Tag Archive | sewing

Positivity wins the day

Tut. Tut. SIX months since my last post-that’s a record and not one I care to brag about. The good news is that I am winning my fight against those Black-Dog and extremely anxious days which can creep up gradually when your guard is down or just as likely strike without warning as a reaction to specific circumstances. At 55 years young I consider myself a slow learner but I’m not sure whether I am slowing down as a result of my age or, more hopefully, my experience but either way, a slower and more measured and calm way of life seems to suit me.

My mother always said that if I had been born 30 years later I would have been diagnosed as “hyper-active.” My psychologist initially thought I was bi-polar due to the extreme fluctuations between energy and fatigue and even now I get comments that I do too much and I have more energy than many people much younger. I make sure every second counts in my waking hours and I am always doing and making something but I am learning to do it slower and try to enjoy being in the moment.

Driven by a combination of both nature and nurture I have to make use of every waking moment and, unless I am making quilts, hedgehog houses, cards, or Twinchies, decorating, gardening, blogging, taking photographs or organising my next project, I am wasting my time.  I can’t help it, I have to be doing something but, although I do get tired, I get a lot of satisfaction from my many and varied activities and this helps me keep mental equilibrium (and sleep).

I have decided that much like Tutenkhamun, I will be buried with my most treasured possessions; knitting needles, sewing machine, crochet hook, camera, hammer, nails and electric saw and, maybe IF I get to heaven,there will be a long-arm quilting machine, unlimited Kaffe Fassett fabric, a very patient crochet teacher, a wide-angle lens and pre-cut wood pieces waiting for me!

Here’s just a few of the projects I have been working recently.

 

 

 

Guilt-free quilting

Going through difficult times and wanting to stay at home rather than venture further afield makes it very easy for me to feel guilty that I’m not doing anything. Of course that is nonsensical as it is impossible for me to do nothing except when at my lowest nadir confined to bed and sleeping all day.

So when I look back at the last week or so, although I haven’t been out and about as much as the previous week, I have still achieved a lot and should take pride in that instead of beating myself up. We could all learn that lesson and be kinder to oneself more often.

I finished my mini-quilt swap for my swap partner in the US. I will now be able to put it in the post and wait for her reaction. I just hope she likes it. Likewise, I will be waiting for mine to drop through the letterbox and I am sure I will love mine! Just the thought that someone has spent their precious time and energy on a project for me is warming and I love this idea of quilt swapping.

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Mini-quilt swap Spring 2017[/caption

My quilt-swap partner lives in Texas and I therefore settled on a pattern which has one star at the centre as I understand that Texas is known as the “Lone Star State.” I also hand-quilted it with stars. I love how you can personalise even the smallest quilt either by pattern or colour, or both and all quilts are made with love. They are almost living things and each one gifted goes with a piece of me.

I have also started to hand-quilt one for me. It is divided into 4 large squares which I will sash together when quilted. I find it very relaxing to sit and stitch in the evenings whilst watching TV. Good chill-out time and, as I am being creative and making something tangible, it’s all guilt-free.

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I am also learning a lot about the history of quilting both in the UK and the US. I have to say that the US wins the “most interesting” award and I am now fascinated with the quilting stories, history and myths which abound. All this in addition to the Civil War quilts and fabrics mentioned previously.

[caption id="attachment_14798" width="2560"]IMG_5075 Easy 4-square mini-quilt

I may not be racing around like an ant, but I am still being productive and creative. This should not be underestimated!

Creative

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Weeks 4 and 5- Facing the world

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Anyone who has suffered with depression and/or anxiety knows how difficult it is to face the world. Since starting my annual break back in February I have been quite happy to remain indoors quilting, sewing and even organising my office in preference to venturing outdoors.

It’s a good job therefore that I have plenty of previous experience in dealing with these issues and know myself well enough to kick my own ass into gear. Challenging my negative thoughts I set myself some goals to try and recover some normality;

  1. I arranged to visit Will at University so he could drive me to IKEA for a mosey round the aisles then treat me to lunch. This was my agreed Birthday present carried forward from February and which I had been putting off.
  2. I agreed to go out with the girls for a pasta night-and thoroughly enjoyed myself!
  3. I arranged to go to the local Farm Shop to meet a friend for lunch-this was a big step and it had to be with someone who understands why I am not actively in touch for months but remains supportive and non-judgemental.
  4. I started to join in the Jasper/Feri walks-taking him to the fields for a good run and play in the muddy puddles and found that there is something incredibly uplifting watching a dog enjoy himself so much with total unbounded joy and
  5. Helping Will with distributing and collecting questionnaires in the town for his University dissertation. This involved talking to several strangers about his work and the flooding which affects our town regularly. I found it energising and interesting and it took the attention away from me and my thoughts to thinking about other problems and solutions.

All in all, my objectives were to become less focussed on remaining in my “craft-cave” and to be more interactive. It worked a treat and starting the process with people I trust led to me being more comfortable venturing outside those boundaries.

So over the last couple of weeks I have been busy out and about. A welcome change but, although it’s nice to go out, it’s nicer to come home.home

 

 

114 Days of freedom-Day 2

Valentines Day.

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Hubby and I don’t send cards or buy pressies for Valentines day, but we do treat ourselves to a nice meal cooked at home, usually a big, fat juicy steak. Jasper, of course, doesn’t like to be left out so daddy makes sure that he has a steak too. I have never come across a dog as spoilt as Jasper but daddy lost his heart on day 1 and Jasper hasn’t looked back since.

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De-cluttering

Having lost so much weight, I have lots of clothes which I have hardly worn and which are taking up too much room in cupboards, drawers, wardrobes, boxes, airing cupboard and several vacuum packed bags piled up wherever there is a little space. I got up this morning and decided to start sorting my stash into 4 piles;

  • Ebay- Clothes that I would still be wearing if they were the right size.
  • British Heart Foundation- items to donate that are still in good condition but which I wouldn’t wear now even if they were the right size.
  • Dusters-usually old t-shirts and cotton work shirts
  • Rubbish

It seemed like a good idea at the time but I am a bit of a hoarder and take the view that whatever it is,  “it might come in useful one day.” I found myself looking at a dress before putting it on the Ebay/donation pile then changing my mind because “it might come in useful one day” and it went straight back in the case/cupboard/drawer/bag. This went on for a while and my piles were very small in comparison to time spent. Feeling a bit defeated by my good intentions I came downstairs for a break and had a chat with my sister on facebook.

She referred me to  Marie “KonMarie” Kondo who I had never heard of before but after looking her up on the internet, this is remarkable. It seems that I must have been living on a different planet, she is so well-known.

KonMarie has written some very poplar books and is in demand round the globe. In short, her philosophy about decluttering is that “if the item doesn’t spark joy” dump it. She helps her clients turn their living space into places of “serenity and inspiration” and thinking that would benefit me too, I gave it a try.

Apparently in her book, “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying” which I have yet to read but is now top of my list, she encourages readers to put everything they own in a pile, clasp each and every object, then keep only those that ‘spark joy’, booting out everything else after thanking it for its service.

Strangely, it was like being given permission to get rid of things you don’t like, or just don’t “spark joy” anymore and my pile of get-rid items grew much quicker. It was a weird experience and I wonder why her philosophy works. Not that it matters, I just know that I now have more space and I feel less guilty about condemning some pre-loved items to the trash.

I still have some way to go but it’s a start.

Quilting

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Hubby recenty told me that his mum had admired a quilt that I had sent over as a gift for friends of ours. Without any further ado, I knew exactly which fabric I am going to use for her quilt and which we will take over with us on our next visit to Iran. The fabric colours and patterns speak for themsleves so there is no need for anything more complicated than to sew the charm squares together and hand quilt each square with two circles. This is Moda fabric, Modern Neutrals. Moda make great quality fabrics and I have never been disappointed.

I was hoping to sit in front of the TV this evening and chill out whilst hand-sewing the quilt. Unfortunately, Jasper got hold of my cotton which I wasn’t looking. Something else to add to my shopping list.

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So, that’s Day 2. I wonder what Day 3 will turn up?

 

Gesso grunge Saturday

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My latest crafty must-do is using Gesso and modelling paste on blank canvas to create backgrounds with tons of texture and interest. The effect is quite subtle and therefore you may not distinguish the relief work straightaway but it is distinctive if you look closely. What the additional texture does however is add depth to any 3-dimensional artwork and it’s also fun to use.

I do get a bit messy, but lots of newspaper to protect the work surface soon looks after that. The best thing about using the paste is that you can apply it through/over stencils and if you don’t like the effect, it wipes off very easily to leave a blank space for you to start over.

This picture started life as a 99p blank canvas, 8″ x 8″ and I transformed it by using lots of items I had lying around. Anything goes with this sort of craftiness and I am about to dismantle an old watch which no longer works so I can use the different-shaped clock works inside. I’m always on the look out for old keys, clocks and watches, and chains to include in pictures and I am so glad that the car boot sale season is almost upon us. I love rummaging around other people’s junk to find my treasures and it’s usually a very economical way of increasing my stash.

I have just prepared a larger canvas with Gesso and modelling paste and it is outside drying in the gorgeous sunshine. I am hoping it dries enough to start the artwork soon, but if not it will have to wait until next weekend.

In the meantime, I need to finish off my baby quilt that I made last Saturday whilst I wait for the sun to do it’s work.

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Applique Afternoon

I’ve run out of black cotton material for my hand-sewn quilt and I’m not in the mood to start my machine quilt today, too tired, so I thought I’d do something a little different instead. Applique.

Owl and Moon

Owl and Moon

I haven’t sewn it on the background yet, that will have to wait for another day but I’m quite pleased with it. I love using up my scrap stash and this is perfect.

It would make a nice Christmas present…..now there’s an idea 🙂

Making rainbows

Hand-sewn triangle quilt

Hand-sewn triangle quilt

I have a new quilt in progress, but this time I am sewing it by hand rather than use my sewing machine.

This has turned out to be a good idea as I can do bits and bobs during my daily commute to work on the train, and over the last few days when I have been confined to bed with a nasty sore throat and sinus infection, I have been able to pick it up for short intervals.

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Coming together triangles and hexies

I am still experimenting with simple patterns and shapes before deciding which more detailed project to do next. As well as doing this quilt by hand, I also have my next machine-quilt material in the form of a Moda Jellyroll, ready to put together when I feel better.

This is PB&J by BasicGrey for Moda Fabrics and I can’t wait to get going on sewing the strips together.

PB&J by BasicGrey by

PB&J by BasicGrey by Moda

Crafting, including quilting, is a great hobby to have for anyone who is restricted in the level of activity they can do. Before my M.E/CFS diagnosis I would spend most of my free time forcing myself to be active; swimming, golf, heavy gardening anything physical that I could manage. I would wonder then why I ended up totally exhausted.

These days, I have different hobbies. Thankfully my 18 year old son now has his own circle of friends he can play sports with, leaving me to focus on more gentle interests. I do miss the activity.I hate being so restricted and having to turn down team-building social events after work because it means late nights. I hate having to weigh up the pros and cons of doing any activity before I make a decision but there are compensations.

My wonderful friend Colleen who has early-onset Parkinson’s Disease has a fantastic approach to dealing with her illness. For every activity she finds herself unable to do anymore as a result of the PD, she finds something else she can do. As a result she”fills the gaps” and learns lots of new skills as a result. Good on Colleen and I’m learning to adopt her approach.

Whilst my golf clubs are gathering dust in the garage and my garden is not as immaculate as I would like, I now have a new quilt on my bed, my niece’s wedding scrapbook part completed, a handmade card for any occasion and a material stash that anyone would be proud of. I love colour and apart from my garden in full bloom, nothing provides such vivid and varied colour like a craft stash!

It’s like living with a rainbow everyday.

Free sewing patterns

I love making things and have recently rekindled my relationship with my sewing machine. I’d forgotten how much I like sewing and in particular, making things that I can use. My hubby calls me “gadget woman” as I am a sucker for quirky and colourful things around the house and if it’s a bit different from the norm, it’s immediately on my wanted list.

I sometimes look through magazines and go to friends houses and think that I too would like a clean-looking, minimalist, sophisticated and every-thing-matching home. For me, that would take up too much time and energy and therefore I continue with making things from bits and pieces and fabrics in the colour and patterns that are my latest fad.

Coming back to the sewing arena I have been most grateful and amazed by the number of sewing and craft blogs on the internet many of them producing great tutorials and allowing others free access to their patterns. I have made use of these recently and I have put together a selection of my favourites so far. A big thank you to all these Bloggers for their generosity and clear instructions. I’ve had great fun making your makes.

Pink Penguin-fabric basket tutorial

I originally made the mini-basket then adapted the pattern to make a laundry basket and basket just the right size to fit a packet of baby wipes. A delightful pattern with many options.

Cotton wool/bath bomb mini basket

Cotton wool/bath bomb mini basket

Baby wipes basket

Baby wipes basket

Laundry basket

Laundry basket

Sewn Up by TeresaDownUnder-Patchwork tote bag

I have made two of these in different colourways and love them. they are strong and roomy and the instructions are very easy to follow. I have had loads of compliments and I’m sure it won’t be long before I make another.

Back view

Back view

My new patchwork tote bag-front view

My new patchwork tote bag-front view

It even stands up on its own

It even stands up on its own

The Daily Stitch-(The Village Haberdashery) Hot Water Bottle cover

I love this pattern and although it takes me quite a long time to make one (I make up the patchwork pieces rather than use whole pieces of material) it’s well worth it. I have made one to match my quilt, laundry basket and Scottie Dog in Moda Padstow fabric by Cabbages and Roses.

Moda Padstow

Moda Padstow

Penny Dog Patchwork-Easy Peasy phone pouch

Again I have made a few of these in different colours and they certainly keep my home and work mobiles safe and sound. My first attempt was amusing as I managed to sew it up so that the side pocket was upside down but since then, have mastered the pattern! It may be easy peasy but you still need to think about what you are doing 🙂

Mobile phone cover

Mobile phone cover

Easy peasy phone case

Easy peasy phone case

CrazyKitsy-Cat doorstop pattern and tutorial

A great pattern and when filled with pebbles (I did feel a bit strange stuffing pebbles up the cats’ bottom) it’s a really effective doorstop. Its such a quirky shape, so cat-like it captures the essence of felines perfectly.

Cat doorstop

Cat doorstop

CrazyKitsy doorstop

CrazyKitsy doorstop

Fun and funky-all these items are quite easy to make as long as you take your time and follow the instructions carefully. I hope you have as much enjoyment out of making them as I did.