Saturday 31 May 2014

Caturday Wisdom #71

Monday is a holiday too?! Back to the sewing machine! Ivy

Yes it's a long weekend for us! It's looking chilly though, perfect for indoor activities with a cat on your lap. 

Thursday 29 May 2014

Thursday Inspiration: Erica from Kitchen Table Quilting

One of my absolute favourite things about the quilting community is the amount of inspiration and encouragement I find here.  I find myself talking about myself and my quilts a lot when I blog, and I've decided it's time to talk about other people for a change and celebrate awesome things and the people who make them.  I'm planning a series of interviews with quilters and other artists I admire,  interspersed with the odd post on cool handmade things that have caught my attention.  Thursdays are now for inspiration!

I'm starting off with Erica from Kitchen Table Quilting.  I've been following Erica's blog since 2012, not too long after she started it, and I think her quilts are really beautiful.  I've been delighted to see her blog grow in popularity and Erica's quilts appearing in magazines.

Erica's Remixed Geese quilt is the first of her quilts that sticks out super clearly in my mind.  I loved the fun bright colours she used and the combination of careful precise piecing with a fairly improvisational layout, but more than that I was thrilled with the thoughtful and helpful response from Erica when I asked her a question about working with minky.  If you're thinking about working with minky yourself, you should check out her informative post on it here.

Erica's Remixed Geese Quilt
Here's my interview with Erica - my questions are in bold and her responses are in normal text:

Does your family have a quilting or sewing history, or are you a first generation quilter?
I am a first generation quilter. Apparently my great-grandmother was a quilter, but she died when I was really young and I never knew much about her quilts. My mother and grandmother actually both despise sewing and I grew up thinking that I despised it too. My mother-in-law is a quilter and has been very encouraging.

How did you start quilting, and how long have you been quilting for? 
I started quilting in 2010 when I was pregnant with my son. I bought a sewing machine to make a few simple baby things thinking that I had no interest in ever making a quilt, but the more I made the more I wanted to make and pretty soon I was hooked.

How would you describe your quilting style? 
I have been thinking about this a lot lately and I don’t think I really have one yet. It is something that I am working toward but I am still discovering who I am as quilter. It’s okay, I’m enjoying the journey!

Erica's Maple Leaf Rag Quilt - this must have been so much work and is just stunning!

Where do you find inspiration for your quilts?
My biggest inspiration really comes from fabric. I almost always choose fabrics before I choose a pattern and the fabrics I work with have a lot to do with what I do with the quilt. I have kind of a weird process where I pick a stack of fabric and put it on the counter in my sewing room and I just let it sit there until I decide what to do. It may sit there for a couple days or a couple months, but I spend that time just thinking about what I want to make, looking through magazines, and browsing flickr and blogs.

Erica's Sundown Quilt - her entry for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge

Your entry for the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge was a personal favourite of mine. Could you share a little bit about the inspiration behind that quilt.
I live in San Diego, California, and there is a great view of the coast from a park a couple blocks from our house. At sunset there are all of these hot air balloons that go up and the view is magical. I had already picked the purples that I wanted to use and when I saw that my purples were a pretty good match to the purples in the sunset I added some more sunset-y colors and went from there.

Do you like to follow patterns or create your own designs (or a bit of both)?
I like to do a little of both, but even if I use a pattern I like being able to modify it a little here and there for my projects. While it is fun to try to make my own patterns, I think it is the most fun to try to do something different with a simple style or a pattern, which is what I did with my Pantone quilt which was just made using triangles.

Good things happen when Erica doesn't use a pattern - like this "just for fun" quilt!

Are you a member of a local guild?
I wish! When we moved to San Diego I was excited to join the Modern Quilt Guild here, but it meets at a time that is impossible for me. Hopefully one day their meeting time will change so that I can attend.

Have you ever met any of your online sewing friends in real life?
No I haven’t. I am a bit of a homebody in real life and because I have young kids and my husband has a really intense work schedule I haven’t been able to attend any events where I could meet people. I do actually have a couple of friends from before I started quilting and blogging who are also craft or quilt bloggers, but I haven’t met any of my new friends in real life. I need to change that! 

How did you decide to start your blog?
At the time I was taking an online class from Rachel at Stitched in Color and I wanted to be able to document my projects from the class. It was kind of an experiment to see if I wanted to blog and I really enjoyed blogging so I stuck with it. That was a little over 2 years ago.

I love how bright and crazy Erica's x and + quilt is - oh and the amazing texture from that quilting!

What is your favourite thing about the online quilting community? And what is one thing that you would change, if you could?
I love that everyone is supportive. If someone posts a question on their blog or Instagram, there are so many people out there who are willing to help. I don’t know if I would change anything, I have had a really positive experience so far!

Confession time - how many quilts do you have in your house right now?
Ha ha ha, uh oh. I just counted and I have 25. Which is way more than I need obviously, but there is at least one quilt on each bed, my kids have baby quilts, and we have 6 or 7 quilts that we kind of rotate around the house on beds and couches. The rest are unused baby or lap quilts that are in a stack in our guest room waiting to find a home.

Do you do any crafts other than quilting?
Not at all. I actually consider myself to be very un-crafty and people that I know in real life are usually really surprised that I am a quilter. I am pretty sure my Mom is really weirded out by my quilts because I was so against crafts and sewing when I was a teenager.

Erica's Rocky Mountain Puzzle Quilt - I really love the way she's used a traditional block and quite earthy colours but it still looks fresh and modern.

Where do you see your quilting going - is it a career or a hobby for you and would you like to change that?
It is a hobby. While it has been wonderful to have a few opportunities to make some money doing the occasional project and I would certainly do more projects like that again in the future, I think that by trying to make it a career I would start to hate it. Right now I love the freedom of choosing what I want to work on and I don’t see that changing.

I've seen you've been writing quite a few patterns for magazines lately which is so awesome! Is that something you've actively pursued or were you approached by the magazines?
I was approached. It was actually a pretty strange situation because I was approached by an editor who had me make a quilt for her magazine. Things went pretty well so she kept asking me to make more quilts when all of a sudden that magazine shut down before any of the quilts were ever published. Luckily the editor was completely amazing and helped me get the quilts picked up by other magazines. It was an amazing experience and if you are interested in having a quilt in a magazine I would definitely recommend submitting your idea!

Do you have any tips or tricks or things that have changed your quilting life that you'd like to share?
One thing that I have really noticed over the past few months is that the quilters whose work I love the most are very meticulous and thorough about producing their best work. While I do try to do my best on every project, I have been focusing on changing little things about my process to improve my quilts. I don’t have any particular tips or tricks that are going to change your lives, but if you have an area in which you are struggling, seek out a way to improve it. It has made me enjoy my process more and I am happier with my finished products.

Erica's Bangles Quilt.  I just love this quilt so much - it's what inspired me to start my own version (still in pieces!).

What is your favourite part of the quilting process (and what's your least favourite part)?
Isn’t everyone’s favorite part choosing fabric? That is definitely my favorite part. I also really enjoy just piecing blocks. There is really only one part of the process that I don’t like: piecing the last seam of the quilt top. I hate how bulky it is and I always poke myself with pins.

Are there any quilting techniques you haven't tried yet but that you'd like to?
I am interested in doing more appliqué. I haven’t been interested enough yet to actually try it, but it’s on my list of things to do.

Thank you so much to Erica for answering my many questions and providing such great insight into her quilting life!  Make sure you check out her blog, Kitchen Table Quilting to see more of her gorgeous quilts and follow her quilting journey.  I can't wait to see where it takes her!

Follow on Bloglovin

Tuesday 27 May 2014

A Man Bag for Dad

It was my Dad's birthday last week, and I made him a man bag.  He's recently added a glasses case to the usual paraphernalia of wallet, keys and phone, and pockets are just not cutting it any more.

Man Bag for Dad 

I made this wee bag using generally the same technique as Noodlehead's open wide pouch, but my own measurements.  The 15 different navy prints are scraps left over from a quilt which has been cut out but not sewn up yet, and of course I had to sneak some Yarn-Dyed Essex Linen in black in as well.

Man Bag for Dad

The interior is a bright and fun alphabet print which has been waiting in my stash for a while!  You can see in this picture that the bag is standing up by itself, and that's because I used Soft and Stable again.  I really love it - it's given this pouch such great body without begin at all stiff or difficult to use.

Anyway, this was a nice little project to make for my Dad and also gave me the chance to use my Juki for something other than pure quilting.  It chomped through the multiple layers beautifully!  Dad is pleased which is the main thing (although I think he secretly wanted something more sweary).

I will be linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts in due course.

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday 24 May 2014

Caturday Wisdom #70

Do not lament ear hair, the length corresponds directly to wisdom.  Mila

Oh the beauty! Mila is actually just a baby but those ear tufts come later in life for most of us...
I got to meet her one lunchtime when a colleague went to check on her and her boisterous brother. He was too speedy for a photo, she's a natural.

Thursday 22 May 2014

Random Things

A selection of random and not particularly connected thoughts to finish off the week...

Way back last year the lovely Fenella from Stitch Playroom in Christchurch asked if she could interview me as part of a series of interviews she was doing for the Aotearoa Quilters website. My interview has been up on the website for a little while now and I thought you might be interested in it - here's the link.

You should also check out the other interview that Fenella has done, with Christchurch quilter Sophie Wood. She is super talented and makes the most amazing art quilts.  We are both enthusiastic young quilters but answered Fenella's questions so differently - I think it's nice to see that there is plenty of diversity among young quilters.

Stitchbird is having a massive sale to celebrate 2 years in their shop! There is 40% off all Heather Ross, 40% off all Melody Miller, all other sale fabrics are discounted by between 25% and 50% - and there is 10% off all fabric that's not on sale as well. If you are in Wellington make sure you pop in to see Lyndy, but if you're not, don't worry - the sale is online as well.

I will be speaking and showing some of my quilts at the Wellington Quilters' Guild meeting on Thursday 12 June. It's a bit scary, but I'm excited to talk about our awesome online quilting community and the inspriation and encouragement I've found here. If you're at the meeting, be sure to say hi!

Speaking of inspiration, I'm thinking of starting a regular inspiration feature on the blog, including a few interviews with quilters I admire.  I'd love to know - what questions would ask other quilters, if you had the chance?

Follow on Bloglovin

Wednesday 21 May 2014

Acacia Stars Quilt

This quilt is actually my first quilt finish of the year, but I've been waiting to post about it until now.

I am on the exhibition committee of the local guild I belong to, Capital Quilters, and as part of the fundraising for our exhibition, we are raffling this quilt off. I made it specifically as a raffle quilt and have attempted to bridge the gap between modern and traditional with this quilt, in keeping with our exhibition theme, which is "Quilting: A Modern Tradition". I especially think that Tula Pink is a fabric designer who appeals to both modern and traditional quilters - her more recent fabrics are a bit brighter but if you look at her early designs like Flutterby the colours are quite on the traditional side and even now she often includes shades which I think of as traditional (like the olive green in the Acacia collection, for example). To make this quilt, I used a bundle from Westwood Acres which included Tula Pink's Acacia collection and co-ordinating solids, and some yardage of the raccoon print for the border.

Acacia Stars Quilt 

So, anyway, star blocks are beloved by modern and traditional quilters alike, and the border is quite traditional apart from the inclusion of raccoons(!). This border was just not going to work unless I matched the raccoons in the print (which I had not done before). I used this excellent tutorial, except that I matched the prints with a straight seam, not angled seam as shown. I'm quite proud of the results and you really can't see the seams in the border unless you look really close!

I made the star blocks slightly at random - aiming mainly to have good contrast between the star and the background fabrics, and not worrying too much about the fabric combinations. This left me with a bit of a challenge when setting the arrangement of the blocks for the quilt top and I spent quite some time moving them around my design wall. Ultimately I arranged them with the backgrounds in a sort of rainbow order.

Acacia Stars Quilt 

Once I'd made the top, I handed it over to Sue Burnett and she did the wonderful quilting, using a quilting pattern that is specifically designed to go in eight pointed stars like these. A border version of the same design has been used in the border for continuity, and the whole quilt was quilted with a light purple thread that blended nicely with most fabrics.

With plenty happening on the front of the quilt, I wanted something simple for the back, and the fact that I didn't have to piece this Robert Kaufman Extra Wide fabric was a happy bonus. I knew from before I even starting sewing the top together that I wanted to use that dotty strip for the binding and it worked out really nicely. I even hand stitched the binding down - all 328" of it!

Acacia Stars Quilt

We have started selling raffle tickets for this quilt and so far I think they're selling well. I'm excited for the person who wins this quilt and making it was a nice experience (if slightly nerve-wracking - I wanted this quilt to be just right!). If any of my New Zealand readers would like to buy a raffle ticket, please let me know - they are $2 each or a book of 5 for $10. As much as I would love to sell tickets to my overseas readers, I'm a bit wary about complying with foreign gambling laws (it sounds funny, but in New Zealand raffles are covered by gambling legislation and we have made sure we are complying with local law) so I'm going to restrict sales to New Zealanders - sorry about that.

If anyone would like to come to our exhibition, here are all the details:

This will be my first time exhibiting and I'm quite excited. I'm also strangely nervous - I've gotten comfortable blogging about my quilts and showing them online but having them in a show is something quite different. Have you exhibited a quilt and how did you feel about it?

Quilt Stats
Finished Size: approx 76" by 88"
Fabric: Tula Pink's Acacia collection and co-ordinating solids
Backing: Robert Kaufman 108" wide Spot On fabric in Steel
Binding: Pixel Dot in Teal from Tula Pink's Acacia collection
Pieced by: me
Quilted by: Sue Burnett

I'll be linking up with finish it up friday at crazy mom quilts.

Follow on Bloglovin

Monday 19 May 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival - AMH All Day Mini

This mini quilt is my favourite thing I made for a swap I did last year with Kelsey from Everyday Fray, 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).

I'm entering this quilt in the Mini Quilts category of the Bloggers Quilt Festiva. Make sure you head over and check out all the quilts that have been entered - there's a heap of inspiration out there!.

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

Follow on Bloglovin

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Autumn with a Twist Quilt

I am revisting my Autumn with a Twist Quilt for the Bloggers Quilt Festival. I made this quilt as a sample for a class I'm teaching and it was just a delightful experience. The colour palette was inspired by some fabrics I picked up on a quilty roadtrip with a friend, and then I found the perfect backing at a local quilt shop (on sale, no less). I think it was just meant to be!

Autumn with a Twist Quilt

This quilt is just a simple equilateral triangle quilt.  It's the third one I've made and I'd make another tomorrow!  If you're interested in making your own, you can check out my tutorials on how to cut equilateral triangles and how to sew equilateral triangles.

Autumn with a Twist Quilt

I've been wanting to make an autumnal quilt for a while, and I started on that with my Midnight at the Oasis quilt.  However, that project is on hold for the moment, so the need to make a sample for my class presented the perfect opportunity.  I've said before that if someone said they were putting chartreuse, plum, hot pink, grey-brown and cream together, I'd think of a hot mess, but I really love this somewhat unexpected colour combination.

Autumn with a Twist Quilt

As much as I love the front, I think I like the back as much.  I used a really beautiful panel from Cori Dantini's Beauty is You line, and it ties in many of the colours from the front, in a much softer palette.  I'm really glad I managed to find this fabric, because I had in mind to use on the back once I started the front, and it's quite hard to find online.  I might have cleaned out the local quilt shop I found it at!

Autumn with a Twist Quilt

Even though cream linen binding is horribly impractical, it just seemed like the right choice for this quilt.

Autumn with a Twist Quilt 

For the quilting, I decided to go very simple so as not to compete with the quite busy quilt top (and because I loved the quilting on this equilateral triangle baby quilt that my mum made).  I simply stitched a quarter inch off each side of the seam lines.  It was much quicker and easier than I thought it would be, especially because I didn't need to mark any of the quilting lines, and just used my walking foot as a guide.  I actually used a different coloured thread on the top and in the bobbin, but the colour differences are very subtle (a very light beige on the back, and a slightly darker beige on the front).  It does make a very nice pattern on the back.

Autumn with a Twist Quilt

Of course, I added the label in my usual style.  I've found that curving the corners of my labels lets me blanket stitch around them a little bit more neatly, and they feel more secure without the points which can come loose.

At 238" inches around, my quilt just squeezes into the Small Quilt Category for the Bloggers Quilt Festival. Make sure you head over and check out the other quilts in that category and all the other categories!

Quilt Stats
Pattern: my own equilateral triangle quilt pattern
Finished Size: approx 56" by 63"
Fabric: various
Backing: panel from Beauty is You by Corin Dantini
Pieced and quilted by: me

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday 17 May 2014

Caturday Wisdom #69

Cats are good at sharing - what's yours is theirs. Vivi and Lola

This quilt is now being enjoyed by my friend and other important family members.
A minky cavern like this was also Ivy's preferred spot when recovering a couple of weeks ago. They should call it mmminky.

Wednesday 14 May 2014

WIP Wednesday

What?! I'm posting WIP Wednesday on an actual Wednesday (not a Thursday like the last two times I tried to do WIP Wednesday)?! What is the world coming to??

Actually, the world has been set to right because I am back home after a couple of months working in another city during the week. It really cramped my sewing style, even if I did take my (backup backup) sewing machine up with me after the first few weeks. That's not a typo by the way, I now have three sewing machines. Oops.

So what did I do to celebrate my return to Wellington? Cut up fabric into little squares and then sewed them back together, obviously. Ever since Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches posted her Pixelated Heart Quilt, I've wanted to make one myself. But I never really had a reason to make one. But then she made another one, and Amanda at A Crafty Fox made another, even bigger one and then my friend Lara made this one (and started making this one) and then my friend Anne made a heart quilt as well and then I HAD to make one RIGHT NOW.

So I did and this is it.

Pixelated Heart Quilt

Jolene's original pixelated heart quilt is still my favourite iteration of this pattern and I spent a bit of time looking at it to work out why. I think it's that all those ultra saturated Kaffe Fassett fabrics really glow against the very muted creamy peachy background. In more technical terms, there is a high degree of contrast between the heart fabrics and the background fabrics. So, I shamelessly copied Jolene's approach. I took leftover squares from the darkest, most saturated end of the spectrum of fabrics in my I See Fire quilt , and then used the softest, lightest creamy and peachy fabrics in my stash for the background. Seriously, I have a pretty good collection of low volume fabrics and these were whispering compared to most of them.

Pixelated Heart Quilt

And I love it. I'm giving it to the cats, obviously. Now to raid my stash of cat fabric for the backing...

I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Follow on Bloglovin

P.S. If you're looking for my Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day giveaway, it's here.

Monday 12 May 2014

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day!


It's Sew Mama Sew giveaway day!  This is a great way to discover new blogs and of course get in to win some great prizes.  Make sure you pop over to Sew Mama Sew to check out everyone who has linked up a giveaway.

This time around I'm giving away this bundle of fabrics which is co-ordinated around this totally awesome bee hexagon print which I got from Stitchbird this weekend.  You'll get a quarter of a yard of each fabric, but some piece will be fat quarters and some width of fabric cuts.

To enter, simply leave a comment with the best quilting tip you've ever been given. Followers old and new can get a second entry by leaving a second comment. This giveaway is open to everyone (including international participants), but if I can't contact you, you can't win. If you are a no-reply blogger, please leave your email address in the comment.

The giveaway will stay open until around 6pm Sunday May 18 2014 (New Zealand Time), and I will use the random number generator at to pick a winner then. Good luck everyone!

By the way, I usually respond to all comments, but giveaways can be a little overwhelming, so I hope you don't mind if I don't respond to your comment on this post.

Follow on Bloglovin


Saturday 10 May 2014

Caturday Wisdom #68

Blood is thicker than tuna. Ralph

Below you will see that although Ralph loves his sister, he did not love the strange cat that appeared in the house last weekend who looked an awful lot like his sister but was DEFINITELY, 100% NOT his sister. 
Luckily after about four days of this melodrama Ivy smelt enough like her old self for Ralph to remember that she cleans his head and keeps him warm during winter and sacrifices treats and lap space for his big butt and they were back to being best buds again.
Warning: your pets may find this video disturbing/intriguing. 

Thursday 8 May 2014

WIP Thursday

Running late for WIP Wednesday - hotel wifi is not always reliable...

I see fire quilt in progress 

I've had a stack of fabrics running from lightest peach through brightest red and on to plummy purple pulled for ages.  I didn't have a pattern in mind, but then I decided to take the opportunity offered by the need to make a quilt for my local guild's Dresden plate challenge.

I see fire quilt in progress 

Getting this colour wash effect was surprising difficult and involved a lot of rearranging!

I see fire quilt in progress

Now I'm working on hundreds of tiny dresden blades.  This quilt is a bit of a moving feast so I'm keeping the final plan under wraps for now.

It's still Wednesday somewhere, so I'm linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

By the way, I've drawn the winner for my Sew Me a Song giveaway, and it was comment number 63. I've been in touch with the winner Ella already!  Thank you so much to everyone who entered.

Follow on Bloglovin