Monday, December 30, 2013

Wrapping things up for 2013

This year has been a good one for my family and myself, challenging in many ways but I feel good about how we met those challenges. We've all come through it happier, healthier and with a better perspective.

Looking back on the year I would say I've met some vague resolutions I had about trying to spend more time with people and not so much time on my PC! I definitely spent less time watching TV which in turn led to more time for quilting, crafting and designing resulting in a happier me which in turn resulted in a happier family.

This year, one of the best decisions I made was to join my local Modern Quilt Guild (CMQG), and make an effort to attend meetings and get to know the members.
I've not only learned a heap about quilting and appliqué techniques, but I've started to get to know some AMAZING gals. I am looking forward to spending more time with them all next year :)

So, while we're talking New Year's resolutions I thought I'd tell y'all about this little book I purchased recently. It's called 2014 Create Your Amazing Year Life and Biz Workbook by an Aussie gal named  Leonie Dawson.
Basically it is a management tool for those of us who want to achieve particular goals in our personal and/or business lives. But don't let my description put you off because she has really made it fun and easy to visualise and identify what you really want out of your next trip around the sun.

My 2014 Create your Amazing Year Life & Biz workbook by Leonie Dawson (unfinished baby quilt in background using the gorgeous Fort Firefly fabric collection by Tegan White)

I am a very easily distracted person. Squirrel! Where? Yeah, stupidly easily distracted.
Sometimes this works for me as my mind flows from one idea to the next which means I'm rarely lacking in inspiration, but a lot of the time I find it hard to concentrate on one thing and follow it through to completion. And the worst aspect of this distractibility is that I forget things, sometimes really important things like breathing - almost not joking there! So I need lists, charts and general reminders to keep me on track to where I should be headed and not chasing endless images on Pinterest - yeah you know what I mean by that don't you?

So I haven't tried this wonder diary before but I will be using it during 2014 and to keep myself accountable will be reporting back on how it has been going and if I think it is worth the dosh.
I bought myself a printed edition but you can also get ebook versions of them. It is a very pretty colourful creation and it encourages you to think about what is important to you, what you must invest more of yourself into, what you should celebrate and what you need to let go of. I have a feeling I'm going to get a lot out of this little workbook :)

On the home front, Christmas was GREAT! Lots of good food and great company. Spent some time on my new fabric collection (name still pending) - am so excited about it and can't wait to share it! Spent a few days with a Horrible virus but back to normal now.

We are awaiting some family members visiting from the UK and Ms. B was itching to get her cupcake baking set out (thanks Santa) and make some welcome to Aus cupcakes.
Sticky Gingerbread cupcakes with Chocolate icing - and she really has the technique of the icing bag mastered already!

All the very best for 2014 everyone!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

From Russia with Love (& Tractors)

Hey everyone!

I'm very excited to share with y'all a quilt I've been working on for the past few months.
I chose a design from a wonderful book I purchased earlier in the year, Making Quilts by Kathy Doughty.
The book is visually spectacular but also provides easy to follow instructions for a variety of quilt designs. And I really do mean variety! There are some very modern quilt designs like the Wagga and then some modern takes on tradition designs such as slave quilt Antebellum Bling and Doves in the Window. Every quilt has an explanation of what inspired it's creation, whether that was a childhood home, middle eastern ceramics or quilting mentors dear to Kathy.
My absolute favourites from the book have to be Uzbek Patches and Turkish Crush for their exotic "made someone far from here" feel. As soon as I saw Turkish Crush, I knew it would be the perfect quilt design to use for my new fabric collection From Russia with Love (& Tractors).

The collection started developing in my mind after I borrowed a wonderful book from my local library called Russian Textiles - Printed Cloth for the Bazaars of Central Asia by Susan Meller (textile historian extraordinaire!). After borrowing the book 5 times I shelled out for my own copy!

As the title suggests, the book is an exploration of the history of textiles traded between "Western" Russia and the marketplaces of Russian Turkestan (a geographical area including Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan amongst others). The styles and colours of these fabrics were driven by the Central Asian love of bright tones and floral motifs which were very often used as linings on ikat woven silk robes worn by both men and women.
Two wonderfully inspiring books by two equally inspiring women

Some of the more unusual designs included in the book were propaganda pieces designed to promote Communist ideologies. Unsurprisingly, these particular designs were never very successful with a subjugated population but their corniness is quite appealing to those like myself in the modern western world who have never lived with the horrors of a communist dictatorship.

My designs for From Russia with Love (& Tractors) are a celebration of the seemingly absurd combination of pretty textile and industrial might. I steered away from any overtly communist symbolism as I know it can still cause great distress to some people including some of my family members.

So, I've just finished the quilt top (see above) using my From Russia with Love (& Tractors) fabric collection and some co-ordinating solids and a hand dyed indigo cloth I made myself.

For a backing I used a wonderful new print from the incredible Anna Maria Horner, Postage Due in the Toast colour way from her new collection Dowry. I'm sending it off the the delightful Ms J to be quilted in an allover pattern. And when that baby gets back to me I will be hand finishing the binding (my favourite part - best more enjoyably accomplished with chocolate and a glass of wine!) in front of some terrible Christmas reruns.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Fabric Finds - Vanity Sets

This week I want to show you a gorgeous find I had at my local recycling centre.
I've seen these vanity sets in their  post production state; embroidered and cut.
I hadn't thought about how they started, and the possibly that they were sold like the embroidery kits of today. I was pretty darn pleased when I came across these in a little plastic bag.
Oh, and my apologies for the wrinkled state of them, I only iron things when I really need to!

They are all printed onto fine linen that has shapes defined by ladder stitch. These shapes are supposed to be cut out and crochet added to the edges. Once the design has been embroidered they are placed upon your dressing table (remember those things?) and you set your hairbrush, comb and mirror down on them. It's interesting to think back to a time when people had hand mirrors because they might not be able to afford a larger wall mirror and they may not have had a bathroom with running water. We have changed our morning ablutions drastically in the last 100 years or so.

My favourite of the set is this Art Deco design, which leads me to think the vanity sets are from the 1930's. Second favourite is the design below with what appears to be bean or pea flowers on a vine. 
It looks quite Australian to me, it reminds me of the Sturt Desert Pea, a native Australian flower.

I'm not sure if I'll ever complete them, I kind of like them how they are. Hmmm, maybe I could embroider them and turn them into a quilt? or a small window curtain? a quirky skirt perhaps? Or maybe I should do a giveaway?
Any ideas?