Friday, October 30, 2015

Free November Calendar

October sure flew by fast. We've been blessed with some lovely weather and we have spent as much time as we can outdoors, enjoying the sights and sounds of Spring. It's that time of year when I take a few portable projects outside to work on, as we soak up that lovely Vitamin D and enjoy some valuable family time :) It's also time for your free November Calendar:
This months featured design is my adorable Stitched With Love, bag and pincushion set:
This is a gorgeous little set and I use mine all the time. Its perfect for storing my smaller projects, so they are ready to take outside or in the car or when I'm visiting friends and family and I need a project on hand. I love the stitcheries on this set and I'm sure you will as well.
From today until the end of November, PDF files of my Stitched With Love pattern, will be available at the discounted price of $5.95, in my shop HERE.
To download your free November Calendar, just visit HERE.
I hope November is another wonderful month for you and your family and that you too, are able to relax in the sunshine with loved ones, working on that special project :)

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Thursday Tip # 15

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
You can spend a lot more time being creative in your sewing space, if your projects and fabrics are well organised and stored for easy access. I refrain from buying large quantities of fabric, instead buying only what I need, when I need it. I try really hard to achieve the most of every fabric and I love that sense of satisfaction you get, from using a piece to the very end, scraps and all :)
I also limit the number of projects or UFO's I have lying around as its so easy to let this get out of control; I stick to this project limit, most of the time :)
I have a system that works well for me, so here are a few of my tips to store your fabrics and projects:
  • I have six plastic containers (with lids) allocated for long term projects and two smaller containers allocated to small, quick projects. That's my limit; if there isn't an empty container, I can't start anything new until one of the projects is finished :)
  • I label each container with the project name and they contain the fabrics, pattern sheets, notes, embroidery threads etc. that I'm using for that project. I can quickly and easily, grab one and work and then it all packs away again, just as easily. It also stops me from using fabrics ear marked for that particular project, in other things, as its not in my stash.
  • When I cut the pieces for each project, I store them in clear zip lock bags, the ones with the labeling strip, and I write the size and the letter each piece corresponds with on the pattern and these are all stored in the container until I'm ready to sew.
  • Once the project is complete, the container gets cleared out and sorted. Large pieces of fabric are pressed and stored in my fabric cupboard and scraps go into my scrap bags.
  • In my fabric cupboard I have a basket for each of the basic colours, and these hold my larger pieces of fabric. When I'm looking for a particular colour, its just a matter of grabbing the basket and sorting through until I find the perfect one. 
  • I also store my fabric bolts and backing fabrics on the bottom shelf of my cupboard, away from direct sunlight and dust.
  • I have two large zippered scrap bags and these are definitely my nemesis. I always grab these bags first when I'm looking for fabric and I manage to use up heaps, only to fill them back up again just as quickly :) Although its a constant cycle, its amazing what treasures you find in the scrap bags; fabrics long forgotten and just the right size/colour for the job! 
  • With small precuts, such as Jelly Rolls, I open them and I store them in something pretty, like the little garbage tin in the photo. This keeps the whole fabric collection together and after I've used as much as I can, the leftovers are moved to one of the scrap bags to use for applique, small blocks or future scrap quilts and the tin is empty and ready for a new precut.
  • Sometimes I have a few complete Jelly Roll strips left over, usually the plain or my least favorite ones, so I keep these in a separate storage box, as they are perfect for binding small projects. 
  • I also have a pretty basket on my cutting table and this is for my white homespun scraps. I buy white homespun by the bolt and cut manageable lengths and every scrap goes in this basket. I sift through it often, looking for a piece to cut, until the pieces are no longer viable and then they are discarded.
  • I also have a plastic bag, hooked to my cutting table, to collect all of those unusable fabric scraps. When the bag is full, I donate these to my kids former primary school, and the children use them in art and gift making etc.
So that's my system for storing fabrics and projects. Everyone has their own way but this is what works for me and keeps me organised. It also allows me to achieve the most from the fabrics I buy, making way for new fabrics with new projects in mind :)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 52

This weeks stunning block is Contrary Wife. My research on the history of this block, led to me to the life of Frances Anne (Fanny) Kemble (1809-1893), who was deemed to be a "contrary wife". Fanny was a British actress who retired at the age of 25, to marry the American plantation owner, Pierce Mease Butler. She moved to America and lived on his Georgia plantation from 1838-1839.
The living and working conditions of the plantations slaves, appalled her. She tried to improve conditions and often challenged her husband, regarding the treatment of slave families. Her marriage ended, due to many disagreements and in 1863, during the Civil War she published her anti-slavery Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation 1838-1839 which became her best known work in the United States.
Go Fanny! This block is a pretty representation of those "contrary" woman who stayed true to their own beliefs, during that time.
To download this weeks free block pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Thursday Tip # 14

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Do you keep a journal or a record of the quilts or projects that you make? Everything I do is recorded on my blog, but I like to keep a physical record of my quilts, from the design process to the finished quilt. Journals are lots of fun to work on and they are beneficial for me because I have to take so many notes while I'm designing.
So here are some of my tips for recording the journey of our quilts:

  • I have a few quilt journals, some store brought and handmade journals and some small photo albums or scrap booking albums and I fill these with all my information and photos of the quilts and projects I create.
  • Before I start a new quilt, I cut a rectangle of each fabric I'm using and I sew them to pieces of scrap booking paper. I record the fabric range, designer and any product numbers I might have (this makes it easy if I have to purchase extra fabric to finish a project). Its also a quick glance reference of the fabrics I'm using and how well they work together.
  • If my quilt includes stitchery blocks, I record all the thread colours, sizes etc. in the same manner.
  • Progress photos are a great record of a quilts journey and it also gives a close up of all the blocks included in the quilt. Because our phones and Ipads are always close at hand, its quick and easy to take photos.You can never have too many progress shots, so take heaps.
  • I like to include personal information, such as what inspired the quilt design, who I made it for, how I quilted it, how long it took to complete. I also include any other fun information I feel is relevant, such as where I brought the fabric and how much it cost.
  • Don't forget to include the vital statistics, such as the size of blocks and the finished size of the quilt etc.
  • Give me a box of craft supplies and I go crazy :) I decorate my pages with washi tape, ribbons, scrap booking supplies etc. and I like to draw some of the quilt elements i.e. part of the stitchery or applique or the quilt block design, to use as decoration.
  • Be creative with the photo's you take of the finished quilt. Take a nice, clear full on shot, showing all your lovely work but include some fun ones as well, "In use" photos are the best, so snap your quilt, snuggled around its new owner or draped over your favorite chair or the end of the bed. Don't forget to take some outside shots as well; quilts look lovely in the park or on the beach and it usually strikes up a conversation with onlookers, which is nice :)
  • If you are making the quilt as a gift, consider compiling and giving the recipient a completed journal so they can see their quilts journey and fully appreciate the time and love you have injected into every square inch :)
I imagine, many years from now, future generations will find and read my little quilt journals and they will be treasured. Regardless, I love journaling my quilts in this way and I hope my tips inspire you to keep a history of your projects as well :)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 51

This weeks sweet little block is Chinese Coin. This is quick and easy to sew but its another of those blocks which needs a little tweaking. You will have to trim a little off the final block to achieve an accurate 6 1/2" square, sorry!
The first time I made this block was for my SBS quilt, although the colour placement was a little different, and it quickly became one of my favorites.
Chinese coins are round, just like other coins but they have a square hole in the centre. You can make the centre square white, if you like, but I decided to go with this arrangement and I think it will look lovely in our quilts.
To download this weeks free pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Greg Mystery CAL Part Three

I was super excited when Part Three of the Greg Mystery CAL arrived in my inbox on Monday and I quickly got the hook out. This installment was for a sweet little square called TIM:
Isn't he cute? He's going to play lovely with his other brothers, JOE and TOM. I needed sixteen of these squares and they are quick to crochet (or I'm just getting better). I still need to practice a little more to achieve a seamless join with my rows, but otherwise I'm happy :)
So here's my sixteen squares all ready to "rock and roll". I can start joining some of these into rows now, which is exciting. I think we have one more set of these 5" squares to crochet and then there will be some bigger 15" squares, which will tie it all together. Fun!!
I hope your having a creative weekend :)

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Thursday Tip #13

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
Do you add a quilt label to your finished quilts? I must admit, I'm terrible at labeling my quilts. I scrawl my name and date on the back most of the time, because I'm ready to move on to the next project. It is an important step though and I'm going to be more vigilant about labeling my quilts. One day, decades from now, our quilts will become antiques and a quilt label will reveal so much about the maker and the quilts history.
Here are a few of my tips, for labeling quilts:

  • I talked about design elements a few weeks ago, so use these tips to design your own quilt label, like the one pictured above. This quilt was a tribute to my Pop and I included his name and his birth and memorial dates and a few elements from the quilts stitcheries, to tie it all together. After folding and pressing the edges, I slip stitched it into place, on the back of the quilt. The pattern for this BOM quilt also includes two quilt labels I designed, to give that finishing touch.
  • If you don't have the time to stitch the label design, use permanent markers to draw your label instead, ensuring you check the recommended way to heat set your drawing.
  • Another quick way to label a quilt is to cut a square between 4-8" square (depending on the size of the quilt), press in half, wrong side together, to form a triangle. Before you add your binding, position the triangle in one corner of the quilt back, raw edges together and sew a scant 1/8" along the two raw edges to secure. Add your binding and then use a permanent marker to record your name and date on the label.
  • Embellish your labels with ribbons, lace, ric rac, buttons or applique them with flowers and hearts to give them a unique and pretty finish. Be creative and have fun!
  • If you are adding a hanging sleeve, you could always use this as your quilt label.  This would be perfect for smaller projects, like mini quilts.
  • If you have made a test block for your quilt, use this as your label. You can either piece it as part of the backing of the quilt or slip stitch it on, after quilting.
  • Choose an album block, like yesterdays Chatelaine block, and use this in the same manner as the test block.
  • You can purchase ready made labels at most quilt shops or you can purchase quilt label fabric off the roll and cut them into individual labels.
  • You can also purchase custom made labels to add to all your projects; do a Google search for your best options.
I hope this inspires you to label your quilts. They can be as creative or as simple as you would like. I'm definitely going to invest more time in labeling my quilts, as they tell more about a quilts journey than a scrawl along the bottom edge :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 50



This weeks adorable little block is Sawtooth Album. This block is so sweet and simple and there are two reasons why I wanted to include it in our quilts.
Firstly, if you replace the centre (album) unit with a solid square, you have a traditional Sawtooth block. I have included this option in the pattern, for you, because we all need a Sawtooth block in our reference library, as it is such a classic block.
Secondly, album blocks are so versatile. That little strip of white fabric in the centre, is the perfect place to add your name and the date your quilt was made, either with a pigma pen or with some pretty stitching. It can then either be, included in your quilt top or stitched to the back of the quilt, as your quilt label.
How you choose to include this block in your sampler quilt, is up to you. Sew both variations and use one in the quilt and one as a label OR sew this block and showcase your label on the front of the quilt, mixed in with the other sampler blocks. Tomorrows tip is all about quilt labeling so it may help you decide how to use these blocks :)
To download this weeks free pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Monday, October 12, 2015

Free Pattern- Christmas Mug Rugs

Have you started planning your Christmas sewing list yet? Are you looking for a quick and easy project to make for someone special this festive season? Well I have an adorable free pattern just for you. Its my new design, Christmas Mug Rugs:
Mug rugs are so easy to make and are easily adapted to suit any occasion, by changing the main block. I have a Coffee Mug Rug pattern in my Threadbare Ezine Issue Three and they make perfect gifts. As Christmas is approaching, I decided to design something similar with some cute little tree blocks. Both mug rug designs are included in the free pattern, so make your favorite version or make them both.
There is a paper pieced version, for those who love paper piecing as much as I do. Its a simple one block design and I love the little two toned tree. I used two shades of aqua but it would look just as cute in the more traditional Christmas colours. I included a strip of lace to add a little extra prettiness to each rug, but some ric rac would look lovely too.
For those who are not a fan of paper piecing, the free pattern also includes an applique version. The inspiration for this tree, came from a picture I saw on Pinterest of some adorable little trees made using some pink and red cupcake liners.
Apart from the white homespun, my mug rugs were made using Jelly Roll Strips, so they are perfect for using up any leftover strips you may have or a great excuse to open a new roll. I used "Printemps" by 3 Sisters and they are just gorgeous fabrics and perfect for Christmas projects.
Tie the mug rug into a roll with ribbon, add a pretty mug, a cute packet of biscuits or your own home baking and a few herbal tea bags and you have the perfect gift for teachers, neighbours or workmates. I'm sure the recipient will be thrilled with their gift and will use it often during the holidays, but don't forget to make one for yourself too :)
To download the free pattern, which includes both Christmas Mug Rugs, just visit HERE.
And if you haven't already, don't forget to download my free Christmas Planner:
I have been filling the pages of mine for weeks now, and all of my plans, ideas, lists and inspiration is all in the one place and easily accessible. Go to my blog post HERE to see whats inside the planner and to download your free copy.
Happy sewing and planning :)

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sophie

Last weekend I crocheted the final two rows of my Sophie blanket and I'm thrilled with the end result! Here she is, in all her unblocked glory:
She's such a beauty and I'm so proud that I was able to crochet the complete blanket. My next task will be sewing in a few ends and then the blocking. Because of her size, I'm going to use some exercise mats for pinning and mum has kindly offered her lounge room floor for the process, since they don't use this room often. My only concern is getting Sophie back from mum, once its done :)
There were eighteen parts in the official blanket (113 rows) and then I decided to add the optional "Fantasy Border" (another 8 rows) which I think finishes the blanket nicely. I love the scalloped edge, and I'm sure I'll use this again, on future projects, because its so quick and easy.
There is so much detail in this blanket and I love each of the elements, especially the centre mandala and the butterfly band. Sophie has definitely taught me so much and given me the skills and confidence to try lots of crochet patterns.
You can find all the free patterns for Sophie, HERE. The patterns are very clearly written with heaps of tips, links and tutorials to help you along the way, so if your thinking of starting a Sophie of your own, then do it! You wont regret it.
I have plans to make another Sophie, using just three or four soft colours but for now I'm thrilled with my colourful, snugly version. Its taken close to six months to complete and I've loved each and every step of my Sophie's wonderful journey :)

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Thursday Tip #12

{Thursday Tip: A regular weekly feature sharing my quilting tips. There are no rules in quilting, these are just the things that work for me and might help you. There are no quilt police, so use them as a guide; no ones watching :) There is no wrong way to do anything......just relax, experiment, learn, create and have fun. }
I have had one quilt professionally quilted and the end result was lovely but I felt a total disconnect with this quilt, almost like I had missed a large part of its journey. I wanted to be a quilter, not a piecer, so with great determination, I taught myself to free motion quilt on my domestic. Its not always easy, but it gives my quilts that homemade feel, which I love. I'm a realist, its not as perfect as the professional quilters but to me, its perfectly imperfect.
I saw a lovely mantra the other day, "Real not perfect" and I think that applies to everything we do; we inject real love, real passion, real determination and real enjoyment into all of our projects and the gratitude expressed from the people who receive our quilts, is real too.
So here are just some of my free motion quilting tips:
  • Free motion quilting takes a long time and is very hard on the body, so be prepared for many, many hours at the machine and stop for regular breaks. Set a timer if you need to or drink lots of water, so nature forces you get up and move :)
  • If you can draw it, you can free motion quilt it. I can't stress this enough, draw, draw, draw. Keep drawing the design until it becomes familiar to you and then draw it some more. Practice drawing your design in different sized squares to see how the design will fill the space and adapt the size of your design to suit the space. Keep drawing, keep practicing!
  • In a design such as a flower, alternate the way each flower faces. Link flowers or fill in any open space you are not happy with, with some stems and leaves.
  • In some designs, like feathers, its necessary to stitch back over small sections of the quilting, so you can continue on without having to cut and restart.
  • Make up a test sandwich square with two pieces of fabric and wadding and practice your free motion design before quilting your project.
  • I suggest beginning with stippling. It a great way to develop the flow of free motion quilting and its a little more forgiving if you make a mistake or quilt yourself into a corner.
  • Choose a backing fabric with a busy print, to disguise your quilting, if you prefer.
  • When your ready to start quilting ensure your machine is clean, a new quilting needle is inserted and you have plenty of bobbins wound and ready.
  • You will require a darning foot for free motion quilting. There are a couple of different ones. I prefer a clear open toe darning foot as it gives me a better view of where I am working, especially around seams.
  • All machines are different but its suggested you drop your feed dogs to free motion quilt. My Pfaff has two presser foot settings, so I prefer to leave my feed dogs up and I use the first presser foot setting. The only exception to this is when I'm working on a large project and at the very start, when its really heavy, I drop the feed dogs while I begin working in the centre. As I work my way across, I put the feed dogs back up. 
  • Quilting gloves may give you more control as you quilt or spraying the back of the quilt with starch may help the quilt glide easier as you work. I use neither of these techniques but do what makes you comfortable and gives you the best result.
  • Regardless of what design I'm quilting, I always begin in a seam to disguise the start of the design. If you have the needle down function, make sure you use it; its like an extra pair of hands. Quilt a couple of stitches in the same spot, to anchor your thread before you begin.
  • Quilt at a consistent pace to keep your stitches even. It's not a race, it's leisurely, even quilting.
  • When you need to change direction, stop with the needle down, turn your quilt and then continue quilting, to keep the stitching even.
  • Keep quilting right into the wadding to keep the design even. This will also help to anchor your edges, nice and flat, ready for binding.
  • I quilt in the wadding, if I need to travel or change direction to avoid having to cut and restart. 
  • The aim is to not cross over any quilting (and quilting is time consuming to unpick) but if its just a little mistake here and there, keep going! In the overall quilt, no one is going to notice :)

Be proud of your free motion quilting; you have done it all yourself! There will always be the "nit pickers" who look for the imperfections; let them do that while your busy planning your next pretty project. Everyone's idea of perfection is different. Mine is knowing that I've sewn every step of a quilts journey and then seeing the joy and comfort it gives to those I love. You cant get any more perfect than that :)

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Chatelaine- Free BOW Sampler Quilt Block 49

This weeks lovely block is Candleglow. This block really connects us with the inspiring women of yesteryear. After sunset, the homesteads would be lit with candle light and the glow from an open fire. It would be a warm welcome to the men returning from work and it provided light for night time activities, such as reading and sewing. Such a cosy and inviting ambiance, yet hard on the eyesight, I imagine.
Nowadays, lighting candles is more for relaxation than necessity. There's a sense of peace found in a room glowing in candlelight and I hope this block has the same effect in our quilts.
To download this weeks free pattern, just visit HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Greg Mystery CAL Part 2

I have just completed Part 2 of Spincushions, Greg Mystery CAL and this installment was all about this stunning little square, JOE:
It's is such a lovely pattern and it didn't take long for me to crochet my first square. For Part 2, I needed twelve little 5" JOE blocks and I worked on them while watching afternoon movies with the kids.
Blocking takes a little time and patience but I think they still look pretty, during this process:
So here's my stack of twelve JOE blocks, all ready and waiting for the next installment:
I'm really enjoying this project so far and I'm excited to see how it will all piece together :)  For now its back to the final two rows of my Sophie. This blanket is so close to completion and it looks gorgeous. I'll share some pictures of its completion, next week.
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