Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Threadbare HQ

Are you ready for a look at my new sewing space? I'm super excited to take you on a little tour of Threadbare HQ :)
Quick recap in case you missed it- my studio of ten years was in a large room at the back of the garage. It was great but it was also isolating and made me feel detached from the comings and goings of our family life. After our daughter moved to her new home and we had a huge household reshuffle, I moved to a smaller room inside our home :)
I've taken heaps of pictures because I had so much I wanted to show you, so lets go:
Welcome to Threadbare HQ :) This room is at the front of the house and its bright and sunny and overlooks our front garden. It's also right across the hall from the kitchen (my second favorite room) which means I can cook and sew at the same time, and there's no running back and forth from the garage (plus the toilet is closer ladies, I'm sure you understand lol) The only downside is that I feel obligated to keep it clean because you walk past the room when you enter the house, but that also has its perks doesn't it? :)
On the right hand side is the wardrobe which houses all my fabrics, craft supplies, bolts, wadding etc. and right in front of you is my cutting table:
Hubby made me this table years ago. He put a pine top on the bottom half of an old wardrobe that was left in the garage when we brought the house. Its probably a little higher than most people like, but its perfect for me and I'm not hunched over while I'm cutting (less back and shoulder discomfort). The original drawers are still intact behind the curtains, and I've filled them with fabric, photo props, pellon, cushion inserts, stationery etc.
I like to surround myself with things that make me smile, so I hung a few of my minis on the wall space and decorated the top with some of my favorite things. Everything has a place and its all easy to grab so it works well. I'm in a bit of a succulent phase at the moment and I picked that one up over the weekend, mainly because of the mason jar but also because it was so darn cute :)
I do love this hutch ♥. Its perfect for storing all the little things us crafters accumulate and its great for displaying the trinkets I've collected over the years :) I spend a lot of time at the cutting table so it needed to look pretty but it also had to be functional as well and I think that it's both.
I wont show you inside the wardrobes because they still need painting (which will probably never happen) but I wanted to share how I organised all of my craft supplies. I had bits and pieces everywhere, so I brought eight of these storage boxes from the discount store and they have those handy divider inserts to keep everything organised. They saved so much space and its easier to find things because I can see whats inside each box.  Christmas wrapping was a breeze as I had one filled with stickers, labels, curling ribbon and bows and everything was in one place and quick to grab :)
OK so if we turn back around and face the door, you see my bookshelves:
I love these shelves ♥ To everyone else it might look like a jumbled collection of stuff, but to me there's a lifetime of memories up there. From my grandma's sewing baskets to the stuffed leopard Maddi brought me on a school trip to Queensland, from the statue that sat on my grandfather's piano (out of picture) to the last gift my mother in law gave me; each piece has its own story. I also have a my quilting books up there and some magazines that feature my projects, and of course my treasured button collection.
Also, I couldn't resist adding the twinkly lights; I'm a sucker for things like that :)
Underneath the shelves is my ironing station. I brought a small ironing board to fit this space and its great for pressing blocks and mini projects. My big ironing board lives in the laundry and I just get that out when I need it. Its hard to make an ironing station look pretty, but its practical and it works. This space also houses all my Threadbare paperwork, my diary, journals and notebooks and of course the television for background noise (now playing- I'm re-watching Sex and The City episodes for the millionth time, as I sew.....I love those girls)
So that just leaves my sewing area and you finally get to meet Beau ♥:
This is were all the action happens :) And how handsome is Beau? We are still getting properly acquainted but a firm friendship has been established over the last few days. I brought him home on Friday and I've had time to set everything up, learn the functions I require and make a little project.
I promised to tell you the reasons I purchased this machine and why Beau and I are such a good fit. It has ALL the bells and whistles and I could rave on and on about them, but honestly it all came down to buying a machine that allows me to make a quilt from start to finish.
The biggest selling point for me was how easy it was to free motion quilt and the Brother VQ3000 does it perfectly. The large work space is perfect for taking some of the weight of my bigger quilts, which means moving a quilt will be more fluid and less arduous on my shoulders and that deep throat guys......just perfect for quilting.
As far as sewing, trust me when I say, this machine stitches beautifully! I made the little nine patch sample yesterday and from start to finish everything sewed and quilted so easily and effortlessly. I used the walking foot for the quilting- no clunking or noise as it glided over the quilt, it was bliss :)
I'm no expert on machines but I do know what I need a machine to do for me. I talked at length with the salespeople and listened to their feedback about other machines (these people are the people who liaison between the customer and machine service centres so they know their stuff). I had a list of things I wanted to try at the demo and I'd downloaded the PDF machine manual so I had lots of questions to ask about unfamiliar functions.
Beau ticked all of the right boxes and I'm looking forward to a long relationship, creating together :)
Thanks for coming along on my little tour. I love Threadbare HQ and I'm looking forward to making lots of fun projects in here for years to come. I'm sure it will change over time but at the moment it functions perfectly and it allows me to be part of the family action as well. Oh and one HUGE and important plus I forgot to mention earlier.......this room is also closer to the coffee machine and the biscuit barrel :). Its the little things that count, right? :)
Happy sewing :)

Friday, January 12, 2018

{Tutorial} Say It With Fabric- Adding Lettering to Quilts

I'm feeling right at home now in my new sewing room but I'm still decorating it with bits and pieces that reflect me. My family refers to the room as Threadbare HQ so I decided to make myself a mini quilt using my business logo as the inspiration:
Tada! Now this was a fun little quilt to make and very close to my heart ♥. I had purchased some MDF letters to paint and spell CREATE but I'm so glad I decided to go with this mini instead.
As it was quick and easy to make, I thought I'd share a basic tutorial of my process so you can make something similar for yourself, maybe your own blog or business name. Its also a great way to add some lettering to your quilts, giving them that personal touch.
The first step is prepping the applique on your computer. Open a new file in a publishing program such as Word or Publishing. Set the page orientation to landscape and then chose WordArt. I have a tonne of fonts on file because I'm kinda addicted to them and they are great for adding unique text to photos or patterns. Most fonts are free for personal use but adhere to licence agreements if like me, you are using them for business. I decided to go with the same fonts as my logo:
For Threadbare I used Palatino Linotype (free download HERE) and I set the letter size to 300. Once your type in your letters, you can edit them to remove the default fill and shading and also change the thickness of the outline if you like. You can also flip their orientation so they are reversed and ready to trace for applique. Alternatively, I just flipped the printed pages and traced the letters onto vliesofix using my light box.
Creations is the Simply Glamorous font (free download HERE) and I sized this one at 250 to match how it appears on my logo. Its fun to mix different fonts and sizes, so play around until to you find what is visually appealing to you. The butterfly was mine and I sized it to suit but you can also find lots of free graphics to add to projects by doing a quick Google search.
Once my pieces were cut out, positioned and then fused to my background fabric (11 1/2" x 24 1/2"), it was time to applique. Due to the size/thickness of the fonts I chose two different methods to secure them. I machine appliqued the Threadbare using a blanket stitch (I have a quick tutorial HERE) but you could also stitch them by hand if you like.
I used raw edge applique for the Creations and it was actually the first time I had tried this method. It probably wasn't smart to learn on something with so many curves but it really is super simple and it worked perfectly. You can find a great tutorial HERE to help you.
I quilted my mini with some simple cross hatching. From the centre, I marked one line in each direction with a hera marker and then attached my seam guide to quilt the rest at 1" intervals. There was a lot of stopping, starting and thread burying because I didn't want to quilt over the lettering, but it was so worth all the effort and I love how soft and elegant it makes the quilt look.
I added the butterfly antennae with my machine after it was quilted and how cute are those securing stitches? They finish them off realistically with little club tips :)
I'm so happy with my new mini quilt and its hanging proudly on my wall. I'll show you some pictures of it in position next week when I give you a little tour of Threadbare HQ :)
Just before I go, I did buy a new machine and for those who asked (and I'm sorry I haven't replied), I brought a Brother VQ3000. Navigating machines and brands can be very confusing and daunting when you're thinking about buying a new machine. My advice is to listen to your salesperson, be clear with your needs for the machine, narrow it down to a few possibilities and then research, research, research! I'll tell you more about why this machine is perfect for me when I share my sewing room post and you get to see him (yes its a him and his name is Beau) :)
Until then, happy sewing :)

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Raspberry and Almond Frangipane Tart

After a hot summer's day, a light, not too sweet dessert is the perfect way to finish off the family dinner. Today I'm sharing my Raspberry and Almond Frangipane Tart recipe and I've included some tips for making the perfect pastry case, every time. Plus there's a few options for adapting this recipe when your time poor or not motivated to fiddle around in the kitchen making your own pastry :)
Frangipane is a filling made from or flavoured with almonds. Add some delicious sweet shortcrust pastry, a sprinkling of bitter fruit and you have a beautiful light dessert that the whole family will love.
Raspberries are summers bounty and they work so well with the velvety frangipane filling and that soft, buttery pastry. I also make this dessert in the winter with blueberries and honey and its soul warming and delicious :)
Fresh raspberries are in abundance at the moment but I always use frozen ones for this recipe. Its just a personal preference I suppose but they hold their shape better and they are easier to position in the filling prior to cooking. I add a light scattering to the tart and then serve a few fresh ones on the side with some whipped cream and a generous sprinkling of icing sugar :)
I avoided making my own pastry for years but once I started I never looked back. Its not as hard as you think and the results are well worth the extra effort. Here's a few of my tips to achieve the perfect pastry every time:

  • Clean- your utensils, work surfaces etc. must be spotlessly clean. I use a food processor because its quick and it avoids over handling the pastry.
  • Cold- your butter must be cold, your hands must be cold and your work surface must be cold. I'm fortunate enough to have granite bench tops but investing in a marble chopping board is a great alternative for rolling pastry.
  • Less is more- work quickly, don't over work your pastry and only use a light dusting of flour when rolling. Roll pastry between sheets of baking paper and before rolling, shape your pastry the way you want it rolled- for a round tin, shape your pastry into a ball, for a rectangular tin, shape your pastry into a rectangle etc. and then roll to spread it to the desired size.
  • Rest- once your pastry is made, wrap it in cling wrap and rest it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Quickly roll the pastry and pop it into your tin, cover it loosely with cling wrap and rest again in the fridge for 30 minutes to prevent shrinkage. I usually leave my pastry "proud" and trim it level with the tin, just before blind baking (I'm not sure you're meant to do this but it works for me).
  • Heat- always preheat your oven before blind baking and to avoid a soggy bottom, place a cookie sheet in the oven while its heating and place your tart tin directly on top to bake.

If you don't have the time to make your own pastry, you can purchase one of the lovely packaged sweet shortcrust pastries that are available in the fridge section of the supermarket, and then all you need to do is roll and blind bake it before adding the filling. To make it even easier, you can also purchase ready made pastry cases in bakery departments and then all you need to make is the frangipane filling.
Almonds are definitely the hero of this dessert and you know how much I love my almonds ♥. The filling is made with almond meal and a dash of almond extract and then the tart is finished with a light sprinkling of slivered almonds prior to cooking. It's heaven on a plate and I have been known to get lost in the whole experience of savoring every spoonful :)
If you would like to give my Raspberry and Almond Frangipane Tart a try, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the photo below and save to your computer for later:
I hope you enjoy this light, summery dessert. It's elegant and delicious but be warned, one piece is simply not enough :)
Happy baking :)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Trust The Magic of New Beginnings ♥

I hope you have had a fantastic Christmas and New Years! We had a wonderful time celebrating with family and friends and now we're enjoying the slow, gentle rhythm of the summer holidays :)
A fresh new year offers many possibilities and while I'm not a resolution maker, I have filled my journals with new ideas and projects to bring to the blog during the year.
One of the things I want to share more of, is the daily "behind the scenes" happenings in my sewing room and kitchen. I get so caught up in the finished product that I forget to share the steps that got me there. I know this interests a lot of you, so its something I will be more aware of as I work.
My monthly mini quilts will resume at the end of this month and the first one is going to be scrappy, fun and paper pieced and I have a little sneaky peek:
Initially, sewing in my new room felt a little odd and I couldn't seem to find anything even though I was the one who set the room up. I'm now starting to feel more at home and enjoying sewing in my new space. I'm planning on giving you a tour of my new room but I'm waiting for one super exciting new addition........I'm off to buy a new sewing machine next week YAY!
My Pfaff has been my workhorse for the last ten years and she rarely skips a beat but it really is time for her to retire. Before Christmas I was at the sewing shop buying a new chair and whilst I was there I fell in love with a machine. I've read every review and article I can find in relation to it, I've downloaded its PDF manual and researched its features and on paper, its the perfect machine for me. I'm looking forward to a demo and a bit of a play with it next week when the shop re-opens, to see if we are a good fit :)
I hope the first few days of 2018 have been kind to you and your creative juices have been flowing :). I'm ready for a big year and I hope you enjoy all of the projects I've got planned to share.
Happy New Year :)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas

"If I could wish a wish for you, it would be for peace and happiness
not only now, but for the whole year through!"
- Catherine Pulsifer, My Christmas Wish To You.

From my family to yours, may your Christmas sparkle with lots of love, laughter, joy and happiness. Stay safe over the holidays and enjoy making precious new memories with your families.
Merry Christmas. ♥♥♥

Thursday, December 21, 2017

{Recipe} Peppermint Brownie Bites

How are you going with your Christmas prep? As of yesterday I'm all ready to go and we are so looking forward to it. An update on the house reno's/change arounds etc.- DONE! Everyone is settled into their new designated space and loving it. My new sewing room is finished with the exception of a few things that are under the tree, and today is the first day in weeks I'm not in my daggy, grubby paint clothes :) It's been an exhausting month and we have worked day and night to finish everything before Christmas, so now we can just sit back and enjoy the festive season!
I have a yummy recipe for you today and I think we can all agree that everything is perfect in miniature. I made a batch of these for Cohen's class Christmas party and they were such a hit that I thought I would share them with you. Here's my Peppermint Brownie Bites:
I'm the only family member who's not a huge peppermint fan but I do love these brownie bites. There's just enough peppermint flavour in the buttercream to appeal to my taste buds and teamed with those delicious, gooey brownies its a perfect match.
They not only taste delicious but they look so pretty and they are a simple and yummy way to enjoy a traditional Christmas flavour.
Cooked in those cute little cupcake liners the recipe yields about 24 Brownie Bites, so they are great for family gatherings or for those times when you need to send a share plate to work or school.
You could get all creative and sprinkle them with crushed candy canes or peppermints but I like them just like this and I think they have the right amount of flavour. Plus I was seriously tired when I made this batch and that was as creative as I was going to get :)
My Brownie recipe is quite basic but you could add some chocolate chips or walnuts to make them special. Simple recipes are often the best because you can play around with them and make them your own, adding all the extra touches that you enjoy.
Keep this recipe in your files and flavour your buttercream to suit different occasions. They are also yummy with orange buttercream and they are divine with a raspberry buttercream as well which is perfect for Valentine's day :)
I prefer my Brownies fudgy so I cook these for around 12-14 minutes but everyone's oven is different so keep a close eye on them while they are cooking. You don't want to overcook them and you want those centres still slightly gooey and delicious. Give them a little longer if you prefer a more cake textured brownie.
If you would like to give my Peppermint Brownie Bites a try, you can download the recipe HERE or right click on the image below and save to your computer for later:
I hope you enjoy my Peppermint Brownie Bites. A plateful of these will look lovely on your Christmas table, satisfying both chocolate and peppermint lovers alike. Give them a try and let me know what you think :)
I'm looking forward to actually sewing later today but I don't want to mess up my new room, its all so clean and tidy :) I might just sit in it.....and admire it for just a little bit longer :)
Happy baking :)

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

{Tutorial} Fabric Star Hangers

I'm still busy rearranging the house after Madeline's move, and unfortunately my sewing time is limited at the moment. Setting up my new sewing space has been fun but its far from finished :( Its feeling a lot more organised than my studio was, even though this space is smaller. I wonder how long it will stay all neat and tidy :) 
I have a quick and easy tutorial for you today. I like to place a small gift in the Christmas Cards I give to friends and neighbours and for the last two years I've made the Matchbox Needle Keeps. In an effort to be more creative this year, I made a batch of these Fabric Star Hangers and decided to write up a simple tutorial, so you can make some too:
These hangers were so much fun to make and they look so pretty in different fabric combinations. Because these are so quick and easy, you will have a batch prepared for friends and family in no time and they are the perfect way to share something handmade at Christmas.
All you need to do is grab a few supplies and your ready to create. So here's what you'll need:
  • pentagon template (click HERE to download)
  • scrap cardboard and double sided tape
  • assorted 6" fabric squares (2 fabric squares for each star)
  • packet of pearl beads or glass seed beads
  • ribbon or lace to make hangers
  • neutral thread for piecing
  • matching thread for securing points and adding beads
  • general sewing supplies
And here we go:

Step One: Print your pentagon template and cut around the solid line. Glue the template to a piece of scrap cardboard (or template plastic) to stabalise the template, and then trim away the excess cardboard. Place a couple of pieces of double sided tape on the back of the template which will stick to your fabric to prevent it slipping or moving while you are cutting.
Step Two: Position your template on your chosen fabric and cut around all sides. Cut two pentagons for each star hanger.
Step Three: With right sides together, sew around each of the five sides of the pentagon, 1/4" from the raw edge and leaving a 1 1/2" opening on one side for turning. 
Step Four: For a nice crisp point, clip each of the corners as close to the sewn line as possible.Turn your pentagon to the right side, through the opening and push out each corner. 
Step Five: Fold in the seam allowance of the opening and press the pentagon well. Sew a scant 1/8" around the sides of the pentagon, which will secure the opening.
Step Six: You need to find the centre point of each side. Fold each side, point to point and finger press to find the centre. Mark each centre point with a pin.
Step Seven: Fold each point in about 1", towards the centre and secure with a pin, removing the centre pins as you go. You may need to adjust the folds as you work your way around the pentagon, to obtain the star shaped centre.
Step Eight: Thread a needle with matching thread and stating at one outer point, sew a couple of stitches to secure the point and then add a pearl bead. Work around the star as shown in the photo. To hide your thread, insert your needle under one fold and travel your thread between the two layers of the fold, exiting at the first outer point. Secure, add a pearl and travel your thread down to the first inner point between the folds, as shown. Continue in this manner until all points are secured. 
Step Nine: Add a hanger of your choice. Cut a piece of ribbon or lace to 6", fold in half and secure to the back of your Star with a couple of stitches. Your could also use twine, raffia or a gold hook or ring.
And that's it! A cute and quick project that spreads a little Christmas cheer to its lucky recipient.
I hope you enjoy making your own Fabric Star Hangers. Make sure you keep a couple for yourself though, to add to your own Christmas tree. Handmade ornaments are treasures and our tree is full of them; each with their own little story. I wouldn't have it any other way ♥
Happy sewing :)
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