Time for Tea

I have finished something! Hurray!
After my last post about coming to terms with my possible long term state of morning sickness, I sat down and thought about some radical changes to routine. If my capacity for all the things in my day had shrunk from about 8-10 good hours to about four, I needed to think creatively. And I needed to prioritise.

The best solution I could come up with was making time to sew in the morning, when I was at my best. It's usually the time I spend doing housework and playing with the kids. And then I would sew during rest time and after they were in bed, my little reward, my break from the world. I felt really uncomfortable making sewing time during my 'work hours'. It was hard enough not to drown in the laundry as it is without trying to squeeze in sewing too. So I just sat with the idea for while, waiting to see if a better plan arose.

Well then both my kids got sick and most of you know how that throws any kind of routine straight out the window. Friday night I finally got to sleep at 5am, and we spent the weekend basically in survival mode. I'm so thankful for a friend that cooked enough food to feed us three nights in a row!
I'm also so thankful for Tim. He decided to take Monday off work and stayed home to attack the washing with me, take the kids out for a drive, and give me time to sew.
I managed to finish off this custom order tablecloth.

 And having a finish is a great feeling anyway, but while I sat there matching colours, feeding them slowly through my machine, (I was using an overlocking stitch on my sewing machine - great motivation to learn to use my overlocker!) I started to feel an energy and peace I couldn't get from a full night's sleep. And it started to help me feel differently about the way we shape this next season.

I was reminded again that serving my family isn't just making sure the washing is up to date and food is on the table, and it isn't even just making myself available to them, but it's feeding my own soul too. I'd let go of all the things that give me energy to make time for the bare essentials. And I was feeling bare.

And do you know what I've realised (but kind of always known)? My kids play really well together in the morning! They haven't even noticed me tucked away in the studio for an hour. It's the afternoons when they become twitchy, and need to know I'm there, need me to feed and water them more regularly. So I park myself on the back steps while they play outside, ready with fruit and water when they come asking. Maybe this will work longer than just while I'm pregnant?

Oh, and a few notes about the tablecloth. I used mostly fabrics from Notting Hill by Joel Dewberry and Cameo by Amy Butler. Don't they work well together? My customer requested a large style patchwork in bright colours so I had to be choosy about prints that worked well in big cuts that I was happy to let go. Though I do only have three months left in my Fabric Fast, can you believe it?! I used an overlocking stitch to piece them together and folded the edges over twice and used my 1/4" foot to hem them. These colours will be just perfect for Christmas, don't you think? Which has got me thinking that this is a reasonably quick gift to make compared to a quilt...

Stained Glass Little Folks.

So we live in a tiny 1940s workers cottage in an old coal port city. (The city is old - by Australian, not world, standards, the coal port is still active). And our house is a collection of small, enclosed boxes. Two bedrooms, a lounge room, dining room, all around 4x4 metres (yds) and a tiny sunroom, about 1.5 x 2.5m.

Our bedroom was the smallest in the house, in the darkest corner, right next to our neighbour's backyard, and their interesting choice of cigarettes. ;) And in the drama of the first few months of this year, and a moment of inspiration, I decided I wanted this season to be marked by rest, light and colour (and fresh air). And I couldn't get that in my old bedroom.

So we embarked on a (yet another, because a collection of boxes allows for change when the feeling hits) big rearrange. And we moved our bedroom into the light-filled loungeroom, our lounge into the old dining room and our dining room onto the back deck. My new sewing room now comes off our bedroom, and we put Tim's office and a guest bed in our old bedroom.

So that's our new lounge, or family, room through the glass doors from our bedroom. After wondering for a month or so, whether to make curtains or not, Tim and I had a flash of inspiration. Voile is practically 'two-sided', and glueing the fabric on would be a flat (space-saving), easy, removable solution to create privacy for our new room! So I measured the glass panels, cut this Little Folks Voile, by Anna Maria Horner, to size and started painting the windows with glue and fabric.

I chose only a few prints, in a limited colour palette, built mostly around the Diamond Mine prints. You can see the glass doors not only limited privacy, but made both rooms feel busier. The view through the doors was reflective and muddy. And if there was mess in the other room (which is often in our house!) it made both spaces feel untidy.

I used PVA (craft) glue and just lightly patted the voile over the glass. If I pushed too much, it would bunch, and was hard to rescue. The finished result has made both rooms feel smaller, yet brighter and calmer. I think I just sat and admired it for about three days!

On the other side, the kids have their little table, where they eat meals or do craft if it's too cold outside. I love that the 'back' of the fabric is still so clear, and the glass protects it from hands and food and wandering crayons. And the light from the front of the house still comes through and plays through the colour in different lines and shapes all day.

And at night, when Tim stays up longer than me (or vice versa) we get our own beautiful stained glass windows, instead of the harsh, direct light from the ceiling.
Last weekend, Tim's folks came and stayed and we all deemed the new layout a great success. We're using our huge backyard more as a big open-plan play room, we loved having a guest room instead of them sleeping on the lounge room floor, and on Sunday morning, when my introverted self needed a break from the 'crowds', I was able to hide away in my girl cave and sew for an hour and regain my sense of self. And I love to be in my large, light bedroom.
Even though this layout is untraditional, I think it's the most suited to our goals and personalities. And it's drawn our attention to what we do have rather than what our house lacks. A bit like what I was talking about here for my Fabric Fast.

I think next up is some brighter fabric art?

Beautiful Cushions

A cushion for Christmas is a lovely thing, don't you agree? Especially one to grace such a beautiful chaise lounge. For me, the perfect gift is an unnecessary one, a decorative one. I like beauty for Christmas.

I made these cushions and little fabric art for Tim's mum for our family Secret Santa. (She chose the recipients, do you think it was rigged? ;)) They were made to match the wall art above, a gift a few Christmases ago. I used a mix of scraps from my stash and leftovers from the wall hanging.

Ooh! Looking at these photos again makes me want to pull my scraps out! I've really appreciated everyone's encouragement with my {new} fabric fast this year. I'm up to day 5 (only 360 to go!) and have only had about 10 or 12 major doubting episodes! I feel like a scared caterpillar ready to leave the cocoon. Too daggy a metaphor? I hope not! It's helping me to embrace the challenge and anticipate the outcome.
A Colourful New Year to you!
Jodi. xx

A New Resolve

There's nothing like a packing disaster to bring out the creative juices at Christmas! As designated Table Decorator, it was with great disappointment that I realised once I left the shop Saturday afternoon that I had forgotten to bring home my Christmas fabric which would be turned into napkins and bunting. So during our little unplanned stop over in Glen Innes, I went a-fabric-hunting, hoping for some inspiration for sewing machine-free decorations.

I ended up picking 6 colourful prints and getting 30cm (1/3yd) cuts of each. Then, while in the car, I cut roughly 1.5" wide strips, cut them again about 5" long, folded them in half length-ways and tied them together. I hadn't yet planned what I would use it for, and in the end it became a wreath around the candle in the centre of the table.

Then I cut roughly 5" strips from each of the colours, and then cut those into triangles.  I then employed Tim's brother Jesse to help me hand sew two triangles to each side of a ribbon to make this bunting.

I then started to sew fabric flowers together from strips like the one peaking out of the bunch below. Jesse, thinking he was copying me, grabbed the left over triangles and started sewing them into a posy. Thinking he was failing, he quickly whipped up over a dozen flowers in the time I made four! And don't they look great?

This experience of making something with little, of things not going to plan, but still working out beautifully, has confirmed an idea I've had in mind for sometime and finally decided to put it into action for next year.

The picture below is an example of my scrap stash. I have 5 other pillow cases-full like this one. It's inaccessible and uninspiring (though I have to say, I do like the photo!).

I don't know about you but I buy fabric when there's a sale, when there's something new, when I see something I could make, when I'm hormonal, when I'm angry at Tim, when I feel like treating myself, when I run out of a particular print, when I have a custom order... and the list goes on. I love it, and there are some amazing stores out there. But lately I've started to feel like I'm becoming more of a manufacturer than an artist, especially since opening my little shop.

A few months ago, I had the idea of having a 'new fabric fast'. I loved the idea of challenging myself to get through my scraps and use my stash, but I just let it sit for a while so I didn't jump in then regret it. When I was given the shop in town, I was glad I hadn't jumped in yet, but the idea has still been calling. You see, I'm longing for creative expression again. I'm longing to stretch myself. Added to this, I feel like my approach to fabric shopping hasn't actually fit in with my ideals of simplicity and kindness to the earth and others. And I'd like to use a period of time to think those through in light of my vocation.
So... (can I actually say it? Argh! It will make it so official! Do I really want this? Yes. Ok.) I'm officially announcing 2013 as the year of the {new} Fabric Fast! I'm not going to buy any new fabric for a whole year!
So what can I buy? I'm going to allow myself to buy wadding/batting, thread, thrifted (second hand) fabrics/clothes, and other notions. 

I'm hoping to think through things like cotton and the environment, sustainability and creativity, getting through my works-in-progress, and more personal things like what drives me to make, what it means to express who I am, and where I want to take it from here.
I'm still planning to make clothes, but with a more scrappy, colourful bent. And perhaps with more linen and denim? And I really want to give time to more quilts. I especially think my little space in this old high-end department store lends itself more unique, more colourful and more time-intensive projects.

So what do think? Feel free to join me! You could join in for as little or long as you like. And what do you think I should get before I start?? What would you buy if you knew you were going without new fabric for a year? Lots of little bits or a whole stack of white? And what are your tips for organising your scraps so that you're inspired to use them? Especially funny-shaped scraps leftover from clothes. Would you cut it all into patchwork-able pieces? or just sort them into colour and cut as you need? Ooh! I can't wait to start!

Happy New Year!
Jodi. xx

I knew as soon as I opened the back door..

...someone had cleaned my house. Really cleaned. I knew this because I think the last time my kitchen floor had been mopped was when Eve was born.  We had been down to Victoria on holidays and come back with 2 sick kids. While we were away, my friend Candy had been staying. This beautiful woman is a single mum with 2 amazing little girls, fosters newborns, came down for a break and CLEANED MY HOUSE! Right down to changing my sheets so we could just slump into bed the moment we got home.
So, thanks to her, I have had a holiday this week. I know I just got back from one, but you know what holidays are like with young kids. You only just make it out of your house and into the car without killing anyone, you visit all your old, great friends at meals times when the kids are normally asleep and you spend most of that time telling your 3 year old to stop banging, touching, yelling, jumping on his sister (poor Tully, I think he had fun!). We had rich, constantly interrupted conversations and came home ready to crash. Except you can't crash when you come home. There's washing, unpacking, and cleaning up the tornado you left behind you. 
But this time, there was no tornado. And so I've had time to play...
First, I redecorated our lounge room with all the pretty colours I've been enjoying lately.

I moved our tall bookshelf and filled it with our DVDs, coffee table books and quilts - everything you want in a lounge room!
I uncovered some old frames I still hadn't unpacked when we moved here nearly 2 years ago. This is a line drawing on a pastel design I did years ago. It says, "I long to order, I long to create, I long to impact, I long to speak." The jar is one Tully made for me, stuffed with fabric scraps.

I turned this...
...into this! (well kind of. I sewed most of the top before we left with the help of Super Iron Lady, or Anneliese) This week, I've been able to sew the border on, attach the 3 layers (top, wadding and back) together and...
...start quilting (stitch the layers together) by hand.
I put turned our ugly filing cabinet into a nice sitting corner in our studio...
...and put a pretty picture in the bathroom. (Don't you just love the colours coming through from the red flowers on the tree behind the window?)
Then, wouldn't you know it? Candy doesn't like eggs so couldn't enjoy the rewards of feeding our chooks for us! And she left this cream behind.
So today, Tully and I made raspberry ice-cream!
And last but not least, these adorable jackets, made for her girls have been sitting around, enjoying the admiration of everyone, but were not yet complete. They needed buttonholes, a skill I have put off learning for months, because I was afraid of ruining the beautiful things I'd put so much work into. And here they are, all finished and not ruined. Aren't they great?!   

Candy called this week to apologise for not being able to leave money. But this is way better, don't you think?