I’ve been pondering lately about the things that really lift my mood. I’ve grappled with some very serious responsibilities for the past couple of years, that really tend to weigh me down. I have had to adapt to make sure that I am looking after myself, so that I am better able to look after the people that need me. I’ve realised the things that nourish me are really pretty simple.
Creating things is a fundamental way that I pick myself up. Ideally, I channel my energy into designing new things, but when I am really low, I find I just need to follow a pattern, (even if it is one I wrote). I just need to make something.
Recently my Mum and I took a day to visit three different fabric stores, as therapy really. The top photo shows garment fabric I got at Rathdowne Remnants, the middle photos is of patchwork fabric I got at GJ’s, and the bottom photo is fabric I got at Darn Cheap Fabrics, and it is going to become a costume for my 40th in June.
This is what I made using the fabric in the top photo: bespoke leggings, (made exactly to my measurements, and so comfy) and the A-Line Skirt (Pattern by the supremely talented and hard working, Nicole Mallalieu of You Sew Girl). I used the Sunday afternoon of Mothers’ Day, and Monday, when I had all three children at home (and as a result couldn’t concentrate on any work) to make them, and I’m so pleased.
I recently whipped these up for Amelia too, from a pattern I drafted myself. We are both pleased with the result, but I’m super envious. I wish I could get cute shorts out of only 1 metre of fabric! Please forgive the grainy, taken at dusk photos.
Sharing a cuppa is another activity that really improves my outlook on life. It doesn’t “fix” anything, but it makes any burdens seem a little lighter, and a little easier to bear. I’ve been working on a design that reflects this idea, and I am delighted with how it is turning out.
I’m finishing making it at the moment, and I am halfway through writing up the pattern. I can’t wait to share it in it’s entirety.
Other things that improve my mood are: music, chocolate, and communicating with friends-in-the-computer, (when I can’t catch up in person).
What about you, do you have tried and true mood lifters?
Have you always wanted to try needleturn applique? It seems to be one of those skills that many quilters are scared to try, but it is such a lovely relaxing skill to practice. I’m excited to announce that I’ll be teaching a needleturn applique class on Saturday April the 12th in Ballarat at Cotton Factory. Alison (the lovely proprietor of Cotton Factory) and I have been working together to develop a class which is a thorough introduction to needleturn applique. We have included all the special tools that make it achievable, in the class cost. This will be a skill building class, the main aim is to learn the skills involved, but we will be using my “All A Flutter” cushion as a project to do that, (example shown above). Also included is a delicious lunch and yummy coffee from the local cafe.
This week I’ve been looking for projects of mine that feature needleturn applique, to show some examples of my skill. This one is the central medallion for an as-yet uncompleted quilt called “Tea in The Garden” which is hopefully destined to be a block of the month one day. I’m extremely fond of it, I love the colour combination.
This is a detailed shot of a quilt I made my daughter Michaela, which hangs in her bedroom. The pieces on this are really too big for me to sell this as a pattern, (the printing would be extremely large) but I sure enjoyed making this one-of-a-kind quilt.
This is an applique that I completed 8 years ago for my Mother. It is a Peony, and the design is by Kumiko Sudo from her book “Circles of the East”.
The class will cover all the basics such as the tools to use, how to deal with different types of curves and points, how close to trim your pieces, when to clip the seam allowance, how to avoid warping and fraying, the finer points of selecting fabrics and threads for applique, and what to look for in an applique pattern. All you have to select are your favourite fabrics to use (and matching threads) because all the other purchasing requirements are included in your class costs. If you would like to look at other colour inspiration for the “All A Flutter” Cushion, have a look here and you will see it in several other colour ways.
If you are interested in signing up for the class, contact Cotton Factory, Ballarat during studio hours, Thursday to Saturday, 10am to 3pm on (+61) 434 600 817, or leave me a comment on this blog post. You can also sign up for the class online, here.
The class will run between 10am and 3pm on Saturday April the 12th. Places are limited, so get in quick, it’s going to be so much fun!
Back at the end of last year, I made a few gifts for the teachers, to thank them for teaching my kids, and I never got around to sharing them here. The bag above was for Rory’s teacher, who loves to knit, and runs a knitting club once a week for interested students. I made her a bag that I hoped would be big enough to contain a project on-the-go, and any related yarn. Rory helped choose the fabric and wrote a message to his teacher on the inside. The loop was added for a quick handle or to hang it up, but a friend has since told me that it would be perfect to sling over your wrist to hold your yarn, while you are actually knitting. What do you think, would you knit with a bag on your wrist?
I made this for Michaela’s classroom teacher and filled it with chocolates. It’s a Samosa Purse and I used a tutorial from Sew Mama Sew to make it, although I changed the proportions a little. Michaela herself designed a present for her much loved teacher, which I think is totally adorable.
Michaela chose the fabrics, drew the bear and hand wrote the message inside. Above you can see her master drawing, (the detailed drawing of the bear that we cut out was sightly more carefully drawn). Both Rory and Michaela had teachers last year that had previously taught another of their siblings, so both teachers already had one of these stitcheries.
I really like making a fuss of the class teachers, they have a big impact of the welfare of our kids and I like to recognize that with personal presents. (If you would like to make one of these stitcheries for your child’s teacher, you can read more about the pattern here, or purchase it here).
I was somewhat at a loss as to what to give the teachers at my eldest daughter’s school. This was her first year of high school, so she had quite a few teachers. I settled on giving just her home room teacher another Samosa Purse, filled with chocolates. Amelia was happy with this plan, and she helped me pick out a lot of the fabrics we used. It was a great use of small scraps.
So, that’s my recap of presents made at the end of last year.
I’m curious knitters, can you tell me what you think of my knitting project bag? I’m thinking of writing a tutorial for it, but have no idea about how useful it would be. Please let me know what you think in the comments…
I’ve just finished another rainbow scarf, which I have been knitting on and off for a year. This is the third one that I have made, in the last year and a half. I’ve made one for each of my girls and now one for me. The yarn is a 50/50 composition of Wool and Acrylic, in “Fern”, of the Moda Vera brand for Spotlight. As happened last time I made it, I completed it on a day when the weather was wildly inappropriate, (hot).
Since completing my first knitting project of the year, I’ve started on my first quilt of the year, whilst spending the weekend at “The Retreat” in Woodend, in country Victoria. The Retreat is set up specifically as a sewing venue, with 5 large bedrooms, several lounges and a large studio space. I spent my time there with 6 other like-minded ladies, and it was delightful.
So this is what I’m making my new quilt out of, Some happy greens, deep blues, sandy browns and joyous oranges. I’m halfway through finishing the quilt top, and can’t wait to show you. Pulling out stacks of coordinating fabric is just about my favourite part of the process, which is the perfect segue into my other bit of news from the weekend…
While away, I took a side trip to visit Ballarat, and the lovely Alison (left) at her new, (soon to open) teaching space/store, “The Cotton Factory”. During my time there, I played around making several fabric stacks, pulling out fabrics from all over the store. My friend Anita (Hillside Quilting) and I were there to talk to Alison about teaching classes in her new space. I will be teaching needle-turn applique later in the year, and Anita will be teaching free-motion-quilting (for domestic machines). Once we have some dates to share, I’ll let you know. Alison has some photos of the fun we got up to on her Facebook page (link above) and on her Instagram account, including photos of some of the fabric stacks I created for versions of my “All A Flutter” Cushion, which will be the pattern I use to teach needle-turn. The Cotton Factory Ballarat also has a Big Cartel store online, which is live now, but I will be sure to share the news once the space itself has an opening date.
Is making fabric stacks your favourite part of the quilt making process?
If you have been following my blog for a while you will know that these beautiful threads from Cottage Garden Threads were ones I used to create my “Hope is a Thing With Feathers” stitchery last year. Above was one of the test embroideries I did, before I decided on the colour scheme, and below is a photo of the finished stitchery (worked in the threads you see above).
The pattern cover features another version, done in one single colour of variegated thread, called Peacock. As you can see, these threads are stunning, I just love using them.
At the end of last year, I met with Katie, from CGT, and she asked me to take part in something special this year, a Collectors Club, for fans of CGT’s floss who love to stitch and are interested in expanding their floss collection. As a member, all that is required is that you pay for 4 lots of threads each month, (the subscription goes for 12 months). Each month you will receive a new stitchery from a guest designer, and their chosen threads. Want to know more about CGT’s threads?
Above is another test feather, this one stitched in ‘Rosella’. What you see here is a tiny fraction of the beautiful threads that CGT’s produce, in a huge variety of variegated combinations. The really helpful thing is that the threads come twisted together, (like the one on the right) but when you pull them gently, you discover they are already cut into a convenient length. Because they are all cut at the same point on the colour transition, you can knot and finish one length, and start again with a new length, with a seamless transition from old length to new in you stitching.
So, next month is my month as the guest designer for the CGT Collectors Club. Matching Pegs March. Above is a preview of the threads I have chosen to work with, that you will receive if you are a member. They are lovely and bright, and I hope you are as excited by them as I am. The club actually started in February, but I’m told it is not too late to join, and if you would like to, you can find a list of participating retailers here, (pdf).
Are you tempted? Go on!
4 Years ago I made a cushion for Lotta, for her to sit on when she is on the couch. Although it was for a dog, I made it to blend in with the other cushions, and not look particularly doggy. The one you see up above is a new one, and below is what the 4 year old one looks like now.
Sadly, after 4 years, it looks very doggy. Definitely time to make a new one.
The first thing I did was pull out a whole lot of fabrics which toned in with another of my couch cushions (the one you can see in the top photo, on the right). I wanted a lot of variety. Using a feature fabric to inspire you is a great technique, if you are ever stuck for a starting point. Even though I didn’t use any of this feature fabric in my doggy cushion, (it’s scale would be too large anyway) picking the colours this way makes the 2 cushions harmonize wonderfully.
As you can see I went with plumy purples, apricots and oranges, buttery yellows, a range of warm greens and some taupe browns/greys. I made sure there were a range of lights, mids and darks, as well as a variety of scales of prints. The taupe/grey fabrics echoed the background colour of the feature fabric. A few of these fabrics didn’t make the cut,(because the scale on them was too big) but most of them are in the finished cushion. When in doubt I just held the fabric up against the feature cushion, and if it clashed, it was out.
I have been loving all the equilateral triangle quilts I have been seeing for the last year or so, and this cushions was an excellent way for me to experiment. For some rows I pressed all the seams to one side as I went. For other rows I pressed them all open. I found the latter to be easier to manage when it came to piecing the rows together.
It helped me when it came to lining up the points, and amazingly, some of the intersections are perfect!
I found the cutest backing fabric for the cushion, a very fine corduroy. I quilted the cushion-top onto a piece of old blanket with straight line quilting, (with orange thread) before I assembled the cushion. I finished the edges with orange binding, just like a quilt.
I’m pretty pleased with the end result and so is Lotta. I enjoyed this foray into equilateral triangle piecing so much that I have a whole quilt on the drawing board, and a pile of fabrics waiting to be cut.
Have you made anything with equilateral triangle piecing?
I’ve put off writing this post for a little while because I didn’t know what to say. When I last blogged I didn’t realise that I would be missing from this space for over 2 months, and I struggled with finding a way to explain why. The truth is, I can’t. 2013 was an extremely traumatic year for me, and my family. I had a few months (at the end of the year) where life returned to some sort of normal, and now I’m right back in the thick of trauma again. I can’t tell you what’s going on, because it’s not my business to put out there on the internet*. I spent the school holidays spending as much time as possible with my immediate family, trying to concentrate on all that is good. The photo above was taken after a shopping expedition to buy new summer shoes. Clearly we all have a taste for colour! The only reason that Luke’s feet aren’t in the photo too, is because he bought thongs, (flip-flops) and they aren’t very photogenic.
During January we had a week away, down on the coast, which was lovely. I managed to get a bit of hand piecing done, both pool-side and on the beach. Although I did swim too, I was more than happy to spend some time supervising the sandcastle building and swimming, with a needle in my hand.
Here is a quick update on how my Wheel of Fortune Quilt is looking now. Once I finish a full revolution of the green squares, I will only have a diminishing number of squares to add in the corners, in order to square up the whole quilt.
While away, I did actually spend some time on this jumping pillow with the rest of my family, but you will have to take my word for it. It’s hard to take a photograph while bouncing. I’m pretty pleased with this one of everyone else though.
Another highlight of the school holidays was visiting “Lego Brickvention 2014” at the Royal Exhibition Buildings.
There were quite a few smaller crafting projects completed over the last couple of months too. The girls both got dresses for their Blythe dolls, (made to their specifications) for Christmas.
They both chose fabric for new pencil cases, made with Noodlehead’s Zipper Tutorial, which was fun. Rory was happy with the Star Wars one that he already had.
All three kids decorated their exercise books for school, but I only seem to have a photo of Amelia’s books, which she spent a lot of time on. I think they look fantastic. They are just covered with brown paper and decorated with pen and washi-tape.
So that’s a partial wrap up of what happened in the last two months. I have a couple more small projects that I can share with you in another post, and then I will be spending my time looking forwards. Most of all I will be trying to find a way to keep making things, and posting here, in spite of all the drama in my “real life”, because it’s not looking like it will be going away any time soon.
* I can say that the members of my immediate family are all very well, and my husband is a wonderful man; he is extremely supportive and dependable in the face of a lot of pressure.
Australian Quilt Market, a trade show for people in the Patchwork and Quilting industry, starts tomorrow. I’m just back from setting up my “Matching Pegs” table in the Creative Abundance booth, along with Jodie, Melly, Fiona, Simone and Clare. I’ve got several new patterns debuting there including “Butterfly Fairies”, (shown above).
I looked up the collective noun for Butterflies, and there are several, but the most appropriate to me seemed to be a kaleidoscope of butterflies.
I’ve got a kaleidoscope of Butterfly Fairies. They are so much fun to make, especially their tiny bubble dresses, and their fancy hair.
I’ve finished the quilt that I gave you a peek at, in the last post, and I’ve whipped up another quilt top, with the colours you can see above. I can’t wait to show it to you in all it’s glory, but it deserves it’s own post, especially as Anita, my quilter, did such a beautiful job.
I’m also looking forward to showing you my two “Hope is a Thing With Feathers” stitcheries, which are complete, and wrapped around canvases, but all in good time.
In the mean time, I can show you the swing tags I made for Market. They were fun to make, and you know me, the pegs on each tag match the colour on the top of the corresponding pattern.
I can also show you the photo I shared on instagram yesterday afternoon, of the piles of fabric that I am going to have to try and re-shelve after AQM is over. I’m going to be like a librarian, after exam time is over.
Last of all I have to share a proud Mum moment, and show you Michaela, who received a Student Achievement Award in front of the whole school on Monday for working extremely hard to improve her writing, both in form (neatness) and in content. Her Dad and I are very proud of her.
I’ve been cracking on with making a new quilt that I’m fabulously happy with. Even the scrappy little pile of trimmed edges looks delightful to me. It’s the colours you see, a successful colour combination never fails to excite and enchant me.
This colour combo is a cracker. Small piles of these fabrics have been waiting in a clear zip-lock bag for months, waiting until I had the time to embark on a new quilt. Yay, how wonderful it feels to start a new project!
Just quietly, I have a whole other bag full of cuts of fabric that are going to become an alternative-colour-way version of this quilt. I’m pretty thrilled with that colour combo too, but shh, this one is my favourite. I’m always in love with colours that you could describe as sunset inspired. The colours are a lot like those in Michaela’s Sunset Quilt that I finished back in 2010.
This photo doesn’t capture the colours precisely enough, it looks a little cooler here than it is in person.
Here you can see my “Hope is a Thing of Feathers” stitchery, (being worked in “peacock” (1201) stranded thread by Cottage Garden Threads) which is almost completed. I was sitting in the car, waiting for one of my children, when I realised that my nails and my coat matched it, (not to mention my iphone and water bottle, which were also on hand). Do you do that that too, discover that you have made more than just your clothing match?
We don’t celebrate Halloween here. There are not that many families that do in Australia, and we are not among them, however Amelia’s Taekwondo class was encouraged to come in (loose) costume for a bit of fun. This is what Amelia and I came up with – Zombie child. No one knocked on our door last night, even though I was prepared with some mini-chocolate bars, so they were all for us.
Did you do anything for Halloween?
This is the total amount of sewing I did in September. It was a rough month, (inside a generally painful year). I wish I could tell you why. In “real”, non-internet life I would probably tell you, because I’m a real sharer, but it’s not my story to tell, and I have no business putting it out there on the internet. I know these cryptic posts in blog land often turn out to be marriages on the rocks, or nasty terminal illnesses, and I can safely say that it is neither of those things. Someone in my family needed my every waking hour, and while I missed sewing, creating and blogging, family always comes first and I have no regrets on that score.
I did manage to make it to the fabulous bloggy meetup, “Crafty Hijinks” in Ballarat in September, which was a much needed day off to spend with lots of like minded crafters. Thanks to Jodie and Gillian for organising it!
Now that life has settled down a little, I’m back on my sewing machine and my computer trying to make up for lost time. Like so many other bloggers, in-between posts you can find me on Instagram. I’m often bemoaning the complexities of drawing comprehensible Illustrator diagrams, (the one above is the most complex diagram I’ve ever attempted, and I’m rather pleased with it) or extolling the virtues of chocolate, my addiction of choice.
On Instagram I’m matchingpegs, you can find me here.