Sunday, January 25, 2015

Because I am a finisher ...


My blog post last week talked about our two daughters and their mending piles, and the fact that because I like sewing, obviously in their mind, I am the person to also do the mending! As I worked this week on finishing some more of the grand-children's projects, I decided that the fact that I am a "finisher" is also being played upon!!!

Having things unfinished around me really does aggravate me. If there's something to be done, I like to tackle it and get it off my list! I do admit that tucked away in a drawer where I can't see them, there are a couple of projects that do need some attention, but "out of sight, out of mind" and I can cope with that!

So what DO you do with long stitch and cross stitch kits when they are completed? Wall-hangings are good, but there's a limit to how many you can display. Grandson number one had no particular ideas in mind, so it was largely up to me to decide what to do with his. I like 'practical' so this bright little clown was made into a tote bag:


The whale long-stitch I made into a zippered pouch. It's a good size so should be very useful:


Grandson number two had a specific request. He wanted his crayon cross-stitch made into a little pillow: 


Grand-daughter number one wanted a new pencil case, long enough to fit in her ruler. She was quite definite in what she wanted - purple with a cute little owl on the front!


They all seemed happy with the products when I gave them out yesterday!

School starts again this week, the holidays are over, and now I am hoping for some sort of 'back to normal' as the functional year begins.  I have heaps of projects swimming around in my head, some are on paper, others are already on fabric. I am excited and eager to get started on my new designs.

First I needed to deal with one of the projects I completed late last year, so this one was wrapped up and sent off to my quilter: 


I am very fond of the black backgrounds that are appearing in some of the new fabric ranges. Contrary to expectations of sombre and dark, I find that the black serves to highlight the other beautiful colours with a much greater intensity and there is a brightness and lightness in the design that is quite unexpected.

So another item is ticked off my "to do" list and I'm off to work on the next one!

Happy stitching!
Val 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Mum's Mending Service


I'm not quite sure why our two daughters are tarred with the same brush but whenever I visit them, or they visit us, they produce loads of mending for me to do!

The usual answer to my remonstrations is, "But you like sewing!"  I've never been able to educate them about the difference between sewing and mending and altering clothes!!!

Our younger daughter has been with us all week with her four children down from the country. Needless to say, the pile of mending came too! As soon as I thought I had finished, out came the next level. This time it was kits the children had completed - latch-hook, long stitch and cross stitch - all the work finished but needing to be made up into something useful. 

So bear was made into a cushion:



and this cute little long-stitch was made into a wall-hanging:


Next came the request for new pencil cases for the grand-daughters, so I quickly whipped this one up for the 'butterfly' girl: 


There's a few more kits and another pencil case to be made up before I see them again in a couple of weeks, so there's still a pile sitting on the sewing machine! 

We managed to pack a lot of things into the week - a trip to the movies, a couple of afternoons at the beach, a visit from cousins, a train ride (a novelty for the country kids), a catch-up with some friends we hadn't seen for a very long time and lots of sitting in front of the airconditioner as we have been in the middle of a heatwave!

I did manage to complete some silk ribbon embroidery before the family visit. I've been wanting to tackle fuschias and decided it was time I tried to conquer them. I was rather pleased with how they turned out: 


Expect to see more of them! 

Thank you for all the encouraging comments and emails after my 'whinge' last week! It was lovely to hear that many of you are stitching or are about to stitch the free designs. I was delighted too to see photos of your work. You know I love to see what you have done with my designs!

Happy stitching!
Val

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 1


It's arrived - the launch of my 2015 free Block of the Month Wall quilt - 
Keys to Contentment.


I love that the Bible is so absolutely practical and down-to-earth. I have chosen nine of its sayings which are relevant to life's journey. Make them part of your daily living and you have keys to contentment! I've chosen to sew a little key charm in each block as a reminder :


The verse on Block 1 sure has some sound advice from Hebrews 13:5:
 "Be content with what you have." 

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 “Keys to Contentment” button on your blog sidebar, or share it on Facebook etc. so that other stitchers can be aware of this free pattern. (Right click on the button below and 'save image as' or copy.)


Keys to Contentment measures 32 inches square, but you could make it larger by adding borders. I'm using the Faded Splendor range of fabrics by Robyn Pandolph to put a border of squares around each 6 inch square block. Each design could be used as a single stitchery on a cushion, a bag, a mug rug or put two or three on a table runner - the possibilities are endless!

Each month over nine months, I will give you the pattern for another block and in the tenth month some instructions for putting it together as a wall quilt. Each new pattern will remain available for download until the end of the year.

You can download Pattern 1 in my Craftsy Store here.

Now it's confession time! I can't show you the finished quilt because, well, it isn't finished! I have done three blocks, so I've made a good start! The best I can show you is the plan:


 I actually hummed and ha'ed as to whether I would produce a free BOM pattern this year. There's quite a significant amount of time and effort needed to produce something like this and quite frankly, I wonder how many people actually make it! There are only a handful of people who ever let me see the finished product in spite of thousands of downloads.

Then I had heaps of projects I really wanted to tackle. I couldn't believe it when I sat down and listed all the designs that were in various stages of completion - 12 to be exact!!! Add to that the fact that I couldn't get any inspiration for the freebie even though I had been thinking about it on and off for months!  



But sanity prevailed and inspiration hit just before Christmas! And I love to share the Word of God in stitching, so now I am excited to offer you this free block of the month design. I hope you enjoy stitching it - and yes, I would love to see your progress!

Happy stitching
Val

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Playing in the New Year!


I've had a lazy week - playing! The weather has been quite draining - hot and humid - and the air-conditioning doesn't quite reach into my sewing room as much as I would like. Motivation to do much sewing largely went out the window. So I spent the week playing! 

I decided that it was time to give my blog a fresh new look and I had fun playing around with blog backgrounds. This new one says a few things about me - I am an avid birdwatcher; I'm a romantic; I like a bit of whimsy and the colour apricot is one of my favourites. 


I played around with a new font and this one is going to appear in the new free Block of the Month wall quilt for 2015 and probably a few more stitcheries throughout the year!  

I can't talk about play-time without showing you another wall-hanging in my "Cupboard" series for children - My Sewing Room Cupboard:


As with all the others, it has removable parts for play and then makes a lovely wall-hanging when play is over. Mind you, I'm tempted to actually put this on my sewing room wall as I am so fond of it. Why should children have all the fun?


You can find the pattern in Country Threads magazine Vol 15 No 12.


I love how blue and chocolate go so well together.


I think I should make a REAL needlecase in this butterfly shape!


I cut up an op-shop doiley to make the shelves.

       

Learning how to use quilting software was another indulgence this week. I enjoyed playing with the various functions and designed two table runners. It's such a new experience to see what a project is going to look like before I start cutting and sewing! I can see it's going to be addictive. Then there was some playing with my Accuquilt Go cutter preparing the blocks. 

More playing on the computer means I now have a Logo for the new free BOM design ready to show you next week. I just have to stop playing now and start writing up the pattern for the first block!

I hope you have some time in your busy week for play.  Albert Einstein says that “Play is the highest form of research.”  What other motivation could you need?

Val

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Flawed Photos transformed into Sweet Stitching!


For a long time I have been a keen photographer. My passion is photographing birds and flowers and I have hundreds (make that thousands) of photos filed on the computer. Digital photography transformed my hobby, and now that it costs nothing to take 100 photos of the same thing, well, of course, I do just that, though I do throw most of them out!


Very occasionally I am really happy with a photo, but, being the perfectionist that I am, that is a rare occurrence. However, I make a policy of keeping at least one photo of an item, no matter how bad it is, so that I have a record of a bird seen or a flower discovered. 

There is really not much to like about the photo below in terms of photography - the tail end of a bird on the right, a seagull in the way in the centre etc - full of flaws. However, I decided to keep it because I liked the stance of these majestic Pelicans:


In fact when I was thinking of a design using these amazing birds, I decided to use this photo to produce some applique. It was a very simple procedure, just printing out the photo in black and white, tracing the outlines of what I wanted and ignoring all the extraneous matter. A flip of the traced outlines for fusible webbing, a bit of sewing and we have a cushion:


This design appeared recently in Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 16 No 2 just in time for the Summer holidays here.


Here's another of my flawed photos - a Scarlet Robin with a tangled mess of branches:


Yes, I could edit the photo and remove all the rubbish, but I like taking the photos not spending all day making them decent. I would rather do that with needle and thread:


Here's another fuzzy photo - a red-capped Robin:


This one was turned into a cross-stitch:


The moral in the story is that not everything with flaws needs to be thrown out. With a bit of artistic licence and a needle and thread, they can be transformed into something of beauty.


I hope you had happy Christmas celebrations as we did. Ours were much quieter this year with just a few of our family with us. We're looking forward to seeing some of those who have been away when they return in a few weeks - I just love having family around!

Meanwhile I have been busy stitching the new 2015 free Block of the Month design that I have for you. I'm afraid that all nine blocks are not going to be complete and made into a wall-hanging, but the first block will be ready for launching as planned on 11th January.

Talking of free designs, there are just four more days for you to collect all the 2014 "Shining Like the Dawn" patterns, so download them now before they are no longer available.

Happy stitching!
Val