A new quilt

If you've been following my blog for a while, you will know that I don't make many large quilts.  I enjoy making smaller projects - wall hangings, bags, cushions, sewing accessories.  But I'm usually good for two or three simple quilts in a year.  I had plenty of fabric left over from the 2011 free Block of the Month quilt, "Consider the Lilies".  Remember this:?

So I made the Floriana quilt which has just been published in Country Threads Magazine, Vol 13 No 8.

And here it is gracing the front cover: 

This quilt started out as a simple "Square in a Square" quilt, and you can see I kept those blocks in the four corners. However, when all the blocks were made, I thought it looked rather "ordinary" and wasn't very exciting at all!  That's when I started experimenting and pulled the rotary cutter out of the drawer!

And so the "Disappearing Square" block was born. The lovely Dawn quilted it beautifully for me and it now makes an attractive cover for our small-sized Pool table.

Christmas for us was rather quiet this year after very large celebrations last year, but we enjoyed having some of our family around.  This is my Christmas present - a wonderful new oven - well two ovens actually:

 When we moved to Queensland two years ago, we purchased a beautiful home, but one or two things were not as good as in the previous home which we had had built to our own design. The oven in our new home left quite a bit to be desired; it regularly burnt things on the bottom shelf and didn't cook things on the top shelf!  I really missed my beautiful fan-forced oven. I had been thinking about buying a new one for quite a while (and saving up for it!) and in the end I decided it would be silly not to have a good oven for all the Christmas baking, so went ahead and bought it!  

The interesting thing is that in the process of installing it, this was discovered:

The previous oven had not been installed properly with a vent 15 years ago. The heat had burnt through the fire-retardant sheeting and had started burning the surrounding wood!  The installer was surprised that it hadn't actually caught fire! I was ever so thankful that I had made the decision to buy NOW!  And for the first time in two years, I made a fruitcake that wasn't burnt on the bottom!  I don't know whether it is my imagination or not, but all the food baked in my new oven just tastes so much better now!

In between all the Christmas celebrations, I have done plenty of stitching. This design was a commission which was quite different to the norm and I am excited about the way it has turned out.  It's a technique I will definitely try again:

I've been hand-quilting the new 2013 Block of the Month free quilt I have for you, but sub-tropical Queensland summer is not the best time to have a quilt draped over one's lap, so it's just short, sharp bursts on that one.  When it gets too hot for comfort, I move over to doing some stitching on another new design.  I'm just loving the way this one is coming together:

Then the pencil has been out and I have drawn a new stitchery for a bag.  It's been a fun week!

I'll take this opportunity to wish you all a wonderful New Year, filled with blessings and plenty of stitching!


Have a wonderful Christmas!

Just a couple of days to go and we celebrate God's amazing gift to this world. Seems a bit strange really, that we receive gifts when it's Jesus' birthday we celebrate!

Thank you for sharing my journey through 2012. You've enriched my life - even though I haven't met most of you!  Your encouragement and sweet comments have put a smile on my face.

The fruits of a productive few months earlier in the year are upon me with lots of projects being published at the moment.  There'll be a corresponding few blank months in about half a year's time seeing I haven't been producing too much lately!

My Butterfly and Roses Needle case is in a recent issue of Embroidery and Cross Stitch Magazine:

It has silk ribbon roses and grub roses on the outside:

A pretty butterfly or two on the inside:

I love that I have the freedom to tackle a variety of different styles of stitching. Sometimes I am in a Country mood; sometimes it just has to be a Classic elegant look; other times I am totally lost in the world of silk - be it ribbons, threads or fabric; some days I dream of redecorating my house into Shabby Chic; occasionally my love of pastel colours is put on hold and I even break out into brights. If "variety is the spice of life", then I think I like it spicy!

The new free Block of the Month quilt for 2013 is progressing well and the quilt top is almost complete. Keep an eye out for it in January.  Meanwhile, the 2012 free pattern will be available until 31st December, so make sure you download it while you can!

I do hope you have a wonderful, safe and happy Christmas.


Week 7 - free pattern

It's the last week of the Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving.  I hope you have enjoyed the free patterns I have given each week. I've had a lot of fun sharing them with you. For our final gift project I have a Christmas envelope and as a bonus, there's a gift tag pattern as well.

It's gift-wrapping with a difference - the wrapping is part of the gift!  Pop in some money or an "I love you" note, or even a fat quarter! Then of course the envelope can be re-used after Christmas.  It would be quite a useful pouch for threads, make-up etc.

 The gift tag can be attached over the button on the back of the envelope or you could attach it to a completely different present.

I hope you enjoy making these - you have just 8 days to make them before the big day!!!  The pattern can be downloaded from my website.

While you're visiting my website, this is a reminder that all ten of the free 2012 Block of the Month "Thoughts in Thread" patterns are still available until 31st December, so download them while you can!

I am more than half way finished the new free Block of the Month quilt for 2013. I am rather liking the way it is coming together! I am putting my skates on to try to complete it for release to you in January!

You might remember seeing this pattern earlier in the year when I conducted an on-line workshop.  Lilac Love Needle case, pincushion and scissor-keep have now been published in the beautiful Australian Country Craft magazine, Vol 23 No 10.

Felt, fabric and embroidery - one of my favourite combinations:

Last week I went on an internet search for a little box that would be suitable for holding a felt Christmas ornament and some chocolates.  I was delighted to find this free downloadable pattern at Paper Glitter:

The box has a cute little Gingerbread House on the other side.  It was the perfect size and shape for what I wanted. It is so lovely when people freely share their creativity!

We had some lovely catch-ups and break-ups last week and now I'm nearly ready for Christmas. We went to our local community Carol singing evening last night, presents are bought, Christmas pudding is done, Turkey is in the freezer; now there's just the Christmas Cake to make and the presents to wrap.  Not many sleeps now!


Week 6 - Free Pattern

It's the second last week of the Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving. This week I have three very versatile little stitcheries for you. You can make them into a Trio of Trivets as I have, join them together with a button and make them into a swag, or simply use the stitcheries wherever you like!

The free pattern will be available on my website  for one week. I hope you enjoy using these designs.

Six or seven months ago, I must have done a lot of sewing!  There are quite a few of my patterns being published in magazines at the moment!

Here is Les Macarons in the latest edition of Patchwork & Stitching:

and it's always exciting to be on the cover:

Now I have a confession to make - I don't really know what all the fuss is about when it comes to Macarons!  There are many other sweet delicacies that I would rather have placed before me!  But what I DO love is the colour!  They look so amazing!  Here are the colours I chose when I "baked up my storm":

In contrast to my hive of activity six or seven months ago, I don't seem to have accomplished very much stitching lately!  The round of Christmas catch-ups, break-ups, clean-ups and shopping always engulf the last two months of my year - it's a fun way to have life engulfed!  

Not so fun this week was having a problem with my colour printer.  I wasted a whole day trying to get it to work, then another day scouring the internet for a new one, trying to do the impossible - compare apples with apples! I finally worked out which printer to buy, based on its purchase cost and ongoing ink costs, and the best place to purchase it ... only to find when I went to the store yesterday, that they had sold out!!!!!  I was determined to come home with a new printer, so went to another store for a different model, only to find they also had sold out!  The story has a happy ending, however, as the store was giving big discounts yesterday, and I was able to purchase a better model for just $6 more than I originally was going to pay!

I have managed to stitch a few little Christmas ornaments in front of the TV at night:

Felt is such a versatile fabric:

We have more break-ups and catch-ups this week.  It's getting to look a lot like Christmas!


Fabulous free Christmas Craft

Part of the joy of being a crafter is having children and grandchildren who also love being creative.  Our very talented daughter, Janelle, has just designed this fabulous Advent calendar for children to make.

The pattern is available for FREE over here at Imagine, Make, Believe.

Janelle is in the process of setting up an inexpensive, digital, downloadable magazine for children 5-11 years old.  It's going to be full of fabulous ideas - craft, sewing, recipes, games, drama, stories, puzzles, party ideas ... but more about that another day.

Part of Janelle's philosophy is to use materials that are easily obtainable, cheap or free, and often what can be found in the house. I'm sure your children, grandchildren, friend's children will just love making this and it's not going to cost a fortune!

Who'd have thought that egg cartons and bottle lids could look so good and be so much fun?


Week 5 - Free Pattern

It's Week 5 in our Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving!  This week I have a very practical project for you - a set of Vegetable Bags.  We all know that we should keep vegetables such as potatoes out of the light, so these hessian bags are just perfect for storing your veges. Added to that is the fact that they have been 'prettied' up with a fun bit of applique!

Simply Fresh Vege Bags

I hope you like them and find them a quick, easy and inexpensive gift idea.  You can download the free pattern from my website.  It will be available for one week until the next free pattern is uploaded.

This week I've been making some felt Christmas ornaments, some of which will be given away as little gifts. They have been in the form of such things as doves, Christmas trees, stars and bells, with a little bit of stitching and a few beads and embellishments.  I've also been doing some more stitching on the 2013 free Block of the Month pattern which I have planned for you. It's coming together quite sweetly.

This weekend we've had two of our young grandsons staying with us and they were keen to put up our Christmas tree and decorate it, so it's all organised a couple of weeks earlier than I would have got around to it!  Yesterday we spent a lot of time at the beach but today we had a "Crafternoon" and had lots of fun recycling Christmas Cards. They created tiny little boxes which could hold a chocolate or couple of lollies:

Some round baubles:

There were also lots of different 3D baubles made.  Once the older grandson understood the concept behind making these, he came up with the idea of making one in the form of a Christmas tree.  It turned out really well and looked quite brilliant.  (No photo, so I will have to make one myself to show you!)

 The younger grandson really enjoyed making these strippy balls:

Before we went to the beach yesterday, we had a go at making some 'Crystal' ornaments. I'd never tried them before and it was a game of patience waiting for the experiment to happen overnight!  But happen it did.  This little pipecleaner heart this morning was encrusted with sparkly crystals:

The star was shining:

and the sweet little bell was ready to ring out the good news:

There are many sites where you can learn how to do these - just Google "borax crystal ornaments".

I was going to show you a couple more of my designs that have been published in the last month but there's enough photos already on this post - and truth is I haven't got round to photographing the projects!

Have a great week,

Week 4 - Free Pattern

We're over half way now in our Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving!

This week I have some Christmas ornaments to share with you. I designed them to be hung over door knobs, because that's a place that I don't very often see decorated for Christmas!

Of course, you can hang them wherever suits your fancy! You could reduce the pattern a little if you are making them to hang on a smaller Christmas tree.  As usual, go to my website to download the file.

I have to admit this is about the closest I have come to thinking about Christmas this year.  Wow, just four weeks today - I had better get my skates on! At least some of the decorations are sorted and I did buy Suet to make our traditional Christmas pudding.  It's made from a recipe which has been handed down through quite a few generations in our family.

I wasn't in the right queue when the cooking gifts were handed out ... but I CAN make a fabulous Christmas pudding! I don't really enjoy baking and I'm not good at it, though my family very kindly tell me there's nothing wrong with my cooking! So my design in the latest issue of Australian Homespun Magazine (Vol 13/11) is more wishful thinking than reality!

"Baking Day"

There's lots of applique:

Plenty of embellishments:

Don't you love my little spoon?:

Lot of little stitchery bits:

I think this apple pie is my favourite block:

 Sorry about all the photos - I couldn't get the collage-maker to work properly to group them together! Homespun Magazine is now published in a digital version too if you live overseas and want to purchase it.

 The designing pencil has been out a lot this week and a couple of new projects are forming on paper. I did lots of browsing on the internet too.  Two of my favourite fabric suppliers e-mailed me to let me know they were offering big discounts this week.  How could I refuse their offer?  I'm now eagerly waiting for two lovely squishy parcels!

I've also been making a few other bits and pieces. If you're on Facebook, you might like my page http://www.facebook.com/ValLairdDesigns.  I often put things on there that don't appear on my blog.

Keep an eye out for next week's free pattern - it will be something very practical for you to make for yourself or as a gift.

Happy stitching!

Week 3 - Free Pattern

It's already Week 3 of our Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving!  

That means Christmas is sneaking up on us FAST!  This week I have a very practical and pretty gift that you could make.  It's the Ruby Red Keycase. It's designed so that your keys actually fit inside the heart and protect your pocket from wear and tear.  Of course, with a lovely keycase like this attached, you shouldn't have trouble finding your keys again!

I have actually used silk for the embroidered area, but of course you can use whatever fabric you like - maybe you have a little scrap of off-white tone-on-tone cotton fabric which would be ideal.  There are a few techniques that you might like to try in this pattern. I have used the super-easy method of needleturning the embroidered heart. I love the look of needleturn applique but I was never happy with the results when I tried the conventional methods. And then I found the cheat's method! Happy!

You'll also find instructions for making a twisted cord in case you've forgotten how!  I hope you enjoy this free pattern which will be available for just one week, when it will be replaced with Pattern 4.  You can download the pattern from my website.

Because I travelled by public transport to the recent Creative Craft Retreat, I travelled 'light' so didn't take my camera.  Tonya of Crafty Mummy very kindly shared the following photos with me. Check out her blog - she has lots of wonderful things to show you. Here is a photo of some of the items I had on sale at the stall.  Space was limited so it was difficult to display everything, but you can get an idea of the bits and pieces I put together.

Thankfully there wasn't much left to put back in crates after the weekend!

Another 'Craft Retreater', Carol, very kindly brought her crochet hexagon rug to show me.  Carol was in my Crochet class last year.  It was so lovely to know that she had continued with her skills and had done so much on this gorgeous rug. Carol's 'friend', Justin Beaver, also came to Craft Retreat.  Check out his blog!

We had a lovely time catching up with four of our grandchildren last week and attending their School Awards Night.  All four received awards, with some multiples also - seven awards in all!  Very proud grandparents we are!

I don't seem to have had many hours at home lately but I managed to do some work on my apron yesterday and hope to finish it this week. I was also able to put the finishing touches to a wall-hanging which will be going off to a magazine as soon as I get it all together.

I'll leave you with a photo of what we discovered on one of our morning walks last week.  A Tawny Frogmouth nested in the area last year in November and we have been keeping an eye out for a nest again this year.  We finally found Dad looking after his two babies:

Gorgeous, eh?

Have a great week.

Week Two - Free Pattern

It's Week Two of our Seven Weeks of Christmas Giving and I have not one but FOUR patterns for you today. It's a set of four different drink bottle carriers:

These carriers are a great way to carry a 600 ml water bottle hands-free!

There's a stylish one for the ladies:

The one for the boys has a train on it:

The girls will love to have one with butterflies:

and there's even one for Dad with fish on it:

 If you like to carry a larger water bottle, then you can easily enlarge the pattern to suit.

You can download the pattern from my website.  The file will be available for just one week then will be removed and replaced with another free pattern.

We spent a lovely day yesterday with some friends from interstate.  Ann is a very keen birdwatcher so we took her to some of our favourite local spots and in spite of grey drizzly weather, we still saw more than 50 species.  We live in an amazing area and love to share it with our friends. I had made up a presentation of photos of many of our local birds, so we enjoyed watching that on our large TV after we'd finished walking around the bush.

Our resident Buff-banded Rail appeared on cue.

Earlier in the week, a lovely recently bereaved friend invited a small group of us to a morning High Tea to thank us for our help and involvement in the funeral.  It was a delightful time and the food was amazing.  I wished I'd taken my camera!  I reckon everyone ate much more than they normally would because there were two of each beautiful delicacy on tiered plates and each plate was just for two people!  Needless to say, I didn't need any lunch!

I managed to get a little bit of stitching done this week - in between a few nana naps - still catching up after Craft Retreat where a few of us exist on just a couple of hours sleep!  Then I started on a new project!  I like to do my hand stitching in front of the TV at night (I couldn't bear to watch TV at all if I didn't have something to do with my hands!), so I like to have a machining project for the day. I'm making a pretty apron  which is coming together quite sweetly.

Three magazines arrived this week and each one had one of my projects published in it! Today I'd like to show you my Strolling Through the Garden sewing set.

It's the first time I've covered a tape measure so I was quite delighted with how it turned out.

Here's the project on the editorial page:

   and in the magazine:

(Don't you love the little set of drawers in the background?)

We're off up country this week to see four of our grandchildren and attend their school's Award Night.  I wonder if all four will receive an Award????

Look out for another free pattern next week!