Thursday, August 31, 2017

September- National Sewing Month

September is National Sewing Month and to celebrate I've decided to do something fun. How about joining me in a 7 Day Mystery Sew Along?
I have a new free pattern and I thought by sharing it as a mystery sew along we could have some fun in an inspiring and supportive environment, as we work together on the same project.
My biggest problem will be keeping the secret. I'm dreadful at secrets but I've strategically planned each part, in hopes our project remains a mystery until Day 7 when I can reveal the finished project .......... fingers crossed because strategy is not my strong point either! :)
So how about we raid our stashes, find a small window of sewing time each day and create something pretty together. I'd love to have you sew along with me :)
I've designed a very simple yet ohhh so sweet project, suited to any level quilter and everyday I'll share detailed written instructions plus a tonne of step by step photos, to help you along the way. If your new to quilting, this project will help you get started. For my seasoned quilters, this project will be relaxed and lots and lots of fun.
First, some basic information. Our finished project measures around 25" square and all you need for the quilt top are two fabrics; a white background fabric and a blue fabric.
Here's my fabric selection and for the record, my white fabric has dots but they do not photograph well in this winter light. Small prints will work the best, so no large florals because they will be lost in the cutting and piecing. Since you don't know what your making, I insist this blue and white combination will work the best but hey feel free to be unique, I'm sure it will be stunning :)
Sound good so far? Great, here's the full list of requirements to complete the entire project:
That's all you need for this mystery project; just that and loads of enthusiasm..... and maybe invite a friend or two to sew with us. The more the merrier :)
So starting Monday, each day for 7 days, I will post one part of this mystery project. Now I know there are people out there who like to be super organised (I'm one of them) so each day I'm also setting a little Homework Assignment. This will be the prep work for the next days sewing and here's the first assignment, due on Monday:
See, nice and easy. You have the next few days to choose your fabrics and prepare for your first sewing day and if you don't have time for homework, that's fine, I'll recap the cutting instructions at the start of each day.
That's all you need to know for now. I'll see you again on Monday with the first installment of our mystery project. I can't wait to get started and if I forget to tell you before we finish, thanks so much for playing along and sewing this project with me :) You guys are amazing :)
Also, if your looking for other projects, pop over to FaveQuilts and AllFreeSewing and check out all the lovely free patterns available there as well. There's plenty of inspiration for a huge month of sewing :)
Cya Monday :)

Monday, August 28, 2017

Vega Mini Quilt + Your Free September 2017 Calendar

Its a story of forbidden love; a young celestial princess falls in love with a mere mortal and her father forbids the union, banishing them both to the skies where they are separated by the Celestial River (the Milky Way). Each year, on the seventh night of the seventh moon, magpies build a bridge to unite the young lovers but the trip can sometimes be treacherous. Their reunion is not always successful and the rain that falls thereafter, is said to be her tears; her name is Vega (or Tanabata), his name is Kengyu.
Love stories like these really tug at the heart strings and this Japanese myth was the inspiration behind my new monthly mini quilt design, Vega:
You can find Vega in the little constellation Lyra and its recognizable for its brilliance and blue and white colour. I chose a gorgeous palette of Charleston and Les Petits fabrics from Amy Sinibaldi, for my mini quilt and I think they are a stunning representation of this gorgeous star.
Vega is a fully paper pieced pattern with large pieces so you will be able to showcase some pretty fabrics. There were a couple of ways I could construct the templates for this mini but I chose the one without Y seams, because I'm nice to you :) Due to its geometric shape, the templates might look a little odd but trust me, sew on the solid lines and Vega will go together quickly and easily, finishing at around 16" square.
The PDF pattern comes with a colouring sheet for choosing fabrics/colours prior to sewing (and I understand some of you like printing up extra copies to give to the kids/grandkids as colouring pages, awesome!), plus full step by step instructions and diagrams. Pay close attention to the diagrams as you work through this pattern, to ensure you have the correct orientation of the units as you sew this mini quilt together.
There's also optional instructions for adding a hanging sleeve or corner hangers but how beautiful would this design look as a cushion front? I'm thinking of making up a few so I can bring the night sky into our lounge room.
I quilted my Vega mini with an all over loopy meander pattern, using a soft, silky white thread. I didn't want to overpower the design but I also wanted to give it that gorgeous texture. I finished my mini with the matching navy binding and I'm looking forward to adding this one to my mini wall.
I love its design, I love those fabrics and I really love its simplicity, its a stunning mini quilt :)
If you would like to make your own version of my Vega mini quilt, from today until the end of September 2017, PDF patterns are available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, they are also available in my Etsy shop HERE.
I also have your free September 2017 calender featuring the gorgeous Vega:
To download and print your free calendar, just visit HERE.
I'm pretty sure you know by now that I have a fascination with all things astronomy. Its a love I've shared with my son since he was really little and we regularly view the night sky through his telescope. We are constantly learning more and more about stars, constellations, planets etc. and its a wonderful hobby to share, plus its great inspiration for quilt designing.
I hope you enjoy Vega :)
Happy quilting :)

Monday, August 21, 2017

Almond and Mandarin Loaf

Do you remember teaching your kids how to peel their own fruit? I'm a classic "helicopter mum" and I used to peel the kids fruit for them, arranging them in pretty patterns on their plates. When they started school I had to give them a crash course on removing the peel themselves, my bad :)
In the first few weeks, they would bring home their lunchboxes and inside I would find a mangled mandarin. In their haste to enjoy its deliciousness, the peel had been taken off just enough so they could pull most of those juicy segments out of the wreckage.
And who could blame them? Mandarins are lush and I have a recipe that will make you sprint to the kitchen and bake, right now! So here's my Almond and Mandarin Loaf:
Let's establish one small detail, when I share a recipe with "almonds" in the title, you know this is a personal favorite of mine and I cook it a lot. I mean a real lot, like lots and lots :)
This Almond and Mandarin Loaf is perfect for the spring days that are coming our way. Its light, its not too sweet and the combination of almond, cinnamon and those juicy mandarins, is divine!
I use Greek yoghurt in this loaf because it cuts through the sweetness, allowing you to add your own with a light dusting of icing sugar and serving it with some whipped cream.
I always keep a can of mandarin segments in the pantry, ready to bake this loaf. It works perfectly fine with fresh mandarins but some people are not fans of the bitter tasting pith or those stringy bits you get when you peel one and you have to admit the canned ones look much nicer for presentation don't they? :)
I have made it using fresh mandarins but I prefer to leave them in the fruit bowl for snack times and use the tin ones for this loaf instead. Give them a try though.
Once your loaf batter is mixed, its just a matter of folding in some roughly chopped mandarin segments and play around with the quantities on this one. I like a lot of cake between my fruit, so I find a 310g can is enough. If you like lots of fruit, add more, go crazy. No one will mind! Just be careful though, you don't want a squishy loaf and sometimes just a delicate hint of flavour is more than enough :)
It makes a generous sized loaf, which I love. Its so satisfying to see a loaf rise well above the tin, knowing you can cut nice big slices to share with family and friends.
The loaf contains a mix of almond meal and flour and I like to sprinkle some slivered almonds on top before baking, to give it that nice nutty crunch and more of that gorgeous almond flavour.
If you would like to make your own Almond and Mandarin Loaf, you can download my recipe HERE or right click on the picture below and save to your computer for later:
I hope you enjoy this recipe. I've noticed that a lot of other craft bloggers are also sharing their favorite recipes now and I think that's wonderful! Sharing our love of food, our recipes and our cooking tips and tricks is an age old tradition. I watched my mother, my grandmothers and my great grandmothers do it with their friends and I love sharing mine with you. I've also had a few of you share yours with me (via email) and I've found a few new favorites. Lets keep sharing :)
Happy baking :)

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Snip,snip, snip!

I promised to tell you all about those gorgeous new scissors that arrived last week:
These elegant little scissors are from Warm Crochet and when I first saw them I had to buy a pair. I love pretty scissors and their exquisite detailed texture, just stole my heart ♥
They are available in four colour finishes (bronze, gold, silver and red bronze) and I chose the silver and now I wish I'd ordered a pair in each finish, they are just adorable.
They are light weight, super sharp and they're nice and pointy so they're perfect for snipping stray threads or getting into those tight corners. The detail is just beautiful and don't they transport you back to older times when things were much more ornate and elegant? And the best part is, they are inexpensive!
Delivery is super fast and cheap to Australia (from USA) so go and grab a pair or four, HERE :)
I thought I'd show you some of my other favorite scissors as well. You probably see them pop up in photos from time to time, but I thought you might like to know why they are special to me.
First up are my stork scissors. Way back when Les and I were first married, I cross stitched samples for a local craft shop. Every visit to the shop, I'd admire the gorgeous scissors in their velvet boxes behind the glass, knowing we couldn't justify or afford the expense. Les, the wonderful man that he is, brought me a pair after noticing how often I admired them. I'm pretty sure we didn't eat that week because of the cost but I was the happiest wife ever. That was close to 29 years ago and they are always right beside me during every project I work on.
Back when we did a huge house renovation, I thought I'd lost them in the chaos which left me devastated. I searched everywhere, fearing the builders had thrown them out accidentally but they turned up weeks later in the lining of one of my craft bags, much to my relief :)
These scissors are high on my list of favorites. I brought them purely because they were pretty (and so was the packaging). I didn't realise that I would use them ALL the time. They live right next to my machine and I use them for snipping threads as I sew. My machine does have a inbuilt thread snipper thingy but why use that when you can use something pretty right?
I love how these scissors feel in my hand; they are weighty with beautiful, smooth ceramic handles and they cut perfectly every time plus they are blue so whats not to love?
I also have a pair of scissors from each of my grandmothers sewing baskets. One grandma was a beautiful embroiderer and her scissors are the larger etched pair. I remember her having ribbon tied to them because she was always losing them in the sofa. They were her constant companion as she worked and she was quite adamant about not letting me touch them.
I never saw my other grandma sew anything, not even a button but she had a sewing basket and inside I found those tiny scissors and thimble which I just love.
Neither pair of scissors cut anymore but I love having them in my sewing bag, it makes me feel close to both of them ♥
I brought these scissors on a recent trip to Melbourne, in a gorgeous French Provincial shop. There was no logic or purpose in buying them, I just knew they had to come home with me. They are razor sharp and fantastic for cutting through wadding or denim etc. plus they remind me of old colonial scissors. They are pretty to look at and useful as well so i think my purchase was justified.
So that's some of my favorite scissors. I also have countless pairs of fabric scissors, paper scissors, paper piecing scissors and general craft scissors and each pair has a specific job or purpose. I guess all crafter's are the same and have heaps of pairs because without our scissors, we just can't craft ;)
Happy sewing :)

Monday, August 14, 2017

One Talented Reader :)

My readers are a very talented bunch and I love seeing how you interpret my designs. Time doesn't allow me to share everyone's photo's and work but I do have one project I must share with you.
I have been corresponding with Jyoti on Facebook and she has been sharing progress of her version of my Chatelaine Sampler Quilt. You really have to see this quilt and shes kindly allowed me to share it with you.  But first, here's what Jyoti had to say about her quilt:

"I started making this quilt on 29th Jan 2017 with a challenge to myself that I will make a sampler quilt to hone my skills. In start it looked very simple but as I crossed first 10 blocks, the design started getting complicated and confusing.
I learnt a lot in the process and completed 77 blocks (each block sized 6 inch) to size my quilt 64 x 96 inches. 
The next challenge was of sashing and I wanted to add colours to highlight the blocks.
The binding is done by 1 inch of 2 fabrics (resulant is 1/2 inch) which were used in sashing.
Thanks a lot Threadbare Creations for allowing me to do this sampler quilt which I enjoyed a lot and I was satisfied as outcome of this work is awesome." 
Jyoti Maddh Ahuja
And here are Jyoti's finished sampler blocks:
Aren't they amazing? 77 little stunners!!! Seeing these made me want to run to the stash and start a whole new sampler in solids! Jyoti has definitely honed her skills with these beautiful blocks. She has chosen a gorgeous selection to showcase her sewing abilities in both piecing and foundation paper piecing. I love these colours soooo much and she has used them perfectly in each block, so each one is a little 6" masterpiece on its own.
Even her trimmings are pretty :) Her sashing choice was both bold and effective and it works so well! The two tones of orange frame the blocks perfectly and as the quilt top grew, I loved it more and more, if that's even possible.
Don't the sashings look great? They are simple, striking and oh so clever and they compliment the blocks perfectly without overpowering them.
Ta da! Jyoti's finished quilt top. Stunning ♥  Just stare for awhile and take it all in :)
I was so proud of her and I know how much work goes into this quilt so its fantastic to know she was thrilled with the end result. Its really hard to describe how happy I felt when I saw the completed top but I can tell you, my jaw dropped :)
Jyoti quilted the top herself and quilted in the ditch of the blocks and last week I received the photos of it all finished and bound:
Perfection ♥ and look at the intricacy of that binding! Its made from 1" strips of the two sashing fabrics, so clever!  I'm sure Jyoti and her family will treasure this quilt for years to come.
I'm so happy that my pattern has helped Jyoti and many others, learn some new techniques and has given them the confidence to attempt blocks they might not have before. It makes my heart happy to know that by simply sharing a block a week for umpteen weeks, I've helped Jyoti, in a small way, make this masterpiece.
Jyoti knows I'm proud of her but I'm sure she would love to hear your thoughts on her achievement as well. I know what a supportive bunch of readers you are so please leave her a comment. She deserves a huge pat on the back for this stunning quilt :)
Thanks for sharing your progress with me Jyoti. I have enjoyed our inbox chats and loved watching your quilt grow. I hope it brings you years of comfort and happiness and I can't wait to see what projects you make in the future :)
The free patterns for my Chatelaine Sampler Quilt can be found HERE.
Happy sewing :)

Friday, August 11, 2017

Virtual Blanket #grannysquareday2017

Did you know that Tuesday, August 15th is Granny Square Day? There's a crochet feed on Instagram at the moment #grannysquareday2017 which has a awesome idea and I thought you might like to participate. The feed was set up to make one huge virtual blanket with everyone's granny square photo's; cool idea right?
There's already heaps of beautiful and inspiring creations in the feed so grab your hooks and yarn and add your own creation to the virtual blanket :) Here's a few ideas:
This is the square I'm contributing. Its not a traditional granny but I wanted to test this square for another project I'm planning and I thought this was the perfect opportunity.  This square is called New Bloom and its another gorgeous free pattern from Mandy at Crochet Redagape, which you can find HERE. I'm thinking of crocheting a whole batch of these in different colour ways to make a blanket.
Do you remember the Daisy Wheel squares I made for my cushion HERE? This is another quick and easy square to crochet and its so pretty. I just love all of that texture ♥ I'd like to make a blanket of these squares as well but there's just never enough time in the day.
You can find the free pattern HERE.
I'm currently working on a new baby blanket for the shop and I'm using this lovely Maybelle Flower square. I'm raiding my yarn stash and making this blanket pretty, bright, colourful and fun.
These squares crochet up quickly but you need two patterns to complete them; one for the flower and another for the edging.
Begin by reading the blog post HERE which gives you all the links you need.
And if you want to go traditional, don't forget I posted a chart a few weeks ago for this little sweetie HERE. You can use the chart to crochet your square or you can use some written instructions HERE, if you prefer.
Plus have a search on Pinterest. There are tonnes of free patterns and so much inspiration.
Go and have some fun; crochet a granny, upload your photo on Instagram and tag it #grannysquareday2017 and be a part of the huge virtual blanket.
I know I've been sharing a lot of crocheting posts this week but I'm working hard behind the scenes preparing a special sewing project for National Sewing Month in September. I'm having so much fun with it and I cant wait to share. I must get back to the machine :)
Happy crocheting :)

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Lets Call Her Pam ;)

On Monday morning I was scrolling through Instagram and a new crochet pattern stopped me in my tracks. After the routine housework was done, I aborted all my other plans and set about making my own Pamela Mandala using the free pattern from Mandy at Crochet Redagape:
Isn't it beautiful? I love all of Mandy's patterns and her colour combinations are always stunning. I raided my yarn stash of Patons 8ply cotton blend yarn and I tried to match my colours to the ones in her tutorial. I love how it turned out; its so bright and spring inspired and since we are in the last month of winter, it helps to lift those dreary winter blues.
As with all of Mandy's patterns, the mandala crochets up quickly and easily and she includes step by step photos to help along the way. I find they help with colour changes and placement of colours in her projects, especially when substituting one colour with something similar.
It took me most of the afternoon and a few hours after dinner to complete (ends weaved in as well) so you can make this mandala without sacrificing valuable time on more labour intensive projects. And seriously, who doesn't love a quick finish?
Don't you just love those scissors?? I'll tell you more about them in an upcoming blog post. They are super sweet and they just arrived on Monday too :)
Mandy is an Australian crochet designer and her use of colour is amazing. She's currently working on a book and I can't wait for it to hit the book stands. From the little sneak peeks she's been sharing its going to be amazing and colourful and you're going to want a copy of your own.
The projects I've seen so far are in her trademark style of super pretty and stunningly colourful and I want to make them all :)

If you haven't seen Mandy's blog before, then go visit her HERE and check out all of her patterns including the Pamela Mandala and also these adorable Flower Power Coasters:
I needed some new grey coasters for our lounge lamp table and these are my "go to" pattern. I've made heaps of these in different colour ways to use around the house and I swap them around depending on my mood. Trust me these are a super quick make, I can crochet one while I wait in the car for 30 minutes at school pick up. I love that, it makes you feel like you have achieved something in a time wasting situation :)
I hope you enjoy your visit to Mandy's blog.
Happy crocheting :)
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