Friday 31 July 2015

Friday Fabric Finds

It's been a long while between Friday Fabric Finds posts - but since I'm back to blogging a bit more regularly, you can expect to see these posts a little more frequently than the last few months ;o) These posts are where I share what's shiny and new in my sponsor's shops - and also share any sales or specials they have running.

I'm very excited to introduce a new blog sponsor today - a fabric shop very close to my heart - Frangipani Fabrics. Frangipani is a wonderful modern fabric shop in my home city, Hobart, and the place I teach each Thursday morning and most weekends. The shop has a wonderful welcoming atmosphere, and a great online shop (with free postage in Tasmania!) so I am delighted to have them on board as sponsors. Frangipani run lots of sewing and patchwork classes - including kids classes on a regular basis - and have organised for Kaffe Fasset and Brandon Mably to come to Tassie for some workshops and a lecture next year, which I am SO excited about. They also sell a huge range of patterns, notions and haberdashery so it really is a one stop shop for all your sewing supplies.

Frangipani have received a heap of new fabric this week that has just been listed online, including 24 bolts of Cotton and Steel (some of which may or may not have come home with me yesterday...) I hadn't seen the new basics - Sparkle - in real life until yesterday, and I think they're my favorites yet :o)

There are some fabulous new fabrics in my other sponsor's shops as well. Pink Castle Fabrics have just received Handcrafted 2 from Alison Glass - and for a short time you can buy a stash box of the complete range of Handcrafted 1 & 2 in fat eighths. I adore the saturated colours in these collections, they're just gorgeous. Even better, if you spend $50 or more at Pink Castle, you'll get a little yellow ticket (a Golden Ticket) that contains some sort of prize - and this year there are five grand prizes (including sewing machines, a years stash club subscription and more).

Polka Dot Tea Fabrics have the complete collection of Skopelos by Katarina Roccella for Art Gallery Fabrics available as a bundle or yardage. Art Gallery Fabrics are just divine to work with, and I love the colours in this collection. 

One of my other absolute favorite fabrics to sew with are Cotton Couture (which would pair SO well with Art Gallery Fabric, they are both incredibly soft and luxurious). Polka Dot Tea stock an impressive range of colours of Cotton Couture, including black and white if you're intending on doing the Michael Miller fabric challenge for QuiltCon this year!!

At Sew me a Song, Becca has been busy creating some gorgeous bundles - including this aptly named 'never be at a loss for words' bundle. So much texty goodness!

And I'm a sucker for Suzuko Koseki prints - this bundle really caught my eye. Suzuko has such a great eye for colour and design and her fabrics often find their way into my projects :o)

Fat Quarter Shop have lots of new fabrics in store - one of my favorites is Imprint by Katarina Roccella. Also available is the Fractal Quilt Kit which features Imprint - and as I said earlier this week, it is a seriously fast and fun quilt to put together. 

Happy shopping! I hope you all have a great weekend - mine will be filled with teaching and trying not to freeze (apparently we can expect snow down to 100m above sea level, not something we normally have to contend with in these parts!!)

xx Jess

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Checker {Bee Hive Block Tutorial}

Late last year, my friend Alyce asked me if I'd be interested in designing a block for her project called the Bee Hive. The Bee Hive is a year-long set of unique block tutorials, deliberately designed so that each block creates an interesting secondary when placed together - making them ideal for bee quilts. From the outset, I wanted to design a really simple but effective block, that would be achievable for beginner quilters (and fast and fun for more experienced quilters) but still create a really interesting quilt. The result was Checker, a very simple block to put together, but one with lots of possibilities in terms of colour and block rotation. If you happen to be choosing a block for a bee, I promise you your hive will LOVE you if you choose this block - it is ridiculously quick to make. Even better, it works best if you make two at a time, so you may well end up with extra blocks ;o)

I've drawn up a few mock quilt layouts so you can see what sort of secondary patterns you can create with this block. This is what straight set blocks look like (in a 6x6 block quilt). 

This is my favorite layout I think - in this one, alternate blocks have been rotated to create pinwheels.

 Once I'd made my block for the tutorial, I got a bit enthusiastic and decided to make a whole quilt using this block design, but reversing the neutral and coloured fabrics. I've made 9 blocks so far, using a bundle of rainbow solids and small prints for the sashing strips and a pile of grey and low volume fabrics for the HSTs and rectangles. I've been fairly randomly choosing the coloured strips so far - but I think I'll start planning the placement to create a rainbow effect through the sashing. I need to decide on which layout I'll go with though - and I'm really torn between the two below. I love the diamonds that emerge in the greys in this first layout.

But I also really love the diagonal lines created with this layout.

Which would you choose? Either way I think it will be a fun quilt to quilt - and it's going to be a 6x6 layout so I have a way to go. Don't get used to this two posts in two days business either, I'm pretty sure it won't happen again for a while! Having said that, I'll be back to working on my Aviatrix tomorrow so I'm hoping I'll have some progress to share on that one soon! There might even be another post this week ;o)

xx Jess

Monday 27 July 2015

Fractal Quilt {AGF Stitched}

I've been sewing up a storm over the last few weeks, working on several projects at the same time (my favorite way to work, flitting between different quilts). The quilt I'm sharing with you today is one of these projects - it came together incredibly fast and has been a really fun quilt to make. This is my Fractal Quilt, which I've made as part of AGF Stitched - a joint project between Art Gallery Fabrics and the Fat Quarter Shop.

When I say this came together fast, I mean really fast. I started cutting this last Sunday night, and by Wednesday I'd finished piecing the quilt top. I think that's a record for me - it took around 12 hours to cut and piece, and that's even taking into account the fact that it uses y-seams to make the blocks. I've not done many y-seams in the past, and I was pleasantly surprised with how simple they were to do. This quilt uses the kite template by Creative Grids, which makes cutting really straight forward. I've used Creative Grids rulers for a few projects now, and I'm a big fan - they are non-slip rulers so even when you're cutting complex shapes like these kites they stay put on your fabric and make it easy to cut accurately. The template also has holes that enable you to mark the pivot point for sewing the y-seams, a large part of why I found them so easy to sew, I think! I really struggled to photograph this quilt as the weather has conspired against me, but this is the quilt top, stuck to our kitchen wall over the top of my kids' art work ;o) I'm actually thinking I'll keep it this shape rather than square off the edges...

I chose to use a mix of various Art Gallery collections for this quilt - but my fabric choices were very much driven by the colours in Frances Newcombe's Utopia collection, several of which I chose to use in this quilt. The neutrals are all from other Art Gallery collections, but apart from the aqua fabric all the coloured prints are from Utopia. The print I chose for the backing is one of my current favorites, Dreamlandia Illuminated (you can see a peek of it at the bottom of the photo below). 

I'm making this quilt for my new(ish) niece, and I think the colours I've used are great for a baby girl - plus it's sophisticated enough that hopefully she will love it as she gets older. It's pretty big for a baby quilt (around 56" x 60"), so I'm hoping it will get used for years to come. As you know, one of my favorite parts of making quilts is the quilting, and I'm really happy with how the quilting is going so far on this one. I started quilting the low volume sections last night using Aurifil 40wt (#2021), adding lots and lots of texture with dense straight line FMQ. I didn't have much of a plan when I started, but there are so many interesting angles in the design that I think I'll keep it pretty simple and use the angles in the blocks to mostly do straight line FMQ over the rest of the quilt. I'll smash down some areas with dense straight lines, and let some of the other areas pop with less dense quilting. Not the greatest photos I'm afraid (one of the perils of last minute night time quilting!!), but I'm delighted with the texture :o)

I started a bit of the coloured areas tonight - and I think this is what I'll do across the rest of the quilt top - I adore the texture of organic straight line FMQ and I think it will create some interesting effects over the quilt top. This picture is horribly over-exposed - but it gives you an idea of the texture so far! 

Fractal is a free pattern, and there is even a video tutorial available to help you with the cutting and y-seams. You can also find kits for this quilt at the Fat Quarter Shop. There are lots of great bloggers who are participating in this blog hop, I'm looking forward to seeing their versions of the Fractal pattern :o)

I'll be back later this week to introduce my Checker block (that I designed for Alyce's Bee Hive series) - the tutorial is up on Alyce's blog if you'd like to go take a look. I've been busy making blocks and I'm hoping to share my progress in the next few days :o)

xx Jess

Friday 17 July 2015

The Aviatrix Grows

Since coming home from the show/fair last weekend, I've had an enormous amount of sewing energy. It's really nice - I think it's the first time since the end of last year that I've really felt that obsessive need to sew (or is that just me?) that normally drives me. It helps that I've been working on a project that I really love, I guess - my Aviatrix medallion.

I have been working on the blocks for the next border very slowly over the last few months (in between other projects), so they feel like they've taken forever. They are fun blocks to make though - and seeing these together made me think I'd like to make an x plus quilt at some stage. I am in desperate need of whittling down my enormous scrap box, and I although I struggle with true scrappy quilts, I think I'd like to make something a bit more controlled like this. Maybe...

Once they were sewn, it was pretty quick to piece them together and sew them to the centre of the quilt - and it grew really big really quickly! It's around 50" square already, but there are only two more complex pieced borders to go, so I don't think it'll take too much longer to finish at the rate I've been sewing this week ;o)

As I said in my first post about this quilt, I'm using the same colour scheme as Elizabeth Hartman has in the pattern, but I'm using prints instead of solids (except for the white background). I'm starting to get really excited about quilting this quilt - there are so many interesting shapes in the piecing which is going to make it loads of fun to quilt!

I hope you all have a great weekend!

xx Jess

Monday 13 July 2015

Craft and Quilt Fair Chaos

The last week has been one of the most exhausting and fulfilling weeks I've had for a long time. Earlier this year, the Tasmanian MQG was offered a booth at our Craft and Quilt Fair (which runs alongside our state quilt show, Island Quilts) - a chance we jumped at. We devised a Prism mini quilt challenge for our members to be displayed in our booth, thinking this would fill our booth space nicely. But! The booth we were offered gradually increased in size - and we found out with just a week to go that we had a huge 12m x 3m space to fill (double what we were originally offered!!). Panic ensued with the realisation that we would need a LOT more than our Prism quilts to fill the space - but thanks to some very creative thinking by one of our amazing members (Briony, left in the photo below) a plan was hatched to fill our booth with interesting, interactive and stimulating ideas to promote modern quilting in Tasmania. I am so proud of what we achieved, our booth looked amazing!! These three ladies (three of my best quilty friends) and myself were responsible for most of the panic sewing and organising involved in putting our booth together. Lots of our committee members helped set up and man the booth at the fair as well, so it was a real team effort.

Our raffle quilt was hanging at one end of the booth - the winner was drawn on Sunday and was absolutely thrilled (understandably, I was secretly hoping I'd win it!!)

Our Prism Challenge quilts created a rainbow of colour across half the booth and attracted a lot of positive feedback. It looked spectacular! 

The other end of the booth was divided into Rest (where we had colouring pages and seats available), and Play (where we had a design wall with lots of orphan blocks and HSTs for people to play with).

 I didn't manage to get a good photo in situ, but our TMQG banner debuted in our booth as well. Our logo was designed by Briony when we started the guild last September, and then one of our talented members, Belle (@ausbelle on Instagram) appliqued and stitched it into a fabric version. I panic-quilted it over a couple of days last week and hurriedly took a few (dodgy) photos before packing it up for the booth. It was terrifying to quilt Belle's beautiful work - but I think the simple FMQ straight lines with some ghost triangles (echoing those in our logo) works quite well.

Aside from the excitement of spreading the word of modern quilting in Tassie, it has been a phenomenal weekend in terms of meeting and talking to some seriously amazing women. On Friday night, I did my first trunk show at a Bernina event and it was a great experience. I was (more than) slightly terrified, but it went really well and the feedback I got was fantastic. It just goes to show that even if you're terrified inside, you can come across as a confident speaker (even if you forget half of what you wanted to say ;o) ). I spent most of Saturday and Sunday talking quilts with some incredibly inspiration women, and I'm still digesting most of it but I might be back with some of my thoughts at a later stage.

I hope you all had a great weekend, and I'll hopefully be back later this week with some quilty progress!

xx Jess