Monthly Archives: January 2013

Mixing it up

The joy that I felt in creating a new bag design a few days ago has led to another new design!  None of these are revolutionary, but I am so proud that I drew them up, worked out the dimensions, the materials, and the construction from scratch that I have to call them new designs!  This one was prompted by a friend’s comment that it would be good if you could fit an A4 note-book in a beautiful purse, as we so often go to meetings with a lovely handbag, but a tatty book under our arm (well – I do anyway!)  I do have plans to make some covers for notebooks, but in the meantime it can  now be disguised in a satchel (or messenger bag, or briefcase, or what ever you want to call it, depending on where you are from!!!)  I liked it so much I made two! I have used fusible fleece on the outer layer, and really strong interfacing for the lining, so the bag holds it’s shape and stands up well (partly because I hate it when papers get squished in my soft sided bags! I love the fabrics in both of these but have not yet made ‘the one’ that I will take to the office myself!

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This was my first attempt – and it turned out exactly as I wanted it.  I really like the Denyse Schmidt retro fabric I used for the lining too – will have to keep some for myself!

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In this second one I got to play with more of the gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabric – and got smart and put a pocket on the back of the bag – outside – because that is where phones end up going!

Another great realisation that has come from this – in order for me to feel that my creative urges are being satisfied I need to try different things – I can’t keep making the same things over and over.  That would be my short attention span kicking in!

On the home front, the children and I went to see ‘The Life of Pi” as our holiday movie treat this morning.  After quietly celebrating the fact that it wasn’t animated, I was interested to see how the children would enjoy it.  It was a beautiful movie – both in its themes, visually and in its ability to provoke thought.  The girls both loved it and commented several times on the beautiful cinematography.  The boy was a little overwhelmed at times and crawled onto my knee but was fascinated and followed the story very well.  I am ashamed to say that I haven’t read the book – I will be addressing that soon!

We continued to ‘mix up’ our activities with a couple more geocaches, and then tonight they attended their martial arts class.  I never imagined that I would have children who studied martial arts, but the resilience, strength and discipline that it has provided them (after they all expressed an interest in attending the classes) has been impressive.  They well and truly benefit from having a great teacher, and so I am preparing for another term of driving them around town several nights a week for training so that they can all grade for their next level/belt.  On the upside one of my friends takes her children too, so we get to hang out together while our 5 little ninjas do their stuff, and I use it as my crochet time!  So my target of more rows on the ripple blanket is well and truly under control following tonight’s class (that went over time as usual!)

I hope that you have been enjoying your week and mixing up your activities to keep life interesting!

New ideas

Balance has returned to the nest since my last post.  We have been out and about, and while chores were achieved, so were fun activities.  More of that later.  I have also managed a bit of sewing, and as a bonus, have been able to organise my sewing gear a bit more too!  A lovely new box from Spotlight has room for all the ‘things’ I was throwing in a basket – and then digging through every few minutes, creating tangles of hook and loop fastener, thread, offcuts of interfacing, etc.

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I received such lovely support following my post – both here and privately.  Thank you – your words do make a difference!

On the sewing front I have been beavering away at my ‘to do’ list – making more bags and constantly exploring new ideas.  A lovely friend (and one of my best customers so far) asked me to make a bag for her sister – a new Mum, in Ireland, with a 30th birthday.  I started thinking about when I was a new mum and finding that balance between being completely focussed on my child but also trying to retain my grown up separate identity, (in a midst of bags covered in ducks and toys etc) and decided that she needed a bag that looked good, but was also useful to carry ‘mum stuff’.  So I sat down and designed a new bag!  The photos are a bit ordinary due to rain outside meaning flash lighting inside…but you get the general idea.  I put a slip pocket on the outside, 6 slip pockets on the inside, and a zipped pocket.  I am thinking of it as a Tardis – average on the outside and enormous on the inside!  Now to play with different colour combinations!  (And different pocket combinations/arrangements.)

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It also gave me a chance to play with some new fabric that arrived here on Friday morning!  My fabric addiction is well and truly being fed at the moment.  The ideas and possibilities that come with new fabric are delightful.  The deliciousness of the prints for children have me thinking of skirts, pillowcases, art wallets, bags and more!  The prints that aren’t specifically designed for children lend themselves to all of those and more.  My brain is ticking away busily, creating and re-creating ideas and combinations.  So much fun!

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Of course, because, as I have now confessed, I am good at creating my own pressure, I want to be using it all instantly!  However I am just remembering to breathe, to enjoy the other aspects of my life, and to enjoy the dreaming, because, lets face it, the dreaming is often better than the reality!!

The children and I have been doing all sorts of things now that the cranky mum has gone away again!  We have geocached (and found some nifty hides)

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had a trip to the zoo (which we plan to be the first of many),

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played board games (‘Carcassonne’ is our current favourite),  baked (from great heights!),

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spent time with friends, and talked.  I have even managed to start the seasonal cupboard clean out!

I am also enjoying doing a bit of researching into camping gear.  I have a camping trailer, that I love, and which is now set up just the way I like it, so I don’t need any more gear for it.  (I can’t believe I actually said that, but it is true!)  However, my mistake for the Easter booking means that my friend K and I can’t take the trailer with us when we travel (sans children) to Bluesfest at Byron Bay.  In order to overcome my frustration with myself I am immersing myself in research into the best tent for the best price for us to take instead.  (We have been offered tents to borrow, which would be the sensible option, but that isn’t half as much fun as researching accessories for my favourite sort of getaway!)  K and I keep having phone calls and text messages where we share our latest find, and then talk ourselves into the sensible borrowing option, and then share the next find!  We are as bad as each other!  Having been friends since we were 11, it probably makes sense that we operate in a similar way.

While I start to think about getting organised for the return to school and work, and rearranging my work life so that I can continue to provide my children with the level of support that they need at the moment I am trying to continue planning for other fun activities for them.  So, with the Royal Canberra Agricultural Show coming up soon, I have asked the girls if they would like to enter the baking competition run for under 12s.  They are very excited at the prospect and are already planning their gluten-free entries for the general entry section!  They were disappointed that they can’t enter the sewing section as entries closed two months ago, but I pointed out that two months ago neither of them knew how to use a sewing machine, so a bit more practise before next year would stand them in good stead!  I love seeing the benefit of having been able to spend all this time at home with them. I am realistic that I can’t financially sustain that as a lifestyle for us long-term (apparently it is the law to clothe, feed and house them) but am certainly working on coming up with a work arrangement that will allow me more time with them after school than we have been able to manage for the last year or so.

While I am itching to be creating, I know that doing all of this other ‘stuff’ is good for me too!

I hope that you are all managing to do the things that make you happy.

Finding a balance

Today should have been a great day.  But it just didn’t get there.  It hasn’t been a bad day – it just hasn’t been great.  I am tired and short-tempered, and the kids have been niggling at each other and nagging me.  I called a family meeting this morning to talk about what we needed to get done today, and how that would give us time to do fun stuff.   Deaf ears all round.  I have battled to achieve my ‘to-do’ list for the day,and  we certainly didn’t have ‘fun’ (although I did manage to get the children their new school shoes and sports shoes and the roof of the shop didn’t fall in when I presented my credit card – phew!)

So tonight, with a headache and feeling a bit sorry for myself I have stopped to reflect on why the day has (in the words of my children) been ‘crappy’.  And I have realised – only days after talking about having a balance, I have lost my balance.  I am trying to do everything that I think has to be done (except housework which I have completely abandoned) and have forgotten for a few moments that these are the days that we are supposed to be enjoying.  It is, after all, the last two weeks of the school holidays, and of my time off work.  So the aim for the next couple of days is to remember to enjoy this time and go and do ‘stuff’.  Maybe a movie, or a trip to the zoo to christen our new annual pass (the best Christmas present from a great friend!).  Definitely some geocaching.

As for why I lost my balance?  The reasons are a bit complex, (including me realising that I had missed a deadline for booking part of a trip for Easter time – drats) but one aspect is that I had far more success with the sale of my bags on my Etsy shop than I ever anticipated.  That is a good thing right?  Last night, as the purchases rolled in, I was getting very excited, and used it as an excuse (with much input from both girls) to order more fabric.  I had dreams about new designs last night.  Today I am almost panicked that I haven’t made more bags to list to replace the ones that sold, and I felt that I had to be at the machine making a pile of bags instantly, therefore resentful that I didn’t make it there until 8pm.

And there you have it.  Turning something from excitement to pressure in one foul swoop – and all of my own making!  So I am going to stop trying to sew every spare moment, and instead go back to enjoying the rare luxury of having uninterrupted time with my children.  (Afterall, I go back to my office job in a couple of weeks too!)  I am also going to remember to sew because I love it, not because I think I need to have things for the ‘shop’.  I have done a little bit of that – and I don’t like the results, and am not proud of the items I have made.  Sewing to meet what I think others want, rather than relying on my creative soul to design something that ‘works’, has meant that I have compromised myself a bit.

So – tonight I spent a little bit of time playing with fabrics that work for me – just because I can.  This is my winner for the evening.

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I am having lovely visions of art wallets dancing in front of me – or maybe pillow cases?  Or both!

This doesn’t mean that I won’t be tackling my ‘to do’ list from the linked up project I posted about.  In fact – I am well on the way in ticking things off that list!  I have finished working with the artist-in-residence to design the packaging plates for the ‘shop’.  These are fabric pieces with her drawing and the contact details, that will be then stitched onto the calico drawstring bags I am using for packaging.  I have ordered a yard of it from Spoonflower (yes I do love that site and the potential that it holds!), and in the meantime used some printable fabric to make up prototypes.  I am happy with the way that they have turned out!

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Of course, one bad day doesn’t mean that the week has been bad!  We have had some lovely moments.  The eldest chick announced that she wanted to bake, without my assistance, and without using the Thermomix (sacrilege!!).  She was very insistent, so I left her to it.  She used my electric mixer, and asked for help putting the biscuits in the oven but did everything else on her own.  I really hadn’t realised just how much she had absorbed over the years!  The end result?  Delicious gluten-free white chocolate chip cookies that disappeared very quickly!  I may have to hand over baking duties to her more often!

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The boy has been busy with his usual pursuits, but after seeing me teach the eldest chick to sew yesterday has decided that he needs sewing lessons too.  Could be lethal but I will give it a go!

The plan then, is to remember to keep my balance.  Put the tired cranky mum to bed, and tomorrow bring out the mum who is happy to go on an adventure and doesn’t have a to do list to tackle.  I quite like her!

If you have managed to read this long – thanks for sticking with it!

I hope that you have found your balance.  I would be interested to hear your tips for how you manage to keep your balance.

 

 

 

 

 

To do list for January

Prompted by a post by Pretty Lady Baby on her blog, I decided that I needed to join in with the link up from Pigtales and Quilts to set up a To Do for January.  I have so many ideas running around in my head, the timing of this suggestion is perfect!

So my list is as follows  (after I slimmed it down a lot):

1. Make up 4 art wallets that I love.

2.  Make up the 5 handbags I have cut out.

3.  Complete 4 more blocks for the boys quilt.

4.  Design and order fabric plates for my packing bags

5.  Crochet 5 more rows on my rippled afghan.

Hmmmm….set out like that it seems do-able!

Join with me and the other bloggers at Pigtales and Quilts and set out your list too!

Simple things

As the weekend is drawing to a close I have been reflecting that we hadn’t done much of note. Then I reflected a bit further and realised that we had actually achieved a number of things over the weekend, and that they were worth noting! I was trying to work out why I thought we hadn’t done much, and then realised that for the main, the things that were the most important to me are in fact very simple things.

Over the last week, with a combination of very hot weather, very tired children and some background stress from our friend’s emergency I have been letting the children have much more screen time that I would usually. Yesterday morning, after the children’s swimming lesson, I was negotiating once again with the boy and the eldest chick about who could access the computer and who could play on the Wii when it struck me that I had lost control of the house! So I promptly announced that all screens were off for at least two hours, but probably longer. After the initial 2 minutes of complaining, and the boy trying to trick me into letting him on a screen 5 minutes later, they all went off and found things to do.

The boy set up a very complex Lego scenario in his room, which involved lots of instructions from him to ‘his men’.

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The he built a “Millenium Falcon” and told me that it was built to look after me, as it was made with his love in it. Oh my boy – he is so sweet despite his amazing energy levels.

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The eldest chick also started building with Lego, and after repairing her Knight’s Bus, took a shoe box, some tissues and a pile of Lego figures and was playing her own quiet but apparently very complex game.

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The middle chick decided that she needed to create (hence me referring to her as my artist in residence – it is almost a compulsion!). She drew another bird, based on the one she drew for me to use on my packaging tags (in my last post) and decided that she wanted to make it into a stuffed toy. So with some instruction from me on the order of things, she did!

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Such simple things, but all of them were using their imaginations, which is the true joy in these activities.

In the afternoon when they were getting ratty I put them all in the car and we went and found 4 new geocaches. They loved it! The boy had to be hoisted by his mother to reach one tiny micro-cache, which he was thrilled by. Another cache was disguised as a piece of chewed gum stuck under a table (ewwwwww!) and another was a multiple hide, involving us bashing around in the bush, finally finding a panel in the grass to lift, then in the dirt another panel to lift before we finally found the cache. Again the kids were so intrigued by the sneaky hide that the time in the bushes, worrying about snakes etc, was worth it! One cache defeated us, so we will have to return another time and try again.

This morning, with no swimming lessons, we all slept in – another simple thing that gave me great joy!!

After a cup of tea with a beautiful friend, I had the afternoon to myself while the children were out with their father, so I played with my new toy. I haven’t found a name for the sewing machine yet, but one will come, I am sure! It is such a joy to sew with! Blanket stitch for applique is so neat and smooth!

So I made a new super hero cape for a friend’s son. The applique was so smooth I added a few more stars….. just because I could!

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I also finished the present I am making for the eldest chick and am very happy with the way it turned out. Photos will of course follow once her birthday has passed!

My next simple joy was the bowl of delicious Thai-style sweet potato soup with chicken that a lovely friend had dropped off to me earlier in the day. The colour alone was joyous and then I tasted it – mmmmm mmmmmm.

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A walk with the dog around the block, seeing cockatoos, parrots and galahs, and returning home to watch the chooks scratching around in the garden (they get to free range each evening while the dog has some ‘inside time’.)

Simple things but lovely things.

I then started to complicate things by dreaming of creating my own fabric to make ‘things’ from, planning toys that I could make, fabric labels……and started playing on our paint editing software……so now both the eldest and middle chicks are busy trying to get in on the action, with great ideas of what they will design and then have me make things from…….ah well, technology had to intervene sometime!

So – how was your weekend? Happy I hope!

Firsts

An exciting day in the nest today with a number of firsts! I woke up this morning to find that I had my first (and second) Etsy sales! I am still jumping up and down on the inside about this. It well and truly supports my current approach to life!

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Then the temperature for the day hit a record high for January in this town – 41.6 Celsius – with a very strong wind. Not as excited about this.

So I took the kids into town to the lovely air-conditioned shopping centre for a quick re-stock of supplies at Lincraft. They all chose a piece of material each – another first! The eldest found a lovely piece in the remnants bin of black with brightly coloured musical notes that she is going to use to make a new bag for her piano music. The middle chick found a piece of Japanese lawn printed with blue roses in the same bin, and the boy found a fat quarter of black with a yellow spiders web.

After more time at home, preparing my first package for shipping, and making my packaging bags and tags, I posted the first parcel. A very exciting first.

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Late in the afternoon, after a lovely chat with my parents on the phone, I made a decision that I have been mulling over for some time, and headed out to Costco and bought a new sewing machine! My dream machine is way out of my current price bracket, but this lovely Janome has all I need for now, and, as a wise friend told me, it is like a hot knife through butter compared to my beloved old Bernina! My first ever brand new sewing machine – and it has a needle threader (so excited about that small feature!)

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However the Bernina is not being retired (although it will be serviced very soon) and instead I have moved it to another table, whereupon, with some guidance from me, the middle chick sat down and made her first ever skirt! She is thrilled with it, and is already designing more things to make on ‘her’ machine. (Sensibly out of earshot from the eldest chick.)

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So many firsts in one day means a celebration – possibly of the icecream-with-sprinkles sort given the heat!!  And possibly some playing with my new baby……..then dreaming of sewing!

 

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As is usually the case when my days are planned out, nothing has followed the plan! In between a friend having a medical emergency (resolved now), a cancelled camping trip, extra kids in the house, the birthday of a very special 10-year-old (the recipient of the pillowcase from my last post) and rising temperatures, things have been relatively calm in the nest!

The boy has been overjoyed to discover that his Star Wars Lego Wii game which mysteriously stopped working 6 months ago, is now working. He and his buddy have been problem solving in far off planets for the last two days which has served the purpose of keeping the friend distracted, and the boy in one place! Of course they also had to negotiate with the girls in the house who wanted to be able to play “Just Dance” on the Wii, but they managed it with the minimum of fuss. The girls have impressed me with their ability to support a friend who was in need of a bit of extra love and support while the medical emergency happened in the background. The middle chick did explode under the weight of being overtired and the high emotions, but recovered relatively well.

In the midst of all this potential stress I decided to adopt my new strategy of doing more of what makes me happy……so I sewed! With kids busy all over the house I sat at the dining table and cut, pinned, stitched and planned, with the end result being five new bags to list on etsy! I have designed a larger bag than the one I had originally designed, so that there is an option to carry an iPad in it. I experimented with using bamboo fleece as the padding in one bag, but although the end result has a lovely feel to it, it ended up being very fiddly and took twice as long as the bags I made with fusible fleece – so a good lesson in that!  There are more photos in my etsy shop, and I will replace the two indoor shots once I have daylight tomorrow, but here is a peek anyway.

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The birthday girl had requested a French themed party, and although much of it had to be postponed, we managed a few special “Parisian” treats for her. I opened “Madame Theresa’s House of Beauty” and painted the girls’ fingernails. The birthday girl chose to have alternating pastel blue and green nails, with a silver glitter overlay, while my middle chick had alternating black and white nails, with a silver glitter overlay and the eldest chick declined my services.   (Luckily the chicks had received a set of nail polish from their aunt for Christmas as my house of beauty doesn’t normally run to such exotic colours!)   They then persuaded Madame Theresa to open her House of Hair, and to use hair chalk that the birthday girl had received as a gift. The birthday girl chose to have blue, purple and pink stripes in her fringe and down one side of her head, while the eldest chick went for a purple fringe (which is long and flops across her face), and the middle chick chose purple, with blue at the bottom on one side. So interesting to watch these young minds work out what they like and what attitude they want to strike when they are allowed to! (Now I just have to hope that it washes out without too much damage – their hair felt like straw once it was in!)

The final part of the topsy turvy day was that as part of the French birthday theme, macarons had been ordered for the party, and although the party had to be postponed, the order had already been made up……and I love macarons!   Late tonight, after sewing through the evening, I found the little treat left by my gorgeous friend as thanks for my support – two beautiful macarons – one strawberry and champagne, and one salted caramel. I should have taken a photo……but too late – they are a very delicious memory.  They were a lovely way to think back over the last two eventful days and reflect on how friendships an carry us through the most difficult of times, and how doing something that makes you happy then allows you to help others be happy.

I hope that you have had a happy few days, wherever you are, and whatever events are happening in your life.

Tutorial: A Pillowcase from fat quarters – with an ipod pocket.

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My eldest chick is turning 10 soon, and therefore, so are all her friends.  They seem so grown up, these double digit young people, and yet it seems like only yesterday that they were born.

The 10 year old girls are on the edges of sophistication, starting to decide what they like and don’t like, developing their own style, and identifying where the boundaries that need pushing are to be found.  Bodies are starting to change, relationships are starting to change, and yet they still retain an innocence that balances the ‘growing-up-ness’.  Whispered conversations about boys start to happen at the same time that little houses are being built for dolls, using boxes and tissue paper.   One of the minor questions that arises for parents (long after all the big ones about how to provide the right role modelling, and how to enable them to have the right balance of empowerment, respect, self worth and manners) is what to give them for birthday or Christmas presents.  This year I have hit upon the ‘designer’ pillowcase, with a pocket for an ipod, in an acknowledgement that many of them now set their own sleep time, no matter what bed time is set for them.  My daughter listens to audio books by Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and JK Rowling (and I wonder why she has an English accent!).

So I decided to prepare a tutorial on how to make your own pillow case from fat quarters, with an optional ipod pocket, and an option to prepare it for a crocheted edge.  If you would like to make a pillow from yardage, rather than fat quarters, I have put in some notes to adapt it, but also recommend that you look at the excellent tutorial from You Go Girl,  as she does a much better job of explaining it than I do!

(Please bear with me as this is my first on-line tutorial and I am working on my photography!)

Materials

5 fat quarters of coordinating cotton fabric (or 1 yard of fabric).

Sewing thread in a coordinating colour (I prefer cotton but polyester will do the job just as well)

1 ½ inch of hook and loop fastener (if you are making the ipod pocket)

Tools

Pins, scissors, a sewing machine, a ruler.

Optional but nice to have – rotary cutter and mat, serger/overlocker, iron.

Process

  1. Throughout the tutorial I am going to assume that you are taking all the right steps like ironing seams open, and snipping threads.  (Even thought I sometimes take shortcuts on this, when I do these properly, the results are noticeably better, so I am trying to be good!)

2.  Prewash and dry all your fabric, according to the care instructions.  (NB If you accidently slip some other fabric into this wash that runs and dies the whole load another colour, say a very muddy navy colour for example, the product  Dylon Run Remover really does work to save this situation……just saying.)   Pre-washing helps to address any shrinkage before you begin to sew, and removes any sizing from the surface of the fabric. (Sizing is a product like starch that can be applied to the thread during the weaving process in making fabric.  It gives fabric an added stiffness required to prevent breakage in the manufacturing process, and can (very occasionally) cause some skin irritation, so washing it out before the fabric is used is advised…….and there endeth the sermon from the former law student who remembers cases about people getting rashes from wearing clothes before washing them!)

3.   Now, moving on to the important part – choosing the fabric combination.  This pattern gives you one large panel each on the front and back, one stripe of another colour on both front and back, a small panel with the optional pocket on the front, and a larger panel that folds to form the internal pillow pocket on the back.  I normally do a bit of layering of fabrics to decide which will be the feature fabric in the large panel on the front and back, then the stripe – which I usually make the same on the front and back, and a highlight for the smaller panels.

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In this tutorial I am using the same fabric (Riley Blake’s The Good Life) for the feature panel on each side of the pillow.  (Normally I use different panels on each side, but there are no rules for any of this – do what you think works with the fabric you have.)  I am using a solid purple for the stripe, aqua gingham for the back and internal pillow pocket, and aqua and green pin dots for the front and ipod pocket.  I am hoping that by using different fabrics, the instructions will be easy to follow.

4. Cut three fat quarters to measure 20” by 17.5”.   These will be the front feature panel (A) (Good Life), the back feature panel (B) (Good Life)and the piece that becomes the internal pillow pocket (C) (the gingham).  (If you are using yardage you need a piece 20″ by 30″ and another 20″ by 38.5″ and you can skip ahead to step 9).

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5.  Cut two strips of fabric from another fat quarter so that they measure 20” by 4”.  These are D and E (purple solid)

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6. Cut the final fat quarter to measure 20” by 10”.  This is F (the dots).  If you want to make an ipod pocket, then from the same fat quarter cut a piece 8.5” by 5”, and another 5.5” by 2.5”.

7.  With right sides facing each other pin the long edge of D to the long edge of A, and the long edge of E to the long edge of B.

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8. With right sides facing together pin the unfinished long edge of D to the long edge of F, and sew a ¼ inch seam.  This is now your front piece.  Pin the unfinished long edge of E to C.  Sew a ¼ inch seam (this now your back piece), and finish the edges on both seams with zigzag or serging.

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Your piece will now look like this (and this is a good time to iron those seams open, or flat).

9.  If you are going to add a pocket for an ipod, then this is the time to do it.  Take your piece that measures 8.5″ by 5″ and fold it in half so that it now measures 4.25″ by 5″.  Fold it again and mark where the fold falls, as a the middle of the pocket.  1 inch from the edge, and centred across the fold, place the ‘soft’ or loop side of your fastener.  Stitch it in place.

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10.  Then take your piece that measures 5 1/2″ by 2 1/2″ and sew the hook piece of the fastener 1/2″ from the edge (rather than the 1 inch shown in this photo, and you can avoid the unpicking that I had to do!).

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11.  With right sides together, fold the tab piece in half and stitch around the edges, leaving a space for turning it inside out.  My experience is that leaving a gap half way along the side, rather than from the folded end, gives a much better finish.  Then clip the four corners, turn it inside out and press it flat.  Then top stitch around the whole tab, closing the gap used to turn the piece inside out.

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12.  The take the pocket piece. Fold it in half with the right sides together, and stitch around the edges, using a 1/4 inch seam, and leaving a gap for turning the pocket to the right side.  Clip the corners, turn the pocket inside out, and press flat.  Then topstich across the top of the pocket.

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13. The next step is to pin the pocket and tab to the pillowcase.  It is up to you whether you want to put it on the right or left side of the case.  In this tutorial it is on the left hand side (so appears on the right when looking at the screen.)  First place the tab so that the bottom edge (away from the fastener) is 4 inches from the top of piece F (the dots) and  3.5 inches from the side.  The fastener should be facing up.  Stitch across the bottom of the tab twice to secure it firmly.  (The pictures at 14 should assist in understanding this placement).

14.  The pocket piece then is laid so that the middle of the pocket aligns with the middle of the tab, but so that the top of the pocket is sitting just above the bottom of the tab.  Pin it into place, and check that the hook and loop fastener meets when the tab is folded over to the pocket.  Then stitch about 1/8 inch from the edge of the pocket on the three sides.

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15. Now you are ready to put the pillowcase together. Pin a hem on the edge of F (the dots).  I usually serge the edge, then fold it under ¼ inch, then fold it again about 3/8 inch.   Place the pins in sideways, along the fabric, as you will not want them sticking out during a later step.  You do have a little bit of room for error on the width of the hem here, so focus on making it neat rather than the exact measurement.

16. Finish the edge of C (the gingham) and fold it under about 3/8 inch and hem it.

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17. Now lie, with right sides together, the shorter front piece on top of the longer back piece, matching up the seams for the stripes as much as possible.  Pin the long sides together on each side.

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You will have a piece of gingham (piece C)  extended out past the front piece.  Take this piece and fold it back over the top of the front piece, so that the right side of the gingham is facing the wrong side of the dots.   Try to get the fold as close to the pinned down hem on the dot fabric as possible (hence having your pins  lying lengthways in the pinned hem.)

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Then pin the sides of the gingham on top of the side seams you have already pinned.  Sew each of the side seams with a ½ inch seam, and reinforce over the point where the gingham internal pocket  hem sits, as well as the beginning and end of each seam.  If you intend to add a crocheted edge, you need to ensure that the gap between the two seams is 19”.  If not, you have some room for error here.

18. Now you can sew a ½ inch seam across the bottom of the case.  Finish the seams across the bottom and sides, and snip the corners at the bottom, to help with having sharp corners when you turn it in the right way.

19. Turn your pillowcase out so that the right side of the fabric is facing outwards.  Nearly done!  You now have an option to hem just the front piece, where you have the hem pinned, or to sew around the whole case at ¼ inch.  If you are going to crochet the edges, then you need to sew around the whole case.  If you are not, then it is a matter of personal taste.  My preference is to not sew a seam across the pocket flap, as I like the way a nicely ironed case sits on a pillow, but it really does come down to what you like.

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20. Then – iron all your seams, and voila – you are finished making the case!

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If you want to put a crocheted edge on the case then the tutorial provided by You Go Girl on creating the foundation and then crocheting is the place to go for clear easy to follow instructions.

21. This is the most important step – sit back and admire your handiwork!

Link

A gift is defined as something given willingly to someone without payment.  Over the last few days I have received gifts of different sorts, all given willingly and without payment, and am feeling very blessed.

My children have returned!   (A gift itself).  My house has been so quiet in their absence.  Now they are back, and the usual chorus of demands, complaints about their siblings, inability to find their own possessions, and arguments over what they are watching on TV in the late afternoon has returned.  With that has also come many, many, spontaneous long hugs from all three, tales of their adventures while they were away, and joy at reuniting with their friends (one friend rang an hour after she returned from her family holiday to invite the middle chick over for a sleepover that night!)  We have had a Uno tournament (I am the least successful participant so far – yes I am trying to avoid calling myself a loser), Lego building, and fort building using the kit that the boy received from his aunt for Christmas (sheets, ropes, clamps – brilliant).  So many gifts captured in that one paragraph – hugs, time, joy, love.

The artist in residence has been working her way through the book of papercraft that she received for Christmas.  (I bought it online from the Book Depository (one of my favourite sites) and didn’t realise until it arrived that it contained patterns from several of my favourite craft bloggers!  Bonus! )   She and the eldest chick helped me to choose fabric from Hawthorne Threads yesterday (another of my favourite sites), and are planning sewing time and projects for themselves.  The boy has learnt to use a hammer to nail in loose nails on the deck, and today washed the deck with his water pistol.

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Of course the return to the household and our usual chaos is not without hiccups –kids and mother all getting a bit irritable as we readjust to being in the same space again.  So today I rounded them up, plus a visiting friend, and the dog, and we went for a walk to find a geocache in our neighbourhood.

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We haven’t been geocaching for a few months, so once the kids remembered the joy in finding caches (including the eldest willingly climbing a gum tree covered in giant bull ants to retrieve the cache) we then had to find more!  A trip in the car around the nearby area saw us find four in total, including one very tiny micro-cache, hidden in plain sight, that impressed us all.  So with rediscovered enthusiasm we are planning a day of geocaching later in the week.  For those unaware of geocaching, it is a form of outdoor treasure hunting – a free pastime that involves us finding caches that others have left simply for the joy of having people find them and log them.  You can learn more, or register here. True gift giving!

I managed to complete a custom sewing order for a friend last night, and achieve two new firsts – I used bamboo wadding, rather than fusible fleece, and quilted the cover of the art wallet in a form of free motion quilting.  While I have a long way to go, it was a good experience and I am keen to keep practising and experimenting with the technique.  That came about through the gift of support from my friends in my new venture, and the ability to use advice generously and freely shared on the internet.

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One of the consequences of the children returning is that I need to get more organised, and tidy up my sewing projects rather than leaving them lying around as I work on them.  I have been sewing at one end of the house and ironing at the other (as a result of a built in ironing board) and kept thinking that a smaller, portable, or table top ironing board would be a good addition, and might reduce the trail of scraps and threads from spreading quite so quickly through the house.  Then last night I saw one come up on Freecycle, asked for it, and was able to pick it up this morning – and it is like new!   A physical gift!  Next up is some more fabric storage.  Might have to look at freecycle for that too.

After days of very high temperatures and a couple of days of extreme fire danger, today we didn’t reach 30˚C, we have had some light rain, and the whole day was overcast.  Just the relief we (and our fire fighters) needed before we head into another week of high temperatures.

The final gift to be mentioned in this post is food related.  A friend dropped in on her way home from the shops last night to leave me with a beautiful fresh piece of salmon, announcing that she had bought too much for her family to eat.  Seared on the barbeque, and eaten for dinner last night with potato and salad (while the heathen children had sausages after refusing the fish) it was a gift to the taste buds!  As I know she reads the blog I can say thank you here as well as in person!  (I have to add that the boy announced that his “favourite fish is flake.  I know it is shark Mum.  I like eating sharks”. Insert the image of a mother rolling her eyes here.)

Of course, just taking and not giving myself would be a good way to ruin the karmic balance, so as a small gesture towards redressing that balance can I encourage you to look at the facebook page of a friend, set up to assist people to understand the benefits of hypnosis. I have never tried this, but after reading her information have a much better idea of the benefits offered. She lives in country Queensland, but is able to provide her services through the wonders of skype, so you can contact her from anywhere in the world! You can find all the details here – https://www.facebook.com/#!/JessieHodgsonHypnosis

So – what gifts did you receive this week?

Things that work

I managed to leave the office at lunchtime today and make it to the sale at Lincraft. My excuse was that I needed to buy a 22 inch zip to use in making the birthday present for my eldest chick……but I left with tired arms from carrying all the bolts of fabric, interfacing, wadding, and just a bit more fabric to the counter. (Sorry to all the other busy lunchtime shoppers who had to wait while I had my fabric cut!) No photos tonight, but I promise that there is a lot of colour, and a lot of spots! (And even better –  I did remember to buy the zip!)

I have been sewing all evening in an effort to finish the birthday present for my eldest chick before she arrives home (it is hard to keep secrets from her as she snoops, and looks for clues!) I can’t tell you what it is at the moment as she also reads, but can tell you that I am using a pattern that I bought on etsy from gingercake patterns (ginia18 on etsy). I am very impressed. The service was prompt, the pattern is really clear and easy to follow and is exactly what I wanted! So if you are interested in looking at any of her patterns look her up (because my efforts to link to her blog are just not working!).

My list of things to sew is growing rapidly. I have three orders to complete (do you like I way I nonchalantly say “oh yes, I am sewing up some orders” as if it is an everyday occurance, instead of something so hugely exciting to me at this very early stage of starting to sell my ‘things’?!), a quilt for the boy to pick up and continue after the interruption of the crazy Christmas sewing, some skirts and dresses that I want to make for the girls, the long list of things that I want to sew to put in my etsy shop, plus the Lotta Jansdotta “Bella” fat quarter bundle that calls me from the drawer in competition with the Gypsy Girl jelly roll and charm square pack, and the Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy fat quarter bundle! Good thing that the children arrive home tomorrow, which means that I start some leave from the office, and may be able to squeeze some more sewing time in between a camping trip, swimming lessons, preparation for their return to school, the organisation of their social life, etc! I am also trying to remember the advice of a very wise and very crafty friend who shared her view that crafting and sewing needs to remain a joy, so I need to find the time to do things for me as well as things for others.

I was also lucky enough to have a lovely phone call with my parents who are celebrating their wedding anniversary today.  They truly did celebrate with a day trip to a nice restaurant, then a dinner out in their own town.  I am a very fortunate little bird as my parents are wonderful, and continue to demonstrate their love and support for each other in little things each day.  The nicest part of the phone call was hearing that my mother is going to come and visit soon!  I have warned her that I will put her to work on the sewing machine but as she is the one who taught me to sew and has patchworked for many years, she didn’t seem too deterred by that!

So my things that have worked today are my plan to buy fabric (and groceries for that matter), the pattern I am using, the wisdom of friends who help me to stay centred, and a lovely conversation with my parents. A pretty good day all round!  I hope that your day worked for you.