16 October 2020

15 October 2020

I have a new website!

Exciting news - I have a shiny new website!

I've been blogging here on Creative Dabbling since 2006. That's a long time! Over the years, I've tweaked the design and layout of this blog many times but I finally decided to set up a new website under my own name.

I'd love if you could hop over there and browse around - maybe leave a comment on a post or use the links to follow or subscribe to my new posts.

Thanks to for her expertise with all the behind-the-scenes details. I couldn't have done it without you! 👏

08 October 2020

In my garden column - October

As I look out my office window at the darkening sky that promises heavier showers, I'm itching to be outside in my garden. There's so much to do.

Instead, I'm sharing with you the latest column I wrote for my my local newspaper, the Southern Highlands Express. It's always a thrill to see my writing in print! 

05 October 2020

On hand piecing

The threaded needle gathers a row of running stitches that hold together two pieces of fabric. I stop and look more closely. The sharp needle point has pierced the fibres of the cotton cloth over and over as it makes its way along the sewing line. A simple, yet effective tool.

I ease the thread through the fabric, creating a row of small stitches. A backstitch, and then more running stitches to take me to the end of the marked line. A securing backstitch and then I snip the thread and open out the seam. Another segment sewn.

Hand piecing soothes me. It reduces quilt making to its simplest form and its repetitive nature is meditative. The act of hand stitching is what's important to me and, if it results in a finished quilt, then that's a bonus.

This is my Starmania quilt top so far (only 11 more rounds to go!). It is designed by Brigitte Giblin and she has kindly made a free pattern to share through a Facebook group. The pieces are large so the top comes together quickly. I'm loving it!

26 September 2020

Practical creativity

I've never believed in the fanciful notion of "the muse". Creativity, in my opinion, flourishes when you have a combination of learning, making time and doing the work.

I came across this TED talk by Jane Harper this week. It's such a sensible and practical talk about creativity. It's worth listening to if you need a reminder that you are creative. 

24 September 2020

Maya Linnell: three questions

Welcome to the second in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I 'met' Maya through Instagram, where we have a shared interest in flowers - her photos of dahlias are inspiring!

Maya Linnell

Maya writes rural romance novels for Allen & Unwin. Her two novels Bottlebrush Creek (2020) and Wildflower Ridge (2019) are all about farming families, relationships and country living.

She also has three little bookworms and acreage, but when she's not hanging with her family or writing, you’ll usually find her reading, baking (sweet things are her weakness, especially yo-yo bikkies), sewing bright, colourful skirts and aprons for herself and her girls, learning piano or gardening (dahlias, roses and ranunculas are her top three). 

How did you get started on your creative path?

"I’ve always been a country girl, keen on telling the stories of rural people, and spent much of my 20s as a journalist at a twice-weekly rural newspaper. I got to meet loads of people and loved being paid to gallivant around the countryside taking photos and writing articles about everything from new school enrolments and sheep sales to front-page news and full-page features.

"I took a break from the workforce to raise three children, which is where my love of baking, reading and sewing came in handy. I learned those hobbies from my Mum and my grandmothers at a young age, and it was so rewarding to share this creativity with my little ones.

"When the children were almost all in school, I decided it was high time to chase my childhood dream of becoming an author. I was delighted to be picked up by Allen & Unwin in 2018 and the rest is history!"

What satisfies you about the creative work you do?

"I take great joy in creating settings and characters from my imagination, putting my heart and soul into my writing, and coming up with stories that appeal to a wide range of readers. It’s pretty special to be able to offer people an escape to the country through my books or my Instagram photos, especially in Corona-times.

"Creative satisfaction also comes from making beautiful cakes for birthdays, sharing biscuits and scones with neighbours over the fence and teaching my children that homemade gifts (whether it’s cards, baked goods, posies of flowers from our garden or little hand-sewn items) are extra special because they’re made with love."

How do you stay inspired to create?

"Messages from happy readers have been the most unexpected and uplifting side of being a published author, and they keep me returning to the keyboard every single day.

"I also love the thrill when I’m in the middle of writing the perfect scene. My fingers work faster than my brain, the words just fall from my fingertips like magic, and the story unfolds on the page before I can even articulate it in my head. Those are the days when I absolutely love being an author!

"Connecting with like-minded folks who spread joy and positivity through their social media feeds, with gardening, sewing, baking and books, is also a great inspiration!"

Follow Maya online

Website  Facebook  Instagram

Thank you, Maya, for sharing insights of your creative life!

11 September 2020

Sarah Fielke: three questions

Welcome to the first in my Three Questions series, where I ask makers about their creative practices. I met Sarah over 15 years ago (!) when I was Editor of a now-defunct quilting magazine and we bonded over fabric.

Sarah Fielke

Sarah is a quilter, fabric designer, author and teacher from Sydney, Australia. She has been designing contemporary, whimsical quilts and fabrics for 22 years.

She runs a popular Block of the Month program each year and is also an ambassador for Aurifil Threads.

Sarah has written 12 books, the latest being 'Stitch Your Story', in which she explains how to use lettering in your quilts.

'A Fair Question'

How did you get started on your creative path?

"I have always been creative since I was a little girl, although I never thought I would make a career from quilting. In my head when I was growing up, I was going to be a writer or an illustrator for Disney.

"I have always sewed as my mother was a brilliant stitcher and she taught me from a very young age. It wasn't until I was having my first baby and started stitching things of my own design for the nursery that I realised that anything I sewed was different in any way. I would go to mothers' group and all the other mums wanted to know where I got Charlie's blankets or onesies with little things appliquéd on them.

"So I started selling them, and then teaching the other mums to sew, which led to teaching for my local patchwork shop. The shop owner retired and offered the shop to me for purchase.... and that's how I started Material Obsession. Everything snowballed from there!"


What satisfies you about the creative work you do?

"I gain an enormous amount of inner peace from creating. When I'm in my studio and working on something new, I don't think of anything else. I'm in the zone and it makes me so happy. 

"Although I obviously love that other people enjoy my designs, and I love to see students and customers making my quilts, I would make them regardless of whether or not I had a business, or whether or not anyone else would ever see them.

"The WORK of my business is busy and stressful and time consuming, just like any other job - but the CREATING of my business is what keeps me doing it every day. It's a part of me and it's very personal. Every quilt I make has it's own meaning to me, whether or not it's obvious to anyone else."

'Down the Rabbit Hole'

How do you stay inspired to create?

"I am always inspired to create! I never run out of ideas - in fact that's part of the problem, there are waaaay too many ideas and not enough time or energy. 😀

"I'm inspired by so many things. Music, colours in nature, a stack of fabrics unintentionally sitting together, floral arrangements, antique quilts or embroidery or fabrics, tiles, architecture.....

"I snap a lot of pictures on my phone and sketch a lot of things in my notebooks. Some never become anything but when I want to spark something, I sift through things I've collected and there's always a place to jump off and swim."

Sarah's social media

Website  Instagram  Facebook  Twitter  Blog

Thank you, Sarah, for sharing insights of your creative life!