Sunday, April 19, 2015

Celebrating!

I've had a couple of weeks of celebration! Having family around for my birthday recently was my dream present. At my age I have everything I need (and want!) so my stock answer when I'm asked, "What would you like for your birthday?" is always "to have family with me". Having said that, I did receive some lovely presents as well!

Last week, it was our 49th wedding anniversary. We celebrated by attending a Symphony Orchestra concert and a meal out with some friends.


I am so blessed to have spent so many years with my wonderful husband and love of my life.

And I'm celebrating finishing a quilt. It was one of my 'slow' projects, commissioned more than a year ahead, so I had plenty of time to tackle it little by little.  Just a sneak peak or two for now:


I am really thrilled at how it has turned out.


Another celebration that is happening soon is the wedding of a friend's daughter. I've been asked to make a coat hanger for the bride's dress. I will be in my element with guipure lace, beads, and ribbon for this next project.


When I showed you the pincushion below a couple of months ago, there was a lot of interest in it and I promised I would make it available in my Craftsy Store.


That's happened now and the pattern is available for just $5. Check it out here.

I'm having a break from stitching this week - tell you about it next time!

Val


Sunday, April 12, 2015

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 4

Block 4 is now available in the free BOM
wall quilt.


The verse featured this month is the amazing Golden Rule that Jesus taught.


If we lived like that, what a transformation would take place in our families, workplace, communities ... and even our nation.


Are you adding a little key charm on yours?


You can download the pattern here.

I've had a busy but fun week with five of our grand-children with us - two of our son's boys and three of our daughter's children. The cousins had a wonderful time together, which was lovely as they don't see each other very often. We had a number of mornings and afternoons at the beach, went to the Museum and to a fabulous Dinosaur Exhibition, and trotted off to see the Cinderella movie (loved it!).  The only sewing I did was the usual mountain of mending that daughter brought with her!

I'm glad that I worked hard before Easter to write up patterns, prepare samples etc. as I have three designs to post off to editors this week. Two of them are Christmas projects. It's a bit scary already thinking about the end of the year! 

Hope the editor likes this as much as I do!

Happy stitching!
Val


Sunday, April 5, 2015

The finishing touches

  
Happy Easter! May you enjoy the many blessings of the amazing event we celebrate.

I thought it was about time I shared again some of the hints, tips and know-how that I have picked up over the last few years in my role as a designer. Today I want to talk about "the finishing touches" or "how to take a project from ordinary to gorgeous". I'm focusing particularly on stitching accessories, which, because they are small, lend themselves easily to adding that little extra. 

“The difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little extra.” 
Jimmy Johnson

So here are some of my "little extras". 
Gold fused beading:


Picture these items without the beading. They might be pretty, but they really don't look finished until the "little extra" is sewn on.  The set below has Pearl beading:


Don't despise the humble binding. See how the lavender binding on this needle-case acts as a frame around the darker border fabric:



Braid makes a wonderful finishing touch:


Closely connected is the twisted cord edge. In contrast to the commercially made braid, you can make a twisted cord so easily yourself:


Twisted cord is probably my "go to" finishing touch:


I love that there are so many colours of thread available that you can always have the right colour, in contrast to the limited range of store-bought braid. I added little picots when sewing on the cord on this set:


You couldn't get much simpler than running stitch, but that was all that was needed to give this set its finishing touch:


If you are using felt, there are even more options available with its "no fray" properties. A simple blanket-stitch sews the pieces together and gives the finished look:


On this bag I used a variation called closed blanket-stitch and used a contrasting thread:


So, think about adding that "little extra" next time you want to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary.

I didn't get much done last week with a couple of lots of visitors, a funeral to attend and Easter upon us. I will accomplish even less this week and I am very happy about that because that means family will be here!!!

Enjoy your Easter celebrations.
Val

Sunday, March 29, 2015

The Slow Movement

Before we moved back four years ago to Queensland (our home State where both my husband and I were born), we lived in a quaint little river-port in South Australia called Goolwa. That delightful place was the first 'Slow Town' in Australia. In 2007 Goolwa was declared Australia's first 'Cittaslow', reacting against Fast Foods and embracing and encouraging 'diversity, local culture and traditions, local produce and products, taking time to bring together a sustainable community'.


In recent days, I have been realising that I need to take that heritage on board and slow down some areas of my life. I seem to always be in a rush!  Even with my craft, I try to get everything done as quickly as I can, rather than take time to enjoy the process.

Well I discovered something that needs to be tackled SLOWLY! I rushed in and made the March block of Jinny Beyer's gorgeous free quilt pattern and it was quite a disaster. So out came the unpicker and on came the video lesson and I slowly put it together again and this time I was fairly pleased with the result:


I put a couple of my Silk Ribbon patterns in my store this week and that made me realise that I need to do some more of this SLOW embroidery.


 It is such a rewarding craft where every stitch counts and every flower can be enjoyed as they are created slowly one at a time. 


The "On the Wing" pattern is available here.

Silk Ribbon goes well with applique too as in another of my slow patterns - the Beehive Needlecase:


Beautiful roses are so easy to make with silk ribbon and I always enjoy slowly forming each petal:


I've put the Beehive pattern in my store too.



In contrast, one of my fast patterns has been published in Handmade magazine. The Bow Clutch is designed to wear with your hand under the bow strap. 


I have used some beautiful Oriental fabric and picked out the burgundy for the piping and bow contrast: 


I love that there is room for both fast and slow projects. At the moment, I'm just making a conscious effort to embrace the slow movement, no matter what type of design I am stitching.

Enjoy your week.

Val

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The 10,000 Hour Rule

Our daughter was talking to me recently about the 10,000 Hour Rule. She very kindly said that I "get it right with my designs because I have reached the 10,000 hours of practice".

You probably have heard of Outliers:The Story of Success, a non-fiction book written by Malcolm Gladwell. He considers the key to success in any field is practising a specific task for 10,000 hours, whether it be 20 hours a week for 10 years or 40 hours a week for 5 years or however long it takes you to reach the number.  This year marks 10 years since I had my first ever design accepted for publication so yes, I guess I have well and truly filled my 10,000 hours of practice. 


Thinking about this 10,000 hour idea made me realise that it is no wonder that Free Motion Quilting and I aren't best friends. I really have never had the desire or been prepared to give it the practice that it really deserves.  


Interestingly, on my recent attempt at FMQ, I DID actually improve with practice. I have now found the type of quilting that I can cope with and I now know that I could achieve a reasonable outcome if I am prepared to put in the time.


The thing that really surprised me, was that I actually really LIKE my completed quilt. If you don't look too closely, it is quite pretty and the quilting has really enhanced it in spite of all the imperfections! I get to look at it often, as we are using it as a tablecloth!


I had quite a productive week and designed, made and wrote up the pattern for a Christmas apron that I originally had no intention of making! It was one of those designs that just happened! A wall-hanging that I have been working on is now ready for binding and I have started work on another Christmas design.

I decided to put a couple more patterns in my Craftsy store. French Connection Etui is a delightful way of storing your stitching accessories:


You can find the pattern here.


The Singing Heart is a lovely stitchery that can be framed, or used for a pillow or wall-hanging or whatever takes your fancy:

 

The pattern is available here.

If you are looking to make an Easter basket for your favourite child, here's a sweet one you might like:


Pattern is available here.

I'm eager to go and finish my wall-hanging and get into my next projects, but first I have to put on my apron and preserve a case of pears. The William Bartletts are really lovely at the moment so it's worth the effort now to enjoy them throughout the rest of the year.

 Val