"The ordinary acts we practice every day at home are of more importance to the soul than their simplicity might suggest."

Thomas Moore

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My new Shabby Roses Quilt - a sneak peek...

Have you been taking advantage of the free Mothers Day Mania designs we Gum Tree Designers are sharing with you this week on our Gum Trees blog?
Yesterday it was my day for the freebies, and I shared patterns for these simple but pretty Mothers Day gifts...
Just visit our Gum Trees blog HERE to download all the designs shared this week. Today Joy has the sweetest coathanger covers!
Yesterday I had no Home Ec sewing classes so I spent the entire day working on a couple of very special projects. 
It seems you have loved my two Shabby Roses themed quilts, ~Shabby Roses~ and ~Bouquet~, but did you know I was working on a third? Over the past month I have been stitching the blocks and piecing the quilt top, but yesterday it was time to baste and quilt! It's so exciting to see your 'baby' progress and I admit I got very emotional when the time came to quilt her. I'll share a sneak peek from the basting table...
~Shabby Roses - A Christmas Story~

The fabrics are Robyn Pandolph's 'Roses de Noel'.
This will not be a free BOM - sorry! I will have the paper patterns printed in a couple of weeks for purchase, but to help those on limited budgets I will also be sharing this as a 6 month pay-as-you go BOM (Pattern only) - more on that next month. 
I've finished the machine quilting now, just some hand quilting to do, then the binding and label...
Another finish yesterday was this tea cosy!
It is part of a Breakfast set I've designed, but not quite finished yet. ~Morning Glory~ has the tea cosy, a french press wrap, table mat, and 'something else' yet to be completed. I'm making the pieces of this set in two different fabric ways so you can see how colours and fabric design change the finished appearance. For the tea cosy above (and the 'something else') I'm using fabrics from Rosalie Quinlan's 'Grandmother's Flower Garden' range (Lecien). This is the beginning of the 'something else'...
For the French Press (coffee plunger) cover and the table mat I have used a mix of Sandi Henderson's Ginger Blossom (for Michael Miller) and Roses de Noel (RJR) fabrics ....
Can you see how different fabrics can completely change the presentation of a design?
The tea cosy is fun, bright and homely, whereas the French Press cover has a more elegant touch.

When I first began to sew in 2005 I always made a project in the same colourways as the designer's original. I simply could not *see* it in any other colours! It took me a year or two to have the confidence to step outside that box and use colours of my own choosing. I was surprised at how liberating that decision was, and since then I have never looked at a design the same way. I see something I like and in my mind's eye I imagine it in my favourite fabrics or colours - and away I go! :-)
How about you? Are you confident to make something in your own colourway or do you tend to stick with a copy of the original as best you can?
I have my sweet Grade 12 girls for sewing today, so I'd best pack my sewing kit and have a last coffee before class begins!
Have a wonderful day!!

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

More SHABBY ROSES, sneak peek, Tilda, and Mothers Day Mania!

I feel quite humbled when a fellow quilter likes one of my designs so much that they want to make it.
Last year's BOM, (and my first original quilt design HERE) - Shabby Roses - is still very popular. I will confess to you today that this quilt will always hold a very special place in my heart because every block represents an emotion connected with a time, place, or person in my life thus far. It was me allowing my 'voice' to flow through my designs.
Since then I have seen a number of completed Shabby Roses quilts and each one excites me! Seeing *my* Shabby Roses, made by hands other than my own, and transformed from the original with different fabrics or embellishments is amazing. 
Recently Anna Rosa posted her completed Shabby Roses quilt on her blog, and she has kindly allowed me to share the photo with you.
I have to say that I *LOVE* the 'smile' block, standing forthright in the bottom row! It MADE me smile as soon as I saw it! Anna, you have done yourself proud...your quilt is gorgeous. :-)
Anna Rosa is a wonderful painter, too. Go visit her blog HERE and drool over her amazing talent!
My final Tilda fabric purchases arrived last week, all the way from Denmark. 

A lovely blogger, LONE, responded to my question about purchasing Tilda fabrics with news of a sale on these lovely fabrics at a store in Denmark HERE. Converted to Australian dollars they became a real bargain at less than $10 per metre, so LONE arranged for me to purchase some as I cannot understand any language other than English. LOL! 
Anyhow, the fabrics have arrived (thank you LONE!!), and I now have my own little Tilda corner of the sewing room! I have stored the fabrics in those lovely rose boxes I bought a couple of weeks ago. 
As soon as I clear my sewing table of UFOs and some secret new designs I'll begin my Tilda sewing.
Here is a sneak peek of something secret...
...some lovely VERNA fabrics are going to play with my design and bring it to life. I'm hoping to finish this over the next week or so as what started as something small has grown in my mind and will be much larger and more interesting than I originally imagined. 
Thank you to everyone who responded about their favourite threads! I'm now interested in trying Prescencia as a number of you mentioned them. I'll see what I can track down!  :-)

Don't forget, this week on our Gum Tree Designers blog we are having a Mothers Day Mania!! Free designs, recipes, poems and ideas to bless your mother this Mothers Day, May 9th! Be sure to visit HERE!

Vikki shared a gorgeous fabric envelope on Monday, and Fiona shared the sweetest stitchery today.
Tomorrow it's my turn to share something - wonder what it will be?
God bless all of you!

Friday, April 23, 2010

About threads...

As a totally addicted embroiderer and stitcher-holic I thought today we might chat about threads.
My inspiration to have this conversation with you was prompted by a parcel that arrived yesterday from Carrie of A Passion for Applique
Carrie has been making my Shabby Roses quilt blocks since I began sharing them through my blog last year, and she chose fabrics that were very different to any others I've seen used in the quilt. 
Have a look at some of her blocks HERE. She has now finished all her blocks and the sashing, and her quilt is at the quilters - I cannot wait to see it all finished. :-)
For the embroidery on the blocks Carrie used bamboo threads, and I always wondered what they would be like to stitch with. Now I will be able to find out because that's what was in the parcel Carrie sent me!
Thanks so much, Carrie!!
They feel very different to cotton threads. There is a 'baby' softness to them, almost velvety in texture, and as I fondled them I thought about my other threads and how each of them are used for different reasons, depending on the design I'm using at the time.

I suppose everyone who stitches has a good array of DMC cotton stranded threads. There are hundreds of colours to choose from, they are very cheap - in Australia we pay 89c at Spotlight or around $1.50 in patchwork stores. I use these threads more than any other because of the colour range and the availability. 
I also love using DMC's Perle threads. They are wonderful for sewing on felt, for quilting, and for projects that require a bolder feature to stand out from the fabric. I also choose them if I need to use more than 2 strands of thread in a project (depending on colour availability of course).

Very similar to DMC, not as easily found locally as DMC, though Spotlight have a good selection.
I only have a few, as they were bought for their colours - I could not find a similar DMC to use. I like stitching with these Anchor threads, though! They seem to 'glide' through the fabric.

Cosmo threads are Japanese, from the Lecien Company, and were promoted as being much easier to work with than DMC - less twisting and knotting as you stitch. I agree with that statement, however they do still twist and knot. I'm not sure there is a thread on the market that doesn't twist.
These are my new favourite thread! They are hand dyed variegated 6 strand cotton threads, and simply lovely to look at, handle, and work with. They knot and twist even less than Cosmo.
They are the work of Pam down in Victoria, and I encourage you to visit her blog HERE because she has all the beautiful colour swatches of her threads on show to tantalise you!
There are a number of stores in Australia that have begun to stock Pam's 'Cottage Garden Threads', but if you are overseas you can now purchase through her Etsy Shop HERE.

The thing that always attracts me to Madeira stranded threads is the packaging! So lovely neat, easy access to the thread, lovely colour exposed through the window of the package which also allows me to see how much thread is left. These are not easy to come by, so when I find them I stock up - there are hundreds of colours to choose from in the range. These also tend to twist and knot less than DMC.

These are the threads that Synnoeve sent me last week, and I haven't used them yet as I have them aside for use with my new Tilda fabrics to make Tilda designs from all my Tilda books - yes, I am going to finally make my favourite Tilda projects using all Tilda fabrics and threads! How exciting! I'll let you know how well they perform in my needle once I have used them.

These are rayon threads, and look simply beautiful when stitched! They are used a lot by those who do Brazillian embroidery because of their texture, sheen, and because you can boil them.
I have only ever used them for backstitch, french knots and lazy daisies because I find they twist constantly and fray easily. However, I think for something very special they are perfect because of the glorious end result. You just need to stitch slowly and gather your patience.
(a little bit of trivia - the first time I bought some of this thread it was because it's called Lola. That's my maternal grandmother's name...)

What threads do you stitch with most?
Is there a certain brand you would prefer to use over others? (imagine cost is not important and you could choose whatever you wanted) What is it about those threads that you like so much?


Have a wonderful day!!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

A beautiful gift, reading, sewing and sneak peeks...

Schools back again, which means the house is quieter during the day.  
Even though we're half-way through Autumn the days are still rather hot, so I am making the most of early mornings in the sewing room with my machine, and afternoons in the lovely air-conditioned living room with my hand stitching. Of course some of those plans will change from tomorrow when I resume my teacher's aide hours in Home Ec. This term I'm helping with the Grade 11 and 12 girls sewing class. A few of them are doing quilts, and as the sewing teacher has never quilted before I'll be teaching as well. I have raided my stash of flannel and chenille for two of the girls, and may need to raid the cotton fabrics as well if the others couldn't get what they needed over the holiday break. 
Most of the girls live on outback stations (ranches) and do not get to see a fabric store very often so the teacher drove 130 klms to the nearest Spotlight store for supplies, working hard to purchase fabrics that match the girl's descriptions of the type of designs they would like for their projects.
Mail arrived on Monday from a very lovely quilter in Norway, Synnoeve. When I was asking about Tilda fabrics a while back she offered to send me some fat quarters. I suggested we swap fabrics and I would send her some fabric by an Australian designer in exchange for some Tilda. 
Synnoeve is the kindest and most generous lady!! Look what she sent me...
...the prettiest stash of Tilda fabrics, a pack of Tilda threads (I had no idea Tilda had her own threads - they are gorgeous!), and all stored inside this beautiful bag she had made for me!!
Synnoeve, you are a BLESSING!! Thank you!
My crafting life at the moment is a mix of browsing some new craft books, finishing more UFOs, and playing with new designs.
I recently bought the 3 craft books shown below - all of them are WONDERFUL - and I'm enjoying a slow wander through a book I bought last year, "The Wonderful Weekend Book". It is filled with reminiscing about years past and simple but fun things do each weekend.
This is my FAVOURITE magazine from the US. I have some ancient copies smiling at me from a very shabby white wicker basket near my bed, but today I found the latest issue beckoning me from the news stand. It will be perused very slowly because I love to linger over the beautiful photos and articles in this very special magazine...
Have you read Bliss Victoria before? THIS is the website (to whet your appetite in case your answer is no!)
These are what have kept my fingers busy this week.
I don't work with black very often, (actually, I've only worked with black once before) but I had 1/2 a charm square pack still to use from THIS project, and they were all red/black/white. Do you struggle to use colours you don't like? 
I discovered with this project that I struggle with black because I began this project months ago with the centre block sketch, but kept putting it down to play with pinks and blues in other projects. Every week I'd do a few stitches then pop it back in it's zip lock bag and ignore for a while longer. I told Joy that I was having a hard time finishing a 'black' project when she shared her excitement about her sashiko design, also in black. She encouraged me to hang in and keep going with it, so this week I finally finished it! And the funny thing? I love it! LOL!!
PSST! (Go and visit Joy's blog HERE because she has a giveaway for that gorgeous Sashiko pattern she was so excited about - it's GAWJUS!!)

I'm also working on a bag design...
...because I needed to get back to my pinks and roses. :-)
It's a big month of published projects for my fellow Gum Tree Designers and myself!
You'll find Vikki and Dawn together for the 1st time (yay!!!) in the pages of Homespun, Judith amongst the covers of Handmade, and myself inside both Country Threads and Patchwork & Stitching. 

I'm so proud to be a part of Gum Tree Designers! My fellow designers are the sweetest and most generous women!! In fact, next week on our Among The Gum Trees blog we're having a MOTHERS DAY MANIA week of free designs, recipes and crafts to help make your Mothers Day gift giving easier!!
I have a cute freebie to share, but I'll just tease you with a little peek...
Be sure to visit us Among The Gum Trees from Monday to collect your free designs, recipes and crafts!

Now, I am off to read a chapter from this very old but interesting book I found at the library book sale on Monday...
I loved the title!! I'm sure that even after more than 18 years of marriage I will learn something, then I can pop it away until it's Blossom's wedding day and her turn to read it.  :-)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Dogs, the weekend, UFOs, and a sneak peek...

This is the last weekend before the start of another school term. It's been so nice just pottering around and doing 'stuff'. 
The dogs have enjoyed all the attention, but even they have frowns today at the thought of their favourite family members not being around as much from Monday. 
Bob-the-dog will have to be content with hanging out in the sewing room with me again...
...and Lily Rose will have to be patient through the day until her sunset walks with Mr Elefantz and myself.
Of course, she still has her favourite toy to keep her company...
...she'll just have to make sure she doesn't leave her Teddy out in the rain overnight again or he'll have to spend his days hanging from the clothesline.
Some lovely parcels arrived this week. When we had the Baseco Bag Kit giveaways on our Gum Tree Designers blog last month the kit I donated was won by Gayner in the UK. Gayner was thrilled when her Baseco Bag Kit arrived (in Woodland Bloom fabrics) as these were colours she would not usually choose to use so she was looking forward to making something a bit different. 
Then, bless her heart, she decided to bless me too! She posted me an exquisite linen pillowcase and a tiny little crochet basket, both handmade by her grandmother over 45 years ago. Look at that beautifully crocheted edging on the pillowcase....
 Thank you so much, Gayner!  I do not have anything from my own mother or grandmothers, so these will be treasured always.
I also recently did a fabric swap with my friend Katrin, in Germany. I have sent Katrin some of Rosalie Quinlan's 'Grandmother's Flower Garden' fabrics, and she sent me some gorgeous Tilda fabrics in exchange! She also sent me some embroidery needles (I use so many!!) and the cutest pincushion. Thanks Katrin! I hope your parcel from me arrives soon. :-)
How are you going with my 4 For 4 Challenge this month - finish 4 UFOs in 4 weeks? 
I have done my 4, but now I'll finish more. 

Yesterday I finally completed 'The Dress' (UFO number 3). I did the embroidery a while ago (the pattern is in my Etsy Shop), but it has been sitting here for months waiting for me to decide how I would display it. I made it for Blossom, so the pressure was on! 
Eventually I thought I would bind it in black satin, and add a string of black beads around the top of the chiffon veil. What do you think?
BONUS - if you purchase the embroidery pattern for 'The Dress' stitchery in my Etsy Shop this weekend for $3.97 USD, I will send you the full pattern to make the wallhanging as well at no extra cost!
Click HERE to purchase.
UFO Number 4 was to find a way to use my extra Umbrella stitchery, and as I have been using Blossom's market bag lately it seemed an excellent use for the pretty little block...
Next week I'll be helping out in the sewing classes at the school, working on my Christmas quilt design, and finishing this new design. Want to see a little sneak peek? 
...and I'll also be sorting out my odds and ends in the sewing room. I bought these very pretty boxes at the $2 shop yesterday to help with storage.
 I have so many projects on the go right now that I need a system to keep all the bits and pieces associated with them together in one place. 

Sorry for the long post. I should have warned you to go and grab a cuppa first. :-)
Wouldn't it be nice if we could really share one together?

Enjoy your weekend,

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

~ Wishin' and Hopin'~ from my Shabby Roses Collection!

I don't think I will ever tire of designing more beautiful projects to add to my ever increasing Shabby Roses Collection!
Today I am releasing a new design set ~Wishin' & Hopin'~

The Wishing Well Tote was published earlier this year in Homepsun magazine, but is now available for purchase with it's new companion journal! The 'Wishin & Hopin' Journal has never been published (and will not be).

Dreams, hopes, wishes and prayers are so important. They can lift our spirits in the hard times, keep us on track in the busy times, and nourish our souls when we forget what's important. Writing our thoughts and dreams for the future is a proven way to keep 'the dream alive' because too often in the hustle and bustle of life we find our plans drifting from our minds and too late we remember them - when all opportunity to fulfil them has passed. This was the inspiration behind these two designs.

The journal sits perfectly inside the tote...and the pretty tote looks so sweet hanging from my bedpost, right where I need it when those dreams build in my mind and I want to jot down my thoughts.
Add a lovely pen and you have a very special gift set for a close friend, a teenage girl whose dreams are just beginning, a mother who needs to remember that dreams come to pass at every stage of life...it is simply the perfect gift for anyone who dreams.

I stitched a verse by Emily Dickinson around the gorgeous Shabby Roses Wishing Well centre of the tote....and roses along the handles...
Then you have the journal, which has so many pretty features of its own!

...even a quilted rose on the back.
Your pattern set includes colour photographs throughout, detailed stitchery and assembly instructions, materials and notions list, full size templates for tracing, and hints.
Once payment is made I will email your pattern pack within 24 hours!

You can purchase the pattern set for both the Tote and the Journal HERE in my Etsy Shop for $8.95 US, or use the Buy Now button below to pay through Paypal.

If you are in Australia and already have the pattern for the Tote from the February Homespun magazine, then you can purchase the pattern for the Journal only HERE in my Etsy Shop for $5 US (approx. $5.40 Australian) , or use the Buy Now button below to pay through Paypal.

This would make a gorgeous gift for Mothers Day!


PS: Some people are having problems downloading Block 4 of ~Bouquet~ from the Scribd link, so I have added an extra link for you to try downloading through Google. Click HERE to download Block 4 from Google, and HERE to download from Scribd.
If they both fail then its possible your computer needs to update some programs. I'm sorry I cannot help with that. :-(

All ~JENNY of ELEFANTZ~ designs are my original work and copyright.