Project #2: Wedding gift

Traditionally, Chinese custom is to give money at weddings. I believe it’s to help the families offset the cost of the wedding. At any rate, we were giving cold hard cashola way before people started trying to come up with “Wishing Well” poems – or as I like to call them “polite ways to request money gifts because we’ve been living in sin for, like, 5 years already and don’t need any more toasters, k?” I can see where “Wishing Well” is probably more diplomatic.  I digress. This weekend we are attending a wedding in Newcastle (which, by the way, is one of the most difficult places to get go from Adelaide, SA…). The bride introduced me to my husband and was the MC at our wedding, so if anything goes wrong, it’s all her fault. *wink* What this means is that while we’ll be giving a gift of money, I also wanted to make something a little more personal.  I got inspiration from this book (also on Scribd!):  

In particular, this project:

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The colours appealed to me, and while I didn’t use that pattern, I got a similar font and made my pattern in Microsoft Word.  I found some charcoal quilting fabric at Spotlight, bought a skein of DMC B5200, some waxed transfer paper, and away I went.  It didn’t take as long as I expected, but I was aided by a co-operative baby who slept on my lap for the majority of it whilst my husband and mother-in-law wrangled the toddler. It also helps when using 6 strands of floss – you can just cut and go, although I believe there is a faction who recommend separating all strands before use, even if you are using all 6.  Anyway, it was completed and I managed to snag a pretty frame from Spotlight at 40% off and all I needed to do was mount it and make the card!  Hooray!

Congratulations Ariane & Adrian, we wish you all the joy in the world.

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Cat xoxo

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Project #6 and #6.1: Travel embroidery case and bias binding.

I really love that embroidery is so easily transportable, especially since I prefer not to stitch in a hoop (because lazy). I’ve found it to be very relaxing and enjoyable. Of course despite being fairly inexpensive and all I really needed to buy was needles (see previous enormous stash!), I still found a way to spend money. The Quilters’ & The Embroiderer’s Store is pretty amazing and the service is great.

Anyway, I wanted a travel pouch that would let me toss my WIP into my handbag and keep my stuff together and minimize the risk of little fingers getting into it. (Sophie. Looking at you.)

Originally I made this needle book, but while it’s an amazing needle book, it didn’t really suit me, as my scissors kept falling out and it was my first foray into mitring corners with binding, and it wasn’t perfect.

Bias tape digression:

If you’re interested, this tutorial on making bias tape is amazing. Also this one, on straight grain bias binding is also good, only I would make one change in Step 3 – when pinning and marking the diagonal. Where she says to pin the bottom left and top right corners, I would reverse that to pinning the TOP left and BOTTOM right of your square. That lets you draw your diagonal line AND stitch the strips together without having to remove pins, like so:

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Also, rather than bust out my iron and risk burning my fingers (I’m left handed and not that proficient with an iron…) I re-purposed my hair straightener with amazing results.

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Finger pressing the seams open.
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Clamping the opened seams. I pressed it halfway first, using my fingers to hold it open, then pressed the whole seam.
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The lovely crisp seam pressed open!

I also used it with my bias tape maker to press the tape – I lined the straightener up against the exit point of the straightener, pulled the free end with one hand and pushed the maker along using the straightener, like so:

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Excuse my photography skills, and the myriad toys in tubs on the floor! It’s hard to see what’s happening but I’m pulling the tape with my left hand to the left, and holding my right hand stationary, which means the straightener is pressing the tape as it exits the bias tape maker.  This maker is a 25mm Clover branded one and SO much better than my previous tape maker, as the plastic guide (the blue part) keeps the strip straight as it feeds in.

I don’t have a picture, but I also used my straightener to make that tape into double fold tape (by folding it in half towards the centre) – the easiest way to do that is to sit the straightener on your knee with the plates facing AWAY from you.  Use both hands to fold a small section of tape (say 10cm) and pinch it together (or pin or clip it together with binding clips), then run the section against the BOTTOM plate only (kind of sawing it against the plate).  That sets it enough and you can run the straightener over it again when you’ve finished. WARNING: straighteners are HOT – be careful and use at your own risk!

Back to the topic at hand. A travel embroidery case. I really liked the look of this case, and I thought the quilting would be good practice. I found some cute fat quarters with co-ordinating colours, and started mapping out which fabric for what pieces

HOWEVER. I wanted to make some alterations. For starters, I wanted a large pocket running the length of the case, so if I had larger pieces of embroidery they could be accommodated. This meant I needed to cut an interior lining for the exterior piece, as well as lining the interior pieces.  I decided to change the interior pieces from 6″ to 5.5″, and also to double that height so I had 3 panels that could be stitched together, then folded in half, creating the lining for the extra pocket.

Unfortunately this meant that I couldn’t follow the tutorial as it was written, and just when I thought I’d gotten the hang of how it would work, something else cropped up.

As a result, this project took way longer than I would have liked, and a couple of sleepless nights while my brain ticked over the logistics. I have finally finished the darn thing (at 1:45am!) after no sleep last night because of it! But it is done, HOORAY! And I can take it with me on this trip to Newcastle.

I forgot to take pics of my process because I just WANTED.  IT.  DONE. But I will post some completed pics tomorrow. Well. Today.  If I get a chance.

Here were some I DID take:

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Pockets with binding attached. The binding was actually what I used for the straps, so ended up being tinier than in the tute!
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I used low tack painters tape to mark my quilting lines for the exterior piece and the batting (I used some leftover felt). I probably should have been more adventurous and tried free motion or a different pattern – because the pattern is vertical as well, the quilting didn’t really show. It was a good learning experience though, and I’ll know for next time.
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The quilted exterior piece and the lining I cut for the additional pocket.

Whew. What a post! Time to turn in.

Cat xoxo

Project #5: A wedding card in progress.

So this wedding we’re attending at the weekend, of course requires a handmade card! So I got high tech this time and got my wonderful husband, Ant, to help me create a template in PhotoShop rather than cutting and pasting paper templates. Well, I actually wanted him to direct me in how to do it, but then Emily wanted a feed and in the 10 minutes it took to feed her, he had it done. Next time.  I used another of the Wedding Wishes designs, the bride and groom image, as you can see – getting my money’s worth out of that one!!! Same dealio as the last card – lined up my template (although last time the tape took some of the gloss finish off the card, so this time I folded the A4 page so the folds held the card in place as I punched it), and started punching holes. Alas, there were a couple of problems with it this time around. For starters, the design was more delicate and the pushpin was going to be way too big a gauge to let me navigate it. And secondly, I was getting cramp using the pin, and there were a LOT of lines to mark. I needed a stylus with a narrower pin. Could I tape a pin or needle to a pencil? Possibly, but I was worried about it not staying fixed and wobbling around. My mechanical pencil took 0.7mm leads, could I cut the head off one of my 0.7mm pins and put it in the pencil in the place of a lead? Again, a possibility but I doubted that the mechanism could hold it securely enough for me to push it through the card. I could stick a needle in a cork, but that would just be like a larger push pin, I wouldn’t be able to hold it like a pencil and also, I had no corks. Or wine. Then I remembered the blackhead remover. I’d bought it and then never used it because the whole concept seemed kinda unhygienic. If you don’t know what it is, it’s a little tool that looks like this. Gross, right? But perfect for my card punching! I did have to pad it out by taping some scrap flannel around the handle to fatten it up, because it’s quite a slim tool and while I could hold it like a pencil, gripping it was cramping my hand again. But hurray for re-purposing! I had already asked the bride-to-be what her flowers and the suit colours were, so I could custom-tailor the image a little and make it a tad more special. Then I just opened my drawers of wonder (also known as “every DMC colour in the range, excluding variations”) to select the colours I wanted. Behold, the beauty of floss stash:

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Isn’t it pretty? Also the reason I need to stitch as much as I can, to justify the expense of about $400 worth of thread… La la lah…

So there it is, a little work in progress. To be continued…

Cat xoxo

Project #4: Thank you card and petrol money

I mentioned earlier that we went to Albury to visit Ant’s family. We have some great friends there, and Gab is one of the best. No matter how short the notice we give her, she will ensure we have all her free time to catch up and hang out, and wrangles work and our godson as well.

We went op-shopping whilst there and because The Sophster was due a nap, Ant took her home and Gab took Emily & me around and ran us back home. On the way home, we stopped for petrol and she asked if I could put $40 worth in while she took Ij to the loo.

Thinking I could be sneaky and fill the tank as a thank you for spending all her precious free time with us and for driving us around, I carried on well past the $40 mark and was on my way to a full tank when disaster struck.

I had not reckoned on the super fast toddler peeing speed. So I was tied to the pump still when Gab came out, saw that I had put way more than $40 of petrol into her car, and beat me to the register to pay.  I was FOILED! Also, I felt like a jackass because I had been given specific directions and clearly not followed them. My good intention had well and truly backfired – guess what they say about them is true!

So I drafted a pattern based on our petrol tank, utilized the ever handy blanket stitch, and whipped this card up in one nap cycle.

Then I put the balance of the petrol money in a slit that I cut alongside the gauge, and wrote a thank you to make up for it.

As I told Gab in the card, she had to accept it…because friends don’t let friends feel like jackasses.  And she’s one of the best friends.

Cat xoxo

Project #3: embroidering a wedding card.


I know, you’re thinking, WAIT ONE MINUTE. The LAST project she did was #1, and now she’s trying to pull this #3 stunt?! There are only 3 posts, who does she think she is?!

Project #2 has been documented, but it’s a present for a wedding we’re attending this weekend, so I have delayed its publishing date until after the wedding. Because of that huge fan base I have and all the press leakage that surrounds my blog. *wipes tears of laughter*

ANYWHO. Two of our good friends from Albury got married in March this year, but we were unable to attend because I was expecting my second daughter around that date.

So when we visited Albury for a few weeks, I decided to stitch them up a wedding card.

I used a couple of patterns from Sublime Stitching, specifically Wedding Wishes and the Tattoo Alphabet. I got some pretty cards from Officeworks, traced the pattern and the wording, and taped the tracing paper to the card. Then I punched holes (using a push pin) into the card using the tracing paper template to create my stitch holes.

I was limited in my palette of floss because I had only brought what I was using for my And Everything Nice blocks, but luckily it was a pretty good rainbow palette!

Once I had the pattern punched and my colours roughed out on my tracing paper template, I could get stitching. So I did. I thought it turned out pretty well for a first attempt!

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Cat xoxo

Project #1: And Everything Nice quilt

So this project started when I was browsing Scribd and came upon this book: IMG_2353 I have little ones, I like charming projects, I thought. Originally I was going to stitch one or two images, because they are very sweet. And then I read the instructions, which are marvelously and simply laid out. Quilting will give me lots of practice at stitching straight seams and I do need the practice…what could possibly go wrong? And with those famous words, I embarked on the biggest project of my crafting career. I am famous for jumping in the deep end. Why start with a little project when I could work through a big one step by step? I’ve been aiming to embroider one block a night, and managed for a couple of weeks, but then illness and children and coming home from holidays struck. Also other little projects that took precedence cropped up. But I will persevere. It helps that I have the most gorgeous fabrics, and that just looking at them makes me want to make this a reality. So if my girls don’t appreciate it, I certainly will! Anyway, I have to run, this little one is waiting for me to play with her! image Look at that face. Back with more projects soon!

Hello world!

imageSo here we are. I’m currently lying in bed nursing my 3 month old whilst wedging my (frozen) toes behind my husband’s knees in a vain attempt to warm them up. Helloooooo Winter!

I thought I would reserve a tiny space of the interwebs for some self-indulgent rambling and maybe even track some of my DIY crafting adventures. If nothing else it may show me how a project is tracking and keep me accountable. Or this blog may moulder away, forlorn and abandoned, gone the way of my MySpace and LiveJournal accounts. We shall see.

Here’s lookin’ at you, kid!

Cat xoxo