Saturday, 29 May 2010

One Womans Trash is another Womans Treasure

This week one of my favourite things happened. A friend knocked on my door with a plastic carrier bag saying an elderly friend of her mums was having a clear out and she had heard I was an avid quilter, and would I like her old scrap bag? My friend apologised, said it's probably not what you want/need, feel free to throw it/recycle it if it's no good, etc etc. Yippeeee! My heart jumped a beat, because there is nothing I enjoy the expectation of more (except perhaps a rummage in a charity shop in a well heeled market town) than the donated scrap bag. I always have to wrestle it off of the usually awkward donor ( people feel like they are offering you literal scraps I think).

Within minutes I had the bag upturned on the floor in My Front Room, and after a hasty edit of the inevitable polyester bits and bobs, it yielded this impressive stash! Isn't it yum?

I can't decide which fabric I love the most, but it's between the bright blue with red and yellow flowers in the blue pile and the gorgeous primary group in the first piccie, so 1950's that colour combo? Which do you like best?

Friday, 28 May 2010

WIP Broken Circles Quilt

Top of my things to do list are to piece the backs for my Little Folks Dot in the Middle and English Skies/Irish Chain quilt. But I'm afraid, try as I might, I can't muster the self discipline to make my quilts in the linear start-finish manner that so many other quilt bloggers seem to manage! In the system that is 'idea-experiment-piece-baste-quilt-bind' I always have a log-jam at one point, usually the baste/quilt bit. I just cleared a hand quilting log jam, but seem to be building up another, the problem is that a new idea is just so compelling I have to give in to its demands!
I have wanted to make a broken circles quilt for ages, but yesterday I just started drawing around plates on a cardboard cereal packet as a template to see where it ended up. I have a pile of Freshcut fabrics that I had been planning to make a Quilt Kit from but after a change of plan I decided they would make a lovely Broken Circle quilt.
At the moment my kitchen table is covered in the pile of fabrics you can see above. The beauty of this pattern is that it creates interesting secondary patterns so I am having lots of fun playing with Kona Solids, I wish I had a design wall.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

p.s Pixelated Fabric Squares

P.s ...........Thankyou all so much for your lovely comments about my Pixelated Quilt. I love Bloggers Quilt Festival, everyone is so nice!

When I cut the fabric for this quilt I cut a batch more extra squares, some went to good homes in the giveaway last week, but I have 5 piles left. They are 4"x4" squares of at least 24 fabrics that make up a colourwheel. They include Denyse Schmidt, Liberty for Quilts 1700-2010, Amy Butler, Jessica Levitt and many more.
It's not all of the fabrics in my quilt as some were proper little scraps out of the bucket so there was no extra to cut, but they do still make up a wheel as no colour areas are missed out.
So many people have commented that its hard to make a spectrum colour wheel, and hard to make a whole wheel from your stash. If anyone is interested I've listed the 5 colourwheel bundles on my etsy site so you could make your own version and add from your stash too, I'd love to see what becomes of them! I have had a couple of questions about the background for my pixelated quilt. It is Kona Ash and I do also have a bolt of that in stock so if you wanted the fabric for teh quilt back too just drop me a message and I can add it to the listing as I currently sell Kona Cottons on Folksy

Monday, 24 May 2010

Bloggers Quilt Festival - Pixelated Quilt

Here is my Bloggers Quilt Festival entry. I'm calling it Pixelated.

It's my latest quilt so of course it's my favourite, I have that goldfish approach to what I like.
My inspiration was the PurlSoho colour wheel which I have had pinned to my ideas board forever, but it just looked a bit overwhelming to try and make. I had a breakthrough when one of my kids came into the sewing room and started making a puzzle, its a wooden colour wheel puzzle from potterybarn originally I think. I started throwing down matching fabric from the stash that matched the puzzle and it really was that simple once I started.

I'm kind of obsessed with circles on quilts, so it was a simple decision to make the pixels of colour circular( I use freezer paper shapes drawn around a kids ikea beaker) and appliqued them on by hand. All of that colour just made me happy working on the quilt - you get some quilts like that don't you? Well when I had finished the front I hadn't had enough of that colour therapy so I decided to use the scraps to make little circles for the back. The front was so ordered and controlled I decided to let the pixels have some fun on the back so I just threw the whole lot up into the air and pinned them where they landed (my kids just loved this stage!). I hand quilted the circles, then added randomised little circles all over to fill any big gaps.When it came to the binding, I auditioned pale grey, and white, but the old favourite Kona Coal worked really nicely as a frame, and served to mute down the splashes of colour in my final scraps incorporated into the binding. By this stage I had even less scraps from the spectrum, but I like how its served to make it all nice and random. This has really been a happy quilt to make, I hope you like it x

Mad Dogs and English (Wo)Men

.........go out in the midday sun.
The sun is shining here, not just shining but 27degreeing, proper paddling pool hot! Yippee. It's true that a bit of guaranteed sunshine and a BBQ that won't be rained off is enough to turn most englishpeeps a bit skippyyippeemad.

As a consequence I have been doing a lot of this............

And not much sewing. But last week, inspired by this picture at stashmanicure, I decided to hit the stash and make an Irish chain quilt from its and bits. I cheated a little bit and strip pieced the squares then rotary cut them, but i think there is enough variation even though usually i like it to be truly random. I used this really soft palate of old fashioned pinks and blues and yellows that I had made into a pile last week for my colour confidence post . I started making it, planning it would be againist a white centre, but i suddenly decided to go grey ( Kona Ash as usual), which I am so regretting now. I usually love the grey combo but it's all looking a bit too muted? I added the white spots to give it a bit of zing. I'm hoping that it's just because the sun is so bright and when the usual grey English light comes back it will look all sophisticated and calming? It seems when the sun shines I'm wanting to make an in yer face flamingo pink and azure blue Rio inspired tropical quilt, maybe that's this weeks challenge?!

Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Hunting for Kona in the English Countryside

As I merrily blathered on to a non-quilty friend recently about the scarcity of Kona in these parts of the English countryside she remarked ' is a kona an animal?' oops, I do forget sometimes that everyone doesn't live in quiltyland. But that said, it's a serious point - it really is very hard to get hold of decent solid cottons in colours you want to use here in the UK if you're serious about making your quilts modern. And everyone knows that quality cotton in modern shades means one thing - Kona Cottons. For two years I was a regular Hancocks of Padducah girl (In Kentucky USA, very cheap Kona solids in every colour.) But there are only so many times you can hand over £15+ to the postman in order to bust your package out of customs and excise gaol and still feel like you are getting a bargain ( £50 of fabric could end up costing +£30 more to ship and tax). So last month I decided it was time to start buying wholesale in Europe by the bolt.

I am now the proud owner of a bolt-stash (is that a term?) of Kona solids (from the left Essex Linen in Natural, Kona Cotton in Pale Flesh, Kona in Snow, Kona in Ash, Kona in Charcoal, Chambray Cotton in Pale Blue, Kona in Dresden Blue, Kona in Zucchini and Kona in Artichoke). These are my most favourite Kona solids, I love them.
Weirdly, just as I took delivery of my new stash I started getting questions from my lovely customers who are often fledgling quilters, starting out on their first quilt after a Make Do & Mend Kit had shown them the ropes, asking about where to buy solid fabrics. Turns out that I am not the only forlorn hunter of the elusive Kona in these shores!

As my raison d'etre when it comes to quilting is to get as many people as possible doing it ( so I don't have the whole kona/animal chat too often!) I figured maybe I should start sharing my stash and selling Kona cottons to other frustrated British quilters.

I am listing these colours over on my folksy site. It's just a little bolt-stash at the moment cos it's stuff I like and use. But heh, I'm open minded and keen to try new things, if you have a fav colour that I haven't tried, drop me a mail and maybe I'll get a bolt of that in too, I'm excited to find out what others are using!

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Colour Confidence in Quilting

I wanted to write a post about colour for my MakeClub Bee-ers and Online Bee'ers alike, as it's the area in quilting that holds the most fear for the most people. It is the big stumbling block that stops so many people taking that leap from the big group of people who have 'always wanted to make a quilt' into those who do make quilts and LOVE IT! Why stand on the yearning wishing side for another minute when you could be having so much fun actually doing it over this side???

There is such a mythology around 'being good at colour'. I hear so often the following; 'I'm no good at choosing colours, i don't know what 'goes', what if i choose the 'wrong' colours?'

You really shouldn't waste time worrying about it because;
1. You are good at choosing colours!

2. You can't go wrong

3. If you're nervous, cheat and copy, it's legitimately called inspiration!

You see, I think that everyone has a built in colour guide, but it's set to their own frequency. We all have that 'eeww' moment when we feel that something doesn't 'go'. Its the same impulse that makes us like the taste of some things and not of others. We don't agonise and doubt our food taste so why our visual taste? As long as you're not going eeeww at your own quilt then that's all that matters!

My top tips:
1. Go with what you know you like for your first quilt. Pick colours that you feel comfortable with and you genuinely like, it will make the process less fraught with self doubt.

2. If you still don't know what you like, then look about your home and pick out items you like and use them as a colour guide. Use clothes, cushions, pictures, wherever you find pattern and colour that you like. I like to use skirts; Kids storybooks are a really rich source of colour combostea towels are an unexpected source of good colours too!

3. Go to a good greetings card shop and buy a card that you love. Then pick apart the colours and match your fabrics to them. Here is a card I like and here is a colour scheme matched to it, see how it works? Simple? 4. Lastly the selvage cheat. If you find a fabric you love that has lots of colours within in, then look at the selvage at the side. Each of those little dots is giving you a clue to what colours will look great with your print. If you take the little spots to your fabric store and just match the dots you will have a beautiful quilt! I promise it really can be that easy.

So if you are planning on making your first quilt, or following our Newbie Quilters Bee Along start choosing some fabrics and dreaming about that first quilt colour combo with confidence!

Sunday, 16 May 2010

And The ColourWheel Winner Is......

This was my first giveaway and it did cause much excitement in the Make Do & Mend household, thankyou all for entering!
A suitable hat had to be found ( floppy and floral was the only thing that would do)

There was a short scuffle about who did the choosing, but after negotiations and an agreed Little People Coalition we are pleased to announce the winners are ( yes winnerS, I decided that if you are cutting one set of rainbow squares you might as well cut 3, so three lucky winners!)e mail me at with your addresses and your little rainbow squares will be winging their way (through the volcanic ash clouds?!) Well Done!

Friday, 14 May 2010

Disorderly ColourWheel

I wanted to show you the back of my colour wheel quilt (excuse the raggedy batting and basting stitches, it's waiting its turn to be quilted!) It seems you can have just as much fun chucking the colours up in the air and seeing where they land............hummm..........does that mean every colour goes with everything?

It's not too late to enter my colour wheel fabrics giveaway, just add your comment to the post before this one and/or join as a follower, we will draw a winner on Sunday, good luck xx

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Blogcentenary Colour Wheel GiveAway!!

It's my Happy One Hundredth Blog Post! How time flies. Last summer my first blog post was a very self conscious affair. I'm very English you see, not keen on being a show off, I was worried it was a bit 'look at me'-ish? But quilt blogging has opened up an amazing world of shared inspiration, supportive encouragement and lots of fun. I have loved watching the weather change in the backgrounds of fellow bloggers shots in both hemispheres ( yep, that English weather obsession). I have loved hearing the stories behind quilts, loved watching ideas and quilt crazes spread, watching quilts grow. You see at it's nub, my obsession with quilting is based on a love of the meanings sewn into each and every quilt. Quilts are a unique item, they are incredibly durable so they carry their stories sometimes opaquely through the generations. They hide mysteries and they celebrate love, and families, and bonds. Every quilt is a story from the inspiration behind the colours, the meanings within the patterns chosen, the fabrics each tell their own story, and so history is woven as a quilt is passed and gifted through families and friends. I Love Quilts.
Thank you for sharing your stories.

To celebrate my Blogcentenary, and as a thankyou to you all, I am giving away a second set of my colour wheel fabrics to make your own colour wheel quilt, please leave a comment and join as a follower, it would be lovely to see you all! The fabrics are 4" squares. They are cut from my stash and include Amy Butler, Denyse Schmidt, Moma, Tanya Wheelan, Liberty for Quilts 1700-2010 and Jessica Levitt Timber. For the circle size I drew around an Ikea kids plastic beaker ( a pretty universal template?), but any mug or glass that fits inside a 4" square will do. Of course you could use the squares for a squarer design too, I just happen to love circles. I hand appliqued the circles to the backing ( Kona Cotton Ash) using freezer paper templates. (p.s If you win and you want proper instructions do ask!)

I will draw a winner on Sunday, and will send the fabrics internationally so please enter for a chance to win. My Small People have asked to draw the winner from a hat ( so proper and more ceremonial than a random generator, don't you think?). To enter leave a message and join as a follower (if you do both that's two chances to win!). Good Luck!

Monday, 10 May 2010

Hope Valley Baskets Ta Dah

Wet weekends = antsy kids, very green lawn, muddy boots, and lots of time for stitching bindings.
But the sun came out today so I got to take some pics( spot the ladybird?).
Hope Valley Baskets had the big Hand-Quilting-Push last week ( I am on a one-a-week mission now having completed, this, this and now this one in consecutive weeks!).
I used the rainy weather and a stinking cold to hunker down and get the binding finished. I just love these fabrics and this quilt.

I feel sort of greedy about these fabrics, I might have to make a second quilt in another design in the same fabrics!

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Quilting Bee - Preparing your Bits and Bobs


I got a bit waylaid by a tele marathon yesterday as our election results played out so - a day late - here is Installment One of our MakeClub Quilting Bee.

Now first things first, you need to go and get a cup of tea and a slice of cake, or at least a choccie biscuit or somesuch as MakeClub is very fond of getting the background conditions right before strenuous crafting begins!

This Bee is a little program I am putting together for my Club, but as I know many of my readers are new or almost quilters, I thought I'd share my instructions here too if you would like to join us too?

The most important thing that I wanted to show my MakeClub Bee-ers is that quilting need not be complicated, or fiddly, or any kind of stress. It can be done with the bare minimum of equipment ( needle, cotton, scraps) and with basic skills (sew in a straightish line? you're in!)., you don't need lots of space or lots of time. This is a craft that has its roots in poverty and hardship, done by women in the cracks of time and space in their lives, built around cramped living conditions and labour intensive lives. If women could make beautiful quilts in wagons on the American prairie, or in squalid dark miners cottages in County Durham or Wales, then I'm pretty sure we'll all manage! In a very busy and complicated age, quilting offers a simple pleasure.

Now having said that I am now going to write a bossy list!

We will make 9 blocks (12" x 12") over 5 or so months which can be made up into a quilt approx 1m20cm x 1m20cm (47" x 47").

Each month the block that we make will introduce a new skill so that by the end of the 5 months although you will have made 9 blocks, you could confidently make hundreds of others , the principles are transferable.

This quilt can be made completely by hand, and you don't need lots of whizzy equipment.

To participate you need 8 - 14 different, but co-ordinating cotton fabrics to make approx 2.5m in total and approx 1m of a neutral background fabric that works with all of your choices. This may or may not be a plain solid colour, but should definitely work as a background for your other colour choices. These amounts are approximate, you will cut your cloth to suit your means as you go along, but you should have more than enough with these amounts.

You will also need a neutral cotton thread to match your colour choices, sewing needles (longer and thinner is better but just make do with whatever you have to hand, its not at all critical).
If you have a rotary cutter and mat it will make things quicker, but it's not critical, a little pair of sharp scissors will do just as well.
Next week I will talk about fabric choices. It's one the most scary bits of making a quilt when you start out, I know that the fear of making a 'wrong' decision was enough to stop me making my first quilt for months! I promise my Painting By Numbers approach will take the fear away!

Friday, 7 May 2010

Hung Parliament

Whatever your political colours today I expect you're as glued to the TV as me here in the UK. The outcome of our general election - a hung Parliament, an impasse, the unprecedented possibility of a coalition of the two parties that have done the worst on the night, as no one has failed to gain a majority of the British vote. Outside our little national bubble the Greeks are rioting, wall street lost 10% of it's value yesterday we need some form of stability and we've got lots more uncertainty, but then that's democracy for you, we've all had our say. I've settled in for the day with a heap of applique hand sewing and the TV on as we sail into uncharted waters. We sure don't live in boring times.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

MakeClub Bee

Last night was my MakeClub meeting. You may remember that MakeClub is my lovely local group of mums from school who cooked up the idea for a group last summer at a rainswept sports day (wishing we were somewhere warm and knitting!). Since then we have learnt to knit, crochet, quilt, embroider etc etc together, encouraging each other, making lots of lovely friends along the way. I love MakeClub. Its food for the soul.

Last night we kicked off a Quilting Bee. We are going back to basics and making a modern take on a sampler quilt. Making the same block together each month, but in our own fabric palettes. Each block will demonstrate a new skill, so that by the end of 9 blocks you could tackle pretty much any other block with confidence. We all plan to make 10 blocks each then make the orphan blocks into a charity quilt. I am so excited about it all. There is so much energy and enthusiasm about learning a new skill, and my favourite thing is helping people to make their first quilt. They are always hooked!

I know that lots of my blog readers are teetering on the brink of making their first quilt. I thought I would open up our Bee online, so if you would like to quilt along with us month by month I will post the block instructions online as we make them. If you would like to join us, this month you need to get your fabrics planned. I will post tomorrow with the info on what you need to have in order to join in. Happy Quilting!

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Confessions of a Colour Addict

Photo from
I'm supposed to be cleaning the house, making a bolognaise sauce, folding laundry etc etc. Before I'd even got my rubber gloves on I had got waylaid in My Front Room this morning. I always love love love the PurlSoho colour wheel quilt.I have this picture on my pin board. I decided to try out my stash to see if i had a colour wheel of my own...... It was so much fun.

Anyway, back to the!

Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Baby Buttons Big Bed Quilt Ta Dah!

I have loved this quilt ever since I first started sewing the blocks. I fell in love with this quilt and wanted my own! It was pretty quick to put together the quilt top but I have been held up finishing by my hand quilting log jam. Last week I really put my mind to it and so here is Baby Buttons Big Bed Quilt finished and really for my smallest girls big bed ( probably a bit early for that yet so it has a nice home over the back of the nursing chair in her little bedroom until then)

If you wanted to make a similar quilt I used Heather Ross fabric remnents from etsy here and here. I really only had less than a yard in total but lots of little bits and pieces ( its the only way it comes these days). Or you could visit spoonflower where Heather has started reprinting some of her designs and buy new. I pieced 6.5inch, 4.5 inch and 2.5 inch squares out of co-ordinating scraps and pieced them any which way to get to the 12 inch by 8inch blocks. The sashing is Kona Cotton Snow.