Flawed Photos transformed into Sweet Stitching!


For a long time I have been a keen photographer. My passion is photographing birds and flowers and I have hundreds (make that thousands) of photos filed on the computer. Digital photography transformed my hobby, and now that it costs nothing to take 100 photos of the same thing, well, of course, I do just that, though I do throw most of them out!


Very occasionally I am really happy with a photo, but, being the perfectionist that I am, that is a rare occurrence. However, I make a policy of keeping at least one photo of an item, no matter how bad it is, so that I have a record of a bird seen or a flower discovered. 

There is really not much to like about the photo below in terms of photography - the tail end of a bird on the right, a seagull in the way in the centre etc - full of flaws. However, I decided to keep it because I liked the stance of these majestic Pelicans:


In fact when I was thinking of a design using these amazing birds, I decided to use this photo to produce some applique. It was a very simple procedure, just printing out the photo in black and white, tracing the outlines of what I wanted and ignoring all the extraneous matter. A flip of the traced outlines for fusible webbing, a bit of sewing and we have a cushion:


This design appeared recently in Patchwork & Stitching magazine Vol 16 No 2 just in time for the Summer holidays here.


Here's another of my flawed photos - a Scarlet Robin with a tangled mess of branches:


Yes, I could edit the photo and remove all the rubbish, but I like taking the photos not spending all day making them decent. I would rather do that with needle and thread:


Here's another fuzzy photo - a red-capped Robin:


This one was turned into a cross-stitch:


The moral in the story is that not everything with flaws needs to be thrown out. With a bit of artistic licence and a needle and thread, they can be transformed into something of beauty.


I hope you had happy Christmas celebrations as we did. Ours were much quieter this year with just a few of our family with us. We're looking forward to seeing some of those who have been away when they return in a few weeks - I just love having family around!

Meanwhile I have been busy stitching the new 2015 free Block of the Month design that I have for you. I'm afraid that all nine blocks are not going to be complete and made into a wall-hanging, but the first block will be ready for launching as planned on 11th January.

Talking of free designs, there are just four more days for you to collect all the 2014 "Shining Like the Dawn" patterns, so download them now before they are no longer available.

Happy stitching!
Val


Embroidery delights


Last week a friend asked me if I would make four embroidered bookmarks for her to give away as gifts. I had previously made one for her birthday a year or so ago and she tells me that she uses it all the time and really treasures it. Isn't it delightful, when someone appreciates your handiwork and the love and care that you have put into making a hand-made gift?

Thankfully I had some blank bookmarks so I was able to get straight into making them. By the way, I have searched high and low for hours on the internet and I cannot find anyone who is selling these bookmarks with oval apertures. I found one with a rectangular opening but drew a blank with ovals or circles, so if anyone knows where I might find some, I would love to know.


Only one bookmark was needed in a hurry, but it really wasn't worth the effort of getting all the gear out just for one, so I did the lot. 

It's amazing what a bit of fabric paint can do! Instead of just embroidering the scene, I dabbed a bit of green paint behind what I was going to embroider. To me, it really lifts the stitching to the next level. It's a technique I really should try with my stitcheries, so I've added a note in my Ideas file to remind me for next time!


These delphiniums are formed by gathering silk ribbon into small florets and anchoring them with a French Knot.


One of the requests was for a 'bluish' theme. I don't have much in the way of blue ribbons in my stash as there are so few flowers that are blue in nature. I settled for this ribbon which has mauve tones with its blue and made candelabra primulas with French Knots:



In our previous home we had a pergola covered with Wisteria. It was absolutely gorgeous in flower and when the flowers were finished it then produced pretty green shady leaves:


My embroidered wisteria vine is a poor substitute I think:


 I couldn't get my silk ribbons out without making lots of roses, so the last one is a pretty apricot climbing rose:


After the embroidery was mounted in the bookmarks, I used some 3D paint to edge the oval:


I really enjoyed working on these small projects and managed to complete the four of them in about as many nights. It is quite a contrast to a quilt top that I just completed that took me seven or eight days working eight or nine hours each day! Now I remember why I only make two or three quilts in a year! 

I will give you another reminder about the 2014 free "Shining Like the Dawn" Pattern - all the blocks will be available for another 10 days, then they will be removed on the 31st December, so make sure you go and collect them before they are gone.  Meanwhile I am working on another free block of the month pattern for 2015. I've been waiting for fabric to arrive which it has just done, so now I can start the stitching. I hope to have at least one block ready to show you in the new year.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas filled with the blessings of remembering whose birthday it is that we celebrate.

Hugs
Val




Free Pattern for Christmas No 4


The last of my 2014 free Christmas designs is now available. It is a very quickly made Christmas Bell ornament.


There are so many variations that you could do to put your own stamp on this simple pattern and they only take an hour or two to make. I hope you have fun making some for your Christmas tree. You can download the pattern here.

The four 2014 free Christmas patterns will be available permanently in my store, so if you or your friends missed out, you can go to 
to find the links for those and my other free patterns.

I'm a bit of an eclectic designer. I do patchwork, make quilts, work fine embroidery, love applique and dabble with silk ribbon embroidery. I enjoy all these facets of my craft and tend to rotate from one to the next so that I don't get bored, but I can't be too long without a needle and thread in my hand! I enjoy doing stitcheries where you get results fairly quickly and can use a range of stitches without the time-consuming perfection that is needed with fine embroidery. That is what is behind my "Singing Heart" stitchery, which is one of my favourite designs this year:


It appeared in the November issue of Australian Homespun magazine:



Stitching definitely makes my heart sing!

Val

Free Pattern for Christmas No 3


Here is my next
free pattern for Christmas.

It's a little Christmas door hanger. Again I have designed something that is really quick and simple to put together:


It has a little bit of quirkiness! You can turn it over and let others know that it is NOT appropriate to enter the room right now, as you are wrapping presents! 


You can download it here.

In other Christmas news, Handmade Magazine Vol 33 No 3 has my simple design for a bag for your Christmas ham:


Do you know the tip for keeping your Ham fresh and long-lasting?
Soak the bag in a solution of 1 litre of water with 2 tablespoons white vinegar. Squeeze out the excess liquid before placing your ham inside. Repeat every two or three days.


I've bought my Christmas ham and every day I have to resist the temptation to start carving into it!

Christmas means that the year is nearly over. Have you seen the beautiful Homespun Diary for 2015? Like all their products, it is a beautiful piece of art and practicality. It has lots of designers' tips and tricks in it, including a couple of mine!


I noticed that Create in Stitch have a fabulous half price bargain at the moment. You can purchase the Calendar plus the Diary for just the price of one of them:  http://www.createinstitch.com.au/product/homespun-2015-calendardiary-pack/

The end of the year means I should remind you to make sure you download all the free 2015 Block of the Month patterns.
will be available for just a couple more weeks, so head over to my free pattern page before the offer closes.

The lovely Eveline in the UK has already finished hers. Don't you just love the colours and fabrics she has chosen?


A beautiful job, Eveline.

I was starting to get into gear for Christmas - made my Christmas pudding, sent out our Christmas letter and sorted out what presents I still have to buy! I've put a few decorations up but I really should think about decorating the tree. Problem is, I cut out a new quilt yesterday, so you can imagine I'm a bit in denial about Christmas now - all that lovely fabric is calling, maybe even shouting to me!

I will have to pull myself away from it long enough to prepare the fourth and final free Christmas pattern for you!

Happy stitching
Val




Free pattern for Christmas Number 2


Today I have for you the second of my 
free patterns for Christmas
It is a mug wrap, very easy and quick to make and ideal for keeping your beverage warm over Christmas. The Christmas Mug Hug:


I hope you like it and enjoy making it. You can download the pattern here.

While you are over in my store, you might like to look at two other Christmas patterns I have put there.  The original version of Candle, Candle, Burning bright cushion is made from Silk Dupion, but of course you could easily use your favourite cotton fabric:


And here is something that would make a delightful gift - a 3½ inch box with some silk ribbon embroidery inset - Yuletide Poinsettia:


This blog post seems to be following the Embroidery theme, so I will show you another of my silk ribbon designs which has just been published - the Bee Hive:


It's a needlecase for packets of needles.


Can't get away from roses:


Delphiniums, super easy made from French Knots:


I just love the colour of this hand-dyed Kacoonda ribbon:


and Primula Candelabra:


You can find the pattern in Embroidery & Cross Stitch Magazine Vol 22 Issue 5:



I've been busy all week but don't seem to have accomplished much! I did manage to design my first quilt with my new EQ software. I can see that using this programme is going to be lots of fun! More than that, it is so good to be able to see what the quilt is going to look like BEFORE I start cutting and sewing. 

In the past, it was a case of "design as you go", auditioning fabrics, blocks, borders and binding on the run, until the right one was found. It is so much simpler to change the colours with the click of a mouse! I hope to make a start on the quilt this week - after I design and make your next free Christmas pattern!

Happy stitching!
Val

Free patterns for Christmas


The first of my free Christmas patterns is ready for you today.


Feel free to share the logo above on your blog, Facebook or wherever you like!

The first pattern I have for you is a Christmas Dove ornament. It's a traditional decoration, symbolic of peace, purity and love. It's a reminder to me of God's great Christmas gift to us - Jesus - the only one who can bring true peace to our hearts - and to the world.


You don't need much equipment to make one and it won't take long,  so I hope you enjoy making some lovely Christmas Doves. Imagine how beautiful they would look in white felt with gold or silver embellishment.

You can find the pattern here in my Craftsy store.
Don't forget to email me some photos of the Christmas Doves that you make.

Here's another really quick project of mine that you could make for Christmas - "Holly Rings":


They are serviette rings made or burlap/hessian with a little bit of lace, applique and embroidery.


You can find the pattern in Handmade magazine Vol 33 No 1:


I've had a very happy week - completed two projects that I am quite ecstatic about, sent off three designs to magazine editors, had a wonderful family celebration and began playing with my new Electric Quilt 7 software!

On the "To Do" list this week is to make some mug rugs for Christmas presents and I'm itching to start designing a quilt with my new programme. There's some lovely fabric in the stash crying out to be used!

Happy Stitching!
Val



Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Pattern 11


The last set of instructions for the free
"Shining like the Dawn"
wall quilt is now ready for you.


I hope you enjoy making this design and I'd love to see photos of what you do with the pattern. You can download the last instructions here. All the patterns for this wall quilt are still available on my free pattern page and will remain there until 31st December.

I hope to have my
Four weeks of Christmas Giving
up and running again this year. For the next four weeks I plan to give you a free pattern each week. I have one ready but I had better get my skates on and get the other three organised! Look out for a delightful Christmas tree ornament next week! 

I rather like satchels so when I was asked to design a bag with country theme, this is what I came up with - Needle in a Haystack:


It has applique, embroidery and a little bit of whimsy.


You can find the pattern in Country Threads Vol 15, No 8.


Occasionally I grow my own pumpkins like on my satchel, but we don't have a lot of room, so other vegetables are more of a priority. One of the first things I did when we moved into our new home was to buy some herb plants. My mother always had home-grown herbs in the garden and for many years I have had a few pots of my favourite herbs. At the moment, I have mint, parsley, rosemary, basil and thyme and I love the freedom of being able to go and pick some whenever I want. In honour of that, I designed The Herb Garden project a couple of years ago:


It has always been one of my favourite designs, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to learn that it had been chosen to be featured in the Homespun So Pretty 2015 calendar.


I didn't really have any hopes, other than having an outlet for my work, when I first started designing in 2005. My dream was to find someone who thought my work was of a good enough quality to want to put it in print.  Being published in seven magazines was way beyond any dreams or expectations that I ever had. Now to top it off, we're a calendar girl! I feel so blessed and privileged to have travelled this creative journey.

Happy stitching!

Val