One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world - people that you would otherwise never have the chance to meet. Jane isn't one of those people. From the ages of 12 to 18 I saw Jane nearly every day of my life. We were best friends at high school and while we don't see each other very often any more it's still lovely to be able to connect with her over all things creative. Thanks for visiting Jane!
Thank you so much for having me here Caroline and Maryanne, so I can talk about one of my favourite things, my fabric collection.
I have been quilting on and off for 17 years now, and it should be noted that it’s all Caroline’s fault, since she’s my high school best friend and I’m sure it would have taken me much longer to find quilting if I hadn’t spent all those sleepovers tucked under one of her mother’s beautiful quilts. Her mum also took me under her wing when I decided I wanted to learn to quilt, fielding numerous phone calls that started with the words, “No, I don’t want to talk to Caroline, I have a quilting question...”
After many years of quilting, I have a sizeable fabric stash. I really do try and keep my fabric spending in check, but seriously, it’s fabric, peoples! Whilst I suppose, in theory, I could buy fabric as I needed it for a particular quilt, the reality is that’s not going to happen any time soon – and if I did it this way I probably wouldn’t be able to find what I want.
I LOVE having a big fabric stash, and I find it makes my quilting process so much easier. I don’t tend to make quilts using one particular range of fabric, I prefer to decide on a colour scheme and go from there. So when I decide I want to make a particular colour quilt, it helps that I already have quite a collection of that colour on my shelves. I might top it up with new purchases, but for the most part I don’t have to. This means I can start quilts on a whim, without having to wait for international parcel delivery or hoping I can find the right fabrics in the fairly paltry local offerings.
Since I quilt by colour, I stash by colour too. I am very fussy about my stash. I prewash and iron everything, then fold it just so. My scraps are also sorted by colour, pressed and waiting in their little boxes. (At this point, Caroline, who always laughed at my alphabetised CD collection in high school, is rolling her eyes.)
This may be a little more high maintenance than the bung-it-all-in-the-cupboard approach, but it works for me, for a few reasons. Because it’s on open shelving (not in direct light), I can see what I have at a glance. It makes it easy to pull fabrics for a new project and it serves as a reminder (sometimes) that I don’t need to buy anything. Sorting by colour is critical for me, both for when I need to pick fabrics and so I know what colours I need. For example, I could go a lifetime without buying pinks or blues, but purples, greys and yellows are in demand. So if I’m topping up an order (to make the most of flat rate postage), I’ll stash build those colours I don’t have much of.
When I’m stash building, I don’t tend to buy full ranges or busy, many-coloured prints – because my quilts tend to feature one or two colours, prints with lots of colours in them don’t work for me. But I am a sucker for blenders, big time. These useful prints are the foundation of a good stash, regardless of what you’re sewing. Spots, stripes, geometrics, squiggles, I love them all. And usually, I’ll buy every colourway in a range if I can. The simpler the print, the better it will work as a stash builder.
The advantage of stash building by colour is that you’re going to have much of what you need on hand when you start a new project. I recently started cutting a new quilt that required 100 different blue/aqua/green prints. I’m almost embarrassed to say I could do this without buying a single piece of fabric! But if I’d had to find 100 blues/aquas/greens locally, there is no way I could have done it at once and found prints I like. With fabric ranges changing so quickly, it is good to buy versatile, timeless prints when you can.
My inspiration for new quilts often starts with a fabric, and I build a colour scheme around that. The Sunshine and Shadows quilt started with a bundle of yellow/grey/black and white prints I purchased, and I built on it with more prints in the same colours from my stash, so it’s cohesive but not too matchy matchy. The Lattice Windows quilt started from the teal and lime lattice print my son took a liking too – we built the rest of his quilt around this colour scheme. The Diamonds in the Sky quilt grew from an interest in the high-contrast orange and blue colour scheme.
Whenever I’m working on a quilt, colour, and my colourful fabric stash, is my best friend.
If you’d like to hear more about my creative adventures, pop over to my little blog at http://wherejanecreates.blogspot.com.au/
Today, we are so excited that our Mum is writing a blog post for us.
How do you introduce your Mum?
It's tricky isn't it?
We always joke that Mum has two passions in her life - her quilting and her family. Sometimes we are not sure which one comes first, but that doesn't matter really. She loves her quilting so much that even if we come in second, she loves us incredibly!!!
Mum has been quilting for over 30 years. In that time she has made many beautiful quilts ( and many many partly completed ones!!!) and developed a wealth of knowledge that she can share with us at a moments notice. She belongs to quilting groups, has organised quilt exhibitions, coordinated quilting bees to provide quilts for those in hospital and taught many people to quilt.
Mum was adamant that she didn't want her photo on the blog, but I don't think she will mind this one...
Her wedding dress was made by our grandmother, Mardi, another great sewing inspiration for us both.
Thanks so much for writing this for us Mum and for continuing to inspire us to sew and create.
To write anything other than a shopping list or a Christmas card is a challenge for me. I make quilts. I don't normally write. But how can I turn down a request from my best and greatest friends, my two lovely and talented daughters, Maryanne and Caroline who can both turn their hand to anything? I have been enjoying Sew Together since the day it began. To be so lucky to see the original items for the blog and to have been the recipient of some of those wonderful gifts, gives me great joy.
So here it is, my first blog post...
My quilting journey has given me many "best friends". It began in 1980 when our youngest, Caroline started school. A local community group was offering daytime adult classes, one of which was Patchwork and quilting. From day one of this class I knew I was hooked!! However, at that time in Sydney information about quilts was almost non-existent, so I was limited to the sample blocks shown in class.
Then everything changed. I was lucky to have some distant relatives who lived in the United States. On one of their visits to Sydney they were genuinely interested in my quilting and generously offered to send some quilting magazines "Quilters Newsletters". For the next 15 years every month, these wonderful magazines arrived bringing excitement and inspiration.
From this little drawing...
Note from Maryanne - yes that is all hand quilted!
15 years on, these magazines are still in use and are a great "best friend". They bring back memories of the past, I enjoy their company in the present and they give me inspiration for the future.
In time, many other magazines for quilters arrived on the market, some imported from the United States, others locally produced. All are interesting but why are my old Quilters Newsletters still my favourites?
Even though the covers usually feature quilts with amazing wow factor, prize winners or "I could never do that quilts", the contents include every level and style of quilt ever made. There is something for every quilter, traditional and modern, different colour palettes to experiment with, tutorials and chatty articles - in fact they are the forerunner of today's blogs.
With the passing of time they have become "timeless". Dated hairstyles and clothing (Did I ever wear that?) only add to the entertainment factor.
So do keep some of your old magazines, particularly those you bought at the beginning of your crafting journey. They will become your best friends.
Although it is fun to trip down memory lane, here is a little more practical advice!!!
Rulers are my best friend
You can never have too many of them. There are rulers for all occasions but the ones I can't live without are my long ruler (22.5" x6") and my square rulers (16" and 6.5"). My very favourite is my Scrap Saver.
It is designed to be used for cutting half square triangles and its markings go from 1 1/8" to 3 7/8". Stitch two of these triangles into a square with a 1/4" seam allowance and you will create a square with a finishes size of 1" to 3". Magic!!! No fiddly finding 3/8" and 7/8" measurements on your grid ruler. Every time I cut fabric my trusty Scrap Saver is with me and any small odd shaped pieces are cut in to half square triangles. It gives me a great collection for my scrap quilts!
The last but not least best friend is my hexagon template
I like the 3/4" size and the 1/4" border style allows me to mark both the seam and the cutting lines, making it quick and accurate for handwork.
Patchwork and quilting tools have come a long way since my first efforts were to draft every template on sand paper. How lucky we all are to have have some many "best friends" available to us!
Happy quilting and crafting.
Palak is a new blogging friend of ours and she blogs at Make it Handmade. Her blog is looking so fresh - and that's because it is!! She has recently decided to concentrate on her sewing and so has renamed her blog to reflect where she is heading! And heading she is... She has written for Sew Mama Sew and her recent series on sergers (overlockers for the Australians among us!!!) is impressive. Make sure you check her out.
Thanks so much for the serger inspiration, Palak. Mine's been packed away for a while but you have tempted me to go and find it!!
When I was in primary school, I remember many conversations that went something like this:
"She's my best friend."
"No, she's my best friend."
"No, she can't be your best friend because she's mine."
On and on, round and round in circles for much of our playtime.
Today, Kristin from skirt as top has a best friend who is one of the most popular kids in the class. Thankfully we have all moved on from our younger years and realise that we are mature enough to share!!Anyway - I know Kristin would be happy to share. She is such a lovely, supportive blogger. Although I had been a regular reader of her blog for some time, our paths crossed when she sent us the most delightful email, the day we were voted off Project Run and Play. In our very sad state, it was so lovely to receive such thoughtful words of support and understanding from her. Don't forget to visit her blog - you'll have lots of fun there!!
hi, i'm kristin from skirt as top
, and i'm so happy to be here sharing my best friend in the sewing world with you today! i love how this series has really made me think about who (or what) has helped me along in my sewing journey. when maryanne and caroline invited me to participate, i had one immediate thought: my best friend is Oliver + S patterns
before i go any further, i should say that REALLY, my mom is the one that deserves all of the credit for me taking on sewing as a hobby. she sewed clothes for my sisters and i, for herself, she made all sorts of handy projects, and i believe she can sew anything. she taught me the basics as a kid, but what she really did was make sewing a familiar craft to me - i knew how the machine should sound, i saw the possibilities of what can be made versus bought, i knew what supplies i would need. from my mom i also learned that sewing is something that can be done with kids playing in the same room, a habit i hope to pick up more as mine get a little older (i have a 4 year old and an almost 2 year old). for now, i'm mostly a naptime/bedtime sewer.
my mom truly gave me a jump start in sewing i'm eternally grateful to her for that, but i didn't embrace sewing as my own
hobby and passion until my daughter was a toddler (summer of 2009). i couldn't bring myself to buy $20 simple cotton skirts from the store when i knew they'd be so easy and cheap to make exactly how i wanted them. my husband gave a sewing machine as a gift, and i got it set up.
i quickly realized that sewing is such an ancient craft and i was such a newbie, i wanted to learn from others. however, i didn't want to pay for a class, just in case it "didn't take." i think i ended up just googling "toddler skirt pattern" to get me started. lo and behold, i discovered the Oliver + S lazy days skirt FREE pattern
, and that was my first sewing project
the first lazy days skirt i made took me 2 hours, but i learned so much. the instructions walked me through each step, and i learned how fun (and challenging) it was to choose fabrics that would look interesting, mesh with her existing wardrobe, and look "boutique" rather than "homemade." the lazy days skirt (with or without ribbon hem) remains my go-to skirt method to this day.
once i was ready to take the next step to try a pattern with pieces (but still wasn't ready to pay for it yet), i tried the popover sundress pattern
(also FREE). my first
popover sundress is the brown with pink corduroy in the bottom middle:
aside from learning how to follow a simple pattern, the popover sundress also taught me how to make and sew bias tape! after that success i was hooked on sewing, and on Oliver + S patterns specifically. i knew that if these free patterns were so good, their "real" patterns must be even better!
i was right. i am now a full-fledged Oliver + S devotee. i see their patterns as the gold standard by which every other pattern is judged - they're interesting, classic designs, the fit is always good, the techniques are clever and the instructions clear. best of all, they're comfortable and easy for kids to wear!
(i say almost
my whole collection because i have a few digital patterns
too...they're not as pretty all stacked up)
with each Oliver + S pattern i make, i learn a new technique that i can apply to future projects. every step is explained so well, that even if i've never tried a particular technique before, it teaches me how and then i can continue to use it on my own designs. for instance, i learned how to line a bodice from the bubble dress
, and used that method when i created my project run & play
creation, the sweet tartan dress
). i also used the sunday brunch jacket
pattern to create my kimono jacket
and little red jacket
for project run & play!
my favorite boy patterns, hands down, are the sailboat top and pants
. they're really fun to sew and add unique style to a little guy's wardrobe without being overdone. i love that Oliver + S patterns are great basic designs that i can easily customize. he could have five sailboat tops in his closet and i would feel like, based on fabric/button selection, they could look completely different.
my other favorite "boy" pattern (actually unisex but i've only used it for boys) is the bedtime story pajamas
, especially the bottoms:
since they're so versatile and fun to sew, i also tend to make my Oliver + S patterns over and over (which helps justify the higher-than-commercial-pattern price tag). the bucket hat from Oliver + S creator Liesl Gibson's book, little things to sew
, is now a summertime staple. bucket hat is now also a free download
! check out a little gray's tutorials for no hand stitching
and widened brims
i've sewn more projects from little things to sew than any sewing/craft book i own.
while i have sewn most of my patterns a few times, some patterns i've only sewn once (though this post is making me want to get them all out again!):
i think Oliver + S, more than any other blog, tutorial, or class, has taught me to sew properly and has helped make sewing my passion. their flickr group
is active and quickly brought me into the "sewing community, and their blog
has fun "customizing with Oliver + S" posts that really show the patterns' potential. i've even made a real life friend
through the Oliver + S flickr group! pretty cool. a big thanks to Liesl Gibson
for creating such a great company and being such a generous person (commenting on people's projects, putting out free patterns, and helping people learn through her excellent pattern writing). i'll go ahead and shout it from the rooftops: I LOVE OLIVER + S!
if you'd like to read more about any of the projects i've shown here, please see my flickr set
for pre-blog details and links to my blog posts. and feel free to stop by skirt as top
thanks so much for having me, ladies! this was a fun trip down memory lane. (since this might read as a bit of a commercial, i feel the need to state that Oliver + S is not currently a sponsor of mine and i received no compensation for this post)
Thanks so much Kristin. O + S patterns really are the best. There is always at least one of them on my sewing to do list.
And as Kristin says, if you are new to sewing O + S patterns are a perfect place to start. All the patterns are graded according to their difficulty - from one to four scissors. If you work your way through from the more simpler patterns to the 4 scissor ones, when you get to the end, you will have taught yourself to sew!!
What is your favorite O+S pattern? And what new skills did it teach you?
The lovely Jessica from A Little Gray is with us today. We saw her amazing ability to make children's clothes that are unexpected, fabulous and fun during season 4 of Project Run and Play. She continues to have fun sewing for children with Kristin from Skirt as Top in their Film Petit series. And if you are looking for quilt inspiration check out her collection.
Thanks for being with us Jessica
Thanks again Jessica - you have made me think...
Friendship is never simple in the real world - there are complexities even in the most valued of our relationships. And for most of us, I think it is the same with our stash. It can bring us so much fun but it can also feel like a responsibility to manage. Finding a balance so that is useful and productive but not overwhelming and a source of guilt can sometimes be tricky. And for all of us that balance is going to be different.
I hope your stash is balanced and bringing you joy!
Today it's Kathreen from Whip Up's turn to tell us about her best friend.
She has introduced herself...
Kathreen Ricketson is the founder and editor behind the craft website whipup.net
and the children's magazine action-pack.com
, she has also written several craft books for quilters and children.
Kathreen lives in Canberra, Australia with her two pre-teen kiddos, wonderful husband and whole heap of chaos!
My best friend - ah! I have several best friends in my sewing/design studio. My sewing machine could be called my best friend, but perhaps my nemesis is a more likely term. It is the agent of my downfall into the chaos and clutter and addiction that is quilting, sewing and fabric.
I am quite on intimate terms with my rotary cutter and quilting rulers and several favourite pairs of scissors, particular some little sharp snippers that seem to disappear quite a bit, it seems that they are two timing me quite abominably.
I consort quite enthusiastically with my fabric stash, I visit, fondle and play with joyful abandon at times and in quiet solitude at other times.
My confidante is my computer and several programs within, I am quite at liberty to visit with Photoshop, indesign and illustrator whenever I please and have an open invitation, which I flaunt quite unashamedly, with google.
My stauchest allies are my ipad, iphone and my Nook, together they help me to avoid work whenever possible, but do assist when I am in a bind.
I have more than a friendly acquaintance with my yarn basket and my crochet hooks, together we while away rainy afternoons when other playmates are otherwise indisposed.
I am passingly familiar with the box filled with glue, stamping supplies, beads, wire and scrap paper, it has helped me on various occasions when in the vicinity of raucous or curious children.
But perhaps my bosomest of buddies, my soul mates, my fastest friends are my pen and notebook. They go together with me everywhere, they listen and observe without judgement or criticism.
Thanks Kathreen for sharing your multiple friends with us today.I know you guys are all familiar with Whip Up, so I certainly don't need to introduce it to you. However, I would like to say something about it. Whip Up was one of the first craft blogs I discovered and it has been a tried and true friend to me. Kathreen balances wonderful personal crafting inspiration with book reviews, round ups and great collections of guest posts. It continues to inspire me.
And make sure you check out Action Pack - a growing collection of fantastic magazines for children aged 7 and above. They are filled with all the things you want your kids to be doing!!!!