I’ve always wanted to try a Dresden Plate block, and this is my first attempt.  Not too shabby for a first effort, but, uh, room for improvement with that centre circle placement!  Ah well — trying new things and improving is what this quilt is all about.

There are a few different types of Dresden Plate block: the most intriguingly different from this are blocks with no centre (ooo hard, no room for fudging!) and those with round petals rather than blades.  They’re going on the list.

Patches in this block: 18

Patches so far: 977


Still on a bit of a tradition bender.  Lacking the comfort of hot showers, and worried about cash, I am craving that sense of surety and connection.  I don’t want to learn anything new: I want to cement old skills and stitch something knowing it will work out. 

This is a block with many names, a well-travelled block that’s almost as old as patchwork.  Strangely enough, Dan declared it ‘very modern-looking’.

The plumber comes at lunch time to install a new hot water heater.  Bliss!

Patches in this block: 45

Patches so far: 959  — oooo, it’s getting close!

We have many wonderful pictures from our wedding day, but this is the one tacked to the wall of my sewing room.

A traditional block, pieced by hand.

It’s winter in Melbourne and I have had one of those weeks that comes out of nowhere: $2000 in different bills and insurance dues have come all at once, and my beloved van is in emergency care and will certainly cost thousands to fix, if it can be fixed.  I hurt my back and haven’t been able to teach (stress?) …

… and today is by far the years’ coldest, so naturally the hot water heater is dead.  Did I mention it’s a long weekend?  Do you know a hot water installer who works long weekends?  Neither do we!

We shall be walking to the public pool for our showers.

So I needed comfort food and comfort sewing: a chocolate pudding with cream followed by a very old, very loved block known as Basket of Lilies.  Done by hand, because.  I’ve seen it done on-point in so many delicious and covetable Depression era quilts and have always wanted to give it a go.  Well worth it.  Wouldn’t it just be the perfect block to show off those perfect, but too tiny scraps you’ve been saving?

Patches in this block: 36

Patches so far: 914

Dear wonderful blog readers.  It’s been a year since I quit my PhD, and I want to introduce you to Sarah.

Let me explain…

A year ago, I was a burnt out, miserable grad student.  I no longer enjoyed what I did,  nor did I get any joy out of planning my future.  I had written an MA thesis, of which I was proud.  But I jumped straight in to a PhD and it seemed like the same stuff, but more. Plus more years of international moves and grinding poverty on the tenure track.  I was working with wonderful, passionate people, and I felt like I wasn’t being honest with them.  I didn’t like myself or the things that I was contributing to the world, which is not a pleasant state to be in (or around!)

Very quickly, the Pins and Thimbles blog took on more and more importance to me.  As I got slower, calmer, and better at enjoying myself, I realised that I needed to change my life. I took six months out of my course and started working part time at the State Library of Victoria (I’m still there, it’s an amazing place to work).

I thought that I would write a romance novel, but instead I made this:

And this:

And I re-learned old, forgotten skills like how to make clothing:

And after a lot more messing about and uncertainty than I would like to admit,

I quit the PhD and enrolled in fashion school.

Wow, there was a change!  And a discovery!  Turns out, learning new skills is what excites me in life, even if it’s night classes in the freezing cold Melbourne winters.  So what a difference a year makes.  Enriched with the skills and the confidence that has been a little Etsy business, I am starting a bigger business of my very own.

I am making something that just doesn’t exist: pretty, flattering, awesome clothes for women and girls who, like me, are just too tall for anything you can buy in a shop.  I’ve named it ‘Sarah Vain and Tall’ to pay a fun little homage to a book I love (Sarah Plain and Tall).  I feel like if I bring my new skills, plus the sense of fun and colour that Pins and Thimbles has, I can make this something wonderful.

If you know any fabulous tall women who think shopping for clothes isn’t fun, please send them a link to my new blog and encourage them to get in touch.  It’s all really rough around the edges but I’m working on it (the back end is a lot more complicated than this neat little WordPress blog).  My first items for sale will be ready within the month (cross fingers), and I can’t tell you how excited I am.

What will that mean for Pins and Thimbles?  Well, I’m keeping it.  In fact, it’s going back to what it was a year ago: a fun hobby blog.  The Twitter feed and the Facebook account are disappearing.  They’re not as much fun as the blog, and they distract me from making fun stuff.  Since I made the decision, I’ve sewn a lot more hexagon flowers!  I’ll still keep the Etsy store in case of inspiration, and from time to time will still accept custom orders.

Also: thank you SO much to every one who reads this blog.  The support I’ve had for my writing and the weird little things I love to make have changed the way I think about my capacity to learn, my capacity to adapt and create, and that in turn made me think that I was capable of running a business.  I really could not have done it without you.



I have made so. many. purses. this weekend.  It’s the ANZAC day long weekend and there were two excuses to sew birthdays in it.  But of course I didn’t have the self control to stop at two. This one is a full size purse, big enough for cards, money, and most anything else you can throw at it.  Most importantly though.


Ridiculously cute.

It’s back to work tomorrow, so no more sewing for a couple of days.  Maybe I’ll learn some self control in the mean time.  Probably not, though.

These kittens are in the Etsy shop now, if you’re interested in giving them a home.

I spent a day last week playing with two new patterns.

One was free, one cost money. Guess which one worked?  I won’t name the free pattern here or show photos (suffice to say: if a pleat requires five turns of the needle and has external stitching, YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG.)  But I will give full props to Nicole Mallalieu, a pattern maker of extreme awesomeness.

After I made one of her coin purses, I was hooked.  I even had to make one with hexies.  Why?  Because, that’s why.


They’re in my Etsy store now.