Star Crossed Sew Along

The first thing that crossed my mind, when I was sent this Star Crossed pattern to try, was how fun it would look in scraps, little scraps. I'd had in mind for a while that I wanted to make a quilt featuring Maureen Cracknell's Luminous Field Print, a delicious low volume floral, made of beautiful warm colours. And I knew this would be just perfect! I pulled a bunch of matching prints from my stash and started to cut.  In usual fashion, I immediately altered the pattern, and got so excited about the design that I ran straight for the single (twin) bed option.

Unfortunately 20 blocks worth of star points quickly ate up my stash of Luminous Field. It was then that this Catnap print by Lizzy House made its debut. As much as I would have loved Maureen's floral art to be a feature in this quilt, those cats, fitting perfectly in a 4.5" square, a perfect colour match, and pretty challenging to use anywhere else, became a very fun change of direction. I'm pretty excited with the result. It's everything I love about scrappy postage stamp quilts but sparkly! I love that the eye has somewhere to rest and move. It's like fireworks, don't you think?

This turned out to be the quilt that broke the camel's back, mechanically speaking. My machine, long in desperate need for a service, starting groaning and breaking needles. I managed to coax it along gently for this finish. And my iron died a messy, spluttering death on the home stretch! It felt like the perfect opportunity to try out Jeannette from Gone Aussie Quilting's quilting service. I can't wait to see the result! What kind of edge to edge design would you try out on these sparkles?

So, after pushing myself to get some hard-won finishes the last month, being without my machine for a few weeks actually feels like an exciting creative challenge! I'm thinking hexies. I'm thinking appliqué. I'm even thinking Broderie Perse. Ooh!

Thanks so much Fat Quarter Shop for inviting me to make this pattern! Check out these other blogs and #starcrossedsewalong in Instagram for other interpretations of the design.

Daisy of Ants to Sugar
Lucy of Charm About You
Julie of the Crafty Quilter
Angie of Gnome Angel
Dana of Old Red Barn Co.
Natalia of Piece N Quilt
Heather and Megan of Quilt Story
Amy of Sew Incredible Crazy

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...

A Study in Grey

It always surprises me with quilt-making that you will cut a huge chunk of squares, sew, cut, press, for what seems like forever, lay out your pieces, and end up with only about half a metre (2 feet) square of patchwork. Tell me I'm not the only one! I had plans for this quilt to end up much bigger, but as it turns out, I have only about 150 half-square-triangle squares' worth of motivation before I start twitching. :)

It was also only going to have one shade of that middle grey. But I ran out after only about 80 triangles. So I added the darker grey (sorry! I haven't recorded the names!) and the lighter bone colour, and I'm so glad I was forced to make that choice! I think it would have sat quite flat otherwise. My very favourite little bit is that hourglass (or bowtie?) in dark grey up the top, towards the middle. Can you see it? That makes me think I will be cutting triangles again soon!

I did intend all along to use this print by Lotta Jansdotter, which I bought especially, for the back (and now I have more leftover than I anticipated!) I do love how it matches the colour-simplicity but adds feminine curves. I love how it looks like it's pattern has been shaped by the random straight-line quilting. I love how the quilting only took me AN HOUR on my new machine! Maybe now that I know that, I'll give the next one a bit more time in the piecing department. But for now, this one can just enjoy being a baby quilt.

Meet Red.

It's always a bit strange getting back into 'normal' blogging after a tragedy. And a sewing machine review? It feels a bit crass. A bit shallow. But really, there's only so much depth one can take all the time. And in real life, I'm going well and thinking about normal, mundane things like quilt making and tidying and whether I'll plant winter veges in the garden this year, most of the time. And there are still other moments of remembering and reflecting and feeling sad or getting cranky at the kids. And this is my blog about real life. So sometimes I'll tell you how I'm feeling and sometimes I'll show you what I've made. And one doesn't devalue the other. (I'm talking to myself more than to you.)

And buying a new sewing machine at time like this? I questioned that too. (Can you tell I think way too much about the 'right' way of doing things?) Part of this whole experience has been learning to free myself of unexamined expectations and just be myself. And when you're in limbo for 2 weeks, waiting for final scan results, and after the bad news, you wait for 2 weeks before 'It happens' and then that takes another few weeks, you end up online a bit, filling in the time, planning for when you feel well again, dreaming, and shopping. So my new machine has felt like a wonderful gift, like a "Welcome Back!"

So this is my Janome Horizon MC7700QCP. Or "Red." I got her second hand, locally for a great price. I spent a lot of time reading about the kinds of things people liked and didn't like, found out about warranties on second hand machines (Janome doesn't honour them!) and asked questions on the Janome 7700 Yahoo group before I went and looked at her.

I was very, very tempted by the Janome 1600d, a straight stitch only semi-industrial machine (I would have loved a Juki, known for their reliability, and these Janomes are apparently made in the same factory, but easier to buy in Australia), but in the end, I decided that my old machine, my first ever given to us by my mum as a wedding gift (thanks Mum!), was so past it (constant tension issues, a buttonholer that has never made a button hole longer than half an inch, etc, etc) was just no longer enough to use as my back-up machine when I wanted to stitch something other than a straight line. And so far, I've only used the fancy stitches to play, but I really wanted to machine I could grow into, to learn to sew with textiles other than quilting cotton.

What I like:
I like the big plastic table that give me extra room for hiding fabric scraps and pins. (a dumping ground that doesn't impinge on the sewing!)
I like, like, LIKE the inbuilt walking foot. I couldn't ever get a walking foot that fit my old machine. In the photo above, it's sewing through about 12 layers of fabric and it didn't think twice. In the photo below, this was my first ever experience of not having to constantly pull and flatten and guide and unpick. Even with my hasty basting, I didn't get one pucker. And it was so fast!

So far the auto tension has been near perfect.
I don't use the thread cutter all the time, but I especially appreciate it when I stop sewing mid quilt.

What disappoints me:

I have had no problem with patchwork piecing or quilting, but rolling under an edge? It just did not like it! I changed feet 3 times to see if that would make a difference, but it kept eating the fabric and pulling it off to the side. I feel a bit sad about this seeing as these drawstring quilts are one of the things I make most often. There's about 12 of these little hems! The first to feed through were always the worst, and then if I chain pieced, it improved, so maybe I'll need to resort to feeding through a scrap? I hope not!

So overall, I'm about 85% happy, effected mostly by my experience making this quilt. I'm really enjoying my making being so much faster. (Especially with a head so full of ideas!) I'm loving the option to machine quilt well. I look forward to decorating little pockets and hems with the pretty leaves and funky helicopter stitches! And I hope there's someone out there that can advise me about my hems.
I can't tell you all how much it's meant to me to have this place to share, and you to share with. It's been so important for me to process and express in writing. From that first day in the scan room, I was forming words and sentences in my head. It's helped me make sense of it all.
There's sometimes talk in the online crafty world about how much to share. If you're interested, and have time, I recommend this TED talk about vulnerability. It's helped give me courage to care for myself and share as I need to.
So glad to be here,
Jodi. xx



I'm home. And I have been so cared for. I had my miscarriage at home, just Tim and I. The kids were away camping on a weekend planned months ago. And while awful, it was a relief to be alone, to not need the intervention I've had with my other births, to be given space to trust my body.

I'm learning that grief is a waiting game. 
And that the loss of a child (or the hope of one) is not the only grief, but the loss of a routine and direction and identity. 
Don't get me wrong. I'm not completely without direction (or the other things that make me me). And I'm glad for the choice to come home. Excited even. I'm just continually surprised at the seemingly chaotic mix of hopeful, sunny days and acutely-aware-of-the-change-of-plans days.

I've enjoyed reclaiming our front sunroom as my new workspace. With the cooler weather approaching, I look forward to spending sunny winter days in here. I enjoyed unpacking my fabric into this wall shelf that used to be full of Tim's hoarded electronics. I think it's happier with these colours!

I've sorted most of my scraps into these bins. They are all full from 4 pillowcases of fabric. I still have 2 pillowcases left! But I've put these away in a cupboard for when these bins empty a little.
And do you notice my new friend? I got her second hand, hardly touched for a fraction of the cost of a new one. I'll introduce you properly later. But for now you just need to know we are getting along like a house on fire, and I've called her "Red".

I've started on some scrappy quilts, building a lovely pile of works-in-progress while I give myself time to just make whatever tickles my fancy.
And I've set up my iron under the window facing the tree. When it's not raining, this is where the winter sun comes through.
I'm looking forward to those days.