Monday, January 30, 2012

Blister In The Thumb

Over the weekend I incurred a devastating, debilitating sewing injury.

Oh I know, sewing is supposed to be a non-contact sport. Done inside, with cups of tea and biscuits. But people, it is DANGEROUS. There are SHARP things involved. Rotary cutters. Needles. Scissors. I tell you, I'm surprised that the emergency rooms haven't filled with people who've done themselves a mischief in this current resergence of craft.

So what's this incapacitating damage I have incurred? You can't see it in a photo, but I have a laaaaarge blister in my thumb.

Right in the middle of the tip.  Right in the exact spot where you use your thumb to push the needle through three layers of fabric when you are hand-sewing the binding to a quilt. In exactly that spot.

This is my own fault, of course. This is what you get when you spend virtually all weekend hand-sewing binding to not just one, but two baby quilts.

The good news is that I have now finished the quilt for the Amateur Actress (photos to come). Hooray! It looks absolutely beautiful and may be my best quilt ever.

And the binding is now virtually completed on the baby quilt for my crafternoon friend The Design Diva as well.

This is what happens when you spend practically the entire weekend inside, on the sofa, doing needlework because your One True Love is off cycling up and down mountains in the country. You get a lot done.

The bad news is that I now cannot stand to pick up a needle again for quite some time.

This is something of an issue, to be honest, because I'd quite *like* to pick up a needle again as I have about 15 centimetres left on the second quilt and I am itching to get it done. I was so tired last night that I just threw it down and went to bed when I couldn't keep my eyes open any more.

This was a bad move, people, a bad move. I was obviously in some sort of focused zen-like state yesterday, concentrating so hard on doing nice neat little stitches and getting through the metres, because I felt no pain at all. Obviously my poor thumb was completely numb from exhaustion.

But today? Well, today when I picked up the needle, thinking I would just do a little bit before heading off to work .... well, then I knew ALL ABOUT MY THUMB, let me assure you.

The truth is evident: I need to rest my silly thumb. The poor thing needs convalescence time.

But .... just fifteen centimetres to go! Fifteen!! ........gah.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Strange Places My Cat Sits: on top of the suitcase, on top of the wardrobe

A double entry this time, with honours to both Grimth and the Fathead.

They both like to climb into high places, and this effort on top of the wardrobe in my sewing room has to take the cake.

Apologies for the poor iPhone photos! (and yes, the room really is that colour.....)

Friday, January 27, 2012

Amaretti love

I have a thing for Amaretti tins. Not the biscuits, just the tins.

I have two at home already ... and then, when I was out and about in Fitzroy the other day, I spied both of these in the Jasper Caffeine Dealers shop.

Aren't they beautiful? I just want to eat that shade of pistachio green.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

CUSHION is a seven-letter word

In between all the work on my baby quilts, I've taken some time out to make a few of these cushions as well.

I'm a Scrabble fan from way back, so when I saw the new range of merchandise the Scrabble people have released, I jumped on the fabric. And just about everyone I know got a Scrabble mug for Christmas with their initial on it.

 They're actually tea-towels, printed on linen, in the same size as the Scrabble board itself (that's 60 x 60 inches for those who aren't as nerdy as I am). I've backed them in a gorgeous black and white ticking, and each cushion has a zip so the cover can be washed as well.

I am in love with them. I think they are the ultimate in geek chic.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Oh my goodness, chair of my heart!

Okay, so I saw this chair on Pinterest recently (I'm getting addicted, it's an absolute feast for the eyes).

I want it. I need it. I MUST HAVE IT.

At the very least, I want to know what fabric that is. I have a new two-seat sofa in EXACTLY (exactly!) the same shape that would look perfect in this coat. It is currently upholstered in a horrible neutral linen that I'm sure is very lovely and tasteful, but I cannot abide it.

I followed all the pins back to the source and found that the image was originally posted on tumblr .... without an acknowledgement.

I spent a good three hours on the interwebs trying to find it. And then, at last, success! It comes from That's the good news.

The bad news is that the customer service people aren't allowed to tell me who their supplier is. One kind woman disclosed that it is a suzani print that is produced in India, but ... well, India is a big place, isn't it, and I've no idea how to even go about trying to find it in that vast country.

I am sad. This is my perfect fabric.

Please excuse me while I go and sit in my horrible linen sofa and sob a little.

Monday, January 23, 2012

The Kaffe Fassett quilt progresses ....

some of the fabrics I'm using in the Amateur Actresses' quilt

So I was awake early this morning, and by 5.02am I was at the sewing machine. Is that crazy?

I've been making excellent progress on the Kaffe Fassett baby quilt for the Amateur Actress, you see, and sometimes when everything is going really well and the colours are wonderfull and I feel my workmanship is is good, I get the urge to craft as much as possible. It's being on a roll, I guess.

I want this quilt to be really good. Really, really good. It's her first child and a much-anticipated baby, and I want to give her a fabulous present to say well done.

So I've taken lots of care selecting the fabrics, and I was very uptight about cutting out squares that were exactly six inches on each side, and I laid out the patches four or five different ways until I got the right combination of patterns and colours. Then I pinned. Readers, I pinned a lot.

I sewed the strips together with more patience than usual, and I did an endless amount of pressing all the seams in one direction.

I even went to the extent of buying the really nice bamboo cotton wadding for the centre of the quilt sandwich. Normally I just use the polyfil wadding - it's good and puffy and feels lovely - but it's a horror to work with. I always find the fabric bunches up oddly when I'm actually quilting it, and it pulls the nice straight lines out of whack.

I did not want to give the Amateur Actress an out of whack quilt that looked like I'd thrown it together. So I bought the good wadding instead.

Last night I laid it all out on the floor, and accompanied by a number of very helpful pussins, started assembling the quilt sandwich. Backing fabric on the floor first. Smooth it all out. Then bamboo wadding on top of that. Smooth it all out. Pin. A lot. Cut out bamboo wadding with a bit of room around the edges. Then ever-so-gently lay the quilt top on top of everything while holding Grimth at bay with elbow.

It was a bit challenging, as the quilt top is EXACTLY the width of the backing fabric I'm using (Amy Butler's flannel from the Love collection) and of course I'd cut the bamboo wadding a bit wider for safety's sake, so I had to somehow magically see through the wadding and ensure the edges of the backing and top were exactly together.

There was no room for error. Everything had to be perfectly aligned. Per-fect-ly. Let me just say this: four pins per six-inch square - one on every side, to hold everything exactly in place. It was the quilty equivalent of  one of those cages they put people's heads in when they've had brain surgery. (hm, have I drawn too long an analogical bow there?).

Anyway, as I put the last pin into place and stood up to stretch my aching back, the clock struck ten and it was time to go to bed.

When I woke up this morning I was all full of anticipation at actually doing the quilting part - so there I was, at 5.02am, stitching in the ditch.

And can I just say, that two strips in, things are looking very good indeed .....

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Strange Places My Cat Sits: in the succulent picture frame

Ah, the Grimth. He does so love to sit in strange places.

This is a picture frame which I put a backing on to create a shallow "pot". I sowed it with succulent seedlings so I that I could hang it up on the garden wall, a la designer-garden style.

Suffice to say that no succulents have survived. It is now a very expensive cat seat. And doesn't he look happy to be photographed on it?!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Time to take the wreath down

It's well past Christmas now, and so it's time to take the wreath down.

I really like this one, and I really feel like leaving it up, because every time I look at it I think of boiled lollies or chocolate freckles or smarties, and it reminds me of childhood and happiness. Obviously I associate childhood with chocolate.

But if I leave it up there, it won't be special at Christmas time, will it?

And I suppose part of loving things means appreciating them at the right time and not taking them for granted. (Hm, sounds like a life lesson snuck in there somewhere.)

I got the idea for this wreath from the famous tutorial on Pickles - I knew straightaway that I wanted to try it.

It was a long project and I have the calluses to show for it - in addition to stringing the felt balls, I also anchored every individual ball to the styrofoam wreath with a metal dressmakers' pin, for added security. It was worth it. It's a wonderful object to be greeted by when I get home, and everyone who comes to visit has commented on it.

If you want a felt ball wreath like this for Christmas 2012 .... then let me know now! They take forever to make .

Here are some other great felt ball wreaths - and the first picture is of the original Pickles one:

image from here

image from here

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Crafty Goals List for 2012

  1. Baby quilt for the Amateur Actress
  2. Baby quilt for Beck
  3. Baby quilt for the Headmistress
  4. Cup of tea and a lie down after three baby quilts in quick succession
  5. Complete the massive postage stamp quilt I started early last year. I was doing fine until I realised I'd accidentally doubled the recipe and was now making the quilt twice as big as it needed to be. King-size. In three-inch squares. That's a lot of seams. It's been stuffed into the back of a drawer (a big drawer) for months now, because I get a cold shiver every time I even think about going back to it.
  6. Curlicue Crush quilt as posted on a few days ago
  7. Complete a patchwork screen using the antique wooden frame that's shoved into a corner of the sewing room and has been unused for years. In the hope of selling it at a market later in the year.
  8. Start the Autumn Daze quilt from Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance book - picture at the top of this post.
  9. Bit of a breakdown as I realise doing all those quilts is probably impossible, and why do I always set my sights on unattainable goals and is this a major character flaw and do I set myself up for failure this way and why can't I just live more in the now without having to constantly achieve, achieve, achieve; ...valium now please.
  10. Finish those grey wool pants I cut out in the middle of winter last year ... sigh ....
  11. Put up shelves in my sewing room so that my wondrous and ever-growing collection of lovely new and vintage tins can be displayed to its best advantage so that I can actually see and enjoy them. Right now they are piled on top of each other in a heap on the sewing table.
  12. Make a curtain for the sewing room window. It's been naked-of-curtain for more than 18 months now and I can't stand another winter without one.
  13. Organise myself for a destash sale. Gulp.
  14. Get Etsy sorted out. With current stock. Take some damn pictures, Flickettysplits!
  15. Start blogging again. Oh, I've done that one! Tick that box. Only fourteen to go .....

Monday, January 16, 2012

Neither positive nor negative .... just neutral.

On the aforementioned Crafty Goals List for 2012 are a number of quilts, of which about half are baby quilts this year.

I have three pregnant friends you see, and as dire luck and happenstance would have it, all of these friends are due within a six-week time frame of each other. So to say that I have a mountain of work ahead of me in the next month (the first baby is due to arrive on February 12) is probably an understatement.

Luckily my baby quilts are a little bigger than a metre square, so they don't take too much time to put together. And two of the suckers are easy-peasy:

  1. Number One is going to be a classic mix of new and vintage fabrics in a wonderfully clashing range of colours and textures
  2. Number Two is going to be made up of Kaffe Fassett materials that are as bright as possible.
It's Number Three quilt that is posing a little more of a problem. It's for the Headmistress - she of perfect taste and quiet restraint. The Headmistress lives in a beautiful house which is elegantly decorated in neutrals. 

Neutrals. That's the crux of the issue. 

I don't do neutrals. I don't know how. And I don't have any neutral fabrics in my stash. 

The dilemma is actually causing me heartache. I want to start on her quilt but I haven't any fabric! I'm going to have to find a shop that specialises in elegant and refined neutrals - and I haven't the faintest idea of where to start. Can anyone help?

Maybe I could order something like this fabric set - it's in the lovely French Provincial style that French General do so well. It's about as close to neutral as I can stand. 

Many years ago I was in an Indian restaurant with a vegetarian friend, and he ordered a vegetarian curry. And when the curry arrived, it had chicken in it. And when my friend called the waiter over and politely asked how chicken could have found its way into his vegetarian curry, the Indian waiter waggled his head and said "oh but sir, in many parts of India chicken is considered a vegetable".... !! 

I feel a bit the same way. Red is a neutral isn't it???

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Strange Places My Cat Sits: the gymwear cubby

I am the Fatpuss. I do like to sit in strange places. I am especially fond of a small, confined area ... though it often takes some effort to squeeze in my great bulk. 

I am not the devil, however. I looked straight at the camera and got laser eyes as a consequence.

I like to climb into this cubby and push out all the clothes onto the floor, leaving just enough to cover the bottom and make a snug little nest. 

I then proceed to put my furs all over the clothes. It is only right and proper. Good night .....

Friday, January 13, 2012

Deadly Night-shirt

I use "deadly" here in the slang form popular in the Top End of Australia, where it's equivalent to wicked, sick, etc. It's another word for awesome.

I do not use it in the traditional and purely empirical sense as in "this nightshirt will kill you". It's for my father, after all.

Dad had only one request for Christmas (the Christmas just gone). His current crop of nightshirts are well worn and he was after some new ones. So mum brought down an old one a few months ago and I cut it up to make a pattern, planning to make Dad two new nightshirts in time for Christmas.

Well, of course that didn't happen, did it? Work got busy, as it always does, and before I knew it, Christmas had come and gone and no nightshirts were evident.

So top of my Crafty Goals for 2012 list - I must actually divulge the contents of that list to you soon, as I seem to be referring to it rather often - was not just to finish this project, but to actually *start* it.

This is actually stage 1, test shirt. I really like the result, even though it has a few dodgy bits to it (sorry Dad).

And I especially like the fabric; it's a mish-mash of spice tins, mustard jars and other kitchenly items; as well as chemist stuff like camphor balm and throat lozenges.

This was perfect, because my father is a fantastic cook and spent many years lecturing in food technology, PLUS he is also a chemist (the scientific kind, not the pharmacy kind) so I feel it's highly appropriate. And I had just the right amount of yardage for exactly this shirt. It was meant to be.

I learnt a few lessons during the sewing process - ah, the fun of copying without pattern instructions - such as: do not forget to serge all seams before connecting sleeves to shirt body.

And also: affix the backing voile at the neckline seam before sewing the front and back sides together, you idiot.

I believe that Nightshirt Number Two will be even deadlier as a consequence of this learning experience.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Baby quilt - with added baby

Is there anything more satisfying than the smile of a happy customer?

It's the thing I love most about putting my craft out into the world. I work away at something, thinking Will they like it? Will they love it? Will they even use it?

Most times I never find out the answer to those questions - and then occasionally, a little piece of feedback arrives and makes me feel like I'm on top of the world.

At the top of this post is a baby quilt I made for a lovely customer who took it off to Malaysia for her new niece. I backed it in delightfully soft blush-pink corduroy, and sent it on its way.

And then a short time ago, an email arrived ..... and look what was inside it! Hooray!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

And the mail fairy brought ....

... new fabrics from Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi collection! Loulouthi has it all - flannel, quilting cotton, laminate, voile, needleworks - and it's absolutely beautiful. These are quilting cottons, ready for a new project I'm about to start.

Sometimes a designer just hits all the right notes, and that's what I feel about this collection. Anna Maria, I'm your slave.

Of course, now I have to find room in my stash for this material. I am having some ... ahem, stash issues right now. I think it's because I had a long break from sewing last year (most of last year, in fact). So I have loads of fabric I'd expected to work my way through by now, still sitting exactly where I left it.

So this means two things:
  1. I must sew much more this year. This should be easy to achieve, even if it's by default. I have three friends who are expecting babies within a six-week period, for example, so that's a baby quilt each. And I've booked in for a range of markets starting in March, so there's stock to produce for those. Plus, there are a number of items on my  list of Crafty Goals for 2012 that are just for me; and some of those things are large and complicated quilts. All of this will use up plenty of fabric.
  2. I think I need to have a destash sale. It pains me to say it, but it's true. I just have too much to deal with, Crafty Goals for 2012 notwithstanding. I am going to go through the stash and pull out some jewels to sell, so that I've got a bit more space and the pussins can safely enter the sewing room without fearing for their lives. Have you seen that show Hoarders on GEM, Wednesday nights at 9.30pm? It's a bit like that.  
I feel cleaner already, just *thinking* about it. Now, to put the plan into action .... stay tuned .....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Curlique crush quilt

After yesterday's Pinterest post, something's been playing on my mind. Did you look at the Pinterest board my cushions were on? It had something else wonderful on it too.

See this quilt? It's called Curlique Crush. I think I am in love with this quilt.

The shape of those pieces, the colours, the binding - it's all fabulous. The material is from Anna Maria Horner's Innocent Crush collection. If anyone would like to buy me an early birthday present, you can get the bundle of 22 fat quarters that it uses, right here. Don't hold back - it's on sale, too.

I've been wanting to try a quilt with curves for some time now. So far, all my quilting has been with straight (and ahem, not so straight) lines. The curve, however, is seductive.

So I think this is the quilt to start it off. I went straight to the website the photo came from, and discovered there is an online pattern available for just $10. A bargain! So of course I've bought it.

It's now officially on my list of Crafty Goals for 2012, which seems to be growing ever longer ......

Monday, January 9, 2012

My first Pinterest listing!

Look - my patchwork cushions - they got Pinterested! I'm very proud of these cushions, they're so vibrant and cheerful to look at. Everytime I make one, I smile to see it.

Yay and thank you Tania. I love the collection she's put together.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

A new series: Strange Places My Cat Sits

Saturday is Caturday, as any good reader of I Can Has Cheezburger? knows.

And so in honour of Caturdays, I am introducing a new series. It will feature the three pussins - Podae, Fatpuss and the Grimth - but mainly the Grimth. 

Grimth sits in many strange places. They are not the sort of spot that anyone would think comfortable. He loves to lie across something lumpy, or squeeze up into a tiny spot, or crook his head at an angle that makes you think his neck is broken. 

He is a strange pussin. And thus was Strange Places My Cat Sits born.

Strange Places My Cat Sits: Ironing Board Leg

Friday, January 6, 2012

Introducing .... Prakash, the Indian Elephant

Ladies and gentlemen, may I have the pleasure of introducing you to Prakash, my new Ellyfump. He is an Indian Ellyfump, hence the Indian name.

I have named him in honour of my Indian tailor from Dubai, Mr Prakash. Mr Prakash made me many splendid outfits and deserves to be memorialised with an elephant.

Prakash is made with a wonderful Amy Butler home dec fabric called Bali Gate in Periwinkle, from the Love collection.

It's a cotton sateen fabric, heavier than the quilting weight, that makes it perfect for items that need a little more structure and strength.

Prakash stands about knee high, and of course his trunk is pointed upwards for luck. 

He's pretty awesome. 

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Moroccan - the table kind, not the Mariah Carey baby kind

What kind of name for a baby is "Moroccan", I ask you? Of all the celebrity baby names I've heard recently, this one just about takes the stupid-cake. I can kinda sorta understand "Monroe" for her little girl, but Moroccan is just beyond silly. It's a descriptor, not a name.

When applied to a tiled table, like the one you see in the photos here, it makes sense. Let me illustrate:

"This is our new outdoor table. We had it made in Morocco. Therefore it is Moroccan. See the tiled Moroccan table."

That makes sense.

It's part of my new plan to pretty up the outdoor areas in our home so that we actually get to enjoy them, rather than just using them as dumping grounds for bikes and shoes and garden implements and bits of rubbish we can't be bothered getting rid of immediately.

I've wanted a tiled table for ages - our back deck gets the western sun in the afternoon, which makes it a) practically unbearable to be out on and b) a real challenge to have anything nice out there because the sun just weakens everything. Wood fades, cracks and then collapses in a pile of splinters. So no wood table for us.

This one was made for us specially. I like the style of tiling but see the yellow tiles? They're a special request. Usually the mjannah star pattern is made with red and beige tiles, but I am not a fan of beige. I was delighted when the supplier said they could request yellow tiles.

Now that summer is finally here, I am looking forward to sitting on our back deck and testing it out. Mariah Carey will not be invited.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Can anyone identify this fabric?

Hello all, and happy new year!

You are currently reading one of my new year resolutions - to not let work get in the way of blogging as much as it did through 2011. (We'll see how long THAT lasts!)

Now, a task: can anyone identify this fabric? I spotted it on a cushion but have no idea who produces it or what it's called. I quite fancy getting some though, so if you can help out, please do ....