Tag Archives: applique

My birthday – and a giveaway

Yes, after all the fanfare, waiting, building excitement and drama, it is, in fact, my birthday. To be honest I have been a little ho hum about it. My chicks aren’t with me, so the real celebrations will happen when they return, and we all celebrate the middle chick’s birthday on Saturday. (Let’s face it, any hope of big celebrations for my birthdays disappeared about 9 years ago when I gave birth to my beautiful girl two days after my birthday!) However the day has started well – a beautiful sunny day, a surprise breakfast with the MIML (who has been MIA for a while so doubly nice), a parcel of the most gorgeous fabric from my sister (the one with the matching fabric addiction),

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beautiful messages from my family all over the world (facebook is a gift on days like this!) and a funny card from Miss N telling me that I am not old!!

That is in part because I have realised that I am now officially middle aged. (Sorry Mum and Dad and my various very young Aunts and Uncles who might read this – – but it doesn’t mean that you aren’t middle aged anymore – it just means that we are all middle aged together now!) In an effort to stave off the depression that that phrase brings with it I have fulfilled my plan to re-join the gym (it was lovely to catch up with the owner which means that I will feel good attending too!), I have planned a lovely night out with a dear friend and I have decided to focus on the good things in my life. The list, I am proud to say, is long. And would probably bore you to tears, while making me teary with emotion. Rather than do that (because that is no kind of celebration is it?) I am going to have a giveaway. I want to thank all the people who have supported me this year as I have started my blog, my shop and my journey towards my dream of running my own business (no matter how small!). I have met some great friends online, and some in person, and have enjoyed the sense of community that I feel around me. My sewing and blogging have kept me going when things around me felt like they were crumbling.

I have decided to go all high-tech and use a rafflecopter giveaway plan (to prove that despite my advancing years I am not yet a dinosaur!) so the link is on the right hand side of this page. It opens today and closes in a week’s time, and you can earn more ‘tickets’ in the raffle by answering more questions. The prize? I decided to make the prize, given that I think that a little bit of my love goes into everything I make, so it means that I am including that love in the prize. (Oh okay – and the fact that I am loving appliqueing cushions might have something to do with it too!!) So the prize is a custom appliqued canvas cushion with the word or image of your choosing on it – and I will post internationally as well as within Australia. So – to celebrate my advancing years, get clicking!!
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An update on my ‘to-do’ list I hear you ask? (Perhaps!) Yesterday was huge – I joined the gym, AND did a workout. I cleaned out the car, unpacked and repacked the camping trailer, made two of the gifts for the middle chick (and one involved using the drill and the saw!!) (the mystery shrouding my efforts is because the cheeky chicks sometimes read the blog while they are away!), vacuumed the house, walked the dog, did some weeding, made a present for my sister and mailed it, and re-photographed a couple of items in better light. Phew!

Today in honour of my birthday I might go a little lighter on the heavy lifting and focus on some toy sorting as my treat (oh yeah, I am partying hard!). Or I might lie in the hammock. With a gin and tonic. The options are endless!  I hope that you are having a wonderful day wherever you are!

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Ticking things off the list

You will be pleased to hear that I am ticking things off my list from earlier in the week. Not a lot, but something is better than nothing!

I made two more cushions
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two of my smaller bags

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and then decided to create a new design for a “Big Bag”.

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I also did some ‘research’ and attended the Handmade Markets here in Canberra. Although I did break my self imposed rule and purchase a ceramic egg holder, a gorgeous tea towel, some beautiful soothing cream, and some very delicious locally made organic chocolates (so good!!)  I also did a lot of observing. I looked at how stall holders held themselves and interacted with their customers (the ones chatting to their friends rather than to customers lost sales), which stalls attracted my eye, how items were displayed, and how frustrating it was to not see the name of the stall holder prominently displayed. I also met a couple of my fellow Etsy sellers who I had interacted with online, got tips from a few other stall holders, and had a lovely chat with a fellow bag maker about the processes we use for our bags – so lovely to talk to someone who understands the practical issues!

I am ticking things of my list at a much slower pace than I would like, but am also listening to my body which keeps telling me that I need rest.  As is so often the case, I didn’t realise just how tired and run down I was until I stopped.  I thought that a couple of days rest after the kids left would do the trick, but apparently that is not the case!  My eldest chick rang me today and asked if I would like them to return a few days early from their trip so that they can be here with me for my birthday.  What a dilemma!  I would love to have them here, but I also know that this is my only chance to rest and catch up before school starts again, and that if they return early that will mean that I lose 4 days of rest…..  So I explained to her why I thought they should stay for the time they planned with their father and assured her that I would be fine on my birthday, even though they won’t be here.  Their father and I don’t always communicate effectively so trying to explain to him that I need the break didn’t go as well as it might have, but I think the eldest chick understands my reasoning.

I had missed a few things off my list when I wrote it – but have achieved a much needed haircut today.  Some medical appointments have been attended or are scheduled (I strained my back earlier in the week – looked like a 95 year old trying to get out of bed for a couple of days there!) and friends have been phoned for a catch up.

But for now, it is a long weekend here, so I am going to listen to my body and get an early night knowing that I can sew tomorrow!!

I hope that you have had a good week.

A full house

Last time I wrote my head was full. Now my house is full! I have been lucky enough to have my parents visit for a few days. The chicks had a day and a half off school in order to spend time with them, to between children, grandparents and Miss N the au pair, the house has been buzzing! My parents have been a god send – Dad has been up ladders cleaning out my gutters and muttering about bush fire season, and repairing loose steps. Mum has kept on top of the laundry, pulled weeds (a never-ending job in my garden), kept people fed, and given me time to think. The children have loved having them here. Yesterday they were able to join me in attending Floriade to watch the middle chick singing with the school choir. It was delightful! And then we got to see the flowers – so colourful and pretty!

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Today they took the three chicks to the National Arboretum, which I am ashamed to say I haven’t been to visit yet. The children were a little dubious about attending a plant museum, but they all excitedly reported having had a wonderful time!  Apart from thoroughly exploring the playground which is apparently shaped like wooden acorns, they also participated in workshops to make a kite (the oldest chick), and a terrarium (the middle chick) while the boy found a bird to follow and study with amazement for a long time. Happy grandparents and happy chicks! We will miss them when they leave tomorrow.

I have managed to finish some projects in between all of this. First the photos of the superhero capes that I wrote of in my last post. There were three ‘standard’ capes with initials for one family, and then the personalised capes for the family making the order. The twins (4 years old) ordered a candy, and a unicorn head.

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The 8 year old requested a rainbow, and the 11 year old a minecraft pickaxe. (I have to admit that I cheated and printed this onto fabric rather than patchworking it as I had first planned).

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Then the mother requested ‘just something’. And this is where my rather intricate bike applique came into being. This lovely woman has, at the age of (mumble, cough, mumble – something) learnt to ride a bike for the first time. The reason? To participate in a charity ride in Thailand to raise money for an orphanage. So I decided that rather than a simple initial on her cape she needed a bicycle – complete with basket – to symbolise her determination, bravery, generosity and courage.

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Then I decided that I really liked the bicycle pattern I had adapted from a picture I found on the web, so decided to make some cushion covers with the canvas that I had bought a while back, intending to use it to reinforce bags. (Of course!) And today I proudly listed three cushion covers for sale in my Etsy shop! I am planning to make some more, but with some words on them……perhaps…..

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I have also spent the week meeting with professionals, seeking more advice, learning more strategies, and planning/scheming/dreaming about ways to make my boy’s life better. While he is at home, despite all the people coming and going, the disrupted routine, etc, he has been beautifully behaved. This time is helping me to realise that if people interact with him in the right way, there are no problems with his behaviour. When there is no room for flexibility, when he is pushed to act like everyone else, instead of taking things in his own time, then the dramas start. Finding a way to accommodate this within the school is the biggest problem. I still don’t have a solution for that, but will continue to work on it.

I have also been providing support to the two girls, who have both been feeling the pinch of a brother getting lots of attention and a mother who is distracted by stress. Having recognised this we now have some plans for us to have one on one time together, doing things we like, and acknowledging the stress that their brother’s condition places on the whole family. So we are moving in the right direction.

And, finally, after all this time, we have a camping trip planned! I cannot believe we have gone for nearly 11 months without one! This weekend we will take the trailer down to the coast and set up in our favourite seaside park for three nights and introduce Miss N to the joys of kangaroos on the beach, possums that try to raid the rubbish bins at 3am, and whale spotting from the cliffs. I am starting to get excited in anticipation!

I hope that your week is going well, and that you are enjoying the Spring weather (or Fall for those of you on the other side of the globe!)

Juggling act

My house is unusually quiet tonight. I think it is just the stark contrast with the noisy, busy weekend that makes it seem so peaceful, but I am sitting here enjoying it nonetheless. The three chicks are in bed and hopefully some are asleep. The cupcakes for school lunchboxes are made, half the washing is folded, and, more importantly, I have been able to sew! Which is important as I have been fending off an anxiety attack for a few days.

By the end of last week I was feeling overwhelmed. The list of things that I thought I had to do seemed all consuming, and seemed to grow daily, and the future seemed full of obligations to other people that threatened to remove the last vestiges of time for me. (Luckily my paid work wasn’t adding to my sense of drowning in a sea of tasks – it was just all the other aspects of my life.) On Thursday night while on the phone to the MIML (the winning suggestion from my friend Fliss to describe ‘the man in my life’) I explained that I had to start on making fudge to take to work for morning tea the next day, after finishing making the curry for the annual lunch event at work, and still had to make a bag to donate to the raffle the next day. He asked if I had to make the fudge, and I heard myself saying ‘ of course I have to make it’…… and realised that I had hit my superwoman delusion again. You know – the one where you think that you can do everything, really well, without shortcuts, and keep all the balls in the air while also juggling knives, fire breathing dragons and unpinned live grenades? Hmmmmm…… so I stopped, put the fudge ingredients away, took a bag out of the stash of bags I have already made, and went and lay on my bed. Which was just what is required when you realise that you are vulnerable to more than kryptonite.

In order to avoid having to go and buy this shirt that I found on Pinterest (which I cannot find the credits for so can’t properly attribute), I am taking tomorrow off work to get a bit organised at home, do some sewing, do some planning and just breathe out a little bit. I am getting better at saying ‘no’ to extra things, but am still not great. This week might be time to get a bit of practice in……..
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The great thing about now being able to recognise when the walls of my mind are closing in is that I have strategies that I know can work. And thus, sewing has occurred! I had an order for two more superhero capes, but the request this time was for them to be suitable for smaller toddlers. So I adapted the pattern and went to work. And, voila! Two capes, so I now have three little bags ready for delivery this week!

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I also had time to sit down and applique a t-shirt. I bought some blank t-shirts a while ago, with the intention of appliquing them…… and they have sat in a box ever since. Actually getting one out and making a start on it removes that from my list of things that must be done! The t-shirts are made from bamboo fibre so are just lovely to work with and will be lovely to wear – delightfully soft to the touch!

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I was also able to give the change mat that I shared in the last post, to my staff member who is going on maternity leave.  She was impressed with it, and I have a couple of orders for more already!  Which may have necessitated a small bit of shopping to buy more laminated cotton………oops!

Another great achievement of the week was heading out to do some market research – literally of markets! Here in Canberra we have markets that are held every Sunday morning called the Bus Depot Markets – held in an old warehouse that was…..a bus depot. When I lived in Canberra about 13 years ago I used to go there regularly, but for the last few years, with three children (one of whom is very lively), and less disposable income, I have stayed away from them in order to avoid temptation. This morning, however, we went for a visit, under the guise of a reconnaissance mission. Part of the information gathering I tasked the children with was to identify which stalls caught their attention, and to think about why. (They loved the idea of this being an undercover mission!) I was also interested in looking at what people used to display their goods on. We went in with strict instructions from me that they were not to ask me to buy anything as we were only there to look……and within 5 minutes I had (without them asking) bought some beautiful soft homemade marshmallows, and gluten free cupcakes! Ah yes – sugar gets me every time! We did have a great look around though. At one stall we had a lovely chat to the stall holders who generously explained that their shelves were in fact folding shelves and very lightweight, where they had bought their trolley from, etc. I love the way that craft people are so willing to share their knowledge! Now I am researching folding shelves……as you do!

As I head into the week, with plans to lighten my load, focus on things that make me happy, and, of course to sew, I hope that your week goes well and that you have achievements to celebrate along the way.

Serendipity

The last few days have been delightful. The children returned from their holiday full of stories, and very happy. To listen to them the highlight appears to have been a smorgasbord at a flash hotel in Jakarta, which included a room full of desserts, a chocolate fountain as big as the eldest chick, and sushi that was ‘ruined’ by ‘crazy people who put fish eggs on it – why would they do that?’. I suspect that this only became the highlight as it was the last thing they did before heading home. Judicious cross examination by their mother elicited further details of snorkelling adventures, seeing exotic animals, and watching Balinese dancing. They were so tired on the first night that the boy fell asleep in my arms on the couch – something he hasn’t done for years.

We have spent the days since their return preparing for the return to school and the start of the winter terms (shopping trips for underwear, shoes, warm clothes, etc.) I took the three of them to the hairdresser and it was interesting to watch them negotiate with her on their chosen styles. The eldest went for a shorter version of her previous cut (a bob with the fringe grown out) ‘but with more shape to the back’. The artist-in-residence was quite specific about wanting a bob that was longer at the front than the back, and then longer on one side and shorter on the other. Very chic – especially for 10 and 8 year olds who are surrounded at school by girls with long hair. The boy just wanted ‘something cool’ (i.e. something with product that sticks up a bit!) So interesting to watch their style develop, and their individuality shine through, without any prompting by me.

I then had a moment of serendipity. I have been planning for a few weeks to move the eldest chick into her own bedroom. I have also been exploring some better fabric storage and had thought about a chest of drawers for my bedroom – thinking I could decoupage or paint it to fix it up a bit. Then I had changed my mind and was thinking that one of those boring white melamine cupboards would be better for the fabric. I had settled on the bed that I was going to buy for the eldest, and then on some cupboards from the same shop. I borrowed a trailer from a friend to move the queen size bed that was in the spare room back to its owners, with the intention of buying the single bed etc and transporting it home. However, just before we started the bed move I checked my email and looked at my emails from ‘freecycle’ and saw someone offering a 6 drawer pine chest of drawers, and a trio bunk – one with a double on the bottom, and a single on top. So my plans changed and I picked up free drawers and a free bed – so now the eldest chick feels very sophisticated having a double (which also gives me more options for accommodating guests now that there isn’t a spare room), the middle chick finally has a desk in her room for her drawing and writing, and I have a lovely piece of furniture, that matches my existing bedroom furniture, to store my fabric in. And no money was spent. The gods were smiling on me!

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The new bed, midway through the move.  Some lessons in bed-making appear to be in  order!

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New fabric storage!

Of course, this meant that the rest of the weekend has been spent moving, cleaning, sorting, rearranging, and then cleaning again. So we are starting the week, and the school term, all set up in the new arrangement (and almost de-cluttered…..almost).

Another delight of the weekend was the boy deciding to build a tree house in the backyard. He loves to climb a particular tree that he discovered when his grandmother was visiting. She did that thing that grandmothers do and spent time with him, patiently, which gave him time to find out how to get up, what to do when he was up, etc. Now he shimmies up like a monkey – and has moved various pieces of timber up there, from which he has hung a bag of toys, his binoculars, a torch and his Frankenstein mask (of course!) So much fun to be had with such simple things. It reminded me of my own childhood and the dreams I had while climbing in our peach trees and how many times I hauled bits of wood up, with plans to build a tree house (which – given the size of peach trees, was never going to work!).

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In amongst all of this busy-ness, I managed to sew! I have been enjoying making more pencil rolls – 10 so far this week, with more to come. I haven’t managed to list any in my Etsy shop yet – they are all spoken for already.  So my aim is to make more this week, and to list some in the shop.

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I also wanted to make something for my niece who has a birthday in the next couple of weeks. She is turning 9 and is beyond ‘toys’, and has enough gadgets. So I decided to appliqué two tops for her. I am quite happy with the way they have turned out. Combined with a pencil roll (because I really am enjoying the perfect blend of fabric and function) her present will be in the mail in the next day or so, to (hopefully) arrive in time for her birthday.

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The other delight of the weekend was that realisation that as the children get older, I don’t have to do everything on my own. The girls helped to carry the pieces of the new bed, the chest of drawers and mattress inside from the trailer. The middle chick helped me to dismantle and remove the loft bed that had formed bunks in her room. The boy washed the very dirty car, and the eldest chick did the baking for their school morning teas for the week. The boy sorted through his dress up box and made a pile of the costumes he wants to give away, and the girls both (after some nagging by their mother) sorted through their bookshelves and buckets of toys and identified what they are ready to give away. The end of this little bird having to do it all might actually be in sight!

Of course, as I have been writing this post, the middle chick, and artist-in-residence, has announced that she has chosen her costume for this year’s Book Week parade (normally some time in August) and that we need to buy some silk fabric to make it, and it will be a nice dress that she can wear when it isn’t a costume.  While tucking her into bed I found her plans for the costume on her desk.  Guess there is more work for this little bird yet!

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I hope that you have had a lovely weekend, wherever you are, and that the week ahead holds joy for you.

The weekend report

Small bits of crafting in between the weekend plans saw a library bag for a friend’s daughter who has just started school, and a handbag for another friend who wanted one for a friend’s birthday.

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Lined in green gingham

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Lined in white and red dots – the brief was red after all!

I enjoyed  both projects and had pangs of wanting to have more time to sew……partly because I was also struck down with a virus that saw me spending several hours sleeping and then resting earlier today, which meant there was a bit of Pinterest surfing going on.  So many ideas to be gained from just looking at one site, so little time!

I can report that the trip to the Royal Canberra Show was a success.  Despite the threat of rain, it didn’t.  The children were remarkable in their good behaviour, and managed their budgets very well.  No one asked to go on the rides, and the animals were the agreed highlight.  They all had one sweet treat each and didn’t ask for anything else – and were respectful to each other and to strangers.  I was so proud of them!  We spent quite a bit of time in the “Harvest Hall” looking at the cooking competition entries, the fruit and vegetable sculpture entries, and the cake decorating entries.  A work colleague had entered the cake decorating and won for her cupcakes (the most amazing baskets of fruit and vegetables and eggs etc) and had second place for her cake (a “Hootabelle” cake).  The children were thrilled to see something made by someone they know (or who I know and therefore has some context for them).  They have all started planning their entries for next year!

We also spent time in the craft exhibition hall (of course) and enjoyed looking at the competition entries there too.  The artist in residence started planning her sewing entries for next year after seeing the children’s section.  We also had a lovely experience when looking at the model airplanes.  There were two retired men at a table, with model planes set out in front of them.  The boy asked if he could buy one and I was explaining that they were for looking at when one of the men said “You can’t buy one, but you can have one for free”.  It turns out that they were part of a deceased estate of a very keen model builder and his wife had asked that they be given to children…..so these men sat there for three days giving them to each child who expressed an interest in the models.  So touching in these days of consumerism.

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Today’s sudden illness was a great reminder of the wonderful support my friends give me.  We were meant to be going to mass for the artist in residence to have her commitment mass for her first communion.  Half an hour before it started I was dressed and ready to go, but knew that I couldn’t do it.  I had a list of friends that I knew I could call to help, and the third call saw success.  She felt very special having a one on one trip to church with a friend of ours, and I got to sleep.  I have reflected all day how lucky I am that I have friends that I can call when things like this happen – life as a single parent would be so hard without that backup.

Unfortunately as I am only just beginning to perk up this evening I had to make the call earlier in the day about whether I could go to the concert tonight.  The fact that I am typing this and not grooving in the aisles to the dulcet tones of Neil and Paul will tell you the decision I made.  Luckily I was taking a friend as a birthday present – and his wife was able to step in and take him instead!  (She is not a fan so she really is taking one for the team!)  So instead I will get an early night after preparing the house for the week, and hope that I wake up tomorrow full of beans and ready to go again.

I hope that your weekend was fruitful in the ways that you needed it to be!

Ladybugs and quiet time

This week I am playing with appliques of ladybugs.  I have put a couple on a library bag for a special little girl in Melbourne, and one on a special bag for my middle chick.  As part of a strategy to help her through a rough time she has a bag with special things that she chose in an afternoon of op-shopping on Monday.  When she needs time to collect herself, she can take her bag of special things and have time alone to play with them.  So the bag needed to be a bit special too.

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There are days when I would quite like a bag of special things and a bit of quiet time myself.  Today is definitely one of them.  Children who are tired and upset, with a mother who has to explain to them that I am human and make mistakes, means that it has been a long evening.

The return to work brings new challenges – I am only working part-time hours this week to continue to support the children in their transition to school, etc (gee an ‘etc’ can cover a lot of things) – and I had forgotten how hard it is to work part-time.  I feel like I am hardly there, and just getting the hang of things when I have to zoom off again.  I have a longer day in the office tomorrow, and actually move into my new office, so that might help the settling in process.  I suspect that this is just the next lesson in how to find balance in other areas of life.

The return to work means that there is a small slowing down in the creative process…..although being at work has allowed me to sit with a couple of people and nut out what they want in their custom orders, so it has upsides too.  But for tonight the machine cover stays on, children who are a bit overwrought have had extra cuddles, and I am going to bed early.

More ladybugs might be in order – a special bag for me for when I need quiet time (I am thinking it can hold a crochet hook and some yarn…..and perhaps chocolate.)