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 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.
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.
Meet wonky little Miss Fairy Dolly. She’s a prototype that is in need of a few tweaks. If I was clever enough, there would be a whole back story about her life and personality*, but in the interests of actually posting something, you will have to meet her, sans story.
I can see all the things I am going to change about her, but one thing that I’m super pleased with is her bubble dress. It’s so bubbly that it’s practically effervescent. Her rainbow hair was tricky. Although I like it, it was hard to hide the stitching that attaches it to her head, so a less variegated yarn might be better next time. I’m already started on her cousin, the slightly less wonky Fairy, I’m hoping that you will be able to meet her soon…
*(Perhaps you can come up with the back story of wonky Miss Fairy Dolly).
For the past week, theatre has taken over my life. I have become a taxi driver, taking my eldest daughter to daily rehearsals in the city, at Hisense arena. Thousands of parents, from across the state, have been doing the same. Saturday was the culmination of all the months of work, with 2 performances of the Victorian State School Spectacular.
Amelia is a member of the Performing Arts Unit Choir, a choir of about 30 kids that lead the rest of the mass choir, which is made up of many seperate school choirs. She was sitting at the front of the group that you can see, that is lit up in pink, at the centre of this shot. All the people around them, with little lights, are members of the mass choir. Amelia has committed every Saturday afternoon to this choir all year, and they sounded terrific.
Our commitment has been to drive her every week, and in the past week, every day. On one particular day, I drove three return trips to the city, and racked up 5 1/2 hours of driving! A highlight of these lengthy peak-hour trips was seeing this car. I got Amelia to take a snap, because I knew Rory would love to see it.
The Spectacular performances are not the end of my job as a taxi/Theatre-Mum. Every day this week Amelia has a rehearsal or performance of her High School Production. That’s right, 2 solid weeks of singing every single day for Amelia, which means two weeks of driving at odd hours for me. This morning we covered new territory for both of us, when I applied her first lot of stage make-up ever. I was pretty glad that the school had given very specific instructions regarding what to apply and where. I think we did OK.
Due to all the driving and late nights, I haven’t had much creative energy, but I really needed to reward myself in some way. I decided that following someone else’s pattern was the best kind of distraction, so I have been making another of Nikki’s fabulous A-Line Skirts. This time I have drafted my own pocket, and have inserted it with french seams. Even though I have made it in stolen moments here and there, I am almost finished, just the hem to go. I can’t wait to wear it, and show you.
I know this doesn’t look like much, but it’s actually a Regency costume in waiting, just squint a bit and use your imagination. I have a book character costume party to go to this weekend, and I had plan A, B and C for the characters I was considering going as. I wasn’t planning on making a costume, but a trip to the costume store turned up nothing suitable (except for one dress, which would have been perfect without the multiple grey stains on the cream fabric).
This is plan D. I’m making a Regency dress because it’s achievable, and doesn’t require the same crazy amount of fabric and sewing skills that plan A,B and C would require. What you can see there is the lining of the dress. I adapting an old Empire-line Maternity dress pattern that my Mother already had, just using the pattern pieces to make the bodice. I’ve made the lining using the pattern pieces as is, while I am adapting the top layer to have lots of gathering in the bodice area. I’ve spent a lot of time on Pinterest looking at the many boards dedicated to Regency Dresses. They are both lovely and fascinating, but not particularly flattering. The idea seemed to be to disguise the real shape of a woman’s curves, and create artificially high boobs.
This is the pattern piece for the sleeve, which I have cut 3 slits into, and inserted paper to add volume along the lower edge to create puff. I was hesitant to add any bulk into the top of the sleeve, because it actually forms part of the neckline. It’s an experiment, so I’m not sure how it’s going to go. I have fair sewing skills, but no drafting skills to employ when it comes to garments, but I figure that I only need to wear this dress once. It’s not the wisest plan to be making this in the school holidays either, but I’m giving it a red hot go, wish me luck!
By the way, at this point I’m guessing that most of you will be thinking that I’m going as Elizabeth Bennet, but I’m not. I tell you after the party who I was.
What is your proudest costume creation?
Michaela decided yesterday that she desperately wanted to embroider a panda. She came to me with her drawing, all ready to go. Usually I would just scan her drawing, scale it to fit in the hoop, and trace over the lines in Illustrator to create a pattern. The scanner has been a bit temperamental lately, so I explained that I would redraw it in Illustrator, as closely as possible.
After recovering from the disappointment of hearing that she would not be able to operate Illustrator by herself, (it took me years to teach myself) she started directing me. She decided to leave out the eyelashes, and after looking at some pictures of real Pandas, she decided to make the face and the black-eye-surrounds more oval in shape.
She worked out her own colour plan and has chosen all of her floss. Now she just wants me to release a pattern!
If I design some more “Hoop Faces”, what do you think I should add to the collection?