Friday, 30 September 2016

Shape Family Challenge

Ta da! Scraping in by the skin of my teeth, here is my entry for the Shape Family Challenge run by the amazing Jodi (@Tales of Cloth).

All finished, I love this ranbow-y goodness

Made with Liberty fabric and a super light chambray, these were a match made in heaven and sew lovely to set. When I pulled the papers out they pressed so lovely and flat.

The premise of the challenge is to take one of Jodi's mixed pack of shapes (a Shape Family Pack) and make your own pattern. It certainly was fun coming up with it, although my husband did wonder what on earth I was doing.

Playing aound

The pillow back is a gorgeous spotty chambray that I am also going to make a dress out of (one day) - I think a Tea House dress, but I am going off topic...

Mmm, delicious

I straight line quilted it with a lilac Aurifil thread.

The pillow finished at 22.5 x 23.5 inches.

I've loved the peaceful nature of hand-stitching. It allows me to sit in the same room as my husband and still sew. I am a little sad now that I am finished, I think I may have to start a new project. Once I finish a few more WIPs. 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

Blogger's Quilt Festival: Mini Quilt

This is my second entry for this years' Blogger's Quilt Festival.

I made this little fishy while I was on family holidays earlier in the year. It is based on a Studio Cockatoo print that I have hanging in my sewing room. We were going to be away for a few weeks and I figured I needed some hand sewing for while we were away.

This tiny little mini is hand pieced and only 7.5" x 10.5".

You can read all about the process here.

Go and check out the other great entries in the festival and a big thank you to Amy for hosting. 

Blogger's Quilt Festival: ROYGBIV

Woo! It is the Blogger's Quilt Festival!! I lurve the Blogger's Quilt Festival.

I remember the sense of accomplishment when I entered the very first time. You can see my previous entries here, here and here. And of course there is all the quilty eye candy.

This year I am entering this in the ROYGBIV category:

Alison x Tula
Those of you who follow me know of my love for Tula Pink and Alison Glass (check out my #peachesbigsmokequilt hashtag to see my all Alison Glass version of Tula Pink's City Sampler).

I made this for a swap at the end of last year and am very sad that I don't have it any more.You can read the original blog post with my inspiration here. I will eventually get around to making one for myself. One day, when I finish all my WIPS (maniacal laugh).

It's actually a pillow, but it was a quilt first. Versatile ;)

Go check out all the other lovely quilts in the Quilt Festival and a big thanks to Amy for hosting it.


I have already posted about my inability to avoid jumping on any sort of quilting trend/ group activity/ challenge that pops up. So when it was announced that Angie (@gnomeangel), Lisa (@sweetlittlepretties) and Raylee (@sunflowerquilting) were hosting a quiltalong for Tula Pink’s City Sampler, I knew I was done for. I tried to resist, weakly, for a few weeks, but who was I kidding? Having seen the amazing Ms Pink speak at the recent Sydney Craft & Quilt show and seen her very own version (!!) it was always going to happen.

Here is a quick update on my progress to date and my “rules” for the quiltalong (note: these are my self imposed rules, you can do it however you like).

Progress shot

The Rules
  1. All Alison Glass Fabric, all the time; I have quite a collection, fabric is meant to be used and I mean to use it. If I decide to sash the blocks then I might use a solid, but we’ll see when I get there. I am using Handcrafted I, Handcrafted II, Handcrafted Patchwork and Sunprints 2016 with some random bits and pieces thrown in.
  2. Matching colours to the ones in the book, as closely as possible. I am a realist – I know that if I had to think about colour choices I would be frozen in indecision. It is hard enough just choosing from the fabrics that I have. To be honest, some of the colour choices from the book are a bit out of my comfort zone, but when you combine all the blocks together they look quite good and it is fun to push myself to try new things.
  3. Do not peek! I only ever go ahead as far as the block that I am making. No peeking forward to see what the next block is (which is especially hard when you are hating the block you are sewing – Block 40, I am talking about you – or sick of sewing purple)

That’s it – actually not too many rules.

I have sewn ahead a bit. I have sewn up to block 66 so far. My work is very peaky and so I knew from the outset that there would be times when I wouldn’t get to sew for days (eek) so I sewed ahead at the start and then have been trying to squeeze in a block or two at every opportunity to keep me “safe”. I find that this works quite well for me, because it means if I want to take a break, if I get Tula Fatigue, I can sew something else and it keeps me going. It has also sparked my enthusiasm for some other WIPs on my list. Watch this space for some long time WIPs getting finished off.

I thought I’d share the things that I have learnt along the way for pain free blocks:
  • Practice makes perfect. Really. I mean we all know that, but sewing all these blocks in a short space of time, I have seen my seams get straighter (am I the only one who struggles sewing in a straight line); closer to a perfect quarter inch; my finished blocks closer to a perfect 6.5 inch square; my cutting more accurate. I can only imagine how perfect block 100 is going to be :P
  • I only cut and sew one block at a time. I hate cutting sessions with no sewing action and given that each block is different it isn’t hugely inefficient, especially if I am only sewing one or two blocks at a time. I know other people do other things, this is what works for me (and why I haven’t started my Aviatrix quilt yet).
  • Where you are matching up across strips (for example the big plus sign in block 11) it is worth the small effort to mark where you want your pieces to join. I sew one side to the strip and then mark where the seams from the other side need to fall and position to that rather than the edge of the block. If I don’t do that sometimes you get misalignment and that makes my eyes start to twitch. Some people can live with that, I can’t. You should see when we hang pictures at our house, bless my dear husband for his patience. It takes a long time. On the flip side I can live with slightly cropped points on a HST if I have to (and it isn’t too major). We all have our own little quirks....
  • Pressing seams open really increases the accuracy of the blocks and also makes them sit really nice and flat. This was a hard one for me to accept, I am a seams to the side kind of girl. I LOVE nesting seams for perfect matching. But on blocks this teeny, pressing the seams open really makes a difference. I’m not changing my general mode of operating, but for these blocks I am. I don’t use starch (I read somewhere it attracts cockroaches and I really do not want anything in my house that does that. If I finished my WIPs more quickly, it wouldn’t be an issue, but I don’t want something nibbling holes in my WIPs).
  • Have fun with it!!! It is meant to be fun. If a particular block is making me grumpy then I just stop and do something else (but don’t jump ahead because Rule 3).
  • Don’t succumb to block envy. There are some seriously AMAZING blocks out there, that having been photographed amazingly (not mine, got no time for that, too busy sewing – you can see my Ugg boots in all my photos) and there are going to be awesome quilts, but what is that saying about comparison being the thief of joy? So true.

That’s it – you can check out #100days100blocks to see all the awesome progress people are making and if you want to follow along with me check out #peachesbigsmokequilt – you can see my other projects on Instagram at @peaches1003

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Fast finish: Marmalade pillow

A good long while ago I won some Marmalade Mini charm packs and a FQ or Marmalade fabric from Mary on Lake Pulaski.

I sorted the charms into colour groups and made some granny squares. But when I sewed them together I didn't love it. So much so that I put it away and let it languish, unloved in my sewing room.

The offending mini - ugh

Six months or so later and needing a fast finish I decided to just get it done. I looked at it and figured out what I wasn't loving - the sashing between the blocks was too wide and it was just throwing out the balance of everything. So I unpicked and the sashing, slimmed it down (diet for quilts?), sewed it back together and was in love.

I finished it off with some serpentine quilting and ta-da!! A pillow top I loved.

Much better with the skinny sashing

The backing is a great match and I had the perfect green zipper on hand

The moral of the story - if it isn't singing to you, leave it and come back and fix it later. I am so glad I did because I am very pleased with how it turned out. 

Mini mini mini

Never one to avoid jumping on a bandwagon (the reason why my to do list is ever expanding), I was unable to resist when Make Modern Magazine launched its mini mini quilt competition.

The brief: make a mini quilt of whatever design you like but it must finish at 6" square or less. 

Now, if you haven't already, you should jump over to Instagram and check out the hashtag #mmminimini and have a look at some of the amazing and teeny entries. 

For my first attempt I made a teeny version of Susan's (@canadianabroad) quilt from issue 34 of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine. But when I miniaturised it I didn't do the math right and it finished up too big (at a whopping 7 1/4 inches it was huge)!! Still it is super cute and scratched an itch I had to make that quilt. 

My first attempt - a huge mini!

Now my intention had been to only make one mini mini (WIPs to finish and all that) and I didn't have any immediate inspiration. However the following weekend I was at the school mass and was looking up at the altar where there were statues of Mary and the Sacred Heart either side standing in front of teeny tiny mosaic tiles. Ding! You could say it was divine inspiration. I went home and made up what I am calling Petite Portholes. I am so pleased with how it came out and I am planning on making a full sized version and writing a pattern for it. 

This time I cut each of those squares at 3 1/4 inches so it would definitely be 6 inches finished

Close up: I love this sweet little deer. Each of those squares is 1/2 inch. To make up the background patchwork I ironed the squares onto lightweight fusible interfacing and then sewed the seams up guaranteeing perfect points

Now this very weekend, the winners of the competition were announced and I was surprised and honoured to be one of them. My prize (wait for it) is quilting from Carolyn of Freebird Quilting Designs. I have a major crush on Carolyn's quilting and had actually been in touch with her about quilting my Escher Quilt, so everything feels a bit pre-determined. I am so excited and grateful for such an amazing and generous prize. 

A very gigantic thank you to Make Modern Magazine for a fun competition. It is an awesome publication and I highly recommend it. 

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Here Fishy, Fishy

Let me introduce to you Here Fishy, Fishy. My entry in this year's Umbrella Prints Trimmings Challenge.

Here Fishy, Fishy

You have to get a shot of the fish near the water, right?

A while ago now I bought this print from Studio Cockatoo and as soon as I saw it I thought "That would look really cool turned into a paper pieced pattern". But then life, and other quilty projects got in the way.

My inspiration shot, and some of the lovely things people have made for me (including my unicorn from Moo)

Fast forward x number of months (years?) and I see on Instagram that the guys at Umbrella Prints have launched their Trimmings Challenge. Basically, you buy a Challenge Pack (off cuts of their fabrics), use it to make something awesome and share it with the world. Now I have had grand plans to enter the challenge before. I have even bought one of those cute little packets in the past (with names like Mountain Girl and Luxury Cherry Bubble Cake who could resist?) but stalled when it came to actually making something. This year though, when I looked at the options and saw all those lovely shades of orange, my mind went to the fish print, angels sang, the clouds parted and a beam of celestial light shone down striking me with inspiration, etc etc, and I knew what I wanted to do. Couple that with the fact that I was going on a family holiday for a couple of weeks and needed some hand sewing and I had a plan.

Basically I used a simplified version of the print as a template for EPP. Even so it was pretty challenging as some of those pieces were small! The whole exercise was made extra tricky by the fact that I didn't take any scissors away with me - I had to trim all the fabric with thread snips. Needless to say, I made more progress once I got home.

When I was taking a break from this, I did some hand sewing (sneaky holiday shot)

I used the Luxury Cherry Bubble pack in combination with the contents of my scrap bin to make the fish.

Work in Progress

For the background I used one of the print's from Jeni Baker's Color Me Retro line. I think it is the perfect print to use - it certainly made me think of splashing water. As an aside, this was the very first fabric bundles I ever bought, and Jeni's blog was one of the very first quilting blogs I started following. Awww. That fabric had been in my stash for WAY too long.

The finished top

Once it was all pieced I knew I didn't want to have a binding - the piece is quite small and delicate and I thought binding would be too chunky so I sewed the backing on right sides together and flipped it inside out. I then set to work quilting it. I used four different colours of thread on the fish and four for the water, so eight all up!! 

My thread collection... in a fish bowl

I went for jagged triangular shapes in the water and then gave the fish body some dimension by quilting in some contours. I even FMQ-ed around the fish's goggle eye. That was scary since I hadn't done FMQ before and was worried I would ruin the hours and hours of hard work. But I just dialled the speed on my machine waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay down and took it really easy. It isn't perfect, but it is perfect for what I wanted. With all that quilting, at least I know my hand piecing isn't going to come apart!

Eye FMQ detail

I am super pleased with how my little fish turned out. My husband asked who it was for and made a big sad face when I said it was for me, and I am taking that as a huge compliment because he isn't a quilty kind of guy.

Head over to #umbrellaprintstrimmingschallenge to check out the other pretties that people have made (there are some AMAZING things) and be inspired for next year!

Name: Here Fishy, Fishy
Pattern: A simplified version of the Goldfish 1 from Studio Cockatoo
Method: EPP
Dimensions: Approx 7.5" x 10.5"
Fabric: Umbrella Prints 2016 Trimmings Challenge Pack (Luxury Cherry Bubble Cake), various scraps (fish) and the Dulcette print in Lobella from Color Me Retro
Quilting: Machine, Aurifil 50 wt in 2024, 2720, 5006, 4093 (water) and 2135, 2145, 1133, 2225 (fish)