The quilting challenge: Stitches in Time

Firstly, sorry it’s been so long, life has sort taken over a little with new houses and just general manic-ness!

But here I am and there is lots to catch you up on my first and second attempt at lampshade making and a challenge quilt competed for my quilting group challenge.

In October, I had the opportunity to attend another Hometown course, this time ‘luscious lampshades’. The class arrived and set about choosing their fabric, without a doubt the hardest bit! (Well maybe 2nd, I’ll come to that in a minute!)

I choose some fabric that had bright tea cups and pots all over for my sewing room, I love this fabric! Then we settled down to the task at hand. The course was just over 2 hours with tea in between ūüôā but it was plenty of time for everyone to make and finish their shades.

The finished lamp

As you can see they are all completely different and unique. So what was the hardest bit for me, well this task involves sticky tape! You can imagine what happened!

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I loved it so much, I made a second smaller lamp for my mother-in-law’s birthday, again it just shows you the endless possibilities.

Postcard lamp

So now, on to the second project I have completed since we last spoke. As you know I joined a quilting group this year and every year they set a challenge for its members. The previous winner selects the challenge criteria, which this year was ‘stitches in time’ the quilt could be no more than 25inches wide and long and needed to contain 25% recycled fabric.

Getting my creative hat on I decided that I would focus on children stories with a theme of time. Stitches in Storytime. Originally I came up with 4 panels , Alice in Wonderland, Secret Garden, Cinderella and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. (I had a little help from my friends on Facebook to come up with the list)

Then I found out we were moving house so thought I ought to stick to two panels which I might actually complete in time! So my final piece centred on The Secret Garden and The lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe. I used all fabric from previous projects and added a button embellishment to each one. I loved making it and it was my first step into something vaguely artistic!

Challenge Quilt

The group came up with lots of different ideas with some interpreting memories, others representations of time such as clocks and my friend did Operation the game with various medical stitches through time. The winner did a memory piece using her daughter’s christening gown that she wanted to preserve as it was falling apart.

It was really enjoyable and I would love to take part again next year.

Well that’s all for now, but hopefully next time I won’t leave it so long! In fact I promise I won’t.

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Festival of Quilts 2013 – A quilters paradise!

Every year quilters from all over the world descend on the NEC Birmingham for days of fabric, quilts, demonstrations and shopping! And this year was my turn!

Festival of Quilts 2013

I had no idea what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised.

We arrived on Thursday lunchtime and decided to look at all the amazing quilts submitted for various competitions as well as some the exhibitions by some of various guilds around the world. The quilts were inspirational and awe inspiring!

The show displays hundreds of quilts but also gives quilters the opportunity to see their favourite artists in the flesh. I got to see and meet some quilting legends including Tula Pink, who was as lovely as you’d expect her to be. I am currently working on a Tula Pink quilt using blocks from her latest book ‘100 modern Quilt Blocks’

As well as seeing quilts in the flesh, the festival gives attendees the opportunity to sign up for courses, some run for the duration of the festival whilst others are taster sessions lasting only one hour. We were slow off the pace this year and only managed to book onto one course, ‘Reverse Applique’ with Ruth Singer. In this session we learnt how do make shadow designs. Here is my finished piece, I am thinking of adding it into a journal quilt to capture my two days at the festival.

Ruth Singer workshop

That just leaves one more thing to talk about… the shopping! There are what feels like hundreds of stalls selling fabrics, quilting tools and books. I would be lying if I said I didn’t come back with some goodies!

Shopping at the Festival

We could resist buying a new quilting ruler. I looked like a Quilting Ninja with the rulers sticking out of my backpack, I got some strange looks on the train on the way home but one should never underestimate the power of a Rachel Cross Creative Grid on making quilting awesome and easy!!

In summary the Festival of Quilts was AWESOME!!! and we are already planning our trip next year with military precision!

In the meantime, I have hundreds of new ideas so watch this space!!!

Birthday Quilting – Ryan Gosling on a Quilt?

I have been crazily busy, so please excuse the slowness in posting. I am carefully planning my quilts trying not to have more on the go than I can cope with, whilst trying to keep my wandering quilt mind in check!

I have been creating Birthday gifts, one conventional, designed by myself!

The other a moment of madness that had to be followed through!

I’ll start with the first one, which started with a rash and unplanned trip to the quilt shop that features so often in my blog ‘Hometown’ in Rochester. Hard to imagine in this current weather, but it was a cold Wednesday night in the run up to Christmas. My husband late night collecting parcels from the sorting office left me to my own devices in the quilt shop that was open late…. (mistake!)

IMG_0309

I found this gorgeous fabric, with woodland scenes, autumnal colours with birds, bears, deer and raccoon. So I then had to buy a whole host of fabric to go with! Obviously!!!

I knew who I had in mind when I saw it but no design yet… I wanted to show off the beautiful animals and so to cut it up in to small bits wouldn’t do. So I came up with a 9 block design that would have 5 showcasing the woodlands fabric.

Autumn Quilt

Laura’s Birthday is in May, plenty of time given it was only Christmas but given I am prone to start quilts, then start another, I figured it needed to be earlier rather than later!

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Fortunately I achieved my aim and Laura received her present in time for her birthday ūüôā I loved this quilt so much I almost kept it!!!

I have also been practicing my embroidery. So have finally been adding labels to my quilts. Something all quilters should do but something I am rubbish at!!

Present - Copy

At the same time I was also working on another Birthday quilt this time one destined for my friend who likes Mr Gosling!

Spoonflower, an American based company that allows crazy people like me design fabric, have a yearly staff challenge for their workers where they all create a quilt. One group put their creative minds together to create a ‘Ryan’ quilt¬†http://blog.spoonflower.com/2013/03/2013-spoonflower-staff-quilting-challenge-pt-9-a-ryan-gosling-quilt.html

I shared this blog post on Facebook and I received lots of comments, mostly with other celebrity quilt suggestions! So in a moment of madness (one that matches our friendship!) I ordered the fabric for my friend Kirsty and got machine quilting

Ryan Quilt - Copy

This one involved a lot of machine quilting!

K Label - Copy

To finish it off I added a label on the back, using Ryan Gosling’s meme ‘Hey Girl…’ though he has never been known to say it, Gosling fans frequently use it on posters etc! I thought it was apt to use it on the label ūüôā

His recent announcement that he likes to knit, caused a stir amongst crafty ladies across the world. So deserves a mention on any creative project which involves his face!!!

Present K

I am happy to say both quilts went to happy homes ūüôā and hope that they will have years of love. Although I recognise that Kirsty’s husband may not ‘love’ the Ryan quilt as much as his wife…

Project Linus – from hobby to making a difference

Project Linus was established in 1990’s in America and was aptly named after the Peanuts Character Linus who carries his blue comfort blanket with him everywhere. The charity aims to “provide security through blankets”, quilters, knitters and just generally crafty people are asked to create blankets that can then be donated to a child in need in your area.

In 2000, the Charity reached over the pond to the UK where a chapter of the Charity was established to collect and make quilts for children in the UK. Last year over 22,ooo quilts were donated for children across the county, providing a little bit of comfort in their time of need. The charity accepts quilts for all ages of children including teenagers and there are lots of dedicated volunteers who will gladly accept your donation!

The charity also often attends quilt shows across the UK asking attendees to sew a block towards a quilt they are making. They will be attending the Festival of Quilts at Birmingham where they are asking quilters to bring a block 12 1/2 inches in the theme of Autumn, Winter, Spring, Summer.

This year my New Year’s resolution was to make a blanket for Project Linus and unlike most other resolutions this is one I was determined to keep!¬†I got in touch with a local volunteer, via the Project Linus website, who was pleased to have received my donation.

Bird House Quilt for Project Linus

This is the ‘Bird House’ quilt I made for the Charity, I thought it might be suitable for a teenager perhaps. I love the bird fabrics, which when I saw them new I had to put them in a quilt!

I was also brave with this one as it was my first attempt at Machine Quilting! Eek, to make it harder I also chose vibrant multicoloured thread which meant it would show up, if I made any mistakes! But it really adds an extra element to the quilt.

Birds Up Close

I have been making quilts for a few years now, but it is nice to use the skills I have learnt to make something that really could make a difference to someone’s life whom I’ve never met before. I hope that whoever receives it finds comfort in it.

So here’s the bit where I encourage you to do your bit to help this amazing charity!

To donate a quilt of your own or to give materials or money to the charity please visit the following websites;

For the UK Р http://projectlinusuk.org.uk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=55&Itemid=1

For US donations visit –¬†http://www.projectlinus.org/

Back to Black…

I have been quilting for a number of years now and I have noticed that I love bright colours but equally I love to use black backgrounds. I was talking to a fellow quilter who doesn’t like using black and when looking at quilts I can’t say I have seen many that actually do. I think that the black showcases the bright fabrics enhancing the colours rather than swamping them.

My very first quilt which some of you may have already seen, was backed with black and white stars, I chose it because I thought it would make the reds POP!

Start at the Beginning

Which I think does its job! It almost looks 3D.

Its not the first time I have used Black and Red together, whilst creating a Dresden plate quilt I also used Red and Black. The quilt now hangs proudly in our living room, mostly because I am shocked I managed to do a ‘Dresden’ with points and everything!!

Close up!

Am I convincing you yet that black and colours are the way to go???

Can you see that it makes you notice the fabrics more?

But there is nothing like LIME GREEN and Black!

Green and Black - Copy

Note the points again! Obviously I was feeling adventurous, this quilt caused me¬†unbelievable quilt stress! Mostly because the start of it involved a protractor!! I had to go buy one, who knew that those were useful beyond the class room and that they were capable of making something so beautiful. Also there was some stress whilst compiling the blocks which for some reason was one of those that tested my brain and I had to keep checking and checking again that they were right! I’m breaking out into a cold sweat just thinking about it!!

Needless to say we kept this one, not least because of the awesome safari fabric complete with Rhinos, Giraffes and Elephants…What’s not to like!

Pink and Black - Copy

Pink and yellow also work, there’s something art deco about this design and more so because the of the black background, did I mention that it makes patterns POP too??

In fact lets face it, black works with all the colours of the rainbow!

Rainbow and Black

This one was my own design made for my Father in Law’s 60th birthday. A lightning rainbow, I love the fabrics in this one, possibly because there are so many!

I don’t want you to think I am biased though, not all my quilts have a black background, even I admit that would get boring so just to even this blog up ever so slightly, here is a quilt backed in cream! Also good for making colours POP!

Purple and Cream!

This was a¬†mammoth project and will be the first and last time I make a King Size quilt! The fabrics were bought on a whim (surprise surprise!) My favourite is the deep purple flowers. However I’ve just noticed, I have used black again!! Oh dear, well it does make the colours POP! ūüôā

Well hopefully I have inspired you to pick up the black fabric next time you are contemplating a new design!

Making mistakes, after all nobody should be perfect!

They say that the Amish deliberately make mistakes when creating their quilts because only God should be perfect. Now if I was being honest I would have to say that the mistakes I make are not deliberate, but are mostly accidents when either not playing attention or through some annoying interference from unknown forces!

I always start out with good intentions, meticulously cutting the fabric, blocking my blocks and then carefully piecing and ‘easing’ pieces in to position. But sometimes (most of the time) something goes ever so slightly wrong.

This is where you get ‘Character’, ‘uniqueness’ and anything else that means there is no way you could repeat the mistake again! Even if you wanted to, that is the law of quilting mistakes.

Now I am not sure I should be pointing out some of these but just to make you feel better, here are some of my ‘interesting characteristic’ parts of my quilts made to date!

Those ships…

Ships going their own way

are supposed to be sailing the same direction, but they decided not to, some were on the side of the Spanish Armada it seems….

Not to mention I accidentally used wadding intended for oven gloves to make this, mmmm toasty!! And ridiculously hard to quilt!

The elephants that despite spending ages laying out the blocks…

Big CircusCircus Quilt

still ended up on the same row!

And the age old quilting issue, those¬†patterns or colours that¬†congregate¬†together somehow…

Light Blues play together

even thought you tried to make sure they didn’t! All the light blue fabrics are at the top of the quilt.

I know some of this is nit picking but that is the way of quilting, perfect quilters (if such a thing exists) will get these things right, but I know my limitations! And sometimes its the quirks that really make a quilt.

My Dad loves his ships quilt despite the chaos that would ensue in the shipping lanes at Dover if ships behaved as they do on my quilt! And it is extra warm on those cold winter nights!!

The circus quilt proved popular last year when I submitted it to a local quilt exhibition despite the elephants going along two by two and who notices the light blue issue when something has been lovingly made and is fundamentally unique!

After all its not like I’ll make the same mistakes again… well maybe not…

One in… One Out

I think I may have mentioned before that I have quite a lot of projects on the go. Well, where possible I try to stick to the one in one out rule, which means I roughly only ever have 4 quilts on the go at any one time! (of course we don’t count little side projects like the journal quilts or postcards!)

Well this week I finally finished the quilt I have been working on since Christmas (I can’t show you pictures yet as the recipient hasn’t¬†received¬†it yet!). Which means I have given myself permission to start a new quilt ūüôā

Sometimes I buy fabric randomly with no clue as to what project they might form… well okay about 90% of the time this is how I buy fabric! Last year at the Knitting &¬†Stitching¬†show at Alexandra Palace, my friend and I came across a French stall selling fabric with story scenes on them. Their website can be found at http://www.boutis.com, they have lots of different fabrics including Ladybirds, Princesses and Cats!

Paris

I fell in love with the 2CV car fabric, not least because whenever I see a real one I inevitably get all the letters and numbers mixed up, winding up my long suffering husband by calling them CV2’s or R2D2’s if I am in a cheeky mood.

I had no plan for them, I just neeeeeeded them

I bought four panels and when I got home I thought I really needed five to create an even design! So that was that! They sat in the basket for a while until the Spring show, where luckily they were there again so I bought two more panels (and this time they had different ones, with cows on, so totally worth the wait!)

Cows

Now I am able to construct the additional panels using the amazing triangle ruler I bought at a the Detling Showground Quilt show!

See it’s all coming together so well!

Layout

I am thinking wall hanging with blue borders around the pictures and edges!

This should take no time at all but this is me and no doubt I’ll be distracted again some how!!

Journal Quilts a la Quilted Bird…

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I joined a quilting group and one of the ladies there brought her Journal Quilts to show the group.¬†Journal quilts capture a moment in time just like a normal diary but this time in pictorial form and obviously using fabrics!¬†¬†We were set a¬†challenge¬†to create a ‘page’ for the month of April.

There are competitions held challenging people to create journal pages around particular themes.¬†The ‘Contemporary Quilt’ Group is a member of the Quilters Guild and set journal quilt challenges every year. You can see some of their work here¬†http://www.contemporaryquilt.org.uk/sets-of-2012-journal-quilts.html

There are no hard or fast rules (that I am aware of!) you can use any medium, embellishments, create them daily, weekly or monthly. Your only limit is your imagination and your fabric stash!

So I got my thinking cap on and thought about what I wanted to capture and¬†that’s¬†when I thought a travel journal would be apt! I love to travel, and all our spare monies go towards planning our next trip!

Capturing our memories in quilt form seemed like the logical step for an avid stitcher like me!

Blog photo Bergen Norway

Last September we had the¬†privilege¬†to cruise Norway’s Fjords and one of our stops was Bergen, it was very beautiful if not a little wet! The weather was changeable all day but when we were looking at one of Bergen’s most famous vistas, a Rainbow appeared. This has stayed with me since and hence my first Journal Quilt interpretation

Whilst my design is not a faithful interpretation it captures the bits I loved the most, the scenery, the varied colours and of course that rainbow!

Bergen Journal Quilt

I layered fabric scraps and fastened them using Fusible Interfacing (Bondaweb or similar) Some fun Liberty fabric was used to make the rainbow with glass beads to catch the eye. I also used a mixture of hand embroidery and machine stitching to create some added features.

It was really good fun to do and I hope to one day capture a moment from each of my holidays and perhaps get more adventurous with my fabric choices and embellishments!

Here’s to future Journal Quilt Entries a la Quilted Bird!

Bear Paw, Stitching pains and the Great British Sewing Bee…

I’ve been a bit quiet on here of late, but that doesn’t mean sewing has been far from my thoughts!

A while ago I attended a course at Hometown, this time to learn how to free motion quilt using my sewing machine, scary stuff! Anyway this course enabled me to do a few things, firstly machine quilt obviously! and I have since machine quilted two quilts that have been lying around as UFO (Unfinished Objects) for quite a while! So now all that’s left is to bind them, so lets say they might be UFO’s for awhile longer!!

Secondly the course led to me making a new friend, who also has a passion for crafts and also like me wanted to join a local quilting group! Yup I am taking it to the next level…¬†Hence the Bear Paw, the name of the quilting group I have joined and very exciting it is too. It is lovely to spend evenings with fellow quilters and share ideas and tips!

I hope that this will spur me on to make new things and push myself to broaden my horizons! Watch out for future post on Journal Quilts!!

Last week also attended the Knitting and Stitching Show in London, more fabric I hear you cry??? Of course!! As part of the day I took part in an embroidery lesson, it was good fun but a little frustrating trying to get the wool threaded onto a needle!! I think I must have spent 20 minutes of an hour lesson just trying to do that. But I am hoping that I can use the technique in some future work, so watch this space!

As well as the usual stalls etc there is always an exhibition of work and it is always humbling to see other peoples quilts. They were amazing and some must have been true labours of love.

Kensington and Chelsea-20130316-00102

All in all it was a good day out and helped to make the fabric stash even bigger than it was!!!

Finally I need to mention something VERY exciting! You’ve seen the ‘Great British Bake Off’ on the BBC, well now the BBC are venturing into the world of sewing with a new series called ‘The Great British Sewing Bee’ seeing contestants pulling together sewing projects to be crowned Queen or King Sewing Bee champion! Claudia Winkleman will be the host of the series with two industry experts on hand to judge the competitors efforts!

Exciting times!! The series starts on Tuesday 2nd April on BBC 2 so make sure you tune in!!

Well that’s all for now folks but watch this space for more projects yet to come!

My Hometown and Hometown my Local Fat Quarter Supplier!

All over the county independent shops are starting a revival; kitsch, quirky, interesting, unique and vibrant, Rochester High Street is almost entirely occupied by independent retailers. Twice a year an influx of visitors arrive from all over the world for the Dickens Festival, with the Christmas one being particularly manic!

Dickens Christmas Festival

My Hometown is also home to Hometown, the quilt shop the place where I first learnt the dark art of cutting fabric and piecing it all back together. And a name that appears all too frequently on my bank balance!! Full of bright and vibrant fabrics, the shop is a haven for local quilter and it is always busy with people stocking up on supplies, Hometown is one of my favourite places to go. It is the one shop where I am known by my name and I must admit that makes me feel part of the community.

Hometown

A frisson of excitement was greeted at the news that Hometown was on the move! After  5 years of occupying a wee space on Rochester High Street, Hometown would be moving! But breathe easy its only to a couple of doors up, to an even bigger space HURRAH!!! At the last course we all talked about what it would be like, how big the workshop space might be and obviously that there might be even more fabric!!

Last week was the grand opening, I popped down on the Saturday in desperate need of some wadding and some fabric that wasn’t quite so desperately needed ūüôā It was bright and early but the shop was already buzzing with lots of nosy quilters like me, eager to see the new digs! And we weren’t disappointed! The shop is huge with¬†plenty¬†of room for us to all move around without annoying each other and so light and bright!

Hometown Mark 2

Armed with my wadding and some new fabrics I really didn’t need, I chatted to fellow quilters who were equally enthralled with the new shop. Needless to say the new shop is a success and¬†I can’t wait for the next course to see the new workshop space!!