Saturday, 30 August 2014

Caturday Wisdom #83

Don't underestimate the effect of a smart appearance...

...when negotiating boundary lines. Ralph

I think this is what sitting pretty looks like for a cat. It's possible Ralph was trying to minimise heat loss on a cold day but that might be giving him too much credit.
Happy weekend!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Introducing Massdrop (and a giveaway)

Today I'd like to introduce my newest sponsor, Massdrop.  Massdrop is a website that brings people who are interested in similar products together to buy in bulk and therefore access great prices.

This Heather Ross Far Far Away bundle is one of Massdrop's current drops.
One of the pretty cool things about Massdrop is that any member can create polls for products they'd like to be able to buy.  You can also vote on any poll and join in the discussions.  The way Massdrop works is that once enough people have voted on a poll, Massdrop contacts the supplier and sets up the deal. Prices are usually tiered, so that as more people join the deal, the price goes down further and further.  You aren't charged until the deal ends, so you only ever pay the lowest price that the deal reaches, and you can also commit to join when the deal hits the lowest possible price.  You can check out more of the technical stuff on Massdrop's FAQ page.

How cute are these Elizabeth Hartman animal patterns

The other cool thing about Massdrop is its crafting buyer, Sarah.  She is a quilter herself, and I think you can tell from the polls she starts and the deals she puts together.  She's also super active in the discussions and when @massdrop comments on something on instagram, that's Sarah.  I've been emailing back and forth with her about Massdrop joining me as a sponsor, and she is a delight to deal with and truly passionate about making Massdrop awesome for crafters.

For me, the clincher is that Massdrop's shipping prices to New Zealand are really reasonable.  That's a huge factor in my online purchasing decisions (other online stores take note) and I know it's the same for other people who live outside the US.

Massdrop is generously letting me give away this Quilter's Dream batting sampler pack.  I have to confess that I haven't tried Quilter's Dream batting before, but I'm excited to try the three different kinds of batting in this pack.  There's enough batting here to make three twin size quilts (or double bed size, by New Zealand standard).  One of the things I really like about Massdrop is that the low prices and great shipping rates mean it's a good option for trying new things you've been wondering about but haven't wanted to commit to.

To enter, just leave a comment here.  If you want, you can let me know something you'd like to see on Massdrop.  The giveaway will close at 8:30 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday 31 August 2014, and I'll pick a winner using the random number generator. This giveaway is open internationally, but if I can't contact you, you can't win. Please make sure to leave your email in the comment if you think you might be a no-reply blogger (and check out my tutorial here if you're not sure).

I know my posts have been a little giveaway heavy lately.  It's really a function of timing - enjoy it while it lasts!  I'm still committed to maintaining a high level of content on the blog and keeping sponsored posts to an appropriate level.

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Ursa Major aka the Big Bear (and a giveaway)

A couple of months ago I saw that Juliet from The Tartankiwi had designed an amazing big bear block.  I put my hand up to pattern test it because I thought it was just so cool!

This was the image I saw in Juliet's instagram feed!

I have to confess that when I opened up the pattern Juliet sent me, I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew.  This block is 30" square and there are quite a few pieces to tape together.  I have some experience with paper piecing but I wouldn't call myself a paper piecing expert or anything.  However, once I decided to make a polar bear version, I got so excited about putting my block together that I got over my fears.

Ursa Major

After that, the whole process went super smoothly.  It took me one evening after work to cut out all my pattern pieces and tape them together, and then this Saturday I pieced the whole thing in one day.

Ursa Major

You can see from the back of my pattern that I made quite a few notes to myself to help with fabric placement!  It's definitely a must with something this size.  I also used a lot of Juliet's paper piecing tips and tricks and they really helped, particularly with some parts of the process I've found challenging in the past, like joining the pattern pieces.

Ursa Major 

I'm so glad I got through my nervousness about this block and actually stitched it up.  I am completely in love with the bear I made.  Using a lot of low volume fabrics for the bear presented quite a challenge in terms of getting enough contrast between the different parts of the bear's body - something I relished.  My fabric choices were not completely perfect but at the same time they resulted in some surprising and pleasing things (like the bear on his nose and the &love tattoo), so overall I'm happy.

Ursa Major

I was lucky enough to meet Juliet earlier this year when she was in Wellington for Handmade.  She is honestly the nicest person and I am just in awe of her talent for designing paper pieced blocks.  You absolutely must head over and check out Juliet's post which shows the block she made and the blocks all the other pattern testers made - without exception they are gorgeous and creative!

Juliet's Big Bear pattern is now available on Craftsy for the super bargain price of $2.95 for the first 48 hours (the price will then be increasing to $5.00 which I still think is a bargain for the massive amount of work Juliet has put into making this pattern awesome and easy to use).

Ursa Major

Juliet is very kindly letting me give away a pdf copy of her Big Bear pattern, together with a pdf copy of one of her other patterns.  To enter, just leave a comment here letting me know which other pattern of Juliet's you'd like to win - you can check out her Craftsy store here.  If you win and you've already bought the Big Bear pattern, Juliet will either refund you, or give you another pattern of your choice - whichever you prefer.

The giveaway will close at 8:30 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday 31 August 2014, and I'll pick a winner using the random number generator.  This giveaway is open internationally, but if I can't contact you, you can't win.  Please make sure to leave your email in the comment if you think you might be a no-reply blogger (and check out my tutorial here if you're not sure).

Thank you, Juliet, for letting me be a pattern tester for this block.  It pushed me to do something that I wasn't completely sure I could manage, and I love the result.  I think the most satisfying quilts come from the times you push your limits and succeed anyway!

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Full disclosure: the links in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you're not already a Craftsy member and you sign up after clicking through from this post, I'll earn a small commission.  I've been a Craftsy affiliate for ages because I think their classes are great and I love the way they facilitate indie designers like Juliet.

Monday, 25 August 2014

#blockadayjuly quilt

Dear quilt-as-you-go,

I'm sorry.  I thought you were kind of lame.  An inferior method only to be used in extremis.  

#blockadayjuly quilt 

Well, I was wrong.  I was unfairly maligning you. 

#blockadayjuly quilt 

It was so much easier to quilt the blocks as I made them.  Putting them together really wasn't hard and I like the sashing effect.  

#blockadayjuly quilt 

And, I love how the back looks - you let me make it much more interesting than it otherwise would have been.

#blockadayjuly quilt 

  So, quilt-as-you-go, thanks for the lesson and I'll be seeing you again.  Lots of love, Adrianne.

#blockadayjuly quilt 

These are the blocks I made during July as part of my block a day July challenge.  I generally used Alison from Little Island Quilting's QAYG method to assemble them, except that I cut my strips for the front 1 1/8" wide and my strips for the back 1 7/8" wide.  I also stitched in the ditch from the front rather than stitching from the back, and I glue basted the strips on the back before I stitched them in place.

#blockadayjuly quilt

I'm quite thrilled with how this quilt has come out.  I didn't really have a vision for it before I started, and it's very colourful and random.  I decided just to add in some plain blocks to fill in the blank spots so I would have a regular shaped quilt.  You can see there are a couple of blocks when I grabbed the wrong white for the back of my quilt - at night, it was hard to tell, but in daylight it's pretty obvious (I'm ok with it).

So, have you done quilt-as-you-go before?  Would you give it a try?

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Caturday Wisdom #82

Bide your time. Ivy

It's pretty even between the two of them in terms of picking and winning fights. They're just playing here but last week Ralph got a sharp whack on the head for trying to make a move on a piece of bacon Ivy was eating incredibly slowly. He was honestly dumbfounded and it was so funny. Ivy has curious food favourites which so far seem to be limited to egg yolk and toast crumbs (she eventually abandoned the bacon), and not tuna/steak/chicken/ham/everything like Ralph.