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.

A SECOND HALF SQUARE TRIANGLE QUILT

It’s officially October, my favorite month, and this latest finish is woefully late.  You see, back in June a work colleague and his wife brought home their newborn son.  Another colleague and I decided it would be a nice gesture to make a baby quilt for them. We had a collection and went shopping.  My friend is a student of fashion design and has similar tastes to me when it comes to fabrics.  We like the same colours and designs so the whole process was blissfully easy.  It’s not the first time we’ve collaborated on a project, having made a graduation quilt a few years earlier, and it was fun to teach her some new things, like half square triangles.

We chose a simple chevron layout, alternating the rows between light and dark fabrics.  We knew the sex of the baby before we pulled fabric, but wanted to stay away from the traditional blue palette, instead opting for something a bit more modern.  We chose low volume prints, including some Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, paired with mustards and blacks.  We used a variety of fabrics including some Robert Kauffman Essex linen and some double gauze.  This was my first time sewing with some Cotton and Steel basics.  They are so much nicer in person!  Some might think black an unusual choice for a baby quilt, but we were both sold and really like the bold statement it makes.  We pieced the top together in a day before I took it home to finish.

With a simple layout we opted for some equally simple quilting, wavy lines across the entire quilt top.  The quilting was a joy to do and I really dig the texture this type gives.  The backing was some Ikea Britten print that I had in my stash, whilst the solid black  binding continues the simple feel of the quilt.  This was the first time I’ve cut my binding strips two inches wide.  I really like the look of a skinny binding and I think this works better than my usual two and a quarter-inch strips.  The quilt finishes at 37″ square.

We’re both really pleased with how this one turned out and can’t wait to gift it, even if it is a little late!

BEYOND NEUTRAL BLOG TOUR – A WINNER

Just a quick hello from me today to announce the winner of my Beyond Neutral giveaway.  Thank you everyone who entered!  I really enjoyed reading through your comments and learning what inspires you.  Whilst there were many great answers, my favourite came from Karen, who said…

“I’m so fortunate to live in the Maine woods with the ocean just a few miles away. All I have to do is turn my head in any direction and see all the inspiring colors of nature and the gorgeous geography of granite boulders, blueberry barrens, rocky coastlines, hills and mountains, rivers–it’s all here. Multiply all of this beauty by 4 very distinct seasons (plus mud season) and the possibilities are endless. John’s book is truly a revelation!”

Congratulations Karen!  I’m intrigued to find out more about ‘mud season’!  I’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize.

BEYOND NEUTRAL BLOG TOUR

Readers old and new alike, welcome to my stop on the Beyond Neutral blog tour.  Now, you must excuse me if I suddenly yell out for smelling salts or a paper bag to breathe into.  You see, this is kind of big deal for me.  Regular readers of this blog will know how I’ve talked about John Adams, AKA Quilt Dad, at length.  He was the first male quilter I stumbled across whilst navigating the then-scary world of quilt blogs some years back, and as if my collaboration with him in the #NGAQB wasn’t enough, I now get to talk about his amazing new book!  How much of a groupie do I feel right now!

All images courtesy  of Martingale and Brent Kane

Beyond Neutral does exactly what it says on the tin.  For so many quilters, the background of their quilts are always destined to be some shade of white, grey or cream.  How refreshing then to see a book full of quilts that challenge that norm.  Sixteen quilts, each inspired by the beauty and wonder of nature.  The natural world is my go-to source for inspiration (Vegetable Patch Quilt anyone?) for so many of my own projects and John’s book looks to nature’s palette to inspire his bold and exciting colour choices; so far beyond neutral that neutral’s still packing its bags!

Any quilt that cites grass, trees, waves or rocks as a source of inspiration is going to be a hit with me.  There are so many great quilts in the book that I struggled to pick a favourite.  The beautiful locations and gorgeous photography make each quilt jump from the page and demand you make it before all others.  It’s no surprise that Pacific Crest became the cover star.  I was in love with it the moment I first saw the book.  The dynamic piecing coupled with John’s ballsy fabric placement creates a real sense of  movement and a quilt that truly wows.  Beginner quilters needn’t shy away from these designs either.  John’s clear and concise instructions along with simple piecing make the quilts in Beyond Neutral approachable for all skill levels.  The countless options for fabric selection makes each quilt so versatile and open to interpretation you’ll probably want to make more than one version of each!

Another that pulls at the heart-strings is Fox River.  Simple yet strikingly effective, the unusual pairing of woodland-themed prints with cool teals and yellow-greens makes for a visually intriguing quilt.  The eye is drawn across the top by intersecting lines of solid fabric that punctuated the prints in a most non-traditional way. I love it!

With so much quilty goodness, I couldn’t possible keep it all to myself!  The lovely people at Martingale are offering one reader their own digital copy of Beyond Neutral.  To be in with a chance of winning simply leave a comment on the post telling me what inspiration you take from nature, the more creative the better!  I’ll pick a winner in a weeks time.  Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – AUGUST

Hooray!  it’s September and I’m now officially caught up with my bee blocks.  August’s blocks were actually made after September’s but in the spirit of returning some structure to my increasingly hectic life, I’m at least going to blog about them in the correct order.

Taking the lead last month was Mr. Shauan Abels who, for some months now, has been a honorary Brit, staying at an RAF base on military service.  We’re hoping to meet up before he returns to the US at the end of this month and discuss all things quilt, Tula Pink and what really goes on in the navy!  As has become tradition for the members of the bee, here’s a few tidbits about Shaun which, owing to his tardiness in replying, some of the other guys made up.

1. Shaun likes big butts and he can not lie.

2. His drag queen name is Dixie Normous.

3. His favourite pants are quilted leather assless chaps.

4. The real reason he moved to the UK was so that he could freely perform “Baby Got Back” as Dixie Normous, while wearing his quilted leather assless chaps. You should see his tip jar!

5. His favourite pick up line is “Helllllo, sailor!” It works.
6. His first real job was slinging chicken wings as a Hooters girl. He still gardens in his orange shorts.
7. He considers Tula Pink a personal hero, second only to Nicki Minaj.
A little more interesting than the your usual bio, wouldn’t you agree?  Don’t forget to check out Shaun’s work, including the progress on his Tula Pink City Sampler, on Instagram, where he posts as slabels.  After a bit of a false start involving a copyright issue, Shaun scrapped his original block plans and made his month a free-for-all!  Once again the choice was ours.  We could make what we want, as long as it finished at 12.5″.  I thought for quite a while about what to make before deciding that I wanted to incorporate two elements; one, Shaun’s love of Tula Pink and two, his association with the navy.

For my first block I went for improv curved piecing, using blues and greens to represent the sea.  I fashioned some paper boats from a text print and scattered them upon the waves.  I have a few ideas about future quilts that involve curved piecing so this was a good opportunity to practice.  It went well, once I got into the swing of things, and wasn’t nearly as daunting as I expected.

For block number two I used triangles as my inspiration after a comment Shaun had previously posted on my September blocks (coming soon!).  Again I couldn’t stay away from improv piecing, and really had no plan beforehand.  I chose some great Tula prints from her Accacia and Foxfield collections and mixed them up with  some scraps of solids and co-coordinating prints.  I love it when I get let loose with my block making and these two were great fun.  There’s something about a quilt that has so many different elements coming together from so many creative minds that really excites me.  I can’t wait to see this one finished!

There’s only September’s block for me to tell you about before it my turn.  How exciting!  I’ve already let the guys now what I want so hopefully I’ll start to see the fruits of their creative labour on Instagram very soon.  The bee hashtag is growing each day!  Be sure to follow along on with #NGAQB.

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – JULY

I’m slowly but surely working my way through my HUGE to-do list, even though new things keep sneaking their way onto the bottom of it!  Quite high up were my blocks for July, August and September’s #NGAQB gentlemen.  Mr July is the lovely Ryan Walsh of Ryan Walsh Quilts, who can be found on Instagram as ryanwalshquilt.

In his own words, Ryan is…

“…a self-taught quilter and quilt designer who enjoys taking classic quilt designs and updating them with a modern twist. He’s employed full-time as a NYS Licensed Funeral Director and manages a funeral establishment in his hometown. A busy dad, the majority of his quilting adventures occur in the late hours of the night after his kids are in bed!

Ryan uses quilting as a vehicle to satisfy his never-ending need to be creative. His work is based around combining traditional piecing methods with free-style construction techniques. As a way to challenge his ability, Ryan participates in several online bees and quilt related swaps every year.

When he’s not quilting, Ryan also enjoys photography, embroidery, collage, crocheting, sightseeing and spending time with his family.  Ryan currently resides in the Catskill Mountain region of Upstate New York with his children.”

Mr. July requested Knee Socks blocks from a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! fame.  I’ve been an avid follower of Elizabeth’s blog since I started quilting.  I used her Mod Mosaic block tutorial when I made the Dinosaur Quilt and was looking forward to trying my hand at these.  The block finishes at an impressive 24.5″ so we only had to do one.  Ryan asked for a scrappy rainbow look with low volume fabrics for the background.  I had great fun rummaging through my endless scraps and picking out little groups of colour.  The great thing about the scrappy version of the block is that scraps as small as 1″ wide can be utilised, and there you were thinking those were destined for the bin!  Heed my advice, keep everything!

Some old favourites joined the block party for his month, including snippets of Tula Pink and Heather Ross.  My love affair with crosshatch continues into these blocks too with Carolyn Friedlander’s widescreen serving as the background.  As much as I love this block and it’s boldness, I do have a confession to make.  My block actually came out a 1/4″ too small.  I’d love to lay the blame at someone else’s door but alas, your boy did bad.  You see, I realised when I’d finished that I didn’t press my seams open, despite what the instructions instructed me to do, and this block has a lot of them!  Add all those up and it’s obvious where my extra length went!  Because he’s great like that, Ryan said he’d make it work, which was good, because by that point I’d scratched it from the to-do list, and once something’s off that, there ain’t no way it getting back on!

Remember to follow along on Instagram with #NGAQB.  The guys are really stepping up their game and making some awesome things!

365 DAYS LATER…MY FIRST YEAR AS A QUILT BLOGGER

Today marks the first anniversary of Quilts From The Attic and a day I’m so proud to have reached.  When I created this blog I never imagined that the path it set me on would lead to such an inspiring and creative destination.  This little corner of the internet has all at once been a place where I can laugh, whine and seek solace in the company of people who are just a crazy as I am about all things quilt.

Looking back, I see how much I’ve grown into my quilting boots.  My first post was about the Dinosaur Quilt, a quilt which is still very close to my heart, being the first I made just for me.  That early exposure to improvisational piecing and a strong dislike for maths inspires many of the quilts I make today.  I’m drawn to random, I love sewing and cutting with abandon and have complete disregard for patterns or the final product.  That’s not to say I don’t have a vision, but I like to see where the fabric takes me, where the piecing take me.  More often than not it’s somewhere completely unexpected.  Back then, everything was a lesson.  Of course, it still is today, but I like to think that this journey has been one on which I’ve learned.  Over the past 12 months I’ve written patterns, taught quilting classes, become part of a quilting bee and attended a retreat – all things I would never have imagined possible a year ago.  Again, totally unexpected.

I guess that word really sums up what today means for me.  I never expected to have people actually be interested in what I make and say.  I still get a fuzzy feeling, even a year on, every time I get a new follower or someone leaves a comments.  My 29 Instagram followers that I had when I started the blog seemed perfectly normal.  Now, approaching 1500, I can’t help but smile inside.  Seriously, it BLOWS MY MIND!  The quilting community has become a close friend and every day I connect with more amazing people.

So thank you.  If you’re reading this or have liked a post, have commented or entered a competition, thank you all so very much.

Now, let’s celebrate with a little giveaway!  If you’re not already a follower, please consider becoming one, then leave a comment on this post telling me what you like most about the quilting community.  I’ll draw a winner in a week and put together a little custom fabric bundle as a prize.  Good luck and thanks once again for all your encouragement and support.  Here’s to the next year!