Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The frill of it all

It's safe to say that I love ribbons. Indeed, my sewing room houses many a hat box and many a suitcase filled with a plethora of gorgeous, frilly ribbons. I seem to be forever fashioning oodles and oodles of flowers out of an abundance of pretty ribbons as embellishments; adding them  to whatever it is that I am stitching at any given time......quilts, bags, cushions, a hat, a jacket, et cetera. So often a project is begging  to have a cabbage rose, a pansy, a ballerina-like fuchsia or some other floral pretty to add a little pizazz, a little bit of oomph to it!




Mmm.....well I did say that I LURVE ribbons!!

It's also safe to say that I love cushions. Cushions are quick and easy to stitch. There are a gazillion ideas that one can pluck out of one's brain pan, to fashion a cushion, and they always add the final decorating touch to a chair, a sofa, or perhaps a bed.

So, I decided to stitch a cushion............a cushion in the guise of a basket with an overspilling abundance of beauteous, frilly, ribbon flowers to sit atop the basket. I selected a pretty floral fabric as a base for the bouquet of flowers and an upholstery fabric which reminds me of a basket weave for the basket.


 So I gathered a profusion of rainbow hued ribbons and began to fashion many flowers and leaves.
 
I fashioned masses of flowers and leaves; wired ribbon roses, pansies, ruched frilly zinnias and stitched them onto the cushion until they resembled a floral-filled bouquet of vibrant, dancing colour!
 


Every bouquet of sweet smelling flowers requires a butterfly to rest atop the pretty blooms. After all, Hans Christian Anderson once said, "just living is not enough, said the butterfly. One must have sunshine, freedom and a little flower." Oh, I so agree, though I must have many, many flowers!!



And......of course every basket of flowers requires a sentiment of love to be attached.
 

An everlasting floralicious bouquet, pretty forevermore.


Sitting  ever so prettily atop one of my upholstered parlour armchairs (upholstering preloved chairs is another love of mine) that I upholstered a li'l while ago.





Ooops....I don't know how this 'pretty' slipped into this post.......but this is yet another basket of flowers, cushion, which lives on the bed in one of our guest rooms. A room evoking a Japanese flavour.
 

Aaah yes......cushions, cushions, cushions....a gal can never have too many, can she?? After all, they add the finishing touch to any room!!

Linking to Randi at Show and Tell Tuesday

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Shadey Lady

Look, look, look......what  I discovered whilst fossicking for gold at a market! These pre-loved antiquities coated with layers of dust, were just waiting for moi to stroll by. A gal can never have too many lamps don't you think. As they appear, I must admit that these specimens of lighting fixtures are a tad boring. The gold lamp bases do nothing for my decorating sensibilities, but fear not, with a lick or two of white paint, then sanded a little so that just a peep of gold shows through; they will be more to my liking. Then there are the lamp shades. The turquoise shade ('tis a bit old and tired)  likewise, doesn't really make my heart go pitter patter, but I will dive into my 'dowry of cloth' and start to play and fiddle faddle with my pretty fripperies, till I whip up something half acceptable.
 

I don't need to remove the outer fabric for the cream shade, as I am going to stitch the doilies onto it. I fear that the turquoise fabric will have to be 'ripped' off. Now all I need to do is put a doiley here and a doily there and when I come up with an arrangement pleasing to my li'l eye I will hand stitch the doilies all over, carefully snipping as I go.



I love this southern belle. It seems that quite a few southern gals have found their way into my dowry of cloth. "Waa-ll ahh do declare, (please excuse my drawl) aren't these pretties just dripping with oodles of sugary, syrupy, southern charm!!"
 

  
I had so much fun tarting up one lamp shade that I had to, had to, tart up the other.



I hot glued cotton lace both at the top and the bottom on the inside of the shade to cover all those nasty, messy bits.



Mmmm......now what trimming shall I embellish with??

Perhaps the button fringing......
 

Or.....the bobble fringing?? Decisions.....decisions!!


 Me thinks the natural coloured bobble fringing will put the finishing touch to my lampshade fancy!! Not bad, not bad at all!! Doesn't my Southern Belle just glow with luminosity??

 
I love, love, love mirrors!! I found this gorgeous mirror at the same market a li'l while ago.....see I told you that it would look ever so spiffy with a lick of white paint.
 
 
Ooh-la-la........ my 'new', revamped lamp, with its lick of white paint and refashioned doiley shade, sitting every so prettily in situ, on my bedside table. I must admit I love it; it adds a li'l vavoom to my boudoir, don't you think!! Now it's off  to find a suitable home for my other refashioned lamp.


Linking up to I have to say - Show and Tell Tuesday

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Home is where our story begins

Imagine, if you will, heading off to work, just like any other day, and later that morning receiving news that a sea of fire had swept up a gully,  devouring everything in it's raging path, including your home and everything that you possessed. To me such a catastrophe is unimaginable, incomprehensible; but late last year a very dear friend and her family lost everything except the clothes they were wearing that day, as a result of a ravaging bushfire.
 
My friend and her husband designed and built their beautiful home  themselves. As a family, so much blood, sweat and tears....so much love and extraordinary amounts of time had been expended into the building and making of their home. I cannot begin to fathom the magnitude of  loss, the grief that they are experiencing.

Our homes are a place where we pen our family's narrative. A story, where page after page, depicts our family life, the toing and froing of daily life, the emotions, the love, the romance, the sadnesses, the arguments, the happy times, the ridiculous times, the quiet times, the celebratory times, all the wonderful memories. It is a story punctuated with illustrated pages of gloriously coloured pictures of personal collections that are assembled throughout each room; the letter that you wrote when you were ten, to your much-loved father who has passed on; the tchotchkes that each child has made and given you with so much child-like love on those special occasions.....Mother's Day, birthdays, Christmas; the presents that friends and family have made you; the funny sentimental things that your children have kept, bringing to mind special childhood memories of the holidays at the beach or the camping trips. The photos of your children, your mum and dad, your wedding; the special jewellery that once belonged to your grandmother, the precious and irreplaceable childish stories and drawings that each child wrote before they learnt 'proper grammar'; the list is endless. These are the things that are irreplaceable, that cannot be brought back. The turning of the pages goes on and on and on, telling the story of the home as a sanctuary from the rigors of the day, the haven where we go, to just breathe and find solace and rest, surrounded by the things, the million and one things, that maketh our homes, home. Our homes are the essence of us, they are in a sense who we are. Our homes are the 'magnum opus' of our family life.

A couple of years ago, before we moved to Tassie, I made a special quilt for my friend's 50th birthday. My friend loves country decor with a li'l bit of lace, a li'l bit of this and a li'l bit of that; so I fashioned a quilt that celebrated the special friendship that we shared. Of course this quilt is no more, it has gone up in smoke, so I thought that, I would stitch her another quilt  that perhaps would cheer her up just a little.
 
My friend's 50th birthday quilt, that is no more.




The new quilt is similar but different. It is fashioned from similar fabrics and bits and bobs.....lovely Italian vintage coverlets, damasks, satins, doilies, Swiss and French laces, buttons, swirls and swirls of ruched ribbons, the odd piece of vintage jewellery et cetera.
 









 This quilt does not lend itself to quilting. All the laces, ribbons, embellishments et cetera on the quilt, are stitched with tiny, invisible stitches through the top layers through to the batting without being visible at the back. To anchor the backing fabric to the batting, I have stitched doilies through to the batting and hand quilted stems and leaves to give the appearance of flowers randomly interspersed all over the back. So in essence, this quilt can be displayed either side. It is a quilt that could be displayed on a bed or perhaps as a throw on a chair.





Since that fateful day I often think of my friend and wonder how she is getting on each day and coping with the magnitude of what has happened and coming to terms with enormity of losing her home. She is a sentimental gal and loved her home. She must yearn to go back home. Her's and her family's life has been thrown into a hellish nightmare from which there is no waking up to the relief that it was all just a bad dream. No, for my friend the reality is trying to each day begin to put some semblance of order back into her family's life and try to make a fresh start. My friend and her family have received the most amazing and overwhelming community support, both from friends and to a large degree, people whom they have never met before. They will rebuild a lovely home and begin to make new memories......but the very thought of rebuilding must be an overwhelming burden and difficult to get one's head around. My friend is a lovely christian gal who has a deep, deep faith in God. I know without a doubt that His closeness in these awful days is precious to her. He and she have walked many a difficult path together. I have no doubt that my friend and her story will be an immense blessing to those whom she meets each day and shares her story.
 
I hope that my wee li'l gift, somehow in a very, very small way, will perhaps be a teeny, tiny paragraph, underscored with much love, in the re-writing of my friend's story; the story of her new home. I hope that my wee gift will help my friend  take a few lighter steps down that impossible path that she finds herself walking along.


I know my friend will rewrite a beautiful story. My friend will slowly begin to write many new chapters. Chapters filled with fresh hope, strength, faith, love, beauty, fun...and yes, even laughter. She will pen her story with many, many wonderful words, insightful words, words of understanding, words of compassion; and, she will begin to illustrate her story, collating the most glorious, coloured pictures, that only she, with her own inimitable style and grace, can do!!

 
 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Origami....'tis easy.... isn't it?

I've been told it is......but I have always found it a tad puzzling. It seems that whenever I have attempted origami, there has always been a blockage from the picture of the origami piece before me, to the transmission of the electrochemical message to my brainpan!! Indeed, there is something amiss with my electrical wiring!! It was always embarrassing, when I worked in a before and after school workplace, that the kiddos 'got' it before me!!

So, one would think that, at all costs, I would avoid making a quilt which involves the skill of origami. But no, not me......I am going to stitch not one, but two quilts which to some degree, both, involve the  skill of origami.

The next two quilts that I am going to stitch are a cathedral window quilt and a quilt using Japanese silks which will have beautiful origami fabric flowers scattered upon it.

Crazy!! I know!! But I am going to conquer my inadequacies and give it a burl. After all we learn from our mistakes....don't we?

For a long time now I have wanted to make a cathedral window quilt. I have been traversing through cyberspace and found a wonderful tutorial over at Hyena in Petticoats which perhaps even I will be able to master.

Although technically not really origami, a cathedral window quilt does resemble origami in that each square is folded separately to give the appearance of a cathedral window. I have gathered oodles of scrap fabrics and cut squares in readiness for my quilt.



The folded plain fabric that makes the envelope-like frames for the patterned fabric scraps, is a white cotton with a paisley-like pattern printed thereon.


If nothing else, I will become quite proficient at the skill of envelope making upon the completion of this quilt, as there are hundreds to be prepared!!  What was I thinking when I came up with the brilliant idea of making a queen size quilt for our guest bedroom??

Here is the progress that I have made thus far. The windows are 4 inch squares.
 


I love the fact that this is a 'quilt as you go' quilt...sewing and quilting at the same time!
 
As my quilt has batting in it, it can be a little tricky to get the corners perfect......and those of you who read my blog from time to time, know that sometimes (oh all right...most of the time) I can be quite persnickety. I am not quite sure how one accomplishes every corner to be the same. I have found that sometimes they are pleasing to my eye and sometimes they definitely are not!! I have no idea why this is so, as the process is the same for each window.
 
Me thinks that this quilt will be one where I will have to adopt the attitude of satisfactionism and not perfectionism. It will be difficult for me, but I'm guessing that, by the time that I have stitched a couple of hundred or so of the blasted li'l windows, I really won't care. When I have stitched the last stitch, my brain will transmit the message that every corner is just fine! Besides, I will convince myself that most of our guests won't even notice......as they are destitute of vision anyway and depend on glasses for seeing their world!
 
When I started this quilt I hand sewed tiny invisible stitches around the edge of the window. Then I machine stitched around the window as well to give a quilting effect on the back. As this took oodles of time, I thought there had to be a better way to do this. I skedaddled down to my local fabric store ('tis only one and a half hours away) and bought some 'no more pins' glue. This enabled me to glue under the fabric at each corner and then I could 'quickly' machine stitch around the window, thus eliminating the need to hand sew. Excellento!! Now each window is less laborious and much, much quicker to finish; making me a very, very happy gal!

 
 I have looked at quite a few cathedral window quilts on pinterest, and to my untrained eye there are some that seem to have the same 'corner' issues as mine. There are quite a few quilts that have buttons on every corner.....mmm....I wonder if these are hiding little foibles or if they are there purely for decorative effect. Oh.....there are those, that as far as my eyes can see are beyond perfect....but I won't dwell on them as I am trying to remain upbeat....("remember...satisfactionism, satisfactionism....Kim"). I am thinking that if I didn't include the batting, the corners would be easier to make the same.....but I am only supposing.
  






Now........ for the second quilt on my 'to do list'. Have a bo peep at these lovely Japanese silks from vintage kimonos that I have been collecting for a couple of years.
















Aren't they just too, too gorgeous?? Panel after panel of the most exquisite silk fabric overflowing with innate and intuitive Japanese style and design. Mmm.....did you spy with your li'l eye, the hexagon pattern?? You didn't think I was going to make a Japanese style quilt and not include a hexie or two...did you??
 
Now for the stitching of my Japanese masterpiece. I am referring to these books for the 'how to' of the origami fabric flowers that I want to add.
 
I happened upon some gorgeous books written by Kumiko Sudo a couple of years ago and had to, had to buy them. Every page is filled with wonderful Japanese narratives (the stories are as beautifully evocative as the quilts) and sumptuous photos of fabric origami flowers and beautiful quilts. Every page is a visual feast of inspiration to be enjoyed. These books inform me......and I quote "Even if you have never folded paper origami before, do not worry. With Kumiko as your guide, you will find the techniques easy to learn." I am further told....."this book contains designs that magically transform simple shapes cut from fabric into beautiful, decorative flowers."
 
So......there you have it....no worries! I will magically turn little scraps of gorgeous Japanese silks into beautiful origami-like flowers.....it says so in the books. It is written in black and white. The authors wouldn't lead me astray...would they?? The very word 'magic' did compel me to look to see, if perchance, there was a magic wand included within the covers of the books; thus helping my origami flower dreams come true....but alas....no!!
 
Anyway, perhaps fabric will be a little more forgiving for the molding of origami-like flowers than paper. Perhaps I will even become quite savvy at the art of fabric origami, to the point, that I will be able to make gorgeous fabric flowers almost without thinking. Well, I can only try!
 
So....I'm off to retrain my rather inadequate brainpan.....I will get back to you....shall I??