Tuesday 31 July 2012

Fat Quarterly Designer Challenge

A few months ago I was sent a little bundle of fabric from the Fat Quarterly team for one of their designer challenges. The fabric was this little pile of Sugar Hill by Tanya Whelan (which is waaaay out of my comfort zone!)

I really struggled with what to make with these - but it was coming up to Mother's Day here, so I decided to make a cushion (pillow) for my mum. 

It's a part of the latest issue of Fat Quarterly (Issue 10) which is available now, and has some extremely cool projects in it :o) I didn't mean mine there, I actually don't love it very much. But my mum likes it and uses it, so it's all good.

I'm hoping to have a quilty finish later this week - I've nearly finished quilting Finn's quilt, and we've chosen the binding fabric together so it's all good to go if I get time. I'm single parenting for two weeks again (not yay at all) so there's not a lot of spare time or energy for sewing. 

Oh and thanks to all of you who have been putting up your QAL blocks in the Flickr group - I get all jumpy and excited that people are actually joining in! I really need to get out more ;o)

xx Jess

Friday 27 July 2012

{QAL} Susannah Block Tutorial

Welcome to the first block tutorial as part of our How Far Will You Go? QAL!

The first block we will be making is called Susannah. This tutorial will make a 10 1/2" block unfinished (so it will be 10" finished).

This is a fairly straightforward block. It is effectively a four patch block, each 'patch' consisting of a two-patch unit and a half-flying geese unit.

All seams are sewn with a scant 1/4" seam. If you're not sure about the accuracy of your seams, please refer to this post for some tips and tricks on getting an accurate seam allowance.


You will need to cut the following from your fabrics:
  • Eight 3" squares of background fabric
  • Four 3" x 5.5" rectangles of Fabric 1 (the orange blockprint blossom here)
  • Four 3" squares of Fabric 2 (the aqua circular design here)

Making the Half-Geese Units:

I made up the name for these so I'm not sure if that's what they're actually called... but they are effectively a one-sided flying geese units. 

Start by taking four of your background fabric 3" squares and drawing a line diagonally through each of them.

Then, place one of your background squares on top of one of your Fabric 1 rectangles, carefully lining up three of the edges.

Sew along the drawn line:

Trim 1/4" away from your seam as below:

Press your seams as desired.

Repeat this process for the remaining three sets of rectangles and background squares.

Making the Two Patch Units:

Take your four squares of Fabric 2, and the remaining four background squares. Pair each of the background squares with a Fabric 2 square.

Sew each of your pairs together, and press. You should now have four 2-patch units like this:

Putting the Block Together:

You will need to pair each of your 2-patch units with a half-flying geese unit as per below. When you sew these together, make sure the background triangle is on the opposite side to the background square (as shown in this photo). 

Sew these together, and press your seams.

You'll end up with four units as above. 

Arrange your four units as shown (yes there was some frogging involved here ;o):

Sew each half together in pairs:

And then sew the two halves together:

And ta-da! You have a finished Susannah block! If you are making the full twin sized quilt as is, you will need to make two of these blocks. My other version is this:

Hopefully this makes sense - if you have any questions at all leave a comment here or email me directly and I'll get back to you!

I would love to see your version of the block - please upload any finished blocks to the Flickr group :o)

x Jess

Thursday 26 July 2012

Piecing Tips and Tricks

After participating in my first QAL last year, and discovering I was really really crap at getting accurate seam allowances, I did a bit of research into the best way to get an accurate 1/4" seam allowance. So since my own QAL starts tomorrow (whoop whoop! So excited!) I thought I'd share what I learnt and what works for me. As part of this, I would love to hear if you have any tips and tricks you'd like to share as well - I'm completely self-taught thanks so the generosity of so many bloggy peeps out there sharing their methods. But those of you who have actually taken classes etc probably have way more knowledge about this stuff, and I'm always looking to improve the way I do things :o) I've divided this post into two parts - pressing methods and seam accuracy.

The Pressing Issue

So how do you make sure you're actually getting a 1/4" seam? I'm not going to reinvent the wheel here, I'm just going to direct you to some really great tutorials written by way more talented peeps than me. One of the key points I'd like to make though is in regards to pressing - whether you press your seams open or to the side makes an enormous impact on the accuracy of your seams. When I started working through this process I was a hardcore pressing seams to the side convert. By the end I'd started pressing my seams open, and I've never looked back. 

I think this article is worth reading - this was pivotal in changing my thinking, and the reason I gave pressing open a go. But it's a personal choice, there is no right or wrong way to go. I would encourage you to play around with pressing open vs to the side and decide which works best for you :o) 

If you're interested in learning how to press your seams open, this post has some great step by step photos.  

1/4" Seams

So you've decided how you'd prefer to press your seams. How do you know that the seam itself is accurate? I would suggest this brilliant tutorial by Amy of Amy's Creative Side as the perfect starting point. This was my starting point. I worked through her tutorial several times, trying different pressing methods and changing my needle position until I arrived at my perfect 1/4" seam. Every sewing machine will be different, so what worked for me might not work for you. I found on my Bernina, that the edge of my patchwork foot gives a true 1/4" seam IF I press open. If I press to the side, its too big. If I move my needle to the right, it's too small.

I hope you find some of these links helpful and relevant. And if you have any other ideas I would love to hear them! I'll be back tomorrow with a block tutorial :o)

x Jess

Tuesday 24 July 2012

Finn's Quilt - progress

I am so happy to finally have put this quilt top together. I made the HSTs months ago, and they've been sitting in piles gathering dust (in the literal sense). So a few hours sewing and they've become a top.

I started with 10" squares of fabric for this one - so it would be a perfect layer-cake quilt. If there is any interest I'm happy to put together a tutorial/pattern for this.

The colours and most of the fabrics were chosen by Finn. Lots of favorites in there (tufted tweets, Echo, Lizzy House).

I'm deliberating over the quilting now. I really think straight line quilting following the zig zag pattern is the way to go... what do you think?

x Jess

Sunday 22 July 2012

We're starting on Friday!

Just a reminder to all of you who are joining in (and a not so subtle reminder to the rest of you ;o) ) the How Far Will You Go QAL kicks off this coming Friday (27th July) with our first tutorial! I will be doing a pre-QAL post with a few tips on getting accurate 1/4" seams and some other basics sometime this week (not an official part of the QAL, but hopefully helpful anyway.)

I don't think I've mentioned our button yet either! If you'd like to grab one for your blog, the code can be found in my right sidebar at the top :o)

How Far Will You Go? QAL

If you've only just decided to join and don't have fabric yet, don't stress! It's going to run until the beginning of next year, so you have plenty of time to catch up if you start late. I am the queen of starting QALs and then running out of steam, so we've deliberately planned it so that there are a few catch up weeks at the end. Also, I think this would be a fantastic quilt to make from scraps - so if you're scrap bin is overflowing, perhaps this would be a good project to tame them? Don't forget, there is a category for mini quilts/pillows and one for throw sized quilts - so you can join us for some of the blocks and still be in the running for a prize!

All the information for the QAL (including fabric requirements and prize info) can be found here. 

The Flickr group can be found here. We're absolutely thrilled to have people on board to quilt along with us. It's kind of exciting but nerve wracking at the same time...

x Jess

It's growing slowly...

Since I posted last, I actually managed to make some good progress on my Hopscotch quilt (any ideas for names for this one? I've decided my quilts deserve better names that the obvious descriptive ones I come up with. And considering I even struggled to name my babies, I have no hope on coming up with good names for quilts...)

I apologise for the awful photos - one of my kids has been trying to poke their fingers in my camera shutter which has caused havoc with it's focus and ability to photograph. On top of that the light here has been terrible (plus this is all stuck on my design wall so I can't move it to better light. So you'll have to bear with me :o)) So it grew from this:

And with a few more blocks and a bit of swapping around it now looks like this:

Roughly 1/3 done (well 23 blocks done of 77, so close enough). You can see how it's trying to migrate off the design wall - my solution is to tape a piece of batting to the door next to it, and use that as a dodgy design wall extension. I'm really scared about putting the blocks together - I am pretty sure my points are going to be a nightmare.

I've also been working on finally putting together my little guy's quilt - he helped me design and choose fabrics for it months ago, and I keep putting him off which I feel terrible about. But he keeps coming into my sewing room and declaring how awesome the Hopscotch quilt is and how since I haven't made him a quilt yet, it will have to be his (I love 7 year old common sense!) So I've promised I will make his first before I finish Hopscotch :o) No photos yet, but they will be coming (along with a tutorial I hope!)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

x Jess

Friday 13 July 2012

Hopscotch and happy mail

I've made a bit of headway with my Hopscotch quilt - 8 blocks done (out of nearly 80 - so still a long ways to go!)

I'm pretty happy with how it's coming together - my points are not perfect at all, but they're only off by a couple of millimetres so I'm not going to fix them. I've decided to go a bit scrappy with the triangle points - so the stars will be green/black but with a few different fabrics thrown in. As you can see, some of the triangle centres will be black too (in the interest of having some value difference between the lighter fabrics and their centres). I'm cutting and sewing each block individually, so I'm really making up the layout as I go along - I'm just not sure what I'll do when I run out of space on my design wall...

I am really, really enjoying the process of making this quilt - I'm taking it slow and really just focusing on the joy of making it. It's a bit of a revelation for me. I do love sewing, but I think I tend to get really focussed on getting something finished, rather than enjoying the process of making it.

I had a bit of happy mail arrive today too. I was extremely excited to recieve an email a couple of weeks ago to say I'd won the giveaway on the Stash Books blog for Angela Walters newly released Free-Motion Quilting book. You may have noticed how much I love the quilting part of making quilts - I am so excited by the ideas and designs she presents. I can't wait to try out some of her ideas - especially on my Mendocino quilt and my Hopscotch quilt when they're done!

I've only flipped through it so far, and I can't wait to read it more thoroughly tonight. 

Hope everyone has a fabulous weekend!

x Jess

Wednesday 11 July 2012

WIP Wednesday - Hopscotch begins

I've been getting a bit of sewing done in the last week or so which has been really nice.

A few more blocks for my Mendocino quilt

I've made my first two blocks (and photographed all the steps) for the upcoming QAL I'm co-hosting with Jess (if you're interested in joining us we have some great prizes up for grabs!). I'm actually organised for once, which has surprised me no end. I'm using this stack of prettiness:

And then this little beauty arrived in my letter box today and everything else stopped. Someone was destashing it in an Aussie Facebook destash group (?!?) and I was lucky enough to nab it.

Au-then-tic was Sweetwater's first collection and it's brilliant. Black, cream, greens and pale brown, loads of text prints and dots and stripes. Very rarely do I start using fabric as soon as I get it, but I was compelled to cut into this while I was still spellbound (and before I lost the nerve).

I bought the Hopscotch pattern by Thimble Blossoms a while ago, but hadn't gotten around to using it. To be honest I was a bit put off by the equilateral triangles - so many bias edges! But as soon as I got this jelly roll I thought it would be really cool in a Hopscotch quilt. I pulled out some of the green Reunion print below (which coordinates really well with Au-then-tic) and some Kona Ivory (I think?). I've also cut some Kona green - I think it's sage but I'd have to check - for some of the triangle points. After fighting with the templates a bit (for some reason none of them printed with the right angles, even with no page scaling. very frustrating.) I kind of winged it and hoped. But the first one turned out fine, so I think I'll keep doing what I did :o)

I love the greens (it's my very favorite colour) so I think this quilt will be just for me. I don't have a lap quilt for wintery nights so I think this will be perfect. Off to make a few more blocks - they're still at the 'oh these are fun' stage :o)

x Jess

Saturday 7 July 2012

QAL Prizes

I promised you some more information on the prizes we'll have at the end of our QAL, didn't I? (If you missed it, the original post can be found here.) Well I can now reveal what we have on offer! We are very excited that the Fat Quarter Shop have offered to be our sponsor for the quilt along, and they're giving seven gift certificates to seven lucky people!

There are three of these:

And four of these:

There will be three categories in which you can enter. 

1. Full Twin Quilt Category

The main category will be for those who complete the Full Twin Sized quilt (65" x 80"). There will be TWO prizes of a $50 gift certificate for the Fat Quarter Shop, and one prize of a $25 gift certificate. 

2. Throw Quilt (45" x 50") 

There will be one $50 voucher, and one $25 voucher in this category.

3. Mini Quilt or other quilted item 

There will be two $25 vouchers in this category.

So hopefully that's a good enough carrot to convince you to join us ;o) We would really love it if you could spread the word about our QAL too :o)

x Jess

Thursday 5 July 2012

Introducing the How Far WIll You Go? Quilt Along

I am really excited to announce that myself and Jess of Scrappy and Happy will be co-hosting a Quilt Along together, commencing Friday 27th of July. We would be stoked if anyone would like to join us - we're pretty proud of what we've come up with. Plus there will be prizes! 

The Fat Quarter Shop have very generously offered to be our sole sponsor for this - we'll be revealing prize details later this week :o)

So what is the How Far Will You Go? QAL (maybe HFWYGQAL for short ;o) )

Earlier this year I mentioned to Jess that I'd like to put a QAL together, and she said she'd love to do one together so we started planning. Jess came up with the fantastic layout for it, and we've been nailing the details over the last few months (getting confusing with the Jess's everywhere?) It is a sampler style quilt with three different block sizes, and a total of 18 different block types, so we're hoping it will be a bit of a skill builder as well. The quilt that we'll be making will look something like this:

But as you can see it would be open to mix and match blocks around - so you could do more of some and less of others as you choose! We are also giving the option of making a smaller quilt or quilted item. For example, there will be a Mini Quilt category (ie a 30" mini quilt) or a and a Throw Quilt category (ie 45" x 50" throw quilt). We will be giving some ideas as to how you could put these together as well. There will be prizes for each of the three categories, so if you're time poor you can make something small and still enter to win!

So the nitty gritty stuff. This QAL will run over 24 weeks. Yep, nearly 6 months! We will be presenting one tutorial each week, alternating between the two of us who does the tutorial. Then there will be a few weeks for finishing up blocks, quilting and binding - so we're giving you (and us!!) time to get it all done.


The order for tutorials will be as follows:
Week 1: Susannah (10”) – 2 blocks
Week 2: Weathervane (10”) – 1 block
Week 3: Pieced star (10”) – 3 blocks
Week 4: St Louis Star (10”) – 1 block
 Week 5: Jack in the box (10”) – 2 blocks
Week 6: Windblown Square (10”) – 3 blocks
Week 7: Another star (10”) – 1 block
Week 8: See Saw (5”) – 4 blocks
Week 9: Dutch Rose (20”) – 1 block
Week 10: Clay’s choice (10”) – 2 blocks
Week 11: Tippencanoe (5”) – 4 blocks
Week 12: Tassel Flower (20”) – 1 block
Week 13: Crazy Ann (10”) – 2 blocks
Week 14: Farmer’s Daughter (10”) – 1 block
Week 15: Pinwheel skew (5”) – 2 blocks
Week 16: Wandering Foot (20”) – 1 block
Week 17: Rolling Pinwheel (20”) – 1 block
Week 18: Hayes Corner (10”) – 1 block

At the conclusion of the series of tutorials, we will have a two week break to allow participants to catch up on making all of the blocks.

Week 20: Piecing your quilt top together.
Week 21: Ideas for quilting (with two weeks given for finishing the quilting)
Week 23: Binding your quilt
Week 24: Link up your finished quilt.
Week 25: Prize winners announced.

The prize winners will be randomly selected from all entries.

Jess has drawn up the quilt layout using Electric Quilt 7, so we have a fabric requirement guide for the largest quilt size.
Background fabric - 3 yards
Inner border fabric - 1/2 yard
Outer border fabric - 1 5/8 yards
Blocks - a total of about 5 yards of fabric (ie 20 fat quarters, or 10 half-yards or a combination)

I will be using my stash of Heirloom by Joel Dewberry for my version - Jess is using Ruby along with some FMF.

We've started up a Flickr group for you all to share your fabric choices and progress as we make the blocks. We'll also update the Flickr discussions as new tutorials become available.
We are really hoping you'll join us for this QAL! We are so excited!

x Jess

Tuesday 3 July 2012

Children at Play - a Baby Quilt

You may remember this quilt I made toward the end of last year. It winged it's way halfway across the globe to a new home early this year. And then a month or so ago I received an email from someone who had seen it on Flickr and asked if I could make a cot sized one similar for a soon-to-be-grandchild. It just happened that when I made the first quilt, I also made a cot sized top as well, so it was simply a matter of ordering some backing fabric, quilting it up and binding it (I loooove a quick finish, even if it was kind of cheaty, since I'd already done the hard work ;o) )

I quilted it in an overall stipple, using white Gutermann thread (I didn't have any white Aurifil on hand). I've only been using Aurifil for quilting my last couple of quilts and I had no idea what a difference it had been making! The Gutermann was fine - my machine does like it, but my machine runs so much more smoothly and quietly with Aurifil. I definitely prefer Aurifil (and here is Oz it's actually a bit cheaper than Gutermann which is nice :o) )

Sorry about the full sun shot - it makes the quilting look really cool, but it washes out the quilt quite a lot. The shady shots I took were terrible!

A binding shot. I used the reverse machine binding method by The Quilting Edge. It is an awesome method for stitching down binding - the only thing I'd do differently is cut my binding strips wider next time (there was a few places I had to go back and restitch cos I'd missed the binding). I normally use 2.5" strips and trim my quilt top 1/4" away from the binding before stitching it down. If I'm going to use this method (which I will, it works perfectly) I'll either trim my quilt closer to the binding, or cut my strips 2.75" instead.

It's been posted off - again, across the globe which is really exciting - and ready to be gifted to a soon-to-be-mummy.

xx Jess

Monday 2 July 2012

Spring Carnival

Since finishing cutting all my fabric for my Precious Retro Flowers quilt, I've been trying to work out what to do with the considerable pile of scraps. When I started cutting, I didn't think about it all that well, and followed the pattern instructions even though I was using acrylic templates. After chatting with Katy about how she did it, I realised (much too late...) that I could have avoided my weird shaped scraps... 

Anyhoo, I decided the perfect way to use my funny shaped scraps was to cut them up for some EPP - using the other Katy's Spring Carnival templates

It's going to be a scrappy version, with the triangles and squares using Good Folks prints, and the hexies will be the cream script print from Ooh La La by Bunny Hill (see, I'm trying to be one of the cool kids and use some text fabric ;o) ). I'm hoping it will be done in time for our spring in a few months time...

I'm really enjoying the process of making this - it's the perfect snuggle on the couch and watch tv project in the midst of a very cold winter. 

xx Jess