SIGNS OF THINGS TO COME

This is going to be short and sweet! So much has been going on in the attic lately that I’ve found myself making lists of lists just to keep on top of it all.

I know there’s been a bit of radio silence around here of late but I just wanted to let you all know that I’ve been working away and will have lots of things to share once I return from a week’s jolly in Paris. I’m looking forward to going away, taking some down time and returning rejuvenated and ready to go!

Something to whet your appetite? Well, they’ll be some of this…

a bit of this…

and a lot of this…

Plus they’ll be some big changes to the site. It’s all so exciting! I’ll see you all soon!

NGAQB II – MEDALLION ROUND ROBIN

True to my word, I held off from joining anymore swaps for about, oh, I don’t, five minutes! In my defense, the latest thing to lure me with its charms is the second incarnation of the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee, which this time takes the form of a round-robin-style medallion swap.  Pretty hard to resist, right?

You may remember last year when the hashtag #NGAQB popped up all over Instagram.  It was such a fun and creative experience that there was no way I couldn’t be involved the second time around. This year, John Adams took charge to round-up seven male quilters to partake in what promises to be an awesome swap.  No different to any round robin you’ve seen before, each month will see one quilter add to another’s quilt before sending it on. Fun, fun and more fun!

I’ve spent the last few days pulling fabric and making my centre ‘square’ (a term I apply very loosely). I’ve chosen a saturated palette of deep teals, mustards and red-purples (surprised?) with accents of greys, blacks and beige neutrals.  I went for an improv approach, sewing and slashing with abandon to come up with something I hope the others guys will find inspiring.  I want each future round to reflect the quilter who added it, and instructed them that anything goes!

This first part is en route to Scott, along with a bunch of fabric, some I used and some I didn’t.  I hoping that snippets of the centre block’s fabrics scattered throughout the quilt will add some continuity and bring all the additions together.  The pile is full of Tula Pink, Alison Glass, Carolyn Friedlander and many more of my favourites. So much great stuff to play with!

As for my first addition, it’s going to be on a Molli Sparklified unicorn. Yes, you heard right. I’ve already got an idea of what I want to do and cannot wait for it to arrive.  Watch this space!  Have any of you experienced a round-robin swap?  Tell me all about it!

LECIEN LOG CABIN WIP

These days, fabric is coming into the attic quicker than I can cut it up and make things!  As pretty as it looks all piled up on the shelf, and there are a lot of shelves, I recently took some time to start working with the amazing L’s Modern Basics fabrics that Lecien were kind enough to send me. These modern, vibrant blenders are perfect for so many things, but I wanted to really showcase the collection is a clean, graphic way, something which can be at odds with my usually improv piecing method.

I loved that the collection was split into two distinctly different colourways, warm and cool, so decided to work this into my design.  Log cabin blocks lend themselves beautifully to clean lines and optical illusions and are a great way use a large range of prints.  This was clearly the way to go!

I decided to paper piece the blocks as I wanted thin logs, half an inch to be precise, and like the accuracy this method gives.  I drafted a pattern and got cutting.  I’ve spent that last week making up blocks and have loved every second!  The piecing is so addictive and by pre-cutting my pieces to size beforehand, the blocks come together really quickly.

As I made the pattern on quarter-inch dot paper, I found that I was able to use the exact size of fabric for the log and use the dots to line up the pieces before sewing, making everything even easier since there’s no trimming of the seam.  I have the design all planned out and just need a few more blocks before I can start sewing them all together.  Watch this space.

THE COMPLETE QUILTER

Early last month I was contacted by Search Press and asked if I’d be interested in reviewing a new quilting book they were publishing soon.  As many of you know, I’m a complete bibliophile, so I jumped at the chance to take a sneak peek.  The book, written by long-time Instagram friend and author of Quilting On The Go Jessica Alexandrakis, arrived just in time for me to take on a recent trip and so my 8 hour train journey was well-spent.

As is clearly states on the cover, The Complete Quilter (with a US title of Get Started Quilting) is full of ‘essential techniques, tricks and tested methods’ and is perfect for anyone looking to get into quilting but isn’t quite sure where to start. The book is divided into three clear and concise chapters, Quilting Essentials, Quilting Techniques and Quilting Projects, each containing a vast amount of information that allow you to build skills before moving on to something new.  The opening chapter takes you through everything you’ll need to know before you embark on making your first quilt.  I was happy to see detailed information on selecting and storing fabrics, something which can sometimes overwhelm beginner quilters thanks to the vast array of fabric available.  Jessica talks about all the tools and notions, about rotary cutting and sewing machine basics before moving on to some of the many techniques used in our craft.

As well as the usual half square triangles, flying geese and nine patch blocks, I was pleased to see a few improv techniques covered, more than any other beginner quilting book I’ve read to date.  Each technique is accompanied by clear instructions and each step photographed in detail, perfect if you’re more of a visual learning.  The slice and insert technique really appealed to me and it was refreshing to see a beginner quilting book offering an alternative to the more traditional patchwork blocks.  There’s also a wealth of information on foundation piecing, EPP and using templates.

Even as a competent quilter, I found myself learning things from Jessica’s thorough explanations.  I particularly liked that she took the time to explain what to do with the quilt after you’ve made it, with 4 pages dedicated to washing, storing and repairing.  The book also acknowledges the importance of social media in the modern quilting movement and cites Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr as great places for inspiration and feedback.

Whether your just getting started or have been quilting for years, The Complete Quilter is a great addition to your sewing library and is available in the UK now and in the US later this month.  Luckily for you, the nice people at Search Press sent me an extra copy.  Fancy winning it?  Just become a follower if you aren’t already and leave a comment on this post telling me which quilting skill you’d like to brush up on.  I’ll even throw in a Lecien charm pack of Quilter’s Basics to get you started on a project (perfect for the super cute doll quilt and pillow).  Follow me on Instagram and leave a second comment here telling me you have for an extra entry.  I’ll leave the giveaway open for a week before randomly drawing a winner.  Good luck and thanks for visiting!

Edit:  Congratulations Pat.T.  The random number generator chose you.  I’ll be in touch via e-mail very soon to ask for your address.

LUSTING OVER LECIEN

Sorry for the recent radio silence.  Feel free to blame it on one of two things.  Either I was so busy working on my increasingly high pile of deadlines, or my ability to sit and type was affected by the pain that has assaulted my sinuses these last few days.  I think I’m finally over the worst of it, so hopefully I’ll be back to normal soon.  In my absence, lots of exciting things have been happening! The letterbox has been flapping around like crazy as lots of new fabric was delivered for me to play with and I’m excited to share some of it with you now.

As I became more active on social media during the early part of my foray into quilting, the name Lecien popped up on various posts and pictures.  The fabric depicted was mostly floral, with lots of pastels colours and ditsy prints that appealed to the more traditional quilter.  A few weeks before the most recent Quilt Market, I stumbled across Lecien’s Instagram account and began following them.  I learnt a lot about the history of this Japanese company from their website, and yet, something on Instagram was different.  The fabric they were positing peeks of wasn’t the fabric I’d come to associate them with.  These were bright, graphic and modern and appealed to my style of quilting. Over the course of Quilt Market I grew to love their most recent collections more and more as they shared pictures of gorgeous quilts made with these fresh, modern fabrics. I was sold.  I had to have some!

Imagine my delight then when I received an e-mail from Lecien’s American representative to ask if I’d be interested in receiving some of their fabrics to use in my future projects.  I was overjoyed and immediately replied YES!  Those of you who follow me on Instagram will already now how excited I was when a boxful of fabric arrived.  I was like a child in a sweet shop as I rummaged through all the goodies they’d sent.

The collection that caught my eye online is called L’s Modern and comprises of a rainbow of stunning blenders and small-scale prints split into two colourways, warm and cool, and a ‘Spring’ collection also split into warm and cool colours.  As well as yardage, the collection is offered in a range of precuts, from 5″ charm packs, 10″ origami squares and 2.5″ strips called sushi rolls, I know, adorable, right?  The potential for this collection is limitless, and I can see so many ways to incorporate these prints, either small or large pieces, into my patchwork. The colors are zesty, the designs bold.  Whilst impossible to choose a favourite, I love the dumbbell print and the squares-in-squares which, in the cool colourway, are printed with metallic ink.  So on trend right now! The text print is awesome too, and I am a sucker for a good text print.  There are a number of prints, especially in the Spring collection, that would make great bindings and so many would work with other fabric collections.  If brights aren’t your thing, then there are numerous other collections to look our for.  I was also sent some Quilter’s Basics in the woodland colourway which is a little more subdued but just as versatile.  Some of the greens I can see finding their way into future Vegetable Patch quilts.

This loveliness is looking right at home amongst the ever-increasing stash and I can’t wait to get some of my deadlines out of the way and start sewing.  Now, I feel lucky to be the recipient of such awesome fabric and I want to share some of it with all of you!  I have a L’s Modern Spring sushi roll in the cool colourway up for grabs.  Much like a jelly roll, there are 42 2.5″ by width of fabric strips to play with, perfect for so many blocks and patterns.

If you fancy getting your hands on it, simply leave a comment on this post.  If you’re not yet following the blog, please do so and let me know in your comment.  For an extra entry, head over to Instagram and follow me there.  Leave an extra comment on this post to let me know if you do.  I’ll draw a winner in a week.

EDIT – Congratulations Brooke K!  You are the randomly chosen winner of the giveaway.  I’ll be in touch via e-mail shortly to find out your shipping information.  Thanks to everyone for playing along.

SEWING FOR SEWING’S SAKE – A WONKY CROSS WIP

I love sewing, there’s no denying that.  As I approach three years of quilting, my stitching schedule is busier than I would ever have imagined when I started on a toy-sized machine in 2012.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I thrive on the pressure.  Eleventh hour deadlines fuel my creativity, whether they’re for magazine commissions, Sizzix projects or Quilt Monkey episodes.  I love how far my quilting has been pushed and am grateful for all the opportunities that come my way.

That said, there are times I find myself pushing projects or ideas to the back burner because they’re not on the to-do list.  I sometimes feel pangs of quilt guilt whenever I work on something that isn’t in my diary; spontaneous ideas that more often than not remain unrealised due to my ever-demanding time constraints.

A few days ago, I ventured to the attic to pattern write and found myself sat at the machine and sewing scraps together far before I’d reached for a pen.  I guess this was my mind’s way of telling me I should be a little selfish.  Well, I’m so glad I was.  I loved it!  It was so freeing! I had no idea what I was going to end up with or what fabrics I would use. I had no measurements, sketches or notes to work from.  I looked at my out-of-control scraps, took a hand full of neutrals, threw in some teal and aqua (which are the most numerous of the scraps and seem to breed in the small hours of the morning) and with a full bobbin, put my foot to the floor!  Sewing, slashing and pressing, it was clear that my mind was taking me on a wonky cross journey; a block I’d long admired but never made, due to my, yep you guessed it, lack of time.  The process was so quick, what with chain piecing and mass pressing, that I had a dozen randomly sized blocks finished in about an hour.

I’ve decided to add to this project as and when I can.  I’m going to stick with the colour scheme, make them oddly sized and fit them all together at the end.  I thinking big, like king sized big, if only to make a real dent in the scraps situation.  I love the variation that the improv piecing creates, with long and thin as well as fat and squat crosses.  There’s no discrimination here!  The scrappy, low volume background really makes the colours pop and the addition of some linen and calico adds great texture.

I can’t wait to work on this a little more.  I’ll keep you all posted!

BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – TOTEM POLE QUILT

For the first time, I’m going to enter a second quilt into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival.  I’ve always admired the quilts in the ROYGBIV category but never had one to share.  Well, that all changed this year with my contribution to the Rainbow Mini Quilt Swap I participated in.

Of all the quilts I’ve made recently, my Totem Pole Quilt has been the most fun.  I had a great time choosing fabrics from my scraps to piece the pattern, which I designed myself. You can read all about this quilt in the original post here.  You know you’re on to a winner when the repetition of piecing paper pieced blocks doesn’t get to you.  I can honestly say that each of these blocks was a joy to make and I’m looking forward to experimenting with a second version some time soon.

You must all know the drill by now, so go forth and browse this and all the other festival categories.  If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate any votes you want to put my way.  Thank you!