Sunday, November 16, 2014

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 11


The last set of instructions for the free
"Shining like the Dawn"
wall quilt is now ready for you.


I hope you enjoy making this design and I'd love to see photos of what you do with the pattern. You can download the last instructions here. All the patterns for this wall quilt are still available on my free pattern page and will remain there until 31st December.

I hope to have my
Four weeks of Christmas Giving
up and running again this year. For the next four weeks I plan to give you a free pattern each week. I have one ready but I had better get my skates on and get the other three organised! Look out for a delightful Christmas tree ornament next week! 

I rather like satchels so when I was asked to design a bag with country theme, this is what I came up with - Needle in a Haystack:


It has applique, embroidery and a little bit of whimsy.


You can find the pattern in Country Threads Vol 15, No 8.


Occasionally I grow my own pumpkins like on my satchel, but we don't have a lot of room, so other vegetables are more of a priority. One of the first things I did when we moved into our new home was to buy some herb plants. My mother always had home-grown herbs in the garden and for many years I have had a few pots of my favourite herbs. At the moment, I have mint, parsley, rosemary, basil and thyme and I love the freedom of being able to go and pick some whenever I want. In honour of that, I designed The Herb Garden project a couple of years ago:


It has always been one of my favourite designs, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that it had been chosen to be featured in the Homespun So Pretty 2015 calendar.


I didn't really have any hopes, other than having an outlet for my work, when I first started designing in 2005. My dream was to find someone who thought my work was of a good enough quality to want to put it in print.  Being published in seven magazines was way beyond any dreams or expectations that I ever had. Now to top it off, we're a calendar girl! I feel so blessed and privileged to have travelled this creative journey.

Happy stitching!

Val

Monday, November 10, 2014

Making the most of the colour of the year!


You might remember that I recently wrote a post called Shades of Purple where I explained that this year I was going non-traditional with the colour of my Christmas designs.  I figure that with the colour of the year being Radiant Orchid, it was a good time to indulge in my love of all things purple!

There's just one thing that I love even more than purple and that is mixing some raspberry with it!


Let me introduce you to the Christmas Chimes Candle mat:


This design uses gorgeous hand-dyed Kacoonda felt, ribbons and threads. They are such a delight to use - the silk threads just glide through the fabric:


You can find the design in Embroidery & Cross Stitch magazine Vol 22, No 4:



I've just spent the weekend away at the Creative Craft Retreat teaching Hardanger and silk ribbon embroidery. It was such a fabulous weekend and my students did brilliantly. I have taught Hardanger before but the class then had difficulty with the technique, so this time I changed some of my teaching methods and had much more success. 

I stitched along with them so that I could show them the various steps:



Couldn't get away from the purple!

Keep an eye out next week for the final pattern in the free block of the month "Shining Like the Dawn" pattern. I'm thinking about what I can give you for Christmas after that!

I had better go and put away my stitching gear from the weekend!

Happy stitching.
Val


Sunday, November 2, 2014

In and Out of the comfort zone


I admit to being a traditionalist, a romantic, and lover of vintage, so it was a step out of the comfort zone to design a modern Christmas bag in non-traditional colours!  I was also on a time limit and I never do my best work when I'm under pressure. Most of the rest of my family thrive under the stress and rise to the occasion, but I'm the odd-man out - I need unflustered time!  

Anyway, the project was born and here is the "Bells are Ringing" Christmas bag in Handmade 32/12:


It's passable but not my best project! On the other hand, what I am working on this week is fast becoming my favourite. It was percolating during our overseas holiday and as soon as I arrived back, it was time to audition fabrics:


When I'm choosing colours, I look for one fabric that will tie everything together. That's the multi-coloured fabric in the centre. From there, it was easy to find tone-on-tone, stripes, checks, and small-scale prints that would match the blue, pink, burgundy, green and brown. I tend to stick to no more than four colours in a design, so the green was ousted. The brown will have a miniscule part in the project, but it was important that it be the right brown. 

I think it was this new design that did it - I now have my inspiration back! (... No sneak peaks of the project yet, but it's cute, gorgeous and adorable and I am loving it!)  It's taken a while to get back into the groove of crafting after a month away from it, but now I have designs swimming around in my head and I can't wait to work on them. 

I'm off to Creative Craft Retreat next weekend. It's always such a fantastic time and I am looking forward to teaching Hardanger and Silk Ribbon Embroidery. The project for the weekend is the Sweet Nothings pincushion and scissor keep:


I'm right back in my comfort zone:



I love the combination of the two genres. The colour of the silk ribbon embroidery gives so much life to the cream-on-cream of the Hardanger.


Now I had better go and put the finishing touches on the pattern!

Happy stitching, 
Val

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Finishing off the edges


You've made your quilt top or wall-hanging, but do you give enough thought to how you might finish off the edges? I thought I would run through some of the techniques that I like to use.

Of course, you can bind the edges with fabric that matches the last border. That's what I've done with "You're Welcome" wall-hanging. I wanted the eye to be drawn into the centre so I chose a binding that does not distract the eye:


With the Showers of Blessing quilt, there was a lot of colour going on in the border of squares, so I chose the bright red fabric for the binding. Rather than being a distraction, the binding complements the red around the nine embroidered squares:


With the Pastel Panache Bed Runner and Cushion, picking out a light colour for the binding - in this case the grey of the border - has given a pleasant but unobtrusive contrast:


I'm very fond of the Les Macarons wall-hanging. Making the black and white of the embroidery stand out by using the same colours for the binding, has really enhanced this design: 


I find that binding cut on the cross can give a real 'zing' to a project. I love the red and white check on Cook with Love:


The Away in a Manger Australian Advent Calendar is a bit outside the box. Rather than have the design as a one-piece wall-hanging, it consists of four pieces. The three lower pieces are bound with matching colour and they are joined together with ribbon when sewing the binding:


Of course, you can finish off the quilt or wall-hanging with no binding at all. All of my children's interactive wall-hangings are joined with the backing and then turned out and quilted. My Kitchen Dresser


The same principle applies with the Vintage Christmas Pudding with some bells added at the lower edge:


Flutter-by bag has an easy variation for its edge - Ric Rac:


I hope that has given you some ideas to think about when you are choosing how to finish off the edges of your projects.

I've had another week where I don't seem to have accomplished much in the sewing realm! I enjoyed a full day out bird-watching with a lovely group of people, watched grandson perform in a school production of Peter Pan, spent some time learning to play our church's new Clavinova, prepared for and enjoyed having lunch visitors, and sent off a package to a magazine editor. I did manage to whip up a few items for our Church's market stall:


I also put a new pattern in my Craftsy Store - the Chevronetta Table Runner:


With the right colours, this would work as a Christmas project.

 Enjoy your week!
Val


Sunday, October 19, 2014

Shades of purple


When we arrived home from our overseas trip, in amongst the mountain of mail that greeted us were our lovely Australian craft magazines. Some of them had my projects in them, one of which was the "Gathered 'round the Christmas Tree" Candle Mat:


This year I decided to go with non-traditional colours for my Christmas designs. I love how rich purple is. The fact that it goes well with either silver or gold just gives more reason to use it for Christmas! Then, of course, Radiant Orchid is the Pantone Colour of the Year so that was inspiration enough. I had so much pleasure in making this design. I'm very fond of felt and using it for applique is just a delight.


We live quite a distance from any craft stores, so I rely heavily on what is in my cupboards when I'm producing projects. I was very disappointed when I went looking for some gold star charms to top the trees and found nothing in my stash. I was thinking I would have to embroider some when I had the brainwave to look in the button drawer. To my delight, I found eight purple star buttons which were just perfect for finishing off the trees.


You can find the pattern in the latest Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 15 No 11.

Springtime in the Australian bush is quite spectacular. We saw so many beautiful wildflowers during our recent time away: 


The intricate detail is mind-blowing:


I always say that purple is obviously one of God's favourite colours:


It's one of mine too!

Happy stitching.
Val