THE PROCESS

Remember the wonky cross blocks I was making every now and then, when other quilts and tight deadlines weren’t pulling me every which way? Well, as some of you may know, I finished making the top. There was a happy coincidence actually, in that the particular day marked exactly one year from when I made the first block. It was completely unintentional and a nice way to mark the occasion.

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As I write this, the quilt is having some magic added to it by Trudi Wood, quilter extraordinaire! I’ve actually entered it into this year’s Festival of Quilts, along with one other, and is the first time I’ve had an entry in a competition. I wouldn’t normally enter, but something about this quilt pushed me to.

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I’m not ashamed to say I love this quilt, even though it’s not finished and I’m having a nightmare deciding on a binding fabric! Though perhaps what I love even more is the process behind it, the small steps to make the cross blocks, sometimes 2 or 3, sometimes a whole stack; in the morning, or at night whilst the house sleeps, I’ve never been so engaged with a project as I was when I sewed this one. I’m so excited to get it back and add the finishing touches, if only to allow myself to start another!

However prolific a maker you are, enjoy the process. Take time to savour the stitches and be rewarded all the more at the end of it. I know I was. Now, back to that bloody binding…

 

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CRAFTING THANKS

Many of you may have heard me refer to my ‘American mum’ on my various social media platforms. Debi Pedersen is the real-life mum of Stacey, a very dear friend of mine, and somebody who I’ve grown close to in the 8 years I’ve known her.  She and her husband Jim were kind enough to put us up when my partner and I embarked on a tour of California with Stacey, back in 2008.  We had such a great time and vowed that we would keep in touch.  In the years that followed, we’ve met up in London and they have stayed with us here in Cardiff when they visited to celebrate Stacey’s 30th birthday. They really are awesome people and have done so much to support my growth as a quilter that it was only natural I’d want to repay them in the best way I know how.

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Now, I’ve been known to use the Pedersen’s residence as my own personal post office. If I make a purchase or partake in a de-stash and the seller won’t ship internationally then Debi kindly let’s me have fabric and other notions sent to her for storage.  I’ve lost count of the times that I’ve done this and I inevitably end up with a towering pile of purchases waiting to be collected. I always envisage that one day I’d return to CA and collect it all, but more often than not Debi surprises me and has it posted out.  So thoughtful!  On one of these occasions she included in the package some blueberry-themed fabric she had picked up for herself at a local store, asking if I might be able to make something for her with it. Shamefully, that was about 2 years ago.  Life got in the way and the fabric fell ever-deeper into the stash.  It took a house move and a load of unpacking for it to resurface and prompt me to get a move on. The heart of Debi’s house is her kitchen.  Both her and Jim and amazing cooks and she has such a passion for all things culinary. With that in mind, I decided that a table runner, rather than a quilt, would make for a more fitting gift. Refusing to keep her waiting any longer, I liased with Stacey to get some secret table measurements and set about making!

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The resulting runner makes me smile, not only because I know it’s going to a deserving person, but also beacuse I had such fun making it. As always, I indulged in the fabric pull. Using the blueberry fabrics that Debi had sent as my inspiration, I mixed them with some stash favourites, including some new L’s Modern Garden by Lecien, various Carolyn Friedlander prints and some coordinating Kona solids. The background is Essex linen in steel. I kept the construction simple, making a load of stitch and flip blocks before trimming them down to squares using my trusty Sizzix Big Shot.  Then it was a case of arranging them into a long lightening bolt shape and sewing them all together.  For the quilting, wavy organic lines compliment the angular piecing. I used Aurfil 50wt against an amazing First of Infinity print for the backing.  It had been waiting patiently in the stash for its moment to shine and I think that it has found it! With a text print from the Architextures collection, the runner was done.

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In the weeks since completion, the runner has crossed the Atlantic and arrived safely in the States. I’m pleased to report that Debi and Jim love it and I’m so glad that I’ve finally been able to thank them both in some small way.  I love that a small piece of me is in their home and their hearts and hope that they’ll continue to love and use it for genrations to come.

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Thank you guys!

OAKSHOTT LIPARI BLOG HOP

Welcome to the second stop on the Oakshott Lipari Blog Hop. Now, before we begin, I have a little confession to make. I am a huge Oakshott fan! I remember seeing some way back when and dying at the sight. You know when people say “oh, you really have to see it to believe it”, well, nothing could be truer with these stunning fabrics. They beg to be viewed up close. My stash now has a whole shelf of them and even a separate box for all the scraps and off-cuts. Hoard them I do, so it was a no brainer when Lynne asked if I’d like to be part of a blog hop celebrating the latest collection.

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Each of the eighteen colours of the Lipari collection are woven with black thread to give a dark and rich palette. I was reminded of a Moroccan souk by the deep jewel colours and my mind was awash with exotic things I wanted to make! They’re 54″ wide too, so they go that little bit extra and are perfect for garment making.

After much thought and lots of fabric petting, I decided upon a paper pieced quilt block I’d had in my mind for quite a while. I think I’m right in saying that the inspiration came from a plant pot I saw in a Buzzfeed article about the ten coolest things you can buy your plants. Slightly odd, but inspirational none the less! I’ve called this the ‘Prism Plant Pot’ block.

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It’s always so much fun to draft a paper pieced pattern. At the start, there’s the worry about whether it’ll all come together and actually look like it does in your head. After a few initial sketches, I had the design nailed and was thankful that a friend was able to digitise it for me. I’m more of a pencil and graph paper sort of guy, which, although fine for me, wouldn’t work too well when it came to sharing the pattern. After a quick test block, I was ready to go!

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Owing to time restraints, I settled on a mini quilt for this make, although, by using chain piecing, the blocks came together so quickly that a full quilt wouldn’t have taken that much longer. I decided to pre-cut the fabric to size beforehand for this project, the first time I’ve done so. I was so surprised at how much quicker the whole thing came together and before I knew it I was ready to quilt. Oakshott cottons take quilting beautifully, though it took me an age to decided on a design.

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What at first was something I didn’t look forward to, quilting has become one of my favourite parts of quilt making. I guess it’s a confidence thing. Early on, I would see beautifully quilted quilts with intricate designs and wish that I could do them. With every new quilt I make, I’m excited and willing to try something new and push the limitations of my skill, slowly but surely building up my repertoire.

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For this mini, after discarding several ideas, I went with a meandering angular line that was so much fun to quilt as I tuned in to an episode of one of my favourite podcasts. If you find yourself tensing up when you attempt FMQ, then listening to some music or a podcast is a great way of finding some flow. The binding was simple, and chosen to blend in to the quilt top. You all know that binding is my favourite part and I so relish the moments of hand sewing with dog at feet and some old vinyl crackling away in the background. Bliss!

This fabric, like all the other Oakshott I’ve had the pleasure of working with, really is a dream to sew. Yet it’s the colours that get me every single time. I’m so excited to see what they come up with next!

Should you want to make your own Prism Plant Pot mini, you’ll find a small tutorial below. I won’t go into the ins and outs of paper piecing here as there are plenty of great write ups on the subject already. If you’ve never tried, this pattern is a really easy one, though you may want to do a few test blocks using fabric that isn’t your best.

To to make a mini like mine, which finishes at approx. 22″ x 26.5 you’ll need to make 16 blocks, which will be sewn into a 4 x 4 layout. Start by printing out 16 copies of Prism Plant Pot template 1 and 16 of Prism Plant Pot template 2 These will be paired up to make one finished block.

To make the quilt, use the following fabric quantities as a guide, though remember that with paper piecing, everyone has a different level of comfort, that’s to say, you may need more wiggle room than the next person! I’ve listed the colours I used too.

For the prisms – fat eighth pack of Liparis (with lots left over!)

For the background, backing and binding – 2 meters of Liparis Milazzo

For the side pieces – 0.4 meters of Liparis Pollara

For the top fabric – 0.25 meters of Scandinavia Uppsala.

If like me you want to do all the cutting beforehand, then use these following measurements to prepare all your pieces to make 16 blocks.

From the prism fabric (I used all the colours in the bundle except the Milazzo and Pollara as these were used elsewhere) – 32 3.5″ x 4″ pieces, 2 of each remaining colour. These will be section 2 on the pattern.

From the background fabric – 32 3.5″ x 2″ pieces for section 1, 32 3.5″ x 2.5″ pieces for section 5 and 32 6.5″ x 1.5″ pieces for section 6.

From the side fabric – 32 3.5″ x 4″ pieces for section 3.

From the top fabric – 32 3.5″ x 1″ pieces for section 4.

Piece all 32 block halves before matching them in pairs and joining together to make 16 finished blocks. Take care to align each half so that the prism is as neat as possible. Arrange the block in 4 rows of 4, distributing the colours. Sew the blocks into rows before joining the rows together to complete the quilt top.

From your remaining Milazzo fabric, cut your backing and your biding strips (you’ll need 2 at the full WOF. I cut mine to 2″ but if you prefer you can cut to 2.25″). Baste with batting using your preferred method and quilt the top before making and attaching the binding.

Job done!

Thank you for stopping by today. If you’ve liked what you’ve seen, be sure to take a look at all the other stops on the tour, which you’ll find listed below. To keep up to date with all the goings on from the attic, follow along by signing up in the task bar and following over on Instagram where I post as quiltsfromtheattic. If you make a Prism Plant Pot block, let me know using #prismplantpotblock.

Happy sewing!

5 May     Allison Dutton       allison-sews.blogspot.com

10 May   Nicholas Ball         quiltsfromtheattic.wordpress.com 

12 May   Helen Purvis          archiethewonderdog.blogspot.com

17 May   Lynn Harris            thelittleredhen.typepad.com

19 May   Kitty Wilkin           nightquilter.com

24 May   Jessica Skultety      www.quiltyhabit.com 

26 May   Karin Jordan           www.leighlaurelstudios.com

31 May   Elisabeth Vaughan  sharksdinner.com

EASTER PAUSE…AND PLANNING.

Happy Easter everyone! I hope you’re all taking the time to slow down and surround yourself with the people and places that you love. We have a nice relaxing few weeks planned and are spending some time travelling around the country. With the sewing machine taking a well-deserved rest too, it’s the perfect time to take stock and plan for the coming months.

As well as the books and board games I’ve packed, I’ve brought along my trusty note pad. I intended to get organised and prioritise what I need to work on once the holiday is over.

First up will be to finish the wonky cross I’ve been working on for what seems like an age. It’s been one of those slow burning projects that I work on between more pressing deadlines. I think now the time has come for it to take a front seat and get finished. I intended to have it long armed, so I’ve only the top to concentrate on.

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I do so enjoy working on this project, and I’ve been lucky enough to receive some great scraps from the IG quilting community. I was running out of my own in these colours and, knowing that I wanted this to be a large quilt, I put out a call to arms for any fabric people could spare. Boy, did they deliver. I have so many now and can’t wait to get them all pieced into blocks.

Now, where did I put that notebook?

NEW ARRIVALS

With my busy schedule showing no sign of letting up, it may come as no surprise to some of you that another plate has been added to the dozen or so that I’m already spinning.  We’re buying our first house!  I’m altogether excited, anxious and extremely stressed.  As far as the process goes, it’s still early days, but I can’t wait to move in.  If all goes to plan we’ll have a nice garden for the dog, a much bigger kitchen and a sewing room for me!  The property has an attic, but it hasn’t been converted.  So, I’ll be taking up residence in the smallest of three bedrooms, all of which have lots of lovely light, perfect for sewing!  I’m so looking forward to planning the layout from scratch and taking on the challenge of finding a home for everything.

As well as the ever-growing fabric stash, Some other things which will need to be housed are the new dies I received from Sizzix a few weeks back.  I’ve been itching to play with them since they landed on the door mat!  Added to the collection was the 1/2 inch hexagon die, 2″ finished square, 3″ finished square and the 3″ x 6″ finished rectangle.  I also received some of the larger Bigz XL 25″ dies for cutting 3″ strips, which will make piecing some of the improv quilts I have planned a breeze.

I’m still working on finishing up a few deadlines, and who knows when it’ll be time to pack up shop and move from the attic, so using these dies may have to wait a little longer. Thank you all for sticking with me.  I know the posts here haven’t been as frequent as I’d like, but I can promise you all lots of exciting things are in the pipeline.  I’ve got a new blog design waiting to be launched, lots of fabric news and some great projects just waiting to be sewn up!  Once everything’s settled down we’ll have a big, celebratory giveaway!  In the meantime, be sure to follow me on Instagram, where I post lots of snippets and sneak peeks.

NGAQB II – SO FAR

The second incarnation of the #NGAQB is well under way. You may remember my last NGAQB post, where I shared my center with you and explained my fabric choices and what I was hoping the other members of the bee would add to it. Well, from what I’ve seen posted in Instagram, I can tell you that my expectations have been more than met! I asked for improv and boy did I get it! If you haven’t been following along, now’s the time! I can tell that there are going to be some stunning quilts once the rounds are complete.

In the bee, I always receive quilts from Molli Sparkles, so it was both an honour and a slight worry that I was to be the first to add to his center block. Perhaps starting block is a better word, since there’s no obligation to keep the block centered. When we started we were told and encouraged to add to all sides or add to one. As you can probably guess, this really appealed to my improv-inclined brain!

Molly had used an amazing paper pieced pattern of a unicorn for his starting block. The minute I saw it I was totally blown away by his fabric choices and was so excited to dive into my own stash and see what I could find. In my mind, I wanted to create a kind of improvised forest in which the unicorn could gallop, unbridled and free. I used a lot of Kona solids in vibrant pinks and purples, along with some Anna Maria Horner, Lecien L’s Modern and Cotton and Steel. I hacked and slashed fabric before piecing it into long-ish strips, adding some freehand curved seams for interest. The piecing was very freeing and of the moment and I soon had enough to add to unicorn block. I decided to leave the top edge, in the hope that the next person to receive this would continue working upwards, taking inspiration from my long thin strips and adding to the magical forest feel!

The next block I received belonged to Quilt Dad. Like Molli, John had paper pieced his starting block, this time a trio of feathers. Once again, I was so inspired by the colour palette and excited to see that John had used one of my all time favourite prints, a wood grain by Joel Dewberry, albeit in a tiny role.  I wanted it to be the star! I had a little left in the stash and was determined to use it!

For John’s block, Molly had added a first round of epic beauty! I was a little scared to continue, lest I ruin it. I took inspiration from the Totem Pole Quilt I made for a past swap.  I pieced long, improv strips and attached these to the quilt log cabin style.  This was a real scrap-busting exercise as I had a lot of red pieces that were perfect for this, including some of the new Blueberry Park collection by Karen Lewis and some snippets that had been waiting for their moment to shine longer than is polite to mention!  Fun, simple sewing for both of these blocks, and I loved every second!

I’m so excited to see how these and all the other quilts in the bee evolve!

JUST A LITTLE LONGER…

Oh my goodness! Where HAS the time gone? I’m actually a little shocked to find that this is my first post of the month. In my mind, we’re still in July and I’ve got plenty of time before those deadlines creep up on me.

I know I said this last time, but I’ve been so busy sewing away I haven’t had time to tell you all about it, even though each time I sit at the machine a voice in my head says “I must blog about this!”. I’m here with nothing more than an update, as I still can’t share all the exciting things I’ve been working on just yet! It’s infuriating for me because all I want to do it shout from the rooftops, “Look at this! Look what I made!”

So, what’s been happening? Well, I’ve been working a lot with Lecien Fabrics recently, trying out lots of their new collections, including the new First Of Infinity line which is so cool! I’m excited to let you know that I’ve made not one but two quits for Lecien’s stand at this autumn’s Quilt Market and I can’t wait to share those projects with you!

Another line which found its way onto my cutting may recently is Blueberry Park by Karen Lewis. This lady needs no introduction and I’ve been a fan of her hand-printed fabrics for a long time. I was ecstatic when Karen asked me to make something with her debut collection for Robert Kaufmann. I had so much fun playing with old and new designs. Karen’s work really sings on the Kona cotton base cloth and as soon as she has received the quilt I’ll be sharing more details. For now, here’s is a sneak peak.

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The stash has  swelled with lots of new fabric additions recently. Some favourites include these great blenders I picked up at a local quilt store’s sale, as well as these stunning cotton yard-dyed fabrics from Lecien, which worked their way into both of my Quilt Market quilts!

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I’ve been sewing away at my NGAQBII commitments too and will have more to share very soon. The great thing about the bee is that everyone is so relaxed and there’s never any pressure to get it done!

The very blog you’re ready will soon be updated with a new logo and a great illustration which is so perfect and sums up exactly what Quilts From The Attic is all about. This month is the blog’s second anniversary and I want to thank you all, old and new followers, for the support and love you’ve shown me and my work. Stick with me, because there’re some very exciting things up ahead!