Friday 31 January 2014

Sour Candy Cushion

I made this cushion for round 8 of the X-Factor Pillow Swap. The premise of this swap is that each round, you make a cushion based around a theme, and send a photo to the group admin, who posts it to the group (so you don't know who made which cushion). After the deadline for entries has passed, everyone ranks the entries in order of preference, and the person whose cushion got the most votes gets their first choice, the person whose cushion got the second most votes gets their first choice (if it's still available), and so on.

The theme for this round was log cabins and text. After the last round, which was low volume, I wanted to do something really different, despite the temptation to use a low volume text fabric.


For my cushion, I used the black text print from Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures lines with a handful of prints from Alison Glass's Lucky Penny collection. I really like how the colours of the Lucky Penny fabrics are slightly clashy and how they really pop against the black text print. The design is super simple - instead of making a log cabin in the traditional way, I simply made four quarter log cabins, by starting with a central square and then only adding "logs" to two of the sides. Since these blocks weren't too big, I simply pieced them, but if you wanted greater accuracy, foundation paper piecing would work brilliantly (but more slowly).

For the quilting, I did simple straight line cross hatch grid - it gives lovely texture to the cushion without distracting from the piecing. I used Aurifil 50 weight thread in colour #1246 - a very dark charcol grey, and as usual, I was delighted with how it just blended into the top. I don't know if anyone else has had this experience, but sometimes I find very dark black or grey threads to have a different texture to lighter threads, and sometimes they seem to tangle more easily. Not so in this case, which made hand stitching the binding down with the same Aurifil thread a dream.


The back of the cushion is made using a drill fabric from Spotlight, designed by Austrlian designers Prints Charming. It's such a fun print - I wish I made more of it! Of course, I used my covered zipper cushion back
method - it really is speedy and nice and neat. I posted my cushion off to my partner this afternoon - I hope she likes it!

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Monday 27 January 2014

Teaching at Nancy's Embroidery Shop

My mum taught me the basics of quilting, and with her help, I made my first two simple quilt tops (she quilted the first one for me, and the second one was long arm quilted).  After that introduction, I took an almost year long sampler class at Nancy's Embroidery Shop, where I learned all kinds of techniques I'd never tried before, like English paper piecing, foundation paper piecing, needle turn appliqué, piecing curves, etc.

Now, I'm very excited to be teaching at Nancy's myself!  You can check out the 2014 Class Syllabus here.  Here's what I'm teaching:

First up is a nice short technique class on my hand blanket stitch appliqué technique.  I'm working on a few different designs to stitch up and bring along, or students can make up their own design.

AMH All Day mini quilt

Next up is an equilateral triangle quilt.  No, it does not need to be as enormous as this one!  I need to make another of these for a class sample - any colour palette suggestions?

Equilateral triangle quilt

I had a brainwave over summer, and figured out a way to dramatically improve my hot water bottle cover pattern.  I'll be teaching that class in June, just when you'll need a nice cover for your hottie.

My Garden for Birds quilt is kind of a modern take on a sampler quilt, and I'll be teaching it over the course of the second half of the year. 

Garden for Birds Quilt

Finally, a class on a quilted Christmas stocking is at the end of the year.  This is an unquilted version, but I plan on making a few samples for the class, in different styles because I really hope people put their own spin on this pattern.

Kelsey's stocking

For the two quilts I'm teaching, we will be covering quilting and binding in the last class.  For me, quilting was the most intimidating part to learn, so it was really important to me that it be covered.  I know not everyone loves binding, but I do, and I have a few tricks up my sleeve that I'm hoping will help make it an enjoyable experience for my students.

Phew - I think 2014 is going to be a busy year!

Saturday 25 January 2014

Caturday Wisdom #55

Sometimes you will try really hard but not succeed. Like when coming up with stuff your cat said. Or trying to catch a light. Ralph

To be fair neither Ralph or I tried that hard, which may be rather obvious. Hope you have a relaxing weekend!

Friday 24 January 2014

Little Fox Sewing Machine Cover and Pouch

This is my last post about the handmade items I made for Kelsey from Everyday Fray as part of our skills swap.  The thing that Kelsey was really keen to get was a sewing machine cover, and since I had so much fun making this one as part of the Sew Sew Modern swap, I was more than happy to oblige.

Lil Fox sewing machine cover and pouch 

For the shape of the cover, I used this pattern, which I already had.  Kelsey's sewing machine is a Janome which is set into her sewing table, so I had to tweak the shape a bit to fit.  Drafting the new shape and calculating the size of each panel was actually quite fun (yes, I'm a nerd!).  You can see how long and low it is in the picture below (cat for scale).  The little paper pieced foxes (made using this pattern) are really cute and were fun to stitch up.

I know Kelsey is as much a fan of linen as I am, so I decided to use some Essex yarn dyed linen in steel  as the background for both the sewing machine cover and the matching pouch.  I quilted the exterior of both pieces quite heavily, the sewing machine cover with swirls, and the pouch with echo quilting around the fox. I love the texture of this kind of heavy quilting, but I have to admit that it did make assembling the cover and the pouch a little bit challenging.

Sewing machine cover - cat for scale 

For the pouch, I used my old standby, the open wide pouch from noodlehead. For the back of the pouch, I traced around a "K" with a water soluble pen, and then echo stitched around it.  Once the marking was removed, it left a raised initial which I think is quite cool (and maybe a little bit more subtle than appliqué, for example).

Lil Fox Pouch - back

So that's what I made - it was a lot of fun and I'm really pleased with how these items turned out.  I'm even more pleased that Kelsey likes them (check out her lovely post here, not least because I took these photos at about 7am when the light was less than ideal and her pictures are much better!).

Have you ever done a skills swap?  This was my first one and I'm thrilled with how it went.

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Wednesday 22 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

Probably better known this week as oops, I started yet another new quilt!

When I attended Sarah Fielke's class in Christchurch last year, my friend Anne worked on the Bangles quilt, from Sarah's book Hand Quilted with Love. When she pointed out that the print sections could be cut from a jelly roll, I immediately thought I should use my jelly roll of Oh, Deer! fabric to make one! I bought the templates from Sarah, so the only question was when. Apparently, now.

Bangles quilt in progress

Or, soon. I've cut all the pieces I need (because I'm using a jelly roll, I'm making a slightly smaller version of the quilt than in the book, but it's not too hard to work out how to vary the size), but I don't have space on my design wall to lay the whole thing out at the moment. It will keep.

Bangles quilt in progress

In the meantime, I've sewn up a single hexagon. If anyone else is interested in making this quilt, I have ressurrected the #banglealong hashtag on instagram. Come and join me!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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Monday 20 January 2014

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Inspiring Purple Quilts

As part of the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, I wanted to show some inspiring modern quilts that feature purple.  As Anne said in her colour series post, it has been hard to find great purple fabrics for the last little while, which might go some way to explaining why purple is not a colour that has featured heavily in modern quilts (until now, maybe?). That said, I think purple can look very modern - it's just how you use it!

These quilts don't necessarily use Radiant Orchid, or even purples that are particularly close to Radiant Orchid.  However, in the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, we're not being super strict - we would just like you to be in the zone of Radiant Orchid.  I hope these quilts provide you with some inspiration - they certainly inspire me!

First up, is this quilt called Doppelgänger (Redux) by Thomas Knauer.  I love how vibrant it is with all that purple!  The arrangement of floating blocks is fun, and this is a great example of a quilt that uses lots and lots of different colours while still having purple as most definitely the feature colour!

This next quilt is a kaleidoscope quilt by the talented Erica from Kitchen Table Quilting.  Purple is actually not the dominant colour in this quilt, in the sense that there are more fabrics of other colours in here.  However, for me, the quilt reads purple.  Erica used slightly more blue-y purples than the red-violet of Radiant Orchid, and the complementary colour for a blue-purple is a golden yellow-orange.  You can see she's brought that in, together with hot pinks and cool greys for contrast.

In contrast to the first two quilts which combine lots of different colours with purple, this next one is a strictly monochromatic affair.  This monochromatic modern quilt by Angela Flicker of The Artists' House is intricate and very beautiful.  It must have taken a long time to put all that piecing and sashing together.

If you read Anne's For the Love of Colour post, you'll have seen that the complementary colour for red-violet (i.e. Radiant Orchid) is chartreuse or lime green. Cathy from Blueberry Patch made incredibly good use of this exact colour scheme in her Gemstones for a Friend quilt.  The crisp white means that these two highly contrasting colours sing, but don't shriek.

Purple and grey is an extremely classic combination, and I think you'll see why with the next three quilts.  This Purple Diamonds quilt made by Becky at My Fabric Obsession shows how you can mix a really wide range of different purples, especially when you have grey as a background.

This purple kaleidoscope quilt, made by Tina of Seaside Stitches, is perfectly elegant with slightly more blue purples against a crisp light grey background.

And this Flying Purple People Eater quilt by Jessica from Quilty Habit shows the power of purple.  If you look at all the fabrics used in the star, many of them contain colours other than purple.  However, put together, the overall effect is definitely purple!

Finally, this courthouse steps quilt is a work in progress, currently being made by Becca of Bryan House Quilts.  Becca has used a very clever trick in making this quilt.  While the lighter areas appear to be white, they are actually very pale pink and peach fabrics.  This has reduced the contrast between the lighter and darker areas of the quilt (which generally gives a slightly softer look), but unless you look really closely, the light fabrics still look white.  That girl's got smarts!

I want to thank the quilt bloggers who made all of these quilts - first for doing such inspirational work, and second for agreeing to let me share it with you here!  I hope you've found it inspiring.

As the organisers, Anne and I are not going to enter the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge.  However, we're both planning to make something featuring Radiant Orchid (or thereabouts).  I've been plotting, and it's quite possible I'll end up with two Radiant Orchid makes - oops!  What do you think - will you be entering?

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

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Saturday 18 January 2014

Caturday Wisdom #54

Objects of beauty are meant to be displayed. Ralph

I bought a new (to me) retro sideboard last week and at first Ralph wasn't sure about it but once he understood its purpose he knew what to do.

Happy weekend!

Wednesday 15 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

Late last year, I bought a fat quarter bundle of Alison Glass's wonderful collection, Clover Sunshine.  I happened to set it down next to a bundle of Oakshott Italy fabrics, and I realised that they are both quite greyed out and I thought they would look interesting together.

Wonky Crosses

I've started making these wonky cross blocks and I love them (I still need to square them up).  I haven't decided exactly what I'm going to do with these blocks.  Of course, I could just stitch them together to make a very bright and vibrant quilt.  Sashing, or negative space so it looks like they're floating is another option.

What are you working on this week?

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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Tuesday 14 January 2014

A couple of zip pouches

This weekend, at my brother's request, I made him a pencil case.  I used some amazing colourful First of Infinity fabric to piece a rude word for the front, and a bigger piece for the back.  I used Noodlehead's open wide pouch tutorial to make these, except I quilted the exterior and didn't box the corners.

Funny pouches 

I had so much fun making a pouch for my brother that I decided to make one for my mum.  She wouldn't appreciate a sweary pouch, but she can't resist the word pith.  It makes her laugh every time.  So I made her a nearly-but-not-quite sweary pouch.

Funny pouches

The cursive letters were done by tracing the writing with a water soluble pen and then free motion quilting over the lettering.  My quilting is not perfect but I still love the effect.

Have you every gotten carried away making something and ended up making multiples?

By the way, if you're thinking about participating in the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge (or frankly, even if you're not), you should head on over to Play Crafts and check out Anne's For the Love of Colour post on Radiant Orchid.  I'm learning so much from these posts and this is a particularly good one!

Saturday 11 January 2014

Caturday Wisdom #53

An easy way to find the best seat in the house is to look for the taken ones. Then sit in them. Ivy & Ralph

Happy weekend, I'm hoping for a bit of sunshine to read my book in. Ralph and Ivy just hope for sunshine at all times.

Friday 10 January 2014

AMH All Day Mini Quilt

I've been meaning to share details about the handmade items I made for Kelsey from Everyday Fray as part of our skills swap.  This mini quilt is my favourite thing I made for the swap, and definitely one of my favourite makes of 2013.

AMH All Day Mini Quilt - in progress

I took a photo of the back of the mini quilt once all the petals were stitched down and the piecing was done, because I thought it might be interesting to see what it looks like.

AMH All Day mini quilt 

From the front, you can see that all the coloured petals are made from Anna Maria Horner fabrics.  100 different Anna Maria Horner fabrics to be exact.  These were all from my stash.  I didn't even have to hunt very hard for them, which means I have well over 100 different Anna Maria Horner fabrics in my stash.  You can probably tell, I love AMH!

AMH All Day mini quilt

I set the petals on a variety of crisp white low volume fabrics, and arranged them in a sort of rainbow order.  I think I had about 10 days to make this mini, so I was very fast at stitching down the petals by the time I was done!  Because there was so much happening already, I kept the quilting super simple, just stitching in the ditch with my trusty Aurifil 2021 in 50 weight.  The binding is an awesome black and white pin dot - I bought a bunch on sale a while ago and now I wish I had more because I want to bind everything with it!

AMH All Day Mini Quilt - back

I had in mind that this would be on the wall, so I included a hanging sleeve (photo taken before it was stitched down).

So,  I'm sure I don't have the largest collection of AMH fabrics out there.  Anyone willing to 'fess up to having a larger stash?  Or maybe there's another designer you love - I'd love to hear about them.

Quilt Stats
Finished Size: approx 20" by 20"
Fabric: 100 different Anna Maria Horner prints, 8 different low volume prints
Backing: Tipu in Orange from Lotta Jansdotter's Bella collection
Binding: black and white pin dot from Pam Kitty Love
Pieced and quilted by: me

Linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts and Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts.

By the way, my local friends Anne and Lyndy are going to the Tokyo International Great Quilt Festival 2014 (and yes, I am consumed with envy!) in a week and a half, and would love to know if anyone else from the modern quilting blogging universe is planning to attend, and if anyone has any tips for first time attendees (and first time visitors to Japan).

Wednesday 8 January 2014

WIP Wednesday

This week I've been working on this quilt using Tula Pink's Acacia collection.  It's going to be raffled off as part of my local quilt guild's exhibition later this year.  The star blocks were pretty speedy to make and choosing all the fabric combinations was a lot of fun!

Acacia Stars Quilt Top

This quilt top is finished so it's now out for long-arm quilting.  I'm glad I don't have to quilt this 88" by 76" monster myself!

By the way, if you need to match a print on a border, this tutorial is what I used, and I think it's fantastic.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge - quick update

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

A quick update on the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid.  We have had a few more fantastic sponsors offer prizes, so we are delighted to be able to expand the prizes available to entrants.

First up, an entry in each category that hasn't already won a prize will be drawn at random, and will win one of: a $25 gift voucher from Sew me a Song, a $25 gift voucher from Polka Dot Tea or a $25 gift voucher from Pink Chalk Fabrics.

We also think it's more fun when everyone gets to participate, so we will also run a viewer's choice award where everyone can vote on their favourite creation!  The winner will receive this amazing Radiant Orchid inspired bundle from Fabricworm.

Yay - we hope you're getting inspired and ready to sew with Radiant Orchid fabrics!

Monday 6 January 2014

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

Today Anne from Play Crafts and I are thrilled to announce that we are co-hosting the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid! We really could not be more excited about this and can’t wait to see what amazing creations you come up with.

We've got some inspiring posts lined up, fabulous guest judges, information on where you can find awesome Radiant Orchid fabric to work with, not to mention the incredible prizes up for grabs which have been provided by our wonderful sponsors.

Now, the image that Pantone initially released when Radiant Orchid was announced as the 2014 Colour of the Year (with an orchid against a lighter purple background) was confusing.  In that image, it's the orchid which is Radiant Orchid, not the background!  To make things clearer, this swatch is the official Radiant Orchid colour.

Grab our button and spread the word that the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid is on now!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

So, straight into the nitty gritty, here are the rules.  We've tweaked them slightly from 2012 and 2013 when Ali from a squared w was running the Pantone Quilt Challenge (thank you Ali, for graciously allowing us to take on the hosting of the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge!), so please read them carefully and let us know if anything is unclear.


All items must be started in 2014 to be eligible

1. There will be 3 categories:
 - Minis: shorest side under 30". Pillows, table runners, place mats, mug rugs, etc. will count as minis.
 - Quilts: any size from baby to bed (shortest side must be at least 30").
 - Just the Top: any size from baby to bed (shortest side must be at least 30").

2. This is the Radiant Orchid Quilt Challenge, so your project must contain at least some Radiant Orchid or similar purple. You can also use any other colours or neutrals you like (and as many as you like). That said, we would like to see Radiant Orchid as the feature colour of your quilt and we will be asking the judges to take your use of Radiant Orchid into account when making their decision.

3. You can submit one entry per category. Entries for quilts and minis should be completed projects, including quilting and binding.


1. A link party/gallery will be hosted at Play Crafts and On the Windy Side. Entries will be open from March 14 - March 21 2014. Entries will close at on March 21 2014 at 11pm PST and winners will be announced on March 26 2014.

2. Each entry should link to a blog post / Threadbias post / Flickr page

3. Each entry should include quilt dimensions.

Now, onto the exciting stuff!  Our sponsors have been more than generous, which means we have wish-we-could-win prizes on offer.  Here are the details, and while you're there, please check out our lovely sponsors.


Quilts - judged by Allison Harris from Cluck Cluck Sew

First place - Oakshott Fabrics - £100 Gift voucher plus free shipping
Second place - Stitchbird Fabrics - fat quarter bundle of Ellen Luckett Baker's Garden collection
Third place - Fat Quarter Shop - $50 gift certificate

Minis - judged by Elizabeth Dackson from Don't Call Me Betsy

First place - Fat Quarter Shop - $50 gift certificate
Second place - Intrepid Thread - Mormor by Lotta Jansdotter fat quarter bundle
Third place - Westwood Acres - $20 gift certificate

Just the top - judged by Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced

First place - Aurifil - Thread pack ($130 value)
Second place - Hawthorne Threads - $50 gift certificate
Third place - Robert Kaufman Kona - Half-yard bundle of Pantone Spring Kona cotton solids

Finally, we would really really love to see an entry from absolutely everyone who feels the slightest bit inspired by Radiant Orchid, regardless of skill level, so an entry in each category that hasn't already won a prize will be drawn at random, and will win one of: a $25 gift voucher from Sew me a Song, a $25 gift voucher from Polka Dot Tea or a $25 gift voucher from Pink Chalk Fabrics.

We also think it's more fun when everyone gets to participate, so we will also run a viewer's choice award where everyone can vote on their favourite creation!  The winner will receive this amazing Radiant Orchid inspired bundle from Fabricworm.


We are delighted to have three fantastic guest judges on board.  These ladies are seriously talented quilters, designers and authors.  We love their work and know they'll do a fantastic job when it comes to judging your entries!


From left to right: Allison Harris from Cluck Cluck Sew, Elizabeth Dackson from Don't Call Me Betsy, and Lee Heinrich from Freshly Pieced.

Other important information:

We are well and truly aware that purple is not a universally adored colour.  Even if you're really not sure about purple, we would encourage you to give it a try - you never know, you might be surprised!  You can always just make something small so that it's not a huge investment of time and fabric - and you know, it's called a Challenge for a reason!

To give you a helping hand on your Radiant Orchid journey, on January 13 Anne will be doing a colour series post on purple, and on January 21 I will be sharing some inspiring purple-featuring modern quilts.

We would love to see your creations while you're working on them, so be sure to add them to the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid Flickr Group, or tag them on Instagram using #pantonequilt.

If your stash is, like many, a little light on purple fabrics, a couple of our sponsors have put together Radiant Orchid themed bundles to give you a kickstart.  Pink Chalk Fabrics has put together this great Mulberry fat quarter bundle:

Mulberry fat quarter bundle from Pink Chalk Fabrics

Julie from Intrepid Thread has created a Radiant Orchid section in her shop, so you can pick your own bundle!  And keep an eye out for a post by Lindsay at Hawthorne Threads - she's putting together some Radiant Orchid suggestions for you!

I will be keeping a page dedicated to the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid on my blog for the duration of the Challenge.  There, you will be able to find all the key information about the Challenge and links to all the related blog posts.