ME BEING CRAFTY PODCAST

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of being interviewed by my quilty friend Tsonki.  We connected during this year’s Fat Quarterly Retreat and I was so excited when she asked me to appear on her podcast Me Being Crafty.  I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous!  I’d never done anything like it before and I’m not the greatest fan of my own voice (I’ve yet to meet anyone who is!) and I was worried I’d freeze up and not be able to find the words.  A few minutes in and I was totally relaxed.  Tsonki is a great host and asked me some really thought-provoking questions.  I had so much fun and was excited when she asked me come back.

You can listen to the full podcast on Tsonki’s blog by clicking here, or listen on iTunes here, or Stitcher here.  I’ve had a listen and I’m apologising in advance for the numerous times I say exciting!


 

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – SEPTEMBER

With the last month of the first No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee fast approaching, I thought it was high time that I caught up on these blog posts.  In my defense I’m only two months behind, and October is mine.  So that just leaves September, and the amazingly creative Mr Giuseppe Ribaudo.  G is one of the nicest people you could ever (virtually) meet.  His Instagram feed is a thing of beauty and if you aren’t already following him, leave here and go take care of that first.  He can be found as giucy_giuce.  Go on, I’ll wait…

Ready?  So, as I said, he is such a talent and his quilting output is a thing of enviable beauty.  I only hope that as I travel my quilting journey I’ll match the smallest part of his awesomeness!

For his month, G requested complete and total scrappy chaos!  We were tasked with making any blocks, any size; one behemoth, or several smaller; squares, rectangles or triangles were all fair game.  The only real request was that the blocks were in colour order and any background was neutral or low volume, so as to achieve a scrappy, tea-stained looked.  I was in my element and couldn’t wait to get started!

I had no end of scraps to rummage through, and began but pulling a few from each section of the colour wheel; solids, prints and some amazing wood grain that I jump at the change to use.  Then I just got down and dirty with the sewing machine, sewing this to that with a vague plan forming in my improv-induced creative coma.  It was great fun!

These blocks were so addictive, I could have easily carried on making them all day.  I made the first two, yet my appetite for rainbow piecing wasn’t quite sated, so I made one more.  The rectangular one is long, finishing at around 24″.  I so excited to see how G fits all these pieces together.  From what I’ve seen of the other blocks this is going to be one awesome quilt.  This last photo is a homage to G and includes not only my feet but one paw of a certain pug.  He loves getting in on the bee action too!

I was surprised my how resourceful ones stash can actually be.  When I saw the block instructions called for tea-stained fabrics, I was thinking “am I gonna have to do a spot of home dying here?”.  Surprisingly, I had a lot more neutrals than I thought.  The lesson learnt?  You don’t always have to run to the fabric shop…sometimes you can walk!

October is my month of the bee and I can’t wait to see what all these amazingly talented guys come up with for me.  I’ll be sharing the details of what I’ve requested soon but for now, I’m off to work of my November blocks.  Remember to follow along on Instagram with the #NGAQB hashtag.  Sandy, Mr January, has just had his top long arm quilted and the results are stunning!  Go forth and drool!

Thanks for visitng!

STASHING #26

Oh fabric, how I’ve missed you!  Not sewing with you, because there’s been a lot of that going on lately, but buying you.  Of that, there hasn’t been so much.  In fact, I’ve been missing from Sunday Stash for such a long time.  It’s great to be back!  I feel like Bette Midler, who, after almost thirty years, is returning to these shores for a series of concerts. Some say love, it is a river…I say it’s finally getting your hands on fabric you bought who-knows-how-long-ago!

You may remember a long while back I had a number of fabric acquisitions sent to my American Mum’s house for safe keeping.  She really is the greatest and lets me use her home like a post office come storage unit for those times when I simply have to have something but the seller won’t ship international.  Having such a place also allows me to enter international competitions my UK abode would otherwise prohibit.  It’s not what you know but who, right?  One of my quilting besties Kelly (the_orriginal on Instagram) is visiting the UK soon and offered to be a fabric mule for me…again!  Although I didn’t have the funds for any new purchases, I thought it was the perfect opportunity to get some (I couldn’t burden her with it all) of the fabric in storage to this side of the pond.  What I wasn’t expecting was for the rest to arrive in a lovely care package, completely with Napa Valley roasted coffee and lots of chocolate.  Thanks Mum!  Expect a lot of fabric sharing in the next coming weeks as I’ll be meeting up with Kelly to retrieve the rest, but for now, here’s a few of the beauties.

To be honest, I completely forgot  I bought this awesome Unicorns and Rainbows bundle by Riley Blake Designs.  I mean, what fabric stash is complete without fabric like this?  Bright, bold and fantastically fantastical.  Anything with unicorns on is sure to be a winner with me.  Second up is something I wasn’t expecting.  A beautiful bundle of hand-dyed batiks from Hawaii.  American Parents visited recently from Napa and picked this up for me.  The fabrics are so much nicer in person and no justice whatsoever is done my photography.  These will be saved for something very special.  I’ve never used batiks before and will have to wait for the perfect project to justify cutting into them.

As I said, lots more to come, but for now check out all the other additions people have been making.  There’s a bit of a celebration going on over at Molli Sparkles today, as Sunday Stash reaches triple digits!  There’s a prize to be won, and maybe some cake.

OAKSHOTT BLOG HOP AND A LEAF SKELETON QUILT

A big, warm welcome to my stop on the Oakshott Autumn bundle Blog Hop.  I’m mighty excited to share what I’ve been working on over the last few weeks with you all.  When I first saw the bundle that Oakshott have put together I knew I had to get my hands on it.  I mean, come on, just look at those colours, which are not done any justice by my photography.  Most people stare at me with a look in their eye that screams “Is this person for real?” whenever I say “Yeah, I’m more of an autumn, winter kind of guy.  I’d rather be cold than hot.  Give me a log cabin and a roaring fire over a beach any day.”  A sun worshiper I am not, so these crisp, season-changing colours are right up my leaf-littered street.

Though not my first outing with Oakshott, I’d never used them on this scale before, but I can tell you the pleasure was multiplied.  The bundle is a beautiful thing to behold.  21 perfectly folded fat eighths tied together with a contrasting ribbon that got the creative cogs turning.  Obviously something autumnal was going to come out of this fabric, but I was aiming for something a little different.  After a few inspirational dog walks I became interested in the idea of capturing leaves that have broken down and become skeletons; those wispy, frail-looking things that sit amongst the bottom of the leaf litter.  I got to scribbling and finally came up with something I thought would work.

I had so much fun making these blocks and could have easily made many more.  Sometimes, with certain blocks, I almost get a “ugh, how many more?’ kind of feeling.  Not with these.  They were fun and fast to make (especially when your making them at night with a dog at your feet and Dione Warwick for company.)

The quilt layout is simple and finishes at 44″ x 60″.  The leaf skeletons blocks are pieced into rows, with the odd one turned upside down for some added interest.  Since I requested some additional yardage in the nutmeg colourway, I used that to add some negative space in between.  I kept the quilting simple and used a variegated thread to quilt leaf shapes around the skeletons, whilst using the open spaces to add some more elaborate, fern-like leaves. The backing is a great monochrome leaf-shaped print I found at Ikea and the binding, an orange line print from my LQS.  I recently started cutting my binding strips to 2″ and I really like the skinnier binding on this quilt.

Want to make your own leaf skeleton block?  Well you’re in luck.  Here’s a tutorial!

Leaf Skeleton Block

The fat eighths in the bundle measure approximately 27″ x 10″, though you may find some slight variation.  Since this block is pieced  improvisational, exact measurements aren’t essential as we’ll be squaring the blocks up at the end.  You may want to read through all the instructions first to get an idea of the technique.  Before starting, I pressed and starched all my fabrics though feel free to skip this step.  Each of the fat eighths will yield 2 blocks, though you need to mix and match from different fabrics to achieve contrast.  Take your first fat eighth and cut it as follows, remembering the exact measurements may be ever so slightly different.

Two 0.75″ x width of fabric strips from the shorter side

Two 0.75″ x length of fabric strips from the longer side

Four rectangles approximately 4″ x 13″ from the remaining fabric.

Take the one of the longer strips and cut it in half.  Take the 2 shorter strips and cut each in half to give 4.  Take the second longer strip and cut it into 6 pieces the same size as those cut from the 2 shorter strips.  Take 2 of the rectangles and cut each from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  You can see that in the example above I’ve taken fabric from 2 different coloured fat eighths.  This will make each side of the block a different colour.  If you’d like both sides of your block to be the same, simply use all the rectangles from the same coloured fabric.  However, the leaf skeleton fabric must be different in order for it to be seen, so be sure to take that from a different fat eighth.  I found it easier to cut all my fabrics first and then mix and match the colours.

Take the remain 2 rectangles and place them on your cutting mat.  Using a rotary cutter and ruler make 5 angled cuts along the length of each rectangle, varying the widths as you go.  Be sure to cut one rectangle with the angle towards the left and the other with the angle towards the right, as shown in the picture.  If you want a particular colour to be on a specific side of your block, it’s important to cut as follows.  To be on the RIGHT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the green fabric above.  To be on the LEFT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the orange.  If you don’t mind what side they appear on, of if you’re using the same fabric, just make sure you have one set of cuts going one way and the other going the opposite.  Hopefully you’re all still with me and I’m not confusing you too much!  Its gets easier from here on, I promise!

Take your 1o short strips and place them into the cuts you’ve just made.  Using a quarter-inch seam (although accuracy is not as important for this block) sew a strip right sides together to each of the cuts then press the seams to the side.  Make sure to keep the pieces in the correct order.  I found it helpful to chain piece all the strips first, then snip them and place them back onto my mat.

Next sew each of the pieces of the rectangle back together, making sure to line up the edges as shown above, and press the seams to the side.  Repeat for the second rectangle.  You should now have 2 rectangles each with 5 strips in them.  Yay!

Cut each rectangle from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  Again, a little thought is needed to make sure you cut in the right direction.  You can see above that in the block, the leaf skeleton “arms” always point upwards.  You’ll want to make sure that you cut from the corners that will result in that.  Also, you can see that the direction we cut when we inserted our strips has resulted in the green fabric being on the right of the block and the orange on the left.  Just be sure to refer to the pictures before making any cuts.  The worst that can happen is that your leaf limbs will point downwards rather than up, and who knows, maybe you’ll like that!

Sew a plain triangle to the cut side of your striped triangle and press to the side.  Repeat for the other 3 striped triangles.

Use your ruler to straighten the other side of the block, taking care not to cut too much away.  Take your remaining long strip and sew it to the long edge, allowing a little overhang at the top and bottom.  Now sew the other side of the leaf to the strip.  Despite the amount of fabric build up in the central section of the block, I pressed my seam to the side and had no problems.  Do what works for you.

You now have a completed leaf skeleton block!  All that’s left to do is to square it up.  Due to the improvisational nature of the block the finished size will depended on a few things, most notably the amount you trimmed from the side before inserting you leaf’s spine.  You may notice that you fabric has distorted somewhat, due to all the bias edges.  Panic not!  This is a fun block and shouldn’t course stress.  Just trim all your blocks down to the size of your smallest one.  I found that I could trim mine to 6″ X 10.5″ for a block that finishes at 5.5″ x 10″.

And there you have it, a leaf skeleton block all ready for your own leaf skeleton quilt.  These really do look good en mass, and I’d love to see them mixed in with some other leafy block for a real forest feel.  I’d love to see your versions of the blocks, so feel free to add any links to your work in the comment section below.  If you’re on Instagram, feel free to tag me or use the hashtag #leavesfromtheattic so I can check out what you’ve been up to.  This is my first ever tutorial, so please be gentle with me!  If you have any questions or there’s something you don’t understand, please leave a comment below and and I’ll get back to you.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Oakshott for giving me these goodies to play with, and to Lynne of Lily’s Quilts for organising the blog hop.  Make sure you check out all the other great stuff that my extremely talented peers have come up with by visiting all the other stops of the hop.

Thanks for visiting!

21st October – Sonia Spence – www.fabricandflowers.blogspot.co.uk

22nd October – Rossie Hutchinson – www.r0ssie.blogspot.com

24th October – Mary Menzer – www.fairlymerry.blogspot.com

28th October – Alison Dutton – www.alison-sews.blogspot.co.uk

30th October – Kati Spencer – www.fromthebluechair.com

31st October – Wynn Tan – www.zakkaArt.typepad.com

BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT

Swiftly following the anniversary of this blog is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, which happens twice a year to coincide with International Quilt Market.  I was so swamped in the spring that the festival passed me by, so I’m excited to be involved again this time around.  The sheer abundance of creativity and inspiration throughout the festival makes it a date to remember for anyone as enamored by patchwork and quilting as me.  Just remember to set aside half a day to browse all the entries, oh, and bring biscuits too!

This time I’ve decided to enter my Vegetable Patch Quilt into the Original Design Quilts category.  This quilt remains something I’m immensely proud of.  Be sure to check out this post for more details about its conception and construction.  I’m not ashamed to say that every now and then I lay it out and just stare at it.  When I started my quilting journey, the idea of making anything remotely like this was laughable, let alone design it myself.  It’s funny what we learn on our quilting journey.  This was the quilt that solidified my love for improvisational piecing and abandonment of the quilting rule book (which so many people tell me doesn’t even exist!)

Much like the subject matter, the journey of this quilt was an organic one.  It began with an image of a leek, which took root in my brain and compelled me to fashion it from fabric.  Scraps of fabric littered the attic and I risked a local shortage of spray starch as I sewed and hacked my vegetable blocks.  So liberating and so inspiring!  Since I finished the quilt it has become the most commented-on thing I’ve made and I was pleased to share it with my fellow quilters at the recent Fat Quarterly Retreat in London.  It’s definitely a keeper, and I can see the patch ‘growing’ in the near future.

I have to end with a huge thank you to Amy from Amy’s Creative Side who works so hard to bring us the festival each year.  I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of organising that must go into it and I feel so privileged to be a part of such an amazingly creative experience.  Now, go forth and vote for your favourite in each category!

LEWIS AND IRENE – A GIVEAWAY WINNER

Just a little bit of belated housekeeping today.  I’ve been so consumed with deadlines of late that this little giveaway completely slipped my mind!  So, apologies if you’ve all been on tenterhooks but I can now reveal that the random number generator picked farmquilter’s comment.

Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize.  Thanks to everyone who entered!

INTRODUCING LEWIS AND IRENE

There’s nothing nicer than taking a trip to a city or town, only to discover a new fabric shop. My quilted heart skips a beat every time I see the words sewing or haberdashery emblazoned across a shop front window.  A while back, quite a while back actually, I visited Hereford and sought out Doughty’s, a place I heard great things about.  You may remember I blogged about the experience in this post. One of the things I picked up was a great dinosaur print by an unfamiliar-to-me manufacturer, Lewis and Irene.  I really liked the look and feel of the fabric and set about investigated the company further.

A quick tour of their website and I was sold.  Their fabrics are “threaded with love and printed on 100% pre-shrunk cotton with a light Schreiner finish”.  They have some great collections, featuring a wide range of styles and colours.  Being the dinosaur geek I am, I was always going to be taken with Jurassic Coast, a bright and breezy collection with a perfect binding print.  Another favourite from their Autumn 2014 collections is Fox & Friends, which is full of cute critters and leafy tones, a lot of which would be right at home in my stash.  They have some great upcoming lines too, and I do love a fabric company that gives impatient quilters like me a sneak peek.  I’m particularly looking forward to Spring Hare, coming in 2015.

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast

Fox & Friends

Fox & Friends

Spring Hare

Spring Hare

I contacted Hannah, the creative director, who was kind enough to answer some questions and tell me a little more about the story behind Lewis and Irene.

“The directors of Lewis & Irene are Bryan (Managing Director) and Jacqueline Taphouse (Finance Director), Andrew Heaton (Sales Director) and I (Creative Director).  Andrew and Bryan have been in the textiles business forever.  Bryan for over 40 years now! We are based in Romsey in Hampshire.  Bryan and Jacqueline are my parents so it’s very much a family run company. It was Jacqueline who decided to start Lewis & Irene – we wanted to create a fresh company that designed for the modern quilter and had a wide appeal with lovely designs. We feel it’s exciting times for the craft industry with so much renewed interest in sewing and creating.”

“Once we had decided to start the company we had to think of a name.  My Grandpa died in 2012 and my Grandma died of cancer 26 years ago when she was just 58 years old. They were really incredible people. They showed such love to their little family despite not coming from the most loving backgrounds themselves. As a family we are very close and their influence has been passed down through three generations now. Their names were Lewis & Irene and we couldn’t think of a nicer tribute to them. ‘Threaded with love’ couldn’t be more appropriate! We have a lovely designer who Bryan and I work with very closely. The designs are a real team effort with each of us contributing something and it’s my very favourite part of my job! Lots of our collections have quite personal relevance.  Jurassic Coast for example is inspired by my little boy who is 4 and loves dinosaurs.  One of his favourite places to go is Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset so he can hunt for fossils and look at the dinosaurs bones in the marine center.  He runs around with his bucket and spade knowing it’s where the dinosaurs lived and his little imagination runs wild!  Every collection has a real meaning to us.”

I’m really looking forward to adding some more from the collections to my stash.  The variety of prints is great, with focal fabrics as well as useful blenders and small-scale prints that would work well in almost any project.  Fancy trying some of their fabrics for yourself? Yes?  Well isn’t it your lucky day. Lewis and Irene have generously provided a vintage fabulous forties for me to giveaway to one lucky reader.  What’s a fabulous forties I hear you ask!   It’s forty strips of fabric, each cut to two and a half inches, exactly like a jelly roll.  These cuts are so versatile and there are loads of great quilt patterns that use them.

To be in with a chance of winning, please sign up to follow the blog then leave a comment telling me what you’d make if you won.  If you’re already a follower go ahead and leave your comment.  I love hearing all your ideas!  For a bonus entry, go and like the Lewis and Irene Facebook page and leave a separate comment telling me you’ve done so.  I’ll leave the competition open for a week before randomly drawing a winner.  Good luck and thanks for visiting!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.