Monday 29 February 2016

Kaffe Fassett Workshop

Living in Tasmania (the little island off the bottom of mainland Australia) we don't often have the opportunity to do classes with international quilting superstars. So I'm a wee bit excited about what I got to do today! Kaffe Fassett and Brandon Mably have been working all around Australia for the last few months, and today they taught in Hobart and I was lucky enough to get a spot in their class. 

This really was a colour class - no sewing machines, just cutting fabric and playing with it on a design wall. I learnt an incredible amount today, so I thought I'd write this blog post while it's all fresh in my mind. I went into this class with a substantial pile of fabric, but no real idea what I'd use or what kind of quilt I'd end up with. I figure if you're going to do a class with someone like Kaffe and Brandon, you need to go into it with an open mind and let them guide you in fabric and colour choices.  

I decided straight up to work with colours I normally wouldn't - and although I did take a wider range of warm colours with me, I ended up gravitating to the dusky pinks, browns and a few pink/reds I'd taken with me. One thing that was a real challenge for me was trying to stay to medium value prints, which was a key thing Kaffe suggested when choosing fabric for this quilt. A range of values (dark, medium and light) normally plays a huge role in my fabric selections, and although there are a few lighter or darker fabrics in this, they are predominantly medium vale.

We started by just cutting and placing the hexagons up on our design walls, and then toward the middle of the day we chose a colour for the star points. I was very open to suggestion here - Kaffe asked me what I was thinking, and when I said aqua he suggested my dress colour (a dark teal) would be the perfect choice. You tend to listen to this kind of advice, so I chose a few deep teal/blues and got cutting. Even after the first star points had gone up, I knew it was the right way to go - even though they're still medium value prints the hexagons really pop next to the blues.

My lovely friend Cath got a photo of me and Kaffe while he was talking about my quilt - Brandon and Kaffe both really, really loved it despite the fact I was the only person taking the workshop who didn't use their fabrics ;o).

I'm totally exhausted, but really inspired after today. If you ever have the opportunity to do a class with Kaffe and Brandon, I highly recommend it, it's an incredible experience. I'd definitely like to work like this a lot more - just cutting fabric and putting it on my design wall and playing. It's a great way to learn about colour and balance. I really want to finish this quilt soon - so once I knock over a few quilty priorities this week, I'm hoping to get back to this quilt and keep playing!

xx Jess

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Aviatrix Medallion {Finished at last!!}

A few days ago, I finally finished sewing the binding down on my Aviatrix Medallion, so this epically epic quilt is finally (almost!) finished! Aviatrix has been roughly a year in the making, so I hope you're not sick of seeing it quite yet (I know I've been sharing it quite frequently over the course of piecing and quilting it!). I still have a lot of thread burying to do, but it is essentially finished - so this is the last time you'll have to see it ;o). 

I made this quilt as a class sample for the class I taught at Frangipani Fabrics last year (and will be teaching again this year), and all the fabrics in the quilt are from Frangipani. The Aviatrix Medallion pattern is designed by Elizabeth Hartman, and I stuck pretty closely to her original palette, but I've used print fabrics rather than solids as in the pattern. I really do prefer working with prints, especially prints that have a dominant colour, and I think they work perfectly in this quilt. It gives the blocks a bit more sparkle than with solids, I think.

This is a pretty time consuming quilt to piece - although the centre is the only really difficult part to put together. Having said that, the way I chose to quilt it made it a truly epic quilt to make. I haven't timed it at all, but I reckon I spent close to 150 hours quilting this one. And I am really proud of what I achieved with it. I tried really hard to be original in my quilting choices, and to add lots of texture without taking away from the piecing design too much. I think I've achieved my aims - I know this much detailed quilting isn't to everyone's taste, but I adore how it's finished up!

I used a wool/poly batting for the first time on this quilt - and I'm hooked. It gives the quilting a bit more puff than 100% wool batting, and it has a lovely drape despite all that quilting. I figure if I am going to spend all that time quilting, it might as well be noticeable ;o). 

Having looked through these photos, I've decided I will go back and add some more quilting to the log cabins that haven't been quilted in the coloured sections. In the photo below, you can see I've quilted a cross hatch pattern in the yellow log cabin - I'm going to go back and add bits of quilting like that at some stage soon.

 The back of this quilt is simply pieced, with a Cotton and Steel voile down the centre and a dark pink solid on either side. The voile held up amazingly well with all the quilting on this quilt - and having such a light weight fabric on the back means it drapes amazingly well. Not only that, it feels delightful!

As always, I matched my bobbin thread to the top thread, so the quilting on the solid pink is really visible, especially where I've quilted over the same place a few times. I somehow managed to keep the back straight relative to the front too - not something that always happens when I piece backs! The binding is partly pieced using the left overs from the top, and partly neutral fabric that blends in with the final border.

All the quilting was done with Aurifil threads - Dove grey 50wt for all the background and grey areas, and the four colours you can see below for the coloured sections. I love that you can see the quilting on some of the coloured sections, but blends into others. Changing thread colours wasn't something I originally planned for this quilt, but I'm glad I did. Although it means a lot of threads to bury, I think with this much quilting it needs to blend fairly well, or it would completely dominate the piecing.

This quilt was on my Finish Along Quarter One list, so I'm especially pleased to get one finish in this quarter. I've had so many lovely comments during the making of this quilt, thank you so much for your encouragement! I'm incredibly happy with how it's turned out, although I'm looking forward to making a couple of simple quilts before launching into my next epic quilt ;o)

xx Jess

Sunday 21 February 2016

Quilty happenings...

A few months ago, I was invited to be involved in the 2016 Australian Council of Quilters Conference, along with our superstar member Kat Jones (who has just won another two prizes at QuiltCon!). So on Friday night, kat and I went to Government House for the opening of the conference. It was a pretty amazing experience - being announced and introduced to Kate and her husband Richard, and being made to feel very welcome and comfortable. Government House itself is spectacular, so it was a bit of a treat to wander through some of the rooms and admire the architecture. 

Last night, Ann (our Vice President), kat and myself were responsible for pre-dinner entertainment for the ACQ representatives. Ann spoke about the Tasmanian MQG and then kat and I did a pretty huge trunk show. It actually went really well - and I surprised myself with how calm I managed to stay before it all happened. I tend to completely freak out before public speaking events, but this time I actually didn't feel that nervous. It's really nice to know I CAN do this kind of thing and not get ridiculously nervous ;o).

So although I'm not at QuiltCon, it's been a pretty awesome quilty weekend. Oh, and I have very nearly finished stitching the binding down on Aviatrix, so I'll have a big finish to share with you this week sometime!!

xx Jess

Wednesday 3 February 2016

Aviatrix Medallion - Log Cabin Quilting

Our kids started back at school today (new school for my youngest two, and they both had an awesome day which is a real relief!), and I didn't have to work. Naturally I grabbed the chance to have a day in the 'studio' aka garage. I made some pretty good progress on my Aviatrix quilting - the log cabin border is so close to being finished! 

At this stage, I've mostly quilted the white parts using Aurifil 50wt in Dove (the same thread I've used in all the white and neutral areas of the quilt). I'm debating whether to go back and do a bit more quilting with coloured thread in the coloured logs. I quite like how puffy they are, but considering how densely quilted the centre part of the quilt is, I'm a bit worried these blocks look too sparsely quilted in comparison.

I don't think I'll make a decision until I've quilted the butterflies. It might be good to have one less densely quilted border. I don't know! I must admit it's getting more challenging to keep this quilt square as I move out toward the last borders. I'm being super careful about ditch stitching each block as I move around each border, and I'm fairly confident I'll be able to quilt it into submission. I think there'll be some serious blocking going on once it's all done though!

 Now that I've got a bit of daytime, kid-free sewing time again, I'm hoping I'll knock over the rest of the quilting on this over the next week or so.

I hope you're all having a great week!

xx Jess

Monday 1 February 2016

Elven Garden Teaches 2016

It's been a big organisational week for me this past week, planning and scheduling the classes I'll be teaching at Frangipani Fabrics this year. We added almost 20 new classes to our website last week (not all mine!) including patchwork, bag making, hand sewing and kids sewing classes. I'm working at Frangipani a bit more this year (in addition to teaching weekend classes), including helping with kids sewing classes

Over the last two years, teaching patchwork and quilting classes has become a huge part of my life. I don't think there's any better occupation than teaching other people about something that you love. Watching people learn new skills (and that 'aha' moment when a new technique makes perfect sense) and have fun in my classes brings me a ridiculous amount of joy. So I'm thrilled that I'll be teaching even more this year - it's going to be an awesome year!

I have a few classes starting in February and March, some new and some repeats from last year and 2014. We are kicking off 2016 with a repeat of the very first class I taught - the Necessary Clutch Wallet, which I'm really looking forward to. I still use my NCW almost three years on, and it's still in amazing condition.

Another class I'm teaching again is the Aviatrix Medallion by Elizabeth Hartman. I taught this quilt last year, and it was simply amazing watching 12 different versions of this quilt evolve. I'm hoping to share my students finishes with you pretty soon, they are all remarkable quilts! One of the nicest things about teaching a quilt like this is that I get to know my students really well over the 7 or 8 classes, and see friendships blossom between my students. I've started quilting mine again, and I'm really hoping I'll have the quilting done in the next week or two.

One of my new classes for this year is Gravity (designed by Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts). While I was writing this post I realised I haven't actually photographed this one for a while - the diamond blocks have multiplied slightly since this ;o) Spaces in this class are filling up fast, it is going to be such a fun quilt to teach! I'm making mine using all Tula Pink prints, and I am so in love with it. It's been a great way to use some long hoarded fabrics and a few precious scraps - I'm really looking forward to getting stuck into finishing the top once I finish quilting my Aviatrix!

I have a bunch of other classes starting later this year, so I'll share those once my class samples are under way. In the meantime, I'll be sharing progress on these two quilts a bit more often - my kids start back at school this week, so I'll actually get a day or two a week to do some quilting ;o)

xx Jess