Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Slow Movement

Before we moved back four years ago to Queensland (our home State where both my husband and I were born), we lived in a quaint little river-port in South Australia called Goolwa. That delightful place was the first 'Slow Town' in Australia. In 2007 Goolwa was declared Australia's first 'Cittaslow', reacting against Fast Foods and embracing and encouraging 'diversity, local culture and traditions, local produce and products, taking time to bring together a sustainable community'.


In recent days, I have been realising that I need to take that heritage on board and slow down some areas of my life. I seem to always be in a rush!  Even with my craft, I try to get everything done as quickly as I can, rather than take time to enjoy the process.

Well I discovered something that needs to be tackled SLOWLY! I rushed in and made the March block of Jinny Beyer's gorgeous free quilt pattern and it was quite a disaster. So out came the unpicker and on came the video lesson and I slowly put it together again and this time I was fairly pleased with the result:


I put a couple of my Silk Ribbon patterns in my store this week and that made me realise that I need to do some more of this SLOW embroidery.


 It is such a rewarding craft where every stitch counts and every flower can be enjoyed as they are created slowly one at a time. 


The "On the Wing" pattern is available here.

Silk Ribbon goes well with applique too as in another of my slow patterns - the Beehive Needlecase:


Beautiful roses are so easy to make with silk ribbon and I always enjoy slowly forming each petal:


I've put the Beehive pattern in my store too.



In contrast, one of my fast patterns has been published in Handmade magazine. The Bow Clutch is designed to wear with your hand under the bow strap. 


I have used some beautiful Oriental fabric and picked out the burgundy for the piping and bow contrast: 


I love that there is room for both fast and slow projects. At the moment, I'm just making a conscious effort to embrace the slow movement, no matter what type of design I am stitching.

Enjoy your week.

Val

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Our daughter was talking to me recently about the 10,000 Hour Rule. She very kindly said that I "get it right with my designs because I have reached the 10,000 hours of practice".

You probably have heard of Outliers:The Story of Success, a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. He considers the key to success in any field is practising a specific task for 10,000 hours, whether it be 20 hours a week for 10 years or 40 hours a week for 5 years or however long it takes you to reach the number.  This year marks 10 years since I had my first ever design accepted for publication so yes, I guess I have well and truly filled my 10,000 hours of practice. 


Thinking about this 10,000 hour idea made me realise that it is no wonder that Free Motion Quilting and I aren't best friends. I really have never had the desire or been prepared to give it the practice that it really deserves.  


Interestingly, on my recent attempt at FMQ, I DID actually improve with practice. I have now found the type of quilting that I can cope with and I now know that I could achieve a reasonable outcome if I am prepared to put in the time.


The thing that really surprised me, was that I actually really LIKE my completed quilt. If you don't look too closely, it is quite pretty and the quilting has really enhanced it in spite of all the imperfections! I get to look at it often, as we are using it as a tablecloth!


I had quite a productive week and designed, made and wrote up the pattern for a Christmas apron that I originally had no intention of making! It was one of those designs that just happened! A wall-hanging that I have been working on is now ready for binding and I have started work on another Christmas design.

I decided to put a couple more patterns in my Craftsy store. French Connection Etui is a delightful way of storing your stitching accessories:


You can find the pattern here.


The Singing Heart is a lovely stitchery that can be framed, or used for a pillow or wall-hanging or whatever takes your fancy:

 

The pattern is available here.

If you are looking to make an Easter basket for your favourite child, here's a sweet one you might like:


Pattern is available here.

I'm eager to go and finish my wall-hanging and get into my next projects, but first I have to put on my apron and preserve a case of pears. The William Bartletts are really lovely at the moment so it's worth the effort now to enjoy them throughout the rest of the year.

 Val

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 3

It's time to give you the next pattern in the free
wall quilt.

 

What a difference to our every-day relationships it would make if
we took this verse to heart!  Forgiveness is one of the most important keys to contentment and when we forgive, the kindness and compassion tend to naturally
follow.

 
There's another sweet little charm sewn on as a reminder of the keys to contentment:



You can download the pattern here.

My sewing for the school Easter fund-raiser is now finished. It included this cushion cover:


and a cute little bunny bag:


I was out more than I was home this week so there wasn't a great deal of sewing happening! I did manage to get all the instructions, samples, templates etc together to send off four new projects to magazine editors. Here are a couple of sneak peaks. Some Dresdens:

 

playing with felt:


sweet stitchery:


And a personal reflection - my beautiful mother passed away 10 years ago tomorrow.  How I miss her.

Mum and I at the beginning of my life:


Mum and I at the end of her life, taken just a few days before she died: 


There is no earthly love like that of a mother.

Val


Sunday, March 8, 2015

Serendipity

ser·en·dip·i·ty  noun
the fact of finding pleasant or useful things not sought for

I tackled my free-motion-quilting head on again this week. I think I improved a bit so I gave myself a pass mark for this pointy flower, even though the spirals aren't brilliant:


I thought I would try stippling/meandering once more seeing I was given some very helpful hints from one of my lovely readers. There was some improvement but I still found it difficult to control all that quilt and move it in a smooth flowing meander.

I took a break and was browsing on the internet and serendipity! I discovered The Inbox Jaunt. The owner of the blog site, Lori Kennedy, had just written this fabulous article called "Why So Many of Us Can’t Stipple or Meander…"!!!

Suddenly, I felt normal! There are other people out there whose brain, eyes and hands don't co-ordinate in a meandering way!  Lori has provided fabulous free tutorials for alternative background fillers and I am just so happy to have made this serendipitous discovery! So for now paisleys and flowers are going to be my norm ... and it's OK!:


Back in my comfort zone, it was time for some normal sewing! I had been asked to make some goods for grandson's school fund-raiser and found this delightful heart pot-holder free pattern.


Lisa very kindly gave me permission to make some to be sold by the school.


I had a bit of spare time so thought I would whip up a couple of quick bunnies. Becky of Patchwork Posse shares this free pattern and also was happy for me to make them for the school:



I've made a couple of other fund-raiser projects too but I'll show you them some other time.

A number of my lovely readers have told me they are keeping up with the free Keys to Contentment Blocks. 
I hope you are enjoying working these stitcheries. Look out for block 3 next weekend.

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, March 1, 2015

FMQ - my mark out of 10!


I went searching for something on the out-of-reach top shelf in my craft room last week,  I didn't discover any hidden, long-forgotten treasures, but I did find a quilt which I was using last year to practise free-motion quilting. It has 30 blocks and I had quilted six or seven then put it up on that top shelf. It hasn't been looked at for eight or nine months.


All the projects that I am working on at the moment have heaps of hand-stitching which I like to do in my recliner at night in front of the TV. Apart from school fund-raiser projects, I didn't really have anything much that I could stitch on the machine during the day.  So this quilt was a good find and I decided to attack FMQ again! 


We are not great mates, FMQ and I. My theory is that some people have it and others just don't ... and I am definitely in the latter category. I send off my magazine quilts to have them professionally quilted.  I will tackle something that looks good with straight-line quilting, but I balk every time if free-motion quilting is required. The problem is that there is often a project that needs just a little bit of FMQ, so it's about time I conquered it!


Everyone says to start with stipple quilting as that is the easiest.  Well, guess what, it isn't for me! I have tried basic stippling and all sorts of variations and they just do not flow. I come up with a jerky mess which I would give 1 out of 10. I'm probably being generous to myself and a fairer assessment would be a half mark!

After watching lessons by expert tutors and trying shells, spirals, and feathers, I have realised that I am just not a "traveller". I find it impossible to travel back exactly on what I've stitched to get to the next section and travelling in long flowing stipples and loops is not my forte. What I have discovered is that I can sort of do "pivot" quilting, where little or no travelling is required. I tried quilting hearts and my mark shot up to 4 out of 10:


I got really adventurous and decided to tackle some pebbles:


The mark dropped back to 3 out of 10 as there was a teeny bit of travelling to do, but I slowed down on the next attempt and got my mark back up to a 4.


So I have made my decision - forget everything else FMQ and concentrate on pivot designs. I have a lot more blocks to quilt so I'm hoping to get up to a pass mark (or maybe even better!) by the time I have finished!
  
 On top of the knowledge that my FMQ skills are so poor, I have come to the realization that my piecing skills leave a lot to be desired too!  I am finding the gorgeous Jinny Beyer free BOM quilt design to be really quite challenging.


I haven't had too much trouble in the past with 45 and 90 degree points, but all the acute angles in this third block required plenty of use of the seam ripper!:


After the third attempt and being almost in the situation where I would have to recut all the pieces and start again, the light-bulb moment came when I reread the instructions: Transfer the dots to the wrong side of your patches to assist you in matching your patches and sewing accurately. What a difference it makes, when you follow the instructions!!! This quilt is really going to be a great learning experience.

Back in my comfort zone, I am happily stitching a new design which puts a smile on my face every time I pick it up!

I hope you have a smile on your face this week, too.
Val