Wednesday, September 17, 2014

WIP Wednesday.

A few weeks ago, I signed up for the instagram mini quilt swap. Although I've taken part in a few swaps over the years, this is the first official quilting swap that I've participated in. 

Its exciting and just a tiny bit scary!
Part of the Initial design
There are so so many talented people taking part in the swap that its really exciting seeing all the inspiration mosaics and first tasters of designs appearing in my instagram feed.

One of the hardest things about signing up was that I had to assign myself an ability level- 
What the...?

If we're talking quilt designs, then my partner is assured of an original tartankiwi design, so I guess that puts me in the advanced group.

If we're talking quilting skills, my FMQ is shameful, my straight line quilting tends to turn into straightish line quilting and try as I might, even with a walking foot and a super steady speed, I cannot get my machine to do uniform length stitches (it drives me nuts!) so that would probably put me firmly in the beginners camp.

A pair of dancers? Much better!
I decided to play it safe and place myself in the intermediate group. I didn't want to disappoint my partner with the standard of the quilting and I thought it was only fair to do so.

It never occurred to me that the person who is making for me might be intimidated! I have seen a few comments on IG from people who are scared that their partner is far more advanced than them. 

Now I have no idea whether these people are talking about me, but I just wanted to reassure my partner if they are reading this- I've said it before, but do your thing as well as you can and I will love it! I will not be comparing our ability levels and am really excited to see what you come up with.

How do you assess your own ability? Does it bother you? Do you worry more about disappointing thre recipient of your quilt or intimidating the person making for you?

Maybe its the modest Scot in me, but I would find it really difficult to put myself in the advanced group when it comes to things like this!
Making Important decisions- black boots or coloured boots?
I'm making really good progress on my mini quilt- the blocks are pieced and I am just waiting on a little bit more fabric to arrive before I finish the top. I am really excited by the design, but at this stage I am not showing the complete design . There is one MAJOR design element missing from these photos but you will have to be content with seeing this small bit for the time being, as I don't want to give the game away. I'm pretty sure that my partner will be able to guess that the quilt is for her if she sees the remaining element of the quilt.

I am really loving the way that these blocks are coming together. The minimalist use of colour is unlike anything that I've done before but I think it works really well for these blocks, especially since the small amount of colour that is included is intense Oakshott colour!

The great thing about the pattern is that the construction allows for others to play around and add as little or as much colour as they want.
For those of you who are interested, the pattern is already being tested, so if all goes to plan, I hope to release it in two or three weeks time.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Missing Piece

Today is my stop on a Blog hop is to celebrate the launch of Make Modern, the new Australian Online Modern Quilting magazine.
If you are new to these parts, Hello!
My name is Juliet and I love to design paper pieced patterns.

The thing is, I never forget that once I've designed them I set my patterns loose in the big wide world and at that point its your turn to interpret them.

I am all for encouraging you to use your own creativity, play with the designs and see what you can come up with. I believe that the sum of our talents often produces something far better than I either of us could do on our own.

My contribution to Make Modern Issue one is a table runner called Puzzled.

Sure you can make a table runner exactly like the one that I made (I really really love my one), but there is also a great potential for you guys to get creative and have fun!

I wanted to plant the idea in your heads that puzzled does not have to be used to create a table runner and in so doing to give you some inspiration how you could use the pattern.

So I decided to take this opportunity to whip up a quick cushion using the paper pieced part of the pattern.

The Front

For fairly obvious reasons I called my cushion the Missing Piece.
It really appeals to my sense of humour!
The Back
I used the final scraps of my Oakshott Cotton Lakes fat eight bundle to make the cushion, but I must admit that the fabric choices were dictated by the fabric. I used the four largest pieces of Oakshott cotton that I had. Its good that I did, as I was cutting it pretty fine with a couple of them.

I'm not entirely sold on the scrappy low volume background and think that I may have been better sticking with a solid cream background, but I ain't unpicking so it will have to do!

I pieced and quilted using Aurifil 50 weight thread. I stitched the ditch around the puzzle pieces to make them pop and then did random straight line quilting in the background fabrics.
You might ask why I designed a paper piece puzzle pattern when it could be argued that a jigsaw quilt could be achieved far more easily using appliqué.

To me, designing paper pieced patterns is a kind of a puzzle.
To others, actually sewing paper pieced patterns can seem like an (almost impossible) puzzle.
I had it in the back of my mind to design a puzzle pattern for a while, but it took me a long time to work out exactly how to do it. A few attempts were rejected before I finally came up with this pattern.

I hope that you can see how versatile this pattern is and can appreciate all the potential for fun. 

If you haven't bought a copy of Make Modern already, what's keeping you?

I'm hoping that I've just tempted you to buy a copy or even subscribe, but if you need a bit more persuasion, you can find a free taster here.
Happy reading and don't forget to have fun with my pattern!

 The other steps in the Blog Hop are as follows:

1st September                   Make Modern
3rd September                   Kristy @ Quiet Play
5th September                   Where Jane Creates
7th September                   Gina @ Party of Eight: Our Story
9th September                   Molli Sparkles
11th September                 Juliet @ The Tartankiwi
13th September                 cat&vee
15th September                 Ruth @ Ben and Charly’s corner
17th September                 Kelly @ Kelliotmagic
19th September                 Alyce @ Blossom Heart Quilts
21st September                 Serena @ Sew Giving
23rd September                 Melissa @ Ms Midge
25th September                 Anne @ Hudson Valley Quilts

Friday, September 5, 2014

Butterfly Challenge Winners

Thank you so much to everyone who entered the Butterfly Challenge.

I loved seeing the creativity that you all displayed and the variety of butterflies that you produced.

I really really loved that so many of you dared to step out of your comfort zone and tried something new. Whether it was your first time paper piecing, or your first time altering a pattern, I am super proud of you all.

Both Rascal and I found it a tough job to choose a winner.

I thought long and hard about my decision and second guessed myself many times. In the end I chose On a Gossamer Wing by Lisa as the winner of the Oakshott Cotton Fat Eighth Lipari Bundle.

I felt that Lisa embraced the challenge on many many levels. Not only that but she created a stunning butterfly- I am sure you will agree.

Rascal was hysterically funny while she was judging, she took her duties very seriously.

"Ooh Mummy, this one is amazing", "I love THIS one", "Aaaah a pink one, sooo pretty!", "ooh I really like the bumble bee butterfly mummy!"

In her first, second and third scans of the entries, she managed to eliminate a grand total of one entry. I was beginning to worry that she wasn't going to manage to choose a winner at all.
Finally I suggested that she choose her three favourites and once they were chosen the winner quickly became obvious.

She loved the winning entry so much that she drew a picture of it.
Judge's comment: "I like it bekos it has a big flawer. by Rascal"

Congratulations Leonie, I hope you recognised your work in this masterpiece and that you enjoy sewing with your Oakshott Cotton Fat Eighth Ruby Bundle!

The winner of the Oakshott Cotton Fat Eighth Lakes bundle was chosen by

Congratulations Mara of Secretly Stitching. If you haven't seen the butterfly dress that she made, make sure that you hop over and take a look- no wonder her daughter loves it!

The winner of the tartankiwi patterns and a little something from me was also chosen by
Congratulations Jamie k.b.
I love the way that Jamie has used the butterfly to add a little accent to her quilt top- it works perfectly!

Thanks again once again to everyone who entered I hope that you enjoyed yourself and that this experience will encourage you to step out of your quilting comfort zone more often.

An extra big thank you goes to Michael Oakshott for generously providing the prizes. 

If you haven't sewn with Oakshott Cotton and want to, there is a sale going on at the moment so now's your chance (just don't call me a bad influence ok!?!)

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Four Years On...

Four years ago today, life for the residents of Christchurch and the surrounding area changed forever.
Our city was hit by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake.
It was a bolt out of the blue, nobody expected an earthquake in Christchurch, even though historical sources show a history of quakes in the area.

I have previously written about the February earthquake, but I don't think that I have ever really written about this one. Unlike many of my friends who live in Christchurch, for me "the big one" was the September earthquake.

The main thing that I remember about the quake was the noise.
We were rudely awakened by a deafening crack.
There was silence.
Then the world started shaking violently.

I was 5 months pregnant, but I have never run so fast to my daughter's room. I bounced off the walls on the way- it was like being at sea.

When I reached her cot, she was fast asleep. The shaking stopped and for a brief second I considered leaving her to sleep, she looked so peaceful, but then the shaking started again and I scooped her up in my arms.

Growing up in Scotland, earthquake drills was not high on the list of things that we learnt, but the one thing that I knew was that we should brace ourselves in the doorway.

And there we stayed, in pitch blackness. Waiting for the next of the barage of aftershocks to hit.
It was terrifying.
As one quake ended, the next one would begin. It went on and on.
We didn't have smart phones and didn't have a battery operated radio so we had no way of knowing what had happened.
Our minds raced, wondering where the fault was. Were our friends ok? Were there any casualties? What had happened to our safe little world?
We madly sent out texts to everyone that we could think of and finally my husband's sister in Holland replied telling us that there had been an earthquake just north of Christchurch. We were later to discover that the early location was wrong and that the epicentre was just down the road from where we live.

Rascal was not quite two and it all seemed like a big adventure to her. She smiled and said "bang" each time that an aftershock hit. We did our best to stay upbeat for her. That said, she became very aware of light and dark and was definitely happier when the display of hubby's mobile phone provided some light. 
Her terror of earthquakes was to come months later.

For the record, sitting cross-legged with a small child on your knee for hours on end is not good for the hips of a pregnant woman- it almost crippled me for months but with careful exercise and a bit of swimming its amazing what you can do to ease the pain.

And so the worst 7 or 8 months of our lives. We grew to identify the magnitude of earthquakes and to tell whether they were close-by or far away. Nobody went anywhere without a mobile phone and we made sure that we knew where our family members were at all times. After each aftershock, texts would be sent- "did you feel that one?" It was a big one!"

After those 7 or 8 months the quakes became less and less regular for us, even though they carried on for the people of Christchurch. The epicentre of the quakes moved gradually eastward and we realised that many of the quakes that had terrified us in the early days were probably not even felt in Christchurch.

And now our city is a building site. The centre of town is filled with empty spaces and car parks where the unsafe buildings have fallen down or been ripped down. The rebuild has begun and there are exciting signs of art and culture springing up all around the place. It is amazing to see what people can do when they put their minds to it! But it will be a long time before the centre of our city is the flourishing vibrant heart that it once was.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sewing with Rascal

I used to work in a craft store that hosted preschool and children crafting sessions.

On many occasions I observed parents "helping" their children and quickly came to the conclusion that there is nothing quite like crafting with their children to bring out the inner control freak in Mums.

There was the Mum who wouldn't let her son make the rainbow button tree canvas that he wanted- he had to make a blue one to go with his newly decorated bedroom.

There was the Mum who became extremely frustrated with her three year old son because he decided that the portholes on his boat should become wheels.

There were countless other examples of Mums controlling their children's crafting. Observing this, I came to the conclusion that in the majority of cases , the more perfect the result of small childrens crafting- the more of a control freak the Mum.

Now in general I think (hope) that I manage to let my kids express their creativity without interfering too much, but teaching 5 year old Rascal to use my sewing machine may well have taken me right to the edge of my comfort zone.

A few times I really had to stop myself from unpinning her wonky pins. I had to remind myself that especially at this age its not about creating perfection. Its about working together, having fun, making something Rascal can be proud of and hopefully learning a few good habits in the process. In fact it could be argued that striving for perfection could be counter-productive for my girl in the long run!

The whole project started one day when I looked at my overflowing scrap basket. I gave it to Rascal and told her to choose some fabric that she liked. I didn't really have a plan but I thought it would be a fun exercise.

I took the fabrics that she had chosen and cut 4.5" squares. A few days later I gave her the squares and encouraged her to lay them out. At first she was a bit unsure what I meant but I showed her a few ideas and then left her to it. I really enjoyed seeing how her mind worked. 

I knew that using my sewing machine at my sewing desk was going to be tricky for Rascal, so I moved it onto a low coffee table and sat her down on a small stool. I also decided to help Rascal by putting my new 1/4 inch foot on the sewing machine- this was definitely a stroke of genius, as she was able to run the fabric along the edge of the guide easily. Unfortunately my sewing machine does not have speed settings and this would definitely have helped.

I wisely decided that Rascal should try sewing on some unimportant scraps first and quickly discovered that with a bit of practise guiding the fabric with her fingers went well. Using the foot pedal was erratic but not too bad, but doing the two at the same time was a recipe for disaster. We compromised. I pressed the foot pedal and Rascal guided the fabric. Then after a wee bit of nagging she did the foot pedal and I guided the fabric Finally she did the whole thing on her own (with close supervision).

Amazingly, no tears were shed by either of us.
We discussed what our sewing was going to be used for and Rascal decided that it would become a cushion cover.
Fabrics have been chosen for a pieced back to the cushion and that will be next weekends job.

I'm not yet sure how we'll go about quilting it. Would it be wrong for me to use it as FMQ practise? I know that no matter how dodgy the sewing, Rascal will love it!

Hmmm... the results of our first sewing collaboration are pretty good- does that mean I'm a control freak or a good teacher? 

On second thoughts, please don't answer!


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