Thursday, February 4, 2016

Getting Back into Sewing

Tuesday was a big day in our house.

Child number 2 started school. 

For months I've been feeling kind of sad about it, I mean my baby was starting school. 

I was a bit nervous about how I would feel having him at school (even though I knew in my heart of hearts that he was well and truly ready to start school).

He stopped preschool on 23rd December and spent the majority of the Summer holidays at home with me and his big sister. As I watched them play together I could clearly see how eager he is to learn and how ready he is in so so many ways. (Yes, his ears don't always work, but he's a 5 year old boy and I am confident that these will work better for a teacher than they do for me!)

I guess that before the Summer holidays he was ready for school, it took the Summer holidays for me to catch up and be ready too!

He is excited and confident about starting school and having observed him over the last wee while it is impossible for me not to feel the same way for him.

There were no tears (from anyone) on Tuesday, just smiles and excitement.

I am glad that I took the Summer holidays off from blogging and only did minimal sewing. I think I needed the time to focus and to recharge. I have included photos of my few small sewing projects in this blog post and the patterns for these will follow very shortly.

Now that the school Summer holidays are over, I am really excited to get back to sewing.

For me, having two school children means more time to work on my quilting and patterns. I am really excited about this year and have quite a few exciting things planned.

I have a couple of commissioned pieces which have been designed but not yet sewn and which will appear in printed publications later this year.

I am entering my first piece in a quilting challenge (my entry is sewn and I absolutely love it, but I can't show it to you yet... sorry!) The theme of the challenge is "Flight"- how could I not enter?

I have a whole heap of patterns that I am working on and on top of that, I have a few talking and teaching gigs coming up later in the year (more details to follow soon...).

Last year was a big year for me. I will admit that I started the year with a list of things that I wanted to achieve and if I am honest, I didn't achieve that many of them. That said, what I did do was grow my business and prove to myself and my husband that there is a market for my patterns out there. I managed to grow both my confidence and my brand. If the year had turned out differently, then I might be talking about getting a job now and taking a step back from quilting. Instead I am wanting to take this quilting lark more seriously.

Who knows where this year will take me, I am looking forward to sharing my progress with you all.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Happy Holidays {and a Pattern Sale}

I wanted to drop in today and wish you all the very best for the holiday season. 
I hope that you enjoyed a fun relaxed Christmas and that you enjoy the rest of the festive season.

Things will be a bit quiet here on the blog for the next month or so, as I take some time enjoying the company of my children during their Summer holidays.

In the meantime, I have a wee treat for you all. As a way of saying thank you for all your continued support and enthusiasm this year, I have decided to hold a pattern sale.

Use the coupon code:  HAPPYHOLIDAYS2015 in either my Etsy or my Payhip store and a 25% discount will be applied to your shopping cart.

The code expires on 1st January 2016 
(sorry, I am not sure as to whether this applies to New Zealand times, UK times or times in the USA- as such, I recommend that you don't leave it until the last minute to make your purchase!).

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Treasure of the Sea

A few weeks ago, I bought a bundle of Alison Glass' Handcrafted Indigo fabric.

At the time that I bought it, I thought that I had a plan for the fabrics but the minute that I had the fabrics in my hand, I knew that I had to have a rethink. 

The rich blue tones just cried out to be used as the sea and I immediately hatched a plan for a seahorse quilt.

The minute that the design was finalised, I was impatient to start sewing. I had been sewing a lot of gifts and I wanted to take the pressure off and do something fun! As a result, all the remaining fabrics for the quilt needed to come from my stash. I needed to start immediately.

I really wasn't sure what fabric to use for the seahorse.My initial drawings had the seahorse done it one fabric, but that seemed dull and flat. There were too many options and my head began to spin. Then I sat down and thought logically.
I wanted to stay true to my own style so I didn't want the seahorse to be faceted multi-colour.
I didn't want it to be orange or pink.
I wanted realisitic(ish) with a hint of fun.
I wanted there to be a stark contrast between the seahorse and the background.

With this knowledge, I went to look at my stash. Green, blue and purple were all ruled out as a result of my list of conditions. It occurred to me that I had quite a range of mustard, yellow and lime green tones and that these would work perfectly. A spot of orange for contrast and oakshott cotton for the eye- what could be better!?!

It was a totally random decision to make the quilt measure 50 inch on all sides. I guess the zebras had been 40 inch and I wanted to keep challenging myself by increasing the size of my blocks, so 50 inch was a logical choice. I had no idea whether or not I would have enough fabric, but I just went for it. Fearless sewing- that's my thing!

Lets say that I cut it fine on the fabric requirements! I had to alter the background as I was sewing to ensure that there was enough fabric to finish. Luckily, that is easy to do when it is your own pattern and you are sewing a fractured background.

One of the things that I am most proud of on this quilt is the quilting. I can really see the progression in my skills level from Zebra Dazzle to Treasure of the Sea. I have always said that quilting is a journey for me and I love being able to see that I am not stagnating. It can be intimidating deciding on ways to quilt things and it can also be tempting to take the easy way out and stick to techniques that you KNOW are within your skills level. I have been challenging myself recently and it is really rewarding to be able to see the improvements.

I promise that I will release the pattern, but I don't see that happening any time soon- sorry. I will of course keep you posted with my progress.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Swimming in Circles- A Pattern Release

Woah! It really has reached the crazy busy time of the year. I feel as if there are a thousand and one things that need my attention, but I am only getting about 10 of them done. I guess I just have to keep plodding on trying to knock as many things as possible off the list.

One thing that has been on my list for some time has been the Swimming in Circles Pattern. I am  pleased to say that it is finally finished and can be found in my Etsy, Payhip and Craftsy stores.

I have reopened my Craftsy store as a trial and will reassess in a month or two to see whether it is working as I like. For the time being I will not use any affiliate links and please bear with me as I upload a years worth of pattern to Craftsy. EU people, will need to ensure that they continue to buy from Payhip or Etsy. If there is a specific pattern that you want to see on Craftsy, feel free to give me a shout and I will make it a priority to upload that pattern quickly.

The exciting thing is that two versions of the dolphin block are included in this pattern.

The first version is the swimming in circles block that I used in my mini quilt. Each dolphin is set in a triangle and it you sew four triangles you create a 20" square mini quilt.

The second version of the block has the dolphin set in a rectangle. I have provided the pattern pieces for this block in two sizes (6"x12" and 12"x24"), but as always, you are welcome to adjust the sizing to suit your own particular project.
This version of the pattern will be really useful for those wanting to make a quick project- just imagine the cute pouches and cushions that you can make! Another fun thing about this version of the pattern is that it looks really amazing as a pair of dolphins jumping in circles.

I had an army of testers working on this pattern for me and they all did a tremendous job.

Paula has made three of the four dolphins needed for her swimming in circles quilt- isn't it going to be beautiful!?
Tammy of Hibiscus Blossom Quilts has made a great start on her swiming in circles quilt too!

The following blocks are all versions of the extra dolphin block. Some have been made in the small size, others in the large size. I love the variety of fabrics that people have used and can't wait to see what the rest of you do with the pattern. If you click on each dolphin it will take you to the instagram or flickr account of the maker.

Oops! I haven't got a record of Kristin's instagram/blog- Sorry Kristin!

As always, it goes without saying that I really appreciate the work that my testers put in. Not only is it great to see their versions of the patterns but their feedback is extremely valuable.

Now go, run and by the pattern!  my Etsy, Payhip and Craftsy stores (remember, Craftsy is only for non- EU customers- sorry!)

Monday, November 23, 2015

A Flurry of Feathers

Two friends.

Both celebrating significant birthdays on the same day.

Both like teals and aquas.

Both like birds.

Both are talented and creative women.

Both have complained to me in the past that they can't find a paper pieced feather pattern that they like.

Hmmm... what's a girl to do?

I must admit that I have been reluctant to design a feather pattern as there seem to be so many of them in the world already. That said, I also knew that a gift featuring a paper pieced feather would make a really thoughtful gift for them both.

I caved and designed a feather pattern for these two talented and creative friends. They deserved it!

As usual, I wanted to put my own spin on the pattern, so I decided to make the feathers into a border for my mini quilt, not the subject.

I had lots of fun revisiting old patterns and sewed scrappy Kea and a scrappy Silvereye in non-realistic colours. It really highlighted to me how much my sewing style has moved on in the years since those patterns were designed. I must admit that it felt a bit strange to sew something that was "only" 12 inch.

My friends had better appreciate these mini quilts as I sewed a total of 8 feathers for them. Yup, me who hates repetitive sewing and hates small fiddly sewing. I suffered for my friends!

The plan was to give these as mini quilts as presents and quietly forget about the pattern, but everyone who saw it, begged me to release it.

I thought I'd better listen.

As I said, the pattern is small, fiddly and not for the faint hearted. There are acute angles to join, some seams are bulky and removing papers is a real pain in the neck. It's definitely a pattern designed to put beginners off!

I decided to be kind and provide the pattern in two sizes. You have a choice between sewing a 3"x12" feather and a 6"x 24" feather. Of course you are welcome to alter the pattern size to suit whatever project you wish but I would not recommend going any smaller, or if you do then make sure to simplify it slightly. It's a great pattern for using up fabric scraps. I worked exclusively from my scrap bucket for both of these minis.

 I have not personally sewn the bigger version of the feather, but I am pretty sure that it will be easier to sew than the small version.

My awesome pattern testers have been working away behind the scenes as I didn't want to spoil any surprises for the birthday girls.

Here are some of the 3"x12" feathers that have been sewn.

Leanne used some beautiful oakshott cottons for her feather.

Kim used beautiful shades for hers. 

Here are some of the 6"x24" feathers.

Chrissie sewed a large feather. Doesn't it look amazing in essex linen and liberty?! 

Patti sewed both sizes of feathers. Here they are made up in a beautiful cushion.

You can find the pattern in my Etsy store and my Payhip store.

(If I missed any tester blocks please forgive me! I lost my list of who was testing what and my email inbox is a mess!)


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