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!

BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT II

As the king of last minute, I’m frantically writing this to share the details of my entry into this spring’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival before I get myself off to the dreaded day job! For those of you who are unaware, the festival is organised by Amy of Amy’s Creative Side and takes place twice a year to coincide with International Quilt Market.  I highly recommend entering as it’s great fun and extremely inspiring, though even just browsing all of the amazing quilts on show is well worth it too.  I’ve seen so many creative pieces over the years and it’s where I’ve meet many of my favourite quilty people for the fist time.

This year, I’m entering my second Vegetable Patch Quilt into the Original Design category.  You can read more about my process behind designing and constructing this quilt in the original post. These quilts have kind of become my trademark in a way and I love sharing them with people. The feedback I’ve received has been amazing and I’m so grateful for all the encouragement I receive to get on and make more.  I can’t share too much with you all at this stage, but know that I have lots of exciting things planned involving these quilts and can’t wait to get sewing.

So, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d love a vote from you, though I know from experience that it can be hard to choose!  So, go away and spend an afternoon browsing all the wonderfulness that’s on display at the festival.  You won’t be disappointed!

OAKSHOTT BLOG HOP AND A ‘MOUNTAINS FROM A MOLE HILL’ QUILT

Welcome new visitors and old!  How exciting that you’re all here to join me on my stop of the Oakshott Scandinavia Blog Hop!  The perfectly curated bundle of eight new shot cottons from Oakshott had the same effect on me as the Autumn bundle from last year.  There’s something about a folded pile of fabric that gets the brain cogs turning, and this time was no exception.

The collection draws inspiration from an airy colour palette and clean Scandinavian interiors.  A milky white warp combines with 8 different weft tones to create a collection that is unassuming, yet full of depth.  In all the past projects in which I have used Oakshott fabrics, none have caught the light in different ways so much as these colours. They really are amazing to work with and only an up-close-and-personal look will do them justice.  Hopefully, once you get to the end of this post you’ll all be inspired to go and get some!

Whilst I was waiting for my bundle to arrive, I began to brainstorm some ideas I thought might work for these, the subtlest fabrics I’ve used to date.  Much like the fabrics themselves, I wanted to take inspiration from Scandinavia and began looking at Danish and Swedish art, design and architecture.  Several ideas began taking shape, each more elaborate than the last, until my mind was overflowing with creative thoughts.  I was making things too complicated! I went back to the drawing board and the fabrics themselves.  They were crying out for something simple.  Then, probably through a combination of my teaching a HST class at the time and the fact that my creativity was getting out of control, I happened upon the idea I eventually ran with.  A quilt, inspired by Scandinavian landscapes and the idea of making something out of nothing or, more specifically, mountains from mole hills!

With simplicity being the key, I settled on HSTs with the odd quarter circle thrown in for good measure.  My original design saw a lot more quarter circles topping the ends of the ‘pillars’, but after some thought I decided that the quilt would be more impactful if the ‘mountains’ sprung from just one ‘mole hill’.  I used my trusty Sizzix Big Shot to cut the drunkards path pieces (which I did before revising my idea, so don’t be surprised to see a Oakshott mini quilt in the not too distant future) and used new dies, the 4.5″ (659838) and 5″ (657626) square to cut the pieces for the rest of the quilt.  My preferred method for making HSTs is to place 2 over-sized squares together and sew either side of the diagonal line using a scant quarter-inch seam allowance, making 2 at once. I then trim the units down and find this method to give me better accuracy when it comes to joining the blocks.  If you have a Sizzix machine, then the process can be sped up by using the HST die.

In terms of piecing, this is a really simple quilt to make.  A little fore-thought is needed to cut and pair up the fabrics so that the pattern forms correctly.  There are many great online tutorials for both HST and quarter circles, so I won’t cover old ground here.  If you’d like to make your own ‘Mountains From A Mole Hill’ quilt, then use the follow cutting list.  Once you’ve cut and pieced all the required squares, HSTs and quarter circles, use the photograph as a guide to piece them, the squares and the quarter circle units into rows before sewing the rows together to complete the quilt top, which finishes at 48″ square.  When joining the blocks, be sure to alternate the direction in which you press the seams in each row, i.e, press all the seam in row 1 to the left, all the seam in row 2 to the right, all the seams in row 3 to the left, etc.  Doing so will enable you to nest and better match the seams when it comes to sewing the rows together.

Materials:

1 FQ bundle of Oakshott Scandinavia as well as an additional half yard of Bergen (cream), Uppsala (light grey) and Stockholm (dark grey).  You will have some fabric left over, but that’s never a bad thing!

Cut the following:

Cream           17 4.5″ squares and 7 5″ squares

Light Grey     24 4.5″ squares and 13 5″ squares

Dark Grey     28 4.5″ squares and 14 5″ squares

Green           7 4.5″ squares and 6 5″ squares

Yellow           9 4.5″ squares and 4 5″ squares

Blue              6 4.5″ squares and 4 5″ squares

Pink              3 4.5″ squares and 3 5″ squares

Purples         5 4.5″ squares and 3 5″ squares.

Use the 5″ squares to make the following number of HST.  Due to the method of making a pair at once, you’ll have some left over, which you can piece into the back or use in another project.

11 light grey and dark grey

10 cream and light grey

4 dark grey and yellow

3 dark grey and green

2 dark grey and blue

2 dark grey and purple

2 pink and purple

1 cream and dark grey

1 cream and green

1 light grey and green

1 light grey and blue

1 dark grey and pink

1 yellow and blue

1 yellow and green

1 purple and blue

1 green and pink

Cut 2 quarter circles in green, an arch in yellow and an arch in purple.  What ever method you use to cut your drunkard’s path pieces, ensure they finish at the same size as the squares and HST units, i.e 4.5″.

As you can see, my quilt isn’t quite finished.  I was all ready to quilt this using wavy, edge-to-edge lines but a spark of inspiration at the 11th hour had me reaching for paper on which I scribbled furiously.  I’m not sure if my idea may be a tad ambitious.  If so, I apologise for making you wait to see this quilt finished; I just thought that the idea was worth a little more pondering.  So watch this space…it may fail miserable and I’ll end up using my original quilting plan!  In any case, I’m glad I get to enjoy the simplicity of the pieced top for a little while longer.

This fabric really is amazingly versatile.  Be sure to check out all the stops on the Oakshott Scandinavia Blog Hop. Eight projects from eight different bloggers.  You can find links to all the stops below.  Thank you all for visiting, and to Lynne and Michael for allowing me to indulge my creativity.

 4th  May – Sarah Sharp
 5th  May – Heather Scrimnscher 
 6th  May – Amy Sinibaldi
 7th  May – Rossie Hutchinson
11th May – Elaine Poplin
12th May – Sarah Fielke
13th May – Nicholas Ball
14th May – Lori Landerberger

SIZZIX GIVEAWAY

The cutting of fabric for my last few quilts has been made much easier thanks to my Sizzix Big Shot machine. You may have seen some of the many Instagram pictures that I’ve posted of various die-cut shapes, including the circles on my Abacus Quilt. Sometimes is just nice not to have to reach for the ruler and rotary cutter!

If all my talking about die cutting has got you itching to try it yourself then you’re in luck!  I’ve found out that Sizzix are running a competition to win a Big Shot Plus Starter Kit at their Facebook and Twitter pages.  The Big Shot Plus machine has all the great features of the machine you’ve seen me use, except it now has the versatility to use 8.5″ x 11″ materials!

To be in with a chance of winning all you need to do is ‘Like’ the Sizzix Facebook page, then ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ the giveaway post.  The winner will be chosen at random on Friday 8th May 4pm and the competition is open to all UK and EU residents only.  How great would it be if one of you won!  Good luck!