Friday, April 30, 2010

No Camera!

I've lent out my camera and I'm completely lost without it. I never realised how often I use it. Between taking pictures for this blog (what's a quilting blog without pictures?), step by step photos for patterns and cute snaps of the kids doing funny things, I use it almost every day.

I find it useful to take pictures of block arrangements - somehow its easier to see if it 'works' through the lens of a camera. As a perfect example - this week I finished the quilt top using Saffron Craig's Forest Elementals fabric, but it wasn't until I looked at a photo of it that I realised something was missing. So although I hate unpicking, I took it apart ( its better than spending ages hand quilting something I'm not 100% happy with). Saffron was so helpful (thanks heaps!), and after bouncing some ideas around I'm really excited to try something new with it tonight. I'll post pictures soon :)

So, in the meantime, jump over to The Silver Thimble to have a look at what Virginia did with my "Charm Bracelets" pattern. I just love how the dark brown frames each fabric so beautifully!

Oh, and the other night I read about piecing curves with no pins over at Tallgrass Prairie Studio and watched a fantastic video on how to do it. So I had such a fun evening with the rotary cutter. No ruler, no templates, no pins. And it worked wonderfully. I used really plain fabric to practice on so its probably best I didn''t have my camera, but I wish I'd used nice fabric now - it turned out so well. I will definitely be using curves in some up coming quilts. Thanks so much Jacquie, it was my first time with curves and I'm hooked.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Can I squeeze one more thing in before they get here?

Finish quilt top - check.
Cook pulla (a Finnish sweet yeast bread) with the kids - check.
Bundle up "Stitched with Love" kits - check.

Little fire in the backyard ready to go for tonght - check. (It really is small - the chickens are little).
Pulla ready to be devoured - check.
New post before friends arrive for an afternoon of fun - check!
Now I can relax (after I've taken the wet towel off my head, whoops, I think they're here).

Friday, April 23, 2010

Mark asked me to share this with you

Dear Kate,
Thank you for the beautiful quilt. Your mother Christina passed it on to me. The quilt is a wonderful tribute and a vibrant reminder of Shauna. To think it is made from the dress she wore on our first date 35 years ago gives me ‘goose bumps’. I am deeply moved each day when I see it draped over my lounge. It reminds me of my beloved eternal companion. Her smiling, cheerful and loving countenance is reflected in the quilts design and visual impact. It wonderfully captures her style, energy and character as a very caring, dedicated mother
and grandma happily sharing her wisdom and knowledge. The quilt will be used often to keep us and Caleb emotionally connected and physically warm. We want Shauna nearby. The quilt's exactness of design urges me, as Shauna did, to be a better person. I miss her terribly but it helps lessen the pain of separation. The squares remind me of the gospel of Christ especially obediance and faith. I marvel at the range of colours, the stitching, the time and effort taken and the loving touch and creativity that has gone into making the quilt. It will be greatly cherished. Deepest thanks. Mark Rice

Thankyou so much Mark. Shauna was amazing and will be greatly missed.
Thanks for all the lovely comments from family and friends on the original post.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Mushrooms and dragons

My very crafty sister Amelia made these a while ago for my children, but I've only just got around to posting about them. I'm pretty sure they're both patterns from the talented Australian designers Melly and Me. Sarah just loves this gorgeous little mushroom bag. Its her special bag to take to church.

Its hard to see in the picture but Amelia's stitches are incredibly even. She's so meticulous with her work.

This dragon sleeps in Dane's cot - the firey fabric is so appropriate for a dragon don't you think!

I love handmade toys and I should make these type of things for my children but I just don't seem to have the patience for anything except quilts at the moment. So thanks Meelie for stepping in with these crafty delights! They're absolutely adorable.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Don't you just love fabric mail

It has been so exciting coming home to fabric in the mail almost every day this week. I have to remind myself to kiss the husband and kids before diving into the mail.

Saffron Craig's brand new collection arrived! - Forest Elementals. So rich and luscious. I have had a design ready to go for these fabrics for a little while, so its wonderful to have them in my hot little hands. Now to make that first cut...

I couldn't go past these little girls from Shannon Lamden (AKA Aunty Cookie), another Australian designer. So cute! 

And last but not least, I've been doin' some swappin' of Heather Ross fabrics and its been sooo much fun. The mail man sure has been good to me this week.

Its been especially exciting receiving packages from quilty bloggers who inspired me to start my own quilty blog in the first place, such as Nettie from a quilt is nice and Ashley from Film in the Fridge. Thanks also Val, Virginia, and Robin for 'helping' my growing addiction of Heather Ross fabric!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A love story and a quilt

About 35 years ago this dress was worn on a first date. Love bloomed into 6 children and 18 grandchildren (and counting). Despite returning to her heavenly home the day before valentines day, this love story hasn't ended. They are an eternal family, bound with ties stronger than death.

It was a privilege to have known Shauna Rice, to have been taught by her, hugged by her, loved by her. She was practical and kind and full of integrity. She is one of a select few that I would call my hero. So it has been a great honour to make a quilt from her dress.

Maybe it will provide a measure of comfort for the wait until they meet again... and I know that long after this quilt has been worn to shreds, their love story will still be going strong.


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Map of the States - quick sticks - Tutorial

As mentioned here, Elizabeth from Oh Fransson designed this "Map of the States" block and she gave me permission to post my 'stack and slash' method of putting it together. So here goes. These instructions will give you 12, 10 1/2 blocks (including seam allowance).

Cut 12, 13" squares and stack them into 2 piles of 6. Iron them on top of each other, so they stay together when cut. Put aside one stack of 6 squares.

I've used Denyse Schmidts Hope Valley range and added a couple of solid fabric squares.

Using your rotary cutter and ruler, cut through the stack of fabric 3 times, so you have 4 strips. Cut on a slight angle - about 1/4 inch difference from top to bottom. You can vary the angle and the width of the strips.

Move the top fabric of the second strip to the bottom of its pile.
Move the top 2 fabrics from the third strip to the bottom of its pile.
Move the top 3 fabrics from the right hand strip to the bottom of its pile.

Sew the top strips together using a 1/4 inch seam. Press seams to one side (or open).

Then sew the next set of top strips together and so on until you have sewn 6 blocks of 4 strips.

Take your other stack of 6 square that you set aside earlier. Repeat the above instructions, except this time make FOUR slightly angled cuts, yeilding 5 strips.

Similarly, sew these together yeilding 6 blocks of 5 strips together.

You will now have12 blocks altogether. Divide your blocks into two piles. First, place a 5 strip block on each pile.

Then place a 4 strip block on each pile. These blocks will be slightly larger, but don't worry, you can trim them later. Just line the blocks up on three edges.

Now, place another 5 strip block on each pile, but this time ROTATE them 180 degrees. This will add interest to your finished block.

Place another 4 strip block on each pile and ROTATE them 180 degrees.

Place a 5 strip block on each pile (you don't need to rotate these ones).

Place a 4 strip block on each pile (you don't need to rotate these ones either). Your 6 blocks of fabric should be lying directly on top of one another. I folded these over so you could see the layers.

Now, take one of the piles of strip blocks (and put the other aside). Rotate it so the strips are lying horizontally and the top of the blocks line up.

Make 4 slightly wonky cuts to create 5 strips.

Move the top fabric from strip 2 to the bottom of its pile and so on (same method as you used for constructing the strip blocks).

Sew the top strips together to make 6 Map of the States blocks. Trim to 10 1/2 inches.

Repeat procedure with your other stack to yeild 12 blocks.

I've made 12 grey/blue/green blocks and 12 pink/orange/purple blocks. Now I just have to decide what I'm going to do with them. Make 2 baby sized quilts? One large quilt? Sashing, no sashing...?

Alternatively, you could make 10 blocks at a time. Just use 10 squares of fabric and instead of dividing them into piles of 6, divide them into piles of 5.

Thanks again Elizabeth, for your generosity in sharing your designs so freely and inspiring so many of us.

You can find a bunch of her patterns and tutorials here at Oh Fransson. You can also find her original Map of the States tutorial here.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Celebrations all round!

I've only recently discovered flickr, I know ... a bit slow on the uptake. The "Fresh Modern Quilts" group is a constant stream of the most amazing inspiration, and they are celebrating 2000 members this month with a HUGE giveaway. I was so chuffed when Rossie asked if I would donate a couple of patterns. There are 29 prizes on offer and you can check them out here.

I like to keep this blog to mainly quilty crafty things, but I couldn't resist posting a couple of pictures of our Easter and birthday celebrations.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Dane's Colourful Quilt

My little boy it turning 2! I made this quilt for his 1st birthday last year. It was only my second "proper" quilt.  It was before I discovered designer fabric and pieced backs.  I love how the soft minky dot fabric pops out from the quilt though.

I machine quilted it very simply - around each square in matching colours.

And bound it in plain turquoise.

He loves the feel of the minky dot too.

Happy birthday my darling boy!

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Map of the States - quick sticks

If you haven't been to Oh Fransson's site you're seriously missing out. I loved her 'Map of the States' block (you can find her tutorial here) but I just didn't have the patience to cut out individual wonky squares. So I figured out a way to 'stack and slash' my way through this one, and I'm really happy with how it turned out. I made almost 12 of these in an evening (okay, a late evening).

The bonus with this method is its really fast and I think its pretty 'random' looking without having to make too many decisions. Just stack the fabric and cut "willy nilly!" No two of the same fabrics will touch.

The possible limitations are that you're using largish peices of fabric, not scraps, and you have to make about 10 to 12 blocks at a time that will look similar. Also, you can't fussy cut the squares.

I just love how Denyse Schmidt's Hope Valley fabric looks on this block. Her small prints lend itself so well to this type of block. I spoke with Elizabeth from Oh Fransson and she gave me permission to post a tutorial on how I put this together, so hopefully I'll get to it soon. Thanks Elizabeth - love your design!