Monday, November 20, 2017

TUTORIAL - something simple and sweet...

Over the years I've taken photos for a few tutorials that never made it to the blog. 
Not because I didn't want to share them but simply because life stepped in, as it does, and the realisation that I'm a wee bit over-committed with time causes me to take a breather and let go of a few plans (or tutorials) along the way. 

The other day when I was clearing my computer files for 2014, I came across photos of my 'favourite' table topper. It's scrappy and pastel and pretty, and to this day sits atop the small table Mr E made for me when he was back in University. It's very well worn now, been washed at least twenty times, and still puts a smile on my face when I take it off the clothesline and run inside to pop it right back on that table.

The colours have faded from being hung out to dry on the clothesline so many times but you know, that just shows how much it's loved and used. 

Anyhow, I had some photos of how I made it so today you can take my idea and run with it, okay?

The idea began with a fat quarter which had some pretty pastel motifs in colours that blended well with a few other fat quarters lingering in my stash. In my mind's eye I could see they would work beautifully together if I kept things simple.

Firstly I cut a few lengths from the fat quarter, being careful to keep the motifs in the centre.
Fussy cutting a fat quarter means you will lose some of the fabric between the sections you're after for your project but for a pretty project it's worth it.

You can see that the fabrics I chose for the borders were just right for the motif squares...

Next I cut the border strips from my tonal prints and sewed them around all four sides of my fussy cut squares.
Then I sewed the bordered squares together in three rows of five, before adding a cream and blue border around the whole table topper.

Sandwiched with cotton quilt wadding and backing fabric...

You can see it's not very big as I made it to fit the top of the small table.

Hand quilting is my 'down time', it's so relaxing and easy, perfect for small projects like this.
I used Perle #12 threads in blue, pink and green to quilt running stitch just outside each of the motif squares.

Simple, but there's nothing quite as lovely for that handmade effect.

After this the binding was added around the outside and my beautiful table topper was complete.

I haven't given you any measurements because when you fussy cut a motif from fabric they could be any size. To follow this pattern just make sure all your fussy cut motif blocks are the same size and border each of them with lengths of fabric the same width so you end up with 15 (or 18 or 50) blocks the same size which can be joined together in rows.
I used three different fabrics to border my motifs (pink, blue and green) and if you have a look at the completed table topper you can see that I pieced the blocks diagonally to make a balanced flow of colour.

As you've read through this and seen the photos has a particular piece of fabric in your stash come to mind that would be perfect used in this way?

I've got one in mind...must be time to make another fussy cut table topper!

This Year's Block of the Month

Please be aware that the ten free blocks I shared this year (you can see them here) for the Love of Home BOM are only available as free downloads until December 31st.
After that some will disappear from my shop and the rest will be purchase only, so have a scroll through my shop patterns and download the ones you're missing, okay?

I hope you have a lovely week, everyone. 
I'm excited because Blossom and Cully May will be coming to stay for a couple of days! My happy tank will be bubbling over!
May your happy tank be filled to overflowing as well. xx

Sunday, November 19, 2017

A simple sandwich...

Late on Saturday afternoon my beloved and I decided to take a long drive out west and clear our minds of work and other concerns.
The early evening breeze was refreshing as we drove along the deserted outback road which runs west from Hervey's Range to the Kennedy Development Road. From there we turned south and drove to Fletcher Creek where we stopped for supper, then continued further south to Charter Towers before turning north-east again for the return home. 
The round trip was 390 kilometres and every moment was special time with the man I love. 

Earlier in the day I'd baked a loaf of bread and being simple people we decided to take peanut butter sandwiches, choc chip cookies and a thermos of tea for our supper.

This was the first real test for the Jeep since being up and running again earlier in the week.

The outback of Australia is glorious and neither of us ever tire of travelling its dusty red roads. 
We pulled over on the Kennedy Development Road so Mr E could check the engine, the radiator and other 'bits and pieces'.

One direction...

...and the other.
Not a soul in sight. 

Fletcher Creek was our stop off destination for supper, a privately owned property which is open for the public to camp beside the creek as long as they like. 

Some people live there for many months in old caravans or tents and set up gardens, a solar panel or two, and even keep pets. A small toilet block with a shower has been built and is regularly cleaned and maintained. It's a beautiful place, so serene and isolated from cities and society in general.

This time of year it's fairly quiet there because of the heat, but we did discover three 'tenants' quietly enjoying the serenity.

In the photos below you can see one of the vintage caravans in the distance. The dry creek bed runs through the middle of the photo but once the wet season arrives it will become a swimming hole for young people who drive the 50 kilometres north from Charters Towers over the summer. 

A few chooks and some cows wandered near us as we ate our simple meal...

Food always tastes good in the country, especially in such peaceful surroundings.

We stayed here about 45 minutes, but then the sun began to set...

...and it was time to pack and continue our journey.

Driving south again we saw plenty of kangaroos, cockatoos, galahs and cattle before reaching Charters Towers as night closed in.
We used to live in that lovely town so Mr E drove us to a favourite spot at the top of the hill and we sat down with another cup of tea to watch the lights come on in houses up and down the wide hilly streets. 

Our sense of peace during these hours away was such that I wanted to bottle it up and bring it home as a tonic for all the days when life has taken a little too much from us...but peace is a state of the heart, a relaxing of the mind, a letting go of all that really didn't matter. It's not found in a bottle, but in closing out the hustle and bustle which can occupy too much mental space and allowing the simpler things of life to take their place. 

Our final leg of the journey home was a 150 klm drive north east, back to the coast, back to traffic, back to life as we know it day to day.  

Our little impromptu adventure took us five and half hours, most of it in the dark, but the effect will last for much longer. As we slid under the fresh cotton sheets late that night we were refreshed, tired and happily renewed.

The Lord led us to take those hours and escape into the country because He knew we needed it.
I'm glad we chose to listen to His prompt and act on it.

Is He prompting you to step away from the busyness of life for a while? 
Trust Him, it will do you a world of good.


Friday, November 17, 2017

Gift tutorial and more Christmas ideas...

We have moved a LOT.
House 21 times, towns 11 times, and states 5 times - all in 26 years.

Over those years and in all those places I have made some lovely 'far away' friends and some of them them like to stitch or quilt, so a few years back I designed a cute little needle-book to slip inside their birthday or Christmas cards.
It makes a lovely gift, so simple and also appreciated.

(Do we ever have enough needles or pretty pins??)

You can download the cover design HERE in my shop.
The pattern file has six covers ready to be printed onto one sheet of paper...

Shall we make one?

Gather your supplies. 

A pack of 6½” square scrapbooking papers will allow me to make two cards per sheet.

 You'll also need:

* a roll of double sided tape (or glue)
* rotary cutter (use an old blade, not the one you're currently using for your fabrics)
* cutting board and ruler
* some scraps of cotton or wool quilt wadding/batting
* an assortment of needles - both hand sewing and machine are a good choice

Use your rotary cutter, ruler, and cutting board to accurately cut out the six Stitcher's Friend labels from the free sheet you have printed.

Cut the 6½” square of scrapbooking paper in half.
Place strips of double sided tape across the back of a label, covering the four side edges. Peel the backing from the tape and position the label inside the right hand half of your scrapbook paper...

Fold the paper in half to create a card and machine sew a line just inside the folded edge of the card. This helps to keep the card closed when you have finished it...

Gather your assortment of needles. Three or four needles will be enough...

Sew a scrap piece of cotton or wool quilt wadding/batting inside the card. A straight line across the top edge is all you need. Place the needles in the wadding...

A nice touch is to write what size needles you've added and pop in a pretty pin as well.

How easy was that!

Now, who will you be sending these to?

If you'd like to make something special to post to your non-sewing friends what about a lavender sachet, bookmark or gift tag??

The trio of "Three Lovely Gifts" is a pattern set I've just added to my shop...

These projects  can be stitched and made up in an afternoon.

You'll find the pattern HERE in my shop. 
(Go to the top right and choose 'newest' in the drop down menu if you're in a hurry)

Are you a Christmas planner?

Kerryanne at Shabby Art Boutique is sharing free planner pages to help you through the festive season...

Visit her blog here.

If you scroll through you'll discover free Christmas cards, gifts tags and a sensible wish list as well. Kerryanne has generously thought of everything we'll need.

I've not done a proper Christmas plan before but this year I'm adding the pages to my Household Folder and intend spending a quiet afternoon with a cuppa and some cake pondering and planning ahead.

For those who loved all the new stitcheries inside the November issue of The Stitchery Club they are now available as single purchase patterns in my shop now!
Choose the one (or two!) you love and enjoy bringing it to life in your own special way.

Well, that's me for the week.
I'm about to grab my bag and head out the door to meet up with Blossom and Cully May. Those chubby little arms wrapped around my neck overflow my happy tank and we can never have enough 'happies' in life, of that I'm sure.

I do hope your day holds something rather wonderful too!


Monday, November 13, 2017

Rose Tattoo - a free design...

Remember back in June when I embroidered a little posey onto my blue cardigan?

Well my daughter Aisha thought it was beautiful so I asked if she'd like me to stitch another for her and she said, "Oh Mum, would you?! I'd love an embroidered cardie of my own."

I bought a black cardigan because that's a useful colour for any woman to have in her wardrobe, and sketched a spray of roses to stitch as they are Aisha's favourite flower. 

Last time I'd trialed the Sulky product but this time I used the Legacy brand.

It was a little easier on my hands, not quite as much gummy resistance to push the needle through, and it washed away quicker as well. 
I still don't like either product though.
They are not kind to arthritic hands but they serve a good purpose for projects like this when you're embroidering onto dark clothing and cannot easily trace the design in place. 

The three large roses are chain stitch and the rest of the design is a mix of backstitch, blanket stitch and colonial knots.
(I made these leaves)

Simple red and green on black.
Very effective, and Aisha was thrilled with her mum-made cardie. 

It doesn't take long to stitch this up so I thought you might like to have the pattern.
Embroidered cardigans would make lovely Christmas gifts...or embroidered mittens, gloves or scarves?

Blossom would like a grey embroidered cardie so at the moment I'm thinking of designs that would suit her.

A little stitchery certainly adds something special to a cardigan, don't you think?

You can download my free "Rose Tattoo" pattern HERE.

Hubby and I had a fairly relaxed weekend. Did you?

On Saturday morning we visited Blossom, Ross and Cully May, before returning home to finish our work - Mr E assessing his student's final end of year projects and me writing patterns for the next issue of The Stitchery Club.

As sunset drew closer my beloved asked if I'd like to go out for dinner and you know I said yes, right?! He took me to our favourite Thai restaurant and afterwards we drove along the water's edge with the cool evening breeze blowing around us. It was incredibly relaxing, so much so that we were in bed asleep by 9 pm. 

On Sunday morning we headed north to visit my dear friend Rosie who is recovering from a double knee replacement.  I baked blueberry muffins and took them along...

In spite of her pain and discomfort we laughed and laughed. 
Mr E and Rosie's son had us in stitches (they are both cheeky fellas!) and it was so good to see Rosie being just as cheeky back to them. She keeps us all on our toes!

You know, I've been fighting depression for a few weeks and it got so bad last week that I almost deleted my blog...but I have learned over time that I must not do anything extreme when depression has a hold of me, that I must be patient and wait until it lifts to make any big decisions or changes. 

Seeing Rosie yesterday was a tonic for me, as was a long phone call the other day with Fee. 
Having good friends (and I only have a few) who know you well and love you through the good times and the bad, can be the difference between sinking deeper into depression or reaching for the light at the end of the tunnel. I'm blessed to have these two women in my life and I hope I am a blessing to them as well.

If you're feeling like I was reach out to someone who knows you, a friend or family member who can come alongside and cheer you. It's not always as easy as that, I know, but being reminded that life has so many good moments that you can both laugh about and reminisce over is a tonic not to be overlooked. 
Don't forget to be that friend to others as well. 

Something I've just realised is that when the dark end of life takes hold of me I stop eating healthy, snacking on sweets and ice cream instead. I know that having good nutrition is very important to mental health so it surprised me to acknowledge I'd blindly forgotten all about this and done the complete opposite for three whole weeks.

Today I put aside the sweeties and chose to get back to the delicious natural foods which nourish my body and my mind.
I started by making 2 litres of fresh veggie juice and then prepared some roast vegetables to use in lunchtime salads through the week. 

I cut pumpkin and sweet potato into small pieces, then tossed them in coconut oil and salt before roasting them on trays until they were soft inside and slightly golden on the outside.

Sometimes I blend the roast pumpkin with chicken stock, roasted garlic and a little curry paste and heat it up in a saucepan for a spicy pumpkin soup lunch.  SO delicious!

I don't waste the pumpkin seeds either.

Removed from the pulp I toss them in coconut oil, salt and Cajun spice before roasting until they are golden and crisp.
Seriously, these are better than every other snack food I've tried.
In fact, these disappeared in 5 minutes.

Fortunately Mr E doesn't like pumpkin so I never have to share.  

It feels much better knowing I'm doing something positive for my health again.

Later in the week I have some great Christmas planning and Christmas gift ideas to share with you, but for now I have to trace pattern sheets and check them for accuracy before putting Friday's new issue of The Stitchery Club to bed.

Memberships for this issue close on the 16th so if you'd like to join just head over HERE.

Have a blessed week, and be sure to stop and enjoy the view.
Life is too short not to smell the roses.