Monday, October 31, 2011

Blogger's Quilt Festival

If you've found your way here from Amy's Creative Side and her amazing Blogger's Quilt Festival, welcome!  This is my little bit of the interwebs where I share my creative life.  I am contributing to the BQF for my first time and I am so happy to be part of it.  I've really enjoyed past Festivals, there are so many great quilty people out there!

The quilt I'm showing is Call Me Crazy.   I made this one a couple of years ago, and I still love it!  It's a pattern by Weekes Ringle and Bill Kerr pattern that was published in the American Better Homes quilting magazine a few years ago.  I love their patterns and have their book Quilts Made Modern which I regularly flick through.  Gorgeous!

I love using fresh cut grass as a backdrop for quilt photos - even if it means getting out on my nature strip to take photos and giving all the neighbours something to wonder about.

As you can see, the bars are all crazy pieced with tone on tone fabrics.  I have to admit, it took me a very long time to do this piecing, I found it really challenging and some of my pieces of fabric finished up much smaller than I intended!  The crazy pieced sections being all the one colour means you can't really tell that I've sewn and trimmed some of those strips into minuscule bits!  All the reds came out of my stash, at the time it used nearly all of the reds in there.  I've since rectified this you'll be pleased to know!

I quilted the bars with wonky straight lines, and then stippled the border and sashing.  It is fairly tightly quilted.

The creamy background fabric is a star pattern that I really love, it's very warm toned.  After trying a heap of different reds for the binding, I tried the navy which is a splodgy hand dyed type print, and I love it.  I think it really frames the reds and cream nicely.  The backing is a Spotlight fabric, I like the way it matches the binding.

As I was taking these photos, Wombat came over for his usual pose on the quilt.  A wattle bird started squawking at us, and then swooped down from his tree at Wombat.  I was standing just near him and had to duck in a hurry.  I've been swooped by magpies and plovers before but never a wattle bird.  I am extremely paranoid about birds so I got quite a fright and had to grab the quilt and retreat inside (with Wombat following close behind I might add).  Fortunately I had some chocolate on hand to soothe my nerves.  Anyone reading from outside Australia might be interested in this link to 'common swooping birds'.   Although they are only acting in the way nature intended, they can be quite scary and for the few weeks that they are active they make walking in some areas like running a gauntlet.  I'm glad I got a decent photo because I was not going out there again tonight!

Pop over to Amy's to see some of the other gorgeous quilts in the Festival.

Friday, October 28, 2011

A few days off

It's Melbourne Cup day next Tuesday, and I've been lucky enough to get the Friday and Monday before this public holiday off.  I'm working towards a Christmas Market I always participate in - have to have made plenty of 'small stuff' for my stall by the first weekend in December.  It's a fun market that I've been doing for a few years now, my daughter comes along and helps me out and we always have a good time.  Unfortunately the weather here is not being very co-operative today, so no pics yet of what I've been making, so I've  delved into the archives for a quilt photo or two, and found this really old one that is a bit different for me.

This is a really simple design, based on a traditional Courthouse Steps block.  I made it to challenge myself as I rarely use black fabrics, either solids or plains.  The blocks are about 7" square at this stage.

It also uses much busier patterns than I usually choose.  The fabrics were mostly from Spotlight, with a few out of the stash.  I got them pretty cheap, as I wasn't convinced that I'd like anything with so much black in it.  After I'd made all the blocks up, I got my quilting girlfriends to check it out as I really didn't like it.  How to calm it down, but still embrace the 'busy' look?

We all agreed that sashing it with black gave each block room to be themselves.  Once I'd finished the quilting, my sister saw it and fell in love, it lives happily on the back of their red couch.

The back uses one of my favourite cheap Spotlight fabrics, that yellow daisy row print.

I quilted it with what I call 'wonky tartan' lines, wavy lines up and down, and then across, the quilt to make a big tartan type design.  It's still busy, but the sashing has really calmed it down.  I love the movement and the light and shade created by the addition of the yellow prints.  

Time to get back to the sewing machine!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wonky Crosses

I love the modern wonky cross block.  It's such a fun block, quick to make and very versatile.  There are lots of instructions for making this block on the interwebs, I used a tutorial from Carla's (Lollyquiltz) beautiful blog.  To me there seems to be less waste with this pattern - important when you are using up scraps.

My first wonky cross quilt is this green one.  I won a stack of fat quarters in country style plaids from Homespun magazine about eight years ago, and used up some of them in this quilt, along with some cream homespun and some scraps of Valorie Wells 'Sole'.

I made the crosses all different sizes, but kept them straight (well fairly straight!).  I used a wool wadding, which gave the quilt a reasonably high loft.  It also made it a really snuggly warm quilt.

This close up shows the quilting, a 'scribble' design.  Not perfect, but good practice!  This quilt used up the last of my 'Sole' fabric, I'm glad to have used it but would love some more!  Isn't that always the way with favourite fabrics?

Probably my favourite colour combination (if that's possible!) is red and pink.  I had a pile of scraps from other quilts in these colours, so I revisited the wonky cross block and made up lots of red, pink and white blocks.  Although I loved the simplicity of this colour scheme, I thought it needed a little bit of zing, so I added a handful of blocks with aqua  in them.  

This time I also made the crosses at wonky angles.  Not too much, just a slight wonk.  Sometimes 'less is more'.  This time I used my old favourite wadding, 100% cotton 'Warm and Natural'.  I quilted it with wonky lines running the length of the quilt.  

I hadn't realised before I blogged these two quilts that the first is warm colours and the second is cool.  The red and pink quilt is over the back of my couch at the moment.  The green quilt is dragged onto my bed on cold nights.  I haven't finished with this block yet.  It's a great scrap buster, and I've got a pile of yellow, light blue and cream scraps in the sewing room, left overs from other quilts.  Time to get my wonk on!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Sweetwater Hometown

I have to admit to being a complete layer cake addict. Usually, a layer cake is 42 ten inch squares of fabric from a fabric line, encompassing the complete collection. It's such a great way to get your hands on the whole line of fabric without having to pay a fortune, and personally I find layer cakes easier to use than jelly rolls. Right now I think I've got about 8 of them waiting to be turned into something fabulous. I bought a Sweetwater Hometown layer cake quite some time ago. It's a gorgeous, contempory line, and I love the story behind it told on their blog here.

I was having a bit of a guilty moment over all my layer cakes, and I decided to try some random improvised blocks. I've added some solid grey, blue and cream to help stretch the layer cake.

I've got quite a few more blocks to make, but they are a great easy thing to just run up after dinner. Basically, I stack two squares together (say, a red and a cream) and rotary cut each side so I'm left with a rectangle in the centre, then change over the centres so that the red centre is with the four cream side strips. Then I randomly add a piece of one of my solids, and sew it all together again, perhaps cutting off some of the patterned fabric in the process. These offcuts I then add into another block. It's all very random and fun!

Obviously, all my blocks are different sizes so I'm not sure how they are going to go together. Perhaps I'll make four large blocks the same size with all of them, then add wide sashing? Or perhaps I'll sew them all together and whatever odd shape the end up I could sew into the centre of a larger background (like a medallion quilt)? I'm not going to worry about the finished quilt for now, I'm having too much fun making these blocks!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Linen & repros in there...and a cat as well

I had an idea. I wanted to pair some reproduction fabrics, which I have a small collection of, with some modern fabrics, which I have a...err...larger collection of.
I chose some purple, cream and dark grey repros, and paired them with some modern fabrics including some Sew Chick by Benartex and Momo. I love purple but I think quilts made with lots of purples often turn out a bit 'novelty' for my taste.

During my photo session, Wombat decided he would like to investigate. This wicker chair belonged to my great-grandmother and is over 100 years old, I'm so lucky to own it.

I used Kate Conklin's 'There's a Square in There' pattern. The background and sashing is a cream linen/cotton blend. It was quite slippy to use, but worth it I think! I also pieced some random strips of the fabrics used in the blocks into the sashing to add some interest.

This picture of the quilt before I quilted it shows all the blocks. The background isn't as dark as this.
I stippled it in a large meandering pattern. I find it hard to keep a large meander really even across the whole quilt so this was quite a challenge!

I was taking pictures in another part of the garden and turned around to find Wombat on my chair. He must think that I've left it there just for him to sit on, he looks so content.

There's more photos of this quilt on flickr.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Sometimes I buy fabric with no plan

That title should really read 'Often I buy fabric with no plan'! I just loved Lizzy House's 'Castle Peeps' fabric when it first came out and ordered some half yard lengths. When they arrived, I realised that (again) I had not thought out how this fabric would fit into my stash, and how I was going to use the fantastic novelty type prints. The little castles and people needed to be used in largish pieces so that they could be really enjoyed - they are so sweet.

I was browsing the interwebs one day and saw Kate Conklin's 'Sea Views' pattern. Straight away I thought of my lovely peeps fabrics, bought Kate's pattern online. I added a couple of other prints and some solids to my peeps fabric and started piecing as soon as the pattern arrived in my inbox. It's one of the fastest quilt tops I've ever made.

Aren't pdf patterns that can be emailed to you one of the best ideas ever?
I had the top finished and ready to be quilted for a very long time. I just couldn't decide on how I wanted to quilt it. Eventually I decided to meander some wavy shapes across it.

I think I should have put more quilting into it, but as it is quilted so lightly it is a very soft quilt.

Kate's patterns are so easy to follow and this pattern suited the gorgeous quirky peeps fabric really well. I used a solid block in the bottom section of the quilt to show off a row of castles, which was simple but very effective. I have to admit this is one of my favourite quilts.