Represent!

Do the kids still say that? Anyway big news…. I am representing the UK in Sewvivor, I got in to the final 16! Some of the competitors are relatively well known, including Amanda of Westwood Acres, plus some contestants are lesser known but have mad quilting skills so I’m feeling a teensy bit intimidated, but I can do this! Grrr!

Challenge 1 is nautical themed anything – so spoiler alert – knowing where my skills lie and forever wanting to make things that are a bit stupid, I’m making a Billy Bass-esque mini quilt. I’ve started it already, no time like the present! If you’re not sure what Billy Bass is- check this out.

That’s right, I pretty much exclusively use Instagram pics on my blog nowadays

I love this kind of project because I can still make progress in front of the TV. I have loads of ideas for the next few categories as well, and we are to post tutorials and stuff so I am calling out for the UK vote please to back me up on 11th August and help me get through the to next round of 10! Spread the word and I’ll love you forever. Also big thanks to Hannah and Sam who were both refreshing the Family Ever After blog last night to see if I’d got in and notifying me whilst I was laid in a cool bath in agony last night…

That agony was unfitness related. Netball went well yesterday, people were nice and amazingly I matched the skill level (except I dropped the ball maybe a tad more due to losing visibility through blood pressure madness and I fell over twice in over-excitement, naturally) I am concious of every single muscle in my legs today though and I proved to be seriously unfit (I was purple in the face for hours afterwards) so I’m going to do the couch to 5k thing to increase my general fitness that loads of other sew-ers are doing with the hashtag sweatandsew. I’m thinking of starting tonight once I get somewhere with wifi- like home for instance- so I can download the app…. I have a feeling running may be too boring for my overactive mind though and may upgrade to the chasing zombies app. Any suggestions for a playlist (other than Eye of the Tiger, obvs…. or maybe I should just play that on loop)?

Serious progress

Friday night I finished quilting and on Saturday, I put the last stitch in the binding of the Christmas project I’ve been working on. This gave me time to play with these for that rainbow quilt on a white background I promised a couple of posts back.

I have almost got the top together for this (no way am I piecing it) just waiting for a small parcel in the post of something so I can stitch it down, get a photo and then quilt it. I went back to the Fabric Guild yesterday and bought the wadding I needed but also a couple of Alison Glass packs of decent size “scraps” which may make it into a bag to go with my Weekender perhaps.I’m sure it will come in handy.

I haven’t been sure about the Cotton + Steel collections that have come out. A lot of the designs are a bit odd in my opinion (such as the lions I think look like sheep), the spotty stripes in the basics are too large scale for my liking but I like the metallic elements and I really like the Moonlit collection other than the fact it has butterflies in it.

Talking about butterflies, one flew in through the living room window on Friday evening and I had a mouth full of drink and temporarily forgot how to swallow as I pointed frantically and MMM MMMM!!-ed loudly at OH as it flew towards me in disgusting flappy slow motion. It went up the stairs and promptly disappeared. We think it may have gone out of the spare room window but I think that is way too clever and it’s possible it’s lurking somewhere waiting to land its fuzzy disgusting body on my head…

Anyway I digress…

I won a Mustang layer cake very recently and have actually cut up eight of the pieces to start on a cushion. I’m about 1/4 of the way there and that’s just before work this morning! Hope to finish it this week but of course it all depends on the Sew-vivor results that will be out today *baited breath*.

I am so nervous; tonight I’m going to a “Back to Netball” class, hopefully they’re not on week 9 of 10 and I won’t be turned away. When I’ve joined sports clubs in this area before they tend to have been cliquey with a certain level of skill needed to fit in (except Fencing, that was very beginner friendly). This is a coached class for people just like me that used to play at school and have probably forgotten half of the rules. I wanted to take up squash but the way it’s run in my local area is very elitist and I didn’t want a private coach, I just want to get fit and have fun while doing it. I’ve sent an email this morning but essentially I am just going to turn up with my PE kit and hope a bunch of strangers let me play with them and don’t mock me too much. Scary!

**EDIT** The guy that’s organising it has emailed back and has put my mind at ease a bit. Here’s the info for the one I’m going to, but if you are thinking of looking for a similar class yourself, they are all over the place nationally on different days at different times, see the England Netball site or search for Back to Netball.

How I build my stash

I read this amazing blogpost by Rossie today, it’s very inspirational about how she builds her stash and how she makes the decision of what to buy because it fits her aesthetic, rather than what she “should” like. I thought this rang true with my post yesterday about how white backgrounds, rainbow quilts and general “modern” trends aren’t for me.

Rossie’s guide to a happier stash

I want to share how I do it, and how I want to improve on my stashing in the future. We all know that I can’t go all out and stop buying entirely, and I think the purchasing side of quilting is important to keep the creative juices flowing and inject a little bit of excitement now and then, but equally we can’t buy ALL OF THE THINGS either, so here’s how I make my decisions based on my own tastes and style.

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1) I bookmark the lines I like most of the prints on Pinterest. This is my board at the minute, some conventional, some unconventional stuff. I’m particularly looking forward to Basic Grey’s Persimmon (you know Basic Grey are my favourite designers right?) and Petal Pushers by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I have a feeling that when I see that line in real life though, I will probably prefer two, three or maybe four prints in a couple of colour ways, which brings me onto…

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2) I have a craft supplies board on Pinterest too where I post individual fabrics for buying later alongside rulers, patterns, etc. If I only like a particular print or two of a range (such as the Birch Farm Barn Owls) or it’s a Spoonflower print, then this is where that goes.

3) Then I wait ’til I have some spare money or the range is released or the prints are now so “old” they go on sale. I tend to buy the full ranges I like as precuts or F8/FQ bundles (though I don’t do that all that often) and then FQs or half yards of the single prints.

4) If I buy a yard or more it will usually be of a print I think would make a nice skirt or pair of shorts or a shirt. I then probably won’t be bothered to make any of those things and it instead is used as bag lining or quilt backing. And that’s OK- I’ve bought that particular print because I liked it enough to wear, so I sure am going to use it one way or another!

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5) The amount of fabric I stash is heavily reliant on how much I have already used. I have 200- 2 packs- comic cards I wrap the fabric round for putting on the shelves and my shelves can’t take any more than that or the fabrics get crumpled and they’re not easy to pull off the shelf and put back. Once a card of fabric has been used, then I can wrap another piece around it. This is how I store anything from 1 FQ to 2 yards. I currently have too much to go on the shelves and  those pieces are in a basket waiting for cards. Problem is, Hank likes to chew the basket and these pieces end up all over the floor almost daily. It serves as a reminder to use before I buy!

6) Fabrics designated for backings are usually very cheap yardage (£3 a yard or less at Fabric Guild or Ikea) or vintage sheet finds. I’ve even been known to buy single duvet covers on eBay and cut then down the seam for backing- in fact one of my best backings was done with exactly that. I try not to get too fancy with backings; designer fabric is expensive and there’s a lot of textiles out there languishing unused and unwanted, so it’s nice to give them a practical use. I have started piecing together fabric cuts between F8 and FQ size left over from projects to expand these sheets to the right width, which helps free up stash cards too.

7) I try and stash some of every colour because I like to appliqué, I tend to need some of everything, and if anything I need good amounts of browns, greys and natural shades for animal appliqué quilts if that’s the project I’m working on. I thought I didn’t have a lot of purple, but I actually think it’s bottle green, red, mid blue, navy and mustard yellow that are most in need at the moment. I seem to have quite a few pinks, which is a bit weird since I generally don’t like pink unless it’s a cerise-y, in-your-face pink. Now I’m not in any bees or such, there’s no real need for me to have them.

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8) I don’t do much in the ways of solids- I have a bolt of white so that I don’t run out mid project. I tend to buy for specific projects to make sure that I don’t end up buying the wrong tone if I run out, or I’m struggling to find the same colour (which happened with my Wallander quilt- I bought Kona Pistachio instead of Bella Pistachio and there was a huge difference). I only have a few cards of solids, too many of them are yellow. I don’t worry too much about building my solids stash at all, I find them a bit boring so concentrate on having a nice range of prints instead.

9) Prints – I like blenders and small scale prints the best because they’re useful for so many things and therefore don’t languish on the shelves. Tone on tone are my favourites and I’d like to use these instead of solids in absolutely everything if I could get away with it. I’m not a fan of too much white, especially in a print design alongside bright or deep colours (pastels can get away with it better) because the contrast between the two draws too much attention to itself in my opinion. If I am cutting them into smaller pieces, there is the concern that the white may be more predominant than the base colour. Cycle Path and Pearl Bracelets are about my limit on this (and I am thrilled that you can now get tone on tone pearl bracelets). I tend to sew with small pieces, so the scale of print and value balance of white makes a huge difference. I therefore tend not to buy many large scale prints at all, unless it will be one of those hypothetical skirts!

I also struggle with multi-coloured prints as I just don’t know what to classify them as, so these are most likely to end up in zippy pouches and the like if I find some in the stash. I tend not to buy these at all so I imagine this section will disappear altogether before long. I love watercolour-y, painterly fabrics and I buy them almost indiscriminately.

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10) Until recently I cut a lot of my scraps into 2 1/2″ squares but then they were made into the Bowie quilt and I had no more. As I use a lot of browns and greys I have a lot of those scraps. My scrap drawer is full of pieces from 2 1/2 up to fat eighths. Anything smaller goes in the bin otherwise I’d have a room full! Oh, and I have a glamorous Tesco carrier bag of strings for my log cabin scrappy project. I plan to sort through these more in the future and be a bit more ruthless, perhaps taking the larger scraps and organising them together as they will be ultimately more useful. I struggle to part with some scraps as they’re the last pieces from a certain project, but if I am planning on emigrating in a couple of years, I should start getting used to the idea that I just can’t hold on to everything. Maybe a destash of some of those greens and blues especially is on the cards?

Wow, that turned out to be a longer post than I thought it would be- goes to show there really must be a more rational, detailed thought process other than, “Ooh pretty, buy it!”

Do you have specific colours, or prints, or are there any particular prints and colours you steer very clear of?

P.S. Looking through blogposts, only two-and-a-bit months ago this…

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…looked like this!

WT actual F?! I don’t miss the morning pee puddles though and I am up to a 6am start now which is excellent. But OMG the CUTENESS is gone! WHich reminds me, I think I’m overdue to post again on the puppy blog.

‘Modern’ quilts and coloured backgrounds

This blog post is an outpouring of thoughts with a lot of questions about ‘modern’ quiltmaking. You have been warned.

On Instagram over the last few days, Robert Kaufman have been putting up their new Kona solid colours. I think there are some real beauties in there, and it makes me really want to make a quilt where the background isn’t white, or ash grey, or low volume, or doesn’t have a background tone at all because it’s so busy and/or scrappy. That’s right, I don’t just want to use these in a rainbow solids quilt, I really want to make a feature out of a predominant colour.

Here are some of my favourites I think would be great for a different colour background…

 
 

I think these would be nice paired simply with one other colour group of patterned fabrics.

Now I don’t like the word ‘modern’ because to me, that was the time of Picasso through to the mods and pop art and Andy Warhol, I’m thinking turn of the 20th century through to the early 70s. I’m not an expect on art history by any means, in fact the last time I learned anything about it I was 14 so please correct me if I am wrong. In fact Wikipedia says it is 1860 to 1970. I personally feel more comfortable using the word ‘contemporary’ to refer to quilts of the time, that reflect today’s tastes, values, time restrictions, culture, etc. I’m not sure if we’re technically in the late modern period or we are postmodern now and that is an issue up for debate by those more educated than me. Maybe the art movement shouldn’t have been called modern in the first place, since a la mode could refer to the present day fashion at any point in history.

Anyway, my point is, can a quilt be put in the category of “modern quilts” if it has a coloured background? If I use bottle green, purple, a deep red, or even black, does that then instantly give them a more old-fashioned look?

I have in the past been told my Wallander quilt (above) isn’t “modern enough” (I’m not telling you for what), purely for the colour choices I made. These colours I might add, were from the modern quilter’s favourite solid collections – the Kona range and some designer couture ones too. I don’t regret these colours, they were an accurate representation of what I was trying to represent and I actually really like this quilt, I’d never give it away.

Are colours truly the deciding factor? Do I have to use more than two colours? If I have brown in my stash does that automatically make me a traditional quilter? Or are shapes important too, and block designs, the quilting and the speed of the construction of the quilt, and how it is put together? What about the invisible binding I prefer so much? Do I need to check off all of these factors, because if I do all but one it doesn’t qualify? To me, this isn’t an old fashioned quilt, it doesn’t smack of civil war quilts, nor is it a hand pieced masterpiece over several years made from old clothes and feedsack.

My parquetry quilt, a deliberate attempt to make brown fabrics into a modern quilt.

I don’t know, but if “modern quilt making” feels so restrictive to me, I think I might not want to be part of it anyway. Maybe I don’t want my quilts to be “a la mode” or definitively modern, I want to make them in the colours and fabrics I like, and to try something a bit different sometimes, and it won’t always work, but at least my quilts will look like my quilts. I’m not here to fit in (maybe that’s why I don’t like the word ‘modern’?!), I’m here to play with fabrics that make me happy, tinker with designs and most of all, enjoy myself. So I’m happy with my style, and if someone wants to coin it postmodern, or whatever, that’s fine by me.

Now the important question: which of those new Kona colours should I choose?

P.S. Be prepared- I’m coming out with a blatant ‘modern quilt’ finish soon. It’s rainbow solids on white and everything and I may even back it with Ikea Nummers! Don’t worry, in reserve I have sketched a design for a mini quilt with a big applique fish on it to balance it out in case that finish makes me feel untrue to myself (or I get through to round 1 of Sewvivor)…

P.P.S. It’s not that I don’t like rainbow solids quilts on white, it’s just that making them isn’t for me, and I love a bit of scrappy too. I’m going to be making the Georgetown on my Mind quilt later in they year and if I can gravitate away from the white backing that would be awesome if anyone has any ideas?

TV sewing

I’m not at the retreat so there will be a bit of TV and  hand stitching going down this weekend- I need to finish sewing on the sleeve and label on the back of the Bowie quilt so I can post it for hanging. I still don’t like it, but there’s not a lot I can do now unless I undo some of the applique, reshape the chin at the right (which is what I believe to be the problem) and then stitch it back on by hand avoiding the backing fabric. Might work but it also might ruin it more… If there was a worst in show I think I could be a good contender this year, I normally love the quilts I enter into shows but I think this one was an experiment too far, even the quilting has me dubious. I’ll stick with appliqué animals in future. I am dreading the comments this time.

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Is anyone going to the Festival of Quilts on Sunday 10th August? I thought I might pick my quilt up from the show, so Sunday is the day for me (money saved on posting the quilt back is money spent on a new cutting mat, hell yes). Let me know if you want to meet up, I’m thinking of going alone this year but it doesn’t have to be that way of course! I can also give lifts from the North West Leicestershire/Charnwood area – parking is expensive there!

Oh and the East Midlands Modern Quilt Group have made a group quilt this year, I think it’s with Moira at the minute being pieced together. There will be some slight changes in orientation from the picture below, but basically it’s going from East to West of the area we live in, starting from the top; mine is the slightly ugly motorway-in-the-dark strip (seriously I am having doubts about the work I did around April/May time, I blame puppy, he was ruining my life around that time, he’s much improved now and so is my work, hmmmm). Next week Trudi will be doing some of her amazing quilting on it and then it will be skipping on over to Mary who will be handing it in and collecting it.

Photo nicked from Moira’s Instagram feed…

I’ve also started on a new wall quilt now the Christmas top is done- I’ll update you next week :)

Sewvivor – PennyDog Patchwork – Kerry Wilkinson

You warned me not to, you told me I had enough on with work, a crazy puppy, going to get married at the end of September, my block of the month schedule and various other writing commitments, but I’m stubborn, and that kind of made me want to do it more. I’ve been yes, no, yes, no for about a week, and changed my mind twice today already, so lets just do this.

This is my audition for Sewvivor 2014!

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It’s been a difficult choice: which one project do I audition with? My latest project is almost always my favourite (not true of my last project, however). I make quilts mostly, but to a lesser extent I make bags and sometimes clothes too if I can face the cutting and tailors tacks. My favourite quilt ever I think is my Hoots Mon quilt, a big smily moose face that I made for this year’s Quilt and Stitch Village show, it’s just daft and I love it, but I’m thinking you will probably prefer something using less browns and oranges, so how about this, Fryed Pixels, my quilt for the inaugural show last year? This quilt was started at the very end of 2012.

I’m not sure how famous Stephen Fry is outside of the UK, but if you don’t know him, he’s an absolute national treasure, I don’t think it’s possible to not like him. He’s an actor, comedian, author, thinker and philanthropist.

I think it’s safe to say I like to go my own way when it comes to designing for shows. I think my goal is to make the quilt that everyone talks about afterwards, though I’ve only really just thought about that now, but it seems to be true. Also, sometimes quilting takes itself too seriously, at shows especially, so it’s always fun to upset the apple cart a little. Shows here in the UK are getting a bit more relaxed now though, and contemporary quilting is starting to have recognised categories and specialist exhibits of its own.

Here is the original blog post, and the stats for this quilt, which aren’t on the original post as I wrote it before I started regularly making note…

STATS
Size – 44″ x 55″
Number of blocks – n/a- but there are over 2000 1″ squares!
Time to piece – 24 hours
Time to quilt – 3 hours
Fabric –  Some mixed solids, but I sneaked a batik in there. Unidentified patterns plus a couple of Jenean Morrison’s.
Backing Fabric – Pie Basket from Hope Valley by Denyse Schmidt
Binding Fabric – none, pillow case binding.
Threads – White Aurifil throughout.
Batting – 80/20 Soft and Elegant.
Quilting- Dogwood rose pattern on home machine using squares as a guide.

I will be watching the competition with interest even if I go no further; the other auditions are amazingly good (there’s a pieced dress for goodness sake)! If you’re interested to know more, I recommend you check out the #sewvivor tag on Instagram!

This weekend

I’m having a few problems with downtime on my blog, so sorry if you’ve been affected since the start of the weekend, also Safari hasn’t been posting my comments to Blogspot blogs all last week, so I have honestly been visiting and writing you things, they’ve just vanished into oblivion and I really can’t face retracing my virtual steps, but let it be known that I am still out there reading lots and lots of blogs.

Anyway this weekend has been taken up with a tiny bit of baking and housework, baths and puppy walking. Plus a bit more of this (nope, still can’t reveal it out of courtesy)…

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A few episodes of this…

And definitely too much of this! Addicted.

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I won this layer cake from Sew Bittersweet Designs (chosen by OH from a shortlist)…

 

I also read this cover to cover, and it’s possibly my favourite quilting magazine, it is brilliant. No flowery nonsense, no filler, just real, attractive projects and interesting features. It’s definitely pitched at my mindset.

And that’s just the way I like to spend a weekend, all that’s missing is a quilt finish and going to a hockey game (one month to wait!). Now, back to the grind!

Quarter 3 Finish Along Goals

I didn’t do that great last quarter but I’m not beating myself up about it because things that NEEDED to be done were done, Hank is getting more manageable every day and I got to relax too so I’d say that was a success.

At the end of this quarter I get married, plus I have secret sewing commitments still, and only one MQG meeting to force myself to do WIP sewing I don’t really like so I’m not expecting great things, however I don’t have a whole ton of stuff to finish anyway.

Last quarter I got a bit more done on Hello Chevron. This quarter I am putting it on the list again, this is the current state of affairs… HSTs how I hate thee.

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Then I got a lot more done on the Lone Star quilt, from four corner blocks I now have a basted quilt top (and pieced back) ready for quilting, so I can probably get this done…

I have also had this cut pile of pieces waiting to be sewn into a quilt top since the start of the year, I’ve only just decided to tell you about it now ;)

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And lastly, I have this quilt top to baste still, no change from the last time you were shown it.

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I’m not going to include the log cabins this time as I really don’t think I will even touch those with the other things I need to start in this time period too! That’s my list then.

Finish Along 2014

 

BTW I’m thinking of maybe entering Sewvivor… considerations are time (i.e. I’ll have to be stirict with my free time over the next few weeks if I get in) and if I am actually good enough… Still there are currently- at this time of writing- less than 16 entries and there are 16 participants from the start so I’m already in with a good chance, right?

English Country Garden BOM – Block 4 – Hyacinth

Here’s your next pattern for the BOM, the Hyacinth. The next one is out on the 4th August so this pattern is free to download until then. The last sets of templates are $1.50 in my Craftsy shop if you missed out.
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Click here to download

This pattern includes repeat instructions from the last block, but with new templates. The instructions are: making bias tape stems, turned edge and raw edge machine applique, thread choices and the pattern in standard and mirrored formats depending on which type of applique you opt for. Instructions are included for a pieced flying geese background too.

I’m on the end of an e-mail if you get stuck, just leave a comment or email me.

For previous posts on the BOM, please click the button below. Don’t forget to share your photos in the Flickr group!

Sunday Stash (my first)

Today is the first link up I’ve done for Sunday Stash- I thought I’d use it to chastise myself for the amount of fabric I’ve bought these last few months when I was supposed to be abstaining. There were some other bits purchased too- a FQ or a few yards here and there that have been used up pretty instantly, but these are what I have still lying around.

Last week I went to the Village Haberdashery and bought these….

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A few days previous to that I bought some Ikea fabrics (got the Nummers print but not sure it’s “me”)

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There was a 20% off sale at Simply Solids last month and this layer cake was already reduced down so I bought it (I do have a specific project in mind though)

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These ones were FREE so does that count? They are the left overs from my secret projects.

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These are mostly from our EMMQG meeting before last at Stitchcraft. I did use some I bought there though. Also the ones at the back were from shopping online but I forget where as it was a while ago now.

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A trip to Fabric Guild at the start of last month yielded these- the first two were 60p a FQ so it was rude not to really. The rest were from half yards that I split with Wendy- they are the latest color collection range from Makower.

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These were free too- they are what I spent my voucher for Mad About Patchwork on – I won it in the last quarter of the Finish Along. Don’t think they count as being naughty either!

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These do though. They fell into my basket at Fluffy Sheep Quilting when I was buying Aurifil…

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I guess I had better announce the winner of my giveaway from earlier this week now? Little earlier than planned, hope that’s OK.

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Which is…

kathyh

Congrats Kathy :)

Molli Sparkles