Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hooray for holidays

It's school holidays, and this has been the scene at around our dinner table from breakfast till dinner time for the last few days! Messy, but productive!

That quilt top

About that quilt top... it is still being discussed and contemplated... I tried a different style for this one, by piecing my sketch lines with black fabric, to give more of a 'cartoon-like' effect. I think maybe one problem with this style is that if I line is pieced slightly inaccurately, say it doesn't curve as much as it should, it can have quite a big impact on the look of the image, what with black being so dominant.

I was hoping to make this quilt part of a series, but was a little concerned about the dominance of the black, amongst other things. This is why I have been pushing ahead with piecing this quilt. I needed to know how it would look before finalising subsequent quilt designs.

Although I may be able to work with parts of this quilt, I don't want to follow up this cartoon-style in a series at this stage, so today was spent reworking a related quilt design into a different style. It's hard to see a difference here, but it will look significantly different when pieced!
Drawing up a pattern for piecing like this is the part of the whole quiltmaking process that takes the most mental work. I try to do this when the kids are in bed or absorbed elsewhere so that I don't lose track which colour goes where as I draw. Although I am disappointed about that quilt top not working out, I am rather pleased that my baby-brain still stands up to the challenge of reworking a quilt pattern!

Monday, September 28, 2009


Early this afternoon I pinned up my latest almost-finished quilt top to the wall, to find that I am very disappointed with it.
To console myself I pulled out my pretty patchwork scraps to make fabric-covered buttons and to cut out pincushions...

...many hours later...
Meanwhile, what to do about that quilt top??...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Fabric finds

Well, after my little fabric grumble this morning I spent far too much time online to see what I could see. Bronya also emailed me some potential online shops, so I thought I'd share the things I found which agreed with me.

DuckCloth has a big range of cotton fabrics, including lots of nice prints. I like their range of linen, especially the natural European ones. I also love the range of colours in the organic cotton canvas - look great for boys shorts and pants (boys colours being particularly difficult to find).

Organic Fabric online
has some nice dark denim and some really nice prints in sateen and twill, and the fabric is extra wide. I would love to see them do some more interlock in their nice bold prints, with coordinating plains.

I Just Love That Fabric
has oilcloth to drool over. No,I wasn't looking for oilcloth, but might just have to place an order anyway, for a raincoat for Hannah next winter... and one of those coordinated packs would go rather nice in my stash!

Funky Fabrix has some very nice cotton prints, perhaps more useful for craft purposes rather than sewing clothes, but very tempting all the same!

Last but not least, Crafty Mamas stocks Hilco fabric! I understand that they get limited stock in, so I would need to order as soon as possible once it comes in, so I'll just have to be a bit organised and plan some of next winter's sewing already. I love the velvet and the stripey knit that is soon to come in. Also, they stock a cotton spandex knit which looks to be exactly what I'm after. I would love to order a range of colours, as I often whip up a t-shirt for one of the kids, to finish off one of their outfits, and then its so handy to have a stash!

I'm pretty happy with what I found, although my ideal shop would simply stock a range of denim (soft, rigid, stretch, dark, 'dirty-look' and brown), cotton canvas ( range of six or so colours), cotton spandex (at least 10 colours), good quality windcheater fabric (at least six colours), some stripy and spotty t-shirt fabric, a large range of ribbing colours to match the t-shirt and jumper fabric, and a range of printed and plain corduroy (colour to suit the stretch and cotton fabric). All for a reasonable price, of course! (There appears to be a wealth of nice cotton prints available online, so I wouldn't feel a need to stock those).

Small business, anyone?

Yesterday I tackled a job which I had been putting off for a while - a trip to Spotlight. And yes, as usual, I came home grumpy. Sometimes its having to wait in the queue for 30-45 minutes; other times its the mess I have to try to push the pram through. This time I was totally frustrated by the dismal range of fabric - barely any denim in stock, only a small range of linen, and not much at all to choose from in the way of t-shirting fabric. I was all excited about sewing some summer clothes for the kids, but came home ready to give up sewing!

Phil wonders why I still bother with Spotlight, but if a girl's gotta sew, a girl's gotta sew! He suggests importing fabric myself (Hilco - German, I think - manufactures a great collection, and these are usually featured in the Ottobre pattern magazines I use). Hmmm, I think I already have enough to do... but hey, if any of you have spare time to fill, I would love to see an Perth-based or an online-Australia-based fabric shop with an up-to-date range of fabric... please? I will be your faithful customer!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Papercut inspiration

Please bear with me for one more screenprinting post! I wanted to share the work of Nikki McClure, who was a major source of inspiration for me to start making papercut stencils for my quilts. Nikki makes her illustrations by papercutting. I stumbled across her book 'collect raindrops' (see below) one day last year, and it is a treasure to me. For some reason I find this book very moving. She captures simple, everday moments in a way that makes you want to stop and treasure all those moments in your own day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Low-tech screenprinting

A couple of people were keen to hear more about how I do my screen printing. I have to give a big disclaimer here - I haven't been 'officially' taught to do this. I have read several books and regarded or disregarded this info as it suited me. A serious screen printer would probably be horrified, but it works for me!

I use wooden frames which Phil put together for me. I bought silk screen mesh from Kraft Kolour and stretched it onto the frames, attaching it with tacks from the hardware shop. Paper tape was put around the edge, both on the inside and outside of the frame. You can also by ready-made screens (try Kraft Kolour*).Screen printing works by means of a resist of some form. The paint is squished through the screen wherever there is no resist. I have made my resists in two different way. The first involved Speedball Drawing Fluid and Screen Filler from Jacksons Art Supplies.
With this method, you paint your design onto the outside of the screen with the drawing fluid (for the screen shown further above I put the fluid into a bottle with a small nozzle, which I could draw with like a pen). When the drawing fluid is dry, screen filler is spread over the whole screen with a squeegee. When this is dry, the drawing fluid can be washed out with water, leaving a stencil-type idea on the screen, which can be used over and over again.

I also have a large screen which I leave blank, so that I can use it with paper stencils (the second 'resist' method I use). This is really simply - just cut a stencil from paper, and attach it to the screen with masking tape. With this method you only get one printing session out of the stencil, as it falls apart when you take it off the screen, but it is a nicely cheap way to produce a silk-screened design.The ink I use is Texcraft fabric printing ink from Kraft Kolour. I buy base paint in 4 litre tubs, along with small bottles of pigment, so that I can mix up my own colours as needed. This seemed the most cost-effective way to go - I mix up cupfuls of paint at a time, as seen in these ex-coffee jars. From these I mix up the colour of the day on a plastic plate. I have both a standard base paint, but also an opaque base paint. The opaque paint is great on darker fabrics - you can print white on black if you wish.

As you can see below, my high-tech squeegee is a tile grouter from the hardware shop - way cheaper than an 'official' screen printing squeegee. Maybe not as good, but it does the job for me.
With my screen prepared for printing, I place it on my fabric, plop plenty of paint along one edge of the image, and then smear it all over the design with the squeegee. You need to push down firmly doing this, so that the ink is forced through the fabric mesh onto your fabric or paper.
If you pick up a screen printing book from the library you will soon see that what I do here is very low-tech. I am fascinated with the idea of producing screens by developing them like photos, but am a bit put off by the chemicals (and hence also the cost) involved, so I will stick with these methods for now! Let me know if you have any more questions!
*No, I am not sponsored by Kraft Kolour, they have just given me excellent service and prices for all my dyeing and printing/painting supplies. I always receive my orders very promptly. I'm not sure if they have built up all their stock since the bushfires at the beginning of the year, but do give them a try!

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Here are some images from yesterday afternoon's screenprinting session. I printed 6 images, with 5 or 6 prints of each, onto calico and am very happy with the results - hardly any failed. Some will be used in the quilt I am working on. The others will get used somewhere, somehow, someday.

Friday, September 18, 2009

'Crazy forts' - emphasis on crazy!

Aaron has been working very hard on an important skill lately. Today he reached a major milestone, which we are all very excited about! It has taken much patience and hardwork. To celebrate he got a 'crazy forts' kit (a set of purple balls and green sticks which connect to make cubbys etc - just chuck a sheet over top). He (and Hannah) are over the moon - and have clearly been working on their face-pulling skills as well!

Sit and sew

While this little lady stitched her quilt, I stitched mine. I know I posted that my 'golden elm' quilt was ready for piecing, but in the meantime I have cut out and started piecing one of my 'childhood' quilts. I need to see how this one is going to turn out in order to finish some of the other designs I am working on. In the meantime, the 'golden elm' quilt is has been set aside, but with anticipation, much like a good book put aside for a rainy day!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Daily drawings

My daily drawing 'practice' isn't quite as daily as I would like it to be, but is still happening regularly. I have particularly enjoyed doing a batch of Aaron and Hannah drawing (based on photos). Hannah, in particular, has so many great 'poses' and faces for drawing, due largely to her most annoying habit of not being able to sit still at all.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009


After too little sleep last night and the onset of a cold this morning, I am thankful that I can have a slow day today! I don't even have to do any school runs. So this morning was spent papercutting - a nicely relaxing activity. These are stencils for some screenprinting I hope to do soon.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Friday, September 11, 2009

Light to work

Phil took me shopping this week for a new lamp. Now I have sufficient light to work in my studio at night! Before I had just enough to use my sewing machine, but not for selecting fabrics and threads. I was looking at lamps from here in my search for the right kind of light, but aside from not liking them, they are also quite expensive. However, I found 'daylight' globes at our local hardware so we went looking for a lamp to fit (something with an opaque shade, fairly narrow so that the light could be focussed where needed, and of course one which looks nice). The BAROMETER floor lamp from IKEA does the job perfectly, and we are even considering getting another one to give light from two sides.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

At the end of a rainy day

There have been no leaves left on our golden elm tree for several weeks now, but we are still thoroughly enjoy it, nonetheless!

Meanwhile the last elm leaves of autumn will not soon be forgotten, as work gets underway on my 'golden elm' quilt.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Making and packaging stuff

I love the idea of running an etsy shop - making, packaging and selling handmade crafty and stationery-type products and supplies. If I hint at it, though, Phil scowls and tells me in no uncertain terms to stick to my quiltmaking! But that doesn't stop me from having fun making and packaging gifts!

The stamps where handcarved from a nice soft 'lino' and mounted on wood offcuts from our shed, for a '40th' birthday present, last week, while the packages below where assembled for our babysitters for that same event...

Tea Party

We had a little celebration here yesterday - a ladies 'tea party'. A perfect excuse to bake up some of our favourite cupcakes - mocha mudcakes, apple pie cupcakes, lemon cheese cupcakes, rose cupcakes and 'kids happy birthday cupcakes'. Actually, more importantly, it was a perfect excuse to invite lots of girls/ladies who are special to me each in their own way. And the best thing about a gathering like this is sharing our common faith and supporting each other in our various situations.

The weather was the one beautifully sunny day in the middle of a rainy week, and all the children played so nicely outside. My only regret is that I only took these two photos!After everyone left I was happy, but exhausted, so there hasn't been any sewing happening here yet this week... Maybe tomorrow!

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Tidy, or not

Today was gardening day. After a very full day of weeding, pruning, mulching, whippersnipping, fertilising and sweeping, the garden looks spotless.

The studio is a different matter......but as they say, 'don't you dare straighten out the mess on my desk - you'll muck up my system!'