OAKSHOTT BLOG HOP AND A LEAF SKELETON QUILT

A big, warm welcome to my stop on the Oakshott Autumn bundle Blog Hop.  I’m mighty excited to share what I’ve been working on over the last few weeks with you all.  When I first saw the bundle that Oakshott have put together I knew I had to get my hands on it.  I mean, come on, just look at those colours, which are not done any justice by my photography.  Most people stare at me with a look in their eye that screams “Is this person for real?” whenever I say “Yeah, I’m more of an autumn, winter kind of guy.  I’d rather be cold than hot.  Give me a log cabin and a roaring fire over a beach any day.”  A sun worshiper I am not, so these crisp, season-changing colours are right up my leaf-littered street.

Though not my first outing with Oakshott, I’d never used them on this scale before, but I can tell you the pleasure was multiplied.  The bundle is a beautiful thing to behold.  21 perfectly folded fat eighths tied together with a contrasting ribbon that got the creative cogs turning.  Obviously something autumnal was going to come out of this fabric, but I was aiming for something a little different.  After a few inspirational dog walks I became interested in the idea of capturing leaves that have broken down and become skeletons; those wispy, frail-looking things that sit amongst the bottom of the leaf litter.  I got to scribbling and finally came up with something I thought would work.

I had so much fun making these blocks and could have easily made many more.  Sometimes, with certain blocks, I almost get a “ugh, how many more?’ kind of feeling.  Not with these.  They were fun and fast to make (especially when your making them at night with a dog at your feet and Dione Warwick for company.)

The quilt layout is simple and finishes at 44″ x 60″.  The leaf skeletons blocks are pieced into rows, with the odd one turned upside down for some added interest.  Since I requested some additional yardage in the nutmeg colourway, I used that to add some negative space in between.  I kept the quilting simple and used a variegated thread to quilt leaf shapes around the skeletons, whilst using the open spaces to add some more elaborate, fern-like leaves. The backing is a great monochrome leaf-shaped print I found at Ikea and the binding, an orange line print from my LQS.  I recently started cutting my binding strips to 2″ and I really like the skinnier binding on this quilt.

Want to make your own leaf skeleton block?  Well you’re in luck.  Here’s a tutorial!

Leaf Skeleton Block

The fat eighths in the bundle measure approximately 27″ x 10″, though you may find some slight variation.  Since this block is pieced improvisationally, exact measurements aren’t essential as we’ll be squaring the blocks up at the end.  You may want to read through all the instructions first to get an idea of the technique.  Before starting, I pressed and starched all my fabrics, though feel free to skip this step.  Each of the fat eighths will yield 2 blocks, though you need to mix and match from different fabrics to achieve contrast.  Take your first fat eighth and cut it as follows, remembering the exact measurements may be ever so slightly different.

Two 0.75″ x width of fabric strips from the shorter side

Two 0.75″ x length of fabric strips from the longer side

Four rectangles approximately 4″ x 13″ from the remaining fabric.

Take the one of the longer strips and cut it in half.  Take the 2 shorter strips and cut each in half to give 4.  Take the second longer strip and cut it into 6 pieces the same size as those cut from the 2 shorter strips.  Take 2 of the rectangles and cut each from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  You can see that in the example above I’ve taken fabric from 2 different coloured fat eighths.  This will make each side of the block a different colour.  If you’d like both sides of your block to be the same, simply use all the rectangles from the same coloured fabric.  However, the leaf skeleton fabric must be different in order for it to be seen, so be sure to take that from a different fat eighth.  I found it easier to cut all my fabrics first and then mix and match the colours.

Take the remain 2 rectangles and place them on your cutting mat.  Using a rotary cutter and ruler make 5 angled cuts along the length of each rectangle, varying the widths as you go.  Be sure to cut one rectangle with the angle towards the left and the other with the angle towards the right, as shown in the picture.  If you want a particular colour to be on a specific side of your block, it’s important to cut as follows.  To be on the RIGHT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the green fabric above.  To be on the LEFT hand side of the block, the cuts must match the orange.  If you don’t mind what side they appear on, or if you’re using the same fabric, just make sure you have one set of cuts going one way and the other going the opposite.  Hopefully you’re all still with me and I’m not confusing you too much!  Its gets easier from here on, I promise!

Take your 10 short strips and place them into the cuts you’ve just made.  Using a quarter-inch seam (although accuracy is not as important for this block) sew a strip right sides together to each of the cuts, then press the seams to the side.  Make sure to keep the pieces in the correct order.  I found it helpful to chain piece all the strips first, then snip them and place them back onto my mat.

Next sew each of the pieces of the rectangle back together, making sure to line up the edges as shown above, and press the seams to the side.  Repeat for the second rectangle.  You should now have 2 rectangles each with 5 strips in them.  Yay!

Cut each rectangle from corner to corner to give 4 triangles.  Again, a little thought is needed to make sure you cut in the right direction.  You can see above that in the block, the leaf skeleton “arms” always point upwards.  You’ll want to make sure that you cut from the corners that will result in that.  Also, you can see that the direction we cut when we inserted our strips has resulted in the green fabric being on the right of the block and the orange on the left.  Just be sure to refer to the pictures before making any cuts.  The worst that can happen is that your leaf limbs will point downwards rather than up, and who knows, maybe you’ll like that!

Sew a plain triangle to the cut side of your striped triangle and press to the side.  Repeat for the other 3 striped triangles.

Use your ruler to straighten the other side of the block, taking care not to cut too much away.  Take your remaining long strip and sew it to the long edge, allowing a little overhang at the top and bottom.  Now sew the other side of the leaf to the strip.  Despite the amount of fabric build up in the central section of the block, I pressed my seam to the side and had no problems.  Do what works for you.

You now have a completed leaf skeleton block!  All that’s left to do is to square it up.  Due to the improvisational nature of the block the finished size will depended on a few things, most notably the amount you trimmed from the side before inserting you leaf’s spine.  You may notice that you fabric has distorted somewhat, due to all the bias edges.  Panic not!  This is a fun block and shouldn’t course stress.  Just trim all your blocks down to the size of your smallest one.  I found that I could trim mine to 6″ X 10.5″ for a block that finishes at 5.5″ x 10″.

And there you have it, a leaf skeleton block all ready for your own leaf skeleton quilt.  These really do look good en mass, and I’d love to see them mixed in with some other leafy block for a real forest feel.  I’d love to see your versions of the blocks, so feel free to add any links to your work in the comment section below.  If you’re on Instagram, feel free to tag me or use the hashtag #leavesfromtheattic so I can check out what you’ve been up to.  This is my first ever tutorial, so please be gentle with me!  If you have any questions or there’s something you don’t understand, please leave a comment below and and I’ll get back to you.

I’d like to say a huge thank you to Oakshott for giving me these goodies to play with, and to Lynne of Lily’s Quilts for organising the blog hop.  Make sure you check out all the other great stuff that my extremely talented peers have come up with by visiting all the other stops of the hop.

Thanks for visiting!

21st October – Sonia Spence – www.fabricandflowers.blogspot.co.uk

22nd October – Rossie Hutchinson – www.r0ssie.blogspot.com

24th October – Mary Menzer – www.fairlymerry.blogspot.com

28th October – Alison Dutton – www.alison-sews.blogspot.co.uk

30th October – Kati Spencer – www.fromthebluechair.com

31st October – Wynn Tan – www.zakkaArt.typepad.com

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LEWIS AND IRENE – A GIVEAWAY WINNER

Just a little bit of belated housekeeping today.  I’ve been so consumed with deadlines of late that this little giveaway completely slipped my mind!  So, apologies if you’ve all been on tenterhooks but I can now reveal that the random number generator picked farmquilter’s comment.

Congratulations!  I’ll be in touch to arrange delivery of your prize.  Thanks to everyone who entered!

INTRODUCING LEWIS AND IRENE

There’s nothing nicer than taking a trip to a city or town, only to discover a new fabric shop. My quilted heart skips a beat every time I see the words sewing or haberdashery emblazoned across a shop front window.  A while back, quite a while back actually, I visited Hereford and sought out Doughty’s, a place I heard great things about.  You may remember I blogged about the experience in this post. One of the things I picked up was a great dinosaur print by an unfamiliar-to-me manufacturer, Lewis and Irene.  I really liked the look and feel of the fabric and set about investigated the company further.

A quick tour of their website and I was sold.  Their fabrics are “threaded with love and printed on 100% pre-shrunk cotton with a light Schreiner finish”.  They have some great collections, featuring a wide range of styles and colours.  Being the dinosaur geek I am, I was always going to be taken with Jurassic Coast, a bright and breezy collection with a perfect binding print.  Another favourite from their Autumn 2014 collections is Fox & Friends, which is full of cute critters and leafy tones, a lot of which would be right at home in my stash.  They have some great upcoming lines too, and I do love a fabric company that gives impatient quilters like me a sneak peek.  I’m particularly looking forward to Spring Hare, coming in 2015.

Jurassic Coast

Jurassic Coast

Fox & Friends

Fox & Friends

Spring Hare

Spring Hare

I contacted Hannah, the creative director, who was kind enough to answer some questions and tell me a little more about the story behind Lewis and Irene.

“The directors of Lewis & Irene are Bryan (Managing Director) and Jacqueline Taphouse (Finance Director), Andrew Heaton (Sales Director) and I (Creative Director).  Andrew and Bryan have been in the textiles business forever.  Bryan for over 40 years now! We are based in Romsey in Hampshire.  Bryan and Jacqueline are my parents so it’s very much a family run company. It was Jacqueline who decided to start Lewis & Irene – we wanted to create a fresh company that designed for the modern quilter and had a wide appeal with lovely designs. We feel it’s exciting times for the craft industry with so much renewed interest in sewing and creating.”

“Once we had decided to start the company we had to think of a name.  My Grandpa died in 2012 and my Grandma died of cancer 26 years ago when she was just 58 years old. They were really incredible people. They showed such love to their little family despite not coming from the most loving backgrounds themselves. As a family we are very close and their influence has been passed down through three generations now. Their names were Lewis & Irene and we couldn’t think of a nicer tribute to them. ‘Threaded with love’ couldn’t be more appropriate! We have a lovely designer who Bryan and I work with very closely. The designs are a real team effort with each of us contributing something and it’s my very favourite part of my job! Lots of our collections have quite personal relevance.  Jurassic Coast for example is inspired by my little boy who is 4 and loves dinosaurs.  One of his favourite places to go is Kimmeridge Bay in Dorset so he can hunt for fossils and look at the dinosaurs bones in the marine center.  He runs around with his bucket and spade knowing it’s where the dinosaurs lived and his little imagination runs wild!  Every collection has a real meaning to us.”

I’m really looking forward to adding some more from the collections to my stash.  The variety of prints is great, with focal fabrics as well as useful blenders and small-scale prints that would work well in almost any project.  Fancy trying some of their fabrics for yourself? Yes?  Well isn’t it your lucky day. Lewis and Irene have generously provided a vintage fabulous forties for me to giveaway to one lucky reader.  What’s a fabulous forties I hear you ask!   It’s forty strips of fabric, each cut to two and a half inches, exactly like a jelly roll.  These cuts are so versatile and there are loads of great quilt patterns that use them.

To be in with a chance of winning, please sign up to follow the blog then leave a comment telling me what you’d make if you won.  If you’re already a follower go ahead and leave your comment.  I love hearing all your ideas!  For a bonus entry, go and like the Lewis and Irene Facebook page and leave a separate comment telling me you’ve done so.  I’ll leave the competition open for a week before randomly drawing a winner.  Good luck and thanks for visiting!

THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.

STASHING #25

Just a quick one today fabric lovers as I’m in an out of the attic trying to catch up on my bee blocks.  I hate being behind and so I’m taking advantage of the relative  cool to sew sew sew!  Charlotte Church is across the road, jamming out at a sing-song at a local coffee shop.

So, this morning I popped to Ikea to pick up some of this…

Three meters of the Ludovicka print.  This is going to make the perfect backing for a little project I have in the pipeline.  I’m still working out the details so I can’t share too much more with you, but watch this space, as I’m a sucker for a sneak peek!  I love using Ikea prints for backing.  They mostly come in at 60″ wide, so great for larger quilts without the need to join pieces.

That’s it!  A little more reserved than last weeks splurge!  Head over to Molli’s to see all the other fun stuff.

STASHING #24

Last weekend, when I attended the Fat Quarterly retreat in London, I took with me a small suitcase, filled mostly with clothes, toiletries and the like, as well as an over-the-shoulder canvas bag that held the majority of my class supplies.  I imagine it comes as absolutely no surprise to you then that during the return journey home, my shoulders were burdened with an additional two bags.  Bank balance and musculature alike were not happy with the obscene amount of fabric I had managed to accumulate over the course of the retreat.

But what a retreat it was!  I swooned into London with all the excitability of a child at Christmas.  I had no idea what to expect and was, if I’m honest, a little nervous.  I needn’t have been.  The weekend was a delight from start to finish, so much better than I could have ever imagined.  I meet so many wonderful people, took some great classes taught by some greater teachers and, much to my disbelief, walked away with an even bigger sense of love and pride for the community we find ourselves in.  The passion was palpable.  In every room creativity bred, passing from person to person like an infectious laugh.  It was intense; days filled with fabric, friends and the odd power outage.  Seams were sewn and ripped alike; cutting, pressing, laughing and singing, all culminating in a teary farewell on the street outside Baden Powell House, thanks to a rather ill-timed fire alarm.  Wonderfully organised and incredibly rewarding, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

What made it so much fun for me were the people.  Before the retreat Id touched base with a few people on Instagram, most notably Kelly, who posts as the_orriginal.  As well as looking through her stash for any Tula I needed, Kelly was kind enough to be a fabric mule for me.  She told me she lives close to Intrepid Thread, and that if there was anything I wanted she’d be happy to bring it over for me.  Well, I don’t need asking twice!

Not wanting to over-burden her, I tried to restrain myself.  Unfortunately fortunately the store hadn’t received their delivery of Cotton and Steel by the time Kelly had to leave for London, so I limited my self to a fat quarter bundle of Indelible by Katarina Rocella.  This stunning debut collection is heavy with my favourite colours, teals, greys and mustards, and features a shade of purple that simply begs to be seen in real life.  Graphic lines mix beautifully with flora and fauna to make a truly striking collection.  I can see me needing more of this before to long.

I couldn’t let Kelly leave just yet though, not before I’d scored another fat quarter bundle, this time Brambleberry Ridge by Violet Craft.  This seemingly endless collection blends soft pastels with vivid greens, purples and metallic ink.  Like the indelible, this collection features stags, as well as birds and other woodland creatures.  There are so many useable prints my mind is doing over time trying to come up with a quilt design that will do them justice.

Go and seek out these fabrics at once!  You will not be disappointed!

I’m so greatful to Kelly for bringing these all the way from the states for me.  I have a lot more goodies that I acquired at #FQR2014 to share with you all, but you’ll have to wait until next week for the juicy details.  I’ve got to keep a little something back! so, after all of my recent extravagance, the stash looks like this…

Like I said on Instagram…it’s a sickness.

As usual, I’m linking up with Molli for Sunday Stash.  I’ve already had a nose around at who’s bought what and it’s looking pretty from where I’m sitting.  I suggest you go and do the same!

STASHING #23

How long do you take to answer the question “Do I really need this?”.  I asked myself that a lot this week as the department store where I work prepared to enter its summer clearance sale.  The usual things were offered up to savvy shoppers, you know, like duvets, wine glasses, saucepans and Tula Pink’s Fox Field collection.

What?  Hold the front page!

I was a shocked as you!  As a frequent visitor to the haberdashery department, I already knew that our remaining stock of Tula’s previous collection Acacia was to be reduced to half price and so had some set aside for me.  What I wasn’t expecting was the recently acquired Fox Field to follow suit.  So, with over 17 bolts of Tula goodness for around £5 a meter, I think it took me all of 0.25 seconds to say “YES!  I really, really need this.

So, nothing really new in the stash this week, just more of some old friends, 15 meters more!

 

STASHING #22

I’ve some real beauties for you this week.  A few weeks ago, after a rummage and reordering of the stash, I began to lament on how little of the Architextures collection by Carolyn Friedlander I had left.  The crosshatch prints, also featured in her follow-up collection Botanics, are such useful additions.  They’re great for binding and make awesome backgrounds and negative space.  A little black and some of the text print made up the sum total of my remaining pieces.  This needed rectifying.

So, as I’ve been known to do in the past, a friend and I went all out and hunted some down, and not just stopping at the crosshatch prints either.  I wanted it all, the full house, something I sorely missed out on last time.  I knew the collection was going to be reprinted but had heard rumours that some designs would be left out.  Imagine then my delight as I saw more and more prints popping up for sale!

Now, in the space of a week, the only print I’m missing is the black blue print.  Instagram has been wonderful in allowing me to replenish my stock of this most beloved fabric, owing to all the great and sometimes rare things that pop up on the destash hashtag.  These are the first delivery, which I tore into a few days ago.  A rainbow of crosshatch and those to-die-for text prints.  The rest, which includes the more of the ledger and topography colourways, is due any day now and will be the stars of a feature Sunday Stash.

I’m linking up with Handmade by Mary Emmens for today’s Sunday Stash.  Go look at all the goodies and enter her great giveaway.  I shall imminently, after I’ve petted the Architextures one more time.