Monday, 29 September 2014

Hatched and Patched 'Some Kind of Wonderful'

About a year ago, I saw on one of the FB pages, a quilt completed to a pattern by Hatched and Patched.

It was lovely and whimsical and I fell in love with it straight away. It was called, 'My Favourite Things' and I just knew I had to make my own version.

I ordered the book from abroad and it soon arrived and I hungrily devoured the pages. There were so many wonderful patterns in the book, apart from the quilt! There was a sewing case, a needle book, a pincushion, pillow, heat bag, door  hanger, table runner, bag, coin purse, travel document holder, shoe stuffers, eye mask....!

By Anni Downs, the book is beautifully produced, written, with clear instructions.

I ordered some cream fabric for my panels and went through my scraps to find good fabric to make the pictures for the panels. I had a jelly roll of creams and beiges, mushrooms, taupe, soft pinks and peppermint greens, which would help create all the accent blocks and patchwork pieces.

So far, I'm about half way through making the panels. It's a project I do in between other projects I get asked to do. My spare moment project. And I'm loving it! I can't wait to finish all these panels, so I can start constructing the quilt top properly. And best of all, this will be a quilt for me! Not to be sold, not to give away. This ones just for me!

So what is your spare moment project? What do you keep coming back to, when you're not working on something else?
I'd love to hear about them.

(P.S. I got such great feedback for 'Regatta' [see last post] and so many likes on Facebook, for it! I'm so thrilled, as it was a new technique. Thanks to all for their feedback and those of you who got in touch privately. Many thanks!)

Saturday, 27 September 2014


Below, is my first shadow applique piece, called 'Regatta' that I have for sale for £30 plus P&P.

The story behind it, is that I live on a small island called Hayling Island, just off the south Hampshire coast. We're sandwiched between Portsmouth, Chichester and the Isle of Wight.

We're always surrounded by boats, especially during Cowes Week, when the sea is brimming with a cornucopia of sails, bobbing about on the wide open blue.

'Regatta' is inspired by this week and is my view across the water from Hayling, looking to the Isle of Wight, with the soft greens of its rolling hills.

I used 100% cottons in a shadow applique technique, overlaid with crystal organza. The binding was hand stitched, which I love doing to finish off a quilt. I feel it gives a much more professional finish.

Let me know what you think. What views are YOU inspired by, where you live? I'd love to hear about them!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Shadow applique

                             (My 'Wisdom, Hope' crazy quilt)

Above you can see my finished Wisdom, Hope crazy quilt, which is going by the front door. It looks great, I'm so thrilled with it. I've not thought to take any close up pics, so you can see the detail of the hand embroidery, but it is there! When I showed my older children they were intrigued by new things they spotted each time they looked at it.

Last night, I went to Island Piecemakers, a quilting group on Hayling Island. I've been going for a few months now and they meet up once a month. It's such a busy and popular group, that I'm still on the waiting list to become an official member, but hopefully that might be soon.

Last night, they had Jane Andreoli, The Accidental Artist, as guest speaker. Jane brought numerous samples of her work in shadow applique and oh my goodness, I have come away inspired. Jane showed us how to use every scrap of fabric, so nothing need get thrown away (not that I ever do throw away fabric!) but now I have an excuse to keep even the tiniest pieces.

She mentioned she uses crystal organza to cover her pics and mentioned it was cheap and yes it is. I went on eBay last night and you can get 25m of it for £4! So I ordered some! Along with some 505 basting spray, another item I've never used before, so I'll be doing a review of that at some point.

Talking of reviews, I've been asked to review some machining products by a nice lady in America who represents one of the sewing companies I contacted, so they'll be along soon, too!

Such a great day, yesterday!

Jane showed us how we could create abstract pictures, free-flowing images, or something more constructed. She doesn't plan her pictures, or sketch them out, she just goes with the flow and really had created some amazing landscapes, especially the one she did of the Canadian mountains, it was absolutely stunning! Currently, she's having a go at portraiture.

So I have my organza or order, my basting spray and I have a big bag full of scraps. Today, I'm going to sort through them and arrange them into colours, so they'll be easier to use when my ordered items arrive.

Oh, and at the top right of this page, I've created a poll. Do take a moment to answer the question. The winning result will then feature in a future blog post!

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The Wisdom Hope Quilt

By my front door, there is a space on the wall. We used to have a beautiful picture by Gary Hodges on there - a pencil drawn pic of two elephants with their trunks entwined called 'Friends'. But I decided that this needed to come down, so I could hang one of my quilts.

I decided to do some crazy quilting. I like crazy quilting because it's very similar to foundation paper piecing, only a bit in reverse. There's no paper, but there is a muslin foundation.

I used the pattern that came with my Crazy Quilting Craftsy class, from Allie Aller, but used the first, straight cut flip and sew. Then I dug out my much-too-large bag of scraps to try and use up some of it. I decided I'd do four blocks and I wanted to fussy cut the central piece.

I had some wonderful fabric that had lots of inspirational words on it and picked out the two that meant the most to me. These being 'Wisdom' and 'Hope'.

I very quickly pieced them together and began sewing some hand embroidery on them yesterday. I've still got a lot of embroidery to do, but I'm very pleased with how it all worked out.

This quilt will be a nice decoration by my front door and I hope it will spark off some conversation with my neighbours!

So how about you? Do you have your pieces on display in your home? Which room are they in? Or are you kept so busy making stuff for everyone else, you don't get time to create for yourself?

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Craft, Show & Sell

It's not enough these days to be good at quilting and sewing. If you want to sell your items, you need to know how to stand out from the crowd, how to be professional, but most importantly, how to create that word of mouth about your business.

A while back, I went to my recent Hobbycraft (a large retailer for mixed crafts in the UK) and found a book that piqued my interest. It promised to show you how you could create a small, home-run business from whatever craft you did.

I hurried to the till with this precious item and was thrilled to discover it was one of their 'Top 10' picks and so I qualified for a £5 gift card too!

Priced at £12.99, my hubby offered to pay for it as part of our wedding anniversary gift! Double bonus!

The book is written by Torie Jayne who produces home-made craft items for the home and garden. It is a beautifully laid out book, full of fresh, crisp pages, excellent photography and pleasantly laid out chunks of information. It has a very easy to read format and covers everything you might need to help you start up a business from home crafting.

This book teaches you about how to set up your workspace, from storage solutions to organising your work area and creating a space that is soothing and motivational and personal to you. It covers how to create mood boards and inspiration boards, how to create your own brand and logo for you to use online and how to get out into the marketplace.

Torie lists places to sell, from craft fairs and village fetes through to Etsy or Folksy (if you're from the UK) and how you can set up a blog and use social media to work for you.

It truly is a book worth the money and leaves you full of ideas. Remember, you may be a great crafter, you may have quilts that make people 'ooh!' And 'Aah!' But if people don't know about you, or how to find you, you won't get any repeat business. You won't get customers recommending you to their friends and family.

Be sensible. Be organised. Make a plan.

If you have any hints and tips on how you went about organising your home crafting business, then please don't hesitate to leave a comment and share good practice with your fellow crafters!

Friday, 19 September 2014

Crazy Quilts!

So, I decided to try my hand at a little crazy quilting, as I had a bag full of scraps that I needed to use and this seemed the perfect technique to do that!

I followed the technique as set down by Allie Aller, in that you use a muslin (calico) back cloth that had been stabilised by some iron on interfacing. By doing this, it allows your blocks to stay flat and creates an easier surface to do your hand sewing/embroidery on.

Now, as my piece for the National Quilt Show uses crazy quilting, I can't show you any pictures from that, but I did find some lovely pictures in the book, The Quilter's Bible (reviewed in an earlier post). So the pics below are from that. Copyright is theirs.

Personally, I used a selection of 100% cottons and batiks. I've never used batiks before, but they were really pretty and I can understand why some quilters use them exclusively.

I'm not sure which part of the crazy quilting I enjoy the most - the fabric selection, the designing, the making up of the block, or the handsewing.

I know I love seeing the end result!

So what do you like about crazy quilting? Have you tried it? Does all the handsewing put you off? Perhaps you'd like to show me something you've made? Please send me your comments, I love to hear from other quilters!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Dear Jane

Dearest Jane Stickle...

Creator of the well-known Dear Jane quilt. I first started working on replicating your quilt over a year ago when I was new to quilting.

Yes, new to quilting. Foolishly, I decided to work in row and number order from A through to M.

Even now, all this time later, I have only done row A and the start of row B.

However, now, I am much better at quilting than when I first started and even though row A was one of the trickier rows for a beginner to start with, I made some decent attempts not really knowing what paper piecing was, or foundation paper piecing.

But I know now. And I'm better at what I do. So what I'm going to do Jane, is throw out the squares I've done so far (yes, throw them out!) because they weren't good enough. I'm going to use a colour theme in blues and whites, because I think that will look beautiful. I'm going to use the help from the Dear Jane Website and the wonderfully helpful That Quilt Website to complete my Dear Jane.

I've not put a time limit on it. But I'm going to do it properly. In your honour. Because you did it all by yourself, without help, without computers or internet help, or rotary cutters or sewing machines. (Though how you did still amazes me)

And one day......I will post it up on here for the world to see.

Love Louisa x

(Are you doing a Dear Jane? How far along are you? What have been some of your favourite blocks?)

Monday, 15 September 2014

Fabric Waste

Waste, I hear you cry? No such thing! Even the tiniest scraps can be used for something!

And yes, that's true and I have a big bag of scraps to prove it!

No, what I mean is, does it irk anyone else that when you're making a new quilt or design, the pattern asks you to cut strips at certain sizes and then when you trim, you slice off a big chunk that's not to be used? And you're left with an oddly sized piece of what used to be beautiful fabric and you can't imagine how you'll use that off-cut for something else?

It really annoys me!

Some fabrics are just so pretty and cutting them up awkwardly really gets my goat. I hate fabric wastage. Here, in the UK, you pay upward of £10 a metre for 100% cotton and in these times of austerity! I want to use all of that fabric! not waste most of it! chopping it up into unseemly shapes.

This is why I loved my brick wall design quilt. No wastage at all!

So what about you? Do you not mind? Or do you like to get the most from your fabrics?

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Quilt Shows and Competitions

Do you go to quilt shows? I do. I can't resist them. If there's one near me, then I'm there! All that inspiration...all that prettiness...all that fabric!

Every year in the UK, we have the National Quilt Championship at Sandown Park, Esher, Surrey. This show is a veritable smorgasbord of beautiful quilts, notions, stalls, workshops, fabrics, ideas, you name it, it's there.

People can submit their quilts for different categories - cot quilts, king size, art, miniature, rookie, etc. and I always love wandering about, seeing which quilts have earned a place ribbon and trying to see why the judges voted for it above the others.

But more than anything, after being into this biz we call quilting for two years, it's made me feel like I can enter. Either the Rookie category (first quilt entered into a competition) or perhaps a miniature (I love miniature quilts!).

So I've been trying out ideas lately, seeing what works for me, are there particular fabrics or patterns I want to use, or should I design something unique? I've never designed much myself before (except for those Xmas boxes) so I started messing about.

I've still not settled on a firm idea (and I don't want to give away too much here!) but I'm narrowing it down. I have until May 2015 to enter my work.

So what about you? Do you enter competitions? Have you placed anywhere? Tell me about it! Or, if you don't enter, why do you make that choice? I'm interested. Let me know.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

What Do You Listen To?

This question came up on Facebook the other day. What do you listen to when quilting/sewing?

I have to say, it really does depend on what I'm doing.

If it's a machine pieced quilt and I'm constantly using my Singer, then I have to say, I don't listen to anything. I need to concentrate and if I had music on in the background, then my mind would start focusing on the lyrics and singing away with them (I don't have a great singing voice!) would stop me concentrating on my work and I'd end up being best friends with my seam ripper again.

BUT! If I was handsewing, or working on something that doesn't require the machine, I have to say that I listen to podcasts.

There are two podcasts that are my absolute favourite and they both have lots of episodes, so there's plenty to listen to and the two ladies in question are frequent podcasts, so I don't run out!

The first is 'Quilting...For The Rest Of Us' by a lady named Sandy. She has a wonderful voice and chats away like she's in the same room and it's your best friend talking. It's great! There are so many things she's involved in and like me, she does Craftsy classes, too - though Sandy also does classes that are nothing to do with quilting - and you get to hear about them too.

The second is 'Katie's Quilting Corner' by a lady named Katie, obviously! Again, she has a wonderfully chatty approach and she shares her news and product reviews and WIP and also has a website where you can see pictures and get free pattern templates and examples of what she's working on, that you hear about in the podcast.

I love listening to these ladies. They're like old friends.

So tell me! What do you like listening to when you're quilting? Are you a podcaster? A music listener? Or do you prefer silence? And if you listen to podcasts, which ones? Please share!

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Foundation Paper Piecing (Part 2)

So last week, I received a custom order to make three large cushions for a lady in Nottingham. She wanted colours that would match her wallpaper and her new sofa.

She emailed me pictures of both and we decided on a mix of browns and creams. She also wanted some sort of connection to the sea. She'd always fancied living in a bungalow by the sea in her retirement, but that had never happened, so I could I do my best?

Of course! With a commission you really need to listen to what the customer wants. That way, when you deliver, your customer is hopefully thrilled with her product and tells all her friends.

Word of mouth is a powerful thing.

So! Because I'd been messing around with foundation paper piecing and the Craftsy class had covered making a Mariner's Compass, I decided to make one, putting all my newfound knowledge and skills into creating the design (I am also going to make an anchor and a ship's wheel).

And you know what? They turned out perfect! I took my time, made sure my points were sharp, that I pressed the pieces correctly and the compass was just beautiful.

I'm so thrilled with FPP and love working in that manner. I think it may just be my favourite way to quilt at the moment!

What is your favourite quilting technique and why?

Foundation Paper Piecing

It's been a mixed week. My Dad was down for a visit and though we managed to go out to a few places, he was more than happy to just be seated in front of the television with a cup of tea!

My MAV (migraine associated vertigo) gave me a few dizzy moments, so I found myself stuck in bed for a few hours and feeling the need for something educational, I signed up to a Craftsy class, Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing with Carol Doak.

I'd always been quite vague about FPP. I'd previously tried to do some on the blocks for my Dear Jane quilt, but because no-one had ever shown me how to do it properly, I'm bumbled along, doing what I thought was right to get the end result. Occasionally I had success, but sometimes it was just plain wrong!

So, I listened to Carol and oh my gosh. Now I know how to do it! Trim. Sew. Press. It was so easy! As long as I did all the prep, pre-cutting my pieces and labelling them, following the numbers and trim, sew, press, then it was a piece of cake! Needle tests, pinning, machine basting - it was all such a revelation! So I tried a couple out for myself in three inch blocks and though still not tip-top perfect, I'm thrilled with how they came out!

I looked on Facebook to see if there was a group or page just for FPP and there wasn't, so I've taken the liberty to start one here. I do hope you'll go take a look, Like it and maybe post a pic of your work. OR! You could post a pic here, or tell me about what FPP you've been doing!

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Seven day vacation

So apologies, but it looks like I'll be on vacation for seven days starting tomorrow.

My dad is coming to stay and the spare bed has been set up in the only room in the house in which it's possible to put him and -yep, you've guessed it- it's my sewing room.

Dad is 76, quite arthritic and unwell and it would be wrong, whilst he's here, to go off and do some sewing, or turf him out his room where he's also got a couch and a TV, so that I can use my machines...

....SO I won't be sewing for a few days. Unless I get to do some handsewing, so the box from the car will come out and sit in the lounge where I can attempt some paper piecing in the evening.

Obviously, I won't be updating the blog for this time, but if I do - or if you're worried about missing the next blog post you could always follow me on Google + or subscribe to my posts! It would be nice to have some followers!

Pretty please?

Stats show me that the blog gets visited a LOT by people all over the globe - USA, UK, Canada, Poland, Germany, Cyprus and South Africa, to name a few. A lot are returning visitors and lots are new, too. 

Thank you to everyone who returns or who views this blog for the first time, I really hope you keep doing so and continue to join with me on my journey as a quilter and sewer.

Is there anything you'd like to see me cover on my blog return in seven days? All ideas -sewing related- will be considered. So let me know! I'd love to hear from you. Do you want me to add podcasts to the blog? Video tutorials? A YouTube channel?

Let me know! I really believe in all of us crafters sharing ideas and experiences. There is so much we could learn from each other.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Christmas Boxes!

Yesterday, I mentioned the Christmas boxes I'd be making for the craft fair.

I'd had a look around the internet, saw some boxes I liked the look of and then worked out how to make them.

There was a bit of trial and error. I've never tried to work something out before like this, I've always followed instructions or some semblance of a pattern, but I thought, "it's a box, how hard can it be?"

Very, it turns out! When you're new at this, you can make silly mistakes. The first square I cut was too small. I cut a 7" square initially and then when it came to sewing off the corners, I sewed off too much and my first box almost had no space for putting stuff in at the end!

So I cut a larger square, quilted a pretty pattern on it and cut smaller corners into the design and I'm quite happy that it came out okay!

Let me know what you think. I'm very happy with it and now I've got the basics down, I'm thinking of ways to add bits to it.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Christmas Boxes and Craft Fairs

There are two days left of the six week break and it's busy, busy, busy here!

I have four children and three of them are at secondary school and as usual, we're doing the last minute panicking, trying to find PE kits that somehow seem to have disappeared into an elusive sports kit Bermuda Triangle.

Tomorrow will be my eldest's fifteenth birthday and I've got family coming all day, the day after, three of them go to school, one goes to the dentist for a filling and my father arrives for a weeks stay. In between all of that, I've got four articles to write, revisions to complete on Book Two and Christmas Boxes to make for my first ever Christmas Craft Fair.

I've never done a craft fair before as a seller of wares! I've always been a browser, a buyer, a wanderer between stalls. And I'm anxious to make my first one a success.

I've got some quilts as my larger items, a few bags as medium items and I'm currently making quilted Christmas boxes as some smaller items, but what else would be a good idea?

Tree ornaments? Little purses? What would be a good idea? Have you had an item that traditionally has sold well?

I'd love to get some feedback. Perhaps you could suggest prices? I don't want to undersell my product, but neither do I want to set the price too high.

Can people haggle at craft fairs or they generally buy at the ticket price?

As you can tell I'm a complete newbie. Please let me know your thoughts!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Hand Sewing

So, when I'm not at home, I'm stuck in the car somewhere, waiting for someone (usually my husband who can talk for England to anyone!) then I like to do some handsewing.

I find sewing by hand very calming, even though I'm not great at it! I'm yet to master how to hide my stitches sometimes, but I'm getting better and I just tend to think of all those on view stitches as showing you all my hard work!

I have a box in the car. A very pretty pink box, with a swirly patterned lid and in it are all my oddments for handsewing!

A myriad of needles and pins, small scissors, tape, paper pieces in hexagons and diamonds, basting thread, sewing thread and hundreds of precut pieces that should keep me going for months!

I began with hexies (one inch) and sewed them together completely the wrong way! I just assumed they'd interlock and they do in one way, just not another, so that project needs unpicking and restarting. But that's okay. I'm not perfect, we all make mistakes and when I did this, I'd only been sewing again for a few weeks after a thirty year hiatus!

So instead, I started on diamonds. I love working with these and I'm making a completely hand-pieced Falling Star quilt, using a mix of black, navy and purple for the night sky and brilliant gold for the stars!

So what about you? What hand piecing have you got on the go? Are you working to a pattern or just sewing for the hell of it? Tell me what you're up to and all commenters will be in for a chance of winning a hand dyed piece of fabric (6.5 x 8.5 inches)with an inked tree on it, created by Maureen Thomas!