Thursday, September 24, 2015

Mini Doxie Dachshund - A Pattern Release

Just a quick post today. 
I wanted to let you know that I have just released a new pattern- Mini Doxie Daschund.

I designed this pattern as an extra for my partner in the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.

 I often say of my patterns that I don't do cute, but even I have to admit that this one is pretty darn cute. That said, it is true to my usual style. It is realistic and in the process just happens to be cute- I like it!

The pattern measures 6 x 8 inch, but I have included formulas to help if you wish to increase the size of the block. In general it is a pretty simple pattern, but if you are new to paper piecing, I strongly recommend that you increase the size. Small pieces can be fiddly.

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

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Tiny Pieces Make Me Grumpy!

Sometimes I'm a bit slow.

The rest of you probably worked this out ages ago, but today I finally admitted to myself that I design large scale patterns because I am allergic to sewing too many teeny tiny fiddly pieces.
I love detail in my patterns, but dislike how fiddly and bulky this makes small scale blocks.

I have recently designed a few patterns for swaps. Although I am happy with the finished projects and there is technically nothing wrong with the patterns, I didn't enjoy sewing them.

The first of these patterns was the Swimming in Circles mini quilt which I sewed for my partner in the Sew Your Stash Swap. It measures 20" x 20".

There were three reasons that I didn't enjoy sewing this mini quilt:

1. Teeny Tiny Fiddly Piecing: I considered leaving out some of the teeny pieces, but honestly they are the difference between a good and a mediocre pattern.

2. Repetition:  I had to sew the same dolphin four times for the quilt top (yawn!).

3. Wrong Fabric Choices: I initially planned to sew two blocks with a low volume background and two with a dark grey pattern. Unfortunately, after sewing three blocks (2 low volume and 1 dark), it was clear that this was a bad decision.
I changed to sewing 4 low volume backgrounds and far prefer the resulting mini quilt. Of couse, I didn't put the remaining block to waste. I turned it into a zipper purse to include as a swap extra.

I was really grumpy by the time that I had finished sewing all the repetitive teeny tiny pieces and although everyone on instagram was kind about the pattern, I announced that I would not be releasing the pattern

(I may have softened in this opinion now and it is no longer on the "definitely not" list, but I am building up a bit of a backlog of patterns that need to be turned into patterns so who knows if it will ever happen...).

I am glad that I remade the bad quarter and I am really happy with the finished mini, but it was a long road to get there and not one that I am in a hurry to repeat.

The next small scale pattern that I didn't particularly enjoy sewing was a dachshund which is destined to be an extra in the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.

It measures 6" x 8".

It was quick to sew, and it came together easily but the fiddly pieces of the legs and paws did my head in.

I have since simplified the pattern slightly and sent it off to testers. I really really love the finished block but sewing teeny tiny pieces is not for me.

It's a personal thing.
It's not a problem with the pattern.
I totally respect that others enjoy sewing tiny stuff, and I recognise that they think I'm nuts for sewing big scale patterns, that's fine!

Life would be boring if we were all the same!

Monday, September 14, 2015

In Flight Winners

 It gives me great pleasure to announce the final winners of the In Flight Quilt Along.

The winner of the first prize is Sydney Rose Designs for her beautiful quilt top using Cotton and Steel blender fabrics.

The second prize goes to Kristine Rimmey. A lot of thought and love went into this quilt. Kristine made it for her Grandmother and it represents 5 generations of birdwatchers. The colours, the fabrics, the symbolism- I adore it!

Kristine has finished this quilt, but unfortunately the link to the finished quilt in the linky party did not work. I hope she doesn't mind me sharing a photo of her finished top.

Top done!
The third prize goes to Gemini Stitches for her beautiful cushion, made using Cloud 9 fabrics.

I have no immediate plans to run another quilt-along next year, but I could possibly be persuaded to run a similar but shorter event sometime in the future.

If I were to do so, does anyone have a request for the theme of such an event?

I know that I have said it a lot, but thank you so much to all of you who got involved in this quilt-along. I have loved seeing the ways that each of you have interpreted the patterns. It's been fun!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

My In Flight Quilt

It's almost time to wrap up the In Flight Quilt-Along. 
All that remains is to show you my finished quilt and to announce the winners. 
I'll have to save the winners for another day (I haven't had a chance to visit all the entries and draw the winners).
Today I'll show you my finished quilt.

At a whopping 94" x 94", this is the biggest quilt that I've made to date and the moment that it came back from being quilted by Leeanne of Quilt Me Kiwi (even in its unbound state) it went straight onto our bed. 

It is such a wonderful feeling to sleep under a quilt that I have designed and sewn. To know that I didn't give up at that point halfway through where I lost heart and second guessed all my choices.

I am really glad that I followed my gut and designed three extra birds. The quilt would have been too empty without them. I am also more than happy with the mixture of 12 inch, 18 inch and 24 inch blocks. To me the inclusion of the 18 inch blocks adds to the feeling of movement and perspective.

The yarn dyed Essex linen which I used for the background compliments the oakshott cottons perfectly. It has a kind of subtle sheen to it and as with the shot cottons, it appears slightly different depending on how the light hits it. As for the Oakshott cottons, the intensity of their colour practically glows- I love it!

When it came to the quilting, I gave pretty minimal instructions to Leeanne. I was happy to trust her to do her thing. I know that she does amazing work and I recognise that my specialism is piecing and hers is quilting. Why should I interfere?

Leeanne knows that I like her to stitches the ditch around the birds and add subtle detail to them. In the background I asked for movement, clouds and wind. Leeanne did not disappoint.

For the binding I wanted something that wouldn't detract from the colour of the birds. I was going to use solid black, but in the end used Carolyn Friedlander Scribble Notes. Sometimes I think I should have stuck with black, but in general I am pleased with the binding. 

When I look at this quilt, it makes me smile. I designed it at a point when I was going through a bit of a crisis in confidence. I felt that my patterns were too boring and literal and I wanted to break away and try something new.

Although I have not necessarily followed on down the same design path, I am tremendously proud of this series of patterns. I think that I achieved what I set to achieve. I designed blocks which didn't necessarily have the same amount of fine detail that I would normally include, but they still have impact and drama. More importantly, they have the movement that is needed for flying birds.

That said, I think that the thing that I love the most about the In Flight patterns is the creative freedom that they allow each individual in their interpretation of the birds. I love that some of you have chosen to use solids, some have gone scrappy and others have opted for florals. They all work. I love that some of you have chosen an ordered layout and others have gone their own way and designed a layout which works for you.

Me? I love my haphazard layout and the combination of small single colour birds and bigger multi-shade birds. It suits me- made with half a plan and a lot of making it up as I go along.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

In Flight Quilt-Along- Layouts

When I first designed the In Flight bird patterns, I had great plans to release three separate layouts of the final quilt, but as the quilt-along has drawn on, I have learnt a lot about layouts. I realised that my plans for the quilt that I was making didn't work. I had to alter my plans significantly in order to create a quilt that I was happy with.

I thought about writing down my new layout and publishing it for you all, but then I looked on instagram and flickr and realised that many of you were managing to finish your own quilt tops without my help. I decided that it might be fun if I give you some pointers as to how to create your own layout and leave the rest up to you.
My Final Layout

Every finished quilt that I have seen has gone along with my initial vision of the cloud of haphazard birds circling in the sky, so I decided to concentrate on this type of layout.

If you click on the picture below, you will be taken to my payhip store where you can download the original In flight layout for free.

For those of you who have sewn some of the 4 additional blocks (which were added to the quilt-along) if you have sewn them as 12 inch blocks, you should be able to alter this layout fairly easily to accommodate the extras. Here is an example:

All that I have done is to cut down the 12.5 x 24.5 rectangular pieces into 12.5 inch squares and rearranged the layout of the remaining birds to suit.

If, like me, you have sewn some of the extra blocks as 18 inch blocks, then I suggest that you look at your quilt top in 24 inch chunks. If you look at my final layout, this is basically what I have done although I have changed it up a wee bit in a few places.

To make the 18.5 inch blocks up to 24 inch finished blocks you will need to cut:
a 6.5 x 18.5 piece
a 6.5 x 24.5 piece

With the 12 inch blocks, you have a choice, you can either combine 2x 12.5 inch bird blocks with two 12.5 squares or you can sew 4 x 12.5 inch bird blocks together
I'm trying to think if there is anything else that I should be telling you in this post. Nothing immediately springs to mind, but if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask!

If you fell in love with one of the layouts that I showed at the beginning of the quilt-along and are feeling gutted that I have not given their details, please please please get in touch. I would be happy to provide more details as required.

A quick disclaimer: I cannot promise that the birds in these layouts are flying in the right direction. It is up to you to make sure that you have a balanced layout. what I am trying to do in this post is to give you some ideas, not provide a template which you can copy directly. That said, when designing the blocks I ensured that there is a good mixture of right facing and left facing blocks, so I don't think this should be a problem.


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