Wednesday 29 September 2010

learn to sew - skirt


The tutorial I based this skirt on called it a twenty minute skirt. And perhaps if you didn't sew it on to the wrong side of the elastic first time you'd be done in twenty! As it was the second time around it was easily finished in that time, hemming and all. We don't have pockets in ours and had only one side seam as we used one piece for the skirt body, just half a metre. Which means the skirt cost less than six dollars.
Ms A found a picture of a skirt she liked, very similar to this one on a Japanese site, she loves the look of the wide elastic waistband. So on a trip to Spotlight (sewing megastore) we searched out the elastic and chose some fabric prints. I love this one she found. (Isn't she tall, nearly eye to eye with me at twelve!)
Basically you measure the elastic around the waist and add half an inch. Overlap the end and sew with zigzag. Then on the fabric sew the side seam and add a gathering stitch round the top. Pull it in to match the elastic and then pin the wrong side out with the gathered seam eased around, top edges matching with the top of the elastic. Sew it around to the top of the elastic with a zigzag stitch, stretching the elastic as you sew. Flip it over, trim, press over twice and sew the hem.
And do not sew it the wrong way round, it is no fun at all!
p.s. And yes that hem is straight now!

Tuesday 28 September 2010

eye candy

Popping in quickly, in between mastering string figures and cat's cradles, to share this lovely little bit of retro rickracky love made in the Etsy treasuries by bigDAYpartyshop.

To quote someone clever 'rickrack rocks'. And I love those colours too, especially the green linen. Follow the link to see the makers.

Friday 24 September 2010

rose babies

rose hipsrose propagation

My kitchen window sill at the moment is a little rose nursery, aren't they sweet! Propagating rose seeds is not quite as straightforward as other seeds but the fun thing is that if you do propagate a rose seed you are producing a unique rose variety that no one has ever grown or seen before. Doesn't that sound like fun (well it does to a plant nerd like me)!

Rose breeders grow thousands of seeds to produce each named variety. They breed and cross breed to preserve the most favourable characteristics and the most beautiful flowers. And when they find the perfect plant they graft it on to rootstock to make a million clones. That doesn't mean though that we can't have fun growing our own. Or that the fun and anticipation of waiting for your rose to flower for the first time won't be equally exciting. There's always the chance you'll make something amazing!

Rose seeds need to be coerced to break their dormancy before you can grow them. In a warm climate like Sydney's that is replicated by a few months in the fridge, wrapped in damp kitchen paper or cocopeat, in a sealed bag. Not hard to do, and if your partner is already tolerating gocco screens in the crisper and daylily pollen in the freezer, all the easier!

Last winter on a visit to the Central West I pruned my mother in law's roses. She has over thirty established rose plants which had missed a year's pruning and so most of them were taller than me. I really love my wonderful mother in law and I actually enjoy a bit of pruning so it was great to shape them all for her. It also gave me the chance to collect a pile of beautiful ripe rose hips from her lovely David Austin, hybrid tea and climbing old fashioned roses and bring them home to harvest.

Once home I split open the hips and collected seed. I gave them a cursory wash and wrapped them in damp kitchen paper and a ziplock bag, sealed to keep the moisture in, and then threw them onto a shelf in my fridge.

About a month ago as the weather started to warm I got them out again and left them on the kitchen bench. Every couple of days I unwrapped them to see if any of the seeds had split and started to germinate. This is the third time I've done this, the first two times I collected hips in a local park for my experiment. The first year one seed sprouted and I was so excited I managed to kill it with kindness. Luckily the next year one germinated and I coaxed it through to flower, you can see it here on my blog.

This time I've had much more luck. As of today I have six tiny seedlings growing in little pots on my kitchen window sill and more seeds coming to life in the bag! Once your seed has sprouted in its little paper nest, take it out carefully and put it just under the seed raising mix in a small pot. Water the pot and keep it sheltered in a plastic bag which will act as a mini greenhouse (just like the rose cuttings we took back in autumn).

If you are very lucky then in about a week's time a little pair of seed leaves will open followed closely by your first little rose leaf. Sometimes the little rose plant even flowers soon after that, my last plant did. If that happens I'll show you here.

If your seeds don't appear keep putting them back in the fridge (for at least a week each time) and taking them out again. Eventually some should get the message!

Thursday 23 September 2010


yellow daisies

 An exciting and exhausting week here at Flower Press, a few surprises afoot and its only Thursday. Thank you all for another great response to the Show & Tell series. I'm always really touched by your support :-)

No I haven't forgotten I owe part three of photo posting, it is in the works, and I promised a giveaway, stay tuned. School holidays start tomorrow though so things will slow down somewhat here. I'm looking forward to it, we have family coming to stay and a trip to the mountains planned.

A friend and I had booked a whole posse of friends in for dinner out tomorrow night only to find out the guest of honour isn't in town till next month! Looks like a quiet night on the couch instead. I think I need it.

Tuesday 21 September 2010

show & tell - amy gunson

This week's Show & Teller, Amy Gunson from Badskirt, is a local gal, she lives here in Sydney where she makes and sews the most inspiring things. She's one of those amazing people that must have a few secret hours more than we mere mortals because she seems most amazingly productive, her blog is always full of the most amazing quilting bee blocks and crochet squares she's whipped up, the hexagon quilt she recently handsewed or new members of her popular softie designs she produces for her regular market stalls.

Amy also runs an online fabric and pattern business and she's off again soon on another fabric buying trip to Japan (green with envy here). On top of that she recently hosted some very popular Oliver and S pattern sewalongs, the latest through popular sewing blog, SewMamaSew. Amy is most generous with her skills and knowledge and has a number of great tutorials on her blog.

One of the things I love about blogging is being able to share the journey the artist, designer, crafter, writer is on. I've watched fledgeling businesses take off and thrive. I've read along as crafters find different inspiration, new materials, change direction, become noticed, collaborate with other artists. Often its about seizing opportunities as they come along, and finding exactly where you want to be. Amy's answers tell of her journey, and I think you will be as surprised as me to hear how recently she started her Badskirt blog and got back into sewing. And I love the story of how her blog got its name! Thanks for sharing Amy, please make her welcome everyone, as you always do. And read on to the end of the interview to see Amy's special discount for Show & Tell readers!

Amy Gunson
Sydney, Australia

1. Why blog? How did you start?
In February 2008, I first learned of blogging when my friend Cindy in California was participating in Thing-A-Day, a creative initiative where participants make one new thing each day in the month. Through Cindy I was inspired to dip my hands into something creative. After a failed stint at beading, I bought a sewing machine. A few days later, Badskirt was born.

Initially Badskirt developed as a place to show my adventures in craft. I viewed it as a place to talk about my failures, as well as my successes. In time, as my skills grew, it became important to me that my blog was a resource for others wanting to explore their own creativity. So along with my daily chatter; I try to sprinkle tips, resources and techniques in my blog posts. When all else fails, I fall back on laughter.

Badskirt is now a full-time business where I sell handcrafted goods, textiles and patterns.

The clothes rack.

2. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
For the most part, I am self-taught. I’ve found the internet an invaluable resource for learning creative skills. Whether it’s how to crochet or the best way to clean your sewing machine, there are so many handy resources available online to learn.

I am fortunate that my mother taught me the basics of sewing and the women in my life often sewed, knit, crocheted and cross-stitched. Though I was exposed to things quite young, I found myself rejecting the home arts as I grew older. In high school, I even opted for shop class over home-economics. After turning my nose up for quite some time, I rediscovered crafting at age 34. Three years later, and it’s become my full-time job. Each day I learn something new through tutorials and blogs I find on the internet.

209 Marigold
3. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I have a sewing studio. I am lucky that my husband offered the sunroom to me so I could run my business. Don’t let the tidy photos fool you though.

4. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
When I first purchased my sewing machine in 2008, my goal was to sew clothing for myself. Inspired by fashion labels like Dogstar of Brisbane, I had hopes of making funky, fresh clothes. My first effort was a wraparound skirt made without a pattern and it turned out quite well. My second effort was a bit more ambitious with gathers and folds. It was a shocking failure. I had been telling my friend Cindy about it on Facebook, and she suggested I start a blog to show both the good and the bad. That’s where Badskirt came from.

5. Favourite medium to work in?
Cotton and linen are my favourite raw materials. For both fabric and yarn, everything I work with seems to be cotton, linen or a combination of both. I think they have a good texture to work with and don’t have the issues of stretch and give associated with other materials. They hold dyes well, so the resulting colours on fabric and yard are rich and saturated. I’m partial to the fabrics and yarns coming out from Japan as they tend to have a unique colour palette which is slightly skewed from the bold primaries found elsewhere.

6. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
The pipe dream has a small craft shop tucked away on the coast so that I can sew, and he can surf. I’d love to organize creative classes in a small studio where I could talk about colour theory and the creative process, as well as demonstrating specific techniques. It’s been a quiet ambition of mine to pursue teaching. Out back, there’d be a shiny Airstream camper that we call home. But that’s all a bit of a pipedream due to the working capital required to launch a proper craft business.

In the meantime, I’m trying to focus my creativity on non-commercial efforts. Because I create and sell for markets, it’s easy to get caught up in making the same types of products as everyone else. A quick peek around the stalls and you’ll usually see 6 or 7 variations on the same theme. It’s easy to get bogged down in details like worrying about what sells and the commercial viability of products. The art and joy of the creative process gets lost.

I’ve been trying to dedicate a few hours a week to pursue projects more for art’s sake like crocheted shadow boxes and non-traditional applique.

Looking Boxes

7. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
Creatively messy. The studio picture is a bit of an illusion as it was taken on the day I rearranged the studio. My sewing room is so untidy that I’ve only allowed one guest inside in the last two years. I work best in clutter. Often, it spills over to the living room. Fortunately, I have an understanding husband.

8. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own?
I take part in many online swaps and bees, primarily found on via flickr with many talented artists from around the world. In these swaps, you spend a few weeks silently getting to know your partner and their tastes by reading their blog, watching their flickr stream and a bit of secret squirrel spy work with their friends. Once you have an idea of what they might like, you create something for them. The main reason I do these swaps is because it brings me joy to create for others.

Pincushion Swap - Sending!

Each and every item that I’ve received in return has been magnificent because they’ve been made specifically for me. One of my absolute favourites came to me from from Jo of Sparkly Green Knickers. After reading that I liked Asteroids on my blog in an article that must have been over a year old, she decided to use classic video games as her inspiration and came up with this gem of a cross-stitch (below).

I used to collect console games and travelled frequently to arcade shows, so it’s absolutely brilliant. Even more special because it’s been made just for me.

Another item I hold dear is my copy of Charlie’s Widow which was handcrafted by Leav Lang. The book is stunning, and the imagery of her creative process makes it even more special.

Urban Home Swap - Received

9. Favourite colour?
This changes daily, but sour green is always a winner.

10. Star sign?

11. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
I’m fortunate to travel to Japan 3-4 times a year to meet with fabric distributors. Tokyo is my favourite city to visit. And though we live in Sydney, Australia; I call San Francisco home. If it all turns pear-shaped and we need to leave this beautiful country, I’d be back walking San Francisco’s hills in a heartbeat.

12. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
I’m fortunate that juggling life, work and family comes quite easily to me at the moment. I’m a rare stay-at-home-non-mom who has turned a hobby into a full-time position. The absence of children and pets means I have more time and space to create, but also means the home/workplace can feel a little lonely at time.

Before working in the arts, I had a full-time position working as a 3D artist and production manager in film and games. The decision to stay home and try something new was not taken lightly. I have a very supportive husband who actively encourages me to create and explore. When he comes home, often the dishes are neglected and the floor needs swept. He’s been understanding and appreciates that my time creating is my time working. I’m lucky he’s afforded me the opportunity to pursue Badskirt.

13. Favourite artists?
I’m a bit all over the board when it comes to favourites. I’m inspired by Josef Albefs and Mark Rothko for their deep understanding of colour. From their work, I’ve understood colours do not work in isolation and each combination can cause unique evocative response.

For quirky design; Helen Dardik, Heather Ross and the Cosmo Cricket team are a great source of inspiration. Lara Cameron of Ink&Spindle is winner in any medium. Liesl Gibson of Oliver+S is the queen of children’s garment design. Suzuko Koseki has a brilliant understanding of typography and quilting. I’m also a big fan of the art deco movement.

tell them where to...

14. Favourite blog post/thing you've made/photo?
My hand-pieced hexagon quilt is my favourite project. I couldn’t count how many hours went into hand-sewing each hexagon together. It was the first major quilt project that I undertook and I’m so pleased with the results. Along the way, I’ve been able to demonstrate my technique and write tutorials to help others. I like that I’ve not only created a gorgeous quilt, I’ve helped others get started with theirs.

At the other end of the spectrum, my favourite blog posts are the ones that make people smile. A recent pincushion for my husband was well-received.

15. Three words to describe you?
Spunky, Playful, Quirky

16. What do you like to do besides creating?
Because creating has become my full-time career, I put most of my time into it. Anyone who runs their own business will tell you work three times harder for yourself than you ever did working for someone else. In the time that I’m not making things; I like travelling, collecting fabric, snowboarding and grabbing a pint at the pub with friends.

* I'd like to offer Flowerpress readers 10% off all items at Badskirt including items already on sale through September 28th with code FLOWERPRESS at checkout time.

Farmdale - Part 1 of 8

Monday 20 September 2010



We've just had the most glorious spring weekend here.

Just popping in for a second to share these photos, I'm busy putting together tomorrow's Show & Tell interview. It's someone local this month, can you guess who?! Come back tomorrow to see if you're right :-)

Thursday 16 September 2010

my creative space - perle



I had great intentions of sharing something in crochet today. I've struggled with it before but some tempting tutes convinced me to give it a final try. And while I'm still convinced that I'll never really 'get' it I thought I was doing tolerably well for a bit, until I realised that:
a. there is more than one crochet language but they have the same words (huh?!)
b. there is more than one (or two!) crochet hook numbering systems and,
c. there is more than one way to hold everything while you are wielding the said hook and perhaps your left hand isn't meant to cramp by the second row.

So, after another whirl around Spotlight I have now collected a total of five crochet hooks and still have absolutely nothing to show for it!

There is something on the hook that's looking almost right, on the third attempt. So I'll be back to share some actual crocheting soon, something that could actually be called creative. Please be standing by, I think I'm going to need more than a bit of encouragement and advice.

To see more actual creatives visit Kirsty.

p.s. Show and Tell next Tuesday, pass it on ;-)

Monday 13 September 2010

collecting nature

collecting nature
collecting nature

Have you seen the Collecting Nature Flickr group that Jan from Poppytalk set up this northern summer. It combines my favourite things - collections, nature, art, textiles, things! And some of my favourite artists have contributed to it like knittalatte, otchipotchi and sue h.

Jan has recently posted this collection of images on Poppytalk from the group, including my little mushroom from here. Check out the Poppytalk blog for the other credits.

It reminded me of this photo that I took back in March and never got round to posting, showing some of the blue and white pieces in my pottery shard collection. I'm going to go and add it to the group now. I've found two more beautiful blue and white pieces in the last fortnight too, hooray, I do love them and its nice to see I'm not the only one, lots of kindred spirits in the group. For more inspiration you must check out the Collection a Day blog. Then go and add your own photo to the Poppytalk group :-)

This photo was taken in strong but indirect sunlight without a flash, the pieces are sitting on a piece of cardboard but you could use office paper. I stood on a chair to make sure I was directly overhead and tried to hold still for good focus. Easy!

Oh and many thanks to all for the wonderful feedback on the website and for the testing you all did!

Friday 10 September 2010

flower press website

Its taken me far too long (I've just looked and it was two years ago when I put up a 'temporary' page!) but at last I have some proper web pages up at

It is now the place to go to see a bit more information about me and my little business. I'm hoping it will continue to grow and change with time, and I'm still playing with the design, images and links, but I thought it was time to share :-)

I've spent today tweaking the files, making sure all the links work but I would love some help roadtesting it on different machines and browsers - so if you have a moment I would love it if you go to and take a spin around the pages, see what works, what's broke, what's missing. I'd love to hear if you find a glitch, or something that doesn't look right, what have I left out? Just leave a message in the comments or email me.

Which reminds me, I'd really like to welcome all the new followers and subscribers who have joined flowerpress recently. Its always so nice having new visitors, commenters and new blogs to visit. Thanks too to all the lovely peeps who visit regularly and always leave such lovely messages. It always makes me smile and helps keep me creative. Have a great weekend.

Wednesday 8 September 2010

fathers' day

fathers day
Feeling very smug as we seem to have scooped the pool this year (see above) ;-)
On Sunday, Fathers Day here in Oz, Mr F got lovely handmade cards, pancakes in bed and a few little presents from the fathers day stall at school, including this mug which makes the perfect pair for my mothers day pressie.
In other news I am on ADSL 2+ today which is so much fun after struggling with a slow and unreliable provider for years. I can't wait to download something!!
And its suddenly September! Which means my Blog, Flickr and Etsy anniversaries are approaching fast. Look out for a giveaway and a sale, soon(ish).

Saturday 4 September 2010

photo posting - two

photo posting 2
photo posting 2

Despite having a great camera every photo you see on my blog has been tweaked in some way. And if you look around the online world this basic photo editing is the norm for most bloggers and photographers. In the past these adjustments would have been done in the darkroom with filters or papers or light. In these days with digital media its done in software programs.

While Photoshop is an amazing photo editing program and I use it quite a lot, I use iPhoto (which comes basic on the Mac) for most of my general editing. It has great, simple tools which mean I can adjust and crop my pics in a few seconds and best of all I don't have to export the photos from their home in iPhoto.

If you're not on a Mac then Picasa is a free downloadable program for the PC or Picnik is a free online program that gives some amazing effects. (If anyone else who is on a PC has other suggestions I'd love it if you left them in the comments.)

I won't go through my tweaks at length. Its sort of like an eye test if you've ever had one, I just keep fiddling till the image looks right! And if it goes wrong you can always revert to the original and start again. The screenshot above shows an example of some of the standard changes I make to pics. For a start I nearly always lighten them. I move the exposure button to the right and bring the top level slider down to the left to line up with the highest peaks. Its amazing how this simple adjustment can improve pictures.

Then I fiddle with the tints and temperature to try and replicate the colours I'm seeing in real life. I find most cameras give a bit of a blue or greyish cast to photos and I see a lot of dark, slightly blue photos online which could be much improved with these subtle changes. I've included the original of this photo below the adjusted one to show you how it has improved with tweaking. It was a grey day when I took it and you can see its quite dark.

If you are shooting blog pics make sure you always turn off the flash. It gives a harsh light and artificial colour to your photos that is hard to remove in editing. If you are shooting inside find a bright spot in your house to set up, out of direct sun (I use my kitchen bench!) and shoot without the flash but brighten the pictures at editing and fix the colours there so your whites are white. Get as close as possible when taking the photo and make sure your focus is sharp.

photo posting 2

I try to crop in the camera as much as possible. That way you keep the highest resolution that you can. But I do crop most of my blog photos in editing to a standard 5 x 7 format in iPhoto. I like the look of that format and I think having a standard shape makes the pictures sit together well. See the improvement in the photo above. One exception is if I'm cropping square, I love the look of that too but its not practical for all images.

Some photographers have standardised their Photoshop tweaks into a set of automated adjustments that are known as actions. They apply these depending on which effect they want, often with beautiful results. You can recognise many of these as those great retro effects or pastelly tints. I'll save actions for another post and point you to some free downloads so you can play with them too.

Anyway, that's it for today, but I've got one more instalment to come - about photo posting, how to put your photos online and looking their best.

I'd love people to share hints, info, questions or how you do it. I'm no expert and I'm just hoping to share what I do. Oh, and my email button is working again now too!

Thursday 2 September 2010

september sapphires

The birthstone for September is a sapphire (happy birthday septemberites), which kind of explains how my wares have ended up in these six fantastic blue treasuries in the last week! Oh and for a slight change of pace number seven below is called Ketchup!

Wednesday 1 September 2010


Butterfly Doily
Butterfly Doily

I'm still taking photos of these (its very grey here today), and I haven't even sewn the other colour cushions yet! But I couldn't resist introducing my new Butterfly Doily design today, the first day of Spring (Autumn) seems like a perfect time to do it.

Taken from a beautiful doily design then redrawn and blown up big I just love the graphic quality of this new design, either in my favourite white on unbleached colour scheme or jumping out of this fabulous turquoise cotton drill I bought last month!

Available for now as cushion covers or tea towels in the shop. I hope to get the oak leaf blockprint towels listed today too Done, pin oak towels are listed! All are in very limited quantities. Watch out for another tea towel design soon too which builds on this!