Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Sakura Quilt for Makower

A while back Makower sent me the images for their new Japanese line Sakura to design and make a quilt the pattern for which is then available as a free download from their website.  Makower and I went back and forth for a while over this design.  I wanted some traditional feel, simple bold blocks around the outside of the quilt but wanted room in the centre to showcase some of the beautiful large scale prints in the line.  The image below was drawn up using a beta version of Touchdraw for mac which has the ability to auto-fill using jpegs - i.e. fabric images can be dropped into the quilt design.

Makower and I were really happy with the finished quilt and felt that the work taken at the design stage had really paid off to make quite a striking quilt.  I also get a kick - I don't know why - out of the final quilt looking the same as the image I had drawn up.  

I used a black Aurifil 50wt this time to quilt a diagonal cross hatch so the thread hides itself on the black frame sections of the quilt.  

This quilt design will soon be available as a free download on the Makower website and I'd love to see your version if you make it.  

Monday, 22 September 2014

Little Quilts Mini Quilt Swap

So today is my turn to post in the Little Quilts mini quilt swap blog tour.  We each have to make a mini quilt for a secret partner from one of the designs in the Little Quilts book by Sarah Fielke and Amy Lobsiger.  And don't miss the giveaway for this book at the end of the post - it is a gorgeous book with lots of beautiful mini quilts in it - quick and fun to make.

I decided to make the quilt you can see on the right hand side of the front cover which is called Drawn Together.  Since my secret partner (who I can't reveal in this email) is a LEGEND, I did have some mental to-ing and fro-ing in choosing fabrics with a bit of nervous second guessing going on.  Eventually I got started with an idea of black stars on a rainbow scrappy background. 

I dragged out all my coloured scrap drawers (the OCD in me has my scraps stored in coloured drawers, orange in the orange drawer, yellow in the yellow drawer etc) and worked my way through the rainbow until I had foundation paper pieced all eight segments.  I'm quite the foundation paper piecing nerd so I loved this bit.  It appeals to the perfectionist in me.  

Once it was all together, I auditioned a ton of fabrics for the border but settled on this Lakehouse print which is one of my favourite prints of all time and seems to work well whatever you do with it.  

I don't know if you can see in this photo but I quilted it using a 1/2" diagonal cross hatch with a cream aurifil 50wt thread.  I wanted the quilting to show and I love something quilted to within an inch of its life which doesn't take too long on something this small.  

And then after a good rummage through my stash drawers, I found what I think is the perfect binding - it's a Suzuko Koseki stripe.  I cut it 2" wide so that the binding would be really nice, skinny and tight.  I also joined the binding seams straight which I always do on a stripy binding so you can't see any joins throughout the whole binding.  I did machine the back down which was a bit of a fiddle but I've lost the enthusiasm for hand sewing anything these days.  And voila, it's done and will be mailed off to my legendary quilting partner this week.  I take comfort from the fact that, even if your partner doesn't like something you make them in a swap, they have to say they love it out of politeness so either way it will turn out fine.  

And finally, if you'd like to win a copy of Little Quilts, leave a comment on this post and I'll draw a winner randomly in about a week.  

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

National Sewing and Quilting Month

And so it is my turn to celebrate National Sewing and Quilting month with Fat Quarter Shop.  

Each participant in the blog tour will be answering the following questions.  

1.       How did you start quilting/sewing?

I've sewn all my life - or as long as I can remember - and started quilting about five years ago.  I'd always loved what we in the UK call American quilts but got going when a friend in my village showed me the beautiful modern quilts she was making.  I started making quilts right away and haven't stopped for breath yet.  For my pieced heart (below) I chose "I need all the fabrics" because it is the constant stream of beautiful new fabric lines that keep me inspired to make more and more quilts.  

2.       When was the first time you knew that you were a quilter/sewer?

I think it took me about a month to realise that the obsession with quilting was not going to go away any time soon, if ever.  I was hooked from day one. 

3.       Do you have any sewing/quilting horror stories or faux pas?

I think my favourite story was from a swap I was participating in.  I studied my partner's tastes and choices carefully and made a Gee's Bend inspired mini quilt for her.  After about three months I'd heard nothing so emailed her to find out if she liked the quilt I'd sent.  She said she hadn't opened the package because she'd been too busy.  I asked her to return the package to me and she did.  I think that was the oddest and rudest incident I've encountered in what is otherwise the most supportive community I know.  

4.       What advice would you give to someone who’s just starting out in sewing/quilting?

I'd say perfection is overrated.  So many quilters I've come across agonise over missed points and small imperfections which no-one but the maker will ever notice and aren't in the least important in the scheme of life.  Remember the quilter's rule of thumb - if you can't see the mistake when driving past the quilt at 30mph, then it's not worth unpicking.  This is a rule I live by.   

And if you'd like to make your own pieced heart, as in the above image, you can find the "Color My Heart" Quilt patter by clicking on this link here.

Thursday, 18 September 2014

And the winner is ...

And the winner of the Beyond Neutral giveaway is ...

... chosen by random number generator ... 

... and is ... 

Monday, 15 September 2014

Superior Titanium Topstitch Needles

For a while now I have only been using Superior Titanium topstitch needles.  I tend to continue to use the same needle or needles until I come across issues suggesting that the needle needs replacing.  That tends to be when I start to skip stitches or the thread starts to break while I'm sewing.  Because Superior's needles are titanium tipped, the point of the needle stays sharper much much longer which means I replace my needles much much less often.

Superior's own tests show that the tips of their needles stay sharper almost fives times as long as needles which are not titanium tipped.  Although these needles cost approximately twice as much as other brands of needle, they last nearly five times longer so definitely make economic sense.  Clicking on the image below will take you to the page on the Superior website which explains this in more detail.

You can order them for worldwide delivery direct from Superior Threads.  If you are a stockist or know of other stockists in your country, please leave a comment for me below so that I can update the post.  And if your local quilt shop doesn't stock them, go in and demand that they do!