Friday, March 30, 2012

Planks - the best toy ever!

On the weekend I took Sarah to the Bowerbird Bazaar as a reward for filling her reward card (she earns a punch in her card for doing things like getting ready on time in the morning or getting ready for bed without a fuss). It was a fantastic market and we had a lovely time being together, but she kept pulling me from stand to stand until we got to this one - Green Hat Workshop.

She was immediately hooked on these "Planks".  They are identically sized plantation pine blocks. The ends are perfectly precision cut so that they can stand end to end and you can build amazing structures with it using gravity and friction alone (the structures in the background are not held together with glue.)

My kids have tonnes of toys - the baskets are literally overflowing - yet they complain that they have nothing to do. I almost feel like throwing them all out (they toys, not the kids) and just having a massive box of blocks - helping develop their imagination, creativity and dexterity.

Do you think Sarah was going to let me take her away from this?

A crowd of people developed to watch a little girl enthralled in play and delighted that she could build a structure that was almost as tall as her...

... or maybe even taller.

She used about 100 blocks to build her tower. I bought a box of 200 blocks for Dane's birthday next week and I can't wait to see what they do with them!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Rough tutorial for baby Cohen's minimalist quilt

Thanks to everyone who helped out by voting for their favourite quilting pattern for my new baby quilt. There wasn't much of a concensus on this one, so I might just have to go with my original idea... you'll have to wait until it's done to see which one I picked!

So, on to the tute...You can probably figure out how to make this without instructions, but I've had a few people ask how I put Cohen's quilt together so here's the rough guide.

I didn't use any measurements as I was making it, and I don't have the quilt anymore. But I thought I could share the general directions and some rough measurements (using the photo as a guide) for those who are interested in making something similar. It's a really easy, fun one to play around with!

So here's a picture of the master plan to refer back to, with VERY rough estimates of measurements. I used a charm pack and a cotton/linen blend for the background.
  • I chose (well actually, my husband chose all of the fabrics and laid them out for me to sew) 12, 5" square prints for the main vertical strip and sewed them together. 
  • Then I cut four 5" squares in half and sewed them together (joining the narrow ends) for the bottom left hand corner. 
  • I cut the four squares with the fish on them into 3 1/2" squares and set them aside.

Then I took my background fabric and cut it to the approximate size that I wanted the quilt to be (you'll want to cut it approximately 3" longer and 4" narrower than the desired finished size - I would have cut my background piece to approx 38" x 58"). 
  • Using the diagram and photo as a guide, cut a long narrow strip vertically down the side (number 1) approx 8" wide and put it aside.
  • Then from the left over fabric cut four 3 1/2" strips and one 2 1/2" strip from the bottom (number 2).
  • Lastly, you'll make a horizontal cut where you want the fish strips to go (number 3).

To make the fish strips, lay out your four 3 1/2" strips and make cuts in them where you want the fish squares to go. Then sew the squares where you made the cuts.

Sew the strips together and insert them where you made cut number 3 in the background. Trim the strips in line with the background fabric.

It's pretty easy from here to put the rest of the quilt together. Sew the 2 1/2" background strip to the end of the four half squares strip for the bottom left corner. Add this strip to the bottom of the quilt and trim in line with the background fabric.

Then add the strip of 12 fabric squares to the right of the quilt top and then the thick strip of background fabric (which was your number 1 cut). Trim it to the size you like and voila! You have a funky baby quilt top which you could put together in an evening. Let me know if any of this doesn't make sense. It's meant just as a quick guide not as a pattern.

You could easily use this method to design your own quilt. Have fun!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Help for baby Gathered In quilt

I need a bit of help deciding on how to quilt my baby "Gathered In" quilt (I used a charm pack of Reunion by Sweetwater.)

As I thanked my little boy for helping he said "I was just trying to be nice". He's such a sweetie!

It will be a fun one to quilt because it's just a littlie.  Here are some of the options:

Any of these do it for you? Any other ideas?
I've tried option 4, option 2 and option 7 before.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Grand Designs Winner

Wow, thanks for all the great book ideas, and for the lovely comments on my Grand Designs quilt!  I have just joined a book club and this list will make a great reference when we need new book ideas. I've just finished reading Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier and loved it! Can't wait to see the Alfred Hitchcock movie now. The only problem with reading is that it competes with my sewing time. Ah well, I've still managed to squeeze in some sewing as well. Hey, maybe I should get audio books and then I can sew and 'read' at the same time :)

With the help of, I've picked a winner... congratulations Dolores, who said
"This quilt is amazing. Not sure how old your kids are but my kids are under 5 and one of our faves is The Gruffalo followed by Charlie & Lola. For older kids I used to love Roald Dahl & Anne of Green Gables."

Thanks Dolores, I actually started reading Fantastic Mr. Fox (by Roald Dahl) to my three and five year old last night and they complained bitterly when I only read 9 chapters in one sitting... what a horrible mum I am making them go to bed!

Thanks Aunty Kaila for the cute outfits!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Grand Designs Quilt and a Giveaway!

My Grand Designs quilt and pattern are finally done! I've been working on this one for a while and I feel a real sense of satisfaction in finishing it.  It's not a difficult quilt, but all of those pieced curves just take time. I think it's well worth it though.

As mentioned in this post, the inspiration for this quilt came from a piece of artwork in the TV show Grand Designs.  I couldn't find the artwork but fortunately one of the commentors, Mitch, directed me to the designer's website that contains a picture of the sandstone artwork. When I first saw the website I said to my husband, "This wasn't the artwork, was it?" But he said, "Yes, that's the one." I had remembered the artwork quite differently. I suppose because I had only seen it for a split second, and then embellished it my mind.

I designed this quilt so that there was no wastage of fabric, and so you don't lose the fabric design across the pieced white line. I used six half yards of Alexander Henry June Bug - fabulous fabric isn't it. You could also use 4 charm packs (140 5" squares).  I machine quilted double lines on the sashing and then hand quilted single white lines going through the blocks.

I like the way the quilting shows up on the back.

The pieced back is a nod to the blocks on the front. I kept it very minimal on the advice of my husband. He likes minimal.

This one is for my sister Kelly (it's going to be hard to let go - I'm very much in love with it!)

Thanks to my awesome pattern testers/proofreaders! The pattern contains step by step photographic instructions on how to piece curves (using pins). It takes a bit of time but certainly isn't hard. I would say this pattern would be appropriate for most quilters, but maybe not absolute beginners.

Now for the giveaway details. Unfortunately I don't have any left over June Bug fabric, but I do have this charm pack of 40, 5" squares of Denyse Schmidt's original Flea Market Fancy fabric, which could be turned into a mini Grand Designs quilt, or combined with her new FMF Legacy range that has just been released.

OR you may have fallen in love with Aneela Hoey's new range "A walk in the Woods". Your choice!

And ofcourse I'll throw in my Grand Designs pattern. Just leave a comment here telling me a favourite book - it could be one for children or adults (I know it has nothing to do with the quilt, but I'm after new ideas for myself and my kids!). I'll randomly pick a winner on Wednesday 14th March.

The Grand Designs pattern is available from my downloadable patterns page and will be 20% off while the giveaway is running. If you would like a hard copy please contact your local fabric store and ask them to get it in (Australian and New Zealand stores can order from HQW Distributors).

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Commute Quilt Kit

Wow, thanks for responding to my call for help! It looks like grey is the winner! It's just amazing that I can get your expert advice when there's no else around to help. My husband had given me the day to quilt while he took the kids out - pretty nice huh. I was excited to get started on an updated version of my Wonky Donkey quilt with Laurie Wisbrun's gorgeous new Jack and Jenny fabric, but got stuck when trying to decide weather to use the grey in the blocks or not (I didn't want to use grey in the blocks if I was going to use it for the sashing).  Anyway, with your help I've made great progress, but have run out of some of the rain fabric.  I'm hoping it arrives soon so I can show you the quilt top.

I'll show you this instead: FabricWorm's new Commute Quilt Kit using my Fussy Fairytales pattern. Fantastic isn't it!

And here's some more quilts using "There's a Square in There". My sister, Amelia, very generously donated this one in lovely muted tones to raise money for the King Auction. The quilted circles look great, don't they. And the back is covered in the softest Amy Butler flannel!

And Lisa created this beauty. The quilting looks amazing and I love what she's done with the border!

You can see more of this quilt and others on my flickr group page.

By the way, a new pattern and giveaway will be coming up next...

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Help for Wonky Donkey

I'm doing this post from my phone so I'll keep it basic. Grey or white or pale blue sashing?? Whatcha think??