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What's Your Wadding? Cotton batting for quilts and more...

Posted on March 05, 2014 | 0 comments
You work so hard, cutting, piecing, trimming and sewing your beautiful quilt tops... they deserve a beautiful, hard-wearing, natural fibre wadding to make quilt to last a lifetime!
The benefits of cotton batting are many and varied - here are just a few....
Cotton wadding is a natural fibre, that is hypo-allergenic.  Perfect for those with allergies and anyone who loves the feel and environmental friendliness of natural products.
 
Our Matilda's Own cotton wadding is made in Australia, from 100% Australian cotton - so you are supporting Aussie manufacturing AND our farmers... it doesn't get better than that!
 
Using cotton batting makes for a long-lasting quilt.  They are double needle-punched onto a "scrim" that holds the fibres together.  The shrinkage of modern cotton products is minimal (only around 2% at most), and you can confidently quilt at up to 10" (25cm) intervals, while maintaining great stability in your quilt's layers.
Cotton quilt wadding is easy care - quilts with cotton batting layers are machine washable (gentle cycle), and can even be tumble dried (although line dry in the shade increases the longevity of your quilt overall).
 
Finally, cotton is the natural choice of affordable wadding - at only $19.95 for our 2.4mtr wide batting, you can buy as much as you need, without worry.  And don't forget, we have a maximum capped postage rate of $9.95 Australia-wide too! Buy your cotton quilt batting with confidence, and receive it quickly, from your favourite online fabric shop - Fabric Fusion!

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Time Management :: Harness the Power of 5 Minutes

Posted on February 22, 2014 | 1 comment

I know many of our lovely customers are doing the same juggle as me - being a mum, running a small business, trying to keep home-cooked meals on the table and in the lunch boxes, washing school uniforms and tumble drying them at midnight.....

I am by no means an expert at keeping everything running smoothly in home or business, but I am learning a few techniques that are helping to keep it all together.  So I thought I would jot some of them down, and if you find them helpful for time management / general sanity, that is great!

Add Time to Your Day :: The Power of 5 Minutes ...

What is the first thing you do in the morning, after school / kindy / childcare drop off?  For me it is turn the kettle on.  I have an early morning cuppa, but need the comforting warmth of a fresh cup of tea in my hands to start the work day.  

I would daydream while waiting for the kettle to boil, maybe scroll through FB or emails on my phone.  Not really achieving anything, just ... waiting.  Then add hot water to the teabag and ..... wait again.  I like strong tea, so this would take another 4 - 5 minutes.

I realised last week that this is one of the reasons why I don't actually get any real work done until after 9.30am, when I am home from school run at about 9.05am!

So -- I am harnessing the power of 5 minutes.  Instead of waiting for the kettle to boil, I do one or 2 of the following - sweep the dining room & kitchen, wipe up breakfast crumbs, empty the dish drainer, toss in a load of washing ... you get the idea.  Then the same while waiting for the tea to steep.

BAM - in 10 minutes, I have achieved at least 3 things ALREADY!  AND I find that when I feel like I have at least kept the house jobs ticking along, the "mummy guilt" over time spent on the business is significantly decreased.  I feel like I am coping with "it all" better.

TIP :: Think honestly about where you feel, deep down inside, that you are not coping ... for me it is the house.  For you it might be your inbox - so you could do 5 minutes of email / PM replying while waiting for the kettle.  The trick is to do the things that are going to give you an instant "I can do this" boost.  Maybe it's your relationship? Use that 5 minutes to send an 'i love you' text -- whatever works for you!

If you take a good look at your day, there are quite a few of these "5 Minute Windows".  

  • I make 3 cups of tea a day - BAM - 30 minutes!  
  • I push our routine in the mornings, to have the kids ready for school by 8am, when we actually don't have to be gone until 8.10am - BAM - another 10 minutes.
  • We have one upstairs bathroom and young kids ... BAM ... 5 minutes waiting time in the morning, as they have to go first!
  • you get the picture......

TIP :: Make sure the jobs you choose are in the same area of the house as you are in anyway, so that they really are only 5 minutes.  Don't get distracted into a big job and let your tea go cold!

How many Windows do you have in your day, and what could you use them for?

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Tutorial :: Easy envelope cushion covers

Posted on December 16, 2013 | 1 comment

I love cushion covers - they are the easiest way to re-vamp your decor, or add a bit of seasonal fun to your house!  And here is the best cushion tutorial to make simple pillow covers in just minutes!  These are envelope-style covers, perfect for easy cover-changing and great if you have kids - no buttons, zips or small pieces to be chewed on.

 

 

You need ::

* 40cm (16") width of fabric -- so 40cm x 110cm for a standard quilting fabric  (or 45cm / 18" x 110cm for a larger cover)

* Thread to match

* Pins

* Sewing machine

 

How to do it ::

 

1.  Measure and square up your fabric - straighten the edges and make sure it measures 40cm (16") (or 45cm / 18").

 

2.  If you are making a 40cm cover, then turn your fabric length-wise and measure across 50cm (20"), and trim the edges.  If you are making a 45cm cover, don't worry about trimming.  While you have the fabric measured across, measure from the centre fold, along the long side.  For the 40cm size, measure 18.5cm (7.5") and make a mark on the top and bottom sides of the fabric, on both upper and lower edges.  For the 45cm size, measure 21cm (8.5") from the centre fold and mark on top and bottom sides, both upper and lower edges.

 

3.  Turn the 2 short ends over twice, about 2cm each turn, and hem them across the short ends.

 

4.  Place fabric lengthwise, right side up.  Turn the top end down, until you see the 2 marks that you made earlier.  Then turn the bottom end up, until you see the 2 marks that you made on that end.  

 

5. Your cover should look like this -  Put a couple of pins in on each side.

 

6. Sew across each open side of the cover, using a 15mm seam width.  I recommend double stitching where you can feel the opening edges, for strength.

 

5.  Either overlock or zig zag the edges, and turn your cover right side out.  Add cushion insert and enjoy :-) 

 

 

I hope that all makes sense - basically, you cut a strip on the width of the fabric, measure 18.5cm (0r 21cm) up from the centre fold, mark it top and bottom, front and back.  Hem the 2 short ends, then put it right side up and turn the 2 short ends back down until you see the marks.  Line it up, pin it, sew the sides, turn right side out and voi'la!

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Easy Peasy Christmas :: Fabric Wreath

Posted on November 24, 2013 | 0 comments

 

Are you feeling festive yet??  We don't put our decorations up until next weekend, but with humidity high and thunderstorms around, we decided today was a good day to check through our box of decorations.

I love a wreath on our front door - but my handmade one from previous years had gotten tatty. This year I really want to incorporate simplicity and fabric (of course!), so it was off to the discount shop to get a new foam circle base.

Then choose pieces from your scrap box.  Use a piece of string to measure the width around the foam ring - add about 15cm to this length to make tying easy.  Then cut strips to that length.  I made ours 2" (5cm) wide as we wanted it to come together quickly -- attention span of kids and all that ...

Then simply tie strips around!  We put all the knots at the back, and trimmed any ends sticking out.  The fabric holds knots pretty tightly so a single thumb knot is all that is needed for each strip.

The red bow is made from a piece of plain homespun fabric, cut to 5" (12.5 cm) wide.  It is about 60cm long, tied around the ring and then in a bow.

You could do this with the knots at the front for a shaggy look, use narrower strips, etc.  This is fabulous project for little fingers, and the kids loved rummaging through my scraps box.  

Foam ring - $4.00

scraps of fabric - free

half an hour of happy whinge free kids?? PRICELESS

And I *love* our new wreath too....

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Weekend Craft series - Cubby house makeover

Posted on October 13, 2013 | 0 comments

Do you want your kids to play outside more?  We sure do.  So a few weeks ago, I went outside in our house, and took a good long look at the place.  Would I play there?  Do the spaces excite and inspire imagination?  Is there enough space, and equipment, to get active with?

We are very lucky to have a pool, which is great over summer.  But as the kids are 6 and 4, the pool requires constant adult supervision.  At those times when you just want the kids to play outside without needing adult monitoring, there needs to be more.  One of the reasons we bought this house was that it had a solid cubby house tucked in one corner, which is raised up off the ground.  A fantastic play area for the kids!  But..... take a look inside it.  This photo was taken this past Saturday morning.....

 

 

Would you play here?? Would you want your KIDS playing in here?  Ummm... I concluded... no.  The bones of it are fine, but it was dirty, poorly treated by the previous tenants, and in serious need of a makeover.  Sooooo...  a quick FB question (thanks folks!), a google search, and I found myself with a half price roll of fabulous funky wallpaper!  A "quick" trip to Bunnings (which of course required the obligatory sausage sizzle snack), yielded the paste, and some cute plastic contact.

 

First step was to wash the walls (and remove the slightly spooky picture stuck up there by the previous kids).  On my knees, sweeping the lino with a hand-brush (darn those low ceilings!), and the place looked better already.

I do not claim to be an expert in wallpapering - in fact, this was my first try.  But I learned a few things *very* fast --

1.  Bunnings DO have wallpaper rolls at cheap prices (like around $50 for 10 mtrs), BUT they are not lovely bright fun kids prints, and they are made in China.  I truly am a believer that you get what you pay for.  That said, I found a great decor shop in Nundah (The Ivory Tower), that had rolls in their "one left" rack, for around $70.  This is quality, European made wallpaper.  And *swoon* at the ranges available in their catalogues.  Nearly as great as fabric!!  Oh, and their minimum order quantity is just 1 roll - so if you don't find a bargain, you can always choose (or *try* to choose!) from the huge range in their swatch books....

2.  The sachet packets make up a HUGE amount of paste.  The larger ones are designed for papering a whole room.  Bunnings  has small sachets, designed for 1 roll - but even that made nearly twice what I needed to do this area.

3.  Spread an old towel down, that the piece of wallpaper will fit onto.  When you are slapping on the paste, you need to get it right to the edge, and it is much easier to do that on a towel that you can just wash afterwards, rather than cleaning up floors.

4.  Papering can be done by one person (as in my case), but it would be much easier, and neater, with two people, particularly if you are doing long stretches, in horizontal (as I tried!).

5.  The paper will roll shockingly

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October Giveaway - Nested Owls

Posted on October 03, 2013 | 17 comments

Do you get the feeling that I like owls??  Well, if you love owls too, this month's giveaway is a dream for you!

Thanks so much to our good friends at AdornIt fabrics, I have 4 fabulous pattern books to give away!  The books feature the stunning Nested Owls fabrics, and come in 2 different themes - Charcoal, and Coral.  I have 2 Charcoal books, and 2 Coral books, to give away!

 

 

Each book features patterns for quilts, and other handy projects - stuffed toys, shoulder bags, cushions, table runners... Valued at $20 each, they will provide inspiration for many many hours of sewing fun!

To win, all you have to do is leave a comment below, telling me if you would like to win the Coral book, or the Charcoal book, and why.  

4 winners will be chosen, and I will TRY to accommodate your preference...

Entries close at 5pm on Tuesday, 8 October.

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September Giveaway - Gelati Owls

Posted on September 15, 2013 | 46 comments

*** THANKS FOR YOUR ENTRIES - THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED, and the winner has been notified by email. *** Congratulations to Julie  ***

I have been playing with these sweet fabrics myself, and can't resist sharing them with lovely readers!  This month's giveaway prize is a HALF METRE of each of the 4 Gelati Owls fabrics (note bunting panel not included).

To enter, just leave a comment on this blog post, with your email address or another way to contact you!  The Giveaway will close on Friday, 20 Sept, at 5pm, and winner will be notified by email.

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Beginner Quilting: Essential Patchwork & Quilting Equipment

Posted on June 10, 2013 | 1 comment

Beginner Quilting

So, you want to start quilting?  Yay!  It is a wonderful, rewarding, inspiring, sometimes all-consuming craft - to be able to make something that gives your family (or friends / workmates / random people), the essential warmth, comfort and snuggli-ness that we all crave is an amazing thing.  

Essential Quilting Equipment

Of course, these days, we have got not only beautifully inspiring fabrics, but also many labour-saving devices, to make your quilting enjoyable.  Here is my list of Top 5 quilting essentials, to get you started you on your quilting journey:

 

1.  A "self-healing" cutting mat (or board).

Made of some sort of rubber polymer (yep, that's the technical term, I'm sure), a cutting mat is essential so that you don't slice up your table-top.  They come in various sizes, but the standard is around 17" x 23", which is plenty big enough to cut width of fabric, and most projects.

One of these should set you back no more than $40 - $50.

 

2.  A rotary cutter and spare blades.

Quilting is a game of precision.  You could cut out your fabric with a pair of dressmaking scissors, but it would take *ages* and you would never get the precision that you need, particularly for traditional patchwork, where you are wanting corners and points to meet exactly.  Most quilters start out with a 45mm cutter - that is fine for most projects.  However, I started using the larger 60mm size (more like a pizza cutter size!), a while back, and I will never go back to the 45mm size.  I find the larger size has a better weight and stability in my hand, which is extremely important when you are cutting with a (literally) razor sharp blade.

A decent 45mm cutter will be around $25 - $35, and a 60mm might be around $45 - $55.  The replacement blades shouldn't be more than $13 each.

 

3.  A large clear quilting ruler.

Your ruler is the third in the trio of basic essential quilting equipment.  They come in all shapes and sizes, but the first one to get is a 6.5" x 24" size (the long rectangle in centre of the picture).  It is large enough to cut across the whole width of a bolt of fabric, in one slice (using your rotary cutter).  It will have a grid of lines running in both directions, to help with lining up your fabric to cut - more on this in further blog posts.

Again, a ruler this size should be around $30 - $35 at most.

 

4.  A 1/4" sewing machine foot.

99% of patchwork and quilting is figured in inches.  It's a nod to its American history.  It just is, and you will get used to it.  So 99% of patchwork sewing uses a 1/4" seam allowance.  Which your machine may or may not have marked on its seam gauge (that plastic or metal plate underneath the presser foot).  Mine doesn't - in fact, my Janome is in millimetres, not inches, so no use at all. To be consistent and accurate in sewing a 1/4" seam, you need a 1/4" foot for your machine - ask at your local sewing machine dealer, they should have them in stock.  

The foot will have a guide line (often the outside of the foot itself) that measures exactly 1/4" from the needle's stitching line.  Even if your machine has 1/4" marked on its gauge plate, a 1/4" foot is still a handy gadget to have.

 

5.  A "walking foot" for your sewing machine.

When you put your patchwork quilt top together with the wadding and backing layers, even when you pin it up to heck with snazzy quilter's safety pins, the layers of fabric will move, when they are going under the sewing foot.  

When you are sewing just 2 layers together (as with normal dressmaking sewing), the bottom fabric is moved along by the feed dogs (the teeth underneath the presser foot), and the top layer of fabric is guided along with it, by the foot and the bottom fabric.  When you add a third (and often bulky) layer of wadding into the middle, there is a disconnect between the bottom fabric which has the feed dogs to pull it along, and the middle and top layers which are very likely to be pulled along at different rates to each other, and the bottom - this will cause puckering and tugging in the quilt stitch lines.  Which results in constant and exasperating use of your unpicker.

A walking foot is designed to pull all 3 layers of the quilt "sandwich" along under the needle at the same rate, so ensuring that they are stitched in the same place - reducing puckering (note not necessarily removing it altogether!).  For around $50 it is a weird-looking contraption that is a good investment.

 

So that is my Top 5 Essential Equipment for Quilting.  I hope it helps de-mysticise some crazy sounding terms!  Next post in the series will be how to use a rotary cutter, board and ruler, to cut your fabric.... not your finger.

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Hello Tokyo Friday giveaway

Posted on June 07, 2013 | 70 comments

So I am starting off our monthly giveaways with a bang! 

 

 

The Hello Tokyo range of fabrics by talented Aussie Lisa Tilse of The Red Thread is oh so vibrant!  The colours are fun, fresh and pop beautifully in the combinations that Lisa has chosen.

To celebrate the arrival of these beautiful fabrics, we are giving away a FAT QUARTER SET of all 13 of the feature fabrics pictured!  If you would like to win, ALL you have to do is leave a comment telling me what project you might make with the fat quarter pack, and your contact details below! 

For extra entries, you can also -

1.  Like our Facebook page;

2.  Subscribe to our newsletter (see the link up box at bottom of the page here);

3.  And share the link to this blog post on your Facebook page.

Each of these gets you an extra entry into the draw - you have to leave an extra comment on this blog post, for each extra entry :-)

 

T&C's:

*  The giveaway will close at 5pm NEXT FRIDAY, 14 June 2013 (Brisbane time).

*  The winner will be announced on this blog, and also contacted by email (make sure you leave your contact details!)

*  Thank you and good luck!!

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{Tarting up your Towels} :: A Bathroom Towel Tutorial

Posted on June 01, 2013 | 3 comments

Use beautiful modern fabrics to dress your bathroom in your own style - an easy tutorial to pretty up your towels

::

We have just about finished what for us has been our first "real renovation" - a new bathroom.  I was actually hoping to do our kitchen first, but the fact that the upstairs bathtub started leaking into the downstairs ceiling (shorting out the lights circuit and filling up the downstairs light cover with water) pretty much sealed the deal on the fact that it would be bathroom first, and kitchen at some vague unspecified point in the future....

So what to do to make our beautiful new bathroom a little more into my style??  Add fabulous towels with my current favourite fabrics as trims, of course!

::

 ::

{Tarted Up Towels} 

You will need:

A set of towels - either bath towels, or hand towels if you prefer

Pieces of fabric - approx 18cm x the width of your towels plus 6 cm.

Trim of your choice - ribbon, ric rac, lace trim etc - length to match the width of your fabric

Sewing machine or needle and thread.

Pins

 

Tips:

1.  Put a heavier duty needle into your sewing machine - a 90/14 needle is thicker than a standard 80/12, and will deal with the thick towelling better.

2.  Pick trims and fabric that have similar wash / care requirements to your towels and fabrics.  If you have a trim that will shrink when washed, it will pull and pucker the whole fabric panel, when you wash.

3.  Use a thread colour that matches the colour of your towels - at least for your bobbin thread.  The stitch lines will be VERY visible on the back of the towel, if you use a contrasting thread for your bobbin.

4.  You will need to leave any perfectionism at the door for this project - although the results are gorgeous, I have never yet met a towel that has perfectly straight sides, so you might need to fudge and fiddle a bit to get your fabric panel to match the towel.

 

Method:

1.  Cut fabric panel to 18cm high x width of your towel + 3 cm on each end.  Eg. if your hand towel is 40cm wide, cut fabric panel to 15cm high x 44cm wide.  My standard bath towels were 76cm wide, so I cut panels of 18cm x 82 cm.

 

2.  Press and iron the extra 3 cms in to the underside of the fabric, at each end of the fabric panel.  The fabric panel should end up being the exact width of the towel (or as close as you can make it).

 

3.  Measure 25 cms up from the end of your towel, and place a discreet pen mark (or use vanishing fabric marker pen), on each side of the towel.  Place the fabric RIGHT SIDE DOWN, with the top edge of the fabric lined up with the marks on each side of the towel.  Pin the fabric to the towel, along the long edge in line with the marks, and making sure that the 2 short sides are tucked in as they were ironed.

 

4.  Sew along the long side of the fabric panel that you pinned.  Remember to backstitch at the start and finish of the stitching, and MAKE SURE that the sides of the fabric panel are folded in and match up with the sides of the towel, when you sew.  To keep the sewing line straight, I use the edge of the machine foot - keep the raw edge of the fabric panel running along underneath the inside edge of the machine foot, and your stitching line should stay straight.

 

5.  Iron the top of the fabric panel down by about 1cm, while it is still lying flat.

 

6.  Fold the fabric panel back up onto the towel, making sure that the ironed flap stays tucked in when you fold the panel up and over, to show the right side out.  Pin the 2 short sides onto the towel.

 

7.  If you are using trim, cut it to the width of the towel, plus an extra centimetre on each end.  Tuck the extra cm in underneath on each end of the trim.  Pin the top long side of the fabric panel onto the towel, with the length of trim tucked in underneath.  Adjust the pinning as required, to ensure that the trim will be sewn into the seam, and still evenly visible along the length of the fabric.

  

 

8.  Start sewing at one corner, and sew carefully along all 4 sides of the fabric panel, making sure to sew through both the trim and the fabric, on the top long side.

  

 

9.  Press the fabric, fold the towel and hang like it is in an interior design magazine!

  

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