Monday, 30 December 2019

Surviving Christmas

I'm rather glad that Christmas is over. It isn't so much the material build up that bothers me but the social expectations that are rammed down your throat by media and advertising. The visions of kids opening their presents, getting excited by meeting Santa.

Having a boy that has a disability makes the Christmas experience very different for us and not one that I am totally at ease with. For his sister, there are the usual gifts and revelry. But for Nicholas, it is just the same day as yesterday and so long as he has water, cookies and iPad he is happy with the world. It is hard to plan a "special Christmas" when there is no excitement in receiving a present; no curiosity, no engagement.

The upside is that there is no arguing over what to wear or what gifts to get. For Nicholas we got him practical gifts.

A cordless hair clipper.

It doesn't sound like much, but the trips to the hair dressers have gotten painful. He doesn't like the sound of the clippers or the sound of the salon. Screams, pinching and biting are normally part of the experience for us as we try and make the experience as painless as possible using iPads and cookies as a hook to get him to cal down. After reading an article on Finding Coopers Voice, we decided to bring the experience home. If we do it often enough he will get used to it. The first time we used the clippers we still had screaming, pinching and biting (broken skin). But at least it wasn't in front of a salon full of people wanting "me time" by getting their hair done.

Social Stories, I hear you yell out! Nicholas isn't cognitively strong, so social stories don't have the impact that you would hope for. Believe me we have tried many strategies; we know our son and how he reacts to things.

So I am glad that Christmas is over and done with and that we didn't over buy for Nicholas things that he wouldn't play with or destroy.

Sunday, 10 November 2019

National Novel Writing Month

I've been busy this month doing NaNoWriMo, National Novel Writing Month.

The write club that I work with at school has ten girls interested in writing stories for NaNoWriMo and they have committed to writing 3,000 by the end of the month. I've been doing entries over at my teacher librarian blog.

I, however, have committed to the 50,000 (of course). Not sure if I will get there but I am going to give it a try. I have a few ideas for my story, so lets see if I can get there.

But that doesn't mean that I am not creative. I've been busy making little quote cards for the students that they can use as inspiration to keep writing and of course button badges.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Making your own book weight

A friend has this beautiful leather book weight that she uses when she has to power read though a book. In lieu of one, I used my grain filled heat pack to keep the pages open as I was ploughing my way through the Margaret Attwood book, "The Testaments", last week.

But here are some crafty alternatives if you have a spare afternoon.

Simple Book Weight
Martha Stewart has a simple pattern for a book weight to keep her cook books open.

Book Weight Carrot
I love this idea and I can see it being done in lovely patchwork fabrics in orange and green.

Book Bone

This is a pattern for a soft toy bone. But simply replacing some of the filling with weights, would make it into a lovely Book Bone to hold your pages open.

Once you start looking at soft toy patterns there are so many possibilities. Bendable snakes, Sea Horses or little starfish as weighted objects to keep your book pages open. If you are not in a crafty mood you can buy a soft toy and open it and fill it with weights.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Foxy Four Patch Baby Quilt (Part 4) Quilting and Binding

It took me ages to settle on the quilting method for this baby quilt. I tried some quilting samples using the machine, but wasn't happy with how it looked.

I wanted to go for something more delicate and "handmade" looking.

After unpicking lines of machine stitching and lamenting over my strategy, I found some Sue Spargo Embelishment Perle threads at Honeysuckle Patchwork in Bendigo and a beautiful orange gingham backing fabric.

A sample line of top stitching cemented my thinking and some tailors chalk kept me on track.

Really happy with how the stitching looked. I opted not to go through every square vertically, but I did every horizontal line of stitching. I liked the way that it looked.

Binding was done with orange home spun. I sew a 2.5 inch width strip of fabric (folded over so that it is 1.25 inches in width) sewn to the edge of the quilt and then I hand stitched around the edge of the quilt. I am hopeless at doing binding corners, so I just do one side at a time and try and make it look as neat as possible. I like the heaviness of the jelly roll strip binding.

The quilt has now been washed, pressed and gifted and it awaiting the arrival of it's new human!

Moving onto the next project!

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

How to make Harry Potter Wands

It is Harry Potter day on Wednesday 31st July and the daughter and I decided to make some wands for the display in my School Library (Learning Commons).

What you will need:
  • Sandpaper
  • Old Chop sticks or twigs from the garden. Make sure that they are nice and dry.
  • Glue Gun
  • Glue
  • Primer
  • Paint (acrylic)
Step 1:

Make sure that your chop sticks are nice and clean, just run some sandpaper over them to take off any rough edges (or left over food).

Step 2:

Using the glue gun, start to built up the shape of your wand. Once you have applied the glue, dunk it into a tumbler of cold water to set the glue and then move onto the next wand.

Step 3:

One the wands are dry again, prime them with a base colour, we chose black.

Step 4:

Once the prime colour is set, use acrylic to dry brush your colours onto the wands. We used some acrylics that we got from the cheap $2 shop.

Step 5:

If you want, you can coat your wands in clear lacquer to protect the paint.


Wednesday, 26 June 2019

Vintage Test pattern

Doesn't this just look like a quilt pattern crying out to be constructed!

There are some other great pictures on this site as well!

If I have a spare hour, I might work out pattern components.

Who would be interested?

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

Foxy Four Patch Baby Quilt (Part 3) Border Sash

The next section to the quilt top is to decide how you want to sash or border your quilt.

Different colours or combinations will create different effects. An orange border will make the orange patches jump out in a different way to having a grey border.

You can sash the patchwork in the same colour, but I've opted to give each corner a small 2.5 inch square.

Sewing the sash

Sew the sashes onto the opposite sides of the quilt.

Then prepare a sash to be sewn to the top and bottom of the quilt. Getting the seams to line up might be a little tricky.

When attaching the top sash, I don't fully sew attach it. I use the iron to work out where the seam will be and then I trim and sew the corner square in place.

One the corner square is on the sash, finish attaching the rest of the sash to the quilt.

Voila! A finished four patch baby quilt.

Time to think about how to quilt it!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

[slow craft] Constellation Quilts

Over the last few days, pictures of the most gorgeous constellation quilts have been popping up on my feeds. It is either the Baader-Meinhof effect or something else is happening in the universe!

I have finished my Foxy Four Patch Quilt top, have pinned to the back with batting and now I am just lamenting over the type of quilt stitching it needs. Hand or machine? Abstract or linear? I am undecided. I have some weeks up my sleeve, as the baby is not due until August.

But these gorgeous quilts kept on popping up and tempting me with their complexity and fascination.

I love the detail that is in the hand quilting, as blogged about by Cashmerette Pattern blog.

It is a natural progression from Ellen Harding Baker's Solar System Quilt or Jimmy McBride's Stellar Quilts. These quilts take hours, but look at the detail in them.

If I wanted to quilt this constellation, then Haptic Lab have done most of the hard work for me, mapping the Southern Hemisphere and putting it onto a pattern for me.

Skymania has maps of the Southern Hemisphere Skies that you could easily transfer onto a pattern for quilting. You can use their tools to set a time and also invert colours so that it makes it easier to print out and copy.

I will add this idea to my "to make" pile. One day perhaps!

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Foxy Four Patch Baby Quilt (part 2) Constructing the patchwork rows

When working a piece of patchwork there are some big decisions that need to be made.

Do you create each four patch block, sash it and join it together (A) or sew half the sash to the four patch block and run a strip along the top of the blocks (B)?

Certainly (B) is a lot faster in the short term, but consider the advantages from doing (A).

Option A

If you make each individual block you can measure and trim with your rotary blade to tidy up any uneven sewing. When sewing the sections together make sure that your seams line up.

For ironing, I pressed the seams open on the initial four block design and then with the grey sash, I pressed the seam into the block to add a bit of bulk. The key to seams is being consistent throughout the whole project, however, many would argue that seams need to be pressed open.

Option B 

The B option, even through it seems easier, can lead to misalignment of seams running from the top to the bottom of your quilt.

I tend to like to construct each row using the method described in A, it gives me a chance to line up all the blocks and the extra seam at the top of the row allows me to line up the next row more easily.

It also means that you can either construct it as a row of blocks or a cluster of four blocks.

When I was putting this quilt together, I initially created a cluster of four blocks to see what the design looked like. This picture looks a bit squeegee because I haven't trimmed or steamed out the blocks yet to get them to align properly.

One of the reasons why I am reluctant to sew with my son around is because when doing patchwork you are continually sewing and ironing. So the iron is on all the time; set at cotton with lots of steam.

Nicholas is quite uneasy on his feet and when he starts wandering around the house, looking for cookies or a drink, he wants to get involved in what I am doing; which means moving parts on the sewing machine and a hot steam iron.

My anxiety levels go through the roof and sewing no longer becomes the joyful escape that it once was many years ago. But with him out of the house I can relax and enjoy the process, even though I tend to work like a demon to get my projects finished!


The ironing is the most important part of making a quilt. You can use a hot steam iron to stretch fabric to line up seams or shrink fabric to meet a seam.

Creating each of the four patch blocks with grey sashing individually means that there is less likelihood of seams looking a bit off. You can steam and trim each block using your rotary cutter and ruler and make sure that things like up; as you go.

If the seams are a not straight, spray the block with water and use the steam iron to straighten them up. Iron until dry and press the back seams open. If you are pinning together blocks to sew them together and they are not aligning properly, pin them and then give the cotton a shot of steam to either stretch or shrink the fabric.

Here are some links about ironing and patchwork.

End of the row sash

Once you have finished a row, add the end sash.

Create 5 rows that look like this:

On the sixth row we will add the bottom row of sashing.

The inside of our quilt should look like this:

Press with an iron and trim the outside of the quilt ready for the border sash.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Foxy Four Patch Baby Quilt (Part 1)

Sewing and crafting is such a rare occurrence for me at the moment.

My son was given the opportunity to go on a weekend camp through one of the NDIS providers. So out came the sewing machine, a quick visit to Lincraft on the way home and I was set for a weekend of crafty goodness.

 Fabric selection from Lincraft

1 metre of the foxy fabric
2 metres of each of the greys
1 fat quarter of grey gingham
1x spool of grey thread

Here is the plan .... to make a four patch repeating block for a baby quilt.

Fussy cut the foxes out (the longest part of this process) and block each four patch with the darker grey.

I only had one fat quarter of gingham, so I had to use it sparingly.