Sunday, 31 August 2014

Giveaway winners!

The winners of last week's giveaways have been drawn.

First up, bee is the winner of a couple of patterns from Juliet at The Tartankiwi.

And Shayne is the winner of the Quilter's Dream batting sampler pack from Massdrop.

Congratulations to both the winners, and thanks so much to everyone who entered!

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Caturday Wisdom #83

Don't underestimate the effect of a smart appearance...

...when negotiating boundary lines. Ralph

I think this is what sitting pretty looks like for a cat. It's possible Ralph was trying to minimise heat loss on a cold day but that might be giving him too much credit.
Happy weekend!

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Introducing Massdrop (and a giveaway)

Today I'd like to introduce my newest sponsor, Massdrop.  Massdrop is a website that brings people who are interested in similar products together to buy in bulk and therefore access great prices.

This Heather Ross Far Far Away bundle is one of Massdrop's current drops.
One of the pretty cool things about Massdrop is that any member can create polls for products they'd like to be able to buy.  You can also vote on any poll and join in the discussions.  The way Massdrop works is that once enough people have voted on a poll, Massdrop contacts the supplier and sets up the deal. Prices are usually tiered, so that as more people join the deal, the price goes down further and further.  You aren't charged until the deal ends, so you only ever pay the lowest price that the deal reaches, and you can also commit to join when the deal hits the lowest possible price.  You can check out more of the technical stuff on Massdrop's FAQ page.

How cute are these Elizabeth Hartman animal patterns

The other cool thing about Massdrop is its crafting buyer, Sarah.  She is a quilter herself, and I think you can tell from the polls she starts and the deals she puts together.  She's also super active in the discussions and when @massdrop comments on something on instagram, that's Sarah.  I've been emailing back and forth with her about Massdrop joining me as a sponsor, and she is a delight to deal with and truly passionate about making Massdrop awesome for crafters.

For me, the clincher is that Massdrop's shipping prices to New Zealand are really reasonable.  That's a huge factor in my online purchasing decisions (other online stores take note) and I know it's the same for other people who live outside the US.

Massdrop is generously letting me give away this Quilter's Dream batting sampler pack.  I have to confess that I haven't tried Quilter's Dream batting before, but I'm excited to try the three different kinds of batting in this pack.  There's enough batting here to make three twin size quilts (or double bed size, by New Zealand standard).  One of the things I really like about Massdrop is that the low prices and great shipping rates mean it's a good option for trying new things you've been wondering about but haven't wanted to commit to.

To enter, just leave a comment here.  If you want, you can let me know something you'd like to see on Massdrop.  The giveaway will close at 8:30 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday 31 August 2014, and I'll pick a winner using the random number generator. This giveaway is open internationally, but if I can't contact you, you can't win. Please make sure to leave your email in the comment if you think you might be a no-reply blogger (and check out my tutorial here if you're not sure).

I know my posts have been a little giveaway heavy lately.  It's really a function of timing - enjoy it while it lasts!  I'm still committed to maintaining a high level of content on the blog and keeping sponsored posts to an appropriate level.

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Ursa Major aka the Big Bear (and a giveaway)

A couple of months ago I saw that Juliet from The Tartankiwi had designed an amazing big bear block.  I put my hand up to pattern test it because I thought it was just so cool!

This was the image I saw in Juliet's instagram feed!

I have to confess that when I opened up the pattern Juliet sent me, I wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew.  This block is 30" square and there are quite a few pieces to tape together.  I have some experience with paper piecing but I wouldn't call myself a paper piecing expert or anything.  However, once I decided to make a polar bear version, I got so excited about putting my block together that I got over my fears.

Ursa Major

After that, the whole process went super smoothly.  It took me one evening after work to cut out all my pattern pieces and tape them together, and then this Saturday I pieced the whole thing in one day.

Ursa Major

You can see from the back of my pattern that I made quite a few notes to myself to help with fabric placement!  It's definitely a must with something this size.  I also used a lot of Juliet's paper piecing tips and tricks and they really helped, particularly with some parts of the process I've found challenging in the past, like joining the pattern pieces.

Ursa Major 

I'm so glad I got through my nervousness about this block and actually stitched it up.  I am completely in love with the bear I made.  Using a lot of low volume fabrics for the bear presented quite a challenge in terms of getting enough contrast between the different parts of the bear's body - something I relished.  My fabric choices were not completely perfect but at the same time they resulted in some surprising and pleasing things (like the bear on his nose and the &love tattoo), so overall I'm happy.

Ursa Major

I was lucky enough to meet Juliet earlier this year when she was in Wellington for Handmade.  She is honestly the nicest person and I am just in awe of her talent for designing paper pieced blocks.  You absolutely must head over and check out Juliet's post which shows the block she made and the blocks all the other pattern testers made - without exception they are gorgeous and creative!

Juliet's Big Bear pattern is now available on Craftsy for the super bargain price of $2.95 for the first 48 hours (the price will then be increasing to $5.00 which I still think is a bargain for the massive amount of work Juliet has put into making this pattern awesome and easy to use).

Ursa Major

Juliet is very kindly letting me give away a pdf copy of her Big Bear pattern, together with a pdf copy of one of her other patterns.  To enter, just leave a comment here letting me know which other pattern of Juliet's you'd like to win - you can check out her Craftsy store here.  If you win and you've already bought the Big Bear pattern, Juliet will either refund you, or give you another pattern of your choice - whichever you prefer.

The giveaway will close at 8:30 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday 31 August 2014, and I'll pick a winner using the random number generator.  This giveaway is open internationally, but if I can't contact you, you can't win.  Please make sure to leave your email in the comment if you think you might be a no-reply blogger (and check out my tutorial here if you're not sure).

Thank you, Juliet, for letting me be a pattern tester for this block.  It pushed me to do something that I wasn't completely sure I could manage, and I love the result.  I think the most satisfying quilts come from the times you push your limits and succeed anyway!

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Full disclosure: the links in this post are affiliate links.  This means that if you're not already a Craftsy member and you sign up after clicking through from this post, I'll earn a small commission.  I've been a Craftsy affiliate for ages because I think their classes are great and I love the way they facilitate indie designers like Juliet.

Monday, 25 August 2014

#blockadayjuly quilt

Dear quilt-as-you-go,

I'm sorry.  I thought you were kind of lame.  An inferior method only to be used in extremis.  

#blockadayjuly quilt 

Well, I was wrong.  I was unfairly maligning you. 

#blockadayjuly quilt 

It was so much easier to quilt the blocks as I made them.  Putting them together really wasn't hard and I like the sashing effect.  

#blockadayjuly quilt 

And, I love how the back looks - you let me make it much more interesting than it otherwise would have been.

#blockadayjuly quilt 

  So, quilt-as-you-go, thanks for the lesson and I'll be seeing you again.  Lots of love, Adrianne.

#blockadayjuly quilt 

These are the blocks I made during July as part of my block a day July challenge.  I generally used Alison from Little Island Quilting's QAYG method to assemble them, except that I cut my strips for the front 1 1/8" wide and my strips for the back 1 7/8" wide.  I also stitched in the ditch from the front rather than stitching from the back, and I glue basted the strips on the back before I stitched them in place.

#blockadayjuly quilt

I'm quite thrilled with how this quilt has come out.  I didn't really have a vision for it before I started, and it's very colourful and random.  I decided just to add in some plain blocks to fill in the blank spots so I would have a regular shaped quilt.  You can see there are a couple of blocks when I grabbed the wrong white for the back of my quilt - at night, it was hard to tell, but in daylight it's pretty obvious (I'm ok with it).

So, have you done quilt-as-you-go before?  Would you give it a try?

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Saturday, 23 August 2014

Caturday Wisdom #82

Bide your time. Ivy

It's pretty even between the two of them in terms of picking and winning fights. They're just playing here but last week Ralph got a sharp whack on the head for trying to make a move on a piece of bacon Ivy was eating incredibly slowly. He was honestly dumbfounded and it was so funny. Ivy has curious food favourites which so far seem to be limited to egg yolk and toast crumbs (she eventually abandoned the bacon), and not tuna/steak/chicken/ham/everything like Ralph. 

Friday, 22 August 2014

Quick and satisfying quilting

This weekend I had the opportunity to quilt up two little quilt tops made by my friend Lara. She is busy making lots of little quilts and other stitchy things for her sons' school fair, and a mutual friend and I decided to give her a hand.

Little 1930's repro print quilts 

There's really nothing fancy in this quilting - it took all of a couple of hours, but it was oh so satisfying to get done over the course of a day.

Little 1930's repro print quilts 

I'd been lucky enough to get my hands on Camille Roskelley's thread collection for Aurifil, Simplify, (thanks Anne!) and I was delighted to see that the colours went perfectly with the 1930's repro prints that Lara used in the quilt tops. Even more fortunately, the collection included a red thread that almost perfectly matched the solid Lara gave me as backing fabric.

Little 1930's repro print quilts 

I used the orange thread on the front of the quilts, and it blended in nicely while still adding just a little bit of interest.

Little 1930's repro print quilts 

You can see that I stuck with straight lines for the quilting, using very similar but slightly different designs for each quilt.

Little 1930's repro print quilts 

I also found a machine binding method that worked well for me. It's something I've struggled with, because I haven't really been happy with the finish on my machine bindings, especially compared to hand binding. But, it's so much quicker that it was worth persevering with. I want to play around with my new method a couple more times, and all going well I'll be sharing it on the blog after that.

Little 1930's repro print quilts

I also want to say a little something about Aurifil.  Like many in the online quilting world, I followed the discussion about Aurifil's marketing tactics (including online behaviour from its front-man, Alex Veronelli), with interest. I largely agreed with what Florence (aka Flossie Teacakes) had to say, and somewhat (but less so) with Abby Glassenberg's original post.  I also thought that Angela Pingel from Cut to Pieces made some valid points in her post on the topic.

Aurifil's marketing tactics, particularly the #aurigirls instagram campaign, made me uncomfortable enough to stop mentioning Aurifil in my blog posts and tagging #aurifil in my instagram pictures.  I did not, however, stop using Aurifil threads in my sewing machine and my hand stitching needle, because I believe they make great quality thread. I was relieved that I wasn't the only one who felt uncomfortable, and pleased when Aurifil and Alex Veronelli reacted positively by taking down the offending posts, and when Alex posted on Facebook addressing the issue head-on.

I think this topic has been talked about enough, so I'm not really looking to perpetuate the discussion.  However, I would like to publicly acknowledge that while I was disappointed with Aurifil's marketing efforts, I love their thread, and I appreciate the way they listened to the people who raised concerns, and responded positively.  It's certainly the first step to winning back my trust.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Polka Dot Tea Fabrics (and a giveaway)

Today I have a really beautiful giveaway for you from the lovely ladies at Polka Dot Tea Fabrics.

Danielle and Jeanette are the fabric-loving forces behind Polka Dot Tea Fabrics, and they've curated a shop full of interesting Japanese fabrics, beautiful solids and semi-solids, and liberty.  

I'm a member of round 1 of their liberty club (round 2 of the liberty club is still open and I'm so tempted because the fabrics are different to those in round 1...) and I adore the fabrics they've sent through each month so far.

You can buy most of the fabrics that Polka Dot Tea Fabrics stock by the fat quarter (so nice, when a lot of online shops require you to buy a half yard), and they also have smaller bundles of fat eighths and fat sixteenths which are really fantastic for getting a variety of fabrics without breaking the bank.

This bundle, or a version very similar, has found its way into my stash already.

I'm a bit of a solids snob, and the Michael Miller cotton couture solids that the Polka Dot Tea Fabrics girls stock are on my approved list.  I like the look of these roll-ups (5" wide WOF strips in a variety of colours).  

Really, you should go and check out the Polka Dot Tea Fabrics website and blog, and their etsy shop - there's lots of lovely stuff.  

So, onto the giveaway.  I have this bundle of 16 fat-sixteenths of gorgeous Suzuko Koseki fabric to give away to one lucky reader.

There are two ways to enter:
  • follow my blog, and leave a comment here letting me know you do; and
  • follow me (@adrianneonthewindyside) and Polka Dot Tea Fabrics (@polkadotteafabrics) on instagram, and re-post my giveaway image on instagram.
I'll add up the comments on my blog and the number of re-posts on instagram and pick a winner using the random number generator.  The giveaway will close at 8:30 p.m. New Zealand time on Sunday 24 August 2014.  This giveaway is open internationally, but if I can't contact you, you can't win.  Please make sure to leave your email in the comment if you think you might be a no-reply blogger (and check out my tutorial here if you're not sure).

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Full disclosure: Polka Dot Tea Fabrics have provided me with the same bundle I'm giving away in exchange for this giveaway.  That said, all opinions expressed in this post are my own, and all my previous purchases from Polka Dot Tea Fabrics have been on arms' length terms, and I've been very happy with the products and service I've received.  I take reviews and recommendations very seriously and I wouldn't recommend any shop or product here that I wouldn't equally recommend to my friends and family.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Scaled stars (a quilt block tutorial)

 A few weeks ago, I enjoyed making some Scrappy Star blocks using Clover and Violet's awesome tutorial.  I used them in this quilt chunk which now lives with Jess from The Elven Garden.

Anyway, at the time I was doing my block a day July challenge, and I decided to scale down this star block to 6 1/2" so I could use it in my quilt.

This is my 6 1/2" version, liberty on a low volume background.  It's actually a slight variation on Jennie's original block, because it was easier for me to figure out that way.  As a result, my 12" version of this block is slightly different to Jennie's.  (If you're curious, my block is a true nine patch, with all nine patches being squares of the same size.  Jennie's is a variation on a nine patch - there are nine patches which come together to form the block, but they are not all the same size).

Anyway, a couple of people have asked me for my method for making this block and Jennie from Clover and Violet has very kindly agreed to let me link back to her original tutorial, so here are the measurements for a variety of different scaled star block sizes.

12" finished block - cut:

4 - 4 1/2" background fabric squares
1 - 4 1/2" star fabric square
8 - 2 1/2" by 4 1/2" background fabric rectangles
8 - 2 1/2" star fabric squares

9" finished block - cut:

4 - 3 1/2" background fabric squares
1 - 3 1/2" star fabric square
8 - 2" by 3 1/2" background fabric rectangles
8 - 2" star fabric squares

6" finished block - cut:

4 - 2 1/2" background fabric squares
1 - 2 1/2" star fabric square
8 - 1 1/2" by 2 1/2" background fabric rectangles
8 - 1 1/2 star fabric squares

3" finished block (for the truly insane) - cut:

4 - 1 1/2" background fabric squares
1 - 1 1/2" star fabric square
8 - 1" by 1 1/2" background fabric rectangles
8 - 1" star fabric squares

The method for constructing the block is exactly the same as that set out in the original Clover and Violet scrappy stars tutorial.  Once you have made the block it will measure 12 1/2", 9 1/2", 6 1/2" or 3 1/2" as applicable - the finished size above is once the block is stitched into a quilt.

Please let me know if you make a scaled star block using my measurements and Jennie's tutorial - I'd love to know about it (and you're more than welcome to add it to the On the Windy Side Flickr group).

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Saturday, 16 August 2014

Caturday Wisdom #81

Embrace your passions! Even if your passion is garbage. Literally. Ralph

Ralph is in love with this ripped up paper bag. The cats tend not to sit still unless they are in comfort-cat mode (oval-shaped with paws tucked under) but Ralph sat in stealth mode under this bag for ages. I laughed the entire time.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Thursday Inspiration: Rachel Wooden Spoon

This Thursday I am super excited to feature a fellow Kiwi and incredibly talented quilter, Rachel (aka Wooden Spoon).  Rachel doesn't have a blog (yet) but she's really active in the online quilting community through flickr and instagram (find her on instagram here).

Self portrait ;)

Rachel makes the most stunning quilts and quilted items.  Her fabric selections are always spot on, her finishing is impeccable and she's incredibly creative.  I was lucky enough to meet Rachel late last year - we happened to be holidaying in the same place at Christmas and caught up for lunch (with Deb) which lasted for about 4 hours.  She's a lovely person and I think it totally comes through in her online interactions.  Anyway, that's enough from me - here's Rachel.  As always, my questions are in bold and her answers are in normal text.

Scrappy Spring Sprouts Pillow for PTS10
For me, this Scrappy Spring Sprouts pillow is such an iconic Rachel piece!

Does your family have a quilting or sewing history, or are you a first generation quilter? 
There is loads of crafty talent on mum's side of the family. Grandma and great-grandma were both sewists. As a child, I remember afternoons spent helping grandma with her hexagon quilts. My job was to cut the templates from Grandma's carefully recycled envelopes, I remember her reminding me to cut them carefully. I'm not sure if my cutting skills were up to it, I have no idea if she ever actually used any of the templates that I made for her!! Mum has many crafty talents, one of which is quilting. And I've just started teaching my 7 year old daughter how to quilt. She's not that enthusiastic but I'm hoping that will change!

How did you start quilting, and how long have you been quilting for? 
Despite all the talent in my family, I was never particularly interested in sewing while growing up. Sewing classes at school were just another chore (brown canvas duffle bag anyone?). It wasn't until I was in my 30s and I discovered modern fabrics that I really became interested. Mum had a new quilting book (Material Obsession), I loved it so much that I bought a copy for myself. Then Mum took me fabric shopping in a modern quilt store, we bought 14 FQs so that I could make my first quilt. That seemed like so much fabric back then! I did some online research and discovered a brick quilt by Amy Butler. I changed the measurements a little so that I could use as much of the fabric as possible, I didn't want any leftovers, I hadn't discovered the joy of scraps back then! I have to say that a brick quilt is the perfect beginners quilt, there are no points to line up at all! I was really happy with how it turned out and I started making another one as soon as I'd finished it. That was 6 years ago and that first quilt is still in constant use, and miraculously it hasn't started falling to pieces either!

X-Factor Pillow Round 5 - Cocktail Party
This Cocktail Party cushion Rachel made for the X Factor Pillow Swap has so many of my fave fabrics in it.

How would you describe your quilting style? 
I mostly work with very simple blocks and shapes, there are just so many possibilities with squares, triangles and curves and my favourite quilts are madly scrappy. So I guess I would say my style is simple shapes, scrappy fabrics and somewhere heading towards modern in design.

Where do you find inspiration for your quilts? 
My main source of inspiration is the online quilting community, I tend to spend a bit of time (ok, maybe a lot!?) each day keeping up with IG, blogs and Flickr. I can't help spotting inspiration in all sorts of other places, like the pattern the railing makes when I'm driving over the bridge, the pretty colours on a blanket in a store, the retro curves pattern on a mug at the cafe... I'm not very organised at collating these ideas yet though, there are pieces of paper all over the place with ideas scribbled on them, and random photos throughout my phone's photo library! I need to start keeping them all in one place for those times when I'm completely lacking in inspiration!

Aeroplane Bag for my Sew Sew Modern partner
Whoever received this stunning Aeroplane Bag from Rachel is sooo lucky!

Do you like to follow patterns or create your own designs (or a bit of both)? 
Definitely a bit of both. I love playing around with ideas and coming up with my own thing but I also love the speed and ease of following a pattern.

Are you a member of a local guild?
I'm not a member of the local quilt guild but I am lucky enough to be part of two regular crafty get-togethers.

Have you ever met any of your online sewing friends in real life? 
I feel really lucky to have met quite a few of my online friends now, including you Adrianne! And last week I was thrilled to meet and host Amanda from everydayfray and her husband. I'm heading to Quiltcon in February (thanks to encouragement from you and Deb!) where I'm really looking forward to meeting more of my online friends.

Courthouse Steps for my Sewing Room Swap partner
Rachel really combined colours cleverly in this Courthouse Steps cushion

Have you ever thought about starting a blog? 
I'm scheming to start my own blog sometime soon. It's a little scary but another opportunity to take part in this awesome community.

You are a prolific swapper. What is it about swaps that keeps you coming back for more? 
Swapping is a fun way to meet other quilters, it has also pushed me to try projects that I may not otherwise have tackled. And I definitely work well to deadlines, as my pile of personal WIPs can attest. And then to top it all off, there's the fun of receiving a handmade gift in the mail. It's easy to forget that part when you're madly trying to finish up your items!

Shoot for the Stars Pillow
This Shoot for the Stars cushion shows Rachel's masterful use of low volume

What is your favourite thing about the online quilting community? And what is one thing that you would change, if you could? 
My favourite thing is the warmth, generosity, inspiration and support that the online community provides. There is so much good going on all the time!

Confession time - how many quilts do you have in your house right now? 
A quick tally up suggests about 12 quilts that are throw size or bigger, not all of them made by me. I do also have several quilt tops and a few piles of blocks that haven't made it to quilt top status yet. Thank goodness you didn't ask me to count them!

Spinning Stars QAL Twin Quilt Top in Good Folks
I LOVE the Good Folks collection from Anna Maria Horner and the way Rachel used it in this Spinning Stars quilt top.

Do you do any crafts other than quilting?
Quilting is pretty much all consuming for me. I used to dabble in making books but I haven't done any of that since I started this quilting adventure!

Where do you see your quilting going - is it a career or a hobby for you and would you like to change that?
Quilting is definitely a hobby for me, I don't see that changing just yet.

Christmas Snowflake ...a better photo and a little QAL
This Christmas Snowflake cushion is so cute and Rachel even has a tutorial for it here

Do you have any tips or tricks or things that have changed your quilting life that you'd like to share?
The biggest influence so far has been joining the online community (signing up to Flickr and IG). Sharing my photos, taking part in swaps and admiring what everyone else is making has had a huge influence on what I make. I would say if you're not already part of the online community then take the plunge! I've even managed to get my mum on Instagram!

What is your favourite part of the quilting process (and what's your least favourite part)?
There's only one part I really don't like and that is basting! It doesn't help that I don't have a good surface to baste on, loop pile carpet really doesn't cut it (my pins like to loop through the pile :) Everything else is the best bit, from scheming and dreaming to the last stitch on the binding.

To the moon and back.
What a sweet pillow, and I love Rachel's use of Lizzy House's Constellations line in it.

If you could do a quilting class with anyone at all, who would you choose?
Thanks to Quiltcon, I will be taking classes with some of my quilting heroes. Yay! Beyond that I think my ultimate would be to join Denyse Schmidt on one of her weekend workshops, like this one. A girl can dream!

Are there any quilting techniques you haven't tried yet but that you'd like to?
So many!! One technique I came across recently that I'd love to try, is the Dale Fleming 6 minute circle.  Latifah The Quilt Engineer uses it in this quilt and Lizzy House uses it in The Meadow quilt.

Low volume plus quilt
I love Rachel's low volume plus quilt so much - the quilting (by Donna Ward) is just beautiful too

What's something about you that people might be surprised to know? 
Hmmmmm. I can't think of a single thing!

Thank you so much to Rachel for taking part in my interview series.  I've loved finding out a bit more about her and I hope you have too.  Be sure to follow Rachel's sewing adventures on flickr and instagram (and I'll update you when she has started her blog).

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