Sunday, November 22, 2015

Christmas - keeping it traditional

I managed to design five new Christmas projects this year. You've seen my apron and oven mitt/trivet set. Then there are some ornaments and a cutlery holder which I'll show you some time. For all of them I decided to stick with traditional red and green this year after diverting to something quite different last year. There is something just so right about the red and green combination.

"All the stockings were hung" is my first ever Christmas Stocking design. While I've made a number of stockings for grandchildren in the past, I've never come up with my own original design till now.

I wanted the embellishments to be three dimensional, and they ended up coming right "off the page". The angel and the gingerbread man are removable and wearable as a brooch or pinned to a bag or however you like to use them during the lead up to Christmas. 

Christmas Eve they can be pinned back onto the stocking ready for the big event!

They have been published in Patchwork & Stitching Magazine, Vol 17 No 1.

I do plan to put the pattern in my Craftsy store early December if you are unable to source the magazine and want to make these gorgeous stockings. The gingerbread man is just the cutest!

I've been trying to make a few more of my patterns available in the store, seeing so many of you tell me that you can't buy our wonderful Australian magazines where you live. Polly finds the Holly oven mitt and trivet set is now available here.

After not ever doing much Christmas sewing previously, I have a little collection of designs now. You can see them on my Christmas page.

My husband and I have been having a couple of small holidays this month. We spent a delightful week away in northern New South Wales pursuing our passion of bird-watching with members of our local club. They were all intrigued with this yarn-bombing which we discovered:

It had been very creatively put together.

Once we arrived back home, the number one focus has been to prepare kits for a workshop I will be teaching in early December. Sure takes time to cut all the fabric, batting, fusible web and package all the embellishments! 

Happy stitching!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Symphony of Life

I have quite narrow tastes in music. I love classical music, a bit of musical theatre and nothing much else! On special occasions, like our wedding anniversary, my husband and I will go to a Symphony Orchestra Concert, which for me is a fantastic way to celebrate. 

It always amazes me how so many different instruments can all play together to make such a beautiful sound. 

On reflection, I think our life is a Symphony. 

There are so many bits and pieces, joys and sorrows, friends and family that make up one's life.

How we bring it all together can make a beautiful symphony or a terrible cacophony!

The best way I know of expressing this thought is to make a quilt!

Meet my Symphony of Life quilt!

I commissioned my 12 year old grandson to draw the instruments for me, seeing I am a woeful artist and he is exceptionally good, then I added what he calls my "abstract flowery things".

I think he did a fantastic job with the drawings. I just loved turning them into applique and stitching all the details and the words that make up the Symphony.

Homespun Magazine liked it enough to publish it!

It's in their latest edition, November Collector's edition.

It's one of my designs that just makes me smile every time I look at it - definitely my favourite this year! Now I need to work on making my own life a beautiful symphony!

Happy stitching!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Turning the Calendar

I had extra pleasure in turning the Calendar over to November this year! For a whole month my project is on view in the beautiful Homespun 2015 Calendar. 

I am very fond of the Herb Garden design for a number of reasons. I like to use herbs in my cooking and so have a few lovely pots in my garden – thyme, rosemary, parsley, basil and mint, and it gave me great pleasure to design four little herb stitcheries to display on this wall hanging. 

I also love that the pattern showcases a beautiful range of fabric. This project was really a turning point in my designing. It was just so easy to use the great variety of fabrics, because they were planned to complement each other, they all belonged in the one range, and so they worked perfectly together.

It eliminated all the struggle of finding just the right combinations of shade, tone, texture and scale – taking fabric to the window for better light to see whether it matched, only to find there was a harsh clash – searching through drawers of fabric to find that elusive piece and then being disappointed that it didn’t really work after all. 

That’s when I became hooked on buying whole ranges. I find them so versatile and economical. I like to buy a 10 inch layer cake which usually provides about 40 different fabrics. They are a good size for cutting appliqu├ęs plus some squares or half square triangles. With 40 pieces, that’s plenty of fabric to make a wall quilt. Then I usually purchase some yardage of tone-on-tone fabrics that can be used for borders or binding. You can read more about my buying rationale in this "Adventures with pre-cuts" post.

Before we could turn the calendar over to November, we spent a whole week in wonderful celebrations for my husband’s big “0” birthday with lots of family and friends joining us for the festivities. We had a few surprises for him and it was such a joy to see his happiness in what we had organised. 

Needless to say, with party preparations, baking, organising, shopping, and family with us, there hasn’t been any stitching happening but I did manage to upload one of my recent designs to my Craftsy Store. The Fan Dance pattern is now available here

Another of my silk-ribbon embroidery projects has appeared in Embroidery & Cross Stitch magazine (Vol 23 No 4) – Fuchsia Frolics:

When we lived in a cooler climate, I used to grow the most beautiful Fuchsias. Now I work them in ribbons instead!

I'm just back from the Creative Craft Retreat at which I taught some lovely ladies bag-making. It is always a wonderful time of fun, friendship and food - always tastes great when I don't have to cook it!

Happy stitching,

Sunday, October 18, 2015

On being a Planner

I'm a planner! I make lists of things that I have to do every day, my diary is filled with scribbled notes so I don't forget what I'm going to have to do on a certain day, I am always organising my life (and anyone else's who is nearby!) For the last month or so, I've been planning two celebrations for my husband's special "O" birthday. The invitations are out, the menus are organised, the shopping lists are written, and the baking is starting.

But over many years, I have learned that I have to leave room in life for unplanned events. I am happy that I am still flexible enough to occasionally do "spur of the moment" things - like go to the Craft Show and buy these gorgeous buttons:

... and these miniature hoops. I am picturing some beautiful embroidery in them and then made into pendants:

Some of the unplanned happenings in life are just wonderful. At the beginning of the year, we never dreamed that our family from overseas would be able to be with us for the birthday celebrations. Some of them arrived yesterday so there's lots of chatting, hugs and smiles happening.

 Another thing that I hadn't planned was to have two computers break down in a month! This week our old laptop which was my life-saver when my main computer died, decided it just wasn't going to start up! A few years ago, I found that I coped better with unplanned bad situations if I asked the question, "Am I still going to be upset about this in a week's time ... in a month's time ... in a year's time." If it's something that's not going to bother me in a month's time, then it really isn't worth getting upset about now!

After a mild panic because I need that laptop for the parties next weekend, it looks as though the family will be able to come to the rescue with something that will be compatible to show photos on our TV.

Being a planner has its advantages, because around six months ago I started sewing for Christmas. This cute Christmas lights fabric was given to me by a dear friend and it was the perfect background for my Polly finds the Holly Oven Mitt and Trivet set:

The pattern is in Handmade Magazine Vol 34 No 2:

The party plan and arrival of more family dictates that I won't be doing much stitching in the next week, but I did find time yesterday to prepare a new stitchery which will be my relaxation at night when I put my feet up!

Have a great week.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Last Pattern

Today I am giving you the last of the patterns in the 
Being the end of the block of the month programme means that most of the year 2015 has gone!!! It only seems yesterday when we were all worrying about the millennium bug when the calendar turned over to 2000!

You can find Pattern 10 with the finishing instructions to make the blocks into a wall quilt here.  With the pattern I have included a label for you to embroider and attach to your quilt.

All the patterns will remain available free until 31 December 2015. I'd love to see photos of your completed blocks.

Adornment - just because!
That's how I think of the door hangers below. They don't have a message like "Do not disturb" or "Please service my room" - they are just pretty things to adorn your door!

You can find the patterns of both the "Adorn-a-door" hangers in Country Threads magazine Vol 16 No 10.

Felt is such a wonderful medium to work with.

I know a lot of my blog friends live where Winter is just making an appearance. You might like to make this cutie for someone you love:

The pattern is now available for purchase in my Craftsy Store.

I was so happy to be able to attend the Brisbane Craft and Quilt Show last week. It's many years since I've been, so it was great to be there again to check out the latest and greatest. I attended two workshops, one by Monica Poole who calls herself the Quilt-as-you-go Queen of Australia. She showed us a QAYG method that I had never seen which I'm eager to try.

The other workshop was on lace dyeing and I've come home armed with a kit, lots of lace and plenty of enthusiasm. 

I'm now waiting for some play-time to appear like magic in the middle of my busy month! Family will be arriving soon and there's a big celebration to organise for my husband, so the whips are cracking! Meanwhile I dream of inspiration for some more stitching designs.

Happy stitching!