Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spoonflower Design Challenge & BLOCK PRINTING with POTATOES

For those of you who I'm connected with on Instagram or Facebook you will have seen an onslaught of posts each day regarding the Spoonflower Design-A-Day Challenge. Each day for 14 days Spoonflower sends out a design technique prompt and you do a design related to that prompt and inspired by the technique for that prompt on the daily blog post/email.  At the end of the Challenge Spoonflower selects one of the challenge days to use as the competition theme and then voting will open on that theme over at Spoonflower. Today is day 4 but as it's the weekend we've also got the day 5 prompt today too. Here are my entries for day 1 to 3.....

I got a little carried away with day 3. I have little kids and could see so much potential for library bags, pencil cases and leggings so I went ahead and did a few more colourways.....

I really want to turn it into a real usable font.... add it to my infinite list o things to do right?

Then there's today. I woke up to discover that today's prompt was Block Printing. Yeah, this meant I really needed to do some traditional hands on work to get the right look. But what was I to do? I have proper artist's carving tools and blocks but they are buried in a box after moving house and with the heat there was no way my littlies would let me spend hours in the garage and then do some art un-assisted. OUT CAME THE POTATOES... they're more kid friendly after all I guess, this is the type of printing they do in preschool after all and you know what?




Here's what you need:

- Potatoes  (apples work too or maybe even a large carrot!
- Short knife with a pointed tip (fruit knife, steak knife or pen knife)
- paper towel
- chopping board
- marker (totally hit an miss as to what works on a damp potato for how long. Maybe a watercolour pencil would be better?)


STEP 1:  Cut you potato in half as straight as you can. I used a BIG kitchen knife for this. I want a smooth flat surface as it will show up in your print if it's uneven. Then cut the rounded side off your potato halves so that they will sit flat for carving. You end up with two potato 'discs'

STEP 2: Dry your potato block surface. If you don't dry it a bit, your marker will stop working half way through drawing on your design. It would be best to leave your blocks to air dry overnight but hey, I wasn't going to twiddle my thumbs while my kids behaved... I needed to get shiz done! So I blotted mine with paper towel.

STEP 3: Draw on your design with marker....or maybe a watercolour pencil would work better? My taters were so fresh cut and hence damp that the marker only made it though drawing on the first block and conked out on the second but I felt there was enough line to work with. KEEP IT SIMPLE! It's not all about the detail with this type of printing, it's about effect shapes and the gorgeous textures that naturally come when printing....with potatoes.

STEP 4: CARVE IT UP BABY! I carefully cut around the outline of my fig (about 1/8" or 4mm deep) then removed the unwanted outside bits. THEN I worked on the finer detail which is a little fiddlier and takes longer so that if I buggered up with the bigger cuts I wasn't wasiting too much of my precious time starting again...Time is sanity when you're a mum of small kids! Don't talk to me about the tortoise and the hare, You KNOW who's side I'm on.

Mmm taters precious! 

STEP 5: It's time to get printing! Use some paper towel to blot your blocks dry again so your 'ink' isn't too week from potato juice. Then apply a bit of acrylic paint using a kitchen sponge. You want a nice even coverage that doesn't push heaps of paint into your carving or the print won't come out clear/clean. Don't panic though, you can experiment with how much paint you put on and wash it all off if you get a little over-excited OR if one of your own little darlings is helping you and over-does it!Place your 'inked' block straight down onto your paper, give it a bit of even firm pressure and try not to wiggle it or push to hard.

STEP 6: Do lots of prints and have fun. I used mine to make elements which I then photographed and took into Adobe Illustrator and turned into the fabric design below but you can do anything... Make wrapping paper, gift cards, an inexpensive picture in a frame for your in-laws (brownie points for making it look like the kids did it).

And here's little piccy of what my baby girl got up to when I gave her my used blocks. I'm looking forward to her being old enough to use carving tools but until then she really just enjoys playing with everything and getting messy. There's more paint on her that the paper of course and bit of chewed apple was to distract her from eating the potato blocks.

 I hope this post has inspired you in some way or at the very least given you a bit of a laugh. I think a future post might need to be a tutorial for taking a print on paper into illustrator and creating a final design. What do you think?

Enjoy my lovelies xo

- Pinky xoxox

Monday, October 26, 2015

NEW: Bippy the Bunyip easy Cut-&-Sew Panel

Squishee hugs from my little boy

I started sewing when I was a kid. I didn't have much pocket money and mum didn't appreciate me experimenting with her fabric stash ( example: the smock panel I destroyed to make a barbie dress). Creating a stash when you first start can be expensive and you'll probably end up with a bunch of fabric you don't use. Plus there's having to buy the pattern and other notions. It get's pricey if you have to buy it all.

I quickly discovered that the best value for pocket money as a novice stitcher were those easy cut and sew projects because you didn't need to worry about trying to find the right fabrics, it's all printed on the one panel. It was also great because I didn't have to fuss with a pattern. Reading patterns correctly is one of the big hurdles when you first start out and it is one of the main suggestions for my sewing class topics I have received.  With cut and sew there's no need to fuss, you won't accidentally cut pieces against the grain or forget to flip them and then run out of fabric. Just cut it out your pieces and sew it up. Less scraps to hoard.

In light of this, I have created my very own cut and sew panel available for purchase on spoonflower in my designer's shop.  This is a project I would have been super excited about as a kid but it's just as fun to make him when you're an adult for a special little person you know :)

Introducing Bippy the Bunyip:

So what is a Bunyip? These mysterious mythical creatures come from Australia and can be found in swamps and Billabongs. Traditionally, Bunyips were thought to drag people away but we have enough scarey creatures in Australia already. Bibby is a kind young bunyip who often helps lost travelers back on to their path. He's definitely a fantastic companion choice for your little adventurer!

Hello there!

I made this little guy in Spoonflower's Faux Suede and I highly recommend it! You do have a choice of fabrics of course, just make sure your selection is from the wider fabrics that are 54" wide yards or Fat Quarter (27" x 18") such as Eco canvas, Faux Suede or Minky. The Eco canvas and Suede are easy to sew with a sharp 'heavy' or 'denim' sewing needle in your machine. I like the suede because it has a really lovely 'pile' to it and feels beautiful. The Minky? Well, it is nice and soft and doesn't stretch too much BUT it is super slippery!!! It is not at all easy for a beginner or intermediate stitcher to sew. If you do wish to tackle it though, you will need a ball point needle in you sewing machine and A LOT of pins to keep the seams lined up. Or you could hand stitch the whole doll and you wouldn't have to worry about it slipping. Order your Bippy Panel here, from the Spoonflower website.

This is how Bippy arrives: 

 The seam allowance is included and is the same colour all the way through so even if you don't sew right on the seam line it won't show on your finished doll.  Of course I have detailed written instructions and photos for every step to make it super easy for you to sew this little guy up.  I've started a separate blog especially for sewing instructions here later this will all be on my own website with all the fun crafty things I do. You can take a look at all the instructions and ask questions before you even order if you like :)

Mr 4 showing off Bippy's colourful tail and bottom
Of course you know what else is awesome about cut-and-sew toys? The fact you don't have to worry about the face... no more trying to transfer eyes and mouth placements and no time needed to sew these features on. And best of all? That makes them much safer for tiny little people who love to chew! My 16 month old daughter demonstrates this well. One lovely lady made Bibby for her adorable grandson and she sent me a picture of him having a wonderful chewy cuddle. You can read her review of her experience creating Bippy and see her gorgeous grandson doing some 'product testing' at the bottom of my fabric listing on Spoonflower.

Best of friends

What do you think? Do you like cut and sew toys or do you prefer to use a pattern and customize it? Would you like to see me turn Bibby into a pattern like my Babushka and Boy doll? What sort of cut and sew projects would you like to see?

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog.

Never stop creating,

Love Pinky xoxo

Wednesday, October 8, 2014


It has been yet another long time between blog posts and while I had a good excuse having a baby, I feel anxious about getting back into some serious pattern designing sewing. To prove that this mumma of 2 means business, I've cut all my digital patterns down to $7.50 AND I would also like to announce that I am not only working on some alternate clothes for my boy doll pattern but also a friend for him!

What type of accessories am I working on you wonder? Here's a little hint; they are Christmas themed :D

You can purchase my original Boy Doll pattern or any of my other patterns from Etsy by clicking here.

What sort of accessories would you like to see for this little fellow? Comment below :)

Love Pinky

Monday, May 12, 2014

Lilly Pilly Jam

 I received my Diggers gardener's club winter magazine today and was delighted to see that this season they suggest a lovely selection of native trees to replace fire hazardous eucalyptus. One such tree featured is the wonderful yet overlooked Lilly Pilly which is actually a fantastic fruiter!

It has been a loooong time between posts. I've been married for a year and a half and we are now expecting our second baby! I never stopped crafting of course and while we have a real garden now, we have only just started out so aren't getting much out of it at the moment especially heading into winter.

We have been foraging though; in early march we found some gorgeous peaches, walnuts, figs (to die for!) and mini plums. I made all sorts of delicious preserves from that lot....except the figs, they were too good to cook and we ate them all before I could anyway. Hahaha!

The Plum Jam was so good that my husband got upset when I traded a jar for hot cross buns and a loaf of bread. He got over it when the same friend gave as choc cross buns the following week though :)

So where was I? Ah yes, Lilly Pilly Jam! I have been doing a LOT of sewing for our new baby and one day as I opened the blind in my sewing room and looked out the window I noticed this:

It's a gorgeous HUGE lilly pilly tree growing down the side of my neighbor's house and ours. This cheeky tree is actually blocking up our drains with it's roots so I figured it owed me one. I remembered eating lilly pillys as a child fresh off the bush, being ver tart they were never more than a novelty but certainly sparked my interest in bush tucker.

 I did a google search to check for recipe ideas and 5 minutes later my 3 year old and I donned our gumboots and raided the tree, filling a bucket with fruit!

These were the berries we could reach without me climbing a ladder at 7months pregnant. Hahaha! Note that they are a little under-ripe. The riper fruit are darker and don't have any white bottoms. Don't worry, I sent my husband out with the ladder on mother's day to get me another batch and this time the are very ripe so the taste testing will be interesting!

Lilly Pilly Jam Recipe


  • 2.5kg of fresh picked Lilly Pillys (this is about a kmart bag 3/4 full)
  • 500g raw sugar (or you could use jam sugar or castor sugar)
  • 1 Tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon of dried pectin (or half a bag of Fowler's jam setter from Coles)
  • 1 teaspoon of citric acid (or a tablespoon of lemon juice)


  • A great big pot
  • strainer
  • ladel
  • 4 x 300ml jars with metal lids
  • measuring spoons
  • wooden spoon
  • ladel
  • funnel
  • sugar thermometer (optional)


Remove stems, leaves and any damaged fruit then wash your berries well using your strainer.

Remove the seeds. Lilly Pillys are very easy to break open with your fingers. It's a bit time consuming but you can do this as therapy while watching Gardening Australia on a Saturday afternoon ;). NOTE: not all lilly pillys have seeds. If you leave seeds in, not only would they guarantee a trip to the dentist but I have read they can upset your tummy. 

The start of my de-seeded fruit, inside the flesh is white.

The discarded bits: leaves stems and the seeds which vary in size and are a very pretty colour. I've kept some to see if I can germinate them.

Pop your fruit in your large pot and add water just to the top of the fruit.

Set to a low boil for approximately 30 minutes until the fruit softens and looks pale....

Add the sugar, vanilla and citric acid and let it boil down for approximately another 30 minutes until the liquid is visible reduced and the colour starts to intensify to a beautiful pink again.

Sprinkle your pectin over (or jam setter) and mix in with your spoon. At this stage I also add my sugar thermometer which I warm under the tap so it doesn't crack when I add it to the hot pot. Continue to boil down your jam, check on it and stir regularly. If you don't have a thermometer, pop a saucer or little plate in the freezer. Also, sterilize your jars now if you haven't already.

As your jam continues to boil down, that beautiful rich colour returns. You know your jam is done when the bubbles seem thicker and slower and your sugar thermometer hits 110 degrees C, just below 'soft ball' stage if you have the candy indicators on your thermometer. Turn off the heat.

NOTE: If you don't have a thermometer, put a teaspoon of the mix on saucer you've had chilling in the freezer for 30 or so minutes, as the jam cools on the plate it will indicate if the jam is too runny or not. Continue boiling it down and testing until it reaches a consistency you are happy with.

Use your funnel and ladel to spoon your jam into your sterilized jars. You can then process your jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes or do what your granny did and invert the jars until they cool.

NOTE: Both methods are used to decrease the risk of bacteria growing in your jam. It's worthwhile doing a little research into 'safe canning methods' if you want to give your preserves as gifts or even sell and trade them :)

And you're done! You should have about 4 x 300ml jars of extremely gorgeous Lilly Pilly Jam. Try it on scones...absolutely to die for! NOM NOM NOM!!!

Let me know what you think in the comments.

Happy cooking, crafting and gardening all!

- Love Pinky xox

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Handmade Wedding Flowers

So, with my wedding only a couple of months away, I have been busy as a bee crafting my little heart out. I am now very pleased to report tat I have finished my bridal bouquets AND all 4 bridesmaid bouquets! Admittedly, I do have some handy tools to thank such as these new Francheville punches I bought the other week at Spotlight $10 for the set on sale!!! WIN!!

These punches allowed me to make these....

I LOVE THESE!!! They were just what I needed to complement the rest of the flowers I had made. I was then ready to assemble the 5 bunches I needed so I absolutely covered the kitchen bench in flowers and it took me half a day to arrange them....


There you have it! Do I have a flower-making fetish or what?! I have really enjoyed making all my flowers and I'm still making more for the headbands and table decorations. I would call it therapy for taking the wedding planning stresses away! LOL!

- Love Pinky xoxo

Friday, April 20, 2012

2 Fabric Flower with Stems Tutorials

I have FINALLY put together the instructions for the fabric flowers I was demoing last week at the Australian Quilters Convention. Sorry for the delay Ladies, once I got back to Albury it was go go go! Client work, lesson plans and a busy 1 year old to the end of the week I am DESPERATE for some crafty goodness time. It's after midnight so please let me know if you pick up any mistakes, my brain is threatening to turn to pumpkin :)

 The idea behind these flower tutorials is to give you a project for using up your scraps, creating beautiful everlasting blooms to save on waste,  to compliment your quilts and to give as special gifts. 

Let's start with the Kanzashi Flower...

There are several different versions of Kanzashi flowers out there. This version is very easy and you can use all sorts of fabric and make them in different sizes if you’re feeling adventurous.

Materials & Tools

  1. Yummy scraps of patchwork fabric
  2. Strong thread (such as top-stitch or upholstery thread)
  3. Buttons for the center of your flowers
  4. Needle
  5. Scissors

You’ll need a circle template to cut out your petals. This can be any size but mine at the convention were made with 2” and 2 1/4” circles. If you needed another excuse to buy your quilter’s circle templates this is a good one! Hahaha!

Here is a template with 2 different size circles anyway so you don’t have to draw them if you don’t have templates. Right click on he image below to save it to your computer and then print it out.

Using your chosen circle size, cut out 5 circles from your fabric.

Prepare your needle and thread, leaving a 2” tail after your knot for fastening your gathering later. Take one of your circles, fold it in half and half again.

Run a gathering stitch along the raw edge of your quartered circle making sure that you catch all four layers. If you start the first stitch going through from the back to the front of your petal, make sure the last stitch on the petal goes from the front to the back, this will make your petals more uniform.

Repeat step 3 for the remaining four petals, gathering them as you go.


Leaving your needle attached, tie the thread ends together tightly to draw your petals in creating the flower.

Choose which side you'd like to be the back of the flower. Draw in the hole in the middle by doing a few stitched across it catching the petals.

On the front of your flower, sew your button in the middle covering the hole. Tie off. Congratulations! You've made your first flower :)

EXTRA CREDIT: Go absolutely mental and make a whole bunch while you're watching Gardening Australia (or Doctor Who if you're like my mum). Then continue reading these tutorials for the next type of flower and how to attach your little beauties to stems. 

The Rosette Flower...

This fabric flower is reminiscent of good ol' yo-yos but with one important difference; you use a strip of fabric instead of cutting out a round. So you can use fabric with stripes that will make a pleasing radial effect. This project is perfect for using up left over bits from jelly rolls. 

Once you've made a few in this size, go and experiment:
  • The shorter the length, the more the flower will 'pull up' into an opening bud look, 
  • The longer the length, the more gathers there will be and the flower will become inverted like an Echinacea flower.
Materials & Tools

    1.    Yummy scraps of patchwork fabric
    2.    Strong thread (such as top-stitch or upholstery thread)
    3.    Buttons for the center of your flowers
    4.    Needle
    5.    Scissors

You can use your ruler and rotary cutter to cut a 2 by 8 inch strip or right click on he image below to save it to your computer and then print it out.

Cut out your 2 x 8 inch strip of fabric from your delectable scraps.

Fold your fabric strip in half, right sides together, so that the short ends match up. Stitch the edges together using a 1/3 inch seam. Leave your needle and thread attached.

Finger press your seam open.

Now the slightly tricky bit if you're a fumble-fingers like me; Fold the bottom raw edge up to meet the top raw edge. You should now have the right side of the fabric showing inside and outside your fabric circle. Run a gather stitch all the way around just in from the raw edge making sure you catch both layers. Making your gather stitches as equal as possible will insure a neater looking flower, if you can't don't worry - imperfection adds character (speaking from experience HAHAHA!).

Draw your gather stitched in to form the flower. Tie your threads together tightly to secure but leave your needle attached.

Choose which side you'd like to be the back of the flower. Draw in the hole in the middle by doing a few stitched across it catching the petals.

On the front of your flower, sew your button in the middle covering the hole. Tie off and you're done.

 Crank up the production line because the next part is all about attaching stems!

HOW TO ATTACH STEMS TO FABRIC FLOWERS... and any other crafty flowers for that matter!

I invented this method for attaching stems when I decided to make all the flowers for my wedding. It works for fabric, paper, and yarn flowers alike. So if you're an 'All-Rounder' crafter like me (literally and figuratively in my case) try some other flower tutorials on the net and use this tutorial for attaching them to stems. I did classes at my local Scrapbooking shop (where I learned the basics for the 2 flowers above) so that's somewhere else to check out if the ladies at your patchwork shop are getting sick of the sight of you! Hehehe.

Materials & Tools

  1. Cardstock that matches your stem colour (available from Scrapbooking and Craft shops)
  2. 18 gauge wire pre-wrapped with cotton or paper in green or brown (I got mine from Spotlight and you can also get it from Florist Suppliers)
  3. Fabric Glue
  4. Flower Punch (Available at Craft and Scrapbooking stores)
  5. Small hole punch or Awl or mattress needle
  6. Needle-nose pliers
  7. Fray Stopper or clear Nail Polish

Punch out 2 flowers from your cardstock, alternatively you could just cut 2 circles the same size with scissors to save buying special tools. Use a small hole punch, awl or needle to make a small hole in hte center of one of your cardstock flowers.

Take your wire and bend the top inch to a right angle. Then take your pliers and curl the end round in a small loop. This stops the wire sliding out of the hole and beheading your flower later on.

Use your fabric glue to adhere the cardstock flower WITHOUT the hole to the back of your fabric flower. Let dry.

Slide the cardstock flower WITH the hole onto your wire and push it to the top.

Add glue to the top of your cardstock flower and wire and....

...stick it to the back of your fabric flower on top of the other cardstock flower. Press it together with your fingers until it holds well. Stand the flower face down until the glue dries completely.

The last thing you might want to do is apply a little bit of Fray Stopper or Nail Polish to the end of your wire to stop the cotton or paper unraveling.

There you go! You now have the know-how to make a whole garden full of fresh, fabulous fabric flowers.... and if you use up all your scraps you'll just have to go pick up some yummy fat 1/8s to make some more. SHUCKS!

leave a comment or email me: pinkyhiggs{at}gmail{dot}com if you need any help or if you've noticed that I'm silly :)


- Love from Pinky xoxox