Black is the new white.

Black is not a colour that I wear much at all. It isn't too bad if it is 'below the belt' and so I have one black skirt, but I think that is the limit to that colour in my wardrobe. If it is anywhere near my face, it just drains all the colour out of me and I definitely do not look my best!

Why then have I gone crazy with black backgrounds lately?

It seems to have become a trend with me over recent months and black has been the colour of choice for quite a few of my projects.


There's no doubt about it, there are certain tones and shades of colour that are enhanced against a black background. Even the pale pinks and blues in the dresden plates above look so pretty against the dark fabric. In fact, I venture to think that they would look rather insipid against a white or light background.


Then I love how the black brings out the strength of the bright colours. They seem to positively glow.


I had this gorgeous piece of white peacock lace, so what to do with it but to put it against a dark background. Sequins and beads add to the sparkle!



For my "Pathway to Colour" Drunkard's Path Cushion, I chose to make ombre strips and I love how the pink, purples and aqua stand out. 


This design featured in Handmade Magazine No 36 Issue 9 if you are interested in the pattern.


At the moment I am working on another quilt using some gorgeous Tilda Fabric, but I've gone back to an off-white background for this one. I realise you have to really pick the right time to go black!

Happy stitching!
Val

The Juggling Act

A couple of years ago, our lovely younger daughter arrived on our doorstep with a plastic bag of fabrics. There were a couple of pretty blue and yellow yardages, lots of medium-value, medium-scale smaller pieces and a lovely border print. It all came with the request to design and make a King Size quilt for her!

That bag sat in my sewing room for some months while I tried to figure out how I could design something suitable with all those bits and pieces. The lovely border print had to be the foundation. It wasn't a huge piece so I worked out the maximum size I could get out of it with mitred corners, and then fitted everything else around it.  


Above is the rough digital mock-up of what I thought would work (ignore the butterflies which shouldn't be there). Daughter was fairly happy with it, but husband didn't like it at all! Seeing it was for their own bed, they both needed to like it!

Needless to say, the bag of fabrics went right to the back of my sewing cupboard, hidden away where I couldn't see it!

Last year, two years later, I was looking for something to stitch. There was by now only a limited market in magazines for the smaller projects I liked to design, so I was thinking it was time to make another quilt.  It was then I remembered that bag of fabrics!  But I also remembered the dilemma of trying to please both parties!

I made an executive decision that I would design the quilt, add some of my own fabric to it to give more possibilities, make it, and pay to have it professionally quilted. Seeing I was supplying extra fabric, backing fabric, batting and the quilting, I figured it was going to be a good Christmas present for our daughter!  If she didn't like it, then I would pay her for the fabrics she had given me and use it in our own home. 

Then began the juggling act! Thankfully with my EQ7 software programme, it was easy to see what would work and fit and whether I would have enough of any one fabric. Lots of designs later, I came up with this centre design to fit in the pretty daisy border fabric.


But whatever was I to do with all those medium-value, medium-scale prints? It took a while, but eventually I thought of a piano key border. Set between the brown strips, it is a nice wide border, without detracting from the feature centre. 


I had JUST enough fabric to add a final border to make the 100 inch square quilt and enough bits and pieces to make two matching pillow cases.


I finished it well before Christmas, so offered it to Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine and they published it in their December issue, Vol 27, No 10. You can see that I called it "Joyful Juggling":

   
Christmas Day arrived and I was half hoping that daughter didn't like the quilt so that I could keep it for our spare room! It was probably only about a quarter hope, so I was really thankful that she liked it and it went off with lots of love to their home. Daughter tells me that every time they walk into the bedroom, seeing the quilt conjures up happy, sunshiny feelings! What more could a mother ask for?

Val


Journeying into 2018


2018 has been around for a few weeks but for me it feels as if it is just starting! We enjoyed a fabulous Christmas with 26 of our wonderful family together. We then decided we would have a bit of a ‘holiday-at-home’, watching cricket, occasionally tennis, sewing, reading, doing as little of the normal housework as possible and generally being lazy. 


But reality is hitting and it's time to start facing the year ahead. We've had some ceiling fans installed to cope with the intense heat and humidity of our Queensland summer, so there's no excuse not to be up and going! 


There's been plenty of 'Thinking Quilting' happening. I have been working on a commissioned quilt with lots of applique and stitching. Then I decided to try to wash my big king size bedroom quilt for the first time. Only problem was, it wouldn’t fit in the washing machine. Tried the laundry tub, and it wouldn’t fit in there either. The final resort was the bath, so I filled it with water, added plenty of Wool-wash, and with lots of pushing and shoving and lifting and dunking, managed to give it a wash. Thankfully, the black fabric didn’t run, and hubby was around to help me lift it onto the clothes line. The quilt came up beautifully and the fabrics are positively glowing – so job done!


It’s stone-fruit season here, so that means it’s preserving time. The prices have been quite high so I’ve been holding off, hoping and waiting for them to drop, which they have done in the last couple of weeks. So now I have four months' supply of peaches preserved and a few packets of frozen diced mango, plus a couple of jars of peach jam. Next on the to-do list are plums!


One of my quilts is on the front cover of Aust Patchwork & Quilting magazine this month, Vol 27 No 11. The quilt called ‘Cottage in the Garden’ is made from the Cottage collection of Tilda fabrics.


It has been very well received on social media so I am quite excited.


I couldn't help but put a cottage in my quilt to follow the fabric collection:


I hope you enjoy seeing all its various components.


If you don't have access to the Australian magazine scene, I plan to put the quilt in my Craftsy Store in a couple of months.


I have placed the quilt on the wall at the front entrance of the house and I’m very pleased with how it looks ... and I can enjoy it every time I walk past!

I have decided not to offer a Block of the Month programme this year, so I have left all the patterns for the 2017 Hand-Picked wardrobe free in my Craftsy Store. I have some ideas for random free patterns this year, so keep on the look-out.

Happy Stitching.
Val

Free Block of the Month Wall Quilt - Block 12

Today marks the end of the 2017 journey with our free Block of the Month wall quilt, 
Hand-picked Wardrobe.


I hope you have enjoyed making the quilt and that it has been helpful in applying the timeless truths of the Bible to your own life.


 

Block 12 and the finishing instructions are now available in my Craftsy Store here.


Of course, I would love to see photos of your finished quilt!

Christmas preparation and parties are well and truly on us here in the Sunshine State. Our Church had their Christmas party on Friday night. The men cooked up sausages on the BBQ and the meat was accompanied by a lovely variety of salads. Then came the desserts - plenty of decadence and delight and then the decision-making as to which ones to choose. Our ladies sure know how to put on a feast.


I was in charge of the party games. When I was a child, my father was often the organiser of social events and I have great memories of fun nights with everyone joining in some amazing games. These days, people don't seem to organise anything when they have a birthday party - everyone just stands around talking, eating and drinking! Needless to say, I find those events quite intolerable and incredibly boring!


  Hubby and I have hosted quite a few parties in recent years - "O" birthdays, "O" wedding anniversaries and Christmas breakups etc, and we have organised some entertainment at each event ... so we weren't going to have a Church Christmas party without some fun and games!  We had lots of hilarity playing the "Left/Right" Christmas game with gifts circulating around nine tables. I included one of my Christmas tree hangings along with the inevitable chocolates in each parcel.


 Then the tables were competing against each other in a Christmas Carol set of 20 rebus puzzles. There was plenty of rivalry between the tables! Lots of people came and thanked me and told me they had had a lot of fun, so it was worth the time and effort I had to put in!


This week I have to start thinking seriously about Christmas and whether I have enough chairs, and cutlery, crockery etc to feed 26 people on Christmas Day. Also I have to count out the bed sheets to see if I have sufficient for 14 of our lovely family! I'm getting quite excited to think that we will be seeing most of our family in just a couple of weeks!


  It would be totally unrealistic of me to think I will get another blog post written before Christmas, so I will sign off for the year now and wish you many blessings for this wonderful Season. 

Remember, it's all about the baby!  Santa is fun, reindeers are cute, Christmas pudding is delicious, it's nice to receive gifts, but ultimately, 

it's all about the baby!

Happy Christmas
Val 

Getting into the Christmas groove

For quite a few years, I didn't make Christmas projects, the main reason being that we were always away visiting family at that time. They were our annual holidays so we were usually away for four or five weeks. We left home in early December so there was absolutely no point in decorating the house, with no-one there to enjoy it.


In the last few years, our circumstances have changed and now every second year, our family comes to visit us. So there is every reason now for me to get into the Christmas groove! 


I have enjoyed making some lovely Christmas projects, and my latest one is a pretty cushion which I have called "Peace and Joy". 


I have put the pattern in my Craftsy Store and you can buy it here
It also recently appeared in the Handmade magazine (and graced the cover!), Vol 36 No 5.


I have just completed a sweet quilt for a magazine and have spent a few waking hours in the middle of the night thinking about another commissioned quilt I have to prepare! I'm not concerned at all about it, it just requires lots of thought about how I will tackle the complex elements in it. It would be OK if there was just one way to do it, but I am trying to determine out of the three or four methods that I could try, which one will give the best results without taking an inordinate amount of time and without causing insanity through frustration and difficulty - both for me and the quilting public who hopefully will make it!

Meanwhile this week I need to prepare for my last Craft Stall for the year. It's an unknown quantity for me as it is a Community Car-boot stall run by the Lions Club, Australia's largest Community Service organisation. I have never had a stall there before and I'm hoping the 5.40 am start will be worth it!!!

May you know many blessings as you too think about Christmas!

Val