Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Quilt Market Adventures and a New Pattern

As most of you will no doubt know, Quilt Market is a big event in the Quilting calendar. Twice a year the quilting world comes together, new fabrics are introduced and contacts are made.

If I'm completely honest, watching it all happen on the other side of the world can be pretty frustrating. You feel out of the loop and it's tough watching all the American bloggers get involved when time and budget considerations mean that it is virtually impossible for little old me over here in New Zealand to get involved.

This year, was a little bit different and I had my own littel quilt market excitement. In the run up to quilt market, I received a message from Frances Newcombe who, together with Jane Davidson, was presenting her new Franny and Jane fabric line Manderley for Moda. She asked if I would design a pattern for her booth. I have worked with Frances' fabrics before and love them so it was an easy decision to say yes.

For a wee while, it looked as if it wouldn't go ahead as it would be cutting things very fine for her to send me the fabric. In the end, we agreed that I would design the pattern and Frances would sew it.

After designing the pattern, I gave the pattern a trial run. I made a conscious decision to use a more muted colour scheme than I normally use and I chose a scrappy style. I'm really pleased how well it worked out.

I love the version of the pattern that Frances created. Isn't it stunning!

Here are some photos of the cushion in her booth.

My testers did an amazing job with the pattern:

I'm more than a little bit in love with Anjeanette's version of the block and super impressed that her son chose the fabrics for it- great job!

I always take it as a compliment when testers say that blocks come together easier than expected and a couple of testers (including Kim) made that comment.  I'm pretty sure that the metallic prints in this fabric will look stunning in the right light.

I love Patti's eye for fabric. She has been testing for me for a long time and I can trust her to come up with something beautiful every time.

I'm ashamed to admit that I have mislaid the photo of Zsofia's crane, but she also did a great interpretation of the block and gave me some great feedback.

You can find the crane pattern in my Etsy, Payhip and Craftsy Stores. 

Remember that the coupon code "flashsale" will give you a discount on my Etsy and Payhip stores until 10 June.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

May was for Makers

You might remember me recently saying that I wanted to find a way to keep the fun in my sewing. To not let the pressures of deadlines and pattern designings spoil my fun. To get out of my rut and to get back to doing a wider variety of sewing. One of the ways that I have been doing that recently has been to join in with #Mayisformakers.

This was an initiative started by Lindsey Rhodes. I urge you to go and read her post as to why she decided to buy a new indie pattern each week during the month of May. As someone who uses pattern writing to supplement our family income, this is a subject close to my heart. Free tutorials and patterns are great and I will always provide a few freebies, but at the end of the day, I can't afford to give my talents away for free all the time. I fully endorse what she says and wanted to get on board and support other creatives who are trying to make a living from their work.

The first pattern that I bought was the Scout Tee from Grainline Studio. Although I have sewn plenty of clothes for my children, I am not particularly confident at making clothes for myself. The pattern was straightforward and the result was surprisingly good. Unfortunately the pattern is just a teensy bit too tight across the back so I will have to work out how to alter it for the next time that I give the it a go. I will admit that its not a shape of top that I normally choose, but I actually like the way that it sits so I have also learnt something!

With this initial clothes making success under my belt, I decided to buy a second clothes pattern in the second week. This time I chose the Sidekick Wrap Skirt by Amy Barickman. I must admit that I haven't had a chance to sew it yet but I am looking forward to giving it a try. I have had the fabric for this skirt for a while so I am looking forward to finally being able to wear it.

My next purchase was the Maker Tote by Anna Graham. I have sewn a few of Anna's patterns in the past and am really enjoying making bags at the moment so this one will be a fun one to try.

I must admit that I stressed about the forth week. I just couldn't decide what pattern to buy. There were so many awesome patterns out there and I wanted to try them all. Eventually, I accepted my indecision and bought three patterns by Sara Lawson of Sew Sweetness.
1. The Aeroplane Bag (I may need to make one of these for my trip to Edinburgh in September!)
2. The Annex Double Zip Pouch (this will make a great pencil case for my daughter who has taken to complaining that I never make anything for her!)
3. The Ultimate Art Organiser. It would be fair to say that I am more than a little bit intimidated by the idea of this pattern, but having sewn a few of Sara's patterns recently I really trust her to walk me through all the steps in a clear and logical way.

My final purchase was also for my daughter. Her teacher has asked her to take slippers to school so that they don't traipse mud into the classroom on damp winter days. I was thinking it would be pretty cool if I sewed her some fun unique slippers so I bought the Indygo Junction Sleepytime slippers pattern. It looks pretty straight forward, I just need to find the energy to work out how big her feet are, find some suitable fabric in by stash and get sewing. It shouldn't be a big job...

I am really looking forward to sewing all of these patterns.

Even if you didn't take part in May is for Makers, remember that there is no wrong time to support independent designers.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Flash Sale

Hello hello! Just popping in briefly to get you know that I am having a sale.
I had a really good day yesterday and it put me in a generous mood. 

If you use the coupon code "flashsale" in either my Etsy store or my Payhip store, you will receive a 30% discount.

This coupon is valid until 10 June.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Small Seahorse- Pattern Release

Some patterns need to be made in all scales to be truly appreciated and my seahorse design is one of them.

When I first sewed a small seahorse, I simply decreased the size of the Treasure of the Sea quilt and sewed.

I loved the block, but if I'm being honest, it's just a bit too complicated. Some of the pieces are ridiculously tiny. They are fiddly to sew and they make the pattern needlessly complicated.

I went back to the drawing board and had a rethink. By critically looking at the construction, I not only got rid of the tiniest pieces, but I was also able to simplify the construction of the block. I sewed up the new version of the pattern and it was much better.

A wee while later, I got to thinking (always a dangerous thing!) The main reason that the 50" seahorse pattern has a fractured background is that it is much easier to sew many smaller pieces than a few extremely large pieces. By giving the block a fractured background, it became significantly easier to piece.

I have noticed that some people find it difficult to choose fabrics for blocks with a fractured background. Balancing the colours and the contrasts can be difficult and the background can end up detracting from the foreground.

With a 14 inch version of the block, where size is no longer relevant, I decided that I needed to create a version of the block with a plain background.

Yet again, I was able to critically look a the block construction and to get rid of the elements that were no longer relevant. It was a fun exercise!

I used oakshott cottons for the seahorse itself and Carolyn Friedlander for the background. I love the way that this block turned out and I love the resulting project even more. I took the block and used it to create a filigree double pouch, (pattern by Sarah Lawson of Sew Sweetness).

I must admit that I took my time to get the patterns into a form that it was suitable to be sent to pattern testers, but I was really blown away by the enthusiastic and quick response from all my testers.

Because there were two different versions of the pattern, I had quite a few different testers and I love the variety of blocks that they produced. It's interesting to see the amount of batik fabric that has been used for these seahorses. I have to say that it works perfectly!

Teresa made a beautiful pink seahorse in a calm aqua sea. (I love that Tula Pink fabric that she used on the tummy isn't it great for this!?) Teresa loved my first more complicated version of the mini seahorse and she added her own detail to the dorsal fin to mimic it.

Lisa also added detail to the dorsal fin. Love her take on the seahorse.

Hayley is a member of a stitch group that I attend and I can't wait to see her block in person. She used Distressed Threads hand dyed fabric and I am told that the background sparkles- so pretty!
Caroline tTold me that she has two children fighting over this seahorse, so she will be sewing another seahorse soon. Didn't she do a great job!
I love how Jan kept the seahorse itself simple and used solid fabric to contrast with the fun background fabric.

Suzanne is another member of the stitch ground that I regularly attend. I am looking forward to seeing her block in person too.

I just love the fabric that Leah chose for seahorse. It works perfectly. I feel as if I can see the sea gently lapping at seaweed.

Respect goes to Amy, who had the patience to carefully fussy cut her mendocino fishes and makes sure that they were all swimming in the right direction. It's such a fun interpretation of the block and I'm pretty sure that it's my 7 year old daughter's favourite!

As you may have noticed, a couple of my testers independently reinserted the detail to the seahorse's dorsal fin and after their feedback, I decided to include a few different tail options in the pattern.

Each version of the pattern comes with a plain dorsal fin, a striped dorsal fin and a finely striped dorsal fin. You can choose which version suits your tastes and your skill set (be warned! The pieces in the finely striped version and pretty tiny!)

I really hope that you enjoy sewing this pattern, there are some pretty detailed areas, but it all pays off in the end when you create a beautiful block.

You cab find the pattern in my Etsy, Payhip and Craftsy Stores.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Large Seahorse Pattern Release

I know that a lot of you have been eagerly awaiting this pattern, so it makes me extremely happy to announce that my 50 inch (that's a whopping 127cm) Seahorse pattern has finally been released.

As you may remember, the pattern was inspired by Alison Glass' Handcrafted Indigo fabrics. I loved all the different shades of blue and knew that they would be great for depicting the sea.

It was a spur of the moment project, made at a time that I needed a fun project to relieve stress. I was blown away by the enthusiastic reception that it received and I have been fighting to find the time to release the pattern ever since.

Part of the reason that the pattern has taken so long is that I wanted to get it thoroughly tested. The Running Zebra and the Seahorse are the first patterns that I have released on larger paper and as such I was a bit more cautious than normal with testing. It is also only fair to allow tester the time to do justice to these largescale designs.

Now before you panic about the larger paper, I have done my best to keep everyone happy.

The pattern has been formatted for A3/ Ledger (11" x 17") paper but I have included instructions for this who wish to print it on A4/ Letter paper.

Those printing on A4 paper will create a seahorse block which measures approximately 35" x 35" (89cm x 89cm).

Those printing on letter paper will create a seahorse block which measures approximately 33" x 33" (84cm x 84cm). Just to prove that this is possible, Zsofia created a test block using foundations that were printed on letter paper.

I should probably mention a  14 inch version of the seahorse pattern will be released in a week or two. this pattern will contain two variations on the pattern- a slightly simplified version of the large seahorse and a version with a non-fractured background.

 I can't wait to see all the Seahorses that you create. Here are the ones that my testers sewed. Didn't they do a wonderful job!

Paper Pieced Seaohorses
Top Row Zsofia's 33 inch seahorse. Middle Row: Chrissie, Afton, Alissa. Bottom Row: Amy, Nancy, Renata

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


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