Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Nibbles and Nature's gifts by Petals & Patches!

Just a couple of posts ago I was chatting about what inspires my designs and it got me thinking a bit more... and I realised that more often than not, animals take centre stage in my designs.  

It all started with Rosetta Rabbit, and then there was Deer Cabin, and now there is Nibbles...



Nibbles was designed in memory of my daughter's first pet - a wee mouse that loved to be held, and was the cutest little thing.  This is how I envision her up in mouse heaven, with her little suitcase loaded with sunflowers as she ventures on her safe journey through the golden fields!



I used hanky linen for both the stitchery and for the panels on the back of the cushion, just love its texture.  I used one mini charm pack (2.5in squares) for the border.



You can find the Nibbles cushion in this month's issue of Country Threads magazine, Vol 15 No 8.

I have a lot of friends partial to designing animals, and I've been meaning to post about this project for a while now!  This gorgeous BOM quilt named Nature's Gifts was designed by my lovely friend Leanne Knell over at Petals & Patches.  I've seen it in "real life" and it's gorgeous!




The animals are so divine, so delicately drawn with thread...







Don't you just love the outline quilting, too?




Of course this next block is very close to my heart with that cute mouse among the wheat grasses...




Just love this quilt so much!  If you'd like to learn more about it or sign up for the ongoing BOM, please contact Leanne at Petals & Patches.  I'm sure she'd love to hear from you!

Hmmm... so I wonder what animal will be next on the horizon?  Any requests?


Till next time!
Vikki xo

Friday, September 12, 2014

Inspired for Christmas

Like many of my friends and other crafty ladies I know, Christmas is never far from my mind when it comes to getting stuck in to a new project!

Are you making anything with a festive theme at the moment??

My friend, Alisha, and I caught up last week for a Christmas crafting day...  I didn't take any photos but I can tell you that we had a fabulous time!  I made Turkey and cranberry rolls for lunch, we drank spiced chai tea while the carols were playing in the background.... and the clove-scented candle filled my home with its promise of a white Christmas... heavenly!

Okay so I'll 'fess up... we didn't get any sewing done!  But we DID talk a lot about sewing!!  Does that count?  I aired the Santa doll that I began making around (ahem.....) ten (cough) years ago.  Oops!  I literally did have to dust him down as his feet were sticking out of the top of a bag, the black fabric boots looked like they'd been walking in a foot of snow!!



He's quite a big fella this one measuring in at a completed 34 inches tall.  Here's a close up picture:



He's named Folkart Santa by Cotton Way.  I started collecting bits and pieces to make him when I lived in England during 2003!  The little knitted stocking still has the purchase price ticket on it, in Pounds Sterling!



Little quilt blocks all made up ready for the border on his substantially country winter coat... packaged up (thank goodness) and "snow" free.



I do plan to get him finished before Christmas this year... I think he's been very patient, don't you?

It's sometimes hard to finish something though, when there are some delicious new projects on the horizon... like this 'hot of the press' set by Jenny of Elefantz...namely, Holly Bird Designs!  Let me introduce you...




Oh gosh, which one to make first?




The table runner?  Isn't that Holly Bird divine??



Or this Holly Bird sampler?  Lovely as a wall-hanging, or perhaps even a cushion front?



Okay - another close up from another project just because they're all so gorgeous and I can't stop myself!!




There are six separate patterns in this set and they're at a reduced price until 17 September... if you're drooling as much as I am head on over here to Jenny's shop to order yours!  I just love them to bits!

So along with Jenny's projects I also have this gorgeous Little Robin Red Vest designed by the lovely Simone over at May Blossom.  I saw a photo last year on Simone's blog that featured this little treasure decorating her Christmas table in centre stage, and I fell in love.



Isn't he gorgeous?!!  This pattern is available through Creative Abundance or on the May Blossom website.  Oh my, if you haven't already visited Simon'e website you're in for a real treat!  Even the home page is pure eye candy in itself... she's so clever!

Do you like my little green vintage cabinet door?  I'd been after one for ages, at a good price of course, and finally discovered twin doors at the Waverley Antiques and Collectibles Bazaar in Melbourne.  So this is my current vignette...



The gorgeous plant 'bauble' was gifted to me by Alisha as a belated birthday treat.  She planted it out with succulents and a wee porcelain bunny rabbit which is so shy it's hiding in this next picture!



Okay my lovely friends, I have one more Christmas idea to tempt you with and a cute stitch-along designed and offered by the sweet Wendy of Sugarlane Designs.  Here is the latest block - head over and visit Wendy here to view her other blocks and join in the festive fun!



Ooh!  (Squeal) It's beginning to get exciting now isn't it?!!  I am a Christmas addict, it's true.


Lots of love to you all!

Catch you round like a fruit loop!

Vikki xo

Monday, September 8, 2014

The comprehensive making of Coraline! A soft-doll story

Have you seen this movie

Do you share my love for it? 


I absolutely ADORE this movie, it is completely animated and the first of its kind to be filmed in 3D.  I love the set, it’s overcast gloominess that has such depth and character… and then Coraline herself, a face full of expression… a spirited girl with courage and a desire for justice.  In fact, all of the characters are quirky, crazy or eccentric in their own right, and the soundtrack wraps the whole movie up in a dramatic and haunting bow.  It gets a bit dark nearing the end so not advisable for young ones, always best to watch it yourself first if you have any doubts.  (You can see the trailer here).  My Rosie has just turned Nine and has been watching it for the past year, and it was at her request that I made a Coraline doll.

There were so many facial expressions to choose from!  
Which to pick?!


I searched the Net for some inspiration and came across this post at Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.  Elizabeth made her daughter a Coraline doll and has a free pattern available on her site.  I decided I wanted to make a smaller version (10” tall, about the same as a Barbie doll), so I used Elizabeth’s pattern for the front of the face, ears, body and coat.  I created my own patterns for the legs, arms and other clothing.  I started with the face…


Don’t you love the sticky-out ears?  They’re not so obvious when her hair is attached.  I used Prismacolour pencils to colour her face, with a brown fine-point permanent marker (Zig 005) for the outline of her eyes, eyebrows and freckles.  Then to create the whiteness of her eyes I used a white gel pen.  (I’m sorry about the blurry photo!)


I gave Coraline a couple of dimples at the end of her smile.  I did this by starting behind the ear, out at the corner of the mouth taking a small stitch and then returning to the starting position behind the ear and tying off.  You can just about make it out in the above photo.  She has a wooden dowel in her neck to support her rather large head.  (Again this is in Elizabeth’s instructions)

Next up, time to make some skinny jeans…


You’ll notice in the above photo that I’ve stuffed the legs and feet?  Well, yeah, the feet would not fit through the skinny jeans so I had to insert each leg through the bottom opening of the jeans leg, and then sew both the jeans and the top of the legs to the body at the same time.  It was a bit tricky!  I put some more stuffing in her derriere as well, as it was looking kinda flat!

Next up, I made her top.  I found the perfect knit fabric colour-wise by the way of a summer jumper hanging on the $2 rack of clothing in my Coles supermarket.  So I made my purchase and cut it up for my wee doll.  I used the draping method.  I cut some fabric utilising the seam as the ‘turtleneck’ for Coraline’s jumper, and then pinned around her.  I then sewed around her arms and body ensuring that there was a sufficient seam allowance and that the jumper would still fit well once it was turned the right side out.


I was pleased with the result, and sewed up the opening on the reverse of the jumper which was also a handy finished seam already on the up cycled garment!  Then we move on to Coat country…



I couldn’t get hold of vinyl material for the coat but it might have been tricky to sew with at such a small scale anyhow.  I purchased this faux suede at my local Spotlight and it had the right worn-in grungy kinda look which really appealed to me.  I zig-zagged the seams first, and did a lot of the sewing by hand.


Then up for some fun!  Completion!  In hindsight I wish I’d have used Elizabeth’s complete head pattern as the additional gusset would have given my doll a flatter head which is a significant feature.  But none-the-less, our wee Coraline sprouted locks (I used Pure wool entwine 8ply colour no 58 made for Spotlight pty ltd - Just to be thorough… ha ha!)





She still does not have welly boots (gum boots) or a bag… but she’s very happy bare-foot for now!

Okay – so here are some interesting links!!  This first one blows me away!  There’s an artist in the UK who knits in miniature!!!!  Her knitting needles are the size of embroidery needles!!!!  Check out the following video to behold how she knits so small - your jaw will drop!



Then there is this video link to get an insight in to how much time, talent and effort goes in to just the hair of these little characters, alone:



Then there is this video to see how the movie was made – you really get a good idea of the scale and complexity of the project. 


I hope you enjoyed my ‘making of’ post!  Have you made any/many dolls yourself?

Be back soon!

Vikki xo


Stop press:  For those of you who were interested in my posting about sensory defensiveness, I have not forgotten.  I just needed to take some time out from thinking about the whole thing – after I completed the therapy I was mentally and emotionally exhausted.  I’m rebuilding my strength and interest in so many things that I’d put to one side… so it won’t be too much longer before I’m ready to share more (smile).

Monday, September 1, 2014

It’s my turn for the ‘Blog hop with a Difference’–with an added difference!?!

I love learning about what makes people ‘tick’, do you?  What inspires people?  What initial spark is it that spurs them on to fulfil their dreams or desires?  I’m not just talking big dreams here, but the little every day ones that make us happy – like starting on a new sewing project that you intend to gift a friend, for example!

So it is with great delight that I read the posts that are popping up all over the blogosphere, the ‘Blog hop with a Difference’ posts… for they tell a bit more about each creative blogger… and with each paragraph you feel like you know that blogger just that much better!  Thank you to Jenny of Elefantz for passing me the baton! I really enjoyed learning more about you!! (You can ready Jenny’s post here)

So here’s a little bit more about me:

What am I working on at the moment?

I’m working on a forest-themed stitchery, with a cute Bambi-style deer taking centre stage.  I’m also working on a quilt I’ve designed for a friend, I won’t be showing any sneak peeks of that one as she reads my Facebook page!  Also on the go is another gift for a friend – a special birthday gift, and I’m about to embark on the quilting stage of a quilt for my daughter, Rosie.

How long does it take to create a project?

It really depends on the project, but I have become a lot quicker with my sewing skills over the years, I guess it comes down to confidence, practice and being clear in my head of what I’m doing.  As an example, it took me a few weeks of tweaking a drawing to come up with this stitchery design for a table runner… but the project only took in the region of one week (on average 2 hours per day) to make.  The most  time-intensive element for me is the designing (smile).

Deer Cabin sneak

Deer Cabin small

(The ‘Deer Cabin’ project is in this month’s stitchery issue of Country Threads magazine – Vol 15 No 7)  I used Lynette Anderson’s ‘Scandinavian Christmas’ range although the prints chosen lend themselves to being displayed all year round!

Okay – so here is my super quick project!  It was ‘Book Week’ in Australia a couple of weeks ago and I made Rosie this Garfield outfit (her current favourite book character) in just one evening!  Literally, I purchased the fabric from Spotlight at 4.30pm and drafted a pattern and sewed, bound a headband, stuffed front paws, ears and tail, and painted the stripes… until I finally collapsed in a heap at 2.30am the following morning!

Rosie as Garfield 1

Rosie as Garfield 2

What are my favourite things to create with at the moment?

I’m really enjoying creating with faux fur fabric – like with the Garfield outfit above.  It just feels so exquisite to handle!  I have recently made a Tilda doll (yet to be photographed) and used a snow-white faux fur for the coat – sublime!  It’s a bit tricky to sew with though, it tends to slip around.

How does my creative process work?

When it comes to designing, I have peaks and troughs.  Usually late at night my mind will start whirring… and I will have lots of ideas which I write down in a note book and illustrate with a rough sketch.  Weeks sometimes pass in between these designing ‘peaks’ but as I always come up with several designs each time I ‘peak’. I then concentrate on finalising and tweaking the ideas in the days that follow, and begin to create with my hands -  starting with whichever design excites me the most. 

If I’m working on a stitchery design I do a lot of tweaking.  I like to draw from photographs.

Deer sketch

(First rough sketch of the deer that became ‘Deer Cabin’ in the photos above.)

But then I re-trace my drawings, changing elements, adding elements… and I let it sit and wait, ponder and tweak, until I finally decide it doesn’t need anything ‘more’.  Then I choose fabrics and match embroidery threads to those fabrics, and finalise the ‘maths’ of the project on paper.  If I’m producing a pattern, I will take comprehensive notes throughout the creative process to make it easier to write the instructions.

How do I become inspired and stay inspired?

Mostly it’s by chatting with like-minded crafters!  “What are you sewing at the moment?” is one of my favourite questions to ask!  Looking at new fabric ranges is also a great inspiration to me – wondering what kind of projects I could make with certain prints.  Then there are craft and quilt shows – they keep me buzzing for days!  I also like to peruse patchwork and quilting magazines at the newsagency; check out blogs, borrow books from the library… and then there’s my favourite way of keeping inspired – getting together with a friend or two for a special day we’ve put aside solely for sewing and tea-drinking!  This is me with Alisha about this time last year… 

Alisha sewing 2[5]

We are catching up again this coming Wednesday for a day of sewing Christmas projects!!  We are planning to do this once a month… how exciting!!!  We both love to sew for Christmas, and I’m going to be making cinnamon tea and burning scented candles while festive music is playing… ooh, I’m so excited I can hardly wait!!

What is my signature style?

Gosh, it took me a while to work this one out.  My style is sweet country, I guess.  Sometimes a bit quirky, but mostly sweet. I like fresh and pastel country colours, muted blues, florals, and polka dots!  

Passing the baton…

Okay now here is where the extra ‘difference’ comes in to play!  Rather than passing the baton on to three friends… I’m passing it on to YOU!?  If you would like to participate, or course!  I’d love to learn more about you!!!!  All you need to do is the same as I have done in this post – answer the same questions, add additional ones if you choose, and post next Monday 7th September.  Are you game?  Ooh, and please let me know so that I can link to you and head on over to read all about what inspires you and what you’re creating at the moment… I’d love to know what makes YOU tick!

Wishing you a day full of excitement, fulfilment and creativity!

Vikki xoxo

Smile

 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A cute new bed for Kayla!

Hello gorgeous friends xx

I have been busy home-schooling my young Rosie this past few weeks while she undergoes some occupational therapy… it’s intensive and has taken most of my time and energy, but it’s a lovely experience bonding with my child although it hasn’t been plain sailing by any means!

I’m currently writing a blog post about the various challenges we have faced with Rosie’s “sensory defensiveness” issues in the hope that it may help someone out there who is drawn to read it.  I’m such a private person, but after chatting with friends and acquaintances on Facebook, and mum’s I have met at the local parks, I realise that the telling of my experiences has opened their minds to the kind of therapies that are available to help these special children.  It’s taking a while to write the post because time is something I am short on, and because I want to be as accurate and factual as I can be.

However, I did find time to make my gorgeous pooch, Kayla, a new bed to relax on.  She is always under the chair at my desk, lying on my feet, and I was hoping that she would use a bed as I constantly worry about moving my chair and hurting her! 

Kayla bed 2

The pattern is in a book by Mandy Shaw called Stitch at Home.  I sourced the main fabrics that Mandy used in her version as I had fallen in love with the fabric as much as the pattern!

Kayla bed fabric

Having no idea where to look, I did a Google search for ‘Scotty dog fabric” and eventually it popped up somewhere, I purchased it off eBay from a supplier in the UK.  It’s upholstery-weight fabric with a loose weave, so a lot of over-locking was required to ensure that it would wash-up well for years to come.

Kayla bed 1

Trying to get Kayla to pose for a photo was challenging!  She was finding it hard to sit still!

Kayla bed 3

Being short of time, I machine blanket-stitched around the five little dog kennels decorating the sides of the bed.  I embroidered the names of five dogs’ that are, or have been, special in my life.  Of course, Kayla was pride of place at the centre front stage! 

The outer bed cover is removable for washing, and the inner bed was made out of an old cot sheet and filled with the beans from an old bean bag we were no longer using.  Hmmm… was I right to go for a white background fabric?  I’ll let you be the judge of that!!

Kayla bed 4

Love this photo!  I’m sure she’s looking at Mr SUD’s thinking, “Dad… can you pleeeease get Mum to stop taking pictures?”

Kayla bed last pic

Okay Kayla… you can get off now – we are finished!

So the million dollar question – does she USE it?  Well, Mum’s feet are still the resting place of choice… but the bed suffices sometimes!!

It was great to whip something up relatively quickly with little hand-sewing. My mind is so full that sometimes an hour in front of the telly before bed is just about all I want to do!  Talking of which, have any of you seen The Great British Sewing Bee?  It’s just being aired in Australia now, but the UK is currently airing its second series.  Set in a funky wharf building on the London Thames’, ten contestants compete in three dress-making challenges each week in the hope to be named Britain’s best home sewer.  It’s addictive viewing!!

Till next time!

Vikki xoxo

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