Friday, October 29, 2010

Off the Rails

Thanks Amy for putting together Bloggers Quilt Festival! Here's my offering. There were so many great suggestions for names for this quilt like "Birds on a Wire" or "Peaks and Valleys" but when Jodi suggested that they looked like railroad tracks I decided that this quilt was a little "Off the Rails".  Its very similar to my "Skittles" quilt but with less white. Last month when Saffron Craig so generously sent me some of her beautiful Bird Tree range I had two designs in mind that I wanted to try, so I made two baby quilts (instead of one larger one) and now I can't decide which one I like better.

This quilt was very quick and easy to piece as I stacked and cut six layers at a time. I didn't use any templates or precise measurements making angled cuts, and that's generally the way I like to work - quite free and fun.

I agonised over the quilting. First I machine quilted horizontal wavy lines across the quilt using my walking foot and pulling the quilt from side to side (about 3/4 inch from peak to valley). Then I hand quilted 1/4 inch either side of that line a couple of times with Perle cotton no.8 in green, pink, yellow and purple. One evening as I was quilting I wasn't sure that I liked the way it was coming together and decided that in the morning I would unpick the whole thing (this is when it was 3/4 completed!). Luckily in the morning my sister in law, Kaila, saw it and told me she loved it and I was nuts and just to keep going with it. I'm so glad I did because I now think the quilting looks lovely and adds another dimension to the quilt.

I also love how it looks on the back. I seem to go through an uncertain period with most of my quilt where I'm just not sure that I like it and I'm tempted to scrap the whole thing (usually its my husband that tells me I'm nuts and to just finish the thing!). Fortunately I usually love it by the end. Do you ever go through that with your quilts?

I used flannel on the back of this one and Quiltlite as the batting. I just love how its so drapey and soft. The Quiltlite (a very lightweight cotton openweave fabric) was lovely to quilt with, both on the machine and by hand. I'd definitely recommend using it for baby quilts or quilts with a flannel backing, so they aren't too thick and stiff.

I'm very excited that this quilt will be appearing in Australian Patchwork and Quilting magazine next year!! Its so rewarding seeing my work in print, and I love seeing professional photos of my quilt (I'm sure their photos wont have fingers in it!) They have kindly allowed me to show and sell my pattern in the mean time. I'll definitely let you know as soon as the magazine comes out.

The pattern is now available on my Downloadable Patterns page, and I have combined it with the "Skittles" pattern (just in case you can't decide which one to make either). Both patterns contain instructions for a throw size as well. Kits are available from Saffron Craig in two colourways.

Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and make sure you check all of the other great quilts at Bloggers Quilt Festival.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Skittles - winners

Thanks so all of the lovely comments about my quilt! It was so much fun to read all of your comments and remember so many of my childhood games. One of my favourite games was 'single mothers', where we looked after our dolls. Having 5 sisters there was always a shortage of 'husbands' around!! I also loved playing libraries where we would pretend to borrow books from our bookcase (sounds thrilling doesn't it!) We also spent hours on our grass tennis court playing 'wilderness', surviving on whatever we could pick from the fruit trees or veggie patch. It was wonderful growing up in a big family (except when we were bickering, which was pretty often - my poor mother!)

The winner of my 'Skittles' pattern and this gorgeous bundle of Saffron Craig's fabrics is

No 97 NancyinSTL Congratulations! Send me your address and I'll get these right off to you.

And the winners of the two pdf patterns are 116 MissM and 131 Jeannette. I'll email the pattern out to you tomorrow. Thanks so much for playing everyone.

By the way, the pattern's now available on my downloadable patterns page. It includes instructions for a throw size as well as baby size quilt. Kits are available from Saffron Craig, but this colourway has almost sold out, so you'll need to be quick. You can also get kits in the new indigo colourway.

Here's a sneak peak of my quilt for Blogger's Quilt Festival coming up in a few days. Do you have your quilt ready?

Thursday, October 21, 2010

"Skittles" giveaway

Do you know what skittles are? Or is that an Aussie expression? No, I'm not talking about the lollies/candy, I'm talking about the game that children play that is like 10 pin bowling. As a speech pathologist I often use this game to keep the children motivated. I stick sounds or targetted words to each pin and as the child bowls them over they have to say what's on the pin. I pretty much play games all day!

Anyway, back to quilting... so here's my latest design - Skittles - can you see those pins teetering? My wonderful mother came up with the name, thanks mum, its perfect!! Skittles is a fun baby sized quilt that's nice and easy.  I made this quilt top in an evening using ... yes, you guessed it... the "stack and slash" method.  I think this would look great as a lap sized quilt as well, all you'd have to do is double the number of blocks.

I auditioned a couple of different solids for the sashing but nothing beat the white to really show off Saffron Craig's gorgeous new Bird Tree range. Saffron has just released these fabrics in indigo and blue as well - perfect for boys!

I loved hand quilting this one. It was so easy just following the line of the skittles and I really like how the stitches show up on the white. My husband came up with the idea to have the stitches randomly meandering around the strips (he's such a good sort getting involved like that). I did machine quilt in the ditch around the blocks first and this added to the ease of hand quilting as I never use a hoop. I've been meaning to do a post on how I hand quilt, but its a bit difficult with hubby (the photographer) being away most of the time. Hopefully I'll be able to soon.

Want to win a copy of this pdf pattern? Just leave a comment telling me about a favourite childhood game. I'll pick 3 winners on Monday 25th October. The first winner will also win this little stack of fabrics from Saffron's Bird Tree and Forest Elementals fabrics, enough to make your own Skittles quilt (but you don't have to!).

Remember to leave an email address!

Monday, October 18, 2010

100th post - pattern sale

Is it 100 already? I must admit, occationally posting is a chore, and at other times I'm just bursting to share something with you, but I always get a buzz when someone leaves a comment or buys a pattern or just has a nosy around. And its great to have a visual diary of my creations as well as some other goings on in my family. Thanks for being such a supportive bunch and for the many friendships I've formed. Quilting and this blog have certainly been a very positive influence in my life, and I'm excited to see where it will go over the next 100 posts.


To celebrate 100 posts, 300 followers (!!) and my birthday month, all of my downloadable patterns are 50% off for the next 24 hours (until Tues 9am AEST - that's Monday night in the USA I think) Sale Finished - thanks! They are available as instant downloads from my downloadable patterns page.

And in case you're not interested in the sale, check out these pics that I just couldn't resist sharing with you (that's my husband perched precariously on the oversized see saw and my brother in law with the scheming look on his face). Do they ever grow up?

We're laughing WITH you honey. (No husbands were harmed in the making of this post).

These photos were taken at St Kilda Park in Adelaide - a giant play ground for BIG kids.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Is it wrong to find out if you're having a girl or a boy...

just so that you can make them a quilt? Well I know what fabric I'll be using if its a boy - these incredible fabrics from Saffron Craig!

I'm officially in love with Saffron's new Beetle Bugs range and I'm thrilled that it might even be released by the end of the year! Check out the equally delicious red and green colourway on Saffron's blog - hot off the press.

And if you love Anna Maria Horner's new range, Innocent Crush, you'll want to jump over to Ally's blog to join in her giveaway!

Have a wonderful week everyone.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Material Obsession

It was my birthday this week and to celebrate my darling husband took me to a gorgeous hotel, The Sheraton on the Park, right in the heart of Sydney. The food was amazing, the room gorgeous, and it was so nice to spend time walking through Hyde park admiring the outdoor artwork, having some adult conversation (without the kids jumping all over us).
And to top it all off the next day I visited  "Material Obsession" a wonderful fabric store brimming full of modern fabrics.  I've met Kathy a number of times at quilt and craft shows, but never managed to get to her store before. Her quilts and books (and sheer enthusiasm and energy) really drew me in a couple of years back when I first discovered quilting, and her work continues to inspire me.

I loved this cotton/linen fabric by Australian designer, Cloth. Its a little more expensive, but extra wide and screen printed for a really organic modern look - absolutely gorgeous. I'm excited to cut into this little stack of fabric.

 Another exciting discovery was Quiltlite - an open weave cotton that is used as a thin batting (I think mainly for baby quilts). Has anyone used this before? I'm looking forward to trying it on my baby quilt. I'm using flannel on the back so wanted something a bit thinner for the batting.

And I had to add to my Perle Cotton supply - you can never have too many of these.

By the way, thanks for all the great name suggestions for my new baby quilt. I'm not sure if it helped or made it harder to pick just one. I've decided on how I'm going to quilt it and am hoping the name will settle upon me as I quietly hand quilt each evening. The hand quilting is completed on the other bird tree baby quilt and I just have to finish off the binding.

Its a hard life!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Bird Tree baby quilt

I've made another baby quilt using Saffron Craig's pretty Bird Tree range. The little stack of delicious green, purple and pink fabric has been crying out to me from the shelf for a while now. I've also added in the gorgeous black Birds on Leaves fabric from her Forest Elementals range - it just goes so perfectly. I've been wanting to try this design for a while as well, ever since I made Sierra's Forest actually. I loved the jagged white edges on Sierra's Forest, so I tried making it jagged on both the top and bottom edges. It reminds me of those 'stacked books' quilts but with angled strips of varying thicknesses.

Using a stack and slash method meant it didn't use any templates and was super quick to put together. I love how it turned out and am keen to make a bigger sized one.

As always I'm undecided on how to quilt this. Some of the options I've tossed up so far are:
  • machine quilting in an all over loopy design
  • machine quilting in horizontal straight lines and then hand quilting in between each line
  • machine quilting in horizontal wavy lines and then echo quilting each line with hand quilting
  • echo quilting the top and bottom jagged edge of each row (on the white) with hand quilting
  • white or pale pink thread (or deep purple if echo quilting across the jagged edge)
  • using a flannel back or pieced back (although both of these options would make it a little harder/thicker to hand quilt through)
As you can see I like combining hand and machine quilting and I'm keen to try different variations, but it does add to the decision process! In the mean time I'll just plod away with hand quilting the one I showed you in my last post (my other bird tree baby quilt), and ponder on this one a little longer.

What I'd really appreciate help with is what to name this quilt - any ideas?

Addit: My initial ideas for names are "Rocky Road" and "Thicket"