Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Anyone can Stipple - Even You!

If you don't know what a fat quarter or stippling are, then you may not like  to read this post. But, if you quilt, expert, beginner or otherwise - I encourage you to share.
I got into quilting really only since I was pregnant. I got some crazy idea I'd make a funky patchwork quilt (see fandango quilt on this blog) to keep me warm whilst chilling out on the couch waiting for my winter baby. Well, in true Little Mama fashion I bit off a little more than I could chew and needed much advice from Big Mama. The main thing I had completely underestimated was the skill required for Free Motion Quilting. I had selected this beautiful swirly Paisley motif and of course - had to get Big Mama to finish it for me.

Lesson 1 - walk before you can crawl and practice, practice, practice! And that's just what I did.
Animal Border - The Deep End!
I started off drawing small, simple patterns on pretend quilts and just kept going until I had relatively few jerks and therefore a smoother and more even stitch. Before long I was able to transfer these skills to a real project when making the Raggedy Farmyard Quilt for my son. Nine panels, all with a different Free-Motion pattern really put me to the test, but also gave me a world of confidence. The border on this project also had a continuous animal pattern which was probably the most difficult thing I'd done to date.

Lesson 2 - Watch as many tutorial videos as possible. I know I haven't done any - something to work up to. But by far the best site for free motion quilting and stippling tutorial is Leah Day's 'Free Motion Quilting Project'. Her videos are fantastic and her commentary makes everything so much easier. I think almost every filler I used on the Raggedy Farmyard Quilt was one of Leah's.

First Stippling Attempt
Lesson 3 - Just give stippling a go! Despite having got quite good at following a drawn line with my quilting, I was very hesitant to do the traditional stipple (a bendy all over random quilting pattern) yet this is one of the things that first drew me to quilting after I saw the amazing work at the Adelaide Quilting and Craft Fair in November 2011. The thing that probably helped me the most with real stippling was something Leah Day said on one of her videos - pretend you're drawing with the machine. Before then I had been so worried about what I'd do and where I'd go. When I got that concept of drawing in my head - it was easy. I didn't even do a practice (although I shouldn't admit to that).

Summing it up - Have a go! If I can stipple, anyone can. If you muck up it doesn't matter and no one else will probably notice. I made a couple of mistakes on the picture above but you'd have to look closely to find them!

Please share your attempts! I'd love to see what other people are making!

NB: All my free motion quilting so far has used the BSR - Bernina Stitch Regulator, so I'm probably cheating a little bit.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Educational Toy Heaven

Up until now, I haven't publicly promoted a businesses on my blog, but last week I came across the most amazing store that I have to share the word. Unfortunately this information is only really relevant to Canberra residents but I know the store is working on the website.
'childplay toys' is hidden in a suburb of Canberra and I stumbled upon it when searching for a specific cotton needed to finish a quilt order. Turns out the cotton didn't match (different dye lot), but the potentially wasted trip was saved by the treasure trove next door. When I entered this unimposing store, I wished I was 10 again so I could play with all the wonderful toys. Wooden toys, puzzles, books and everything in between. The staff were amazingly warm and welcoming and baby Jack had a play in a designated area while I raided the shelves. I was able to browse at my leisure but was also offered suggestions on products which I ended up buying and encouraged to try new things. I only wish my husband had been with me so we could both act like children again. Maybe it's the point of having children, gives us an excuse to relive such wonderful parts of our youth.
About 20 minutes later I walked out with a bag full of goodies which included a birthday gift for one of my friends, bath toys and others for Jack, and some learning tools for my French teaching. What joy! Check them out - they put out regular updates on FaceBook but if you can make it to the store - do it!
Some of my loot!

Monday, 4 February 2013

Tantrum Trauma

My baby is not old enough to throw a tantrum, though I'm sure I will witness many in the coming years, yet time again I'm hearing stories from my girlfriends of the most amazing displays of irrational meltdowns. We've all seen it, usually in the most public of places. Children are inconsolable, usually about the most mundane situation, and no matter what their desperate parents do they will not calm down.

I see various responses from parents, all with their respective psychological theory behind them. Some look embarrassed and try to shuffle the child quickly to the nearest escape route. Others just stand there calmly waiting for the child to regain composure. Then there's always a bit of bribery, time out or good old scolding to call back on as well. 

I guess the question I want to ask is, is it ok for strangers to interfere when an unknown child is chucking an all out fit? I say no. It's not. But sometimes you would just love to distract the child long enough to get the parent back in control. I'm a nice person, I just want to help. Ultimately it's not the 'nice' person who tries to help. It's the 'I know better than them' person and is anyone ever really going to snap a strange child out of a full on tantrum?

So tell me, what are your tantrum stories? Please share your tips on how to avoid all out, kicking and screaming fits.
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