What's in a Name?

Saturday, June 30, 2012

One of the lovely consequences of designing your own project, is that you have the privilege of giving it a name! I find that during the whole process of thinking up the design, sketching, writing notes, stitching and constructing, ideas for the name will be floating around in my head.

Sometimes the name is almost the first thing that happens.  Last night when I was in bed, I had an idea pop into my head and what to call it arrived the next second - the design already has a name and I haven't even put pencil to paper yet!  Other times, I might be half way through putting the project together before I am happy with a name.  Occasionally, there will be a name change mid-stream and the computer files will all have to be renamed!  Then there are the less frequent times, when I will have totally completed the project and it still remains nameless.  It's then, when I have to write up the pattern, that I really have to sit down and actually work on a name.  Thankfully, the lovely magazine editors who publish my work, usually keep the name I have chosen.

Last week, one of my favourite designs in 2012 was published in Australian Country Craft and Decorating Vol 23 No 7 - the Daisy-Jane sewing set.

 It has a lot of guipure daisies as embellishment so I wanted the name to reflect that, but beyond that, I wanted to name this design after one of our lovely grand-daughters, whose middle name is Daisy-Jane.

There's a square box for all the sewing bits and bobs:

a needle book:

and my favourite, the pincushion:

Here it is in the magazine with all their pretty styling:

I've just sent off four projects to magazines.  Two of them had a name before anything much else was done, one had a name-change during the process and then I had to actually work on the name for the fourth design. This year I've used some foreign words for the titles. I don't think that it's much use having a foreign name if the general public doesn't know what the word means in English!  So there was some research done, (thanks to Google Translate), searching for foreign words where we use the same base word in English.  The basic idea I hope is readily recognised, and then the foreign word will usually have a pretty little twist to it or I sort of add my own little bit. For example, later in the year, you will see my Floriana Quilt and my Elegancia Bed Runner. Do you like these names? 

The last few nights I have been quilting my beautiful Kona Bay panel:

It's been hiding in the cupboard for a couple of years and it was just the right project to tackle in between designs.  Originally, I started doing lots of embroidery on it, but ended up pulling the whole lot out.  It is so beautiful in its own right, that I decided it really doesn't need anything except simple quilting and a couple of beads. I'm now looking at all the walls in my house to decide where to put it when it's finished - as I definitely plan to complete it, now that I'm tackling it again!

Have a great week.


A place for everything ... and everything in its place!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

I have a tidy house!  Can't help myself - There's a place for everything and I like everything in its place. However, I do have to confess that sometimes my sewing room doesn't quite make it!  Oh yes, there IS a place for each little item.

My embroidery threads are all in correct order in these containers. For years now, I have had a complete set of Anchor Stranded threads - yep, every colour. As soon as a colour is about to run out, I purchase another.

I even have spares of the colours I use lots of, ready in the drawer.  There's nothing worse than running out in the middle of a project and when you live a long way from the shops and might have to wait a month before you can get there, it pays to be organised!

My fabrics are in clear crates so that I can see at a glance what I might be looking for. 

Scraps are in their own little box.  I used to fold them all neatly too, but gave up on that idea as I was always rummaging through looking for just the right fabric for an applique or two.  So now they all just get pushed in and I up-end the box onto a table to do a search!

Charms and embellishments have their own containers too.

So, YES, there is a place for everything. But the last thing I feel like doing when I have finished a project and there is a pile of embroidery bobbins, scraps of ten different coloured fabrics, a pattern in a plastic sleeve, a packet of beads and charms and a reel or two of sewing thread, IS TO PUT THEM AWAY IN THEIR PROPER PLACE! The call of a new project is just too strong!  My solution is this little basket:

It is SMALL - on purpose.  I find it is just big enough to hold the bits and pieces until I decide to put everything away, but it is small enough that it won't hold much, so I can't accumulate.  In reality, the putting-away job that I put off doing, usually only takes a couple of minutes, but there's something about human nature that procrastinates, isn't there!

I can't blame procrastination for not getting much done this week. I had to go out on four days, then a couple of days were spent writing up patterns, so the week seemed to fly by.  I did find time to cut some strips to make this braid:

It's going to be a table runner.  Now I have 84 applique pieces to make! We're going on holidays in a couple of weeks so I'm thinking needleturning all these pieces will be a good project to take along with me when I feel like a change from my crochet ripple blanket.

My TV time was spent finishing this applique design - couldn't bear to watch TV without some stitching in my hand. I love being curled up under a quilt on my recliner, making pretty things! It's the highlight of my day!

With another bleak and cold day upon us, being curled up under a quilt sounds like a great option!

Have a great week.


Free Pattern Thoughts in Thread - Block 6

Saturday, June 16, 2012

It's time to give you the next block of the free Block of the Month "Thoughts in Thread" quilt. 

Block 6 reminds us of another area to focus our thoughts - thinking the best, not the worst.

I guess that applies in all sorts of situations such as circumstances beyond our control ... and interacting with people - especially those who are different to us!!!

I've done my outlining trick on both the owl and the moon to make them stand out, working a backstitch along the edge of the blanket stitch.  I'm really hooked on this effect!  It means you can highlight the edge with a contrast or darker thread, without having a heavy blanket stitch on the actual applique.

The new block, along with the previous five which are still available, can be downloaded from my website. Go here and while you're there, you're invited to have a look at some of my wall-hangings as you scroll down to the bottom of the page!

Don't forget to upload photos of your finished  blocks onto my Flickr site.  There's a button on my sidebar, or click here. (Click "More photos" to see them all.) There's some lovely colour blocks on there now.

Some weeks in life are tough - and the weather didn't help last week.  It was windy, cold, wet, bleak and miserable. We didn't get to go for our morning walk at all, which only added to the melancholy.  But yesterday we were back to a proper perfect Queensland winter's day - clear sky, sunny, peeling off the jumpers in the sun.  It was too good a day to be indoors, so we went off straight after breakfast to enjoy the sun and do some birdspotting. To see some birds that we haven't seen for a while was refreshing to the soul after the distresses of the week.

 I even got enthused to do a bit of tidyng up in the garden and found some tomatoes were ready for picking. A couple of months ago I discovered two tomato seedlings had happened to find their way out through the air-holes in the compost bin.  I decided to let them grow there to see whether they would actually produce fruit in the middle of winter. It's a tribute to our wonderful mild weather that they have succeeded.  And it shows what good compost I've been making!!!

I finally finished the stitching on a commissioned project - it was one of those designs that had far too many "starts", but I think I am happy with it now. I'll wait and see how it turns out when it's all put together for a final verdict!  

Then in the middle of the week I was sidetracked into starting yet another project. It was one of those designs that couldn't be contained in my mind and had to get out onto fabric straight away. I love it when that happens - you know before you start that it is going to be a winner! I'm using the same lovely Robyn Pandolph fabric as the Thoughts in Thread quilt.

I'd better go and see what I can do with these projects.  Hope you have a great week ...

and happy stitching!


Maisie's Market Garden

Saturday, June 9, 2012

I reckon I have had a vegie garden just about all my married life. That's a lot of tomatoes, capsicum, zucchini, lettuce and silver beet in 46 years! Of course over the years I've tried my hand at growing lots of other vegies besides these. Then I always like to have different herbs ready for gathering at the back door. There's nothing like being able to pick your own fresh home-grown vegetables!

With that in mind, a new little design popped into existence a few months ago and it is now published in the latest Country Threads magazine, Vol 13, No 1. Here is Maisie's Market Garden:

and on the front cover:

Maisie is growing pumpkins, egg plant, carrots, turnips and peas, all neatly laid out in front of her sweet little cottage! (That's a wonderful Queensland Blue pumpkin on the left!)

When we lived in cool climate country, we had a small backyard full of wonderful stone fruit. I planted an apple tree a couple of years before we moved but we never did get to enjoy its produce. Maisie has done well with her apples:

I also tried growing a couple of grape vines, but obviously I should have left that to the experts like Maisie:

Now that we live in the subtropics, we can't grow fruit like stone fruit and pears, but I still like to preserve the fruit when it is in season.  Last week, pears were only 99c a kilo, so 10 kilos later and a few hours work and we now have a couple of months supply of diced pears to top our breakfast cereal.

On the sewing front, my wall-hanging is all quilted, bound, hanging sleeve attached ... and I have even written up the pattern! My stitching accessory set is coming together with a few hiccups along the way. Being a perfectionist is a pain sometimes!

Meanwhile, I have been getting organised for the Creative Craft Retreat where I will be teaching in November. The project is complete and I've started on the pattern writing.  Next job on the list for this week is to prepare the next pattern in the free Block of the Month "Thoughts in Thread"quilt.  Watch out for it next week!

Happy stitching

140 Prairie Points

Saturday, June 2, 2012

140 Prairie Points - that's what it took to pretty-up the edge of my new quilt.  It arrived back from the lovely Dawn all quilted with a meandering design early in the week, then it was time to start pressing my three inch squares in half and half again!

I like to attach my Prairie Points after the quilting and I also choose to use a facing rather than just turning under a hem on the backing fabric.  That way the quilt can be quilted right out to the edges and the Prairie Points and backing fabric don't have to be pinned out of the way.  Besides that, I like the finish better. The secret to successful corners with the facing is this:  Attach the facing to the right side of the quilt along one edge with an overhang of ¼ inch at the beginning and finishing ¼ inch in from the edge at the end. Cutting away excess fabric and batting at the corners also helps.

I use a double-fold facing which means you don't have to turn under a hem but can just attach to the back of the quilt along the fold, as with a double-fold binding. I created a totally new block for this quilt and have called it "Disappearing Square".  I hope a magazine editor will like it enough to want to publish it - three people who have seen it have all told me that it is lovely!

The wall-hanging I have been working on is now at the quilting stage.  I am hand-quilting the entire project as I never seem to have much success with the machine. Even just stitching in the ditch pulled all my lovely two inch squares skew-whiff, in spite of very careful pinning, using a walking foot, loosening the tension and stitching very slowly!  Needless to say, I unpicked the lot and now have straight two inch squares after hand-quilting around the blocks! Quilting - be it by hand or machine - is definitely the thing I like least! I can't wait till I get it finished.  I like the results of all the little applique elements popping out - but the journey is something to be endured, not enjoyed!

Seeing that project is almost at an end, it has been time to turn my attention to another design that has been commissioned.  The brief is a needle book, pincushion and tape measure cover - reflecting my personal style. Do I have a personal style???  People tell me I do, but I find it hard to pinpoint it and describe it in words. As I am an 'incurable romantic', I guess that will show up in my designs.  I love applique and I could never make anything that didn't have some sort of embroidery on it, ... but personal style? If anyone out there wants to tell me what it is, I'm happy to hear about it!  Anyway, I managed to draw up the designs for the needle book and pincushion so I will soon have the excitement of starting a new project.  I'll just have to presume they are in my own personal style!!!

Happy stitching!