Sunday, July 26, 2015

The day the letter came!

On the 25th July 2005, exactly 10 years ago, a letter was written which changed the course of my life!


  I was on 10 months long service leave and had recently arrived home from interstate having spent time caring for my mother in the last month of her life. My husband and I needed a holiday after the time apart and working through the grief and loss, but somehow plans would just not come together. Everything we tried to organise fell flat and in the end we decided we would just stay home.



I was happy with our decision and decided that I was going to make it a real holiday at home, with a minimum of housework and a maximum of craft for the six weeks that we had allocated. We soon discovered that God was in control and why He hadn't allowed our plans to come to pass. My husband developed shingles and that needs special treatment within 72 hours to negate long-lasting problems. If we had been outback bush camping as planned, miles from civilization, he would not have been able to obtain the urgent medication that he needed.


Meanwhile, I jumped into my 'holiday at home'. After years of wanting to do craft but never having time to do it except on holidays, I could craft to my heart's content - absolute bliss! After six weeks, I had a great pile of things I had made ... and suddenly had a reality check! 


My long service leave was a stepping stone into retirement and I had made known to my employer that I would not be coming back after LSL. If I could produce all that stitching in six weeks, how much was I going to do in retirement? How could I afford to keep buying fabric and everything else needed for stitching? Whatever was I going to do with everything I made? Was there any purpose in all this crafting?

Then I read a little note in an editorial in Patchwork & Stitching magazine. They were looking for new contributors and encouraging their readers to have a go at submitting their original designs. 


I had always said that I couldn't produce original patterns. I could copy and change someone else's but I would never be able to create something uniquely mine. But something stirred within me to have a go and to get out the pencil and paper, and I found that yes, I could be original. The key for me was that for the first time in my life I had plenty of time to just play, and with that doodling, gradually an idea formed.


Nothing ventured, nothing gained, so I made two projects and sent off photos to the editor. I waited for a very long month and didn't hear a thing. Oh well, it didn't really matter - I had had my fun and there was nothing lost in trying.

And then the letter came!

Dated the 25th July, 2005, the official letter commissioned both of my designs for publication in Patchwork & Stitching Magazine. To say I was over the moon is an understatement!


And that's how it all began - a decade of having the privilege of spending time doing what I love, of sharing my ideas, of making pretty projects and having my work recognised by the crafting public.  I have been so blessed!


I think I've improved a bit since my first design, as you can see from all these photos of my old projects!  I am for ever grateful to editors who were prepared to give me a go and encouraged me in my baby steps in designing.




Thanks for reading my reminiscences and for being part of my journey.

Hugs
Val

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Baby in a box

Recently a courier brought me a big box - not all that unusual as we live in the country and I don't have easy access to shops, so I buy a lot of things online. 

This box had my new baby in it!


A baby Brother sewing machine!

Since my traumas of the last two sewing machine services, (you can read about it here) I have been thinking that I really need to have a spare machine. The frustration of being without one for an extended period is just too painful, so I've been scouring advertisements and internet for the last six months.

When I saw this little baby reduced to one third of its original price, I knew that my search was over.  I found out that it was an absolutely genuine reduction because I mucked up the date and went to purchase it online a day before the sale started and it was still full price! It was worth waiting the extra day!

Of course it is very basic, but sews nicely, weighs a feather, will be good for teaching the young ones in the family to sew when they come to visit ... and is such a pretty blue!


Talking of babies, a dear couple gave me some stems of these beautiful lilies. A couple of flowers were starting to open, but there were lots of buds and a couple of baby buds that I was sure would never open as they were so small and tightly closed. But two weeks later, I am still enjoying the lilies as they open right up the stem.

I've managed a bit more stitching this week and have two new projects ready to wrap and send off to editors. I've also been preparing for a class I will be teaching next month, so here's a sneak peak:


 It continues my love affair with felt!

Time with family is on the agenda for the next couple of weeks so I will gladly pack the sewing machine away. I just hope there isn't too much mending coming my way! My favourite quote: Asking a quilter to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage! 

Happy stitching.
Val 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 7

Lately I've been thinking about the difference between happiness and joy. It seems to me that happiness depends on your circumstances. If things are going well, then we are happy. On the other hand, joy is a deep-seated contentment and gratitude even when outward things aren't lining up too brilliantly!


That's what Block 7 in our 
free Keys to Contentment pattern
is all about. It's the next step from last month's block which was about being thankful in all our circumstances.


Joy is God' gift to those who love Him.


I hope real joy will fill your heart as you stitch this block.


You can download the pattern here in my Craftsy store. All the block patterns will remain free until the end of the year.

I was reminded during the week that I hadn't given you a photo of the completed quilt. That's because it hasn't been finished for long!!! So here it is:


It is very simple - just framed blocks with borders of squares but it looks very sweet on my sewing machine wall.

   I've been either out or had visitors nearly every day this week so virtually no stitching done! However I did manage to put together last year's block of the month pattern and it is now in my store:


So if you missed out on Shining Like the Dawn last year, it is available here.

Happy stitching!
Val





Sunday, July 5, 2015

Stitching for a bride-to-be

In just a few weeks, the first of our 15 grandchildren will be married! Needless to say, it is all very exciting, and especially so as that grandchild will be the bride!

Yesterday was Chrissie's Bridal Shower and I wanted to make something special for her that she would treasure and that would also be practical and useful. 


It was made with lots of love!


A sewing folder! 


While Chrissie is not a stitcher, every bride needs to have on hand lots of bits and pieces for mending and the last-minute fix-ups - needle and thread, buttons and pins:


 I had so much fun making this project and thinking of all the sewing essentials I could put in it. 


I was so happy that grand-daughter loved it ... and I knew she wasn't going to get another gift the same as this one!  

The folder was based on my Vintage Dream sewing folder with a bit of variation to fit everything inside:


If you think it's a good gift idea for a new bride, then you can find the pattern here.

I couldn't let it go with just one gift, so I also made her a pretty apron:


and used a Spoonful of Sugar's design to make an oven mitt:


Now I need to turn my mind to what I am going to wear to the wedding!

Val

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Fun with left-overs

Last year, the lovely Helen of Hugs and Kisses generously gave me fabric from her range, Basically Hugs, in advance of its release to the shops. The commission from Patchwork & Quilting magazine was to make a cot quilt from the range, and so I featured the fabrics around some Australian animals:


There was a little bit of fabric left over - not a lot, but enough to make me think it deserved another project. Dresdens are popular at the moment, so I gave them a bit of a twist, divided them into four, added a bit of embroidery and Fan Dance was born:

 

I love the effect of the colour shading:


It was easy to turn them into fans with just a little bit of embroidery:


You can find the pattern in Patchwork & Stitching, Vol 16 No 9.



The cushions now look really lovely sitting in our Family Room on my grey lounge suite.

When I buy a new fabric range (usually one or two a year), I like to have a layer cake and 2 or 3 yards of fabric. The thinking behind this is that with the 10 inch square layer cake, you receive small pieces of the whole range of fabric, then the yardage gives you what you need for borders and binding. I can usually make 5 or 6 projects from such a purchase. Here, for example, is what I made from the Double Chocolat range: 


Two wall hangings, a tablecloth, placemats, a table runner, a wall quilt and a peg-bag. That's a total of 7 projects. (I had to buy a bit more yardage to complete the extra project and I also bought two packets of 2½ inch squares which were on super special.) 

I love how each project has its own colour focus, depending on what fabric is used in the border. Then it's always fun working out how I will use the last little bits of fabric that are left over.

I've just completed a pretty bag using the Autumn Lily fabric. It's my third design from this range and I thought it would go really well using some French Braid and Jumbo Ric Rac:


and a sneak peak of the other two:



You would hardly know they came from the same range, would you? One thing for sure is that you have to  really love the fabric before you commit to making so many projects! I'm actually going to put the rest of this collection away for a while and come back fresh to it in a few month's time. There's another range burning a hole in my cupboard!

Happy stitching!
Val