busy bee!

I have been very slack with my crafting this week, not because I am not dying to sew, but because my 6-week-old has decided to fulfill her obligation as a growing child and, well, grow. At an alarming rate. One morning her jim-jams simply did not fit. Combined with the fussiness, sudden breast refusal, and super-clinginess, and not much sewing or writing was done. Or blogging. Urgh.

I took a much-needed break today and disappeared to the fabric store for half an hour, and picked up some pretty purples for a quilt idea I'm playing with. I generally buy my fabric first, let it simmer for a while on my desk or shelf (where I can see it), then see a pattern in a book, or online, and it clicks. I might not have the time to do that for this quilt, so I will give myself the weekend and start cutting by Monday. (I hope.) But the fabrics are quite pretty purple florals, so I hope I can put them to good use!

purple fabrics

One thing I did get to do this week that I'd been planning for a long time was reorganizing my bookshelves. See, we Poppletons are readers. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 900 books and for a long time, we had them haphazardly double-stacked, arranged willy-nilly, with pictures and receipts and pencil cups all mixed in. I got sick of it looking messy so I pulled everything off the shelves and organized them by color! Then I faced and fronted the books and found homes for the black and the white books (they were "extra"). It looks pretty great, if I do say so myself!

Rainbow colors

And the white:

White on white

(Next to the heater is my handmade mum bag, made with Melody Miller "Ruby Star Rising" fabric. I had View Finder as a kid and that fabric seemed perfect for toting around kid things! But I need to swap out the lining. I hate the lining.)

I also bought the Sarah Fielke "Night Garden" template set, which is teensy, but makes such a cute, sweet block! Her tutorial is great, and the quilt pattern is in her latest book, Quilting From Little Things. (I am planning on picking up my copy next week.) Since I don't really follow entire quilt patterns (ahem), choosing instead to arrange the interesting blocks in their own fun ways, I made up a few of these just to get the hang of sewing some Y-seams. I love the Lecien fabrics I chose:

Inspiration comes in stacks

And the teensy template:

Templates and Fabrics

Combine to make a pretty string of Night Garden blocks!

The Night Garden

They are quite matchy-matchy so I think they'll be quilted in stripes, with alternating colors and styles to balance it out. But I do so love that block! It was a lucky leap of faith that led me to pick that template pack up last Saturday.

Next on my list is making a tiny Ruby Star Rising bag for my niece Sissy, and basting her quilt. It's my first quilt set on point and I plan to machine-quilt it with wavy lines (and put my new walking foot to good use), but I have to find half an hour to escape outside and spray-baste it together. It is so cute though, seriously:

Sissy's quilt top

This will be really fun to finish. I can't wait to send it to my niece! She is going to love it!

It is almost 10pm which means...I'd better get a few blocks at least cut out before my eyelids slide closed of their own accord!


sources of inspiration


The thing I really love about sewing is the excitement of making something new. With each new fabric comes a wealth of possibility. The potential is all there, unmined, and I am in charge of assembling it to make something new and beautiful. It's addictive; this is why so many of us have boxes/shelves/rooms full of fabric! We can't get rid of any because we might need it, and we always get more because we crave new inspiration.

I'm pretty lucky; I live in a city that has plenty of quilters, so there are lots of places to shop. I've managed to put together a list of all the inspiring places I like to go when I need a metre or three of the perfect fabric.


My favorite shop is Material Obsession. I'll be honest, I wasn't a quilter until February or March this year, when I picked up the excellent Material Obsessions 2 book at Borders for a steal. I went back for the original book after devouring MO2. It took me a while to screw my courage to the sticking place and go visit the actual shop, though. See, I have a thing. A thing about published authors. You know how teen girls get around pop stars? All dizzy and blushing and stammering and really embarrassed? Yeah. I'm like that with anyone who has published a book. So, hilariously, I prevented myself from going in and seeing the shop due to starstruckedness. I can't even make this up. Anyway, MO boasts a huge range of fabric, patterns, templates, and they are squarely in my tastes as they have lots of modern designs in bright, splashy colors. Plus there's really good parking just next door. Boom.
Talk to: Kathy (she's American!)
Check out: the little rabbit warren back rooms full of kits, bolts, and haby everywhere!
Address: 72 Roseby St, Drummoyne. Phone 02 9819 6455

Next on the list for their convenience is Killara Village Quilts. This is my "local" and I love it. It's usually very quiet with one or two customers max, but there always seems to be someone at the counter getting one-on-one advice from the shop ladies. I've seen people spend more than an hour sorting their quilts out with the help of the shop girls and it's a sight to behold. Great customer service and a servicable range of modern and traditional fabric, with the added bonus that it's literally a five minute drive away. The other other thing that really impressed me was, on my first visit, the shop lady wrote me out a list of other fabric stores in Sydney. Talk about service–she made sure I could find exactly what I was looking for, even if it wasn't at her shop. That made me loyal for life!
Talk to: Jillian (she's also American, holla!)
Check out: their amazing fat quarter collection
Address: 50 Koola Ave, East Killara. Phone 02 9499 5422

Another place I love is Cottage Quiltworks. These guys are a little further away so it's a definite effort to get there, and when I drag Mr Poppleton he has to be extremely patient as there is nowhere close by to sit and relax! (The cafe downstairs is never open when we come. Ever. It has become A Thing™.) I love their ranges–they have such bright modern fabrics–and their replica 1930s section is just great. Cottage Quiltworks is the place I usually get the time to talk the longest, and the ladies remember me and my projects and are willing to have a good chat about anything.
Talk to: Jann or Sandy
Check out: their great collection of perle 8 quilting cotton
Address: 4 Daydream St, Warriewood. Phone 02 9997 4661

But probably the place I stay the longest is The Remnant Warehouse. This fabric store is divided into two halves, a dancewear half and a patchwork half. I very comfortably live in the patchwork half, obvs, but they cater to theatre people/costume designers and have made quite a name for themselves in that regard. Remnant Warehouse is nice and big and they have a fabulous load of jelly rolls, charm packs, and layer cakes in addition to thousands of metres of really pretty modern fabric. Too bad it's in Alexandria...or maybe that is a good thing, for my wallet's sake anyway!
Talk to: anyone; they're all great
Check out: fat quarter Fridays, buy one get one free
Address: 490-494 Botany Road, Alexandria. Phone 02 9698 7855

Last on my list (but certainly not the least!) is the big secret of Sydney, the Fabric Cave! It's not a quilting fabric shop per se; it's a thrift store for fabric and haberdashery. One one side there is fabric for sale, in pre-cut lengths, organized by color. on the other side is everything haby, including (and this is my favorite part) 50¢ patterns. I've purchased dozens of children's patterns ranging from 1950s-1970s for 50¢ each (at the most, paying a whole dollar). I could literally spend hours crouched down in front of those pattern boxes. I found this excellent shop through the equally excellent Tessuti blog. Tessuti Fabric is the place to go if you want to buy dress fabric, and I speak from experience: that's where we ordered the silk for my wedding dress. The Fabric Cave is only open Mondays 9:30am-2pm, Fridays 9:30am-2pm, and the first Sunday of the month, 9:30am-12pm. But the great news is, it's literally up the road from the Pablo & Rusty's roasters!
Talk to: Jo
Check out: the vintage patterns and the orphan quilt block box
Address: 78 Belmore St, Ryde. Phone 02 8878 3353

For general sewing, I usually go to my beloved Spotlight, with Lincraft as a back-up. Both of those places carry a lot of essentials: thread, sewing machine supplies, homespun in solid colors, cotton batting, etc. I get my scissors sharpened at Lincraft when they need it. I find for specialty items along with a bigger range of quilting fabric, though, I have to go out to Hobbysew. Hobbysew is quilting-specific and it's a big store, so they carry lots of quilting books/patterns, hold classes, and have hundreds of fabrics from lots of different ranges, incuding a pretty impressive batik section (I'm thinking of Sel here, with regards to batiks)! They also carry lots of sewing machine accessories and when I went to buy my walking foot, they were kind enough to show my how to install it on my own sewing machine by demonstrating it right there in store. Brilliant.

So that's my list. I'm going out for fabric on Friday so I'll be sure to post what treasures I come home with! Of course, I'll be out with my partner in crime, Sel, so not only will it be inspiring, but it'll be extra fun! I can't wait!


work in progress

Blocks up close

These are two blocks of a quilt I am working on for my sister. I've decided to title this one "a walk in the woods". My sister is a very down-to-earth woman. She was a total grub as a kid; she was outside until her hands and lips were blue in winter and until her tan lines were baked into her skin in summer. When I think of her, I think of all the forts we built and games we played and the ear-to-ear grin she got when we get our hands dirty. She is now an incredible artist now and it is hard to believe she is grown up.

The trees are self-explanatory; they are a gorgeous organic fabric from Cloud 9. The dragonfly fabric is Moda, as are the stained glass blocks in brown and turquoise. The dragonflies were the last fabric I chose. They really tied the quilt together. (Haha...just like the Dude's rug and his living room!) The orange made me think of the sun sinking through the trees and the way the light looks different in those late-summer forest fire hazes. I used white homespun as my base for the snowball block. My plan is to do a 10x10 quilt but it might get shortened to 8X10 (each block weighs in at 10" so it's quite large). I like a quilt that you can cover your head up with but still have toasty feet, but for my first large quilt it might be a tad ambitious. I haven't decided on hand-quilting yet but I'm leaning toward stitching leaves and tiny flowers.

It is nice to be quilting again, and it is doubly nice that Mr Poppleton took care of the baby all weekend so I could use my rotary cutter and my sewing machine with relative ease! We'll see how the week will go: I would be very happy indeed to get the majority of this quilt top blocked by this time next Sunday! I have another sister's quilt to I have to light a fire under my tail feathers. Time to get busy!



time off for good behavior.

When the baby was born, I decided to take a month off of writing. Tomorrow, Piper turns a month old, and I'm a little chagrined to admit I couldn't even wait a whole month. See, I wrote last night. I spit out 569 words while my daughter slept cuddled up with Daddy on the couch and my hands were free to work. Do I regret starting back up a little early? Nope. I spent every day from 31 March 2010 up until the birth of my daughter writing. I really missed it.

The process of writing is pretty simple for me: I sit down, open my laptop, put in my headphones, and I write. There's no trick or special ritual. I've written in three countries, at four in the morning, on my honeymoon, fighting dreadful morning sickness, and while experiencing contractions! If I get stuck I go back, reread, make some edits, and then write some more. It's a lucky thing that I can inspire myself. And if I write some shocking prose, I know that I can always fix it tomorrow!

My writing group is also partly to blame for my momentum; if it weren't for the twice-monthly meet-ups I'd probably be a lot lazier. I'm doubly lucky as the people in my writers' group have proved to be more than simply writer friends. It is a blessing to get constant inspiration from my "tribe", writerly or otherwise.

Tomorrow is the last day of taking time off, which means that Sunday is the day I will sit down and get serious. I'll get my story out on colored index cards, shuffle and revise my arcs, and then begin the process of winnowing down the last two years of prose. I'm excited. Writing is the one process that is entirely my own. It will be great to get back into it. It might be silly to admit, but I've missed my characters and their world. They are old friends by now, and I love them. So even though I'll enjoy tomorrow, my last day of "maternity leave", I'm ready for Sunday. I'm ready to write.


a little about me.

I'm in my late twenties. I'm married (to Mr Poppleton) and have a daughter (Piper) who is still very small. I am a writer of fiction, mostly novels, mostly coming-of-age-for-people-who-have-already-come-of-age. I am a dressmaker turned quilter. I have lots of sisters. I love going to my local cafe with my Rhodia dot pads and figuring out quilt blocks, or scribbling writerly ideas in my large Moleskine Cahiers with my treasured Sharpie Pens. I live in Sydney and there are lots of trees. I love learning new things, reading young adult novels, stalking people on Twitter, and generally being hilarious.

This is a record of the projects I undertake. I intend to explore the creative processes of writing, crafting, and parenting in this blog. This space really is for myself, but I hope there's something here for you, too.

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