Saturday, 30 March 2013

Build a Stash!

On Thursday when I started work on an equilateral triangle quilt for my gorgeous friend Helen, I realised just how much I love my stash!

It also got me thinking about when I made quilts in the past. I used to only buy fabric for a project, focus on that project for a while and then start another one part way through...

The having more than one quilt on the go at once is still part of my process, but I now have a stash too...

But why the change?

Well, part of it is having fabrics my learners can access when they don't have any themselves. I need a variety of fabrics because my tastes don't appeal to everyone. Quite simply I need choice.

I also have discovered in the last few months that having a larger stash means I can pull from it to create a piece of work that has varying colours and textures. My work no longer conforms to a  strict set of rules - self imposed rules, but rules none the less!

It feels like a growing process as a quilter.

So if you are starting out how do you start to build?

You have to accept that your bank balance is going to suffer a bit - that is the first step!

But there are great ways to build a stash and pull in fabrics you might not be drawn to, but could become part of an amazing quilt.

I love my monthly subscription to Fat Quarter Shop Bloggers Bundle. This collection each month of 14 FQ is not always fabrics I even like, but I know someone will and actually they have been used to great effect in quilt tops...

They have a designers bundles as well, which is great if you want to collect lines of fabric, I prefer the variety of the bloggers bundles though.

Pink Castle Fabrics is another of my favourite shops and they have a Stash Stack Club, which I have not signed up for at the moment. I like the idea though as it is fabrics from different lines, but that have the same colour/tone.

Money just won't stretch that far at the moment, but soon!

Both of these shops are States side which can make the postage off putting, but it still works out cost effective (just) and if you have a friend willing to share the postage on a club then it is definitely worth it!

In the UK there is the Sew Solids Crew at Simply Solids, which will boost those all important solids that you need in your stash!

I love that Justine is working through the colour spectrum so over the course of year I will have a range of solids from each colour. I am a huge hoarder of Kona Solids as you know so I have the 6 half metres each month and it building into a fabulous collection that I can grab and pull out!

I will keep building my stash - I have discovered the joy of pulling fabrics together for a new project and I am not letting go of that excitement!

Would love to see your stash if you want to share it!

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Triangle love!

I have the most amazing friends - the kind who take all 3 kids in an emergency and give you a hug when you need it..

One of them, Helen, has been there so many times - including driving me home after I broke my ribs in a fall last year. She is one of the few people who gives me a hug when I achieve something and when I need one!

I have wanted to make her a quilt for ages,  but her house is kinda perfect and I didn't want to make a quilt that didn't fit in... it worried me too much!

But this year they swapped the lovely VW camper for a big, shiny new motor home thingy -I haven't been in  it, but it scares me when I am reversing on her drive, her husband would kill me if I hit it by accident!

Perfect opportunity to make a picnic/comfort quilt for their trips away and it can be bright as it is for holidays and fun! Yay!

So this morning I have pulled lots of lovely colours and some prints I have been hoarding - I know it is a shock to you that I hoard - and started cutting:

I love the selection and the bikes I have been saving for Helen's quilt as it says summer holidays to me!

I have been chopping equilateral triangles out of the fabrics - they are lovely! They are 5" from base to apex.

They are so lovely! I am a bit of an order freak with quilts and fabric - there has to be order and I like to break the colour up with creams and white. So of course I started this design with cream..

But I want to try something new so the cream has been ditched:

It is starting to come together and it is making me slightly nervous, but I am just going to keep adding colours into the design and see what happens...

Really stepping out of my comfort zone.... what's the worst that can happen???

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

WIP Wednesday

Sewing and quilting this week has taken a bit of a back seat due the Easter holidays - 3 little boys who love to fight kinda stop any productive work!

I have managed to get my sewing machine into the house and set myself up in the kitchen so have a go at some sewing...

The HST patchwork top has been basted to some lovely red flowers and I have been trying to quilt, but my needles are all old..... I have an wholesale order of needles on the way... feels a bit crappy not being able to quilt though!

So I have got out my Swoon quilt box:

This is block number 7 that is next up to be pieced! Love these flowers!

So slow progress this week....... what have you been working on?

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

FMQ Design

Free Motion Quilting is all about the texture and design that you can add to a patchwork quilt - deciding on the design is when the fun begins!

Once you have the thread, needles and sewing feet sorted you are ready to start quilting!

I love the possibilities of filling the quilt with some depth that goes beyond the patchwork. Free motion quilting is a way of building another element of design into your quilt, it can be intricate or simple, and it is your choice!

I mentioned last week that FMQ is like doodling with a sewing machine.

To me that is exactly how it feels - I have a space that want to add some design to, so I use my sewing machine to doodle into that space!

There are hundreds of designs that can be used in FMQ, and probably hundreds more that are still be used!

I recommend practicing your idea on a piece of paper before you sit down at the sewing machine. This gives you a chance to work through the design in a space and see how it will work. It helps you when you are working on the sewing machine later as your brain remembers how to work through the design.

Here is a design I wanted to try on a mini demonstration quilt. I worked out how to fill the space on paper first and then started work on the piece:

Because I used the paper first I was just able to sew and not worry about how the design would fit into the space.


FMQ changes the way a quilt feels. If you intensively sew the whole quilt it becomes quite stiff. If you leave spaces with little or no stitching the quilt has a mixed texture and feels much softer.

How you want the final quilt to feel should help to determine the design and amount of FMQ you do. 

On the Tula Pink quilt I FMQ quilted every part of the patchwork design with intricate designs, that meant the quilt is heavy and full of detail, but I wouldn't necessarily quilt a baby quilt that way as I want the quilt to remain soft and light.

Mixing up designs in the same space, changes the texture again and the viewer more eye candy!

I am a little partial to swirls and pebbles! This design combining both makes my heart skip a beat!


I tend to use designs that drop out of my head - for example I quilted a cushion with swirls and hearts after being inspired by a student at one of my classes. It was great fun and was low density so the cushion is soft and comfy!

But sometimes I need some inspiration! One of the best places for ideas is the Free Motion Project by Leah Day. There are hundreds of designs on Leah's website complete with short videos demonstrating the design.

I have started a small collection of some of her designs so I have a pile of designs to look through when I am thinking about FMQ a quilt. I plan to try out more over the next few months to build my library of designs.

Angela Walters is another amazing quilter and teacher who suggests having a design book of quilted blocks using different threads and designs. Then you have a reference point for threads that you do you can see the different effects the thread has on the design.


I love Angela Walters books. They are packed full of hints, tips and designs.

I also really like Quilting Modern by Jacquie Gering and Katie Pedersen:

Lovely designs and quilts!

The best way to start FMQ is to just give it a go. Work through the process slowly and steadily and most importantly have loads of FUN!

Monday, 25 March 2013

One Charm Pack

I have a basket with my collection of Sweetwater fabrics that I have been hoarding for quite a while.

Last week I had a idea about using one the charm squares in my basket to make a new quilt design...

It is for a demonstration quilt for a a quilting class starting in Gloucester in April. I wanted to use Half Square Triangles for the design, but in a slightly different way!

It is half pieced, but I already love the colour combinations of the squares, mixed with the cream fabric they just ping out!

I have placed the HST so they reflect across the quilt top and in colour graduation!

I really love this top!

This morning I also finished the last FDD bag to be posted out today:

It is such a pretty bag! And will hopefully be a much loved birthday present!

Linking up today with Let's Get Acquainted:

Plum and June

Saturday, 23 March 2013

New Fabric Obsession...

Like any quilter I have an obsession with fabric - a serious addiction!

And I have some lines of fabric that I just adore- anything Sweetwater for example!

This week thought I have discovered a new obsession - Field Study by Anna Maria Horner.

I suspect I am a few months behind loads of quilters, but it is better to get there in the end right?

This line is simply gorgeous!

It started last Monday evening at my quilting class at Prema Arts Centre. The lovely Abby has a fabulous selection of fabrics and included was some gorgeous fabric from Field Study. I knew I had to have some!

After a quick look through my favourite shops I found that M is for Make has a lovely selection of fabrics:

I know there are some other fabrics in there.... what can I say?

Anyway, I love Field Study so much that I ended up going back to M is for Make for some more!

Now I have the gorgeous butterflies and all of the poppies - I love the poppies!

They are simply gorgeous!

Now they are tucked safely into my secret stash whilst I work out how I want to use them....

Wednesday, 20 March 2013


This week is stumbling along.... after a weekend of working and Scouting duties, followed by teaching everywhere and Cubs Scouts my head is kinda too tired to think!

A nap would be lovely, but I have parent workshop at school, parents evening and then a 3 hour class tonight...

So this week my Work in Progress is a small, but important one.

I am making a bag for a friend who had a voucher for funky diva designs but we lost track of time, so it is a lovely oilcloth bag that I am fitting into the time between planning and teaching!

It needs to be finished by the end of the week so I need to pick up the pace, but time is so short!

All my planning is done for tonight's class, just the car to pack - which takes 20 minutes alone!

Yes, I am feeling a bit stressed out today!

Fingers crossed things will calm down after Friday when the Easter hols start...

Linking up with Work in Progress Wednesday on Freshly Pieced:

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

P.s. you can follow my blog over at Bloglovin'
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Tuesday, 19 March 2013

FMQ Feet

So far we have talked about threads and needles for FMQ.

Today we are going to look at sewing feet you need for Free Motion Quilting.

Free Motion Quilting is a is like doodling with a pencil, but you are using you sewing machine!

You need the machine to allow you to move the fabric in all directions - not just forwards and backwards as you would usually use the sewing machine.

There are two elements that you need to enable the machine to do this:

  • Drop or cover the feed dogs
  • Darning or free motion foot

Feed Dogs

The feed dogs on a sewing machine grip the fabric and pull it through the machine whilst you are stitching, but they only pull it in one direction. To effectively FMQ you need to be able to move in all directions.

If your machine has a drop dogs function you can drop the feed dogs away and this will allow you to move in different directions whilst you quilt. This is a really effective way of FMQ, but you do need to make sure you check the tension on a scrap before you begin.

A sewing machine works best with the feed dogs up, so sometimes it will struggle with feed dogs down, so it is always worth trying them up if the tension seems off - sometimes this fixes the problem.

Covering the dogs, if you are able, is the best way to FMQ that I have found. The machine functions much better with the feed dogs engaged even if they are not touching the fabric.

Darning or free motion foot

Just with the feed dogs you need a foot that means you can move the fabric around easily in the machine. The foot needs to float over the fabric, but be low enough that the machine is engaged to sew.

There are two feet that you can use.

A traditional darning foot will allow you stitch and float at the same time - sounds funny I know!

The foot will allow you to move the fabric around and doodle!

The only draw back I have found is that it jumps up and down, which is really distracting when you are stitching. Plus you need to keep an eye on the tension whilst you are stitching.

If you can, then a free motion foot for you machine is a better investment. I love the Janome kit. It comes with 3 different attachments for the foot and you can lower and lift the foot mechanism, but it doesn't jump around. There is less stress about the tension as I work.

Out of the 3 attachments I prefer the closed loop to work with, the thread snags less and it is much smoother stitching, but that is just my preference!

I hope this helps on you FMQ adventure!

See you next week with a chat about designs!

Friday, 15 March 2013

Having fun!

Tomorrow I am running a day workshop for families.

It is for mums and daughters. An Easter sewing day together!

I have 5 families coming, including a group of granny, mum and daughter who is 7. So the bug question is:

How do you organise a day that will capture the imagination and interest of 3 generations of one wonderful family?

To me it kinda goes back to pushing people gently outside their comfort zone, whilst making them laugh!

When you make people smile and laugh you can help them overcome their anxieties and they can create something they never thought was possible. this is why my classes always start with a few words to make people smile, relax and mostly laugh at my inability to stop stroking fabric!

Works everytime. I can then guide them through ideas that might have seemed way too crazy 10 minutes ago.

So tomorrow, the idea is to explore fabric, have a go at patchwork and appliqué and have fun!

We are going to use Bondaweb, scraps and a blank canvas of Klona Cotton to create panels that can be turned into cushion covers, wall hangings or any other item you can think of.

And yes the 7 yo will be machine quilting, as I have found children embrace the chance to play with a sewing machine when they are given a chance. And they create amazing things!

It's all about having fun and creating, without getting hung up on the piece ring perfect - how you get there is just as important as the destination.....

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Giving it another go....

A few weeks ago it was support your local quilt shop day/week - I would always go for the week long option personally!

I blogged about my local quilt shop, Country Threads, and told you just how much I love it!

But I have been carrying a secret around with me.... Country Threads is not my local shop..

I know, I have been very naughty but I do have a really good reason I promise...

Just after a the whole support your local quilt shop event I was surfing my bloggers that I love and came across this blog post by Rossie. Basically Rossie questioned the origin of support your local shop on Instagram and was subjected to a load of plain silly comments from quilters.

To me she raised and interesting point: Why support local?

Local to me is a shop only 20 minutes from the house that I visited once when we moved into the area 5 years ago. My opinion of it was that it dark, randomly laid out and it was kinda unfriendly. The quilts on display were all uninspiring and the fabrics really random...

So I will honestly say I wasn't in a hurry to go back.

The piece by Rossie struck a cord and I agree that supporting local is tough if walking into the shop makes the quilter in you weep! It also made me think that I should give the shop another go - after all it is only 20 minutes away from the house...

Today was the day I visited again. I needed some Bondaweb for a family workshop on Saturday and it seemed like a good excuse to go visit again.

It was still full of random things in a random places, totally uninspiring quilts on display and fabrics that were in colour/line/don't know order. The fabrics we all kinda dull... a few nice pieces, but nothing heart poundingly exciting.

It was a really uncomfortable experience. I managed to get some grey blender that I love, but nothing exciting. And I had to search to find those lovely fabrics.

It is the type of quilt shop that is supported by quilters of a certain age, who are full of traditional talent and look suspiciously at quilters who are below the age of 50. It has been there for yonks and has a loyal local following. I know you know a shop like it.

But the big shame is that it is a complete turn off for younger quilters because it is so uninspiring. It is so confined by a traditional outlook that it has forgotten that quilting is fun for all ages. It has become a shop that only works for it's loyal supporters, and therefore alienates a whole community of quilters who love to buy fabric!

I can safely say I will not be returning, I will be off to Bath and Country Threads when I need some fabric therapy!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

WIP: Cushions

This week has been a long one already!

2 days of a mini monster home which followed midi monster being home Thursday and Friday, has meant my ability to work and my sanity has taken a back seat!

So today I am cracking on with a couple of projects and disappearing for some peace, and a nice lunch...

The Work in Progress this week are 2 cushion covers - I know, I have a new obsession to cover the house in cushions!

First, this is block 4 for the Bi-monthly block club:

I raided my Liberty stash and added some more Juggling Summer Ovals - I love that fabric!

It is now finished, but I need a cushion backing, which I have decided must be Liberty too so complete the look! So finished photos soon - I promise!

The other cushion on the table is the embroidery I started a couple of weekends ago:

It will be going onto my bed along with the Umbrella cushion I showed you on Monday.

Both patterns are from the fabulous Aneela Hoey so I will be edging it with her fabric again - just because I love the cushion on my bed at the moment!

So that is today... oh and I had confirmation I have been nominated as Tutor of the Year for Adult Education Gloucestershire...

I think I need lunch out to celebrate!

Linking up with:
  WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced