Saturday, November 30, 2013

Black Friday fabric sales

Also known as quilter's Christmas! I do love this time of year, and although our household discretionary spending isn't exactly unlimited, I still made a couple of purchases this year.

Reminisce FQ bundle in Sweet Reveries

Lottie Da FQ bundle in Chic

Plus a couple of others. It was a nice feeling to wish for these fabrics for so many weeks, wait, and get them at a wonderful price. Over at Fat Quarter Shop they are having 25% off storewide and these babies ended up at a little over $2 per fat quarter. At my local quilt store, they are $5.50 so I'm thrilled!

Now it's just a matter of waiting to get them!

P.S. I'm not sponsored by or affiliated with any stores, I just found that Fat Quarter Shop ended up having the best deals for the fabrics I wanted. I love grabbing a bargain.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

My favourite kind of quilt

You know what the best kind of quilt is?

One that has graduated from WIP to finished!
 One of my favourite online fabric stores had a sale a while back, and I grabbed a layer cake of Posy by Aneela Hoey. I knew I needed to use up that layer cake. Firstly, because I'm in love with the sweet, whimsical design. But also because I find that sometimes, my fabric goes...stale. Am I crazy for thinking that? Sometimes fabric gets stashed away, bypassed in favour of alternatives, then one day it's just not as appealing anymore.

After I bought the fabric and admired it for longer than I care to admit, I jumped onto Pinterest, hoping to be struck by amazing inspiration. Going back through my Quilts I Love board, I came across the Garden Fence tutorial by Hyacinth Quilt Designs. I knew it would be perfect, and after some quick recalculations to make the tutorial fit a layer cake, I started sewing.

I'm really bad at taking photos as I go. It's probably because I do most of my sewing in a hurry (during my little one's nap times) or at night, when the light isn't great.

But here are some more shots of the finished product anyway :-)

Measures 65 x 75 inches, sashed and bound with Moda Bella Solids, complete with a little bit of scrap improv at the back...because I failed to buy enough backing I'm cool like that.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Back with a baby quilt!

I'm back to my little blog that I love so much after a crazy, emotional couple of last months. Thank goodness for sewing, I think most of us here in the quilting blogosphere can relate to the feeling of therapy one experiences while creating. I've been focused on a few projects, the most recent finish has been a quilt for one of my closest friends' newborn daughter. I've used mostly scraps, but did cut a couple of strips of yardage off just to add some extra bulk and variety. I love looking at it up close, it's a game of eye-spy for lovers of designer fabrics!

These babies are 2 x 3 rectangles and 3 inch squares. I love the look of them, but for a short time I regretted choosing that size. Yes, that regret happened during the cutting stage.

I surrounded this sea of pink, purple and blue with a 6 inch white border, and just because I'm a little bit crazy I also made some teeny-tiny dresden plates that sit cheerfully in each corner. They are so much fun because the centres are stuffed with toy filling to give the quilt some dimension. I can imagine that sweet baby girl exploring and touching the quilt, it puts a smile on my face.

For the back, I did have several pieces from my stash that were almost big enough, but annoyingly just a little too small. I thought about it for a while, left it for a couple of days, then decided that a large scale patchwork would be a good idea.

What I loved about these 8 inch squares was how speedy they were to cut and piece. I think I'll do it again in the future - it's a great way to use large, oddly shaped fabric as backing.

I may have touched on this earlier, my Dad was very sick. He was diagnosed with a brain tumour back in February, it was melanoma. His first melanoma diagnosis was fourth stage, it started in the lining of his brain, no cancer site on his skin. On the 4th of September, he slipped away into the arms of Jesus, gone from our daily journey. Seeing him be buried was one of the hardest things I've ever gone through. It was all too unfair, he was only 55, he had no warning, he isn't going to see his granddaughter grow up. Knowing that I will be reunited with him again one day brings great comfort but I miss him now.

Making this baby quilt has been a little bittersweet, it's a tangible reminder that life goes on, new life starts, others end. Grief that has started off as crippling is now easing slightly. Still very painful but I can carry on with daily essentials and the thought of cooking dinner no longer leaves me in tears.

One bright spot that has shone through my whole experience has been to know how loved I am by my truly amazing friends. I've had supportive phone calls, offers of practical assistance, gifts, meals delivered, and shoulders to cry on. If you have friends like this too, tell them how much they mean to you - it could change their day. And this blog entry here is for my beautiful friend Lauren, who came over today to plan a quilt together, and strongly encouraged me to get back into blogging. Thank you!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Sitting down to write...

Sitting down to write a blog post has been hard lately. I have been sewing in the little spare time I have, which is incredibly fulfilling. It's exactly what I need to balance out the paid job I have, the unpaid Mum job I do, and the grief I am currently consumed with.

So, the creating has been there, but the blogging hasn't.

I may come back to it another time, but for now I'd love to see you at my Facebook page. I do make short updates much more frequently there, without feeling the need to say a lot, or take lots of amazing photos. You can find me there at Heart & Homemade - hope to catch up more often there! x

Monday, June 10, 2013

Living Simply, and Simply Living!

It's been a while since I updated, but I'm not going to apologise :-)

Since my latest post, and quasi-meltdown, I've realised I just need to slow down and enjoy life. Teddy Bear won't be little forever, and I felt like I was trying to do too much, and for what? Life is too short to stress. This has been put into perspective lately as my Dad has been diagnosed with a terminal illness. It is incredibly sad, but it also helps you reevaluate what is important in your life.

I don't want this to be a heavy post. I want this to be inspiring.

Last Christmas, my MIL gave me a copy of a book she thought I'd enjoy, it's called Down To Earth and it's written by the incredibly lovely Rhonda Hetzel. In a nutshell, the book encourages the reader to live simply, free your life of excess, ignore marketing hype, save money and the environment, and develop (and use) basic skills.

It might sound basic, but it has been an inspiring revelation to me! Our family has started to implement some of these techniques and we are having a great time doing so. Oh. And saving money has been a nice bonus!

Here is my first pizza dough, made from scratch. For some reason, I thought it would be really hard to make? That's just crazy talk! Go on and give it a go, the flavour far surpasses any rigid store-bought stuff!

And here it is, fresh out of the oven. I added some oregano and basil to the sauce - from our garden of course. It's so much fun to pick fresh produce and cook with it.

Speaking of gardening, did you know that you can plant some cuttings instead of throwing them away? It's almost too good to be true! I've successfully planted scraps from celery and spring onion, it almost feels like recycling food.

I just love those sneaky baby fingers going in to steal a slice!

Ok...the bread. Oh, that bread! My husband and I thought it would be nice to try soy and linseed. It didn't bake too well (wet in the middle), and while it was delicious, it was dangerous. It took us three days to realise that soy and linseed gave all three of us the most horrific gas. Even Teddy Bear was farting like a trooper. Looking at that picture gives me a stomach ache, haha!

We went on to make regular white bread, with Home Brand white flour, and it was fantastic. I've borrowed a breadmaker to do this, and feel very fortunate that we didn't have to buy one. Although if I didn't have access to one, I would probably have the confidence now to make bread completely by hand. Do yourself a favour and do it! I feel amazing for not eating all those preservatives (and paying $4 a loaf for bread, what's up with that?).

This is the last piece of the kitchen renovation puzzle done. My beautiful, beautiful duck-egg blue glass tile splashback. I'm so in love! Just need some hand made goodness to make it feel like home ;-)

And finally, in the spirit of simplicity, I've done a little bit of English paper piecing in the evenings. I sit and chat with my husband while we watch tv, it's nice to slow down and just stitch for fun. Thank you again Gina for the Marmalade mini charm pack - I love how it looks in hexagons!

Check back soon to see some of the items I've been more tears with these, I am happy with the results.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Uncluttering my head

I think I have overwhelmed myself with inspiration. Does that ever happen to you?

Every day, I read updates on my favourite blogs. That number has grown in recent times, and it is so lovely to see what different people are doing in their own unique style. Everyone seems to finish their projects so fast. It makes me want to have a go too.

I've got a lot on my mind that I'd like to achieve, and in an effort to empty my to-do list, I've just started making things. I've been rushing to fit all the sewing in teddy bear's nap times, and therefore botching things up. I'm really unhappy with the end results. Unhappy with colour choices, or techniques I've used. Also unhappy with how much time sewing has been stealing away from sitting and chatting with my husband, or at some times, my daughter. Insert a big sad face here!

Time for a reality check. Yes, it's ok for somebody else to make an amazing quilt. I don't need to make one as well, to make me happy. I don't need to fill up every spare second of my free time with 'doing'. I don't need to reinvent the wheel, or create a masterpiece in a day.

I'm not really sure what the exact point I'm trying to make is. I guess part of me needed to admit out loud that I need to slow down. When a passion becomes an obsession, step back and settle down. It's not worth burning out for something that is meant to be fun!

So in the spirit of simplicity, the last couple of things I've made were functional gifts. For my mother, I made a heat pack filled with linseed and rice for her sore back. For my mother in law, I made an oven mitt. Both projects were made from things I already owned - fabric from my stash, cotton batting (wadding) scraps that I sewed together to make wider pieces, even old tea towels that were sliced up. I can see why quilters get such satisfaction out of making scrap quilts, it feels great to be resourceful! Not that I had much choice, as at the moment our discretionary spending has been severely limited (ie. we're broke!!). I didn't get a picture of the oven mitt, but here is the heat pack.

I've tested the heat pack out and it took one and a half minutes in the microwave to get hot, and retained heat for about 45 minutes. There is approximately 600 grams of linseed & rice in there, for a rough guide.

On a much more cheerful note, I actually won a prize in the Sew Mama Sew giveaway! The lovely Gina who blogs at Party Of Eight: Our Story sent me an email to let me know that I'd won 3 fat quarters and a mini charm pack. I'm absolutely over the moon, I'd never won anything before! So a big, public thank you goes out to Gina! I'm grateful also to be able to ponder what I'll make with my prizes as I wait for its arrival from the States.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Swamped by Giveaways

It's a good thing.

I am completely overwhelmed by the amount of freebies being given away by so many generous bloggers all over the world. It's so much fun to discover new people, enter their giveaways, and make new friends :-) The creativity out there just blows my mind!

Please check out the fun happening over at Sew Mama Sew, it happens only twice a year.

I'm heading back into the blog list! xxx

Monday, May 6, 2013

Kombi Cushion {Tutorial}

My poor husband. In all the years I've been sewing, I haven't actually made anything for him. (I'm sure he's really sad about it, haha). He's been away for work over the past week, and I took that opportunity to make him a cushion. Our old ones were all ruined in the move, and since I don't have a style to match it to, I went all out and made one I thought he'd like. A funky old VW Kombi. It's not rocket science, but I wrote up a little tutorial in case anyone would like to have a go at making their own, and needed some pointers.

Start off with a sketch of what you'd like to make. It doesn't have to be too pretty, but the more accurate it is at this stage, the easier it will make your life later. Keep in mind that whatever you draw will be reversed as an applique (important to know for letters). Then trace each individual component onto vliesofix, or any other paper backed, double-sided adhesive. For example, I wanted the bottom body of the van to be green, and the top to be yellow. So I traced each section separately onto vliesofix. Cut roughly around the traced outlines, then iron the vliesofix to the wrong side of the fabric.

This is a really great project for using up scraps, as you can see!
Cut around each piece now, on the drawn lines. 

Here is a look at the pieces cut out (minus the headlights). I was pretty happy with the result at this stage, so I went ahead and started piecing the cushion cover.

I thought a beach scene would be cool to attach the kombi van to, but it would also look good on a plain background if you prefer. You probably won't know this, but curved piecing was always one of my fears, something I was scared to even try. But I had nothing to lose here, so I gave it a go, and was so glad that I did. It wasn't that difficult, it just helps to be patient, go slow, and have a hot iron handy. If you are piecing a background, make it about 3-5 inches larger around all sides so you can trim it square.

Attach the kombi to the background by ironing it down. I find that the vliesofix doesn't bond permanently, so I like to stitch shapes down soon after ironing them. Here I used a regular stitch and raw edge applique with black cotton. I went around each edge three times, messily keeping the lines separate so that the end result yielded a 'sketched' look. It's probably my favourite detail.Next was to embroider on the VW logo and some windscreen wipers. I added a black and white striped border to echo the black stitching, and a sun in the sky because that corner looked bare! The cushion top at this stage measured 1/2 an inch bigger than the cushion insert around all edges.

I then lay down some plain white backing, cotton batting, and added the cushion top. Baste the layers together, and quilt in any way you like. I conquered another fear at this stage, free motion quilting! Gave it a go, and although I was happy enough with the result, I can't say I've mastered the skill yet. But I am so keen to keep using it! If you aren't confident with FMQ, I'd recommend using a thread that very closely matches the fabric colour, so mistakes aren't so obvious.

Last step is to add the cushion back. I used an envelope style closure, but any will do.

And there you have it!

Honestly, although I'm happy with the result, this was so hard to make because I couldn't add any pink, purple, or floral. It's not very 'me'. But it's very 'him', and that's all that matters!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Teddy Bear's Roses - A finished quilt

The quilt is done, and only four days too late.

I ended up straight-line quilting it. FMQ is something that I'm yearning to try, but given my trouble getting SL right, I may just need a bit more practice first! If you look really closely (or just enlarge this picture) you'll see the distortion where the top has been pulled by the process of quilting. It kind of looks like an optical illusion, which could be cool if it was the look I was going for. 

When you turn it over you can see that the quilting pattern is a quasi-Union Jack. That came about because I was getting discouraged with the long, straight lines pulling the fabric out of shape. So I switched it up, and I'm glad I did! 

The binding is my favourite part. I had trouble choosing what to use, as I wanted to use something existing from my stash. My stash isn't huge! But this raspberry red solid just made all the other colours pop, it framed the quilt like a picture. Best of all, it matches the front and the back. I used this tutorial by the amazingly talented Rita at Red Pepper Quilts, and it worked an absolute treat. I'm so grateful for her clear instructions, it made binding so enjoyable. It's the only part of my quilt process that went without a hitch!

I have a very long way to go with getting my quilts perfect. But that's ok. If you have any tips for me, please feel free to share them. Until then, I will keep practicing, sewing, making - sounds like a good excuse to have more fun!

Teddy Bear was sick this afternoon so we spent lots of time cuddled up here, cozy and warm. Doing nothing but peacefully watching Play School. Poor kiddo, but Mummy was happy to get some peaceful cuddles from her go-go baby!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Treasures Uncovered

Op Shops. Thrift Stores. Whatever you call it where you're from, they mean the same thing. Buried treasure, amazing potential for discovery. I took a little trip today with Teddy Bear, and found the sweetest little things.

We have some floral vintage handkerchiefs at the front, some floral vintage sheeting at the back, and those dear little lambs are actually salt and pepper shakers! I saw them last time I was at this store, and couldn't stop thinking about them. Don't you just love it when you go back and the item you so badly wanted was still there?

I did buy all this vintage for a reason. Over on Facebook, I am part of a group called The Collective Project and we all contribute to a quarterly showcase. The next one that is running is called Vintage Love Story, and I can't wait to get started on some contributions for it! For those interested, check out The Collective Project, the next showcase is running on Friday 21st June. My fingers are itching to start putting my secret plans into action!

Another treasure for me, and this is a HUGE cause for excitement, is that I've acquired some precious Tilda fabric for $19/yard! I adore those teacups and would love to make something to jazz up my kitchen. I'd love to hear some suggestions if you have any ;-)

Teddy Bear's 1st birthday went beautifully on Sunday, the only regret I have is that the quilt didn't get finished in time! I was about 60% of the way through the quilting when I realised I didn't have time to finish. Instead of dwelling on it though, I pulled out the remaining safety pins and threw it on the floor anyway. The teddy bears sitting on top didn't complain once!

Happy birthday, my sweet baby girl.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Welcome Home

A stark, white page on Blogger. It's a little imposing but more exciting, as I can turn this blank canvas into anything I like. Or, like life, I can just see where it goes and what it turns into.

It seemed like the right time to start this blog, as 11 days ago my family and I moved into our own tangible blank canvas - our home! We have been living with my in-laws for about 6 months while we renovated this place, and it is finally ours. It's the best feeling. 

The only thing is, it is still quite bare. Beautiful, but plain. Being a keen quilter and crafter, I can't wait to dive into my stash of fabrics and give this place some personality. If you like craft, quilts, recipes, paper and fabric, please stick with me and share this journey!

Originally I wanted to make my blog pretty before I published my first entry. I wanted a banner, coordinating fonts, backgrounds, and perfect photos from my DSLR. But life was happening, prettiness was getting made, and I wanted to share it.

Project One: Teddy Bear's Birthday.

I have a baby girl, let's call her Teddy Bear for now. She is going to be ONE on Sunday! I'm in the process of attempting a Pinterest-worthy teddy bear's picnic party (and having the best time doing it). I've been making a simple square style patchwork quilt for the teddy bears to sit on. Overkill? Maybe. But it's a quilt she can use as she gets older, and it's making me a happy Mummy in the meantime. Let's see it.
I've never been a huge fan of florals, but these have converted me. I've cut 7 inch squares out of Delilah by Tanya Whelan - Bijou in pink, Red Rose Farm by Elizabeth Scott - Pink buds, Rose Parade by Moda - Roses on red, and a green FQ I've had in my stash forever but had no selvedge. The white is actually bleached calico. Remind me not to use it again, my machine really disliked it.

Here is the ironing going on for the backing, I think I like it even better than the front! When I walked into my local quilt store, I had no idea what I wanted to buy. But I walked out with what was left on the bolt of the absolutely divine Lecien Flower Sugar, plus a little creamy pink dot fabric called Hot Chocolate. Couldn't be happier. By the way, how cute would my lounge room look in all that floral? ;-)

So at the moment I am piecing the back, planning to baste, and wondering how to quilt!

Pop back soon if you have been reading, and feel free to say hi!

Mel xo