Sunday, May 30, 2010

Interview with Seamstar

Last week I was absolutely thrilled to receive my first overseas wholesale order from Coutney at Seamstar, an online fabric store in the UK. Courtney has an amazing eye for cutting edge fabrics and her shop is so pretty and easy to use.  I was doubly excited when she asked me to do an interview - another first. It was a good exercise for me, putting into words my design process and what I like in a quilt design. You can read the interview HERE and you can buy my patterns (the real live, hold in your hands, non-virtual kind) from the Seamstar shop.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

This quilt makes me happy

There's something about Laurie Wisbrun's Donkey and Boots fabric that just makes me happy. Its been an absolute delight putting this quilt together.  I'm not far off finishing, so I'm going to put the kids to bed and finish off the hand quilting while watching Eurovision song contest. It just doesn't get better than that!

Aren't those perle cotton colours just delicious - bought them from The Crewel Gobelin, they stock every colour!
The Back - Yes, that's right I finished the binding before I finished the quilting - I just couldn't wait.

Hope you're having a lovely weekend.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Thanks for all your lovely comments about my "Gathered In" quilt and my happy news about the mag cover. I cut out the peices for my second version last night. I pretty much have 2 weeks to complete it, so I'd better get a move on....

Rossie's post on processes really got me thinking. We emailed back and forth and she was so kind to answer some question's I'd had on the topic. Anyway, I've taken the process pledge.

"I, ____Kate Conklin__, pledge to talk more about my processes, even when I can’t quite put them in the in words or be sure I’m being totally clear.   I’m going to put my thinking and my gut feelings out there."

Talking about processes is hard, so much goes on in decision making and creating, but I agree that its important and interesting and I'd like to see more of it out there so I'm going to try to contribute. Here's the process I went through for "Sierra's Forest" quilt.

These are my tools of pattern creation. I use my graph book a lot! I pretty much always start my patterns there. I'll do a number of sketches first. Sometimes I colour them in. EQ6 is great once I know what I want to do. It's a lot easier to play around with configurations of blocks/sashing etc. However, most of my designs aren't straight blocks, so sometimes its a bit hard to draw it up in the EQ6 program.  Corel Draw is great for drawing diagrams when I'm actually writing the pattern up.

I drew this diagram on the plane home from Port Douglas (Northern Queensland) last November where Todd and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary. Quilting was strictly forbidden on this trip away, but I had to sneak in this little sketch when the idea struck. One of the sources of inspiration came from Brenda Gael Smith - an amazing quilter and designer, who actually lives not far from me, but who I have yet to meet. I particularly fell in love with her quilt "Savannah" - the yellowy one on her gallery page. So I had the idea to use a stack and slash method to make long blocks of wonky vertical strips and sash them in white, as if it were a series of artwork on a wall.  When I think of designs, I also think about the easiest way of doing something - that would be easy for someone else to replicate. I love 'stack and slash'. It is really quick and easy and gives that wonky  individual look without cutting individual strips. I also think in terms of 5, 10 inch squares or fat quarters, so its easy to purchase the fabric. So, anyway I popped this idea into the back of my graph book for later.

A couple of months ago Saffron Craig was kind enough to give me a sneak peak of her new Forest Elementals fabric range, and I knew immediately I wanted to use the above design with her fabrics. At first I was going to cut up the elk forest panel and mix it up with the rest of the fabric, but as soon as the fabric arrived from Saffron I knew I just couldn't cut it up into thin strips (when designing I really have to have the fabric in my hands and play around with it on the bed before I can decide on a design). I drew many more diagrams that I haven't show here, but this is one of the later ones showing the middle panel being cut into large angular pieces and the coordinating fabric bordering the top and bottom.

I decided to go for long strips instead of short ones, and made them only slightly wonky. I pulled in the pink and yellow dandelions from Saffron's Field's range. Although my sister in law, Sierra was completely in love with it, I wasn't satified and pulled it apart (I used the strips for a pieced back). I decided the strips needed to be wonkier, it needed something to make it more interesting, and I wanted to use some solid fabrics in the strips as the middle panel had quite a bit of solid colour in it.

I decided to make the strips jagged across the top and bottom. Although I was planning on adding the gold solid as vertical strips, Saffron had the idea to use it horizontally instead, and I'm glad I went with that. It needs the gold to warm it and tie in with the panel, and I love the added interest it creates.

I like a mixture of hand and machine quilting. I've seen some beautiful wavy quilting (quite densely quilted), and hadn't tried it before so I gave it a go (but with much more room in between each line) and it was really fun. I felt it went well with the rolling hills and sky in the centre panel. Some of the lines are parallel and some aren't. Most of my quilts aren't very densely quilted.  I make sure that if I put my hand on any part of the quilt, it will run into some quilting, but I like to keep them feeling soft. The machine quilting is quick and ensures the quilt is held together securely, and I love the look of hand quilting. I also really enjoy snuggling up under the quilt and hand quilting in the evenings.

So, there's the basic process in a nutshell. There was a lot more umming and ahhing that went on behind the scenes. It can be scary trying something new, and I'm not the best at making decisions, but I had a truck load of encouragement from family and friends and I'm thrilled with how it turned out. You can see pictures of the finished quilt here.

The pattern is now available for instand download on my new pattern page.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

"Gathered In"

I was planning on waiting until the Down Under Quilts magazine came out, but I've decided to show you my "Gathered In" quilt a week early to coincide with Blogger's Quilt Festival.  Down Under Quilts magazine is one of my favourites and so I'm extra excited that my quilt will be appearing on the front cover! I'm over the moon!! I don't think I'll quite believe it until I see it in real life.

This quilt uses a stack and slash method that I like so much - really easy - just stack the plain and patterned squares, cut the little square out through all layers, rearrange them and sew them back together. One of the inspirations for this quilt came from Ashley from Film in the Fridge - I loved her sunny squares quilt and the way the rectangle in the middle floated around from square to square. When I came to arranging the blocks on the quilt I was planning on alternating the little plain square blocks and little patterened blocks, but my husband Todd suggested this arrangement so all the little squares are 'gathered in' to the centre and seem to float about (thanks honey!).

The little centre squares were outline quilted the perle cotton no. 8 in red and the border was machine quilted in a meandering line avoiding the little plain squares. I used the lovely Rouenneries fabric by French General, and as this one is going to a friend as a gift, I am in the middle of making another one with the new Rural Jardin fabric.

So if you live in Australia keep an eye out for it, and if not, I'll post a picture of the front cover as soon as I can.

Enjoy checking out all the other quilts at..

Friday, May 21, 2010


Well I've got to say, you guys are the most lovely, funny, slightly wacky, sometimes worrying bunch of people I've had the pleasure to read about. I was completely blown away by not only the sheer number of responses, but how interesting and diverse they were. You've had me laughing a number of times a day. I wanted to quote some of my favourites, but there were just too many. So if you've ever got some time to kill, have a read, and you'll discover crafters are a pretty 'random' bunch.

So now for a winner. Although I like the idea of pulling a number out of a hat, it would have taken all day, so helped me out.

 So number 419 you're the winner! Yay! Now I just have to go and count all of the comments to find out who number 419 is. I'll let you know in a week... (if someone knows how to add numbers to comments can you PLEASE let me know for next time).

Okay, here you go...

Congratulation Amanda. I'll contact you today so you can pick your prizes. Thanks for playing everybody!

Monday, May 17, 2010

May Giveaway Day - Yay!

Well I'm joining in the fun and giving away some fabric and patterns as part of Sew Mama Sew's Giveaway Day!  Okay, so I know you're doing the rounds (like I will be very soon), so lets get down to business. I'm going to give you some choices people.

The lucky winner will choose one of the following fabrics/packs:

Here we have a half yard of Heather Ross' Lightening Bugs Dream Bikes up for grabs;

OR maybe a charm pack (42, 5 inch squares) of Odyssea by Momo takes your fancy;

OR what about a charm pack (42, 5 inch squares) of Panache by Sanae?

I'm also giving away two of my patterns of your choice. You can choose from the patterns listed down my sidebar, or "Sierra's Forest" or the quilt pattern that will appear in Down Under Quilts magazine next month (I'll email you a sneak peak to help you choose).

Tempted? Just leave a comment telling me a random fact about yourself, something fun or quirky or whatever. I'll pick a winner randomly on Thursday 20th May and email them so they can tell me what fabric/patterns they would like (make sure your email address is available so I can contact you). I'm happy to post internationally so everyone is welcome to leave a comment (just one each please).

So I'll get the ball rolling with a few random facts about me:
  • I trekked through Nepal on my own for a month
  • My teeth click together when I eat
  • My second baby was born in water
See its easy. Can't wait to hear all about you!

Addit: I'm just loving all of your comments!!! You guys just crack me up!

Another Addit: I've just heard Saffron Craig is having a giveaway over at her blog. Head over and check it out (its not on "the list")

Saturday, May 15, 2010

More Mail

Firstly, thank you so much for all the lovely comments you left about "Sierra's Forest". It means so much to me. I've decided I'd like to share more of my creative process, so I'll put together a post soon that outlines the sketches and thoughts that brought me to the finished product (it was a bit of a journey).

I've had these absolutely adorable donkey and boots fabric from Laurie Wisbrun for a while, and I've finally ordered some kona cotton solids from the States and they arrived this week from Kerri at Sew Deerly Loved. Such lovely colours (aqua, coal, chereuse, buttercup, bright pink) - now I know what everyone's been going on about. I've already cut into it them and am thouroughly enjoying working with these fabric - something wonky and fun. I'll share soon... promise.

I also purchased some of these lovely moleskin notebooks from Laurie Wisbrun in my favourite designs. Not only do they look great, they are beautifully bound with old fashion stitching (not staples).

 This one for my mum.

This one for my mother-in-law.

 This one for me. Think how much more creative my designs will be when I'm sketching in this...

I bought these new Rural Jardin fabrics at Blueberries (they have the whole range and are soooo helpful). This is for a quilt that will be showing at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair next month.

Also, I'm looking forward to joining in the Sew Mama Sew! May Giveaway Day this year, so come back Monday and throw your hat in for a chance to win a little something. I know I'll be doing the rounds.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sierra's Forest

I fell in love with Saffron Craig's Elk Landscape (from her brand new Forest Elementals range) as soon as I saw it - a serene wilderness of majestic creatures in rich magenta and gold. To me the design has a scandinavian feel and being half Finnish I was really drawn to it.

I wanted to showcase the panel as a piece of artwork hanging on a wall, or as a scene viewed through panes of a window.   The stripes above and below respresent the dense forest with elk, birds and geese peeping through.

Stunning fabric isn't it!

The free form stack and slash method of construction makes the strips quick and easy to put together and I love that wonky look.

The back features the striking Birds on Leaves fabric with slightly wonky strip piecing down the side. I also brought in the gorgeous pink and yellow dandelions from Saffron's Fields range - so soft and pretty.

I tried machine quilting white wavy lines across it at varying intervals and then hand quilting around the blocks in Perle Cotton No. 8 in purple, and I'm so pleased with the result.

I love the way the black Birds on Leaves fabric frames the quilt.

My husband's younger sister, Sierra, was awestruck the moment she saw it and I was powerless against her exclamation of "That's the most amazing quilt I've ever seen!" (you don't get that reaction everyday), hence it became "Sierra's Forest".

The pattern will be available soon and you can purchase Saffron Craig's Fabric from her shop

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thanks Mum!

  • for allowing us (my 6 siblings and I) into your sewing box (even though we never returned everything) 
  • for patiently teaching us to knit while we dropped stitch after stitch
  • for showing us how to be thrifty while at the same time nurturing out creative spirit
  • for giving us free reign of the pantry to make up our own recipes (remember that cake that we added beans to that the dog wouldn't even touch?)
  • for filling our home with books of every kind and instilling in us a love of learning
  • for putting up with the mess that comes with experimentation (and for teaching us to clean up again)
  • for giving us free reign of the video camera to make home murder mystery movies!
  • for encouraging us to practice the piano until we felt the thrill of it
  • for making us believe we're wonderful and lovable and clever
You put your heart and soul into us. You were happiest being a mum and we felt it. This was one of your favourite poems I think.
You are the trip I did not take;
You are the pearls I cannot buy;
You are my blue Italian lake;
You are my piece of foreign sky.
(“To My Child,” quoted in Charles L. Wallis, ed., The Treasure Chest [1965], 54)

I love you mum so much. Happy Mother's Day.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Am I a dork?

This morning I found out we have a Modern Quilting Guild here on the Central Coast! I'm so excited!!!!! For a while I've felt a little jealous of all you America quilters with all  of your amazing modern quilting parties, and now I can be a part of the fun! My husband thinks I'm such a dork for getting so excited about this, but I've told him "This is as cool as quilting gets - so be grateful, it could be a lot worse."

Now, this is a cool quilt don't you think. This belongs to Leanne, who started the Guild here -she was so much fun to talk with. I haven't seen this much Flea Market Fancy in a quilt in a while. Its great to know there are other quilters who love fresh funky fabric who live just around the corner.

I also have some VERY exciting news to share about a previously mentioned mystery quilt. It will be appearing in Down Under Quilts Magazine next month! And it gets even better, I'll tell you all about it in the next few days along with a full picture of the quilt. But I can tell you I'm grinning from ear to ear phoning all of my family and friends - maybe I am a dork!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sarah's Quilt

I made this quilt last year for my daughter's third birthday. It uses the Fairy Hearts pattern but with some minor changes. I used 10 fat quarters of Max New's Spring Carnival range with a white on white background fabric. I just love the blues and greens mixed in with the pinks and reds.
I made this quilt before I discovered raw edge applique, so the hearts have been machine appliqued with a zigzag stitch (my first attempt).

And on each Nine Patch block I free hand machine quilted a butterfly (it was Sarah's favourite animal at the time). It was my first attempt at free motion quilting as well, so each butterfly is 'unique'.  I used the nine squares as a guide, starting at the top of the left antennae and continuing in one continuous line to the tip of the right antennae. It was simple but I had to concentrate to get the butterfly symmetrical (I practiced on paper first).

I added little appliqued hearts to each corner and stippled closely around them. I used a slightly larger free motion stipple on the rest of the border.

This quilt has been well used and loved and has seen the washing machine and dryer many times - hence the crinkly look!

The back of the quilt uses some pink and green striped fabric from Spotlight (its not pieced). I liked the green dot so much I decided to use it as the binding and I think it ties the front and back together very well.