BLOGGER’S QUILT FESTIVAL – VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT II

As the king of last minute, I’m frantically writing this to share the details of my entry into this spring’s Blogger’s Quilt Festival before I get myself off to the dreaded day job! For those of you who are unaware, the festival is organised by Amy of Amy’s Creative Side and takes place twice a year to coincide with International Quilt Market.  I highly recommend entering as it’s great fun and extremely inspiring, though even just browsing all of the amazing quilts on show is well worth it too.  I’ve seen so many creative pieces over the years and it’s where I’ve meet many of my favourite quilty people for the fist time.

This year, I’m entering my second Vegetable Patch Quilt into the Original Design category.  You can read more about my process behind designing and constructing this quilt in the original post. These quilts have kind of become my trademark in a way and I love sharing them with people. The feedback I’ve received has been amazing and I’m so grateful for all the encouragement I receive to get on and make more.  I can’t share too much with you all at this stage, but know that I have lots of exciting things planned involving these quilts and can’t wait to get sewing.

So, if you wouldn’t mind, I’d love a vote from you, though I know from experience that it can be hard to choose!  So, go away and spend an afternoon browsing all the wonderfulness that’s on display at the festival.  You won’t be disappointed!

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MONKEYING AROUND ON QUILT MONKEY!

Throughout the rich and varied history of TV there have been countless memorable duos who’ve remained every-present in the consciousness of consumers; Laurel and Hardy, Richard and Judy and Ant and Dec.  Well, as much as it blows my mind to say it, you can add another pair to the list; Katy Jones…and me!

Katy needs no introduction to anyone familiar with the modern quilting movement. Author, blogger and fabric designer, she knows her stuff, so I was honoured when she asked me last year if I’d be interested in presenting some episodes of her ever-popular quilting show Quilt Monkey.  To say I wasn’t a little nervous at first would be a big fat lie! I’d never done anything like it before and my mind was full of all the live TV fails I’d seen whilst lost in the depths of late-night internet browsing. Fortunately, Quilt Monkey, which is shown on QNNTV, isn’t filmed live and, even if it was, I had great support along the way.  My hand was well and truly held!

So, after a spot of planning, off to North Wales I went to film my episodes; a four-hour car drive from the attic here in Cardiff.  Me, behind a camera, talking about quilting!  Throughout the journey I was frantically taking notes, wracking my brain for funny anecdotes and inspirational nuggets to share with the audience.  Then I stopped and thought “I know what I’m talking about, let’s just focus on the quilting.”  So that’s what I did.  I have to admit it was a bit surreal to be stood behind the camera, lights shining down and a bank of TV monitors glowing at the edge of my vision.  I even had a microphone, something which l wasn’t expecting but in hindsight seems so obvious.  This was real and the cameras were rolling!

Luckily for me Katy was a dream to work with and displayed none of the diva qualities often attributed to people at the top of their game.  Yes, she needs a constant stream of tea, but then again so do I!  We chatted and cut fabric, then pressed and sewed it as I talked about piecing free hand curves.  We were having so much fun that before I knew it, a wrap was called on our joint episode.  I’d done it!  That episode is now up and ready to view.  Over the course of my trip I filmed a total of 4 episodes, to be released over the coming weeks.  In fact, my first solo effort goes live today! Throughout the episodes I’ll be talking about improv and inspiration, as well as showing you some techniques I used to create my Vegetable Patch quilts.

The whole experience was so fun and I’m hoping I’ll get the chance to return for another guest slot.  If you do get a chance to view the episodes I’d love to hear what you all think!  Thanks for visiting!

A SECOND VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT

I knew I would end up making a second Vegetable patch quilt.  Even when I was elbow deep in purple strips, fashioning the red cabbage from the first quilt, I couldn’t help but let my mind drift to other vegetables and how they might be constructed. Like the first, this second version was completed some time ago, and since it’s not really the weather for allotments yet, I took advantage of a weathered wall and the smallest segment of sunshine to snap some photographs whilst away for the school half term a few weeks ago.  I’m not ashamed to say that I am in love!

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As pleased as I am with the finished product, once again it was the process of its construction that really got me going.  The first thing I did was to think about vegetables, perhaps more than any sane person really should, in a creative way.  I was drawn to both their outward appearance as well as the patterns and textures that can be found beneath the peel and skin.  I wanted the blocks to work in harmony with the first, and was looking for vegetables with similar colours and tones.

The first block to be completed was the red onion, which, up until recently, was my most liked media on Instagram (thank you beloved followers).  I saw this block as the younger brother of the leek block from the first version and had two things I wanted to achieve with it.  Firstly, to increase the curves and have the rings be more rounded.  Secondly, I wanted the colours of a red onion to be really obvious.  I wanted people to know what it was as soon as they looked at it.  Fabric section for this block was key.  I mixed Kona solids with small-scale prints by Denyse Schmidt and Violet Craft amongst others.  Purple is a colour I’m lacking in my stash so I was pleased to find pieces that I could use amongst my numerous scraps.  I can’t lie and say I wasn’t worried when I was making this block.  Yes, my idea was working and the fabrics looked great together, but to make those curves you must have a lot of seams.  I mean, a lot!  Luckily, once it was pressed and starched and stretched…oh my…it lied pretty flat, and what didn’t was quickly sorted out by the quilting.

Next came the green element.  I chose asparagus for its outside detail and the range of colours it comes in.  Like the carrot block from the first version, I wanted this block to showcase the thin, long nature of the vegetable.  After scribbling down my process on paper, I made a test block, the first time I’d done so for these quilts, and realised that some changes would have to be made to better convey the asparagus.  I made my initial strips wider and re-worked the tips.  Again, fabric selection was important, and thank God for crosshatch by Carolyn Friedlander.  It’s so textured and perfect for these kind of blocks. I was a little worried that the neutral background would be lost when I came to sash the blocks, but the mix of linens and solids really makes the asparagus spears stand out.

For the red element I choose a chili and like the tomato block, it has a lot going on inside!  I created the seeds first, then cut free hand curves, another first on this project, to create the iconic shape of the chili.  The background was a kona solid in a since-forgotten shade of red that really make the block stand out and gives it some “fire”.

The last block was pumpkin.  I probably struggled with this once the most.  I knew I wanted an orange element to complete the quilt top, but was stumped for a long while before settling on the seasonal squash.  I was probably influenced by the recent Halloween celebrations and the fact that I was snacking on a lot of spiced pumpkin seeds.  Go figure!  Again, like the chili pepper, I constructed the seeds first, then used a similar technique to the red onion to create the shape of the pumpkin.  I debated whether or not to add some green before settling on a small section. In hindsight I think it’s a tad too vibrant, but think it still works by creating a little contrast.

So, I now had the four blocks and was very pleased with them.  The rest was easier!  I knew I wanted the layout to be the same as the previous version.  That meant sashing the four blocks with Essex yarn dyed linen in flax from Robert Kaufman before adding a wider border in the same fabric.  The backing was the same as before, a seeded, off-white cotton, and the quilting was also the same, although this time it was done on my new machine with a wider throat!  Lots of organic, dense quilting that suits the subject matter perfectly. Binding…you guessed it, the same!  My long-hoarded crosshatch from Carolyn Friedlander.

I love these quilts and they are my most favourite things I’ve ever made.  They look really good together and seeing them like this makes all the trail, error and mishaps worth it.  Remember, I have no pattern for these blocks.  No templates or measurements to cut.  It’s all in my head, and even then I only have a vague idea about where I’m going with it.  But that’s part of the fun, exploring my creativity, and it’s something I would encourage you all to do.  You might be surprised where the journey takes you.  For me, it was to the bottom of the allotment!

Thanks for visiting!  Oh wait, I need your help!  I really want to build my stash of basics, fabrics that are perfect for these types of blocks.  I have a lot of solids, but I’m looking for suggestions for small-scale prints in greens, reds, oranges, purples and browns.  I have some ideas, like Crosshatch, Sketch, Pearl Bracelets and Squared Elements, but do you know of any more?  Leave your suggestions in the comments and there might by a prize at the end of it for one of you!

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 VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT

I finally got around to photographing this quilt today.  I actually finished it about 2 weeks ago but have been waiting to take it to a friends allotment plot.  I couldn’t think of a more suitable location for a photo shoot.  After a couple of false starts we finally managed to meet up today and get the job done.  Thankfully, the storm held off just long enough for me to get my lens cap back on!

I loved making these blocks and am so pleased with how they’ve turned out.  The whole process was improvisational (recently, my mot de jour) and you can find out more about them in this post.  I didn’t really have a finished product in mind when I started but love where the creative process has taken me.  Most of these blocks started life as sketches on the back of receipts and the whole journey was, aptly, an organic one.

After I finished the top I wanted the quilting to really emphasise the earthy nature of the quilt.  For the backing I chose a seeded, natural cotton that has been in the stash for a while.  Thankfully I bought a lot of it, which is good as I can see it becoming the back to many more quilts like this.  I chose dense matchstick quiting in a white, cream and tan variegated thread.  The texture is amazing and I can’t help but be reminded of onion layers when I look at the back.

I was stumped on the binding for a good few days.  At first I was drawn to the colours of the vegetables, but after somebody suggested they should remain the main players and the binding shouldn’t compete with them, I opted for an old, go-to binding; a Carolyn Friedlander crosshatch, this time in grey.  Subtle, but still nice to look at.

My head is already full of ideas for more ways to explore this type of piecing and now, when I’m in the supermarket, I’m lingering just a little longer in the produce aisle!

A VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT WIP

Remember this post?  Well, I haven’t forgotten about that quilt, but it seems that I can’t stop finding inspiration in food.  Beloved Instagram followers may have seen some vegetable-inspired blocks sprouting up in my feed over the last few weeks.  The idea for these came from a food feature I read in a weekend newspaper.  Vague memory suggests it was something to do with leeks and their multitude of culinary uses.  Whilst the recipes were tempting, the idea of fashioning one in fabric was even more so.  The piece was accompanied by photographs of leeks in various states of undress; whole, chopped, strips, much like the fabric we use in our craft.  One particular image was a cross-section, rings and rings of greenish hue set against the dark wood of the chopping board.  Right there, that was my inspiration.

A few days later I pulled fabric, from stash and scraps, from the creamiest white all the way through the greens to dark emerald.  A colouful mixture of prints and solids.  Then, without any semblance of a plan, I cut…and sewed…and pressed…and repeated, round and round, encouraged with what I was creating,  It actually looked like a leek!  I squared it off and that was it, the first vegetable patch quilt block.

I didn’t see this becoming a huge quilt, just a mini, with some neutral sashing in between the blocks.  I went on a hunt for the most colourful, interesting vegetables.  Next came red cabbage, which turned the attic into something like a demolition site.  You know that feeling when you’re so in the zone?  Threads flying here, there and everywhere; the floor more fabric than wood; the dog a walking lint roller…I have never had more fun!  Improv piecing has well and truly taken hold in my creative conscious and it’s something I look forward to exploring a lot more.  Don’t get me wrong, the red cabbage block was one of the hardest things I’ve ever made, and I look at it now and I see room for improvement, but the process of taking that first scrap of fabric and having no idea what will be sewn to what is so freeing.

The tomato block is the one that I’m most proud of.  The whole thing probably would have been a lot easier to make with the help of paper piecing, but I was enamoured with improv.  I love the negative space, and how the tomato is only partially shown.  Not my original plan I’ll admit, but that’s where the piecing took me.

For the last block, I wanted something that wasn’t a cross-section, but rather a representation of the outside of the vegetable.  Carrots allowed my to include some vertical elements into the top, with splashes of green and brown to break up the orange.  This block was possible thanks to the kind contributions of some Instagram friends.  My orange scraps where lacking and they came to my rescue big time!

Once again,I used Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed for the sashing and border, this time in flax.  This range of fabrics is something I really considering buying bolts of.  They are so versatile and work perfectly  with this style of piecing.  The neutrality of the flax colour really sets the blocks off and gives some nice negative space for quilting.  I need to decide what colour thread to use and then I’ll get started.  I had so much fun making this top!  The quilt police probably would have had me sectioned if they could see some of the things that went on whilst making these, but rules were made to be broken right?

STASHING #19

Not so crazy with the fabric this week, because sometimes less is more…oh what the hell, we all know more is more when it comes to fabricitis!  That disease has gone and got me good and there ain’t no curing it!  Though even if there was, I’d push the pill to the side of my mouth and pretend to swallow it!

Just two modest offerings today.  Firstly, those of you who follow me on Instagram will know how excited I was to received my EEP templates from Paper Pieces a few days ago.  I wanted a long-term, hand sewing project and ordered a variety of shapes to see me through week-long caravan holidays and cold winter nights.  I want to really embrace fussy cutting so alongside the paper pieces I also ordered their acrylic equivalents to allow me to precise cut out the bits of fabric I need. The first of those will be these stars in mint from Fox Field by Tula Pink.  I’ve gone a little Tula crazy lately and will have more to share with you once the goodies arrive, but this will do for now.  I’m lucky in the fact that the haberdashery department in the store where I work cut in 10cm increments; perfect for smaller projects like this.

Secondly is this delightfully charming Hungry Caterpillar panel from Makower.   Again, Instagram may have given you a clue about my intended use for this but I’ll be posting more details about my Vegetable Patch Quilt soon.  For now, I’m happy to stare at the colours in this caterpillar.  So awesome!

That’s it!  Sunday means a Molli link up.  Go check out all the other stashing going on.  It’s contagious I tell you!