Monday, June 28, 2010

Sarah's birthday pics - and other goings on

Happy 4th birthday my darling girl. You are growing up way too quickly, especially when you come out with things like "Sometimes I feel hungry, and now is one of those times" or "Copying and imitating are not exactly the same thing." (Check out that cheeky face - I know it well)

You asked for a pink icecream cake and your daddy went the extra mile and made you the most amazing icecream cake from scratch (it took 2 days to cook the custard, let it cool, strain the strawberries, mix it altogether in the icecream maker, make a base from oreos, layer it with chocolate ganache and top it with biscuits and raspberry coulis).

 It tasted divine.

Tonight Todd carried on the tradition with a homemade shepherds pie (he even made the pastry from scratch). Last week he upholstered the kitchen chairs, made the most delicious apple pie I've ever eaten (I think his secret was putting ground almonds and hazelnuts in the pastry), and got 98% on an exam....

And just so he wont get too big a head I'll just make a little tiny mention of the home electrical work he did while standing outside in a puddle with no shoes on. Luckily he was only zapped with mains power for 2 seconds before the safety switch went off! (If you're reading this honey, look at all the lovely things I said about you before I got to that part...) He's fine by the way.

I haven't been doing all that much sewing this week. I got the hint that some of my domestic duties might need some attention when Todd started piling up my shoes on top of my clothes pile in the corner of the room... a very subtle, yet effective hint :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sydney Quilt Show

I attended the Central Coast Modern Quilting Guild last night with my sister Ellen and had a wonderful evening, but I'll tell you about that later. First I need to show you some of my goodies from the Sydney Quilt Show. Becky, Saffron and I had a fabulous day browsing the stalls, discovering great fabric and talking to some lovely people (too many to mention).

I just couldn't resist these wonderful fabric scraps from Prints Charming. My dream would be to do a fabric printing workshop at their studio. I think they're booked out for this year. Maybe next year ... hint hint Todd (birthday present?)

Saffron's Fields range remains a firm favourite of mine. I found this beautiful egyptian cotton thread from WonderFil Threads (I think its Tutti Carnation) for some hand quilting on a soft baby quilt I have planned. I'm going out on a limb and trying something other than perle cotton.

Patchwork on Central Park had a few fat quarters of this Heather ross cutie on cotton (not flannel) amongst others!

They also had this Nano IRO fabric (sorry don't know the name). It is incredibly soft, both the fabric and the colours, and I'm looking forward to trying this with Toni Coward's (from Make It Perfect) Shearwater Katfan pattern that I bought from Kelani Fabrics (not sure how I'll go with something that's not a quilt - eek).

Kelani also had a huge range of Japanese fabrics that were so cute. I spent way too long choosing my favourite for a dress for Sarah, and finally settled on apples on pink (at closing time).

There are just too many gorgeous things to show, but I'll leave you with this interesting grey fabric that I'd never seen before. It is a hand dyed solid from Gees Bends. It has lovely inconsistencies in the colour (its hard to capture in the photo). Sorry, I can't remember who I purchased this from. If you know, leave a comment, as they have lots of other wonderful colours that I might like to get my hands on.

All in all a day very well spent!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Wonky Donkey Winner

Wow! Thanks for all the fabulous quilting ideas. I think I'm just going to have to make another one and quilt it with some varying straight lines, and the occasional raindrop and/or puddle. I also liked the idea of quilting boots on it. Thanks for everyone who left a comment - I've read every single one and was touched by your kinds words. Fizzy certainly has some fans! And an extra big thanks to Laurie Wisbrun for so generously donating her gorgeous fabrics.

And the winner of the fabric and pattern is
Bettina Groh said...
Does the donkey come too? Love your quilt and a know a little boy who just had his 4th birthday who would love it... Since it would be well used I would have it machine quilted in those odd over lapping multiple circles. Those cover a lot of quilt territory and make things sturdier and he wouldn't have to wait forever while I hand quilted it!
June 22, 2010 1:00 AM

Congratulations Bettina! Unfortunately Fizzy doesn't travel well, but Laurie's fabric do and they'll be winging their way to you shortly. 

Thanks to everyone who participated! I'm off to bed now.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Wonky Donkey Giveaway

Those of you who have read my blog for a while will know that I absolutely adore Laurie Wisbrun’s Donkeys and Boots fabric. Who would have thought of putting a donkey in wellie boots – and such stylish ones at that? Laurie has this knack of creating beautifully fun fabric. Not only are the donkeys just the cutest thing I’ve seen, but the colours are just perfect – so bright and modern! 

When I originally spoke to Laurie about designing a quilt using her fabrics she said she liked my “There’s a Square in There” pattern. With that in mind I substituted the white fabric for some coordinating Kona Cotton solids to keep with Laurie’s bright fun style of fabric, and made the rectangular blocks ‘wonky’. I hadn’t tried wonky piecing before, but it was so much fun and it meant I could call it Wonky Donkey! I used the ‘stack and slash’ method again; an easy way to create improvisational style quilts without cutting individual strips, making it easy and fast.  

I made a simply pieced back using Kona Cotton aqua and little scraps of donkeys and boots fabric. I quilted in the ditch around a few of the blocks just to stabilize the whole quilt, and then hand quilted circles of various sizes with perle cotton No. 8. 

I then bound it using left over solid fabric. It was an absolute pleasure to make and I love how it’s turned out.

And here’s Fizzy showcasing it beautifully. Unfortunately he refused to wear the wellie boots! You know how they say never to work with children and animals. Well I have a new motto “Donkeys on quilts, not quilts on donkeys.”

And now for the free pattern and fabric! Laurie and I are both hosting a giveaway. Two lucky winners will receive my pattern as well as ½ yard of Donkey fabric and ½ yard of Boots fabric. To enter just leave a comment on my blog telling me how you think you would quilt your wonky donkey quilt (circles, straight lines, around the blocks, machine, hand, something else?).

Then head over to Laurie's blog for a second chance to win. We will each randomly pick a winner on Thursday June 24th. Good luck!

Note: The pattern uses ½ yard of Donkey fabric, ½ yard of Wellie Boots fabric, 8 fat quarters of solid fabric and 1 yard of white fabric for the front and binding.

Addit: Quilt pattern is available as an instant download from the downloadable patterns page. 20% off while giveaway is going (I'll reimburse the winners).

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I can stop stalking the newsagency now

... because the magazine has finally arrived!!!  Most days this month I have very casually wandered over to the magazine stand.... but I was not disappointed today.

Yes, I'm pretty cool calm and collected when it comes to these things. I wouldn't do a little happy dance in the shop or anything.. would I...

or pass it around at work, or show the missionaries when they came to dinner (they politely looked interested).

Its such a beautiful magazine, and its a real honour to have my name in print!

The quilt that appeared in the magazine was sent to a friend who very generously helped Todd and I out when we really needed it. So I quickly put together another one with the new Rural Jardin fabrics (its a really quick and easy quilt). I thought I'd show you a couple of different layouts with the same blocks.

I was originally going to go for the above layout, and after playing around with them decided on the one below. This is an example of one time when the final quilt was different from what I had originally planned.

I think the layout below would also be a fun one to play with. Its great how different placement of the same blocks can yeild such different quilts.

So this is the quilt (not the best photo sorry) that is currently displayed at the Sydney Craft and Quilt Fair at the Down Under Quilts stand. I'm heading down there tomorrow and I can't wait. Browsing through all of those stalls is just like Christmas for quilters!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

I have a gripe!

But before I complain, I want to tell you what a wonderful time Becky and I had at the quilting trade expo in Sydney on the weekend. As expected, Saffron Craig's stand was delightful (sorry for the poor picture quality) - lots of inspiring quilts, clothes, bags and softies as well as a new fabric range coming out soon!

Becky, Saffron and me
Saffron was so kind to show my quilts and give out order forms for my patterns (I almost look legit with those little business cards don't I?). She not only has amazing talent for fabric design, but is just the loveliest person to be around!

I also met some great local quilt designers - Anni from Hatched and Patched and Natalie from Natalie Ross in Stitches. They were happy to have a chat and share some tips with a newbie like me.

Becky and I bought a couple of things, but mostly just browsed around discovering what was new in the way of fabric in Australia. At the next booth along - "Be Be Bold" had this gorgeous mini quilt. I had to buy a little bundle of these textured japanese fabrics- not my usual style, but couldn't go past it nevertheless. I've never made a mini quilt before.

And aren't these owls just the cutest?

Have you seen Kellie Wolfsohn's (of "Don't Look Now") quilts? Here is her new one - Peak Hour. Her quilting is just amazing in real life. Wow!

Just look at this bundle of Far Far Away 2 loveliness. I was so excited to see it I just had to snap a pic...
And when I discovered that Laurie Wisbrun's tufted tweets were coming to Australia I nearly squealed (well I actually did - rather embarrassingly).

Now for my gripe. Why is it that these fabrics wont be available for purchase in Australia until August, when it's been and gone in many American fabric stores? I want to support my local fabric shops, but why should we have to wait for so long (and pay so much more)? Sorry local peeps, I couldn't wait - I got a little bit from Kerri at Sew Deerly Loved. If you hurry I think she has a couple of bundles left, otherwise August it is...

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Advice for new project?

Have you got your hands on some of Cloud9's gorgeous organic cotton? Max New, the distributors in Australia, were kind enough to send me some of the new Beyond the Sea fabric by designer Michelle Engel Bencsko last month, and it sure doesn't disappoint. The fabric is fine and silky soft and the colours vibrant - my favourite is that yellow sandpiper fabric (I don't think I'm alone). After much thinking and sketching (I think I've done about 15 sketches!) about what I want to do with this beautiful fabric, I was about to cut into it last night, but then I thought it might be fun to get your thoughts first.

I'm a bit hesitant to share my ideas before I've finished for fear that someone might copy it before I have a chance to complete the quilt. However, the more I look around, the more I see there are really no new ideas, and things I thought I'd discovered had been done before! Anyway, the following ideas are new to me.

I've recently discovered curved piecing without pins and have had so much fun with it that I wanted to design a pattern that uses freehand curved piecing. The "Beyond the Sea" fabric was perfect for a wave themed quilt - I thought. So here's my first sketch.

But then thought it might be a bit boring with the blocks and grid sashing, so what about this?

 No, I think I want to evoke a sense of waves at the beach.

Yes, that's better - I like simple - it lets the fabric shine. What about if I try making it a bit wider and have 4 blocks across?

Not sure about that. I think 3 across might be more balanced. How about if I shake it up a bit and have some blocks with 4 wavy strips and some with 3?

I think I'm nearly ready to start cutting. Now I've just got to decide if each wave block should have similar colours (on the left) or if the colours should be mixed up (on the right). I think I'm leaning towards the right picture - mixing them up.

Any thoughts or suggestions before I make the first cut? Its not the type of fabric you want to waste.

Addit: Thanks so much for all the suggestions so far. I really do appreciate it. One of the suggestions from Sarah Craig in the comments was that the dark fabric might be a bit too dark (its a dark brown, but it ties in well with the other fabrics). I was thinking of maybe just using it for the binding, but then I thought it might be nice to add a little bit of contrast to the blocks, but just not as much as the other fabrics. So my next question is - should I add a little brown, a lot of brown, or just save the brown for the binding? My husband very much appreciates your feedback, so I don't have to keep bugging him about it!

I just wanted to thank Christa, Cindy's daughter-in-law (from Live a Colorful Life) for digitally scrap booking a couple of pages for me of Sierra's forest. Its such a wonderful idea to keep a record of quilts and ideas and she's having a giveaway here!

Also, welcome to everyone who has come over from Joan's Wishes True and Kind and Heather's A La Mode Fabric. It was so much fun joining in their giveaways... thanks for all the lovely comments! Its made my week.

One last thing before I take Sarah to her swimming lesson... I'm so excited that Saffron Craig will be showing my quilts and selling my patterns at the Quilt and Craft Expo at Rosehill this Saturday. This is a trade only event, so if you're a shop owner, head over to Saffron's stand, its going to be gorgeous, and there'll be some free patterns up for grabs too!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Donkey Out-takes

Highly recommended - putting donkeys on your quilt (particularly gorgeous little donkeys wearing wellie boots).
Strongly discouraged - putting your clean crisp quilt on a donkey...

while trying to take photos...

 and distracting it with carrots...

still love you Fizzy...
carrot slobber washes out...
Will show well mannered donkey photos soon.
Pattern nearly finished... promise.