Saturday, 26 August 2017

Stitched Headphone Bag

My latest little project has been making a small headphone bag for travelling.  Because it's going to be tucked into luggage and overnight carrier bags it's main criteria was for it to be padded for protection of the headphones but small enough to be compact and not take up any unnecessary space.  My client (daughter) just asked for a 'quick and simple' bag that "uses up some scraps Mum" / "don't go to any trouble Mum / "leave it up to you Mum".  She knows me far too well now that when faced with a stitching or sewing challenge it's a great opportunity to use my creativity.  And this time was no different.  

I had in mind the shape and style and a little bit of 'googling' helped with the design and how to go about assembling the bag particularly since it was going to include a simple padded and quilted lining. 

The fun part was searching for appropriate and complimentary fabrics and notions from my stash and a lovely design to embroider on the front and back of the bag. I opted for a simple backstitch in an 8 ply DMC ecru Cotton Perle and used bright pink sequins attached with french knots. 

A strip of heavy cotton lace was attached to the upper front mid-section and secured with sequins and french knot centres.  Identically sized pieces were cut of the lining fabric and wadding and then simply quilted.  The two front sections were sewn to the pink zip with a slight extension to the end of the zip allowed for the side seams.  Because I didn't want an exposed seam inside the bag, the next bit was a little fiddly.  It involved sewing the quilted lining (right sides together) around the perimeter and then inverting through the zip opening. The outer fabric was then sewn (right sides together) with an opening left to invert which was then neatly slip-stitched.  Because the headphones have a width to them, I also squared off the both bottom corners of the lining and outer fabric before inverting to accommodate this width.  

As the headphone set also included a small adapter I sewed a small elasticised pocket on the lower inside lining for its safe keeping and easy accessability.

As it's the first time I've made something like this, I'm quite proud of my efforts and have learnt a couple of new skills.  Also learnt from some mistakes too....  I hope it does the trick.


'Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential'. - Sir Winston Churchill

Monday, 19 June 2017

New Design Release - Pink Mulla Mulla

So very pleased to release a new design today - the Pink Mulla Mulla.  It is found widespread across Australia in arid and semi-arid areas in a range of habitats requiring good soil drainage in sunny and open positions and grows to a height of 1.5 metres.

Image result for Pink Mulla Mulla

I remember the first time I set eyes on this pretty little plant.  My family had taken a trip to the Brisbane Mt. Coot-tha Botanical Gardens to the Australian Natives area for a picnic morning tea.  Amongst the varieties of banksias, grevilleas and bottlebrushes, etc. were these Pink Mulla Mullas and I simply fell in love with them.  They look as though their flowerheads would be spiky and sharp but on the contrary they are so soft and fluffy and sway ever so gently in the breeze.   Imagine my sheer unadulterated excitement ... (ahem - my 'delight' - I don't want to come across as a total flower nerd) ... when I found a couple of these plants at my favourite plant nursery soon after.  Of course like a shoeaholic - if that's a word - I just had to buy a couple and plant them in my native garden.  Yes they flowered for a length of time enough for me to admire and enjoy, but then died so were sadly dug out. 

My research showed Greek and Latin origins for the botanical name of Ptilotus nobilis - Mulla Mulla.  Ptilon (Greek) meaning down or feathers - reference to the appearance of the flowers and nobilis (Latin) meaning notable or famous which refers to the flowering habit of the plant.

I spent quite a bit of time perfecting the Pink Mulla Mulla cross stitch design.   It was vital to achieve it's unique shape and colouring and the all important spiked effect.  The design is 58 x 109mm (2.3 x 4.3in) or 32 x 60 stitches in dimension and contains 9 colours.  

Think it might be time for another picnic morning tea visit to the Gardens again!!


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

'Sew Happy' Quilt

I decided to have a tidy up of my craft room just recently which really just morphed into a clean out session.  This involved going through a lot of my dressmaking fabrics, samples, off-cuts and fat quarters and I came across so many remnants that the creator in me just knew they couldn't be thrown away for fear of it being considered criminal.  So I came up with the idea of making myself a new sewing machine table quilt from these remnants.  The current table cover was an old tablecloth which really had seen better days so between other projects and market preparations, etc. I set about creating a small quilt just for me and just for my creative space.  I figured it would also help hone my quilting skills. The basic criteria though was to use as much of these remnants as possible to free up valuable storage space (for more fabric...yeah I know....go figure that logic) and to create a project that would bring back memories of what the fabrics had once been sewn for.  

The size of the quilt was really based on the amount of fabric I had and to cover the wooden table adequately as the top is old and a little bit chipped but still quite sturdy.  The blocks were based on the railroad design and even though I didn't worry too much about matching colours and patterns for each block I did take into account the overall effect so some fabrics were used in multiple blocks. 

With the short strips that were left over and not stitched into a block I decided to use as a border around the perimeter.  This really helped use up so many small pieces of fabric and once again they were added in no particular order but placed around the blocks to evenly distribute the colours.   

For the backing once again I recycled.  Recently my son updated his room with a new paint job and curtains.  The backing of the old curtains were still perfect so I used one and sewed some larger pieces of remnant fabric on it ... just for the heck of it .... by using the buttonhole stitch on my sewing machine. 

I opted for inexpensive polar fleece for batting and then began the task of quilting all layers together using a diagonal stitch across the whole quilt and then stitching around each block. The effect can easily be seen on the photos below and above.

Binding used up more scrap fabric and then the all important naming of my sewing table quilt - 'Sew Happy' - which to me represented all the years of sewing I've done either making clothes for myself or my children, craft items or quilts and the happiness I've derived from being creative and developing such a sense of achievement.

My Sew Happy quilt is now proudly spread on my sewing table with my sewing machine placed on top and will be a constant reminder of all my past sewing projects.


'Happiness is a perfume you cannot pour onto others without getting a few drops on yourself' - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Hoop Hoopla

My latest foray into creating new and exciting items for my Etsy shop is hoopart.  Based on trends in my Instagram feed by other extremely creative embroidery artists and stitchers, it appears to be quite a popular, modern and artistic form of home decor.  So with that in mind I thought it was worth using my own cross stitch designs in wooden hoops on a range of different coloured evenweave fabrics to gauge the effect.  And...I am not disappointed.

I have chronicled the process -

A beautiful grey-swirl evenweave fabric from Sew-it-All was chosen to complement the vivid red colours of the striking Sturt Desert Pea.  The fabric was first machine-edged to prevent fraying whilst stitching and then placed firmly in the hoop before tightening to keep tautly in place.  The relaxing job of stitching the design then began. 

Once finished, I used the 'measure twice/three times - cut once' rule (and a good dose of dutch courage!) to cut a 2cm edge around the outside hoop edge which was enough for folding over into the back of the inside of the hoop with a little extra allowed for tucking under.  As I wanted the wrong side of my work to be covered, I devised a method where a piece of wadding was cut to the size of the inside of the hoop as well as a plain black cotton fabric - with an extra 1-1/2cm added all round the circumference.  A tacking stitch was then used around the edge of the black cotton and slightly pulled in to evenly encase the wadding.

It was then just a case of folding the evenweave fabric over the back of the hoop and placing the black encased wadding into the open space, pinning the two fabrics together at close intervals to keep in place (I could've used half a dozen hands here) and then neatly slip-stitching together.  

This is now a stable piece of work and with the addition of complementary narrow black ribbon attached to the screw top, ready for hanging on a wall in an area of the home that needs a little bit of brightening and cheering up.

This is the first hoop in a series yet to be stitched in preparation for the next Hustlin' Womens Markets on April 8 where I will be having another stall.  


'Home is the nicest word there is'.  -  Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Design Release - Geraldton Wax

Welcome to February.

So happy to be able to release a new design today which I have just finished working on and that is of the Geraldton Wax which, as the name suggests, is endemic to Western Australia.  It's a beautiful and hardy medium to large shrub bearing either white, pink or purple blooms and aromatic leaves and can grow to a height of 4 metres which, as you can imagine, would look just spectacular when in flower en masse.  I can only imagine the fragrance too.  This also makes the plant highly attractive to bees and pollinating insects.  The petals have a unique circular shape which are separated from each other and quite robustly formed.  

Image result for geraldton wax white

The Geraldton Wax is a well known Australian native flower and extensively used in the cut flower industry for its beauty and longevity.  Many years ago when I was doing floral work, Geraldton Wax was pretty much the only standard 'fill-in' flower for arrangements and bridal bouquets - as well as Gypsophilia (Baby's Breath).  Sprigs would be used in corsages and buttonholes to complement the bride's and bridesmaid's bouquet.  What I do remember most about working with the flower was its rustic and heady fragrance and the almost woody feel of the stem in comparison to other more fragile flowers. Today native flower bridal bouquets are quite popular and with such an array of beautiful native flora on the market, it's great to see the Geraldton Wax has stood the test of time.

My design is 64 x 76mm (2.5 x 3in) in dimension when using 14/inch fabric or 35 x 42 stitches.  It uses 8 colours and double strands for the stem and needle-like leaves to give the impression of strength and robustness.  Both stem and leaves are stitched using filament threading whereby a single thread of two different shades or colours are threaded in the needle and then stitched together as one.  Small french knots for the centre of the flower and larger and thicker french knots for buds complete the design. 

As with all my designs, instructions are clearly set out on all kits and charts and available now on my website.  In time, this design will be stitched as an item and listed in my Etsy shop.  I feel as though the shape of the design could lend itself quite well as a needlebook and look quite pretty on complementary evenweave and contrasting cotton.  What a great excuse to buy more fabric!!


'If you love life, life will love you back' - Arthur Rubenstein