Tuesday 30 October 2012

shop update

blockprint cushionsblockprint cushionsblockprint cushionsmarble kitsmarble kits

Some more bits in the Flower Press Shop.

Here are the blockprint cushions I printed way back here, these are all one-offs made from experimentation with my Prism block. I love the way they look backed with graphic black quilting cotton, so much so that you might remember that the first one lives on my sofa!

I've also listed some drawstring Lego bags. These little bags are perfect to keep track of all those little bits of Lego when out and about and like the Marble Kits would make a great little holiday play kit. 

Speaking of the Marble Kits, thank you all for your sweet comments and orders. Alisa and I were tickled that so many of you liked our retro Marble sets.

I've been skirt sewing today and after a frustrating morning fiddling with sizes and lost instructions I seem to have made myself a skirt that fits! I'm hoping to get it hemmed in time to share it on Thursday's creative space.

Thursday 25 October 2012

my creative space - marble kit collaboration

marble kitmarble kitsmarble kitmarble kitsmarble kitmarble kitsmarble kit
I am so excited to be able to finally spill the beans about this project! These Marble Starter Kits are a collaboration between Alisa Coburn of Ink Caravan and I and we're really proud to share them at last!

It all started last year when Alisa bought a marble bag from the small run I sewed with my newly designed Marble fabrics. I blogged about the making of these small, calico lined, drawstring bags back then. The small batch proved very popular and was sold before it even made it into the shop.

Back then Alisa bought a bag for her daughters and was inspired to make some simple instructions to accompany them. I asked if she'd send me an image when she'd finished, I've said before how much I love Alisa's work, she was a featured Show & Teller this year, so I knew the instructions would be something special.

As you can see, not only are the instructions sweet, and simple, and fun to look at, Alisa has engineered them in a way as to make them durable and easily folded so that even the smallest hands can put them away safely between games. Such tricky folding, I still can't work out how she does it!

Even better just before she sent me the instructions she suggested a collaboration to make these small kits so we could share the marble love. I agreed in a heartbeat as these are just the lovely simple and handmade presents I love to give.

These handmade kits are a labour of love between Alisa and I. Each Marble Kit comes with bag, instructions, marbles and chalk so they are a complete kit and you don't have to chase around for the extras. They can go straight into your secret present cupboard and be brought out again at Christmas, for birthday parties, or for a great little holiday travel game bag that could also hold a pack of cards, some jacks, a pencil and notebook, a complete holiday kit in a bag.

The fabric is my original Marble design digitally printed on 100% Kona cotton. The bags are lined with durable calico and pulled tight with a cotton tape. Alisa's instructions are printed with her new high end pigment ink printer on specialty papers and then hand cut, folded and assembled.

These kits are available in my Etsy shop, and will also be in Alisa's Ink Caravan shop when it opens, (rumour has it that will be soon -I am already lined up at the front door peering through the window to see the treasures she has for sale)!

Thank you Alisa, its been so much fun making these kits with you, I've loved working together and bouncing ideas off each other and I'm so proud of what we've made. And its nice to share them at last.

We hope you love these kits as much as we do, they are in the shop now! I'm putting a whole bunch of new stuff in today which I'll blog about later but you can get a sneak peek now.

More creative types here.

Tuesday 23 October 2012

show & tell - nic james


Nic James of the yardage girl blog recently spent a long sojourn with her family based in Spain and travelling around Europe. It was wonderful to go along with Nic and her camera both via her blog and on instagram, hitching a ride as a virtual tourist as she saw the sites, enjoying them through her beautiful photos. I managed not to be too jealous in the process, well maybe just a little bit!

Nic runs an independent fabric design company based in Melbourne called Yardage Design. She handprints her own original fabrics on natural fabrics and has recently moved into new studio space at the Abbottsford Convent. She also celebrated her third blog birthday a couple of weeks ago so its the perfect time to share her blog.

Like me Nic is a fan of flowers, fabric and food. She also likes to shop vintage and designs and prints her own fabrics, so we have that in common as well. She shares all of this on her blog and also posts about her crafting, her designs and production. She is also an enthusiastic and generous member of the blog and craft communities and was one of the first to join my brooch swap last year.

Nic has always been a great supporter of the Show & Tell series, since it first began three years ago, so its a delight to feature her today, please make her very welcome. Thanks Nic :-)

Nic (Nicole) James
Melbourne, Australia
Yardage Design

1. Can you give us a short description of your blog/style/work
Hello! I am a screenprinter and textile designer. I design and print my own fabrics and homewares under the business name of Yardage Design. My style is simple ~ influenced by patterns, geometry and my surroundings. I love fonts and text, and colour.


2. Why blog? How did you start?
I didn’t know anything about blogging or the independent craft scene until 2009 when I accidentally stumbled across the Incubator section at the Stitches and Craft Show. My eyes were opened to blogging, cool crafting and people like me having a go at doing what they love for a living. I “stalked” some of my favourite blogs for a while to find out how it all worked, then took the plunge and started my own.

My blog is really my journal ~ I want to be able to look back on these years at some stage in the future. My blog has been an amazing connection to people who like making things ~ I have so many friends who I have met via this blog ~ both virtually and in real life. Running a business, also means that my blog is a great way to let people know what I’m doing/making/thinking/observing.


3. Family taught/Self-taught/Trained?
My mum taught me to sew at a young age, and I also did sewing at school. Until I had my son 5 years ago, I had been busy with university and a professional career, and I hadn’t really done anything crafty for years. I took a weekend course in screen printing, and so began my passion! The rest of my training is on the job ~ I basically learn as I go!

4. Workspace - studio or kitchen table?
I’ve done both, and everything in between! I have just recently (a couple of weeks ago) moved into a lovely new studio at the Abbotsford Convent.


5. Blog/Shop name, where does it come from?
The name Yardage Design came from a simple circular design (my logo) that was one of the first graphics I created when thinking about starting a textile business. The circle motif represents the end of a bolt of fabric, and that got me thinking about words associated with fabric. I settled on “yardage” because I like its vintage appeal and it was my goal to print fabric by the metre.

6. Favourite media to work in?
Fabric ~ I love printing on it, and sewing with it.


7. Ambitions/future directions/future projects/medium you'd like to try?
My goals are to print more of the ideas I have in my head and in sketch books; and experiment more with printing techniques.

8. Are you neat and organised or, ahem, creatively messy?
I’m mostly organised, but have been known to make a mess or two.

9. Favourite handmade, handcrafted item you own not made by you
Beautiful, handpainted ceramics from Spain.


10. Favourite food/recipe?
I love almost anything French ~ butter, butter and a bit more butter, really does make it better!

11. Favourite colour?

12. Star sign?
The Bull


13. Favourite place, landscape (not necessarily Australian)?
Favourite city (to visit) ~ Lisbon, Portugal. Favourite city (to live) ~ Melbourne, Australia (but I wouldn’t mind trying Edinburgh). Favourite landscape ~ green rolling hills, where ever in the world they are.

14. Any tricks for juggling life/work/family with creative pursuits?
Lists. A glass of wine now and then. Lists. A sense of humour! Lists.


15. Favourite artists, artisans, crafters etc?
So many, but a few that always inspire are William Morris and his peers, the designers at Marimekko, and modern screen printing pioneers like Lotta Jansdotter.

16. Your favourite thing you've made/written/done.
The quilt I made in March this year ~ using my own fabrics for the first time ~ it was a good feeling to see something made from fabric I had designed. It felt even better to give it to a very special person.


17. Three words to describe yourself?
Focussed, persistent, sharing

18. What do you like to do besides creating?
Wandering around taking photos - on my phone (I’m addicted to instagram) and with the big camera; and, pottering around in the kitchen and/or garden.


Monday 22 October 2012

Stencil screenprinting tutorial

I'm in love with geometrics at the moment, I love the way basic shapes can make a myriad of different patterns. I've also been wanting to play a bit more with stencil screenprinting after my simple experiments a couple of months ago. It's a fun quick way to get a design onto fabric and ever since then I've been dreaming up patterns which take into account my basic papercutting skills but also print in two colours, another first for me. In the end I came up with this wonderful colourful Harlequin design, easy to cut and, even better, where I can use a single stencil for both colours.

I'm really happy with the results. I'll be playing with this one some more I think. I've got ideas for other colour matches. I think it would look great as a graphic pencil case or tea towel, or maybe a tote bag.

I thought you might be interested in the simple steps of how I got from my initial design (above) to finished print (below) so I took some photos along the way. I hope you enjoy my simple tutorial for Stencil Screenprinting.

stencil print

1. Once I had my design I drew it up in illustrator and printed it out to size. I used a light box (use a window as a simple alternative if you don't have a lightbox) and traced the design onto my Ezicut film. Ezicut is available at art shops and is a thin plasticised paper/film which is a bit tougher than paper and doesn't distort when wet.

stencil print

2. The straight lines proved nice and simple and it didn't take long to cut out each of the triangles. I used a small Stanley knife, a ruler and a cutting mat. The dark triangles you can see are the print out behind the cutouts.

stencil print

3. Note I've spaced them slightly apart to give me some film between printing spaces to give it some strength. Also you can see I'm only cutting one half of the design as it will be printed in two colours.

stencil print

4. My stencil filled most of the screen so I didn't bother covering the other parts. You might want to attach paper or extra ezicut to block out unused areas. Once you have your first pull the ink will stick the stencil to the screen and keep it in position. I put some sticky tape on mine to hold it in position at the start.

stencil print

5. Print your panels, sorry no printing photos as its a bit hard to hold a camera mid print! As each panel is printed hang them carefully up to dry.

stencil print

6. When you have printed all of them wash the first colour gently from screen and stencil. I use only waterbased inks such as Permaset and Aquatex which are eco friendly and quick to wash out.

stencil print

7. Dry the panels, screen, stencil and squeegee and set up for the next colour.

stencil print

8. To align the second colour I used a trick I've seen online. I taped a sheet of mylar film to hinge along one side and printed my second colour directly onto it.

stencil print

9. Then I positioned each fabric panel below, aligning the second colour with the first. As each one was positioned I flipped the film to one side and printed. As you can see my second colour isn't exact, but I like it that way. You could spend more time aligning them but I like the handmade effect it gives the final prints. Dry the panels and heat set the designs.

stencil print

All in all I was really happy with my day of printing. I'm inspired to try some different colourways and maybe play with scale. I found I also love this first colour print all on its own. I like the simplicity and it reminds me of bunting twirling in the wind!

stencil print

Good luck stencil screenprinting! I'd love to see what you come up with. I'm happy to answer questions in the comments and would love to hear your suggestions for other Harlequin colour combinations!

Show & Tell is around tomorrow. Come back to meet Miss October and admire her lovely work.

Thursday 18 October 2012

my creative space - random piecing


I'm not sure exactly what you call this random piecing method of quilting but I've been wanting to try it for ages and now I don't know what stopped me. I think I always thought it was beyond my basic quilting skills but when I finally tried it last week I really enjoyed the process and found it quite relaxing and easier than I'd imagined. I might need to try a bigger project now.

I had some offcuts from some other sewing I was doing and just started to sew them together. I loved using some of those pieces of fabric I've been hoarding, I think my favourite is the kimono clad bunnies! This cushion top grew from there and was simply a matter of pulling out all the red from my stash and cutting and piecing till it was the right size and shape.

Its times like this I'm glad I have bought and hoarded so many different fabrics. These pieces are a great mix of handprinted, swaps, scrap packs, quilting cotton, vintage finds and my own RickRack linen yardage design.

Red Rick Rack has been sold out for a while, but I found a stash of small pieces the other day and I might pop them in the shop. I plan an update next week. There is a small collaboration I've been working on for a little while, with one of my favourite creative bloggers!! I can't wait to share that with you. Hopefully we'll be ready by next week's Creative Space.

For now though I'm off to see some other inspiring creative spaces over here.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

ricotta pasta & cauliflower pizza


I've been meaning to try making ricotta for a long time, I live in the Italian heart of Sydney though and have a beautiful artisan cheese shop down the road and fresh ricotta at my local supermarket. Yesterday though I had one of my bursts of cooking enthusiasm and a couple of spare litres of milk in the fridge and so I thought I'd make some for dinner.

I also wanted to try another crazy looking recipe I'd seen online, via pinterest, for cauliflower based pizza. Yes, cauliflower based pizza. Instead of a dough you use steamed cauliflower and cheese to form a base for your toppings.

The ricotta was so simple. First I heated my milk and cream and salt to 190oC and then took it off the heat and added lemon juice. The internet seems decided that adding a bit of cream to your milk gives you a better ricotta, which isn't so dry. It was delicious. I might have added a tad too much lemon but for a first try it was wonderful, and so easy. Here's a recipe.

I used the ricotta as a base for a favourite old Marcella Hazan recipe (download link is first one) which my sister was addicted to for a while. You fry some bacon, or in this case my new favourite (from that local Italian supermarket) Speck. Add a large bowl of defrosted peas, add to cooked pasta and lay on a base of ricotta, then stir through. Top with grated parmesan and... yum.

As a side dish I made a plain pizza using the cauliflower base. Grate and steam about a cup of cauliflower (eight minutes in the microwave, no added water) mix with equal parts of mozzarella or other cheese (about a cup), one egg and two crushed cloves of garlic. Flatten this mixture out on your pizza tray and cook for fifteen minutes on 230c till golden. Pull it out then to add toppings, in my case some passata, mozzarella and kalamata olives and put it back in to melt the cheese. Here's a more detailed explanation.

So delicious!! The kids adored it. D gave dinner ten out of ten and J had fifths. They are all eating so much at the moment, all three of them and I had to hide this tiny sliver of pizza to keep it for today to photograph. The good news is its even better the next day.

I love both these recipes and they will go on the regular roster. Not only are they both delicious and quick, but with all fresh ingredients and handmade cheeses and bases and a homegrown salad you know exactly what you're eating, and I love that!


Friday 12 October 2012

Saving daylight

Hello Daylight Saving! You snuck up on me this year, and it doesn't feel quite warm enough for you yet (its snowing in the mountains today!) but I love the idea of longer days and warm nights in the garden. The kids all planted a different vegie crop way back when we turned over more of our garden to vegies and we are starting to harvest some at last for homegrown salads. Mr J has been watching his broad beans closely for the last month and finally last night some pods were big enough for harvest. New baby broad beans are so delicious, especially compared to the sometimes bitter older beans. A's radishes were perfect too, this is our second sowing after we finished D's crop.

I was thinking the other day as I walked out of the library with a haul of great books, and a happy feeling inside, about the simple things in life that make me happy. Eating our own produce is high on that list, so I'm really glad I got round to making it more of a priority this year and using more space in the garden.

Another plant we grow and use is our ornamental grape vine. Inspired by my Greek sister-in-law when those beautiful new leaves come out each year I make a batch or two of dolmades. These are so simple to make, just collect the new soft leaves before they harden up. Blanch them for four or five minutes and then fill and wrap your raw mix of short grain rice, tomatoes, onion, cumin, mint, salt and olive oil. Arrange them closely in a pot seam side down and then cover with a plate to keep them flat. Fill the pot to slightly over the plate with water or vegetable stock and simmer for half and hour. The rice cooks inside the little parcels. So moreish!

I'm still sewing away, up in my cosy attic with the rain beating against the window, listening to podcasts and drinking tea, more simple pleasures!