Friday, August 31, 2012

A bit of this and that

Life is a little overwhelming right now, and I'm trying not to focus on everything that needs to be done between now and the spring school holidays in 3 weeks time just in case my head explodes doing so.... but between work, freelance writing, additonal paperwork for work, study, school plays, kids camps, renovating a study and a bedroom or two, not to mention two months worth of quilt block commitments.... it's doing my head in.

But that's enough keeping it real - today I wanted to share a quick Studio Snippet with you, and one of those sparks of inspiration for a new quilt (which I'll get to one day, eventually).

This is a little wall in my craft room between the hallway and the kitchen door. It's the perfect home for my vintage Pinnock treadle machine, which may or may not be functional. (I've never used it!)

Hanging above is the thread holder that my very clever husband and his three little helpers made me recently. I love it!

On top is a little collection of notions and my jars of selvedges. 

It's a happy little corner.

I also wanted to share a piece of inspiration with you - Diane at From Blank Pages has a cute little linky party happening called From Blank Pages where you can share the beginnings of projects.

A few months ago when we were on holidays in Queensland, we kept driving past this cool sculpture on a street corner. I eventually got around to snapping a pic out the window with my phone. However, I must have had the phone upside down at the time, and while I can rotate it on my computer, it won't load the right way up. So please just turn your head and imagine the grass is on the ground, okay?

Now can't you just imagine a quilt made of lots of solid bars at different heights, floating on a white background?

To top it off, we got to our hotel on the same holiday and this is the decoration in the foyer. It is, of course, the quilting for the negative space on the above quilt, is it not? I'm not sure if I should be concerned that nobody in the family batted an eyelid when I took a photo of it.

So one day I'm going to get around to raiding my solids bin and making this funky little quilt!

I love it when you find quilty inspiration in unusual places, don't you?

Hope everyone has a fabulously stitchy weekend, I am hoping for a bit of time to catch up on some stuff on my to do list.

Linking up to From Blank Pages

xxx Jane

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Practically Paper Piecing Giveaway Winner

Just a quick note, since it would seem that real life is getting in the way of all my creative fun this week.

Thanks to everyone who commented on my Hunger Games paper pieced quilt and entered the giveaway.

So the premise of The Hunger Games is 24 kids go into the games, one comes out. Echoing that, I had 24 comments, and only one victor! I haven't figured out or the like yet, so my method of drawing was to ask my completely impartial friend who I was chatting with on Facebook to pick a number between 1 and 24 (I'd have asked my kids, but they're in bed and would probably have to be bribed with something anyway).

And she chose #7, so the lucky winner of the Carol Doak book, Show Me How To Paper Piece, is Gill, who said:

GillAugust 15, 2012 12:56 AM
Wow! I like the red block best!
Thanks for all the tips! I'm new to paper piecing!

I like the red block best too, Gill - I'll be emailing you! Congratulations!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sunday Stash

Oh boy, it would seem I've been on a bit of a fabric bender again....

Okay, not totally, maybe a bit more like everything's arriving at once (except the two parcels that haven't arrived yet, but shhh about those). And I can seriously justify it all. I am full of excuses.

This week saw the arrival of another Travelling Stash swap, this one was a little FQ swap in a 500g postbag. I took 8 FQs out and put 8 new ones in.... hardly counts as new fabric when you do it that way does it?

I also joined a rainbow charm swap a while ago and got my charms back from that. Luscious colours and a serendipitous little collection, since I have nearly used them all up on the perfect project already. Again, since it was a swap it's not exactly new fabric.

Then I was at Quilt Group today and Kristy gave me my bit of an order we did together... when you're sneaking in on the end of someone else's order to help them fill their flat rate envelope to maximise postage then that doesn't really count, right? Okay, maybe I'm stretching it now...

Then Marieka lovingly shared some of her new Denyse Schmidt prints from Spotlight. Our Spotlight has a 1 metre minimum cut on clearance fabrics which drives me nuts because I don't want yardage these days. So it was very nice for Marieka to share.

Marieka also had an order from overseas and helped me feed my Lizzy House Pearl Bracelets obsession. The front three fabrics I already had, the back ones are new. Kristy also got me a FQ of the pink, though that one was meant to be lavender, oh well. Since these are one of my must have fabrics, I don't mind how much I have of it.

There was a bit of new bargain fabric coming in via my destashing group on Facebook, which I really must stop looking at since I'm not actively destashing my stuff at the moment.

And the biggest bonus - a total surprise - was the "Free to Good Home" fabric that showed up at quilt group today. One of the ladies had been given a huge packing box of fabric from a friend, and she bought it in for us to pick through. Okay, it's old school and it smelt musty (anyone know how to get that smell out, it still smells after washing), but there were some gems in there. Lots of solid and some great prints. Now I'm doing more paper piecing and more scrap quilting, I am learning to look at all fabric for its potential. There were plenty of bits I took with my Harry Potter quilt in mind, because a lot of my stash won't work for that kind of project. And they were lots of small, scrappy bits, which is totally what I'm into at the moment. There were some great old-style selvedges for my collection obsession too. Happy, happy days! Astoundingly, hubby wasn't happy to hear about more new fabric, even when it was free!
This photo totally doesn't do it justice, it just needs a little TLC before I  can share it with you further.

So all in all, a great week for stash building, and not too much money spent either.

Linking up to Fiona at Finding Fifth as usual.

Friday, August 17, 2012

TGIFF - The Happy Edition

A couple of weeks ago I posted about how I was feeling very grumpy, here. I hadn't done anything creative in so long, I was feeling overwhelmed by the to do list and I just needed to play.

I am happy to report that the quilt therapy worked and I am ready to pitch it to my health insurance company (anything to help fund the stash building!). A couple of nights of sewing and I had this shiny, happy, cheerful little wallhanging all finished.

I started out scouring my Pinterest boards for something that had absolutely nothing to do with anything I have been working on lately and I stumbled across these gorgeous blocks in the most delightfully cheerful colours. This took me to this video, where a totally new-to-me technique was shown. It looked simple enough, so I started playing with fabric combinations and stitching up a storm.

I really love how these 'faux cathedral window' blocks came up and they are very easy, even though they look nice and complex. Some clever fabric folding yields an awesome textured effect for little effort. Each block only took about 20 minutes to stitch up.

I decided to accentuate the natural circles that were forming in the curves, so I spiral quilted them. I free motion quilted it but for once I marked it, which made it much more accurate. The notion that you can't mark when FMQing is a total myth, and it was well worth the time it took to mark up. It was even - gasp - worth the time spent unpicking my dodgy first efforts.

I am entering this in the Sew Lux Fabric and Gifts Texture Competition - it's hard to see it in the pictures but this technique involves fabric folding and the centre pieces have quite a nice 3D effect that is accentuated by the quilting. Fortunately the rest of the family hasn't discovered the 3D effect and tampered with it (you try living in a house where everyone nicknames the yoyos on your bed quilt 'fiddlers' because they're just the right size to poke a finger into!).

I'm also linking up to TGIFF, over at Mama Love Quilts even though I don't know if this really counts as a FINALLY finished as it was a very quick project, but anything that gets me out of a state of creative block and switches me from grumpy to happy is worth it in my book!

Hope your week has been a creative one!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Studio Snippet

I will confess, I am a lucky girl. I have my own craft room. A whole, entire, large room filled with craft things.  It is a happy, happy place. I do share it with three smaller people, because I am trying to foster a love of creating in my kids. And sometimes I even invite my quilty peeps over for a playdate.

We originally built this house with a small studio off our bedroom, but I hated being closed away in there. And being introverts who don't do a massive amount of entertaining, we realised we never really used the formal living room  - so one day I boldly suggested we move the craft room into the living room, and amazingly DH agreed!

For the last two years it's been a bit of a work in progress, making do with furniture from around the place, while I secretly harboured dreams of Ikea Expedit shelving filling an entire wall and fiendishly pinned an entire  Pinterest board with inspiring studios.

Earlier this year, a trip to Ikea was had and dreams began to come true. I set about creating my dream craft space. It is still very much a work in progress, but since I reorganised my desk yesterday and finally finished hanging all my hoops I thought I'd share a little corner of it with you. I'll bring you more snippets in weeks to come (Read: as I get organised!).

My embroidery and quilting hoop collection,
filled with some of my favourite fabrics and
the odd orphaned quilt block - changeable art.

My inspiration wall - lots of very cute quotes and printables I found online.
The space in the middle is for a future project I haven't quite started on yet.

My desk corner, looking so bright and happy now.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Practically Paper Piecing Blog Hop - The Hunger Games Edition

It's my turn! All month long there's been loads of quilty inspiration for how to turn those paper pieced blocks you just had to do into useable projects, now it's my turn to show you how to create a piece of art out of your paper piecing.

I have had this project on my wanna-do list for quite some time now, and thanks to Kristy's kick in the pants encouragement, it is now a quilt ready to hang, after I spent many, many hours last week paper piecing, unpicking, paper piecing, embroidering and binding these beauties.

But now, I feel like I can paper piece anything. Anything! So pushing myself was totally worth it. And I can show this to my non-quilty friends and they pretend to be even more impresed than usually. Yes, I love this project enough that I am actually torturing my non-quilty friends with it!

Miss Phoebe, who is 10, is a massive fan of The Hunger Games. She totally sucked me in and I lost a couple of weeks of my life to reading the books back to back. We love love love these books. So to find that there's a free paper piecing pattern for all the book covers here made me very happy! I knew immediately I had to make a quilt for her. Liljabs is working on blocks representing all the Districts, but I couldn't wait that long, so this is what I came up with.

Here are the three blocks, and let me tell you, there are 100 pieces in each 10 inch square if there are 10! I didn't actually count the pieces, but there were plenty.

 I decided to piece them vertically, to make them more of a banner. And I couldn't resist embroidering the catchphrase, "May the odds be ever in your favor" - you must of course get your Effie Trinket on and say this in your best Capitol accent. After spending a number of hours in front of the TV on the embroidery (using metallic gold thread for another nod to Capitol opulence), I decided to quilt it very simply.

She is very, very excited to have this ready to hang, though she doesn't look it here. 

And some embroidery details...

 Now I am going to assume most of you can figure out how to turn a block into a quilt, so I'm not going to offer a step by step, rather I thought I'd share a few tips I've learnt on my paper piecing journey thus far...

Before you start
- check the seam allowances on your papers are 1/4inch, if they are then everything else will be okay. Trust me, printer settings can do silly things and when you've pieced an entire block for a swap to find it comes up 1/2 an inch short, tears seem like a very good option.
- break out the coloring pencils and color in all the pieces. These blocks were simple in that they were either black or colored, but coloring in the colored sections made it soooo much easier to make sure I was putting the right fabric in place.
- prefold all your seam line on the paper. It's just easier.

While you're piecing
- After you stitch a piece, fold back the next seam you're going to sew and trim your seam allowance on the piece you've just secured. Then you can just line up the next piece on the seam allowance. I know this seems like you might be double handling your seam trimming at times but once I figured this out I found it so much easier to place my pieces. Totally worth it.
- Use your smallest rotary cutting blade and ruler possible. Yeah, the ones you bought when you couldn't afford a big guy. They are perfect for little cuts like this.
- If you're not sure whether or not a scrap of fabric will cover the piece sufficiently, don't use it. You always need more than it looks like you will. And unpicking those tiny seams is a bitch.

After you've pieced
- Press all your sections before you trim them back to the paper. And repeat after me: Starch Is Your Friend. Use it, love it. It does tend to discolor your ironing board but it's totally worth it for how smooth you get you pieces.
- Try new things - for these blocks I decided to stitch the blocks together with the paper on. With about 15 units in each block it was totally worth it to do it this way.

Hopefully one or two of these tips will you help you with your paper piecing. And if you need more help, I might need to refer you to the Queen of Paper Piecing herself - Carol Doak! Carol has kindly donated one copy of her book, Show Me How to Paper Piece for me to giveaway! To enter, follow my blog and then leave me a comment telling me which of the blocks above is your favorite. I'll keep the competition open until Monday 20th August.

Happy Hunger Games - and may the odds be ever in your favor.

- Jane

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday Stash - Vintage Sheets

Today's Sunday Stash isn't a new addition to my collection, but I wanted to share my sweet little vintage sheet collection with you.

Here are some sheets I got in a fat quarter swap a few months ago.

And here are some lovelies I recently thrifted and need to cut into FQs very soon.

And yes, I have an ulterior motive sharing them with you. I am currently hosting a Vintage Sheet Fat Quarter Swap on Facebook - at the Fabric Swaps - Australia and International page - but because it's been pretty quiet I've extended the swap deadline to September 30th and I'm also organising it through my blog too.

So if you're an Australian resident and you want to get yourself a lovely little bundle of vintage goodness, here's your chance!

A few housekeeping details: The swap is for vintage sheets cut into fat quarters (20in x 20in/50cm x 50cm). It is up to you how many FQs you want to swap, you will get the same number in return.

Please wash sheets prior to sending. Cut carefully, removing hemmed edge before cutting and watching for any holes/stains – please only send sheets you would be happy to receive. If sheets are not up to standard I reserve the right to send the unsuitable sheets back to you. You may need to fussy cut around holes or particularly worn areas.

Use a pre-paid parcel post satchel to mail them to me, and include a self-addressed pre-paid satchel for their return. You will get about 15fqs in a 500g satchel ($7.20) and 50+ in a 3kg satchel ($11.40), there are also 5kg satchels ($14.50) but I’m not sure how much they hold. If you want to send more than one satchel of FQs that is fine but please mark them 1 of 2, 2 of 2 etc. It would help me if you can pop a note in that states exactly how many FQs you’re sending. 

Sheets need to be with me by September 30th , 2012. 

Please comment below or email me at to get mailing address and let me know to expect your parcel.

Please feel free to publicise the swap on your blog, facebook etc. The more the merrier!

Linking up to Sunday Stash at Finding Fifth

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

WIP Wednesday

It's a love/hate thing for me and paper piecing. I absolutely adore the results, but while I'm doing it I sometimes really, really question my sanity.

Like when you realise you've just stitched six pieces into a section that's 1 x 1 1/2 inches, including the seam allowances.

But the end result is worth it... this one is still a bit lumpy because the paper is still attached. I had to promise a certain 10 year old I'd let her do the ripping out (thank you Kristy for getting her started on that one).

Said 10 year old is a massive The Hunger Games fan, so she is watching the process of this project with bated breath. She very sweetly said tonight, "I'm just thinking that when my friends come over they'll be so jealous if they see this".... to which I responded (because I am mother of the year and take every opportunity to instill empathy and nice manners in my children): "Don't get any ideas that I'm making one of these for anyone else!".

There's a fair bit more work to do before she can do anything with this one, anyway. And while I can paper piece, I am completely and utterly in awe of those who design patterns, like Liljabs, who designed these amazing Hunger Games blocks.

I have to have this project finished in less than a week, which is causing a little stress, but nothing a bit of chocolate can't fix. If you want to see what I turn this into, be sure to check in here next Tuesday, when I'll be hosting the Practically Paper Piecing Blog Hop. But right now, go and check out the schedule and visit some of the other awesome paper piecers who are turning their orphaned paper pieced blocks into cuteness for the next month - this blog hop is the brain child of Kristy at Quiet Play, my gorgeous quilting buddy and paper piecer extraordinaire.

On that note, it's back to the to do list!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday @ Freshly Pieced

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Sunday Stash

I meant to post these babies last week, but life got in the way last weekend. There seems to be a lot of new fabric purchasing going on round here lately, but fortunately there's also been a lot of destashing so I am diversifying my stash. It's all good!

These sweeties all came from the lovely Jane (when are Janes anything but lovely?) at Want It, Need It Quilts - she stocks a great range of precuts at awesome prices for an Australian shop.

First up, some sweet little Summersault by Erin McMorris. Love, love, love those little raindrop prints. And the colours are just gorgeous.

Then, the full range of Rosalie Quinlan's Folk Heart. I hesitated on these for a few days because I wasn't sure if they were really 'my colours' but I am loving them! The colours are fresh and pure and just a lighter version of what I normally go for. Gotta have some diversity in your colour values, right?

And this last little bundle was an impulse buy as it was a great price. You can never have too many black and whites in your stash and my collection has been sorely lacking lately. I may turn some of these into a skirt, as I saw a cute pattern for a fat quarter skirt on Pinterest the other day. Of course, they also make an ideal cat rest - Flash is competing in cat napping in the Cat Olympics.

I tend to shop by colour rather than collection or designer, so my priority when looking for new fabric is building my colour collections. None of these are 'new' collections, but that's okay. And I don't often go for the 'hero' fabrics in collections, but I love good blenders, and tend to get a little obsessed with having these in every colour... but that's a topic for a future post.

Linking up to the lovely Fiona at Finding Fifth, who is showing lots of scrappy love today.

PS: Further to my grumpy post the other day, I very successfully found my sewjo and have an awesome little quilt to show you later in the week.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Grumpy, grumpy, grumpy

Do you ever get super frustrated and cranky when you don't have time to make stuff? That's my life at the moment and it's not fun.

There's plenty of stressful stuff going on around here, so I feel like I'm juggling balls left, right and centre. We're at the tail end of a massive revamp of my craft room, which I'd love to show off when I'm in a better frame of mind. It's all good, but I feel like all I've been doing in here lately is assembling flat packs and moving stuff. I have plenty of sewing I 'should' be doing but very little motivation, cos sometimes the WIP list can be very overwhelming.

Here is my sewing table.... see if you can spot the sewing machine. Inspiring, huh... not bloody much!

The only thing I haven't had time for lately is sewing. And when I don't do something creative I find myself getting very grumpy. When I go to work contemplating fabric, I know it's time for some quality time with my machine.

So tonight, I'm putting on my jammies, breaking out the chocolate, pulling out some fresh, new fabric and making goodness-knows-what. I'll turn off the computer and plug in the ipod instead and I'll spend some quality time playing. Not on anything I have to be doing, either. I might even (gasp!) start something totally new.

Hope you get time to do what makes you happy, too.