Tuesday, 29 December 2009

teal deer

it’s not only my embroidery geekiness that’s showing (two new designs in two days! what is this madness?), but my internet geekiness too:

for those who don’t know what i’m on about, the urban dictionary defines “teal deer” as “a bastardization of ‘tl;dr’, which is a bastardization of ‘too long; didn’t read’…”.

this could be a cheeky gift to a particularly loquacious friend (if you think it can be given and received in fun, and not taken personally!), or just a fun and nerdy decoration for your home. mine is hanging among my fabric hoops in our living room.

the chart is below for your stitching pleasure. i used DMC 991 for mine, because i think it’s a lovely rich, vibrant teal.

may your geekiness be with you - enjoy!

Monday, 28 December 2009

tutorial: embroidered greeting card

when i was ten years old my mum went on a holiday to holland to visit relatives with my oma. my aunty judith and uncle martin looked after me while mum was away, and while i stayed with them aunty jude taught me to cross stitch. she bought me my fist few skeins of DMC floss, my first piece of aida, and my first embroidery needles. i have loved to stitch ever since.

it’s somewhat surprising to me that i have never designed a cross stitch pattern before. i guess it’s one of those things that i have always been meaning to do and never quite gotten around to til now.

this is a very simple pattern for a small cross stitch, which you could frame, or do as i have done and make a card:

you will need:
- a small piece of 14 count aida
- some embroidery floss (i used DMC 962, which i think is a particularly nice pink)
- embroidery needle
- embroidery hoop (desirable but not essential)
- a soft pencil (2b is good)
- an eraser
- a stanley knife and cutting board
- a ruler
- two pieces of card in a colour that coordinates with your selected floss. one piece should measure 140mm x 215mm, the other 100mm x 135mm
- a matching envelope

(N.B. this guide assumes you know the basics of cross stitch - of you are a beginner and do not know how to cross stitch, you can find a very good guide with pictures *HERE*)

1. fold your 140mm x 215mm piece of card in half.
2. on the front of this folded card, center and draw a rectangle that is 100mm x 55mm.
3. using your stanley knife and cutting board, carefully cut this rectangle out, making a window in the front of your card (make sure you open your card out flat before cutting - you only want to cut this hole in the front!).
4. erase any pencil lines, then set aside.
5. place your aida in your embroidery hoop and stitch the following design:

the little tail on the apostrophe is not drawn in on this pattern - it is simply a diagonal stitch from top left to bottom right of the square below the body of the apostrophe. you should be able to see how i have done this in the photo below.

6. trim your aida so that the design is centered, and the full piece of aida is approx 95mm x 130mm.
7. center your cross stitch over the window in your card, and using strong crafting tape or glue, secure it in place.
8. take your piece of card measuring 100mm x 135mm and stick it to the inside of the card so that the back of your cross stitch is both covered up and supported.
9. write a message inside to someone you think is sweet, stick it in the envelope, and seal it with a kiss!

i hope you like this pattern!

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

a variation

it’s your mum’s job to love all the little things you make. mine has unfailingly encouraged my creativity, and has aided and abetted me in any way i’ve asked, from letting me hammer old nails into bits of wood as i imagined engineering some personal robot companion, to lending me bowls from the kitchen in which to concoct brews from berries, leaves, pollen, and mud from the garden, to good old fashioned cutting, pasting and drawing.

i’m left-handed, so she’s always found the way i go about things a bit puzzling (“but that’s backwards”), and teaching me to knit proved to be quite a challenge, but i know she’s proud of what i make because her house is full of framed embroideries and drawings i’ve done for her, and she has a box of childhood creations that she’s put somewhere safe in case of fire.

even though i know all this, i was still very proud when she asked me to make some christmas presents for her friends this year. she ordered some coasters.
here’s the first set:

i’m following the same steps that i outlined in the ‘coasters in an hour’, pattern that i wrote and posted a while ago, with a couple of tiny variations:

instead of cutting the same size squares of fabric A and fabric B, one is designated as backing (let’s say that’s fabric A), and then two fabrics are chosen as the top (they’ll, perhaps predictably, be B & C). 
as you can see above, i’ve chosen a kind of ‘feature fabric’ as fabric B, and a few different complimentary fabrics, which for the purposes of simplification i will refer to collectively as fabric C.
i wanted to make these ones a teensy shade bigger than the original pattern, so i cut four squares of fabric A at 4″ instead of 3.75″. then i cut four rectangles of fabric B at 4×3″, and four from fabric(s) C at 4×1.5″.
i paired each piece of fabric B with a piece of fabric C, and sewed them into squares along the 4” edge, using, as always, a ¼” seam.
the rest of the process was the same as in the original pattern.

i like the way this variation not only lets you use a bigger range fabrics, but also lets you use some fabric that you may only have tiny pieces of left. i tend to cling to skerricks of fabrics that i have loved (as many quilters do!), and i’m always thrilled to be able to use them up on things that i know will be used and hopefully loved.

Friday, 13 November 2009

tutorial: little bag of secrets

my exams are officially over! in celebration, i have written a pattern to share with you!

i don’t know if it’s just me, because i’m a scorpio and thus an inherently sneaky person, or if everyone’s a bit like this, but i love to have little stashes of secrets. since i was small i’ve been fascinated by lockable diaries, hollow books, treasure boxes, and other repositories for private and precious things. that’s why i designed and made this little bag. i’m not going to tell you what’s in it, but i will tell you how to make it!
the pattern is completely flexible as far as size goes – you can make it as big or as small as you like. as such, i can’t tell you exactly how much fabric you will need because that will depend, but my bag is smallish, so two fat quarters were more than enough.

you will need:

- two pieces of complimentary fabric. one will be the outside of your bag (fabric A), and the other will be the lining and the ribbon/cord casing (fabric B).
- matching thread
- a plate (or other round object) that has the same circumference as you would like the base of your bag to have.
- two lengths of ribbon or cord for draw strings.
- sewing machine, scissors, pins, fabric pen, and some sort of measuring tool (tape measure, ruler or similar).

1. place your plate on your piece of fabric B, and trace around it carefully with your fabric pen.
2. roughly cut a square from this fabric that contains the circle you just drew, then cut a piece of fabric A the same size and pin them together.
3. carefully cut around your traced line so that you end up with two circles that are exactly the same size, one from each of your two fabrics.
4. take a piece of thread or string, and lay it exactly around the edge of one of your circles. measure the length of the string, and this will give you the circumference of your circle. if you add ½“ to this (for seam allowance), you will have the length of fabric you need to create the body of your bag. the height is up to you, and will depend on the proportions you would prefer – just remember that you will lose ¼” in seam allowance at both the top and the bottom, so factor that in before you cut. whatever size you chose, you should cut two pieces of fabric to those dimensions – one of fabric A and one of fabric B.
5. cut fabric for the casings for your draw-strings. these will consist of two pieces of fabric B, each 2” by 1/3 of the total length of your bag body.

making and attaching the casings:
1. fold one piece of your casing fabric in half (right sides of fabric together, wrong side facing out) so that the long edges meet. lightly press, and then sew just under half way down the length of the edge, leave a 1” gap for turning and continue sewing to the end. leave the short ends open!
2. hold your piece of casing upright to that he pressed seam is on your ironing board, and the sewn seam is pointing up up. press down so that the sides bulge out and then little tube goes flat. the sewn seam is now lying in the middle of the flattened tube. press, then sew the short ends closed. these little seams should form a t-intersection with the long seam you sewed earlier. See diagram below for clarification (it’s a simple process that is surprisingly difficult to explain!).

3. carefully trim the corners, turn right side out, press, then slip stitch your turning hole closed (you don’t need to be super-neat or especially careful about this, as the seam will not be visible once your bag is constructed.
4. repeat the previous three steps for second piece of casing.
5. take the piece of fabric A that you have cut to the appropriate size for the body of your bag. fold this in half, with the right side of the fabric facing out. lay one of your casings on top of this piece, the long seam facing down, 1½” from the top of the fabric. center it lengthways, then pin it to the top layer of the folded fabric (do not pin through both layers of the folded fabric). do the same on the other side of the fabric with your other casing.
6. sew the casings on with seams a scant 1/8” from the top and bottom edge. reinforce the edges by doing a little back-and-forth sewing at each end of each seam, because they get pulled on a lot as you open and close your bag, and need to be secure. leave the short ends open (you will thread your drawstrings though them later).

assembling the bag:
1. take your body piece of fabric B, and turn it into a tube by folding it in half, right sides together, and sewing a seam down the edge that is not equal to the circumference of your circle. press the seam.

2. with the right side of your circle facing up, and your tube-like body piece of fabric still inside out, pin the circle to the bottom edge of the tube you’ve just created. sew this on with a ¼” seam, then turn it right-side-out. this is now the lining of your bag.
3. go through the previous two steps with your circle and body pieces of fabric A to create the outside of your bag, only leave this one inside out.
4. place your right-side-out lining inside your inside-out outer bag, lining up the two side seams neatly. pin around the top, then sew it up with a ¼” seam, leaving a 1” hole for turning.

5. turn your bag right-side-in through the turning hole, press the top seam carefully, then top stitch around the top seam, being careful to catch the folds of your turning hole so that it closes neatly.
6. using a safety pin or similar, thread your ribbon or cord through the casings. thread one piece through each casing so that it loops around the bag with several inches to spare at each end, then tie the ends in a knot.

7. thread the other piece through in the same way, only in the opposite direction. When you pull on the knotted ends, the bag should draw closed.

now all that remains is to fill your bag with secret treasures and find a good hidey-hole for it! i hope you love this pattern, and that you’ll leave a comment, or drop back with photos if you make it.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

my oma's sampler

my oma turned 80 today. we had a birthday party this week, and all the family gathered to celebrate our matriarch.
i brought some hand-sewing along, because i never go anywhere without some sort of sewing project, and when she spied it, she ducked off to some dark corner of her house, and fished this out:

it’s a sampler she made when she was at school.

it’s amazing to see how bright those threads still are after all these years, and how neat and regular her little stitches are.

i hope i can impress my own grandchildren with some of my many handcrafts in sixty years time…

Sunday, 1 November 2009


there are a lot of crafters making really beautiful fabric garlands these days. some are incredibly elaborate, with hand embroidery, lace, and buttons incorporated, others are more simple and understated. i really like them because of the fact that they’re an idea that an be interpreted and adapted in so many ways.
i decided a while ago that i would like to make some for our family, that could become beloved and familiar features of all family celebrations. when i saw sweet jessie’s version, a simple scalloped garland, i was inspired to make mine in a similar vein.
last night i collected some fabrics together out of my stash (i decided to start with yellow because it’s such a cheerful, festive colour, but i think my next one will be pink), and today i cut and sewed like the wind, and finished a lovely long garland.

i think i will bring it along to my oma’s birthday party next week to add a little crafty touch to the decorations.

now to go and choose some pink fabrics…

Friday, 30 October 2009

a quilt for my oma

my oma is about to turn 80, so i am making her a quilt.

she is a very non-fussy, dutch lady, so pink and lilac and frills were never going to do for her. it needed to be simple, and involve the colour blue.

when i’m making quilts i get very tired of counting the blocks over and over again, and never being 100% certain in my mind that i have the right number. my solution to this is to write a number of each block (in this case it was 1 - 40), and as i cut the pieces for that block, tear the number off the page i’ve written it on, and lay it on the pieces. simple, and very effective!

i’m making progress, and hoping very much that i get it finished in time to give to her on the day!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

autumnal hues

it’s not autumn here in the southern hemisphere, but i’ve got an autumn-esque thing to blog about!
i was sorting out some photos in my flickr photostream yesterday and realised that i forgot to show you how this old project turned out!

i pretty much made the pattern up as i went along after being inspired by onen in joelle hoverson’s “last minute patchwork and quilted gifts”. forgive the photography - it’s not my best, but you still get to see the finished quilt and that’s the main thing!

so here i am, looking at these lovely orange, yellow and earthy hues, wishing i was heading into a crisp northern hemisphere autumn and a cold winter, rather than a sticky hot aussie summer! ho hum!

Saturday, 5 September 2009

an unusual project...

my honey has recently taken up the ukelele. she has a red one and his name is eustace. she plays him all the time, and it’s basically the cutest thing i have ever seen:

he had a soft case that came with him from the shop, but it was kind of boring, and i have been promising for weeks now to make him a new one, with a little more personality. last weekend i came good on that promise:

it was a lot of fun to make this from scratch without a pattern - it definitely boosted my confidence in “freestyle” sewing (for want of a better term!).

it even has a little pocket for her pitch pipe, though i still have to sew a button on there so it doesn’t escape.

sajee says that eustace is now he best dressed ukelele in the land - hee hee!

Saturday, 15 August 2009


my friend a says that it’s ok to grieve things as much as you grieve people.

i’m grieving my magnificent teacup collection. we had a leak in our roof, which caused the plaster in our wall to soften, and the cabinet holding all my cups to go crashing to the ground…

broken teacups

broken teacups

some of them were over 100 years old, some of them were rare, some of them were just cute and quirky ones that i found in shops and liked the look of…

they were all lovingly chosen, they were all precious, and they are almost all gone.

broken teacups

i’m sure i’ll get over it in time, but i am very sad right now…

Monday, 27 July 2009

tutorial: coasters in an hour

we have a new coffee table in our house. this afternoon, as i was rambling to my partner about being at a loose end, she suggested i make some coasters to go on it.

so i did.

it was so easy - i just made it up as i went along.

if you want to make some of your own, here are the steps:

1. choose two fabrics that you are fond of, and that you think look good together. designate one as fabric A and one as fabric B (it doesn’t matter which is which).
2. from fabric A cut 6 squares that are 3.75″ by 3.75″.
3. do the same with fabric B.
4. then cut 6 squares, also 3.75″ by 3.75″, of iron on pellon (i used vilene h 640 - a little squishy, but not too fat for your drinks to sit on with stability!) and iron a piece to the wrong side of each piece of fabric B.
5. place a piece of fabric A on top of fabric B, right sides together (so you have the pelloned side of fabric B, and the wrong side of fabric A facing out), and pin. do this with all six paired pieces.
6. sew around the edges of each little fabric sandwich, with a scant 0.25″ seam allowance, making sure you leave a 1.5″ gap for turning.
7. trim the corners, then turn your coasters the right way out. make sure you use a knitting needle, pencil, or similar, to gently work the corners all the way out.
8. iron each coaster, and as you do so, carefully fold the seams of your turning hole in so that they form a neat edge. at this point you could slipstitch the gap closed, but i am far too lazy for that, and just make sure to catch the edges and secure the hole in the next step.
9. sew a top stitch around the outside of each coaster, leaving approx 0.25″ between your stitches and the edge.
10. press once more, then use and enjoy!

there are two things i like about this - the first is they would make great presents for friends and family, and the second is that there’s a seemingly endless range of ways you could personalise and embellish them. i think my next set will have lace around the edges - or maybe ric rac!

i hope you get a chance to make a set of your own. let me know in a comment if you do!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

my teacups

would you like to see my teacup collection?

i am very fond each of them. pretty aren’t they?

Saturday, 20 June 2009

tried and true

do you have a pattern that you come back to time and time again, because it’s just so great? i have a few, and the ‘library bag’ pattern by leanne of leanne’s house is one of them. i’ve made it for friends, i’ve made it for aunties - and most recently, i made it for one of my teachers:

it's a winner.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

so, so scrappy

i am working on a big quilting project, and i am really excited about it!

i am using up all my scraps...

when i am finished, there will be 900 of those little squares, all pieced together into the scrappiest quilt in the whole wide world. 

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

a little gift

one of my friends had a birthday this week. she’s a crafty chick, who likes apples and red. for christmas i used the minny muu “wee apples” fabric

…to make her a little bag, and as i had a bit left i thought i would use it to make her a brooch for her birthday.
i was inspired by this tutorial by allison of cluck, cluck, sew, and it was super easy. want to see? here it is:

i particularly like the way the edges of the fabric are left ‘raw’ so that they will fray a little with use and get a shabby look.

so, next time you have some fabric that is just right for a certain friend and you’re not sure how to use it, i can highly recommend that tutorial as an easy and fun solution!

Monday, 4 May 2009

commissioned quilt

right now i’m working on a quilt that a friend commissioned.
it’s great, because i’m getting the opportunity to play around with pretty fabrics that i would not ordinarily have reached for in the shop…

it’s a coin stack pattern that i’m pretty much working out for myself - i’ll let you know how it goes!

commissioned quilt

right now i’m working on a quilt that a friend commissioned.
it’s great, because i’m getting the opportunity to play around with pretty fabrics that i would not ordinarily have reached for in the shop…

it’s a coin stack pattern that i’m pretty much working out for myself - i’ll let you know how it goes!