Monday 31 December 2012

Wrapping up 2012

Looks like 2012 was quite a productive year for me (and, judging by the various mosaics I have seen, lots of other people too!).  Below are the quilts I finished in 2012.

1. Oasis quilt, 2. Blue baby rainbow quilt, 3. Fandango quilt complete, 4. Birdcage quilt, 5. Daisy baby quilt, 6. Mug rug, 7. Dappled sunlight, 8. Rubies in the Rough, 9. Granny squares quilt

And these are other items and quilts that I have spent a lot of time on but haven't quite finished yet.

2012 was a great sewing year for me, and I know 2013 is going to be good as well.  I have a few exciting things lined up already, like my first bee:

Simply Solids: a modern {bee}

two swaps:

my first Block of the Month:


a quilt contest:


and I have designed a pattern for and am working on a quilt for publication!

Thank you so much to all my blog followers and everyone who has left a comment - I do really really appreciate it, and your support spurs my designing and sewing on.  Thanks also to my family, who have been incredibly supportive of my quilting and blogging efforts this year - acting as quilt photographers, quilt photography assistants, layout design assistants, videographers, producers and editors, fabric and quilting book suppliers, muses, quilt recipients, blog readers and reviewers and all round good eggs.

I hope you will stick around for 2013 - I have plans for lots more quilts, many more tutorials and I might even branch out into some new techniques (like hand quilting - maybe).  The next tutorial is coming in a couple of days, and even has a video(!!!).

Granny's Square Garden

My final quilt finished for 2012 - my granny squares quilt.  This quilt has been a work in progress since I started my blog, and I guess it would be fair to say I have taken my time with it.  This quilt represents a few firsts for me - it is the first quilt I made using an online tutorial (this one), the first quilt I blogged about, the first quilt I used a solid background for, and the first quilt I free-motion quilted.

Modern Vintage Quilt

I am very very happy with how this quilt turned out.  The design has transformed fabric that I wasn't really in love with into something very charming, and I think the large meandering quilting adds texture that really works with the shabby chic look of this quilt - and I haven't even washed it yet so I am sure it will crinkle up more.

Modern Vintage Quilt

I also love the backing and binding - both from Lecien's flower sugar range.  I took this quilt away on holiday with me to hand stitch the binding on, and it was really nice to be able to take the time to do some relaxed hand work.

Lecien Flower Sugar Quilt

I hope your end of year finishes have been as satisfying as mine!

Sunday 30 December 2012

Handmade Christmas Revealed - Day 3

Warning - this post does not contain any actual swear words, but it does contain references to swear words, and putting swear words on handmade items.  If that offends you, please stop reading now.  Come back the day after tomorrow for a totally swear word free project (except for the ones I let out when making it!).

My Dat Star block is finally incorporated into a finished project.

I originally made this to be one side of a pillow for my brother.  Then I got scared of putting in an invisible zipper, and decided to make two pillows instead.  To bring the pillow front up to size, and to add a bit of lightness and brightness, I sashed the existing block with the On Point in Golden print from Michelle Engel Bencsko's Simpatico collection.

This block is already pretty busy, so I kept the quilting simple by straight line quilting about 1/8 of an inch off the outline of the star, and doing some very simple free-motion quilting in the border.

The back is part of a pillowcase from Ikea, with a zipper cover in the same Simpatico fabric I used for the front border.

The other pillow in this pair is a very rude pillow made following a family discussion about sweary sewing, and at my brother's request.  I have blurred out the swear word (it's really really offensive), but if you know Azealea Banks' song 212, you will know what it says.  If you don't know the song, don't google it unless you are ok with all the swear words (and lots of words that aren't really swear words but that are pretty offensive nonetheless).  It is definitely NSFW (but a very catchy beat!).

Anyway, I rather enjoyed making this offensive pillow, so I see more in my future.  I think I needed greater contrast between the background and the fabric used for the words, but it does have the upside that you can't really read it unless you look close.

I used the same fabrics for the border and the back.  I love that I can get two pillow backs from one pillow case, which were in the duvet cover set I originally bought to use for quilt backings.  Very economical.

Saturday 29 December 2012

Covered journal win

Check out what turned up in my mailbox over Christmas!  I won this very pretty covered journal from Irina who blogs at El Petit Taller, in her Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway (yes, I won two giveaways and felt very very lucky).  Irina has some gorgeous makes on her blog, including this tote and this tote, both made using the 241 Tote pattern from Noodlehead.

Check out this snazzy little label.  I want one!

I think I will use it for quilt and blog ideas throughout the year - it feels appropriate to have something handmade to record my quilting and blogging thoughts in.  And, bonus, when the notebook is filled, I can take the cover off and put in a new one.  Thanks Irina!

Friday 28 December 2012

Handmade Christmas Revealed - Day 2

Next up on the reveal list is the project using some teeny tiny scraps from my Rubies in the Rough quilt, of which I showed this sneak peek a little while ago.

I can now show you the finished item.

I made the focal section from the little parallellogram scraps from cutting equilaterial triangles.  I simply sewed about half of them together in a strip, sewed the other half together in a strip pointing the other way, sewed the strips together to give a kind of herringbone effect, and squared off the sides and ends.  Making this part was a very quick but satisfying little project.

I then sashed it out in the same charcoal crosshatch sketch fabric I used in the original quilt, and pebble quilted all around it.  I have to say, I really like pebble quilting, but it uses A LOT of thread.  This 18 inch square pillow took about 400m of thread to quilt.

The back is a fun white on black text print from Spotlight, with a covered zip using this tutorial.  The zipper covering is a Kaffe Fassett print that picks up the colours of the Oakshott fabrics from the front.

I felt like this pillow needed a little extra shot of colour, so I put a binding on it using some of the prints I used in my Rubies in the Rough quilt.  Instead of sewing the back and front of the pillow right sides together and turning it out like I normally would, I just sewed it with the wrong sides together, trimmed the edges with my pinking shears, and then sewed the binding on exactly as I would with a quilt.  Very simple and easy.

This pillow and the Rubies in the Rough quilt are very friendly.  Which is good, because they have both gone to my mum as her Christmas gift.

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Handmade Christmas Revealed - Day 1

Merry Christmas - I hope everyone had a great day and you are now enjoying your Boxing Day traditions.

First up on my Christmas reveal list is my Feeling Festive table runner, which I gave to my grandmother.  I finally made a decision about the binding and got it stitched on this week.

Thanks for everyone's suggestions about which fabric to use for the binding.  I really like the idea of a frosty binding, but in the end I went for a darker fabric to frame the runner and pick up the darker teal colour in the backing fabric.

I am very pleased with how this little project turned out, and I think I will try and start my Christmas sewing a little earlier next year so that I can get more done.

Finally, I wanted to show one of the techniques taught in Angela Walters' Free Motion Quilting class on Craftsy - combining FMQ designs.  I just combined the swirls and pebbles at each end of the quilt, where I needed to transition from the "sky" to the "ground".

Have you tried any new quilting designs lately?

Monday 24 December 2012

Mum Goes Modern

My Mum has been quilting for about 7 or 8 years, but in recent times has been doing more knitting than quilting.  However, in the last couple of weeks she has picked up her fabrics and revved up the sewing machine to make this quilt for my cousin's newborn daughter - Mum's great-niece, my first cousin once removed, and the first of the next generation in our family.  The quilt was started after the baby was born in the middle of December, and only took a week to make - Mum's fastest ever quilt.

blue green sixty degree triangle baby quilt

Inspired by this quilt made by Ashley at Film in the Fridge, Mum collected a variety of blue, green, aqua and grey fabrics from a local quilt shop, online, from Spotlight, and I added a few from my stash as well.

sixty degree triangle baby quilt

Mum didn't find this quilt too difficult to make - the fiddliest part for her was cutting the 4 1/2 inch finished equilateral triangles.  There was a slight extra challenge added by Mum and Dad's dog Whiskey inventing a new game during the making of this quilt - grabbing triangles Mum had carefully laid out and running away with them to be chased around the house.  My youngest brother recently moved out, so maybe the dog wants more attention now that he is an "only child".

cairn terrier poodle cross
Whiskey looking entirely sweet and innocent at the beach

The back of the quilt features a couple of the prints from the front in larger chunks - specifically Butterfly Sky in Green from Lizzy House's Hello Pilgrim collection, and Chevrons in Minty from Michelle Engel Bencsko's Simpatico collection.  Simple straight-line quilting a quarter inch off each seam line makes a great pattern on the back of the quilt and leaves it nice and soft for baby.

baby quilt aqua butterfly

I think that this quilt is a great fresh, modern, not-too-girly baby quilt, and will be much appreciated by my cousin, his fiancee and their baby.

Do you have any new arrivals in your family that you have been busy sewing for?  Or maybe you have a scallywag dog (or other pet) that likes to "help" with your quilting?

Saturday 22 December 2012

Interesting reads and useful things

I wanted to put together a short list of things that I have found interesting, inspiring or useful - I hope you like them too!

First up, I recently stumbled across the Good Etiquette for the Modern Blogger series, hosted by Kat of Diary of a Flutter.Kat.  The posts are originally from 2011, and Kat revisited this series earlier in 2012 as well.  I found reading how different bloggers think about things like how to present yourself online, blog content, copyright, privacy and internet safety really interesting and thought provoking.  This link will take you to the section of Kat's blog that lists all the Good Etiquette for the Modern Blogger posts.

Next, this blog is a new discovery for me, but a goodie.  Colleen at The Busy Bean posts fantastic, detailed tutorials, and they are extremely clearly written, nicely photographed, and just make me want to get sewing.  Some particular favourites of mine:
Also, I have been making a few pillows lately, using this tutorial from Sew, Mama, Sew! to add a covered zip on the back.  I can definitely recommend it as a quick, easy and attractive zipper finish option.

Finally, a little while ago, I wrote a post about thoughtful quilting, and linked to some blog posts that I kept going back to and reading.  I still keep going back and reading these posts - in case you missed them the first time around, you can find them here.

Do you have any blog posts you would recommend as an interesting read, or any great tutorials you have found in the last little while?

Just because a blog post feels so incomplete without a photo, here is Ralph, checking out Glimma and being a photo-bomber as usual.

Friday 21 December 2012

Glisten and glimmer

Check out what arrived in my mailbox a couple of days ago!

I was very excited to learn that I won a charm pack of Lotta Jansdotter's new collection, Glimma, from the lovely Becca from Bryan House Quilts, in her Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway.

I am a big fan of Lotta Jansdotter's designs - I managed to snag quite a bit of Echo even though it was out of print by the time I discovered it.  Bella didn't do it for me as much as Echo, although I do love some of the prints.  But Glimma!  Well, there isn't a print in the collection that I don't love, and I really like the slightly sweeter, lighter colours.

Obviously, this is not the whole range of fabrics from the charm pack - I just tried to pick a representative selection to photograph.

I know it was hard for Becca to part with this charm pack (I would never have let it out of my hands), so thank you so much Becca!  I am very excited to work with this fabric, and I have a design in mind already.

Have you been lucky enough to win anything in the recent rounds of giveaways?  I actually won something else in another Sew, Mama, Sew! giveaway, and am eagerly awaiting its arrival all the way from Ireland.

In other news, in case you want to take a breather from the Christmas festivities, I have put together a few posts to take you through the Christmas to New Year period.  Tomorrow, I will be sharing a few links to things that I found interesting, useful or inspiring.  Then, starting on Boxing Day, I will be posting a new handmade Christmas gift every other day until New Year's Day.

Simply Solids: a modern {bee}

Finally, if you are keen to be part of the Simply Solids bee (blogged about here), don't forget to sign up before 31 December.  Also, Erin at Sew at Home Mummy is running a Simply Solids FQ Swap - you don't have to be part of the bee to participate, sign ups run until 31 December, and you can find all the details here.

Phew - there are a lot of words in this post!  I have finished work for the year, so am now in relaxed mode.  Hope you are relaxing and gearing up for celebrations too!

Tuesday 18 December 2012

Christmas cards

Take some pre-cut card stock, fabric scraps (from my Finally Feeling Festive table runner), assorted glitters, and glue.

fabric christmas cards glitter

What do you get?  A couple of sweet little homemade Christmas cards for the grandparents - made by my sister.

Sunday 16 December 2012

Giveaway winner

Thank you to everyone who entered by Quilting Gallery Blog Hop Party Giveaway.  It was really interesting to read about what people like to see (and would like to see more of) on quilting blogs.  And if I am ever feeling stumped for blog inspiration, it is something great to go back to for ideas.

Onto the winner:

Congratulations Angie!  I have sent you an email for your address - hope to have the fabric off to you shortly.

Calling Kiwis and Aussies

Simply Solids: a modern {bee}

Erin at Sew at Home Mummy has set up a new online quilting bee called Simply Solids, in which the members will (you guessed it) use only solid fabrics.  You can find all the details here.

I have been wanting to make an all solids quilt for a while, but just haven't got there, so I think this looks like a lot of fun.

While I love the idea of bee members scattered across the globe working together to create beautiful quilts, the cost of sending fabric and blocks from New Zealand all around the world is something that has put me off joining a bee so far.

One of the best things (I think) about this bee is that Erin is organising it by geographical location.  I have signed up for the Australasian section (it says Australia on the sign-up form, but don't worry, it includes all of Australasia).  I think Erin has about 7 people for the Australasian group, and ideally would like 12, so if you are in the area, and keen to try working with solids over the next year, I would encourage you to sign up here.

I would also encourage potentially interested people in other countries to check it out - I know Erin is also particularly looking for more members for the Europe group and the UK/Ireland group.

Have you signed up for any bees next year?  This will be my first one - do you have any tips?

Friday 14 December 2012

The biggest needle book in the world

A while ago, I participated in the Scrappy Swap, run by Kat (Diary of a Flutter.Kat), with able assistance from Karen (Sew Peachey).  It was my first swap, and a really great one to start with.  The idea was to swap a FQ of scraps, a small handmade item and a small local item. 

My swap partner said her favourite colour was orange, so this was my initial fabric pull for the small handmade item:

I decided that the third print from the left had a bit much white in it to give the kind of rainbow effect that I wanted, so I used it as the lining of the needle book I made.

Umm, I'm not sure if you can tell from the scale of my embroidery scissors on the needle book, but it is the biggest needle book in the world.  Like 6 inches square.  That's what happens when you make things up as you go along, people.  Its also pretty floppy, because I only interfaced the exterior and not the lining.  On the plus side, you can fit a lot of stuff in the middle of it.  I know, I stuffed all my scraps and another FQ of fabric (my local item) into it before sending!

But, also this happens.  Improv piecing.  Sort of - the lines were all straight and ruled and I had an idea of where I was going with it.  Comments from my swap partner lead me to orange scraps and Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in black - it wasn't what I initially intended, but it worked so well!  I put another border of the same background fabric around this before it was finished, so the proportions worked a bit better.

I'm sorry this is such a crummy picture.  It was taken at night, with my phone, and then instagrammed.  I did take pictures of the exterior in daylight at the same time as I took the photo of the lining inside, but I don't have them any more.  I'm quite gutted, because I was pretty pleased with how this turned out (even with its enormousness and other imperfections), and wanted to show it off.

And what did I get in return?  Well, the person I made for also made for me.  Bree (My Crafty Crap) made me this super lovely needle book with teeny tiny EPP hexagons, and yellow, and hand stitching, and gnomes!  I love it, and I'm also looking forward to not losing all my needles anymore.

Yellow EPP Needlecase

Bree also sent me some super lovely scraps, a cute little card case and a keyring from her home state (which was snapped up by an American-sports-mad guy).

All in all, this was a great experience, and I look forward to my next swap.  Have you had any swapping experiences lately, and how did they go?

Wednesday 12 December 2012

WIP Wednesday

It's been a while since I did a proper wrap up of all my current projects, so thought I would take the opportunity now.

Existing WIPs

Granny Squares Quilt - I finished quilting this one a while ago, and last week I trimmed the quilt and machine stitched the binding to the front of the quilt.  Even though it's very tempting just to finish this quilt up, I am leaving the handstitching for the Christmas period, when I will be taking a break from my sewing machine.

Giant Star Quilt - all of the star sections are quilted, and I have started quilting the background.  I am doing large-ish pebbles so that I can practise my newly acquired FMQ skills and so both parts are quite densely quilted.  I might finish the quilting before Christmas, but I suspect I will run out of thread first, and will need to get my LQS to order some in for me.

Dat star cushion - I haven't really progressed on this one.  It was going to be one side of a cushion for my brother.  I had a complete disaster trying to machine stitch around some appliqued words on the other side, so I had to start again.  Now I think I will do two cushions, with different designs but similar colours and fabrics.  Its quite annoying to have had to start again, but I should be finished this weekend.

Equilateral triangle quilt - I need to baste and quilt this giant thing, but I am avoiding it, because it is ginormous.  I really want to quilt this quilt myself, but I am not at all sure my little sewing machine can handle it.  I have heard there is a place in Wellington where you can hire time on a long arm quilting machine, and I am thinking that might be the solution for this quilt.

New WIPs

Feeling Festive Table Runner - I just need to get the binding on this one.  I think I will give it to my grandmother for Christmas, so this is definitely one to get done soon.

Oakshott scraps project - I saved all the teeny tiny scraps from my Rubies in the Rough quilt, and I have used some of them in a small project.  I am planning to give this as a Christmas gift, so I will only show a sneak peek now.

Other Christmas gift  - this is another gift project, so I won't show a pic at this stage.  What I will say is that it caused me some grief over the weekend.  I used store bought bias binding to finish this project, and then caught it with my iron, and it melted instantly.  In one sense, I glad, because it means the binding was totally unsuitable, and I only singed a small bit and could remove it without lasting effects on the project.  The downside is that I will have to make my own bias binding, something I have been avoiding!

I have a few other small projects that I want to get wrapped up before Christmas, so it looks like I will have a busy couple of weeks ahead!  Are you scurrying to finish a few things off before Christmas?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced (check out this lovely new button!):

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

P.S. - Don't miss out on my giveaway as part of the Quilting Gallery Blog Hop.  It's super easy to enter and I am giving away four DS Quilts fat quarters.

Tuesday 11 December 2012

Paper trees - tutorial

Thanks to everyone who expressed an interest in a pattern or tutorial for the Christmas trees in my Feeling Festive table runner (finished project here).

This one!

I have put together a very simple tutorial, which will work great for anyone who has done paper piecing before.  If you are new to paper piecing,  Faith from Fresh Lemons has a great tutorial here, which is for a different pattern, but has great pictures and really clear instructions which should get you started.

Here is a diagram showing the dimensions for the tree blocks.  I just drew nine of the tree blocks out onto freezer paper, four in a row to speed things up.  I then cut each tree block out so that I had nine individual units.

I then cut each tree block into two pieces along the dotted red line, so I was left with the triangle piece and the trunk piece.

Then, I paper pieced the tree blocks in the order shown below.  A couple of tips.  The first (and crucially important one) - I don't include seam allowances on my paper piecing templates (I find it easier that way) but make sure you leave a quarter inch seam allowance around the outside of each piece of the tree block.  The second - make sure you reduce your stitch length, and backstitch at the end of each line - this will help a lot with removing the paper when you're done.

Once you have made the two pieces of each tree block, stitch them together using a quarter inch seam.

My preference is to leave the paper on the blocks until I have stitched them together, and sashed them out.  This is because there are inevitably bias edges which can be stretched and warped if you have to pull on them before they're secured.

I hope this tutorial is useful - please feel free to let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

P.S. - don't miss out on my giveaway as part of Quilting Gallery's Blog Hop Party - all you need to do is leave a comment on my giveaway post.

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