Tag Archives: fabric

Being productive and colourful

There is a lot of activity in the nest this week. Having my mum here means that we are tackling those jobs that I never seem to get around to. She has de-cluttered my shelves in the family room, I have sorted my fabric stash, I have had tradesmen in to quote on repairs, things that were put in the hall to be put away, and ended up becoming permanent fixtures, have been put away, and lists have been made. The house feels lighter already.

I started to write that I have little to report on the sewing front. But when I looked at my photos, and my sewing table I realised that I have actually produced quite a bit in the last week! I have felt that I haven’t been able to sit and do any major sewing, but have managed little projects along the way. I decided that instead of beating myself up about not making things, I needed to have small goals. So I have been making little zipped pouches. I can do one in the evening before I go to bed. They are quick, they are cute, and I can feel that I have achieved something. I haven’t been listing them to sell, thinking that I would use them at my craft stall. Then a friend dropped around, saw them and bought 4! I guess that validates that they are going to be attractive to buyers!

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I also wanted to make a farewell present for Miss N. She has left us much earlier than expected, but was of help when she was here. She loves tea, and was travelling with an overfull suitcase, so I decided to make her a cushion cover, that will pack flat, and applique it with a tea-cup. I am quite happy with the end result! I think she liked it too.

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A friend dropped by for a cup of tea (I am a bit partial to tea myself) and asked if I could make a superhero cape for her nephew. So that was ticked off the list next.

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Amongst the menagerie that lives at my house we have a budgie called Frill. Frill belongs to the artist-in-residence and has been living in her bedroom for the last year. He makes a dreadful mess – seeds being flicked all over the place, and she is not the best cleaner-upper you have met. With the arrival of Nana, we decided to move Frill out of the bedroom, to reduce the mess in there. A quick internet search found us a very reasonable price for a stand to hang his cage from, so we can now easily move it around the house. Which meant that the seed scattering had potential to spread all over the house. The solution? A fabric ‘skirt’ of sorts for his cage. While I will tweak the design before making another one, it is doing the job quite well!

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I also had a lovely experience in selling another piece to a buyer in the USA. One of my bicycle cushions is winging it’s way to Washington DC.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI have been joking that with two sales to the US I must be a household name by now! One of my friends saw my post on facebook about it, and promptly bought another one of the bike cushions for her husband’s bike shop! I might have to make some more!

With all the ups and downs in our household the chicks have been suffering a bit. The artist-in-residence needed a day at home with her mum to rest and collect herself. She sat and did some drawing and created such a lovely piece that she and I decided we needed to make some fabric from it. That inspired her further, so she did another drawing for fabric. We have ordered samples of each of the pieces to check for colours etc, and once they are proofed, she will be able to list them for sale on Spoonflower! She is very excited, and I am very proud!

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Of course, through all of this, and various appointments that needed to be attended, I am trying to make my Christmas lists. Things to make for sale, things to make for gifts, things that I want to make. The lists are long! Until I have time to publish them with links, I highly recommend looking at the lists of Handmade Holiday ideas that Sew Mama Sew are publishing each day. My list of eco-friendly gift ideas will be featured on 10 November. There were a number of ideas that I had collected that didn’t make the post, and some ideas that I have found since then, so I will do a follow-up post here with some further ideas for eco-friendly gifts to make!

I hope that your week has been productive and colourful!

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Things that make you go Hmmmmmm……

Feeling compelled to report on the weather, I have to report that it has been beautiful over the weekend! Sunny and dry. The perfect hint of spring, which is only days away now. In fact it has been so lovely that I have been dreaming of a camping trip. The children’s various sports commitments, plus a looming federal election mean that it is hard to find a weekend that is free, but I have the calendar out and am poring over it intently! (I may just decide to leave town for the election, but it is unlikely that any of my friends will join me!)

The two girls played hockey yesterday and it was a joy to stand next to the worlds smallest goalie and to be in the sun without a jacket on. They did well, with the middle chick/goalie saving two goals and the team winning 5-0. In a scene that had everyone smiling she ran out to save a goal, gave an almighty kick that did the job, and landed on her backside. She immediately sat up saying “I’m okay” in a very chirpy voice, the coach ran onto the field and picked her up so she was upright again and the game continued. It was verbally replayed several times over the course of the day, with much mirth. Her big sister did a great job in defending and was also full of mirth about the world’s smallest goalie and her ‘I’m okay’. The boy was incredibly focussed on the whole game and provided non-stop cheering and encouragement for the whole game. We had a great morning together!

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Look at that sky!!

The rest of the weekend has been busy with children’s social activities. The middle chick had a party to attend for her best-boy friend on Saturday. That, of course, required a gift. I, of course, had not been shopping. She assured me that he didn’t like drawing enough to warrant a pencil roll. Hmmmmm…… then it hit me – a t-shirt with Star Wars fabric. She approved the concept and was happy with the end result, and a crisis (due to a very tight timeframe) was averted!

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While she was at her party the eldest chick had a friend over to play. The visit had been conditional upon both girls cleaning their bedrooms and completing their homework before the appointed time. I am slightly astounded to report that the eldest chick did an amazing job on her room – including vacuuming the carpet. Unfortunately the homework didn’t fare so well as she had ‘forgotten’ to bring it home. Hmmmmm….. On balance, however, the play seemed justified in both households. The two girls decided that they needed to bake. They are both gluten free so were excited to have a cooking buddy. As they pored over books and questioned me about my available ingredients I finally suggested salted caramel fudge (because I had all the ingredients ready from the aborted attempt the week before and knew it would stop the deliberations!) They did a great job, and with a friend visiting, the clean up actually occurred without prompting. Wonders will never cease!

They then decided that, having made the fudge, they should sell it to raise money for breast cancer, which is a cause very dear to the friend as she watches a much loved aunt undergo treatment. After initially supporting them in their concept, a bit of judicious questioning revealed that the audience for the sales was limited to…..me. I pointed out that as I had provided all the ingredients it was a little cheeky to ask me to buy the fudge back. This left the friend a little deflated. But all is not lost! I have since suggested that she host a Pink Ribbon fundraiser morning tea, and that fudge can be part of the menu, and she is now busy planning a fundraising event that will give her a lovely positive focus and a way to help. Ah the complexities of being young women full of ideas. I admire their spirit and optimism and want to bottle it and preserve it for them before they get worn down by life!  I saw this sign on Pinterest today and it made me think that I need this reminder so that I can have that same daily optimism again!

Love it!  I need this as a reminder.

Today was another day of socialising. The boy had a visit to the little sister of the eldest chick’s friend and the two of them had a ball playing with puppies, with lego and in a big cardboard box. Then he came home to have another friend waiting for him and the two of them played a bit of Wii, a lot of imaginary games involving spies and sorcerers in the back garden, and then (unbeknownst to me) a bit of re-decorating the eldest chick’s bedroom with marker pen. Another hmmmmmmm……. Luckily it was waterbased!

The middle chick had her best-weekend-friend (they play together a bit at school but on weekends are usually each other’s first choice of friend to play with) over for the day and they explored the mountain reserve across the road, coming home with animal bones, stones, dirt and a beer bottle. They said that they are examining the environment to see if it is being damaged. They seemed to be drawing a link between the beer bottle and the animal bones. Hmmmmmm….. not a lot of logic but a good conversation to be starting!

The eldest chick had the afternoon at another friend’s house and was apparently soundly beaten playing Yahtzee her friend’s father. There was a bit of fake fist-waving at him in the retelling of the story so I think a good time was had by all.

I am sure you are thinking, well, that is all quite lovely, but where is the crafting bit of the story? Apart from the shirt being whipped up for the gift, not a lot of crafting occurred. I have started working on a commission that is a gift for a very special little person for her birthday, so I have all the fabric cut out and the interfacing prepared. Just working out which pieces I was going to use took quite a while. I don’t want to rush it though, so decided that instead of pushing myself I would give the chicks the time that they needed to see their friends, enjoy the outdoors, and catch up on socialising a bit. I am still not back into a good rhythm to dance through life, but I am slowly picking up the beat again (to overuse the analogy!)

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The week ahead does not hold much prospect of sewing. The eldest chick has the finals of Wakakirri tomorrow night, and then I am away for a work trip overnight in the middle of the week for two full days. Which, with other sporting commitments, takes me through to Friday before I am likely to be free to do anything…. Hmmmmm…..Rather than being upset about it I am thinking that this will be time to think and plan and dream. Then I can return and ‘do’. Hopefully!

I hope that this week sees a hint of spring (or a touch of fall if you are on the other side of the world) and time to do the things that are important to you.

A little splash of fabric

I know that on my recently introduced regimented blog routine I am meant to post a list of Friday finds on a Friday. I still might get to it later tonight. (I am such a rebel – breaking my own self imposed blog rules!!) My reason for the act of rebellion? Fabric. Of course!

One of those magic slips from the courier company arrived earlier in the week to say that they had tried to deliver a parcel but I wasn’t home. So I trotted off to collect my parcel – which was large – and propped it up in my bedroom (which is fabric storage central at the moment). That was 2 days ago. Two whole days!! This afternoon I finally opened it. The whole order was laminated cottons, and one piece of oil cloth, so it all came rolled on cardboard bolts. I felt like a professional artisan picking up my grown up fabric order! (Yes, yes – it is the small things that keep me going!)

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And oh….what possibilities! Look at these colours! So vibrant and shiny under the laminate! I am picturing makeup bags, baby change mats, an apron or two, swimming bags…..oh the list is endless!

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Being fuelled with the joy of shiny new fabric (literally) is a wondrous thing. As you may have gathered from my recent posts, I have been struggling for inspiration and motivation recently. A good friend and the MIML both suggested versions of slowing down – considering the option of not having my market stall in December, not making new things for the shop, not blogging for a while. And that made me realise that if I am going to give up things to free up time and relieve stress that these are not the things that I want to stop doing. A lovely realisation! My plan for this weekend is to focus on making things, creating things and dreaming. I love weekends!

The other exciting thing that has happened to remind me that I love creating is an invitation to have one of my overnight bags featured in an online magazine. I am so thrilled to be asked! I want to get some better photos over the weekend to submit, and will keep you informed about when they will be featured.

With that resolve and creative fire in my belly again, I can now report on something far more mundane. I have been wondering about the difference between oilcloth and laminated cotton for a while. The articles I have read haven’t really helped much. Some places say that they are one and the same, while others say they are different. With this latest order I have conducted my own assessment and ordered several pieces of laminated cotton, which I am already familiar with, and one piece of oil cloth. Of course, my experiment is a little flawed as what this website describes as oilcloth is probably very different from the next. However, in this very limited trial sample I can now report that they are very different!

The oil cloth that I ordered is more like a layer of flexible plastic supported by a plastic loose-weave mesh base. Very much man made, water proof, with a high gloss and relatively stiff.

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The laminated cotton is cotton fabric with a layer of clear silicone like plastic on one surface. It is more flexible and will still be water-resistant on the ‘shiny’ side, but will absorb water on the cotton side.

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Of course they are quite different prices too. Now that I understand the difference in their texture and feel I can see that they will have quite different applications. The oil cloth could still be used for bags, aprons and tablecloths, but it has a very different look and feel, so I suspect that I won’t be using it as much as the laminated cotton.

And there endeth my spontaneous exposition on the different fabrics!  Now to think about what to make tonight, and what list of Friday finds I might prepare.  Or not this week!  Ah the suspense!

Playing with colour

It is late at night here in the nest, so I will actually keep this brief (for once!). I had planned to have some finished products to show you today, but a bit of distraction in the form of a movie one night, a lovely dinner out another night, and a phone call with a friend, means that instead I will show you works in progress.

I have started on a bag to feature some of the lovely Dr Who fabric from Spoonflower. This will be the pocket on the back of the bag when it is completed.

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I also have cut out and prepared, ready for stitching, two more bucket bags. These are both made out of fabrics that I love and I have enjoyed playing with colour to find the contrasting pockets. So here they are, with interfacing attached, but no stitching, darts, etc! Hopefully the next photos will show amazing finished products!

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By Sunday I should have a fair bit to report as I am doing a course for right brain creative people on how to plan your small business. I am already toying with ideas, so am looking forward to a day focussed on bringing all my ideas together into a cohesive plan to use when my mind is wandering off with new ideas!

In the meantime I hope that your week is going well, and that you have had some special distractions in your life too.

Nurturing the muse (or just attempting sanity)

Sunday night in the nest is always a little chaotic. I try to hold on to the freedom of the weekend as long as possible, and then reality sets in at about 6pm and I remember that I need to clean up from that very ‘freedom’, prepare for the week ahead, load my photos, list any new items, write this blog entry, put clean sheets on the stripped beds, sign notes for school, feed the dog, and tackle Mount Washmore (which is really Mount Foldmore but is still referred to as Washmore – a teetering pile of clean clothes, sheets, towels, school uniforms, sports uniforms, and generally everything that will be needed urgently first thing tomorrow morning if I don’t fold and sort it tonight.)

In case I haven’t said this before, I LOVE weekends. After years of being a busy social butterfly I am now the complete opposite and work very hard to keep weekends as free from commitments as possible. Sports fixtures and birthday parties are about the extent of it. When I find myself with a day with no ‘bookings’, instead of rushing off to ring my friends to see who is free to go off on some wild adventure with multiple children in tow, these days I stay very quiet about it and inwardly breathe out at the thought of a day where I don’t have to be anywhere at any time.  Which means that I have time to sit, have a cup of coffee and take in the sight of hot air balloons drifting past the back of my porch, looking like musical notes against the electric wires.  (I was feeling a bit poetic this morning!)

Of course I love it when I do catch up with my friends, and think ‘we should do this more often’ – there is just no pleasing some people – but the reason for keeping weekends as simple as possible is that it is part of my plan to keep myself sane (or on bad days – to attempt for sanity!) I suspect that it also contributes to nurturing my creative muse, mojo, or whatever you want to call it! Between a busy office during the week, lots of after school commitments with the children, and all the other busy ‘stuff’ that just comes from being a family, if I don’t carve out some hours for myself on the weekend, then I start to disappear.

Luckily this weekend had a good balance of sports and parties – only one of each – and great weather, so I was able to do lots of thinking, planning and some sewing. I felt rotten on Saturday and thought I was getting another cold, but a bit of resting seemed to do the trick. I used the resting time to make lists. Lists of the things I want to make, lists of the things I want to make right now, lists of the things I could make if I suddenly had a time-turner and could be in two places at once, and then, lists of the supplies I ‘need’ to buy. It was a long list of lists. The inability to do everything I want, all at the same time, can be a little overwhelming, so I chunked it down. The end result? Two overnight bags from the great pattern I bought at the beginning of the year from Gingercake.  One with some lovely fabric I received from Spoonflower earlier this week…

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And the other with some divine retro fabric I bought a few weeks ago….

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I am quite happy with them.  I also intend to make a travel pack to go with them – a zip up pouch and a draw-string bag, but the reality of life means that that might not happen for a day or two….

During the week I made the bag to go with the pouch I posted on Wednesday – a custom order for a colleague at work.  Again I included an adjustable strap – will definitely be making more of those!

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Some of the other ideas I am itching to start on?  A series of appliqued t-shirts, some travel bag sets, some cushion covers, some hats, hot water bottle covers, skirts, pillowcases, ipad covers…..  sheesh!  You can see why my brain is buzzing!

Taking one thing at a time…… have a look at this delightful offering from Spoonflower….

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one of my friends, immediately upon seeing it on Facebook, asked for scatter cushions.  She has a fantastic eye!  I had just been sitting there admiring it and wondering how best to use it….. and cushions are perfect!  (As are travel bag sets I suspect….)   So at some point, that is what will happen.

I often write here about my ongoing struggle to ‘maintain the balance’.  I read an online article today where it said “Balance is a myth. Parenting isn’t a tight-rope walk; it’s a dance. Strive for rhythm instead of balance, and trust yourself to move to the ever-changing beat.”

I think I like this concept.  Balancing always feels a little precarious.  Dancing, however, has moments of fun, of pure joy, and of fumbled steps.  I might adopt this.

I had two random moments of joy today at the hands of my children.  The boy was playing with an electronic world globe that they got for Christmas (from grandparents who don’t have to hear it all day long…….) and started singing the national anthem.  I was quite proud of his patriotism, and knowledge of the song, until I listened a little closer and heard him singing “Avast Australia Fair”……. apparently we live in a land of pirates.  (For the non-Australian readers amongst you the correct phrase is “Advance Australia Fair”.

Then some hours later the two girls were talking about something on the computer and the eldest chick said to the middle chick “You are one little world of weird”.  Her sister (fortunately)took it as a compliment, while I sat and marvelled at the imagery one phrase from a 10 year old can elicit.

As I head off to tackle the mountain of clean laundry, and face the working and school week, I can reflect that I am still one of the lucky ones.  My sanity is reasonably present, my muse and mojo seem to be in the vicinity and my children are delightful.  Especially now that they are all asleep.

Have a great week as you work towards another fabulous weekend.

Pillowcases and sleep

Unwittingly the theme of this weekend has been bed-related.  First we had an unplanned sleepover with two children joining mine on Friday night, then the two youngest of the group (who I had counted on going to sleep with no drama) stayed up very late and woke up very early, involving me in their awakeness, so I stumbled around in a daze on Saturday morning and ended up sleeping on a spare therapist’s couch while one of my children attended an appointment in another room, and finally I had a burst of sewing pillowcases – five in all.  Phew!

The first three were an order for a friend who wanted pillowcases with ipod pockets for her three children.  I enjoyed matching the fabrics to the children and playing with patterns.  I also found a great way to use a panel that came as part of a fat quarter set of “The Good Life” by Riley Blake.  I had been sitting on it for a while, but last night realised that it would make a great front panel for a pillowcase, with parts of the border used as detail and for the pocket.  I am happy with the end result – and the big 8 year old girl who received it loved it.

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The one for the middle child was from the “Simple Life” range by Riley Blake – I love these colours!

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And for the boy of that house – pirates of course!

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The final two were really just an excuse to use some of the Aneela Hoey “Posy” fat quarters that I bought on a whim recently.  I love the range so much that I might have to make some more – just because!  I have listed these two in my Etsy shop and think they would be great Easter presents.

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Despite the severe sleep deprivation I felt yesterday morning (I think it was the cumulative effect of the last two weeks of travel) the sleepover was delightful.  I set up my new tent to test it out before my trip away (in 10 days she says quietly jumping with excitement) and the three big girls decided that they would sleep in it.  I was quite prepared for them to appear in the middle of the night, but they stayed out there all night, and were asleep before 10pm and up after 7am – quite unlike the younger boys in the house (who giggled so much that if I hadn’t been so tired I would have quite enjoyed their pure joy at just hanging out together).  I am assured by the girls that the tent is very comfortable, although they thought it was a little small.  Given that they usually sleep in our trailer tent which is 14 foot long, I can see how they felt that the 4 man dome tent seemed a little pokey!  I am still happy with it as it only has to accomodate two adults for a week – not a family of energetic children!

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Today we had a lazy day – pyjamas were worn until lunchtime, rules were relaxed and much idle pottering around was done.  We then went to see dear friends for afternoon tea – the boy insisted on dressing as Batman for the occasion, and arrived to be greeted by a Ben Ten Alien, so was very happy with his choice of outfit.  I delivered the pillowcases at the same time and enjoyed the reaction from the children.

I have had such a smooth day today that I am sure that I have forgotten to do something really important……but until I wake in the middle of the night with the awful realisation of what it is, I am just going to celebrate a nice day and leave it at that!

And a quick postscript – I bought a tunic pattern online today (which will hopefully be emailed overnight) in the hope of making a top or two to take with me on my travels, so stay tuned to see if I get to it in time!!

I hope that you have had a lovely weekend.

Changing plans

If I have seemed a little quiet over the last few days it is because my internet provider, through some weird clerical error, managed to release a modem to a new customer on Saturday that had the same number as mine – so my internet died when they connected his! It was out for about 48 hours, but my withdrawal symptoms were sad to behold….clutching at my phone, checking mail every few seconds and squinting at facebook….. before recognising that the world was probably still turning without me there to monitor it……and letting go!

The forced break from one of my addictions was quite good – I started watching the DVDs of season 3 of Downtown Abbey that I borrowed from a friend. I am not normally a fan of ‘period drama’ but this one has my attention! So I sat and crocheted and folded washing and enjoyed watching other people dealing with changes in their lives and their world, and regained some more of that precious balance I am always chasing.

I also took a break from ‘sewing with obligation’, as one of my friends puts it, and instead finally did some work on the blocks for the quilt for the boy. I am being a bit adventurous with this one and making up the pattern as I go.

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The ‘big blocks’ are based on a tutorial for a pineapple block that I pinned on Pinterest, and I had drawn up an elaborate plan of what little blocks would go with them…….but on the weekend I started playing with the pieces as I was sewing them, and came up with some different blocks, so am rethinking the whole plan for the quilt!

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 It was always going to be a scrappy sort of quilt, so that all the different things that the boy loves could be reflected in it. Then my mother sent me some of her stash and included leftovers from his cot quilt – so they are in the new quilt now and I love the ties between the old and new – and he does too! I am glad that I have taken some time with this one – it means that I have had time to think about what I want it to be in a more measured way.

The children returned to school today for the start of their new school year. There was much excitement and anticipation this morning, and quite positive reports this afternoon, so I am hopeful for a smooth year. The boy had a few issues last year that the school and I have been working through with him, so we are all praying for a better year for him, and today seems to have started well. After 6 weeks of holidays it is a nice change for us to be back to our familiar routine again!

I am playing with ideas for changing our routine slightly, and had a chat to my ever-supportive boss today about a new role and some new hours. I will go into the office later in the week to sort out the details, but it looks like I will be able to take on a great new role, keep developing my non-crafty career, and be able to pick the children up from school most, if not every, day. If that comes off I will be very happy – I just have to firm up the ‘before school’ arrangements so that I can start work early. Babysitters are being called, so the plan is starting to take shape!

I have a few more days before I return to work, so am now drawing up the next lot of lists – the ‘things to get done before full time work intervenes again’ type of list. Grocery shopping was ticked off the list this morning, along with a trip to the charity shop to deliver bags of clothes, toys and shoes that the children have finally relinquished. (The girls voluntarily gave up all their dolls – without me suggesting it! Yay! All those ghastly “monster high” and “Barbie” dolls that I objected to have gone without a fuss!!!!)

Achieving things on the ‘ household to do’ list means time for crafting tomorrow I think! I am toying with some ideas for pillowcases for my Etsy shop – possibly with crocheted edges (which could work well as the kids have a martial arts class tomorrow night!) and am also playing with ideas for birthday gifts. The children have hit the ground running with party invitations – they have come home with one each today – plus a beautiful friend of mine has a birthday with a zero this weekend, so I am playing with fabric, sketching up ideas and putting the creative thinking cap on.

A bit of creative inspiration arrived in the mail this morning with a gorgeous fabric order. I got smart this time and ordered a bit more yardage of each, so that I have room to play and make things for myself as well as for selling!
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So stand by for some bright creations over the next few days (if all goes well and the school doesn’t call………)