Sunday, 18 October 2015

Spring colours

After what seems like a very long, drawn out winter, Spring has finally arrived in Melbourne.  We are enjoying some seriously good weather and with daylight savings underway, longer days to enjoy it.

Here are some pics from my cottage garden.  So beautiful I just had to make the effort to capture them with the camera.  I'm sorry I don't know all the names for these flowers, I'm not much of a gardener, but aren't they gorgeous!  The hot pink roses have a gorgeous perfume :)

Also, I needed some serious stash enhancement.  Mmmmmm yes I did say I was serious!

I was really short on greens so I think now I can say that I am well equipped with green.  I'm also collecting neutrals here and there.  I see myself making this quilt, or rather my version of it, from Sunday Morning Quilts by Amanda Jean Nyberg and Cheryl Arkison.

Leaves and Vine

If you love scraps you would love this book, never fails to inspire me!  Beautiful, original, fresh quilts to utilise every last scrap - right up my alley!  I'm really enjoying immersing myself in colour of late.

Of course that's when I get all of my other projects finished bahahahaha yes I do make myself laugh sometimes.  I have been working on something else... pink and yellow has taken hold... but can't show it yet as I haven't decided what I'm doing with it yet (that's the part I hate about designing - not always being able to share what you are working on *sigh*).

I'm linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash.

Until next time,

Happy Stitching

Leanne x

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Quilts for Casey!

I've been playing a lot in my scraps of late... making some quilts for charity.  This has been on my mind and in my heart for quite some time.  Personally, I feel we are all blessed with gifts/talents and it only feels right to me to use those gifts to bless others.  A recognition of gratitude, if you like, for all that is well in our lives and a need to pass it on to those who are having a hard time.

It wasn't that long ago, that I became a single parent and struggled to pay bills, feed my three kids and keep a roof over our heads.  And sadly, sometimes I felt like I was having to chose between those things - which is more important?  Having a roof over your head or eating???? Its ridiculous that with three kids, I even had to contemplate that.... I didn't drink, I didn't smoke, I used my money wisely but yet it would only stretch so far.  That, my friends, was some very scary times.  I would often go to bed wondering, what if we can't afford to stay in the house, where will we go???  I had been out of the workforce for over ten years raising my kids so it took some time for me to get on my feet, re-skill and find work.

I think about this time in my life a lot, particularly in winter - when its freezing outside. No doubt there is someone sleeping on the streets trying to find shelter from the icy wind and rain.  Or someone wondering if they can afford to put the heater on.  Statistics show most people are only a few paychecks away from poverty.  It can happen to any of us really.  And please don't make the mistake of thinking "well the government provides for these people - thats why we have pensions etc".  I'm sorry to tell you that for many of us, the money received on the pension is pretty lean.  I am eternally grateful for the support I received from the local support service in our community.  When my budget wouldn't stretch to include petrol, they gave me petrol vouchers.  When our grocery bill was tight, they gave me food vouchers.  When the new school year came about, they helped out with school uniform expenses.  They listened, they talked to me and reassured me I was doing all the right things, and that things will get better in time.

And they did :)  I re-educated myself, started a little business working during school hours, and... perhaps the nicest surprise... fell in love.  You just never know how things can change and I feel incredibly blessed that I can say that tough time in my life has passed but ohhhh I learnt so much about myself and life during that period.  I believe its made me a stronger person, and I have learnt to spend my money very wisely so I have no regrets.

Anyway.... I've decided that I can be part of the solution... I, with my humble gift, can return the blessing, pass it on, and bring a tiny ray of hope to those who need it most... with my sewing.

Using my scraps I'm making quilts.

Quilts to bring comfort to someone who really needs it.
Quilts to keep someone warm.
Quilts to let them know that someone is thinking of them.
Quilts to say that someone out there cares.
Quilts to say 'hang in there', it gets better, there is hope.

I made contact with the Casey North Information and Support Service and they were very enthusiastic about the whole idea and would be grateful for any quilts that are made.  They have had some quilts made for them in the past and they were extremely well received and the recipients became quite emotional when given them.  Of course, they will given to those who really need them.

I had a meeting with the director of the support service and was surprised to learn that in our local community (I live in the City of Casey, Melbourne, Australia) we have a growing homeless sector.  People who, for whatever reason, are having to sleep in tents, couch surfing at friends houses here and there, and disturbingly, women who have to resort to making themselves vulnerable in order to find shelter for the night.  Unfortunately, our local services are just not equipped to handle homelessness yet.  There are no hostels for these people unless they relocate to areas which do have these services.  Of course the support service see a wide variety of people with varying needs... single parents and pensioners struggling to make ends meet, women and their children fleeing domestic violence, people dealing with life threatening illnesses struggling to afford treatment, youth living on the streets just to name a few.

I went home after that meeting and had my humble sandwich and apple for lunch.  I felt like the richest person on earth.  But surely, knowing that this kind of suffering exists, we should do something?  Personally, I feel I can't turn a blind eye to it anymore.

Would you like to join me?

Anyone who feels this is something they would like to do... at this early stage, while we are getting set up, I am collecting completed quilts onlyany size (lap, single bed, double bed, queen bed), any style/theme (kids - girls and boys theme, parents, elderly).  Please use 100% cotton fabrics with cotton or wool batting.

Please only send quilts you would be happy to receive yourself.  Please remember: we are not just slapping any old pieces of fabric together - we are making special quilts that will become a treasured item for someone for years to come.  They will be quilts that are washed often and loved dearly, probably more than we realise.

I'm sorry at this stage I'm not able to assist with postage costs.

Personally, I have dug through some of my old tops that I've fallen out of love with, finishing them up and am giving them to this cause.  I have presented this cause to the Beaconsfield Quilt Guild, of which I am a member, and they have embraced it with open arms so this project will combine with their work of making quilts for palliative care at our local hospital.

All quilts will go to the support service with this label attached.  You can also attach your own if you like.

Please leave your request for more details in the comments and I will send you the address for mailing.  Any assistance will be greatly appreciated.

At the moment, all quilts going to the support centre will be pictured on this blog with an acknowledgement of who made them.

These are a few of the quilts I have made to go to the centre.  I have a few more which are just tops at this stage and need quilting.  I'm hoping to get them done in the next few weeks and make my second delivery.  I'll post more pics as the quilts are ready for delivery.

Until next time

Yours in Stitches

Leanne x

Monday, 28 September 2015

Hello... again! Time flies...

Wow lovelies, July was my last post and frankly I'm surprised its taken me this long to get a post together.  Sometimes life just gets in the way.  I'm still about, haven't fallen off the face of the earth... just been busy, a few medical issues and well... a bad blogger lol.

Much has happened since I last posted.  I'm still madly in love with Miss Juki... she's such a dream to use and I've quilted a few things in the last few months including a double bed size quilt for one of my students!  Something I never could have done on my little Janome.

You may remember, many moons ago, I had some projects coming up in the August and September issues of Homespun Magazine.  Now that those issues have hit the stores I can now display my projects here.  Homespun did a wonderful job of styling them don't you think?

Love Begins at Home Sampler in August 2015 Homespun Magazine:

Raspberry Tart Pincushion in September 2015 Homespun Magazine:

Here are some other projects I managed to finish along the way....

This quilt, you may remember, was just a flimsy until my stepdaughter requested a quilt for a fundraiser night she was organising.  A family she knows has a boy with muscular dystrophy and they need to purchase a wheelchair modified vehicle.  A friend of mine recently went through the same process so I am aware these vehicles cost around $70,000 and our government only provides a financial assistance of around $5,000.  The remainder of the funds have to be raised by the family which, I think is a huge ask for families coping with an already challenging daily life.

Although I love the fabrics I wasn't overly impressed with this quilt when I pieced it.  Given the urgency of the request I pulled it out of the cupboard and quilted it in a swirl pattern with a nice shiny thread.  By the end of it I had fallen in love all over again - amazing how the quilting can transform a quilt!  It was very hard to part with but it raised some much needed funds for a very worthy cause.

Lately I've been really interested in making quilts that are unique to me, rather than following patterns.  I have discovered Improv quilting and bought some great books on the subject.  As a result I feel that slowly I'm growing as a quilter - exploring style and colour, and starting to take more risks.  This all started when I purchased this book by Victoria Findlay-Wolfe called 15 Minutes of Play.  I'm now focused on rotating old fabrics out of my stash, using up fabric that has been sitting and sitting and getting some of those old UFO's finished.  I'm enjoying the process.

Some of my personal projects got tackled...

I am determined to have a Christmas quilt this year and had been hanging onto these fabrics for ages. In the end I just went for it, improve style, and this is what resulted.  Its not finished yet, I still have a border to add on but I'm really liking it so far.

This is surprisingly my very first Sampler quilt.  I used it as a learning tool to teach one of my students accurate cutting and seaming.  I just used fabrics already in my stash and I'm thinking it will be great to donate to Quilts of Valour Australia.  The pattern was free online here.

Also, I've taken a few steps forward in something very close to my heart.... charity quilts.  I'm going to talk about this in the next post because I really do have a lot to say on the matter, so stay tuned.

In amongst this we had a the Melbourne Quilt and Craft show which my students and I attended together - so much nicer to go with friends than by yourself.  Also our guild had guest speaker Irene Blanck come and show us her beautiful quilts.  And a couple of us went to a workshop with Michelle Yeo at Millrose Cottage in Ballan... oh my, what a fabric heaven that place was!  I can't wait to get back there for some stash enhancement ;)

I'm linking up with Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday, Sew Fresh Quilts - Lets Bee Social!, Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it up Friday and My Quilt Infatuation - Needle and Thread Thursday.

Well, until next time

Leanne x

Sunday, 5 July 2015

She's Arrived!!!

Hooray, after weeks and weeks of nervous anticipation... my Juki TL-98P finally arrived!!!! Oh joy of joys she is everything I had hoped she would be.   Its like going from 4 cylinder sewing to a roaring V8.  She goes from 0 to flat out in a second.  It's lucky there are no speeding fines in sewing or I would have lost my licence for sure ;) haha

We've had lots of playtime together, mostly piecing and I'm really happy with my purchase.  I did, however, have to make another purchase to make room for her in my little studio (sometimes one thing leads to another!).  I still use my old Janome for teaching students and piecing work (I bought the Juki mostly for FMQ) so I soon realised that if I was going to make the space functional I required a better setup.

So I purchased these two desks from Officeworks and did a bit of rearranging.

My studio is now a lot more manageable and the light from the window is a godsend.  I was working in my shadow before - sew annoying ;).  I also made myself a design wall from a large piece of batting and a dowel rod.  I just folded the batting over the top and stitched down to make a rod pocket - too easy and much better than laying out on the floor.

This is actually the meals area of the house, which is great because its right next to the kitchen, makes me accessible to the kids and I can keep an eye on dinner and sew at the same time!  I usually pull out my cutting mat and place it on our dining table if I need to cut yardage, otherwise my old cutting mat is under my Janome so I can trim up blocks or do paper foundation trimming... perfect!  Storage is aways an issue for me, but I cleaned out my linen cupboard in the hallway so my batting and large items live there.  It did lead me to wonder though, why hasn't someone invented and ironing board with straight legs?  That way we could store things underneath it.  I may (shhhhh don't tell DH) get another shelving unit and just have an ironing board mounted on top to solve this problem.... need to think about it a bit more.

I had a new student start a few weeks ago and there is also talk of a custom quilt job on the horizon so having a space that can cope with all of these things is quite important.

I've been quite busy working on a mystery quilt for our guild members.  It's a garden themed quilt.  At this stage I can only reveal the first block as the members have only just been given this block... but as you can see, its quite pretty.

Dresden plate centre block

The colours were picked with the help of my friend Lorraine, from Patchwork Passion in Cranbourne and what a marvellous job she did.  Beautiful fabrics are always a pleasure to work with.. and.. this will be my first quilt where I haven't pre-washed the fabrics! Eeeeek!  That scares the crap out of me but sometimes we have to live on the edge a bit ;)

I've been delving into my scraps making some quilts for a worthy cause... more about that in the next few days... and also a baby quilt for a friend who's daughter is expecting a baby in August... my friends first grandchild :)

I also played around with my Dresden plate ruler and came up with this little beauty... I might do a tutorial on this soon :) I call it my Kaleidoscope Cushion -  it was so much fun!

There is lots going on here, especially being school holidays, so I have lots to share... I'm lucky I'm getting a lot of time of late to spend in the sewing room... going to dig into my growing pile of UFO's and get some things finished so you may see some 'oldies but goodies' popup.

Can I just say that the very inspiring Victoria Findlay-Wolfe has a lot to answer for and I'm itching to play in my fabrics and make some truly unique quilts, so expect to see more of that from me in the future :)

I'm linking up with Mollie Sparkles Sunday Stash, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, My Quilt Infatuation and Pink Doxies.

Ok until next time

Yours in Stitches

Leanne x

Sunday, 24 May 2015

I just can't resist!

It seems I have absolutely no willpower when it comes to sewing machines of yesteryear.  These three little beauties came home with me on the weekend.  They are all children sewing machines and all complete with the original boxes, instructions, and in working order.  What a find!  Unusual to see so many in one antique shop.

I know I'm going to have to try and resist from now on because frankly I'm running out of space to display these cuties!  I'm even thinking of getting rid of some of our 'regular' decor items and replacing them with sewing machines lol.  It's a sickness I tell you but hey, I'm ok with it.

1950s EMG Comet, handcrank, made in England.

1970s battery operated Little Golden Panoramic Sewing Machine by Singer made in France, battery operated or hand crank operation.

Zig Zag Sew-ette Sewing Machine.  Made in Japan.  One of the few toy sewing machines to have the zig-zag stitch.

Just as I was typing this, a feature appeared on the TV of a couple in Maryborough, Victoria who are also obsessed with sewing machines.... whoohoo I don't feel so alone now lol.

Unfortunately, not a lot of sewing has been going on here.  But I'm proud to say another unit of my course is done and dusted!

I'm hoping to have something to show you in my next post :)

Until next time,

Yours in Stitches,

Leanne x

Friday, 1 May 2015

Tutorial: 3D flying geese!

I dropped into one of my local quilt shops last week, and the lovely Katie of Katie's Stitch by Stitch showed me this great way of making flying geese... so much fun and utterly addictive!  The geese actually sit up from the background.  So get out your 2 1/2" strips and lets begin...

First cut two 2 1/2" squares for your background, mine are orange.  Then cut one 2 1/2" x 4 1/2" rectangle for the geese, I chose green.

Fold your rectangle in half so that the two short ends are together, wrong sides together.

Then place one of your squares down on the table, right side facing up.  Place the folded rectangle on top of this with the top edges matching - you will notice that the bottom edge where the folded rectangle is, doesn't meet the bottom of the orange square - this is correct!

Place your other square on top right side down.  All raw edges should be aligned - except the bottom of the folded piece of course.  If you take the time to align your raw edges exactly, your finished goose will sit nicely.

Now sew a 1/4 inch seam down the right side of this sandwiched fabric joining all layers together.

Open out the sandwich and move the left side of the folded rectangle up to become sit over the top edge and become a triangle!

Press the seams open on the back and then press the triangle down on the front to form a flying geese.

It's a bit like origami.  How clever is that???? Make a couple more and sew them together in the usual way.  I also love that this is chain piecing friendly.  Here is my finished block:

Hope you have fun with it, and I'd love to see your photo's!

Yours in stitches

Leanne x

Monday, 27 April 2015

Fun at the AQC!

Hello lovelies, once again I have been lured in by an unloved sewing machine sitting in an antique warehouse.  They are like abandoned puppies... just waiting for someone to love them lol.

Miss Janome was found last weekend and at only $38 she was a steel!  She came in good condition, with original manual and extension table in a vinyl case.  After a bit of TLC I'm pleased to say she is sewing beautifully.  Unfortunately she didn't seem to have any accessories/additional feet but thats ok.

The Singer 201K was found on ebay for only $20!!!!! thats insane!  She came with a case and has a knee lift to make the machine stop and start.  After a little cleaning and rewiring she sews quite well, having to make a few tension adjustments but we are getting there.  The 201K was said to be one of Singer's greatest successes.  She has a wider throat space than other models and was designed to be a heavy duty machine.  More about her here.

I've now made a separate page entitled "My Vintage Sewing Machines" which can be found on the right hand side of this blog if you are interested.

Now onto the big event... the Australasian Quilt Convention!  Last Saturday I attended the AQC at the Royal Exhibition Buildings in Melbourne (a truly stunning piece of Melbourne architecture).  Each year this show just gets better and better, and this year was no exception.  All quilting related stalls so that was fantastic.  I usually get there just on opening and leave just before closing.  I park underneath in the secure underground carpark which makes it easy for me to get a pass out and take purchases back to the car though out the day (my neck and back thank me for this!).  It's a big day but there is just so much to see, and you never see everything the first time around.  I'm sorry to say that I didn't take any (nope none) photos whilst I was there because, frankly I just wanted to take it all in.  Follow the link and take a look at the gallery pics - the exhibition display was amazing.

For some time now I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a new sewing machine.  I've looked at the big players, Bernina and Janome but oh there are so many features I just wouldn't use.  I adore my little Janome QC4618 (Jan as she's affectionately called), she's getting on a bit now but still going strong but the more I'm delving into my free motion quilting the more I'm feeling a little restricted.

For starters, I need more throat space, Jan's is just too limiting and having to push and tug a quilt into that confined space is really annoying me.  I also would like the needle down function, a knee lift, an extension table and thread cutter.  I really don't need fancy stitches and computerised screens.  Then I stumbled across a few bloggers who raved about their Juki 2010Q... quilters such as Victoria Findlay Wolfe and Amanda Jean from Crazy Mom Quilts.

A WHAT?????? a JUKI?????? virtually unheard of in Australia except in the industrial machine world.

Apparently these machines are the domestic version of an industrial machine, all metal housing, nothing fancy, but fast (1500 stitches per minute) and tough as nails.  They need to be oiled and they just do straight stitch (simple - just like my old vintage machines).  I hunted high and low for a Juki 2010Q in Australia but they just don't exist.  But alas at the AQC I see a Juki stand *angels singing* and find out from the Australian Juki ambassador, Mollie Sparkles, that this machine was never released in Australia but the Juki TL-98P is the Australian equivalent and quilters are raving about them.

I touched it, I played with it... and... I loved it!!!!  It goes from zero to flat out with ease and quilts like a dream.  I WANT ONE!!!

After visiting my local Juki dealer and having yet another play, I have placed a deposit on one.  Three weeks wait as they are sold out at the moment, but oh I just can't wait!

Anyway, back to the AQC, here are a few of the things I purchased at the show:

  • '15 Minutes of Play' and 'Double Wedding Ring Quilts' books by Victoria Findlay Wolfe.  I've just discovered this woman and until recently I didn't think much of modern quilts but Victoria makes it seem so easy.  Her creativity is contagious and she really helps you to step outside your ideas of what a quilt 'should' look like and just create.  I love reading about her process, and how she links her quilts to her past, making her work personal.  Victoria also loves her Juki and is the American ambassador for Juki and, my other favourite company, Sizzix.
  • A practice panel for quilting feathers from Pauline's World.  This is a panel printed with various feather designs.  You simply pretend this is a quilt top, sandwich with batting and backing and then quilt away FMQing the feathers but without thread.  You can do it over and over until you get the feel and motion of FMQ feathers, what a great idea.
  • Gail Pan's 'Vintage Sewing Collage' and the items to make it - it was fun hunting for all the items required - sewing machine print linen, ruler trim, mini lace motifs, buttons, etc.
  • Some laminated fabric - I've never sewed with this before but I'm thinking some little make up bags might be nice - they would make great Xmas presents too.
  • Two new Sizzix dies for my Fabi Cutter.  It was great to see a Sizzix stand at the show.  There are sooooo many more dies available that what Spotlight carry.  I'm saving my pennies for the next craft show where I can stock up on more dies.  They are so hard to find and the prices at the show were very reasonable.  I haven't mentioned my Fabi Cutter but Santa was very generous to me last year (er um this was my Xmas present to myself lol),  I must remember to do a separate post on how much I love it.
  • I didn't buy a lot of fabric this year because quite frankly I have so much and I really need to be using what I have.  But these were just a couple that appealed to me.
  • A gorgeous little miniature sewing machine - the right size for a dolls house... so cute!

So thats it, I think I was pretty restrained actually!

Well until next time, I'm linking up with Mollie Sparkles Sunday Stash.

Yours in stitches

Leanne x