Thursday, 14 September 2017

Tropical Hexagons progress

Tennis is my favourite sport to watch on TV.  Each year I try to plan my work so I can watch the US Open in September, and the Australian Open in January.

Both of these tournaments both work well for our time zone here in New Zealand. We are 12 hours ahead of the UK, so it's impossible to watch Wimbledon live, and it's a similar problem for the French Open. (Plus I don't really like clay court tennis - too much sliding about.)

I continued my normal sewing routine for the first few days of the US Open, but as the games became more tense I packed away my sewing machine and got out my hand quilting.  It's so much easier to focus on the tennis when you haven't got the machine running, and aren't jumping up and down to the ironing board.

I could watch all the action from my sewing table while I quietly hand quilted (except for the occasional shouts on critical points).

I'm trying to get my Tropical Hexagons (my name for Mediterranean Hexagons) quilt finished before Kaffe and Brandon come back to New Zealand in January 2018.  I started this in their Mediterranean Hexagons class in January 2016.  You can read my thoughts on that class here if you wish.  I really enjoyed the class and learnt so much from them, and I vowed then that if they ever came back again I would be sure to go.

This time they will be teaching Irish Diamonds from the new book, Quilts in Ireland.  It uses a wide range of fabrics, so I'll be diving into my stash and using lots of treasures that I've been hoarding.  It will be great to see them all combined in a quilt.

However, I really want to finish this Tropical Hexagons quilt before I go to their next class.  I've currently hand quilted 45% of the quilt, so there's still a fair way to go, but I'm making it a goal to finish it before Christmas. Then I can take it to the class and show Kaffe and Brandon.

Friday, 8 September 2017

Holiday Homies by Tula Pink

When I first saw Tula Pink's new Holiday Homies fabric few months ago, I just couldn't resist.

I'm not usually one for cute images on fabric, and I don't even like dogs all that much, but the combination of dogs with glasses and Christmas sweaters, just drew me in.

I bought a fat quarter bundle and decided to made a small Christmas quilt, fussy cutting the images to retain as much of them as possible.  It's summer time when it's Christmas here in New Zealand, so we don't need big Christmas quilts - but I still like to put out some decorative table runners and hang some wall quilts.

I really liked all of the fabrics that came in the Holiday Homies collection, so I decided to incorporate them all into my quilt.

When the top was finished I hand quilted it with Aurifil 12wt.  As usual, I used a range of colours - some matching and some contrasting.  If you're new to my blog and want to know more about how I hand quilt, you can check back to these three posts I wrote earlier in the year:

Celebrate Hand Quilting

Hand quilting threads

Hand quilting designs

I'm not one to write patterns usually, but if you'd like to make a Holiday Homies quilt similar to mine, here's what I did.

1.  Fussy cut the animal images very carefully to preserve as many as possible. I drew 4.75" squares on the diagonal on the back of the fabric, centering the images and carefully managing the lines between adjoining animals. Take your time doing this.

2. Cut 2 x 4.25" squares for the corners of each animal block. Cut these square in half on the diagonal to make 4 90 degree triangles.

3.  Sew the triangles to the squares to make the animal diamonds into square in a square blocks and trim them to 6.5" x 6.5".

4.  Add borders.  Cut 2 strips 6.5" x 2" and attach.  Cut 2 strips 9.5" x 2" and attach.

5.  Choose a plain fabric for the final border.  I tired without a plain border and it was just too busy. Cut 2 strips 9.5" x 1.25" and attach.  Cut 2 strips 11" x 1.25" and attach.

6.  Make sashing by joining 2" strips and trimming to 3.5". I kept mine this wide because I wanted to incorporate my remaining animal prints in the cornerstones. You could make the sashing narrower if you don't have any animals left over.

7.  Make cornerstones from the remaining animal images if possible.

8.  Join it all up and you have a fun quilt for children (and children at heart) to admire at Christmas.

My finished quilt measures 37.5" x 37.5" and was all made from fat quarters - if you buy fat quarters you need to be sure that your local quilt shop cuts the animal images carefully. Nothing worse than coming home with half a dog!

Merry Christmas.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

William Morris and Michele Hill

Last week the Craft and Quilt Fair came to town and we were very fortunate that the organisers decided to bring a special guest this year - Michele Hill from Adelaide, Australia.

Michele is world famous because of her love of William Morris and his designs.  Michele has designed fabrics, lead tours to UK, designed quilts and published books - all focused on William Morris and his designs.  You can find Michele's blog here - William Morris and Michele.

I haven't made any of Michele's patterns myself, but my mum has made two and would have loved to have seen her quilts up close.

The details in Michele's applique are amazing when you get up really close.

I enjoyed see Michele's design process, and studying her sketches.

I also attended Michele's special lecture where she spent one hour showing us many photos from her William Morris tours through England and Iceland. I can tell that the tours would have been a lot of fun because Michele is a very happy person.

Michele is retiring from teaching at the end of this year, but she is going to lead some very special William Morris tours in Adelaide, Australia, next year.  Adelaide has the largest collection of William Morris memorabilia outside of the UK. You can find out more about the tours here.

Saturday, 26 August 2017

Ballet with Kaffe progress - and how to sew a 10 pointed star

I've been working on my Ballet with Kaffe quilt for a few months now.

I've started four large rosettes, but I'm only putting seven of the 10 pointed stars on each rosette until I decide on the final layout for my quilt.  I hate unpicking English Paper Piecing, so I like to leave my options open as I make the rosettes.

I also don't cut the pieces too far in advance.  I like to check my plans every step of the way, and frequently change my fabric selections before I get to the cutting stage.

I started with these fabrics above for my most recent two rosettes, but you can see below that after making the centres, I changed my mind slightly for both of them. I used the three fabrics on the right above for each centre, but I changed the next round slightly.

I do believe that it's the attention to small details like this that make my quilts stand out.  Yes, it means I spend hours (or days) dithering over fabric selections, but I don't cut until I'm really sure my fabrics are right.  If I'm not happy with my choices, I keep experimenting.

I love how this centre turned out.  English Paper Piecing makes matching stripes easier than hand piecing.

10 pointed stars

People have been asking me about the 10 pointed stars and how to make them line up properly. Here's my advice:

1.  Make two sets of 5 long diamonds, being sure to stitch right up to the points.

2.  Start from the centre and sew out to one side.  Use Clover Clips to keep the ends aligned.

3.  Then sew out from the centre to the other end.

Mine don't always turn out perfectly, but I know they will look better once the papers have been removed.

I hope this helps some of you struggling to get these stars to line up.

Willyne's third book will be released very soon.  I'm excited to see what new patterns she has come up with.

You can find more information about both of my millefiore quilts on the tabs at the top of the page - la passacaglia and Ballet with Kaffe.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Yazzii bags

Have you heard of Yazzii bags? They are really useful for storing sewing supplies. I bought this bright pink one and decided to personalise it.

The beauty of Yazzii bags is that they have fabric exteriors so it's easy to sew coverings onto them.

I chose a pattern from a Sue Spargo's Magnolia book and I added some ribbons and Tula Pink fabric too.

I know these bags aren't cheap - I was fortunate to buy this one from a friend in Canada who had never used it.

It has so many pockets and compartments and will be great to take to Symposium in Christchurch.  I'm doing five days of classes at Symposium, so will need lots of different threads, needles etc.

So now I have two Yazzi bags - a small green one, and a BIG pink one.

Here's a link to my blog post about my first Yazzi bag which I embellished with a pattern from Wendy Williams.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Capital Quilters 12 x 12 Exhibition - Open NOW

We had the official opening of our 12 x 12 exhibition last night and it was great to see such a variety of mini quilts on display.

There were 12 categories and members could enter as many quilts as they liked.  I entered three quilts and here they are:

1.  Bedazzle

I made a modern interpretation on a whole cloth quilt by hand quilting and embellishing one piece of Kaffe Fassett fabric.  I used some of my embroidery threads and some beads to add bling because the theme was Bedazzle.

I won a Highly Commended ribbon for this quilt and I was thrilled.  There was one winner and one highly commended in each category, so I was very happy.

Here's a better photo taken at home:

2. Flora and Fauna

I used my favourite wool felt applique technique to make a bouquet of flowers.

3. Round the World

I bought some special Frida Kahlo fabric at Bolt of Cloth in Auckland and decided to use it in this mini quilt.  I fussy cut some images of Frida and then worked around them to build it out to 12" square.  This quilt includes machine and hand quilting.

Most of us had been keeping our quilts secret, so it was lovely to see them all revealed and be able to match the quilt with the maker.

The Best of Show award went to Lyn White for her amazing mini called "Light Show at the Museum". Congratulations Lyn.

Here's all the details of the exhibition.  Best news is it's FREE, so if you live in Wellington I recommend you make plans to visit either this weekend or next.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

My Tussie Mussie

Tussie Mussie is finished and I'm using it on my knees on these cold winter's nights in New Zealand. The pattern is from Kaffe Fassett's Quilts in Italy book. I took the quilt to Auckland a few weeks ago and photographed it in mum's garden.

I love seeing all those gorgeous Kaffe Fassett fabrics together in one place.

Although I do love hand quilting, some time there just isn't enough hours in the day to do everything, so I got this quilt quilted by Sue Burnett of Busy Bee Quilt Shop in Lyall Bay, New Zealand.  I chose an overall swirly design which I felt suited the fabrics well.  It certainly looks great on the back with the Kaffe Fassett wide back fabric.

I asked Sue to use Aurifil 40wt on the top, and 50wt on the back.  I chose one of my favourite colours - Aurifil 1243 - Dusty Lavender.


You can see earlier WIP photos here if you wish.

My quilt is 60" x 60" because my half square triangle blocks are smaller than the ones in the pattern.  It makes for a perfect lap quilt because I chose wool batting.