Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Barn Star Mini Quilt + Your Free November Calendar

My secret projects are completed and on their way to the magazine, all in time for the deadline. I'm not exactly sure when I can share them with you but as soon as I can, I will. Its been a busy few weeks in the studio and its now time for things to return to normal. Its also time for my new Monthly Mini Quilt and your free November 2016 Calendar.
This month I have something a little different for you, so without further ado, here's Barn Star:
This design came together because I had a plan for our garden. Over the Christmas break, Les and I will be repainting the exterior of my studio and the back wall, which overlooks my vegetable garden, is huge, blank and begging for something to spruce it up; I want to paint a large Barn Quilt in this space :) Now, I thought this was an amazing idea but you know men; Les was skeptical, so I decided to show him just how stunning they actually look.
We did a little research on Barn Quilts and my plan began to grow on him. So I set to work, designing a quilt block to paint and decided it would be fun to make in fabric first, so it had to become this months mini quilt. This quilt is a combination of a modified Ohio Star block, enclosed in a gorgeous Calgary Stampede block. It will be perfect for my wall space and until the holidays, I have this mini quilt hanging in the studio for inspiration.
Barn quilts are painted onto pieces of wood and they are generally a single quilt block. They are large, bold and stunning, and the vibrancy of the solid colours make them visible from afar. The design is usually made up of squares, triangles and rectangles, making them easy to paint and they are hung on the barn, the house or any other outside building.
The PDF pattern for my Barn Star mini quilt includes everything you need to know to make three quilt sizes (14", 21" and 28") so you can choose which size suits you best. Its a quick and easy mini to piece and its another great opportunity to grab your stash of solids and have a play. Its also a great little quilt for beginners as there's nothing tricky to sew and they will learn some basic techniques.
I used a traditional red, white and blue palette for my mini but its such a lovely design and it would look gorgeous in any colour combination.
The Barn Star PDF pattern also comes with full step by step instructions and diagrams, and I've included a colouring sheet to help you plan your colours/fabrics prior to starting your mini quilt. There are also optional instructions to add a hanging sleeve or corner hangers.
If you would like to make your own Barn Star mini quilt in any of the three sizes, from today until the end of November, PDF patterns are available at the introductory price of $4.95 (AU) in my Big Cartel shop, HERE.
Or if you prefer an instant download, PDF patterns are also available in my Etsy shop, HERE.
I also have your free November 2016 Calendar, featuring the gorgeous Barn Star:
You can download your free calendar, HERE.
I hope you love my Barn Star mini quilt. I'm off to the hardware store for some wood, paint, tape and rollers, ready to start my own painted Barn Quilt for that blank studio wall, while hubby is still on board with the whole idea :)
Happy sewing :)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Five Things I'm Loving Right Now :)

I'm super busy in the studio at the moment, sewing projects that I can't show you just yet, so I thought I'd do a fun little post on five other things I'm loving and making time for, right now (in between long hours at the machine).
Who doesn't love Spring? Its the season of new beginnings after a long cold winter  We've been busy planting new garden beds and preparing the vegetable and herb gardens. The apple trees are blossoming, the perennials have doubled in size and beginning to flower and everything is looking bright and pretty.
I'm starting to take my projects outside to bind or setting up the laptop in the patio to write patterns, as I absorb all the beauty this season has to offer.
Maddi and I LOVED the "House Of Cards" TV series which then led us to "The West Wing". I did watch some of this when it first aired, in the 90's but I'm really loving it this time around. Both shows have given us a better, if not dramatised, understanding of the current US Election and how the whole process works. 
I love these old shows and Maddi has worked part time at Sanity (DVD and Music chain) for the last two years, so she has accured an endless supply for us to watch; it's one of those job that is beneficial for both of us :)
Mum is culling her sewing room and she gave me these old crochet pattern books. I remember looking through these as a child and picking things for mum to make. I can't wait to get started on my own projects from these books, particularly the lace doilies, I'm just waiting on a new hook to arrive in the mail.
Mum was taught to crochet by a German lady who lived next door to my grandmother. If mum had trouble with a pattern she would have to wait until her weekly lesson, for some help. It is so different for me, I can watch a quick You Tube video or Google a tutorial and I have instant answers. Thank goodness for the internet and all those generous people who share their knowledge :)
Reading is huge in our house. It would be rare to find any of us without a book in our hands at some point during the day/night. I love big book series (Game Of Thrones, Harry Potter, Outlander etc) and this fantasy series ticks all the boxes.  There are fourteen books in this amazing series and I'm slowly making my way through them all, getting totally lost in the pages and staying up way past my bedtime.
One thing Les and I have consistently made time for this year is Date Night. Doing such a "grown up thing" was a little difficult at first but our kids have their own lives and social engagements and we found ourselves just sitting at home waiting for them to return.
Its become an enjoyable habit now and Saturday night is usually dinner and a movie or dinner and Netflix. Its great to take off our "parent caps" for a few hours and just be a couple. Plans are made, problems and dreams are shared and the best part is, I don't have to cook and the food doesnt come on trays and no one asks if we want to "upsize".....bonus :)
So that's my fun little post on what I'm loving right now. I'll be back soon with my next monthly mini but for now, its back to the machine for me :)
Happy living and loving :)

Monday, October 17, 2016

Toffee Apple Cupcakes

With all the spookiness of Halloween, its nice to serve something elegant and pretty as a treat for guests. There are plenty of weird and wonderful baked creations on the net but I've decided to make some Toffee Apple Cupcakes for our little "scary movie night" with the girls;
When I was a little girl, our Primary School had an annual fair and it was there that I tasted my first toffee apple. I think I may have lost a baby tooth, biting through the toffee but it was a little piece of heaven to me. Every year this same lady would have a huge table full of toffee apples and I would spend all my coins at her stall :)
Years later I discovered, that the stall lady was actually the former owner of the house we purchased. To think she made so many toffee apples in our former small and pokey old kitchen was commendable and I can just imagine them lining the bench tops and covering the old table, before she packaged them up.
These little cupcakes are inspired by the humble Toffee Apple. They are loaded with apple and spice, topped with a gorgeous salted caramel buttercream and decorated with shards of dark, golden toffee. I like to take my toffee to just before the "oooops...too far" point to give it a little bitterness and that beautiful rich colour.  Dip those shards into that yummy buttercream and its heavenly.
The cupcakes are super moist and packed with gorgeous pureed apple and cinnamon, which gives them an intense flavour that is warming to the soul.
The kids will enjoy these cupcakes too and they are not as messy as the traditional sticky, toffee apples on a stick, plus they don't have to be healthy and actually eat the apple :)
If you would like to make your own Toffee Apple Cupcakes, you can download my recipe HERE.
A plate full of these will delight your guests and give your celebrations an elegant Halloween feel without all the spookies!
Happy baking :)

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Jack O'Lantern- Free Mini Quilt Pattern

Halloween is fast approaching and the stores are full of spooky costumes and decorations. This American tradition, seems to grow bigger and bigger each year here in Australia and is slowly becoming part of our culture as well.
I decided to make a little Halloween mini quilt, to add to our decorations this year, and I'm sharing the pattern, with you as well, as a little freebie. So here's my free Jack O'Lantern mini quilt:
This is a paper pieced pattern which finishes at around 11" square. You can whip this little quilt up in an afternoon and its super fun to make. I'm going to hang mine on my hall stand, along with a few other little decorations I have but you could also use it as a crumb catcher/placemat for your party food or as a cushion front or make a few blocks and sew a larger wall hanging.
Every Halloween, Maddi and I host a little "scary movie night" for a few friends. We're not really that brave and watch most of the movies from behind a pillow but its a fun night and a great excuse to get the girls together, eat some junk food and scare ourselves silly :)
My Jack O'Lantern isn't scary though and I love his big toothless grin. I don't have a large range of orange fabrics in my stash, so I went for a dark apricot colour combination which works just fine. It always pleases me to sew from my stash and I try hard to use the fabrics I have in the projects I'm making, without hitting the fabric shops.
If you would like to make your own Jack O'Lantern mini quilt, you can download the free pattern HERE.
The PDF file includes full step by step instructions and diagrams, the required paper piecing templates and a colouring sheet to help you plan your colour/fabric selections. There's also some tips on adding a hanger or corner sleeves, if you plan to hang your mini quilt.
I've never actually carved a pumpkin, so this is about as close as I will get to having my very own Jack O'Lantern and I'll be able to use him every year as part of our Halloween decorations :)
Happy sewing :)

Monday, October 10, 2016

Threadbare Handmade

It's no secret that I love crocheting almost as much as I love sewing. Crochet is so portable and social and I enjoy making items that are both practical and compliment our homes decor.
Because I love it so much, I have just opened a new Etsy shop called Threadbare Handmade and its a "little sister" to my quilting business. In this shop, I will be listing some lovely handmade crocheted items, available for purchase:
My stock range will vary from time to time, according to the patterns I find and want to try but for now, here's a quick look at the items I have available for sale.
First up, I have a few sets of gorgeous coasters because I like something special for my cup or mug:
Flower Coasters (Set of Four)
Flower Coasters (Set of Four)
Flower Power Coaster(Set of Six)
Spring Coasters (Set of Four)

And I also have a lovely selection of Mandalas, which are perfect to use under a vase of fresh flowers or beneath your favorite ornament or picture frame:
(Set of Two)
(Set of Two)
Magnolia Mandala (Set of Two)
Magnolia Mandala (Set of Two)
Spring Daisy Mandala
Spring Daisy Mandala

All items are made by me, from lovely cotton blend yarn which can be easily washed by hand or on a gentle machine cycle. All items are pretty and practical and they will add something special to your home decor. They would also make lovely Christmas presents, if you are looking to start your shopping now.
I have tried to keep the cost of my items down as postage is a killer and something beyond my control. After lengthy discussions with our postal office, all items will be posted worldwide, using Australia Post Parcel Post.
If you would like to purchase a homemade item, made with love by me, just visit my new Etsy shop HERE and don't forget to add this shop to your favorites, so you don't miss any new items I add in the future :)
Happy shopping :)
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