Thursday, May 21, 2015

IN FLIGHT- Block 9 - Cormorant

When I was little, I remember my Mum, Dad and brother having big discussions as to whether the birds on the rocks holding their wings out to dry were Shags or Cormorants. I'm sure that my family could tell the difference, but to me shags and cormorants all looked the same!

Anyway, the next bird in the In Flight quilt-along is a Cormorant.

I must admit that once I sewed this bird, I was unhappy. I didn't like the ragged wing. I went back, altered the pattern and made a few adjustments to the wing. The above photo shows the first version of the wing, the diagram at the top shows the altered version. It may seem like a small change to you, but it makes me happy.

Sorry for not including a photo of my improved cormorant, but its late at night, I am already behind in my schedule and I don't have a photo of the improved block. If I get a chance, I will update this post tomorrow to include a photo.

The patterns have been updated in my stores and people should have received updates. If this has not happened, please let me know and I'll send you the updated pattern.

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

I will open the next linky party some time in the next few days so keep your eyes peeled for that. Don't forget to link your blocks up.

As always, I would like to say a huge thank you to my awesome sponsors.
1st Prize
- $25 Fat Quarter Shop token

This beautiful large box of Aurifil thread.

2nd Prize 
The winner of this prize must have made at least 6 blocks and have a complete quilt top or finished item.

A $25 Fat Quarter Shop token

This beautiful box of Aurifil thread.

Umbrella Prints Mosaic Kit
If you are not familiar with Umbrella Prints fabrics, go and look them up, you won't be disappointed in these beautiful organic screen printed fabrics.
3rd Prize
Open to any item created using an In Flight block or blocks.

A $25 Fat Quarter Shop token

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Bloggers' Quilt Festival- Utopian Safari Quilt
The second quilt that I am entering in the Bloggers Quilt Festival is my Utopian Safari Quilt. 
I am entering it in the Original Design Category.
These animal blocks were designed for and inspired by Frances Newcombe's Utopia fabric line.

I had such fun making this quilt. I started it at a time when I was feeling run down, pressured and pretty uninspired. This quilt allowed me to relax and have fun.

It all started with the giraffe when I realised how perfectly Aglow Sappling Mango could represent a giraffe's markings. The scale of the block was dictated by the fabric.

After the giraffe was completed, I went in search of other animals to fit the theme. I love that the quilt developed organically. I love the variety in the size of the blocks. I hope that the varying sizes give a feeling of varying perspective, with some animals in the foreground and others in the background.

It makes me laugh that so many people comment on the hippo lounging in the muddy pool at the bottom of the quilt. It's a wee hint of humour and I love that people relate to it so well. As I develop in my designs I hope that this gently humour will slip in more and more.

My ONLY problem with the safari quilt is that I only worked out how to design a lion after I had started quilting it. As a result, I had to design an oversized cushion to go with it. 

The utopian lion is an absolute favourite too.

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"

Friday, May 15, 2015

Big Bear Quilt

It suddenly occurred to me that even though it was finished before Christmas, I never got around to writing a blog post about my finished Big Bear Quilt.

The Blogger's Quilt Festival seemed like a perfect opportunity to correct this oversight. I am entering this quilt in the Large Quilt category.

When I sewed my first big bear block, I didn't have a plan. I just excitedly sewed my brand new 30" x 30" Big Bear pattern. It was the first time that I had designed or sewn a block quite this big and it was a super exciting thing to do. It was only once the bear was sewn that I started to think about what I would do with it.

My son loved the bear so I decided to turn it into a quilt for his single bed.
I flipped the pattern and sewed another bear. 

You may notice that the background fabrics of the two bears are different. I'll admit that this was a mistake. 
I had bought the original sketch fabric from a friend and didn't have any receipts to check the exact name of the shade. I also couldn't find any help on the selvedges. This left me trying to work out which exact shade of green sketch it was.

I scrutinised the images on my computer screen and narrowed it down to one of two shades. Unfortunately I chose the wrong one. When the fabric arrived, I decided to accept the difference and to make some other variations in the fabric choices to try and stop it from jarring. I don't have a problem with it, but can accept that it may bother other people. My son is never going to notice the discrepancy so really, it's not a big deal.

After the two blocks were completed, I asked people what I should do. A couple of people suggested that I should put bear paws around the edge. I knew that they meant the traditional bear paw block, but the idea got me thinking and before I knew it, I had designed my own bear paw designs.

The beautiful quilting was done for me by the talented Leeanne of Quilt me Kiwi. I love her work and studying her quilting definitely inspires me in my faultering learner steps in FMQ.

The thing that I love about these big blocks is that I was able to use fabrics that I would never consider using  on smaller scale blocks. Larger scale beautiful fabrics suddenly become real contenders as fabric choices. Look at all the fun details that I managed to incorporate- zebras, raccoons, horses and blind mice.
I love that they don't overpower the design as they would in smaller blocks.

I think that it's fair to say that the big bear design was pivotal in my development as a pattern designer. It was the first time that I designed such a big block and it will definitely not be the last. Large scale paper piecing designs are not necessarily the easiest thing to sew (or design), but they make an amazing impact and they are more than worth any stresses that they may cause during the design and sewing processes.

The Big Bear Quilt now lives on my 4 year old son's bed and he loves it!

Piecing Method: Paper Piecing
Patterns: Big Bear and Bear Paw
Fabrics Lines Represented: Sketch, Frances Newcombe Safari Moon, Tula Pink Acacia, Tula Pink Foxfield, Anna Maria Horner Dowry, Lizzy House Catnap
Size: Single Bed Quilt measuring 54" x 90"
Quilted by: Leeanne of Quilt Me Kiwi

Monday, May 11, 2015

In Flight Quilt-Along - Learning Lessons in Layout

Last week I was really excited- I had finally finished sewing all of my blocks for the In Flight Quilt-Along and was able to start sewing them all together to make a quilt top.

The quilt that I am making is destined for my bed. As my husband is 6' 6", we have a large bed with slightly unconventional dimensions. It measures 160cm (62 inch) wide by 210cm (82.6 inch) long. The quilt needs to have a decent overhang at the foot end so that Mr Tartankiwi doesn't get cold toes and as I am lazy and didn't prewash my fabrics, I needed to allow for fabric shrinkage (I have heard that Essex linen is quite bad for shrinking). It's going to be a big quilt!

I thought that I had a plan for the layout, but as I started sewing, I realised that it had a few problems. The layout looked balanced when laid out flat, but once it was laid on my bed, the birds in the corners disappeared and the big gaps in the centre became obvious.

Its possible that the layout would work on a quilt with smaller blocks, but the big 24 inch gaps were too distracting on a large quilt.

I folded the quilt top away and had a think and a sulk. The way that I saw it, I had a couple of options:
  • The first was to move the existing blocks around, moving the blocks away from the corners and towards the centre of the quilt.
  • The second option was to design some extra blocks to fill the gaps in.
 It took me a few days to decide, but once the decision was made to design some new blocks, the first pattern came together really quickly. I am really pleased with this thrush pattern. I plan to come up with two more patterns and then my quilt top will finally be complete. In my quilt, these three new blocks will be 18 inch in size.

Now that the first of these blocks is complete, I am really excited- I am confident that the quilt layout will work and I can't wait to finish it.

I guess that this experience is just another step in my learning about design. I never claim to be all knowing about design and am more than willing to learn from my mistakes. I hope that the late arrival of these new blocks will not throw you lot off balance.

I need to remind myself that things that look good on the computer screen don't necessarily work in real life. It is always important to consider the scale of a design and the way that the finished quilt will be used.

I will release the extra blocks in the fullness of time, I hope to find some time to work on formatting patterns later this week and then will send the pattern out to testers. As usual, I have too many ideas and not enough time to sew and release them all!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

IN FLIGHT- Block 8- Kestrel

There are some patterns that you don't fully appreciate until you sew them. For me, the hovering Kestrel is one of these patterns.

I am really glad that I made the 24 inch version of this block, I think it really works as a big block. The large size changed the pattern from being one that I quite like to one of my favourites. We are now at the part of the quilt-along that excites me. I guess it won't surprise anyone to hear that I love the complex blocks and the many ways that they can be interpreted.

The variety of shades of red on the feathers of my kestrel really work well for the design. I love how the Subtly differing shades of Oakshott cotton add something to the block.

 You can find the kestrel pattern in my Etsy Store and my Payhip Store

Don't forget to link your in flight blocks up to the most recent linky party for a chance to win.

In case you missed it, I wrote a post yesterday with some paper piecing tips. Hope it helps!


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