Friday, July 3, 2015

if you were shopping... #40

Welcome to if you're shopping.... On Fridays, and often Saturdays instead,  I share news from my sponsors, in case you want to do a little shopping, or even window shopping, this weekend.

This weekend only, at Green Fairy Quilts use the bonus code JULY4 for huge discounts on everything in the store, including preorders!

Mad about Patchwork has this beautiful Kona Sea Spectrum stash builder bundle on at 10% off for July.

This weekend only, Oakshott Fabrics is celebrating Independence Day with £8 flat shipping to the USA on orders of £45. It's time to get your orders in!

Fabric Spark is featuring a summer of fabric love promotions and surprises. Keep an eye out for their next surprise.

New fabrics keep appearing at Fluffy Sheep Quilting!

Sew Sisters Quilt Shop has a fantastic deal of the month!

The Collection Quilt pattern by Carolyn Friedlander has arrived at Sew Me a Song! Becca and I are going to work on this Block of the Month pattern together, and my copy of the pattern is already ordered and on the way. This might have been my favourite thing at Quilt Market - a chance to finally learn appliqué on a modern quilt.

There is always something new at the Fat Quarter Shop. Their exclusive Aurifil Thread Boxes are quite wonderful.

Happy Independence Day to those of you in the USA! Enjoy your weekend!



Thursday, July 2, 2015

Pow - Ta Da! and a tutorial


Let me tell you about this quilt - I named her Pow. Pow - I hope that this quilt is full of courage and strength and happiness and love. And she is also my "cancer sucks" quilt. You might have noticed me making her on instagram over the last month or so. A young friend - he is about 25 - is stuck in the hospital for 8 weeks or more having very aggressive chemo treatments for a kind of cancer can be beaten but there are no sure bets with cancer. But this kid grew up with one of mine, he was always about, and he should be laughing and building cars, not doing this. By the way, he is still laughing a lot, this guy is one of the good ones.

So, I did what I knew, I made him a quilt. He likes it too, when he said his favourite colour was orange he meant it.

Plus quilt - tutorial

Several people have asked me for a pattern or a tutorial for my style of giant plus quilts (you can see some others here and here and here). So I shared my process on instagram and I will share it with you. This pattern turns out differently each time and is easy to make. First pick a bunch of fabrics, scraps, charm squares and other bits.


I cut all the fabrics into 5" squares. That way I can use charm squares if I want to. I just cut a bunch - you can add more as you go and left over ones are easily added to your scrap bin. From a fat quarter I cut two 5" strips and then cross cut those into 8 squares. From other pieces I cut 5" strips and then cross cut them. Pick one fabric for the "background" and cut a lot of squares from it.

Now, you certainly can cut two squares and one rectangle to make the pluses instead. If you are starting with 5" squares, your rectangles will need to be cut at 14". But I don't do that as there is less flexibility if you have rectangles - you cannot take out the centre square. Also, you can do a bit of both if you like, cut some rectangles and for other pluses cut only squares. This quilt is pretty flexible to make.


Head over to your design wall or design floor or design bed and start laying out your squares into plus shapes. If you look at the photo you can see how they tesselate - the pluses repeat on the diagonal and between each plus moving up and down the rows are two other squares (look at the photo and you will see what I mean). Make some of the pluses complete and take the middle square out of others and put a background fabric in the middle.

The "floating" or modern effect that my quilts have is caused by making some of the pluses out of the background fabric or even just out of fabric close to the background and also by taking out that middle square on some of the pluses. For this quilt, in my mind I designated the Architectures print you see to the left and down one from the orange feathers, as the background but really all the white low volumes read as background too.


Sew together the rows. I sew the rows from top to bottom. Also, as my design wall is not big enough to hold a good size lap quilt (this one is about 66" square after a wash and dry), I start on the wall, sew the strips and then move them to my design bed (actually my own bed). Then I can lay out some more pluses around the strips and sew them on the top and bottom of the strips until I am happy with the design and the size of the quilt.

Plus quilt - tutorial

After you have sewn the strips, press the seams. If you lay out the strips and then press them in order, you can press the seams one way on one strip, the other way on the next. That means you can then sew together the strips without pins, just nest the seams as you go. Soon you will have your quilt top done and give it a good press and admire it.

By the way, if at this stage some fabric placement is really bugging you, it is really easy to rip open the seams and change it out. I don't usually bother but as you are randomly placing those fabrics to start, remember how easy it is to change something you don't like. I find that in the end the random placements make me very happy.

Plus quilt - tutorial

Then layer your top with batting and a back and quilt it (I have a basting tutorial here). I like to use a bright thread to add an additional little spark to the giant plus quilts. I think I used that bright orange Aurifil at the top of the photo. Feel free to also change thread colours as you go. I quilted randomly spaced straightish lines for my favourite industrial modern feel - sort of a fierce and defiant look, which I think is perfect for this quilt.

Plus quilt - tutorial

Bind the quilt  - I have a binding tutorial here. I stitched this one on by machine as I was trying to hurry the finish - given that, well, cancer sucks and one feels like the clock is ticking and you want to get that quilt to that guy quickly.

Pow - back

Here is her back. I chose bold, masculine prints, all of which were also favourites of mine. I have to say that these large 6 - 8 print pieced backs are becoming a bit of a signature for me and I just love each one. The back is interesting enough to be another front, but it does not compete with the front either.


There she is again with a bit of scale. Pow!

I love this quilt and I was so glad to be able to give it to my young friend, who once was a 3 year old playing in my family room. I sure hope he is better soon too, he is brave and courageous and kind and goodhearted, and maybe this orange hug will help a little too.



Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Scraptastic Tuesday and a round robin


Let's start with the "art" shot. This little piece is not actually bowed, it is a rectangle of 5" x 8.5" and the finished strips are about 1/4" wide, give or take. I think I will refer to this as industrial modern matchstick piecing.

an idea

It started as an idea that came together as I made a latte last night in my Colorado mug. The heat wave had been replaced with light cooling rain and finally I was able to sit and sew comfortably again.  I gathered some leftover bits of some blue, teal and yellow solids and cut 3/4" strips.


I worked carefully but I was far to excited to press each addition. I finger pressed. This is a photo I put on instagram to show the scale.

Lines - scale

This was my last photo last night on instagram. You can see that the lines are not perfect, I think for me to do better I would need to paper piece it. Otherwise, with regular piecing on a small piece just 8.5" or so (I made it a bit bigger and trimmed it) you can already see that the strips are slightly wobbly and the piece begins to bow a bit in the middle of the long sides - thus, industrial modern, it has character and texture like that old wood or brick wall, not perfection like the paper pieced block would be. I am in love.


This morning I stay stitched the edges 1/8" from the edge so that the piece would hold up to shipping and handling. It is off on a world tour as part of a little round robin group I have joined called PIP, with first stop Susan from PatchworknPlay in Australia.

PIP - these are about the "feeling"

I made this mosaic, after I finished the piece, to inspire the group. We are making enough blocks to make a mini quilt or a pillow in the end, so the additions are all small bits like this one, or maybe just embellishment, etc. My mosaic is about "a feeling" more than anything - texture, minimalist, contrast, shape. I am hoping the group will use whatever colours or fabrics inspire them, to make something they love, to add to my block - there are no expectations on my end. I am excited to see what returns to me in a year (we are having two months between additions, a very civilized round robin).

And how is this about scraps you might ask? Well, two things. The strips were cut from scraps and worse, now I have to start saving these small strips - I was letting bits this tiny go to the garbage before. I am so looking forward to exploring this concept of matchstick piecing more. I think I best get a special box to keep them in or they will be lost with the regular bits of scraps. And of course, they will only add to the scrap mountain, oh well.

I wonder what Nicky, from Mrs. Sew and Sow, is doing with her scraps this week, check her out and see if she is saying. Oh and do plan to join us for the July Scraptastic Tuesday link up, the second Tuesday of the month, July 14.



Monday, June 29, 2015

Gardenvale winner!

Thank you to Green Fairy Quilts for sponsoring this lovely give away!
Kathy is the randomly drawn winner and I am sending you an email next.

Thank you to everyone for your comments, which I have been reading but not replying to. It looks like it's going to be a nice summer / winter for most of you.

I'm on the run this morning, and got virtually no sewing done yesterday as it was a very hot day here. Tomorrow I have a finished quilt from earlier in June to share, see you then.



Sunday, June 28, 2015

Some making - Bee Sewcial blocks

Version 2.0, for Debbie, Bee Sewcial

For June in Bee Sewcial, Debbie, from A Quilter's Table asked us to make Mid-Century Modern inspired blocks in colours from a fairly dark mid-century palette (here). She gave us a great pinboard for inspiration. This bee is about derived inspiration, the Queen gives us a bit of direction and we make what we are inspired to make. In the end, I made those blocks above.

For Debbie, Bee Sewcial

This block I made with no hesitation at all. The melon shapes called to me first from the inspiration board. I had a harder time with the colour choices but in the end I just picked my favourites and went for it. I want to come back to use this shape for a quilt soon I think.

Making Bee Sewcial blocks

Then I was busy at work, and traveling about, etc for much of the month. When I got back to this bee project, I decided to focus on the rectangles and triangles that are so present in the mid-century modern prints. (By the way, I also need to get back to my real camera, the iphone instagram photos just do not make me happy.)

Making Bee Sewcial blocks

Again, I picked my favourite colours - the background is navy and looks great in real life. I played around with placement and filled in the background.

Version 1.0

That photo above is where I thought I was going to finish. But that squarish block just looked wrong. I looked and looked at it and then I just chopped it in half.

Others would have perhaps used photoshop or drawn it out but I just decided it was not working for me - despite a lot of positive feedback on instagram. So I cut first and then decided how to fix it. As I was cutting I thought, well the worst is that I have to start all over.

Version 2.0, for Debbie, Bee Sewcial

In the end, the fix was easy, just rotate it and stick the cut off part on top. Now I like the block a lot, either placed vertical or horizontal, and it has a lot more of that mid-century modern feel to me. Maybe in part it is the rectangular shapes of the prints from that era that made it feel wrong as a square shape, but I am much happier now.

And then I carried the blocks all week and did not get to the post office, so that on the list for Monday lunch as waiting to the end of the day - and then being too late for the post office - clearly isn't working for me.

Don't forget to enter the great giveaway sponsored by Green Fairy Quilts for that layer cake of Gardenvale by Jen Kingwell - enter on this post here. The draw will close at 6 am tomorrow (Monday) when I wake up.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Another reminder -  Q2 of the FAL is also ending and the link for Q2 finishes will open on Tuesday over at Adrianne's blog On the Windy Side. Get your finishes finished and posted. I hope to get one more done in time, we shall see.

I have more sewing to share this coming week and I am excited to have more time for blogging and sewing as my real job winds down a bit for summer, so stay tuned. Of course, I have another "vacation" project to do too, I'll share more about that here shortly too.