tidying the mess – part 1

pin cushions and binding

Well … this afternoon, Julian, Abby and Sacha headed out to the airport.  I was left standing in the kitchen wondering what to do.  Research for next week’s essay or studying for tomorrow’s philosophy quiz were completely out of the question.  Vacuuming … could be very valuable given the amount of Fu fluff that is everywhere, but deadly boring.  Hmmmm …

I could sit and mope.  Bit dull.  And wouldn’t be useful.  No, not at all.  I could plonk onto the sofa, maybe knit, maybe watch some television.  This I almost did … but then I looked around at the terrible mess that has overrun the craft corner and table and decided some serious tidying was in order.

french general heidi grandads hat


in the shopping bag You know the kind of tidying when you SEW your way through the piles.  Yes :-)  My kind of tidying.  Terrifically practical.  Marvellously productive.  Immensely satisfying.  And so very, very necessary! So I started with this here bag.  Packed since our CHRISTMAS holiday to Merimbula and shoved under one piece of furniture after another since it’s return home.  Yes, there’s been some serious avoidance where this bag’s concerned.

not much to go

I even started with the most guilt inducing.  Abby’s Christmas present … her Moomin quilt.  Finished but for the final border across the bottom.  That should be easy enough to tackle in the time it takes for one to drive to the airport and back.  In fact, there was enough time to finish the quilt top, give the front room a vigorous, proper tidy, walk up to the shops for a few groceries, and cook supper.  Win!  Win!


looking up

with pegsOh I do love how this sweet quilt has turned out!  The only newly bought fabric is the red background with the little mushroom houses, foxes and dwarves.  The rest is from the stash.  The Moomin fabric and the gorgeous pieces of Marimekko were gifted to me several years ago by the loveliest woman in Finland.  Thank you so much dear Anne!  I knew the time would come when there would be the perfect project for them :-)  The other bits and pieces were collected here and there.


moomin mama moomin little my

In designing it, I started with the Moomin fabric.  I didn’t want just plain squares, but DID want something that would let all these dear little characters sing.  Thus the darker borders (Marimekko) with the clean and vivid red, pink and white floral corners, and finally, the crisp black and white spot that reflected the simple black and white drawings of Jansson’s Moomins.

The poison green represents the round and round and up and down of the Finnish forests in which the Moomins make their home.  The feed sack turquoise with the little children in their pyjamas with their pillows … remembering how, when Abby was little, she would hop into bed and I would pull over the armchair and read and read and read.  Filling her sleepy, dreamy head with Moomin adventures and magic.

The next border – the squares of red and the wonderful boughs with twinkling baubles (I think this is a William Morris fabric – not sure) will remind us that this Moomin quilt was made for Christmas.

little houses in the woods in the grass corner

Finishing the sides is a red and white Scandinavian fabric – a tilt to the Moomin’s cultural heritage.  And last but not least … the whimsical red fabric, the flower-filled, blue summer sky, and a bit more Marimekko.  They’re little houses, see!  In amongst the trees.  I was thinking of the little summer cottages the Scandinavian folk build in their forests and around their lakes.

You can read it in or out.  I like out to in.  We start in the summer cottages amongst the tall tall trees – slightly magical in itself – reading Tove Jansson’s wonderful tales and poring over the quirky pictures.  Then, at night, when we’re asleep, we’re able to wander through the valleys to Moominland and tag along on the many adventures these dear little folk have.

waiting for her

Yes I do love it!  I can even imagine myself, years from now, reading the Moomin books to Abby’s children who will be snuggled under this quilt.  For now … here it is on her bed, waiting to hopefully bring a smile to her face on what will be the first quiet night we’ve had in a long while.

To finish it, I have the perfect blue and white checked blanket to quilt this flimsy onto and I’ve promised the girl child it will happen before the weekend’s out.

p.s. oy!  when I pegged the quilt top onto the garden swing it was immediately obvious that I’ve put the left checked border on upside down – bugger!  That’s what you get for late night Christmas sewing.  I foresee a bit of unpicking.

moomin stencils (with a little embroidery too!)

Call me silly, but over these long summer holidays I walk into my kitchen and the busyness of the day is spread out across our table and it just looks so pretty and engaging that I get a little thrill about the loveliness of our days at home together.  There’s our afternoon cup of tea – with the cosied teapot putting out steaming cups half an hour after the first.  The River Cottage Preserves book – looking for a little guidance on how best to proceed with my 6 kilos of roasted tomatoes.  There’s the needlefelters from earlier in the morning, a lily-designed needlepoint I dug out of a bag and am quite delighted with – just need some more wool to continue, and the perle thread box.  And – Abby’s Christmas sneakers.

Yes, Mum will testify, I truly thought I could start and finish these on Christmas Eve. Yep, I did.   Did I meet this ridiculous goal?  No, I didn’t.  There’s a big surprise.  But today was the perfect day for a post-Christmas finish.  With that afternoon cup of tea at my side, I plonked down in our very aromatic kitchen, wielded the embroidery needle, and man! They turned out cute as!

I must confess, the paint didn’t adhere to the sneakers very well – no matter how many coats I applied, it just kept vanishing.  Julian wisely pointed out that they would have a ton of sizing on them – water proofing and all.  Ha! So the mushroom colours were not as vivid as I had expected, given previous success with tshirts.

However, once I added the embroidery – especially the wee strands of grass – I think the mushrooms really came to life.  As for the girlie’s response – I know I’m onto a winner when she says, as she ties the laces – “These are so cool!  Can we buy another pair of coloured sneakers and paint Meeku (Japanese vocaloid) on them!”

Why mushrooms? Seems teenage girls – especially those into cutesy-Scandi-Japanese stuff are really into mushrooms.  They also look sweet with the folk from Moominvalley. Which can be seen below … the birthday t-shirts.  More freezer paper stencilling and a wee bit of embroidery.

Firstly – Snufkin … Abby’s hoping to costplay as Snufkin later in the year.  That’s a costume that’s going to take a lot of mama’s time and ingenuity.  Until then, I rather love the tshirt and would like one for myself …

And Little My (yes, our dear old guinea pig was named after this chaotic & diminutive madwoman).    It was fun using two colours – nothing fancy, just had to keep a very steady hand – heightened my desire to learn how to screen print.  Oh what fun we could have with screen printing!

Little My and Snufkin both lent themselves to the silhouette style of freezer paper stencilling – their shapes are so distinctive.  I thought the Hattifatteners would turn out really well too – then, as I visualised the finished product – I realised I would be painting my teenage daughter a tshirt that would look like it was covered in c*nd*ms with funny hands.  Y-e-e-e-e-s. Not quite the dress code I encourage :-0  Haven’t yet tried Moomintroll – I think he would just turn out looking rather blobby.  Hmmmm … needs more thought.

So there you go.  The birthday tshirts and finished sneakers.  I’m so lucky and glad that my girlie still loves the handmade.

what we did with two sleeps to go

: choosing : measuring : slicing : pinning : stitching : folding : delighting :

: needle-felting : blanket-stitching : embroidering :  pleasing :

: ruffling : appliqueing : not-overlocking : fuming :

: cursing : threading : cursing : threading : cursing : crumbling :

: zigzagging : ironing : delivering : giving :

: sweating : wilting : melting :

: sliding into bed :

what we did with three sleeps to go

… to the sewing shed …

:: stitching & hanging ::

With the last stitches made, it’s time to hang our sweet gingerbread from some pretty piping.  And then … onto the piano.  Oh I do so love the blue of this blanket – it shall always remind me of the beautiful blue sky summer days we enjoyed in the this week before Christmas, 2012.

:: gathering & hemming ::

My favourite nightdress pattern – switched around with the buttons at the back.  And a lovely vintage doily for the bodice.  Needs some extra steam where I inadvertently pleated the front of the bodice onto the skirt whilst sewing the waist seam.  And some overlocking and the buttons – pah!  trivialities all of them :-)  Then, this year’s nightdress will be all ready to lay upon my girlie’s pillow for her to pop on after midnight mass.

:: quarters of inches & half square triangles ::

Oh dear, I’m either very silly, ridiculously optimistic … both?  Or maybe, simply carried away with Christmas spirit?  Yes, let’s say that – makes it all sound so jolly! When I found this small piece of Moomi fabric yesterday, I quickly decided to ditch the skirt I had planned to make Abby for Christmas, and whip up a Moomi quilt instead, seeing as all things Moomi had been requested.

It is a make it up as I go along quilt – with a make do mentality – all the fabric is from the stash – and if that long piece of sashing needs to be pieced from four odd lengths, then so be it.

The nine patches are now done, and in the morning, I shall sneak back out to the sewing shed with the sun, tea in my hand, the fluffy one no doubt trotting alongside me, and finish the border – there’ll be houses hiding in amongst a Marimekko forest.

Oh this will be such a lovely, fresh and sparkling quilt – and there’s that beautiful blue blanket for its back.  I know Abby will put it to good use, snuggling under it in her bed, draping it round her whilst reading in her armchair under the window, taking it with her on long drives, curling up on it in the backgarden …  she’s so very satisfying to sew for, this girl of mine :-)  (Either that or she’s an awfully good tricker!)

How are your Christmas preparations coming along dear folk?  Almost there?  Feet up and done already?

So looking forward to the morning!