A SECOND SCHNITZEL AND BOO MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

These days, I seem to be finishing quilts quicker than I can blog about them, which is something I’m not use too!  When I began blogging, the computer would wait patiently whilst I frantically sewed on binding.  Now, there’s a seeming endless list of post waiting to be published!

Today is the turn of a quilt I completed last month as part of round three of the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.  You may remember the quilt I made for round two of the swap last year, which was great fun and just a little bit difficult to part with. This time around I was pleased to discover my assigned partner, Nicole AKA kwilter100 on Instagram,  had similar tastes to my previous partner, so I was once again able to express my love of all things improv.  I was thinking bright colours, wonky piecing and a lot of quilting; all things my partner seemed to like!

I began by cutting random widths of fabric and strip piecing them.  These were then sliced into and sewn back together, creating a stepped effect.  Like most of the quilts I make, the fabric pulling was one of my favourite parts.  My partner requested large-scale floral prints coupled with aqua and pink.  I purchased some Anna Maria Horner ‘Pretty Potent’ floral as a starting point, and then raided the stash for coordinating prints.  There’s a little Tula in there, as well as some Carolyn Friedlander (surprise, surprise) and some Cotton and Steel.  Everything just works so well together!

I made a total of four improv blocks before cutting them down and filling in the negative space with some black yarn dyed linen by Robert Kauffman.  I then went to town with the quilting, both following and going against the seam lines, even crosshatching in some areas, with the lines around a quarter of an inch apart. For the backing, I chose a stash staple that I’ve been waiting for the perfect project to use.  The colours were just right.  Binding was another Carolyn print from her Botanics collection.  Love, love, LOVE!

Received and hung up, I pleased to say Nicole was happy with it, which is the whole point of a swap I guess!

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A UNITED STATES OF AMERICA QUILT

Regular readers of this blog will know it’s no secret I’m not enamoured with my job.  Yes, I must have one, and yes, the money pays the bills, but after five years doing the same thing, I’m really ready for a change!  I recently found out that a colleague and close friend would be moving on to pastures new.  In fact, as I write this, he’s working his last shift.  I couldn’t let the occasion pass without giving him a small token of appreciation to thank him for all the times he’s lent me his ear and kept me relatively sane in the workplace!  So, I did what us quilters do best and made him a quilt.

One of our traditions was to play a game of “Name all the American States in the shortest amount of time.”  Every other Friday, during the graveyard shift, we would try to best our previous record and not get tongue-tied over all the ‘M’ states!  When I began thinking about what to make him, the answer came quickly – a states quilt!

This was so fun to make!  Followers of my Instagram account may remember I already attempted one of these.  I ran into difficulties early on when I realised that the state templates I found were all different scales, and so fitting them together would be nigh on impossible!  Fast-forward to the second attempt and I decided to use a map that already had the states fitted together to make my templates, thereby ensuring a perfect fit.

The first step was to cut all the states from the map.  I decided to laminate them to make them more durable.  I’ll probably make another of these in the future so having the templates ready to go will be a great time-saver.  The states were transferred to fusible web before being ironed to the wrong side of my fabric choices.  It’s important to remember when transferring shapes to fusible web that they need to be reversed, so that when you cut them out of the fabric they are the right way around.  Of course, this doesn’t apply to circles, squares and other symmetrical shapes.

Pulling fabric for this project was my favourite part.  After some secret information gathering from his girl friend, I learnt the recipient’s favourite colours.  The fabrics are modern, manly and evocative of the states.  Florida is green and swamp-like, Colorado has a rocky feel and Arizona evokes hot, dusty plains.  There’s a really eclectic mix of fabrics in the map; Kona solids, Oakshott cottons, Tula pink, Carolyn Friedlander and Cotton and Steel.  Once the states were cut out, they were pressed into position on a background of black Essex Linen; a go-to fabric for me these days for all sorts of projects.  I ensured the first state, Washington, was placed level on the fabric before placing the others one by one.  It was fun to watch the map grow with each new addition.

Due to some of the states being quite small (bloody Delaware!), I thought it best couldn’t be bothered to stitch around each one individually, so I chose dense matchstick quilting to add texture to the quilt and secure all the pieces down at the same time.  I began by marking a straight line on the edge of the quilt and used this as a guide to quilt across the top.  I started with lines a quarter inch apart, then went back and filled in twice to leave lines no more than an eighth of an inch apart.  The texture is awesome!  To finish the piece, I used a Joel Dewberry wood grain print for binding.

The last addition was a label, made with the monogramming feature on my new Janome.  I have to admit I’m a little bit in love with it and it makes the perfect finishing touch.  I’m pleased to say the quilt was well received and hopefully it’ll be a reminder of our fun-filled Friday nights for years to come.

HAPPY NEW YEAR…LET’S PLAY CATCH UP!

Happy new year…although even that’s belated now, owing to the fact that it’s the 6th of January already! Can you believe it? Time doesn’t just fly…it hitches a ride on a super sonic jet and doesn’t get off!

It may seem like I’m complaining…and I am…but time’s relentless pace has its pros too. I have a great feeling about 2015, particularly for me and my quilting journey. I have several things in the pipeline that are really exciting, and I’ll be sharing details about those as soon as I know more myself.  For know, let’s deal with a little bit of forgotten house keeping from last year.  Over the next few days my posts will be dealing with all the loose ends I forgot didn’t have the time to tackle during the frantic festive period.

First up is my Instagram Mini Quilt Swap quilt I made during the last few months of 2014.  Organised by Sandy Greenberg, AKA curly_boy1 and Mr January in the #NGAQB, the swap was a huge success, attracting over 600 swappers.  It was the first time Sandy had organised anything like this so it was great to see the Instagram quilting community showing faith in a novice.  The swap was totally stress free, most likely due to the large period of time between receiving partner details and the posting dates.  This also allowed for a lot of thought on what to make, as well as a lot of mind-changing!

My partner was Meli, who posts as theshortmunchkin.  I was told that she’s a US Navy RN, so I used that as my inspiration for her mini.  I really wanted to do something with naval flags, but with more of a modern twist.  I imagined them all strung out on some string, rows above rows, with bright, vibrant colours replacing the traditional reds, blues and yellows.  I drew up some basic paper piecing patterns for a variety of different flags and set about pulling fabrics.  I didn’t start out with a rainbow of colour in mind, but the fabrics seems to arrange themselves like that as I was rummaging through the sash, and who am I to argue?  Sometimes, in my more subservient moods, what the fabric wants, the fabric gets (unless it’s destined for a vegetable patch block, in which case it’s being starched into submission).

I am so pleased with how the quilt turned out.  There are some old favourites in there, including Tula Pink and Carolyn Friedlander, mixed up with some vibrant Kona solids.  For the background I used some widescreen crosshatch that I seem to have an abundant supply of due to it’s 108″ width!  The quilting was wavy matchstick in an off white thread; simple but very effective.  The binding was my new go-to print from John Lewis.  It’s like a black scratchy line, not too dissimilar from those featured in the Botanics collection.  This was also the first time I used any applique in a quilt.  It was only a small circle, but it really finishes off that particular flag nicely.

I’ve been assured that Meli likes the quilt and have seen that she’s hung it up already, so I couldn’t have done that bad a job.  I’ve become really addicted to mini swaps recently and have signed up for three more this year!  Do go and check out this swap’s hash tag on Instagram.  There were so many great makes, and the one I received was particularity fetching…even if I am a little bias!

Here’s to a creative year.  Thank you all for following along and taking the time to read my ramblings.  I really appreciate all your support and can’t wait to see where the attic takes us this year!

STASHING #27

I’m so looking forward to a day in the very near future when I can sit down and fill you all in about recent attic antics!  The festive period has proven to be one of the busiest, both in work and outside of it.  I can’t wait to just sew, write and drink tea with gay abandon!

For now then, a visual feast.  A little stash addition that had me weak at the knees.  Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics collection, in all its gorgeous glory.  I may have or may not have had some of these prints already…

Enjoy, for however long you want, then check out all the other fabric goodness over at Molli Sparkle’s Sunday Stash.


BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT

Swiftly following the anniversary of this blog is the Blogger’s Quilt Festival, which happens twice a year to coincide with International Quilt Market.  I was so swamped in the spring that the festival passed me by, so I’m excited to be involved again this time around.  The sheer abundance of creativity and inspiration throughout the festival makes it a date to remember for anyone as enamored by patchwork and quilting as me.  Just remember to set aside half a day to browse all the entries, oh, and bring biscuits too!

This time I’ve decided to enter my Vegetable Patch Quilt into the Original Design Quilts category.  This quilt remains something I’m immensely proud of.  Be sure to check out this post for more details about its conception and construction.  I’m not ashamed to say that every now and then I lay it out and just stare at it.  When I started my quilting journey, the idea of making anything remotely like this was laughable, let alone design it myself.  It’s funny what we learn on our quilting journey.  This was the quilt that solidified my love for improvisational piecing and abandonment of the quilting rule book (which so many people tell me doesn’t even exist!)

Much like the subject matter, the journey of this quilt was an organic one.  It began with an image of a leek, which took root in my brain and compelled me to fashion it from fabric.  Scraps of fabric littered the attic and I risked a local shortage of spray starch as I sewed and hacked my vegetable blocks.  So liberating and so inspiring!  Since I finished the quilt it has become the most commented-on thing I’ve made and I was pleased to share it with my fellow quilters at the recent Fat Quarterly Retreat in London.  It’s definitely a keeper, and I can see the patch ‘growing’ in the near future.

I have to end with a huge thank you to Amy from Amy’s Creative Side who works so hard to bring us the festival each year.  I can’t even begin to imagine the amount of organising that must go into it and I feel so privileged to be a part of such an amazingly creative experience.  Now, go forth and vote for your favourite in each category!

A SECOND HALF SQUARE TRIANGLE QUILT

It’s officially October, my favorite month, and this latest finish is woefully late.  You see, back in June a work colleague and his wife brought home their newborn son.  Another colleague and I decided it would be a nice gesture to make a baby quilt for them. We had a collection and went shopping.  My friend is a student of fashion design and has similar tastes to me when it comes to fabrics.  We like the same colours and designs so the whole process was blissfully easy.  It’s not the first time we’ve collaborated on a project, having made a graduation quilt a few years earlier, and it was fun to teach her some new things, like half square triangles.

We chose a simple chevron layout, alternating the rows between light and dark fabrics.  We knew the sex of the baby before we pulled fabric, but wanted to stay away from the traditional blue palette, instead opting for something a bit more modern.  We chose low volume prints, including some Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, paired with mustards and blacks.  We used a variety of fabrics including some Robert Kauffman Essex linen and some double gauze.  This was my first time sewing with some Cotton and Steel basics.  They are so much nicer in person!  Some might think black an unusual choice for a baby quilt, but we were both sold and really like the bold statement it makes.  We pieced the top together in a day before I took it home to finish.

With a simple layout we opted for some equally simple quilting, wavy lines across the entire quilt top.  The quilting was a joy to do and I really dig the texture this type gives.  The backing was some Ikea Britten print that I had in my stash, whilst the solid black  binding continues the simple feel of the quilt.  This was the first time I’ve cut my binding strips two inches wide.  I really like the look of a skinny binding and I think this works better than my usual two and a quarter-inch strips.  The quilt finishes at 37″ square.

We’re both really pleased with how this one turned out and can’t wait to gift it, even if it is a little late!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – JULY

I’m slowly but surely working my way through my HUGE to-do list, even though new things keep sneaking their way onto the bottom of it!  Quite high up were my blocks for July, August and September’s #NGAQB gentlemen.  Mr July is the lovely Ryan Walsh of Ryan Walsh Quilts, who can be found on Instagram as ryanwalshquilt.

In his own words, Ryan is…

“…a self-taught quilter and quilt designer who enjoys taking classic quilt designs and updating them with a modern twist. He’s employed full-time as a NYS Licensed Funeral Director and manages a funeral establishment in his hometown. A busy dad, the majority of his quilting adventures occur in the late hours of the night after his kids are in bed!

Ryan uses quilting as a vehicle to satisfy his never-ending need to be creative. His work is based around combining traditional piecing methods with free-style construction techniques. As a way to challenge his ability, Ryan participates in several online bees and quilt related swaps every year.

When he’s not quilting, Ryan also enjoys photography, embroidery, collage, crocheting, sightseeing and spending time with his family.  Ryan currently resides in the Catskill Mountain region of Upstate New York with his children.”

Mr. July requested Knee Socks blocks from a pattern by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh, Fransson! fame.  I’ve been an avid follower of Elizabeth’s blog since I started quilting.  I used her Mod Mosaic block tutorial when I made the Dinosaur Quilt and was looking forward to trying my hand at these.  The block finishes at an impressive 24.5″ so we only had to do one.  Ryan asked for a scrappy rainbow look with low volume fabrics for the background.  I had great fun rummaging through my endless scraps and picking out little groups of colour.  The great thing about the scrappy version of the block is that scraps as small as 1″ wide can be utilised, and there you were thinking those were destined for the bin!  Heed my advice, keep everything!

Some old favourites joined the block party for his month, including snippets of Tula Pink and Heather Ross.  My love affair with crosshatch continues into these blocks too with Carolyn Friedlander’s widescreen serving as the background.  As much as I love this block and it’s boldness, I do have a confession to make.  My block actually came out a 1/4″ too small.  I’d love to lay the blame at someone else’s door but alas, your boy did bad.  You see, I realised when I’d finished that I didn’t press my seams open, despite what the instructions instructed me to do, and this block has a lot of them!  Add all those up and it’s obvious where my extra length went!  Because he’s great like that, Ryan said he’d make it work, which was good, because by that point I’d scratched it from the to-do list, and once something’s off that, there ain’t no way it getting back on!

Remember to follow along on Instagram with #NGAQB.  The guys are really stepping up their game and making some awesome things!