Friday, 6 February 2015

Friday Fabric Finds #7

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, a weekly post where I share the latest and greatest from my sponsors shops, along with any sales and specials being run.

Pink Castle Fabrics have restocked a bunch of gorgeous lines this week, including Biology by Sarah Watson for Cloud 9, Flower Sugar 2014, and First of Infinity - including all the text prints shown below. I have a few of these prints, and the colours are just amazing, so vibrant they almost glow!

Sew Me a Song have a huge sale on all bundles, from now through to the end of Sunday 8th February. All bundles are 20% off (no code needed) and there are SO many to choose from! Becca even has the full collection of Flea Market Fancy listed if you need to restock an old favorite :o) I love these newspaper prints,

and these tape measure prints are just fabulous!

Fabricworm have a huge number of new collections in stock, including these fabulous blenders from Dear Stella. I'm a huge fan of Dear Stella prints, and they have a knack for producing fabrics that will work in almost any quilt. Their latest blenders, Net, are my favorite yet I think - they would add such gorgeous texture to your quilts!

Polka Dot Tea have a bunch of gorgeous new additions to the shop. It was hard to choose what to share, but these florals by Atelier Akiko really caught my eye,

along with the selection of First of Infinity they have in stock.

Fat Quarter Shop also have loads of new fabric in stock, including the gorgeous Etno from Art Gallery Fabrics. This collection is such a great combination of prints and colours!

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! Summer has finally hit here in Tassie, and it's a long weekend to boot, so I'm really excited to hit the beach with the family :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

The Meh Quilt

Since writing my Perspective post a few weeks ago (in which I lamented among other things, a total lack of sewing energy/time) I have done very little sewing. It's taken time to want to sew again, more than I expected, but school went back today, and to distract myself from my youngest starting school, I decided to do a bit of sewing. And it felt GOOD. I'm so relieved to have my motivation and passion back at last, and I have a whole pile of things I want to make right now - so things are very much back to normal. I'm a happy little quilter :o)

Having said that, I'm not so delighted with what I put together today. I don't hate it, but I really don't love it - 'meh' is seriously the best description for how I'm feeling right now. I've been completely fascinated with Storm at Sea quilts and blocks since I started quilting, and a Storm at Sea quilt is the next project I want to embark on. This mini quilt doubled as a test run for my planned larger version (although this uses a totally different palette), and as a class sample for a Storm at Sea class I'll be teaching this year at Frangipani Fabrics

For this version, I was playing with a gradation in colour from yellow through to green to see how effective it would be in this block. I think it kind of works, but could be improved on (using fabric with little/no white for example - those blocks jump out too much to my eye, and also a smoother transition would work better I think). The other thing that makes me a bit ambivalent about it is that it screams 'Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oy Oy Oy' to me - as Jodi so rightly pointed out on Instagram today, green and gold together evoke certain feelings in Australians. For me, they're not always good feelings.  

I'm hoping that once it's quilted I'll like it more - but regardless it has been a valuable learning experience and hasn't put me off making a big version, which is a wee bit surprising. I swore I would never make another completely paper pieced quilt again after making Roundabout midway through 2013. But now I think making a completely paper pieced quilt is a bit like childbirth - you forget the pain after a while and want to do it all over again ;o). 

I'm off to start ripping paper out of the back of this so I can quilt it and see if that helps me love it more. I know I'm not alone in making things that are 'meh', but what do you do in this situation? Dump it and work on something you do love, or persist and see if you can grow to love it? I need advice peeps! 

xx Jess

Friday, 30 January 2015

Friday Fabric Finds #6

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, a weekly post where I share what's new in my sponsors shops along with sales and specials.

Polka Dot Tea Fabrics have just restocked Priory Square by Katy Jones. These are available as a complete bundle, or yardage. Please contact Danielle and Jeannette via their Etsy shop to order yours :o)

Pink Castle Fabrics have just released another limited edition Fat Eighth box of Cotton and Steel prints. Each bundle includes 50 different prints, no repeats! 

FabricWorm have Sarah Watson's gorgeous Biology collection in stock. There are so many gorgeous prints in this collection, and lots of extremely useful ones to boot. 

It's always really hard to choose what to share from Sew Me a Song, but I am loving these Kei text prints. I have a few of these in my stash, and they are absolutely gorgeous. They're a linen/cotton blend and would make the most gorgeous bags and cushions.

Fat Quarter Shop are taking reservations now for the complete kit to make Jaybird Quilts Gravity quilt. Kits are expected to ship in February. This is one quilt that's on my bucket list, it is such a striking design!

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend! Our kids go back to school next week, so I'm hoping I'll have some sewing progress to share soon (there still isn't much of that going on round here!) 

xx Jess

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Free Motion QAL - Final Linky Party!

This probably feels like the QAL that went on and on (and on and on), but the time has come for our final linky party! Thanks so much to all of you who quilted along - I hope you found the video tutorials helpful, and have had lots of fun along the way :o)

Although most of you have been making a Giant Chevron quilt for this QAL, anyone who has used my free motion quilting tutorials to quilt something is welcome to link up. I'll be leaving the linky open for two weeks, so you have plenty of time to finish up your quilt and still have time to link up. I can't wait to see your quilts!

We have an amazing prize donated by Aurifil for the QAL - this beautiful box of 50wt thread. Aurifil is absolutely my thread of choice for piecing and quilting, so for those of you who haven't tried it it is a brilliant chance to try it out. Thanks so much to Alex (aka Mr Aurifil) for donating this prize :o)

Please link up a blog post, IG photo or Flickr photo here. It would be wonderful if you could check out some of the other finishes and leave some comment love, too!

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