Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Antique Crochet

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We've recently been given a large pile of family mementos.  Our boxes of treasures contain beautiful letters written many years ago, wills (and yes it is perfectly normal to leave your automatic washing machine to someone in your will if it's the 1970's...just in case you've ever wondered!), newspaper articles, apprenticeship papers and amidst all of the things that make up a family's rich history was an envelope which caught my eye.  Across the front was written, in my husband's late grandmother's handwriting, 

"Mum crocheted this when I was about 10 years old.  I am now 85. 1991"

And there in the envelope was an amazing piece of fine crochet showing a  homestead and surrounds. Made by my husband's great grandmother, who had traveled in her youth from Sweden to country Australia, I can't even begin to imagine the homesickness and hardships she would have endured in her lifetime and to have such a glorious handmade item that a family member could remember  being made is an incredible treasure.

I have grand plans for this piece.  At the moment I'm thinking of getting it framed with the original envelope on the back of the frame to give a sense of history for generations to come.

It's got me thinking though, should I do an heirloom project for future generations?  I certainly don't have the patience for this level of crochet, but perhaps I could weave something once my skill level improves... which , to be honest, may take a while and therefore I'll have plenty of time to think about it.  I've always felt it's no good to rush these things!!!

Happy Crafting


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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Teen Sewing

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There is nothing quite as exciting as a 50% off fabrics and patterns sale, and so it was that after ballet class one Saturday Miss 13 and I made our way to the fabric shop to see what bargains we could pick up.  A good hour or so later we left the store with Burda Pattern 8517 and some lovely blue floral cotton.  

As a parent, I'm pretty pleased with the "Young" collection from Burda.  There's some trendy patterns that really appeal to the younger market and many of them labelled as "Very Easy", which is perfect if you're a beginner.  I well remember having to make a pot holder and pillowcase as my first sewing projects at school.  These are so much more fun!

As the cotton we purchased was a little see through, it was decided to add a lining and just to make things more difficult (and because I'm a big believer in learning new skills) Miss 13 did French Seams throughout.  She found an easy to follow tutorial at Sew Neau and was really pleased with the finish.

To make the lining our teen cut the front and back of the dress pattern in a light weight white cotton, sewed the side seams and attached this lining at the neckline.  The length was slightly shorter than the main dress and hemmed.

Our teen was beyond thrilled with how this turned out and already has the fabric and pattern picked out for her next project.  

Naturally she showed her Dad her new dress who said "Shouldn't that be a bit longer?"  Isn't it good to know that in a rapidly changing world, fathers are the same from generation to generation!

Happy Sewing


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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

3rd Time Lucky ..

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Finished - 3rd attempt.
As another quilt rolls off the rather shaky assembly line that has become my quilting table, I am surprised that my enthusiasm is not waning.  

To be perfectly honest, I'm usually not one to stick around and put in hours and hours of time and effort to perfect something - especially when I keep having to go back and undo what has already been painstakingly finished.  To be even more honest, if I don't pick it up quickly, then I will usually move onto something else - something that I am a little more skilled at.  However, this is proving not to be the case with quilting - and I am somewhat surprised.

In my previous quilt posts, (you can read about them here)I have mentioned that I have researched, taken classes, watched countless you-tube videos, all in an attempt to make the 'perfect' quilt.  This is considerably more effort that I have put into researching any other craft.
Nature's Basket - by Blackbird Designs

My latest quilt is a case-in-point.  I had enormous fun with a disappearing 9-patch design.  It came together relatively easily and quickly but the machine quilting was finished on my 3rd attempt.  Yes, that's right, 2 previous attempts were meticulously unpicked and restarted.   This quilt (which I have called Eucalypt Harvest) could easily have been thrown (rather hastily and with some force) onto the 'never to be retrieved' pile .. but I just couldn't let it go.  I think it has something to do with holding onto the creative juices that inspired the selection in the first place.  

I couldn't wait to start sewing with this fabric (Nature's Basket by Blackbird Designs for Moda Fabric) so once I had calmed down and could look at the quilt again without swearing wondering what I was doing wrong, I sat and unpicked and .. finally it came together.
Eucalyptus Leaves Free Motion Quilting

It has been machine quilted with a rather dense design of Eucalyptus leaves and when the final hand stitch was in place on the binding, I gently and reverently folded it up.  There were no 'high 5's' or whoops of excitement.  Just an overwhelming sense of relief that I had done justice to the fabric.  I placed it in my cupboard - and was instantly reminded about what drove me to quilting in the first place.  

Keeping the dream alive ... 

It was the image of a cupboard full of handmade quilts.

Happy Quilting (no matter how many times it takes)
1st Attempt at Machine Quilting

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Saturday, 9 August 2014

Loom Knit Student Scarf

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Teaching a child the value of money can be quite difficult and I've only really felt it hits home when they start earning their own funds and realise that their long suffering parents are no longer willing to open their wallets.  

When our son recently lamented that he needed to buy a birthday present for a friend and he was having liquidity issues, I suggested that perhaps he make something instead.  Surely there has to be some benefit to having a mother with a yarn stash?

The joy of loom knitting is that it's so easy even a non-crafty person can pick it up quickly.  He used the tutorial videos featured in our Charity Knitting blog post and was soon on his way.

The yarn he chose is Bendigo Woollen Mills "Classic" yarn in Raffia and Tasman Blue.  A combination that works really well on the loom when using double strands.

It has to be said, there was some complaining along the way, but I'm sure the recipient won't make comments like "It's too wide", "That's really scratchy" or "It looks too homemade"... you know, the kind of comments that mums usually get when they spend hours making something for their offspring!!  

Happy Loom Knitting


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Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Sewing for Dummies

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In this household, we're big fans of TV shows featuring baking competitions.  We've watched every series of the Great British Bake Off, The Great Australian Bake Off and now that the first series of The American Baking Competition has hit our TV screens, we've been avidly watching it for weeks.  Although, I've been inspired to bake the occasional loaf of bread after watching, I can tell you that my enthusiasm has never gotten to the stage where I've wanted to have a go at making a Macaron Tower!

Recently, while we were watching the last series of the Great British Bake Off, the most wonderful thing happened.  A little advert popped up for "The Great British Sewing Bee".  Now I don't know why everything has to have "Great" in the title, but we were greatly very excited at the prospect of a sewing competition gracing our TV screens...and it didn't disappoint.  From the very first episode I was inspired to get out my sewing machine and make something.  I didn't have anything particular in mind, but I just felt the urge to sew and for the whole of the series that feeling didn't leave me.  Naturally enough, Miss 13, who was watching along with me had the same feeling and so the next time we were in Spotlight our sewing beginner went through the pattern books to find a simple pattern to get started.  What could be easier than a pattern titled "Sewing for Dummies"?

It was decided that the first project would be the top, which features an elasticated neckline and sleeves.  It took a long, long, long time to choose the fabric, which was a delightful orange and white floral cotton.  You may notice that the fabric pictured is not orange and white, but a cotton featuring small pink and blue flowers.  The change occurred because after all of that time choosing fabric, we got home and someone decided the orange fabric would actually make a fantastic skirt,so we ended raiding my fabric stash instead.  The fabric we ended choosing was actually free and came in a big pile of material that was being given away when someone was having a clear out - it doesn't get any better than that!

Our teen had a lovely afternoon sewing.  The pattern was very easy to follow and between all of the cutting, sewing and ironing I could see Miss 13 getting excited as she could see her new top coming together.  There was the occasional lament of "Am I going to get this finished today?", but thanks to The Great British Sewing Bee I was able to say that even for their sewing projects they were given a good few hours.

One of the wonderful things our teen learnt with this project was that you can adjust the pattern as you see fit to create something more to your liking and so it was that during the pinning and cutting stage, an additional 5cm was added to the length and Miss 13 was very pleased with the change.

I'm hoping the teen's next project will definitely be an orange and white floral cotton skirt!  I'm determined that all of that time spent searching for the perfect fabric shall not go to waste.

Happy sewing 


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Saturday, 2 August 2014

A weed by any other name ..

Pin It I'm usually not one to think Shakespeare and wax lyrical ..  but today is an exception. 

I have had all manner of problems with my quilting.  I've had more puckers, excess fabric pleats, free motion 'eyelashes', snapped needles (and on one glorious occasion, an iron that spewed forth rusty water onto my just-finished quilt top) than I would otherwise care to mention.  My basting has left me close to tears on numerous occasions and I have lain in bed at night going over and over what I can do to fix it.  

Well, today I did.

'Weeds' by Me & My Sister designs for Moda
I made a falling charms quilt top using 'Weeds' by Me & My Sister Design for Moda Fabrics.  It came together quickly (thanks to Jenny from the Missouri Star Quilt Company) and has been sitting for a while whilst I wrestle with a way to baste and quilt without tears and tantrums.

I must have watched nearly every you-tube video on how to do it and there are so many methods to choose from.  The one that FINALLY worked for me is a combination of a spray baste and pinning.  I was finding that either method was just not stable enough and so I thought I would try the 'overkill' approach and I'm pleased to say it worked.

Deep breath - time to ditch
I have spent the day stitching in the ditch and had no pleats or excess puckering and I'm just delighted.  Well, actually, I'm beyond delighted.  Delighted is too tame a word - thrilled would be better.

I also chose to 'ditch' it quite differently as well.  The two methods I have found were, to
start in the middle of the quilt and work outwards or stitch around the whole quilt and work your way in.  Neither worked for me.  So, armed with my newly purchased invisible thread, (it's like trying to sew with very fine hair .. ) I started at one end, ditched along each horizontal line for the entire width of the quilt.   I then turned the quilt, started at one end and ditched all the vertical lines across.  This seemed to ensure that if there was any excess fabric, it was pushed to the edge.   Once that was done, I was able to do any last minute 'smoothing' and arranging before I ditched the borders.  

All ditched
So now, at very long last, I had a 'stable' quilt - all ready for the fun part.  The free motion quilting!

Ready for a quick iron and some
Free Motion Quilting
As the quilt is full of flowers there could be no other option than to free motion some flowers into each of the squares.

Free Motion Roses (Back)

I'm a big fan of roses .. I have crocheted some, I have knitted some and now I am all set to fill the quilt with free motion roses.

However, I underestimated how long it would take .. and it seemed like forever.  The effect when the main body of the quilt was finished was fantastic so it kept me coming back for more.

Free Motion Rose (Front)

Happy Quilting,
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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Where's the Weft Scarf

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So far my journey into weaving has proved to be an incredible learning experience.  Every project has taught me something and in this instance it's that I'm <gasp> weft heavy.  Essentially that means that my weft, the threads that go horizontally across the loom are much more prominent than the threads that go vertically.  It is entirely my own fault as I'm far too heavy handed with the beater.  Apparently it just needs to "kiss" the fabric in progress, not get beaten against it with a great deal of force! In my mind I had assumed that something called a "beater" would need a bit of strength behind it.

The problem with being weft heavy is that the warp doesn't really show through.  I turns out all of my calculations when winding this warp were for nothing.  The vertical stripes just don't show in the final product thanks to my heavy handedness.

For this project I chose shades of Raffia, Charcoal and Aztec and was delighted that the good folk at Bendigo Woollen Mills supply their 2ply classic yarns in cones.

I planned to make a men's scarf and thought the best place to start when calculating the dimensions of the scarf would be to ask the men in my household, all of whom had no idea.  So it was that I turned to The Art of Manliness who seem to know everything about men's scarves, and particularly that they should be 10 inches wide and 70 inches long. 

Even though my plans to have vertical stripes running through my plain weave scarf didn't work out, I was still quite pleased with the colour choice and overall look and feel of the project.

I also undertook to twist the fringe with this one and although it was a long process by hand, I actually really enjoyed it.  I might just save up for a fringe twister though!

The overall consencus from the males in our household is that the scarf is too wide, and that is why my daughter is modelling it for us here.  I'm wondering if I should use it as a table runner instead?

Happy weaving


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