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

Sunday 14 December 2014

IG Mini Swap

I haven't participated in a swap for quite a while, but when @curlyboy announced the #IGminiswap a few months ago I signed up almost straight away. I was part of Flossy's group (aka Brioni Greenberg) and the level of awesome in our group was astounding - I think I would have been happy to receive pretty much any of the mini quilts that people were posting.

Last week, my parcel of awesome arrived and I couldn't be happier. Seriously. I love this quilt SO much it isn't funny. Even better it was made by my friend Adrianne, so I feel especially lucky to have something made by her living in my house :o) When I posted on IG that I'd received this one, a few people said they suspected this was for me, and I'm so glad they were right. The prints are some of Karen Lewis' amazing hand printed fabrics, and the low volume background is totally me (obvs). I really can't thank you enough Adrianne, it is an incredibly beautiful mini.

Not only is the design perfection, it is even hand quilted. I will cherish this forever, and it is now adorning my sewing room right above my machine so I get to see it all the time. Sorry to get all gushy, but I'm just SO IN LOVE with it :o)

Adrianne also included some gorgeous extras in my parcel - this beautiful pouch (which was filled with some New Zealand candy which was gobbled quite quickly by my grabby children ;o))

The mini I made for my partner (@imasavanovac) also reached it's destination yesterday so I can share that with you too. The stars were made with 1.5" diamonds so it was some pretty teeny tiny piecing - but a lot of fun to put together. It all came together really easily, apart from the binding which I wasn't all that happy with - because of the angled edges I had to use bias binding, and it was an absolute nightmare to sew down. It mostly looks okay - but a couple of the inner curves are a bit bulgy. I certainly won't be trying to bind something this shape again - although if I'd left myself more time to bind it I might have been able to figure it out better. I wasn't completely happy sending this off to be honest, but I'd run out of time at this stage so I didn't have time to try to fix it.

I was really happy with how the quilting turned out - and Sami loves it so it's all good (although in all probability she is probably just being polite about the dodgy binding).

xx Jess

Saturday 13 December 2014

Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Winner!

Thanks so much to all of you who entered my giveaway - I'm sorry I couldn't respond to all 445 comments, but I have read all your responses and it was fun to see who you're favorite designers are.

The lucky winner of the Heather Ross fat quarters was comment #4, Patchwork and Play! Congratulations Susan, I'll send you an email in a moment :o)

xx Jess

Friday Fabric Finds. On a Saturday.

I have lots of new fabric arrivals in my sponsor's shops to share with you today. I'm trying really hard to stick to my pre-QuiltCon saving plan and not buy any fabric for a few months - but it's becoming increasingly difficult of late as some long awaited collections are beginning to hit shelves.

Frances Newcombe's Cherie has just arrived at Polka Dot Tea - there are SO many great prints in this one. I'm particularly fond of the low volume prints in here, they're the sort I would use all the time.

Sew Me a Song has a bunch of new arrivals - but these Studio Stash Yarn Dyes by Jennifer Sampou really caught my eye. They would be a beautiful alternative to solids for background fabric

Pink Castle Fabrics have a few things I'd like to let you know about. For a very limited time they are offering Cotton and Steel stash boxes - 50 fat eighths for $60.

Also new at Pink Castle is Lotta's new collection, Follie. I love Lotta's designs, and as with all Lotta's collections there are so many useful prints in here

Charley Harper's Nurture has just arrived at FabricWorm. This is such a lovely collection, and would be absolutely perfect for funky kids quilts :o)

The Fat Quarter Shop have started a countdown to Christmas where they will be offering a different sale starting each day at 10am (CST). Today's deal is 30% off all Bella Solids.

Happy shopping (or browsing!) and have a wonderful weekend. We FINALLY have sun here in Tassie after a very dreary start to summer :o)

xx Jess

Thursday 11 December 2014

Modern Quilting, Modern Woman. Or not?

My friend Crystal (aka Two Little Aussie Birds) has been running a fantastic series on her blog called Modern Quilting Modern Women. In Crystal's words, 'this series on Modern Quilting, Modern Women celebrates what makes us who we are. How our craft defines us and gives us a creative outlet which pays respect to our mothers and their mothers before them'. Crystal has interviewed some amazing and very influential quilters as part of the series - they are wonderful posts to read, and offer a lot of food for thought. 

Crystal's series has really made me start thinking about my own experience as a quilter and where I fit in the quilting world, and whether I really need to work that tricky little question out at all. I've been slowly writing this post over the last couple of weeks, so it is a pretty wordy post. I've been doing a lot of thinking about these questions (especially 2 and 3), and it's turned into a bit of a self analysis of sorts. It might be confusing too - I'm feeling a bit confused right now and it's really me just thinking aloud. Be warned it may bore you to tears ;o)

1. Tell us about how you started quilting and how you found modern quilting.
Although I've always dabbled in some kind of creative outlet (mostly cross stitch for many years, but a little bit of sewing when I was younger and had access to my mum's sewing machine), I only got my own sewing machine four years ago for Christmas. My youngest child had just been born and I thought it would be fun to start making clothes and soft toys for her. I made a few bits and pieces for Zoe, but then discovered a few free quilting patterns online and decided it might be fun to give quilting a try. I bought a Flower Fairies panel and some coordinating fabric and started my first quilt, without having any clue what I was doing - and the part made quilt top is still sitting in a box somewhere in my sewing room. I decided I needed to learn a bit more about how to actually make quilts, so I bought a beginners guide to quilting magazine and learnt the basics. I have a background in science and maths, so the calculating and precision in quilting really appealed to me, and I found it way more fun than making clothes, so I pretty quickly decided that quilting was something I preferred to do. I shudder when I look at my early fabric purchases now - but it wasn't long before I discovered the amazing online world of modern quilting/modern fabric and fell in love. Completely and utterly. I am completely self taught thanks to the phenomenal amount of knowledge quilters are willing to share in the form of online tutorials, and my fairly hefty collection of quilt books. 

Now, I'm nothing short of obsessed with making quilts, and my nights are spent playing with fabric and thread. It has become my stress relief, my happy place, something that is mine amongst the chaos of raising three small children. And it's slowly becoming my job, as I've started designing for magazines and teaching patchwork and quilting in a local fabric shop. I've never been happier. 

2. What does it mean to you to be a modern quilter and a modern woman? 
I think when I began quilting (around three years ago) I did strive to be 'modern' in what I made. I was very influenced by what I saw other modern quilters doing, and gained a lot of inspiration from the work of others. That hasn't stopped entirely, but lately it has become a choice of whether to spend time quilting, or whether to spend that time reading blogs/IG/Flickr - and most of the time the sewing wins out.  

The other thing is that over time, as I've become more confident with my use of colour and design, I've become less obsessed with trying to fit into any particular aesthetic and just started making what I love. I don't claim to be original with my designs or use of colour - but I like pushing myself to try something new with each project I make, whether it be a new palette, a new piecing technique, or trying something new in terms of how I quilt a quilt.  

If anything, I identify more as a modern quilter than anything else. But having said that, at this point in time (as in literally today) I've decided to completely abandon trying to fit in to any particular brand of quilting and just be happy making what makes me happy and just call myself a quilter. And right now for me that's enough. I can see the importance of defining modern quilting (and I am a founding member of the Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild), but I don't want to feel limited by defining myself as any particular type of quilter. I'm feeling quite confused by what can be construed as 'modern' in the quilting world at the moment anyway, so I'm quite happy to just keep doing what I do and to hell with trying to define myself.

3. Which quilt that you have made represents you and why?

My most recent finish - my kaleidoscope star quilt which I've renamed Galaxy (thanks to treadlemusic - who incidentally is a no-reply blogger so I haven't been able to thank her for the name idea!!) represents me as a quilter. I poured my heart and soul into this quilt from start to finish, and I am not ashamed to say I am SO proud of it. This is the quilt I entered into QuiltCon (my only entry) and this is the quilt that got knocked back. And I guess this is the quilt that has made me decide that I don't need to define myself as a quilter (modern or not). I don't know whether this is a modern quilt or not to be honest - but it represents me as a quilter more than any other quilt I've made. The fussy cutting, the pops of colour in the stars, and the ridiculous amount of free motion quilting make me happy. 

From the very start this quilt was destined to be a show quilt - the very first time I've deliberately embarked on a quilt project intending to enter it into a show. I have to admit that when I was making it, I wasn't really thinking about whether it could be called modern or not, so it may not have been the best quilt to make with the deliberate intention of entering it into a modern quilt show. I guess  my use of negative space and use of different sized stars in the quilt could be interpreted as modern - but maybe not according to the MQG's definition. I don't know. I'm a bit disillusioned and confused as to what is considered modern right now. I've always felt I fit into the traditional side of modern quilting if anything, and I wasn't expecting it to be accepted, but I was fervently hoping it would be. 

To be brutally honest, I want people to see this quilt. I know it's a really good quilt. It is the best representation of me as a quilter in terms of my skills, and I want people to see the amount of detail I've poured into it both in the piecing and the quilting. I think that's why I'm disappointed it didn't make the cut. I realise it isn't a reflection of me as a quilter that it didn't make it into QuiltCon, but it has really made me question what is 'modern' - because the only reason I can see that it wouldn't be accepted is that it isn't a modern quilt. Okay rant over. I just needed to get this off my chest peeps. 

So on a happier (less whingy) note, I'll get onto the last question...

4. How do you connect with other modern quilters?
Up until the beginning of this year, I only connected with other quilters online - at first by connecting with people via my blog/reading other blogs and then late last year through Instagram. Early this year I approached one of my local fabric shops, Frangipani Fabrics, with the idea that I'd like to start teaching patchwork and quilting classes, and this was where I started connecting with other local quilters. Frangipani took a massive risk taking me on as an unproven teacher - but I feel like I've found my home there. I absolutely love teaching people how to make quilts, and being able to share my passion for it. My co-workers have become close friends of mine, through our shared passion for quilting. Most of the classes I have taught have run over a few months, so I began to get to know my students really well, and I am now proud to call lots of them my friends.  

A few months ago the Frangipani crew and I, along with a few other local quilters, started the Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild - so that's become another wonderful way to connect with other modern quilters. We have been completely blown away by the response, and already have close to 60 members (not bad for our little island state!).

If you've managed to get all the way through this post I think you deserve huge congratulations. Thanks for reading my ruminations, and please don't judge me for being my (too) honest self! I think this is the scariest post I've ever written and it's taking a lot of guts to press the publish button, believe me.

Massive congratulations to all of you who have had quilts accepted into QuiltCon - I am so excited about seeing them all hanging in Austin in a few months, and I can't wait to meet so many people who I've been friends with online for the last few years. 
xx Jess

Tuesday 9 December 2014

Heather Ross Giveaway


'Tis the season for giving, so I'm happy to offer you all another giveaway today! If you're new to my blog, I'm an Australian mum and quilter and I love sharing my projects, process and tutorials. I am an avid free motion quilter, and have recently started a YouTube channel where I demonstrate some of my FMQ techniques.

Anyway, on to the fun stuff! I've participated in Sew Mama Sew's giveaway day since I started blogging, and I have a special little bundle this time around. Three fat quarters of Heather Ross prints - green unicorns from the recent release of Far Far Away, octopuses from Mendocino and goldfish from Lightning Bugs.

This giveaway is open to everyone. To enter just leave me a comment here - I'd love to know who your all time favorite fabric designer is. My blog followers get a second entry, so just let me know how you follow my blog :o)

Comments will close this Saturday (16th December) at 5pm, and Mr Random will choose a winner. Goodluck and have fun entering lots of amazing giveaways :o)

Monday 8 December 2014

Cotton Couture Giveaway from Polka Dot Tea Fabrics!

I have to admit I have only recently discovered the awesomeness that is Cotton Couture, but they have very quickly become my solids of choice. I have used Cotton Couture in a few quilts lately (the most recent being my Kaleidoscope Star quilt, which I've renamed Galaxy, but also my Giant Chevron quilt I'm making for the FMQ QAL), and I can't say enough good stuff about them. They have the most amazing soft hand, and quilt up beautifully. They give quilts such a luxurious feel to them!

Polka Dot Tea stock a huge range of Cotton Couture (they have around 45 different colours in stock), including several to-die-for bundles. I bought their Spring Sampler bundle a few months ago and the colours are just amazing (and my son is continually harassing me to make him a rainbow quilt using them. It is on my to do list.) All the colours they stock are available as yardage, and Danielle and Jeanette are more than happy to set up a custom listing if you want something specific.

I have an amazing giveaway sponsored by Polka Dot Tea to offer you today - this gorgeous roll-up of blue Cotton Couture. Blue is one of my favorite colours - and this collection doesn't disappoint. It ranges from green/blue through blue into blue/violet hues. These photos don't do it justice. 

The roll up includes 18 5" strips of fabric. There are so many things you could do with these - a simple strip quilt, chop it into charm squares, make them into HSTs or HRTs - the possibilities are endless. Mine is destined to become a baby quilt for an upcoming nephew (possibly along the lines of the raindrop quilt I made for the Umbrella Prints challenge). If you're an Aussie, they would also be the perfect starting point for the AQC challenge for next year (which is True Blue).

The giveaway is open to everyone. To enter, just leave me a comment - maybe let me know what you think you'd make with them! For a second entry, sign up to receive the Polka Dot Tea newsletter to keep up to date with what's new in store (there are lots of gorgeous fabrics arriving over the next few weeks!) and leave a second comment letting me know you've signed up. 

This giveaway will close next Monday 15th December at 8pm AEST, and Mr Random will draw the winner. Please make sure to leave your email address if you're a no-reply commenter - if I can't contact you I will redraw. 

Good luck!

xx Jess

Wednesday 3 December 2014

Free Motion QAL - Feathers

Welcome to the final FMQ tutorial in the Free Motion QAL! This week I'm demonstrating how I quilt feathers. Feathers are fun and fast, and fill spaces on your quilt really quickly so they are a great addition to your FMQ arsenal. You can check out my video here. 

 As always I welcome your feedback - and I've set the camera at a wider angle for this one so I'm especially interested to hear your thoughts on how useful it is. I've had several requests for a video showing my quilting set up, so I hope to do that early next year.

I would like to apologise for the very sporadic nature of this QAL - I have learnt that I shouldn't commit to these things and have a set time line, as I seem unable to stick to them. So many things have come up over the time I've been running this QAL and it's meant I haven't stuck to my original schedule at all. I know many of you aren't phased by the relaxed pace but if it's annoyed you I am very sorry.

I will be back next week with some ideas of how you could tackle the negative space on this quilt, so that if you're planning on finishing as a gift before the end of the year you'll have time to get it done. The final linky party won't be until the end of January though, so you have plenty of time to get quilting!

xx Jess