Sunday, 29 January 2012

Riding a Bike.

Look at my big 3 year old riding his bike! We spent the afternoon out on the driveway yesterday, walking back and forth, hanging out with our friend Alice when Tim and Tully thought it a great idea to take away the training wheels. We watched with amazement as my little boy pedaled away with courage and confidence.

With this natural ability, however, comes a great impatience with the time it takes to really learn things. Every so often, Tully would fall off, Tim would catch him, and he'd sigh disappointedly and walk off in frustration. Tim would call him back, explain that there's lots of falling off in the beginning, that it's good to be patient with ourselves when we're learning new things, and that he was doing really well. Tully would wipe off his tears on his shirt, hop back on and go again.

But soon it was one crash too many. Despite our best efforts to encourage him, Tully walked off, telling us he was no good at it and we should put the training wheels back on.

I was so sad for him. He'd had such great success and hadn't seen it. But I also watched, knowing that I was the same with myself. I give myself such a hard time for silly fabric purchasing decisions, for not being firmer when at my local fabric store, they cut the wrong wadding (batting) for me recently, for trying new things that don't go to plan, and in the past, for immature relationship decisions. Maybe, I thought, I could start to see life a bit more like trying to ride a bike. That while learning there'll be lots of falling over. That it's all part of the experience.

Anyway, this morning, Tim gently suggested to Tully that they head to the uni where there's more open space (and everyone's on holidays still) to try to ride again. He agreed. I'm so glad he did. He came home ever so proudly and showed me this:

Check out that dismount! Perfect!

Tuesday, 24 January 2012


I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. Sparked partly by eating a lot of rice and beans (don't pity us, there's a kind of adventure in living on a really tight budget, and a kind of freedom in knowing what you can and can't afford), partly by reading Meg Mateo Ilasco's Craft, Inc. about running a crafty business, and partly by some New Year's resolutions. How does one break down those thoughts into meaningful pieces of information? I think, by telling stories...

...I don't usually look for work online. But this particular day, with things so uncertain, I was beginning to wonder if it was irresponsible of me not to. Maybe the perfect job was out there waiting for me. maybe we could make a 'role' reversal work really well. I think I could even enjoy not being in charge of the washing, I thought. 
I started clicking. It turns out the perfect job was out there. At the uni, working in the residential colleges. Full time. Mentoring, organising, socialising. I was even almost qualified. 
I put the laptop aside. 
I picked it up again and looked for a while. And then I went out to the garden to process it. 
Pros, cons, interview questions, framing sentences in my all filtered through as I fed the chickens. 
And then what I'd be giving up. Mothering small children, creating, hosting, writing. Time. 
I wasn't prepared to hand over the washing just yet.

...These amazing little tags from Gutentags arrived in the mail yesterday! I won them as part of my prize for 'Celebrate Color'. They fold in the middle and I can choose, depending on my mood, to show the logo or the little boy dinosaur (or diso-door, as Tully would say). I love what they bring to these Drawstring Quilts. They make them mine. Made just for you.

...I've made the decision not to sell my wares at craft markets this year (or at least till before Christmas) and to focus my energy on my online shop, the blog and having time to create, express, experiment. Last year I was a production line. This year, I'm determined to be... I don't know how to explain it. At least not without cliche. So maybe I won't just yet.

...I've been reading Craft, Inc. before going to bed lately. Not a good time to read something that gets you dreaming and scheming. It's fun to think that one day, Tickle could grow. I'd thought for so long it just couldn't. And this book helped me see why I thought so. You see, some of my prices don't reflect the work that goes into creating at home. There. I said it.
When I first started making these Drawstring Quilts, I wasn't sure anyone would buy them. I set the price low, to see what the response would be. They sold in two weeks and I madly rushed to make a few more. They sold too and soon I was using every spare evening and sleep time at the sewing machine. I got to the point where every time someone would buy one, I was resentful of the chunk of my sewing time it was taking. So I started to put the price up slowly, with little effect.
The shop has now been without these happy colour-wheels since before Christmas while I took time to make custom orders, develop the new pattern, and have fun playing with colour again. And now I am just about to list these ones. But I wanted to tell you first that I'm going to put the price up again, this time a bit more. Here's why.
  • to pay myself an hourly rate, because I value my work and I want to keep doing it.
  • to allow my business to grow, to give myself the time to develop new ideas and to afford help, if I need it. 
  • to acknowledge not just the time at the sewing machine but in ordering, designing, marketing and communication.

Thank you for supporting Tickle & Hide! And for buying handmade. There's a lot of me that goes into these creations, and I would hate to under-value that.

Friday, 20 January 2012

Happy Medium (and a winner!)

I've been dreaming of something like this. Not because I don't have enough already. Or because I need something else to spend my money on. But because my studio takes up the biggest room in our small house. And now we want it to take up a wall.

My sewing room is always a mess. This week I've been reading a book called "Organising from the Inside Out." by Julie Morgenstern. Julie tells me that even messy people like me can be organised. Not with more effort, but with systems that lead to less. For example, my dirty clothes basket is in the laundry. My dirty clothes are in the bedroom, bathroom and on the change table. Instead of putting more effort (and chastisement) in and making sure I always take the clothes to the laundry, Julie suggests I put baskets where the clothes are. (Why didn't I think of that?!)
Also, Julie says that disorganisation is a result of things not having a home. In my studio, I don't have a specific place for my scissors, rotary cutter, ruler, seam ripper, fabric that I've finished cutting but not yet ready to put away. I think I spend about 20% of my sewing time looking for my seam ripper and scissors.
And so, after Christmas, armed with generous cash gifts, we started looking for the perfect wall-sized office. Something with cupboards so I can lock away the things down low, as I'll be in the dining room. Something with shelves or glass doors so I can have my fabric on display up high, but out of reach. Something with room for Tully's craft things and cards we've kept and all the other stuff that I'm not ready to throw out.
We were so nearly ready to go down to Ikea and buy kitchen cupboards to make our own little amazing office/ creative/ storage space like these when Tim lost his job again. We looked around for something second hand but everything was either just as expensive, or not what we were after. So we decided to wait.
Last night, while the kids were soundly sleeping, we decided to move the house around anyway and just use what we had to fill my new 'wall'. We did a serious cull of our bookshelves to free up this one, and tidied, threw out, gave away until we had this:

As you can see, it didn't take long for Evie to start pulling things out. Hence the yarn in zip-lock bags!

I didn't take a photo of the mess behind me. but we're getting there. I'd still love a home for my sewing machine other than the dining room table, but for the moment, this will all work fine (or, at least I hope so! I guess I'll find out what better systems I need to keep it organised!)

We did finally hang this! I wrote about this framed fabric organiser a while ago. But what I didn't take into account was the fact that half my frames don't have hooks, only a stand to lean on! Blue-tac isn't working, as you can see. Anyone get any other ideas? They're hanging by fishing wire from the picture rail.

So! A winner! The trusty Random Number Generator chose number 22!

Second Chance Tan said...
I follow follow followwwww you (said in echoey voice!)

Congratulations Second Chance Tan! I'm glad you do! Email me with your address and I'll post some pretty colours off to you soon! The rest of you, go buy the pattern! You might help me get my new shiny office! :) xx

Tuesday, 17 January 2012


This morning I've been taking photos of pretty colours. Because that's what you do when the house is quiet and there's custom orders to make! This Strawberry Roll is now available here (PDF quilt pattern included in price). I'm just going to indulge myself and show you ALL the good ones! :)

Turquoise, Green and Tangerine is here.

And this cute one, complete with starfish and paper aeroplanes is here.

And don't forget to enter to win this one here.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Drawstring Quilt Pattern and a Giveaway!

I'm so excited to be kicking off the New Year with something that's been in my head for a long time, and is now finally on paper - or at least, online!
With the generous help of my talented husband (who knows how to use computers), I have developed a pattern for my Drawstring Quilt! It's now available to buy in PDF format in my shop.

We've included colour photos for each step in a really clearly laid out format. I think even beginner sewers will find this easy to follow (but some experience and knowledge of your machine is required).


And that's not all! I've been cutting strips till there's no give left in my cutting mat and created some custom designer fabric rolls. In Australia, it's really hard to buy designer fabric at a reasonable price, unless you import it in large quantities, so I really wanted to share some of my fabric collection with everyone (and take some of the work out for you!).

I just love this turquoise, red and yellow together! And I think it's the perfect mix of cute, fun prints, modern funky designs, and solids and staples. I've also put together orange, green and aqua, and pink, coral and beige. I can't wait to show them to you! (but I'm picking Tully up in 10 minutes and I really wanted to get this written before the chaos descends again!)
So, I better get to the point! I have a Jelly Roll set aside, especially to give to you!

I have just fallen in love with these little dragonflies by Patti Young! So I used them as the base from which to build this colour palette.  There's 25 strips, 2.5" x 44".

One lucky winner will receive this fabric roll, plus the Drawstring Quilt Pattern as a PDF! You have three chances to enter:
  • Leave a comment! (one entry) It can be about anything. Maybe the best thing you've ever made?
  • Followers of my blog or on Facebook get an extra entry! Leave a comment saying you're a follower. (one entry)
  • Share it! Blog, Facebook, Twitter, and come back and let me know. (one entry)
If you are a 'no-reply' commenter (you don't give google your email address) make sure I have a way of knowing who you are and contacting you. The Random Number Generator will pick a winner Friday evening after the kids are in bed, Sydney time. Good luck!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Improvised Piecing Reversible Wrap Skirt!

I had a lot of fun getting my scraps out last month and throwing them together, inspired by Jennifer from Ellison Lane Quilts and her improvised piecing tutorial last month. I could have kept going, I found it so fun and quick, the fabric growing before my eyes, but, I had a plan: to make a reversible wrap skirt for my sister in law for Christmas, and I thought that having big blocks of different patterns over the whole skirt might be too much.

And then the block just sat there, co-ordinating fabrics chosen, while I quickly got everyone else's ready. I think I was a little worried it wasn't going to turn out like I had envisaged and kept putting it off. (Do you have projects like that?) I missed the Christmas deadline, and today finally made the risky cuts into my fabric.

I used Make it Perfect's pattern, "The Versatile Wrap" for the pattern pieces (because I'm a bit of a chicken when it comes to doing these things from scratch!), made two skirt bases according to her instructions and then bound them together. Here's how:

I trimmed the improv block to the right length, then added some of Anna Maria Horner's Loulouthi to the side and cut it to the right shape.

Then I added the other skirt panels to it and made the second skirt.

I sewed the binding strips to the bottom of the first skirt, right sides facing.

Then sewed the other edge of the biding to the bottom of the second skirt.

I then did the same to the top, this time with extra long strips to make the ties aswell. I left a gap at both ends to bring the skirt the right way around and to let the ties through easily.

I then turned the skirt the right way around, folded and pressed the binding top and bottom. I pinned the skirt together at the top (basting probably would have worked even better but I was on the home stretch and Evie was due to wake soon!), checking the seams sat together on both sides, and top stitched the binding and ties, closing the holes up as I went.

And here it is! I love how different the sides are! I love the loud, clashing lines and prints of the first side, and the beautiful soft "Secret Garden" print for the reverse by Sandy Henderson. Pretty good for a nap-time's work, wouldn't you say? (Even if it is a bit late!) Happy Christmas Emily! I hope you like it!