Monday, August 31, 2009

Here goes nothing...

Cutting has been done! I followed the instructions and used LOTS of pins. This is the complete opposite to my normal strategy but I figured Nicole knows a lot more about cutting than me :-)

Sadly, I have discovered that I own the crappiest sewing scissors in the universe - both pairs. Yes, I own two pairs, the crappiest and the second crappiest. I also discovered that I still can't cut in a straight line, even when I do use lots of pins. Or maybe it's the scissors? Surely I can blame my tools this time ;-)

Oh well, continuing on. All the interfacing has been stuck on, and I've sewed the velcro bit to the bag front. The velcro is another one of my modifications, so if my brain explodes it's because I'm trying to work out where to sew the other bit on the lining of the flap. Complicated!

This afternoon I attached the bag base, so now it's time for the straps. Again, this may involve an exploding brain...

Friday, August 28, 2009

A conclusion to Episode 1

It is finished.

Hand sewing the binding was time-consuming, but the rhythm was quite therapeutic and satisfying. I suspect I'm not Mrs Efficient when it comes to hand sewing, either in my speed or the stitch I used! But it's relatively neat and I kind of worked out how to use a thimble :-)

I also like the way it's come up after washing it - the quilting indents are a little more pronounced which is nice.

So, the verdict:
I like it a lot more now than I did when I pulled out the partially completed top a month ago. Yay!
And I'm now dreaming up the next one - a quilt for my daughter when she moves into a big bed (I have well over a year so it's possible in theory!), and something that she might still like as a teenager. OK, so this last bit might be a tad unrealistic, but I'm only dreaming at this stage!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

my creative space

This little muddle is my current portable project, carried about (but not often pulled out) in a drawstring bag made by me (!) from an op shop pillowcase :-)

This is take 2 - the first attempt grew an extra stitch somehow so got frogged. This is another one of those 'learn as you go' projects - so far I've discovered provisional cast on, attempted knitting in the round for the first time, and JOINED a round! I've been very reliant on Ravelry so far!

This is also a very good project to get immersed in while avoiding the bag ;-)

Visit Kirsty to see some rather special creative spaces!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


One of the things on my list of things to do this week is 'start the bag'. Of course, there are a few things that need to happen before the bag can be started.

So, I've washed the fabric. This is a good thing, because the brown drill I'm using for the outside of the bag ran everywhere when I washed it, so hopefully now when the bag gets wet it wont make quite such a big mess of the lovely lining! I still need to iron the fabric, but that will be good for some mindless meditation sometime soon :-)

The next pre-start job is to extend and trace the pattern. I worked out that if I make a 4cm fold in my greaseproof paper and keep the fold at right angles to the pattern when I trace it, it will give me an extra 8cm in width. My brain must have some functionality, because I've actually tried this bit and it worked!

Finally, before I can really start the bag, I need to cut out the pattern. And here lies the problem. The number of deep breaths required to cut out the PATTERN does not bode well for cutting the FABRIC!! Avoidance of cutting fabric is one of the reasons I rarely get anything done - the idea is there but cutting fabric is generally required to put the idea into practice. Arrrggghh!!

Right then. If exposure is an effective treatment for phobias, by the time i've finished this bag I should be cured! Take a deep breath. And another one....

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's a swap!

Jelly Wares is hosting a washcloth swap and I've signed up! I meant to sign up to a swap that was in MixTape a little while ago, but once I finally decided to participate sign ups had closed (typical!). So this time, I decided to be a keen bean and signed up straight away :-)

These are my favourite knitting needles ready and waiting for their next project. They're handmade and feel really lovely. Unfortunately, I probably wont knit my washcloths with them, as last time I knitted with cotton they seemed to 'grab' the stitches and it was really hard work. It was way easier when I transfered to metal sticks, but they don't look at all pretty ;-)

Knitting washcloths is good for me. It gives me a chance to practice different stitch patterns in something that's really quick (for me). As in, I should finish one washcloth in about a week. That's really fast for me!

I'm looking forward to getting the instructions for the swap :-)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

My creative space

Yesterday in Melbourne was such a gloriously sunny and windy day that my relatively recently purchased fabrics just called out for a wash!

A few pieces are earmarked for specific projects, but most of it is for stash building.

Today's opportunities for creativity will be spent ironing all those bits! At least it means I get to have another look at them ;-)

See actual creativity at Kirsty's.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Is it time for a thimble?

I've had a productive weekend!

I worked out how to attach the walking foot to my machine.

I QUILTED my quilt! Not a very complicated pattern, but mostly successful :-) I discovered that feeding a quilt sandwich through the sewing machine is a good workout.

I made binding using Heather Bailey's very excellent instructions (thanks Leonie!), and attached it.

I'm now in the process of hand stitching the binding to the reverse, so once I'm finished that, it's done! Freaky! Though the speed at which I'm hand sewing may mean that it's not finished for weeks - I have a very sore middle fingertip where I've been pushing the needle through! I've never got the hang of thimbles before, so it might not work, but we'll give it a try :-)

Monday, August 17, 2009

satchel dreaming

Husby needs a carry case for his new Macbook. Enthused (possibly overly optimistically) about my newfound sewing prowess, and skeptical about the environmental benefits of an inexpensive polymer case, I volunteered to make him a bag myself!?! As one of my most consistent character traits is that I have lots of ideas that rarely get seen through, he's a little bit concerned he may never see the promised satchel. Not an unreasonable concern given my track record ;-). So, I'm implementing the currently somewhat successful theory that if I tell YOU about it, we'll be seeing some action soonish!

Last week, I bought Nicole Mallalieu's Large Tote & Satchel pattern, which just needs to be stretched a few centimetres to fit a small Macbook. The pattern is from Nicole's beginner range, so should be just right for my (limited) abilities!

I also received some delicious fabric in the post last week that will be perfect for the bag lining, and meets with Husby's approval (a challenging prospect, but very important!). It's Ink & Spindle's Delft in Deep Red by Hollabee, and is really lovely :-). All I need to do now is get some heavy duty fabric for the outside of the bag, read the instructions about 10 times, and then I can start!

And now for the deadline commitment thing: It will be finished by the end of September at the latest (hopefully significantly before)!!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


I was planning to post yesterday, but the weather got in the way.

When a beautiful day is combined with Husby's day off, who could NOT have a winter picnic in the botanic gardens?

In keeping with Sew Mama Sew's Hand Sewing month, I did take my cross-stitch, but it was forgotten amongst the good food, wine, weather and company :-)

Today might contain slightly more crafting productivity....

Thursday, August 13, 2009

my creative space

I've been learning about basting a quilt with these nifty bent basting pins.

I have also learnt that basting a quilt with nifty bent basting pins while crouched over the floor and being headbutted by two feline 'helpers' leads to sore fingers.

Visit Kirsty for more creative spaces :-)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

A bloggy book club!

Like I need to own more books. This is one of the (several) bookshelves that live in our house, and is not alone in it's over-stack-ed-ness. They're not all mine though: there's a stack of library books there, as well as several books that have been borrowed from friends. So surely there's room for just a few more?

After some careful consideration my arm has been twisted, and I've joined Pip's book club (admittedly it took me all of about 2 seconds to decide that it was a Good Idea)! I'm very excited! All I need to do now is to pop along to Readings and get my copy of the first book, The Time Traveller's Wife. What a brilliant excuse!

I'm hoping that I'll start to read a few more 'proper' novels because of the book club. I seem to be in a detective fiction/murder mystery phase at the moment with very little variation on the theme. At least I haven't resorted back to Nancy Drew and The Famous Five. Yet. Though it might be fun to reread some of those.....
Brain Needs Challenging, clearly. Thank you, Pip!

P.S. Hi Rival Anna, it IS me, the other Rival Anna! I couldn't reply to your message, so maybe you'll read this? Especially if Gina asks you to (hint, hint)? I splashed out and bought a walking foot on Monday after getting in touch with brother, but thanks for the offer :-) Next time I have an unpleasant moment in my relationship with my sewing machine, I might come asking for help!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Confessions of a WIPaholic - episode 1

My (often very un-) helper ;-)

As I've previously mentioned, I have a number of Works In Progress stored in various places around the house. In an attempt to reduce the number, or at least limit the number of WIP's cluttering up the house, I've decided to keep myself accountable to you, my imaginary readers, and attempt to be able to classify some of these as FINISHED!!

So then, Project Number 1 - The Chocolat Charm Pack Quilt.

Up until last weekend, this project had been completed to the point of sewing a number of squares together into a rectangle. I'd also bought some extra fabric to sew some borders, and some backing fabric. And at that point it sat, in a bag, for about 18 months.

BUT, progress has been made!! Over the last week, the borders have been cut and sewn on! Which is a good thing, because when I pulled it out, I wasn't sure I liked it anymore, but now the borders are on, I'm feeling more positive towards it. Not LOVING it, mind you, but not DISliking it either. Phew. I think it's another hazard of leaving WIP's in the cupboard for too long, this whimsical falling out of love thing!

Today, I went and bought some batting, quilting cotton and basting pins. So I'm nearly ready for the next step! Except that I don't have a walking foot (for my machine - the feet attached to the end of my legs walk just fine). I seem to have bought an obscure model of sewing machine several years ago (a brother Star 15) and am having difficulty working out which walking foot will fit. Grrr.

So, the to do list:
  • Cut backing fabric
  • Cut batting
  • Baste layers together
  • Quilt the quilt
  • Make the binding
  • Sew the binding on
And that's it! If I can do those things, this project will officially move from the WIP list to the FINISHED!! list :-) I think I'm about 70% there at the moment, and will hopefully will have added another 10% by next weekend (the deadline factor!).

Wish me luck....!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

My creative space

Desperate. For. Choc. Chip. Bikkies.

Can't work out how to rotate the pic so just lie your head on your left shoulder to see it properly ;-)

The recipe (modified from the big book of beautiful biscuits) says it makes 60. Yeah right. I made 32 :-)


Visit Kirsty for more creative spaces.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The rainbow technicolour dream-cardi phenomenon

After my success with the appliqued tee, I was keen to find a new project to make for my daughter. I stumbled across a pattern for a striped crocheted cardigan that fitted the bill perfectly! After looking dreamily at the pictures for a few weeks after it arrived, I was jolted into action by Pip's challenge to crochet a granny square a day till the end of May!
NOT that I was going to crochet granny squares (started that journey already - will confess more in a future post...), BUT it did give me a deadline. I made a commitment to finish the cardi by the end of May (gulp). And it worked!!

Admittedly, it was finally completed during the first week of June, but the deadline meant that even though I couldn't work out how to sew the sleeve seams, I persisted and eventually got it done (thanks for the tips, Ravelry!).

I'm thinking there's a pattern here. If I make myself accountable to others, I might actually see the fruits of my crafty labour, rather than jumbles of yarn and fabric that never amount to anything. Therefore, one of the aims of this blog is to encourage completion and follow-through, mainly on crafty endeavours, but possibly other things as well. Like doing something about the state of my ridiculously full fridge. But we'll talk about that another time....

So, over the next few weeks, I will start to show you some of my unfinished projects. I might decide to ditch some of them once and for all, but I also might be inspired to put in those few hours to GET THEM FINISHED. We'll see. This is an experiment of sorts so who knows where it might end up!

Monday, August 3, 2009

A miracle followed by a speedy return to earth...

I have always been the sort of crafter that is not very good at completion.
Up until a few months ago, I had at least 7 projects in progress (many for years!?!), several of which were only a few hours work away from completion. But could I find the inclination to do it?? Then a dear friend took matters into her own hands. She gave me a piece of Alexander Henry Juicy Jungle fabric and a deadline. It worked! I finished something!

Most recently, I finished a pair of baby shoes :-) Probably the most difficult sewing project I've done, the pattern came from the wonderful Meet Me at Mikes book. But I did it! It's a miracle!

I think they're very cute, even if they're a bit rough! They've already found their way to their new feet ;-)

So, buoyed by my still rare success, I felt a very strong NEED to sew something else. I decided to pull out a patchwork project started over 18 months ago. Out came my cutting mat, rotary cutter, my fancy (but very short) patchwork ruler (all of which had never been used before(!) and the fabric I'd bought for borders. I took a deep breath and cut my first strip, sewed it on and took it to the ironing board to press my new seam....only to discover that I'd sewed the wrong sides together rather than the right sides. No, no, no, no, NO!!!! Soooo typical.

At this point, I would normally unpick the seam and pack everything away in a huff, not to be pulled out again for some time (months, at least)! But I have fought against it. Hopefully by the end of the week I will have a finished quilt top, ready to be taken to the patchwork shop for instructions on what to do next!
Here's hoping....!