Monday, 8 December 2014

Primitive Christmas Clothesline

Every now and again, I start a project with a very clear outlook on what I want, only to have a complete change of mind half way through.

Such was the case with my Primitive Christmas Clothesline.  The rustic stand and pole was all set for something else when I noticed it had the look of a colonial washing line.  Something practical, strung up for one purpose.  As I was in Christmas mode, I thought a mini christmas quilt hanging on a line could look quite lovely.

Requirements to make the quilt:

Simple Christmas 9 Patch
9 x 2 1/2" squares (left over from a Christmas Charm pack)
3 x 10" sqaures (left over from a Christmas Layer Cake)
10" square of batting

Primitive clothes line made from twigs and bits of wood

Re-Pieced 9 patch

1..  Piece and sew a simple 9 Patch

2..  Cut the patch in half vertically down the middle squares and horizontally across the middle squares.

Quilt Sandwich

3.. Re-piece them back together and add a 2" border cut from a piece of layer cake.

Marking the first spiral

4..  Spray bast a piece of layer cake to the back of the batting and spray baste your mini-quilt to the top of the batting.

5..  I chose to quilt using a very simple spiral pattern using my walking foot.  It was a bit tricky to start with as the initial circle was quite small.

6.. Once quilted, add a 2" border and you are ready to hang it on the line.

Happy Christmas,

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Sunday, 30 November 2014

Almost No-Sew Christmas Bunting

What better way to decorate my quilting cabinet.
As part of my birthday present this year, I have a delightful charm pack of '25th & Pine' Christmas fabric.  I have been wanting some Christmas Bunting for quite some time, so this was the charm pack to make it with.  This bunting/garland is perfect as there is very little sewing.  The fabric is strengthened with an iron-on webbing and the only sewing is attaching the ribbon along the top - and this is a very straight forward chain piecing sew.

I watched a great video from Missouri Star Quilt Company on how to put it together and it really couldn't be much easier.

However, whereas Jenny used a template to cut out the triangles, I am much more comfortable rotary cutting along straight lines and not around a template.  For some reason, the template always moves or the cutter doesn't quite cut correctly so I decided to rule lines and cut out the triangles in a less stressful (for me) way.

I have outlined how I achieved this at Step 3.
Delightful little Christmas flags

Materials:  Fusible backing, charm pack, twill or christmas ribbon & rotary cutter.  Whilst I had intended to cut out a triangle template, in the end I found it easier to rule lines and cut along them using my rotary cutter.

Step 1.     Iron all the charm pack pieces to the fusible backing as per the instructions for the particular fabric & backing that you have.
In my case, it took about 30 seconds of a good steam press.

Step 2:     Cut them all out so you have the individual charm squares.

Step 3:     On the reverse of your fabric piece, rule a line diagonally down the middle.  Measure 5" along this line and make a mark.  Rule a line from the 5" mark to each corner.  These are your cut lines.  As you can see from the diagram, you have 2 identical triangles towards the top, right hand side of the charm square and a tiny bit of waste at the bottom left hand corner.

Step 4:     Arrange all 80 of your triangles in the order that you like and carefully sew along the ribbon on the right side of the bunting.  (the ribbon in this picture has not been sewn to the flags, it is merely lying on the flags whilst I sorted out the order).  Sew to about two thirds along the width of the flag piece, stop with the needle in the down position, insert the next triangle piece and continue sewing.

It comes together in no time at all.

Merry Christmas and happy sewing,

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Sunday, 23 November 2014

Christmas Crochet Stars

I don't wish to alarm you in any way, but I feel it is my civic duty to warn everyone that Christmas is fast approaching and that means there's limited time left for festive crafting...eeep!

Thankfully, there's always a few quick and simple things to make that add a touch of homemade loveliness to that oh-so-commercial time of the year and these little crochet stars are the perfect addition to a tree or a very sweet embellishment to a wrapped gift.

I used Bendigo Woollen Mills Classic 8ply in shades of Holly and Raffia with a size 3.5mm crochet hook.

The pattern is:

Chain 5, slip stitch into first chain to make circle.

Round 1:  Puff stitch, chain 1 (There's a great tutorial from the Crochet Guru on Puff Stitch here) repeat 4 times, 5 puffs in total,  then slip stitch into top of first puff stitch

Round 2: In chain space between puff stitches, Chain 3 (counts as first double crochet), double crochet 2, chain 1*,  In next chain space double crochet 3, chain 1, double crochet 3*.  

Repeat from * to * a further 3 times.  To finish round double crochet 3 and chain 1 in the first chain space of this round, slip stitch into top of chain 3.

Round 3:

Single crochet in chain space from previous round.
*Double crochet 3 into the next chain space, chain 3, double crochet three into same chain space (this forms the pointy bit of the star), single crochet into next chain space from previous round* 

Repeat from * to * four times.  Finish round by slip stitching into first Single Crochet of this round.  

Then it's a simple case of blocking the stars so that they sit nice and flat, sewing in the ends and adding a ribbon and button of your choice to finish.

Happy Christmas Crafting


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Sunday, 16 November 2014

It's Going to be a Charming Christmas

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas .. 
I went to my local fabric store today - a rare treat as I usually buy all my fabric online, but I got confused.  I wandered around aimlessly looking for inspiration, trying to put fabrics together, but with no luck.  It just wouldn't come together and I gave up, lest I just bought something for the sake of it (again ..).

I think the problem. is that I have become reliant on Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls and Charm packs.  The fabric always matches, it's always cut the right way and there is no guess work.
All you have to do is be creative!

I was very fortunate to receive such a charm pack  .. 'Solstice' by Kate Spain for Moda Fabrics, in the mail as part of my birthday present this year (seriously .. the best present for a quilter.  A charm pack arrives in the mail and all I have to do is think about what to do with it)

I wanted a small Christmas wall hanging and came across the gorgeous 'Charming Stars Quilt' pattern from the ModaBakeShop website.  I fell in love with it and decided to make 4 of the stars for my quilt/wall hanging.  One charm pack is enough for this project.

The start of a new project .. always exciting!

I can feel Christmas coming!

4 Stars - ready to join

Thanks to the clear instructions over at ModaBakeShop, the 4 squares came together really quickly.

A quick bit of sashing and my wall hanging is ready to quilt.

I chose to quilt it 'matchstick' (ie. every 1/4 inch) along the entire length of the quilt except for the stars.  This helps the stars to pop forward - making them more prominent.
Let the binding begin .. 
So good to be hand quilting again .. 

Once all the machine quilting was done, I hand quilted around the inside of the stars using a red thread to really make the stars 'shine'.  I love hand quilting.  That may surprise you considering the amount of machine quilting I do.  If I hand quilted every quilt that I made though, I would only have one quilt a year - certainly not enough for me.

My son had a look when I had finished .. 

"Hey, that looks really good. It's like something from IKEA".

High praise indeed ......  I think.

Have a charming Christmas,

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Sunday, 9 November 2014

It's Christmas Time Advent Calendar

Every year I look at the Advent calendars in the stores, you know the ones with the flimsy little cardboard doors that hide a cheap chocolate treat, and find myself feeling extremely thankful for our handmade calendar.  This will be our 15th year of celebrating advent with our wall hanging and every time I start to fill its hand sewn little pockets with sweets, it takes me back to cold Yorkshire Christmases and opening this beautiful present that Louise had made for my birthday at a time when I was more than a little homesick for sunnier climes.

The pattern for this delightful piece is from Hatched and Patched a business based in Bathurst (that's country Australia if you're not from these parts) and Anni's  country vintage style is evident in all of the patterns and fabrics she sells.

The back of our Advent has it's own little personalised and hand stitched message, which only adds to the nostalgia that inevitably occurs  whenever the start of December is approaching.  

It can be tricky with three children finding small wrapped lollies that will fit in the little pouches.  I've become quite adept over the years at finding an assortment of chocolates or sweets that will be suitable.  Even now the children are teenagers they still feel every pouch and guess what might by lurking within.  I admit that sometimes some of the pouches for later in the month have remained empty for that first week in December as I try to find something a bit out of the ordinary.  Naturally, I  tell the kids that I'm just trying to surprise them so they can't guess every sweet, but I think they may be on to my last minute shopping!

Now that we've had so many years of use with our wonderful gift, I can't help but think what a beautiful present an advent calendar is for a young family.  It's a special something that is used and cherished every year - it really is the gift that keeps on giving.

Happy Christmas


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Sunday, 2 November 2014

Five reasons teenagers should learn to sew

Here's five fabulous reasons why teenagers should learn to sew:

1.  It's important to respect effort   
As a consumer it's not too much of a stretch to imagine that somehow the items that you purchase just magically appear in the shop and that the whole back story doesn't matter.  When you start making your own clothes, it pretty quickly becomes apparent that a whole lot of time and skill goes into making even the simplest pair of shorts.   Learning to sew is a fabulous way to understand that someone, somewhere is working hard to produce that dress you've just admired in the shop window and that effort needs to be respected.

2.  You're an individual
Often it's easy to get caught up in brands and what's hot right now, especially when you're a teenager and trying to fit in.   Sewing your own clothes means that you're not caught up in what fashion buyers think you should be wearing this season. It means that while you might still want to be on trend, you can make clothes that no-one else has and you'll never, ever arrive at a party wearing the same outfit as your friends.

3.  Learning any new skill takes time

When you start to sew it can be really, really frustrating.  There's a lot to learn and that gorgeous pattern for that prom dress you fell in love with isn't going to be within your skill set for quite a while...and that's OK.  It's important to take your time and start making simple items first and gradually build from there.  You might not be making that prom dress this year, but by next year you just might be.

4. Shopping doesn't mean spending

Imagine if you could have a whole heap of fun shopping without even thinking about spending money.  When you start sewing your own clothes, visiting the shopping centre suddenly becomes about finding inspiration rather than opening your wallet.    You'll find yourself looking at finishes, fabrics and trims.  If a particular embellishment catches your eye, you'll soon be looking through your wardrobe to see if you can add that to a long forgotten T-shirt.  Just wait, your friends will be super impressed!

5. Creativity

Fashion is all about showing the world your creativity, but when you make your own clothes, you're taking it to whole new level.  Rather than just choosing what top to wear with what skirt, you're going to start looking at fabric texture and drape, where you want a pattern placed on the finished garment, what trims you might use, which sleeves you would's an endless list and you're in control.  You're a fashion superstar in the making and you don't have to please anyone else but yourself.  It's like you've got Coco Chanel in your own head and she's working exclusively for you.

Happy sewing


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Friday, 24 October 2014

Adventure Knitting

All the preparation for the Wedding and Honeymoon are finally over as we arrived home from our Honeymoon yesterday.

Both events were everything that we could have hoped for.  Well, in all honesty, we could have done with a little less rain on the big day.  It bucketed down all day and in the city of more sunny days per year than any other city in Australia, I was taken completely by surprise at just how much rain we had.  In the end, I think it only served to make the event a little more cosy and intimate.

We left the reception and flew straight to Sydney for our Honeymoon.  We caught the red-eye and were beyond exhausted when we arrived at 6.00am Monday morning, having not slept since Saturday night.   I knew that I would not be knitting that day .. but, as I arrive home, I have very, very little knitting done.  I did take some sock knitting with me and I had every intention of knitting quite frequently but somehow it just didn't transpire.  I have about 2/3 of a sock done but that was the sum total of my honeymoon knitting.  That's not to say however, that my knitted items that I had packed did not have a good time.  They went everywhere with me.

My blue knitted 'Serendipity' cowl came with me for the trip on the first leg of our journey.

This is the blue Serendipity cowl & me in Sydney, still with 'wedding hair' (I had only just managed to take all the hair clips out) trying not to look totally exhausted as we wait for something to eat. 

The weather in Sydney was glorious - very sunny and mild so I had to wait until a few days later in New Zealand before it was cool enough to wear some knits.

On our first day in New Zealand, we took the train across the Alpine range.  It was just glorious (at the start).  My new cowl was just the item to keep the chill away.  Once we arrived at the half way point it started to rain and did not stop for 3 days.  Coming from such a dry state as Western Australia, we loved it!
                                                                                                                        Our arrival in Queenstown was met with a complimentary bottle of wine for the 'Honeymooners' which we drank outside on our balcony after a day of sight seeing..  My favourite hat was definitely needed to keep away the evening chill.

Authentic New Zealand fish 'n chips beside the lake for lunch was just perfect for 2 ravenous holiday makers.  Still not warm enough to take off a hat and cowl though.  The 'breeze' that was coming in from the lake was colder than expected.

We had a fabulous time jet boating the next day and I have never been more relieved to have my knitted headband than on this day.  The 'short' stroll to town in the morning turned out to be an hour long in 6C temperatures but this paled when on the jet boat.  It was beyond freezing.  Thanks to a bit of knit wear and a heated hand rail, we came through it unscathed.   The long walk back to the hotel though is best left unmentioned.

Peter and I on the practise run on the lake.

Ever since we had booked our honeymoon, one of the highlights was the Gondola ride to the skyline restaurant at the top of the mountain.  Neither of us expected to feel as jittery and as nervous as we did though.  Don't be mislead by the smile on our faces, it was purely for the camera and, I am afraid to say, even my trusty cowl failed to make me feel any calmer.

We all look like a display from Madame Tussauds
A little more relaxed after a strong cup of coffee
A glass of wine and a great meal made the
 trip back down a little better than the trip up
Once at the top, my cowl and I got to experience a genuine New Zealand Haka which was fantastic.

Waiting for coffee

About half way through our trip, the weather turned cold - Really, really cold for a couple of Aussies.

We bravely decided that we would have our breakfast outside on the Pier - just to REALLY experience the weather (if only we knew what was coming up in the next couple of days.)  I had forgotten my gloves so Peter (in true romantic spirit) leant me one of his.

When we left Queenstown, it started to snow and we were as excited as children on Christmas morning. We pulled the car over a few times, took heaps of photos, played in it even tried to catch it in our mouths.  It was cold however, and once again, where would I have been without some cosy knitwear?

It's quite difficult to take a
selfie with frozen fingers

The legacy of all the snow though, was a bitterly cold cruise on the Doubtful Sound.  Did I say bitter?  I meant completely and utterly, mind blowingly freezing.  Hat, cowl, glove & coat weather.  I went outside to take some photos without my gloves on and very quickly regretted it. 

Silk roving from Ashford.
Very pleased indeed

The drive up the east coast took us past Ashford Wheels and Looms in Ashburton.  I love their spinning wheels  and could not resist a look inside their shop (and of course a small purchase of silk roving.  It had to be small, our suitcases could barely cope with the amount they already had)

We had such a fantastic time and  I can heartily recommend New Zealand as a fantastic spot for a holiday/honeymoon - especially for all the knitters and crocheters out there .. 

Now it's time to settle in and get back to some crafting.  I have missed it.

Happy Holiday-ing

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Drop Stitch Cowl

We were at a yarn market a couple of weeks ago and after speaking to some pretty fabulous yarn people all day long, I was struck with the...