Tag Archives: quilting

Confessions of sewing fear

Anxiety comes in many different forms. I have spent time speaking with medical professionals over the last week and was asked to describe how each of my children, and I, are similar or different in terms of anxiety. One takes the form of catastrophising everything – natural disasters are a particular favourite that will take hold and be obsessed about. Another worries about situations in the family, but understands reason and logic and can rationalise the fear. The third doesn’t appear to an outsider to worry or fear anything, but in fact has quite extreme reactions if feeling vulnerable or embarrassed. I tend to get a bit overwhelmed by all the noise in my head – my ‘to-do’ lists, my own expectations of myself, etc. I think that we all think of an anxious person as the hand wringing worrier – when in fact anxiety takes so many different forms.

In thinking about all of this I have realised that on a more superficial level, I also have some sewing anxiety. It sounds a bit funny coming from someone who blogs about sewing, sells things she sews and purports to share tips about sewing with other people, but it is true. I am not a confident garment sewer – but that isn’t an anxiety, that is an understanding that I am not good at fitting things for myself (I have short torso) because I don’t know how. One day I will work out the science of it and all will be fine. Which leaves the question -what is my anxiety?

It is quilting.

Not the patchworking of a quilt top. Not the sewing on of binding. The actual process of quilting – putting together the layers of quilt top, batting/wadding, and the backing, and stitching through it to make a quilt. I have never done it. I have read tutorials, tips and hints. I have spoken knowledgably to people about it. But I have always been worried about doing it myself. A friend of mine who is very crafty told me that my machine didn’t have a big enough throat, so it would be too hard. She also told me that I need a walking foot. She recommended outsourcing it to a long arm quilter. I took her advice, not because she was the authority on all things quilting, but because it suited me not to confront that fear of failure!

But – no more. My mother is still with us, keeping the chicks and I feeling loved and supported. She is a long time patchworker and quilter. She has never had someone else quilt her quilts for her. And she doesn’t own a fancy long arm quilting machine. In fact for many years she didn’t have a walking foot. And those quilts from 20+ years ago are still going strong and being used daily by many members of the family. So this afternoon I asked her whether she thought we could quilt the quilt I made for the boy ourselves. (Yes – the quilt top that I so proudly showed you back in (ahem) April is still sitting in a drawer). I rang the long arm quilter this week, as I have also finished (finally) the memory quilt that I started for my housekeeper back in (ahem) August, and she said that she might be able to get one quilt done before Christmas. After talking to Mum (who said ‘yes of course we can – your machine is fine’!!) we have decided to quilt the boy’s quilt ourselves, and take the queen size memory quilt to the quilter. I am going to overcome that fear, and exile it by learning from my mother – just the way it should be!!

In news not related to any fears, the artist-in-residence’s fabric samples are on their way to us for proofing. She is very excited, and creating more designs. I have managed a little sewing, have cleaned out the chook house (so glamorous), caught up with friends for a cup of tea and crafting (I sat and cut out appliques of bicycles!), ferried children around to various social engagements, and have been supported by my mum.  I am excited about seeing my contribution to the Sew Mama Sew Handmade Holiday series in the morning.  (Although it appears on the 10th of November, with time differences being what they are, it won’t be published until about 1am on the 11th November on Australian time!)  And I need to see my accountant, so will be filing, sorting and trying to remember my movements of the last financial year – sure to balance out any excitement!

I hope that your weekend has been lovely, and that you are able to recognise and face any anxiety that may befall you this week – large or small.

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Being competitive!

Apparently I have a competitive streak. Who knew? (That is definitely rhetorical as I am sure that many of my friends and family would confirm that they have always known this to be true.) I wrote last week about my staff member who had started geocaching and found quite a few in a short space of time. That has (finally) spurred me on to get the kids out to find more and expand our searching territory.

Thursday saw us go for a lovely walk with the dog to find 7 geocaches. They were disguised in all sorts of ways. Our favourite for the day was one that was hanging by a thread of fishing line down inside a bridge railing.  We had a great time and agreed that we need to do it more often. The satisfaction for the day was finding a cache in a park close to our suburb that we have looked for without success twice before.  (I should add persistent to the competitive description!)

On Friday while we went to the chiropractor’s office to pick up the prize that the boy won in a colouring in competition (he was SO proud!!) we found one in the park next door – and realised that we could achieve 31 caches in 31 days, which is a geocaching promotion for August. As we log a cache each day we get a little award. Saturday I was trying to motivate the chicks to go out and find a cache to continue past day 1 (it logs on American time so our 7 caches on 1 August didn’t count!) but wasn’t making much ground. A short time later the artist-in-residence was on the computer playing Minecraft when an email arrived announcing a new cache in our area (which covers the Australian Capital Territory and parts of New South Wales). She clicked on it out of interest, realised that it had been released by friends of ours who don’t live too far away, and all of a sudden was motivated!  She and I jumped in the car (she still wearing her hair turban after her bath and me getting dressed in my jacket in the car) and raced off to be the ‘first to find’ the new cache – a very cute little mushroom hidden amongst autumn leaves!  We were very excited – and ticked the box for one cache for the day!

Not being content with this, and determined to stay ahead of the new team, today saw the children and I go for a 2 1/2 hour walk with our very good friends who introduced us to geocaching, to find 16 caches! So our stats are looking good. Our favourite cache – this sneaky hide up under a bridge where the cache was on a chain up the hole! (Defying gravity really – and spooky when the chance of poisonous spiders is ever present!). My beautiful friend Ms C was the brave one who retrieved it while I pretended to be busy checking the map (!!!).

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The behaviour of the children on the walk had their mother feeling quite challenged. They weren’t misbehaving per se, but the whinging from the middle chick, the uber-competitiveness of the eldest chick (can’t think where she gets that from) and the boy’s obsession with wanting to organise a play date for the afternoon (imagine saying ‘no’ in every possible way pretty much non-stop for over two hours) wore me down. So I put myself to bed for a nap when we got home. I think that the concept of ‘time-out’ that we used when they were children – one minute for each year of their age – works quite well for adults. I need to put myself into time-out more often!

Of course, having a nap did mean that my planned crafting for the afternoon didn’t happen. I am close to finishing the blocks for the ‘memory’ quilt that my housekeeper asked me to make for her. I am happy with the way that they are turning out, although the rayon is slippery and doesn’t sit well. I am relying on the strong cotton sashing and the quilting process to hold it all in shape! She has asked for it to be sashed in brown as she has brown tones in her bedroom. I plan to incorporate more of the red into the border too, so hopefully will get that finished this week.

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So many of you have written beautiful words of support in response to my post a couple of weeks ago about my boy.  While his behaviour still challenges me, there are signs that we are on the right path.  This morning I asked him whether he feels any different after taking his tablets.  He said “It feels like the tablets are killing the brain scramblers”.  Wow.  (I clarified with him that this means that when he takes the tablets his brain feels like it unscrambles and that this is a good thing.)  What a telling statement though.  It gives me hope that we are doing the right thing.

I also had some lovely words of encouragement about the fact that I have started dating someone.  Some of the nicest comments have been that he will be ‘checked out’ to ensure that he is good enough for me, and one lovely friend who kindly wrote that she hopes that he knows that he is punching above his weight.  I feel so blessed that my friends think I am special, and that they have my back.  As I said last week, it is still early days, and anything could happen.  But in the meantime my cheer-squad are making themselves heard loud and clear and I love them!

My crafting plans for this week are simple.  I want to finish the quilt top, and make a bag to be donated to a school function I am attending next weekend.  And I have an order for a super-hero cape for a little girl.  I love that I get orders for capes for girls when so much super-hero stuff is aimed at boys.  I don’t make them all ‘girly’ but add a range of colours that identify them as super-heros, whether they are girls or boys.  Fun!

Now it is Sunday night, the pile of washing is in danger of causing an avalanche in the family room, baking for lunchboxes is required, and a bit of cleaning wouldn’t hurt!  I hope that you have a great week, with plenty of creativity and that you find something to be competitive about!!  (I will be aiming to log one cache a day – which might mean ducking out at lunchtime without the kids, just to stay ahead!!)

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………)

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A gift is defined as something given willingly to someone without payment.  Over the last few days I have received gifts of different sorts, all given willingly and without payment, and am feeling very blessed.

My children have returned!   (A gift itself).  My house has been so quiet in their absence.  Now they are back, and the usual chorus of demands, complaints about their siblings, inability to find their own possessions, and arguments over what they are watching on TV in the late afternoon has returned.  With that has also come many, many, spontaneous long hugs from all three, tales of their adventures while they were away, and joy at reuniting with their friends (one friend rang an hour after she returned from her family holiday to invite the middle chick over for a sleepover that night!)  We have had a Uno tournament (I am the least successful participant so far – yes I am trying to avoid calling myself a loser), Lego building, and fort building using the kit that the boy received from his aunt for Christmas (sheets, ropes, clamps – brilliant).  So many gifts captured in that one paragraph – hugs, time, joy, love.

The artist in residence has been working her way through the book of papercraft that she received for Christmas.  (I bought it online from the Book Depository (one of my favourite sites) and didn’t realise until it arrived that it contained patterns from several of my favourite craft bloggers!  Bonus! )   She and the eldest chick helped me to choose fabric from Hawthorne Threads yesterday (another of my favourite sites), and are planning sewing time and projects for themselves.  The boy has learnt to use a hammer to nail in loose nails on the deck, and today washed the deck with his water pistol.

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Of course the return to the household and our usual chaos is not without hiccups –kids and mother all getting a bit irritable as we readjust to being in the same space again.  So today I rounded them up, plus a visiting friend, and the dog, and we went for a walk to find a geocache in our neighbourhood.

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We haven’t been geocaching for a few months, so once the kids remembered the joy in finding caches (including the eldest willingly climbing a gum tree covered in giant bull ants to retrieve the cache) we then had to find more!  A trip in the car around the nearby area saw us find four in total, including one very tiny micro-cache, hidden in plain sight, that impressed us all.  So with rediscovered enthusiasm we are planning a day of geocaching later in the week.  For those unaware of geocaching, it is a form of outdoor treasure hunting – a free pastime that involves us finding caches that others have left simply for the joy of having people find them and log them.  You can learn more, or register here. True gift giving!

I managed to complete a custom sewing order for a friend last night, and achieve two new firsts – I used bamboo wadding, rather than fusible fleece, and quilted the cover of the art wallet in a form of free motion quilting.  While I have a long way to go, it was a good experience and I am keen to keep practising and experimenting with the technique.  That came about through the gift of support from my friends in my new venture, and the ability to use advice generously and freely shared on the internet.

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One of the consequences of the children returning is that I need to get more organised, and tidy up my sewing projects rather than leaving them lying around as I work on them.  I have been sewing at one end of the house and ironing at the other (as a result of a built in ironing board) and kept thinking that a smaller, portable, or table top ironing board would be a good addition, and might reduce the trail of scraps and threads from spreading quite so quickly through the house.  Then last night I saw one come up on Freecycle, asked for it, and was able to pick it up this morning – and it is like new!   A physical gift!  Next up is some more fabric storage.  Might have to look at freecycle for that too.

After days of very high temperatures and a couple of days of extreme fire danger, today we didn’t reach 30˚C, we have had some light rain, and the whole day was overcast.  Just the relief we (and our fire fighters) needed before we head into another week of high temperatures.

The final gift to be mentioned in this post is food related.  A friend dropped in on her way home from the shops last night to leave me with a beautiful fresh piece of salmon, announcing that she had bought too much for her family to eat.  Seared on the barbeque, and eaten for dinner last night with potato and salad (while the heathen children had sausages after refusing the fish) it was a gift to the taste buds!  As I know she reads the blog I can say thank you here as well as in person!  (I have to add that the boy announced that his “favourite fish is flake.  I know it is shark Mum.  I like eating sharks”. Insert the image of a mother rolling her eyes here.)

Of course, just taking and not giving myself would be a good way to ruin the karmic balance, so as a small gesture towards redressing that balance can I encourage you to look at the facebook page of a friend, set up to assist people to understand the benefits of hypnosis. I have never tried this, but after reading her information have a much better idea of the benefits offered. She lives in country Queensland, but is able to provide her services through the wonders of skype, so you can contact her from anywhere in the world! You can find all the details here – https://www.facebook.com/#!/JessieHodgsonHypnosis

So – what gifts did you receive this week?