Collaborate For A Cause - A Book Nook

This year's Collaborate for A Cause (C4AC) charity auction has just kicked off, and I wanted to share with you this awesome event and the collaboration that I have proudly taken part in this year.
In case you aren't familiar with C4AC, it's one of the highlights of the Australian hand-made calendar,  whereby hundreds of hand-maidens get together to make items which then get auctioned off over one weekend, with all proceeds going to charity. I have taken part in it since the early days of Down Grapevine Lane, and I love the buzz and excitement that surrounds the whole event. Seeing all the pretty things made by so many talented makers, and the hand-made community coming together for a good cause - it really is the best feeling in the world and I'm so proud to be a part of it.

Without further ado, here is the collaboration that I was part of: a 'Book Nook' curated by the lovely Fiona who is @fee_loves on Instagram. A true lover of 'hand-made', Fee has a real talent for putting together items to create little 'hand-made' heavens! She also took all the photos below under her new business Little M.E Images.

Don't you wanna curl up in there? The fabric is we used is the amazing Sommer collection by Sarah Jane Studios which was kindly donated by the fabulous Deanne from Fabric Pixie, a great Australian fabric store. Here are some close ups of the items that come in the set, and the fabulous businesses that donated them:
~ A hexagon quilt, hexie cushion and apple pie cushion by Piccolo Studio ~

Floor pillow by the Toffee Tree & doll face cushion by Blooms and Butterflies Doll Studio ~

~ Stunning dress by Ellie's Handmade ~

~ Dr Seuss wall art by Silent Little Whispers ~

~ Hair bow by Creative Butterfly Designs ~

~ Poodle book cradle by Bear and Sparrow ~

~ and finally, my contribution - a padded name bunting ~

All proceeds raised from the sale of this book nook set are going to Rett Syndrome Australia. Collaborate for a Cause album is here and you can find our collab here, make sure to read the description on the album first before you bid on anything, especially for buyers outside Australia. Bidding closes 8pm, Sunday 31 July. Also do check the rest of the album as there are some unbelievably stunning collaborations this year, and all for a good cause. Enjoy! :-) 

Baby Cashmerino Cowl

We are still in the depths of winter here in Australia, so I've been working on a pretty pastel cowl for myself on and off over the last three months. My hands are slowly getting back to normal (well, by that I mean my normal, they are still pretty numb but I am used to do that) - so I have been able to crochet again and get this cowl finished before winter ended!

I got the inspiration for this from one of my favourite crochet bloggers, Heather from Pink Milk. She made one for herself and kindly shared her method and measurements in this blog post, so it was very easy to replicate.

The stitch is called camel stitch and I love the knitted effect it creates. It produces such a lovely drape as well! I used Debbie Bliss Baby Cashmerino in an array of pastel colours - if ever I decided to engage in a monogamous relationship with a brand of yarn, this would be it. It comes in a large selection of pastel and bright colours, and is just so soft to touch and beautiful to work with. Love love love. I may have stashed away an obscene number of balls when there was a sale on a few months ago (for which I also blame Heather entirely - read this post from her blog and you will know why).

Like Heather's cowl I used 7 colours, but as this is a lower ply yarn I used a smaller size hook (4 mm) and more stitches to achieve the required width (14"), also I made 6 rows of each colour rather than 5 to get the right height (10").

There's been a lot happening here at Down Grapevine Lane headquarters. My lovely hubby just installed floor to ceiling bookcases in my sewing room so I've been doing some major stash re-organisation to get all the fabric chaos under control. I am also working on my next fabric collection for Riley Blake (squee!), making a big quilt with Posy Garden, and doing some secret sewing on the side. And several blog tours coming up (including my own for Sweet Orchard!) so I am planning ahead for those, and playing with new designs. It never ends! But I wouldn't have it any other way! :-)

Thanks for visiting and have a lovely day, wherever you are in the world!

Pixie Noel Blog Hop: Xmas Tree Cushion!

Welcome to my stop on the Pixie Noel blog hop! This latest Christmas collection by fellow Riley Blake designer Tasha Noel is adorable, just like all her fabric! Her booth at spring quilt market was in one word incredible (there is a picture of it in my market round-up post in case you haven't seen it). So I am delighted to be taking part in her blog tour today with my Pixie Noel Christmas tree cushion.

Pixie Noel was made for fussy cutting in my opinion, so I thought interfaced applique circles would be the perfect way to display the cute details in this collection. This is how I make my applique circles:

- Prepare circle templates in varying sizes (1" to 3" in 1/2" increments) by cutting circles out of thin template plastic - I get mine from Spotlight in the quilting section. These templates make it so easy to centrally align the motif that I am fussy cutting. I have a big stash of these templates in all sorts of shapes that I keep at hand for future projects.
- Centre the motif under the circle template, and trace around the perimeter with a Pilot Frixion pen. If the fabric is transparent enough you should do this on the reverse side of the fabric. If not, trace around the circle on the right side of the fabric, then later you can transfer the circular mark onto the reverse of the fabric on a window or lightbox.
- Cut out the fabric leaving at least 1/4" allowance all the way around - I tend to cut a rough square of fabric with scissors. This doesn't need to be precise.
- Cut a piece of nonfusible lightweight interfacing the same size as your fabric.
- Place the right side of your fabric against the fusible interfacing, then machine stitch all the way around the traced line, closing the circle with your stitches. Tip: use a very short stitch length and sew slowly to make your circle as round as possible.
- With pinking shears trim off all excess material all the way around. Tip: get as close to the stitches as you dare, especially if the circle is small. Less bulk = neater circular shape.
- With pointed scissors cut a large + shape on the back of the interfacing, without getting too close to the edges. Turn the shape inside out through the + , using a blunt pointy object push out the seams until you have a neat circle. Press.
- Applique onto the background fabric by hand or by machine.

Easy peasy! You can also do your circular shapes as raw edge applique using fusible web, but I prefer the interface method as the circles 'puff' up a little, adding a three dimensional effect to the cushion front. Perfect for baubles!

For the quilting, I stipple quilted around the Christmas tree (I am getting faster at this finally!), and hand-quilted around each bauble with DMC Perle cotton no:8. I didn't have enough of the large pompom trim for the whole perimeter of the cushion, so I added one pompom in each corner - I quite like the effect that created! The backing is from Elea Lutz' collection Little Joys - it was such a good match.

Pixie Noel is now available in shops so you can get your Christmas sewing on! If you would like more inspiration, check out other fun projects in the blog hop over the course of this week and next, which you can follow along on Instagram (#pixienoelfabric and @tashanoel1). Thanks for stopping by!

Balloon Mini in 'Apple Farm'

It's my turn on the Penny Rose Fabrics Project Design Team and for the project I am sharing today I picked Elea Lutz' latest line, Apple Farm (which will be in stores any day now!) I love Elea's fabrics and this collection didn't disappoint, in fact it may well be my favourite to date. Cutest farm scenes in these prints - did you spot the duck with the fluffy pompom hat?! Instant naww factor there.

And this is what I created: a balloon mini quilt - a little touch of childhood whimsy.

The 1.5" diameter balloons are applique backed with non-fusible lightweight interfacing. I hand embroidered the balloon strings using back stitch with 4 strands of cotton floss, and hand-quilted the mini in a criss-cross pattern, with circular hand-quilting around each balloon to make them pop. As my wrists have been playing up lately I cheated a little and appliqued the balloons with my sewing machine, set to a really tiny applique stitch, so the stitches are barely visible.

This mini is really a 'repro' quilt as the inspiration for it came from this vintage quilt, circa 1930s, maker unknown. Isn't it incredible? There is a crazy amount of hand-sewing there, both in the applique balloons and the hand-quilting - it's hard not to respect the person who created this piece of art, and no doubt much love went into each and every stitch. Penny Rose Fabrics specialise in vintage and reproduction fabrics - so I thought in keeping with that mission statement it would be nice to recreate this vintage quilt using modern repro fabrics. I didn't quite have the wrist strength or stamina to make the full size version - so I had to contend with a mini. I hope you like it - Alice's doll seems to!

Cross-stitch love

It may or may not come as a surprise to you but I am a relatively new sewist, having bought my first sewing machine only 4 years ago. But I have been cross-stitching since I was 10 - it's really where my love of sewing first started from. Over the last 30 odd years I have finished dozens of cross-stitch projects, and also several big needlepoint projects too (using tapestry wool on canvas). I may share those old projects with you some day - the earliest ones are pretty funny to look at now as my teenage self clearly had a thing for garish colours!

I added some new cross-stitch books to my library recently, which rekindled my love for cross-stitch. There are some cute mini-motif books by Susan Bates & Jane Prutton, published by my own publisher Tuva, and three books by French artists Helene Le Berre and Veronique Enginger.  I always have a cross-stitch project on the go these days alongside my regular bloggy sewing work - that, and crochet are what I like to do on my 'me-time' and on the couch in the evenings (well not right now as I'm resting my wrists after a flare up of my carpal tunnel, as you may have seen on my Instagram feed. I'm slowly getting better.)

Here are some projects I completed recently - three pincushions which were gifts for sweet friends, and a panel which I am not sure what I'm going to do with, so any suggestions would be welcome! The bunny pattern is a free one from here, the other two pincushion patterns are from 'Friandises & Patisseries' by Helene Le Berre, and the 'Love' panel is from the same author's 'Le Langage Des Fleurs'.

If you are a cross-stitcher and haven't yet discovered Helene Le Berre and Veronique Enginger, go check them out on Google or Pinterest. Such elegant designs! Their older books are a bit hard to find but I managed to find these three on ebay and Amazon, and have a few more on their way to me.

Here is a little appetiser for you from these books. These are all designs that I want to make, in fact I had just started the macarons one when my wrists started acting up, so that's the one I am working on right now.

Hope you enjoyed a little bit of cross-stitch inspiration today and thank you so much for visiting!

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