BEYOND NEUTRAL BLOG TOUR

Readers old and new alike, welcome to my stop on the Beyond Neutral blog tour.  Now, you must excuse me if I suddenly yell out for smelling salts or a paper bag to breathe into.  You see, this is kind of big deal for me.  Regular readers of this blog will know how I’ve talked about John Adams, AKA Quilt Dad, at length.  He was the first male quilter I stumbled across whilst navigating the then-scary world of quilt blogs some years back, and as if my collaboration with him in the #NGAQB wasn’t enough, I now get to talk about his amazing new book!  How much of a groupie do I feel right now!

All images courtesy  of Martingale and Brent Kane

Beyond Neutral does exactly what it says on the tin.  For so many quilters, the background of their quilts are always destined to be some shade of white, grey or cream.  How refreshing then to see a book full of quilts that challenge that norm.  Sixteen quilts, each inspired by the beauty and wonder of nature.  The natural world is my go-to source for inspiration (Vegetable Patch Quilt anyone?) for so many of my own projects and John’s book looks to nature’s palette to inspire his bold and exciting colour choices; so far beyond neutral that neutral’s still packing its bags!

Any quilt that cites grass, trees, waves or rocks as a source of inspiration is going to be a hit with me.  There are so many great quilts in the book that I struggled to pick a favourite.  The beautiful locations and gorgeous photography make each quilt jump from the page and demand you make it before all others.  It’s no surprise that Pacific Crest became the cover star.  I was in love with it the moment I first saw the book.  The dynamic piecing coupled with John’s ballsy fabric placement creates a real sense of  movement and a quilt that truly wows.  Beginner quilters needn’t shy away from these designs either.  John’s clear and concise instructions along with simple piecing make the quilts in Beyond Neutral approachable for all skill levels.  The countless options for fabric selection makes each quilt so versatile and open to interpretation you’ll probably want to make more than one version of each!

Another that pulls at the heart-strings is Fox River.  Simple yet strikingly effective, the unusual pairing of woodland-themed prints with cool teals and yellow-greens makes for a visually intriguing quilt.  The eye is drawn across the top by intersecting lines of solid fabric that punctuated the prints in a most non-traditional way. I love it!

With so much quilty goodness, I couldn’t possible keep it all to myself!  The lovely people at Martingale are offering one reader their own digital copy of Beyond Neutral.  To be in with a chance of winning simply leave a comment on the post telling me what inspiration you take from nature, the more creative the better!  I’ll pick a winner in a weeks time.  Good luck!

This giveaway is now closed.  Thanks to all who entered!

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NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – AUGUST

Hooray!  it’s September and I’m now officially caught up with my bee blocks.  August’s blocks were actually made after September’s but in the spirit of returning some structure to my increasingly hectic life, I’m at least going to blog about them in the correct order.

Taking the lead last month was Mr. Shauan Abels who, for some months now, has been a honorary Brit, staying at an RAF base on military service.  We’re hoping to meet up before he returns to the US at the end of this month and discuss all things quilt, Tula Pink and what really goes on in the navy!  As has become tradition for the members of the bee, here’s a few tidbits about Shaun which, owing to his tardiness in replying, some of the other guys made up.

1. Shaun likes big butts and he can not lie.

2. His drag queen name is Dixie Normous.

3. His favourite pants are quilted leather assless chaps.

4. The real reason he moved to the UK was so that he could freely perform “Baby Got Back” as Dixie Normous, while wearing his quilted leather assless chaps. You should see his tip jar!

5. His favourite pick up line is “Helllllo, sailor!” It works.
6. His first real job was slinging chicken wings as a Hooters girl. He still gardens in his orange shorts.
7. He considers Tula Pink a personal hero, second only to Nicki Minaj.
A little more interesting than the your usual bio, wouldn’t you agree?  Don’t forget to check out Shaun’s work, including the progress on his Tula Pink City Sampler, on Instagram, where he posts as slabels.  After a bit of a false start involving a copyright issue, Shaun scrapped his original block plans and made his month a free-for-all!  Once again the choice was ours.  We could make what we want, as long as it finished at 12.5″.  I thought for quite a while about what to make before deciding that I wanted to incorporate two elements; one, Shaun’s love of Tula Pink and two, his association with the navy.

For my first block I went for improv curved piecing, using blues and greens to represent the sea.  I fashioned some paper boats from a text print and scattered them upon the waves.  I have a few ideas about future quilts that involve curved piecing so this was a good opportunity to practice.  It went well, once I got into the swing of things, and wasn’t nearly as daunting as I expected.

For block number two I used triangles as my inspiration after a comment Shaun had previously posted on my September blocks (coming soon!).  Again I couldn’t stay away from improv piecing, and really had no plan beforehand.  I chose some great Tula prints from her Accacia and Foxfield collections and mixed them up with  some scraps of solids and co-coordinating prints.  I love it when I get let loose with my block making and these two were great fun.  There’s something about a quilt that has so many different elements coming together from so many creative minds that really excites me.  I can’t wait to see this one finished!

There’s only September’s block for me to tell you about before it my turn.  How exciting!  I’ve already let the guys now what I want so hopefully I’ll start to see the fruits of their creative labour on Instagram very soon.  The bee hashtag is growing each day!  Be sure to follow along on with #NGAQB.

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!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – JUNE

Quick, somebody call the police, because I have been robbed…of time!  Where in the world did July go?  Was it something I said?  Please, come back!  I swear I’ll be better, make the most of you and give you the attention you deserve…no…you’re truly gone and you really can’t turn back the clock?  Damn!

I can’t believe that we are over half way through the bee.  I’m disappointed in my self that I’ve fallen behind, but hey, life’s an attention seeker.  This weekend, having cleaned and re-organised the attic a while back, I was ready to jump back on board and tackle some of the guys’ blocks.  technically I’m still behind, with July’s fabric still languishing in a pile, but for now let’s talk about Mr. June, AKA Chris Jones (a wonderful Welsh surname) and his block du mois.

Chris was originally an extra member of the bee but owing to another member’s need to leave stepped up to take June.  Like all the others, he gave the group this FAQ so that we might get to know him better.  Read on!

Do you have any nicknames, or go by any other name?

I used to be heavy into online gaming (Everquest and World of Warcraft) so I have a few character names that people still call me. Typically, Chris is good enough to get my attention. I’ll answer to just about anything you call me though.

Did you go to College? What did you study?

I started college with the expectation that I would get a biology and chemistry degree, and move on to work in a hospital as a phlobotomist or in a research lab. I was three classes shy of my biology degree when I took a psychology class on a dare. That one class changed everything that I had planned for my life; I ended up graduating from college with dual degrees. One in Psychology with an emphasis in Depth and Archetypal psychology, and one in Sociology with an emphasis in Anthropology.

One day I’ll make it back to school and get my Masters in counseling. I want to either be a licensed counselor, or teach psychology and anthropology on a college level.

What do you do now?

Right now I’m a SQL Developer/Data Administrator for an online book company (nope, not that one – not that one either). I’ve been with the company for fourteen years; I started with them two weeks after I graduated college. I started in the Customer Service department, and quickly moved up to CS Manager. I’ve held a position in just about every department within the company, and if I haven’t worked there, I work closely with them to generate reports or import data.

When did you start quilting?

I didn’t actually pick up quilting until I was in college and living with my mom’s family. She has a strong lineage of quilters, and I thought I might enjoy it. I grew up with my grandmother, who was a seamstress. She taught me how to sew, crochet, cross stitch, embroider and many other things.

When I graduated from college, I stopped quilting for a while. I was sucked in to the world of MMORPG, and barely had time for anything else but work. I picked up quilting again at the suggestion of a great friend at work. She introduced me to hand-piecing and I was in love again. I’ve done quite a few small projects, but I’ve yet to actually quit a top yet. I’m hoping that I’ll get to take some valuable time-off soon and try my mom’s new long arm or free motion quilting machines.

What other hobbies do you have?

Outside of sewing/quilting, I love to cook, can, and garden. I just picked up canning this year, and I love it. There’s nothing more awesome than taking the things that you grow and preserving them to eat throughout the year. Though I don’t typically eat it, I love making jam, the stranger the flavour profile, the more fun. So far I’ve made mulberry jam, strawberry balsamic jam, grape jelly, wild berry (strawberry, blueberry, mulberry) and apple butter. I’m trying out recipes for pineapple rum jam and mulled red wine jelly. They will likely be part of the family Christmas presents this year.

Do you have pets?

Yep, I have three furbabies that are the love of my life. A scottie named Finnigan, a Cairn named Ursula and a German Shepherd named Zahara. Ursula and Zahara were both rescues. We’re currently taking Zahara through obedience school right now.

What is your favourite animal?

Definitely a wallaby, with a giraffe coming in a close second. I want to make it to Australia one day so that I can see wallabies bounding around the countryside. (And I promise not to be freaked out by the drop-bears :))

What is your favourite color?

Orange, definitely orange. From pumpkin to safety vest, I love it all.

If you could pick your own name, what would it be?

For a long time I wanted to change my middle name (no, I won’t tell you what it is, but if you guess correctly, I’ll let you know) to Xavier. I’ve always loved that name, and I’m not really sure why.

Which season is best?

Fall will always have a special place in my heart. I love the color of the season. But now, because I really enjoy planning gardens, and digging in the dirt, I’d have to go with spring. The smell of the air right after a spring rain….it’s invigorating.

If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be?

I’d love to see my grandfather again. He was such an amazing person. He was a short-order cook in the army, a recorded musician that wrote music, played the guitar, banjo and fiddle, and spent the greater portion of his adult life as a taxi driver. His routes ranged from around the block to across the country. He loved life, and never had a cross word for anyone. He, like my grandmother, really taught me how to “be” in this world and I love him for it. I’d love to see him again.

How would you best describe yourself?

I never know what to say with this question. I think the best thing that I can say is that my Meyer’s Briggs personality type is INFP. I’m introverted, usually very quiet and reserved, or in my own world. Feelings and emotions are important to me, and I am usually overflowing with them. I like to daydream, and don’t like strict rules.

If you could be any fictional character,who would it be?

I can’t narrow it down to one. I’d like to think that I’m equal parts Mindy Kaling, Aquaman, and Captain Jack Harkness in a candy-coated Lord John Grey shell.

What is your biggest pet peeve?

I probably have too many to mention here. I have a touch of an OCD streak that rears its ugly head from time to time. Right now the biggest thing that bothers me are leaves. I was out in the snow raking them the other day because I couldn’t stand seeing them all over the ground. As far as peeves from others, though, I don’t like people who use others for their benefit. Gets in my craw every time.

Do you have siblings?

Yep, I have a half-brother and a step-sister. Both are grown, though my brother still lives with our parents.

What kind of music interests you?

I will listen to just about any type of music, except modern country. I just can’t get into it. As far as favourites…the sugarier the pop, the better. As of late I’ve been bouncing between Bollywood hits and electronica.

What book/movie/tv show can you not live without?

TV is a guilty pleasure of mine; I watch way too much of it. I’m a card-carrying fandom member for Supernatural and Teen Wolf – can’t miss an episode. I don’t read as much as I should, but I like fantasy, historical fiction and romance books. Bernard Cornwell, Gregory McGuire, and Diana

Chris blogs at adandyman and is Kailichi on Instagram, Pinterest and twitter.

For his month Chris choice a diamond stack block.  I have to admit that when I first saw this I was a little worried.  I mean come on, look at all that bias.  In the end it wasn’t that bad, although my second block came out decidedly better than the first.  Chris had no specific colour requirements, only that the first border around the diamonds be white, other than that, the crayon box was ours to command!  I naturally gravitated towards my colours of teal, mustard and purple, throwing in some favorites such as an Architextures crosshatch and some Tula Acacia Foxfield.  Though I bitched at the beginning, these weren’t that bad to make and I think I’d happily do them again…maybe…with wine…and hard liquor.

The #NGAQB hashtag is blooming now, so be sure to check out all the marvelous male-made things.  Also, I think we’re going to have our first completed quilt top soon.  Mr.January, Sandy, has finally gotten around to making his last few blocks.  Yay!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – MAY

And so the baton passes to Mr. May in the #NGAQB race.  Paul has been the one to watch from the very beginning of this bee.  His timing is meticulous and he always delivers ahead of time.  He seems to have at least half a dozen projects on the go too, so maybe he’s some kind of quilting wizard? Here’s a little about him in his own words.

“Paul Hallinger, born in New Jersey. I am the product of a very nuclear family – dad, mom, me, and my sister. I am the older brother. Just a rather mundane childhood of growing up watching Japanese cartoons and Dr. Who. Oh, and Monty Python. And I was one of those ‘studious’ types who would much rather take home a 100 book reading list for the summer. And if my aunt would lend me her books on UFOs, psychic phenomenon, and otherworldly things, I would fit them in alongside The Great Gatsby.

I took up some levels of sewing and crochet in my teens, mostly because I lived next to my grandmother and aunt, both of whom spent time doing these things. I took a sewing class at a local fabric store (yes, they existed back in the Stone Age) and made a really cool for the times patchwork denim vest. Someone in my family still has it!

I graduated from high school and went off to college. Well that was an interesting thing to do. I lived in a co-ed dorm, found more fun than I could possibly ever want to experience, and decided that if majoring in forestry meant I had to learn Latin, well, that was not going to happen. So after a fun-filled year at a small liberal arts college in northern New Jersey, I dropped out.

And then I just explored new and fun experiences. I worked at various jobs, hung out at clubs with friends, got into CBGBs, became enamored with punk, double pierced my ears, got a tattoo, and colored my hair a lovely shade of blue after spending months looking like Rutger Hauer in Bladerunner. I would not trade those life experiences for anything. And Doc Martens ruled.

I eventually went back to college (I think I was 26 or so), working full-time and going to school full-time. I majored in sociology with a minor in psychology and I am that person in the room who doesn’t say much but is intrigued by everything going on around him. And then off to grad school in the wonderful land of California. I spent two years getting my masters, buggered off the phD (eternal studentdom was not for me) and took a job with the Federal government in 1991. Been there as a day job ever since. I have lived in Jersey, California, Missouri and am now back in Pennsylvania.

What, too impersonal? Not a big sharer, but here you go.

I have been with my one true love for 26-ish years now – our first date involved a trip to the dump. A true romantic that one. We both remember the movie we went to see and the fact that I didn’t go home. And never left much after that either!

I took up quilting in 1992 or so – I had gone to Europe on a wonderful two-week adventure and upon returning to the states blew out a couple of lumbar discs when I grabbed a suitcase out of the trunk of a car. Cross country flight and pain, not a good mix. So I was out of work for a few months and was going absolutely bonkers counting the ceiling tiles when a friend showed me how to cross stitch and then how to do quilt stitching by hand. I then asked her to show me how to make a quilt. I was using a lovely White sewing machine that I had bought at a ‘school over-ordered’ sale. I took it in for service and was amazed at the Bernina sewing machines, so I bought one! and then another. And then another. I have three. Two embroider (another favorite of mine). And then I bought a Juki (I like it for the more industrial needs!).

My quilting is like my musical taste – punk funk other junk, classical jazz industrial pretty much anything I listen to and like. So I quilt things I like – I don’t confine myself to any particular style. I do tend to be a little ‘matchy’ with my fabric choices and tend to stick to one or two choices in a quilt – I personally feel that the fabric designer did what they did and I should let their expression stand relatively sound. When I look at some stuff produced by other quilters I just start hearing “One of these things is not like the other, one of these things just doesn’t belong…”. My own personal aesthetic. I need some level of cohesion.”

I actually got these blocks done early on in the month because I was so excited to start them.  You see, there were no rules, only a size, eight and a half inches unfinished.  This month, we could really let loose, picking and choosing what we fancied.  Colour, style, fabric…it was all down to us.

I decided to piece some improv blocks as my love affair with that particular style of piecing seems to only get more steamy.  I chose bright, bold-coloured fabrics along side greys and pieced them into negative space with my new favourite, Robert Kauffman’s Essex Yarn Dyed Linen in black.  I found it a little challenging sticking to the constraints of an 8″ block as there was so many things I wanted to do, but I’m happy with the outcome.  Hopefully Paul will be too!

You can find out more about Paul and his fantastic work over on his blog and on Instagram, where he posts as evildemondevildog.  While you’re there, check out the rest of the bee beauties using the hashtag #NGAQB.

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – APRIL

It’s always the way!  You let yourself get comfortable, throw around a little swagger and cockiness, and before you know it April’s been and gone and your bee blocks aren’t done!  Time really did catch up with me last month.  What with work and all the little side projects I had going on it was inevitable that some plates wouldn’t get spun.  Fortunately, the situation has been rectified and I’m back on track, having posted out April and May bee blocks yesterday.  Phew for a little breathing space!

When the #NGAQB started to take shape many moons ago, I was excited about all the new male quilters I’d get to meet and interact with.  It was like being invited to an exclusive club, where Facebook was our smoking room and we talked fabric rather than finance.  I had that new-boy-in-the-class feeling as I wasn’t familiar with any of the group, except one, Mr. April and the Quilt Dad himself, John Adams.

When I began quilting, Quilt Dad was a shining beacon.  He held my hand and guided me through the construction of my first quilt, for which I used his awesome wonky log cabin tutorial.  That quilt was the first I saw through to the end and would never have been as good if it weren’t for John’s informative and easy-to-understand instructions.

I’m sure that John needs no introduction to many of you quilty folk out there but as per tradition, he took a few moments to share some of himself with the group.

I am a father of three, originally from Brooklyn NYC but now living in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina. I live with my 9 year-old twin girls, my 8 year-old son, and a crazy German Short-haired Pointer named Bristol. Though I often wish it could be, quilting and pattern-writing is not my full-time job; by day, I lead branding and brand marketing efforts for a global software company. I am a completely self-taught quilter (thanks, blogs and internet!) and have been sewing for about 7 years now. I earned my undergraduate and master’s degrees at the University of North Carolina and, when I’m not sewing, enjoy cheering for the UNC Tar Heels.

I was originally inspired by the blossoming worlds both of craft blogging and modern fabrics back in 2004. I was living in Charlotte NC at the time and began mixing and matching fabrics and buying fat quarters in my local quilt shop even before I knew how to sew a stitch. I was really drawn to the creative process of mixing and matching colors and prints. That was when Amy Butler’s Lotus line had just come out, and the options for bright modern fabrics was growing like crazy. Before long, I decided I was going to make a quilt and read free tutorials online until I felt comfortable with the basics.

I started my blog, QuiltDad.com, in 2008 on a whim, mainly to be eligible to join a swap at the time but ultimately to share my love of patchwork with others.  Since then, I’ve remained very active in online quilting communities through swaps, virtual quilting bees, and guilds. Today, I try to apply my own quilting aesthetic to designing original quilt patterns for both fabric designers and companies and frequently contribute to creative blogs, books, and other collaborative endeavors. I’ve contributed to several collaborative quilt books, have two book titles of my own (Pretty in Patchwork: Holidays and the soon to be released Beyond Neutral: Quilts Inspired by Nature’s Elements) and was a co-founder of the popular e-magazine and book series for modern quilters, Fat Quarterly.

Having said all that, the NGAQB is one of the most unique, exciting projects I’ve been a part of and I can’t wait to see the beautiful things that emerge from it.”

As he mentioned, John can be found blogging at Quilt dad and on Instagram as j_q_adams.

John requested feather blocks for his month, based on a pattern by Anna Maria Horner.  Print and colour were pretty much left up to us.  Aside from no novelty fabrics, we had a free reign.  I was guided by John’s love of pattern and chose floral and geometric prints in bright, saturated colours by Joel Dewberry, Amy Butler, Tula Pink and, of course, Anna herself.  I strayed from the instructions a little as I didn’t want all my feathers to be the same.  So, rather than sew long strips as per the instruction, I made smaller strip sets in different fabrics.  I really liked making one side of the feather in one piece to offset the balance.  I went for a warm grey for the feather quills and the background was Kona Snow, as per John’s request.

I went through an emotional roller coaster when I made these.  One minute I loved them, the next I wanted to fling them from the roof. !  Now that they’re done I can confidently say that I love them.  I think I’ve been bitten by the feather bed bug!  For anyone else attempted these my advice would be gentle, gentle!  The bias is prone to stretching so go carefully with your iron.  You may also want to over shoot the background, as I have done.  That way you’ll have some leeway to square up and ensure all your blocks are the same size.

I love this bee a little more with every new block I make.  The group is made up of such inspiring, dynamic men and I can’t wait to get some of their handiwork fall through my letterbox come October.  Remember to follow along using the hashtag #NGAQB and I’ll be back soon with Mr. May.

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – MARCH

As well as many birthdays, including the dog’s, March marks month three of the #NGAQB and the center-stage positioning of our second Andrew (with an Andres too even the bee members get confused; I’m not expecting you to keep up!)  Like the other one, this Andrew recently shared a bit about himself in our Facebook group.  I’ll go and make tea whilst you get to know him better…

“I’m the other Andrew, or Mr. March.  I went to art school and concentrated on photography.  I now work in healthcare, specifically as an aide in Intensive Care and Cardiac Services.  Quilting was introduced to me by my mother a couple of years ago when I asked her to teach me, knowing she wanted to get back into it.  I made one small table runner and one lap quilt then put my machine away, only to pick it up again 6 months or so ago.  Thanks to social media, specifically Instagram, I started noticing more and more male crafters and quilters.  I started to follow them and began a conversation about an all-male quilt bee…and here we are.”

Yes we are, with tea!  Andrew shares his awesomeness as Testostersewn on Instagram.  For his month, he chose an Inverted Star block.

“I chose the Inverted Star block because I haven’t yet worked with half-square triangles and wanted the challenge.”

We were asked to keep the star solid and the exterior pieces either solid black or a black tone-on-tone print.  As for colours, we were guided by a photograph Andrew shared with the bee.

“I asked for the color inspiration to come from a photograph I took on my last trip with my husband to Key West. We’ve been there twice in the last year and I love it.  Asking for your help to commemorate this new favorite place of mine seemed appropriate.”

I have to admit that I didn’t realise the photograph had a significance to Andrew until after I made his blocks.  I feel so privileged to have contributed to something that will stir great memories.  Whilst I enjoyed making these blocks I don’t mind saying I was a little anxious beforehand!  After reading through the pattern several times, I ultimately decided to ignore it!  Whenever I’ve made half square triangles in the past, my go-to method has always been to stitch either side of a line draw on a square and cut in half.  The pattern called for triangles cut first then stitched together.  Well, I guess cutting on the bias is my bronchitis, coz I ain’t got time for it!  Instead, I made over-sized units and cut them down in an attempt to improve the accuracy of my piecing and have the block come out the right size.  There were a lots of pieces in this block and I didn’t want to lose too much of it!  I fastidiously sewed each seam with a scant quarter-inch allowance and went softly, softly with my iron.  Distortion I did not need!  Thankfully when it came to measuring up, the blocks were the size they were suppose to be, give or take a few threads.

The photograph allowed for a great colour palette; lots of moody blues and greys with hints of whites and marine greens.  I had no shortage of fabric to choose from as these are the colours I love to work with.  I used a mixture of prints and solids and tried to varying their position over the two blocks.  I’m particularly proud of the fussy cutting I did on the Joel Dewberry print in the first block.  I really wanted the pattern in exactly the same place and I think I nailed it.   A small victory in a long-fought battle against steam and seam!

Yesterday Andrew confirmed receipt of the blocks so I can breathe a sigh of relief.  Apart from January, all the blocks I make are destined for air travel and I always fret that it’ll be my package that gets mislaid.  So far, so good.  Andrew seems pleased too.  He ended his mini biography with this…

“Thank you all for the stunning blocks I’ve already either received or seen online.  The work you each produce is amazing and I’m glad to be a growing amateur in such an elite group of fun and talented craftsman!”

Such sentiment!  Three months in and I’m loving every minute of this quilt bee experience.  Sharing my creativity with such a great bunch of guys is so rewarding, I wouldn’t even if I didn’t have a month of my own…actually, scrap that, roll on October, it’s ours and we wants it!

As always, follow along on Instagram with the hashtag #NGAQB.