Friday 28 November 2014

Friday Fabric Finds - Black Friday Edition

Welcome to the Black Friday (aka huge sale heavy) edition of Friday Fabric Finds! Although we don't actually have Black Friday in Australia, even my Aussie sponsors have some fabulous deals over this weekend.

First up, the Fat Quarter Shop is having a massive sale. You can get 25% off everything in store from now until midnight on Saturday 29th November CST. 

Fabric Worm are offering 30 - 75% off a huge range of fabrics, and there is some really gorgeous stuff in there.

Pink Castle Fabrics are offering 30% off store wide with the coupon code BLACKFRIDAY30. The sale runs until midnight on Monday 1st December.

Polka Dot Tea are offering 15% off store wide, from now until Monday using the coupon code HURRAH at checkout.

And finally, Sew Me a Song is running a shipping special from now through to midnight on Monday. Becca is offering $0.99US/$5.99 Canada/$8.99 Everywhere Else capped shipping. There is no minimum (or maximum) purchase required - so if you're international it is an especially amazing deal.

Happy shopping!

xx Jess

Thursday 27 November 2014

Kaleidoscope Stars {Finished!}

Five weeks ago I started a quilty journey that very quickly turned into a bit of an obsession. I haven't counted properly, but I think I've probably spent close to 100 hours working on this quilt. It was worth every single second though - I am SO happy with how it has finished up!

No fancy photo shoot with this quilt I'm afraid, I was too impatient to share it ;o) Hopefully the ridiculous number of photos in this post will give you a pretty good idea of what it looks like anyway!

Almost all the star fabrics in this quilt are from various collections by the hugely talented Jenean Morrison. Her fabric designs are just perfect for fussy cutting, and it was lots of fun creating kaleidoscope effects with them. This quilt is vaguely made using Jaybird Quilts Night Sky pattern - although there are only a few Night Sky blocks sprinkled around the quilt. The rest were made using Julie's Sidekick ruler (which is PERFECT for fussy cutting), but simplified so they don't include the outer star points in the Night Sky blocks. I also mucked around with different sized stars - some are bigger and some smaller than Julie's pattern.

Having the stars different sizes was the perfect way to incorporate lots of quilting into the quilt, too. I added 2 1/2" borders to the small and medium sized stars to bring them up to the same size as the biggest ones. The way I pieced it made it very easy to plan my quilting too - and it meant I did very little marking too as I could just use the borders to guide my quilting. I went all out with the quilting on this quilt, and I am delighted with the results. I feel like I'm a lot more relaxed when I'm quilting lately - I don't need to focus on what I'm doing as much anymore, so it is a very meditative thing to do. The only problem is how sore my shoulders get after quilting a quilt this densely ;o)

I quilted all the negative space first (using 40wt Aurifil in 2021) and then went back and quilted the stars using matching thread. I toyed with the idea of leaving some of the 'borders' around the stars unquilted, but ultimately decided to quilt it all - and I'm really happy with that decision. I think it would have looked a bit weird to have sections unquilted amongst all the dense quilting, and I'm not sure it would have worked all that well once it was washed (something I still need to do, along with blocking it). It does make the background a little busy, but because the thread matches the solid (Cotton Couture in soft white) so well, I don't think it distracts from the stars too much. Plus the quilting is a really important design element on this quilt.

The back is an amazing print from Parisville by Tula Pink - I had just enough for the back, but not enough to match the print unfortunately. I suspect this one will hang on a wall though, so I'm not too phased (and it's the kind of print that isn't horribly noticeable when it isn't matched). I love, love, love how much the quilting shows up on the back - I used a bobbin thread matched to the top thread, and even though there are lots of different colours in there, they all blend into the print.

I used 100% wool batting in this quilt - and I am completely in love with using it. I've gradually been working my way up in terms of the loft of batting I use as I've become more confident with my quilting, and I love how much texture wool gives to quilting. I don't think I'll go back to lower loft batting now I've tried this stuff.

The stars themselves are quite sparsely quilted - I used the fabric design as a guide for the quilting in most of them, and simply stitched around some of the designs to add a bit of dimension to the stars, but still letting them pop a bit.

 Quilt Stats:

Size - 72" x 75"
Fabric - Lots of Jenean Morrison prints, along with a few Joel Dewberry and Amy Butler prints. Background is Cotton Couture in Soft White. 
Quilting - on my domestic Bernina, using a variety of Aurifil threads (40wt in the background, 50wt in the stars). 
Backing - Damask Dot from Parisville by Tula Pink
Binding - Cotton Couture in Soft White. 

Huge thanks to all of my IG peeps for your amazing encouragement during the making of this quilt (and for putting up with almost daily updates!!) As cliched as it sounds, I have loved every single second of making this - but at the same time I am relieved it is done. I have an FMQ tutorial I need to put together, and get back to working on my other projects!!

I'm linking up with Gemma's iQuilt linky party and Crazy Mom Quilts :o)

xx Jess 

Saturday 22 November 2014

Cotton and Steel Giveaway Winner

I apologise for the delay in announcing the winner of the Cotton and Steel bundle from Pink Castle Fabrics - I've been a bit obsessed with getting the quilting done on my Kaleidoscope stars this week. Good news is it is nearly done, so I'll hopefully have a finish to share with you early next week!

Anyhoo, on to the lucky winner of the Cotton and Steel bundle - Mr Random chose comment #7, who was Sheryl. Congratulations Sheryl, I've forwarded your details to Pink Castle Fabrics and they'll be in touch with you very soon to organise your prize. A huge thanks to everyone who entered :o)

I have to apologise for the lack of FMQ tutorial this week as well - I'm hoping to get that done early next week as well, and I'm thinking I'll show you how I quilt feathers in the final coloured stripe (so hopefully it will be worth the wait!!)

xx Jess

Friday 21 November 2014

Friday Fabric Finds (and Sales Alerts!)

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, a weekly post where I share new products and sales in my sponsor's shops.

Today I'm excited to introduce a new sponsor to my blog, Fabricworm. I was lucky enough to win a $30 voucher to Fabricworm for my Blogger's Quilt Festival prize a couple of weeks ago and spent a happy couple of hours looking through their shop. I was pretty amazed at the huge range of fabric they stock, and the website is really easy to navigate if you're looking for something specific. There are a few bundles that really caught my eye - this low volume one is pretty gorgeous (I'm really drawn to light grey fabrics as backgrounds and use them all the time). 

The other collection that I'm lusting over at the moment is Utopia by Frances Newcombe for Art Gallery fabrics. The colours are gorgeous, and there are lots of useful prints in this collection (a few of which I've ordered with my gift voucher!)

Fabricworm have a great sale section (they even have bundles of Charley Harper in there!) and have a standard coupon code for purchases over $50 - just enter Linus5 at checkout to get $5 off.

There are a few other great sales happening in my sponsors shops this week. Sew Fresh Fabrics is closing down, and Peg has just announced a massive 50% off all stock. To get the discount, just enter '50OFF' at checkout. This applies to everything in store :o)

Pink Castle Fabrics are offering 20% off all bundles, using the coupon code BUNDLE20 at checkout. Their 'Best of Bari J' bundle is veery tempting...

Sew Me a Song has just gotten copies of Kumiko Fujita's new book in.

Paired with this amazing Suzuko Koseki bundle, I think you could create something pretty amazing!

PolkaDotTea also stock a huge range of Japanese designer fabrics, including this gorgeous Suzuko Koseki bundle (yes I'm a BIG fan of her fabrics!!)

Last but not least, Fat Quarter Shop have just listed these gorgeous low volume bundles.

Happy shopping :o)

xx Jess

Thursday 20 November 2014

Decipher Your Quilt - Putting different sized blocks together

Welcome to the final post in our Decipher Your Quilt series - Leanne of She Can Quilt and I will both be talking about how to put together blocks of different sizes today.

I thought the perfect example for this topic would be the Modern Sampler quilt that Jess of Scrappy n Happy and I designed for our sampler QAL a couple of years ago. We used three different sized blocks in this quilt - 5", 10" and 20" and Jess put this design together in EQ7. You could also use this technique for other sized blocks too - as long as they have a common factor (ie multiples of the same number). For example 12", 9", 6" and 3" or 16", 12", 8" and 4".

As you can see in the image above, we broke the quilt down into sections that would enable us to put all the blocks together without having a y-seam nightmare. There are a couple of different ways to combine blocks of different sizes, many of which we used in the quilt above.

The biggest thing to keep in mind is that you'll always be joining smaller blocks into sections that are the same height or width as your biggest blocks. This will enable you to join the blocks together into progressively larger sections, which you can then join together to make your quilt top.

1. Making a strip of smaller sized blocks to be the same length/height as the biggest block:

If you make a strip of small blocks (ie half or a quarter the size of your biggest blocks), you can join several of these together to make a unit the same length or height as your biggest block.

So if your biggest block was 20", and your smallest were 5", you could join four 5" blocks together in a row and then join them to one side of your big block. Same goes for medium sized blocks - in this example the bottom two blocks would be 10", so two sewn together will allow you to sew them to a section as wide as the biggest block.

You can also use this idea to join block to the top and sides of a larger block. In the example below, two 10" blocks could be joined and sewn to the top of a large (20") block, giving a section 30" tall. Then a strip of three (30" in length) could be sewn to the side. 

Another example of how you could join small blocks into a larger section is below. By joining the small 5" blocks into strips, and joining these to strips of (or single) medium 10" blocks, you can offset the smaller blocks so they don't all end up being in a straight row.

2. Making a 'block' of blocks:

Another way you can join smaller blocks to larger blocks is by joining several small blocks together to make a section the same size as the largest block in the quilt. Four medium 10" blocks or 16 small 5" blocks could be joined to make a 20" square section.

There are probably other ways to think about this, but this is how I approach it. The easiest way to plan this type of quilt (if you're a planner like me) would be to use some graph paper to figure out the placement of your blocks.

I hope this has been helpful - don't forget to check out Leanne's post as well, we always think about these things a bit differently. This is actually the last post in our Decipher Your Quilt series, and I hope you've enjoyed it. I've learnt quite a bit from doing it, so hopefully you've picked up a few hints along the way :o)

xx Jess

Friday 14 November 2014

Friday Fabric Finds (and Sale Alerts!)

Welcome to the first Friday Fabric Finds post - a new weekly blog post where I will share what's new in my sponsor's shops, along with any sales or specials that might be happening. I have some lovely stuff to share today, and some excellent sales :o)

Peg's closing down sale continues at Sew Fresh Fabrics - you can get 30% off your entire order by entering the code '30OFF' at checkout. Peg has loads of gorgeous fabric still in stock, including Botanics, a great selection of Tula Pink and lots more.

Polka Dot Tea have just gotten the full collection of Mimosa in, and it is seriously beautiful. It has a bit of a Denyse Schmidt look about it I think, and the colours are glorious.

Sew Me a Song is having a bundle sale - all bundles are 20% off, no code needed. This Route 66/First of Infinity bundle by Kumiko Fujita is pretty spectacular!

Pink Castle Fabrics are having a skinny bolt sale - you can take 25% any bolt in store that has less than 5 yards left on it, by using the code SKINNY25. This sales runs through to Sunday night, and will be updated automatically, so as bolts reach less than 5 yards they will show up in the skinny bolt section.

The Fat Quarter Shop have lots of new fabric in - including the gorgeous Priory Square by Katy Jones for Art Gallery Fabrics.

Fat Quarter Shop are also now taking pre-orders on upcoming collections. If pre-order anything between now and 22nd of November you will go into the running to win one of three $100 gift vouchers too! You'll get one entry for every item you pre-order.

Don't forget to enter the Cotton and Steel Giveaway - and have a fabulous weekend!

xx Jess

Wednesday 12 November 2014

Cotton and Steel Giveaway (and welcome Pink Castle Fabrics!!)

Today I'm thrilled to announce a new blog sponsor, Pink Castle Fabrics!

Pink Castle Fabrics was one of the first online shops I discovered, and it is still one of my favorite places to buy fabric online. They have fantastic customer service, an AMAZING range of fabrics - and best of all for those of us who live internationally, their postage rates are scaled based on how many yards you buy (so you're not immediately up for a flat rate envelope if you're ordering more than one yard.)

Pink Castle Fabrics stock pretty much all the latest and greatest collections - Handcrafted by Alison Glass has just arrived in store along with Priory Square by Katy Jones, both of which I've been eagerly awaiting. But seriously, that's just the tip of the iceberg - there is a whole lot more awesome in store (and the website is super easy to navigate, so it's really simple to find what you're looking for.)

One thing Pink Castle specialises in is a great range of monthly fabric clubs, including a monthly Cotton and Steel club. And that's where this post gets exciting - Pink Castle are offering up one of their October Cotton and Steel club bundles to one lucky reader!

To enter the giveaway, all you need to do is subscribe to their newsletter by next Monday evening, and you're in the running. The newsletter is a weekly insight into what's new in the shop, and a great way to find out about their frequent sales :o)

Subscribe to Pink Castle Fabrics' Newsletter!

Email Format

To enter the Cotton and Steel Giveaway:

* Subscribe to the Pink Castle Fabrics Newsletter, and leave me a comment letting me know you have subscribed (or if you are already a subscriber let me know that too!).
* The giveaway will close next Tuesday at 10pm Australian Daylight Savings Time.
* Winner will be drawn by Mr Random, and announced on this post.
* International entries are welcome

Good luck!

xx Jess

Tuesday 11 November 2014

My current obsession

Do you ever start a project and become completely and utterly obsessed with it? I have to admit I don't often do this - I normally have several projects on the go at once, and flit between them to keep things interesting. I have been a lot better with this over the last year or two (mostly because I've started working to deadlines for magazine quilts so I actually finish things in a reasonable time frame), but I still have a big tendency to start things and then abandon them when something more interesting comes along. Sometimes they're only abandoned briefly, other times they loiter in boxes untouched for months (or years) at a time. But sometimes a project will come along that needs to be made. Yesterday. 

My current project fits into the completely-obsessed-can't-think-about-anything-else category. I've been working on it every single night for the last (almost) three weeks and I think it's my favorite quilt ever. Ever. And if you follow me on Instagram you're probably well aware of this (considering you've been getting almost daily updates ;o) )

Anyhoo, ever since I finished making my Night Sky mini quilt last month, I'd been wanting to start a big version. I toyed with lots of different fabric options - and almost started it using a bundle of Suzuko Koseki stripes - until I had a sudden idea to make the stars into kaleidoscopes. And that's where this quilt began. 

I'm a huge fan of Jenean Morrison's work - I fell hard for her Silent Cinema collection when it came out and have bought a few pieces of most of her collections since then. For some reason I'm particularly drawn to her symmetrical prints, and have acquired quite a collection for no reason other than I love them. They're the type of prints that lend themselves to fussy cutting, but I never thought I had the patience (or desire) to fussy cut anything, so there they sat (and sat) looking pretty. I have always adored Katy's fabulous Spring Carnival cushion, but I cannot stand doing EPP (don't shoot me!) so I was a bit stumped with what to do with them. But then I bought a Sidekick ruler from the shop where I work/teach and the idea for this quilt was born.

 I spent a long night (about 6 hours) cutting the fabric for the stars (once I started I seriously couldn't stop. That first photo is that first night of cutting), and then a couple of weeks putting them together. I've been super pedantic with my seams and points in this quilt - it's the first time I've deliberately made something with the intention of entering it into a show - and I'm pretty happy with how it's come together. It isn't quite perfect - there are a few slightly dodgy points - but it's as close to perfect as I've ever come. And yes, I'm quite proud of it.

Almost all the fabrics I've used are from various collections by Jenean Morrison (lots of Silent Cinema, but quite a few of her more recent collections as well), with a couple of Amy Butler and Joel Dewberry prints thrown in as well. I didn't choose any of the fabrics based on colour, instead they were all chosen because they were symmetrical and would work in this type of quilt. They seem to all play together nicely though. I don't actually have a photo of the finished quilt top (the photo above is the layout before they were pieced together), because I started basting it literally as soon as the top was put together ;o). Because obsessed.

I've spent the last five nights quilting it, and having the time of my life. But then I stepped back from it today and wondered if it was actually too much quilting. Thanks to my IG and Facebook peeps I had a reality check that it does in fact work, and no there isn't too much quilting - but I am unpicking the paisley quilting around the small pink star, and am planning on leaving a few of the 'borders' unquilted just to limit the busy-ness a little bit. It has been loads of fun playing with the geometry of these stars, and creating secondary patterns using straight lines in and around them.

At this stage I'm only quilting the negative space (except for the couple of stars with a lot of white) and will go back and quilt the stars with matching thread once I'm finished with the background. You might have noticed I don't often use solids for the background in my quilts - but I think it's the right choice for this one. Plus I've recently fallen hard for Cotton Couture solids (this is soft white) while making my Giant Chevron quilt for the QAL - it is absolutely divine to work with and quilts SO well. So I think you might see a few more solid-background quilts from me into the future (especially since PolkaDotTea stock a brilliant selection of Cotton Couture!)

I'm hoping to get this one finished before the end of the month (so yes, it will be my Quiltcon entry), and at this rate it will happen. I really can't see the obsession wearing off before it's finished ;o)

xx Jess
PS a massive thank you to everyone who voted for my Breaking Storm quilt in the blogger's quilt festival - it won the large quilts category! Woohoo!!

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Spring Sling Bag

Over the last month I've managed to start four new quilts. That's ridiculous even for a serial project starter like me! I showed you one a few weeks ago (my StarJump quilt, which I'm in the process of writing up as a pattern) and if you follow me on IG you will have seen LOTS of photos of the second, a variation on Jaybird Quilts' Night Sky pattern. The quilt top is almost together so I'm hoping to be able to share it with you later this week :o)

I did take a short break from making quilts to put together a cute little bag last week though. This one is a class sample for a class I'll be teaching very soon at Frangipani Fabrics. It was a (mostly) fun and quick little project to put together. The pattern is by Janelle of Emmaline Bags, the genius designer behind the Necessary Clutch Wallet, and as with all her patterns it is very well written with lots of helpful photos. I love the method she uses for finishing the zip ends - it was really easy to do and gives the internal pocket such a professional looking finish.

This bag is absolutely perfect for quilters - it has a patchwork panel on the front flap, it's sewn entirely with a 1/4" seam allowance and is finished with binding (which is even handstitched to finish it!) There were a few firsts-for-me involved in making this bag - gussets, grommets and an adjustable strap. Thanks to a great pattern they were all pretty painless - although I have to admit there were a lot of few sweary moments putting the gussets in. Having said that, I think most of the problem was that I didn't use the right interfacing (I used a fusible fleece rather than Soft and Stable as recommended by the pattern - and didn't add interfacing which was recommended if using fusible fleece. So it's entirely my fault ;o) ) I did make a few other minor adjustments too - the hardware I used was slightly smaller than those recommended by the pattern, so the strap is 1/4" skinnier, but it still went together perfectly. Aside from the interfacing, the only thing I'd do differently next time is to make sure the binding join isn't right in the middle of the flap (not sure where my brain was when I made that decision!!)

 This one is living at Frangipani for a while, but I'm pretty sure I won't get to use it even once it's back in my possession. The wee one instantly declared it was hers (a given really, considering she is obsessed with rainbows), which just means I'll have to make another one for me :oD

I'm linking up with Sara's fabulous Purse Palooza :o)

xx Jess

Tuesday 4 November 2014

Free Motion QAL - Stacked Triangles Tutorial and a linky party

Today I'm sharing the fourth free motion video tutorial in the Free Motion QAL - a triangular quilting design. You can check out the YouTube clip here.

There are a couple of reasons I chose this design this week. I wanted to alternate curvy quilting with straight-line FMQ in the coloured stripes on this quilt, just to make the distinction between the different quilting designs more obvious. Probably the biggest reason is that I really, really enjoy quilting triangular designs, and there are so many opportunities to use them on your quilts it think it's a great design to learn. They are a fun way to quilt half square triangles, equilateral triangles and to create interest in negative space - and it really is an easy design to do.   

xx Jess