Sunday, 31 December 2017

2017 - A Review in Quilts

So, as the year draws to a close, did I stick to those New Year's Resolutions?

When you set yourself goals in a specific area, such as your hobby, it's probably easier to stick to them. So taking a quick peak at my review of 2016 (which you can read here), it looks like my aim as usual was to be more prolific and make more quilts. I feel like I have been more productive this year but looking back to last year, I've completed the same number of quilts (five) which is funny! Although all of these quilts have been made for the magazine when a deadline is a keen incentive to finish something on time! If you scroll back through my posts you can read my 'Story of a Quilt' series of posts where I've written about each quilt as I've finished it.

My last finish of the year is this quick pieced quilt using the Chroma collection of fabrics from Alison Glass.

Chroma Quilt

I think my main goal from a year ago was to do more quilting for me and that's the main area I have fallen down. I don't think I have even touched my long term projects of Tula Pink's City Sampler, or my Splendid Sampler blocks. I might have done a little bit of sewing on my Sylvia's Bridal Sampler quilt which is a hand sewing project and I think I got my longest WIP out once a month or so ago when I did a bit of hand quilting one evening.

I participated in a hexie sewalong this year making one, yes just one, hexagon a day for 100 days and believe it or not I managed not to stay completely up to date with this! Although I did finish all 100 hexies and have been sewing them into flowers as I go. I used fabrics dyed by Heidi Stoll Weber and have just started making a scrappy low volume background to applique them onto. I'd really like to make progress  on that over the winter.

A pile o' hexies

I'm going to be 50 next year which is a scary prospect. It suddenly feels like half my life is over and yet you feel the same inside as you did twenty, thirty years ago. I think I need to make it my main New Year's resolution for 2018 to finish my longest WIP which is a kaleidoscope-style quilt inspired by the work of Paula Nadelstern. I think I probably started it over a decade ago having been inspired by an annual quilt competition at the Quilt Museum in Paducah, Kentucky 'New Quilts from Old Favourites'. Whichever year was the year for using the Kaleidoscope block was probably the year I started this quilt! I think it would be fitting if I managed to finish this quilt during my 50th year, don't you?

Check back with me in a year's time to see if I managed it!


Thursday, 5 October 2017

Story of a Quilt - Magnolia Metallics

This is another quilt I've been busy working on for the magazine. The fabrics were very kindly donated by Winbourne Fabrics who are the UK distributors for Moda. The collection is called Magnolia Metallics and is a classic Christmas-style collection, but not overly so.

Magnolia Metallics aka Cactus Flower Quilt

Designing a quilt using a Layer Cake or Jelly Roll is always an extra challenge as you usually need to tweak any designs to suit cutting the finite amount of fabric that you have. With this block I needed to use half square triangles to create the 'spikes' of the flower instead of a Flying Geese unit as there wasn't quite enough fabric to do this with the 10" squares.

I made a test block for this quilt as I couldn't afford to make any mistakes.

I finally found the time to get piecing. It was a struggle to get going for a bit and I had to delay the project going in the mag by an issue. I think I also didn't twig how big it was going to get! Forty two, 12" blocks makes for a big quilt! The finished size of the quilt is 76" x 88".

Image credit Sharon Cooper Photography

The additional fabrics in the quilt were three fabrics from Moda's awesome Grunge range and a couple of prints from the Magnolia Metallics collection for the Four Patch units.

I used Hobbs 80/20 wadding and backed the quilt with the Cream Grunge. It took me a little while to decide how best to quilt it. I find it hard to even think about doing an all-over pattern so I settled for my usual wiggle using King Tut thread no. 936 which is called Pharoah's Treasures. It was an ideal match as it's red, green and gold. The binding was the green holly print used in the Four Patch units.

The great thing about this design is that it lends itself to be made with any Layer Cake so the pattern I'll be selling of it is called Cactus Flower.

The quilt will be appearing in the November 2017 issue of British Patchwork & Quilting magazine which is out on 20 October 2017.


Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Story of a Quilt - Blue Sky over Ohio

I thought it was about time I started making proper 'journal' type records of my quilts as I finish them. I used to keep a paper record with the date a quilt was finished, it's size together with a photo of the quilt. Sometimes I'd stick scraps of the fabrics used in the quilt too.

Of course, this fell by the wayside a long LONG time ago!

And really this blog was supposed to be a digital record of my quilt making, amongst other things.

So, here goes. A new set of blog posts titled 'Story of a Quilt'. And first up is Blue Sky over Ohio.

A lot of my quilt designs evolve as I make them. I was sent these Blue Sky fabrics from Makower so I could make a project for the magazine. I originally intended to create a shaded basket weave type design with the prints, and arranged them in a shaded order.

However, I saw a strippy design online and decided on a rethink.

I can't quite remember how I fell upon the Ohio Star block as the block to use; I think it was because it was a traditional block that we hadn't featured for a while. It also happens to be one of my favourite blocks.

I figured I could still create a shaded effect with the blocks by using the lighter fabrics at the centre, shading outwards towards the darker fabrics.

And so the design was born. The blocks are 6" square and are machine pieced using quick piecing quarter square triangle units for the star shapes.

The quilt was made bigger by alternating the blocks with 6" squares, still following the shaded effect.

The background of the quilt was machine quilted for speed in a stipple pattern leaving the stars to 'pop'. If I'd had more time and was hand quilting it, I would have quilted it differently. The thread was King Tut quilting thread Brooklet (951). Wadding is Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 and the backing was Duck Egg Linea from Makower. The edges were bound with strips cut from the cream star fabrics.

Finished size: 66" square

And I have to say, I'm pretty please with it!

Friday, 21 April 2017


Looking through my Instagram account and the lack of a blog post, you'd think I hadn't been doing any quilt making in recent months! Very few images of quilts or WIP have been posted. Really not sure why as I have been piecing and quilting most days. It's possibly because the quilts I've finished so far this year have been for the magazine.
First up was a quick little quilt featuring some fabrics from Makower and the Very Hungry Caterpillar.

It's not my usual thing by any means but it was fun to make and use ideas I'd picked up elsewhere.

The next finish was another quilt for the mag, Galaxy Stars. This used another collection from Makower. They've been kind enough to supply the fabrics so I can make the quilts but I've also ordered them so I can sell kits.

Another fairly easy and quick quilt to make. I ran out of time and would have liked to have done a bit more quilting on it, but magazine deadlines wait for no man!

I've been working on a couple of other design ideas too, one using the V&Co ombres that I love. I've had to put this to one side for the time being as I'm working on another project for the magazine using the Blue Sky collection of fabrics from Makower.

So not exactly missing in action but doing stuff that I can't show for a time!


Saturday, 14 January 2017

The Promotion of Me?

Just a little musing....

Self promotion and being a success. Why are some people better at it and get a lot of recognition? Is it just about who can shout about themselves the longest and loudest?

Where does being a shy introvert fit into promoting yourself?

I often see people getting recognition and feel, but I can design better quilts than that. Is it just because they have the confidence to go out there and shout about themselves? When you are shy and introverted, you try and shout about yourself, but no one seems to hear or listen. Is an introvert's shout just a loud whisper?

I know I design great quilts. I know I have the talent. But what I lack is the confidence to shout about myself loud enough for others to hear. Maybe my New Year's resolution should be to learn to shout about myself a little bit louder?


Tuesday, 3 January 2017

2016 - The View from the Plot

So I think it can safely be said 2016 was an interesting year on the plot. Weather-wise it took a long time to get going with several of my 'early' sowings of carrots and beetroot either not germinating, or getting eaten by the dreaded slug patrol. Yep, thanks to last winter being a mild one, there were plenty of the pesky things around all looking for a tasty morsel to munch on, however small!

Saying that though, things did improve. There wasn't a late frost like 2015 and the summer was quite long and warm in the end.

As my son had finished working on our new half plot as part of his DofE, I've been slowly digging it over. It has been a slow job as I try and keep on top of my half of the plot at the same time but I think I'm gradually getting there. This half of the plot will be mainly for fruit, with a few veg which need a bit of space like squash.

The new half plot - early 2016

I'll remember 2016 as the year of the trials. I was lucky enough to take part in a seed trial of heritage veg from Rob Smith of the Big Allotment Challenge and also got to try some new varieties of sweet potatoes as well as growing oca and yacon courtesy of Pat Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Nurseries in Ireland.



I think my favourite seed from Rob's trial was what was called Chill B, which turned out to be a fish pepper chilli. I loved the variegated leaves on this one so I'll definitely be growing that again.

Fish Pepper Chilli aka Chilli B
I've set up a new blog for my sweet potato growing adventures. You can read more about it here. I'm up to 7 different varieties now! As for the oca and yacon. My yacon were a disaster but I'm hoping I've saved the tubers to try again this year. Likewise, it wasn't a good year for oca, so I might have another go at growing those this year too as they are quite low maintenance.

Successes and failures this year? The sweet potatoes were much better this year and there were gluts of raspberries and runner beans as usual, despite losing some of the plants early on. We also got to harvest out first asparagus spears this year! Failure again was my sweetcorn; that's two years in a row now so not sure what is going wrong. I think I need to help them a bit more soil quality-wise adding blood, fish and bone etc. Fingers crossed for a better harvest this year!

The plot in early summer

Preserving successes included an excellent strawberry jam this year and a raspberry and vanilla syrup that is to die for when added to a glass of cava! It's my new favourite tipple.

The other main success on the plot this year was the scoring of some paving slabs for free and a nearly new shed, which was moved across five plots with the help of some willing volunteers on the site. Allotment folk are lovely!

The new shed in position

Both half plots - December 2016

I think this year I need to try and do a monthly update on the plot as it's not easy to sum it all up in one post. Well that's my allotment New Year's resolution sorted!


Monday, 2 January 2017

2016 - The View from My Sewing Room

As each year draws to a close, it's traditional to look back to see what you have achieved in the year. So my first review of the year is from my sewing room and what I've managed to create in 2016.

Looking back through the photos on my phone, I'm quite amazed to see that I finished FIVE quilts last year! That's actually quite productive for me! And to some extent I might have made a few more but I've been distracted this year by a couple of quilt-alongs. More about those in another post. Let's focus on the finished quilts!

First finishes were the Ombre Geese and Ombre Chevron quilts.

Ombre Geese

Ombre Chevron

Both these quilts were made using ombre prints from the Enchanted Pines collection designed by McKenna Ryan for Robert Kaufman. In fact, the Chevron quilt is made from the leftovers of the Geese quilt, so it's a twofer!

My next finish was a quilt using the Eden collection of fabrics from Tula Pink. I really love some of the prints in this collection.

Shortly followed by my Ombre Squares quilt using Ombre fabrics from V&Co from Moda. I think this is one of my fave quilts ever.

And the last finish was a quick little quilt I made using the latest Very Hungry Caterpillar fabrics from Makower. This one is going in the Feb issue of P&Q, so no pic for now...

As usual, I had lots of WIP quilts where I try out a design idea, usually until I get bored. The first one is called the Economy Plus Quilt. I made a load of Economy blocks using the Nature Trail collection from Dashwood Studio together with one of their basic prints, Flurry and have added some Plus blocks in the sashing. I think I'll remake this as a scrap quilt.

I'm also working on a medallion style quilt using the China Red and China Blue fabrics from Dutch Heritage as well as another quilt using the V&Co Ombres. I'll share those at a later date once they are more complete.

So 2017. I definitely need to keep this productivity going. Less time on social media equals more time being creative and productive. That's my New Year's resolution!