Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Winter

It seems to me that this year we are having the best autumn since moving to Ireland thirteen years ago. With the weather quite dry, the leaves are not turning to their usual brown mush as soon as they are falling off the trees. Instead they have shown a bit of colour, are staying on the trees and shrubs longer, and when they do fall, they lie crisply on the ground. We have seen a good bit of sunshine, too!
 - I prefer to forget about last week when the mist wouldn't lift at all for three full days

Today it seems autumn has made way to winter, with a sharp frost, clear sky and sunshine! It made me go out into the garden with my camera...


Even the grass looks good with a layer of hoarfrost!


The last flowers of Geranium "Ann Folkard" will not last much longer.


And the kale will be much tastier after this spell of frost!



Most of the leaves from the blueberry bushes are now on the ground...


...and those that remain are rimmed with ice.


Even the died and brown fern leaves are so pretty with some white details!


I have a busy day ahead, but I find it always worthwhile to take some time to enjoy the beauty that's  around us. I hope you enjoy it, too!

Have a good day, and stay warm!

Sandra

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas ideas

In general, I am not one of those people getting ready for Christmas months ahead.
I refuse to buy sweets and decorations in September. I race past the Christmas displays in the supermarket without looking in October. In November, I try to not listen (and secretly sing along) to the piped Christmas songs in the shopping street.

I am no Grinch, I do like Christmas. But I prefer it to stay something a bit special. Not something that we are so familiar with for so many months of the year that it doesn't seem like a special occasion at all any more.

However, ignoring it for so many months makes it very hard to MAKE something for Christmas. Because making something lovely takes time. So however many lovely Christmas fabrics I have stashed away because I like them, I have never made a Christmas quilt...

Last year I got sewing in time because of my guild's Christmas challenge, and I made the eight pointed star table centre (read about it HERE). This year I did properly write up the instructions for it into a free pattern.



But I would like to make gifts for family and friends. I'd love to make decorations for my own home, or to gift to others. I'd love to own a Christmas quilt one of these days...

So I have been thinking of Christmas quilt patterns. Drawing, designing, colouring. Working out sizes to cut, amounts of fabric needed. In short, I made another quilt design. It is only small, it hopefully doesn't take much time to sew up. It is even written up into a proper little pattern! Maybe, maybe I will have a small Christmas quilt this year...



What makes me hesitate now is the idea that once it is made it will be stored away for most of the year... Unless I will change my ways, and start decorating for Christmas months ahead??!

Maybe I will have to make a more general winter quilt instead! I think Santa will be giving me some suitable fabrics for that...

For now, I'm off to sew, of course!

Sandra

Friday, 25 November 2016

A quick make and a new (FREE) pattern

Last year, not long before Christmas, I made a star shaped table centre with appliqué for a guild challenge. At the time I wrote a image-filled description for it on the blog.



This year I have revisited the tutorial, improved the photography, and converted it into a "proper" pattern!

The pattern explains how to make your own table centre with appliqué. With easy step-by-step instructions, the pattern guides you to make the basic eight-pointed shape, add fused appliqué decorations, and finish with an easy backing method.
There is also a table with cutting measurements for different sizes of table mat, from coasters to a giant table covering.

The very best of it: The pattern is now FREE available as an immediate PDF download on Craftsy.

So anyone looking for an effective present, or a new decoration for your festive table, do check it out!
And if you want to know how I did with the challenge, that story can be found HERE.

Happy sewing, of course!

Sandra

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

A quilty hug...

Sometimes you know of someone having a difficult time, and you really would like to give them a hug. Tell them you're thinking of them, hoping with them that everything will be okay soon. Listening to their story. Being a friend. 

Sometimes you are physically too far apart to act on that, so what does a quilter do?



I am not always great with words, but this is why I love to sew.

Sandra

Friday, 4 November 2016

Being brave - printing on fabric

After all the excitement of Luna, her cousin Lily and the filling of a wardrobe it was time to do something else completely!

I announced at Julie/Pink Doxies' Brave Quilter linkup I really wanted to play with printing on fabric, and time was pressing to link up the result. Which was good, because otherwise I probably would have postponed it further. Especially since it is midterm here and the boys are home, and I am kept busy with "taxi services" and the like...

So, time being short, I chose to try carving my own stamp from a large eraser (locally called a "rubber"..!!) wielding a lino cutter from my childhood - never much used at the time, or at least I don't remember! I decided I had to keep it simple and drew several ideas on paper, choosing the very simplest in the end.


The cutting was easier than expected, and soon I was ready to have a go at printing. To make things easy on myself again, and to limit the experiment to the process of printing itself, I used ready made acrylic paint for fabric. After testing the stamp briefly on paper to check the image, I got going on a piece of old cotton fabric. Since it had been washed a million times in its previous life, I felt I did not need any pre-printing preparation to the fabric. I also would not have been upset if I'd ruined the fabric completely with my experiment. The disadvantage was that it already had a print on it, though being light blue with mainly a white squiggle line, I did not think it mattered too much. I did choose to print using blue because of the fabric being light blue, though.


I intended to pour the paint into a small tray to be able to dip the stamp into to load it up. However, there is not that much paint in the small pots, so I decided to paint it onto the stamp with a brush instead. This worked brilliantly, soon I had found the right light touch to get a good print. A light covering of the stamp with the paint gave a good print, and left the stamp virtually clean after each printing.

As you can see, for the first few prints I forgot to brush the inner drop shape (photo above, top left), so later I went back with a slightly lighter colour and just stamped the drop. Undoubtedly those drops landed not quite in the correct spot, but it was close enough to be pleasing (photo below, bottom left)! I then added some more drops more or less randomly in between the main shapes, before stamping more shapes with the lighter colour...


As you can see, using a brush for loading the stamp gave the prints an obviously "brushed" look, but I think it added to the charm.



Obviously, there is much room for improvement, but this first step has set me on the path of exploration of printing with stamps, and printing in general. I am sure much more time will be pleasantly spent playing with this!




Thank you for challenging us and gently pushing us to explore, Julie! Even though the linkup has come to an end, I hope there will be many ways in which we can encourage and challenge ourselves and each other in this creative online community!

Now I have to be off to give attention to some boys...

Sandra