What makes a good week?


It doesn't really take much to keep me happy! Contentment really has nothing much to do with what we have or don't have, but it's all about our attitude in our circumstances. Having said that, I was extra happy this week!

J I finished a commissioned bag:


I managed to organise a few of my recent patterns and upload them to the Craftsy Shop:


Our friends who hosted the Biggest Morning Tea for Cancer Council did a fantastic job and raised lots of money. Quite a few of my charity goods were sold:


The weather has been beautiful and warm! We are having what is perfect Autumn weather for me and yesterday was too good to stay indoors so hubby and I went for a good long bush walk. The area we love has the bush coming right down to the beach and there were some of my much-loved birds there - the Royal Spoonbill.  They are such fun to watch, whether it is flying with that huge big spoon out in front, or sweeping their bill in the water in search for food. They always make me smile:


On Thursday, my two new custom-built chests of drawers arrived:


For many years I have had all my fabric in plastic crates but I have found it increasingly difficult to lift them down from high shelves and even worse trying to lift them up to put them back. It probably has something to do with accumulating too much fabric that they are so heavy!

I was over the moon to find a cabinet maker who was happy to build exactly what I wanted to fit the space. I now have all my fabric in drawers where I have easy access - love it!


I started a new design! It uses the gorgeous Notting Hill range by Robyn Pandolph and has big hints of summer:


Then a sleepless two or three hours last night gave me the inspiration I needed for another wall quilt. Happy!

So yes, I had a good week!

I'll close by showing you my Purple Patch table runner which is in Patchwork & Stitching Magazine, Vol 15 No 5:


I love the purple and teal colour combination with the black highlights:


I hope you too have a great week!
Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt Pattern 5


The mini-quilt for this month's
free block has a very simple message: "Don't be jealous"! Isn't it easy to fall into the trap of wanting what everyone else has, or envying the carefree life of people without morals?  But it is just that - a trap - to be avoided at all costs!


I hope you enjoy stitching this little mini-quilt. You can download the pattern here.

As you may have picked up, my husband and I are avid birdwatchers. It's a bit of a misnomer really, as we don't sit and "watch" birds, but we love to spot them on our morning walk and whenever we go bush. I guess that's a good reason why I include birds in many of my designs. In the latest issue of "Handmade" magazine, Vol 32 No 7, you can find my Red Robin peg bag. 


 I have to admit I really love this design with its cuteness overload!


Now the birds depicted here don't really look much like a robin, but "red" and "robin" just go together. This is what one of our Australian robins really looks like:


Keeping up with the bird theme, here is one of the keyrings I made for the charity box:


I have been sewing for three charity events since February and yesterday I priced and packaged $265 worth of goods for the Cancer Council Biggest Morning Tea to be held this week. I'm hoping lots will sell as it is such a worthwhile cause.  Besides keyrings, there are bags, a cot quilt, oven mitts, cushion, bookmarks, mug rugs and wall-hangings.  I popped in this handtowel on which I have stitched one of my reject stitcheries. Those orphan blocks and bits and pieces of stitching come in handy! 


I am having a break from charity stitching for a little while now.  Besides half a dozen commissions that I need to think about, I have a dozen or so new patterns that are waiting to be put on the website. That job has been going to the bottom of the list for quite a while so it is time I brought it up to the top! Many of my overseas readers have commented they are unable to buy our Australian magazines, so this will be your opportunity to pick up the patterns. If you follow me on Craftsy, you will be notified when a new design is uploaded.

Now that I've put that in writing, it will keep me honest and make sure I actually process the new patterns!!!!

Happy stitching.
Val


Family, Finishes and Focussing


It's Mothers' Day in Australia and it has been a special day in my little bit of paradise. I'm not a breakfast-in-bed person but my husband had a lovely spread on the table for me - as he always does! He's made breakfast for me for as long as I can remember - what a gem! Then we were off to church for a really lovely service for which I had the joy of playing the piano for the beautiful songs that had been chosen. 

Next it was home to prepare lunch for our son, his lovely wife and their two boys who were coming to visit.  After lunch I had a craft afternoon with our grandsons who made some great cards and fridge magnets from this free pattern at Imagine, Make, Believe. Here's a fridge magnet that they made for me:


Phone-calls and messages from another son and our two daughters capped off a lovely day. The only sad note is that I couldn't celebrate the day with my own wonderful mother. How I miss her. She was such a gifted crafter and would have been so proud of my designing career.

I had a fairly constructive week, though I never get done everything I hope to do! I was pleased to finish both my commissions on time and they were posted off to magazine editors on Friday. I was happy with how the projects turned out, so that is always a relief. 

Yesterday I cut out and stitched three more oven mitts for my charity box. The plan is to do the hand-stitching on the binding as I wait at the hospital while my husband has cataract surgery this week.  I've been told that the goods I made for the school Mothers' Day stall were popular with the children and much of what I gave for the Church Market Day also sold. That has encouraged me to do more sewing for the Cancer Council Big Morning Tea to be held in a couple of weeks. I hope to get a couple of bags and zippered pouches made this week. Meanwhile I am working on another commission which has been causing me grief because I keep changing my mind! I have an idea it's because I'm trying to focus on ten things at once. I know I need to give the project my undivided attention, so it will be "Keep calm and focus" this week.

The beautiful Embroidery & Cross Stitch Magazine Vol 21 No 10 has my Garden Nook embroidery inside:


It is the project I taught at the Creative Craft Retreat last year and I still love all its little elements. A cute bird bath:


ground-cover flowers:


Delphiniums:


A climbing rose:


and an apricot rose bush. I love the effect of variegated ribbons:

  

Keep an eye out for the next pattern in the free Block of the Month project, "Shining Like the Dawn". I plan to have that ready for you next week.

Happy stitching!
Val

Small is beautiful!


I really enjoy making stitching accessories, as if you hadn't noticed! Sewing compendiums, scissor keeps, needlecases, tape measure covers are such fun things to make (see some here) not to mention pincushions. I never tire of designing them. But these items are small so there is always the question of how to finish the edges. It's a bit different to making a quilt!

They can have binding but joining the binding by machine on a small item is almost impossible so other methods need to be employed.  (I have a tutorial on binding small projects on my tutorial page.) The Lovely in Lavender needlecase uses this method:


Small felt items are no problem at all as they can be joined on the edges with a blanket-stitch. The Shell of Roses needlecase and scissor case use this:


For something different, I used a closed buttonhole stitch on the design below - just a sneak peak for now as it will be published in Embroidery & Cross Stitch Magazine shortly:


A very easy method for finishing small projects is simply to join the pieces right sides together, leaving a gap for turning. When turned right side out and the gap stitched, there is a neat finished edge. However, I always feel as if such an edge needs something else to really finish it off.

See the running stitch around the edge in the Roses, Roses sewing set? It takes away the 'plain' look with a minimum of fuss:


For the Charmed by Silk pincushion and tape measure cover, I finished the edge off with some fused pearl beading:


and went for gold with the Enchanted Joy scissor case and tape measure:



Here's another idea. The Christmas door-knot ornaments are edged with gold braid:

My all-time favourite for lifting a project out of the ordinary is to use a twisted cord.  They are super easy to make (I cheat by using a bobbin on the machine to do all the twisting), inexpensive (just a few metres of knitting or crochet cotton) and so versatile. Add an extra length and you can attach your scissors to your needlecase: 


I love the twisted cord on the edges of the Rose Delight Etui:


I added some picots when I attached the twisted cord to the Roses are Red pincushion and scissor keep:


 So there you have all my secrets on making small projects beautiful. I'd love to see a photo if you use any of these ideas in your projects!

Hubby and I had a wonderful 5-day holiday last week. The weather was beautiful, scenery magnificent and the birds we went to find were very obliging and were happy to show themselves long enough for us to have a look.

Crystal clear water:


delightful creeks:


pretty moss:


wonderful birds:


Now it's head down, tail up, to finish two commissions by the end of this week!

Happy stitching,
Val