Friday, 29 January 2010

Is 2010 the Year Of The Quilt?

Now it's obvious that I am a bit of a quilt-a-holic, and to be fair I do begin most years thinking this is 'the-year-that-everyone-realises-that-their-life-really-would-be-complete-if-they-only-made-a-quilt'. But I must say that I really DO think that this is the year of the Quilt. My evidence

i) The wider world has gone craft mad, John Lewis are selling out of sewing machines, knitting classes are over subscribed, even my hairdresser is telling me she wants to start making things

ii) The sunday supplements are full of the New Craft Movement - The Times Magazine proclaimed Quilt Making Clubs the thing of the moment last weekend ( yeah! I'm accidentally cool!)

iii) The Victoria and Albert Museum in London has a major new exhibition opening at the beginning of March called 'Quilts: 1700-2010', I can't wait!

iv) My little old quilt kits have been popping up on all sorts of kind peoples blogs. See my quilts here at Folksy Weddings, as a great wedding present ( don't you just love this blogs theme of folksy weddings? I want to get married all over again (same groom of course!). And the blog readers of Cuteable just kept coming back for more quilty goodies, see me here too.

So in 2010 if you want to be hip, get quilty!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Be Still My Beating Heart

It is fair to say that when it comes to quilts and fabric I suffer from what the Victorians would call 'passions'. Slightly obsessive behaviour, characterised by the need to shut myself in the sewing room for hours. Even when out of my haven I am thinking about the new quilty fabric love and my absentminded response to my poor darling children's questions becomes the 'uhuh' (the mummy equivalent of 'whatever' ). I confess I have been lost in a recent Heather Ross passion. First it was the unicorns, then I gave in to the fabric obsessives desire to start 'collecting' old Heather Ross lightning bug prints, fat quarters here, legs from pyjamas there, little bits and bobs from other peoples clear outs, i scoured etsy and ebay.

This evening I heaved sigh of relief, the obsession was waning. Two quilts almost nearing completion (one being quilted, the other waiting to be sashed). I logged in for a quick read of my favourite blogs, and what do I discover but this..................!
Heather Ross announcing Far Far Away II coming soon from Kokka, this time featuring Rapunzel, in gorgeous colourways ( love that grey and yellow!)..........It's no good, I'm under the spell again! She then goes on to say "And stay tuned! I have some great news about my older discontinued collections coming soon!"..............oh dear! I feel at least two more quilts coming on!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Princess and the Pea

I've spent the last week in a lovely creative whirl making ( more!) quilts for my girls. My biggest daughter had seen and loved the Heather Ross Princess and the Pea fabrics over my shoulder one day on the Internet, but when they came a couple of weeks ago I was a bit unsure of what to do with them. It was all just a bit too orange, I was without inspiration. I was convinced that I just didn't own any orange fabric to put with it.
Well, as is often the way, whilst idly sorting out my stash piles a couple of weeks ago I found that i do in fact own loads of orange fabric, a little pile of coordinating fabrics began to grow and my original antipathy turned to love!
I decided to throw regimentation out of the window and to just freestyle piece the blocks as I couldn't decide quite how to put the colours together. It actually ended up taking longer than cutting blocks, but I did enjoy the free and easy approach. The soft brown fabric for the block frame was the hardest decision to make, 5 other browns through to greys had been auditioned and failed to make the grade. Finally rooting through the boxes that live under the desk unearthed this perfect fabric. It's last active service was in a totally disastrous quilt I made ( I think it was my third) where there was no contrast at all, you couldn't see the block pattern and it depressed me looking at the sludgy colours even as i pieced it, anyway i digress.
So here it is - The Princess and the Pea for my biggest Princess. I'll start quilting it this week and take some more pictures if the sun ever comes out.

I am now firmly in a Heather Ross groove, so this weeks project is a bigger quilt for Baby Button using my most treasured Heather Ross stash of bits and bobs. I was inspired by this quilt at ComfortStitching Blog, isn't it lovely? I'm actually going to do proper measured out blocks this time, I'm very excited about it, I'll show you some more pics later in the week.

Friday, 22 January 2010

Colour Me Happy

Today it is grey, grey, English grey, too dark to take any pictures of what I've been up to this week. As I write this a lady has just walked past my window with a rainbow umbrella, one spot of colour in a grey day, it made me smile.
You know by now that I am on a one woman mission to persuade everyone I know or come across to make a quilt! One of the most common things that people say to me when they are worrying about taking the plunge (and one of the reasons I developed my Make Do & Mend Kits) is that they 'aren't any good at choosing colours'. It makes me sad, and cross(!)
I know that there are books and books of very well written advice on choosing colour, working with a colour wheel, accents and tones and lots of other things we should all apply in a rational way to our colour choices. But I must confess I just don't really 'get' any of it. I'm just not a fan of over complication.
For anyone reading this now who worries about colour choices I thought I would jot down my Golden Colour Rules.
1. You Know Best. The most underrated sense is your inbuilt 'do i like it?' mechanism. Start with a colour you know you like, then find it some fabric friends who show it off. You'll know if something 'doesn't go'. Its an inbuilt reflex like eating something you don't like the taste of, it makes you go 'eew'.
2. Copy. Take something in your life that you love already, a skirt print, a greetings card, a cushion, and use the colour combinations within them. If you like it in a skirt, you'll love it in a quilt!
3. The Selvage Cheat. If you have a main print that you want to use, cut off the selvage dots (along the side of the fabric). These dots will show each of the distinct colours within the pattern listed out. Now all you have to do is match the dots to fabrics that are that colour. It sounds too simple to work but it's so effective. Your eyes don't immediately 'see' all of the colours within a print as they look at the overall effect of it. You can train yourself to look at the constituent parts over time.
4. The Live With It Test. When you've chosen your fabrics just leave them laid out on the floor or in a pile and just live with them for a day. You'll find that just walking past and looking at your pile will often make it all so easy to see what goes and what doesn't. Try out lots of alternatives.
5. Add Pepper/Lime/Chilli Sauce to Taste. The biggest problem most of us have when choosing colours to begin is that we're too 'matchy matchy'. Every quilt needs a little seasoning, add in a darker/brighter/bigger scale pattern, something to 'lift' the other colours. It's the hardest thing to feel comfortable with, so don't worry if it leaves you anxious!
6. You're The Boss/It's Not a Test. If you like it, then it's right! Go with what you think looks good. It's your quilt, it's going to live in your house, it's up to you!
Happy Quilting!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Pink Project Pile

The project piles are starting to take over the workroom. At a quick glance I have on the go;
i) Lime Dash ( awaiting lime quilting thread from the postman)
ii) Hope Valley Baskets ( awaiting more grey fabric from the postman!)
iii) My new MD&M boys quilt who I just finished hand quilting this afternoon so he is just awaiting a nice day to get his photo taken then I can cut some kits - very exciting. This quilt is going to be a great one for new quilters to make from the kit. Really straightforward, but looks fab - watch this space if you fancy making your first quilt and you have a little boy ( or one soon to arrive!)
I then have 6 assorted piles of 'ideas in waiting' sitting on my red wooden trunk. These Valentine Pinks have just joined them....... too many ideas....too little time!

Sunday, 17 January 2010

On the Vagaries of the British Weather

After the snow, and the ice, and the hail, and the rain, today the snow was gone. The sun shone and we drank tea in the garden under a clear blue sky.
The Hope Valley Baskets blew happily in the wind after their little submersion in the sink to float out the freezer paper templates. Aren't they pretty? Tonight when my small crawling helper/quilt saboteur is in bed I will start to play with the placement.
I'm not sure if less is more, or more is more. The original pattern I am following ( from McClun and Nownes Quilts! Quilts! Quilts!) just sets them within a plain wide border, but the fabrics are so pretty I want More!More!More! ( sorry, all those quiltish exclamation marks, I just couldn't resist). I'm wondering about prairie points, or maybe piano keys. When the kids are in bed the mummy shall play quilts.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Boys for Beginners

I've decided I am officially hibernating. There's something quite liberating about deciding you will make like a Badger. On SnowWatch on BBC last night they said that the Badger ( sensible fellows that they are) eat like mad on the run up to a cold snap, then take to the burrow and just mooch about until it warms up ( and they slim down??). They don't full on go to sleep, they just accept that it's all a bit cold,wet and 'orrid outside and take it easy in the warm. Outside my burrow it is hailing. It's now too slushy to push a buggy in a straight line, too slippy to walk confidently with a baby backpack, too melted in places to pull a sledge. hummm. People in very cold places who deal with this all of the time - just how do you transport the little people about?

Anyway - the upside of hibernation is an increase in time for playing with piles of fabric. I have spent a very happy two days arranging piles of fabric and having a good old sort out. I have needed a Boys Quilt for Absolute Beginners for my Make Do & Mend Kits line up for quite a while, but boys can be hard. I now have a very exciting little pile enticing me away from the everlasting basket handle sewing. I can feel a rush of new quilts coming on!

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Channelling my Inner Sarah Fielke

Well LimeDash is shivering out in the frozen garden for it's photo shoot and I think I'm getting used to this new bold Quilting-me! It's definitely the most out there quilt for colour I have made and it's had me squirming out of my comfort zone a lot, but throughout I have been guided by the mantra 'what would Sarah Fielke choose here' and the answer I imagine is almost always 'more colour, more patterns' and so that's the route I've gone. Sarah and Kathy wrote the book Material Obsession. If anyone hasn't got a copy you must get your hands on one and have a look as that book changed my quilting life! Is that too dramatic? In the book they take traditional patterns but blow them apart using new scale, new colours and patterns to make totally modern quilts. I love that book. Anyway, in for a penny, in for a pound, I'm considering backing it in Amy Butler Love fuchsia spots with pink solid binding. I think it's all the whiteness of snow that is sending me mad for bright colour?!

Monday, 11 January 2010

Happy Hope Valley Baskets

It's still snowing outside, but inside there is Hope Valley Happiness! I have started piecing my baskets and I am just loving how this fabric is coming together. The snow is falling and I have an afternoon of basket handle applique ahead of me whilst Baby Button sleeps before we brave the backpack cold again on the school run. Outside it's like the world has gone to sleep too - but for the Hyacinth determined to remind us that spring will come.....eventually! Keep warm and happy wherever you are!

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Lime Pickle

Hummm... have spent all day moving my Lime Dash blocks around and nothing looks right.

This original planned layout is just all too messy

But spread out it's too sparse!

I'm much happier with this, going back to a block structure but throwing in some big patterns and plains to allow the eye to rest a bit!

I think I'm happy with this layout - but my brain is (lime)pickled so will leave it today and come back with new eyes tomorrow.
In true scatter gun approach I just received my long awaited little stash of Denise Schmidt Hope Valley prints. I loved the Hope Valley quilt that Rita at Red Pepper Quilts made and have been combing my old books and magazines for ideas of how I can do the fabric justice. I have really enjoyed going back to piecing a traditional block again. I have done a lot of quick piecing and applique in the last year, but 2010 is leading me back to the traditional quilt patterns. Anyway, I've decided on a 1930's basket block, set in a grey background, I think it will have some sashing too, not sure yet, will make up some blocks and have a play.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Mr Chilly and Mr Chilly-Cake

Well I did manage a wry smile when I re read my last post. Just 2 days on and the kids are back at home, we're snowed up and my house is a trailing wet puddle of waterproofs and Lego again! Its been snowing now for 3 days and there is no school, but contentment comes in many flavours and luckily I like the messy fun version as much as the serene tidy version ( almost!).

The kids have taken up residence on the re-erected den on the landing, and Baby Button has taken the very sensible view that hibernation is the only route for a baby in this weather and is taking fantastically long lunchtime sleeps so I am getting lots of indulgent sewing time!

I finished off my matching sister quilts for my cousins girls. They are really simple and just feel so lovely to the touch. They are made in Tilda cottons and it is just the loveliest thick but soft cotton, it has a kind of old fashioned crispness to it that makes it feel even more vintage - I love it - think I will have to buy some more and make a bigger quilt for the Little Madam
I've also started sewing my Lime Dash blocks which are still bring a dash of (premature) spring to my days. I think it still needs more pattern so off to cut out some more squares and play with the placement.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010


Supper is cooking on the stove, the washing is in the machine, the baby is asleep, the big Smalls are at school, my house is clean, I have a new project all cut out and ready to start piecing......contentment!

p.s just had to mention - look how fabric efficient this churndash pattern cutting is?!

Monday, 4 January 2010

A New Quilter for 2010

I had one of my favourite sorts of e mail yesterday from Alex who told me she had received one of my MD&M Quilt Kits as an Xmas present, and she's made her first quilt already! I think it's a record! Doesn't it look fantastic? Can you believe it's her first quilt? Check out Alex's blog where she tells all ( and check out her great free downloads for envelopes and mailers!). She claims she is converted to quilting, my work here is done! Welcome Alex and thanks for letting me share your fantastic work with everyone.
I've been cutting out my Dash of Lime blocks, and doing some quick hand quilting on a pair of matching quilts (one strips, one squares) I'm making for my cousins little girls, they welcomed a new baby this snowy Xmas Day, isn't that romantic?
Anyway, it's my last day at home with the Little People before School comes a calling again tomorrow so better go and play in the den that has been constructed on the landing!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Dash of Lime

Don't you find that there is a melancholy reflective vibe about New Year, especially when you have young children and the passing of time is so marked? But today the weather kindly lifted us from those feelings and threw me headlong into 'Remember, next up, Spring is a coming' mode. Now I know it's very premature to think about Spring at this stage in the year with the weather man threatening more snow. But as the sun streamed in the window and my hyacinth buds began to push out their flowers, a pile of zingy lime fabrics I have been collecting for a while suddenly called out to be used.
I have had in my head a quilt made up of Churn Dash blocks all different sizes, I think I saw it done once in a magazine, but I can't recall where or when, but it's been nagging me recently. I've spent the afternoon with the sun on my back through the window playing around on graph paper to make a pattern for a ChurnDash Lime quilt - or A Dash of Lime Quilt as I think it will be called. I've got that new project excitement rush, I'm off to start cutting out!

Friday, 1 January 2010

2009: Quite Quilty and Unexpectedly Knitty

2009 was Quite Quilty. Lots of little baby quilts for my kits at my Make Do and Mend Shop.

Much beloved ones for the big Small People
and for the little Small Person
Some just for the joy of the season.............

In July I learnt to knit, there followed the glove obsession!

I learnt to knit a sock! Only one so far.......!The bird obsession! There was the birth of Make Club and the wonderful fun, and support and inspiration that has bought to my craft life!
And of course there was a fair amount of honest to goodness messing about with glue and buttons! Here's to more messing about with wool and fabric and buttons and ribbons in 2010!