It is late at night here in the nest, so I will actually keep this brief (for once!). I had planned to have some finished products to show you today, but a bit of distraction in the form of a movie one night, a lovely dinner out another night, and a phone call with a friend, means that instead I will show you works in progress.
I have started on a bag to feature some of the lovely Dr Who fabric from Spoonflower. This will be the pocket on the back of the bag when it is completed.
I also have cut out and prepared, ready for stitching, two more bucket bags. These are both made out of fabrics that I love and I have enjoyed playing with colour to find the contrasting pockets. So here they are, with interfacing attached, but no stitching, darts, etc! Hopefully the next photos will show amazing finished products!
By Sunday I should have a fair bit to report as I am doing a course for right brain creative people on how to plan your small business. I am already toying with ideas, so am looking forward to a day focussed on bringing all my ideas together into a cohesive plan to use when my mind is wandering off with new ideas!
In the meantime I hope that your week is going well, and that you have had some special distractions in your life too.
My much anticipated ‘free’ time to sew, rest, create and socialise has arrived. Yesterday I drove three very happy little chicks a few hours down the road and handed them over to their grandfather who then drove them on to his farm. The road trip was hilarious as we played a game of “I don’t spy”. The most creative thing that we couldn’t see was a disco chicken (the artist-in-residence), followed by an Egyptian pyramid (the boy) while the eldest chick had us guessing for a very long time to finally give up on something that we could see – Wattle trees. The trip home was much less entertaining and far quieter!
Before they left we had some other entertaining moments when we realised on Thursday afternoon that one of the chickens had flown out of it’s run and was being chased around the yard by the dog. (Why the blasted thing didn’t fly then is a mystery.) Once the dog was secured inside we decided it was time for a wing trim – so then we had to catch the 5 chooks. It was like a scene from a comedy – kids, chooks and me all running around. At one stage the kids nearly had one of the chickens, who then calmly stepped through a hole in a screening fence and out of their reach. They nearly collapsed laughing at the chicken’s attitude! We did finally capture them all and trim their wings and then on Friday the eldest chick and I put bird netting over the whole pen to provide some added protection. (Not bad considering that the air felt like ice!)
After a period of intensive costume sewing, and then the road trip, despite having been waiting for this free time for weeks, I was at a bit of a loss where to start last night and was frozen by indecision! So I tidied up the house a bit, and decided that crochet was the order of the day. I started on a beanie for myself in a multi-coloured wool. I am not convinced that it will be ‘me’ when it is finished, but I will post a photo in a day or two when it is finished and we will see!
Today I was determined that I wouldn’t waste my time, so got up early and started cleaning up in earnest. Having a clean and tidier (still not completely tidy!) house gives me the headspace to be creative. I was still not feeling particularly inspired, and was realising that I was actually putting pressure on myself to be creative because I thought I had to! But inspiration comes in many forms, so I can report that I am back on track! I had a day out in the country with a new friend – a drive, a potter around in the shops, lunch in a café, then back to town for a walk around the lake and a hot drink to help defrost. I haven’t done something like this for a very long time, and really enjoyed the change in routine. And the bonus? I found local craftspeople’s work in both locations! We went to a town called Gundaroo which is only about 20 minutes outside Canberra, but is quite historic. One of the shops we went into was built in the mid 1800’s and still has the original newspapers lining the walls – including one from 1878. (I love stuff like that!) The slightly more modern shop next door was a shop of local handmade goods. Wow! Steel sculptures, modern ceramics, intricate handknits, gorgeous jewellery, and a big wood fire in the middle of the room. And as far as I could see – all artists from Gundaroo itself. What a creative space!
The café that we stopped at for the afternoon drink also had a gallery – with local artist’s work on display. Again – just beautiful. It served as a perfect reminder that stepping out of my own space and looking at the work of others is a great thing to do to help refresh my perspective. So tonight I have a couple of small offerings that I have made myself, but also want to share with you the work of some local creative souls, to show you some of the things on offer in my part of the world, if only we step out to look at them!
Since I started selling on Etsy I have joined a couple of ‘teams’. This seems to be a great way of promoting each other’s work through creating treasuries (‘curated collections’) which can then be used for the front page of the website. The other benefit is that I have had a chance to see what people in my area are doing – and there are some very talented people here!
Hannah from BananaOrangeApple sews gorgeous creations for little people. I think this one is my favourite – if only my little chicks were small enough to still wear it!
If I don’t get around to making my own cushion covers, or re-covering my old chair, then I will definitely be going to Tango and James for fabric! Oh My Heart Cushion Cover
And then, for complete cuteness, look at these little foxes by Gemmie from handmadebyGemmie Fox
My small offerings, as I start back on the road to inspiration are projects that I have had in mind for a while. The first is a zipped pouch and drawstring bag set, that matches the overnight bag I made a couple of weeks back. I also want to make a toothbrush roll to go with it, so that it is a complete travel accessory kit.
The second is an appliqued t-shirt that my aunt asked me to make for a little girl she knows. I have been wanting to make some t-shirts, so this is the first of hopefully many!
So with a bit of local inspiration, and a bit of free time, I am looking forward to a bit of creativity this week! I hope that you have a great week and take the time to think about who is creative in your local area.
Some of you might recall that some time ago a friend asked me to make a frilly apron for her to give to her sister-in-law. At the time I couldn’t find exactly what I wanted in a pattern, so took bits and pieces from other patterns to make the apron look how I thought it should look. It is my intention to prepare a tutorial for that apron soon (any excuse to make another one!) but in the meantime thought I could share some of the links that I found that others have shared for patterns for aprons.
I quite like the resurgence of the apron as a fashion statement of sorts! I haven’t worn one for years, but lately have started pulling my old, dated, aprons out of the drawer when I am preparing the evening meal. I have also discovered that they are quite handy when sewing, to protect my clothes from layers of thread and fabric dust. My chicks all love to wear aprons when they are cooking. The two girls have great ones that my sister made them last Christmas, but the boy doesn’t have one of his own at the moment. (He is very big into doing things that ‘men’ do, in this house where he is surrounded by females, so it will have to be a ‘man apron’ I think!)
The collection that follows provides free patterns for a wide variety of styles – sure to be something for everyone in here! As usual, at the end of the list I have included links to lists that other bloggers have prepared on the same topic!
When my fabric addiction began about a year ago one of the sites that contributed to my demise was the very delightful Cluck Cluck Sew, a blog by Allison Harris. I was lead there by a link from another site to her Raw Edge Circle quilt. I still haven’t made that quilt, although it remains very high on my ‘must do’ list, but instead I made my first ever patchwork quilt (shown in my last post) by using her Star Blocks tutorial. I have been a bit of a fan/groupie/stalker ever since. I really like her approach to making quilts – instead of stressing about not perfectly matching every point, etc, she gives you permission to wing it a bit, to make some mistakes but celebrate the overall effect. This was just what I needed when I was starting out – permission to experiment.
So when I saw that she was releasing her first book, I thought it was time to buy one, instead of just collecting ideas from the internet. That “old fashioned” feeling of paper and pictures to pore over just can’t be replaced by touch screens and brilliant colours. So I put my pre-order in on-line and sat back to wait. And wait. And wait. But finally this week (quite some weeks after the book was released) my online bookstore finally sent it to me! So tonight I am writing my first ever review of a quilting book!
My very first impression was about the way the book is presented. There are lovely clear pictures with clear, simple colours. There is nothing ‘fussy’ about this book – and really reflects the style that Allison shows in her blog. The layout is easy to follow with a chart for yardage, for cutting, for block assembly and for quilt top assembly. It appears to flow really well. Many of the patterns are more than suitable for a beginner, and with this layout, would be a good start for anyone wanting to dabble in patchwork quilts.
My second impression was that the blocks she has chosen are appropriate to use for children and babies, but through their modern simplicity can also be adapted to use for adults. So the book is not just aimed at young people. Following on from that, I LOVE the fact that her quilts for children do not involve cutsie little teddies and duckies and other things that mean that the quilt will forever be a baby quilt. Instead, by using simple lines and clear colours, she makes patterns for quilts that are beautiful pieces of art that can be used for many years. I am very fortunate that my mother made my three chicks their ‘baby quilts’ following a similar approach – so they have not grown out of them and now use them as lap quilts for lying on the couch, or in building forts and don’t think that they are in any way ‘baby-ish’.
The book starts off with chapters on how to cut and piece blocks, and then on how to assemble quilt tops. This is written with great simple tips, and doesn’t over-complicate the process. One of my favourite things about the book though, is chapter 3: “Quilting when you have kids: Finding the time and keeping it fun”. The very fact that she thought to include this chapter is one of the reasons that I enjoy her work so much – and the way that she encourages us to break it down and find a few minutes here and there is simple and sensible and (from my experience) works!
Oh look – the raw edged circle quilt is there! Hooray!!
The quilts themselves are modern and funky. Nothing like our grandmothers would have made us and yet they still retain the beauty of those old quilts. They are still made with love in each stitch, are used and cuddled and loved, and give children a special sense of belonging.
I could chat on for quite some time about this book but my simple recommendation is that if you are thinking of starting to do some quiltmaking, or already know how but want some modern simple designs to work with, then this is the book for you. As a bonus, it looks good sitting on the coffee table too!
In other news, I have almost finished with the dreaded burgundy polycotton! All the tunics are made, the capes are made, and the ‘bling’ is attached to the tunics for the characters of Paris and his ‘crew’. I am quite happy with the way that they have turned out – especially considering that the capes are made from donated sheets -a burgundy satin one and a yellow cotton one, just sewn together and overlocked around the edges! Tonight I will finish sewing the capes to the shoulders of the tunics and then I will be done (for now!)
So now I get to think about my next project. I am almost overwhelmed by the possibilities! Do I start on a quilt (perhaps using one of the patterns from my new book), or make some more bags. Do I start on things for the school craft stall so that I am not overwhelmed at the end of the year, or do I think about designing new ‘things’ for my shop. Choices, choices, choices.
First things first though. A few more days of school and then the chicks are off to visit their grandparents. Once they are safely delivered I will have a much clearer head. At the moment I can only think as far as the drive! Someone asked me what I would like to do on the weekend and I just looked blank – I can’t think that far ahead at the moment!
I am just hoping for some sun. We have been covered in fog here for a bit too long. Yesterday the sun didn’t break through at all, all day! So it was cold, miserable and grey. The thought of a trip to a tropical island is becoming more alluring day by day!