Wednesday, 21 January 2015

pay it forward {do you want to play?}

 I received a lovely surprise in the mail.
I unwrapped this gift from Anthea as part of the Pay It Forward idea that I read about on Anthea's blog Hibiscus Stitches.

Do you want to see what Anthea made for me? Of course you do!

Right, this is the outside. Do you know what it is?
Here it is with one side opened out. 
Ta da! It's an armchair sewing caddy. I love it!!
Anthea took note of the red, black and white colours of my needle book.
 Look how perfectly they complement one another!
Anthea also sent some other goodies. I love them all!
How cute is this? I think I'll wind some pretty ribbon on to it.
Aren't I spoilt?
I am definitely going to be spending some time in my favourite chair!
Thank you Anthea!

Now, would you like to receive a handmade gift from me?
It's time for me to Pay It Forward.

This is how it works.

What I will do:
I will send a handmade item to three people who would like to participate.

I will choose the three people randomly (you will need to be a follower of my blog and you need to have your own blog!).

I won't tell you when I am sending your handmade item - it will be a surprise. This means that you will need to provide me with your postal details. And then wait!

I will make and send your item within 365 days.

What you need to do:
If you put your name forward you pledge to make and send to three of your own blog followers.

You must have a blog. If it's reasonably up to date it will help the person making for you (me!) get a feel for what you would like to receive.

Items don't have to be 'quilty', just handmade (and they don't need to be big and/or time consuming to make).

Once you have received your gift from me you must post about Pay It Forward on your blog and keep the fun going.

So, do you want to play? If so, let me know by leaving a comment saying so!

I'll randomly select three people from those who tell me they'd like to participate. The three names will be announced on 4 February.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015

diy kids watercolour paintings {using food colouring}

I love simple, fun and creative activities. Particularly when they involve reading a book.

We recently read the book The Three Monsters Big Night Out by Laurence Bourguignon and Michael Derullieux after borrowing it from our local library.
It is a lovely, non scary story about monsters that was enjoyed by our 5 year old in particular. I wanted to keep the enthusiasm going so I got our water colour pad out of the craft cupboard. Our pad is A3 in size and cost a few dollars.
I used food colouring for paint; a teaspoonful added to a bit of water works well.
After drawing our monsters with lead pencil the painting began. We were working at our dining table, so I tore off some sheets of aluminium foil to place underneath the paintings. I'm sure there would have been a bit of seepage through to the tablecloth otherwise!
The idea was to draw and paint roughly; lines didn't need to be exact and neither did the painting.
 Everyone did a painting. These are Eli's four monsters.
Lily opted for a Star Wars painting.
These were a lot of fun and clean up was only a matter of washing out the paintbrushes and glasses used for the food colouring.

These paintings also look great if you outline them in black marker once they are dry.

So, if you have younger children or are looking after children and need an activity give this a go!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

cushions {cat and star}

Today is my niece's birthday. She is the oldest of all the grandchildren in our extended family and my Mum's favourite. All the other grandchildren won't mind me saying out loud that she is Grandma's favourite.

I like to make something for my nieces and nephews birthday gifts, though it has its drawbacks. In the past they worked out that if I made a messenger bag for one person's birthday it meant that everyone was going to get one on that year. I have recently changed my strategy and now make something less predictable. It's not very exciting being the 7th niece or nephew to receive a messenger bag or a zippered pouch. There's no point in wrapping the gift when it comes to that!
Another niece recently turned 18. We convinced her that we were giving her a pet turtle. Did you know that you need a category 3 licence to keep an oblong turtle in Western Australia? And that you have to be 18 years old to apply for that licence? Anyway, we weren't giving her a turtle at all (though we did make a turtle using a river stone just so we couldn't be called liars!), but gave her the lap quilt that she began sewing a few years ago.
For today's birthday girl I decided to make a cushion. My niece has been an adult for quite a while now and moved out of home some time ago. She also likes cats, so I though a cute paper pieced cat in the centre of a cushion would be a gift that she'd love. I used the free pattern by Janeen who blogs at Quilt Art Designs. The pattern can be found on Craftsy.
Then I decided that I should make another cushion. My niece loves pretty
floral fabrics (and would have been in her element had she been born during the 1980's), so using a floral print from Lily Ashbury's Fancy range was an obvious choice. I thought it might nice to throw her a curve ball and make a cushion that was traditional in design but modern in every other way. I chose a low volume background fabric so as not to scare her too much, and because it has cute little birds on it. Cats go with birds don't they? I chose the Sawtooth star because it looked simple (that decision was made entirely for me) and it is also representative of her name.
I love this cushion so much that I really wanted to keep it for myself. But we are leaving right now to gift both cushions to her.
As usual, I used Svetlana's wonderful tutorial for installing a covered zipper in a cushion cover. Svetlana is the queen of cushions!

Monday, 12 January 2015

diy lighted glass block {christmas decoration}

This year we made these wonderful lighted glass blocks. We seemed to see them in every home that we visited in when we were in the US last Christmas. I love them!

They are very simple to put together once you have all the bits and pieces. That's the trickiest thing about making one of these - getting all the bits required (in Australia anyway!).

There are only four items required to make a lighted glass block; the glass block (are you surprised?), battery operated lights, a silhouette for the front and a piece of ribbon. Easy peasy.
I think that sourcing glass blocks at a favourable price must be much easier in the US than in Australia. I was able to track down some blocks in a variety of Bunnings stores for $3.95 each. They are called Mist and are not a regular item at Bunnings. If you live in Australia and would like to make your own I would suggest that you call your local Bunnings store first. Some of the large Bunnings warehouses had none while some of the small stores did. They are a promotional item that come and go, so you just have to try your luck.

If you are willing to pay more (I wasn't!), specialty glass block suppliers sell blocks that start around $8.
This is probably a good time to mention that if you are going to the trouble of making one, you make as well make at least six. Or more. Because as soon as you start you will think of ten more people that you would love to give one to.

So, once you have your glass block you will need to drill a hole in it.
Eli was very excited about this part. He wasn't as excited about driving around to all the Bunnings stores picking up the glass blocks. I wasn't really too fussed on that part either. I know Eli was excited because he continued to wear his safety goggles for hours after I had finished drilling.

We put our glass brick in our vice to keep it still during drilling. I know not everyone has one of these, but don't worry. As you'll find out very soon, you don't actually need one of these.

We taped off a very small area on the side of our glass block to help prevent our drill bit from skipping around. With safety goggles on (and Eli standing well away) the drilling commenced. And went on and on and on.

Don't bother using a glass/tile drill bit. Totally useless. I think it would take you 17 years just to drill one hole.

What you need instead is a diamond encrusted core drill bit (about $20 at Bunnings). I used a 15mm bit and it was perfect!

 The only drawback is that this type of drill bit gets very hot when in use, so it can only be used when wet drilling.
See? I told you that a vice wasn't necessary - not when you can hold the block with your feet!

Oh how I wish I had skinny ankles!

This is a good time to tell you that I used a cordless drill. Don't use an electric drill for wet drilling!!

Each hole took no longer than 90 seconds to drill.
My tip when drilling: Don't go too slow. Find a medium fast speed and your drill bit won't skip along the top of the glass block.
When the drill gets all the way through the thickness of the glass block a 'plug' of glass will drop to the bottom of the block inside. Use the hose to put some water inside the block. Swish it around - this will collect any fragments of glass that came away with the glass 'plug' - and tip it out into a bucket covered with a stocking.
Let the glass blocks dry out completely for a day or two. If there are still a few glass fragments inside once the blocks are dry - you'll be able to see them clearly - just give the block a few gentle taps and the fragment(s) will fall out through your drilled hole.

Once your hole is drilled the rest is fast, easy and fun.

Choose your vinyl silhouette and peel off the thicker paper backing. I purchase my vinyls from Candice at Vinylized Crafts on etsy. I was ordering more than 30, so upon enquiry, Candice was able to reduce her regular price for me.
 For friends or family who I wasn't sure would feel comfortable with a nativity I made a word Christmas tree lighted block.

Make sure that your drilled hole is at the bottom and rear of your block before you apply the vinyl. Also give your block a quick wipe and ensure the surface where the vinyl will be applied is dry.
The Bunnings glass blocks came with a chalky, white paint around the outside edges. I scraped it off one block - it took a lot of effort and a lot of time - but left it on for all the others. You don't see it when the ribbon is tied around the outside.

Place your vinyl on the front of the block. Hover over the block first to help centre the vinyl before allowing it to contact the block.
 Peel off the front paper covering the vinyl.
I told you it was easy, fast and fun!

Insert a 20 LED string of lights through the drilled hole. The battery end will stay outside the block; just tuck it behind the block so it isn't seen.

I used white lights for the nativities and coloured lights for the trees. I bought these at Bunnings and Masters (hardware stores) for $2 and $1.50 respectively. I preferred the Bunnings lights, as they came with the two AA batteries required. They're great - they have a switch to turn the lights on and off.
 Tie a bow around the outside of the block and trim the ends of the ribbon. I found that 1.3m of ribbon was a perfect length. I used wide, glitter ribbon for the trees and red hessian ribbon for the nativities. I found both of these at Red Dot for $3 or $4 for a 3m roll.
 And you are done! Isn't it pretty?

I can see myself making more of these. Provided I can find some more glass blocks!

Saturday, 10 January 2015

finish along 2015 {q1}

I thoroughly enjoyed participating in last year's Finish Along hosted by Katy at The Littlest Thistle.

I was able to complete a number of projects that I know I wouldn't have finished if it weren't for my finish along list.

This year the Finish Along is being hosted by Adrianne at On the Windy Side.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

It's time for me to make my list of projects I would like to get finished during the first three months of 2015. So, here it is:

1.  My Trip Around the World. I'm sure everyone is tired of seeing this one, but it will probably stay on my list until it's done. So I should probably just finish it!

2.   This scrappy quilt for the boot of the car. It's ready for quilting. I think the slippery minky has been putting me off. I haven't used minky as a backing before.

 3. This scrappy blue, green and purple quilt. You've seen it before so there's no need to explain.
 4.  Lily's Star Wars quilt. I still have three characters to paper piece and then I'll start removing all the paper. My least favourite part of the process.

5.  The play tent for our table. I had hoped to have this ready to gift for Christmas. Oh well. Perhaps I'll tackle this one first so that it can be played with during the remainder of the school holidays.

6.  I popped this one on the list because it will be the fastest to finish. Zoe has been asking for a messenger bag for a long time. This is (nearly) it!
So there you have it. I have formally made my list. And I will start on it as soon as I have finished making some cushions for my niece...

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

zippered pouches

I didn't need to start another project, but my current projects are not ones that can be finished quickly and I needed a little break. So that I will not abandon them completely.

Close friends of ours have had a teenage daughter in hospital for quite some time. We live a long, long way from them and I was feeling quite helpless from so far away. So our family has been mailing little bits and pieces to her; drawings, letters, pyjamas, lip balm.  It was the only thing I could think of that might provide some encouragement and perhaps a smile during difficult hospital days.
When I saw Toni's zippered pouches tutorial I thought that one of these would be ideal to send in the mail. Flat and small, yet still useful and pretty. Much prettier than my terrible photos.

So I made four. I'll send one, one will probably be nabbed by one of my own children and I'll still have two spare. They can go in the present box.

I quilted each pouch front differently and rounded the corners on two of them. I really like the rounded corners.
As part of my production line I cut out all the pieces for each pouch and kept them in separate piles.
And then I noticed something.
Two of these were missing.
I knew I had cut them out, but I couldn't find them anywhere.
And then I found them.
Oh. I cut some more.

I also made another boxy pouch. I adore this tutorial! And I love boxy pouches made from scraps! I think I'll send this one to our recovering girl in a month or two (her recovery will be long) so as not to smother her all at once with too much mail. Hopefully it will be an unexpected surprise that arrives between letters and drawings from he kids.
It's always so lovely to sit back and admire a creation.

Oh, and look what we pulled up out of the garden!

Miracle carrots. My vegetable garden looks terrible right now. I'm amazed that anything edible has come from it. They were turned into some delicious honeyed carrots!

I spied some beetroot that I will pull up and then the whole garden bed needs a good digging up so that I can start again. When the weather is not so hot!
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