Friday, January 31, 2014

New Year Craft Resolutions

Do you keep do-to lists?  I'm meticulous at work as I record everything to help ensure nothing slips through the cracks, but in my personal life, I've been more relaxed about personal fulfillment.  Academically I've achieved and I've a job that I'm content with, but my goals have always centred around my career, and I haven't given much thought to what I would like to achieve in life overall.  I would like to have a more balanced approach to life, so even though it's a minuscule step, I've made a list of craft projects that I would like to realistically complete in 2014!  See, it's even hand written!  Sure, there are more substantial, life affirming lists I should jot down, but for now, it's craft projects.  A tad frivolous, but Laozi did say that a "journey of a thousand miles beings with one step"... and that step, is craft.  You may think I'm a bit late with new year's resolutions, but it's Chinese New Year today, and since I'm Chinese, the clock starts now! (Phew!)

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On reflection, it is a rather paltry list because I've thought of more projects to include, such as crocheting a new blanket and knitting children size beanies to donate, and sewing a blouse I've had my eye on from a Japanese sewing book, etc so an addendum to the New Year Craft Resolution list is that once a project is complete, I can add another to a list.  I shouldn't limit myself to what's on a list so it's an evolving process. So which project should I tackle first?

I haven't shared photos of our garden recently ~ these were taken late December before the super 40*C plus days we had a couple of weeks ago.  Sigh, more hot weather to come!

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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Craft Supplies from Daiso

It is apt to say that I like shopping, and that's any kind of shopping from clothes to grocery.  I've noticed in recent years, my shopping appetite has curbed (some would say otherwise) which is probably due to a combination of being wiser with money, and the fact that I already have so much stuff that acquiring more stuff is unnecessary. I have three stitch unpickers, do I really need one that is pink polka dot? The answer is yes... and I had to get the matching tracing wheel too...even though I have one...which I've never used...and while I'm at it, I might as well buy the matching fabric pen!

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I recently had a shopping frenzy at a few Daiso stores which is always filled with fun items and I feel less guilty when I shop there because everything is A$2.80.  Look at the lovely craft goodies I bought recently! On closer inspection, there are 35 items totaling A$98 in these photos so perhaps I need to re-evaluate my spending habits after all.  I have made a new year's resolution to sew more, so I'm searching for ideas on what to do with the polka dot felt and stripey zip. Stay tune!

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Bricks Patchwork Quilt for C & D

I always get a burst of crafting enthusiasm after the Craft and Quilt Fair, so when inspiration hits, I need to start projects straight away or it will fizzle away.  My friends C and D bought these fat quarters from Lancaster County in Pennsylvania in 2010, and it was presented to me when I visited them in Singapore in December that year.  It was a very special gift because I was touched that C and D thought of me during their trip, and I've always wanted to be adopted by the Amish community so this is the closest I'll get!

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It was always my intention to make something for C and D, but I wasn't inspired until I searched for images of patchwork quilts using 10 fat quarters (isn't it great that you can search for anything these days?!).  Since the fabrics are quite different, I needed a pattern that would showcase its individuality but not clash, so Diary of a Quilter's Easy Bricks Quilt is the perfect design for the fabrics.

For me, the most odious part of the patchwork quilting process is cutting out the fabric.  I'm rather envious of people who can use rotary cutters, I have one but can never manage to cut straight despite my best efforts. So I spent a couple of quiet, rainy Saturdays in August 2013 using templates to trace and cut rectangles (18 cm x 9 cm) from the printed fabrics, and squares (9 cm x 9 cm) from IKEA's Ditte cream fabric.  I could cut 15 rectangles from one fat quarter, except for one piece which was a little smaller from the rest so I added another fat quarter that my friend Bernie gave me, so this is truly a friendship quilt. The quilt consists of 160 rectangles and 160 squares.

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Don't you love chain piecing? I certainly do, as sewing (always with 100% cotton thread) the rectangle and square pieces together was completed relatively quickly.  I finished the quilt top in November and it was washed, iron and ready to be quilted...which didn't happen until late December.

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My least favourite part of the quilting process is sandwiching the quilt together.  Although I like the idea of using spray adhesive, I don't like the idea of using chemicals so I basted the quilt by hand (using 100% cotton batting and backing fabric).  I was afflicted by a First World Problem which saw me get a couple of neck and shoulder massages to relieve the tension caused by sitting on my marble floor sandwiching the quilt together.  Appalling isn't it?  I'm too pampered and it made me realise how lucky I am to sew for pleasure compared to the factory workers who sew ridiculous number of hours in horrid conditions for pittance.

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This quilt comprises 8 rows of 20 bricks, and measures approximately 150 cm x 190 cm.  I machine quilted "in the ditch" for four days wearing a pair of yellow knitted gloves with little rubber dots which I bought from Daiso. The quilt was bound with store bought wine coloured bias binding.  As I said to C, the quilt is riddled with imperfections, but made with love and good thoughts

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An early birthday present for C (ahh, seven months early) which I personally delivered in early January.  I'm afraid the quilt is only big enough for Christine so profuse apologies to D (sorry sweetie!).  Dis convinced that the quilt is big enough for the both of them, but I heard from C yesterday that De used her quilt last night, so I guess it must be used on a rotation basis!