STASHING #24

Last weekend, when I attended the Fat Quarterly retreat in London, I took with me a small suitcase, filled mostly with clothes, toiletries and the like, as well as an over-the-shoulder canvas bag that held the majority of my class supplies.  I imagine it comes as absolutely no surprise to you then that during the return journey home, my shoulders were burdened with an additional two bags.  Bank balance and musculature alike were not happy with the obscene amount of fabric I had managed to accumulate over the course of the retreat.

But what a retreat it was!  I swooned into London with all the excitability of a child at Christmas.  I had no idea what to expect and was, if I’m honest, a little nervous.  I needn’t have been.  The weekend was a delight from start to finish, so much better than I could have ever imagined.  I meet so many wonderful people, took some great classes taught by some greater teachers and, much to my disbelief, walked away with an even bigger sense of love and pride for the community we find ourselves in.  The passion was palpable.  In every room creativity bred, passing from person to person like an infectious laugh.  It was intense; days filled with fabric, friends and the odd power outage.  Seams were sewn and ripped alike; cutting, pressing, laughing and singing, all culminating in a teary farewell on the street outside Baden Powell House, thanks to a rather ill-timed fire alarm.  Wonderfully organised and incredibly rewarding, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

What made it so much fun for me were the people.  Before the retreat Id touched base with a few people on Instagram, most notably Kelly, who posts as the_orriginal.  As well as looking through her stash for any Tula I needed, Kelly was kind enough to be a fabric mule for me.  She told me she lives close to Intrepid Thread, and that if there was anything I wanted she’d be happy to bring it over for me.  Well, I don’t need asking twice!

Not wanting to over-burden her, I tried to restrain myself.  Unfortunately fortunately the store hadn’t received their delivery of Cotton and Steel by the time Kelly had to leave for London, so I limited my self to a fat quarter bundle of Indelible by Katarina Rocella.  This stunning debut collection is heavy with my favourite colours, teals, greys and mustards, and features a shade of purple that simply begs to be seen in real life.  Graphic lines mix beautifully with flora and fauna to make a truly striking collection.  I can see me needing more of this before to long.

I couldn’t let Kelly leave just yet though, not before I’d scored another fat quarter bundle, this time Brambleberry Ridge by Violet Craft.  This seemingly endless collection blends soft pastels with vivid greens, purples and metallic ink.  Like the indelible, this collection features stags, as well as birds and other woodland creatures.  There are so many useable prints my mind is doing over time trying to come up with a quilt design that will do them justice.

Go and seek out these fabrics at once!  You will not be disappointed!

I’m so greatful to Kelly for bringing these all the way from the states for me.  I have a lot more goodies that I acquired at #FQR2014 to share with you all, but you’ll have to wait until next week for the juicy details.  I’ve got to keep a little something back! so, after all of my recent extravagance, the stash looks like this…

Like I said on Instagram…it’s a sickness.

As usual, I’m linking up with Molli for Sunday Stash.  I’ve already had a nose around at who’s bought what and it’s looking pretty from where I’m sitting.  I suggest you go and do the same!

MY HEAD RUNNETH OVER!

Oh my goodness you know when you have so much to say and you think you’ll never be able to say it all so you don’t take a breath and talk really quickly and then you think of something else you want to say and the list grows longer and longer and you start to fidget because the words and the sentences are growing and growing and building up in your brain like a pressure cooker but there’s nowhere for the words to go and it feels like your head may explode so you wish you could just snap your fingers and have it all stream out of your mouth in a wonderful wordy rainbow!

Phewwwwww!

Let’s stop there, if only to remember that punctuation is my friend.  In all seriousness, I think the last few weeks may have been the busiest quilty ones I’ve had since I stated this blog.  I mean my last post was weeks ago!  I apologise to anyone who may have been crawling the wall waiting for me to say something (no, no one?) but now that I’m here I do have a lot to share.  Firstly, and perhaps the most exciting news, is that this happened this week…

Hold the front page!  It’s only my dream machine, on the back seat of my dad’s car, making its way to my house!  After much research and nervous deliberation I finally succumbed to my inner desires and bought this beauty.  In my defense, the deal I was able to score, what with sale savings and the trading in of my old, beloved machine, was far too good to turn down.  I wasn’t expecting to be upgrading quite so early but I’m so glad I did.  You may not be able to believe that I haven’t actual sewn with it yet, just lovingly unpacked it and placed it proudly in the attic.  I’ve scoured the menu and will settle down with popcorn for the instructional DVD sometime soon.  The weather here has been unbearably hot and humid, no more so than in the attic, so that’s put me off a little.  But, bee blocks and future projects wait for no man, not even the weather one, so I’m excited at the prospect of having a good play very soon.  I’ll be sure to write up my thoughts and let you all know how I got on.

In other news, I attended the Fat Quarterly retreat in London last weekend.  I’m going to do a full write up when I blog about Sunday Stash this weekend, simply because I couldn’t talk about how much of an awesome time I had without mentioning all of the amazing goodies (not to mention the strained necked from the weight of said goodies) that I came back with!  Let me just say that it was such an amazing experience, full of creative people from all over the world, all joined in their shared passion for patchwork and quilting.

A few other bits and pieces have made me smile over the few weeks, mostly some secret sewing projects that I’ve been working on, but that’s all I can say on that matter for now.  You’ll just have to watch this space…

That’s all I’ve got!  This weather is really draining, and all I can think about right now is the glass of wine that inches from my hand. I’ve got a lot of projects in the pipeline, some secret, some not so much, and can’t wait to share some more with you all soon.  Thanks for sticking with me!

A VEGTABLE PATCH QUILT

I finally got around to photographing this quilt today.  I actually finished it about 2 weeks ago but have been waiting to take it to a friends allotment plot.  I couldn’t think of a more suitable location for a photo shoot.  After a couple of false starts we finally managed to meet up today and get the job done.  Thankfully, the storm held off just long enough for me to get my lens cap back on!

I loved making these blocks and am so pleased with how they’ve turned out.  The whole process was improvisational (recently, my mot de jour) and you can find out more about them in this post.  I didn’t really have a finished product in mind when I started but love where the creative process has taken me.  Most of these blocks started life as sketches on the back of receipts and the whole journey was, aptly, an organic one.

After I finished the top I wanted the quilting to really emphasise the earthy nature of the quilt.  For the backing I chose a seeded, natural cotton that has been in the stash for a while.  Thankfully I bought a lot of it, which is good as I can see it becoming the back to many more quilts like this.  I chose dense matchstick quiting in a white, cream and tan variegated thread.  The texture is amazing and I can’t help but be reminded of onion layers when I look at the back.

I was stumped on the binding for a good few days.  At first I was drawn to the colours of the vegetables, but after somebody suggested they should remain the main players and the binding shouldn’t compete with them, I opted for an old, go-to binding; a Carolyn Friedlander crosshatch, this time in grey.  Subtle, but still nice to look at.

My head is already full of ideas for more ways to explore this type of piecing and now, when I’m in the supermarket, I’m lingering just a little longer in the produce aisle!

STASHING #23

How long do you take to answer the question “Do I really need this?”.  I asked myself that a lot this week as the department store where I work prepared to enter its summer clearance sale.  The usual things were offered up to savvy shoppers, you know, like duvets, wine glasses, saucepans and Tula Pink’s Fox Field collection.

What?  Hold the front page!

I was a shocked as you!  As a frequent visitor to the haberdashery department, I already knew that our remaining stock of Tula’s previous collection Acacia was to be reduced to half price and so had some set aside for me.  What I wasn’t expecting was the recently acquired Fox Field to follow suit.  So, with over 17 bolts of Tula goodness for around £5 a meter, I think it took me all of 0.25 seconds to say “YES!  I really, really need this.

So, nothing really new in the stash this week, just more of some old friends, 15 meters more!

 

STASHING #22

I’ve some real beauties for you this week.  A few weeks ago, after a rummage and reordering of the stash, I began to lament on how little of the Architextures collection by Carolyn Friedlander I had left.  The crosshatch prints, also featured in her follow-up collection Botanics, are such useful additions.  They’re great for binding and make awesome backgrounds and negative space.  A little black and some of the text print made up the sum total of my remaining pieces.  This needed rectifying.

So, as I’ve been known to do in the past, a friend and I went all out and hunted some down, and not just stopping at the crosshatch prints either.  I wanted it all, the full house, something I sorely missed out on last time.  I knew the collection was going to be reprinted but had heard rumours that some designs would be left out.  Imagine then my delight as I saw more and more prints popping up for sale!

Now, in the space of a week, the only print I’m missing is the black blue print.  Instagram has been wonderful in allowing me to replenish my stock of this most beloved fabric, owing to all the great and sometimes rare things that pop up on the destash hashtag.  These are the first delivery, which I tore into a few days ago.  A rainbow of crosshatch and those to-die-for text prints.  The rest, which includes the more of the ledger and topography colourways, is due any day now and will be the stars of a feature Sunday Stash.

I’m linking up with Handmade by Mary Emmens for today’s Sunday Stash.  Go look at all the goodies and enter her great giveaway.  I shall imminently, after I’ve petted the Architextures one more time.

A SCHNITZEL AND BOO MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

DISCLAIMER – The author takes no responsibility for the emotional effect that giving away a quilt may induce, be it positive or negative!

Phew!  Glad that dirty bit of business is out of the way.  Don’t get me wrong, the whole experience of the mini quilt swap I’m currently knee-deep in has been amazingly awe-inspiring.  Enough inspirational creativity to make your eyes water has weighed down my Instagram feed for the last few weeks and it shows no sign of letting up just yet.  It’s just now, with the deadline looming, I have to part ways with this…

So, a few months ago I heard tell of a mini quilt swap that was due to take place, meticulously organised by Kristi of Schnitzel and Boo.  In fact, it was to be round two, with a hugely successful round one having taken place last year.  The whole thing sounded awesome and I wanted in, like a secret club, which, not coincidentally, the swap is like.  You see, you sign up, answering a questionnaire so that your partner, whoever they may be, can get to know you and your quilting loves a little better.  What’s your favourite colour?  Who are your favourite fabric designers?  What would you absolutely hate?  Things like that.  After the sign up closed it was a long and, for me, restless wait.  I was itching to get started, but couldn’t scratch the itch until I knew who my partner was.  Then, my excitement peaked when my phone notified me of an e-mail received.  It was from Kristi.  The intense task of partner assigning was complete and mission #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap was go-go-go!

In that e-mail was all the details I needed; my partner’s loves and loathes, their social media information, even things they liked to collect.  Armed with this knowledge, the task of planing patchwork could begin.  Despite my vast and weighty fabric stash, I was surprised to find that I didn’t actually have a lot of what my partner had quoted as her favourites.  There was one word that stood out to me though, and that was Echino.  My love for this fabric was well documented in this post last year.  What better time to finally cut into some of that Japanese goodness?

I wanted my mini to be graphically striking, and play on the improv piecing that I have been embracing lately.  I chose to fussy cut frames from a couple of colourways and coupled those with bright and bold prints and solids in my partner’s favourite colours.  I couldn’t have asked for a better match.  Her tastes were exactly like mine!  I set about creating four improv log cabin blocks, using the other fabrics to literally frame the frames.  As well as the colours mentioned in the e-mail, I used snippets of text print, including one of my favourites from Carolyn Friedlander’s Architextures collection.  I had some fun too with the ‘include the selvedge’ line from a Timeless Treasures print, ‘How to make a pillow case’.  Appropriate, seeing as that’s exactly what I intended to do in the binding.

Once the blocks were complete I wanted to surround them in negative space.  I used my go-to fabric, Essex Yarn Dyed in black, to add borders to two sides of three blocks and a solid black for the fourth, before joining the blocks into a square.  I knew I wanted to quilt the piece quite heavily so I left the squaring up until the quilting was done.

I’ve been inspired a lot by the matchstick quilting I’ve seen on Instagram recently so I used this mini as an excuse to try it out.  I didn’t want my lines to be straight or even evenly spaced.  Instead, I worked my way out from the center using various thread colours to stitch randomly spaced curving lines.  I absolutely love the feel it gives the quilt and it’ll be something I’ll try again soon.

And so there you have it, my first quilt made for somebody I’ve never met!  All that’s left for me to do is make a label for it, something I actually hate but, alas, them is the rules!  I loved making this quilt and can only hope that my partner feels the same way about it when she receives it as I do.  Somebody said that the hardest quilts to give away are the ones that resemble something you’d like to receive.  I can tell you that I’d die if this came through my letter box.  It sums me up perfectly a quilter in a 24″ square!

Along with the Schnitzel and Boo hashtag, participants have been tagged their posts throughout various social media sites with #makeaquiltmakeafriend.  The whole experience has opened my eyes to wealth of new talent that probably would have gone unnoticed to me.  I wholeheartedly recommend you go forth and stalk the hashtag to see all the amazing things that are being made for people who love quilts by people who love quilts.

I have to end with a huge thank you to Kristi and all the moderators who helped her with this mammoth task.  You guys did great!

A VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT WIP

Remember this post?  Well, I haven’t forgotten about that quilt, but it seems that I can’t stop finding inspiration in food.  Beloved Instagram followers may have seen some vegetable-inspired blocks sprouting up in my feed over the last few weeks.  The idea for these came from a food feature I read in a weekend newspaper.  Vague memory suggests it was something to do with leeks and their multitude of culinary uses.  Whilst the recipes were tempting, the idea of fashioning one in fabric was even more so.  The piece was accompanied by photographs of leeks in various states of undress; whole, chopped, strips, much like the fabric we use in our craft.  One particular image was a cross-section, rings and rings of greenish hue set against the dark wood of the chopping board.  Right there, that was my inspiration.

A few days later I pulled fabric, from stash and scraps, from the creamiest white all the way through the greens to dark emerald.  A colouful mixture of prints and solids.  Then, without any semblance of a plan, I cut…and sewed…and pressed…and repeated, round and round, encouraged with what I was creating,  It actually looked like a leek!  I squared it off and that was it, the first vegetable patch quilt block.

I didn’t see this becoming a huge quilt, just a mini, with some neutral sashing in between the blocks.  I went on a hunt for the most colourful, interesting vegetables.  Next came red cabbage, which turned the attic into something like a demolition site.  You know that feeling when you’re so in the zone?  Threads flying here, there and everywhere; the floor more fabric than wood; the dog a walking lint roller…I have never had more fun!  Improv piecing has well and truly taken hold in my creative conscious and it’s something I look forward to exploring a lot more.  Don’t get me wrong, the red cabbage block was one of the hardest things I’ve ever made, and I look at it now and I see room for improvement, but the process of taking that first scrap of fabric and having no idea what will be sewn to what is so freeing.

The tomato block is the one that I’m most proud of.  The whole thing probably would have been a lot easier to make with the help of paper piecing, but I was enamoured with improv.  I love the negative space, and how the tomato is only partially shown.  Not my original plan I’ll admit, but that’s where the piecing took me.

For the last block, I wanted something that wasn’t a cross-section, but rather a representation of the outside of the vegetable.  Carrots allowed my to include some vertical elements into the top, with splashes of green and brown to break up the orange.  This block was possible thanks to the kind contributions of some Instagram friends.  My orange scraps where lacking and they came to my rescue big time!

Once again,I used Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed for the sashing and border, this time in flax.  This range of fabrics is something I really considering buying bolts of.  They are so versatile and work perfectly  with this style of piecing.  The neutrality of the flax colour really sets the blocks off and gives some nice negative space for quilting.  I need to decide what colour thread to use and then I’ll get started.  I had so much fun making this top!  The quilt police probably would have had me sectioned if they could see some of the things that went on whilst making these, but rules were made to be broken right?