Friday 27 March 2015

Friday Fabric Finds

Welcome to Friday Fabric Finds, a weekly post where I share what's new in my sponsors shops, and any sales or specials that are currently running. I have some goodies to share with you today!

Polka.Dot.Tea Fabrics have just listed a couple of gorgeous collections in the shop. Folk Song by Anna Maria Horner has just arrived, in all it's glory. I think Anna Maria has done an amazing job curating prints from Good Folks and Little Folks for this collection - it is so lovely to be able to get these prints again!

Polka.Dot.Tea have also just listed Lighthearted, the debut collection from Ayumi Takahashi for Kokka. There are so many fantastic prints in this collection, I can see myself coming back to these time and time again.

Sew Me a Song is holding a Spring cleaning shop sale and clearance at the moment. There are loads of gorgeous fabrics in the Clearance section, and at 50% off it is a great chance to grab a bargain. One of my favorites is Prisma from Art Gallery Fabrics, such a great low volume print!

The Sale section (25% off) has lots of great stuff as well - one fabric I've used time and time again is another Art Gallery print, Confetti in Noir.

Pink Castle Fabrics have got lots of gorgeous new fabric in stock, including Leah Duncan's latest collection, Morning Walk. 

Fat Quarter Shop have these fabulous Architextures bundles available - I picked one of these up at QuiltCon. Carolyn's cross hatch print is another one I keep coming back to time and time again, and it is great having it in so many colours!

I hope you all have a great weekend. I'll be teaching a student quilt workshop tomorrow alongside my work mates at Frangipani Fabrics. We'll have a group of about six 10 year olds (including my own 10 year old!), so I'm particularly excited (and a wee bit nervous) about what ideas they all come up with. It should be challenging, but a lot of fun!

xx Jess

Wednesday 25 March 2015

A new toy!

A few weeks ago I received a message from the president of the TMQG, asking if I'd be interested in a quilting frame. I'm sure you can guess what my answer was (!?!), and then I found out I was being offered it for free. WHAT? A lovely local quilter sadly passed away recently, and she wanted all her quilting things to go to people who would use them. So I was offered the quilting frame, and our guild now has a pile of equipment on hand for running kids workshops and so forth. I'm constantly amazed and grateful at how generous and wonderful quilty people are :o)

We picked up the frame a few weeks ago, and then last weekend we set it up in my garage aka studio. This thing is HUGE - 3m long, and about 1m wide. It meant a quick rearrangement of the garage, but it is now installed along one wall - and there is no longer any doubt that the garage is my sole domain ;o)

I decided to jump straight in and quilt the biggest top I've ever put together - my Birds and Bees colourblock quilt. I've been putting quilting this one off for a couple of years, due to the sheer size of it, and had been thinking about sending it to someone to long arm it. It's nice to be quilting it myself without needing a year's worth of massage, though!

Once I got the quilt loaded, and my machine on the frame, I realised I'd be fairly limited with what I can do. I only have about 3-4" I can quilt at a time, so it won't be great for large designs, but for straight lines and smaller designs (pebbles and such) it will be fabulous. I've spent the last two days quilting on it, and I'm slowly getting used to it. Up until now, I've never had thread breakage or tension issues on my machine, but I'm finding that's something I'm contending with while using the frame. I spent more time swearing and unpicking stitches with dodgy tension than actually quilting yesterday, but things went more smoothly today and I am about 3/4 of the way through. Considering the size of this quilt, only spending 6 hours or so quilting that much is insane - normally I'd have easily spent ten times that long. Eventually I will look at getting something with a larger throat space, but for now I'm very content.

I've decided to do dense straight lines on this quilt, strongly influenced by Leanne's style of quilting. I had wanted to quilt each colour block individually with different designs and blending thread, but I think this will be really effective - plus the texture is amazing. I'll have to get used to not seeing how it's looking until I take it off the frame though, the suspense is killing me at the moment! I'm hoping to get the rest done over the next few evenings, I can't wait to see it!

xx Jess

Friday 20 March 2015

Friday Fabric Finds

It's been a long while between Friday Fabric Finds posts, so I have quite a few lovely things from my sponsors to share with you today!

Polka.Dot.Tea have recently received a bunch of new Liberty prints, including these fabulous Alice in Wonderland prints. I've been reading an abridged version of Alice in Wonderland to my 4 year old daughter recently, and she is very keen on the idea of an Alice quilt. I may have ordered a bundle of these prints for that very purpose ;o)

Sew Me a Song is running a Spring Shipping Sale at the moment on all orders. Becca is offering flat rate shipping of $2.50 US/$9.00 Canada/$12.00 Everywhere Else. No coupon needed! As always there is a whole lot of gorgeous to choose from and it was really hard to choose something to share with you! I'm really drawn to these Irome Seasons bundles from Kokka - those soft greys are just beautiful.

Pink Castle Fabrics are offering a huge 40% off their entire range of apparel fabrics this weekend!  There is a tonne of gorgeous stuff in there, including Cotton & Steel lawns, Essex linen and much, much more.

One collection I've been awaiting is Tula Pink's latest and greatest - Elizabeth. It's very reminiscent of her Parisville collection from a couple of years ago I think, and the colours (as always) are incredible. The Fat Quarter Shop have the full collection of Elizabeth available now! It's hard to pick a favorite, but I really love the sky colourway.

I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

xx Jess

QuiltCon 2015 - The People

It seems really weird that I've been home from QuiltCon for nearly a month and I'm only just finding I have the headspace to think about writing about my experience in Austin. It was a phenomenal week of fun, inspiration and quilts (of course!), but for me the absolute best part of being there was the people I spent time with. I'm a massive introvert, so I was a bit anxious about whether it would be awkward or weird meeting people face to face rather than online - but it absolutely wasn't! There is something really lovely about seeing someone you 'know' and greeting them with a huge hug.

I travelled to QuiltCon as part of a fairly large Aussie/ New Zealand contingent (there were almost 40 of us over there), and flew over with five other Aussies. Given the fact that we had to deal with a massively delayed flight and lost baggage dramas, I was really happy to have company while we were travelling. My room mate was the extremely lovely Gemma of Pretty Bobbins - we have a LOT in common (chiefly an obsession with FMQ, but also similar aged kids etc) and we very quickly became great friends. Having spent a week with Gem, I am missing her a whole lot now I'm home!

The Aussie and New Zealand contingent went out for a meal the night before QuiltCon kicked off - and it was an absolute blast! I hadn't met any of these peeps before QuiltCon, so it's a little crazy we met for the first time in another country. Having met up though, there is a huge impetus to get some kind of Aussie modern quilt retreat happening, so hopefully we will see each other reasonably frequently!

Thursday I had a full day workshop (which I'll talk about in another blog post), so I didn't do much looking around the quilt show or the vendor hall or get a chance to talk to many people. Thursday night was the Moda party which was heaps of fun - best of all I finally met up with two of the people I knew I HAD to meet while I was there. I've become great friends with Jess (Quilty Habit) and Renee (Quilts of a Feather) over the last couple of years, and I was SO excited to meet them at QuiltCon. I'm holding the beautiful zip pouch Jess made for me (not sure how she knew that's one of my all time favorite prints, lol!), and I'll share the mini quilt Renee made for me in another post (it's spectacular and deserves it's own post!)

I had Friday virtually free of classes (aside from a couple of lectures), so that's when I checked out the vendor floor and the quilt show. I met up with the amazingly awesome Adrianne (who blogs at On The Windy Side) on Friday morning and we walked around together for a couple of hours. I'm so glad I got to meet Adrianne; we clicked instantly and had a great time together. On top of that, Adrianne was my unofficial PR person and encouraged me to swap business cards with lots of people - something I would never have done had I been wandering by myself.

Someone else I knew I wanted to meet in person was Leanne of She Can Quilt. Having worked closely together on our Decipher Your Quilt series last year, it was amazing to meet her in person. Leanne is an incredibly inspiring in the modern quilt world, and I am so pleased her quilt won first prize in the Minimalist category.

I've been part of a fabulous bee over the last year and a bit (the most relaxed and awesome bee I've been part of!), and five out of six of us attended Quiltcon. We managed to meet up at the Robert Kaufman booth where one of our members, Elisabeth, was working and got a photo of us all - with the intention that we will photoshop our missing member Janice in at some stage. It was especially great to meet Alyce at last, who I've been friends with almost the entire time I've been quilting. 

One of the lectures I attended on Friday afternoon was Angela Walter's Quilting Negative Space (which was amazing!).  I unwittingly sat next to my lanyard swap partner, Rebecca (rubythread on IG) who noticed my lanyard and said hi. I had to get a photo with her - my lanyard was amazing and I had loads of comments from people admiring it. This is actually one of my favorite photos from the whole trip :o)

On Saturday morning, I was a workshop volunteer in Angela Walter's class, and met several of my quilty friends there. I'd met Amy Garro (13 Spools) the day before at her book signing, and she was in Angela's class so we nabbed a photo together. I would have loved to spend more time with Amy, her work is incredible and she is the absolute sweetest person. Amy has just announced a fantastic initiative alongside CraftBuds that will help promote the work of indie fabric designers - you can check out all the info here. 

I also caught up with Hollie ( the Undercover Crafter), who I shared a machine with in our class on Thursday. She is absolutely lovely as well, and we had a fabulous time chatting in class. You might notice a theme here - quilters are just awesome people! I didn't meet anyone I didn't love!

After volunteering I had a brief wander through the vendor hall again, and met Jess Levitt again. I met Jess at the MQG Leadership drinks the night before, and she was another person I instantly clicked with :o) Jess's book was one of the first modern quilt books I bought, so it was really hard not to be a complete fan girl when I met her ;o)

On Saturday evening, I attended the keynote with the quilters of Gees Bend. It was a really incredible experience (a total understatement), and I was delighted to be able to share it with some of my favorite Aussie quilters. Peta, Cat and Cath (from right to left in the photo below) are all just wonderful women, and I can't wait to see them again.

I almost though I was going to come home without a photo of me and my roomie, Gemma - but we managed to get a photo (along with Renee) on the very last afternoon. The three of us are all FMQ obsessed, and managed to spend quite a lot of time together which was fantastic. I miss them already!

Last but certainly not least, I met up with my great friend Jen of Quilter in the Closet. Jen and I have been online friends for years, so I was stoked that she spotted me and we managed to get a photo together. I need to get to another QuiltCon so I can spend some proper time with her!

Although I managed to spend time with lots of the people I wanted to, I did miss a few people (Danielle and Charlotte in particular - although I did get hugs with both of them at least!) I love the idea of going to QuiltCon again, but it definitely won't be something I can do every year. I'm so grateful I went this year when so many Aussies and New Zealanders went - as Adrianne said, I think it's unlikely there will be such a strong Southern Hemisphere contingent again, so it was amazing to be part of it in 2015.

I'm hoping to get a chance to tell you all about the workshops and lectures I attended over the next few weeks. Needless to say, I came home incredibly inspired, and I've developed a firm idea of where I want to take my quilting this year. I can't wait to share it all with you guys!

xx Jess

Thursday 19 March 2015

Free Motion QAL finishes and a winner!!

This post is horribly late I'm afraid - I forgot to draw the winner of the box of Aurifil thread for the Free Motion QAL, generously donated by Alex (aka Mr Aurifil). I was lucky enough to meet Alex at QuiltCon, although I'm pretty sure he found my accent almost impossible to understand ;o)

We had three sensational quilts linked up at the end of the QAL, and I wanted to share them with you before I announce the winner.

Deborah, who blogs at Sunshine through the Rain (which is coincidentally the name I chose for my Umbrella Prints Challenge last year), made a Bright Sky quilt during my friend Alyce's QAL last year. I absolutely love how Deb quilted this - she has only just started FMQing, and she has done an incredible job. The texture on this quilt is fantastic!

Karin (you can find her on Instagram as kpud) made my Giant Chevron pattern in vibrant neon solids. I can't share her picture here, but if you click through to IG, you will be able to see how amazing it is :o)

Finally we have Lisa, who blogs at Sunlight in Winter, who made a Giant Chevron quilt as well. Lisa really pushed herself out of her comfort zone while quilting this (especially the angular quilting designs), and she has done a brilliant job. Those feathers are amazing!

 Thanks to everyone who quilted along with me, and for putting up with probably the worst organised QAL I've ever seen ;o) So without further ado, the winner of the Aurifil box is (drumroll please....)

Karin!!! Congratulations Karin, I'll be in touch shortly to get your details! Apologies it took me so long to get this sorted (although it's probably not all that surprising given how disorganised I was the whole time.)

xx Jess

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Quilting again!!

In an effort to blog more regularly, I've decided to start doing WIP Wednesday posts again for a while. I'm tending to make more time consuming projects these days, so rather than go weeks or months without posting, I think having a weekly 'check in' will work well :o) As a bonus, this week has seen the return of my motivation to sew at last! I've been feeling really flat since I came home from Austin (jet lag hit me hard), so it was a relief to want to go down to my studio again yesterday.

I was keen to start using some of the ideas I got from the classes I took with Angela Walters and Krista Withers, so I took my roll up of Cotton Couture from Polka.Dot.Tea Fabrics, sorted them by value and sewed the strips together until I had a quilt top. We got a couple of new furry family members while I was away, and I didn't realise how much more complicated basting a quilt would be with two kittens trying to eat the safety pins. (They fell asleep on the quilt after a while though, so I think it has kitten approval at least!)

From there, it was simply a matter of using some of the ideas Krista shared in the class I did, and trying out graffiti quilting for the first time (thanks to the amazing book of the same name by the ridiculously talented Karlee Porter. If you've never heard of her, go have a look now. I promise you won't be disappointed!) I'm about half way done - and I'm having an absolute blast. I'm using a double layer of 100% wool batting, and the texture it's giving this quilt is phenomenal. 


I have to admit I find this kind of quilting quite difficult - it's pushed me right out of my comfort zone. I guess it will get easier with practice, but even if it doesn't it is so much fun, and I'm determined to do more and more of it. I decided from the outset that I wouldn't rip anything out while I was quilting this quilt, but use it as a learning experience as much as anything. I have a tendency to be ridiculously critical of my work, so it's been quite liberating just letting myself play and not worrying too much about whether it's 'good enough'. Some areas of this work better than others, but I'm really happy with the overall texture so far :o)

 I'm hoping to get this one finished in the next week or so (especially since the intended recipient was born almost two weeks ago!). I have a stack of other things I should be doing rather than this (cough bee blocks cough) but I needed to get this idea out of my system first :o) 

xx Jess

Monday 16 March 2015

Starjump Quilt Finish and Pattern Release!

There has not been a whole lot of sewing happening since I came home from Quiltcon - I have a huge list of things I'd like to make, but I haven't had the energy or motivation to get started just yet. But I have managed to finish off a few projects that I'd been working on before I went away - one of those being my StarJump quilt. I finished up the quilting and binding a few weeks ago, and we took it to the park for some photos last weekend. Even more exciting, the pattern for this quilt is now available. It's a fat quarter friendly quilt pattern, comes in three sizes, and you can buy the pattern in my new Payhip shop!! 

This quilt started as a pile of MicroMod fabric (a Cloud 9 fabric collection from a couple of years ago), in plum, teal, grey and black. I added in a bunch of other fabrics in these colours, and added some citron prints to give it a bit of pop. I designed several quilts last year using over-sized quilt blocks and I have to admit I'm a bit obsessed. Large blocks are great for using large scale prints and they come together quite quickly which is always a bonus.

The background on this quilt is a bunch of cream solids and low volume prints, and I love the subtle variation in the background that results from this. I quilted it very simply, using the points in the blocks as a guide for straight line FMQ. I love the subtle movement it gives the background areas. I used cream 50wt Aurifil for the quilting and 100% wool batting - I love the texture this combination of thread and batting gives :o)

I have had my team of pattern testers working on this pattern over the last couple of months as well, and I'm really excited to share their versions with you as well! This first (baby sized) version was made by Kirsten who blogs at Gemini Stitches. I absolutely love Kirsten's choice of background fabric, it really makes the print fabrics pop. 

This version was made by Susan (aka Patchwork n Play), as a gift for a friend's new baby. Susan's choice of colours is just perfect for a baby quilt that will be used and loved as the baby grows up :o)

Liz chose to use just four fabrics for her version of the baby size quilt, in a soft palette. Liz's version is a great example of how fabric placement can change the look of this pattern - by using the same colours for the chain elements in each block, Liz has created a completely different look.

Finally, my lovely friend Ella (aka Throw a Wench in the Works) and regular pattern tester made two versions of this pattern. First up a lap sized rainbow version, one of the happiest quilts I've ever seen!

rainbow quilt

Ella also made a second lap sized version. I love how Ella has played with the placement of the chain elements in this version and made the centre star different to the surrounding stars.

pattern testing

A huge thank you to all of my testers - I absolutely love seeing what people do with my patterns. I think these quilts show really well how versatile this pattern is, and how easy it is to 'make it your own'.  Please pop over to each of my tester's blogs and read more about their quilts - and for a pattern giveaway as well :o) 

xx Jess

Friday 6 March 2015

QuiltCon 2015 Magazine!!

I cannot believe how fast February went! Between the organisation involved in getting to QuiltCon, being in Austin for a week, and then attempting to get back to normal life, it felt like a ridiculously short month. I've been a bit of a zombie since I got home, and although I do have a few blog posts worth of stuff to say about QuiltCon (when I can articulate it all properly), for now I just want to share with you my favorite quilt I made last year. It appears in the just-released QuiltCon magazine (eeeeeep!!), along with some fantastic articles and stunning modern quilts.

I made this quilt - Misdirection - to a very tight deadline (I think I had three weeks from finding out it had been accepted and needing to post it), but it was such a fun quilt to make - I really enjoyed focusing on it and getting it finished. I adore the colour combo of navy, green and gold against low volume greys, and it was fun to design a quilt with so much negative space to play with.

This quilt uses half rectangle triangles (HRTs) to create the design. I've become a bit fascinated with HRTs - I love the angles HRTs create, especially long rectangles, and it's a shape I plan on playing with very soon :o) The angles in the design made it pretty easy to choose quilting designs, and to help work out how to break up the negative space.

 I used 50wt Aurifil for all the quilting, and matched my thread colours as much as possible to each coloured section. The background is all Dove (which blends freakishly well into all low volume fabrics I've tried it on). I did use my walking foot for all the long straight line quilting - I wanted them to be really straight, and I knew how impossible that would be for lines that long if I tried FMQ. The rest of the quilting is reasonably large (1/2" or so spacing) so although it has lots of quilting, it is still a really snuggly quilt.

To break up the background area, I did mark the some of the long diagonal lines before I started quilting. From there it was simply a matter of quilting each of the sections, alternating my favorite pebble/swirl combo with sections that repeat some of the designs from the coloured sections. I think one of the reasons I love low volume backgrounds so much is that they behave like a solid in terms of showing quilting, but they have a subtle texture as well. Having a pieced background made it really easy to mark the quilt too ;o)

It is so nice to finally be able to share this quilt. I'd love it to be mine, but as soon as I designed it my 7 year old son made it pretty clear he'd love it. So it can join the nest of quilts on his bed for a while :o) I'm hoping I'll start blogging a bit more regularly soon. I have so much I'd like to say about QuiltCon - but in a nutshell, it was about the people. It was amazing to meet so many people I have connected with online, and I was constantly amazed how easy it was to transition from chatting via email to chatting face to face. Thanks to everyone who I was lucky enough to spend time with in Austin, it was an incredible experience, made more so by all the wonderful people I met.

xx Jess