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/
So, I was so excited when I was drawn out of the hat to be the June Giveaway Guest Challenger. And when the package of scraps arrived in the mail I squealed with delight! (Think about it... you go to the letter box knowing that the most likely thing to spring from it is your latest credit card bill and instead you find Liberty Fabric. That is definitely squeal worthy)
I've come up with two ideas.
Today, I will show you a little Liberty head band - more of an idea than a tutorial. I made two last night (in a rush as usual) for Pippa to give as gifts at a birthday party she went to today. They were very quick to make and I'm pleased with how they turned out.
Have you ever made a Suffolk puff?They're funny little things. I think they are also called yo-yos. I have to admit - I think they are quite old fashioned, but I have been playing with them a bit lately.
I have seen some very sweet necklaces and some great embellished t shirts that use Suffolk puffs. And one day... if Caroline and I can ever get the motivation we will finish our Project Run and Play
Signature Look which uses... you guessed it... Suffolk puffs.Suffolk puffs are very simple to make. You can cut yourself out a circle of fabric and turn a small edge under. Do a running stitch right around the edge and pull it up tight. That's it - your doneEven easier - you can buy yourself a Yo Yo maker. I used a Clover one
. You only need a scrap of fabric about 7cm in diameter to make a puff that is 3 cm wide. If you are desperate and working with really small scraps you can actually piece scraps together to make the 7 cm circle. I did it a couple of times and the puffs worked out just fine.
I won't give you detailed instructions on how to use it, because the yo yo maker comes with those. But this will give you an idea:
When I was making these, I got to the stage where you start to draw up the gathers and decided this must be how fairies make shower caps!! I can't imagine any thing more perfect than fairies wearing Liberty shower caps.
I had bought the head bands for another project that was not successful(!) involving hot glue. The satin ribbon that originally covered the band ended up ruined by the glue so I ripped that off and was left with a thin black plastic headband. I found some gros grain ribbon in my stash that was a little wider than the band and stitched a channel in the ribbon so the band fitted in snuggly. If you are going to cover your own head band don't forget to turn the raw edges of the ribbon in before you sew it on both ends. Once you have put the band in your ribbon cover, you can hand stitch the ends closed to create a nice neat finish.
I hand stitched the puffs onto some felt leaves and then stitched them onto the ribbon band. I am now scared of the hot glue gun!!
Here is Pippa modelling a band for us:
Let me interpret this look for you:
"Mum, why are we on the front foot path taking photos? Can't we just wrap this head band up and go to the birthday party? I'm late!!!!"
I'll be back soon with Liberty Scrap Challenge 2.
When we first started blogging, I wrote this
post about my fantasy sewing space. I've also dabbled in a few organisational posts like this one
about embroidery threads and this one
about storing the little bitty - bits that are associated with sewing and craft.
Ok... true confession time. I now have my own purpose built sewing room but my potentially beautiful sewing space is a disaster!
Want to see the evidence? Here are a few snapshots from my sewing room today...
and they're just the beginning. Check out my shelves!
I want an organised space, but I really, really need your help! Please
hit me with your hints for sewing room organisation. I really want to reclaim my space!
How do you store your
- Big pieces of fabric?
- Little scrappy pieces?
- Thread and bobbins?
- Patterns, books and magazines?
- Bits and pieces?
I'm looking forward to hearing from you - bring on the organisation tips!
No, we haven't disappeared...I promise we are still here!!!
We are pondering and making plans. We are busy but when those quiet times do appear we are enjoying doing not very much at all!Thanks for all your comments on our last post. It has given us lots to think about. We love your input and are so happy when a dialogue can be achieved in this space. So any ideas or suggestions, criticisms or comments are always greatly appreciated. Just wanted to let you know, I haven't forgotten the tutorial I promised for Madeleine's art folio
. Interestingly after all my pondering, it is her most used gift. It certainly didn't have the instant wow factor, but she has diligently (and without prompting) added a drawing to her water colour journal almost every day since she received it. I think it helped when Mum told her that her cousin Nick (who she hero worships!) likes to draw every day.
I have all the photos ready for the tutorial, I just need to make myself sit down and write it!! Stay tuned...A few other bits and pieces:Some of you may be aware of my slightly unusual relationship with Liberty Fabric
. In a nut shell, I buy it, but would never actually cut into it - it's just too beautiful. Well, I have found some therapy for this problem!!Nova from A Cuppa and a Catch Up
has organised a Liberty Scrap Challenge
I was so thrilled when Nova mailed me some Liberty scraps to play with. I am planning a little project and tutorial very soon. My theory is: scraps today and then maybe, just maybe, one day I'll be brave enough to make myself a shirt!!!
And..Caroline and I just had a fantastic weekend in Canberra. We went to Sew it Together!!!
There were badge swaps and sample swaps, shopping trips and workshops. But most importantly, we met so many lovely crafty bloggers. I think I must be an old fashion girl. I know that lots of amazing friendships are made online but I feel most comfortable meeting people in the real world (particularly if it involves buying a whole lot of fabric together, sewing, dinner and a bottle of wine or two!!) I have added a whole list of new blogs to my reader and can't wait to stay in touch with new friends.
I love buying fabric. I do tend to buy with my heart rather than my head though. In my head, I know that I need basics - lots of corduroy and denim for little winter wardrobes. Despite this, my heart constantly draws me to beautiful coordinating prints in bright clear colours. I guess that's why I bought a 16 piece fat quarter pack in Tania Whelan's Delilah range. Now, I'm not a quilter, and though my children are still pretty small, they're not small enough to fit into anything that's made out of a fifty centimetre square! What to do with it?
Last night, I decided that I'd make them up into some double sided serviettes. I've been making a lot of these lately as gifts. There's something very lovely about the weight of double sided serviettes and the best bit? You don't have to miter any corners when you're making them!
It's certainly not rocket science - trim your fat quarters to fit each other, sew them right sides together, pull them though, iron and top stitch. Phew! The only tricky bit is the ironing - you need to make sure that the seams line up nicely, other wise they don't sit flat. I actually got callouses ironing them last night! (and no, that doesn't mean I need to do more ironing, but thanks for suggesting it, Bill!)
It's nice to have a bit of glamour to mop up from those inevitable meal time messes!
I love Liberty fabric, but I will readily admit my relationship with it is slightly unusual. I don't treat it like any other fabric in my collection. You see, most of my fabric gets thrown into large plastic boxes and used at random. There is no respectful overlocking of edges before washing, and certainly no elegant folding and storage. But with Liberty fabric I am very different. I don't cut it and I certainly don't sew with it. It is the fabric of my dreams. It is all the perfect dresses I am yet to make for my girls and the shirts I imagine making for myself one day. I even dream about the projects I will make with the scraps! I look at my collection regularly. I store it in a special box on the mantel above our fireplace. It's only a small collection, but I love it. Here, I'll show you!
Somewhere in my core beliefs about fabric, I have decided that Liberty is almost too beautiful to sew. I have never actually made anything with Liberty fabric. I just dream.
Let me tell you about the fabric that lives in my little box.
It all started with numbers 1 and 6. I had visited the Liberty Store in London as a broke student, but 2 years ago I was there and actually had some money to make a purchase. I bought number 1 for Madeleine and number 6 for Pippa. I regularly check pattern books for patterns to make them their dresses but, if I am honest, the potential of a dress in one these fabrics is even more exciting than the actual dress!
2, 3 and 4 are extra special. They were given to me by Madeleine for my Christmas present last year. It was her idea. She organised Rob to take her to Tessutis and she knew exactly what she wanted. You can understand why it is so hard to cut into these fabrics! I dream of the shirts I will make for myself but I'm quite content to enjoy just looking for now!
Number 5 was a complete surprise addition to my collection. I bought it today. Whoever thought you would find a Liberty remnant? Half price for 1.6m!!!! And another piece to dream about!
I would like to show you one more photo and tell you a little story.
This bunny is called Liberty. He came into our family in slightly unusual circumstances. Pippa was about 14 months when we were in London. She spent a lot of time in a backpack on Rob's back. Liberty of London was our last place to visit before we dashed off to Heathrow to fly home to Sydney. You can imagine that I was so engrossed in all the beauty of Liberty that I was not really aware of what Pippa was up to, perched up high on Rob's back. It wasn't until we were heading off to the airport that I realised that Pippa had found her own little Liberty souvenir, taken from a shelf just at her level, with none of us watching!
So if anyone from Liberty of London reads this post, I apologise for my daughter. She wasn't really shoplifting, just giving a little bunny his freedom. Please let me come back to your store when I am next in London. I need some more inspiration for my sewing dreams!