Monday, 21 April 2014

The one with the stylish firewood carrier

While the rest of you up in the Northern Hemisphere are all "Ooooh, look at the pretty blossoms!" and "I finally got to spend the day in the garden." and "See ya later snow!" the rest of us down here in at the bottom of the world are gearing up for winter. At least, those of us in Dunedin - the land of very little insulation and no such thing as central heating - are.

With the wood burner in our new house, we've got ourselves a load of macrocarpa to get us at least part way through the winter. We've got a few stacks going on in the backyard and had been hauling it into the house by hand as needed until this past weekend when I made this - the most stylish firewood carrier you ever will see.

I grabbed a classic denim for the main body of the carrier and used hot pink polka dot and gingham for the sides and trim. I even managed to find some matching neon pink 3000 meters of it (you're going to be seeing a lot of hot pink on this blog from here on out!)

I opted for sides even though most carriers don't include them; I wanted to make sure logs weren't going to shift out of the carrier and onto my toes!

Considering I made this whole thing up as I went, I'm pretty damn pleased with the result. It's cute, it's durable and it actually works. A complete success!

In other news, I got myself a smartphone a few weeks back and I've now joined the rest of the world on Instagram. Look me up over there, or follow along on good ol' Facebook.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Quilted tea cozy for a cause

The lovely ladies of the Northern Artery Arts Collective have a wonderful fundraiser planned for next month. The group is putting on a tea party event on 17 May and will be auctioning off tea cozies made by local artisans to raise funds and awareness for the Otago Community Hospice.

My contribution to the auction should stand out - I hope! Who doesn't love a little bright neon pink?!?! I used a soft grey oakshott cotton on the outside and lined it in a fairly heavy weight neon pink fabric. The original plan was to do a little freestyle cross-stitch design on one side, but I had to abandon that idea when I couldn't find the right colour of embroidery floss. It totally turned out to be a good thing, because I am in love with plan B! I marked out a few random straight lines in chalk and stitched over them in neon pink thread. I love, love, love the finished look even though it wasn't at all what I was aiming for when I started.

I don't know the exact when and where of the auction next month, but I'll surely post the info on the Milkybeer Handmade Facebook page once I get the details.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

WIP Wednesday: Custom cross quilt


Such a simple design. Such satisfying progress. It feels so good to be on here happily settled into our new home with the move behind us and this pretty little project already well on its way to a finish.

This quilt is a custom order that came in...ahem...quite some time ago. It's been a while since I've worked up this particular design - one I first whipped up way back in 2011! This time around the colour scheme is quite different, but I did use the same iron-on interfacing technique that I first experimented with on the original quilt.

The customer and I hashed out our fabric choices weeks ago and came up with this classic combo of red, green, blue, grey and white. The backing will be a beautiful blue linen - a first for me! I certainly do love linen so I'm sure it's going to look beautiful but fingers crossed that it doesn't cause me any unexpected headaches!

Oh, and in case you didn't hear my squeal of delight the other day, the tutorial I wrote for imagine gnats was featured on the DMC Threads blog. Happy, happy, joy, joy!

Friday, 7 March 2014

Tutorial: patchwork doorstop

Today I'm sharing a sweet little patchwork doorstop tutorial over on imagine gnats as one of Rachael's new contributors.

I am loving how these turned out and think you should all give the tutorial a try. You'll learn a handy technique for piecing small squares and it's probably the only time you'll get to make a trip to the pet store to finish a sewing project. [Read the tutorial - it will all make sense. Trust me.]

Seriously, aren't those colourful little x's just too cute for words? The monogrammed version I made for Abner is doing its thing holding our lounge door open as I write [and doing a mighty fine job I might add.] The little heart one was made specifically for the wee little girls who live across the road from us. I'm told the younger of the two has taken to sleeping with it each night. Say it with me now....awwww!

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Garden porn and another move

Our first summer in Dunedin wasn't exactly a warm one, but it was good enough to allow us to successfully grow our very first vegetable garden.

We planted some things from seed but most were small seedlings that we did our best to situate in our tiny little raised bed and a few pots. Since the garden went in in early November, we've enjoyed peas, cauliflower, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, raspberries, cucumbers and carrots. Our only major failures were peppers and strawberries. Sadly, we won't get to enjoy all the beautiful  leeks which are still on their way. Why not? Well, because we're moving. Again.

That's four moves in four years for those of you who are keeping score. Thankfully, this one has us moving just a few blocks away. We've found a lovely little house that gets better sun, has better heating and a bit more outdoor space for us to enjoy. There's also a sleep-out in the backyard where I will get to set up my sewing workroom - there's even a toilet out there! Luxury!

I'm glad we got a chance to try our hand at gardening in our current home because the new place has some pretty impressive raised beds that I can't wait to get my hands into. Apparently the landlord is quite the gardener, so hopefully we don't disappoint him with our lets-just-see-what-happens-if-we-plant-this-here approach.

After all the moves we've done over the past few years, this one feels about as monumental as a trip to the grocery store. We shift in less than two weeks and I haven't even picked up any boxes yet. What's a couple of blocks after having moved 12,500km last year, and 1715 the year before, and 1715 the year before that?!

Even though his move wasn't really planned, I think it will be a very good one for us. Here's hoping that we somehow manage to make it through at least one calendar year without upping stakes! Keep your fingers crossed for us in could be the year!

Monday, 10 February 2014

imagine gnats indiegogo campaign and giveaway

Earlier this year, I set myself a few unofficial goals to work toward this year. I did the whole goal-setting thing a few years back when we moved to the Prairies and can proudly tell you I achieved every one of them.On my list this year:

engage more with the online sewing community    |    blog more regularly (I used to be so good at that one!)
update my shop more frequently    |    finish all the projects I've started
make (not just ogle) the stuff I see on Pinterest    |    sell my wares in some shops

In the spirit of that first one on the list, I've been making a few new internet friends lately. One of them is Rachael from over at imagine gnats. If you're into reading sewing/crafting/stitching blogs, chances are good that you've stumbled across Rachael's work already. She's well known for creating amazing patterns that are easy to sew and can help even novice sewers learn some new tricks. Personally, I've had my eye on her bess top pattern for ages and I can't wait to make the meridian cardigan. Her blog has some pretty fantastic tutorials and DIYs on it if you'd like to get a taste of her awesomeness. I highly recommend her infinity scarf DIY...I may have made one (or six) myself.

Like me, Rachael has been setting herself some goals lately. One of them is to see her beautiful patterns in print. She's recently launched an indiegogo campaign to help raise funds to make it happen.

Here’s what Rachael has to say about her business and campaign:
imagine gnats started as a little etsy shop, selling small sewn items to help support my family and also to give me a creative outlet in a corporate world. it’s come a long way in just five years… from a hobby to a full-time job. my love of sewing and design has grown as well, and now my own sewing patterns help and inspire others to create.

i am proud to have created patterns for garments that are easy to sew and easy to wear. imagine gnats patterns feature classic silhouettes with a modern twist that incorporate clever details and practical techniques.

currently, my patterns are all offered as printable pdfs. the money raised on indiegogo will help cover the costs of an initial run of paper patterns, which means sharing my designs with even more sewists and inspiring more people.

for the cost of one pattern, you can help me reach my goal AND be one of the first to get the printed pattern of your choice. for a little bit more, you can get a full set of imagine gnats printed patterns. plus, early bird specials offer even better deals for the first contributors!

my initial print run will include 500 each of my existing five garment patterns. all of the money raised will go directly to that effort. once patterns are printed, i begin the selling and distribution phase.
If you like the idea of helping someone achieve their goals and would like to contribute to Rachael's campaign, you can do so at the bottom of this post.

But wait! Not so fast there, clicky finger...there's more!

Rachael has kindly donated a complete set of her five garment PDF patterns for me to give away! How awesome is that?!?! To enter, just leave a comment here on this blog post or on the Milkybeer Handmade Facebook page telling me about the first thing you ever sewed (feel free to make something up if you've never sewed a day in your life - be creative). Any and everyone is welcome to enter. I'll pick a random winner from all entries at noon on Monday, 17 February (that's NZ time, so a day earlier for most of you). The winner will be announced here on the blog and on Facebook.

-- The giveaway is now closed. Thanks to all who entered. The winner was AngieB who has been contacted and is hopefully happily sewing her new patterns by now.  --

OK, now you can go ahead and contribute to Rachael's campaign.

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