Thursday, August 21, 2014

Taking the Long Way Round

Sometimes when I am designing, I find that ideas take on a life of their own.

Initial ideas, although fun, can prove to be too much work or too fussy and toning things down can be the answer to my problems.

The other day I asked how people would finish off my bear quilt. There were quite a few great suggestions, but the one that caught my eye was Susan who said"... I would make bear paws blocks to go all around the perimeter and then bind it."

Now while I knew that she meant one of these traditional blocks, I couldn't help thinking how awesome a border with a different kind of bear paws would be.

As is always the way, I became really really excited by this idea, but it was Saturday morning and I was miles away from the computer. I waited really impatiently, and spent the rest of the day visualising exactly how I wanted to block to look. When I actually sat down behind the computer, the pattern flew together.

My initial plan was to make a trail of bear paws around the quilt, but there was a problem. A trail of paw prints means a double border, and a double border becomes too big and detracts too much attention from the centre of the quilt.
 I liked the idea, but somehow the execution was lacking.

I could've made the paw prints smaller, but this would have made them fiddly to sew and required a lot more paw prints so that wasn't the solution.

Then it struck me.

When in doubt, simplify, simplify, simplify! That is my golden rule.

I took away the majority of the paw prints and turned the 4 remaining paw prints around.

Aaaaah! Much better!

What was created was a quilt with some detail, a small injection of humour and a clean border to the block.

It was enough, but not so much that it completely over-powered the bear.

I can't wait for my dark blue border fabric to arrive so that I start can sewing again.

Is the quilt finished like this- ummm no, I don't think so. There will almost definitely be one more (plain?) border, but I'm a very visual person and I need to see what I've created before I make the next creative decision.

In the meantime, I feel satisfied that this design is the right one and I'm very happy that this quilt is one step closer to being finished.

Do you find that your design ideas take on a life of their own like this?
If so do you love the process or does it make you nervous?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Fox Pattern Release

Wow, last week was a just a little bit crazy!

Thank you all for you enthusiasm for my new patterns. It means a lot to see you all getting so excited about the things that I design. I hope that I can keep coming up with designs that won't disappoint.

I know that you are all waiting for the big bear pattern, but it has to be free of mistakes for me to release it so please forgive me if I take a week or two more to get it ready. I have made a few alterations since sewing it and these are being checked before I release the pattern.

In the meantime, I've released the Fox pattern.

My pattern testers were super speedy and did a great job. This Tula Pink Fox by Frampuna just blew me away when I saw it! How perfect is that fabric selection!?! Having used some Tula Pink fabrics on my big bear, I can definitely see me incorporating more in my paper piecing

Chrissie has tested for me a few times and I know that I can always rely on her to do a great job. She chose batik fabrics (like she did when she tested my Panda pattern). I think they work really well.

The good news is that the fox pattern can now be found in my Craftsy Store and will be available at the reduced price of $2.00 for (roughly) the first 48 hours. After that it will revert to my usual pattern price.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A Big Bear

Remember this big boy?

Yeah, I know, its been a while!

I must admit that if I hadn't announced on my blog that he was coming, I might have given up on him completely.

 Lets just say that the computer software that I was using was not designed to deal with printing 30 inch blocks.

There has been shouting at the computer.
There has been swearing at the computer.
There have been tears of frustration.
There have been numerous threats to give up.
There have been emails to the technical help department of EQ7.
The laptop was VERY lucky not to have been thrown across the room.

In the end, sick of hearing me complain night after night after night, my hubby finally grabbed the computer and saved the day. God I love that man!

I had intended to wait till I had feedback from all the testers before I sewed the block and I patiently waited for as long as I could. Initially this was easy as I had a whole load of projects with deadlines that came first, but when I got to the end of this list  I could wait no longer.

Yesterday was finally the day! I started while the kids were at school/ preschool and by school pick-up time it looked as if a fabric bomb had gone off in the house (oops!)

I stick by my initial assessment - fabric choice will really make or break this block and as such it is fair to say that I have never stressed so much about fabric choices as I did for this block.

Before I started sewing, I laid piles of fabric out in roughly the position that they would take in the quilt. This really helped me to judge whether there would be enough contrast between the different elements of the quilt. Computer software is good, but in the end of the day there really is no alternative to just playing with fabrics.

What I really enjoyed was that because the scale of the block it was fine break my own rules and to use big prints in the pattern. I used fabrics that I would normally never consider using for my paper piecing designs and they look amazing! Tula Pink, Frances Newcombe, Anna Maria Horner and Lizzy House to name a few.

I had fun with the fabrics; I fussy cut the zebra for the front paw and also a horse on his flank. I made sure that none of the blind mice weren't doing headstands but other than that, I wasn't too precise about their positioning.

Pen included in the photo for scale
Even though I thought I had made all my fabric choices before I started to sew, I found that I had to make a few changes as I went along. I swapped out a few light fabrics that I felt looked out of place. It was nerve racking because by this stage I was aware how well the bear was coming together and I really didn't want to put a foot wrong.

There are a few changes that need to be made to the pattern before it is ready for publication and I still have to hear back from a couple of pattern testers, but hopefully it won't be too much longer till the pattern is ready for release.

Now I have to decide what to do with the block. What do you think?

A thin border and then a thick border?
A thin border and then a scrappy border?
What would YOU do with this block?

How are you getting on with your butterflies for the Butterfly challenge? Remember entries close 31st August 8:00pm NZT. You don't want to miss your chance to win some scrummy Oakshott Cotton do you?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Cunning Mr Fox

Last night I sat down and designed and wrote a whole pattern on the spur of the moment. There were other things that I should've been doing but the image popped into my head and I couldn't help but to work on it.

 Now I must admit that until now I have been reluctant to do a fox pattern because lets face it, there are an awful lot of paper pieced fox patterns out there. 

I generally tend to try and steer away from subject matters that I think have been done to death, but if I do try them, then I do my best to make them as different as possible to all the other patterns that I have seen. 

Hopefully my fox is a but less cutesy and a bit more cunning.

I reckon that this fox will make a good partner to the badger design that I came up with a few months ago- don't you!?
Hmm... the fox and badger- sounds like an English Country Pub, doesn't it!?

If anyone wants to test the pattern, give me a shout!

Edited to say: I now have all the pattern testers that I need for this pattern, but if you are interested in testing patterns for me please get in touch and I will add your name to the list.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Exciting Times

It feels like I've been holding onto this secret forever, but I can final reveal that I have a project featured in the latest Fat Quarterly Review.

If you've been looking at my bird patterns, tempted to try them but scared that they are too difficult, then this may be the pattern for you. I would say that it is my easiest bird pattern to date. There are a couple of tiny pieces but hopefully not enough to put you off.


So why not pop over to Fat Quarterly Review and get yourself a copy of Issue 18- Zakka. There are lots of fun and amazing projects to get your teeth into.
http://www.fatquarterly.com/issues/

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