Tuesday 28 December 2010

Sew ... what next?

With Christmas over for another year and the festive fabric leftovers stored away I am very excited about the possibilities for a New Year of stitching. Determined to maintain my focus on making time to be creative this year, I am already considering too many projects, but that's half the fun!

My priority is going to be to try and keep going along to J's Rags to Bags classes for I still have so much to learn and the classes are a great way to keep adding to and refreshing skills, and J is so patient and encouraging that it makes approaching new challenges uplifting and fun.  Santa brought a gift voucher for the first two classes of the new year, among other lovely things, and I couldn't be more thrilled!  We'll be making a floor cushion and a weekend/project bag - check this link to see J's classes list - I can't wait!!!

My foray into a weekly sewing class just began in September and since then I can hardly bear to have to miss a week.  It's like therapy just getting away for a few hours to indulge in something I love to do.  It really has been a luxury to be able to give over this time out of a hectic home/work/parenting lifestyle and admittedly some weeks the effort is overwhelming - juggling school homework, swimming lessons, domestic responsibilities and hubby's work commitments just to be able to get there.  But always, always it is worth it to be able to realign my sanity and spend a little time pleasurably.

The unexpected benefit of attending classes is the social community.  Meeting others with a passion for patchwork and creating has been brilliant.  Sometimes the other people in our lives don't get the excitement that a little scrap of fabric or an odd button induces, but attend a class and someone else will enthuse alongside you at the 4" piece of ribbon you rescued from an old pair of pjs and might just actually put to use some day!  I have truly loved every minute of the classes I attended through the last four months and have met some really lovely, fabulously talented people.  I enjoy the different perspectives that everybody brings to a project - different fabric choices, different motivation, different intention - and I am amazed how an initial project can look so varied when made up by ten people with individual tastes and interpretations.  It's so inspirational and I think it's that community inspiration aspect of the class that I found so unexpected and refreshing. Here's to more of the same!

I am glad to report that my Christmas gifts were well received and mum has been raving about her quillow ever since she opened it on Christmas morning.  I think if she could take out a full page ad in a local paper to proclaim its virtues she would - nice to know all the sweat and pushing of quilt layers through the machine was worth it!  I have even had an offer of payment to make another one for another family member - I could be in business folks (in my dreams!).

So, today I am looking ahead to what should be tackled next.  Like all crafters I have a reasonable list of UFOs (unfinished objects) and I really should try to do something with a few of them at least.  I think my hexagon quilt, which became sadly neglected shortly after I started it in favour of spending time making quillows and keeping up with my class projects, should really be a priority.  I also shelved some planning work I was doing on a Dear Jane quilt and I'd love to pick that up again - even in slow time. There are other UFOs that should really be tackled too, but I'm afraid if I started to list them I would be scared off even beginning to  deal with them!  It would be great if I could find some time to make that quillow that was asked for (though as a gift not a charged item) and I have an eye on a crochet basket I'd like to make to hold some of the many sewing/knitting/crochet notions that have no real home in the house yet.   I would also love to teach myself applique, but as I am a complete novice it will take some effort and a heap of practice before it becomes a usable skill.  I have no idea if any of these projects will make it to completion or even progress in 2011 but it's good to have plans and lots of fun to look forward to!

Tuesday 21 December 2010

Christmas Gifts

Well the time is almost upon us and I've been parcelling pressies and making lists to get me through tomorrow's final shopping blast.  Just thought I'd share two more of my handmade presents here (the recipients won't see them so I'm safe enough).

I'm ashamed to admit that the box I found the little Christmas labels in contained other forgotten purchases bought with great intentions and then sadly neglected as a result of a delay in inspiration.  Among my finds was anther strip of labels, this time with funky coffee designs.  I loved them when I bought them and it was such a pleasure to rediscover them a few weeks ago.  Aren't they great?

the raw materials....

Bizarrely there were 11 labels/motifs on the strip which is a weird number to work with, but 2 sets of coasters (4 and 6 respectively) and a cafetiere coaster (just enlarged a little with an extra strip of log cabin and finished with mitred binding) later all 11 have been lovingly put to use.  Or at least they will be shortly.

... the finished product

My really big Christmas present achievement is for my mum and I am so excited / nervous about giving it to her on Saturday.  Inspired by my making my first ever quilt at the Autumn Rags to Bags class, I made a second one as mum's Christmas present.  Actually the quilt is a quillow (a quilt with a clever pocket on the back to allow the quilt to be folded up into a pillow/cushion) and is made up from amazingly clever disappearing nine patch blocks.  Sure enough as soon as mum saw my completed quilt she oohed and aahed over it so I am glad I had already decided to make one for her.  I do hope she will like the colour and fabric choices because they do make it look quite different from mine which was purple and green.  Does everyone feel this nervous about gifting their homemade items?  Anyway, fingers crossed she'll love it.

Sunday 19 December 2010

Christmas Projects

This November and December have been a creative fest!  I have no idea how I managed, but I seem to have squeezed in lots of lovely quilting and sewing projects for the festive season.  I think it really helped going along to the Rags to Bags Christmas projects class where I was inspired by the seasonal fabrics, trims and the fab range of projects J taught us.  Courtesy of her tuition and encouragement we now all have new strippy Christmas stockings all ready for Santa to fill on Friday night!

J's design included a cuff which was nice to make, although I am partial to the prairie points she taught on last year's class.  The cuff on hubby's stocking was adorned with gingerbread men buttons in honour of how much he loves the Gingerbread Man scenes in Shrek - "Not my gum-drop buttons!"  A asked if he could have jingle bells on his stocking cuff, so I was happy to oblige and I swapped buttons for a crocheted heart motif on mine.  It was such indulgence to play with fabrics and embellishments and such a great way to spend a day with something to show for it.

After the scrappy stockings we made Christmas bunting, gift bags and little gift cornets.  The projects moved on a pace since each one was reasonably straightforward so there were many variations on a theme which was a great opportunity to experiment with embellishment.  I think my favourite result was my EMMANUEL bunting which I have been hoping to do for so long.  I also love the mini-bunting variation which I made up in red and red gingham.  It was very satisfying to be able to combine some other crafts - crochet, cross-stitch and Suffolk puffs - with the bunting to really add my own personal touches to them.

The difficulty with the gift bags and gift cornets was that they are so cute I don't want to give them away.  At least they are fun to make so it won't be a tough job to replace them!

Inspired by all the festive gift making I stitched up a mini-stocking in ivory fabrics with ribbon and lace to give it a kind of vintage look. A jar of speciality jam and two of her favourite choc bars tucked inside, it became a little personalised pressie for A's teacher.  I cannot really take credit for the idea as I was inspired by a similar (though larger and much more perfectly made) version by J which she showed us at her class.  Luckily, she's my friend and doesn't mind being my inspiration!  I just hope A's teacher likes it.

I also made a set of Christmas coasters for our kitchen and a little set as a gift for mum.  They were using up a strip of little teddy bear Christmas ‘labels’ that I bought at a Stitch show about 3 years ago!  When I found the strip I was determined to make use of it this year and not to return it to the box where it could remain for goodness knows how long.  I think they turned out reasonably well given that there was hardly a square corner to any of the 'labels'.

And finally, I wanted to use up a lot of little scrappy leftovers from previous projects so I made them into this door frame bunting using J’s mittens and mini-stocking templates for bunting.  Great fun!

The opportunity to indulge in festive fabrics and be a bit more over-the-top than usual has been bliss and I'm really surprised looking back over the past four or five weeks with just how much I did manage to achieve.  Though I think that's enough Christmas projects for one year! 

Saturday 18 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

I have been a bit bah-humbug about the current "big freeze" conditions because it's making life a bit more complicated and is impacting the planning for the Christmas holidays, but my hubby brought back this beautiful photograph from his afternoon in the hills and it's a great reminder of how stunning God's creation can be.

"The earth is the Lord's and everything in it."  Psalm 24:1
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