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!

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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.

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!

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

DESIGNING AND DIE CUTTING

The attic has been a flurry of activity lately, something which excites me so much that I sometimes forget to slow down and share it with you all here.  There hasn’t been much sewing as such, but rather preparation for it.  By that I mean I’ve been scribbling down lots of designs, gathering inspiration from all over the place and preparing fabrics, including lots of cutting!

Thank goodness then for my Sizzix Big Shot!  One thing I’m working on at the moment is a quilt for an upcoming blog hop featuring the new Scandinavia collection by Oakshott.  Now, as anyone who’s sewn with Oakshott fabrics before knows, they are a dream to work with, and I always like to take a little extra time to plan whenever I use them exclusively in a quilt.  I can’t share too many details with you now, you’ll just have to come back for the blog hop for those, but what I can say is there are lots of squares, half square triangles and, a first for me, a drunkard’s path block or two. This is uncharted territory and something that makes my inner perfectionist cringe a little.  Those curves will have to be pieced pretty bang on if that nagging voice inside my head is to be silenced. Despite the block’s name, I’m not sure a drop of bourbon would do anything to help either.  Best I stick to fueling up on coffee!

I intend to do a trail run with some questionable fabric before I dive in with the Oakshott, but I’ve already taken the first step towards achieving precise blocks by using the Bigz dies to cut out my pieces. My theory is that if they’re all cut out the same then they should all fit together easily.  That makes sense, right?  I’m using the Drunkard’s Path Arch and Fan die (659849) and the Drunkard’s Path Quarter Circle die (659850).  As well as accurate, the dies are a great time saver too, giving me more time to focus on the sewing!  Wish me luck!  If you have any tips for sewing the 2 parts of the block together, preferably without using a load of pins, comment away!