Sweet Dreams

I am often found quoting a rather well-known maxim amongst my circle of friends -"There's not much fun in getting old!"  The anticipated days of leisure and sweet dreams of plenty of free time, when you no longer have to go to work every day, sometimes end up spent in doctors' or x-rays or pathology or hospital waiting rooms!

However, one of the greatest joys in growing old is having grandchildren! Hubby and I have been blessed with 15! They are scattered around the world now so we don't see a lot of them but hearing snippets of their life and progress brings us great joy. In recent years, every second Christmas has brought most of our family together for days of sheer delight in just being together.


Last year we were blessed with another joy of old age and that was the birth of our first great grand-daughter. Molly-Faith is such a sweetie and chock full of character. She lives a long way from us now but we are looking forward to spending some time with her and her parents again in September.


Of course, the first thing I did when baby was on the way, was to make her a quilt!


Homespun Magazine liked the quilt so much, that they have published a 'generic' version that I designed with "Sweet Dreams" on it. I have made it in the Quilt-As-You-Go technique, so it is super easy to quilt and put together. Here is Homespun's photo of Sweet Dreams:


The quilt is in the August Issue of Homepun and this fabulous magazine is available worldwide with both print and digital copies. www.homespun.net.au


The blessing of a new baby certainly brings many of those Sweet Dreams into reality!

Happy stitching!
Val

Beauty in the Bush Wall Quilt and Reflections on Retirement

Retirement is an interesting experience in the chain of life. It's something to which people look forward for many years, but when retirement comes, the expectation and the reality are often miles apart.


Much as they love their spouse, having them around 24/7 can suddenly mean a lack of freedom, a sense of living in each other's pockets, a feeling of needing some space. Others I have met have been bored and unfulfilled. One retired friend moved into a new home for no other reason than to give him something to do - he told me he was bored to tears. (I felt like saying, "Haven't you seen all the needs for personnel that the local charities have?"!)


Thankfully, my husband and I have had an utterly fulfilling retirement. Both the homes we have lived in have been large enough to have our "own space". He has spent his days in research and writing, and supervising students as they go through the process of writing their theses... and I have been designing and stitching!


 But while it is important to have our own separate interests, we have discovered it is essential that we have a leisure activity that appeals to both of us.


We love being involved together in our local Church, but that is an essential part of who we are as Christians and not something we do as a hobby. 


We are ever thankful for the friend who introduced us to the delightful hobby of bird-watching and the Bird Club friends who taught us so much. We have learned together how to use binoculars, how to take in all at once, the size, shape, colour, flight pattern, bill length, tail size and call of that aerial creature that flies past our nose. 


Bird-watching is our connecting point - what we do together, what we talk about after our morning walk, what we do when we go on holidays.


Why am I reflecting on retirement? Because the quilt photos interspersed in this post are a result of the joy and fulfilment we have had in retirement in walking thousands of steps through the Australian bush, binoculars and camera in hand, with the eager anticipation of spotting another beautiful bird.


"Beauty in the Bush" quilt celebrates some of the wonderful treasures of the Australian bush where beautiful wildflowers and colourful birds abound.


I have used appliqué (lots of it!), embroidery stitches and pencils to display some of the beauty and intricacy of these treasures. 


"Beauty in the Bush" measures 105.5cm (41½in) square and the pattern is now available in my Craftsy Store here. The pattern includes more than 60 pages of very detailed instructions and photos. It's not a quilt to rush - it's a work on which to enjoy the journey, to savor every moment and to revel in the intricate beauty of our world.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Val

The Tea Party Wall Quilt

I am excited to show you The Tea Party quilt. Are you like me and find that your 'favourite' quilt is the one you have just finished?


 Well, The Tea Party is definitely my favourite at the moment!


If you haven't guessed, this quilt features the wonderful Tilda Sunkiss range of fabric. I haven't used all the fabrics in the range, (the Ginger just didn't fit what I wanted to convey), but I am in love with the gorgeous colours that I chose.

 

Aren't those macarons just delectable! 
(Confession here: I don't actually like eating macarons but I LOVE how they look!)


and I love working the herringbone stitch to make the ruffled feet. 


These flowers are fussy cut from the fabric


There's some more fussy cutting for the jug so that the red motif showed up neatly, and more herringbone stitch for the handle.


Doesn't the quilting change the appearance of the Sawtooth Star block? Charmaine Ludlow is my fabulous quilter and she lives within walking distance!


  
You must have pretty cups and saucers if you are having a Tea Party!

 

and cakes ... 


decorated with flowers and chains of scallops ... 


 displayed on pretty cake stands!


The Tea Party is featured in Down Under Quilts Issue 184 (see it on the top left of the cover?).


The pattern will be spread over three issues of the magazine (which will be six months) as there's a lot of detail in the instructions. It's a great quilt to take your time and savor all the pleasure of putting it together.


Hmm, I'm feeling a bit hungry after drooling over all the delights of this quilt. Better see if there's anything like that in my pantry!

Val

Enjoying playing with Tilda fabrics

A few weeks ago I showed you one of the projects I designed using the lovely Tilda Sunkiss fabric range. You can see it here.


Of course, there were some bits and pieces left over from the fat quarters I had, so they were crying out to be made into something pretty.


 Just being pretty doesn't quite make the cut with me being such a practical person, so they needed to be made into something useful. The blue, green, and teal spoke to me of the sea. This is how they ended up - a Cushion/Pillow which I have called "Cottage by the Sea".


There's a little bit of applique, some highlight stitching, the Peace and Plenty block, finished off with some Prairie Points. I like the pops of bright pink for accent.
The pattern for the cushion can be found in my Craftsy Store here.

I'm still making goods for a Craft Stall later in the year, and started a bit of a production line with some coat hanger frocks.


I used the "Doing Frilly" pattern which has been free on my website for quite a few years. I have updated it and it is now free in my Craftsy Store here.


I am so pleased with how they turned out.

I've been honoured this month to be featured in Australian Homespun magazine.


It's a wonderful magazine which you can receive digitally if you live elsewhere. Details are here.

Another of my Tilda quilts will be published soon - so look out for more quilt delights.

Happy stitching!
Val










The Day of Small Things

I had had my suspicions for a few weeks and sensed that all was not quite the usual. There were promises that didn't eventuate and other things that made me wonder. 


Eventually, it came - the email that I dreaded. The last two Express Publication Craft magazines (Australian Patchwork and Quilting and Handmade) would both be closing down in June 2018.


It's been 13 years since I took my first tentative step into designing original patchwork, quilting, and embroidery projects. I have been blessed to have an outlet for my designs over all those years with more than 200 designs published. Eight Australian magazines regularly published my work ... and they paid me enough to buy more fabric to make more projects!

[Pocket Notebook Trio - pattern available here.]

And now there are just two of those eight left. The six that closed down almost exclusively used Australian designers. Of the two remaining, one seeks designers from all around the world, and the other only publishes six times a year. 


In other words, my outlet has shrunk to almost zero.  There is one other magazine which also has limited space for an Australian designer and also only publishes six times a year, which I will try at some stage, but you get the picture - an era has ended! 


So where am I at? I can't stop creating!!! I can, however, stop buying! I reckon I have enough fabric to last me for quite a few years! So number one decision has been to now buy nothing but basics - things like threads, batting and freezer paper.

[Cherished Letters Coin Purse - pattern available here.]

Number two decision is that I will continue to design and write up patterns and offer them for sale in my Craftsy Store. Every little bit helps and the small income I receive from pattern sales helps augment our not very large Age Pension.


Number three decision is that, for a while, it will be the Day of Small Things, rather than large quilts. I have been asked to share a table at a Boutique Craft market at the end of the year, so with that in mind I have been making items that might sell there.


The first five photos above are of pocket notebook covers which I think are cute and they are quick to make and very practical. A few pot stands have been added  and I plan to make more coin purses. 


I'll show you another time some of the other things that have come off the sewing machine.

[Hot Pad Trio pattern now available here.]

So life will be different. I am hopeful, of course, that some other door might open. Meanwhile, with four or five projects a week going into the "End of Year" box, I should always have a 'last minute gift' available ... and it could mean the family might be inundated with 'hand-mades' for Christmas!

Val

The Clean-Out that didn't happen ... equals lots of bargains!

I made the Midnight in the Garden quilt some time ago and decided it was time to put the pattern in my Craftsy Store. The beautiful Dresden Plate blocks in this quilt have a flower-like beauty, enhanced by the black background.


This quilt is made using the Quilt-As-You-Go method which I find so easy to construct.


Midnight in the Garden is not a large quilt - just 123cm (48½in) square. In fact, I use it as a tablecloth. I love the solid feel of a quilt with batting on the table. It always sits perfectly in place, rather than having a flimsy tablecloth doing all the wrong things, especially in a breeze.

The pattern for Midnight in the Garden can be purchased here.

Now, whatever does that have to do with my blog title?
Well, when I went to my Craftsy Store, I had the thought that there are patterns that have been there for quite a while and it is probably time to take them down and have a big clean-out.


HOWEVER .....


when I started deciding what to remove, I fell in love all over again with the designs.


I realised that just because something was designed a couple of years ago doesn't mean its life is finished. 


What I decided to do instead of a clean-out was to reduce the price of many of my designs.


I have reduced some patterns by 50% and many by 25%. There are now lots of patterns for just US$5.00


So now is the time to grab a bargain!



In some ways, I guess I had a clean-out before I put designs in my store. I counted up 30 or 40 projects that I have had published but they didn't make the cut when it came to filling my store with designs of which I am proud. So my 200 plus projects remain there and I hope you enjoy browsing and maybe finding a bargain!

Happy stitching!
Val