Friday, 20 January 2017

Julia's Quilt - Joie de Vivre

Before I begin I just want to thank you all for your gorgeous responses to my last blog post. I don't always write a lot about my personal life but for some reason that post just had to come out. I typed it out at 1.30am on a sleepless night, hit publish and then went to bed. I was worried people would think I was being petty but I am so grateful that all I received was kindness.

Now back to the pretty!

I spend a lot of time online - in fact I bloody love the internet. Any spare quiet second I have is spent on google images looking up different quilt patterns and mentally filing them away for future use. I always work from the fabric first when designing a quilt and as you know the fabric always comes first which is why in most cases I opt for ultimate simplicity.

I had been sitting on Bari J's fabric range Joie de Vivre for a while. I ordered it as soon as it was released but then didn't know the style of quilt I wanted to make from it. I wanted a bit of detail and some fussy cutting but still an overall random quilt. The range is spectacular and I wanted my favourite fabrics highlighted. I only had a fat quarter bundle though so creativity was somewhat limited and I knew I wanted to use every single scrap of fabric.

It was during one of my many searches that I found the perfect quilt pattern - called Olivia's quilt it had exactly the right mix I wanted. For anyone wishing to purchase you can find it here.

The quilt consists of 3 blocks - all quick and easy to assemble. I had the squares all made in a day including cutting. And with a bit of smarts I was able to use all the fabric I had. I picked my favourites for the feature squares first and then went from there.

Once I assembled the top I realised I had forgotten to do one very basic thing and that was check the finished size. I must always remember to do a conversion. The quilt, while gorgeous was only 120cm square so too small for my standard mama thrown which I was making. Luckily I found the perfect fabric in my stash to sash it with and I loved the finished look. I definitely want to make another one which is edge to edge so am trying to work out which fabric to play with to make it again! I have another Bari J range here so that may be the winner I think!

To quilt I used simple wavy lines which is a stitch on my Janome. After quilting at 2.5" wide I wasn't completely happy so did another row in between each one. I am so happy - it turned out lovely and crinkly but not too stiff. Feel sorry for anyone who orders quilts from me for the next little while as I think this is my new favourite stitch! To finish I bound her in white, I wasn't sure in the beginning but after she was out of the wash I loved it - it adds a lovely frame to it.

After a wash and dry she was ready for her photo shoot. It was perfect timing actually as I had just spent some time prettying up my lounge room to make a corner where I could take some decent throw photos. Everything came together perfectly and it is my new favourite corner now!

Then I got a wee bit creative. I always rush my photos and am frustrated with the finished product. This time I was a wee bit more deliberate and even got a bit <<cough cough>> arty.

Before I continue a quick mention of my beautiful vintage machine on my dresser. I pulled her out of my sister in law's garden a few years ago and love her to bits. She is so heavy and just perfectly rusted. Pretty sure even thought I was crazy when they heard my squeals lol.

Finally a quick shot of the quilt in all her glory. Unfortunately it was blowing a gale when I went to photograph her so it had to be a quick inside shot. Still while the background isn't fabulous I am pretty confident all eyes are on the quilt where they belong!

Now this fabric was always in mind for my gorgeous step mother Julia. I have been meaning to make her a quilt for years and this seemed the perfect range for her. I am happy to report that when she opened her Christmas present this year there were tears - the kids told me off for making her cry but at least it was from happiness lol.

Now I clearly have the mama throw bug at the moment. They are the perfect size for snuggling under on the couch and I love them. Throughout the year I will be making quilts from all the patterns I have saved and will be popping them in my etsy store. Every single mum deserves something beautiful to snuggle under forever.

Until next time

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Social Media Break

I think I need to start this post by explaining myself a bit. It definitely isn't a post asking for pity or even necessarily for understanding. In fact if I was to be really honest with myself I cant even tell you why I am writing it except sometimes a glimpse into the life behind piccolo explains more than pretty pictures ever will.

Last week I took a week off social media - Abby changed my passwords so I could not log on (clearly I have no self control) and I told her no matter what to make me last the 7 days. At first I wanted it to be longer but then I remembered that running a business online means I have a duty of accessibility for my customers, even disappearing for 7 days seemed funny although I assure you it was entirely necessary.

Some background ...

Last November we received some not so great news about Hannah's health, we have known for a long time that she was complex but nothing is more confronting than having your greatest fears spoken back at you and confirmed. Having a meeting with multiple doctors is overwhelming, having them put percentages on your child's life is downright horrendous. Having them acknowledge that, with no other child like her in Australia currently, the very best they can do is guess the outcomes and those guesses could be worst or best case, they don't know. All this while she is sitting on the floor in front of you tired from a day of physically demanding and invasive testing but still talking, singing and laughing, as she always does. We left Melbourne with the understanding that our next steps are both necessary and dangerous at the same time. That soon we will have no options but to move forward and suffer or celebrate the consequences. They had nothing positive. Not one response we got was tied to optimism, it was and still is the brutal reality of life with a chronically ill child.

And still I kept working. I brushed myself off and got home and got back into orders. It was good to be busy and it was good to be focussing on pretty things. Our family desperately relies on the income I make from Piccolo, it is integral to our daily life. Before Hannah was born it was always assumed I would be the primary earner but of course that has changed drastically. We have had to let go of a lot of things over the years - the nice house, lovely cars, holidays. It pales in comparison to what is truly important of course but it still there and some days, more than others, that hurts too.

And I love my job, never let me confuse that part. I am grateful every day to have this part of my life. I love creating. I love designing and networking and every part of my business. I have met amazing friends, many of whom started off as customers. It is never ever for a second the job that wears me down because in reality this some days is my only escape from reality.

Anyway back to the working. Christmas came and went and I got most of my orders out on time, even managing to raise $400 to buy Christmas presents for families unable to go home due to domestic violence. I had a clear path forward, an exciting outlook for 2017 and a whole lot of repressed feelings that I was desperate to not work through. Why? Because not only are repressed feelings shit to work through they are also a boring and constant part of my life. Rarely do I get an escape and if I do it is usually quickly followed by a quick reminder to not look too far forward.

So working and sewing and sewing and working. Still repressing. Then something happened. And it wasnt a big thing, in fact it was a normal every day thing. I just simply got tired. Tired of pretending this life is fine and I am fine and Hannah is fine and Peter is fine and the kids are fine. Tired of never being able to plan more than a few days ahead or juggling life around multiple medical appointments, each one which usually gives me a long list of things to do and try and fit somewhere into my daily routine. And this coincided with New Years or as I like to call it the month of memes. So far in the past few weeks I have learnt that apparently my life isnt shit, just my attitude to it, that I need to make those plans and take that holiday and go forth and just do it all and be it all. Except I cant. I cant be those things. They are things I want to be and grieve for but this is not the year of me. This is not the year of conquering my dreams and going forth being ridiculously amazing and super hot. This is another year in a chain of long years of trying to keep my child alive and my family whole. A year of trying to be all things to all the people I love even when grief wants me to just hide away from all of it. I dont get to shrug this crap off with a glib remark about my attitude. It is harsh reality and we are never really allowed to talk about it, and even if we could the words just arent ever enough.

So I broke a little. I didnt want to. I know it doesnt serve a purpose but sometimes mums are just really bloody tired and stressed people too. Sometimes one more picture of a happy family enjoying a simple life hurts more than I care to admit and then I hate myself for being so reactive to a situation noone can control. Sometimes the act of explaining all of this is so confusing and awkward it is best if I just stay silent, or at least I feel that way. Chronic illness means this is a whole life, it isnt a shit week or a bad day. It isnt just a thing we have to live with, in lots of ways and for a lot of the time it is our lives. I have spent the last week on hospital watch with Hannah. Daily conversations with doctors, even more crappy medications that will mean a reaction and the need for even more crappy medications. And around that all I have smiled, walked on the beach, gone to a Strikers game, given up carbs and sugar, and lived the life of someone that knows the difference between making a plan or tentatively pencilling something in.

So for a week I logged out of social media. I breathed out. Nothing got easier or harder. Except I didnt have to be more than I was right at that moment no matter how it looked. Will it happen more times this year - most likely. I am by nature a retreater and that doesnt always go well with an online business. I have to be honest and open with you guys enough that you realise it isnt about you. It is only ever about me and my inability to sometimes cope with my perception of everyone else's normal life.

I hope you can understand this. I hope one day these sorts of  blog posts come from a place of happiness and optimism. Right now they come from a place where I am tired. Where I am coping I promise and learning that the way to navigate forward is to accept that sometimes needing to be gentle with myself wins.

That said though, man it was quiet around here this past week! I have missed my notifications and messages and think I will be waking Abby up ridiculously early to reinstate me again!

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Aria's Quilt - Cottontail & Fawn (Hawthorne Threads)

Hi there!

It must be time to tell you all about another quilt I made last year that in the Christmas craziness never got it's much deserved blog post. The horrid weather here in Adelaide today (40 degrees) has given me a great opportunity to sneak to the computer which just so happens to be right underneath the airconditioning - fancy that!

This post is all about Aria's quilt and I love the back story behind it. Aria's lovely mum, Amy contacted me late last year to create a quilt for her soon to be earthside baby girl. Amy was pregnant and this quilt was to be a gift from the grandparents, a keepsake she could have forever. I bet you can tell how quickly I jumped at that idea - it hit me right in the sentimentals! Amy had a great idea of what sort of quilt she wanted and decided on a throw size which could be used forever.

After a small amount of time planning, most of which occurred while poor heavily pregnant Amy was trapped in a car park during a super storm that caused a start wide blackout, the quilt was born. Turns out looking at pretty fabric is a great diversion to stress in that situation, which of course I had always assumed. Amy decided on a mix of two ranges - Cottontail and Fawn, both of which are designed and printed in house by Hawthorne Threads. With so many mix and match combinations between their ranges the possibilities really are endless but finally we settled on the following combination.

The design of the quilt was kept super simple because those bunnies and deer didn't need to be fancied up - like I have always said it is about the fabric first and foremost. Amy chose that divine bunny print in the centre there for her backing as well - I love that that gives a reversible feel to the quilt.

When the fabric arrived I was impressed at how clear the print was - I am not a huge fan of digital printing and have had some not so great experiences in the past with fabric arriving from other sites that it both poor quality fabric and printing. The Hawthorne Threads fabric though was lovely and crisp and I was immediately excited to cut into it and get started. I learnt very quickly to follow their instructions and use a finer needle - luckily they give you those sort of tips to make the most out of the fabric when it arrives.

Like I have already mentioned we kept Aria's quilt super simple and I really turned out so pretty.

I decided to add an apple cushion to the order as a small gift from me because I do love spoiling my mamas and their babes. Plus I knew immediately it would be a gorgeous addition to the set.

The apple pie cushion now lives in the corner of Aria's nursery and is sitting on a wee vintage chair that was Amy's when she was little.

Now I am pretty confident that you haven't made it this far through the post because you are looking at quilt photos - you want to see a peek of the beautiful Aria don't you? Of course you do - the only thing better than quilt photos are baby photos so baby on quilt is perfection!

Amy sent me this photo when Aria was only a week old - such a little doll!

And now another of her aged 7 weeks on her quilt and totally stealing the show.

Amy it was an absolute pleasure making this quilt for your precious girl. Thank you for trusting me with such an important job.

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2017 and the post where I blinked and missed it (featuring Lavish by Katarina Roccarella)

Seriously! Did anyone else blink and miss December entirely? I know the month was eventful but seriously it is crazy how fast time runs if you don't take the time to stop and look around.

The last couple of months of 2016 had a batten down the hatches type feel to it with so much happening I could barely find time to breathe out let alone blog. We went to Melbourne with Hannah to meet with her cardiac surgeons and for her to have an MRI, nursed Cooper back to health after a shocking case of double pneumonia, went through the emotions of another school year ending (including some crazy big decisions I will fill you all in about later) and generally raced around like crazy as you do at this time of the year when you have children - presents to buy and wrap, school Christmas concerts to attend and the month long visit from our Elf on a Shelf, Elfie, who kept us on our toes as always. It is always the time of year where mothers everywhere desperately pray everywhere for a cloning machine! And of course piccolo had a very successful Christmas with lots of orders flying out the door, I am so incredibly grateful for the people who wait so patiently for their orders. Here is a wee peek at some of my faves that went flying out from my Etsy store to new homes - how lucky am I to be surrounded by so much pretty!

 Now one of my biggest regrets of my blogging hiatus is the fact that I still had quilts I hadn't yet shown you guys. With all the craziness I wanted to make sure I sat down and took the time to share them properly as they were all lovely. So expect a few catch up blog posts, including this one!

For the first quilt I need to take you back to October and my mum's 60th birthday. I knew I wanted to make her a quilt as our gift, especially as Hannah's health meant I couldn't be with her in person to celebrate. I am still funny about gifting quilts, I always hope the recipient knows how much love and work goes into each of the pieces I make, even if they don't come with a store bought receipt. It comes down to confidence I think, something I am slowly learning.

As soon as Katarina Roccarella released Lavish I knew it would make the perfect quilt for mum. Colours, prints - all of it were exactly right for her and her home decor. I also knew I needed to keep it simple to show off each of the prints as they work so beautiful together, I am never fussy with my piecing, my main aim is always just to make the fabric shine as best as possible. For quilting I used straight lines in arrow shapes - which i love on a square quilt, adds a bit of detail that normal stitch in the ditch quilting wouldn't allow. And where mum is living right now gets a wee bit chilly so I chose flannel for the back, for extra snuggle factor. Finally I used my favourite navy stripe binding because stripes!

I wish I had been there to see her open it!

PS a wee shout out to my quilty helpers who did a great job of holding it up for to me to photograph. I seriously had 15 minutes to grab photos so it was a rushed affair - this year photography is my absolute priority as I believe the fabrics need more attention than that just quietly!

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