Thursday, 30 July 2009

everybody's doing it

Ah, making new cushion covers that is. My newly-returned-home burst of inspiration continues, predominantly with sewing projects because it's too hot to knit much (but not too hot to sew a woollen blanket ... yeah, anyway). I bought this fabric at a thrift store some time ago while out shopping with my friend Melissa from Owl and Acorn and, needless to say, have been intending to use it ever since. I really love botanical drawings and prints.

So finally, a cushion cover for one of the couches. It's a very simple envelope style, the same as the ones that I made for baby bear's bedroom some time back.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009


I keep lists. I love lists. I love ticking things off on my lists. in fact, I have so many lists that I could well keep a list of all of my lists. As Di wrote recently, "... it's interesting to see which projects percolate to the top of the list and come into being." I am fully convinced that creative endeavours do not follow the usual to-the-top-of-the-list logic; my creative mind is not so much an incubator as a percolator. They buzz and simmer and percolate until they reach their own critical mass and suddenly, they need to be done, have to be done, must be done.

So, despite all my lists, that is what it was like today. I had to sew up a woollen blanket that I have had in mind for years. You'll understand the strength of the imperative on this one if you note that it was about 34 degrees centigrade (94 degrees Fahrenheit) in Seattle today, and humid to boot. Just sweltering. And I was sewing up a woollen blanket.

I have had this blanket, or at least a version of it, in mind since baby bear was about eight months old, so let's just say for a couple of years. I have been slowly but surely collecting and preparing the materials for it ever since. And here is the result, a patchwork blanket of fulled woollen squares:

It's not completely sewn up yet, that will have to wait until the temperature drops a bit.

I have previously mentioned the exhibition "And so to bed" that I once saw at Elizabeth Bay House in Sydney. That was a really significant day for me; I attribute it with rekindling my interest in needlecrafts. An item on display that day was a wagga, is a traditional Australian quilt/rug, often made from suiting samples, hessian and flour sacks. That was the inspiration behind making a blanket like this and I have some other Australian(a) touches that I intend to add at a later date.

Monday, 27 July 2009

s l o w

Slow food, slow day, slow sewing - we are having a take-it-easy Sunday in Seattle.

I said that I would show some of the craft-related stuff that I brought back with me from Australia. One of them was a lovely piece of polished cotton with a floral print that has been floating around my life for goodness knows how long. I actually do not know how long I have had it for or where it came from.

Seattle has a wonderful recycling programme, including a weekly yard waste collection into which we put all of our food waste, including meat and fish scraps (they heat treat it apparently). After recycling the tins, glass and paper, we end up with only a couple of supermarket plastic bags of rubbish each week. These click-clack style containers are great for keeping your kitchen scraps in - airtight, a range of sizes, easy to clean. Only drawback compost-wise is that they are see through and all those layers of food scraps - ick.

Lo and behold, the advent of the compost cosy. The fabric is is just the right colour scheme to go in our kitchen, so I used some cotton twill that I had lying around to give it some stability, quilting the layers together roughly around the outline of the floral print. Then I made a cylinder from the double layer and applied some binding at both top and bottom. The fabric I used for the binding was leftover from the roses quilt - yes, the one that I did use.

And what is slow sewing about this? Well, I sewed it all by hand. I just felt like it. We were just back from Melbourne, I was too tired to get the sewing machine out, it was too hot to knit at knit night so I took along some hand sewing and it just continued from there. I really enjoyed making it.

Currently in there are the stalks from these beautiful tomatoes, grown here in our very own garden (although I do not hesitate to admit not by us). We have tenant farmers, also known as lovely friends who live in a flat and wanted a veggie patch so they use our garden and share the bounty with us.

I have also finished the koharu top and it has had a test wear. Hence it is in the wash after being covered in dust and cherry dribble. Next time.

Friday, 24 July 2009

a thousand words

I have heard it said by many that with the Japanese craft books you don't need to be able to read the Japanese because the pictures are clear enough and easy to follow. I concur but strongly recommend actually looking at the pictures. I just looked at the paper pattern, rued that it was unclear whether the seam allowance was included or not, sewed two very tight narrow seams (in white thread on white linen) and then looked at the pictures. Seam allowance of 15mm was included. Quick-unpick!

I had a search through the fabric stash last night to make the bias tape. I actually had a good idea of what I was searching for, there's only a sliver shown here because the rest is in the wash. Originally purchased to be the binding on my roses quilt I got the fabric home and realised that it was the wrong colour (or rather, not the colour I had intended to purchase). I did subsequently buy the intended colourway online and have had this slightly darker green ever since waiting for a purpose. It's just about the same green as the leaves in the screenprint - excellent. And fabulous thing about making bias tape with fabric that has a grid of small spots is that you have ready-made markers for where to cut on the diagonal. I was a little disappointed that I didn't get to go shopping for a matching blue fabric to make the bias tape but it is better to use from the stash. And I did get to buy a new spool of matching sewing thread - hooray!

This little top is a bit of a leap of faith (like most of my sewing!). As I have limited fabric I narrowed the hem width by a couple of centimetres and have no hem allowance (so that will need to be bound with bias tape as well). The front neckline is conveniently the selvedge of the fabric but I'm going to need to dream something up for the back neckline (where I also have no seam allowance). The pattern calls for putting in elastic but I'm wondering if a casing with ties would be sweeter?

Thursday, 23 July 2009

blue wren

Finally, we seem to be back on track here in Seattle. Settled back in, sleeping well and the new charger for my camera battery arrived. Yes, somehow I managed to leave the charger for the camera battery behind (sound familiar?).

The blue wren is my very favourite Australian bird and this is an image from my very favourite tea towel. Which unfortunately will no longer be used as a tea towel because of a small singeing incident in the kitchen (Tim, not me). One thing about being home from Australia is that I have renewed energy to get things done - to replace the ugly blind in the closet, to start on the doily quilt (first contemplated back in November 2007) and to do something with this tea towel.

And so I did - I cut out the pieces for a halter top for baby bear from a Japanese craft book that I have called Koharu no fuku. The pattern calls for binding and I don't have enough tea towel so I'm going to dig through the stash to find something complementary to make the bias tape. Incidentally, while the tea towel is indeed from Australia, I have had it here in Seattle all along. Many craft supplies and books were rediscovered while we were in Melbourne; I'll get around to show and tell eventually.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009


And so we're back home, from home. It has been an exhausting five weeks and I expect that it will take a couple more to recover. The trip was very emotional - sorting through all of our belongings that had been in storage and watching baby bear play with my beautiful friends' beautiful children. There is so much to say that I don't know whether I'll actually be able to - perhaps for the next issue of mixtapeZINE (issue 9 is out now and issue 10 available for pre-order - yippee).

In the meantime I leave you with what makes some 40 hours of plane journeys, delayed flights and airport security with a two-year old in tow all worthwhile: