Sunday, 17 May 2015

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Galaxy

It's that time of year again when Amy runs her fabulous Bloggers Quilt Festival for those of us who aren't lucky enough to go to Quilt Market. And it's nice to have an excuse to share a couple of my favorite quilts from the last six months ;o)

You probably remember this one, as I over shared it to death while I was making it. I made this quilt over a (slightly insane) five week period in October/November last year. I spent close to 100 hours working on this quilt (mostly quilting it). It was worth every single second though - I am SO happy with how it has finished up! It's just been accepted to hang at Modern Quilt Show Australia too, so I finally have a push to finish burying the threads and get a hanging sleeve on it!

Almost all the star fabrics in this quilt are from various collections by the hugely talented Jenean Morrison. Her fabric designs are just perfect for fussy cutting, and it was lots of fun creating kaleidoscope effects with them. This quilt is vaguely made using Jaybird Quilts Night Sky pattern - although there are only a few Night Sky blocks sprinkled around the quilt. The rest were made using Julie's Sidekick ruler (which is PERFECT for fussy cutting), but simplified so they don't include the outer star points in the Night Sky blocks. I also mucked around with different sized stars - some are bigger and some smaller than Julie's pattern.

Having the stars different sizes was the perfect way to incorporate lots of quilting into the quilt, too. I added 2 1/2" borders to the small and medium sized stars to bring them up to the same size as the biggest ones. The way I pieced it made it very easy to plan my quilting too - and it meant I did very little marking too as I could just use the borders to guide my quilting. I went all out with the quilting on this quilt, and I am delighted with the results. I feel like I'm a lot more relaxed when I'm quilting lately - I don't need to focus on what I'm doing as much anymore, so it is a very meditative thing to do. The only problem is how sore my shoulders get after quilting a quilt this densely ;o)

The back is an amazing print from Parisville by Tula Pink - I had just enough for the back, but not enough to match the print unfortunately. I suspect this one will hang on a wall though, so I'm not too phased (and it's the kind of print that isn't horribly noticeable when it isn't matched). I love, love, love how much the quilting shows up on the back - I used a bobbin thread matched to the top thread, and even though there are lots of different colours in there, they all blend into the print.

I used 100% wool batting in this quilt - and I am completely in love with using it. I've gradually been working my way up in terms of the loft of batting I use as I've become more confident with my quilting, and I love how much texture wool gives to quilting. I don't think I'll go back to lower loft batting now I've tried this stuff.

The stars themselves are quite sparsely quilted - I used the fabric design as a guide for the quilting in most of them, and simply stitched around some of the designs to add a bit of dimension to the stars, but still letting them pop a bit.

 Quilt Stats:

Size - 72" x 75"
Fabric - Lots of Jenean Morrison prints, along with a few Joel Dewberry and Amy Butler prints. Background is Cotton Couture in Soft White. 
Quilting - on my domestic Bernina, using a variety of Aurifil threads (40wt in the background, 50wt in the stars). 
Backing - Damask Dot from Parisville by Tula Pink
Binding - Cotton Couture in Soft White. 

It's really nice to be able to share this quilt again. I'm looking forward to checking out the other entries this time around, too :o) 

xx Jess 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

The Aviatrix Begins

It's funny how the best of intentions can be easily thwarted. I had planned on photographing and sharing several quilts last week, but we have had nearly constant rain so quilt photography has been a bit difficult ;o) I did manage to scoot outside today and snap a few, so there will be finishes revealed in the near(ish) future, but today I'm just sharing a couple of works in progress I have on the go.

I have an upcoming class teaching the Aviatrix Medallion by Elizabeth Hartman, so I started making my class sample last week. I've had the fabric for this quilt set aside since the end of last year, when I chose all the fabric at Frangipani Fabrics (where I'll be teaching the class). I decided to use the same colour scheme as the pattern, but I'm using print fabrics where Elizabeth used all solids. It was pretty easy to match prints using the colour chart in the pattern, and it is making it a breeze to make this quilt, at least in terms of colour placement. I think I'd approach this quilt very differently if I was making it from stash and challenge myself more in terms of colour palette, but I must admit it is nice to not have to think so much about those things!

I'm not going to lie - that centre block was a pain in the butt. There was quite a lot of unpicking (and swearing) involved, and it still isn't perfect, but I think it looks okay (and to be honest, I'm being very picky here - there are a few points in the blue bird that are quite dodgy, but overall it isn't bad). And once the first border went on, I decided I could live with it ;o)

And now the second and third borders are on, I'm most definitely in love with it. I've been feeling a bit under the weather this week, and all this colour just makes me happy :o) It is such a pleasure to work on this quilt!

The other project I'm working on has been a slow-sewing project since I came back from QuiltCon. The orange peels are all needle turn appliqued, and I finally sewed it all together last week. I want to quilt it soon - but I'm completely stumped as to what to do. Normally by this stage I would've had a flash of inspiration but this time around it just isn't happening. I think I'd like to emphasise the fading out and decreasing size of the 'flowers' with the quilting, but I can't decide the best way to do it. Any and all ideas would be gratefully appreciated :o)

I hope you're all having a great week! I found out this morning that two of my quilts have been accepted into Modern Quilt Show Australia at the end of May (woohoo!!) so I'll be burying threads and sewing hanging sleeves for the next few evening I think. 

xx Jess

Sunday, 3 May 2015

A rainbow mini

So somehow it's over a month since I last blogged, and I'm not sure exactly where April went. I have been sewing quite a bit and have a few very near finishes, so I'll hopefully be blogging a little bit more frequently from now on. I think part of the slack blogger problem is the ease and speed of Instagram, but it's also finding the time to blog. Or having to choose whether to blog or sew, and sewing often wins out ;o)

One of my recent finishes was an angel mini quilt for the #igminiswap that ran on Instagram last year. I haven't ever been an angel in a swap before, and I found it quite tricky. I couldn't get feedback from the recipient along the way like normal, so I just had to go with my gut and hope she liked it. Kelly's main 'like' was rainbow, and she had a great picture of her wall of rainbow mini quilts in her IG feed, so it was fairly obvious what colours I'd be using. I'd picked up a rainbow bundle of Free Spirit solids at Quiltcon which I was busting to use, so I decided to use those (along with white Cotton Couture for the background).

I cut strips from each of the coloured solids and then added a strip of white (in varying widths) to each strip. I cut them using a ten degree wedge ruler, lining the narrow end of the ruler up with the white fabric (so the narrow points of each strip have a improv look). I'm really keen to do something similar on a larger scale, but vary both ends of the wedges. I love the angles wedges create, and I think lots of negative space around these would be loads of fun to quilt.

Even this little one was fun to quilt. I had no real plan when I started quilting this mini - I knew I wanted a ghost wedge on one end, but beyond that I literally made it up as I went along. In retrospect, I think I should have done all straight lines in the background, but I still like how this turned out.

It's nice to be blogging again (as much as I love IG, I do like to elaborate on my projects a bit more!!), so hopefully I'll get a bit more organised and share more of what I'm up to here more often. In the meantime, I hope you're all having a great weekend :o)  

xx Jess

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

The Bob Along

A couple of weeks ago, Angie of GnomeAngel contacted me to ask if I'd like to be part of a blog hop for QuiltJane's new pattern, the Bob Bag. Given the cuteness (and usefulness) of this little project, I was quick to say yes - it's nice to make a three dimensional project from time to time :o)

I have to admit I actually haven't quite finished this project. I was planning on making it this week, but found out late last week that I'd gotten a new job and I started yesterday (goodbye sewing days!). (I'm working in a laboratory again for the first time in about 10 years, so I'm feeling a bit brain fried today!) I'm not sure I'll get a chance to finish it any time soon either - Miss 4 snaffled it pretty quickly. In any case, I only need to stitch the bottom together, so it won't take long when I can steal it back ;o)

The pattern does provide instructions for fitting bolts in the box so you can use it to store bobbins and such, but I decided to make it for my daughter as she needs something to keep her hair-ties and ribbons in. Hence the unicorns and snails - it was really nice to use some of my Far Far Away fabrics at last! I'll be making myself one to store hexies in as well - it's a fun little project to make, and there is a lot of hand stitching involved so it's a good couch-based project (which is what I need right now!!)

There will be lots more Bob Bag examples over the next week or so (links below), so please check them out.
Monday 23rd March — Angie @ Gnome Angel
Wed­nes­day 25th March — Jane @ Quilt Jane
Fri­day 27th March — Peta @ SheQuilt­sAlot
Monday 30th March — Anita @ Day­dreams of Quilts
Wed­nes­day 1st April  - Me!
Fri­day 3rd April — Melissa @ Ms Midge
Monday 6th April - Cat @ Cat & Vee
Wed­nes­day 8th April — Gemma @ Pretty Bobbins
Fri­day 10th April — Angie @ Gnome Angel (link up and prizes!!!)
xx Jess

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