Monday 24 February 2014

Springtime on the Farm Pillow

I've been meaning to blog about this utterly gorgeous pillow I received from Karen aka Sew Peachey as part of Round 8 of the X-Factor Pillow Swap.

X-Factor Pillow Swap Pillow from Sew Peachey 

The theme for this round was log cabins and text, and I love how Karen interpreted it.  All the fabrics that she chose are so cute and play so nicely together!

X-Factor Pillow Swap Pillow from Sew Peachey 

This quilting is just perfect for the cushion and adds such great texture!

X-Factor Pillow Swap Pillow from Sew Peachey 

Isn't Karen's little label on the back of the cushion gorgeous?  I really want to get some sew in labels made - I just need to get organised!

X-Factor Pillow Swap Pillow from Sew Peachey

Have you been taking part in any swaps lately?

Saturday 22 February 2014

Caturday Wisdom #59

It is unrealistic to expect your sibling to have any concept of personal space. Sister (left)

Or of privacy or discretion or property ownership… Little ferrets Bear and Sister were sent in by Kat of Kat and Cat Quilts. This inspired me to dig out some photos of me with MY sister. She probably made my hat, look at that craftsmanship.
This is still what would happen if someone gave us a bowl of melted chocolate to do anything with.

Friday 21 February 2014

Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival

This Sunday I went to the Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival, an annual event held at Sawmiller's Quiltery just north of Upper Hutt.  It had been scheduled for the weekend before but the weather wasn't good so it was postponed.  In the end I think it worked out for the best, because last Sunday was a bright and sunny beautiful day.

Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival

The quilts were all hung on lines under the pine trees.  I wasn't organised enough to enter a quilt this year, but I will make an effort to do so next year because it was such a nice day out.

The Snow Queen

There was a real range of quilting styles on show, from this utterly gorgeous ultra modern quilt (The Snow Queen) by Cherie Gurney (that background is white velvet people - so lush!)…

Purrfect Cats

…to this charmingly kitsch cat quilt (Purrfect Cats) by Wanda Borowicz.

Purrfect Cats

Seriously, how could anyone resist all those cross-stitched cats.

Valencia Orange

This quilt (Valencia Orange) by Debra De Lorenzo is just full of the most gorgeous Japanese fabrics and is quite light and carefree with its improvisational piecing.

Pickled by Rose

This quilt (Pickled by Rose) by Sheryl Anicich is such an interesting play on the traditional pickle dish block.  I really love how she took the fairly subtle aqua accents in that big print which features heavily and used it really effectively with the red/maroon fabrics in the pickle dishes.

Stonestead Outdoor Quilt Festival

I visited the quilt festival with my friend Anne and as we walked around, we took turns describing something positive about every quilt (her idea, but it's such a good one that I have to share it).  It might sound obvious, but it was a really great exercise in picking out the features we liked about all the quilts, even those which weren't to our particular tastes.  It doesn't mean you can't look at the quilts with a critical eye, it just means that you look for the positives as well. 

Next time you go to a quilt show, I challenge you to try it.  I think you'll find it surprisingly enjoyable!

Monday 17 February 2014

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge - Reminder

With the middle of February past, the deadline for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge is drawing near.  Today, my co-host Anne from Play Crafts and I are showing you the progress on our radiant orchid quilts and a few of the awesome quilts that other people are working on.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

This Kaffe Fassett quilt using modern fabrics is one of my Pantone Quilt Challenge projects.  The purples in it tend to be slightly more on the blue side than the red-violet that is radiant orchid, but I love it just the same.

Purple S-block quilt

Next up is this gorgeous quilt from Erin aka @madbury13 on instagram.  Erin says "each plus is a different "purple" fabric and the backgrounds vary, but are mostly white tone on tone with some gray thrown in to hopefully (?) add some depth".  I think the use of different backgrounds is fantastic and definitely adds depth and interest!  I can't wait to see this one finished.

Pantone Quilt Challenge Quilt

This lovely little colour study by Leanne from she can quilt has the most exciting backstory.  Leanne imagined, planned, cut, pieced, quilted, bound and washed this quilt over a single weekend, because she had the chance to test drive a long-arm quilting machine.  She's now the owner of her very own long-arm so this quilt has a lot to answer for!  I think the quilting is particularly fantastic.

Radiant Orchid Colour Study

This final quilt top is made by my real life friend Anne aka elmosmate.  The pattern is called Fractured Heart and is from Kathy Doughty's new book Adding Layers - Colour, Design & Imagination and looks truly fantastic in grey and purple.

Fractured Heart - Pantone Quilt

If you're thinking about entering the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, there's still time to put something together.  Remember, we have three categories, so you really don't need to have a big finished quilt in order to enter:

- Minis: shortest 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").

The linky party for entries will be open from March 14 - March 21 2014 at both Play Crafts and On the Windy Side.  Entries will close at on March 21 2014 at 11pm PST and winners will be announced on March 26 2014.  Of course, the contest is open to all quilters everywhere - you just need to able to get your photographs online.  Make sure you click through to my 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge Page for all the rules and other important information!

Please feel free to grab our button and share it on your blog!  If you're working on a project, you can add your pictures to our flickr group and if you're on instagram, be sure to tag your photos #pantonequilt so we can find them.

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

So, are you planning to enter the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge?

Saturday 15 February 2014

Caturday Wisdom #58

A good stretch will prevent carpal paw syndrome. Modify for applicable appendages. Ralph

Happy weekend, it's looking like a good one in Wellington!

Friday 14 February 2014

Happy Valentine's Day

This cartoon from the wonderful xkcd continues to reflect my thoughts about Valentine's Day in the context of romantic relationships.

However, this year I'm feeling a bit less grinchy and am taking part in a little swap with my local sewing friends.  This is my contribution - a very simple hand stitched stuffed heart.  I thought about making a jar of little stuffed hammers but I didn't think anyone else would get it...

Enjoy the day!

Wednesday 12 February 2014

WIP Wednesday

Last week I showed where I had got to with the quilt I started in a class with Kaffe Fassett.  With a four day weekend, I was able to make plenty of progress and how have a finished quilt top.

Purple S-block quilt 

I wasn't completely sure that I was going to like this quilt top, both before I started and while I was making it.  However, having it up on my design wall at home and getting the blocks stitched up really helped, and now I love it!  There are so many favourite fabrics in here, which I probably wouldn't have put together otherwise.

Purple S-block quilt

I know it's traditional to make the centre of a quilt and then choose the border fabric.  I was a bit nervous that my centre might not work with my intended border fabric, but I think it does and I'm so glad to be able to use that gorgeous Echino fabric in a quilt.  What are your thoughts on borders - do you pick them first or wait until you've made the centre of a quilt?

I've made the back for this quilt (I even matched the print across the two pieces using this excellent tutorial - the first time I've been bothered to do that), so now I just need to baste, quilt and bind this baby.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

P.S. If you're feeling inspired by all this purple-ness, make sure you check out the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, which Anne at Play Crafts and I are hosting.  Entries open a month from Friday, so you still have time to get something started!

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

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Monday 10 February 2014

A Christmas Quilt in February

I'm going to claim that I am really really organised for Christmas 2014.  Let's ignore the fact that I was originally aiming to get this quilt done for Christmas 2013.

Cherry Christmas Scrappy Tripalong 

Anyway, the top is done now, and I'm loving the fabric (mostly Aneela Hoey's Cherry Christmas line) as much as I was when I hunted it down in the middle of last year.

Cherry Christmas Scrappy Tripalong 

I know how I want to quilt this top, it's just a matter of when.  There's kind of no rush now, but I don't want to forget about it and end up being really organised for Christmas 2015…

Cherry Christmas Scrappy Tripalong

So, how is your Christmas sewing going?  Any tips for me to make sure I don't forget about quilting this quilt?

Saturday 8 February 2014

Caturday Wisdom #57

The best action to take during Sevens weekend is to shelter in your nearest hobbit hole. Ralph and Ivy

If you're in Wellington, good luck. Everyone else, I hope it's a relaxing weekend!

Friday 7 February 2014

Raspberry Lemonade (Show Off Irish Chain) - a quilt pattern review

I've written before about Penny and Fenella Jameson, a mother/daughter team who own Stitch Playroom in Christchurch. I met them when they visited Wellington to teach their quilted hexagon ottoman class and then saw them again in Christchurch when I attended Sarah Fielke's class (which was organised by Fenella).

Last year, Fenella asked if I would be interested in reviewing one of their quilt patterns. Since I had so much fun making the ottoman, I jumped right on board. The pattern is for a modern variation on the traditional irish chain pattern, which is designed to show off fabulous large scale designs (hence the name Show Off Irish Chain). Penny's original quilt is made with lots of different coloured Kaffe Fassett fabrics set against a neutral linen background and is a lot of fun. I decided to go down a slightly different route, choosing to keep my feature fabrics in the same colour family (red, pink, purple) and set them against a bright and completely contrasting background (for a great explanation on why those red prints seem to be jumping right off the aqua background, check out Anne's great post on complementary colours).

Raspberry Lemonade 

I found this aqua fence to hang my quilt on - wasn't someone daring with their paint colour! The quilt top was a cinch to put together, and super speedy because of the large pieces. I think it would be great for a beginner, and actually, the first quilt I ever made was nine patches alternated with large squares - exactly like this quilt in construction, if not design.

Raspberry Lemonade 

Fenella picked out the Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics that I used, and she did a fantastic job with my extremely vague instructions of "red, pink, purple, maybe a bit of orange"! I swapped out a couple of her picks for fabrics from my stash - partly because I wanted to keep this quilt very bright and there were a couple of darker purples that weren't quite working for me, and partly because I love to show how fabrics from different designers can work together. I've snuck in a bit of Jay McCaroll, Amy Butler, and one older Michael Miller fabric.

Raspberry Lemonade 

One of the things I look for in a pattern is room to put my own spin on it and to make tweaks. I like the way that this pattern has guidance on how you might like to lay out your blocks, but isn't overly prescriptive. Having a clear construction diagram also meant it was easy to make the borders a bit narrower than the original quilt. Of course, I had to pull out my quilt math, but I enjoy that part! I do really like the chunky borders on the original quilt, but I'm trying to get out of the habit of making enormous quilts, and reducing the size of the borders meant it was easier to baste and quilt (hooray!).

Raspberry Lemonade

I love my finished quilt, and I would heartily recommend the pattern, especially for beginners.  If you are interested in getting your hands on a copy, email Fenella (fenella at stitchplayroom dot co dot nz) for all the details.

I'd love to know - do you find it hard to resist tweaking patterns too, or are you a strictly by the book kind of quilter?

Quilt Stats
Pattern: Show Off Irish Chain by Stitch Playroom
Finished Size: approx 66" by 75"
Fabric: assorted Kaffe Fassett collective prints, also prints from Amy Butler, Jay McCarroll and Michael Miller, Freespirit Designer Solid in Caribbean Sea.
Backing: Blockprint Blossom in Blush from Joel Dewberry's Heirloom collection
Binding: Michael Miller Ta Dot in Berry
Pieced and quilted by: me

Linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts.

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Full disclosure - Fenella provided me with the prints I used on the front of the quilt in exchange for this review.  The rest of the fabric came from my stash.  The review is an honest reflection of my thoughts on the pattern.

Wednesday 5 February 2014

WIP Wednesday (with Kaffe Fassett)

So this weekend I was lucky enough to be able to attend a class with Kaffe Fassett.  I only really got to go because my friend Anne had booked a place in the class but decided to go to Japan instead (which is a pretty good reason to miss a class even with Kaffe Fassett, if you ask me).

Image from here

In the class we were working on the s-block quilt - Kaffe's version of which is above.  The colours are much brighter in real life and I like how it's a simple graphic block made interesting by colour play.  Now I have enormous respect for Kaffe Fassett and his partner Brandon Mably as fabric and quilt designers, and for the way that Kaffe seems to have brought new life to quilting through his amazing use of colour.  That said, I wanted to go my own way with the fabric choices for this quilt, and use my stash (which doesn't include vast amounts of Kaffe Fassett fabrics).

Fabric pull for Kaffe Fassett quilt 

So this is my fabric pull for the quilt.  I was very inspired by the purple Echino print which features yellow and grey birds, hot pink and soft pink flowers, and blue, green and turquoise flowers.  I decided to aim for a quilt which reads quite purple with splashes of the accent colours featured in the Echino print.

S-block quilt in progress 

This is where I had got to by the end of the class.  The lighting in the room we were working in was not helpful for photography, so the colours are not entirely accurate, but I think this gives a pretty good picture.  I'm really happy with where I got to so far - there are a heap of fabrics I love in there, I think it's reading quite purple, and I got great feedback and design tips from Kaffe and Brandon.

Kaffe, Brandon and Me

I think you can tell from my big old cheesy grin how much I enjoyed the class.  It was all about designing the quilt - no sewing involved.  Their philosophy is just to get as much fabric as possible up on your design wall and then edit from there.  It's a really fun way to work and very effective, because it allows you to really see your work.  I was very impressed with how encouraging they both were.  At the end of the class we had a critique, where Kaffe went around the whole class and talked about everyone's quilt in progress - what he liked, the design tweaks they'd made as they went along, and their use of colour and value.

So, I say, if you get a chance to go to a Kaffe Fassett class, go!  Now I have another WIP to work on, and, because tomorrow is a public holiday (Waitangi Day), I have time to work on it!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

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Monday 3 February 2014

Top of the Lake Quilt

Way back in May last year, I was inspired to make a quilt featuring the colours of the TV show Top of the Lake.  I used the St Louis 16 Patch tutorial to make my blocks and the quilt top went together at the speed of light.  I threw in a few rogue blocks for interest and to use my fabric to maximum efficiency - they blend into the top surprisingly well,

Top of the Lake Quilt 

I basted the quilt pretty promptly, but since then it has sat and sat in my cupboard waiting to be quilted. Initially, I started quilting 1/4" off the seams, but I really didn't like how it was looking, so I ripped that quilting out.  Then I had grand ideas about tracing the pattern of the fabric on the back of the quilt using free motion quilting, but I realised that there was so much happening on the front of the quilt, the quilting wouldn't really show up anyway.

Top of the Lake Quilt 

I ended up quilting a simple diagonal crosshatch grid, using a light grey Aurifil thread (#2600) on the top, and my trusty off-white Aurifil #2021 in the bobbin.  They both just melt into the quilt leaving a great texture.  This quilting has also left the quilt beautifully drapey and soft - I can't wait to wash it and see whether it crinkles up much.

Top of the Lake Quilt 

For me, this quilt is full of unexpected fabric combinations and contrasts, with soft and pretty florals mixed with dark, graphic and challenging fabrics. For the back of the quilt, I wanted to continue this unexpectedness by clashing the front, which is full of slightly off, dirty colours, with fabric that looks like soppy sweet old-fashioned wallpaper.  I ended up with this floral stripe from Spotlight, which is so not my usual type of fabric but I love it on this quilt.

Top of the Lake Quilt

I pretty much want to put this black and white pin dot binding on every quilt!  In my original post, I described this quilt as deliberately un-pretty.  I still think it's brooding and a bit dark, but I have come round to thinking it is pretty as well.

Have you ever had a quilt grow on you as you've worked on it?

Linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts.

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Saturday 1 February 2014

Caturday Wisdom #56 - minus the cat

Blocking the front door while wearing your best sad face is a sure way to increase walk frequency. Bowser

What a face! I would squish that face all day. Lucky this beauty doesn't live with me but with Amanda from Everyday Fray.

Happy weekend, I hope you're as lucky as Buddy the Elf.