Friday, 24 March 2017

Scrappy Plans for Potluck Quilt




This is my box of 3.5" scrap squares.  The lid only just about goes on that tub now so it's time to put these pretties to use.  With another cousin expecting a baby this year and time at a premium around here I'm keeping it simple and small.  My plan is to stitch together a scrappy quilt something similar to this one I found on Pinterest a long time ago.  It's called a Potluck quilt but I think that's more to do with the random fabrics and their placement than an actual pattern name.

I have edited my fabric scraps a little since I don't know if the baby is a boy or girl and I want to avoid anything too girly.


I'm hoping this works, and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that the low volume pattern in the squares layout becomes a little more evident when the top is properly pieced.  In this picture it's not really as obvious as I had been hoping.  Anyway, let's carry on regardless ...



Monday, 20 March 2017

Siblings Together - Frame Box Quilt




There has been progress of the finishing kind in these here parts!  Yay!

Last Feb (2016) I started working with my scrap boxes to pull together some Frame Box Blocks - tutorial here - with a view to making a bright, cheery quilt for Siblings Together.  I hadn't expected it to take so long to reach its conclusion but still, it's a finish now and although it didn't make last summer's Siblings Together camps, it will be there on time for this year's camps.


While the mix of fabrics in these blocks wasn't always what I might have otherwise chosen to stitch together, sometimes I think with scrappy quilts I just have to let go of my tendency to order and remember that scrappy quilts are about the bigger picture, not the individual blocks.  So, yes, not all of the blocks are truly beautiful, but look at the overall effect of that riot of colour.  It's not really so bad, is it?  Can you see what I mean about the bigger picture?



I quilted in vertical lines through the blocks in 7 places and twice across the horizontal just to give it a bit better hold.  Where my lines are a wee bit less than straight, a tumble in the wash and dryer have softened them up a bit (and hidden the multitude of wobbly sins).


Finished with hot pink polka dot binding this quilt really does look bright.  I hope that the child who receives it at this summer's camp will be cheered by it and the memories that will be associated with their Sibling through the camp too.  That's what it's all about!

This is a finish for my FAL 2017 Quarter 1 list too.


Wednesday, 15 March 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #3

It's time to meet the third of our FAL co-hosts for 2017 which, yes, means that Quarter 1 is almost at an end so get speedy with those finishes!  This month it's Abigail's turn to make her introduction , so I shall just let her get on with it ...

Back in November I was surprised and delighted to open an email from Rhonda inviting me to become one of the global host of the 2017 Finish-A-Long. There are 13 of us in all and over the course of the year we'll be introducing ourselves. Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow started off in January followed by Jess from Elven Garden Quilts in February and now in March it's my turn.


Hello, my name is Abigail and I blog here at cut&alter. I found the FAL late on in 2015 and couldn't believe how it motivated me to get things finished. I have always been a list maker and the FAL is no exception. My lists are somewhat larger than most people's, although I have certainly seen longer as well! I know that I will never get everything ticked off within the current Quarter but it does give me 1) accountability 2) a reason to tidy up and reorganise my studio each quarter to find those projects which have been languishing on shelves and at the bottom of boxes 3) it brings projects to the front of my mind and a lot of work goes on in my mind even before I get in the studio 4) if a project has been rolled over just one too many times I can then see that it's probably never going to get finished and I can pass it on (does that count as a finish?!!). Last quarter I had a particularly low completion rate and this one is shaping up to be the same but I have a few finishes and some projects are considerably further on!

A current quarter finish
I live in Stratford upon Avon with my husband, who is from New Zealand, our two daughters and a black and white cat. We have been back in the UK for just over 4 years and prior to that we lived in Otaki, New Zealand. We have been called gypsies before now due to our constant moving, and usually not within the same area. This is the longest time I have ever lived anywhere! (Can you keep a secret? Maybe, just maybe, my feet are itching again!) Some of the other places I have lived are: Nottingham, Leamington Spa, Sydney, Wellington, London, Waihi Beach, Cambridge, Tauranga, Rowington, Shirley, Waitarere Beach and Feilding. The whole idea of living here (the UK) or there (NZ) was the inspiration for this quilt. I was delighted when Should I Stay or Should I Go? was awarded Best Piecing in Show last November in Bristol!


Up until January this year I home educated the girls, which was brilliant. I always felt honoured to have as much time with them as I did and whilst it certainly was tiring and had its moments we had a lot of fun along the way. They have now started school, primary and secondary, and have settled in really well. We have a new rhythm in our lives which, for me, is taking some getting used to. I thought I would have all the time in the world, that I would have time to sew, quilt, go to the gym, make lovely healthy food ...... oh silly, silly me!! You don't actually get much done in the six hours between 9am and 3pm do you?!! One thing I have done is learn to do improv curves - I love them!!!!


I have been sewing since a child but, like a lot of women, I came back to sewing when my first child was born, although I had been making curtains for our houses every time we moved! Little children's clothes are such a pleasure to make - fitting is not important, they don't use much material and they are quick (although when sleep deprived they sometimes didn't seem to be that quick). I had made a puff patchwork quilt for my eldest soon after she was born and then made a simple square quilt from vintage Laura Ashley soft furnishing fabric from our various childhood houses. These two quilts are well loved and well worn!


It wasn't until 2010 that I 'learnt' to quilt. I took a 6 week night class in NZ and a passion was born. I joined my local quilt club and I listened to the other ladies of my group talking about all their WIPs. I was horrified! I vowed that I would never have projects sitting on my shelf - I would start and finish one before embarking on another. Oh how naive I was! Needless to say I have lots of projects on the go all of differing ages. Last year I finished my most long standing project - ANZAC Hearts, it was on my FAL2016 Quarter 2 list! This was a Bee quilt and I love it - luckily as much now as when I started it in 2010!
Back in 2015 I made the decision to purchase a longarm quilting machine and I totally love it!!! I bought a Handi Quilter Avante and it brings me a lot of joy. With the girls at home I did not have the time I would have liked for learning and practising but I am getting there. I have done a few customer quilts and hope to do more this coming year. Before then I have a backlog of my own tops that are waiting to be done. This was the first quilt I quilted on my machine ....
Wow - this has become a longer post than I thought. When I first sat down to write this I did wonder what I would write! So, here's a quick 10 9 other things about me to finish (I got stuck on No 10!):

1. I make quilts for Project Linus
2. I am a member of the Oxfordshire Modern Quilt Guild
3. I am left handed
4. At 25 I spent a week in Coober Pedy, having read about it as child of 12 - it was awesome!
5. I love salads
6. I have only ever spent one night in hospital and that was with my daughter when she was 3 and had to have her tonsils out
7. Both my children were born at home - one in NZ and one in UK
8. I will go to QuiltCon ..... one day!
9. I would love to go to Alaska

There you have it! Remember there's just a couple of weeks left for you to get your Quarter 1 list project finished. The link up opens on 26 March and will remain open until 01 April. Be sure to link up because there are amazing prizes to won (and I should know because I have won twice before!!) I look forward to seeing all the finished projects this quarter. x
 

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Quilt for a New Little Star


I've been snatching little bits of time late on weekend nights to progress the scrappy wonky stars quilt for my cousin's new arrival and thought I was on target to make a finish before his mid-March due date, but he beat me to it by putting in an appearance last weekend!  Thankfully, by then, I had the top together and quilted with my go-to and much loved wavy lines.


So, some scrappy binding and a label was all it took to finish it off.



I'm looking forward to meeting this new little bundle of energy and gifting him his quilt soon. Of course, I'm also happy to be able to call this a second finish for my FAL Quarter 1 list.


Just to show you how hard it is to get quilt pics around here these days, here are the outtakes from my attempt to lay a quilt flat and snap a picture -





Um, yeah, this is the trade off for daylight pictures!! Lol!

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #2

This month FAL is introducing you to our host Jess from Elven Garden Quilts.  Many of you will have come across Jess in one way or another.  I first came across her blog and her brilliant posts when she was co-hosting the Decipher Your Quilt series with Leanne and it's been lovely to read lots more about her here in her introductory post. Enjoy!




Hi, I'm Jess, otherwise known as Elven Garden Quilts. This is my second year as a FAL host, and although I'm not great at actually participating in the FAL (I have a pretty bad history of not finishing anything on my list!), it's great to be back to cheer you all along for a second year. I thought this was going to be a really hard post to write - but once I got started it was surprisingly easy. So I've inserted photos of some of my favorite quilts in amongst the text - feel free to skim the words if you'd rather just look at quilts ;o).

I'm a 36 year old mum of three not-so-small people - my eldest son (12 year old) started high school this year (grade 7), and I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Needless to say, moments of sewing have been few and far between over the last few months while they've had their summer holidays - but they went back to school last week, so there is some semblance of normality in our household again :o). I have an incredible partner too, who encourages me in all my quilty endeavours and listens patiently when I ramble on about my current projects. We also have two fur babies - Shadow and Pepper, our little quilt-cats, who spend at least 90% of their time asleep on various quilts and cushions around the house! I'll often go back to hand stitch binding and find my quilt has been invaded by cats ;o).





We live in Tasmania, Australia - that little island that sits off the southern coast of mainland Australia. It's a beautiful place to live - we don't have a huge population and we are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous wilderness in the world (in my humble opinion!). I grew up in a pretty arty/crafty family - my Dad studied ceramics at Art School and is an art teacher at a college, and my mum has always been involved with some sort of textile art. She made most of our clothes as kids, and is now obsessed with spinning and knitting all kinds of gorgeous yarn. So it's kinda unsurprising that I've grown up to be a maker.



Although I have a science degree (and work as a lab technician part time), I've always enjoyed making stuff. I started cross stitching when I was quite young, and continued that hobby right through to my university years. It wasn't until I had my youngest child that I decided to get a sewing machine - with the intention of making clothes and toys for my kids. I had fun doing this for a while, but then on a whim I bought a beginner's quilting magazine and that was the beginning of a true obsession. For me, quilting is the perfect marriage of maths and art - I love numbers and I love working with colour, so it's not surprising it has overtaken all of my spare time!





I started quilting around 5 or 6 years ago - and back when I started, my tiny sewing room overlooked the garden - so Elven Garden Quilts was born! After a few years, I outgrew that little room, so my 'studio' is now our garage - not the prettiest location, but I can be as messy as I want (and believe me, the term creative chaos fits me perfectly!) and close the door on it so no one else has to be subjected to it ;o).

I first started blogging for a few reasons. Mainly because I didn't actually know anyone who quilted and I didn't want to bore my family and friends to tears constantly talking about my quilts, and blogging was the perfect way to share what I was making. But it quickly became a way to connect with people all over the world who shared my passion. I'm ever in awe of how supportive and wonderful the online quilting community is, and my life would be very different if I hadn't started blogging. I am a self-taught quilter, thanks to the enormous generosity of so many people in sharing tutorials and ideas, and a love of trying to figure out how to make things work!


I loosely call myself a modern quilter - although I've made plenty of quilts that are far more traditional than modern! I think I'm probably best known for my love of free motion quilting - everything I piece is quilted to death on my domestic Bernina. About three years ago, I was actually invited to become a Bernina Ambassador here in Australia, which is an incredible honour :o). I have several free motion quilting tutorials available on my YouTube channel - and I plan on doing a lot more of these this year! I've been teaching patchwork and quilting classes on a weekly basis for the last three years (although I'm currently having a break, after burning out from a pretty hefty teaching load last year), which is something I absolutely love.



Last year was a big year for me as a quilter, both on a professional and personal level. I won several awards for my quilts at some of our national quilt shows (the Australian Modern Quilt Show and the Australian Machine Quilting Festival), and I taught a lot of classes - both patchwork and free motion quitling. On the personal side of things, I feel like I really grew as a quilter. Although I've always loved making quilts and been happy with the finished product, I've struggled to find my style. But in the last half of last year I feel like I started to find my voice, and started making quilts that are more 'me' than ever before. Although I've always used and loved my design wall, I now rely on it constantly as a tool to design my quilts. Aviatrix is one of the last quilts I made using someone else's pattern - and I think it will be the last for a fairly long time. I'm enjoying doing my own thing so much right now!



The last few quilts I've made (and my current work in progress) all started as a vague idea and a giant pile of fabric, and relied on my design wall to figure out what they would become. You can read all about the process I went through when making Scattered (shown below) herehere, here and here. And if you're attending QuiltCon this year, please go say hi to her - she was juried into the show which is enormously exciting!



I recently wrote about the process of making one of my recent finishes, Flow. Again this quilt started as a pile of fabric and a very vague idea (as in, I knew I wanted to use improv curves), but the design came together through trial and error.


Although I'm much better at starting and finishing projects than I used to be (which isn't to say I don't have any WIPs - there are lots of those!), I work best when don't feel like I *have* to work on a particular project. Which is probably why I make FAL lists and then largely ignore them... Having said that, I have several projects that have been ignored for far too long that I do want to finish this year, so next quarter you can expect me to fully participate and knock over some very long term WIPs!

Thanks for letting me introduce myself (and my quilts!), and I look forward to cheering you all on this year as you work through your FAL lists!

xx Jess










Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Happy Days BOM - quilt top centre



Three months of a gap since my last update on my Sarah Fielke 'Happy Days' BOM quilt wasn't part of the plan, but I am here today to report what feels like significant progress to me.



I finally stitched the last three of those border wreath blocks, enjoying the mix of low volume fabrics I chose.  After that, there was some late night shuffling of blocks last weekend just to get a better balance of colours across the quilt top.  I didn't move too many around, just made sure that the red wasn't allowed to dominate by congregating in that lower left hand corner.


Once I had the layout settled it was time to tackle step down piecing.  This was my first ever attempt at step down piecing and although it took a wee bit of concentration, I did eventually get a rhythm going and the top came together without the frustration I feared it might.  Sarah's video instruction and BOM notes were very helpful as always.



Of course, it took some time to get all of this stitched together so it was MUCH later than expected when I finished and I did suffer quilter's hangover the next morning!  I would not fear step down piecing again and in fact, welcome it for the variety it allows in a quilt construction other than just straight sewn rows.  One day I shall try it again, like when my WIPs list is much smaller ;-)

I know the late night photography and lighting has killed the beautiful colours in the fabrics of the quilt but trust me, it's very pretty and I am REALLY happy to have completed all of the blocks and the piecing, trying all sorts of new-to-me techniques along the way.  I hope anyone joining Sarah's new BOM for 2017 will enjoy it every bit as much as I have this one.

So now this quilt needs some borders and I am musing what to do.  There are three border options provided by Sarah for the BOM but I am considering doing something different from any of those.  There are a number of reasons for that. 1) I don't want this quilt to grow much bigger for the space I hope to hang it in eventually and Sarah's border options are quite substantial, 2) I need something that won't take forever and a day to do given my current dearth of sewing time and 3) the border options provided don't feel really "me".  Hence, the musing.  I don't want to make a choice that doesn't do justice to the work done so far, so I shall ponder a little more before making my fabric calculations and getting on with it.

I hope it won't take too long, though I do suspect that putting this quilt on my Q1 FAL list has been somewhat optimistic!

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Baby Beginnings


One of the new makes I referred to in my 2017 plans post is a quilt for my cousin's expected baby.

I mulled over lots of ideas and fabrics for a few months actually, but my mind kept coming back to scrappy.  (I think I found it hard to get a 'feel' for what my cousin might like, without asking directly, and I'd like it to be a surprise - sort of).  Scrappy wonky stars on a scrappy low volume background sort of forced their way to the forefront of my thoughts and before long I had raided my scraps and stash for fabrics, ready to make a start in the New Year.

I love how wonky stars make up so quickly, though these ones are only made up on the horizontal sections so far the upper and lower points have now yet been stitched in.  There's still a lot of piecing to go, but it's good to have made fair progress already.  Wonky stars never fail to disappoint me, just hope my cousin will feel the same when/if it's ready to gift to her.


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