Sunday, 17 October 2010

Dark Night of the Quilting Soul ...

That's where I have been. It's been busy and I have had a lot on my plate, but I also maxed myself out in a quilting way. I never thought that was possible but it managed to co-incide with me finishing the first draft of my novel. A wee spot of burn out I think but ... I am back in the saddle yee-haw! Well, woo hoo anyway.

I am sewing and quilting and starting to get stuff ready to make for the next two months and it's going to be full on. With any luck I might be able to sneak some stuff in for me, and make some more headway with my show quilt for next February.

It's this project that I have been taking with me everywhere, my show quilt. I'll post some more pics in a later post. But for now ... I'm channeling Alice. It's weird but I am being surrounded by Alice in Wonderland. Its making my mind brew and bubble and fizz. As I get more concrete ideas, I'll get them down and pop them here. I've just tried to load a bunch of pictures and blogger is making me miserable. So for now, it's down to Gwen.

Monday, 20 September 2010

This just burns my biscuits ...

It really makes me mad. I was a textile designer a million years ago, pre pickles. I honestly have to say that the fashion industry world wide is a den of thieves. It survives on stealing and dishonesty. I know, I experienced it first hand. I could bore you all with a billion stories about stuff I was asked to knock off and my own work that was stolen. I am preparing a couple of ranges for my own pleasure and I might send them out. I did with a wee mini range a little while back. I was reluctant to post pics here in the blog, because I had visions of it appearing somewhere else without my knowledge.

So imagine my surprise and anger today when I was reading one of my favourite blogs.

I love Tula Pink's fabrics. Her range Plume was a particular favourite of mine. So imagine my surprise to see this lovely lovely range had been completely knocked off by one of the biggest chain stores in the US and UK. Walmart has blatantly stolen the intellectual property of Tula, and sold it in their stores. What every you do, if you see these knock offs in your local Walmart ... please please leave them be. Tula Pink hasn't got a red cent from this, as her work was pirated. Here are the pictures of the offending articles. Its really easy to tell the difference in quality but also how close the knock offs are.

As a textile designer, I was asked to "copy" work all the time. There have been murmurs that Walmart may not have known but they would have bought from a middleman or woman. That's true but a lot of the time, really big clients tell their vendours what they want and provide "samples" to show them. So, I have posted a complaint on the Below is a copy of the letter I posted to the Walmarts Ethics site. I raised an issue with the CEO, the HQ is in Arkansas.

Yup, I'm ticked.

Dear Walmart.

While it is great that your company has a special site for behaving in an ethical way and addressing ethics issues, its not great that it is all for show and not a premise practiced by the company. It appears that your company endorses and encourages theft on a particularly grade scale with a great deal of arrogance about consequences. Why would any consumer want to shop, or support a company such as yours if this is the case?

I am speaking directly the theft of intellectual property owned by TULA PINK tm. Her designs are well loved amongst the quilting and sewing community across the planet. Earlier this year she along with the well known Moda fabric company, released a ranged entitled "Plume". It was a lovely range featuring lots of feathers and birds. Yet today, we all found out that Walmart has just released a direct knock off of her range. Its an exact copy.

This is utterly outrageous and the CEO of this company needs to answer me on why stealing is encouraged, and released into stores across the US.

I refer your office to the following website:

There, you will be able to see the knocks off and the originals side by side.

the following website:

Is the moda site where right down the Bottom of the page, you will see listed under "January", pdfs of the "plume" range that can be downloaded and viewed in entirety and apparently, to be made available to walmart to steal at will.

I will be blogging about this on my blog (, and there will be others who follow suit. I will be reprinting this letter there, and passing this letter on to MS Pink. It's only fair for her to know that there are others out there who are outraged by this blatant piece of corporate piracy.

Its appaling to think that Walmart has made a call on what it feels it has the right to do. Which ever way you look at it, theft is theft. And your company makes a lot of money from it. Shame on you.

Jo Ellem

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Well, I had a go ...

here is my first attempt at free motion quilting. I have to say that I like it, free motion quilting that is, my attempts leave a lot to be desired however. But I can see how a little bit of practice can go a long long way. And my mind is fizzy with all sorts of ideas. So all in all, I'll be doing a lot more of it in the future.

Have a wee squizzy at this, isn't this gorgeous! Would you believe it, it's vintage Chinese fabric from the 1950s. China has a vast, wonderful ,and turbulent history. During the 1950s, China was going through the great leap forward. If you are interested, google it and have a wee read in Wikipedia. Anyway, here a couple of pieces of fabric from that time. Aren't they just beautiful. At a time when everything was hard and bleak, look at the colour and the design!

Coming from a textile design background, when I look at these pieces, I think a lot about who the designer must have been, and the people who did the printing, and about their families and their lives. I feel like I have history in my hands, and I can't help wondering about the stories that lay in the threads of the fabric. Which leads me to ...


The good folks at Itizen have come up with these. Labels for you to put on the stuff you make. But, and here is the cool part, you can write about the story that went behind what you made and log it on their website, so when the item you made gets passed on, the giftee (is that a word?) can log in and see the story and then as the item gets passed on and on and on, the story behind the item gets logged and grows.

I just love love love this. If you go to the link above, they will send you a sample pack for nix. But I have to say that nothing will leave my hands now without one of these attached to it some way or other.

This, in a word, is awesome.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

ITs been weeks and check this out ...

HI all. Its been a little wee while since my last post. I will say that it has all be down to family stuff and life stuff and needless to say, my blog had to sit in the back ground for a bit. : (

But .... I'm back : )

I have had adventures with freee motion quilting and I will write more about that on Tuesday but for now, might I encourage you if you don't already to head over to Ryan's most excellent blog and have a good long read but also don't forget to entre his give - awy. I don't know about you, but I would sell my man's kidney for an Accu Quilt Cutter.

I have nothing to show, nut will have some pics of my free motion whatever it is, when I get back from class on Tuesday. So more then. See, haven't even been able to sew, no wonder I feel ancy.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Saturday Afternoon With Eda update...

I thought I would keep a wee update of this quilt here when I think there is enough to show.

This is the quilt that I would have made for my Nana if she was still here with us. I really wish she was, but there you go. And this is the quilt that I am going to put in the Katoomba Quilt Show. Katoomba because that was the big town for Nana. She met my Grandpop in Wentworth Falls, and married there. As the quilt progresses, I'll get some pics of those special places she went, because they will play a part in the quilt too (but not in the way you might think ^-^)

Anyway, its a quilt with a story behind it, and here is the beginning!

Saturday, 7 August 2010

New Ruler, new day ...

I was at the Cottage Quiltworks on the weekend. I love the Cottage Quilt Works. I have been going there for a long time now. I used to go up and browse for ages while Brent's Mum and Dad would have some play time, when the store was only a couple of streets away from their home.

And now the store is moved and settled in and about 15 minutes (or 20) drive away from the in laws now. Not really sneakable to. But it is on the way so a drop in isn't a poor compromise. In fact, it's a good one. : )

Everytime I go in there, I see something that makes my brain fizzy. With ideas. So when I went in there the other day to buy some lovely printed bias for Pickles Christmas frock (yes, I know ... it's August but I am planning here). I am making her a lovely Modkids dress. Anyways, I went in saying that was all I was going to get. Until I saw a very pretty little funky Dresden plate up on the wall. The spokes were about 6" in length and instead of being chunky looking, the spokes were slender. Lovely. So out I come with bias, a pigment pen and one of Matilda's Own 15 Degree Wedge rulers. So instead of folding up the washing, I spent the night playing with the ruler.

Love it.

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Cover Me Silly Tutorial ...

It was my birthday a couple of weeks ago. My husband was a darling he got me a sewing machine. Mind you, I gave him a brochure. And the store details, and the free motion quilting foot details. And surprise surprise ... I got a sewing machine for my birthday! Imagine that!

^ _^

But I thought I would take a moment to talk about the machine and why I chose it. I like Janomes. I guess it's because it was the brand of the first machine I bought for myself. I learnt on my mum's boxy little Elna. It was a cracker. But anyway I ended up with a Janome. Now don't get me wrong. I would love a bells and whistles sewing machine. There is a new Janome that makes me want to drool but that will be the machine I buy if my book (which is in editing now - I finished the first draft!) gets on books shelves.

But for now, I needed a reliable little work horse that would handle a large amount of sewing. All of the time practically. I used this machine at my Sunday quilt classes (soon to be every second Tuesday quilt classes). There are about a dozen of them there. I was impressed with the fact that the machine was quiet. Had all the stitches I needed. I could drop the feed dogs and it had a threader. It was easy to use and better still, it wasn't computerised. Now don't panic. I'm not throwing clogs in the machinery here, its just that when computerised machines break. They really REALLY break. Doesn't mean I wouldn't like one but for now? I'll settle for an awesome little workshorse that can help me produce all sorts of things and be the little engine that could.

So here is the spec sheet for the Janome MS5027.

And I've done nothing but use it every night since I got it. But there is a wee problem:


My machine looks exactly the same as my BSF (Best sewing friend) sewing machine. She has one as well, and there are 12 other machines like it at class. So what could I do to make sure my machine looked different and not looked like someone or something had thrown up on it.

Never show a designer or creative person a blank white space. It amazes me that we leave our sewing machines looking very clinical. I have seen machines however, that folks have painted or decorated. And I reckon it would be hard to see where the fabric started or sewing machine ended or vie versa. So here is what I did to make my machine identifiably mine.

Have you seen the stands in shopping centres or on ebay, normally from Korea, who sell wall stickers? I thought about them for a bit and then though ... Bingo! Just what I need. So of I went in search of some. As luck wold have it, there must be a convention in Seoul at the moment because none of my local centres have them at all. In the end, I found a Korean store that had wall stickers that were copies of the Korean ones that were made in China ... !?!

But they did the job. So here is what you do. Find Wall stickers that you just love, and then stick them all over your sewing machine cover, and place a couple sparingly on your machine.
Voila! Here endeth the tutorial.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

It's Been How Long !?! ...

Oh nuts. Its been nearly a month. I literally have blinked and here we are. I would like to say that in my own defence that I have been ploughing through the last part of my book. I have been writing like a crazy woman, and as a result, I think I can finish it up (nearly 100,000 words so far thank you very much) in the first three days of this week. And then it's off to editing and then back to me for a re-write. But there have been sewing and making stuff happening. When I write all day, I have to say that the last thing I want to do is write some more. So I have been using the evening after Pickles goes to bed to make stuff. At last I can get back to blogging. So here I am. Back. Again.

Other than writing, what have I been doing? Well, here is a wee look at some , only some mind, of the things I have been doing. Over the next few days, I'll get up to speed on the pics as well and do a complete reveal. I'l also update my Marie Claire Idees blog as well and then I can feel like I can hold my head up electronically until the next time. My man has my Pickles of to the park for serious bike riding. I'm still in my jamas, watching season 6 Sex and the City (the best season IMHO) and blogging in the warm winter sunlight. Lovely.

First cab of the rank:

Rhea, the lovely Rhea of Alewives put out a call for folks to make some samples for her store. I put my hand up. I've been yacking to Rhea for a bit now, and she is a really lovely. In fact, she's a doll. And then bless her heart ... she sent me an Amy Butler Tote to make for her. I'd make her anything ... even a bloody Amy Butler tote. Look, lets be honest. The patterns look great, really great. The fabric is lovely, it's all gorgeous ... except and I have written about this before ... the instructions in the pattern packs are in a word ... RUBBISH!

Oh Lord, it almost made me cry. Why use one clear cut instruction when you call fill it with a lot of extra words that all mean the same thing, yet manage to really confuse. Yup. Amy Butler patterns. So, here it is. The Tote bag. If you want to make it yourself because it looks amazing, read the pattern very carefully before you start and with a pad beside you, translate the pattern as you read. Then make the bag using your own notes. You'll thank me. If you get into trouble, email me and I'll help in any way I can. I'm not happy with the pics, the light was funny that day.

Cab 2: Pants for Pickles.

I have been meaning to make some Portabellopixie ruffle pants for Pickles for a while now. She needed a new set of winter jamas to go with her others so ... some Valori Wells flannel and a white long sleeve little T from Target later. Voila, jamas! So here are the jamas and Pickles little tummy.

Cab 3: We have been invaded ...

I made a bit of a mistake at the beginning of the school holidays. I gave Pickles a Zhu Zhu. Now we have four. And a Habitat for them to live in. They come with us everywhere. And she asked me to make them clothes, and beds and a handbag to carry them in. All of which I did. So here is a wee carry bag. The power of the Zhu and the cat and the Zhu.

Cab 4: I got me a new ruler ...

Yup. The Strip Tube Ruler. I don't normally like this sort of thing, but I could see the potential of it in a heart beat. So I had a play the other night, and here is the block I played around with. And I promptly did another 9 after this one. I'll show you the finished quilt when I have ... finished it!

Cab 5: For February ...

I also decided to take some time to cut out all of the bits I need to put my show quilt for February together with. So I have been spending a vast amount of time cutting stuff out. It's driving me cazy. It will make it a lot easier for me in the long run but oh my oh my oh my ... I hate my scissors.

So that's me for now. I'll tell you about my birthday in the next post. Oh bugger, the sun has disappeared, and its gone all cold. Well, time to get out of the jamas and get down to doing washing.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Sick, I'm sick ... cough cough

I'm sick. No post on Wednesday, writing my butt off to get my book done and now sick. Bugger bugger poo bum wee.

But here a couple of pics to keep me feeling like I haven't neglected this blog as much as I really have this week.

Was at Ikea with two of the other Monday Mums on ... well ... Monday, and I saw this hanging up at the front of the store.

And as I went up the escalators, I got a better look. How cool is this?

Pickles went fishing and caught this:

The Mountains are feeling very close to me at the moment, as I start to think more and more about the quilt I am starting to out together, as I race to get my book finally finished, I have been thinking about the Mountains so much. And here is why they are called the Blue Mountains.

Should be right to post in the next couple of days and I will, and as I said, I will be going to two posts a week once my book is done. Which should be next week. Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Oh that Quiltsalott ...

It's Wednesday and here I am ... posting. I thought I would show you the gorgeous little purse I made. You can find the most excellent tutorial here . Quiltsalott is a great blog and one of my regular reads. I have this earmarked to be made into gifts for a very special group of women for christmas. Along with the totally gorgeous cotton holder and scissor keep. You can get that pattern from The Stitching Post in the Blue Mountains. The Mountains are a very special place for me, and I can go into that later but here is a picture for you, just to give you an idea of how lovely it is. Wish I could release some crisp mountain air and the sounds of Bellbirds coming up from the bush, not to mention the clouds.

Here are the pics of the Purse. I thought I would try something a wee bit different this time and I used my Hipstamatic app on the iphone.

So in next post, hope to show you parts of the next block for the show quilt and the bag ... don't start me on the bag ...

Friday, 11 June 2010

Idees ... Marie Claire style with a little bit of swing ...

Okay. It's not Wednesday, it's Friday. My actual writing has been taking my time and brain away, so I will make a wee caveat. When I can I will endevour to post twice a week. On wednesday and on sunday, that makes more sense. My book is nearly done, nearly. So for the next two weeks I have to see how much work I can push out. I'll post when I can and once I can get the editing underway, I'll have a crack at regular posting.

I got my new (well, old actually, January issue 2010) copy of Marie Claire Idees. Oh lord have mercy, I just love this magazine. Every issue has me just beside myself.

This issue had a feature on using the Eiffel Tower as a design motif and have a quick squizy at this amazing little bits of lovelies.

Pickles is 5 years old now, but have a look at this divine little cardi for the mini diva in your life. How lovely is that?

Don't start me on the bags.

And to top it all off, I bought myself a dvd that day to. Sun Valley Serenade - made in 1941.

Pickles wants to learn how to skate and she has already written a letter to Santa (in March mind you) asking for a pair of white skates. She and I watched this sucker from end to end and she just loved it. I got an a-grade kick out of seeing Glen Miller and his band, not to mention the Modernaires as well. No, I am not 80, and I do like my music. But I do like all sorts of music and Swing, well makes me smile. Love it. How schmick do the Modenaires look in this pic? Fab, just fab . I got a gal ... in a kalamazoo zoo zoo ....