Wednesday 6 July 2016

freeform patchwork knitting needle case

Just a quick post to share the needle case I put together last week. In typical fashion, I mulled it over in my head and then basically put it together on the fly, using some leftover freeform patchwork pieces and Maze & Vale scraps. I'm 90% happy with how it turned out, the inside especially is pretty perfect with it's zipper pocket for stitch markers, cable keys and other small bits, snap pocket for smaller cables and zipper pocket for larger cables. I'm considering putting a pattern together for this since it was impossible to find one that was just right when I searched the past few weeks. I'd love to make another with the tweaks I learned from this one but, you know, I'm kind of famous for too many ideas, too little time so we'll see. In the meantime, this case will serve me very well, especially as I'm off for a family holiday in Bali tomorrow and will be packing it along with yarn for a couple of small projects. I've sadly abandoned my first sweater as it became obvious that I was not going to have enough yarn to finish it off but even starting it was an excellent learning process so I am not deterred in the slightest. Onward!

Tuesday 5 July 2016

Tools of the trade

Earlier this year my husband and I had a chat about possible ways to lighten my workload - I do everything myself: sourcing, ordering, designing, printing, heat setting, cutting, photographing, packaging. I've been contemplating jobs I can outsource and the possibility of hiring someone on a casual basis but finding the right person who I can trust with taking over some of my duties and fit into my rather all-over-the-place schedule seems like a big job in itself. So we moved onto tools that could help do some jobs faster at least. I heat set all of my fabric by hand, using a regular old iron. I tried an ironing press when I first started out but it wasn't wide enough for my fabric panels and I found it impossible to gauge which bits had been done sufficiently when heat setting larger pieces. I've had a few quite large orders for yardage this year and heat setting it all by hand just wasn't going to cut it (although I have done it many times in the past, it just takes soooooooo long). I started looking into heat tunnels that the professionals use (way too big and expensive, although there are some good secondhand deals around if you have the room, which I don't) and came across some flash dryers on eBay. They are basically big rectangles of radiant heat, getting up to 200˚C, that you can move over your fabric to dry the ink when printing repeats or, as I found, can heat set the water based inks in a mere 1-2 minutes flat.

So I just set a little timer on my phone and move the flash dryer along while I do other stuff around the studio - yay! After heat setting everything by hand for five years, this is pretty exciting.

The other new tool that has come into my life, thanks to the recommendation of my very lovely studio neighbour, Simone of Femke Textiles, is a Lightning electric fabric cutter. This baby can cut super thick piles of fabric with ease. It's a bit heavy and will take some practice to get precise lines from but I love a new gadget so am looking forward to playing with it - hopefully it will make putting Freeform Patchwork Kits together much quicker!

Tuesday 21 June 2016

Back in action...

Um, hi there... long time no see... no, your eyes do not deceive you. Yes, I am reinstating the project journal.

This year has been pretty amazing. Both my kids are now at school and I'm relishing the extra time to myself (and the extra patience and attention I can dole out to them when they are home). I feel like I'm slowly getting bits of myself back, extra pieces I had to discard over the past few years in order to survive  - okay, that's a little dramatic but I think most mothers out there will know what I mean: there is only time and energy for so much. For me that meant things I previously loved, like knitting, blogging and the desire to sew anything beyond clothes, had to go by the wayside so I could handle raising my children and concentrate on my business in the little kid-free time I had.

So I'm knitting again, after a seven year hiatus, and I'm regularly having huge burst of creative ideas and planning (without feeling overwhelmed with it all being too, too much to handle). And I am LOVING IT. And I'm missing having this outlet to share what I'm playing with and what is inspiring me. I really and truly do love Instagram but sometimes I just want to share a bit more, and a bit more cohesively, than I can there. So here I am, back in action.

A little extra curricular sewing project seemed like the perfect launch back into this project journal and, of course, someone who is knitting and having huge creative bursts AND prints their own fabric needs to make an extra special knitting bag.

I saw this photo tutorial on Pinterest and made my own pattern based on the (rather vague) directions given. There was a bit of mucking around, unpicking and compromising during creation but I'm well pleased with how it has turned out. Square bottomed and fully reversible, made with a fat quarter of my Fragments design in Velvet on hemp/organic linen and a piece of my dropcloth on the other side. There is a decent sized zipper pocket on both the outside and inside for any extra bits I need to carry. I'm currently working on my first sweater and it is making me SO happy every time I reach for this bag. Now I just need to make a new case for my interchangeable circular needle set due to a faulty zipper on the (rather ugly) case they came in...

Monday 11 May 2015

Find me on Instagram...

Well, I'm admitting defeat in the blogging area. I have ideas for posts and lots to share but time and energy to do so are in short supply. SO until further notice, please find me on Instagram (@mazeandvale) for regular/daily updates about what I'm working on and what is going into the shop (you don't need a smart phone or device to follow or check up on me on Instagram, it can be done right on your computer  by clicking here). You can also find most of the same info on my Facebook page. And for a monthly digest of what is hitting the shop, including new products and Sample Packs, please sign up for my newsletter, right over there in the sidebar.

Hopefully next year, when both of my wee ones will be in school, I'll be able to eke out a little time to get back into this community as I really do miss it. Until then!

Thursday 12 February 2015

Sample Pack update!!

I'll have brand spanking new Sample Packs available in my shop on Sunday, February 15th at 12pm (noon) AEST. I tried to make an extra large (70+) batch so I really hope everyone who wants one will get their hands on one this time! I'll also be adding a few new colourways of existing designs as panels and hope to have four designs hitting the shop late next week, just waiting on the screens to be delivered (it's like waiting for Santa, I tell ya).

Thursday 22 January 2015

Winter Arrow Quilt

Arrow Quilt

Sorry, the quilt is wrinkly and hard to photograph but I had to grab photos of this one the day before my sister and her husband flew home to Canada and the shoot was a bit rushed in the midst of holiday revery (aka we ran to the park down the road in gail force wind conditions and snapped pics until we got one where it's not trying to take off from the earth). I completely love this quilt in real life though, it is somehow soft and heavy, dense and cushy, and the colours make it feel like you're lying under a layer of powder snow.

Arrow Quilt detail

The front is pieced with hand printed hemp/organic cotton offcuts produced from making my ClothPot kits and solid hemp/organic cotton. The basecloth is really soft to the touch but it's quite heavy and I wasn't sure if it would work for a whole quilt top - to compensate I used my organic cotton batting which is quite thin and backed it with a super light, organic cotton voile that I printed with my Many Moons design.

Arrow Quilt backing

This was my first attempt at improv piecing on angles and it wasn't without it's challenges. I'm super happy with how it came out though, especially the back which was totally put together on the fly - I just cut the large pieces up into slanted sections and pieced and trimmed and pieced until it was big enough. I think I'll be trying that again.

Tuesday 6 January 2015

Out with the old and in with the new.

Oooooh, I love a new year and this one has been off to such a great start!  On Sunday, I spent my first full day in the studio since early December. I changed the dropcloth for a fresh start, dreamed up a fun project for the old dropcloth (it won't be dropcloth art so if you're waiting for a new batch, I'll have some by the end of April for sure), made a start on my biggest ever wholesale order for amazing hat designer Little Noggi and wrapped up the flood of orders that have come in since Christmas. I'm super inspired to create new designs and finally retire some of my older ones, mix new colours, design some quilt kits and take some pretty photos along the way. I'm hoping to spend a few more evenings in the studio this week playing catch up (it's still school holidays here in Aus until the end of January, luckily my mom is here to help with the kids but I won't have a regular schedule until mid-February when kinder starts for my youngest) and then will be taking the 12th to the 19th off to hang with my family by the beach.

The shop will remain open but any orders placed from January 12th to the 19th will be shipped the following week.

I'll be taking my sketchbook with me and working on new designs - I really can't wait. I've also joined in on A Pattern A Day challenge for 2015 on Instagram, you can search the hashtag #2015apatternaday to see everyone's amazing entries (and you can find me at username mazeandvale on Instagram).

As for older designs, I've made the big decision to retire a few of them and a few more will follow throughout the year (to be decided). The ones which are not being reprinted are:

Gathering is one of my first designs and I'm just a little tired of it. It will still be available for custom/wholesale orders but I won't be reprinting it this year (unless I choose to use the print in a quilt kit but unlikely).

LoveHearts was actually just a bit of an experiment when I was playing with photo emulsion at home. The design was never really perfected but someone spotted it here on the blog and requested a custom printing of it and so I released it. It's been super popular, so much so that the screen is getting a bit stretched out, making misprints common (and annoying) I may redesign and rerelease it later this year but I have another hearts design in the works so, again, it's unlikely.

Stormy Weather has been one of my most popular prints and one of my first screens when I started screen printing in 2011. Unfortunately I dropped a metal ruler on this screen and ripped a big, irreparable, hole in it. The actual placement of the clouds could use a bit of work anyway so I'll redesign this one, change it up a bit, and get a new screen made. 

All of these discontinued designs are still available in limited quantities in the shop right now so snap them up if they are your favourites. Actually everything in the shop can be considered a limited edition as I hope to change the colours of most of the prints that exist there now. I've got over 2000 meters of certified organic cotton in offwhite and pale grey en route that should arrive next week and then will be having a massive printing marathon - yay!

Friday 14 November 2014

Open Studio :: November 29, 2014

2014 open studio

I'm super happy to announce that I'll be having my first ever Open Studio on November 29th from 10am til 4pm as part of Open Studios in the West! I'll be doing screen printing demos throughout the day and will have an area for visitors to try out block printing with my stamps plus I'm going to be launching my third annual Misprint & Sample Sale on the day so you just know there are going to be all sorts of extra special goodies on offer (yes, including lots of Sample Packs!! But do not fear, just like last time, I will save half of them for an online Misprint & Sample Sale too, launching December 1st). Hope to see a few familiar and lots of new faces, there are plenty of other studios open in the area as well so please check the Open Studios in the West website and plan a day of it :)

Sunday 26 October 2014

So much thanks.

I just had to write tonight to say thank you so, so much to all of you who supported my work this weekend. These past few weeks, aside from market prep and the general chaos of managing a small business, a household, a puppy and two small children, I've also been negotiating with a company in India to import a 2000 meters of organic cotton - a massive deal for me and the biggest expense (by a long shot) that I've had to take on for Maze & Vale. I need the fabric to grow and achieve the things I want to but especially to be able to produce quilt kits based on my own patterns, something that I've hoped to do since I started printing fabric but have been held back by the expense and the lack of a consistent supply of the organic cotton I prefer to use.

So mid-last week, I got the official invoice for my fabric import and I realised that along with paying a 50% deposit on the order, I also have my lease payment happening this week and it all became very real, suddenly - that I'm actually running a business here... or at least trying to. And I spent a couple of tossey turney nights wondering how it was all going to balance out and whether such a big chunk of money for fabric was really the best idea right now and then...

THEN I updated the shop with all that I have been working on the past few weeks, I put it out into the world and hoped that it would be well received and in a few short hours you guys took all of my worries and doubts and stress away. While I spent the day with a lovely group, teaching them the fun of block printing and freeform patchwork, sat back and watched the calm joy of creating, you all came to my rescue. I will be paying the deposit on my fabric tomorrow and while I wrap up each of the epic number of orders that were placed this weekend, I will thank you again for allowing me to continue on with this journey. I sincerely couldn't do it without you. x

ps. the 3 for $20 panel sale is still on for one more day in case you are worried you've missed out! Use the discount code 3FOR20 at checkout until the end of the 27th.

Thursday 23 October 2014

New Sample Packs, Dropcloth Artwork, Clothpot kits and panels!

That's right, folks - Sample Packs aplenty, new Dropcloth Artwork, new panels AND 3 for $20 panel deal all happening this Saturday! You'll be able to find it all at, I'll post a reminder Saturday morning as well :)

That's right, all sorts of newness hitting the Maze & Vale shop on Saturday morning! The update will take place at 9:00am AEST (Melbourne time) - if you are overseas and unsure of what time it is in Melbs, you can click here to find the current Melbourne time and then work out the time difference to where you are.

Sample Packs
Dropcloth Artwork
I saved half of the Sample Packs that I made last week for this shop update (the other half were snaffled up at Finders Keepers {which was a very fantastic weekend, by the way. Thanks heaps if you visited!}) and there are still plenty of great Dropcloth Artworks available from the latest batch of 50 - my bigger printing table means bigger dropcloth means bigger issue runs - yay!

Brand new DIY Clothpot Kits launching tonight at @finders_keepers market! If you're visiting, I'll be at stall E10, very close to the NEW extra entrance on the Nicholson Street side of the building.
I printed up a new Clothpot Kit with my Flight design in Dove Grey and Fragments in Pitcher Pink, a super cute reversible design that I could see working very well in a baby nursery or even just to brighten up an office, really.

Sashiko in Husk on organic cotton
Sashiko on charcoal linen
I'll also be launching my new design, Sashiko, printed in Charcoal on charcoal 100% linen and Husk on 100% organic cotton. This design is a representation of the ancient Japanese cloth mending technique and I'm really pleased at how it prints. I got a larger screen made of this one, and one for Fragments as well, so I will be able to offer yardage for both of these designs.

To sweeten the shop update even further, I'll be offering 3 for $20 fabric panels for three days only! A great chance to stock up for some holiday sewing, perhaps? Or just a little stash enhancement? ;)

Friday 10 October 2014

Finder Keepers Melbourne

I'll be at the Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton next weekend for the fabulous Finders Keepers market!! I've been making heaps of new stock, including a massive pile of Sample Packs and a lovely new batch of Dropcloth Artwork. Hope you can make it by, the new Vintage and Farmer's Lane areas sound great! 

Okay peeps, I've made just over ONE HUNDRED Sample Packs this week, half will be available at Finders Keepers market next weekend and the other half (plus any leftovers) will be online on shortly after (time and date TBC), hopefully no one will miss out t
Sample Packs - check...
Putting together Block Printing on Fabric Kits this morning (great Christmas presents... Just sayin')
Block Printing on Fabric Kits - check...
I've started mounting some of the new Dropcloth Artworks, really excited about this batch!
Dropcloth Artwork - in the works

Tuesday 7 October 2014

Project journal: 07.10.14

Random capture from the studio today. I'm trying to print heaps and heaps of stock to carry me through The @finders_keepers market next month and beyond. Also helps to get this dropcloth nice and messy so I can make some new Dropcloth Artwork in the next

Oh my dear blog friends (if any of you are still out there...), I am so sorry for completely neglecting this space. It's purely been a case of having too much to share and not knowing where to start. Since opening the studio three months ago, I have been busier than ever and enjoying it even more, having the space to move freely and organise my work has made such a difference in productivity and mindset. I am loving it.

Workshops have been going super well and I had the first Screen Printing on Fabric workshop last month which was such a buzz, I love sharing this craft. I only have a few more workshops to teach before Christmas and then will be taking a break for the month of January (unless I get a group booking). There is ONE more spot available for Screen Printing this weekend and a couple of spaces left for Block Printing on Fabric and Freeform Patchwork at the end of the month.

Still working on the freeform patchwork, still not 100% sure what this will become but vague ideas are forming...

I haven't been doing much sewing lately, I did start in a(nother) Wiksten Tova dress right before The Craft Sessions (which was completely amazing by the way and completely more deserving of absolutely raving about rather than a brief mention in passing but time is tight, I'm trying to type this out while I direct my kids to get ready for school and childcare at 8am, it's kind of maddening) and have a little Maze & Vale scrap freeform patchwork on the go but neither are finished. I'm starting to make plans for next year, looking forward to having a bit of a breather in January, 2014 has been amazing but also kind of insane.

I've got a bit more news to share but will do so in separate posts over the next day or so - I can hear my kids arguing about what the weather will be like today so best go help them get dressed and get on with our day...


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