Thursday, 11 September 2014

Charm square backpack PDF pattern

Whoever dreamed up the idea of fabric charm packs was a marketing genius ... and the nemesis of every fabric addict! The addict enters a fabric shop, and no matter her level of determination to resist, those little sample packs just draw her in. And she says to herself, "If I just buy one of these, it's cheaper than yardage, and I'll have a little bit of every fabric in the range. Win, win!" And so I have an untold number of random charm packs in my stash. 

I set myself a challenge to come up with a pattern to whittle down this collection. Something practical, something quick to make, and that can make use of a single random charm pack. I'm happy to say that I have written up a pattern for my Charm Square Backpack.

I have designed a drawstring backpack, made from a single charm pack, combined with a half metre of lining fabric.

At approximately 18" square, it is a perfect size for that quick trip to the shops, or a swim at the beach. It would also be great as a kid's library bag, or for their next sleepover with friends.

The backpack is fully lined, has an external zippered pocket for safe keeping of valuables and a loop for hanging.

I've made four of these backpacks now, and I confess they are quite addictive! But then it seems I'm prone to addiction :) The backpack on the left is made from Bonnie and Camille's 'Happy-Go-Lucky' range, while the one on the right is Zen Chic's 'Sphere', both by Moda of course, the leading culprit in charm pack world domination.

I also made two backpacks for some entomological friends of mine, using 'Bee My Honey' by Mary Jane.

I was lucky enough to find some fabulous braided cord at one of my local quilt shops. It is apparently an 'end of line' item, so is not readily available. If you find some, I suggest you buy it all (like I did). It just seems to blend with any fabric combination you can think of.

The Charm Square Backpack pattern is available as a PDF download in my shop.

If you happen to subscribe to my Newsletter, you will find a discount code for this pattern in your inbox. If you don't subscribe, but would like to, there is a newsletter subscription link at the top right of this page.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Daybook entry #15

Outside my window ... it is cold and dreary, but inside I have a beautiful pot of hyacinths to brighten my day. Their delicious fragrance fills the room and makes me very happy!

At the farm ... our lupin crop is looking really good. But we have learned not to count our chickens before they're hatched! The last lupin crop was as good a crop as our agronomist had ever seen, and heavy late season rain and wind blew them all over. 

At my machine ... I am playing with charm packs. I am working on a new pattern, designed to bust your charm pack stash! I can't bring myself to count how many charm packs I have ;)

I am inspired by ... Nicole Mallalieu's book, The Better Bag Maker. I have always loved Nicole's patterns. She has a wonderful sense of style, but also has pattern making and design credentials that make her projects stand out from the rest. I have grand plans of working my way through her book, and making each of the bags in succession, from easiest to most difficult. 

I am thinking about ... books. Beautiful, old books ...

... with letter pressed bindings and covered in dust. 


I have a book-themed commission for Australian Homespun that is proving to be quite a challenge, and has me a bit stumped at this point. I would ask for your help if I was allowed to! Perhaps this will spark some inspiration:

Have a good week. Bloom x

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The story of a quilt

I guess every quilt has a story, reflecting what is happening in the quilt maker's life at the time.

I turned 40 in July ... eight years ago! My Mum said she'd make me a birthday quilt.

A pattern was chosen: a simple design called 'Coventry' by Brenda Riddle, from her book 'Comfort and Joy'. I am a sucker for star blocks, and that double border of tiny red squares was calling me.


The fabric was chosen: the same fabrics used in Brenda's quilt, 'Roman Holiday' by 3 Sisters for Moda.

But in May 2006, my Dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer. The quilt was shelved, and the next nine months of Mum's life were focussed on caring for him. He passed away in February 2007.

So now, eight years later, my 40th birthday quilt has been dusted off. In that time, a background fabric was chosen, a dusty blue sprig on cream, from the 'Rural Jardin' range by French General for Moda.

In the last school holidays, Mum and I worked together on my quilt. Mum sewed, while I cut and pressed. 

When Mum and I sew together, we get places! We had 36 star blocks whipped up in no time. Admittedly, we had some help. Inspired by Rita in this post, I invested in a set of Bloc Loc rulers to help with our flying geese blocks. 

While these rulers are expensive, I would highly recommend them. They made an enormous difference to the speed and accuracy with which our blocks came together. 

So my birthday quilt is well underway. The blocks are all done, and pinned to our design wall (aka red fleece blanket). Mum has rolled it up and taken it home to finish piecing the top. I'll keep you posted on its progress. Mum? ... Mum? How are you going with it?!

This is a favourite photo of my Mum and me, taken about 1985 when Mum was 40! Yes, we were milking sheep ... but that's a story for another day.

Monday, 4 August 2014

In my winter garden

I don't know if every gardener would agree, but for me, winter is the busiest season. I have been lost in the garden; busy with pruning, mulching and generally tidying up. 

A winter garden is often dull and uninteresting because so many plants are in dormancy. Over the years, I've intentionally searched for winter-flowering plants to brighten up the dull spots and challenge the gloom. I found this sweet little gem, unlabelled, in a toss-out bin and it has become a winter favourite. I think it is a cuphea.

Cuphea hyssopifolia 'Rob's Mauve' (below) is as common as muck, but it earns its place in the garden for its prolific winter flowers. It is a great filler for arrangements too.

While I'm not a huge fan of pelargonium/geraniums, Perlargonium hortorum 'Rose Mega Splash' is very pretty right now.

Euryops pectinatus 'Little Sunray' is true to its name, radiating cheerfulness with its simple yellow flowers ...

... As does this little yellow buttercup that pops up out of nowhere at this time of year. I don't know what this plant is. It came from my Mum's garden, and dies back for most of the year until its fleshy foliage emerges in the winter. Please tell me if you know its name.

Even some of my verbenas are holding up to the cold weather, and sending out defiant blooms. This is Verbena 'Twinkle Crimson'.

Of course, some of the winter bulbs are starting to flower, with the appropriately named Jonquil 'Erlicheer' leading the charge.

I've recently discovered that what I've always called snowdrops, are actually snowflakes! I know, earth-shattering and all! I have Leucojum aestivum (Summer Snowflake or Loddon Lily), while a true snowdrop is Galanthus, quite a different plant all together. It's OK, I've been called a botanical nerd before :)

I am very excited about seeing the blooms of this little plant for the first time. It is Leucospermum glabrum x tottum 'Carnival Red', planted last September.

While I continue to search for winter blooms, it is this time of year when foliage can take more of centre stage.

I love this variegated euphorbia and how it contrasts with the dark green of the oyster plant.

Sedum spurium ‘Voodoo’ gets to strut its stuff, with its tiny burgundy leaves.

I've tried over the years to create contrast in plant colour and form in my garden. (Yep, more garden nerdiness right there!) I feel like I'm slowly getting somewhere.

Even after the winter pruning, I am starting to see different shapes emerging;  spheres, cones, spikes, etc.

Any gardener will tell you that a garden is never finished. It is constantly evolving, as plants grow too big, or die, or clash badly with others around them. This isn't a failure on the gardener's part; merely an opportunity to plant something else! The garden below is 12 months old. We had to pull down three enormous Leighton Green conifers because they were diseased. They left a gaping hole in the garden, but with it, a whole lot of new sunshine and a chance to plant new things.

My garden is a source of constant pleasure to me, and I am forever looking at it and analysing how next to make it better. I know you gardeners out there will get that! Best wishes, Bloom x

Saturday, 14 June 2014

'Baled Up' knitting set

Do you remember this teaser from a few posts ago? This was a clue to my most recent project in last April's issue of Australian Homespun magazine.

This project was borne of my childhood memories of woolsheds and stencilling wool bales at shearing time. It ended up as a three-piece knitting set called 'Baled Up'. Homespun did a really lovely job of the styling; very country meets city!

Initially, this idea took form when I was brain-storming about gifts I could make for my brothers. I had intended to make cushions for them and I wanted to stencil the names of our childhood properties on linen, in a similarly rustic way as we stencilled on our wool bales.

When Homespun asked me to submit a project for their magazine, I decided to broaden this initial concept. And so, from a vague germ of an idea, spawned not only a stencilled cushion, but a wool caddy and a knitting needle roll.

And so Madam Knitter, you may sit at your 'knitting chair', with your personalised cushion warming your back. The caddy is designed to sit by your chair and hold your wool. It is fashioned to look a little like a wool bale. It is fully lined and has inner pockets to hold scissors, a tape measure, or in my case, my glasses :)

The needle roll unfolds to reveal various sized individual pockets for all your needles, crochet hooks, gauges etc.

This project was published in Australian Homespun No. 131 in April 2014. The magazine is available as a digital download through Zinio. And no, my brothers still haven't got their cushions!

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Cuddle up

My Mum has been keeping herself busy making cuddly, shaggy quilts for her grandchildren.

One of the grandsons has claimed this one.

This quilt started life as a dog's breakfast eclectic pack of eye-spy charm squares. On first seeing them, I wasn't sure how we could pull them together. There were whites, brights, muted country colours and everything in between. 

But we surprised ourselves. We pulled out tone-on-tone prints from the stash, and bordered each charm square. We chose a pale green abstract print for the backing, and the whole thing came together quite nicely! 


I employed my Boy to help me take these photos. He's 15. He loves to help his mother with quilt photography :)

The day was dull and blustery. We were having trouble getting a shot, with each gust of wind blowing the quilt every which way.

But then, genius that he is, Boy said, 'Mum, you realise that if we put the quilt on the other side of the gate, the wind would blow it flat" ...

Aaaah, much better. At least one of us was thinking! Thanks Boy ;)
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