Now that my parcel has safely arrived at its destination and I have received mine, I can reveal what I made and the treasures I received.
The hints I received from my swap partner, Jonna, were ‘I am obsessed with all things British – tea, the BBC, the Union Jack, Downton Abbey … I even drive a Mini.’ Oh, my god! She could be my twin. I am British-born, drink tea by the bucketful, watch British shows a lot (especially when Poldark takes off his shirt) and have driven a Mini since January 2007. Yes, really! I knew I could come up with something.
First things first: tea. Bustle & Sew have a teacups appliqué pattern that I love, so I shrank it down to about 3 x 8 inches and raw-edge appliquéd it to a rectangle of fabric. I have a rectangular pincushion that sits by my sewing machine; it is an unusual shape for a pincushion, but I find it handy and like how it can serve a dual purpose as pincushion and pattern weight. I raided my Liberty and red, white and blue stashes for fabrics, then added some bright red ricrac.
I had only recently created a foundation paper pieced Union Jack block pattern, and I knew I wanted to use that somehow in the parcel I sent. I reduced it by two-thirds to make a 5 x 10-inch block and then made two to form each side of a zipper pouch. I quilted both sides simply in the ditch.
Of course, I had to fussy cut red and blue bits from my Keep Calm fabric to put on each end of the pouch. Very British.
In April, I was watching Antiques Roadshow while knitting and I learned the story of the Keep Calm and Carry On posters. Did you know that they were printed for the post offices and only to be displayed if Britain was invaded and occupied by Germany? As it happened, they were never needed, but the few originals that survived have become collectors’ items. I learn so much history from that show.
I skipped the Downton Abbey hint, but I think I have all the other hints well covered. I even found a little car to use as a zipper pull. Finally, to make sure that no aspect of the British theme was overlooked, I used a Yuwa fabric that I bought at l’uccello in Melbourne for the lining. It is a bit cream (when the rest is crisp white), but it had to be used.
I took a bit of a risk in that I stuffed the pincushion with crushed walnut shells. They have the best weight for this sort of pincushion. I had never before used walnut shells in a pincushion going overseas as they are heavy to post and I worry about quarantine, but they got through. Most importantly, I think Jonna liked her parcel.
Then, all the way from Margarita in Colorado, I received this lovely parcel of goodies. I cannot remember what I wrote as my hints, but each item was wrapped in red paper, my favourite colour.
I was very excited opening the parcel.
- The pincushion is a freakishly perfect match for my dog. After the initial glee, I started to calm down and notice its details, like how well Margarita matched the fabric to the little china flowers on the dog, and the look on the dog’s face. It is looking up, and the expression on its face is almost saying, ‘What is that sticking in my head? Ouch!’
- I have never owned bunting before. What fun!
- The hand-made needlecase is really cute. It even contains some beautifully colour-coded pins.
- Everyone loves fabric.
- The lip balm is cherry. My first cherry chapstick! (Yes, I have been singing a Katy Perry song in my head since the parcel arrived.)
The bunting went straight up in my freshly tidied sewing space. I braved Ikea last week and bought another table and a chest of drawers. I was tired of not having enough table for both the cutting mat and ironing board. I crammed a mountain of flat-pack furniture in the back of my Mini, drove home and then did a big tidy up and sort out. I even vacuumed up the dust bunnies behind my old desk before I put the new furniture in place. I now have enough space to sew and cut and iron! It was all worth the blister I got from the screwdriver while assembling the furniture.
Have you taken part in an Instagram swap? Were you as lucky as I was?