Friday, 10 August 2018

Pink Beauty

It's August and it means it's time for the cutest quilt show of the year - the Pets on Quilts show over at  Lily Pad Quilting. I still don't have a pet to show, so I'm taking part in the Pet-Themed Quilt category.

It's a horse, and she's called Pink Beauty - all lovely and romantic and even with a little bobbin in her hair to mark the occasion.

She's one of my curved piecing workshop samples that I decided to finish and quilt, because I had some triangles meant for a different quilt (which is still in progress) but cut to a wrong size. When I stitched them together into squares it turned out they work well with this portrait (especially the background fabric) and there were just enough to form a border (I only had to add a little strip to the portrait to make the maths work).

Here's a close-up, you can see the quilting in the lightest part. The main feature of the quilt is, of course, the mane, which is made of knitting yarn stitched into the seam and then plaited (she can change hair dos if she wants to).

I used my favourite variegated YLI thread to quilt Lori Kennedy's square flowers in the border squares:

Another Lori Kennedy's pattern, Dizzy Daisy, was used in the background, but you can hardly see it for the fabric pattern:

There it is - simple, but bright and happy, the way I like it!

So now, do pop over to lily Pad Quilting and check out all the furry and feathery cuteness in the show.

Linking up to:
Pets on Quilts at Lily Pad Quilting
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or Not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Wednesday, 25 July 2018

Quilting + Bookbinding

= a new photo album

At one of our recent IPS Eastern branch meetings, a great teacher called Sidella demonstrated simple bookbinding techniques, and one of the things she brought was an album with a quilted cover. So I decided to make something like this for myself to house the photos from family photoshoots which were printed at about A4 size, some of them square. The phtotshoots were 6 and 4 years ago, and I still haven't been able to find a suitable album (and at a reasonable price, too).

For the cover I went through my (not very impressive) UFO bag and found this little panel, made before I took up patchwork for serious and so not a bit wonky. As I'm not a fan of the Sunbonnet Sue style, I couldn't decide how to use it and it's been sitting around for about as long as those family photos. But for an album of kids' photos it's kind of suitable, don't you think?

I added some matching blue fabric around the panel and quilted it in bright green.

The quilting shrank my cover more than I had expected, so it didn't fit the way it was supposed to (see the unquilted edge?), but, luckily, I had enough margin.

I also had to use gift wrap for the inside of the cover, as I couldn't find any other paper large enough. The album itself is 32cm by 32 cm (12.5'') and I wanted a continuous piece of paper for all of the inside.

I stitched the pages to the cover using the "long stitch" technique with bright green hemp cord to complete the look...

And proceeded to stick in the photos before I realised I hadn't taken any photos of the album. But it was fun to go through those beautiful pictures and realise how the kids have grown since.

That's a whole new way for me of using patchwork and quilting for practical purposes and it seems to open possibilities for Christmas presents...

Linking up to Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation

Monday, 9 July 2018

Something New

This is just a little post to share my latest crush - I've discovered Spoonflower and the world of pattern design. This is what arrived in the post today:

Many are familiar with it, but for those who aren't - Spoonflower is a company (American, but with facilities in Germany to serve Europe) that offers fabric printing on demand. You can upload your own pattern or choose from the thousands that other people uploaded and they will print it for you on your chosen fabric (I think they have 24 different types of fabric plus giftwrap and wallpaper). Here is a glimpse of their fabric samples with reference colours to see how they come out on different fabrics.

What is also fun about them is that they hold weekly design challenges with hundreds of people submitting their designs to a particular theme and the visitors voting for their favourite. As I just wanted to try my hand at surface pattern design, it was nice to have a theme to work to, rather than just drawing flowers. This particular challenge was a girly fabric with a science/STEM related imagery, so I made a simple pattern with star octahedrons (polyhedrons were my favourite part of school maths and I wrote a project on them and made a boxful of models to go with it). This is the pattern, I called it "Maths Star":

And then I decided to make a kind of collection to go with it, and made two secondary designs to support it, in different colours - the tiled octahedrons that are on the left above and the line grid below.

This is the way they print a sample of a collection (you don't have to design one, you can literally collect different patterns from different designers and put together a collection of your own):

I'm really excited to see my drawing come off the computer screen and onto a real physical fabric, I guess I have to design a quilt now to make with this fabric, to see it come full circle.

In the meantime I continue playing with pattern design and trying a different style, you can have a look on my page on Spoonflower in case you're interested.

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River

Thursday, 5 July 2018

The Sail

It was finished long ago, but now the time came to show it, as it's hanging in the National Exhibition of the Irish Patchwork Society "Making Waves".

The theme of the exhibition was very nice and open for interpretation, and I had lots of different ideas. In the end I opted for a very simple and straightforward interpretation in order to concentrate on the texture.

The central element of the quilt is the wave itself - made with ruffles of organza, netting, chameleon synthetic something and oakshot cotton. pieces of chameleon organza are also appliquéd on top of the sea around - if you look close you can see electric blue and green glistening here and there. Photographs are inadequate, as the effect of chameleon fabrics is best visible when you move an change angle of vision.

I added some more 3D elements - in the sail and one of the seagulls in keeping with the wave. I'm really into adding 3D into quilts wherever I can these days.

Otherwise, it's quite a simple image, but I like how the colours turned out, I didn't have to buy any fabrics specifically for this quilt, I bought a lot of those synthetics for lsat year's Aurora, but never used them. It's amazing, how they came together to make the colour of the sea, and specifically the sea around Ireland.

Linking up to:
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Can I get a Whoop Whoop at Confessions of a Fabric Addict

Friday, 18 May 2018

A Secret (kind of Japanese) Garden

This is the biggest quilt I've ever made, so it's going to be a long post :))

So huge I couldn't take a proper photo of it.

To begin with - my Mum is decorating her bedroom in a kind of Japanese style, and she chose dusty pink wallpaper for most of the room and a highly decorative and extremely busy focal wallpaper with Japanese motifs above the bed. When I suggested making a quilt for her, she said it had to be very simple and quiet, because the wallpaper is so busy. So, I didn't get to play with the beautiful Japanese patterned fabrics, but I couldn't just make it plain, either.

I chose a pink Moda Grunge for my background, and tone-on-tone warm grey for the sashing, I also smuggled in a Japanese pattern, but it's going to be on the bits that hang down on the sides, so that doesn't really count, does it? ;)) But I still needed something - some point of interest - and I remembered I had just the right thing.

When I was maybe 12-13 years old, my Mum took a machine embroidery course, and made a lot of beautiful stuff, but her final project she never finished. It's this really exquisite panel using a wide range of silk threads to create colour transitions - mind you, it was made on a very basic foot-operated sewing machine. You can see pencil lines where the flowers were left unfinished. 

Here's a close-up:

I mean, I found it hard to persuade that machine to stitch a straight line with the right tension for me.

It had been folded away for many years until I took up quilting five years ago and rummaged through Mum's fabrics to see what I could put to good use. I found this panel and took it with the other bits and pieces, and so it came to live in my stash. When I took it out on this occasion, it matched my Mood Grunge pink almost exactly, so I took it as a sign that it was meant to go into Mum's quilt. It can hardly be called Japanese, but it will work with the vibrant colour and busy pattern of the wallpaper.

So, I pieced a very simple top in just a couple of days, sandwiched it and contemplated it in awe (with panic starting to set in): How do you even begin to quilt this?

See how tiny and lonely the bird looks?

Forgot to mention - I had only two weeks left till Mum's birthday and she was coming to us for a week just then, arriving a couple of days before her birthday, so I had even less than two weeks to do the quilting. (That's also the reason I didn't post anything about it in progress - it was a Secret Project).

But I did it - with a couple of hours' quilting every morning, on the dining table, because the quilt is actually larger than the whole of my sewing room. In case you're wondering - I quilted it all on my very usual domestic machine - Janome 6260.

I started with the bird block, using a selection of my beloved YLI variegated threads to pick up the colours from the embroidery and kind of continue the design:

I made all the design decisions on the go, so I thought I might add more birds to keep it company, and thus the large blocks became kind of "pictures" too. All FMQ with very little planning.

I think they bear a slight resemblance to the Japanese/Chinese "birds and flowers" images, but if you disagree, I won't insist.  I tried to use kind of Japanese quilting patterns for the small blocks, too, but I don't know many of those.

"What if I use a different quilting pattern for each block?" I thought light-mindedly, without even counting the number of blocks in question (the answer is 42 - who could have thought!).

It was fun and games for some time, but very soon I was running out of ideas, considering that the density of quilting had to be more or less consistent, too.

I went through Pinterest again and again, searching for more suitable patterns. They didn't all turn out nice, some look really clumsy.

I also ran out of some of my threads in the process.

Some of the patterns did turn out very similar or (almost) identical to the others, which I only discovered at the end of a day's quilting when I spread the quilt out on the bed. Luckily, the side rows of patterned fabric could be all quilted with the same pattern, because you can't see it with all the flowers anyway.

Anyway, I did it, and I couldn't believe I did it when I spread it in the living room again to trim and bind.

I know a lot of people make huge quilts like that on a regular basis, but for me it was a feat, and I actually like how it turned out - very simple if you look from a distance, but with a lot of texture and subtle colour if you look up close.

I think Mum really liked it and certainly appreciated the addition of her bird to it. I hope it fits the room, but before it travels to its home, I'll be (hopefully) sending it to a quilt show here in Ireland, so Mum left it with me for the time being.

Linking up to Off the Wall Friday at Creation by Nina-Marie
Can I get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing
Show iff Saturday at Sew Can She

Friday, 6 April 2018

Indian Elephant Has Arrived

It's been a long journey for such a small elephant, but along the way he's not only found some temple arches to walk through, but also some bling to adorn himself (that's the exuberant Orient, after all).  And finally, here he is.

You can read more about his journey here and here, I'll just tell about the quilting in this post. I usually prefer some sort of overall quilting pattern for the whole of the quilt or at least for the whole of the background. Here it was evident that each part needed its own quilting, that's why I kept putting it off and spent a long time considering the options.

The elephant was easy, I just echoed some of the shapes, trying to keep him not too flat, and created an arching pattern in his coat (blanket? rug? saddlecloth?) to rhyme with the border arches.

Finally, I decided to quilt the immediate background with paisley-feather-mussel-like something in golden-brown variegated thread.

Then quilted simple rosettes into the corner patches,

And mini-arches in the narrow borders.

Finally, the "temple arches" were quilted with stylised architectural details, and the space between them - with echoing curves.

Despite the small surface area, it was a lot of fiddling, but that was not all, the handwork still remained, and the quilt sat waiting till I was in the mood to do that.

I went to three shops to look for suitable trimmings, and there was not a lot of choice in something Indian looking, but small-scale and not too colourful, so I just bought this gold lace, blingy red trim and some plastic "gems" that rhymed with the trim. Some hand stitching - and the elephant is ready for any ceremony he wants to attend.

On the whole, it's very unusual quilt for me in an uncharacteristic colour way, but it was fun to let it go and see how it developed of its volition.

Linking up to Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts
Free Motion Mavericks at Lizzy Lenard Vintage Sewing
TGIFF at Celtic Thistle Stitches
Show Off Saturday at Sew Can She

Monday, 2 April 2018


Again, an idea I've lived with for some time, since I made my horse quilt, actually, which only came to fruition now, in a couple of days of frantic drawing, tracing, cutting, pinning and stitching in between taking the kids out here, there and everywhere.

This is a series of little horse portraits - curve-piecing samples for a workshop, which incorporate 3d manes to make them come to life.

They are just flimsies at the moment, because this is how I prefer them for the workshops, quilting will add some texture, and the eyes will be brought to life by a couple of strokes of paint or crayons.
The choice of fabrics changes the style completely, from almost realistic to something fairytale-like.

For these two, the manes are made with loosely spun knitting yarn (leftovers from some knitted hats), for the third one, I used felting wool (unfelted in this case, in the horse quilt I felted the manes before stitching them into the seams - they look less natural when felted, but handling is much easier then). I wish I had made it longer, because it did shrink a bit with all the handling. the manes will probably be partially stitched down after quilting, to keep them in place when the quilt is folded, carried or stored.

I got so carried away, I have two more patterns ready, but will have to pause for a while.

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts
Linky Tuesday at Free Motion by the River
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