Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Odd Socks- A New Pattern

You know that feeling of panic when it suddenly hits you just how much you have to achieve in a very short period of time? When you realise that you've been saying "yes" to way too many things and the silly season is almost upon us.

That's what happened to me the other day! The minute that I had done it, I realised that I really shouldn't have signed up for the Schnitzel & Boo Mini Quilt Swap on Instagram, that there were way too many other things that I should be doing instead.

After the initial panic, I did what I always do, I sat down and wrote myself a list. Somehow the 'to do' list seemed a lot more manageable in that form. I started to pick things off the list one at a time. Unfortunately some things were waiting on fabric arriving so although urgent they couldn't be started on. Other things although important did not have a deadline and the work on the In Flight patterns is on going.

I decided to get the swap quilt made and out of the way.

I went searching for inspiration for my partner and once again panic set in. Her style was very different to mine. There was not a single reference to paper piecing in any of the material that she gave as inspiration and she described her style as "simple and pretty"- not words that I would ever use to describe my work! I turned to Deb for help and between the two of us we came up with a plan.

I have gone a bit left of centre with this mini quilt, I am pretty sure that my partner won't guess that it's for her. It's a bit cuter than I would normally do and creating the rainbow of colours definitely showed me where the gaps are in my stash. I hope that she likes it and understands why I chose to make this particular quilt for her.

I have called the quilt "Odd Socks".

As these socks have been proving very popular on instagram, I decided to release the pattern nice and quickly. I have sewn enough of these to be confident that the pattern works. Each sock measures 4" x 6". The pattern contains templates for both a left and a right sock. Three potential mini quilt layouts are provided, but feel free to use the pattern as you wish.

You can now find the Odd Socks Pattern in my Craftsy Store.

**This post contains affiliate links which means that I may receive compensation if you follow one of the links and then make a purchase.

The Winner is...

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway for the book "Free Motion Quilting for Beginners and those who think they can't". I loved reading all your fmq experiences and really want to encourage you all to keep going. Sort out your basics and work from there, it really is possible for everyone to free motion quilt!

Unfortunately there can only be one winner and it is:

I have sent you an email. Please respond asap. If I haven't heard from you within 5 days I will draw a new winner.

For all of you who didn't win, I really encourage you to get your hands on a copy of this book. It really helped me to conquer my fear of fee motion quilting!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

In Flight Quilt Along Fabric Requirements

In Flight Quilt Along- Starting January 2015 at The Tartankiwi

Having been approached by a few people who were wanting to know about the fabric requirements for the In Flight Quilt Along, I thought that it was about time to let you in on a few more details.

At this stage I must stress that these fabric requirements are based almost exclusively on the advice given by my computer software. In general I have found this software over estimates the background fabric, but my pattern testers are busy working away for me at the moment and I am hoping that once I have heard from them I will be able to provide more accurate information. Also, everyone has varying degrees of fabric wastage with paper piecing, so what is achievable for one person may not be for another.

As a general rule of thumb, the 12 inch blocks use about a Fat Quarter of background fabric. The 24 inch blocks require between 1/2 yard and 3/4 yard of background fabric.

The birds themselves need a lot less fabric. Depending on your stash you could probably work almost exclusively with scraps. All of the birds require under a fat quarter of fabric, many of the 12 inch birds are closer to a fat eight of fabric (with the exception of the 24" eagle which needs at least a full FQ if not more).

I have prepared three pdfs with fabric requirements for finished quilts. Please do not feel that you have to stick to these layouts.  Part of the fun of these birds is that they don't really belong in an ordered layout.

You may want to add even more depth to your quilt by altering the sizes of the birds, a few of the blocks would be suitable for reduction in size. All of them would work as bigger blocks. I intend to release two blocks as 24 inch patterns, 4 blocks as both 12 and 24 inch patterns and the remaining patterns as 12 inch blocks. Its up to you exactly how you put them together, but here are a couple of suggestions to help you on your way.

For each of these quilt layouts, I have provided a pdf with fabric requirements.

Fabric requirements for each quilt has been provided as two versions. One multi coloured one for those wanting to make each bird in different fabrics, another in two tones or minimal fabrics. I hope that this provides you with enough information.
In Flight Quilt Along 76 x 76 layout

The layout shown above will provide a quilt measuring 76 x 76 inch. I love the haphazard appearance of this quilt even though it adheres to a very simple block layout.

In Flight Quilt Along 94 x 94 layout
 Call me mad, but I'm planning to turn my In Flight blocks into a quilt for my own bed. This quilt will measure a whopping 94 x 94 inch. I can't wait to see it lying on our bed!

I must admit that at the moment this is looking a bit too ordered for my tastes and I may play around with it further, but in the meantime it will serve to give a good indication as to fabric requirements.

In Flight Quilt Along Potential Layout

This final quilt uses a traditional sashed grid layout and measures 45 x 56 inch. If you like this layout, I do not recommend reducing the Osprey in size (the bird which has its talons out ready to catch a fish). I am pretty certain that those talons would not reduce nicely. Don't worry though, as you can see in the diagram above, there are still 12 blocks for you to use in your grid as I have actually designed 13 blocks.

There are two versions of the seagull because I wasn't initially happy with the design and I almost immediately designed another one but once I had redrawn the block a thousand times I made peace with both versions and decided to provide you with both blocks.

I guess the moral of the story is that there are lots of possibilities to make this quilt your own. If in doubt, buy more background fabric than you think you might need or choose a fabric that you know you can easily source if you need to buy more.

It goes without saying that you do not HAVE to make all the blocks, you may choose only to do one or two- that is completely up to you, although the main prize will be saved for those making bigger projects.

Does that help?

Phew this is a lot of work, but I can't wait to get started!

If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask. I will do my best to answer.
Feel free to spread the word- the more the merrier!

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Free-Motion Quilting for Beginners and those who think they can't

I'd like to  introduce you to my friend Molly. She is one of the first online quilting friends that I made and over the years she has provided me with heaps of great quilting advice.
Photo Courtesy of Martingale, Brent Kane photographer
Molly has always been there to answer my questions and she has had an unwavering faith in my ability. When I decided to buy a darning foot, it was Molly who I turned to for advice and when I took my first wavering steps in fmq, she cheered me on all the way.

I am ashamed to admit that somewhere along the way, my piecing ability took off and I lost the confidence to attempt free motion quilt (fmq). As I documented last month, I stopped daring to try new things and I became scared to ruin my work.

Then recently, Molly contacted me and asked if I would like to be part of the blog-hop celebrating the launch of her new book. Having experienced Molly's enthusiasm and encouragement first hand, I couldn't think of a better person to write a beginners fmq book.

I was thrilled for her and honoured to be asked to take part! How could I say no to the invitation?!

At the same time, I was slightly nervous- what if I let her down and my FMQ was still a badly tensioned mess? That wouldn't be a very good advertisement for her book would it!?

I decided that it was time to get over myself, and start being adventurous with fmq again.

Sitting down to read her book, I was immediately relieved to see that Molly doesn't advocate doing hundreds of practise squares. I'll be honest, I'm a bit impatient and I always tend to skip over that kind of monotony. I was also amazed to see that Molly doesn't advocate starting with stippling. She suggest quilting words and letters. It sounded a bit difficult, but I was willing to give it a try. I did a few doodles with pen and paper as she suggested and this taught me that going round in circles was not a good ideas for me, so I settled on writing lines of text across the fabric.

Before starting to sew, I paid particular attention to the chapter where Molly describes how to fix tension problems. My previous FMQ experience has been beset by these kind of problems, so I was determined to learn how to fix any problems. Again, Molly had great advice- don't panic- but work logically through the problem to find the issue. It was this advice that spurred me on to write my mental checklist.

My First Practise Square after reading Molly's Book
Previous experience had taught me a few things. I made sure that I had a new and decent needle on my machine. I gave my machine a good clean and oil then threaded it carefully. Knowing that my machine is a thread snob and will punish me if I try to use cheap thread, I threaded it up with some of my precious aurifil thread.

I took a deep breathe and started to quilt a practise sandwich. Even though I trusted Molly as a teacher, and I had faith in her, I freely admit that I expected the worst of myself. Apart from the fact that I kept on forgetting how to join an 'o' in cursive writing, I was amazed by what I achieved! I didn't need to fiddle with the machine settings at all. The tension was perfect, the loops of my letters were smooth and the stitches were as even as I could dare to expect of myself.

I showed my husband and a look of amazement crossed his face. He cautiously asked "am I allowed to say that I'm amazed?!" Of course he was allowed, because I was blown away myself!

Molly's book is filled with small fun projects that you can use to help you perfect your skills.Tempted as I was to try them all, I decided that I had better use my time efficiently and finish a project that had been on my WIP pile for a wee while. As is often the case, I had a pieced block that was waiting to be quilted. It needed to be turned into a cushion for a friend.

The block in question was my ballet shoes pattern, so I decided that I would quilt the word "dance" on the back of the cushion. I had a quick practise and discovered that the word "hello" had been a lot easier than "dance", but after a couple of attempts it got easier.

Can you spot where it says "dancing"? I spaced out while I was quilting so a bit of quick problem solving was required!

After those initial lines of dance, I decided to add a few extra words- ballet, jazz, modern etc... In hindsight it was possibly not the best decision, but I'm still learning this quilting lark and can forgive myself a few mistakes along the way.

For the front of the cushion, I did a mixture of designs. Firstly I stitched the ditch around the ballet shoes (I used my walking foot for this). Then I stippled around the feet and added a couple of words in as I went. Finally I wrote "dance, dancer, dancing" around the border. I'm really pleased how well it turned out!

Over the years I have gained quite a bit of fmq know-how which I haven't always managed to implement. What this book did for me was to bring it all together in a logical way. I'm not sure if I can pinpoint any one thing that made the difference, but I have a huge "Thank you" to say to Molly. I finally dare to do fmq and I'm not planning on stopping any time soon.

As a relative novice to FMQ, who is still getting to grips with the technique, my final pieces of advice are these:

Believe in yourself- If I can do it on my middle of the road Toyota sewing machine, you can too.

Be realistic, don't immediately blame your machine or rush to change all the settings on your machine when something goes wrong, it could be as simple as needing a new needle or giving the machine some oil.

Stay logical, believe in yourself (yup I'll say that twice because its important).

Find yourself a quilting friend or two who believe in you- it makes all the difference!

And finally get yourself a copy of Molly's book- its a really excellent resource full of help and encouragement.

See- I've moved onto pebbling and all sorts of other fancy quilting designs since finishing the ballet shoes cushion.

If you are struggling with your FMQ, then I have good news for you. I have a copy of Molly's Ebook to giveaway to one lucky winner. To be in the draw leave a comment below. It can be anything, but I'd love to hear about your fmq experiences.

I will leave the draw open until 8:00pm on Sunday 23rd November NZT

Please make sure that you leave some sort of way that I can contact you. I will do everything I can to contact the winner, but if I have not heard from them within 5 days, I will draw a new winner.

If you would like to find out more about Molly's book (or have more opportunities to win), then drop by the other stops on the Blog Hop:

Martingale http://blog.shopmartingale.com/ November 11th
Amanda Jean http://crazymomquilts.blogspot.com November 13th
Amy Friend http://duringquiettime.com November 14th
Angela Walters http://www.quiltingismytherapy.com  November 15th 
Juliet van der Heijden The Tartankiwi  November 17th
Lori Kennedy http://theinboxjaunt.com  November 19th
Cindy Weins http://www.liveacolorfullife.net November 20th
Thermoweb http://thermoweb.com/blog/ November 21st

Molly's book also inspired the quilting on this cushion- there is no stopping me now!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Reindeer Overload

I was really honoured to be asked to contribute towards a collaboration quilt for this years Christmas Edition of the Fat Quarterly Review.

Photo borrowed from Lynne
We were shown the image which inspired the quilt, given our fabrics, and asked to design and sew five identical blocks. 

There was a special request that I provide reindeer for the quilt.

As with so many of these kinds of projects, I really do think that the sum of the parts is much much better than the individual parts. I love how the blocks all come together to create a dramatic and graphic finished quilt and I am really proud to have been a part of such a talented line-up of quilters - Nicky, Susan, LynneJoanne and Joanna.

Doesn't it just look like the most snuggly Christmas Jumper ever!?

I must admit that I got a bit carried making reindeer and couldn't resist  another wee reindeer project.

You will also find the details of both of these patterns in Issue 19 of Fat Quarterly Review.


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