Monday, June 26, 2017

Trying something new...

I know of a few embroidery designers who like to use printed fusible soluble sheets to stitch their patterns (onto fabric) instead of tracing the design directly onto the fabric itself as I do. 

In fact I'm seeing it more and more so I thought I'd investigate.

The upside is to simply place the soluble sheet, which has a backing you peel off later, into your printer and print out the design you want to stitch. Then you can cut around the design area, peel off the backing and stick it directly onto your fabric background. 
Sounds really good!

But I've also heard mention that the embroidery needle becomes gummy from the adhesive used to stick the printed design onto your fabric and regular wiping down of the needle is required. 

Now I think for a small design or for people who embroider with medium to large stitches this may not be too much of a problem, but I stitch rather tiny and wondered just how annoying this technique may become?

The only answer was to give it a go, right?

This is one of my new July Stitchery Club patterns, stitched onto a beautiful linen background fabric...

...and these are the two types of soluble adhesive tracing papers I purchased to practice embroidering this same design onto a slightly different background.

I don't like wastage so I printed four copies of the design onto one A4 sheet of the Sticky Fabri-Solvi and if I don't use them all I may just give some away. (hint hint)

The background fabric I've chosen is one which has long tempted me, a fabric I think is well suited to this technique. 
It's a very basic plain cardigan.

Three plain cardigans in fact!

I found them at K-Mart for a whopping $7 each (only joking, what a bargain!) and decided they would be perfect for my experiments.

First off I'm going to embroider the blue cardie as I'm rather partial to a blue cardie. 

After printing the soluble stabiliser sheet I cut around one of the berry designs, peeled away the backing, and positioned it on the left shoulder of the cardigan.
Then I chose the embroidery threads...

Now all I need to do is embroider the design, then sit it in warm water and watch the fusible paper 'disappear'. 

I'll let you know how I go with the gummy needle and whether I like this technique or not.

Have you used either of the soluble stabilisers I've purchased? 
How did you find them to work with?

Mr E is home now for two weeks as it's the winter school holiday break so I may or many not be around much. I like to keep myself free in case he wants to do something, but as the Jeep is being repaired and we're waiting on parts from the USA it's doubtful we'll be travelling far. 

I'm still admiring the beautiful bouquet he gave me yesterday.
Flowers, my husband at home and a bit of news I'll share soon...all's quite lovely in my world.

May your week be wonderful too!


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Tapping in to the Creator...

This morning my husband surprised me with a beautiful bunch of flowers, an act of faithful and long-suffering affection from his heart to mine. He knows me very well after more than a quarter century at my side and this knowing includes an understanding for how much I appreciate the beauty of flowers and the Hand that created them.

This month I have spent a lot of time re-reading Genesis, especially the first two chapters which I study almost daily. So drawn am I to the glorious description of Creation and how His own incomparable handiwork pleased the Lord because this was no small miracle, no small achievement. This was making a perfectly ordered, functional and breathtakingly glorious earth and solar system from nothing. 

You know it's very easy to be distracted by the issues of life, whether that be too much to do in too little time, over-commitment to others, health challenges, or even seasons of sadness, boredom or repetitive drudgery.  

Most of us at some time have life distractions which seek to draw our thoughts to the difficulties we may be facing, dwelling on them until all vision of the goodness we have, right here, right now, fades away.  

Just like in the Creation story, our Father speaks light and life into the darkness we face. 
There is no darkness He cannot dispel, no situation He cannot stand beside you in, no prayer from your heart left unheard by His ears. 

And just like these flowers today lifted my spirit with their delicate God given beauty, time with the Lord appreciating His power and creative handiwork in nature, making something exceptional out of nothing, is often the only tonic a downcast soul needs to find it's way out of the valley.

This same God made you, knows you, cares for you, far more than He cared for creation. 

Take heart dear friend, look around at the beauty which surrounds your place in life and let the Lord overflow your spirit with His perfectly wonderful 'very good'-ness.

Your sister in Christ,

Friday, June 23, 2017

Using quotes to inspire...

I was emailing back and forth with my friend Janice about a month or so ago, and she shared with me this William Drummond quote, "What sweet delight a quiet life affords."

It resonated deep within me so I spent an afternoon sketching a design to frame those precious words.

Hand embroidery is always enjoyable but stitching this pattern brought hours of gentle peace and time to reflect on my own desire for a quiet life. 

So that got me thinking.

Do you have a particular quote which inspires you to ponder the blessings of a gentle life, a quiet life, a joyful domestic life? I'd love to create one design each month for the Stitchery Club to lift the weary heart and paint wonderful thoughts across our minds, and wondered if you could help me with insightful words to stitch?

"A Quiet Life" is the first of this series and will be inside the July Club issue (see more here)...

If you come across something lovely, specifically a quote that delights in a quiet home life or the gentle domestic arts, write it in the comments below so I have a future reference point. 

This would be truly appreciated.

Blossom came by on Wednesday with Cully May and we had such a precious visit!
Coffee and cake, a cat and lots of cuddles, it was definitely a "C" day. 

Cully May is walking now, and talks endlessly! At 10 1/2 months she can say so many words that her conversations with me are quite intense as she engages with such expression, demanding Nana reply and agree. Cuddling Sophie, our cat, she was insistent that Sophie's name was 'dog'. 

Cully May fills our happy tanks over and over, and over again.

This week I've been rearranging things in the sewing room, cleaning out the pantry, baking breads, and choosing fabrics for a table runner and cover for the breadmaker. 

The breadmaker is hardly used because this house has a small kitchen with minimal storage so I keep it tucked away where it's not easily accessible. However, I used to make bread all the time and the family are missing the fruits of my labour so I decided to create a space for it out in the open where I can get at it easily every second day to knead my dough.
I don't bake my breads in the breadmaker but use it for the kneading and first rise.
From there I hand shape or if it's a sandwich loaf I bake in proper bread tins. 

Yesterday's bounty was a Jam Roll and six jam scrolls. 

We shared these with Blossom, Ross and Cully May and they definitely encouraged my return to regular bread baking!

The breadmaker is now atop a small bookcase which holds more kitchen appliances.
It needs a pretty cover and I thought this beautiful fabric (a soft Japanese lawn) would be nice...

I'd like to add one of my stitcheries to the cover and will have a sort through later today to see what I can find that will blend with the floral colours in this print.

Some more fabric on my cutting table at the moment...

Spotlight are having a massive end of financial year sale and after stocking up on a few metres of Pellon a set of 4 place-mats caught my eye just as I was leaving the store.

I thought they'd be lovely on our dining table and was pretty sure I had fabrics in similar colours to sew a matching table runner.

So I guess you know what I'll be sewing over the weekend?

My beloved Mr E will be busy working on our old Jeep again so apart from baking some goodies for his morning and afternoon tea breaks I'll stay out of his way and let the man do what the man's got to do. 

I hope your weekend will be lovely,

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

A gift...

Back in 2008 I met a young lady online through our blogs, someone who over the years since has become like a little sister to me. In fact that's what we call each other - Big Sis and Little Sis. 

The friendship between Vikki and I grew rapidly because to be honest, she's so gentle, kind and understanding that being her friend was, and is, easy. We didn't meet face to face until 2014 (what a hug that was!) and today only catch up with the occasional phone chat, but every time we talk it's like we've never been apart. 
I think that's the measure of real friendship,  picking up where you left off, not even skipping a beat.

It was Vikki who purchased the very first pattern of my very first design, and it was so funny because she wanted me to autograph it! (I didn't, and she told me off years later, LOL!)

Vikki is also a designer, her style very much like her personality - gentle, detailed and sweet. 
(you can have a look here at her blog for an idea of what I mean)

But today I want to show you an example of her other talent, Vikki's first love in craft and a skill she excels at, doll making.

 A few years back I gave her an elf doll kit which I'd had every intention of making 'one day' but never got around to. 
Eventually realising the elf kit was not really something I could apply myself to it seemed far more sensible that I gift it to my dear doll maker friend instead.

I did just that and promptly forgot all about it. 

Until the mail man arrived last week.

Vikki had made the elf for me.

I cried, tears of grateful joy and surprise.

And I felt her love. Love for her Big Sis. 
Every stitch had been made with love, prayers, and a heart to bless me.

The details of Vikki's work on my elf doll are exquisite...

...and she made the doll so that I can position her any way I like.

Vikki, her children, me and my children, all share a love of the Artemis Fowl books (by Eoin Colfer) and this was another one of the things that drew us together in friendship. 
In honour of that shared fictional reading I've named the elf 'Holly Short' after one of the main characters.

Guarding my fabric shelves, Holly Short sparks a lot of emotions when I think of who's hands crafted her and why. 
This precious gift from a dear friend far away made me feel loved and nourished from the inside out.
To know the time she put in to this for me still causes a few tears to well in my eyes.

Thank you just doesn't seem to be words enough.

Wilma Moss sent me photos the other day of her completed Gentle Domesticity quilt.

The Gentle Domesticity BOM I shared last year was a set of 12 stitchery/applique blocks, all stand alone designs without any quilt setting, but clever Wilma drew up a quilt design to house her completed blocks and it's beautiful!

Inside the scalloped edge she has added yellow trim to blend with the yellow border around the blocks - what an inspiring idea...

I was so excited to see all the blocks in one setting, and the quilting - wow!

Thank you for showing us, Wilma. 

If you've made any or all of the Gentle Domesticity blocks from last year can I encourage you to join our Gentle Domesticity Facebook group and share your photos with everyone.
The group has grown to almost 2,000 members now and we'd love to have you pull up a chair at our virtual kitchen table to chat, share what you're making or baking or sewing or knitting!

If you've not heard of the Gentle Domesticity BOM from 2016 but are inspired to create your own quilt with the blocks you'll find all 12 block patterns as a set here in my shop.

The blocks are also available as single patterns.

Well that's it for me today. 
I pulled apart my sewing room this afternoon and am still in the process of putting it back together so once I finish making dinner for the man of my dreams I'll return to my task.

I love re-organising my sewing room, office, kitchen, laundry, book you?


Monday, June 19, 2017

Finding my groove...

A funny thing happened over the weekend.
I discovered a hobby that makes me smile and fills my heart with happy endorphins.

I wasn't looking for this knowledge, but it actually hit me right in the face because it's always been there but I didn't know.


Are you scratching your head and telling me though the computer screen that I've been doing patchwork for years? Hey, if I were you I'd be doing just that!

But here's the thing. 
I embroider all the time, it's my occupation, my work, my income, a responsibility that I enjoy and am blessed to do. Sometimes I make projects from my stitchery designs, but mostly I don't because there's always the next set of patterns to create, a home to manage and a business to run. 

So when I pull out the fabrics and do some patchwork there is usually a work related reason, or like I mentioned in a post last week, a desire to finish projects. And I do enjoy that but I never thought about it as a separate thing to my Elefantz work. 
Until Saturday afternoon.

We'd picked up some old magazines from the $2 bin at our local newsagents that morning so I brewed a pot of tea and settled down to flick through a few American quilting ones from 2016. 

Now here's where it got interesting, like a domino topple where one piece falls onto another, then another, and so on...

* On page 48 of Quilts & More (Summer 2016 issue) I saw a table runner project made from Bonnie & Camille's "Hello Darling" fabrics.

* I thought to myself - "I wonder where the Camille Roskelley book I bought a few years back is hiding?"

* To the bookcase I go, finger scanning the spines of all my craft books. Found!

* Take book back to my tea pot, put the magazine away and start reading through "Simply Retro". 

* Get excited about Camille's big block quilts and decide to make a smaller version of her "Vintage" quilt (page 36) using some prints from the new Tilda "Harvest" fabrics I'd been given. 

* Wonder what Camille has been up to this year, grab my iPad and google her blog. 

* Discover she hasn't blogged for two years but does frequent Instagram. 

* Notice in her blog sidebar that she has a Craftsy class.

* Log in to Craftsy and look up the class, read all the reviews, get excited that it's half price and promptly BUY the class! 

* Make more tea, grab some bikkies and settle back down to watch the first two lessons. 

* Light bulb moment.  I LOVE patchwork. 

* Another light bulb moment. My patchwork skills were all self taught from craft magazines when I first picked up a rotary cutter, needle and thread at the end of  2005. I've never had a lesson and I want some. 

And there is was, an epiphany that has filled my happy tank because I'm learning things I didn't know (further lessons along) and enjoying patchwork as a hobby, not an occupation. 

By Sunday afternoon I'd made three Granny Square blocks from the "Vintage Quilt" pattern. Here's the first two...

...and on Monday morning (today) after I saw Mr E off to work, I set about making the little pin cushion from Camille's second lesson because it was simply adorable and you know I have a heart for pincushions.

Gorgeous, right? Only 4" square, it's my new favourite.

Now bitten severely by the patchwork bug I gave myself the entire day off work to play with Mr E's approval and encouragement. 
I LOVE that man. 

I decided to continue with my plan to regularly make projects from all my orphan stitchery designs but now with the intent that anything I make must serve a purpose or have a function.

We really need new bedside table runners, but Mr E being a bloke he's not much into girly styles, so until I can find some fabrics that will work for him I began with a cover for my own side table.

I chose the "Bloom Where You Are" block from last year's Gentle Domesticity BOM (pattern is in my shop) and cut 2 1/2" strips of pastel fabrics from my scrap box.

Most of the fabrics were used but some didn't really work so they've been put aside for a different project on another day. 
However I did finish my table runner by mid afternoon and it's beautiful! 

It is 16" x 22", simply made with 2 1/2" squares, and exactly what I wanted for the bedroom.

I have a lovely sense of satisfaction right now, and excitement about what to make the next time I indulge time in my 'hobby'. 

Oh, and I didn't forget to do something special for my husband while I was playing.

Between the piecing and the quilting I baked him another Strawberry Shortcake.
Seriously, this is our yummiest winter treat so we have it often. 

Download the recipe here.

If you lasted this long reading my blog post you deserve a slice of strawberry shortcake too!
Now if you could just tell me how to pass it through the screen we could have a tea party as well.

Oh, almost forgot. In our Gentle Domesticity Facebook group this week we're encouraging each other to finish a small UFO project. 

If you'd like to join us you will find the group HERE.

Tomorrow I have some beautiful projects made by two very talented ladies to show you.
Till then, have a wonderful new week!


Sunday, June 18, 2017

Prayer circle (with free pattern)...

Have you ever wondered what it must have been like for the disciples to pray with Jesus?

I am often envious of the years they walked with Him, talked with Him, prayed with Him, ministered with Him, studied at His feet, ate and laughed and cried with Him.

More times than I can count my heart has yearned to be there, one of His specially chosen group from all walks of life, sinners all, forgiven all, students of the Master each and every one of them. 

At the moment I'm in a season of questioning God about what has been, what is, and what will lie ahead. Without sharing actual personal challenges I will say that much of this season contains grief, regret, confusion and trepidation...and as I lay awake night after night talking to Jesus I ache to have Him there with me, face to face, so I can gather more strength, more courage and renewed hope.

I want to wrap my arms around Him like a child and have Him comfort, correct and heal...quite simply, I want the time with Him that they, his disciples, had. 

Early this morning my husband and I, feeling that the weight of life had become more wearisome than before, went and sat at the beach watching the tide go out and soaking in the quiet beauty of God's handiwork around us. In that stillness, emotions raw and open to Jesus, this Scripture came to rest on my heart...

"For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them."
(Matthew 18:20)

There under the trees beside the beach, Jesus was with us, in our midst, right beside us, part of our conversation, thoughts and prayers.

My ears may not have heard His voice, not the way the disciples had, but my heart heard and my spirit encountered Him. I knew He'd been there from the start and felt every sorrow, heard every request and understood all our confusion. 
He filled us with perfect peace to keep going, speaking 'patience' while He worked out the plans that were written for our lives before we were born. 

I'm not envious of the disciples anymore. Their paths in life were brave, fraught with trials and persecution far beyond what I experience. 

But I do rejoice in what I share with those men - relationship with a Saviour who is always there, who never changes, always listens, and answers at the perfect time in the perfect way.

The 'prayer circle' pattern is my free gift to you.
May it be a reminder that He's inside your prayer circle too, praying to the Father on your behalf.
No greater prayer can we ask for.

Your sister in Christ,

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Taking inspiration and a new look...

The second week of winter has almost passed and the weather has been perfect. 
Mildly cool, resting to the body and mind after a 9 month summer, inviting me to make changes in the moment and plans for the time ahead.

In the moment...

Mr E is enjoying our nourishing winter fare for dinners, meals like slow roasts, curries, stews and of course, yummy pot pies.

I find great delight cooking in winter and have been dragging old recipe folders off the shelf to look through during morning tea. 
Today I have strawberries in abundance so after popping some beef cheeks in a pot to simmer with lots of veggies I'll be baking a Strawberry Shortcake, Jenny-style. 

I have shared this recipe before (in fact it is my friend Fee's favourite dessert and I think she has made it more times than me now) but if you missed it feel free to download my recipe here. 

I'm also regularly spending time at our local library, browsing slowly, enjoying the moment.
I mentioned the other day that my heart is heading towards simple ways to display my stitchery designs, but I also plan to create home furnishings from fabrics already on my shelves, the kind of furnishings that evoke homeliness, comfort, and hopefully an air of times past. 

These two titles came home from from the library this week...

...and they overflow with inspiration.

"The Homemade Home For Children"  has many projects and ideas I'd like to create for Cully May and my other little grandchildren.
Each one is fairly simple, many using large appliques of old fabrics in a new way.

Isn't this tent beautiful!?
I'm sure Blossom and I would happily sit inside to have a tea party with her little girl...

This wall hanging, though featured in the book for a child's room, is high on my to-do list for our own home. 

I think something similar would be lovely hanging above the bed, or even in my office.

Flowers...always flowers, in the moment.
This week I picked up a bunch of carnations for $5 and they lifted the office atmosphere dramatically. Outside my window everything is lovely and green, but I love colour and flowers on my desk provide it...

Planning ahead...

Cully May will turn one on August 4th so Blossom and I shall combine our talents to sew a beautiful birthday dress for her.

Blossom chose the fabric and gave it and a template for the dress bodice to me, because in our joint project my part comes first.

I'll be designing a stitchery for the bodice and embroidering it before handing everything back to Blossom, who will then use it to sew a beautiful dress for Cully May. 

The Cosmo Seasons variegated threads have been chosen to blend with the fabric colours and I've almost completed the sketch for my embroidery, it just needs a little bit of tweaking...

This project is very special to us as it will become an heirloom, a first birthday dress for future babies perhaps.

A new look...

For the longest time I've desired to have some uniformity between the way my blog looks and the cover page of my patterns, so this week I stopped procrastinating and actually dedicated 24 hours to working only on that.
Many pots of chamomile tea were consumed, along with a few sweet treats. Fortunately I had left over lamb korma and Mr E was more than happy to partake of that for dinner while I continued working. 

Emails flew back and forth between Blossom and I, her input and opinion on the direction I was going proving invaluable. 
Honestly, it's a gift beyond words having her know me so well, yet also being another set of eyes to see clearly when I'm so close to a project that I can't see the forest for the trees. 

Fortunately I didn't rush this new look and her excitement over my final draft was the icing on the cake. 

Very slowly over the next month I'll be adding many patterns to my shop, but the nicest thing is that they all have the same cover page at last, and  it co-ordinates with my new blog header. 
I'd love to hear what you think?

And my new blog header?

So there you are dear friends, a productive week so far here at home.

Next time I'll show you another new idea I'm playing with but in case you're looking for a lovely project today, one that can be made to suit your own taste, you may like to revisit my 5-day HUSSIF tutorial from July 2015?

The templates to make the hussif are a free download in my shop...

I also have the set of hussif stitcheries if you prefer the embroidered version, as a purchase in my shop.

To make your own Hussif you can begin here at day 1 of the Hussif Tutorials and follow the links for days 2-5.

Now I'd best be away and get started on that Strawberry Shortcake!

May your day be blessed in every way.