Sunday, February 7, 2016

French Braid and left-overs

Following on from my post about Fabric Ranges last week, I should talk about what I do with those fabric left-overs! I purchased some Autumn Lily fabric last year and I still had some layer cake bits and pieces left after I had made a cushion and a table runner. Ten inch layer cakes are my preference for the smaller projects that I design. They are big enough to cut plenty of appliques and small enough not to have a lot of fabric left over, in contrast to a fat quarter.

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 I often turn to French Braid as a very pretty and simple way to use up small pieces.  It's a great technique too for left-over Jelly Roll Strips. I used 2 x 6 inch strips to create the braid for this bag front and back centrepiece:


The bag ended up 9½ inch high to accommodate the 10 inch limit I had for cutting the strips for the stitchery panels and the bag sides. It's still a good size bag because it is 12½ inches wide. The handles have been in the cupboard for a few years, waiting for just the right project. 


The pattern is available in the gorgeous Country Threads magazine, Vol 17 No 2.


I hope you'll try some French Braid next time you want to use up lots of left-overs.

 I had been asked as to when I was going to make available the pattern of last year's block of the month project, Keys to Contentment, so decided it was time to put it all together into one file.


The pattern can be purchased in my Craftsy Store here.

While I was at it, I also put up the children's interactive wall-hanging "My Kitchen" which includes a bonus child's apron pattern.


Then again, why should kids have all the fun? Maybe this would look great in your kitchen?


The pattern can be found here.

My sewing machine is in for its annual service - two weeks without her! I am happy to say that this year I have my baby Brother machine to keep my sanity! I wonder how good it is at sewing ¼ inch seams?!!

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Showcasing a fabric range

I love fabric ranges! I know that some quilters like to choose their own colours and mix and match fabrics to suit their style. I know that some think that using a fabric range is somehow 'cheating' and taking the easy road. 

Well, I am happy to let a fabric designer do all the work. I'm delighted that they have spent many hours getting their colours just right and that I can buy up to 40 fabrics that will blend perfectly, that will have a combination of small, medium and large-scale motifs, will include light and dark contrasts and will contain good basic tone-on-tones to work beautifully with the patterned fabric.


When I saw the pretty Rosemont Manor Fabric range by E. Vive for Benartex, I fell in love with it immediately. I bought a set of 12 fat quarters and some yardage and then wondered whatever I was going to make with it! I decided that this range deserved to be showcased in a quilt!


I chose the simple Snowball block so that the focus could be on the beautiful prints. However, it needed something to finish it off, so I had fun creating an applique border. I called the quilt "Black Beauty".


I am happy to say it has been featured in the wonderful Patchwork & Quilting magazine, Vol 25, No 8. It even made it onto the cover:


Black Beauty was one of  two quilts I made last year. Two in a year is just about my limit! My fondness is for small projects - bags, wall-hangings, stitching accessories, cushions - so making a quilt is a big effort for me! You will then be as surprised as I am when I tell you it is only the end of January and I have already completed one quilt top! Maybe I might break the record and stitch three this year!

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Using the gadgets

Over the years, I've collected quite a few gadgets to make stitching easier. Some of them work well; others are a disaster and I scratch my head and think "How could someone make money out of designing something that is so hopeless?"

I once bought a rotating cutting mat, which every time you turned it, the mat flew out of the base! If you turned it fast, the mat would be like a frisbee and end up metres away! Needless to say I asked for my money back on that one and I recently ordered an Olfa which hopefully will arrive soon and work as it is meant to!


I don't know about you, but sometimes I'm just too lazy to scrabble around in a cupboard or drawer to get that 'time-saving', 'labour-saving' gadget out and end up doing the job the old-fashioned 'by hand' way. 

One gadget that I do use a bit more is my Accuquilt Go Cutter. I do confess though, that even with this great machine, I sometimes just grab the rotary cutter and mat to cut binding strips or the like. However, when it comes to petal and flower shapes, it really comes in to its own for me. 


 I have used the Rose of Sharon Dye 1 and the Crazy Petals to make these flowers. I especially love also that it cuts felt really well and I have a new design in the pipeline using lots of little flowers and circles of felt.

The flowers you see above are on my Sweet Sorbet bag which I taught at the Creative Craft Retreat last year.  


It has recently been published in Country Threads Magazine Vol 17 No 1:


I'm happy it found its way onto the cover:


Our Insurance repairs on our garage have all gone smoothly. Our residence has been a hive of activity with trucks coming and going, tradesmen in and out, and our new ceiling installed ready for painting. As a former administrator, I have been impressed with the way they have co-ordinated the garage-door to be removed and then reinstalled a few hours later, an electrician to make live wires safe and then later back to install the power-point and light fitting, the company to deliver plasterboard at the right time, truck to remove the rubbish arriving on plan, all with little interruption to our days. Now we await the painter and then the plumber to put in new guttering.


In between checking what was happening, I managed to get two projects ready to send off to editors. One of them had a total mind of its own and didn't end up anything like my initial idea! I've learned to just go with the flow when that happens and hope the editor likes the end result!

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 1

Once again I have a free Block of the Month Wall Quilt design to share with you this year. I have called it

You are Blessed

The new quilt is based on The Beatitudes which are found in the Bible in Matthew 5:1-12. We are using seven of the eight surprising blessings which Jesus gave his followers. Each one begins with a word that could be translated into English as “You are supremely happy” or “supreme blessedness”. 

These blessings are surprising because what follows is not what you would normally regard as supreme happiness. I love sharing God's Word with you and I hope you will enjoy stitching these empowering blessings.


The pattern is FREE, for personal use or to make as a gift.  You may also give a copy to friends and tell them where to find me, but please do not use the pattern for profit.  

If you have a blog, I would love it if you would put my “You are Blessed” button on your blog sidebar, or post it on Facebook etc so that other stitchers can share in this free pattern. (Just right click on the button on my sidebar and Save image as or Copy image over to your blog.)


The wall quilt measures 32 inches square and consists of seven 7 inch square blocks and one 7 x 15½ inch block. Each month over nine months, I will give you the pattern for another block plus the finishing instructions. Each new pattern will then be available for free download until the end of the year.

You can download Pattern 1 in my Craftsy Store here.


Last year, I decided to expand my quilting knowledge and work through the Jinny Beyer 2015 Craftsy Block of the Month Class. It certainly was challenging for someone who is not a top class piecer! 


There was plenty of foundation piecing which was all new to me but I certainly liked the accuracy of the results.


There was a bit of fudging to get all the crosses to fit the sashings. I'm hoping my quilter won't complain!


I'm happy to say that I completed it last week and now I'm just waiting for the backing fabric that I've ordered to arrive.


I don't know that I will make a 100 inch square quilt again for a while! It's certainly my biggest effort ever, but it's going to look lovely on our bed.

I'm glad I put the effort into completing the quilt, as my year of work started a week earlier than I had planned. Editors are already back at their desks and I've had pattern checking to do! I'm happy that I can start my year with a clean slate, knowing that last year's quilt is finished. [I refuse to look in the PASSES (Projects At a Stand Still) drawer at the commencement of a year - that would certainly mess up my clean slate!!!]

I still haven't tidied up my fabric drawers but I am delighted that our garage has had a huge cleanup! It's amazing how much a deadline can accomplish!  You might remember the storm damage we had early in December (this post). It is all being repaired this week, with plumbers replacing the guttering, men coming to take off the garage door, carpenters replacing the ceiling, then plasterers and painters to finish off. It was a great incentive to get rid of loads of empty boxes, and heaps of unwanted rubbish, so there'll be a trip to the dump tomorrow and the op shop later in the week ... and hopefully plenty of time to do some stitching!

Val

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Don't get my tail wet!

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you will know that I LOVE umbrellas! My dream as a child was to possess my very own pretty umbrella, and I have never lost my joy in having one in my hand. I've even been known to walk down to the shop in the bright sunshine and heat, with no rain about, parading my pretty parasol. 

You won't be surprised then, that umbrellas feature in quite a number of my designs. Here's another one - "Don't get my tail wet" coin purses:


Once again, I asked my clever grandson to draw the designs for me:


I just love this cute kitty with his umbrella:


I couldn't help smiling as I stitched him:


You can find the pattern for both purses in Patchwork & Stitching Magazine Vol 17 No 3.


I'm happy to say that the new
free Block of the Month quilt for 2016
is finished and this week I plan to write up the instructions ready to launch it next Sunday.


I have just hung the quilt on the wall of my sewing room and it has added a sweet, fresh look to the area. 

At the end of last year, I decided not to take a lot of commissions for a couple of months so that I could have time to prepare the free BOM, catch up on some personal sewing, tidy up my fabric drawers and generally start the new year in a more relaxed atmosphere. It was a good decision and I feel as though I have had time to be refreshed, even if the drawers are still calling out to be put in order!

The highlight of my relaxed days last week was that my husband and I went to see the new Australian production of Les Miserables, It was absolutely stunning and amazing - brilliant music, realistic scenes and very emotionally moving.  I spent a couple of hours preserving peaches yesterday and relived the moments by playing the CD of the music. It made a tiresome job go much faster!

Don't forget to come back next week for Block 1 of the free Wall Quilt.

Val