The Fete box

Saturday, February 26, 2011
I have to hand over the gear I made for our Church fete today.  In between everything else going on in our household, I managed to get a little box of goodies ready.

A couple of bags, cupcakes, keyrings, needlecases, pincushions, hand towel ... As I've never been to a fete in this area, I have no idea what might sell here, so it will be interesting to get some feedback later.  I whizzed up this little keyring during the week:

BIG news for the week is that my husband's book has been sent off to the publisher!  Woo hoo!!!!  It is just wonderful to at last have it finished.  There will be some final proofing later, but for now, we can tackle the long "to do" list that has been mounting up over the last few months.  The front yard looks nicely manicured again ... which it hasn't for a while!

It never ceases to amaze me the creative ideas that people have in using my designs.  Elizabeth used some of my Gifts of Grace blocks in this gorgeous quilt for her sister-in-law.  It is quite striking, isn't it?:

Trish used some of my "What is Love" blocks to make a very meaningful wedding quilt for her son and his bride:

I am hoping to have a "finishing off" week.  As I've told you before, I am a finisher and I don't cope with having a dozen things half done, as I have in my sewing room at the moment.  A couple of projects are finished, but the patterns aren't written up, or the templates aren't on the computer, or I haven't made the construction samples.  Then there's a wall quilt that is almost finished, but there's the binding to sew down, the hanging sleeve to be put on and a label to be designed.  Then there's a bag half sewn and the stitcheries aren't even started.  You can get the idea!

Have a great week and ... happy stitching!


All my Lovely Sewing Things

Saturday, February 19, 2011
My project called "All my Lovely Sewing Things" is in the current issue of Australian Homespun magazine.

I love it when a design comes together straight away with no fiddling around!  I must admit I usually only have a kernel of an idea when I start a project and then I just let it evolve from there.  For me to have something all planned out on graph paper before I start, is the exception rather than the rule, and then I'm likely to change things half way through anyway! 

The upside is that I have a great sense of freedom in my creativity; the downside is that sometimes there is some reverse sewing going on because something may not be "just right".  This project was one of those where you might say I had not only the kernel, but the husk as well when I started, and so it came together beautifully and I was happy with it straight off.  I just love being creative.  I think I'm like a caged lion when I can't get to my stitching!

Homespun also did a profile on me to accompany the project, so I was very happy about that!

Meanwhile, my husband is in the very last, final, concluding, ultimate, ending stage of his text book going off for publication. This is a rework of his doctoral thesis that has been going on for more than two years. You can see that I am going to be super happy to see the end of it!  I've spent a couple of weeks helping him edit it.  It has to be totally pedantic, with commas, full stops, quotations, brackets etc. in exactly the right place. The process is heaps worse than writing up a pattern!  My mind is in a fog after concentrating so hard and the caged lion is roaring to get out!  Hopefully, only a few days more ....

I'm not good at concentrating at night, so that's been the time to get some more fete items stitched:

A batch of cupcakes

a needlecase or two

and a keyring. 

I hope to get some more keyrings finished this week and I would love to make some quick and easy bags.  One of the magazines is after some fete ideas, so I really should put my mind to designing something suitable ... once we get rid of this book! 

Happy stitching!

Free Pattern - Consider the Lilies Pattern 2

Saturday, February 12, 2011
Have you finished making the first pattern of the Consider the Lilies free block of the month design yet? Can you believe it's already time to download the next pattern?

Pattern 2

... A little bit of stitching, a bit of piecing and you are 2/3rd the way to completing the first block of this four-block design!  It is now available on my website for download here

I do hope you enjoy stitching this little block ... and what is under the pink fabric will all be revealed next month!

I was able to get a bit of a 'go-on' this week and managed to get a quilt finished and two other small projects.  Tomorrow I'm off to the Post Office to post them to two magazine editors.

This one is a Christmas in July project.

A sneak peak at a cushion

Our Church is having a market/fete next month.  I only just found out about it, seeing we are only new at the church, so I don't have much time to get a few bits and pieces made to donate.  So, it was out with the PASSES box.  PASSES are my "projects at a stand-still".  Sure enough, there were a few stitcheries, projects half started, (or should that be 'half finished'?), and things that had been sitting around for a long time. It is an ideal opportunity to salve my conscience and get a few of them completed, so that's the plan for this week.

I had a look in my "completed" box and found a couple of things that should be suitable:

A little pincushion - click on the photo to see the sweet little daisies around the edge.

A face washer embroidered with roses.

I thought I would make some more cupcake pincushions as people seem to like them.  I cut out quite a few but have only completed one.  They take nearly 3 hours to make so are definitely not quick and easy!  This is the one I have finished:

I'd better go and get some more stitching done!

Happy stitching!

Playing with a new toy ... and a little tutorial for you

Saturday, February 5, 2011
Well, it's sort of a new toy - a quarter inch bias tape maker.  I've had a wide bias tape maker for years and have found it very useful, so when I saw a quarter inch one available, I knew it would be great for making the narrow strips that I could use for applique.

So this week I had a play with it.

Here's the result - appliqued knot on a quilt I am making from some gorgeous oriental fabrics.

I thought I would give you some tips and insight on how I did this applique.  For me, the big secret to successful use of a bias tape maker is to spray the fabric strip with spray starch before pulling it through the gadget.  This ensure that when you press the made tape to set the folds, it actually stays pressed flat and doesn't spring open, as it loves to do - smiling from the ironing board saying "I liked it better before"!

Here's the sprayed fabric coming through the bias maker. Press the tape close to where it comes out before it dries and springs open again. A pin in the end stops it moving as you gently pull the gadget down the fabric.

The tape is all made.

To make these knots, I ironed some fusible webbing onto the back of the strips. 

I didn't have any 1/4 inch webbing strips which you can buy these days, so had to make do with my big sheet.  With my quilting ruler I used the rotary cutter to cut 1/4 inch strips.  I know, it blunts the blade, but it was already on the way out anyway.  It's so long since I cut webbing strips, that I had forgotten that I had kept an old blade specially for cutting paper! So I cut my first strip on my cutting mat and carefully peeled it off to find that most of the glue bit was beautifully stuck to the mat and all I had in my hand was the paper!  It took a few goes to realise that if I turned the webbing glue side up to cut it, I had a lot less chance of it sticking to the mat!!!  Duh!

I then placed the pattern on the ironing board under my applique mat.  (You could use baking paper if you don't have one of these wonderful little teflon mats.) 

Give the tape a little stretch.  On top of the mat start in the centre of the pattern, leaving 1/2 inch or so excess tape. (This is a "Justin-case", to be cut off later) and slowly shape the tape, following the template which you can see underneath.  Press each section as you go. A little spray of water helps bend the tape around the curves and a pin through everything helps to stop movement of pattern, mat and tape! 

Cut the excess fabric off and pop the end under the cross-over bit where you started. First one I did I tucked the end under the wrong bit and found I had two "overs" together instead of the over/under idea, but that was easily fixed. 

Then it was just a matter of lifting the prepared applique off the mat, all beautifully in shape.  A quick fuse in place, a length of black thread in the needle, some small stitches, pleasant music in the background, and it was all done.

As always with all my quilts, it's very uncomplicated piecing and very simple quilting but I think it looks quite effective.  It is going to have some of my favourite Prairie Points around the border, and I'm hopeful of finishing it this week.

Thank you to everyone who expressed concern for us in the recent devastating cyclone.  Thankfully we are 1500 kms south of the area hit so were totally unaffected. Our lovely State of Queensland is doing it tough at the moment with disaster upon disaster. I can't imagine what it must be like to see everything you own totally destroyed.

Next week I plan to have the next instalment of the Consider the Lilies free BOM pattern available for download. 

I hope you've enjoyed making the first part ... or maybe this is a reminder that there's just one week to get it done if you want to keep up. ... Now I wish I had had my 1/4 inch bias tape maker when I did those lily stems ....

Happy stitching!