Friday, 23 January 2015

Starburst Quilt (Finished and Featured)

I am so excited to finally be able to share this quilt with you - I made it midway through last  year, and it's one of my all-time favorite finishes, so I've been very impatiently waiting for it to be published so I can share it! It appears in Quilters Companion No. 71, which came out yesterday.

Ever since making this quilt, I'd been wanting to make another quilt using the same block design, but using colours that are more 'me'. It's essentially made using the traditional Dutch Rose block (or Carpenters Star), but I've added an extra star in the centre, to give the block a bit more interest.

I don't think it's any great secret that I'm a massive fan of Tula Pink's designs, and this quilt is sort of an ode to Tula - all the print fabrics are from her collections (mostly from a fat eighth bundle of Fox Fields, but with a few pieces from Nightshade, The Birds and the Bees and Neptune thrown in) and I love how they work so beautifully together. It was such a fun quilt to put together, and I'm planning on making another (bigger version) using this pattern - I just need to decide what fabric to use :o)

I quilted it using Aurifil 50 wt in various colours - threads from Tula Pink's Aurifil collection for the coloured fabrics, and soft white (2021) in all the background. I quilted fairly large, loose designs on this quilt, so it is beautifully drapey but still has lots of texture. I wanted to accentuate the sense of the stars exploding outward with straight line quilting within the stars, and then contrast that with the curvy designs in the rest of the background. I really like this combination of quilting, and I'm finding I'm using it more and more on my quilts.

This quilt finishes at 64" square, so it's the perfect size for snuggling under on the couch (and despite it being summer here, there have been many snuggling opportunities in the last few months!)

The back is one of my favorite Tula prints, with some coordinating prints down each side to bring it up to size. I love the back almost as much as the front :o)

I am looking for testers for this pattern if anyone is interested - it will be available in two sizes (lap and queen), so if you'd like to test for me please let me know :o) I'll be teaching this block as a class at Frangipani Fabrics later this year, too.

xx Jess

Friday Fabric Finds

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, a weekly post where I share the latest and greatest fabric and sales from my sponsors.

One of the collections I've been eagerly awaiting is Doe by Carolyn Friedlander, and it has started hitting shops over the last few weeks. One of the things that really appeals to me about Carolyn's designs is how useful they are, and the number of fantastic low volume prints she includes in her collections. Nearly every quilt I've made since Architextures came out has included at least one of her low volume prints - they really are my go-to neutrals. Doe is no different - the neutrals are so versatile and there are lots in this collection! I'm trying very hard to not buy fabric before I travel to QuiltCon in a few weeks, but it is getting increasingly hard to resist temptation!!

You can find Doe at FabricWorm, Pink Castle Fabrics, Fat Quarter Shop and it is available for pre-order at Polka Dot Tea Fabrics for us Aussies. 

Pink Castle Fabrics are currently offering 20% off all bundles, from now through Sunday 25th January. Just use the code BUNDLE20 at checkout to get the discount. There are more than 150 bundles to choose from, so have fun browsing :o)

Sew Me a Song have the complete collection of Moonshine by Tula Pink available, either as a complete bundle or separate prints. I've just started an EPP project using these and Tula's Fox Fields collection and they play beautifully together. 

Happy shopping! 

xx Jess

Saturday, 17 January 2015


A belated happy new year to you all! I hope you and yours had a fabulous holiday/new year season. We mostly had pretty quiet celebrations with family and friends this year, and it was really lovely. We've just gotten home from a week staying at the beach and I'm feeling recharged and ready to jump back into sewing and blogging after almost a month off it all (a very long time for me!!) This is a very wordy post, so I've broken it up a bit with some of my favorite finishes from last year (the ones I can share at least!) It's taken me a couple of weeks to write this post - it's a bit of a soul searching post :o)

 A new year always gets me reflecting on the year just gone, and thinking about my plans for the year ahead. I had a really fabulous year last year in terms of quilty stuff - being made a Bernina Textile Artist, starting to teach patchwork locally, getting my quilt on the cover of the Quilters Companion diary, and continuing to get quilts commissioned by magazines - but I did end up a bit burnt out by the end of the year. Hence why I've had an unplanned break from all things quilting. It's the first time ever since I started quilting that I have had zero interest in going down to my sewing room and making things. I think a lot of it stemmed from working almost constantly on commissions for magazines for the last half of the year, and genuinely needing a break. Which was all a bit heart breaking to be honest - at one point I was actually thinking about whether I wanted to quilt anymore. And I started wondering how I could have fallen out of love with something that gives me so much joy?

After a LOT of reflection, I've come to a realisation that it is actually really hard to try to make your hobby into a job, and still keep the passion there. If you have managed to do this I would LOVE to hear some advice on how to balance it all. I'm a long, long way off bringing in any decent income from quilting, but it is still a dream to get there one day. I guess I've just become a bit more aware that even though you're doing something you absolutely love, it's incredibly hard work to try and earn income in a creative industry. Although it is still something I want to try to do, I'm a bit scared I'll lose the joy I get from quilting in the process. Perhaps I'm a bit naive for only just thinking of it now, but the last few months of last year made me start wondering.

I don't tend to talk much in this space about my ambitions to turn quilting into a business, but it is there. I hope eventually that between patterns, teaching and (eventually) quilting for other people I'll be able to make this my job (as I talked about here). One of the things I'd like to focus on business-wise is pattern design, so when I have the opportunity to design something for a magazine it's hard to say no. Having said that, I think I need to get better at saying no sometimes. I made five commission quilts between July and December last year, as well as several mini quilts for swaps and my epic (in terms of hours) star quilt. All the commissions were quilts I really wanted to make (or I wouldn't have submitted them I guess), but I think working in secret to a deadline changes the whole quilting experience for me somehow.

Like many of you, the only time I have to quilt is at night after the kids go to bed, and I'm lucky enough to have one day a week to sew while the kids are at school/care (although that will change this year as my youngest starts school). So when I have deadlines to meet, I think feeling I have to quilt every single night (even if I would normally do it anyway) is part of the problem, and part of why I have needed a break recently. Working to deadlines normally isn't a problem for me (I actually thrive on deadlines and find it is the best way to get projects finished without starting a million other things along the way), but having lots of deadlines one after the other is a problem. I inevitably think up new projects along the way, and start to resent the fact that I can't start them until I've worked through my list of commitments.

So that was all a very roundabout way of getting to the point ;o) I like to have a word to live by each year (a kind of mantra I guess?), and this year it is Perspective. I'm hoping that by keeping this word at the back of my mind, I'll be a bit more sensible with my time, and find a better balance between sewing for business (ie designs for magazines etc) and sewing for me (ie working on whatever I feel inspired to work on). By keeping this in perspective and remembering that I'm doing this because I love it and want to do it, I'm hoping I'll avoid burning myself out like I did last year. And I guess I need to get better at saying no.

I would love to hear about your experiences with this - do you share my dream of making for a living? Or have you successfully turned your hobby into a business? I would appreciate any and all advice from those of you who have managed to build your hobby into a business and manage to keep the joy there.

xx Jess

Friday, 16 January 2015

Friday Fabric Finds #4

So things have been a wee bit quiet around here for the last month or so. We are in the midst of school holidays, and I haven't actually touched my sewing machine for almost a month (I know, right?). I think I burnt myself out slightly at the end of last year (more on that in another post), but I'm finally feeling like getting back into things, so you'll probably be hearing from me a little more regularly again :o)

I'm returning to the interwebs today to share the latest and greatest fabrics from my sponsors. There have been a few highly anticipated collections that have hit shops this week, so there is some serious eye candy to share.

Polka Dot Tea stock a lovely range of Liberty Tana Lawn, including this gorgeous 'scrap pack' of ten fat sixteenths. It's a great way to get a gorgeous selection of Liberty fabric, and you'll be surprised just how far a fat sixteenth will go. Danielle and Jeannette also run a Liberty Club, and have a few places open if you'd like a monthly injection of Liberty. I signed up last year when they first announced the club, and it is so lovely getting a surprise bundle of Liberty each month. I have plans to actually start using them quite soon :o)

Fabricworm have recently listed a bunch of new fabrics, including the fabulous Serengeti by Jay-Cyn for Birch fabrics. These would be gorgeous in a quilt for a baby or child, and some of the prints are available as knits or poplin.

The highly anticipated new Cotton + Steel collections have arrived at Pink Castle Fabrics. With six fabulous collections to choose from, it's going to be very hard to narrow down which prints to get! I personally love Mochi from Rashida Coleman Hale, and Playful from Melody Miller - but all six are pretty amazing.

Fat Quarter Shop have just released the first block in the Snapshots QAL, Let Them Eat Cake. The pattern is available as a free PDF download, and there is a YouTube video tutorial to go along with it. Each month, a new pattern will be available and FQS encourage you to donate to St Jude Children's Research Hospital if you're sewing along.

Sew Me a Song have a giant bundle of Suzuko Koseki fabric on offer - 59 fat eighths to be precise. I know I've mentioned before what a huge fan I am of Suzuko's fabric (the base cloth is seriously divine, and her design aesthetic is just amazing), and this is a brilliant way to get a LOT of different prints in one glorious bundle.

Last of all, I owe you a very overdue winner of the Polka Dot Tea Cotton Couture giveaway from late last year. Thanks so much to all of you who entered - the lucky winner is comment number #71, who is Ali! Congrats Ali, I'll send you an email soon. 

Happy browsing, and have a fabulous weekend!

xx Jess

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Hazel Goes Punk

Over the last few months I've been making a cushion as a shop sample for Frangipani Fabrics, using Elizabeth Hartman's Hazel Hedgehog pattern. Because the blocks are relatively small (8" x 9" finished), I decided to make a few Hazels rather than making one and having a really wide border around it to make it big enough for a cushion insert.

But it in the end it grew, and grew until it was actually about the size of a pillow that you use on your bed. Which brings me to a question that's been bugging me. Here in Australia we call cushions cushions - but for those of you in parts of the world where cushions are called pillows, how do you distinguish the sleeping kind of pillows from the kind you put on the sofa? 

Anyway, I digress. I ended up making three Hazel blocks, all using the fabulous purple/pink stripe from Carrie Bloomston's Collage collection for the spines. My Hazels have a distinctly punk look about them. The faces are all a very light pink, and I used a few different tone-on-tone prints for the bodies. 

The rest of the cushion front was made up as I went. I ended up doing a pieced border to use up some of the fat quarters I'd been working with, and I like how it has finished up. The quilting is not-quite-matchstick quilting, and I channeled Leanne here and used coloured Aurifil thread (matching the bodies and borders surrounding each Hazel). The lines are FMQed so they are quite organic, but I love the texture this kind of quilting gives. 

My pre-Christmas sewing involves panic sewing five Christmas stockings, so I'll hopefully be back with some more finishes before Wednesday. Good luck to everyone who is joining me in last-minute holiday sewing ;o) This year is disappearing scarily fast...

xx Jess

Friday, 19 December 2014

Friday Fabric Finds

Welcome to this week's Friday Fabric Finds! Lots of shiny new things to share with your from my sponsors this week :o)

First up, Polka Dot Tea have just announced they are taking pre-orders for Carolyn Friedlander's upcoming collection, Doe. I know I'm not alone in my love for Carolyn's fabrics and Doe isn't going to disappoint. This collection is due to ship in February, and Australian orders will get free postage!

Polka Dot Tea have also just listed this gorgeous bundle of Atelier Akiko cotton lawn sketch flowers. The bundle includes 6 FQs, but they are all available individually as well - just convo Danielle and Jeannette to organise a custom listing. 

Pink Castle Fabrics have a 20% off sale on all Japanese Fabrics from now through Sunday when you use the code JAPAN20 at checkout. There are some gorgeous fabrics in there!

Pink Castle have also just announced their first block of the month program. It is a great skill-building BOM, and you can choose to receive the fabric and patterns all at once, or monthly.

Sew Me a Song has just received a bunch of new fabrics - these gorgeous low volume prints really caught my eye. I've ordered quite a few Stof prints from Becca in the past, and they are lovely to work with. This La Couture and Writing print by Stof is so fabulous. 

FabricWorm have just got these gorgeous Kei Honeycomb dots in. They're available in either white on colour.

Fat Quarter Shop have just announced the Snapshots QAL that will be starting next year on 15th January. Each month a pattern and video tutorial will be released, and the Fat Quarter Shop are encouraging everyone to donate at least $5 to St Jude's for every pattern you download.

Happy shopping (or browsing!!)

xx Jess

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Free Motion QAL - Quilting the Negative Space

Today I'm going to be giving you a few ideas for how you could tackle the negative space on your Giant Chevron quilt. Sorry this post is a week late (although I'm sure you're used to my slackness by now!!) - I've been very busy finishing off a giant secret project over the last couple of weeks. 

I haven't actually decided how I'm going to finish my quilt off yet - but I've done a few sketches to show you some ways you might decide to quilt the negative space. I think this is a really great pattern to play with quilting negative space - there isn't so much that it is overwhelming, but there is enough room there to have a play with some large scale FMQ if that's what you choose to do. 

Regardless of what you think you might like to do in the background, I would suggest printing out the colouring page at the back of the pattern (page 14 if you're making the lap size quilt) and doing some sketching. If I'm unsure about how I want to quilt an area, I always do this and have a play with different ideas. It's a good way to figure out whether something is going to work or not without having to unpick dodgy quilting, and you might find an idea you hadn't thought of.  

1. Straight Line Quilting 

I think quilting straight lines in the negative space would give a really nice contrast to all the FMQ in the coloured stripes. You could do horizontal lines, vertical lines, or lines that follow the zig zag pattern in the stripes - any of these options would look really great. Because there are seams through the background areas, you could use these as a guide to quilting too - which would make it a good way to try out FMQing straight lines. 

With my first Giant Chevron quilt, I straight line quilted the whole quilt, following the chevron pattern. In the background, I alternated 1" spaced lines with 1/4" spaced lines and it gave the background a really great corduroy-like texture. 

2. Creating more chevrons in the background

Another thing you could do is alternate different quilting designs through the negative space to create more chevron lines. I've alternated straight lines with curvy designs in this example, but you could do lots of different things. You could repeat some of the designs you've already quilted, or choose completely new designs (Leah Day has some fabulous designs and tutorials if you need some ideas). 

3. An all-over quilting design

Another option would be to quilt an all-over design in the background. It could be a good space to try graffiti-style quilting (as in the bottom part of the sketch), and combine some of the designs you've used in the coloured stripes. Or you could do a straight-line based design to contrast with the quilting in the stripes. I really like the lines with circles idea - I'm thinking that's the kind of thing I'll do at this stage!

The options are pretty much endless - but hopefully these sketches have given you a few ideas for how you might like to approach it. 

I'll be back with another post (on blocking and binding) after the holidays - probably in the first week of January. Have fun deciding on how you'll tackle the negative space :o)

xx Jess