Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 - The Year That Was....

In one word - exhausting.

If I were to look back at 2013, I would tell you that I got through it.  I landed on my feet - opposed to curling up in a ball.  So I guess I would call it a success?

On the creative side of life, it couldn't have been a better year!  I finished my 20th quilt for the year last weekend, and happily handed it over to my husband's cousin, for the new little man in her life - baby Archie.  And I have to say - the satisfaction that I receive when I've finished a quilt and am able to gift it to someone is unbelievably wonderful!  It adds to the enjoyment of the making.
Quilts 2013

Quilts 2013
I somehow managed to make the ever popular Swoon quilt too..... Which to my utter astonishment has had over 7500 view on Flickr after being picked up by Explore!  It seems people like a random photo with a cat!
Swoon finished!

I took my paper-piecing addiction to an all new high, by making this fairytales wall hanging....

Fairytale Wall Hanging - Paper Pieced

I've made a gazillion cushions this year.  Plenty for gifts and plenty for a consignment that headed over to a homewares shop in Bali.  Happy to say they all sold!
Cushions 2013
There's been Bee Blocks.....
Blocks 2013
And assorted other projects....

Assorted projects 2013
And amongst all of the quilty things I've made for myself and others - I've made plenty of little people's clothing for customers (and my kids!).....

Garments 2013
I think it's fair to say I spent a fair bit of my year behind my Bernina.

And on a personal note..... I think I've achieved a hell of a lot....

Achievements 2013

I've watched those four kiddos of mine grow like weeds.  Apparently I now have a man for a son.  My bestest friend moved back to Australia after 15 years in London, and I've been blessed to be a part of her two little girl's lives.  I've won fabric!  I bought a big kick-ass camera and am loving taking photos.  I've made cakes.  Lots of them.  I've spent countless days and nights with close friends.  I've learnt to quilt - properly!  I learnt to paper-piece, and became addicted.  I've bought a shit load of fabric.  I participated in my first ever crafty swap/secret santa.  I participated in my first ever quilt-along.  I went overseas with my husband for the first time.  I hosted my first ever blog hop.  And I survived Christmas!

I've had some pretty shitty times this year also.  I've watched my sister kick an almost 30 year habit and have been by her side to deal with the ramifications.  I've learnt more about mental illness, but feel like I will never, ever understand.  I've watched my teenage son become a man, and helped him through what could have turned out to be an absolute disastrous situation.  I've gotten along with his father - mostly.  I've seen families torn through in-fighting and poor decisions.  And I've been sadly reminded that life is too short for some, and to never, ever take the ones I love for granted.

2014 is shaping up to be a fabulous year.  Today is my tenth wedding anniversary!  In a few week's time, my youngest will be heading off to school, and for the first time in 15 years, I will have no children at home.  I am planning on working less weekends, and working more weekdays.  I am planning on diving in the deep end and pushing forward with some business dreams I have held for far too long.  But most of all - I am planning on continuing to see the great things in life and not focusing on the crappy ones!

So after that long, drawn out recap of this year - I wish you all a wonderful and happy new year!  May it be fun, filled with love and laughter.  I thank you all for coming to visit me here in my happy place, and look forward to sharing my trials and tribulations with you all again in 2014.  And a very special shout out to the wonderful group of friends I have made through quilting.  You have all become such an integral part of my daily life, and I love you dearly.


Sunday, December 29, 2013

In The Right Direction - A Quilt

I am very happy to say I've just finished another quilt!  Unlike a lot of my projects, which are done and dusted within a week or so, this darling quilt was a long time in thinking before even being made.  And once I started it, took a couple of months.  BUT it's finished!  So without further ado, may I present "In The Right Direction"......

In The Right Direction

This project started out with the aim of being a queen size quilt, but changed to throw size part way through due to the fact I knew I wouldn't be able to afford to have it sent off to be quilted!  AND I came up with a plan for how I wanted to quilt it myself.  The lovely Kristy @ Quiet Play had altered her paper pieced Winterbound pattern for me, upsizing it for the queen size, hence my blocks are bigger than her original.

In The Right Direction

The design for the quilting came during the putting together of blocks.  I made an off centre arrow, on a similar angle to the blocks, using some sticky tape.  And once I was ready to quilt it, thought I was completely bonkers and was so completely worried about stuffing it up!  But I'm happy to report that it was relatively easy to conquer.  I just attached the silver bar thingamajig to my walking foot, so as to get even spacing between the straight lines, and off I went.  I used my trusty Aurifil #2024 to paper piece and quilt this beauty!

In The Right Direction

I intentionally bought a cream coloured Homespun for this quilt.  I think it works beautifully with the tones in the Dear Stella "Cleo" fabric collection.

In The Right Direction

The backing fabric is from the same range, and was chosen obviously for its same arrowed effect!  I absolutely adore it!

The stats:  Measures 57" x 63"
Fabric: Cleo by Dear Stella & Homespun
Thread: Aurifil #2024
Quilting: Straight line quilted by Me on my Bernina 430

This makes my 16th quilt finish for 2013!  It is a very special gift for a very special someone, and I can't wait to hand it over!

P.S. - Sunday is usually all about my stash, but I've been a very good girl.  Please pop over and see the lovely Fiona @ Finding Fifth today - it's her last post before she hands over the reigns to Molli Sparkles! xxx

Paper Piecing Party

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The "For Pleat's Sake" Bag - Tips & Zippered Pocket Tutorial.

Thank you so much to everyone for your lovely comments on my Secret Santa gift reveal!  It killed me to keep it a secret for so long!  As promised, I've put together some tips for sewing it together, sort of like a review I guess!  I've also done a little tutorial on how to put a zippered pocket in.  So brace yourself for lots of photos…..

Secret Santa Gift
First things first - You can find the tutorial for this bag HERE.  It really is quite a simple bag to make, once you wrap your head around it!  To be perfectly honest, it took me many hours to get past the first step of getting the pleats done. And I ended up doing it differently to the tutorial, because the measurements just weren't adding up.  Now whether that is because of my lack of mathematical genius, or whether the measurements really just weren't right - You can be the judge of that!  I found the photos and measurements really hard to work out.  So this is what I did (after many times of measuring, pinning, un-pinning, re-measuring etc etc)…...
I ended up going with five pleats instead of six.  I measured the middle point of the bag pieces, and then measured 1/2" for each of the pleats.
This is how I do my pleats.  Clockwise L-R:  Find the middle point and pin.  Fold the fabric over right sides together with the pin being at the fold.  Pin the measurement for the pleat, in this case 1/2".  Fold the fabric back over to show the right side and pin the pleat down.
I then press the pleats well and depending how big they are, I will sometimes pin them further down the pleat also.  I followed the other measurements in the tutorial to a tee, in terms of how far down to sew them etc.  Because my pleats were different measurements, it altered the bag measurements when finished - but it was only by a little!

NOW - moving on to another little tip that I like to see visually…..

The tutorial gives good instructions on how to make a flat bottom for the bag, however, one thing I wanted to see, was this.  I find it quite fiddly to match up the seams, but if you can peek inside the bag and visually match up the seams, and run your finger along it, you can pin it on the outside to ensure it's still matching!
And pin that sucker down ready for measuring, sewing and then cutting.

PUTTING IN A ZIPPERED POCKET - I'm not re-inventing the wheel here, in fact, I used a tutorial from the pattern I bought to make my camera bag, which you can find HERE.  The one difference is that this time I used a decorative zipper…..
So once I'd sewn the pleats in to my bag panels, I then set about putting the pocket in.  First thing to do was find another co-ordinating fabric and cut it to size - I cut it 12" x 16".  My zip is 9" long. (I had to cut a second piece of fabric as the one pictured above wasn't wide enough!)
On the wrong side of the zipper pocket, I measured down 9" and marked a line, then another line 1/2" under that.  Then measure 1" in on either side and mark the lines to make a long rectangle.
Place your pocket fabric right side facing down on to the bag panel, centre it.  Also measure approximately 1 1/2" down from the top to where your top line will sit.
Pin in place.
Now you sew over the long rectangle that has been marked, making sure to backstitch at both the beginning and end.
Mark a line through the centre of your rectangle, and two diagonal lines like above.
And using sharp scissors, cut along those lines - being very careful not the cut the stitching.
You then need to pull the pocket fabric through the hole to the other side.
Giving you a neat opening.  Press firmly and neatly.
You then take your zip and place it over the top of the opening, pinning in place.  Sew around the zipper, making sure to catch the fabric underneath…..
And sewing over both ends of the zip.  If you're not using a decorative zip, you just need to sew the zip to the other side of the pocket, with the zip showing through.
Lastly, you bring the pocket fabric right sides together and sew all the way around, creating the pocket. (You don't sew the pocket on to the bag panel!) This will now sit in between the outer bag and lining.

And one last little tip for the construction of this bag.  And I am finding it very difficult to articulate this!  When it comes to sewing the lining and bag together, I had to unpick the side sections a couple of times and come up with a different way to do it.  Once again, I think more photos would have helped.
To start it off, you need to line up the V sections at the side.  But because of the bulkiness of it, it wouldn't turn through nicely for me, which was frustrating!
So I had to start off the stitching here a little differently.  I actually sewed straight across about half an inch at this section.
Like this.  And then line up the rest of the bag as per the tutorial and sew all the way around, just leaving the opening at the bottom.  I found it turned out relatively neatly this way!

Secret Santa Gift
^^^^^^^^^^  For those sections up there at the sides ^^^^^^^^^
And just because the tutorial doesn't mention this, to close up the opening on the bottom of the lining, just tuck the seam allowance inside and press….
Then sew along the bottom of the lining around 1/4" in.  This makes for a nice neat finish on the inside of your bag!

The tutorial also only calls for you to top stitch around the sides of the bag, however I chose to top stitch around the top also.

One last thing.  The bag handles.  The tutorial suggests where to buy them, but they are UK based.  I found some HERE on Etsy, shipped from Asia, and they are fab.  Not leather, but a great finish!

And there you have it!  I really do hope that all of this makes sense, and is helpful is you choose to make yourself one of these fabulous bags!  I have put one on my to do list - for myself!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Secret Santa Gift Revealed!

As you would now know, earlier this year I was invited to join a wonderful paper piecing bee - Wombat Stew.  For someone relatively new to paper piecing, it has been such a fun adventure, learning all sorts of new tricks!  But the best part about this bee has been the friendships I have gained.

A couple of months ago, the girls decided we should do a secret Santa swap.  I was so excited, I 'd never been a part of one, in handmade circles anyway, and so I started thinking and over thinking what I would make my partner.  I waited for my email telling me who my recipient would be, and was thrilled (and terrified) to find it was Gina from Party of Eight.  Gina is one super talented lady, and the pressure was on....

Thankfully, these crafty gals are also smart, and we set up a thread in our FB group to tell eachother our likes and dislikes, and what kinds of things we would love to receive.  Amongst other things, Gina mentioned she would like a tote bag, and in her favourite colours list was "a warm sunny yellow or mustard".  Bingo!

I knew I'd pinned a fabulous tote bag tutorial I'd always wanted to make, and I had THE MOST PERFECT yellow fabric on my shelf awaiting use.  And so this is what I made.....

Secret Santa Gift
The "For Pleats Sake" tote bag.  The fabric is a divine Japanese print by Kayo Horaguchi.  It's a little heavier than quilting cotton, so perfect for this project.  And the most perfect shade of yellow/mustard.
Secret Santa Gift
I auditioned quite a few fabrics for the lining, and even asked Chelsea which she preferred.  This Anna Maria Horner Field Study won.  And in my humble opinion is perfect!  I also used a pretty decorative zipper I'd had sitting in my drawer forever.  The zipper pocket is not in the original tutorial, but I will be doing my own tutorial on how I made this bag in the next day or so for you all!
Secret Santa Gift
I love the colours!
Secret Santa Gift
I couldn't just send a bag, so I collected a bunch of other lovely goodies to add.  There's a big pack of Tim Tam biscuits (cookies), which are the best Australian chocolate biscuits around!  Some strawberry fabrics (Gina has a thing for them), some Snugglepot & Cuddlepie fabric (a famous Australian story book) and a few sewing notions.
Secret Santa Gift
And this is how the bag looks worn.  Excuse the dodgy picture - I was in a rush to get this packed up and ready to post and asked the five year old to take the photo!
Secret Santa Gift
I pieced and top stitched the bag with Aurifil #2810 50wt.  The tutorial states to use a couple of different threads for attaching the handles, however, I couldn't find them in the store. And due to my rushing to get it sent, I just triple threaded my big needle and gave it a shot!  I'm hoping it will hold, and hoping Gina will forgive me if she has to re-sew the handles on!
Secret Santa Gift
The reason for my rushing?  Well, my darling mother in law was heading over to the USA for a long holiday and said she would take my parcel and post it over there for me.  The handles arrived from China the day before her departure, so I madly attached them, got to the post office for a postage box and then wrapped it all to go!  Cudos to Gina for her patience - this parcel arrived at her place weeks ago, and she must have sat it under her Christmas tree, as she only opened it on Christmas Day!
I thoroughly enjoyed making this bag!  And just like the cushions I never make myself, this bag makes me want to make myself one!  One day.....

As I said earlier in the post, I will be back in the next couple of days with my version of the tutorial for this bag.  There were a few things in the original I just couldn't work out or get to work, so I took lots of photos to show you how I made it work!

Christmas Day is done and dusted here in Australia, and we are now looking forward to the New Year......I have so many plans, so many projects......  How about you??

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

A very quick Christmas Ever post to say…..

Santa photo 2013
Merry Christmas!!

Wishing you all a safe and relaxing Christmas Day tomorrow and looking forward to the New Year ahead!

ps - I have just noticed that a whole lot of photos are missing, strangely, from a lot of my blog posts and I have absolutely no idea why!  I shall endeavour to fix it another day, when I'm not running around like a headless chook!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Sunday Stash - Fabric Enabling!

Earlier this year, my Tokyo Bff travelled carrying THIS HAUL for me.  It was like I had won the Lotto!  And as it happens, I've just returned last night from another visit to the Gold Coast to catch up with two of my longest and dearest friends, one of them the "Tokyo Bff".

Suzie - AKA Tokyo bff and her two gorgeous children!

Friends for 32 years
Friends for 34 years!  (IG late night photo explains the graininess!)
Amongst the talking, laughing, wine drinking, swimming and being chased by toddlers - I was also handed a bag from the infamous Tomato store in Nipori Fabric Town!  Suzie is great at letting me know she just happens to have an appointment nearby so will pop in and grab me something!  The following is what she grabbed for me this time round....

My Tokyo BFF went shopping in Nipori again.....
A divine little fat quarter bundle of Kei.  I knew I had seen this fabric before, but couldn't work out where nor who the designer was until I posted the photo on IG.  Jeanette from Polka Dot Tea filled in the blanks for me!  They sell a few of these prints in their store!
So excuse me whilst I share them to Flickr via here!
These two gorgeous Princess border print fabrics.  They will make amazing frocks!
And a little mix of other goodies!  The trains I'd seen around also - from Cosmo Textile Co.  The ribbon print is a Kokka and is kind of like a Cotton Lawn.  Quirky Japanese cartoon prints, a fq of Princesses and Tomatoes!  A bit of everything!  I desperately want to make a visit to Nipori myself one day.  Suzie has lived there for 15 years, so it's about time I pull my finger out......
In other breaking news - I purchased fabric and waited six weeks to receive it!  Yes, true story.

My mother in law went to the USA and all I got was this fabric! Boohoo! #insertsarcasmhere I love only paying US shipping rates for once!
When my mother in law was about to depart to the USA for a five week jaunt, Pink Castle Fabrics were having a fabulous sale, and I thought I best get on board.  So I grabbed myself the Joel Dewberry True Colours bundle along with the Word Up bundle. (And no this is not a sponsored post - I just love the damn bundle!) I'd been coveting the Word Up bundle for quite some time and when I did the math (yes, another amazing feat) and realised I could order all of this, at a discount + have it shipped to the MIL's hotel = Winning!  I just had to be patient......  And I was.  All in all I saved around $60!  The patience was worth it, because it's all just so divine!  As per usual, I have no idea what I'm going to do with it all, but I'm sure it will come to me?

And that's it folks!  I've shown great restraint fabric purchasing wise the past couple of months.  Christmas + four children = broke.

I'm linking up with Sunday Stash @ Finding Fifth!  You can too!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...