take care of you

disco provides hope

make the most beautiful thing you can

“None of us know what will happen. Don’t spend time worrying about it. Make the most beautiful thing you can. Try to do that every day. That’s it.” —Laurie Anderson

i’m still here

Still living on the cliff above the ocean, with the Guy and the dog.

Today is our 8th anniversary.

Eight years ago I visited, and stayed for 10 hours. We talked, we sat in silence. We swam in the ocean. I cooked us dinner. We talked more. And it was good.

We agreed on a second date. And here I still am. And good it remains.

quilted placemat: tutorial

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When my friends get married, one of my favourite gifts to make and give is a set of placemats and napkins. In this simple modern design, I love how the alternating parallel quilting lines create subtle puffy chevrons. The finished placemats are soft, flexible, and fully machine washable.

Here’s how I did it.

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For each placemat, cut the following pieces.

Main color (grey):
18″ x 2.25″
18″ x 10.75″

Contrast color 1 (blue):
14″ x 1.5″
10.75″ x 1.5″
2.25″ x 1.5″

Contrast color 2 (mustard):
18″ x 2″
1.5″ x 2″

Back (blue): 14″ x 19″

Binding (blue): 2.25″ x 68″ (can be joined from smaller strips, directions to follow).

Batting: 14″ x 19″ thin cotton or bamboo batting.

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Sew the 18″ x 2″ mustard strip to the 18″ x 2.25″ grey strip and the 18″ x 10.75″ grey piece, using 1/4″ seams. Press seams open.

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With the mustard strip at the top, cut two strips from the left hand edge of the whole piece, 1.75″ and 1.5″ wide.

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Stitch the 2″ x 1.5″ mustard piece to the 2.25″ x 1.5″ blue piece and the 10.75″ x 1.5″ blue piece, using 1/4″ seams. Press seams open.

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Arrange the pieces as shown.

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Stitch together with 1/4″ seams. Press seams open. This completes the piecing of the top.

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Sandwich the thin batting between the pieced top, and the backing fabric, lining up all edges. Secure with about 20 safety pins through all layers.

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Starting next to the inner stripe, quilt with parallel lines about 1/3″ apart, removing the safety pins as you go. At the end of each line of stitching, rotate the placemat 180 degrees before sewing the next line.

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Also quilt at 90°, along the mustard stripe. Trim the quilted placemat to measure 18″ x 13″.

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To make a long enough strip for the binding, stitch sections at a 45° angle as shown, using a 1/4″ seam. Press seams open.

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On one long edge of the placemat, with back facing up, mark a gap 12″ long with two pairs of pins.

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Leaving about an 8″ tail, begin stitching the binding strip to the placemat at the left hand set of pins, using a 3/8″ seam.

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As you approach the corner, mark a dot 3/8″ from both the bottom of the side. You will stop stitching at this point.

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Backstitch at an angle away from the dot, off the bottom edge.

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Gently fold the binding straight upward forming a 45 degree fold.

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Fold the binding back down, with the binding’s raw edges aligned with the edge of the placemat. Start sewing again at the fold. Continue around all edges, using the same method at each corner, until you arrive at the ‘ending’ pins. Backstitch.

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Lay the loose tail of the start of the binding flat against the placemat’s edge. Cut the end of the binding strip at a 45° angle so that it generously overlaps the start of the strip. Mark the same angle on the starter strip below.

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Make a second mark, half an inch closer to the cut edge. Cut along this second mark.

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Hold the start and end of the binding strip as shown, creating a 45° angle. Stitch with a 1/4″ seam.

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Press seam open, and finish stitching the binding to the placemat.

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Press binding to the front of the placemat.

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Unfold, and press in half so that the edge of the binding is just shy of the edge of the placemat.

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Fold back over the placemat, and pin, mitering the corners as you go.

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Stitch around the binding with the top of the placemat uppermost, angling the stitches along the mitered corners as you come to them.

Repeat for remaining placemats. To make matching napkins, cut fabric 18″ square and hem all four edges with a narrow hem.

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some recent makes

Time for a catchup on some things I’ve been making in my little beehive. First up: boy stuff! I am lucky to have four boys aged five and under in my family; sewing for them is a joy.

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Construction vests. I was channelling Emmet from the Lego movie in my choice of colours. The helmet is not a toy; it’s actually SEI certified! I now have a lot of neon orange utility fabric left over. Any ideas what to make with it?

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A layered-look pirate shirt. Inspiration found here.

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Batman caps and masks for a birthday party. Sixteen each, in sizes from baby to adult.

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Another paper cut portrait; this one’s my grandson Corey. Made as a birthday gift for his mum, my eldest daughter.

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For The Guy’s birthday, I made him a toiletries bag from fabric that I waxed myself. Oh man, making that cloth is a story unto itself. WAAY more work (and expense) than buying some waxed canvas on Etsy. But I’m kind of stubborn like that.

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And for myself, a tailor’s ham, stuffed with sawdust. If you’re going to make one of these, wear a mask while stuffing it. Ask me how I know.

mojave calling

While Hashi put up the tent, K got the fire going

Our beautiful campsite

Desert Globemallow (Sphaeralcea ambigua)

Hole-in-the-Wall Rings Trail

Beavertail Cactus (Opuntia basilaris)

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Hedgehog cactus

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Banshee Canyon

It’s becoming an April tradition, the birthday camping trip. Last year we went to Los Padres National Forest. The year before to Death Valley. This time, we went to Mojave (Mo-hah-vee, for you Australians) National Preserve and camped at Hole-in-the-Wall.

Ah, desert. I love its muted tones and barren vistas and surprising splashes of colour. It whispers ancient secrets that I cannot quite understand, but that I want to slow down and strain to hear. Despite the dust, it leaves me feeling cleansed in some way. It is the opposite of frenetic and riotous, the opposite of Los Angeles. There is no hurrying to be done in the desert.

We had such a lovely time. Except for when the wind got fierce in the night, and our tent became a flapping flailing beast for hours on end, and The Guy resorted to sleeping in the car. THAT part wasn’t fun. But the rest, the hiking and exploring and cooking and staring at the fire. Yep, that was all perfect, and exactly right for a birthday trip. I’m a happy girl.

wherever you go, there you are

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Today I went before a judge along with a dozen others, and changed my name. It was anachronistic to be in court – an environment that’s usually fraught with negative emotions – and be surrounded by happy people. There were no losers in that room; we were all pretty delighted. It reminded me of how the maternity ward is the only one in the hospital that’s full of joy, not sorrow. And in some ways, it felt like a (re)birth.

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Later my buddy Clif sent me this picture, captioned “Wherever you go, there you are.” It made me laugh, and feel doubly glad that I now share initials with my lovely mama. The Guy, witty punster that he is, commented that “Running Water” should now be my native name.

Yeah, I’ll go with that. What’s not to love?

not even the king



Some people so poor all that they got is money.

Love love love.

february makes

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My dear friend Lola loves the smell of lavender, so I made her a set of sachets for her birthday. (Quite a few ladies got these for Christmas, too.) Simple and sweet, with a loop long enough for a clothes hanger if so desired.

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And then Miss Cali Hashi turned two, prompting a trio of jersey dresses and a little Aster Cardigan to go with them all.

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When I heard she was having an alien/space birthday party, I whipped up a tshirt for her brother Felix to wear at the celebration. But why should he be the only one in alien garb? Cali obviously needed yet another dress, to match the birthday theme.

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Then there was some very utilitarian sewing: blackout curtains and a ‘cozy’ for the electric saw. Projects like this aren’t exactly thrilling, but still provide their own satisfaction.

Coming up in March: Sew The Perfect Fit with Lynda Maynard on Craftsy. Wish me luck.