Friday, 29 August 2008

Teeny tiny squares

I decided to do a test block for my EBDQS quilt since my design uses paper pieced blocks and they finish at a little 4" square with 20 pieces in each. So I picked some colours that are TOTALLY different to those I will use for the swap (so as not to give too much away) and did some paper piecing... something I am still pretty much a novice at but slowly building up confidence in.
Here's how it turned out. I am very pleased as I discovered I CAN manage to do the snail trail block that tiny so my quilt design is a goer. Now to wait for that second fabric order to arrive from the US so I can get started!!

Totally spoilt!

There are times when I am completely overwhelmed by the thoughtfulness and generousity of fellow bloggers and EBers and this week has certainly been one of them!

Firstly Ads helped me out by sending me a water soluble fabric glue pen especially for me to work on my baby's chick quilt as she knew I was struggling with the applique, and read how frustrated I was when I went to the quilt shop only to bhe told that they didn't stock them but the quilt store owner decided to show me hers, despite the fact that she couldn't tell me where to get one! Thanks again Ads - I have done a couple more chick blocks and oh my, it's soooo much easier. Plus it disolves pretty much straight away when wet so hopefully this means no more pulled threads when trying to remove the freezer paper after the blocks are done.

Secondly, I came home early on Wednesday afternoon to find a squishy parcel sitting on the hall stand, addressed to my little guy. He excitedly opened the gift from Novy, and we were both thrilled to see another gorgeous apron she has made especially for him after hearing that I was washing the guitar one she made him every weekend. You see he loves the guitar one so much, he insists on wearing it every day when he's playing playdough (and yes, he does play with playdough that often - the kid is addicted to the stuff and keeps demanding I make up new colours!). Then I like to have the apron fresh and clean for the weekend so he can either help me cook a desert one night of the weekend (when I try to cook one of Austy's Dad's favourites and we all sit down together for a change - remember Austy's Dad works evenings so we don't get that oportunity during the week) or we bake something yummy together as an Austy and Mummy activity during the weekend. So the new apron is much appreciated and very cute. Austy was delighted and asked me to put it on him straight away, shoved a wooden spoon in one of the little pockets and ran outside for a photograph. The only problem was that he wouldn't keep still, so I had to bribe him with one of the homemade biscuits that were also waiting on the doorstep when we got home, a gift from a coupel of lovely neighbours! So that is why he's not smiling in this photo... he was too busy chewing gingerbread!

But the face in this blury shot says it all! Thanks Novy! You are so generous, and very talented too.

And finally, tonight we got home to a fabric parcel in the letterbox (don't you love those days), an order I'd placed at Z&S fabrics, with 5 yards of sale fabrics that I loved.

So I was already smiling when I walked in the door and found that Austy's Dad had picked up a couple of redirections from the post office, one of them a surprise gift from "Island Kylie". How she knew that I adore the very old classic patons books I will never know, but she said she saw them and thought of me so sent them along with a patchwork magazine. I have a bit of a collection of these old patons books, mostly from Nan's as she no longer likes to tackle lace or cable, but a few odd ebay finds. However this little black and white one is already one of my favourites! I love the more fitted style of the antique patterns, none of this drop shoulder sqyare bodied stuff you see alot of today. I love the heirloom look of them all, and I especially love the dress on the front cover! Hopefully I'll have a little girl to make it for in a few months. Otherwise the coloured cover booklet has some gorgeous motifs to adorn any little jumper or even some soakers (remember the bunny I used for Austy's old bunnybum soaker came from an old patons booklet like these). Thank you so very much Kylie - just as thoughtful and unexpected as Novy's little gift for Austy.

So yes, I feel very lucky and TOTALLY spoilt. What a great way to start the weekend.

And on the crafty front, here are some little baby shoes I made last weekend:

A little romper from a pattern that Corrie so generously sent me along with some maternity patterns (still needs buttons on the back so I will hunt for some this weekend):

Some tiny little premmie outfits to be sent away to a Darwin hospital:

And some wool I dyed to become either a soaker or a pair of shorties. I used pink so I could use up some of the pink solid I had left over from these, but unfortunately the yarns took the dye completely differently and this one is alot paler. I will keep this in hope that Bubby Bunny (yep that's the nickname since it certainly feels like a bunny jumping aroung around in there lately!) is a little sister for Austy just like he keeps asking for. If not they will be a great gift for a newborn so will get stashed in the gift cupboard until one of the pink kind comes along.

I also finished and delivered an embroidered satin baptism stole for a little girl who is around Austy's age but not so lucky in life. She is being baptised in September prior to major surgery in October and I knew her Mum was keen to get her hands on the stole ASAP so she could feel organised so made sure she got it as soon as it was finished, so no photos unfortunately. But I can add it to my list of finished things for 2008, and now feel confident embroidering delustered satin after a couple of test runs before the stole.

Ooooh - I nearly forgot! Don't forget to check out Austy's blog if you want to check out what he's up to and see more shots of him. I haven't updated it in ages and finally did a pic heavy post on Wednesday so I thought the heads-up to those who read this blog and have been waitiong for an Austy update would be wise.

Thursday, 14 August 2008

Bellies and give-aways

A few people have been wondering about how big my bump is getting. So here's my "halfway baked" shot taken last weekend. My belly button has since popped, so Austy's Dad's theory on that being the "done" indicator goes out the window. No, it's not twins but a perfectly on track for size singleton, who has just started giving me some serious thumps, finally visible from the outside (placenta positioning has dulled the movements for a while).

And did I mention give-away?!!

With all these pay it forwards going around, I have been very tempted, but never actually put my name in for one until Emma made the oath on her blog. How could I resist something quilty from her?! She is amazingly talented and I only dream of being as good one day.

So now as a winner on her blog, I eagerly anticipate crafty mail in the next 12m and make the same oath here as my part of the deal:

"I will send a handmade gift to 3 random people who leave a comment on this blog post. I don't know what that gift will be yet (could be quilty, woolly or stitchy) and you may not receive it tomorrow or next week but you will receive it within 365 days, that is my promise! The only thing you have to do in return is pay it forward by making the same promise on your blog."

You have two weeks to get your comment in, and Austy will draw the names out on 31st August, ready for the start of Spring. International participants welcome.

Hand dyed suprise times two!

The lovely Corrie announced that these had arrived safely today for her beautiful new twins, Finn and Tillie. I made them from 4ply 100% merino wool which is nice and soft but only came in boring cream. No hassle though - all the more reason for some dyeing fun. So I got out my wool dyes (Salmon from the Landscape dyes and Cypress from the Gaywool dyes) and played a little. As I knew I was going to follow a slight lace pattern I decided the one colour for each was just enough as too many colours can get busy on a lace pattern. I'm not one to make two of anything (I am reknown for making one sock or one bootie and never making the pair!) but these little knits were seriously addictive, with the lace and the colour varigation. I stayed up late a few nights, not being able to put them down, and unfortunately the late nights and pregnacy tiredness meant a small mistake on the pink one that I didn't see until I had already cast off and well past it - too late to repair... Oh well, at maybe it adds to the "handmade character and charm"? One can hope.

The pattern is from a prem booklet that I picked up from Spotlight so they won't fit the babies very long, but when they outgrow them, the gorgeous Kiera can use them for her twin dollies and play Mummy right along with Corrie.

Friday, 8 August 2008

A quilt-along

With a few babies on the way, one of them my own I figured I should start yet ANOTHER quilt. As you can see byu my side bar there are quite a few on the go now, but only three are active at the moment (the three most recently started). The others are in my "guilt pile" of things I have started but lost motivation to finish, either because something is not quite right and needs fixing, or they are waiting for something (like my D9P that needs me to find a suitable backing fabric but I just can't find a good colour).

This one is a little different - it's a quilt-along. So hopefully that will help keep me motivated for my December deadline. Here is the first block of ten before hand stitching.

My chicks are coming along slowly, but the needlepoint applique is certainly not my strong point... and my chicks look very "unique" so I am tempted to make one of them very different on purpose. But I guess with a baby lying on them noone will really notice. Or so I'm hoping. 3 down, 9 to go.

And finally this vest might be wearable by spring - I can just imagine Austy with a crisp white collared shirt under it. I managed to get motivated enough to pick it up and unpick the double moss which on one side only was out by a row about 6 rows back, so individually dropped and reknitted each stitch - eeew! It's done now though and I'm finally at the armhole cast offs so maybe, just maybe, Austy will get to wear it while it still fits and it's still cool. As long as there are no more major stuff-ups that is. It's time consuming so very heatbreaking when it needs unpicking!

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Ahoy there!

Here's the design I stitched with Austy, right after my last post. Another one from the embroidery library, and I think I will soon be addicted to this web site! I think it worked out much better, but then again it was much easier given that I was working on a flat piece rether than a little baby bodysuit. I created the tee using an Ottobre pattern (very similar to the hoodie I made from the same magazine), and modified it slightly, since the hoodie sleeves are far too long. I decided that the sleeve bands were not necessary - the sleeves looked perfectly long enough on their own and when I sized it up against a tee that is still slightly too big for my little spunky boy, they were the perfect length on their own.

I had planned to do the whole thing with the striped fabric, which I bought specifically with a long sleeved tee in mind, but after I had to use some for the hood lining of that hoodie, there wasn't enough left. I decided that I'd applique an embroidered patch on rather than embroider straight onto the stripes since it would be a bit distracting, so it worked out well since the sleeves tie it all together.

Along with the sea-faring theme, I did the applique a raw edge one, which will look more authentic after a few washes. In addition, to avoid the stripes showing through the pale ble, I backed the patch with a square of hite knit, so after washing, the double ragged edge will look very boyish. Instead of going for the neat and tidy double straight stitch (raw edge applique really needs more than one row of stitching for strength) I decided to do to "laps" around the piece, knowing how imposible it is to sew the exact same line twice with stretch knit! I thought the slight wonkiness of the stitching would add to the rough "at sea"character.

Unfortunately my little model refused to try it on tonight, more interested in playing with his cars, so these photos will have to do until I can catch him in it.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Overcoming the fear

I have decided that I really must stop buying embroidery designs and things to embroider until I can overcome my fear and actually USE my machine! I have a Janome 350E that I got for my birthday (along with the new sewing machine I got for Christmas), but the hooping thing really gets me. I never know how tight or how loose to do it. The DVD that came with the machine says to do it "drum tight", while the sewing shop lady who gave me my one brief lesson said to do it a bit looser than "drum tight" otherwise you'll stretch the fabric and still get puckers. Well I think I have done it both ways - too tight AND too loose, and can never get it right. I would go for more lessons but find it hard to fit in when I work full time and even though they offer Thursday night classes, I never can go because Austy's Dad works from 3-midnight leaving Austy in my solitary care. I tried to go for one sewing machine lesson too on a very rare day off work, and it was pointless as there was noone else to run the shop, she had lots of customers to atend to, three other class members still going from a previous time slot and no time to really show me anything wasting my whole 2hrs that I managed to get away on my own for.

Today I jumped in the deep end and did a baby bodysuit. Probably not the best place to start. For one it stretches far too easily which means that my colours "spill" outside the final outline because the stretching meant that the fabric shifted a bit as it sewed, and it was very difficult to hoop as it's so small. I thought I would leave it embroidering while I cut out a top for Austin, but that was not going to happen. I had to sit by to adjust the bodysuit every minute or so as it was too small and the rest of the bodysuit kept getting in the way. And my threads kept snapping. The only one that didn't was the Coats Alcazar brand one I used for the mane, feet and tail of Zany Zebra. So I think I will swap all my Janome threads over for those once my original starter pack runs out. Any other embroiderers out there have a favourite thread to share? I'd love to try it.

I adore the pack I bought here after Novy pointed me to the link to the Embroidery Library. The designs are much better quality and also cheaper than the other place I was getting them from, and the colour charts really help too. I don't have any software so it's all black and white on the machine so I have saved the colour charts in word format in the same file as the designs. Overall I think this is ok for a beginner attempt and hopefully, with practise I'll get better.

Uh oh, I think the boy is awake. I promised he could do a design with me if he slept and have it all hooped, colours picked and in the machine ready to go so he can press the start button when I tell him to. I think he might just be a bit of a sewer himself one day! Better go keep my promise or he'll be very upset if he can't "sew with Mummy". Great soggy backyard activity!!