Friday, 5 October 2012

Porridge is my nemesis!

Does anyone else find porridge annoying and difficult to make??
Today I resolved that I won't make it again for at least 6 months. Aside from the fact that the weather is warming up here and it won't be the right cereal for breaky for a while , I am convinced all its nasty spilling over in the microwave ads a new grey hair to my head every time .
So for the sake of a healthy mind I am giving it up, not sure my GP will approve ( he likes me to eat as much cholesterol absorbing fibre as I can bear) but hopefully by next winter I can work out how to make it more neatly and appreciate it more.

Now off to get on with the day so I can sew sew sew all afternoon :)


Wednesday, 3 October 2012

School Holiday Sewing drought!

How are all of you going with the school holidays?

I always find my sewing suffers over the holidays, outings and adventures and sleep-ins always eke away whatever small time I might have set aside to sew. Not that I am complaining, just saying that the family are more important in many ways and sometimes they need my time a little more than my beloved janome... Never mind, next week the little ones go back to school and I will once again enjoy the the sound of my lovely sewing machine and the cups of uninterrupted tea with Jo as we prepare our goodies for the Callington show, yes we are setting up our first market stall!

I can't wait to see how our lovely handmade goods are recieved!

I hope you are all enjoying the school holidays!


Monday, 20 August 2012

What Price?

Hello again, hope you are managing to keep warm in this chilly weather...well, it is chilly in the Adelaide Hills at the moment! And let's not start on the rain. Never mind, we will be desperate for it in six months time...
Ok, a little bit further along the path that I started on in my last blog, An Authentic Life. I very briefly touched on the price of things, or their value. This also relates to pricing your items to sell, if that is the direction your making takes you in.
Now, if you do want to sell you items, how do you charge a reasonable amount? You had to design the item, source the materials to make it, plus all the extras that go into producing it (threads/glue/buttons etc). You need to develop the item, so that it is of high quality and suitable for its purpose. You then have to actually make the item. Bearing all this in mind, a rule of thumb I have come across is that you should charge about 2.5 times the amount that the materials cost you. Now, all us crafters know that the price of materials can be quite high! So it can be quite uncomfortable when someone implies your are overcharging for your item! It's true that people could buy a cheap mass-produced item for a lot less than you are charging. But your item is unique and special. So, be proud of what you made! Don't undercharge. And let people know the care that went into that one-off item.
If you are charging a reasonable price for your work, you are also supporting other crafters to charge reasonable prices for their work.
Ok, off the soapbox now! I hope this has given you a little to think about, and maybe even make you look more kindly on the prices people are charging at markets or on Etsy.
Keep warm
Jo xx

Sunday, 5 August 2012

An authentic life

I have been thinking about the things that matter to me recently. Not just my family, friends, health, home, pets etc, but also lifestyle and values, which are topics we don't always get round to thinking about in our busy lives. This really came to mind last week when I had a visit from my lovely old friend Sid. Sid grows superb chemical-free potatoes on his farm, he delivers them to my door, along with a chat and a dad joke, and all for just over $1/kilo!
We were chatting about life, as we like to do. He is a positive, outgoing person who is great fun to be around, talking about growing food, raising chickens, and knowing where your food comes from. The ethics of supporting our Aussie farmers, paying a fair price for things, and knowing what goes into our food are becoming increasingly important to me, and I hope, to you too. As we have been told often enough, you are what you eat, and it's better to be healthy and wholesome!
So how does this relate to The Raspberry Wren? Making things, to keep, sell, or give as a gift, is part of this philosophy. A homemade gift means so much. You know what went into it, including the carefully-selected fabrics, the thought, care and time. It also represents pride in your work, you abilities, and that is an important thing to have. If we do what we can, to the best of our ability, we have done enough. Both Kylie and I are proud of our makes, and hope they bring pleasure to the recipients. They have certainly brought us pleasure in the making!
So whatever you do, make sure you do it with pride and enjoyment. It will show in the finished result!
Have fun
Jo xx

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Little Things

Kylie & I have been having a great time this week with our sewing. My "baby" has just started kindy, so we now have one day a week to devote to our sewing, and of course, cups of tea and talking! It has been so much fun, and it's also amazing how much we have got done.
I am now making a line of corduroy winter skirts for little girls. My daughter loves hers, and I have sold some to dear friends of ours, for their lovely little girls. I have made a few for Belli Bliss too, but they are very limited edition!
Kylie & I have had a ball making macarons out of felt! They are good enough to eat (well, almost), and the very simple pattern came from the Mollie Makes magazine, or you could look on their website. It is a small, portable project that anyone could do. Have a look on our Facebook page to see a picture (Just until Kylie puts it on here too!)
I have also started a friendship bracelet. Yes, just like the ones you probably made at school, and it's all coming back to me. It is fun and easy also. So maybe, if you don't have time for a big project, you could seek out a little thing to hand-make, and complete. The sense of achievement is out of all proportion to the amount of work you put in!
Keep warm
Jo xx

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

Hello there lovely readers!

Sorry for the long time between drinks - so to speak!
Jo and I have been away on our once a year sewing retreat with all the lovely gals from the FQ sewing posse! We had a lovely time walking, talking enjoying the peace and shopping for antiques in the beautiful riverside village of Mannum. 5 days and four nights without one kid mess to clean up or a single load of washing to be done - heaven!!

Our goodies have been selling quite well at Belli Bliss in Unley and we are now back to the machines to make some more.Of course, the little booties in the picture aren't the new stock, just wait until you see the yummy new colours!

Anyway off to see my lovely beautician for the last time for a few months(she is having bubs no.3) and then to Jo's to sew Yippee !!

Have a wonderful day :)


Monday, 11 June 2012

How did you go?

Well, how did you go with my little challenge last time? What did you achieve in your seven hours? I had an interesting time, and an unexpected outcome from mine...
I completely quilted my little "Space Bubbles" quilt. I machine quilted in the ditch, and also hand quilted all of the red dotty squares with red perle, and made & put on the binding too. Plus I managed to do a lot more hand quilting on my big Hidden Stars quilt. So I would say I managed to cram a fair bit in to my extra 7 hours, and now I can't complain of having too little time!
The other thing I notived was that I really got out of the habit of going on the computer in the evenings. I know we all have to stay connected in this day & age, but I really didn't miss out on a lot, and felt so much better in myself for having achieved my goals for the week. Plus, I am sure I slept better for having not been over-stimulated by technology before trying to settle down to sleep. Don't get me wrong, I love checking out the internet, and seeing what the rest of the world is up to. But I think I may be a little less "plugged-in", and a little more attatched to my needle & thread from now least for a couple of nights a week. What about you? And the lovely Kylie, I am especially interested in your take on this, since I know you are a technology addict!
Keep warm, Jo xx

Monday, 4 June 2012


I have it in a massive dose, the sort of Monday-itis that makes you wish it was over already.
Monday for me is always kind of hectic, trying to catch up after a weekend of people messing up the house( renovating or playing with toys) , starting the massive pile of washing that grew in the last three days, reading with a few kids from Hannah's class because I have the time (allegedly!), getting small children to after school activities and trying to get ready for work tomorrow.
If I had to look at my Monday to-do list the things I missed were not the most important, but the most fun.
I am yet again in a cafe drinking another late evening beverage waiting again, this time though I have miss 6 with me and it is a bit more interesting.
So back to the Monday-itis, it isn't that bad really I just wish I could squish all the boring stuff into a small hour and hack out a large chunk of time to sew and sing and dance while no-one watches ( bet you couldn't guess that about me! I love to dance around the house like a lunatic to daggy music in my pj's). Oh well tomorrow is another day and truly I am so grateful for the happy busy life I have I think I might have blogged my blues away :)
Hope you are all enjoying Jo's challenge- I am going to give it a go - no promises though I am a screen addict!
Kylie xx

Friday, 1 June 2012

Dropped technology

Well, an interesting thing happened to me this week, and it also ties in with our very common theme of time! My trusty laptop, which is getting elderly & a bit senile, was ok, but it's power cable wasn't. It now only runs for about 40 minutes, so running it without the power plugged in isn't an option. My husband & I debated whether or not we should bother with a new power cable, or get a new computer, but I am really not interested in getting a new one at the moment. So we ordered a new power cable, and waited for it to arrive. So all this week, I have pretty much been sans my computer. I looked on Facebook a couple of times, but couldn't access my emails. And I found I had so much more time to sew! Often, I sit on the sofa, typing away instead of sewing. But it really proved to me that all the "time" I have been seeking was actually here, being frittered away! Well, not all the time I want, but at least a fair amount.
So I have a little challenge for you next week...can you give up an hour a day on the computer, and trade it for an hour of sewing time? What could you achieve in the extra 7 HOURS (!) you will have available to you?  I would particularly love to see photos of what you make, or just a description.
Turn off the computer and get sewing!!
Jo xx

Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Finally got some time!

Well, I am really pleased to report that I finally got time to do some sewing for me! I have some cute retro kids fabric, and it was making me twitchy, not being able to start sewing with it! Anyway, once my latest skirt was finished and delivered, it was all systems go. The quilt top is just simple squares, but it looks great, and was fun to piece. I also had a go at making baby bibs, very fiddly, but it worked out well.
It got me thinking about my favourite thing to sew: quilts. Well, I really like piecing tops best, and hand quilting & piecing, with machine quilting quite a bit behind! What about you? What is your favourite thing? Quilts? Clothes? Small things? And what do you do with all your creations...keep them? Sell them? Give them away?
So as far as time to sew goes, how did you make it work? Did you clear a bit of time recently? I think it's helpful to think of the bigger picture, too. Sometimes, we seem to have no time at all to sew, or do what we love, but we have to believe that in a little while, we'll have more time, and it will happen for us. Hard to think of while we're in the middle of a busy patch! So, I hope that you enjoy your sewing when you can, or if you are too busy, that time becomes available to you soon!
Jo xx

Saturday, 12 May 2012

I made some time !

I did it! I really did I made some time in my day to tidy up my sewing space and do some sewing - yippee!!!
How are you all going with your time to sew ?

Friday, 11 May 2012

Mothers' Day

Almost the most special day of the year...well, for all the mums out there, it should be! I lost my own darling mum over 16 years ago, and I still miss her, especially since the birth of my children, but I love to spoil her mum, my super-special grandma. I had a bit of a dilemma about what to get her this year. I often get her a book, of course, and she loves soaps and hand creams, but I was a bit luke-warm about all those options...(do you know where this is heading yet?!?)
I only had my brainwave yesterday, and of course, it was MAKE HER SOMETHING! It is a bit shocking that it took me so long, but in my defence, I have been flat out finishing off my commissioned quilt (check out our Facebook page to see the finished quilt), and my brain has only be focussed on that. I needed something that was quick and easy to make, that she would like and use, and would be something suitable for a gift. So eventually, I decided on a placemat. It was simple to make, just 5 jelly roll strips in Maison de Garance by French General. I used 1 1/4 extra jelly roll strips for the binding, and quilted it simply in a cross-hatch pattern. I'm giving the placemat to her tomorrow, so let's hope she likes it!
Happy Mothers' Day to all the mums our there, if you are lucky enough to still have yours, make sure you spoli her and let her know how much she means to you! I'll blog next week about how the placemat was received!
Jo xx

Monday, 7 May 2012

Rediscovered love

Well as I sit here alone in a cafe sipping a hot chocolate and nibbling on some bruschetta while I wait for my little chess champ to finish his first night of competition chess , I finally have some time to share the realization I came to over the weekend.
For weeks or maybe months now I have heard Jo and I repeatedly bemoaning our time poverty about sewing. As I handed her the delicious fat quarters of kaffe fassett fabric I gave her as a thank you gift for looking after my furry and feathery kids this weekend just gone, she sighed and declared how lovely it would be to actually have time to sew something with them. This made me think we obviously need a big brainstorm to institute more sewing in our busy lives! After all it is a great source of joy to both of us and surely we can make that more important!
We will catch up tomorrow night for our group sewing night - I wonder what we can come up with !
How about you, how do you manage to fit more sewing in to your days? Maybe we can find some hints!

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Sewing weather

Well, the Adelaide Hills have turned on some lovely sewing weather today! And I took advantage. It was my first day at home in weeks, just the school run, then all day doing housewifey things. Washing, cleaning, baking, and sewing! I have almost completed the top of my commissioned quilt, just need to find a nice fabric for the border, then that part of it is all done. Plus finished another skirt, another thing to cross out of the order book!
I was thinking about tidying up my sewing corner. It is looking very crowded and cluttered, but how do I make more space? What do you do about all your sewing things? Put them away, in boxes or drawers? Or have everything out, for inspiration? I like a bit of "inspiration", but it can get a bit overwhelming after a while!
What do you want to achieve this autumn? After all my orders are done, I am dying to make a couple of quilts, one from the new Lintott book, and the other an self-designed one. I still have a number of tops that need quilting, but I find them less interesting then the piecing, so we'll see. I think a gal always needs a UFO or two around!
Jo xx

Monday, 23 April 2012

I do love the beauty of Autumn...

Well we have been very busy getting afew nice goodies - just like these ready for Belli Bliss in Unley... so busy, in fact, I plain forgot to blog at all last week!

These are some of the goodies I have made, Jo has also made some gorgeous ruffled skirts which we have to photograph and upload yet... keep checking I will get to it soon!

I just love Autumn and its lovely cool weather and the showery rain and more time spent indoors sewing lovely bits of fabric together, which is your favourite season?

Well, better get moving, after Jo and I had a lovely walk tonight I need to get straight off to bed (after I do a teensy weensy bit of sewing!) before another busy day tomorrow :)


Thursday, 19 April 2012

It's back!

I'm so happy to say my beloved sewing machine is back from its service! Have to say, it seems exactly the same, but since it was working fine before, that's probably a good thing. I have missed it enormously. I got busy sewing this afternoon, and completed two projects. I made my daughter a drawstring bag for her laundry, out of part of a fat quarter pack of Melly & Me fabrics, and also a little purse for me, complete with zip, out of a small scrap of favourite fabric. I was quite pleased, as I am a devoted quilter, and haven't done much other sewing.
I will have to take some pictures & post them, or maybe get Kylie & her trusty iPhone to take them for me!
We are quite keen to take up crochet, can anyone help us? Can you recommend a good book/Youtube video/actual person to teach us? Isn't it great that "old-time" crafts are getting so popular again? It would be a pity if we all lose the ability to create & make, using these techniques. It is also fantastic to see the modern twist people are putting on traditional crafts.
Oh, another little triumph today... I had to re-thread my new overlocker. So I followed Kylie's advice, got up, made a cup of tea, drank it, then got back to it. Perfect! Followed the instruction book, and it worked first time. Is there anything tea doesn't make better?
Keep crafting!
Jo xx

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Better late than never

Ooops, I am sorry I am a few days late with my blog, but somehow the school holidays don't leave much free time. The weather in Adelaide has been so lovely and warm, it hasn't been my first thought to stay inside on the computer!
I have taken my (and Kylie's) sewing machines in for a service. Do you treat your beloved machine to a regular service, or has it never had a dose of TLC? I suppose it isn't a high priority, especially if all is well, but it might be something to consider in the future.
I am also the proud new owner of an overlocker, essential to my skirt-making. It is surprisingly easy to operate, and gives a really lovely professional finish to the skirts, but I might be feeling a little less thrilled when I need to re-thread it! Luckily all 4 are hanging in there so far.
Having no sewing machine has left me a little lost though, and I have cut out a couple of things all ready for its return this week. It needs to be back for the next meeting of our lovely sewing group, Sew Much Fun, on Friday. Kylie and I started the group last year when our previous group folded, and it has been wonderful! What a treat to spend several hours, twice a month, with like-minded gals who love to sew and chat. Do you belong to a sewing  group? How did you hear about the group? Or would you like to join one? What would your ideal group be like? I think a love of chocolate and talking is a must!
Enjoy your fabric, and give your machine a pat from me, they certainly make life as a sewing fiend a little easier!

Monday, 9 April 2012

Did the Easter Bunny find you ??

He sure found us!
He laid out an easter egg hunt and deposited eggs all over the place.. the joy of having kids...

If your easter was anything like mine, it involved so much food and fun you can't begin to count your blessings, I hope it was. It was a lovely time for reflection and development of ideas and a chance to absorb some lovely- arty- crafty inspiration from my new Frankie magazine... I think I might have found my new obsession.

Jo has blogged about her foray into quilting and all things fabric and how her taste and interest has changed as she worked through her projects. So here is my story...

 I have loved sewing since I was a little girl and I used to try to make clothes for my dolls (not very well!), but given that I spent a HUGE chunk of my childhood and early teens in a swimming pool or studying, followed by long distance running (can I include chasing boys here??) and really studying, I never really managed to find the time to sit quietly and sew. I did finish a few cross stitch projects (which my Dad, bless him, still has!) and a pretty satin shrug for my sisters year 12 formal however apart from that I was never as obsessed with fabric as I am now.

I think I can credit my mother in law for actually introducing me to quilting after my first baby was born, however my first few quilts were always finished off by her. My friend Sue really helped me see how many options there were for quilting, however I still felt nervous about buying so much fabric and actually cutting into it! So I stuck with bag making as a more economical easier option.It wasn't until I joined Funky Seeds  in 2009 that I saw how simple and beautiful a quilt could be to make and considered it a possibilty. The girls were so excited by their quilting and fabric I just loved going along to that group.  Jo and I met at Funky Seeds and we have become great friends through our mutual love of fabric and sewing....oh yes and I have now made quite a few quilts, I prefer the 1930's fabrics and fresh colours and I do quite like  precuts - so easy and economical...

We hope you enjoy watching our journey together as the Raspberry Wren grows and changes...


Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Happy Easter to everyone! Don't eat too many eggs! And hot cross buns, and why do they taste so much better with the cross on the top?
Well, did you take time out last weekend? And will you this long weekend? At least one sleep-in is a must too!
I was thinking this week about my fabric journey, so come along with me on a little trip back in time...
I have only been quilting for the past 7 or so years. The first quilt I ever did was for my then baby son, for his first birthday, and it's pretty basic. The fabrics were ones in blues and reds that I bought from a clothes-fabric shop. No idea of the composition, but I doubt there's much cotton in them!
Next, I went to pretty vintage-style florals, then into Civil War reproduction quilting fabrics in 100% cotton. I did all the piecing and quilting by hand, and I still love them. I found the notion of brights/moderns really unattractive, and the only fabric I used to go with the florals was calico.
Now I look back on these earlier quilts and think, "wow, I've changed"! My favorite fabric designers are Sandy Klop, from American Jane, and Kaffe Fassett. I love to mix my brights with crisp white, for what you could describe as "modern" quilts. I still love civil war fabrics, but am trying to use up my stash, and haven't bought anything new in a while. I also love 1930s-1950s fabrics.
I am a total 100% cotton snob too, as it has a lovely feel and quality to it.
So, what about you? Can you track your fabric journey? Have your tastes changed over time, or have you always liked the same style? Do you add madly to your stash, or are you trying to reduce it?

On a different note, this week I have found my perfect magazine! As a magazine addict from way back, I like to keep an eye on what's out there. But this one slipped under the radar! It's called Mollie Makes, and it is a cracker! Full of gorgeous handmade and vintage things, lovely photographs, inspirational ideas...beautifully styled and just right! So have a look if you get the chance, I bet you'll love it too.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012


Well I am sorry I didn't blog yesterday, but as Jo's post said we are both a bit time poor at the moment... Nevermind it will all get better, school holidays are just around the corner and some fun times with the kids will make life sunny again!

Another plus is more sewing time and hopefully a bigger range of cute booties and nappy covers from me and sweet little skirts from Jo.

Hope you are all well and looking forward to the lovely Easter break ahead!

Kylie :)

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Not enough time

Do you find that there is never enough time to do everything you have to do, let along something you want to do? Whilst we love sewing and creating our hand made wares, we are also busy mums with part time jobs, houses to run, pets to care for...just like so many of you. I have been thinking that recently, my work-life balance is a little out! Time to ourselves is precious. How do we clear a bit of it?
I also think a little head space is vital to our wellbeing. We need to think, plan and dream, uninterrupted, and even this can be hard to achieve. So, make time for yourself this weekend! Make sure you have a little peace, even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom to achieve it
I am planning to do some sleeping-in, some reading, a bit of sewing, and lots of laughing with my family. Let me know how you clear time, and what you like to do when you have a bit of it. Kylie & I need a few tips!
Keep sewing & smiling
Jo (and Kylie) xx

Wednesday, 28 March 2012


We're really excited to announce that Kylie has got our new Facebook page up and running. Make sure you "like" us, and have a look at the great photos of our lovely hand made wares. Kylie & her iphone did a wonderful job on them! We are also very proud that our baby booties and sassy skirts will be stocked at the fabulous "Belli Bliss" wellness spa and hair salon, on Unley Road, from Easter. Go for the goods and stay for a pampering treat!