Softies for Mirabel 2013

I’ve started early this year as I skipped last year’s appeal. It’s Softies for Mirabel time, that’s where Pip inspires a bunch of us crafty people to make soft toys for some kids who could do with some extra treats. The Mirabel Foundation looks out for kids with parents affected by substance abuse. It’s a great cause so get sewing, knitting or crocheting and send a toy or two down to Pip. They don’t have to be fancy, just sturdy and made with a little love. All of the details are below. Here is my first softie for the 2013 appeal. His name is Eddie the owl and he is made from a pattern by Star Primm of My Tiny Star. Here are the softies I made in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

owl, softies for mirabel, softies

Eddie is snoozing as I’ve run out of black felt and couldn’t make round eyes! But owls do sleep a lot, right?

SOFTIES-FOR-MIRABEL-2013 copy

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Keeping Up with Katie

Yes, the title of this post reeks of Kardashian-ness but let’s roll with it. I like alliteration. Today I thought I’d share some things I’ve been doing and things I’ve found recently.

* A few people have asked if I still bake. The answer is yes, and when I do I still enjoy it. I haven’t been baking as much just for fun though. And when I do bake it’s mostly old favourites like kitchen sink cookies, Hawaiian carrot cake or vanilla cupcakes.

* My fascination with rainbows continues as I’m working on a scrappy quilt. I’ve been collecting squares since 2009 or 2010 and have finally finished the top.

rainbow quilt

Thanks to Leonie for supplying a couple of squares! I still love the look of simple patchwork quilts. Piecing them together is such a test of my patience and skills though. I do learn with every quilt I make but I doubt I’ll ever get to a point where I don’t see the flaws in my work. Quilting this one is going to take a while but I’m not in a hurry to finish it. I will finish it before starting another quilt though. Maybe.

* These greeting cards by La La Land are cute! I love cards and keep everyone I’ve been given. I’d have to double-check but I think I have kept the cards from each of my birthdays. I’m not a hoarder but I am pretty sentimental.

danitaart

This year was the quietest birthday with three cards. Two of which were the same design coincidently. The card must really scream “Katie!” to my friends.

* I love so many of the prints by Inaluxe (made up of the talented Kristina Sostarko and Jason Odd), but this one is at the top of my wish list. It’d go so nicely with the print I already own. It’s pretty much my style in a nutshell – simple, colourful and a little retro.

Blossom-02-inaluxe

* Ballarat Patchwork is closing down so all stock is 40% off. That’s a great deal! But stock is selling fast. The Remnant Warehouse in Sydney is having a sale later this week.

* I saw Pink in concert last week. Yes, I do go to concerts that don’t feature Bon Jovi. (Just not very often.) This lady knows how to put on a show. And she can sing. While upside down. Her up-tempo songs are great for running but I think I enjoy her ballads most. Pink did a cover of Cyndi Lauper’s Time After Time and Chris Issack’s Wicked Game. “Amaze” as the kids say these days. Although “the kids” probably weren’t born when either of those songs were first released. Goodness, I must be a grown-up after all.

pink

That’s all from me and my kitchen for now,

Katie

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Look What I Made: Reversible Bags

Two more bags, both gifts, from my favourite pattern by Novita from Very Purple Person. I have two of these bags, it’s my favourite way to “keep” fabric I love. I use mine mostly to carry my latest crochet project: on the bus or train, to the beach, to the football. You know, the usual places one crochets.

Pats_reversible_bag_1 Pats_reversible_bag_2   Jens_reversible_bag_2   Jens_reversible_bag_1

The purple fabrics are from Spotlight; “Bijoux” a Stonehill Collection by Donna Wilder for Fabric Traditions 2012.
The green floral is by DS Quilts Collection for Fabric Traditions 2011 and has been in my stash for a while. The yellow rose is by Hi-Fashion Fabrics. Both are also from Spotlight.

 

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Look What I Made: Fly A Kite Quilt

I finally bought a walking foot* for my old sewing machine. I love it! It’s amazing! Why didn’t I buy one years ago?! I think I was put off by the name, “walking foot” sounds complicated. But it’s so not complicated. It’s easy! It made quilting this project much easier and much less painful than it would have been using my regular presser foot. Still time-consuming but there’s no getting around that, it’s a labour of love.

quilt
quilt
This is a “just-because-I-like-the-fabric” quilt with no home to go to just yet. Although if my nanna has her way she won’t let me part with it, but that’s true of almost everything I make.

fly_a_kite_riley_blake_designs_quilt_5
The quilt top fabric is from the Fly a Kite range by October Afternoon for Riley Blake. It’s out of print now so I’m glad I snapped some up late last year from Poppy Seed Fabrics. The quilt measures 92 x 105cm (36 x 41″) and the batting is 100% cotton.

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I made the binding (I use ¼ double-fold cross-grain binding) from some spotted red fabric from my stash. I hand-sewed the back of the binding, which is almost my favourite part of quilting.

fly_a_kite_riley_blake_designs_quilt_3
I splurged and bought some more Fly a Kite fabric from a local retailer for the back. It’s hard when this would retail for about $10 a yard in the US but $22 a metre here in Australia. I couldn’t find anything else to match the top though and I love the little flowers.

fly_a_kite_riley_blake_designs_quilt_2   fly_a_kite_riley_blake_designs_quilt_1

Check out some more Fly a Kite quilts here, here and here.

*I ordered the walking foot/even feed foot from Singer Australia. It was $33 plus $12 shipping fee and arrived in about four days. I did first try a generic walking foot that is supposed to compatible with most low-shank sewing machines (from the local chain-store craft-supply store). It was awful and broke two needles in no time. The feed dog mechanism on the Singer branded walking foot is a much better design. No issues and no broken needles in the rest of the quilt.

 

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Work in Progress – “Fly a Kite” by October Afternoon for Riley Blake Quilt

Riley Blake produces some beautiful fabric ranges including Summer Song which I used for my first quilt and this one, called Fly a Kite. I love this fabric but I just noticed it’s been 10 months since I bought it. Some months ago I did cut the fabric into rectangles, and started sewing them together for a quilt. I stopped working on it as I wasn’t sure how big I wanted the quilt to be (cue craft anxiety and indecision) so it’s been sitting in the cupboard since.

fly a kite riley blake quilt

I had a lovely morning sewing the rest of the pieces together, and was almost finished when I realised my silly, silly mistake. Somehow I’d sewn the first half of the quilt top with a different seam allowance to the part I’d been working on that day. The two halves wouldn’t fit together. And there was absolutely no way to disguise or work around it. I’m not sure how I didn’t notice sooner but the next few hours was spent with the seam ripper and a broken heart. Ok, that’s going a little too far but needless to say I’ll never make that mistake again!
riley blake designs quilt flye a kite

Yes, my expression was much like this when I realised what I’d done.

fly_a_kite_3

I just love when the seams come together so well. It was careful, careful cutting and patient and precise sewing. And a little luck, after all I’m no expert sewer/quilter.

I splurged on some matching backing fabric so this quilt may even come together this week. I don’t look forward to the quilting portion of the project but I love hand sewing on the binding. This time I think I’ll make some red polka dot binding to finish it off. What’s your favourite part of making a quilt?

 

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Look What I Made: Reversible Vintage Sheet Sewing Machine Cover

My little sewing machine finally has a pretty cover, it’s not fancy but I love the fabrics and it came together quite easily. I didn’t follow a pattern, it’s a simple reversible cover with two box corners on top. It’s roomy in case I one day upgrade my almost 20-year-old Singer. The fabrics are vintage sheets that have been sitting in my drawer for way too long. They need to be free! Now I can see them everyday in my craftroom bedroom. I’d love to make another quilt with them, but for now this project was nice and quick and stress-free.

vinatge sheets sewing machine cover

How many of these fabrics are originals? I’m not too sure. Some may be reproductions but I don’t really mind. I purchased most of these fabrics as fat quarters on Etsy some time ago, but did manage to pick up a few colourful sheets in good condition from my local op-shops. Actually, now I think of it, the first sewing machine cover I made as a teenager was from an old pillow case. Long before I knew anything about vintage sheets. And long before they were so popular in the online crafty community. Heck, it was before I knew what the internet was. I was before my time, I tell you!

vinatge sheets sewing machine cover

The inner lining is also a vintage sheet (blue and purple floral above) but the patchwork side is just too colourful to hide away.

vintage sheets bunting

I made a little bunting to match (I was on a roll), because we all need a little bunting in our lives. How did we cope before bunting was everywhere? Long live the bunting. And the supply of gorgeous, colourful, printed vintage sheets.

For more vintage sheet deliciousness check out my friends at Amelie and Atticus and Oh, Hello Henry!
Thouraya made a gorgeous range of little quilts from her rather sizeable stash of vintage linens.
Hop on to  Soho Mode to spy some cute, retro dresses and look at Rae’s sweet ensemble for a little one.

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Look What I Made: Handy Zippered Bags

Oh, how I love a quick project! Why don’t I do them more often? Oh that’s right, because I’m always working on some epic* blanket or another. These cute and handy bags with wide openings are from a pattern by the talented Anna from Noodle Head. They come together quickly and are the type of thing you didn’t know you needed, but will always find uses for.

noodlehead_wideopen_zipper_pouch_3

handy zippered bag
I just love this grey fabric with orange, red and aqua flowers given to me by the also very talented Thouraya from Amelie and Atticus. I was lucky enough to pick up and extra fat quarter of it in Spotlight’s recent $1 fat quarter sale. Score!

Handy zippered bag
Here is the small, medium and large versions with 10″, 12″ and 14″ zippers respectively. Anna has cleverly listed all three sizes here. I dare you to stop at one.
Handy zippered bag
I love a coloured zipper more than I should. Speaking of zippers, where do Australian sewers buy theirs? I’m a Spotlight shopper myself. Speaking of Spotlight it’s been about five minutes since I went there, I’d better schedule another visit for this weekend to add to my collection of candy-coloured zippers. You know, just in case.

noodlehead_wideopen_zipper_pouch_4
This blue and pink fabric is Sophie by Chez Moi for Moda, I think I picked it up some time last year.

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I can’t line any project in plain fabric, I just can’t do it.

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This dotted lining is by DS Collection Quilts. Expect to see more of it! Also expect to see a few of these bags under the Christmas tree this year.

Pattern and tutorial by Anna from Noodle Head.

*Epic is my own description!

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Lasagne

What’s for dinner? Lasagne! And a side of garlic bread. I’m obviously not scared of a few carbs. This is my favourite, fool-proof recipe. It’s even better the next day and I get about eight serves. I don’t change anything from the original recipe, besides the buffalo mozzarella; I substitute the regular, supermarket variety of mozzarella.

lasagne recipe

Neil Perry’s lasagne

I’m sure you have your own favourite lasagne recipe, if so, please share!

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Look What I Made: Hodge Podge Large Granny Square Blanket

Granny Square
The Hodge Podge blanket is officially finished. I think. In all of its crazy colour-combination madness. All of the ends have been weaved in and I’ve been sleeping under it for about a month so it feels finished. I may add some more rows to it at some point, but for now it’s done.  And this blanket is just for me. It’s the twelfth blanket I’ve made so I guess it’s about time I keep one.

It’s made entirely of scraps from my stash with no thought given to colour, pattern or order. It is mostly acrylic but there is some wool and cotton in there too. It’s about 160cm x 160cm, very warm and quite heavy. I started the blanket in April 2012, did most of the work in the following September/October, then put it aside until just recently. Rather than making lots of granny squares and then joining them later, this blanket is one large granny square. I turned the blanket over after each round to avoid the shape of the square becoming distorted.

Granny square

Do you have a granny square blanket in your house? Since I learnt to crochet four years ago I’ve noticed how many fictional homes on TV and in movies have a crochet blanket draped on the couch. Remember the crochet blanket on Roseanne? An episode was even named after it – “Home Is Where the Afghan Is” (check it out at 3:34 in this video). Don and Betty Draper have a crochet blanket on their couch in the early seasons of Mad Men, Amy from The Big Bang Theory has a blanket made of granny squares and I remember a beautiful blue and brown chevron blanket in the movie Bridesmaids.

Granny square

Hodge Podge number 2 is already underway, again, random colours from my stash with no plan as to the pattern or order of the colours. Since both are made of scrap and leftover yarn it makes the blankets practically costless projects right? Free craft! Some say the granny square pattern was originally designed for just that, using up leftover yarn.

Here’s a video tutorial to get started on your own granny squares. You know you want to!

Photographed at Free Range Living in Kurnell, NSW.

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Look What I Made: Needle Book

Last month while visiting my grandmother I noticed a button on my coat was loose. I asked my nanna for a needle and thread so I could re-attach it. Out comes the sorriest excuse for a sewing kit I’ve seen! A small basket, with a couple of spools of thread, one pair of fabric scissors and a few needles hanging on for dear life in the cardboard packet they were sold in. The packet was so worn there wasn’t much holding the needles from escaping, never to be seen again. So I made Nanna a small needle book as part of her 80th  birthday present. Something tells me she liked it; when she opened the present she giggled like a schoolgirl at me giving her “encouragement to keep sewing”. It does seem like our grandmother/granddaughter roles are slightly reversed doesn’t it?

needle_book copy

The needle book reminds me of a story I’ve heard Nanna tell a couple of times. (Ok, so I like hearing it and ask her to repeat it at random times.) One Christmas morning when she was a young girl Nanna got up early, while her sister Beth was still sleeping, to check if Santa had been. He had, and left a sewing box each for her and her sister. Nanna saw the boxes, quickly decided she liked Beth’s better than the one left for her so swapped the tags on the gifts. I’m sure Beth received the sewing box meant for Nanna later that morning and was none the wiser. My cousin recently asked me “When did Nanna get so cheeky?!”. Well cousin, I do think she might have always been that way!

Happy birthday, Nanna.

The fabric is some leftover Summer Song by Riley Blake (still one of my favourite collections) and is partly inspired by the lovely needle books Amy from Nana Company makes.
Small projects can be so satisfying, I must remember that in future because I tend to embark on large, time-consuming projects more often than not.

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