Tag Archives: patchwork

New ideas and old habits

This year has started with a bang but I still feel like I am back in the twilight zone between Christmas and New Year, where I am never really sure what the date or day is.  I find myself constantly wondering if March is a long way away, and being unsure of which weekend it is that various events are happening. I swear it is because my brain is too full, and not because of my advancing years.

Despite this sense of time escaping me, or perhaps because of it, I have been rather productive.   I have been analysing what works for me in my product lines,and what was a great idea but hasn’t really translated well.  As a result I am working on producing my tea cosies in ‘collections’.   I am still to fully tease out the names of these collections, but in theory there will be a classic collection, a colourful collection and an artisan collection.  I am not rushing into the final details for this plan because it seems to be benefiting from some reflection and refinement!    As part of the classic collection I have been working on some repeatable patterns, with the intention of being able to keep them easily stocked in my shops, and with the longer term intention of releasing the patterns for them. So far the classic collection consists of spots and stripes!

I also finally had a chance to play with an idea I have had for a while of combining patchwork and sashiko stitching to make some insulated dome tea cosies, and I am very happy with the results.

And of course some flowers were created and applied with gay abandon to a number of cosies.

One of the lovely discoveries that I have made over the last month or so, with thanks to a helpful friend, is the wool from Bendigo Woollen Mills.   It is wool that is grown near my home, and processed and died in Bendigo, so is 100% Australian.  It is also beautiful quality wool, so I am switching over to only use that wool in all future creations, which means that I will be supporting other Australian small business people in the process.

And I finally have my products in place at The Collective Store in Brisbane, and in Trove in Canberra.   (On reflection perhaps my sense of displacement in time has more to do with the sheer amount I have achieved so far this year!)

My initial display at Trove, Canberra

On the home front we have a slightly different landscape after my eldest chick was accepted to attend a boarding school located about 4 hours from home. She has settled in well and is discovering the differences between her all-girl Catholic school and this co-ed agricultural fully residential high school.  She will be home at the end of this week for a few days and I am looking forward to seeing her.  I must admit that I am very happy that the advent of smart phones means that I can stay in touch with her much more easily than when I was at boarding school myself.  Back then (in the dark ages) my sister and I had a phone call from my parents once a fortnight, or we had to dial the international operator to make a reverse charges call to them, and letters written and mailed that took a couple of weeks to arrive.  Now I can be texting with her before breakfast, send her a photo of something happening at home, and she has it instantly.  I am trying not to smother her with contact, but it is nice knowing that it is there when she needs it.

The two chicks who are still home in the nest are having their ups and downs.  I, and they, have fallen back into some old habits, which means that old patterns of behaviour aren’t changing in the way that I need them to. My current task is to form new habits myself, and then with them, in the hope of improving behaviour and school attendance respectively.  This parenting gig is hard and I have been tested a lot over the last few weeks.   I am definitely at the point of needing a break, so am working on putting steps in place to see if I can manage some time away. Fingers crossed!

For now though, it is time to sit and contemplate whether to crochet or sew this evening. Tough choices!    I hope that your weeks aren’t getting lost in the fog of being too busy, and that you are finding time to do little things for yourself.

 

Confessions of sewing fear

Anxiety comes in many different forms. I have spent time speaking with medical professionals over the last week and was asked to describe how each of my children, and I, are similar or different in terms of anxiety. One takes the form of catastrophising everything – natural disasters are a particular favourite that will take hold and be obsessed about. Another worries about situations in the family, but understands reason and logic and can rationalise the fear. The third doesn’t appear to an outsider to worry or fear anything, but in fact has quite extreme reactions if feeling vulnerable or embarrassed. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise in my head – my ‘to-do’ lists, my own expectations of myself, etc. I think that we all think of an anxious person as the hand wringing worrier – when in fact anxiety takes so many different forms.

In thinking about all of this I have realised that on a more superficial level, I also have some sewing anxiety. It sounds a bit funny coming from someone who blogs about sewing, sells things she sews and purports to share tips about sewing with other people, but it is true. I am not a confident garment sewer – but that isn’t an anxiety, that is an understanding that I am not good at fitting things for myself (I have short torso) because I don’t know how. One day I will work out the science of it and all will be fine. Which leaves the question -what is my anxiety?

It is quilting.

Not the patchworking of a quilt top. Not the sewing on of binding. The actual process of quilting – putting together the layers of quilt top, batting/wadding, and the backing, and stitching through it to make a quilt. I have never done it. I have read tutorials, tips and hints. I have spoken knowledgably to people about it. But I have always been worried about doing it myself. A friend of mine who is very crafty told me that my machine didn’t have a big enough throat, so it would be too hard. She also told me that I need a walking foot. She recommended outsourcing it to a long arm quilter. I took her advice, not because she was the authority on all things quilting, but because it suited me not to confront that fear of failure!

But – no more. My mother is still with us, keeping the chicks and I feeling loved and supported. She is a long time patchworker and quilter. She has never had someone else quilt her quilts for her. And she doesn’t own a fancy long arm quilting machine. In fact for many years she didn’t have a walking foot. And those quilts from 20+ years ago are still going strong and being used daily by many members of the family. So this afternoon I asked her whether she thought we could quilt the quilt I made for the boy ourselves. (Yes – the quilt top that I so proudly showed you back in (ahem) April is still sitting in a drawer). I rang the long arm quilter this week, as I have also finished (finally) the memory quilt that I started for my housekeeper back in (ahem) August, and she said that she might be able to get one quilt done before Christmas. After talking to Mum (who said ‘yes of course we can – your machine is fine’!!) we have decided to quilt the boy’s quilt ourselves, and take the queen size memory quilt to the quilter. I am going to overcome that fear, and exile it by learning from my mother – just the way it should be!!

In news not related to any fears, the artist-in-residence’s fabric samples are on their way to us for proofing. She is very excited, and creating more designs. I have managed a little sewing, have cleaned out the chook house (so glamorous), caught up with friends for a cup of tea and crafting (I sat and cut out appliques of bicycles!), ferried children around to various social engagements, and have been supported by my mum.  I am excited about seeing my contribution to the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holiday series in the morning.  (Although it appears on the 10th of November, with time differences being what they are, it won’t be published until about 1am on the 11th November on Australian time!)  And I need to see my accountant, so will be filing, sorting and trying to remember my movements of the last financial year – sure to balance out any excitement!

I hope that your weekend has been lovely, and that you are able to recognise and face any anxiety that may befall you this week – large or small.

Friday Finds – links to 50 free patterns for pincushions!

This week has flown by, with drama performances, work, and general family life keeping me very busy. The weekend is stretching before me with lots of unplanned time (when you have three kids it is never ‘free’ time!!). I have a list of projects I want to tackle – more work on the memory quilt, a bag for a silent auction at a ball I am attending next week, and thinking about baby gifts for two of my staff who are pregnant. In the process of trying to sort through all these ideas I realised that what I need is a little project – something useful and colourful and not too time consuming. Then I hit upon it! A pincushion!!

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This is the one that I whipped up for myself about a year ago. While it does just fine, we have a craft stall at the school fete coming up, so making things to be sold there is next on the ‘sewing with obligation’ list….. (I will talk more about that concept another time!). So – today’s list of finds is a collection of 50 free patterns for pin-cushions (I did cheat a bit – one of the links is to 25 free tutorials!) There are hundreds more out there but here are some that appealed to me. Enjoy!

Bug Chunk Pincushion – A Girl in Paradise 055

Recycled Jar Lid Pincushion – In it to Kawaiify it

Paper Pieced Pineapple Pincushion – Katies Quilting CornerPaper Pieced Pineapple Pincushion Tutorial

Pinfeathers Owl Pincushion – Riley Blake Designs

RoseBud Wristlet Pincushion – Riley Blake Designs

Chick Pincushion – Quiltscapesqs

Hexie pincushion caddy – Macaroni and Cheese

Summery pincushion – Elsie’s Girl

Wrist Pincushion – Balzer Designs8-pincushionontowrist

Bitty Bowl of Pins – Bitty Bits and Pieces

Square Pincushion – Heather Bailey Designsquare pincushion tutorial

Felt Cup Cake Pincushions – Tipjunkie

Mushroom Pincushion – Little Dear Tracks

diy berry basket pincushionBerry Basket Pincushion – A Pumpkin and a Princess

Pincushion – Creative Breathing

Star pincushion – Lots of Pink Here

Spools Pincushion – Charley Dee and Me

'Simply Geometric' Pincushion DIY ... http://mousechirpy-polkadotpineapple.blogspot.com/2010/01/prety-petunia-pincushion.html#Pretty Petunia Pincushion – Mouse Chirpy – Polkadot Pineapple

Strawberry Pincushion – Embroideroo

Tiny Cottage Pincushion – Molly Flanders

Felt Fairy Pincushion – Red Brolly

Tin Can Pincushion – Cut out and Keep

Teapot Pincushion – Join the Mood

Pincushion – St Louise Folk Victorian

Scrappy Pincushion – Ellison Lane

25 Free Pincushion Tutorials – Babble

Friday finds – a list of 23 free tutorials for fabric baskets and buckets

I don’t know about you, but I seem to have an endless collection of scraps of fabric, pieces of yarn, pattern pieces, cotton threads, pencils and tape measures that I ‘must’ keep, but that seem to take over my work space. I have tried various methods of keeping them organised, tidy and under control, with varying degrees of success. I think that my next attempt will be to make myself some lovely bright fabric baskets or buckets, so that the odds and ends look lovely, rather than chaotic! I have gathered up a collection of links to free tutorials to do just that, so thought I would share them with you as I sort through them and identify which ones I will make to address my current state of disorder!

Fabric scrap basket – The Sometimes Crafter Tutorial - Fabric Scrap Basket : The Sometimes Crafter

Buckets – Vintage RicRac

Round Bottomed Fabric Storage Buckets – Film in the Fridge

Fabric Bucket – Over the Moon Arts

Fabric Bucket – The Stitchin Chicken Bucket

Fabric container – Pippi Joe

Fabric bucket – Dreampatch

Fabric Bucket – Restyled Junk

Nested Fabric Buckets – Whip Stitch Fabrics

Fabric Bucket – A Good Wife’s Journal

Fabric Bucket – Yellowcloth 

Spring Form Bucket – Bad Skirt

Easy Fabric Bucket – Sisters with Flair 

Fabric Basket with cut out handles by Delia Creates

How to make a fabric basket – Apartment Therapy51b6e05f74c5b6499d001f9f._w.540_s.fit_

Fabric Baskets – El Petit Taller

Round Nesting Baskets – 2 Little Hooligans 

Square bottomed canvas bucket – Craftster.org

Jumbo Fabric Tub – Sew4Home

Nursery Fabric Storage Basket – Sew4Home

Small fabric Basket – Jillian in Italy

Patchwork Bucket – 1/4″ Mark

Divided Organizer Bucket – The Busy BeanBusyBeanCarBucket

As always, do let me know if you use any of the patterns, and how you find them!

Friday Finds – A list of 30 (+ more than 50) free tutorials for quilt blocks

I am really enjoying finding my various collections of online tutorials to share with you. After a fairly consistent theme of bags, bags and more bags over the last few weeks I thought it might be time for a change! Before I became hooked on bags I started on patchworking quilts. I am yet to develop the bravery to tackle actually quilting one myself (I have outsourced that so far) but am working up to it! The quilts I have made so far have all been made through using various online free resources. The tips and hints I have picked up that way have been amazing!

The four quilt tops that I have made so far are:

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Today I thought it might be useful to share my collection of links to the tutorials that I have used, and others that I have read, or pinned, to use in the future!

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Star Blocks – Cluck Cluck Sew

Tana Liberty lawn – Purl Bee (Loving those Circles!!)

Vintage Turning Modern – Mode Bakeshop

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Easy Peasy Log Cabin tutorial – Stitches in Play

Pinwheels in the Park – Sew Mama Sew

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Squares and Strips – Cluck Cluck Sew

Crayon Box Tutorial – Sew Mama Sew

Garden Fence – Hyacinth Quilt Designs

Windy Days Quilt – Mode Bake Shop

Starflower Block – Ellison Lane

Zig Zag Quilt without triangles – Bee Square Blog

Salt Water Taffy – Moda Bake Shop

Simple Circle Quilt – Make it… a Wonderful Life

On the Go – Moda Bake Shop

Plus Quilt – For the Love of George

Oh Deer Quilt – Tonya Dusold

Love Mini-quilt – Sew Mama Sew

String Quilting Primer – Quiltville’s Quips and Snips

Jolly Jelly Roll Quilt

Jelly Roll Quilt – Christa Quilts

Wonky Block by Heather Jones – Sew4Home

Storm at Sea quilt

Storm at Sea Quilt pattern – Generations Quilt Patterns

Wonky Star Tutorial – Silly Boo Dilly

Scrappy Summer Free Quilt Pattern

Scrappy Summer Quilt pattern – Cluck Cluck Sew

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String Quilt Block Tutorial – Film in the Fridge

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Pineapple block – One Shabby Chick

JellyBeanStars Charity Champions: The Garage Girls Quilting Together

Baby quilt – McCalls Quilting

Picnic Quilt – Sew Mama Sew

Perpetual Motion – Originate and Renovate

Pinwheels and postage stamps – Sew She Sews

Scrap Jar Stars – A little bit biased

Of course I am not the first to think of making such a list!

At All People Quilt there are links to 30 scrappy quilt projects.

If you look at this link to the Babble site you will find another 25 links to quilting tutorials.

If you look at the Gen X Quilters site you will find a whole library of quilting blocks!

Enjoy coming up with ideas of how to use these tutorials.  Just preparing this list has fired my imagination!

I have been reflecting on a wide range of topics in the last few days. Some relate to crafting, and some to the influences that have shaped my life.  (If you want to skip the musings bit the crafting bit with pretty pictures is at the end!)

When I started this blog I thought it would be a great way to record my sewing adventures, to market my wares, and to join a community of like-minded people. So far I can say I can tick each of those boxes. What has changed is my head space. With my return to work and a new role I have had to continue my (life long) journey of finding the right balance.  So sewing gets priority over blogging, kids get priority over sewing, etc.  I suppose what I am saying is forgive me for fewer posts, and for less focus on creating new things. There will be a time when I can return to the way I want to blog and craft and market my wares, but for now it is a little erratic.

One of the things I have been musing over is how I have come to a point where all of a sudden sewing ‘clicks’ for me.  I am confident in knowing how to fix errors and in understanding how they occur, but am also confident to send my ‘made’ goods out into the world, without getting constant reassurance from the recipients (both purchasers and gift recipients) that they are happy with what I have made.  This is such a change from how I have lived some other parts of my life that it is quite liberating.  I suspect it is to do with that other life long journey of getting comfortable in my own skin.  Believing in my ability to do this means that I don’t need reassurance – I can just ‘do’ for the joy of doing.

Listening to different pieces of music in preparation for my trip this week to Bluesfest (5 days of music festival with no children – wow) has taken me on some trips down memory lane.  One of the great joys of music is that ability to transport you to another place and time.  This time I have been taken back to my first year of university and residential college (by Led Zeppelin and the memory of boys sitting around playing air guitars and air drums).  While at the time I thought I was living this mature independent wild lifestyle (yes – I am completely aware of how nonsensical that is now) I look back with the maturity of someone more than twice the age I was then and am horrified at my acceptance of the culture of bullying, alcohol, and male domination that defined that year.  I understand how it happened – I was a 17-year-old girl who had been educated at a Catholic girls boarding school, who found myself in another part of the country in a co-ed college, with a bar on the premises, and experiencing complete culture shock.  I tried to be independent for the first few days but found myself changing to fit in very quickly.  I look back and understand why my parents were so worried about me!    What strikes me in hindsight was how so many intelligent young women let the ‘men’ (who off course were boys – most no more than 20) set the rules and run the show – who was ‘in’, who was ‘out’, etc.   I posted a comment on my private Facebook page about flashbacks from the music and realized that the flashbacks weren’t necessarily fond memories but memories of a time of confusion and challenges and changes.  Of course I can’t regret most of it – it shaped who I am today – but I will be working very hard to give my children some different perspectives to take forward into life with them so that they might have some different choices about their experiences.   (As a side note I failed my first year of university and was therefore ejected from the Medical Faculty – probably a blessing in hindsight as I have enjoyed my career in the law and think I would have made a shocking doctor!)

While I could sit here and muse for hours more, there is work to be done, sleep to be had and camping supplies to be prepared.  So instead I will share my second version of the Tova tunic – I added two little buttons to this one so that I don’t always have to wear a singlet underneath.  This gave me the chance to use my automatic buttonhole function for the first time – how easy is that??  I am so impressed!  There will be buttonholes galore from now on!

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A round-up of the rest of the week/weekend?  A library bag and music bag were made.  An impromptu strip patchwork pouch to carry a gift card was made on Friday night,

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and my two girls graded for their purple belts in Taekidokai – the martial art that they all study.  I was so proud of them – the eldest for working so hard, and the artist-in-residence for keeping on going even though she was sick.  I had tears in my eyes watching her do her situps while an instructor signalled to me that she had a lot of heart to keep going as she did.

And now to prepare for the week ahead.  I may not post before Easter due to travelling, so I hope that you all have a safe and happy Easter, and are able to have some time reflecting on the purpose of the holiday.