We had a new addition join our family last year. Our third child, a little baby girl was born to us on the 2nd of September, 2018. We named her Adelaide Faith, and she is truly a delight. We’ve been a bit busy since as a result! With hardly any time for sewing. But really, what a wonderful way to spend your time - baby snuggles and cuddles.
I felt incredibly fortunate to be able to participate in the blog tour for Amanda Brandl's brand new range of fabric called Taking Flight. Amanda is a beautifully gifted artist, designing fabrics for Kennard and Kennard with a uniquely Australian feel. Her prints encapsulate the special qualities of our native wildlife and beautiful plants.
For all too long, typical Australiana fabrics have focused on the rust, ochre and green colour ways. Which, of course, makes sense when you view the harsh desert landscape towards the centre of this vast country. But all too often, the striking colours of Australia, the piercing hues of blue, the brilliant yellows and sweet pinks have been neglected, in favour of more traditional prints and colours.
So it's wonderful to see Amanda's fresh take on Australian fabric, with her new ranges, Taking Flight and Bush Gum Blossoms. The designs feature cute creatures and beautiful plant life, with a colour pallette versatile for all quilters and sewists.
Seeing as we are expecting our third baby in August (only 20 weeks away!) I was instantly drawn to the notion of creating a new nappy bag from the Taking Flight range. We are incredibly blessed to have such a rich bird life in Australia, and the cockatoo is one of my favourites. Even if they can wreak havoc with their sharp beaks, and devour my tomato crop in a matter of minutes, I still adore their quirky habit and fun spirit.
So the grey cockatoo print was my ideal choice. I constructed my nappy bag to cater to my needs for the new baby - so a large open top zip was necessary, along with plenty of pockets and hardware to attach things. I always find the addition of D-Ring hardware incredibly necessary with these types of large bags - they are the perfect quick anchor point for dummies (pacifiers for you overseas folk!) and car keys - two things you don't want to misplace with a newborn!
I've always enjoyed making this style of bag, and some of you may remember my first nappy bag I created back in 2012. Creating bags such as these really give you the option to personalise them to suit your needs and taste.
I wanted the cockatoo fabric to be my main feature, hence why I only adorned the outside with some lovely denim chambray for my pocket, just to add a pop of colour. I used a bright orange bird print from the Taking Flight collection for my large interior pocket - something about it being easy to see straight away appealed to my future tired mum eyes. I love the surprise burst of colour it creates when you look inside the bag. I may have cheated slightly by purchasing the outer bag strap from my wonderful local craft store here in Healesville, Crumbz craft. I really like the professional edge it creates to my bag overall, and I think it sits really nicely with the cockatoo fabric.
I was really impressed with the quality of this fabric, right from the design and the colours, through to the feel of the fabric, and it's strong, close weave.
I was honoured to have been able to take part in Amanda's celebration of her Australian fabrics, and I hope I've done those sweet cockatoos justice. I'm very much looking forward to showing off my new nappy bag when this little baby arrives - guaranteed no other mum will have one like mine!
If you'd like the opportunity to win some of Amanda's lovely new fabric from Taking Flight, I have some pieces to giveaway! One lucky winner will receive a 50cm piece of the beautiful blue bush floral, and a 25cm piece of the funky teal magpies. If you'd like to win, simply leave a comment on this post. I'll randomly select a winner on Monday the 2nd of April at 8pm AEST.
To view the full collection of Amanda's fabric, click here for Taking Flight, and here for Bush Gum Blossoms. The blog tour has been a wonderful showcase of Australian talent, so be certain to visit the Instagram page of Amanda to view the previous projects made over the last few weeks, or check out the schedule on Amandas website.
I'm in the process of gathering ideas and thoughts regarding a compilation for the possibility of a future project. And I would appreciate your input at this preliminary stage. I can't entirely divulge what I am working on currently, but it's something I have been planning and hoping to achieve for a few years now. It's intended purpose, once it results in what I hope it will, is something that will encourage and inspire women in their crafting journey and their life in general.
And in order to be encouraged and inspired, it's helpful to share and be real with one another. Women grow by the support, love and friendship of others. Of sharing our stories, and connecting on deeper levels. At the risk of sounding too 'airy-fairy, let's have a group hug' I really want to delve into your stories. Your experiences. Your memories. What has challenged you in your life? What's inspired you? Tell me a memory, a recipe, a moment in time that has moved you, Grown you. Made you laugh out so loud your stomach hurt. Your favourite quote or the best advice you ever received.
If you can be so kind to take a few moments to think deeply, and to share freely in my survey link below, I'd be incredibly grateful. I am currently determining if my idea here is worth pursuing, so by your taking my survey, you are helping me to see the validity of my goal.
Disclaimer: Your stories are safe with me. The intention of sharing these stories with me is to eventually share them with others, but I will not share them without your written permission and approval. This is a preliminary trial to see if my goal is possible. Feel free to only answer one question, or answer a few. The choice is yours. Be as brief or as through as you like. I will contact you for future permission and information as necessary. Whilst my original intention with this work is to encourage and equip women, if you are a man and you love sewing - please join in also!
give out steady light without flame.
Once I've created a new pattern, and it comes time to bestow a name upon it, I tend to be drawn to one syllable words, such as Blush or Breeze for example. There are exceptions, where I have two syllables such as Junction or Harvest, but for the most part I stick with one singular word. Why? No idea. Just do. Perhaps in my mind it's easier to say and remember?
Sometimes naming a quilt is easier than others. Blush was an easy one and it just naturally fell in step with it's name. Some quilts are named due to a specific event that is occurring whilst I design and create the quilt. Harvest is a prime example, being designed whilst my husband works long hours during the grape harvest here in the Yarra Valley.
I also tend to be drawn to the definition of a word, and that was the case with Glow. To give out a steady light without flame. A curious definition. And one that requires a deepening of thought for how we can relate that to ourselves, and to our work. Without getting too 'touchy-feely' with emotions, what does it mean to glow? The term is often applied to women in their early stages of pregnancy, though I doubt I was ever blessed with that tag. I think I was just in a constant state of sweatiness during my first summer pregnancy. (Hello swollen ankles...)
But for me now, I think the ability to glow comes from an inner peace and happiness that sits contentedly inside ourselves. And I feel that while I created this quilt, I was in a state of peace and happiness. I had just survived two rounds of surgery and a metal plate insertion for a broken foot, a sudden and unexplained seizure, and was embarking on a successful weight loss journey. After enduring all those issues, I felt in a state of calmness. Did I feel any glow during those issues? No. It was only once I was on the other side. Once I had endured, that I felt the ability to just be still and enjoy peace. And perhaps that glow is reflected in this quilt. For whenever I see, and touch and wrap myself in this quilt, it never fails to warm me with it's cheer.
And, perhaps it's because of it's glow that it proved itself as a very popular quilt when it was released in Issue 15 of Make Modern magazine. You can order and download the issue via this link and make the quilt for yourself. Whilst you're there, go on and subscribe to Make Modern magazine, a wonderful online magazine with each issue full of inspiring projects. I'll be having a gorgeous Christmas themed quilt coming up in a future issue - so be sure to join so you don't miss it.
My Never-fail No-bake Cheesecake
I first happened upon this recipe back in 2007 when I was living at a campus before heading out to do missionary work overseas. It was a Cookies and Cream cheesecake and tasted blissful. My friendly kindly wrote the recipe down for me, so I have no one to credit properly for this recipe. I believe she originally cut the recipe from a magazine or a book or some such.
As the Cookies and Cream was the original version, I shall list that as the recipe below. However, I have found this cheesecake can be easily adapted to suit whatever flavour you like. My husbands favourite is the Mango version I make for his birthday every year, and just over the weekend I made the pictured Strawberry version for my mothers birthday. I shall include how I create those variations at the end.
Also - make sure you add this to your Pinterest folders (click on the Pin It link whilst hovering over the photos.) That way you won't loose it!
Cookies and Cream Cheesecake
Serves 12 (to be honest - I think it serves more than that. It is decadent. Seriously.)
250g Plain Chocolate Biscuits (I use the Arnotts Choc Ripple variety.)
150g butter, melted
2tsp Gelatine powder
1/4C water, boiling
375g Cream Cheese, softened (Philidelphia brand is my go-to.)
300ml Thickened Cream
1/2C Caster Sugar
180g White Chocolate, melted
150g Cream filled Chocolate biscuits, quartered (Oreos)
1. Line the base of a large Springform tin with baking paper, and lightly grease up the sides.
2. Process the plain biscuits until resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add butter and mix till combined. Press mixture evenly over base, and 3cm up the side of the tin. Cover with tin foil and place in fridge for 20 min.
3. Sprinkle gelatin over the water in a small heatproof jug and stand jug in a small saucepan of simmering water. Stir until the gelatine dissolves, then allow to cool for 5min.
4. Beat cream cheese, cream, vanilla and sugar together in a mixer or with electronic beaters until smooth. Stir in the gelatine mix and white chocolate till thoroughly mixed.
5. Fold in the chopped biscuits, then pour the mix into the tin. Cover and place in fridge for approx 3-4 hours or until set.
Follow recipe as above but replace the chocolate biscuit base with Butternut Snaps. Omit the quartered Oreo biscuits, and instead add chopped mango at the end. I usually find one large Mango is enough. Or, buy a second Mango and add the other on top for decoration once it's set.
Follow recipe as above but replace the chocolate biscuit base with Marie biscuits, or similar. Omit the quartered Oreo biscuits. Increase the gelatine to about 3-4 tsp and the water to 1/2C. Puree about 10-12 Strawberries in a blender until a smooth sauce. Add 3/4 of the sauce at Step 5, and add in about 10 Strawberries that have been roughly chopped. Once the mix is in the tin, drizzle the remaining 1/4 of the sauce, then use a skewer or sharp knife to create swirls through the mix before setting the fridge.
There is something so satisfying and appealing about scrap quilts.
I've long since admired many scrap quilts on Pinterest over the years, enjoying the simplicity of design, and the desire to use every.last.piece.
I now specifically store my left over scrap fabrics for such a purpose - to use and savour each piece of fabric.
Whilst I was pregnant with our second child, I went on a slight rampage of sorting my fabric and cutting hoards of it into small 2.5" squares. I think that 'nesting' habit kicked in with fabric, but not with cleaning the house! Needless to say, I ended up with a lot of 2.5" squares. (And an untidy house.) I just kept cutting and cutting, and it felt wonderful to save fabrics from the 'discard bin' for being too small for another project.
And then I started sewing. I created a 16-patch block, by sewing four rows of four. In a haphazard-just-throw-it-all-together way. And then just kept on making them. And they kept piling up. Mind you - I finished sewing this entire quilt, measuring 80", whilst I was 40 weeks pregnant. Yup. 40 Weeks pregnant. Who does that? Apparently me. But I loved it. There was something so achievable about the task that made it so enticing for a heavily pregnant/unable to walk/waddle only/ woman.
That was nearly 2 years ago. I think the quilt deserves to be finished. In fact, now that I've dug it out of the box I cannot wait to have it finished. I want it on my bed. Now. To be enjoyed. And to see my little children explore each square of fabric. "Look mummy - an owl!" Because of course - every quilt needs an owl stealing some knickers off the washing line.
So, this quilt, (and three others!!) are being packed up and sent off to my talented long arm quilting friend in Queensland. I'll be so excited to get them all back!
But you know what? After two years, that scrap box is starting to overflow again. I think it's time to start another scrap quilt.
It's a clever program, releasing a block each week, with half being of a more traditional block style, and the other half featuring modern piecing and techniques. It's been a wonderful opportunity for the 1,600 participants to explore a variety of skills and methods of block construction.
I was delighted to create a block that focussed on Pinwheels, which is one of my favourite traditional blocks. I titled my block, "Soar," as I felt inspired by the ability we have to achieve what we set our minds to. I especially notice this more since being a parent. Children have that innocent feeling of freedom, and that the possibilities are endless.
'Soar,' is a traditional block in method, but as always - the style of a block can be altered dramatically depending on colour and fabric choices. Take a look at these variations of "Soar," all achieved by various members of the Project 48 group. Each block has taken on a whole new personality and style - reflecting the nature of the one who made it.
The beauty about Soar, is that one block can easily be adapted to create a whole quilt. Here I have shown an example of what could be achieved by creating a total of 36 Soar blocks. Note how I have alternated each block with different red and green fabrics. The simplicity of the prints and colours give a striking effect, and clearly I was intending on a Christmas themed quilt (pictured finished example measuring 62x62") upon designing this pictured example. My goal is to eventually make a Christmas themed quilt (my first! Seriously - you don't need a lot of quilts during Christmas in Australia - it's Summer time!) But as I make my Christmas themed quilt, I am determined to not use Christmas themed fabric. My goal is to use regular everyday fabrics - but create that tinsel-clad holiday feel with the choice of colours.
I have very much enjoyed seeing how participants of Project 48 have interpreted the "Soar" block, and if you would like to make one yourself - please check out the Project 48 site for more information.
Hosted by fabric designer, Pat Bravo, for Art Gallery fabrics, The Minis Blog Tour has been an opportunity to showcase two of her fabric ranges, Dare and Essentials II. I was delighted to be invited to participate in the blog tour, as I have long since admired the work of Pat Bravo. Her use of colour and style of design is impressive, and something to inspire crafters and makers.
Upon receiving the fabric, my first decision was to make a sweet little mini with Kites as the feature. I thoroughly enjoyed making this sweet little mini quilt, but once I'd finished I then decided it didn't 'showcase' the fabrics to their full extent.
So, I started again! And this time I went with one of my own block designs, Blush, and I just adore the end result. Normally Blush features each block made in one colour way, like pink or orange for example. This was the first time I had made a Blush block into a mini quilt, and the first time I'd made one using a variety of different colours in just the one block. Because I had already cut into my fabrics for the kite mini, I didn't have quite enough of the one fabric to complete the large, outer pink ring. So, a scrappy version was decided upon, and I think it's just perfect. The combination of the Dare and Essentials II fabrics are ideal, and I love the striking effect this mini quilt now has.
As soon as I finished it I hung it up straight away above my sewing machine and desk. It's the perfect show piece for this area, and I find the mini quilt so inspiring to look at.
Thank you for including us in your blog tour, Pat Bravo! We have thoroughly enjoyed it! If you'd like, please visit a fellow blog host from yesterday, Marija, at http://marijasfabricreations.blogspot.com/ and also, visit another blog host for today, Tara, at https://www.tjaye.com/blog/. Tomorrow a fellow Australian blogger, Samantha or Aqua_Paisley will be participating at her website, aquapaisleystudio.com, and also Maja from Poland at https://betyipiernaty.wordpress.com. If you'd like more information about The Minis Blog Tour, visit http://patbravodesign.blogspot.com/2016/04/the-minis-blog-tour.html
14/5/16 UPDATE: Giveaway finalised and closed. The winner is Mara - congratulations Mara!
Like to win some fabric? Thanks to Pat Bravo and Art Gallery I have a selection of Fat Eights to give away to one lucky winner. Simply leave a comment here before the 14th of May 8pm AEST for a chance to win. For an extra chance, leave a comment on my Instagram (@fortheloveoffabric) post corresponding with the Minis Blog Tour also. Good luck!
Pattern: Blush - a PDF file is available for download from our Shop.
Fabric - Dare and Essentials II by Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics.
Quilting - Straight line quilting by myself on a Pfaff Quilt Expression 4.0
Binding - Scrappy. My fave type!
Essentials II Fabrics│http://www.patbravo.com/essentialsII.html
Essentials II LookBook│ bit.ly/essentials2lookbook
Dare LookBook│ http://bit.ly/1MSCEpw
Some may say she has too much fabric. Others may say she lacks mauves and lilacs and should buy more.
Whatever 'they' may say, the fact of the matter is that storage is important when it comes to fabric. Particularly for a small house, and for the happiness of fellow housemates, such as your husband.
I was lucky enough to have my Father in Law make a large wooden cubby hole shelf for me and my fabrics just as my husband and I married. I wonder if they were trying to hint at the fact that my previous storage solutions were not particularly successful? Or not really solutions at all?
Due to rather small size of our cottage, (my husband laughs when I call it a cottage. Envision a plastic clad house with years of add ons tacked on. My attempts to turn it into a cottage that holds charm and character seem endless and perhaps fruitless.) Anyway, because of the smaller size of our 'cottage' my fabric has to be stored in the main section of our house - i.e., the dining/kitchen/walkthrough/random junk area. So having the fabric neat and tidy is very important to prevent that feeling of clutter. And keep husbands/housemates happy.
So here is how I organise my fabric.
I group ranges by designers that I particularly like, so Bonnie and Camille or Heather Ross for example. These collections are either colour coded or are just bundled all together on the same shelf.
I have a section for fabrics that are purely Fat Quarters in size, but aren't necessarily grouped by designer. I have larger and random pieces that are grouped on the lower shelves - these are items that are well over 1.5/2m+ in size. These are pieces that are ideal for borders or backings, or just fabrics that I really like and wanted to buy a lot of. You know, just incase I ran out.
I have two boxes that sit on the top of my shelf. These are for small scraps. One box is for smaller scraps, measuring 2-8" approximately in size. The second box is for larger scraps, such as 8-15" etc. Scraps that are larger than that, say F8 size, are folded and grouped according to colour. These sit in the top shelves. Fabrics that are larger than a F8, but not exceeding 1.5m (or give or take. Don't get the wrong idea. I'm not that particular,) are grouped by colour and folded together into the middle section. I also have groups for low volume, floral or novelty fabrics. Some precuts also fill this shelf, as well as little fabric baskets that hold random things such as needles, elastic and buttons for example. Then I have another cupboard with layer cakes, bolts of fabric and other pre cuts.
So, that's how I sort and organise my collection of fabric. It makes me happy. And it makes our cottage quite bright and happy too. You know what they say... Happy wife, happy life.