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!)

Monday, November 9, 2015

Tiger- A Pattern Release

This pattern has been a long time coming. For one reason or another it has floundered at the 99% finished stage for a long time, but I am pleased to say that it is finally ready for release.

The tiger pattern is a great partner to my lion pattern. It is deliberately slightly smaller (the lion is 24" and the tiger is 20") and as such they are in proportion with each other if used as a pair. All you need to do is add a 2" border to the tiger (using 2 strips measuring 2.5" x 20" and 2 strips measuring 2.5" x 24").

Another reason for the border is that it helps the design to pop as a cushion. If the design extends all the way to the edges, it tends to look a bit funny as a cushion.

I ended up trimming my tiger a bit more than I intended, but you really must take my word for it that the borders quoted above really do work to make the two blocks the same size.

My tiger has been sewn using Pie Making Day fabrics for the tiger itself and netorius by Cotton + Steel for the background. I love the combination and even though the main print that I used is perhaps not an obvious choice for a tiger, I think it works well.

I love the fact that even though the fabrics are completely different to the fabrics used in the lion, I somehow accidentally managed to create a matching pair of cushions!

My testers did a great job with the Pattern. Andrea created a great white tiger.

Alison was a bit intimidated by the stupid amount of detail that I added to the block, but all credit to her, she knuckled down and created a beautiful block! Well done Alison!
If you would like to get your hands on a tiger, you can find it in my Etsy Store and my Payhip Store. The pattern will be available at a reduced price for a limited time.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Zebra Dazzle- Bloggers Quilt Festival

The rest (as they say) is history!

It is my colour loving daughter's seventh birthday in a few days time and I can't wait to surprise her with this quilt. It has been designed in secret especially for her using a version of the zebra block that she helped me to design for her cushion and a second zebra block which I designed to compliment it. Both blocks have been enlarged to 40".

I was a bit stuck after sewing the two blocks. They needed a border, but I just couldn't work out how to add one that would be in keeping with the quilt. I didn't want borders of solid colour and I couldn't work out how to add a fractured border without the straight edges of the zebra block becoming a distraction.

In the end, I took the top to Stitch Group with me and the inspiring ladies there had some great suggestions which really helped me to work out what to do.

First I cut a ton of 1.5" multicoloured squares and a whole lot of 3 x 1.5" white rectangles. These were pieced these together to create a slim inner border.

I guess that you could call the outer border an example of improv paper piecing. I cut A4 paper into 6 inch strips and then drew lines on using a ruler and a pen. I did it in a simple way so as to avoid having to sew separate papers together. Once each paper was almost pieced, I would tape on another piece of paper and draw some more lines. I kept going until I had 4 borders which were long enough to surround my quilt centre. It took some planning to get the colour graduation to roughly mirror that of the centre of the quilt, but it was definitely worth the effort. I love the finished effect.

I couldn't think of a better fabric to back this quilt with than the beautiful zebra print for Frances Newcombe's amazing Safari Moon range.

For a long time, I was unsure as to whether I should quilt zebra dazzle myself or whether I should send it away to be quilted. I am under no illusions about my quilting skills. Since I purchased my Juki sewing machine at the beginning of the year, my ability levels have improved significantly, but I am certainly not an expert and I had never free motion quilted a full size quilt. The very idea was very intimidating.

Part of me wanted the quilt to be perfect and I knew that this would only be achieved if I outsourced the work. But my overwhelming feeling was that I wanted to quilt it myself. This quilt has an incredibly special place in my heart and I wanted to be responsible for every aspect of it from conception to completion.

After I had finally decided to be brave and do it myself, I briefly considered straight line quilting. This would be the best way to guarantee a good result, but it was both the safe and the boring option. I discarded the idea really quickly as I knew that the zebras needed free motion quilting. I stitched the ditch around the zebra and the zebra stripes. After that I added organic lines of quilting to the zebras stripes. Spirals were added to the background and pebbling finished off the zebra noses.

I'll be honest, after I started quilting, there were definitely moments when I questioned whether I had made the right decision. This was especially true when I realised just what a mammoth task I had set myself with such dense quilting, but the further that I got with it, the happier that I became. It's not perfect, but it's the best that I can do and it is a huge achievement.

As I struggled with the quilting, I thought about how my challenges with the quilt reflected on the lessons that I want to teach my daughter.
I thought about the fact that I want her to grow up to embrace challenges instead of running away from them.
I thought about the fact that I don't want her to let a fear of failure stop her from trying new things.
I thought about the fact that it is only through challenging ourselves that we learn and life would be very boring if we stopped learning the minute that we leave school.

I KNOW that my daughter will love this quilt no matter what.
She will not notice that the quilted stitches aren't all even.
The wobbles in the quilted lines will not bother her in the slightest.
She will not see the place where there is a bump in the fabric which might have been avoided if I had stitch basted that area of the quilt before I started quilting.

What she will see is a quilt designed especially for her and made with love.
... and so will I!

This quilt represents where I am right now with my quilts and patterns. It is big, bold, bright and colourful. I definitely want to keep going with large and interesting patterns and I can't wait to design more large scale blocks.

Zebra Dazzle- The Details:
Piecing Method: Paper Piecing
Patterns: Mega Zebra Mania and Mega Zebra in Profile
Designed by: Me (with design credit to my 6 year old daughter)
Quilting: Free Motion Quilting by me
Thread: Aurifil 50wt in colours 2692 and 2024
Fabrics used: Kona Snow, Kona Black, scraps of many of my favourite fabrics including fabrics designed by Tula Pink, Frances Newcombe, Anna Maria Horner, Lizzy House, Brenda Ratliff, Sarah Fielke, Violet Craft, Umbrella Prints, Bari J and many more.
Dimensions: 50" x 90"
 With special thanks to my friend Gill for taking these amazing photos and Deb for her help with the photography session.

I am entering this quilt in the Large Quilts section of the Bloggers Quilt Festival. I would love it if you were to vote for me.

The Details:
Piecing Method: Paper Piecing
Patterns: The Safari Bundle
Quilting: Free Motion Quilted by me
Fabric used: Utopia by Frances Newcombe
Size: 45" x 56" - See more at:
The Details:
Piecing Method: Paper Piecing
Patterns: The Safari Bundle
Quilting: Free Motion Quilted by me
Fabric used: Utopia by Frances Newcombe
Size: 45" x 56" - See more at:
The Details:
Piecing Method: Paper Piecing
Patterns: The Safari Bundle
Quilting: Free Motion Quilted by me
Fabric used: Utopia by Frances Newcombe
Size: 45" x 56" - See more at:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Doggy Bag

I often find that one pattern leads to another and recently I've been having a lot of fun with my mini doxie pattern.

After making my pair of zipper pouches, I had a sudden urge to make a pin cushion. I knew that it would be insane to decrease the complete pattern any further, so I decided to focus in on the dog's head.

I did a little bit of fiddling in EQ7 and came up with a square 4 inch pattern that I was happy with.

The pin cushion met a really enthusiastic reception on instagram, people loved it! One person asked whether the tail was on the back.
Ummm no...
... but now that the suggestion had been made, I really wished that it was!
As the days past, the idea festered and I couldn't get it out of my head.
Eventually I gave in and sat down to play with the pattern a bit more.
It wasn't long before I had two blocks.

I decided to make a bag with the split doggy pattern. 
My original plan was to make a normal sized super tote, but for one reason or another I ended up printing the pattern way too small. I decided to go with it anyway and improvised a bag pattern based upon elements of the super tote pattern.

Here are a couple of photos of it as a work in progress.

Considering that I was winging it and making it up as I went along, I am pleasantly surprised how well the bag turned out. I love the fact that the dachshund curls around from front to back.
The bag even has a recessed zip.

Now I really want to make a bigger version using more practical colours.

A few people on instagram asked whether I was going to release the pattern and to be honest I'm not sure. I definitely won't release a pattern for the bag, but I could do the split doggy blocks.
So I thought I'd ask you guys.
Do you want it, or do those of you who might want to make something similar feel confident in your ability to alter the mini doxie pattern?

I'm interested in your feedback and will definitely consider releasing the pattern if there is serious interest.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Doxie Dachshund- A Pattern Release

The last two weeks have been school holiday in New Zealand. I really enjoyed taking some time away from the sewing machine and spending some quality time with my children.

Although we didn't go away on holiday, we still managed to have a fun and busy time filled with adventures. Now that the kids are back at school the house seems very quiet, but I must admit that I am relishing the chance to get back to my patterns.

While we were enjoying the holidays, my testers were working away behind the scenes, testing my new Doxie Dachshund pattern. This pattern was designed as a mini quilt for my partner in the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap. I must admit that I am really really pleased with how well this pattern turned out and I really enjoyed sewing my version of it.

At the moment my version of the mini quilt is hanging on the back of our sofa patiently waiting for the Schnitzel and Boo send date. Both of my children have their eyes on it, so lets hope that I manage to put it in the post when the day comes!

My testers did a great job with the pattern.
Lisa went for shades of aqua in the background.

Leonie had fun with beautiful liberty fabrics.

Kim had fun with a scrappy look.
As always these ladies did a great job of testing the pattern and finding all the teeny tiny mistakes that can so easily slip in. I really am super thankful to all the wonderful women who test my patterns and help me to make them as good as I possibly can.

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

Because I am in a good mood, I have reduced the price by 25%  for the first 48 hours- so hurry over and get your hands on a copy!


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