Thursday, 25 October 2012

An Exciting Opportunity.

I received an email on Monday. The contents of which have led to a buzzing insomnia, a flurry of messages and an endless pinning of ideas on Pinterest. I was going to tell you the other day but I didn't know where to start so I asked you how to make a quilt that had been in my head a while now. And now I've been sitting here for 20 minutes, dumb with excitement, tapping my fingers on the keyboard, hoping they will do the thinking for me!

 The email was from Renew Newcastle, a local organisation that was established to find short term leases for artists and creatives in disused buildings in the CBD. And I've been approached to submit a proposal for a shop space in the old David Jones (department store) building on the main street of Newcastle over the summer!

 At first I was terrified. And giddy. Setting up shop has been a long dream of mine. But I always assumed it would happen when the kids got older and we moved to some country town on a highway somewhere so I could sell things to tourists with cheap rent.
So I chatted to my designer friend Anneliese, who has been doing my illustration and design work for me since I started up. Would she like to draw on walls? Could we set up a space with a cool, illustrated Super Hero/Alter Ego theme? She was beyond excited.
Then I chatted to some other making friends of mine. Could I sell their reversible clothes in the space too? The answer was, 'Of course!'
And I chatted to Tim.

You see, what is so unique and amazing about this opportunity is that it's 3 days a week, just for the summer (over Christmas here). It's a tiny $35/week, electricity and insurance included! And Tim works as a casual academic, which means his busy, family unfriendly, lecturing schedule is about to finish (next week! Woo!) and he has research assistant work lined up for the summer, in which he sets his own hours, and can work from home!
And he was excited too. Oh man, he's amazing!

So I'm brimming with ideas, simple and white, with a touch of timber from my workspace and coat hangers, and maybe a cot to display my quilts. I'd love to take this work space in. (Just the benches and cupboards below, to sew and serve from.) A couple of white bookshelves for fabric so that people can choose custom orders in the shop. I can see clothing rails sticking out from the walls (rather than running along the wall) with Anneliese's amazing illustrations behind it. And a big drawstring quilt on the floor by the window, with timber puzzles and toys to play with. And then an explosion of colourful fabric, in the form of dresses and shorts and quilts.

Thankfully, with all my sewing for markets, I have enough stock already. So I'll have plenty of time for the fun bits like design and shopping, making tags, etc.
Oh my! I so hope I get in! Applications close in 4 days, then the spaces will be open on the 5th November to begin set-up. And then they'll be open from the 22nd!
Cross your fingers for me! I'll keep you posted!
Jodi. xx

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

I have a quilt in my head...

...and this is a shady, not-to-scale representation of it. It's been in my head a while now. To make for my very own bed. Yes, that's right. It's a quilter's search, don't you think? To find a style, a fabric line, a design they could live with long term. (Perhaps not too much unlike looking for a partner?)

I think it was first seeing Anna Maria's Feather Bed Quilt (the pattern of which you can download here) that inspired me. I loved the way her Field Study looked all scrappy cut up like that in little strips. But I wanted less white, more colour and movement.
But I can't figure out the best way to put it together. How would you do it? I thought I could (a) paper piece or quilt-as-you-go big square blocks made of half square triangles. Or (b) sew stips together like I have here...

...but instead of having the lines go along the zigzag, I line them up straight. Then I could cut parallelograms of white to sew below?

Or I could make square blocks of stripey colour and cut them on the diagonal much like option (a). Or perhaps there are ways I haven't considered? Can you help? I'm not really choosing yet between ease and effect. If long term is on the cards, I'll probably lean towards super amazing finish, but then, I actually need to make it...

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

In the Making: Following Patterns

Do you follow patterns? Or are you more of a 'make it up as you go' kinda gal (or guy)? I think I sit on the fence between the two. There are times when it's most liberating and fun just to wing it, but I have to say, I'm learning that if I want to sew to relax, without the constant wondering how it's going to look when it's all done, I love following a pattern.

I'm on the home-stretch with these handstitched jewels for my Modern Medallion quilt. I once read, about reading to children, that if you take a book slowly, in little chapters, they soak it in more, re-create it in their imaginations, and start to live and breathe the characters. That's what this quilt has been for me. I've purposefully not pushed myself with this one, so that I could keep enjoying the process, stitching it during our Monday night gathering with friends, the occasional film, on Thursday nights when I go sewing with the girls. I've soaked it in, enjoying the process without the planning (though I know that part is fun too!). I've felt completely safe and rested in Rachel's thought and creativity she'd added to each consecutive border.

I've also started this quilt with Laura Gunn's fabrics from her Cosmos and Garden Wall lines. You can download it free here. It's a slightly different pattern following process for me, because I'm not even choosing colours or prints. But the wide strips, appliqued to each other have made it quick! And I have in mind someone who would love it for Christmas, and who doesn't love a quilt which gets crossed off the handmade Christmas list early?

In contrast, here's my laptop case I made for Tim this week, from my precious Heather Ross guitars. Heavy weight linen, cotton wadding and flannel make it a pretty cosy and safe hidey-hole for our laptop. And though there are lots of great tutorials out there, I wasn't really in the mood for looking back at the computer all the time (especially when I was using it for measurements!). And how hard can a rectangular sleeve with flap be? Well, you'll notice there's no flap. It got cut off half way through, because I'd sewn too far when I realised it wasn't going to just flip inside out for me. So I thought I'd just add it after. Then, I made it a little too cosy. Our laptop had an extra large battery sticking out the back, so while this would be perfect for a normal 14" laptop, ours needs to lose a little weight.

So while it's all part of the learning, I did think next time, when I was cutting into my expensive linen, I might slow down and read some instructions. Or write down the process myself from my head, thinking through how it would work well. Meanwhile, I've been thinking about getting a new laptop for myself. Maybe I'll limit my purchase to a 14" with a small bottom?

Thursday, 11 October 2012

What do to about Santa?

I remember I was about 12. We were at church on Christmas morning and I was met by a little, excited 6 yr old friend. I promptly asked her what Santa brought her for Christmas. She looked at me puzzled and then turned to her mum.
"Mum, what did I get from Santa?"
Her mother smiled at me, "Oh, Santa doesn't come to poor kids." And then she walked away.

Fast forward to a couple of years ago. A friend was telling us that she told her toddler that if he didn't hurry up and listen to her, that Santa wasn't coming.
"I couldn't believe how effective it was!" She exclaimed.

We haven't really done Santa at our house before. It wasn't that I was against him, I had great memories of getting ready for Santa to come as a kid, I just hadn't quite settled on how we were going to go about it. And last year, when Tully was asked what he got from Santa, he gave me that same puzzled look I received from that poor little girl all those years ago. These two scenarios have burned in my mind how I don't want to 'do' Santa. I don't want my kids thinking the presents they receive are deserved, or are rewards for good behaviour. Especially when it really does have far more to do with wealth than 'naughty or nice'. They are gifts. I want Christmas to be about generosity and thankfulness.

And now it's come to that time of year again when the planning has begun, the junk mail is increasing, and my newsfeed on Facebook is filling with Christmas colours. And Tully is older and his circle of friends is wider.
Then two nights ago, while reading The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis (My favourite author ever), we came to the part where the witch's wintery spell is breaking. Up until now in Narnia, it has been "always winter but never Christmas." And who should come and herald the ending of the witch's reign, but Father Christmas!
   "I've come at last," said he, "She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The Witch's spell is weakening."

That's who I want Santa to be in our house. The one who gives generously to celebrate the breaking of a spell, to bring hope and joy, like the old St Nicholas, who used to give secretly to the poor.

So, I know it's not Christmas yet, but it's been on my mind to share with you while making these Christmas Pinnies. If there's anytime I feel uncomfortable selling my wares, it's at Christmas. I want you to know, for me, Christmas is not about buying more, or selling more. But I do want to celebrate it with all the joy and colour and creativity its message deserves. So I'll be sharing over the next couple of months, here and on my Facebook Page, the things I'm making, not because I want to add to the consumerist noise, but because it's my way of expressing what the holidays mean to me, and I want to share that with you. I'm looking forward to enjoying what you make too!

Yours excitedly!
Jodi. xx