image on the internet and printed it on ink-jet fabric as well. Really fun!

This is the back, where I used the rest of my construction fabric and some pieces from a very well known store...

And here is the bag part, with cotton rope draw-strings. The bag does become a bit big, but if you have a big car collection, then it is probably ideal. Laid out flat the car mat is 5 feet (155cm) in diameter.

Have a nice day!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Admiring the Dead Sea and the Jordan Valley

Our first trip outside Jerusalem was to the Dead Sea. Indeed it was a bit warmer than in town and we got to see some nature. An easy trip by car.

Needless to say we didn't do any swimming. It was just nice to eat from our pick-nick basket and admire the large chunks of salt found by the shore. It was rather windy that day, so we didn't stay for very long.

Image from
That's Jordan on the other side. It is said that the sea level has dropped by quite a lot the last decades, which is quite visible in the landscape, particularly since some of the seaside hotels are no longer on the seaside, but further inland.

To get to Masada, one needed only continue on the highway, but that will be for another day.

Have a nice one!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Storage bucket

After having made the draw-string bag, I came across a storage bucket tutorial. Quite simple to figure out, but it was nice to have a tutorial to follow anyway. Though I always save my tutorials, this one seems to have disappeared. Attempts to find it again on the internet have failed, so apologies to the original author.

Basically, you just find out how big you want the circle at the bottom to be and then do some school math to figure out the circumference to get the length of the top rectangular piece. The height you can decide upon yourself, but the taller the bag is, the harder it is for it to stay upright. Though the tutorial required interfacing, I used polyester batting because I lacked the former. Thicker stiff fabric is also an advantage. I even used jean fabric from my old jeans to make the bottom circles on some of them. It all worked out pretty well.

Here is .... 

... the car bag! Yes, you guessed it.

As you can see, the buckets stay pretty well by themselves, even better when they are filled of course. The handles are useful when the bags have to be lugged around. So far they seem to hold their own despite rough handling.

Here is the trio I made for my son.

And this is the trio made for my daughter.

Isn't this a cute one? The storage buckets here measure on average 12"(30 cm) in diameter and 13" (33 cm) in height. Again, the measurement is totally up to you. The buckets do not have to be restricted to toys. Fabric storage is also an option!

Have a nice day!


Sunday, March 25, 2012

Israel Museum visit

One of our first museum trips was to the Israel Museum to see the Dead Sea Scrolls, which it is most known for. We were pleasantly surprised by the collection of other national treasures.

The museum was professionally arranged and we saw early on that one trip was not enough to cover everything. The imported synagogues and silver decorative pieces were definitely highlights for me. Unfortunately one is not permitted to take pictures, so the following are from the Israel Museum's website. Probably just as well, since my photography skills are terrible.

There really was so much to see. It's probably a good idea to take another trip without hubby and kiddies, to take time to absorb in some more impressions.

Have a nice day!


Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bicycle bucket/basket

My son was crashing every where with his bicycle because he was always carrying his toys in one hand and not paying attention to steering correctly. It was about time for a bicycle basket. Don't you get flashbacks to your own childhood when you think about it? I know I cannot get the image of my own white plastic woven basket with plastic flowers pinned to it out of mind. In any case, a cooler version would be attempted this time around.

Once again I found a wonderful tutorial, this time on Noodlehead (a great site for purse and clutch tutorials by the way). Why make my own pattern when there are so many great ones on the internet? However, I did have a bit of a hard time sewing the seam along the bottom, but it would have probably been better if I had a zipper foot on my sewing machine. 

The bottom has a solid plastic sheet to give some stability. I chose to use the ribbon-tie solution instead of velcro straps, as it gave more flexibility when changing vehicles.

A close-up: cute with the monkeys, don't you think? It measures 8" x 6" x 6" (appr 20cm x 15cm x 15cm).

Here is best friend Pablo along for the ride.

He loves the basket and puts all little nick-knacks in it. He has started carrying rocks from our excursions in the park. The basket is holding just fine.

Take care!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Bernina - the new addition to our family

So, I finally bought myself a sewing machine. The quest has not been easy since shops selling such machines seem to be few in Jerusalem. After just a day of test-driving, I feel happy with my new Bernina 215. I am not used to all these little automated perks it provides, as I have always been a straight-stitch and zig-zag kind of gal.

Isn't she a beauty? She should last me for the next 20 years. I think I will make a quilted cover for her to make her feel at home.

All the best,


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Diaper bag

When I was pregnant with my second child, I thought I would try my hand at bag sewing because I needed another (?) diaper bag. This lovely and very explicit tutorial shown on A Mingled Yarn was just the ticket. This bag was very practical and easy to sew and extremely useful during our trans-Atlantic travels. 

Of course this does not only have to be used as a diaper bag, but since it has so many pockets, it is ideal to use as such. The size with the flap down is 16" x 12" (appr 40cm x 30cm).

Two pockets in front and one pocket on each side. The closure is with magnetic buttons.

A very roomy back pocket with zipper.

Five inner pockets.

And lots of room inside.

Recognize the diaper clutch? Yep, all matching.  I really enjoyed sewing something outside of my comfort zone. The tutorial and the exercise are highly recommended.

All the best!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Alphabet animal embroidery

Just to add another handicraft genre to the blog. Cross-stitch was the craft of preference in my childhood home, where my mother would embroider so many different items, mostly to contribute to her church's fundraising Christmas bazaar. I always admired the shiny colorful embroidery threads and marveled at the beautiful results using the mathematical process of counting threads and squares.

When I was pregnant, it was only natural to revert back to my roots and do some cross-stitching myself. Among the different wall-hangings I made was this alphabet chart, inserting animals corresponding with some of the letters.

The tableau measures appr. 17" x 18" (appr. 43cm x 46cm) and has been a homey fixture that has been hanging on my son's wall since his birth.

Have a lovely day!


Monday, March 19, 2012

Mount of Olives

There is indeed a special light that the sun shines on Jerusalem at sunrise and sunset. When we finally had a clear day, we hurriedly packed the kids up in the car and drove up the Mount of Olives to gaze upon the Old City.

It is never disappointing nor boring. One can not only see the history but feel it as well, as the city sends out a certain vibe that only such old places can.

Another view, this time taken from a bit further down the hill on our way to Gethsemane. Notice the olive trees. Just lovely!

Have a nice day!


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Draw string bag

As the toys started to accumulate, it was time to get started on some storage bags. We have a toy box, but my small kiddies could not always reach and bags just seem to be more convenient right now.

There has been quite a lot of activity on the net around this one easy to follow tutorial from In Colored Order. I modified the measurements since I needed a larger bag than what was specified.

Here it is lying flat. Fabric used was some left-over colorful pieces - the inner layer being the thicker fabric to give some extra durability to withstand its content.

I used cotton rope for the drawstring. Dimensions are 15" x 15" ( 38cm x 38cm).

Yep, this is the official lego bag; easy to open and close for small kiddos. Now, if my kids could only tidy up after themselves.

Have a nice day!


Friday, March 16, 2012

Boxes have arrived but...

So our trunks arrived at last and I have been in a bit of a gloomy state ever since. As I informed you earlier, I had to leave a large chunk of my fabric stash behind in Bogota during our last move. Well, the large chunk was actually a VERY large chunk, the remainder revealing itself not to be bigger than to fill up a measly shopping bag. I was really sad. Oh well, I will just have to build up my stash all over again. A friend of mine has expressed a wish for two small quilts for her little girl, which gives me a good excuse to start hoarding.

Of course there is fabric to be had here in Israel, but very expensive within the quilting range, not of the quality I prefer or a bit boring. I have found some fabrics originating from the region that are shiny cotton weaves that are interesting though.

Alternatively I have started designing my own fabric. I have just acquired four lovely books to teach and inspire me.

Adobe Photoshop for Textile Design by Frederick L. Chipkin,  A Field Guide to Fabric Design by Kimberly Kight,  Digital Textile Design by Melanie Bowles and Ceri Isaac, Printing by Hand by Lena Corwin
I have also been an avid user of Gimp (an image manipulator program), when doing the actual designing of the images. I have even posted some samples on Spoonflower (online fabric design shop), though still in private capacity until I can study my swatches and make necessary improvements. Once I am satisfied, I intend to post them publicly, curious to see if I get any response and possibly use them in some projects. In any case, I am having quite a lot of fun with this in the quiet hours of the evening.

All the best,