Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Tula Pink Giveaway - and a Tula Quilt Finish!

I've been starting new projects at a ridiculous rate over the last few weeks - so I currently have six projects in various stages of completion that I'm actively working on. This is a bit ridiculous even for me, so I'm thrilled to say I have something that's actually finished to share today :oD. I'm especially excited that this quilt is finally finished. I started making it almost three years ago, when Tula Pink's Birds and Bees collection first came out. And I have a really awesome giveaway at the end for all of you Tula fans!

The pattern is the Colour Block quilt, designed by Tula Pink for her Saltwater collection. It's a really nice pattern to use larger scale prints, and it is one of those really clever and simple patterns to make. I chose kona solids for the background, in colours that would blend well with the prints. This quilt top has been sitting in my to-finish pile for a few years, wanting to be finished. The size (84" x 96") was what made me hesitate to quilt it - so when I was given a frame earlier this year I decided this would be the first quilt to go on the frame.

And the last as it happens, for a few reasons. When I set my machine up on the frame, I realised I only had about 4" of quilting space at any time, which meant my options for quilting were fairly limited. I decided to go for dense organic straight lines, and I adore the texture. The other negative while I was using the frame was the number of thread breakages I had while quilting. I'm pretty sure I was just expecting too much of my machine on the frame, and expecting it to stitch faster than it's capable of. The other thing that might have played a role is the fact that I used a high thread count flat sheet for the backing fabric. Whatever the reason, I haven't used the frame since!

I used a whole bunch of Aurifil 50wt threads to quilt it - many of them are variegated from Tula Pink's first collection for Aurifil. I love how the thread blends in some areas, but contrasts a lot in others (especially on the darker fabrics.) I'm yet to wash this one, but I'm a bit excited to see how it crinkles once it's washed.

I promised a giveaway today, and it's a pretty amazing one! The Fat Quarter Shop have offered a bundle of Tula Pink's latest collection Eden, in the Lotus colourway. I LOVE the colours in this bundle - they're a little different from Tula's usual shades of green and blue.

If you'd like a chance to win this bundle, please just leave me a comment and let me know what you'd make with it (or if you'd just stash it like I would!!) That's it, no hoops! The giveaway is open to everyone, and comments will close next Wednesday 14th October at 8pm AEST.

Please make sure you are NOT A NO REPLY BLOGGER - I have had lots and lots of no reply comments lately, so if I haven't replied to you it means I can't. If you're a no-reply blogger I have no way of contacting you and you will not be eligible to win this bundle :o)

I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

xx Jess

Friday, 2 October 2015

Farmers Wife Sew Along - Week 1 Roundup

You might have noticed a not-so-little event kick off this week - the Farmer's Wife 1930s Sew Along, hosted by Angie of GnomeAngel. Angie has been working tirelessly for the last several months behind the scenes organising this sew along - and she has done a phenomenal job. Angie has thought of literally everything needed to make this sew along work smoothly, I absolutely take my hat off to her for taking on this massive year long project.

Angie has teamed up with Marti Michell and a bunch of bloggers (including me!), and we will all be sharing block tutorials for the 99 blocks over the next twelve months. It's a bit exciting to be honest - the Facebook group has hit almost 4000 members (!!), so it's definitely the biggest blog event I've participated in. The first three blocks were released this week - and there are tutorials by Angie as well as a couple of the guest bloggers. I've even managed to make my blocks for this week - I'm not sure I'll keep up over the whole twelve months, but at least I'm off to a good start! I've decided to use my stash of Suzuko Koseki prints for my quilt, along with a bunch of other coordinating prints as needed. It will be quite unlike any quilt I've made before - it's already an eclectic mix of prints.

Angie has organised the block schedule so we will be working from easiest through to hardest rather than working alphabetically through the book. So the first block - #12 Becky - was quick and easy to put together. I'm still not entirely sold on this block - but I'll wait till I've made a few more before I decide whether to remake this one or not. You can find the tutorial for this block by Angie, and tutorials for Becky (#12) and Bonnie (#16) by Lucy at Charm About You and Melissa at Oh, How Sweet. Co

The second block - Bonnie #16 - was another quick and easy make. I'm really happy with this one - not my normal choice of colours, but it's nice to make a soft and pretty block one in a while :o) 

The third block - #8 Aunt - was a wee bit more complicated, but way more simple than some of the blocks to come ;o). I ended up paper piecing the centre part, and then rotary cutting the 'borders'. I actually changed the outer fabric in this one, as I wasn't happy with the first version. Angie has put together a tutorial for this block, along with the uber talented Jodi of Tales of Cloth (whose block is spectacular!!) This is my first version...

I'm much happier with how it looks now!

I'm really glad I'm participating in this sew along - I actually have the first Farmer's Wife book but haven't made a single block. I'm definitely the sort of person who needs a sew along to keep me motivated with this kind of quilt, and I'm really hoping I'll keep up over the next year. I don't have a great track record with finishing QAL quilts, but I'm determined to get this one finished!

xx Jess

Friday Fabric Finds

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, where I share what's new and shiny in my sponsor's shops, along with any sales or specials they have running. And there are a LOT of sales on offer this weekend!

Polka Dot Tea have a huge range of gorgeous fabric in stock right now - including the full collection of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross. I'm a huge HR fan, and this collection definitely doesn't disappoint - so much fantastic fussy cutting potential, and Heather's classic mix of soft and saturated colours. There are even some gorgeous low volume prints in there!

At Sew Me a Song, Becca has a huge range of fabrics on sale - over 100 fabrics are 25% off and the clearance section (50% off) is very well stocked too. I'm a bit obsessed with teal fabric at the moment, so this gorgeous stripe really caught my eye - how good would this be for binding? I've actually been sewing with this one today - it made its way into one of my Farmers Wife blocks. I'll be sharing the tutorial for that next Friday!

Frangipani Fabrics have 25% off all Amy Butler, Anna Maria Horner and Kaffe Fassett fabrics from now till the 5th October. This includes some beautiful fabrics, including AMH's Folk Song collection and Violette from Amy Butler. The sale ends on Monday, so get in quick!

Pink Castle Fabrics have just received Elizabeth Hartman's debut fabric collection - Rhoda Ruth - for Robert Kaufman. I am a massive fan of Elizabeth's patterns (and have been teaching several of her patterns at Frangipani Fabrics over the last few months) - and I'm a bit besotted with this collection. Elizabeth's sense of colour is just so good, and these are the kinds of prints I'd use time and time again. 

Pink Castle also have a couple of sales running this week - you can take 20% off all books and magazines this week with the code BOOK20. Not only that, they have drastically reduced lots of sale fabric - you'll find a tonne of stuff in there for as little as $4 per yard. Time to stock up on some quilt backs perhaps?

Last but certainly not least, the Fat Quarter Shop are offering 20% off all Cotton and Steel fabric. Again, you'll have to be quick, as the sale ends on Sunday 4th October at midnight CST!

Happy shopping!

xx Jess

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Star Burst Quilt Pattern Release!!

It's taken me way too long to get around to releasing my Star Burst pattern. The pattern was written and tested last year, but I've been dragging my feet getting the cover done. But it's finally done! You can find it in my Payhip shop, and my Craftsy shop :o)

I made my version using a bundle of Tula Pink's Fox Field fabric, and quilted it using Aurifil 50wt. The lap size quilt finishes at 64", and this one is a family favorite :o) 

My wonderful friend Leanne (aka Daisy and Jack) made this spectacular version when she pattern tested for me. I adore this photo - and I really love the colours Leanne chose. Such a happy quilt!

Joanne made this gorgeous version as a project Linus quilt. 

Louise made this glorious version. 

And finally Dawn made this beautiful mini quilt - I love the fussy cutting she did in the centre star!

I taught this pattern earlier this year, and my students produced some pretty amazing versions. Carol made a mini version, using her favorite colours. I love how this block works in solids - it just sings in purples and reds!

Carol also made a lap size version in classic reds and greys. Alternating the stars like this gives it such an amazing visual impact!

And finally, my other student Bernadette has made her version using Tula Pink's Acacia along with purples for her granddaughter. I love how Bernadette has given it a really scrappy look by making each of the outer points different.

I accidentally started a new quilt tonight (to celebrate finally getting this pattern finished?!?), and I'm off to keep working on it. I hope you're all having a wonderful week!

xx Jess

Friday, 25 September 2015

Welded Quilt {AGF Stitched}

Over the last couple of weeks I've been working pretty solidly on a new quilt. This is the third installment in the AGF Stitched series, a joint project between The Fat Quarter Shop and Art Gallery Fabrics. This quilt is called Welded, and it is another really fast quilt to put together :o)

As soon as I saw this quilt design, I decided it would be perfect for my eldest son's upcoming eleventh birthday. It's a great masculine design, and it uses large pieces of fabric so there's lots of opportunity to use large scale prints.

I've used fabric from several Art Gallery collections - the background text fabric is one of my all-time favorites (from Cherie designed by Frances Newcombe). The rest of the fabrics are from Utopia (Frances Newcombe), Curiosities (Jeni Baker), Happy Home (Caroline Hulse) and Imprint (Katarina Roccella). I love this mix of prints and colours - and I think my son will love it too :o)

I had originally intended to keep the quilting simple on this quilt (famous last words, right?) - but as you can see that idea went out of the window pretty quickly! I haven't actually finished the quilting yet, but you probably get the idea of where it's going from these photos...

 I started by quilting the background areas using Aurifil 50wt dove grey thread (the magic blending thread!), creating a square 'border' around each of the navy blue squares. It took me a while to decide what to do in the other coloured squares (orange, yellow and green etc), but I eventually decided to quilt a star type design, with pebbles radiating out from the centre of the blocks. I LOVE the texture in these parts of the quilt - although it was that decision that took this from quick and simple quilting, to something that is taking hours. All worth it though, I think!

I'm now in the process of going back and quilting each of the navy blocks, just using simple straight lines in varying widths. I will also quilt the turquoise corner stones at some stage soon. I was a bit worried that all this quilting would detract from the quilt design - but I think because I've used blending thread and kept it to just a few designs (essentially straight lines and pebbles) it works quite well. This is still a really soft and drapey quilt, despite all the quilting - possibly due to the amazing quality of Art Gallery Fabric I think?

If you'd like to make your own Welded quilt, you can find the free pattern here, and there is a video tutorial available too! The Fat Quarter Shop also have a complete quilt kit available, using Pat Bravo's Etno collection.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend! School holidays kick off today for two weeks, so I don't expect to get much sewing done - but I'm really looking forward to having my small people at home :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday, 16 September 2015

The adventure continues

The last week has been a wee bit manic in terms of sewing. I've been working on four different quilts (two new quilts, my Aviatrix and a very long term WIP) as well as starting to prep for the Farmer's Wife Sew Along. I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again - I love working like this, and flitting between different projects!

I haven't done all that much more quilting on my Aviatrix this week, but I'm so excited about how it's coming together you're going to have to look at it again ;o) I've finally finished quilting the x plus blocks - and I just love that border. It took a long time to do (I think about 15 hours give or take), but the effect of those geese was totally worth it. I'm so glad I decided to alternate the direction - I think it adds a bit of subtle movement.

I didn't quilt the second solid border (the one just before the x plus blocks) until today. I asked what people thought would work on Instagram yesterday, and some amazing ideas thrown at me. Krista (who I was lucky enough to do a class with at Quiltcon, and who inspired the quilted geese) suggested an orange peel quilting design in the border as a nod to traditional medallion quilting. When Krista suggests something, you kind of can't say no (and I think it is a genius idea) - but the thought of doing orange peels in a 1" border didn't excite me all that much - plus I think I'd have to mark to pull it off, and I'm not a marker if I have the choice! Since the border beyond the x plus blocks had me stumped, though, I thought orange peels would be perfect there. The overwhelming response (and my instinctive choice) to that first border was pebbles again. So that's what I did :o)

 Because the neutral border is pieced squares, I used those as the grid for the orange peels, and didn't have to mark. I call that a huge win :o) I'm in the process of going back and quilting straight lines between the orange peels and the x plus block - and may continue this on the other side of the orange peels, I haven't quite decided.

The long term WIP I've been working on is my Colour Block quilt made with Tula Pink's Birds and the Bees fabric, using Tula's free pattern she released when SaltWater came out. I pieced this quilt top about 2 1/2 years ago and I'm currently hand stitching the binding down, so I'm pretty excited that I'll be using it soon!

This is the biggest quilt I have ever made (about 85" x 96") and one of my favorites. The texture of the organic free motion quilted straight lines is just gorgeous - I'm looking forward to washing it (something I don't normally do straight away) and see what it feels like. I'm hoping it'll be done later this week so once I manage to get photos I'll do a proper post.

I hope you're all having a great week! I'm off to keep hand stitching binding...

xx Jess

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Epic adventures in FMQ

A few weeks ago, I started quilting my Aviatrix Medallion and then everything came to a stand still when I got sick. I started feeling much better this week though, and I've gotten back into quilting with a vengeance - and I have progress to share!! It's nice to have energy again - this quilt weighs a tonne with all the seams and due to the sheer size of it (80" square), so the last thing I felt like doing last week was wrestling with this ;o)

I actually started quilting this a few weeks ago - I started out by ditch stitching around all the tiny diamonds in the centre block, and then matchstick quilted some of the white diamonds to make the birds pop. It's impossible to capture the texture in photographs, but this block feels amazing when you run your fingers across it. I didn't want to complicate the centre too much, so I free motion quilted straight lines radiating out, using the seams as a guide.

The half square triangle border is pretty simply quilted too - ditch stitched, and then straight lines through the lighter value HSTs. Up to this point, I thought I'd use Aurifil 50wt in Dove grey (my go-to quilting colour most of the time) for the whole thing. It blends beautifully into the soft grey Cotton and Steel crosses and contrasts just slightly with the white background.

Once I'd ditch stitched the next border however, I decided I wanted to start using coloured thread on the coloured sections. I'm being pretty careful about ditch stitching to keep this quilt square as I move out through the borders, not an easy feat on a quilt this size. Totally worth it though, as I'm removing most of the basting pins during the ditch stitching, which is freeing me up to go a little nuts with the more complex quilting. The other handy thing about having ditch stitched around each block is that I can quilt each of the colours (ie blue then pink then red etc) and only change threads between each colour, rather than between each block.

Once I'd finished quilting the strip border, I sat down and did a bit of sketching to figure out how to quilt the x plus blocks. One of my favorite parts of the border above are the quilted geese in the lowest border, so I decided to continue that theme by quilting geese into the 'x' parts of these blocks. I quilted out all of the 'background' first using dove grey thread, creating gems between the blocks. And now I'm going back to each block and quilting them with a coordinating colour. I've matched my thread colour to the middle value in each colour group - so it blends quite well into some of the colours, but contrasts with the lightest and darkest fabrics. A little bit scary (and requires a LOT of concentration), but totally worth it. I'm delighted with how this border is progressing. I'm not doing any marking for this either - I did for the first block and then realised I could do it by eye reasonably easily :o) 

I'm not going to lie - this quilting is taking a looong time (around 30 minutes for each block), but I put so much time and effort into the piecing, I figure it's worth time and effort with the quilting. Quite a few people have commented about how much patience I must have - I guess I do, but I enjoy this kind of quilting so much and the result is absolutely worth it, I think! I will go back and quilt the skinny border before the x plus blocks too - I just haven't decided what to do yet.

I did want to clear up a few things in this post too - I've had a few no-reply commenters recently who assume I quilt on a long arm. I don't. All of this is done on my domestic Bernina. Yes it is hard on the shoulders, but I stretch a lot and take regular breaks. I'm a firm believer that it is possible to do pretty much anything on a domestic that you can on a long arm (except perhaps really large scale quilting where you just can't manipulate the quilt effectively or see where you need to go next). I'd still love a long arm one day, but I'm content with what I've got and I'm happy to work within the limits of a domestic machine.

Apologies for the epic and slightly preachy post, I hope you're all having a fabulous week!

xx Jess

PS Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday!!