Thursday 31 March 2016

2016 Finish-A-Long: Quarter One Link Up

2016 button 250 best

I don't know about you, but for me this year is absolutely flying past. And cliched as it is, I honestly can't believe we are at the end of March already. April is a HUGE month for me - I'm travelling over to Melbourne for the Australiasian Quilt Convention (AQC) in the middle of the month, as part of the Frangipani Fabrics team. As well as working in our booth, I'll be teaching a Make and Take class which I'm ridiculously excited about - I'll share more about that as soon as I can ;o). If you're coming along to AQC, please come and say hi at the Frangipani Fabrics booth! 

So being the end of March, it means it's already the end of Q1 of the 2016 FAL! The 2016 FAL is now global - a community of bloggers across the world are jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts are:
As a host, I'm not eligible to link up for prizes (sadly, we have an amazing list of sponsors!), but I am playing along this year anyway. For Quarter 1, I was reasonably sensible and only had two quilts I hoped to finish. I did get one of these done - my Aviatrix Medallion, which was an epic finish for me. The second has actually been started (I shared the beginning of it yesterday) - but it will carry across into Quarter 2...

But now it's over to you! It's time to link up the projects on your 2016 Q1 FAL list that you did finish. First, a huge thank you to our fantastic sponsors:
For the 2016 FAL, we also will feature a tutorial week. Here is the schedule so you can visit them all:
The 2016 Q1 link for your finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs - you only need to link on one blog for your finish to appear on each blog. Link-up "rules"
  • Add one link for each Q1 finish. If you want to link a round up post of all your finishes, use that link to enter one of your finishes and then link the rest of your finishes separately. Please, only one link per finish, as your link is an entry into the randomly drawn prize draws.
  • Please use the 2016 FAL button or the hashtag #2016FAL
  • Please ensure that the photo or blog post you link up contains a link or reference back to your original Q1 list so that we can verify your entry.
  • Please become part of the FAL community. Please check out the links of others and comment. We all need encouragement so let's applaud each other. The 2016 FAL Facebook page is here and follow us on Instagram @finishlong and tag your photos #2106FAL.
  • Our hosts will also link their finishes to share in the community, but they are not eligible for any of the prizes.

The Q1 Finishes link will stay open from now thru April 7 - link up your finishes early and if you have a last minute one, add that one later so you don't miss out. The prizes will be awarded as soon as we can verify all the entries and do the drawings. We will post the winners on each host blog. It's also time to start making your Q2 FAL lists as the Q2 list link opens on April 8 - and you're more than welcome to join us in Q2 regardless of whether you've joined up in Q1 or not :o). I have quite a few quilts I'd like to knock over in Q2, so it might be a slightly more ambitious list than Q1!!!

xx Jess

Wednesday 30 March 2016

Improv Quilt Beginnings

Almost as soon as I'd finished piecing my Gravity quilt top, I jumped feet first into my next quilty project - an improv quilt as a class sample for a series of improv workshops I'll be teaching at Frangipani Fabrics later this year. I've been busting to start this quilt for months, so it's SO nice to be able to start working on it. It was also a really nice excuse to cut into some new fabric - the bundle of Carkai I got very recently from Polka Dot Tea. I added lots more Carolyn Friedlander from my stash, along with a few friends.

I'll be teaching a range of improv techniques for these workshops, so I'm incorporating all of these techniques into this quilt. First up was log cabins.

And then wonky crosses, and inserting strips. I have not touched a ruler while making these blocks - and I don't think I can go back to using one for improv after this. This is such a fun and fast way to piece - and I just love the organic lines produced by ruler-free cutting.

I had a bit of time to start playing with strip piecing today - not the best photo I'm afraid, but I'm hoping to get a bunch more of these done later this week so I'll try to get a better one for my next update post on this quilt ;o).

Every time I make an improv quilt, it's like I rediscover how much joy and inspiration I get from working like this. I think you'll probably see quite a few improv quilts from me this year - this quilt has sparked heaps of ideas I'd like to try out when I get a chance!

xx Jess

Tuesday 22 March 2016

Tula Pink Gravity Quilt Top

Towards the end of last year, I decided I really wanted to make a Gravity Quilt (a pattern designed by Julie Herman of Jaybird Quilts). Just like I did with my version of Aviatrix, I wanted to use prints rather than solids for my version - and I thought it would be the perfect way to use my (ahem) rather extensive stash of Tula Pink fabric. So I slowly started making the diamond blocks, taking rather long breaks in between each of them.

A couple of weeks ago, I started teaching this pattern at Frangipani Fabrics, and it got me really motivated to finish piecing my quilt top. So over the last few weeks, I've made the last ten or so diamond blocks and the background blocks - and today I finished piecing the quilt top together! I did a fair bit of fussy cutting for some of the larger pieces (the hexagons in particular), so I've included a few close ups of the quilt top so you can get a better idea of what the blocks look like individually.

This is a bit of a beast - it measures close to 100" square (I think it's 96" x 97"-ish), so I'm quite surprised by how quickly it came together. And considering it's all diamonds, triangles, hexagons and other shapes with lots of bias edges, I'm very happy with how my points have come out. They aren't perfect (there are a few dodgy bits), but overall I'm thrilled - and once it's quilted I think the little discrepancies in my piecing will virtually vanish ;o)

I came pretty close to making a completely Tula quilt with this one - the only non-Tula fabric are the two lightest background fabrics. It was a fun challenge figuring out which prints to use to achieve the colour wheel effect of this quilt, and I learnt a huge amount about colour while making it. Not all my choices are spot on, but it's still an effective quilt, I think. There is something really enjoyable for me in making a quilt using a single designer's fabrics - especially someone like Tula who varies her colours between collections, so they aren't matchy-matchy.

This quilt was the perfect way to finally use some long hoarded out of print fabrics. Almost all of Tula's collections are represented in this quilt - including Neptune, Nest, The Birds and the Bees, Fox Field, True Colours, Saltwater, Prince Charming, Moonshine, Parisville, Nightshade, Eden and Elizabeth. It makes me so happy being able to use so many favorite fabrics in one quilt top!

I'm pretty excited about quilting this one - and I'm planning on using a wool/poly batting (like I did for my Aviatrix), so that the quilting shows up as much as possible. I'm still debating whether to order some Freefall wideback for the back - or whether to piece a back using some of the larger pieces of Tula fabric I've been keeping aside for quilt backs. I have several other class samples to make before I start quilting this though, so I have a while to decide ;o)

xx Jess

Monday 14 March 2016

MisDirection Pattern Release

Last year I was lucky enough to have one of my quilt designs - MisDirection - selected to be included in the 2015 QuiltCon Magazine. And this pattern is now available to purchase in my Craftsy store and my PayHip store!!!

Misdirection explores the versatility of the half square rectangle, taking chevron quilts to a whole new level. Inspired by the Sixties, this quilt features bold bands of colour and negative space created with low volume prints. It is a great quilt to showcase free motion quilting in the ample negative space, and could be made using either prints as in this version, or solid fabrics. The 10-page pattern includes full instructions and diagrams to make a 72" x 72" quilt. 

I had an awesome group of testers who worked through this pattern for me. I love each and every one of these versions - they are great examples of how different this quilt can look based on colour and fabric choice!

First up is Jess's version. I love how these saturated colours pop against the low volume background. And Jess obviously had a ball quilting the negative space - it's a great example of how much fun you can have with the quilting on this quilt!

I love how different Jen's quilt looks with a darker background. Jen used solids for her quilt, and it has resulted in a very graphic, bold quilt. I love this version!

I love how Ella's version has the chevron dissolving into the background - and it's such a fresh combination of colours.

Leslie's version of MisDirection is just lovely - by using several different values of each of the three colours, the quilt top has so much sparkle! It's such a great colour combo, too!

Kirsten's version is absolutely spectacular - I love that pop of lime green against all the neutrals. And how amazing is the texture from the straight line quilting?

And last but certainly not least is Leanne's fabulously summery version. This one makes me think of watermelon, it's so fresh and pretty!

A massive thank you to all of my pattern testers, you've all done such an amazing job with this pattern. I love to see people's versions of my patterns, so if you make this quilt, please use #misdirectionquilt and tag me (@elvengardenquilts) if you share it on social media!!

xx Jess

Saturday 12 March 2016

Aviatrix Medallion: Student Quilts

During the last half of last year, I taught the Aviatrix Medallion pattern (by Elizabeth Hartman) at Frangipani Fabrics. We ended up running two classes (a morning and afternoon session) as we had a huge amount of interest in this class. It's the second time I've taught a medallion quilt (I taught the Marcelle Medallion in 2013 and 2014), and they make such great classes. Medallion quilts are the absolute best training ground in terms of learning precision, and they are a great way to learn about colour. 

I taught the Aviatrix over 7 classes, with lots of homework time in between. I've gotten to know most of my students really, really well over the last three years of teaching (many of my students have done several of my classes), so it honestly doesn't feel like work. I try to create a relaxed and encouraging class environment - so although everyone learns lots, it is also a really lovely social experience. And as a teacher, it is just amazing seeing everyone's quilts grow and evolve over time. I'll be teaching the Aviatrix again this year (kicking off in May if any local quilters are keen to join us this year!) - and although I don't share my students work here very often, I am so proud of what these ladies achieved with these quilts. It's also a great way to showcase how different this pattern can look depending on colour choice. This isn't the whole set of my student quilts, but we have had a number of them hanging at Frangipani Fabrics over the last few weeks so I'm sharing the ones I had a chance to photograph. These quilts are so big we had to fold in the sides to fit them all on the shop walls, which is why you can't see the final borders all the way around. 

First up is Deb's gorgeous version. Deb based her colour choices on Joel Dewberry's Bungalow collection, and it such an elegant, beautiful quilt. 

Next is Margaret's quilt. I love this version - it is so striking, and the colours are so Margaret.

I love Lauren's version too - I'm still not sure how she kept track of the 20 different blue solids she used in this one! The addition of yellow and ochre prints as accents was such a great idea, it really is a spectacular quilt.

Bernadette's version is just so pretty - and again, reflects the maker so well. Beautiful, beautiful!

 And finally, Helen's version. Helen used a fat quarter bundle of Moonshine by Tula Pink for her quilt, and it has worked beautifully.

I've had some lovely feedback from my students since we wrapped up this class last year. The overwhelming comments have been how much they learnt about precision and getting points to match, and how proud they are of what they achieved. I'm pretty excited to get to do it all again this year :o)

xx Jess

Tuesday 8 March 2016

Mountain (A Quilt Block Tutorial)

Last year, my lovely friend Alyce asked me if I'd like to design a block for another of her quilt block series. I love working with Alyce - she is one of those scarily organised people who run amazingly well organised quilt alongs. Last year it was the popular Bee Hive series (which I designed my Checker Block for), and this year it's The Modern HST Sampler. Alyce has invited a bunch of designers to contribute block designs for this sampler, including me. And today I'm excited to show you the first block I designed for this QAL - Mountain!

You can pop over to Alyce's blog for the block tutorial - but I thought I'd show you some of the possibilities with this block. It's not quite as versatile as Checker, but there are still some pretty cool effects you can achieve with this one :o).

I love the movement in this simple layout, where the blocks are rotated to create over-sized pinwheels.

And the angles created using two lines of blocks going down the quilt are really interesting. This would be a really fun design to quilt!

I hope you're all having a great week!

xx Jess