Friday, April 18, 2014

Teaching EPP

A couple of weekends ago I taught a class in English Paper Piecing to five of the loveliest ladies I could have hoped to have in my first ever class. And it was held in the most amazing new crafting facility - The Makers' Hub at Macquarie, run by the gorgeous Mikaela from Canberra Creatives.

All set up

I have taught English paper piecing before, at Brown Owls and to friends, but not an organised class in a fabulous facility, for payment! So I was a bit excited. I made a whole heap of samples for the class, and some kits full of papers, needles, thread and acetate for the template.


Demo models

And then we got cracking with the class.  The needles and thread I like to use are both super fine. Fiona did a great job threading (also - nice nails!!)

Fiona threading.

I brought a whole heap of fabric from my stash, and let everyone pick what they'd like to work with. I love what they picked!

Julie's flower in progress

Jill's flower in progress

Wendy's flower in progress

A busy worktable, full of fabrics and stitching and morning tea!

Work table

Big thanks to Samara from Blonde Ink who taught the blogging workshop the day before, and left behind some beautiful and very delicious cupcakes for us! (Next time I will bake something).

Beautiful cupcake

Mikaela popped by to see what we were up to. She doesn't normally stand on stools to watch (she tells me).

The work table

At the end of the three hour class we had a beautiful array of EPP flowers, and the start of a new set of flowers. I was lovely seeing these ladies so excited about my addiction passion. I hope they carry their excitement through to many years of EPPing!

Thanks again ladies. And thanks to Mikaela for making the crazy idea I had over year ago a reality. Can't wait for the next class (June 29, if you want to come along!)

Canberra Creatives has some amazing workshops going on - cross stitch, painting, jewellery making, lamp shade making (can't wait to do this!) and lots of others. You can check out what's on over here.

Machine stitching tiny hexies to a onesie

Saturday, March 15, 2014

So here's the thing

I haven't been doing a lot of clothes sewing the last couple of years. It was like I made all my clothes, wore me-made 90% of the time, kept buying fabric to make more clothes...

But somewhere along the line I kind of forgot to sew the fabric up to make new clothes.

I'm certainly not killing myself with guilt over this fact. But what's happened now is that all my me-made clothes have almost worn out, or have stopped fitting correctly after my abdomen turned into a weird shape post-surgery (skirts - I'm looking at most of you), and it's time to start on a whole new wardrobe.

In my last week of a crazy 8 week holiday over summer in which I attempted to renovate my house (and mostly succeeded) I cut out and sewed this skirt because I was going to Sydney for the weekend and I had NOTHING TO WEAR. Not really. I think I was just sick of what I had in the wardrobe. It took me a total of 2 hours to make this skirt, and I ended up not even following the pattern.

I've been wearing this skirt pretty well non-stop since I made it. And today I finally stood still long enough to get it photographed.

It's a simple a-line skirt pattern, which I've taken in quite a lot at the waist, and out at the hips a little, and completely done away with the usual facing at the waist. Instead I sewed a grosgrain ribbon as facing on instead.

It's my favourite way of finishing off a skirt. If I wasn't such a unique shape, I'd probably have a waistband or facing like every other schmuck, but this way suits me just fine.

I apologise for the state of my skirt - I'd had a long lunch with some fellow sewists, and then we all trooped through Addicted to Fabric for some shopping. And then I drove home in a hot car with the windows down singing 80s tunes at the top of my lungs (that might just explain the crazy hair too)

And after a brief discussion today with Amanda about how to pose for photos, here is my (very poor) imitation of one of her favourite raptor poses.

I'll work on my style, Amanda. I will. Promise.


Pattern: Simplicity 9193 View F
Variations: side split sewn up, waist taken in and hips taken out. Used grosgrain ribbon as waist facing.
Fabric: Echino Cycles in gold - linen/cotton blend
Made before? despite this pattern being in my stash about 10 years, this was the first time I'd made the skirt.
Make again? It might almost be the perfect pattern. Definitely.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

First cab off the rank

So I have finished my first quilt for #finishit2014 - a little stitched quilt for a very dear Canadian friend.

In 2003 we visited Canada and spent the day on Vancouver Island with some lovely people - Cathy and her husband John.  We'd never met them - I had seen Cathy perform at Canberra Quilters, and we knew each other online through Southern Cross Quilters - but they welcomed us onto the island, and into their home and took us to lunch as if we were the closest of close friends.  We have never forgotten how they looked after us that day, and after that trip, Cathy and John came to Australia and stayed with us in Canberra (several times over the years).  That first trip to Canberra to stay with us, I decided to make her a little quilt as a memento of her Australian tour. I never did finish it before she visited ... Or the other 3 or 4 times she visited ...


I found the finished stitchery while I was unpacking boxes after our renovations. In January John and Cathy were coming back through town, and I thought now was the opportunity.  An hour of trimming,  basting and quilting, and another hour for binding and it was done.

Don't know what took me so long, actually.  

The pattern is by Wendy Briggs, a Canberra stitchery designer.  

We Canberra Southern Cross Quilters had lunch with Cathy and John, and during the traditional show and tell I told the story of the quilt, and then gave it to Cathy.  She was so surprised!

So that's the story of my first finished quilt for #finishit2014.  I have many more quilts to finish!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


No - I'm not being rude.  #finishit2014 is the hashtag people over on Instagram are using to categorise the projects they are going to try to finish off in 2014.

People = a lot of people wanting to finish quilts, and me.

Hi. My name is Michelle and I'm a startaholic.  I love to start quilts.  I don't so much like to finish them, not  because I don't like them, but because OOH SHINY I MUST MAKE THAT NEW THING AND RIGHT NOW.

I have a LOT of UFOs in my possession.  

I've decided to bring them out one by one, state where I am up to, and what I need to do to finish it.

The first unfinished quilt off the blocks is my Lotta Hexies quilt.  This is entirely English paper pieced using the Lotta Jansdotter fabric I bought at Purl Soho in New York in October 2011.  It consists of 3 inch hexagons and diamonds and I probably have three-quarters of it pieced.

By hand.

I have a lot more to go on it though - besides the piecing.  I'm appliquéing (also by hand) the sides to two strips of the grey homespun to give it a bit more width, and to break the mash of grey and yellow and ochre up a bit. And then I thought I might, you know, quilt it myself (by machine - I'm not that silly).

Did I mention it will be Queen sized?

So the aim is to have this on my bed, quilted and bound, by the end of the Australian summer. That will be heaps of time, if you don't count the 10 hours a day I am currently doing house renovations and the fact I don't have a sewing room and can't find the grey homespun fabric as it has been packed in a box somewhere.

#finishit2014.  Who's joining me?

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Is this thing on?

Oh! There you are! So hey - I know I'm not around these parts anymore, but you might still be. And you might like to know that while I haven't been blogging, I've been getting ready to reopen my online store.

Yep - it's amazing how losing one creative outlet suddenly gives you the space to both see clearly, and find room in your day to start creating for others again.

I'm not on Etsy anymore - I have my own domain name and I'm using BigCartel. I get more control that way, but probably less foot traffic. And that's OK.

Wanna see what I've been making?


See you around!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Catch ya later, alligator

I've been thinking about this for years. How much time we spend online, sharing our lives - personal or crafting. How much expectation we place on ourselves getting blog posts written, performing the ultimate show and tell. How much stuff we make is for ourselves, and how much is purely "for the blog".

I've been blogging a really long time. I have met some amazing people - incredible people - who have become the dearest real life friends. I couldn't hope to meet those people were it not for this blog.

But sometimes, despite the friendships and sharing and encouragement, you just don't feel like writing anymore. It seems like a chore, you don't feel like sharing, to tell one story means telling a whole other story as well and you really don't want to go there. And this is how I felt the last fortnight when I thought of how I tell you all about my quilt retreat. And it seemed silly - it felt silly telling you about it, even though it was wonderful.

I've lost my blogging puff. That's all. It's not busy-ness (although I am incredibly busy with house renovations and quilting and the presidency of the quilt guild). It's not even necessarily about privacy, although that is playing a factor. It definitely has nothing to do with comments or readers.

I'm just ... done.

So I'd like to thank all of you who have come by in the last nine years. Thank you for sharing right back, for inspiring me, for teaching me great things, and in many cases for becoming the greatest friends a girl could ever hope to know. I think I might miss this blog one day, but at the moment I find that hard to believe. I might even be back one day, but again I find that unlikely. I'm not going to stop making, stop baking or stop gardening. I will still always be a bike-riding, lap-swimming, sewing, quilting, cooking, gardening, Pyrex-loving socialist girl from Canberra via North Queensland, who looks for the positive in everything but sometime struggles to find it, and needs to make something every single day.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Going on retreat

On Sunday night I am going on a quilt retreat for several days.

I'm so excited. I'm looking forward to nice meals not cooked by me. The splendid company of fellow quilters. And top-notch workshops delivered by well-known quilters.


In the middle of the excitement there will be a few swims and some strolls around the place. I've heard that the retreat location is quite beautiful.

Most of what I'm excited about though will be the ability to switch off and just focus on my sewing and what I'm learning. No distractions, no obligations. Sounds perfect to me.

I might get the chance to update you about what I'm learning. Or I might be too tired and sore at the and of each day. But I will try.

I'm leaving all my show quilts behind - I will finish them when I return from retreat, when I'll be rested and full of ideas for the next quilts I will make.

Retreat - don't you think that's the best word ever?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quilt as you go patchwork bags

Have you ever done a Craftsy course?

Inline image 3

I have. Well, no. I haven't really. I've bought heaps of them over the last year, but most of them are half watched*.Until last weekend, that is. I was lucky enough to do a course by Tara Rebman - quilt as you go patchwork bags! And it hooked me from the get-go. I sat there all Saturday morning, fueled by coffee, laughs, and buckets of inspiration.

Inline image 2

I learned all about quilting as you go. About potholders. About that insulbrite stuff. About using scraps, and making bags.

And about not being so precious about your precious fabrics - just use them! Seriously, just this bit of encouragement has change the way I look at my stash.

I asked some questions, Tara answered them. And then I went out that afternoon and bought some of that insulbrite stuff, some calico (utility cloth) and some interfacing. I've already practiced on a potholder, as Tara showed in her course. I used the precious fabrics I purchased at the Sydney Quilt Show on Wednesday. I still have to round the corners, back and bind it, but people - I love it. GUESS WHAT EVERYONE IS GETTING FOR CHRISTMAS?

Potholder in progress

And a side artsy fartsy profile. I didn't know my Bernina could quilt that good!

Potholder in progress

I am dying to make the bag, but with the exhibition coming up I need to be a bit careful with my time. But I do intend making one in time for the exhibition - it will be perfect for four days of presidential duties gazing at the quilts and shopping, and the bike ride there and back each day!

Anyway, Tara has generously allowed the readers of this blog a 25% discount off the course. I honestly can't recommend this enough. You'll have fun and you will definitely learn something!

* Which is a whole other blog post of it's own.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free your mind

I have started improv piecing more and more lately and I'm finding it completely freeing.

It's like with improv piecing I'm allowed to be a crap quilter. Which, if you've been around here long enough, you'll know I have always embraced the wonk that happens when I quilt. But now the wonk is legit because I'm improv piecing. It all started with this quilt from last year (which is still in pieces).

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

Then moved onto a class with Victoria Findlay-Wolfe a couple of months ago.

15 minutes of play quilt workshop

Then another quilt which I can't really show you because I'm being a secretive git and it's for the exhibition and I'm also a little paranoid because HOLY CARP it's amazeballs (in my own mind, anyway). But here's the back of a block (it's pretty).

Back - improv

Jenny and I decided that I would demo some improv piecing at modern quilt group this week. I'm currently having an off-the-grid (no-Instagram or phone or email) lazy long weekend but that's just given me heaps of time in the sewing room. Here's what I made by way of samples this afternoon.

Improv blocks for class

These two 10 inch blocks have 1.75 inch strips inserted in a cross formation. I really like the thicker strips - I've been working with 1 inch strips and it's a nice change. I know some people like to have those strips match up at the intersection, but it doesn't worry me. If you're one of those people who do, you'll need to get over it when looking at these photos. Sorry.

Improv blocks for class

I've gone back to 1 inch strips for these blocks (which end up at about 10.5 inches). I like the big blocks - you can pack a lot of "sticks" on there without getting into too much strife with intersecting pieces. Yes, I have plans for a pick-up sticks quilt down the track.

Improv blocks for class

And this is a smaller block (7 inches I think) with different strip thicknesses.  I could imagine a whole scrappy quilt made like this - just three strips each block, all prints.

I'm still not finished with the samples. Just a square of fabric and some scrap strips and you can do so much and in such little time and most importantly have SO MUCH FUN. And I reckon if it's not fun it's not worth nuthin'.

But now I'm back to my off-the-grid weekend.  See you sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Winners are grinners

Sorry for the delay in drawing a winner. As usual life got in the way. It really needs to stop doing that.

I put all the entries into a Pyrex dish (giveaways always taste better in vintage Pyrex).

Congratulations Sally! I'll be in touch and post your book off to you.