Thursday, 31 January 2013

January's Goals

At the start of the month I set myself some goals... they are part of my plan to keep better track of what I want to achieve with work and my blog.

The goals I set myself were:

  • To make more comments on other bloggers blogs
  • To learn more about colour.
  • To take better photographs.

So how has it gone?

Well, pretty well I think!


I have started making more comments on blogs, in fact I have discovered some amazing blogs that I now try to check in with everyday. I featured some of them last Sunday, and I will show you some more on Sunday as part of the Sunday Reading blog post series.

By commenting, you feel as if you are making connections in our little community of quilters, supporting each other and encouraging others. So I pretty pleased with making that commitment, and sticking to it!!


Well, I have been reading Victoria Alexander's book and it has been fascinating learning about the meanings of colours in different parts of the world and how they affect people. I am keen to learn more and actually put it into practice in my quilts... but time, tight deadlines and sick children has meant I haven't been able to...

So I think this one will tip into next month, but with a narrow range of goals - why set yourself up to fail?


I have been following the advice I have picked up from various blogs. I have started switching off all lights and using only natural light. I have experimented with using a white background and even taken photos out in the snow - quite a lot of glare!

Overall I think my photos have improved, and resisting using my phone to take photos has helped too! It's all too easy to load photos from there onto here... but they just aren't the same quality!

What about your goals?

How are they going?

I would love to know!

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Quilt in a Day

Saturday was a big day for me - my first patchwork and quilting day workshop!

I won't lie, I was extremely nervous.

Firstly because it was my first workshop teaching the skills I hold so dear, but also because I had planned for  6 learners and discovered I had 12 learners... 12 is a lot of people in a room at once...

I have 7 machines with 1/4" feet and walking feet, 6 of those have free motion feet... so they quite simply were not going to go around 12 people.. We had to borrow 5 from a local college, 4 of which we could get working..

You can just imagine my stress levels rising can't you!

Luckily it was a successful day and everyone learned new skills and a few quilts made the challenge of being ready for binding in just 6 hours!

Here are some of the photos from the day:

Working hard on patchwork
2 learners went off piste and tried something new, including free motion quilting a design:

Free motion quilting around birds on the fabric.
Another completed a design with quilt as you go applique:

I love this design of birds!

The jelly rolls came together really quickly to make a quilt top:

Adding a border to the strips to make the quilt larger.

Following the jelly roll colour progression.

Love these flowers, the reds and pinks!

The funky Trade Winds
Unfortunately this quilt went wrong... the seams went off on a tangent and curved... the poor learner was in tears, and couldn't look at her work. I have offered to sort it all out... getting the seam ripper out over the weekend. I am thinking about making the strips that are fine into a Scrappy Trip Along...

All in all it was a successful day, with 3 learners booking onto my 5 week course which focuses more on cutting and designing blocks using HST. Plus they had a waiting list long enough to book another workshop, so I am back teaching at Prema Arts on Saturday 9th.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Fabric Wishlist

Thank you for the lovely comments about yesterdays post. It was hard to write, but it feels better to have written it all down....

I have been ogling fabric again.... here are some of the ones I REALLY want...

From Village Haberdashery
This is from the wonderful Lucky Penny range by Alison Glass and is called Foundation in Noon. I have some of the bike path design which is lush...

From Village Haberdashery
Another new line I love is mircoMod by Rob Bancroft:

From Eclectic Maker

The Eclectic Maker has a whole heap of fabrics from this line and they are yummy!

From Eclectic Maker
This one is lovely! 

From Backstitch
This line from Lizzy House has been growing on me slowly! I just adore it now and Alice from the fabulous Backstitch has the range!

From Backstitch
So many gorgeous ranges at the moment!

Which are your favourite?

Monday, 28 January 2013

My life in quilts - grief

A while ago I posted about my quilts telling the story of my life, they remind me of when I was making them, they retain the memory of my life at that point.

I have been trying to find the starting point for a series of blogs about the quilts, and the memories they represent, more for me than anything else.... but I have struggled with the most important quilt.... I didn't know how to include it until yesterday..

Yesterday I watched a beautiful film called Delicacy, a French movie with the simply gorgeous Audrey Tautou. It is about love, loss and grief. I enjoyed watching it, but it prompted me to think about grief and how it affected me...

So I am going to bite the bullet and start my series with the quilt that represents a period of extreme sadness and loss. A time that still affects me... it is the hardest quilt to write about!

I made this quilt in the 3 months following the death of my mother.

It represents the important things about her life, the things she loved and the illness that took her away..

My mum was a force of nature, she was fiercely bright, strong and determined. I have never met anyone like her and I doubt I ever will!  She was that person who got straight A's in a blink of an eye. She was funny - a joint friend tells me stories about the things she used to get up to... totally crazy!

You see I didn't know my mum as an adult. When I was 18 she was diagnosed with cancer, which she fought and won. But it revealed something much worse - early onset Alzheimer's. She was 48 when she got cancer and 51 when we finally got someone to diagnose Alzheimer's - they all said she was too young...

Just when I was reaching adulthood, she was sinking into the black hole that is Alzheimer's. We watched as a family, we watched her drifting away for 10 years, we watched her memory and finally her body fail her.

This kind of grief is like being tied to a train track and watching the train coming straight for you... you know for years that it is coming, you think you will be prepared, but it still hits you like a train and carries into places you never knew existed before...

In those first few weeks after she died I set to work making a quilt to remember her life by, it gave me something to focus on.

It is broken into sections. On the left is a panel of gold Ginkgo Leaves floating on a red background. Ginkgo represents memory - a reminder of the illness that took her.

She loved the colour red and she loved roses, so I put a panel of hand sewn roses. They start at the bud - the start of life - and finish in full bloom.

During the course of her life she had travelled to Africa, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan. Japan stayed with her, she loved the people. So I put her name in Japanese onto the quilt using some black fabric.

The quilting was really minimal. In fact I only quilted 2 things...

My mum was a mathematician, she loved maths - it was beautiful to her!

So I quilted her favourite mathematical constants into the quilt: Pi and natural logarithm e...

I think she would have approved!

Part of the Let's Get Acquainted Monday link up on Plum and June

Plum and June

Sunday, 27 January 2013

Making Binding

Binding made up of different strips

A tutorial on making binding for your quilts, using 2.5" strips!

First, before we start, measure the edges of your finished quilt and add the lengths together so we know the complete distance around the quilt. You don't need to be accurate - too much binding is better than too little! Add a few inches to the measurement for turning corners - 4" should be enough.

You will need:

  • Enough 2.5" wide strips to go round your quilt
  • Thread
  • Rotary cutter, ruler and mat
  • Iron
  • Pins
  • Sewing Machine

I made this binding using the strips left over from my Jelly Roll quilt above, so I  saved a pile of strips:

Trim all the selvages off the end of your strips if you are using jelly roll strips:

You are now ready to get the binding joined up. The strips need joining on an angle so there is no bulky seams on the binding.

Step 1

Take 2 strips and lie on right side up, and the other right side down at a right angle at the end of the strip, matching the edges:

Draw a line on a 45 degree angle from the bottom corner, as shown above - this is your stitch line.

Secure the strips with pins and stitch along your pencil line.

Step 2

Once you have stitched the line, use your ruler to cut the excess off the strip. Place the ruler so have a 1/4" seam allowance as below:

Once you have cut away, open the strip out and iron the seam flat. You should now have a continuous strip:

 Keep piecing all the strips until you have enough to bind your quilt!

Step 3

Once you have all the strips joined, you need to iron one end on a 45 degree fold:

This will be the starting point of your binding on the quilt.

Next fold the strips in half and iron the binding:

Once you have ironed the all of it, I find it useful to wind it up:

Step 4

Now you need to attach the binding to the quilt. You are going to match the raw edges on the front of the quilt with the raw edges of your binding and pin them in place:

Make sure you start in the middle of one side.

I only pin the first few inches, so I can deal quickly with an rucks that might come up when I am attaching the binding.

Step 5

You can now start stitching the binding into place. Using a 1/4" foot start stitching an inch from the edge of the fold you made at the start of the binding - this allows you to slip the end of the binding in when you have gone all the way around.

Continue along that first edge, until to reach within 1/4" of the first corner and back stitch. Take the quilt off the machine.

Step 6

To go around the corner we are going to first fold the binding at a 45" degree angle, so it looks like this:

 Iron the fold in place. Next lay the binding down the new edge:

Iron and then pin in place. This will give you clean, neat tucks on the corners. 

Start stitching 1/4" from the top edge - leaving the 1/4" before after the corner turn is really important to ensure the tucks a neat on the back of the quilt later.

Continue stitching down the new edge, repeating the corner turning process at each corner until you reach the starting point.

Step 7

Once you get near the start, lay the binding down on the edge and cut the strip so that it overlaps the starting fold. Gently ease the strip in between the binding at the start and stitch down. You should now have a continuous line of binding attached to the quilt front.

Step 8

Starting at the beginning/end point of the binding, turn the binding over onto the back and secure in place. (Clover clips are really good for this - no sharp pointed needles to catch on your fingers whilst you sew!)

Stitch the binding into place, making sure to cover the machine stitching line

And you are done!

A Fabulous Shop

After a mad week of preparing and packing up, the workshop yesterday was a success!

I have 12 lovely ladies sewing up a storm and chatting away to each other. each got to different stages in finishing their quilt top, but everyone had a go a quilting and learnt about binding.

One quilt top went completely wrong - the jelly roll seams went off on a curve, which left a quilt top at an angle we just couldn't rescue. The poor student was almost in tears after hours of work, but I have packed everything up and offered to sort the problem and make the quilt up for her. She was a complete beginner sewer, and I feel really bad for her that her first experience of patchwork was so frustrating..

I will be sharing photos later in the week and show you the class creations, but today I wanted to mention the Eclectic Maker.

On Thursday morning I went through all my supplies and realised I was going to need more of some things, including solid white fabric and needles. I ordered nice and early using the next day service. My rescue package arrived on Friday morning and really helped my stress levels!

Unfortunately the parcel has the wrong needles - universal instead of quilting needles! I emailed the shop and they said they would post out another pack. I resigned myself to not having enough of the right needles on Saturday..

On Saturday morning as I was edging my way down our icy road with a car packed full of supplies and equipment, my fabulous postie Ray flagged me down with a parcel of needles! I could have kissed him!

So thank you Eclectic Maker for being so amazing!

In case you haven't visited them yet, you really should!

They have oodles of glorious fabric, including amazing bundles:

Laura Gunn bundle

And some amazing supplies! I love these that I ordered this week for the first time:

Gonna review them later in the week!

So go check out Eclectic Maker, you are going to love the fabric, and the service is fantastic too!

Friday, 25 January 2013

Take a jelly roll....

My first finish of 2013 was actually started and finished in just over a day this week!

It is the first demonstration quilt for my class tomorrow - I am slowly getting the supplies organised and boxed up...

Anyway here is the finished front:

Jelly Roll 1 Front
Yes, we still have snow!

It is simply made by piecing the jelly roll strips together in a haphazard way... I just plucked them out of the pile and sewed them, trying to to get the same colours next to each other!

I love this design, Mama Said Sew from Sweetwater... in fact I am kinda in love with all their designs! 

The backing is from my stash and is Hometown by Sweetwater (seeing a theme building here??), which I have held onto for ages, but I am so glad I did!

The back

The text in the Sweetwater is always so lovely, so many things catch you eye each time you look at it!

Text and spots back

I have never used patterned fabric for a backing and I love the way it compliments the front. I quilted it using a walking foot and some Aurifil red thread, just simply lines that follow the seams of the jelly roll!

Back and Front

Another first is using the jelly roll as binding so the binding changes as it works it's way around the quilt!

Binding made up of different strips

The whole process has confirmed that I love text! Can't wait for my swap FQ from the text swap I blogged about!

Best get on with planning and packing up!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Applique in a panic!

This week everything seems to be about panicking!

It has been one of those weeks!

Anyway, last week I needed a quick way to get a set of learners to make blocks for a wall hanging for their support centre. Skills and time were in short supply, so asking them to cut individual patchwork blocks and sew them in a traditional way wouldn't work!

Whilst stewing on the idea with a cup of coffee I remembered a technique I had watch Sarah Fielke use in her Craftsy class - it is brilliant by the way!

She used glue to secure all her hand applique! To me this was brilliant!

No pins, just glue dabbed onto the middle of the shape to keep it in place and then the edges could be tucked and sewn... total genuis!

But I wondered if this technique could be applied to machine applique?

Could I get away with some fabric glue instead of expensive Bondaweb, which I love using, or fiddly pins that would drive the learners insane?

After 30 minutes of experimenting, I found out I could!

Machine Applique Flower

I get a fast and satisfying result using scraps of fabric, which large groups of my learners will be able to follow! They can design their own applique and make it into cushion covers, quilts... whatever they want!

Yesterday I used the method again on me second demo quilt for Saturday's class, and it worked a treat again!

The scraps were glued in place, then stitched - it was quick and easy!

Because it doesn't involved an iron I can use with my after school clubs too, giving them more freedom to design!

You can find a free tutorial here, if you fancy giving it a go!