Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Custom New Zealand Quilt and Quilting Brave.

I don't usually make custom quilts, as I find I struggle to get them done in a timely manner for a variety of factors. The first reason being that most of my time is spent chasing after a 2-year-old, and the second being that I often find that I lack motivation and like to quilt for my own pleasure and not because I have to. This is possibly why I have such an enormous stack of unfinished quilts that I keep promising myself to get to in the future.


However, I was recently asked by my Aunty to make a quilt for her first grandchild and she wanted some input into the design. Primarily she wanted it to have a distinctly New Zealand theme. I immediately had a whole heap of ideas, such as creating a foundation paper pieced Buzzy Bee, Red Band Gumboots or a Rugby Shirt with a Silver Fern. But my Aunty wasn't so fussed on those ideas. She was thinking Nikau palms and birds.

Birds - That gave me an idea... I cranked out Electric Quilt and showed her my applique Kiwi Pattern and started playing around with some colours. When she saw the idea of a flock (is that the correct word) of Multi-coloured Kiwi, she was sold - and quite frankly, so was I. I was so excited to get started, that we immediately searched through my stash to find scraps for the colours. I wanted to go for bold prints like the Fuschia Blueberry Park fabric I had in my stash, however, Aunty wanted more plain fabrics, with subtle prints. On a side note, she later agreed that the bold prints stood out exceptionally well in this design. Plus she really liked the fabric by Nutex with the Kereru, Tui and Takahe on it, so I decided to use that as the border and sashing for the quilt, which worked well as the colours in the fabric were reflective of the colours in some of my Kiwi, as well as including the Nikau Palms she wanted!




I really enjoyed piecing this quilt, and if you are a regular follower, you will be well aware that my applique skills are somewhat lacking, however, this quilt was great for helping me to practice this technique and find out the style of applique that works best for me. I still used Raw-edge applique, but have discovered that I much prefer a zig-zig stitch over a blanket stitch for my applique - it looks neater to me.

After I had completed my blocks with the nine colourful Kiwi I laid it out to make sure I had balanced my colours, and I had a helper, who kept telling me that the quilt I had created was "Ten Kooky Kiwi". This is a New Zealand Children's book and Song which has Kiwi getting into all sorts of mischief. I will be honest, I hadn't made the connection until he said it, but when he did, it seemed only fitting to make a tenth Kiwi, and place it on the back of the quilt (I used ‘Crazy Paua Shell’ fabric by Nutex for the backing)

This quilt for me was really about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and practicing some new skills. As well as being an applique quilt, I also tried doing some free-motion quilting using the hopper foot. I whipped out those $3 gloves I got from Bunnings Warehouse and jumped in. It may have been careless of me to try a new technique on a quilt that was not for me. However, I also felt that if I didn't give it a crack, then I might be held back by the same fear in future quilts. Besides, there was always my handy seam ripper to help me unpick if I really screwed it up.


I practiced doing a stipple on a small square of fabric, and then put my Kiwi Quilt under the needle and let rip. I was using my new Sulky PolyLite thread for the quilting and it came out very nicely.  Hopefully, I made Leah Day proud, but possibly more importantly - I definitely surprised myself and was super pleased with my effort. By the time I had finished quilting my hearts and the stipple to fill in the spaces between, I was much more confident, and actually very happy with the result. It's a hard thing to break out of your comfort zone and try something new, but ultimately if we keep letting that fear rule us, we would never try anything new. Therefore I think its sometimes important to take a leap of faith and give it a go. Quilt Brave, and be fierce in your dedication to hone your craft.

This time I was brave, comes and all in all, I think the resulting quilt was better for it (and yep - it definitely has a New Zealand flavour!). Would I be this brave in a quilt again? Absolutely.

Happy Quilting!
RJ


Monday, January 20, 2020

Choosing Fabrics for the Spring Fling Sew Along!

The Spring Fling Sew Along is drawing nearer and I’m starting to consider my fabric choices for the sew-along. 



When I made this quilt last time I used a variety of fabrics, however, relied heavily on Moda Grunge Fabrics as the basis for my quilt, and raided my fabric stash for the rest.  I found that the Grunge fabric gave my blocks a lovely depth, especially the roses. However this time I’m thinking I might go a bit more adventurous and use something different, to create a very different version of the quilt using some bolder patterned fabrics. 

One of the things I love about a sew-along, is the community that builds around them and seeing so many different versions of a quilt based on the quilters individual taste and the fabrics they like and I can’t wait to see the different versions of this quilt and the blocks when the sew-along starts.

In order to make the quilt top as per the pattern you will need the following:
  • ·         Background Fabric: White/Off White/Grey: 1 ¼ Yards
  • ·         Dark Red: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Light Red: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Green: ¼ Yard
  • ·         Yellow: ½ Yard
  • ·         Orange: ¼ Yard
  • ·         Brown: ¼ Yard
  • ·         Dusky Pink: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Tan: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Dark Purple: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Light Purple: 1/8 Yard
  • ·         Black (For sashing): ½ Yard
However, for the sew-along, you can pick and choose which blocks you want to sew. So you might choose to sew each block twice exactly as the pattern indicates, or you could decide to sew 12 roses instead in various colours or alternate roses and irises in your quilt. Or you may choose to make an even bigger quilt and post more than one block each week - go for it, this will double your chances of winning a prize! Just keep in mind that your fabric regiments will probably change if you choose to make your quilts differently. It might also be a good opportunity to dig through your stash and audition some fabrics in there and Smash that stash

Because of the Fact the pattern uses lots of different colours and has a number of small pieces, using Fat Quarters or small cuts is a great way to buy your fabric for the quilt. So if you do need to buy fabric here are some suggestions for bundles you might like:

If you are contemplating doing your quilt in solids then Rainbow Stash NZ has a great variety of Kona Cottons available, including some great Fat Quarter Bundles like this one 


which gives a fantastic variety of colours and would be great for making a beautifully colourful version of this quilt. Rainbow Stash also have a wide variety of other precuts and yardage available for you to choose from too.

For a Pastel themed Spring Fling Quilt you might consider some of the new blenders from Little Quack Fabric these blenders work together so well, as you can see in the cheater quilt that Rachel has been making here:



Or for fabrics with a bolder print or colour check out the numerous fat quarter bundles from Fabric Stork on Etsy! Personally, I’m a fan of the Spark bundle:



or the Midnight Bliss bundle if you are looking for some deeper colours to make your quilt with.   



If you are in Australia and looking for a local shop, I highly recommend some of the fabrics from Sew-Inn Colac. They have a great selection from awesome designers like Tula Pink, and Anna Maria Horner, plus a good range of Liberty Fabrics.

I really can’t wait to see what you use for your quilts! I expect there will be lots of variety in the finished quilts at the end of the sew-along. Tell me what your plans are in the comments!

Happy quilting!
RJ

Sunday, January 5, 2020

The Spring Fling Sew Along is coming!


In March 2020 I will be hosting a Sew-Along on Instagram called #SpringFlingSewAlong

During the sew-along, I will be making another version of my Spring Fling Quilt and will be posting my progress on Instagram! 




Why should you join me and make the Spring Fling quilt? It’s free and all you need to participate is a copy of the pattern and the ability to sew a quilt block using the Foundation Paper Piecing! 

If you have done a sew-along before you will know it’s a lot of fun and there are opportunities to bounce ideas off other quilters and learn new things. Plus if you are like me and have difficulty finishing quilts you have started, a sew-along gives you some accountability and a goal/deadline to finish by.  Also, this sew-along has been planned to coincide with both International Quilt Month and Spring in the Northern Hemisphere and I hope that we will be able to fill Instagram with lots of pretty flower quilt blocks for Spring! You can sew as many blocks as you like.




Plus there are PRIZES on offer! The grand prize is a mystery box of quilty goodness that I have been collecting including fabrics, tools and some of my patterns, valued at over $200 NZD. Is there a picture? Nope - the contents of the box will remain a mystery until the winner receives it!!! 

There are also some other great sponsors offering prizes: 

Each week a winner will be chosen from the photos posted during the week of completed quilt blocks. If you want to receive email updates you can sign up here (it’s not a requirement to win, however, all the winners will be announced via email). 

What do you need to do to win a prize? 

  1. Post a photo of a completed Spring Fling Quilt Block from the Spring Fling Quilt Pattern to your Instagram account between March 1st, 2020 and May 24th 2020 (it’s best to make your profile public to ensure it will be seen by me) 
  2. Use the hashtag #SpringFlingSewAlong
  3. Follow the prize sponsor on Instagram! 


To win the grand prize you will need to post a photo of your finished quilt (or quilt top) containing at least 6 quilt blocks from the pattern in any combination you like to Instagram before May 31st, 2020, tag #SpringFlingSewAlong and follow me on Instagram! 

Are you as excited as I am?

Happy Quilting!
RJ

Thursday, November 21, 2019

A White Elephant Quilt Swap

My most recent project has taken me more time to complete than I initially anticipated. I’ve been participating in the White Elephant Quilt Swap 2019 hosted by Janelle from @tinyquiltswaps
It’s a genius swap project though up by Janelle where you make a mini-quilt (note here I said “mini”) that you want to make and everyone votes at the end for their favourites, and that helps to determine who gets each quilt.



I decided that this was my opportunity to finally make the 'Lady in Red' pattern byNessie505, and I already had purchased the fabric and knew I wanted to make her in some purple-blue Tula fabrics. I shrunk the pattern to 75% of its original size so that my finished pattern would be 18” x 36”. I could have gone 12”x 24” but decided against it as one of the fabrics I had chosen was The Hypnotizer from Tula Pink’s 2015 “Chipper” collection and I felt the scale of the print deserved to be a bit bigger, so my quilt ended up being a bit bigger than a “mini”.

It was pointed out after I started that it would be a great swap to use some existing orphan blocks up, something I have plenty of as you probably know from reading my other posts, but by this time I had already started my new quilt, posted photos and was committed.

So why did it take me so long? Well, first I may have been a bit over-ambitious with my quilting. I really stretched my skills with this one, while the end result was definitely worth the effort, I did have a finished quilt that wasn’t quite square and needed fixing.



I am also sewing-time poor at the moment, as since moving my 2-year-old has decided that his day-sleep is optional and therefore I don’t get the same amount of time to spend designing and creating until he starts kindy next year. I also have several other secret projects happening in the background and a long list of custom-order pattern designs to create as well. Plus I’m gearing up for the Spring Fling Sew Along next year. Nevertheless, I did get my quilt finished before the deadline and also added a zipper at the back to make it a pillow cover for whoever ends up getting her (that’s still a secret that hasn’t been decided).



I'm sure whoever receives her will love her, and I am super excited to vote for my favourites (there are some awesome quilts and you can see them here on Instagram) and find out which one I will be receiving!

I really enjoyed making 'Lady in Red' and highly recommend it for anyone who knows how to foundation piece. The pattern is available from ByNessie505’s Etsy store.

Happy piecing!
RJ

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Sit Dog, Sit! New Paper Pieced Quilt Block Pattern!

Several months ago I did a very small Quilt Along featuring some new Farm Animals I had created. While most of these patterns were released at the time of the Quilt Along, one pattern was not. That pattern was called 'Sit Dog, Sit!'



'Sit Dog, Sit!' is a 12" quilt block pattern using foundation paper piecing. The release of the PDF pattern was delayed, as I was developing a print version of the pattern and it was one of the featured pre-release patterns in the Jump On In Box in October 2019. The Jump On In Box is a quarterly subscription box full of fabrics, patterns and other quilty goodness from Sew-Inn Colac in Australia, and totally worth checking out (I'm a subscriber myself). In fact, the background fabric I used when making my own version of this pattern was Serenity - Daydream from the Pinkerville Range by Tula Pink and was one of the fabrics which came in the first-ever Jump On in Box! I then used some pretty pink fabric from my stash and an 18" zip to finish my block into a pretty cushion cover!

There were some pretty cute versions of Sit Dog, Sit made during the Quilt-Along by my testers and I really couldn't pick a favourite:


I love the flowers that Truus Tante used for the background. Truus plans to make a full quilt of farm animals using all the animals from the quilt along!


Donna said she was thinking of her own dog when she was making her version and used fabrics and colours to reflect this. 


Marie's puppy quilt block was very cute in the green hues she chose!


Julia had been making a rainbow of farm animals for her quilt, and so she made her version of Sit Dog, Sit! using a variety of beautiful Orange fabrics. 


I'd love to know which version is your favourite - Let me know in the comments!

Sit Dog, Sit! is available as an instant PDF download in my Etsy Store now, or as a print pattern available select quilt stores.

Happy Piecing!
RJ

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Have you heard about the Purple People?

Hello again!

Recently I designed a fun new quilt called 'Purple People' and I haven't yet had a chance to write about it.  Essentially Purple People is a series of twelve foundation paper pieced faces, which all differ in expression and have subtly different features.


Each quilt block measures 6" wide by 8" tall and the finished quilt centre should measure 22" across and 37" down after sashing has been added. 

When I designed them, I envisaged the faces would be purple for my own quilt. However, since the release of the first blocks, I have seen the blocks made in all different colours, including, one participant who decided to make hers as a Rainbow! 

If you want to join in the fun an make your own Purple People Quilt - I'm releasing one quilt block each month until July next year through my email newsletters. 

'Moustache Matt' made using Aboriginal Dot by Kaffe Fassett

The first two blocks, Kissy Karen, and Moustache Matt, have already been released and have now been made available to purchase in my Pattern Store for a small cost and if you would like to get the remaining blocks for free, make sure you sign up to my mailing list

Alternatively, the full Purple People Quilt Pattern including all twelve foundation paper pieced quilt blocks, sashing, and quilting suggestions will be made available for purchase sometime in the last half of 2020.

Happy Quilting!
RJ

Sunday, October 6, 2019

Packing, Moving and Sewing.

It's been a while since I posted. There is a very good reason for it. 
I'm moving house - actually we are moving cities. As of next week, I will be living in part of the artistic (and coincidentally also political) capital of New Zealand, Wellington! 
However, in the meantime, it has meant a lot of sorting, donating, cleaning and generally having a clear-out of the horrendous amount of rubbish that we seem to have accumulated or kept from our last move. Seriously - how many spare pillows do we actually need? Because I had about 16 spares in the cupboard and more on the spare bed! Unfortunately, all of this has not left me a lot of time for quilting or sewing. 


However, I have managed to finish up one of the items on my list for The Work in Progress Project. 


Remember I wanted to finish my Up in the Air Quilt filled with Aeroplanes, Rockets, Helicopters, and Hot Air Balloons but was very unenthused about it. I had chosen a baby blue background colour which I thought was going to look like the sky when it all came together. Turned out by the end of six quilt blocks I really disliked the colour.



I think it was just too over-powering on its own and needed more colour to break it up. So I decided to put a colourful border around each one and make six mini-quilts to donate to Tauranga Hospital's Special Care Baby Unit. This is something I have done before, but never six at once!

Thanks to the ladies at Papamoa Patchers for being my lovely quilt-holders!
I know it probably seems a bit crazy, that as I'm trying to reduce the number of unfinished quilts I have by actually finishing them, I would decide to make six quilts instead of one. But it did give me the passion back that I needed in order to finish these blocks and make something that I know will be cherished by six little people. As I started putting the borders around each one, I realised that I could have quite easily put all six blocks into one quilt with the rainbow borders, making a lovely aircraft themed rainbow quilt. However I was also pretty determined to finish what I had started and because we are moving I now had a deadline!




Each of the blocks has a pretty backing, but my favourite is definitely the backing I used for the Red Hot Air Balloon Quilt. The heart fabric is by Riley Blake, and is something that I found while cleaning out my stash. The hot air balloons are a fabric that I had printed at Spoonflower using my logo (it's not for sale, but here are some designs that are) It turned out so cute. I also ended up using a lovely Satin binding which will I hope will be nice and soft and silky on those precious baby fingers that will be curling around the edges. 



I'm pretty pleased with all of these awesome colourful mini-quilts and hope they brighten up the Special Care Baby Unit! All of these quilt block patterns can be found in my Etsy shop either individually or as a set of quilt blocks.



It's another project finished, but I still have plenty left. Plus, unfortunately, when I was cleaning out my fabric stash I found another two unfinished projects that I started years ago. One is a completed flimsy (quilt top - yet to be quilted), and the other was an EPP project I started moons ago and clearly did not get unpacked from last time we moved. I have put them both in a box marked "The Work in Progress Project" and will add them to my list. One thing is now very clear - given my propensity to start further projects on a whim (I want to make everything!) and the fact that I keep finding forgotten projects, it is a safe bet that I will not be finishing all of my WIPs any time soon, but that doesn't mean I won't keep trying! 

Now my sewing machine, overlocker, and all my tools are sorted and packed into boxes. So that means no sewing for the next couple of weeks and not finishing any more projects for now. Although I'm sure it will be unpacked and set up in a new room as soon as possible when we reach our new home.

Until next time, Happy Quilting!
RJ