Saturday 30 November 2013

Caturday Wisdom #47

Spend some time reflecting, like on how many fat quarters tunas you are going to get for Christmas. Ralph

It's beginning to feel a lot like that time of year! Hope things are rounding off nicely for everyone. 
As always, send pet photos to Adrianne at adrianneonthewindyside at gmail dot com. 
Happy weekend!

Friday 29 November 2013

Thankful for sales!

We don't celebrate Thanksgiving here in New Zealand, but with the advent of online Black Friday sales, it's something I now look forward to!  There are some serious bargains to be had, including at Craftsy, where all the classes are on sale this weekend, and fabric and yarn is discounted too.

Craftsy Class Sale up to 66% off from 29 November to 2 December 2013

Craftsy Yarn and Fabric sale up to 80% off from 27 November to 2 December 2013

Now if you're like me, you're probably pretty busy at this time of year.  Remember that you can watch Craftsy classes any time you like - I will probably buy a couple this weekend to watch when I have some downtime over the Christmas-New Year period.

Happy Thanksgiving!

This post contains affiliate links.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

Wellington quilt shops page

I sometimes get asked by readers where to buy fabric and other quilty stuff in Wellington.  For ease of reference, I've created a Wellington Quilt Shops page with a list of the shops I know about.  Since it's coming up to Christmas, I've also included any special extended trading hours and also when shops are open over the Christmas-New Year period. 
Picture from Stitchbird - used with permission.
A blog post without a picture just feels wrong, so I had to share this photo Lyndy from Stitchbird just shared on her blog.  Check out all that Christmassy goodness!  I have stocked up on a few metres of that red and cream ornament ribbon - it's just so cute.  Now I'm tempted by the dots too...

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Tuesday 26 November 2013

How to make a cushion back with a covered zipper

As promised last week, here is a tutorial for my new favourite method of making cushion backs, which involves a covered zipper.  Here it is in action on the back of my Falling Softly cushion.  By the way, I am going to use the term cushion in this tutorial, but for my US readers, I mean pillow.  It's the thing you have on your couch, not the thing you sleep on.

covered zipper cushion back

I really like this method because it is quick, it is neat, and it is quite economical with fabric.  I promise it is not difficult if you work through it step by step, but it's also one of those things that's not completely obvious at first.  Give it a try anyway - I think you'll like it!


covered zipper pillow back 

  • A piece of fabric at least 4" taller than your cushion front and at least 2" wider than your cushion front
  • A zipper at least 2" wider than your cushion front
  • Zipper foot
  • Edgestitch foot (if you have one)
  • Sewing machine and the usual tools like scissors, thread, needles, seam ripper, etc.
For this tutorial I have used a linen cotton blend fabric, which is slightly heavier than quilting cotton.  This technique will work equally well with anything from quilting cotton to upholstery weight fabrics (although if you get into really thick fabrics it will get a bit trickier).

Step 1:
Cut the fabric approximately in half along the width of the fabric.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 2:
Sew the two pieces together using a 1" seam allowance.  You are going to unpick this seam later, so it's best to use a basting stitch to make that easier.  I just use the longest stitch length on my machine, but if you have something more modern, you might not need to go that extreme.

covered zipper pillow back 

Confession time - I can't sew a straight line unless it's marked or I'm using my quarter inch foot with a guide.  I marked the 1" seam allowance (the light blue line in the picture above) - feel free to do the same!  Also, if you are using a directional fabric (like me), be aware of how the print will run when the two pieces are stitched together.  In the photo above you can see that I'm checking to make sure the print will run the same way on each piece.

covered zipper pillow back 

This is the seam after it is sewn - you can see that the stitches are longer than normal.

Step 3:
Press all the layers of the fabric except the right hand seam allowance to the left.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 4:
Lie the zipper, teeth down, along the seam allowance.  Make sure the teeth line up right along the seam.

covered zipper pillow back 

Pin in place.  We are going to stitch down the zipper tape on the right side of the zipper teeth, so if you pin the left side of the zipper tape you will be able to leave the pins in place as you sew.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 5:
Put your zipper foot on your machine and move the needle all the way over to the left.

covered zipper pillow back 

Stitch down the zipper tape to the right of the zipper teeth, keeping your needle nice and close to the teeth and using a normal stitch length.  I find using the woven lines in the zipper tape quite useful for keeping my stitching straight.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 6:
Turn the zipper face up and move all of the fabric over to the left.  

covered zipper pillow back 

Top stitch along the fold to create a neat edge.  If you have an edgestitch foot, this is the time to use it.  Otherwise, just use a normal foot and go slowly and carefully - actually you could probably use your zipper foot for this step too.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 7:
Open out the cushion back so that the zipper is again lying along the central seam face down.  Stitch down the zipper tape that hasn't already been stitched in place, using your zipper foot and the same technique as before. You will be sewing through the zipper tape, the seam allowance and the right side of the fabric, and this seam will be visible on your finished cushion, so use a matching thread and try to keep things nice and straight.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 8:
You should now have a zipper that is stitch in place, but trapped under a flap of fabric.  Use your seam ripper to carefully unpick the first seam you sewed.

covered zipper pillow back 

Step 9:
Admire your cushion back!

covered zipper pillow back 

It is now ready to attach to your cushion front in whichever way you prefer.  For my Falling Softly pillow I stitched the front and the back wrong sides together and then finished the edges with a binding like a quilt.  This cushion back will be stitched right sides together with the front and then turned out (if you are going to do it this way, make sure you open the zipper before you stitch around the edges!).

covered zipper pillow back

I hope you've enjoyed this tutorial!  Let me know if you have any questions and I will do my best to answer them.

Strictly speaking, this cushion back is now a WIP (I haven't yet made the cushion front for it..), so I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced, and Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
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Monday 25 November 2013

Texting Quietly Pillow

So on Friday I mentioned that I received the most wonderful pillow in the X-Factor Pillow Swap from Alison at Little Island Quilting.

X-Factor Pillow Swap received from Alison at Little Island Quilting 

I just had to share some more pictures of Alison's beautiful work - this pillow is full of amazing details and I don't think I'll ever get sick of looking at it.  It has such a vintage feel with all the different text prints, including many I've never seen before and which are no doubt from Alison's extensive stash.

X-Factor Pillow Swap received from Alison at Little Island Quilting 

Even the back is perfectly in theme!  Alison is one of my quilting heroes - she uses lots of different fabrics and techniques but her style shines through in all her work.  I really admire that quality in Alison and in a few other quilters out there - I think it shows that they are being true to themselves in their designs and fabric choices etc.

X-Factor Pillow Swap received from Alison at Little Island Quilting

Thank you Alison - I feel like a very lucky lady!

Saturday 23 November 2013

Caturday Wisdom #46

Today's picture comes from Sally of Salsy Safrano Quilts - her cat Bear is in a very familiar position.

In quilting, like in photos, it's important to know your angles. Bear

So seductive. Have a happy weekend, feel free to send any pet photos to Adrianne at adrianneonthewindyside at gmail dot com.

Friday 22 November 2013

Bits and pieces

I have a bit of a random blog post for you today, full of bits and pieces which are only vaguely related...

First up, an exciting announcement.  The bubbly and fun Melissa from Ms Midge has organised a Cushion for Christmas Blog Hop which will feature inspiration and tutorials from a whole heap of quilty/crafty bloggers.  We are a largely antipodean bunch I think, so expect to see lots of fresh makes which reflect our summer Christmases down here in the southern hemisphere.

Ms Midge

Here's the schedule:

Sunday 1st December - Melissa at Ms Midge
Monday 2nd December - Gemma at Pretty Bobbins
Tuesday 3rd December - Kristy at Quiet Play
Wednesday 4th December - Joshua at Molli Sparkles
Thursday 5th December - Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts
Friday 6th December - Fiona at Finding Fifth
Saturday 7th December - Abby at Things For Boys
Sunday 8th December - Lauren at Molly & Mama Makes
Monday 9th December - Jodi at Tickle & Hide
Tuesday 10th December - Adrianne at On The Windy Side  <-- that's me!
Wednesday 11th December - Rachel at Little White Dove
Thursday 12th December - Gina at Party of Eight
Friday 13th December - Jane at Quilt Jane
Saturday 14th December - Round up of Blog Hop and link up YOUR projects at Ms Midge

I'm really excited to share my tutorial (and, um, make the cushion for it...) and I can't wait to see what everyone else comes up with.  Make sure you check it out starting from the 1st of December.  And, oh yeah, there are prizes...

Secondly, does anyone else ever check the search terms people use to find their blog?  I do, and I get some gems.  Yes, whoever googled "a large stash of fabric and still buying", you have come to the right place...

Last, and definitely not least, I just received this wonderful cushion cover from Alison at Little Island Quilting as part of the X-Factor Pillow Swap.

X-Factor pillow swap received from Little Island Quilting

I am incredibly thrilled to be the recipient of this work of art - more (and better) photos are to come because it deserves its own post.

Ok people - enjoy the end of the week and seeya after the weekend!

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Wednesday 20 November 2013

WIP Wednesday

I thought it was time for an update on my Midnight at the Oasis quilt.  I haven't really been keeping up with the QAL but I have made a start on the fourth border.

Midnight at the Oasis quilt - flower border in progress 

There aren't too many green sprouts in autumn - you're more likely to see bare branches and maybe the last of the blossoms.  You might also spot some mushrooms sprouting up in the undergrowth.

Midnight at the Oasis quilt - flower border in progress

I'm blanket stitching all the shapes in place - the orange peel border started an addiction to this kind of handwork - and it's very relaxing.  The bias strip is currently held in place by my new favourite notion - appliqué glue.  I was intending to machine stitch the bias strip in place, but actually now I think I'll blanket stitch them too.

The Elven Garden

It's so wonderful seeing all the different versions of this quilt as people work on it - make sure you check out the flickr group for all the gorgeousness.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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Monday 18 November 2013

Falling Softly - a low volume cushion cover

Have you caught the modern maples madness that seems to be doing the rounds at the moment?  I think it was started by this Modern Maples Throw Quilt which has gone viral!  Check out the flickr group which is jammed full of inspiration.  I caught a bit of modern maples fever myself, but since it's spring here and I'm already working on an autumn quilt (my Midnight at the Oasis Quilt), I didn't want to go overboard.

low volume 

So, I was restrained and instead made a cushion for the X-Factor Pillow Swap.  I've been lurking in this group for a while but hadn't actually participated before.  This swap is a little different to traditional swaps in that a theme is set (this round was low volume) and everyone makes a cushion but you are not allocated a specific partner.  Rather, once your cushion is finished, you send a photograph to the administrator and she uploads it to flickr so that no-one knows who make which cushion.  Then the cushions are voted on by the participants and the person who made the cushion with the most votes gets their first choice, the person who made the cushion with the next most votes gets to pick next, and so on.  I really enjoyed this format - it was a lot less pressure than making something for a partner and it was really fun to see all the different cushions.

Falling Softly Pillow 

Each maple leaf block in this piece finishes at 3" square.  I essentially used the same method as in the original pattern, but scaled all the sizes down.  It was actually rather fun making these tiny blocks (probably because I only made 9!).  I'm pretty sure the background solid is Moda Bella Snow - a nice creamy fabric.  I really wanted to add texture to all that solid go I free motion quilted the cushion cover with my go-to flower design (of course, using Aurifil 2021).  The quilting is really dense in the centre and then the design gets a bit larger to the sides - a simple way to add a bit of interest.

I was a bit sad about sending this cushion off to someone, until I got told who was getting my cushion.  It has now arrived with the lovely Rachel - a fellow New Zealander and the creator of so many gorgeous quilts and swap items (really, go and look at her flickr photo stream and swoon).  We are yet to meet in person but I'm sure it will happen one day!

Falling Softly Pillow 

The back is a random Japanese cotton/linen blend fabric from Spotlight - with text and writing instruments and hints of gold I thought it was sort of appropriate for an autumn cushion.  I have been enjoying using slightly heavier weight fabrics (like a drill or a duck) for the back of cushions lately and I looked for something suitable but couldn't find anything.  This lighter weight fabric is fine too, especially since the front of the cushion is so heavily quilted.

Falling Softly Pillow

I added a lapped zipper to keep the back really neat and tidy - I think this is my new favourite way to make a cushion back.  I find it quicker and more economical with fabric than the covered zipper technique where you add a contrasting strip and I think it looks more professional than an envelope back.  I'm planning a tutorial on this technique because although its easy to do if you work through instructions step-by-step, it is seriously non-intuitive!

Now I'm just waiting for the pillow I've been allocated to arrive.  I don't know which one I'm getting, but given how difficult I found it to rank the entries in order of which one I preferred, I'm very confident I'll love whatever shows up!
Linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts.

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Saturday 16 November 2013

Caturday Wisdom #45

I moustache you a question - but I'm shaving it for later.  Whiskey   

Moustaches can really go either way, from terrible to incredible. Whiskey's faux mo is clearly in the incredible category.

As always, send pet photos to Adrianne at adrianneonthewindyside at gmail dot com.  Have a great weekend - don't forget to support those moustache-growing Movemberites.

Friday 15 November 2013

Oops, I made a quilt top

Back in April I was seized with the sudden impulse to bleach some fabric.  I was totally inspired by Rossie and you can read about my method here.  These are the results - on the left is a fat eighth bundle of Indie by Art Gallery Fabrics and on the right is the bleached version.

Fabric experimentation

After bleaching I cut each fat eighth into 2" wide strips and sewed them into sets of four, matching each bleached fabric with its unbleached pair.  Then the strip sets sat in a box for several months while I waited for inspiration to strike.  Initially I thought I might make another equilateral triangle quilt, but it felt a little lacking in originality and didn't really take maximum advantage of the play between the bleached and unbleached fabrics.

Indie Stripes quilt top

At some point last week I had the idea of cutting the strip sets into quarter square triangles and then matching them up to make these dynamic boxy shapes.  I pulled the strip sets out just to see if it would work, and then on Saturday I found myself cutting quarter square triangles and sewing them up into blocks (and yes, I really should have been working on other things).  I think this stripey look makes much better use of different colours created by the bleaching (and I've been wanting to play with stripes for a while).

Because I had pre-washed all the fabrics and I was cutting a lot of bias edges, I used a bunch of starch before cutting the quarter square triangles and that definitely helped with the handling of the fabrics. I also squared up all my blocks.  I don't often bother with this step any more, because my blocks are not generally way off and I'm pretty good at fudging things if need be.  However, when I measured these blocks they were not particularly uniform in size or all square so it was definitely worthwhile.

Indie Stripes quilt top

Once I put all the blocks together it was still missing something.  I was thinking about using Essex Linen in Natural in the equilateral triangle quilt, so I added a wide border of it onto this quilt.  I've seen this fabric used in several other quilts which also feature Indie - it seems to have some magic property which just makes the Indie collection look awesome.

cutting stripes

In case anyone is interested, here is a little diagram of how I cut the quarter square triangles out of my strip sets.  Basically you just cut at a 45 degree angle so that you get two quarter square triangles out of each strip set.  You'll see that I also got 2 half square triangles out of each strip set - I have plans for those too but they will have to wait.

I think this project works pretty well with this month's Le Challenge theme, stripes, so I'm linking up.

Le Challenge

Now, I have a couple of questions for those of you who routinely pre-wash fabrics.  Because I had to wash the fabrics I bleached, I also washed the other fat eighth set of Indie fabrics, and because linen is prone to shrinking more than cotton, I pre-washed the Essex Linen too.  Now that all the fabrics in the quilt top have been pre-washed, I'm wondering whether I should pre-wash the backing and binding fabrics too - if I don't, maybe I'll get some kind of crazy crinkle going on where the back shrinks and the front doesn't.  Also, should I pre-wash the batting and go for a quilt that will stay really flat even when it has been washed? So many questions!  This whole pre-washing thing has just opened a huge can of worms for me!
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Wednesday 13 November 2013

WIP Wednesday

A quick WIP Wednesday today, because although I have lots of WIPs on the go, they mostly aren't at interesting stages.  First up is this block I made a couple of weeks ago for Tracey in the Simply Solids bee.  It's made using the Star pattern from Faith at Fresh Lemon Quilts' Summer Sampler Series.

Star Block for Simply Solids bee 

I'm particularly pleased with the hot colours in this block - they really make it for me.

The next block is part of my newest WIP, one that I am very excited about.  My local guild, Capital Quilters, is holding an exhibition of members' quilts next year.  Each time there is an exhibition, a raffle is held, with a quilt as the main prize.  I am on the exhibition committee and am making the raffle quilt (although it will get sent out for long arm quilting - phew!).

Acacia Stars - block 1

This is block number one of thirty for the raffle quilt.  I am using a bundle of Tula Pink's Acacia collection with co-ordinating solids from Westwood Acres (you can also find Acacia at Stitchbird and Fat Quarter Shop).

The pattern is super simple and based on a Kaffe Fasset design - just eight pointed stars like this with a border.  I won't be fussy cutting for every block, but I just could not resist featuring the raccoon in this way - isn't he soooo cute?!  I am rather concerned that I won't be able to let this quilt go when it's done...  Also, between this quilt and a couple of others, I have a lot of HSTs to trim, so I bought a couple of Bloc Loc rulers to help.  I haven't done much trimming with them yet, and will do more of a review when I have, but so far I like.

Have you found any new gadgets lately?  I'm not hugely into gadgets, but I'm definitely willing to invest in things that will make the quilting experience better.  A good example is the little wee rotary cutter with a 28mm blade that I bought recently.  I never thought I would need more than one size of rotary cutter, but it is great for all that HST trimming - I feel like the smaller blade gives me much more control.  I'd love to know what makes your quilting experience better.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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