Monday, March 28, 2016

Beauty, Joy and Contentment

March, a glorious month of summer sunshine! Food, flowers, family and successful finales - always much to be grateful for. My Fresh Fields slow sewing project continues, piece by piece. We have just celebrated our first Easter without either of our eldest two (21 and just 24) being 'home', yet it felt right and not wrong. They celebrated with friends and church family where they are each living and studying now. Finding beauty, joy and contentment in each day and season.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Top and Pattern Making

Slub voile! It has the visual texture of linen yet is super soft, light weight cotton! It drapes beautifully too. Saturday I sewed myself a much needed white sleeveless shirt, to replace two identical tops I made in 2014 which are falling apart through constant use. Being quite sheer I have lined it in regular cotton voile. Hand sewing the hem adds that special slow sewing, handmade finish. In our climate I wear tops like this all year round, just adding various weight jackets on cooler days.

When sewing clothes I usually don't use a pattern, even for complex items, instead I cut and sew using existing garments as a guide, designing and custom fitting in the process (trying it on after each stage to check). After completing this top I decided to make a pattern from it for easier duplication. I am quite happy with a no fuss, easy wear design like this which requires no zip or buttons. I have plans to make another one or two when the fabrics come on sale. 

Sew-in medium weight interfacing works well to trace a pattern onto. I wrote my directions directly onto the pattern pieces and also stitching lines to clarify. Some time ago I bought 4 metres of this interfacing when it was on special, with the intention of pattern making, and had it rolled onto an empty fabric cardboard tube at the shop for crease-free storage. The interfacing is sturdier than paper, withstanding pinning better and could always be repurposed.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Big Changes and Family

24th February

25th February

11th March

13th March

14th March - Only 23 hours later!

16th March

(13th February -Hoping for more of these)

And this is the reason why I happily let huge caterpillars eat a little of my citrus trees! Citrus/Orchard butterflies are the largest butterflies we see locally. I have enjoyed seeing them fluttering around over the last month- this female one was just over our fence in the neighbour's yard recently. Stunning! 

The Citrus/Orchard caterpillar changes appearance quite remarkably over a few short weeks. Sunday afternoon I saw Mr Caterpillar attaching to our mandarin tree and settling in to begin to pupate. When I looked Monday morning it still looked like a caterpillar, drying and changing colour.  I nearly completely overlooked him a few hours later, thinking Mr Kookaburra must have found him. The rapid change is stunning. He is so well hidden now I doubt He will be taken as food by a bird. Hoping for a happy ending in the fullness of time.

Looks like we'll be enjoying our own avocados again in a few months too!  :)

Good changes have been taking place in our family also with my husband making a gradual return to work (state government office job) over the last few weeks. Last week he worked 12 hours, this week he will work 15 hours and hoping to manage 18 hours next week. 

He has not been well enough to work since mid April 2014, nearly two years ago. My husband, and consequentially our whole family, have been through a maze of massive physical and mental health struggles during this time, an unpredictable rollercoaster of complex conditions and unusual complications. My husband (always accompanied) has seen a multitude of doctors and specialists, some of which we still visit regularly. His healing is ongoing yet some permanent damage remains. 

The good news is that his 'eczema' is virtually completely gone. In actuality his adult 'eczema' was always his body's reaction/addiction to the cortisone/steroid creams/drops/tablets which he was continually prescribed by various doctors and specialists for 24 years to treat the skin (which first flared on our honeymoon after a bad asthma attack a few weeks prior to our wedding was treated with lots of cortisone). His quality of life, and ours as family, has been hugely impacted by his ongoing struggles with his skin (total body, including scalp, eyelids etc) and general health over these many years.

All going well, he is hoping to increase to a full-time work load within a couple months. Maybe he will even be capable of safely driving a vehicle again within a few months. 

We are certainly hoping some of these recent chapters of life are never, ever revisited. Through perseverance, medical assistance and God's grace we stand where we are today and choose to appreciate the goodness of each day and to look ahead with humility and optimism. Big changes - for the better!

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Hand stitching these calming flowers into little posies of three has been my slow sewing activity over the last couple of weeks. This seems to be the best next step as I steadily work towards a one-day finish on my Fresh Fields quilt.

Today I cut some more fabric hexagons, enjoying having all steps of construction underway at the same time, adding some fabrics which have been released since I began this English Paper Piecing project over two years ago.

'Macaroons' June 2015

'Layer Cake' June 2015

Gutermann Extra Fine polyester thread, my preference for EPP hand stitching

'Cupcake' Pincushion, June 2015

Last month's Summery flowers - small portable sewing

There is no hurry. This makes for very pleasant sewing during the heat of our long summer/autumn. 

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