Adding the third dimension


Recently I was reading an article about dimension in quilts, particularly in relation to making them for children. Of course, when I came to find the article again to quote from it for you, I can't find it anywhere! So you will have to put up with my observations! 

When our youngest grandchildren were toddlers, I had a lot of fun designing wall-hangings for them. There are lots of things to consider in making projects for children. They need to be a suitable size, cheerful, not dull colours, age-appropriate and a pleasant shape. That's fairly easy to do and there are hundreds of wonderful wall-hanging and quilt patterns available.

What I was keen to do was to add the third dimension. I wanted to have my wall hangings tactile - designed to be touched, pulled apart, squashed, handled, and put back together again. With those goals in mind, my Match-a-Patch quilt was born.

Those soft, squishy, shapes pull off the quilt and then the little toddler tries to match the shapes and put it back together again. I love that it is educational and inter-active.

Having made one, I was hooked on the three-dimensional concept and that's when I started my "Cupboard" series - eight wall-hangings with removable parts.

If I have a favourite, it is probably My Kitchen Dresser - cups on their hooks, saucers and plates stacked neatly in their shelves and the coffee pot, milk and sugar all ready to be used:


As a bonus, the child learns to put things away in their proper place, and you have a lovely wall decoration when play is finished.

Then there is the gardening cupboard with tools hanging ready for pretend play:


Making the cantilevered shelf in the Laundry Cupboard was a challenge but it actually came together quite easily:


I smile every time I look at the little peg bag and iron!

There had to be something for the boys too so we have My Tool Cupboard, all the devices an aspiring carpenter would need, complete with a tool apron:


You can view my other children's designs here.

I stopped designing the cupboards when the grandchildren became too old for them, but there are still a few in my heart somewhere, so maybe I will pull them out onto fabric one day.

I am still keen on having three dimensional aspects to my adult designs too, and often try to incorporate the concept.  Even my new free Block of the Month, Shining Like the Dawn has removable parts! If you have any brilliant ideas on adding the third dimension, please share them with us.

The designing year for me began in earnest last week with contact with various magazine editors, so I'm enjoying starting new designs.  One of my quilts has just been published in Stunning Country Craft Vol 25 No 1:


I couldn't resist this gorgeous rose border fabric:


 I've been working with some beautiful oriental fabrics this week and incorporated some solid black fabric in the design. Note to self for the future - Do not use cotton batting with black fabric!!!  That innocent-looking, perfectly compressed cotton changes to a monster once it's handled a bit! Pushing a quilt backwards and forwards under a domestic machine doing miles of quilting resulted in bits of white fluff absolutely everywhere! The black fabric attracted it like a magnet. Lots of brushing removed some of it, but I resorted to a trick I learned from the girls at work many years ago - sticky tape!  That white fluff was one lot of third dimension that I didn't really need!

Happy stitching.
Val


Giving in to Ruffles


If you have been around this blog for a while, you will have worked out I'm a 'frilly' person. When I was a little girl, my grandmother gave me the most beautiful handkerchief sachet with woven ribbons and scrumptious frills.  I treasured it so much and I have never lost my love for pretty frilly objects.

In the light of that, I think I have actually been remarkably restrained in my designing. There is really hardly a frill to be seen in my patterns!   OK, there is occasionally some lace:


or maybe some guipure:


but I've never put an actual ruffled frill on any of my published designs.  That is, until now!  My Souffle bag and glasses case mark the "giving in to ruffles" moment in history:


See the lovely pale blue ruffles:


Ruffles have certainly been a huge feature of late amongst the big-name fashion designers.  They have even been a very popular trend in wedding cakes.  So it is time to give in to ruffles!

If truth be told, probably part of the reason for my not using them before this, is that they used to be so difficult to make! I have memories of putting yards and yards of fabric through the rolled hem foot trying to get an even, tiny little hem so that I could put ruffles on my bathroom curtains. There was a great deal of frustration involved! Then I became a quilter and learned about double-fold binding. The same principle applied to ruffles is just brilliant. No hem required! I wish I had known about this years ago!

If you're into ruffles too, then you can find my Souffle bag and glasses case pattern in the latest issue of Patchwork & Stitching Magazine, Vol 15 No 1.



I wonder if ruffles will appear again in my designs???

They certainly didn't appear last week. Most of my time was spent in creating a large banner for our Church Hall. It turned out quite well and I'll share a photo when it is mounted on the wall. Stone-fruit season is always a busy time in the kitchen and I managed to squeeze in the processing of a case of peaches between all the quilting.  Preserving peaches is a lot of work because I like to remove the skins, but it's wonderful later in the year when we come to eat them on our cereal.

Now my dilemma is which project to start next!  I have a small wall quilt three quarters finished and an embroidery design started. They are both hand-work for the evenings, so that's a good excuse to start something new! I am thinking I'd like to make a pretty needlecase. It seems ages since I made one... or will it turn into a sewing folder - to me they are so much more practical. One thing is for sure with my design process - the original concept and the finished project are usually two quite different things!

Happy stitching!
Val


Free Pattern Launch - 2014 Block of the Month Wall Quilt


Shining like the Dawn

Where I live, dawn is very EARLY at the moment.  I am a light sleeper and I wake as soon as it is a little bit light - 3.30 or 4.00 am. Once I'm awake, I can't stay in bed for long, so I see plenty of dawns. In summer I'm very often well into my day before the sun rises just before 5 am.  It's the time of day I love - fresh and new, the darkness has gone and with the dawn comes light and all the potential of a new day.


My new free Block of the Month quilt was inspired by some verses from the Bible - Psalm 37:1-8
Your goodness will shine like the dawn. (v 6)

Even if you don't have any interest in Christianity or the Bible, this quilt is still relevant.  The nine little mini-quilts have just one or two words - all of which have impact on our daily life and our relationships with others. Putting these concepts into practice will have us with lives 'shining like the dawn', in contrast to the darkness and evil that is so prevalent in our world.


I hope you will join in each month.  The mini-quilts are very quick to make so this Block of the Month is really achievable. Each month from January to September you will receive the pattern for the mini-quilts then in October and November I will give you the instructions for putting it all together.


The design is completely free, but I would love it if you would put my Shining like the Dawn button in the sidebar of your blog with a link back to http://val-laird.blogspot.com. (Just right click the image below and "Save Image As" a jpg file onto your computer, then upload it to your blog.) Or you can advertise it on Facebook, or any other way you can think of. The pattern is for personal use or to make as a gift but please do not use it for profit.


 The three 'scallops' at the bottom of the wall quilt are pockets. This means you can display three mini-quilts and put the remaining six away safely: 


When you feel like a change of thoughts to display, it is easy to swap them around and the six mini-quilts that you are not using will fit neatly back into the three pockets.

The quilt measures 49.5 x 67 cm (19½ x 26½ inches) and the mini-quilts 7.5 x 10 cm (3 x 4 inches). This month I am giving you the materials list, cutting details and the first of the mini-quilts which is about anger.

Let go of anger and leave rage behind. Do not be preoccupied. It only leads to evil.  
Psalm 37:8: 


Allowing anger to gnaw away within us never does any good. It always harms us and those around us. The message of this stitchery is a good place to start, don’t you think, in our quest for lives that shine like the dawn.

 You can download the first pattern here. Each new pattern will be available for download until the end of December, so they will be there if you happen to miss one. 

Apart from doing all the preparations for the launch of the BOM, I've spent time preserving a case of plums, taken my sewing machine back to the technician because the recent service didn't fix the tension problem, unpicked some embroidery three times and started two new designs. You might like to catch up with me on Facebook to see photos of what else I've been working on.

Happy stitching
Val

Keeping the status quo!


With the avalanche of our 23 family and visitors for Christmas week, I realised how much I like my quiet normal state of existence. It was so lovely to have everyone around us and we now miss the happy interaction of the children with their cousins, but I am very content to have my clean, organised, tidy home back to normal!

So, being a person who doesn't really care for change, I haven't set any goals for the new year, nor made any resolutions, nor made any big plans for altering the stitching side of my life. I am happy with the status quo - having enough time and energy to design and stitch when I feel like it, without any pressure!

So you can expect more of the same from me in 2014 - eg my new designs appearing in Australian craft magazines. Not that  I want to remain static - I am always aiming to keep my designs fresh and vibrant, whether they be vintage, romantic, country, cottage or shabby style.  Sometimes I even do modern! The new Cherry and Chocolate table runner is relatively simple and the addition of white fabric gives it a modern touch:


You can find the pattern in Handmade Vol 32 No 2:


Something else that won't change is that
  I will again be offering a new free Block of the Month Wall Quilt for 2014:  


 It's all finished ready to write up the pattern:


It's quite different to the last couple of years' quilts and will be very quick to do each month:


Keep a look out next week for the first installment.

Of course, I'm already working on the next design, have the fabric organised for the one after that, waiting for some fabric to arrive for the one after that, and have one design spare in case I run out of hand-stitching to do at night. That's what having two weeks away from the sewing machine does to me!

I hope you have a wonderful 2014.
Val