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Best in Show Festival of Quilts 2015 (I am still dreaming)

This post is definitely the most proud post that I will ever be likely to make.  My quilt "Kaleidoscope" has just won not only a 1st prize in "Traditional Quilts" category at The Festival of Quilts 2015 but also the prestigious "Best in Show" award.

I had been notified the night before the show started that I had won the 1st prize for Traditional quilts ...  you should have seen me literally jumping up and down (my poor back) in my studio which is where I was when I heard.  So I was asked to go to the awards ceremony taking place the next day. 

This being my first time entry into The Festival of Quilts I had no clue where I needed to be and what to expect,  and after driving up to Birmingham NEC on the morning of the ceremony I arrived with only about half an hour to spare before the awards started.

So off I toddled to accept my award for First place in Traditional quilts and being handed my certificate and prize cheque.  I went back to sit down.

There are 18 categories in this show and over 1800 quilts were entered this year.  A panel of experts then chooses the Best in show from all of the first prize winners.  I was up against some big names in the quilting industry at this point and really thought there was no chance I was going to stand a chance.  Mind you I had not even thought that I would place in Traditional quilts as I have seen some stunning quilts lately being created for entry into this category.

Therefore when my name was read out as Best in show, to say that I was stunned was a complete understatement, so off I went shaking to collect my certificate and prize cheque.  Walking off the stage after photographs I was in a state of shock, I could feel my chin beginning to wobble, so head down so people would not notice I was starting to cry...  but I couldn't control my emotion, and was completely overcome in the moment. 

Since winning I have had some lovely emails, texts, and personal congratulations from many of my friends and customers, which means so much to me.  Thank you all.

If I had known that I would win like this I would have insisted that my family come with me to see me.  They thought I was kidding them when I rang them.  Thankfully I had friends in the audience to comfort me.

Anyway enough of me blowing my own trumpet.  This is my winning quilt.  It is called Kaleidoscope and is a pattern by an American pattern and fabric designer Vanessa Christenson at V&Co. 

I used moda fabrics called Chantilly, and a solid cream by Art Gallery fabrics.  I have used two layers of wadding, Hobbs 80/20 and Hobbs Wool to give it the trapuntoed effect. 

I longarm quilted it on my APQS Lucey with entirely freehand techniques, including the use of rulers.  NO COMPUTER (I was asked that a lot at the show)  I have used straight lines and dense quilting certain areas to make areas appear puffed up to give it texture and dimension.

I am so glad that the Judges liked my quilt the best this time around.  Beginners luck with my first entry, that's for sure.

I have been asked a lot how I created the scalloped binding, so time permitting, please do watch my website for some workshops in the future on how this is achieved.  (Ring me if you are interested in maybe attending)

I did enter another couple of little quilts, but that's a story for another day soon.

Love to all of my loyal customers without whom, I would not be here.











Happy New Year (oh and by the way Merry Christmas too!)

I really cannot believe how quickly these last few months have flown by, time seems to move too fast in my world at the moment.

I wish all of my customers, family and friends a very Happy New Year for 2015, and a belated Happy Christmas too.

I have had a lovely week break at home with my own family, and visiting my brother and sisters little families who live a fair distance from me, I have not seen them all in over a year ..  How on earth did that happen?  All of my little nieces and nephews are growing up so fast I am missing it!

The only sewing that I have managed to fit in this holiday was on Christmas Eve when I quilted my Christmas table runner with snowflakes and bound it too..  having pieced it earlier in the month.  I had high hopes to get some piecing in and maybe a sneak to the studio for some quilting for a couple of days on my own quilts, but it wasn't to be, maybe in evenings and weekends to come very soon.

I have lots of customer quilts to share very soon.  I have been reorganising my photograph files into a better filing system on my pc.  So watch this space...  have I said that before?

Interlocking stars and lots of pebbles

Its been a while..  where has two months flown to?  After spending the evening reading other quilty blogs that I follow, I decided it was about time I concentrated on my own !!

I have had an exceptionally busy few months with my full time job quilting for my customers, made busier by taking a couple of weeks off in August (holidays are very inconvenient - but oh so needed)

Although it seems like yesterday, back in July I gave a talk on Longarm Quilting to a group of quilters over towards Chelmsford way.  It amazes me that people request that I show my work to them, as to me I am just a normal quilter, with nothing really special to share, so I thought I would try and quilt something a bit more interesting.

I had pieced this quilt a few months back after seeing a few interlocking star designs on a few American blogs that I follow.    I kind of winged it and just made up blocks to the size that I felt lent itself well to the design, and to most effectively use my fat eighth bundle of "Daydreams" fabric by Moda.

I really love white backgrounds as they are great for some background quilting.  I kept the quilting fairly simple, but fairly dense in the white areas, just pebbles and swirls with a few straight lines created with some ruler work.  I used an offwhite thread by Glide, (my favourite).  Although my straight lines didn't quite create the effect I thought they would due to the interlocking nature of the design, I decided I liked it enough to continue on with it.. 

Anyway, I don't normally write this much in my posts so onto some photos..

Apologies for so many...  to see a large image just click on each image.  Most were captured on my ipad, but just yesterday I invested in a much better camera, I even bought a tripod too !!  So I need to up my photography skills now..  not to mention refiling all of my photos on my laptop...  I have tons of quilts that I have not shared this year, custom and allovers...

I was really pleased with the overall effect.

The holiday is over...

Our holiday at the end of May seems like a VERY long time ago now, and we had such terrible wet weather, its hard to believe the difference a month makes, and now at least we are having a bit of summer finally.

We went away in our motorhome for a few days and stayed in a lovely site at Chertsey, close to the train station to London, where we spent a day at the Sealife centre and shopping,  although we did get completely washed out in London.  It was the worst rain in a while...  typical for the half term week.  The week we got back I was sweltering hot in my studio...  its just the way it goes.

I bought some lovely fabric in Liberty to add to my Liberty fabric stash, now I have more than enough to make a quilt (or two !)

I took my Singer featherweight sewing machine with me for the first time along with an applique project too, for those cooler wetter nights cozying up in the van.  Most of my project was cutting and fusing and cutting again ....  no noise in that, but one day when the boys went on a bike ride, I had a few hours to myself on my sewing machine...  I managed to get all of my dresden blades done which have a folded 3D insert between the blades, which add another dimension to it..  its going to be a while til this one is finished, but I am already thinking of ways to quilt it....  custom of course for this one.

After making over 400 blades and drawing and cutting countless applique pieces, my husband finally conceded that he wouldn't have the patience to make one let alone 400!  I will take it as a rare compliment about my quilting.

When we got home (a day early due to the washout weather) I machine appliqued the centre block.  I am using the blanket stitch on my pfaff creative 2.0 on this project, and was pretty pleased with the finish. 

Now I just need to get on and finish the machine stitching on the four large setting triangles and four little ones... I only really do my own piecing of quilt tops on the weekends these days so it was nice to get a bit of a head start on holiday when I had a few hours to myself.

Hugs and kisses quilt

This quilt is one of my own that I pieced last June...  it has just taken me this long to quilt it...  I quilted it last Saturday ...  Ian and the boys were off at a bike show if I remember rightly,  so off I trekked to my studio and finished my quilt.

 I did a talk for the womens institute last Wednesday, and I felt I needed another quilt to show (I didn't actually as I had four full large bags - its amazing how many I have once you bag them all up from home and studio!!!)  Oh well - at least it is nice and quilted now..  This is a quilt by Jaybird quilts, and I made it from a layer cake called "Tradewinds" by Kate Spain and some white solid fabric.

It is entirely quilted freehand...  no rulers - no patterns, even the centre circles of the flowers are completely freehand...  although I did roughly draw the flowers with chalk before stitching them.   I am never using that brand of chalk again though as it would not come out with just water and I had to wash my quilt e machine.  Lucky for me I love that wrinkled effect, but I would have liked to see the new look for a while longer...  I used a cotton wadding, and that has wrinkled beautifully...   I used a yellow leafy backing fabric which seemed like a good idea at the time, seeing the quilting though now, I wish I had used a solid colour to really show off those feathers and pebbles...

Tilda fabric addiction...

Well things have been a bit hectic of late... with one thing or another...  mainly busy with customer quilting, but I lost a few days having some nerves in my facet joints in my back burned a couple of weeks ago now ... which was the most excruciatingly painful procedure ever...  they certainly didn't warn me it would be that severe..  but it is easing up a bit...  although as I have been in pain for over three years now, it is not much different at the moment, but it should take a couple of months to give relief (if it works...  )  but enough of my aches and pains...  lucky for me quilting really eases the pain and keeps me moving... its the sitting that I find so hard to deal with...

Well I really have to stop myself buying some more of this gorgeous Tilda fabric (mainly because of the cost !!) but it is the softest fabric ever and I can't help stroking it, and although I didn't want to cut into it, I decided that at least if I could look at it made up in my studio as a sewing machine cover then I would enjoy the view... and it was excellent freehand practice as small pieces don't take too long and you can get them finished on a weekend... 

The thing is once I used my fabric I really felt the need to go buy some more ....

Of course I couldn't just stop at one ...  I do have a sewing machine at home too which needed a cover...  and the leftovers make great cases too.

Just four fat quarters in each cover...  I covered them in swirls, pebbles and feathers...

Friendship stars for a new baby

I finally met my new niece last weekend, and surprised my sister with a new quilt for her new baby girl.  Isla is gorgeous - so sweet and cuddly.

My sister loved the quilt too, and I even managed to psycically match it to her new curtains too....  and there I was worried that she wouldn't like the green.....  things are just meant to be...  She was secretly hoping that I would have made a new quilt for her.

It has a lovely flannel backing, so soft and snuggly, and I quilted it fairly open so that it is nice and soft.  I used a gorgeous variegated thread by Superior threads called "Seashell" and it looks really lovely on the white fabric.

And as I didn't make it up to Lincolnshire last weekend (a little lady called Lucey got in the way !!)  I even got to show it at show and tell at quilt group on Thursday evening too....

Happy holidays and hexies....

After relaxing on our family holiday for a couple of weeks in Brittany France, I am now back and raring to go again....  lots of customer quilting to get caught up on...  I took some hand piecing with me and managed to finish about 40 little hexagon flowers...  most whilst travelling... I managed to engross myself in a couple of good books too, and time by the pool and the beach with the boys and hubby... not much time left to sew.

Just before going away, I treated myself to a Sizziz Big Shot and hexagon die, so was happily cutting away for perfect hexies..

I also took a selection of just in Art Gallery fabrics called Reminisce along with which are lovely shades of green, red, blue, cream, yellow...   (by the way which are available at £11/m from my studio in 20 x fat quarter bundle, fat eighths or jelly roll cut strips)

It may be quite some time before this one is large enough for a quilt..  maybe it may become a bag instead...

Our holiday seems like a distant memory already....   lol

I have a new niece....

Congratulations to my sister Sally who has had her baby girl last night....  a big one too at 8 pounds 5 !!!  

I have to crack on with this.....  I started this a few weekends back now for my sisters little girl, but have been side tracked ever since....  we live a distance apart (worst luck) as it would be lovely to just pop over to see her and her new baby....   I will get this finished before we meet our new niece..  I've only had nine months !!!!


This lovely fresh coloured quilt was made by Annie, and she chose the "poppies" design, and a sandy gold coloured thread.  It looks very pretty, I love the fabrics in this quilt too, some dusky mauves and pinks really look great with the yellows and greens. 

I love seeing what other quilters come up with colourwise,  actually I think I made a mistake with a colour choice on a personal project, and the quilt I have been piecing is turning out to be way too green (which isn't even actually my colour !!! )  it was just the only solid colour fabric I had to hand in two shades of a similar colour which is what the pattern called for...  maybe I can add some different colour quilting theads when I finally get around to quilting it in the future, although I fear it may sit for a long time in my UFO pile....  LOL..  I am sure it will look a whole lot different once quilted.

Actually the whole process of making this one has been disappointing, as the pattern from one of my longarm quilting idols in the states, was a bit sparce on instructions I felt,  the fabric requirements were wrong, and the diagrams misleading, leading to a couple of mistakes early on, but now I have adapted it and ironed out the pitfalls and square up etc, I will probably make another one in the future - but not green !!!

Test pieces....

Quite often my table moves out of level, and I notice this quite quickly because it really affects the balance and performance of my machine.  Temperature changes I think affect it the most being a steel table.  So on occasion when adjusting my table I load on a small test piece to check the balance and feel of my machine, and pebbles and swirls are a perfect test for this....  so I ended up with a few pieces of these small quilted pieces which I have turned into a variety of storage bags, and a cover for my diary....

Dazzle mini

After a very busy week quilting customer quilts, as I took a large quilt off the frame on Friday,  I decided to sneek in Saturday and quilt up my hexagon quilt...  I decided not to make it too big as I decided it was too busy fabrics and would have benefited from some white solid fabric thrown in somewhere.

It wasn't until I was choosing the design to be quilted over this one, that I realised just how hard it is for my customers to choose their designs.  There are so many that would have looked equally as nice on this quilt.  Being busy fabrics, not much is really going to show up in certain lights, so I decided on a textural design, and one I have not yet quilted up.  I thought that this design was going to be one that I never got to actually quilt out, being so small, most customers are put off as most people like a fairly open design, plus some of these smaller designs are slightly more expensive to get quilted, as they generally take longer to quilt.

However, this one was not too bad and flowed quite nicely over my small quilt.

Again, on choosing my thread colour, I was reminded how difficult the choice is sometimes when there are so many colours which would have looked equally as good.  I settled on "buttercup" in the end, being a yellow/gold colour which worked out well.  I couldn't decide between the yellow and a couple of shades of duck egg blue....  decisions decisions....  that being said though, I do like the finished result.

I had hoped to bind it today, but too many other things take over on a Sunday....

I chose a lovely pink backing fabric which I have just received into my stock, it is a leafy vine design, pink on pink.  I am also stocking it in lilac, navy blue, apple green, burgundy, and it is available to order in many other colours too including grey, black, yellow.  It is 108" wide width and costs £15 a metre.

Isn't the texture great?  I love it, and it is destined for my studio, a sample, and a cover for my sofa too.

I had a little backing fabric left at the end of the quilt, and I had a small piece of patchwork which I hand pieced on a holiday a few years back now...  LOL  so I decided to practice a bit of freehand swirly feathers over it, and it is going to be made up into a little case for makeup or gadgets of some kind...  it literally took 10 minutes to quilt it, it is tiny... and when I get around to binding it, it might make a great glasses case actually...

This weekends work in progress

This weekend has just flown by, and these are the reasons why....

I spent Saturday morning at the studio, finishing up a customer quilt binding, and taking in another customers quilt.  

On leaving my studio, I picked up my accuquilt GO die cutting machine and a die I treated myself to this week (9" hexagon) and a bundle of fat quarters that I have been wondering what to make with for a few months now..

Honestly you would not believe how quickly this comes together, even with the dreaded "Y-Seams"  I now have a piece about 45x56 inches....  now the question is how much larger will I make it...  I am going to see how big I need it to cover my sofa at my studio, as it will make a great sample at this size...  think it may need to be a bit longer yet though...  I like to make the samples at least single bed size.

I do miss my design wall though here at home...  These fabrics are gorgeous they are Moda Gypsy girl fabrics....  I used less than half of a 34 fat quarter bundle so far (66 hexagons so far...)  Not sure if I want to use the rest up on this project yet though...  

Don't you just love how those Y seams twist around, and form their own little hexagon patch on the back....

I even managed to quickly quilt my hexagon quilt with an allover "Wandering spirals mini" pantograph, as I knew nothing much was going to show up on those fabrics....  I was right too, I used a pale grey thread to blend and also match the backing fabric I used too.  Once I get the binding on those hexagon shapes which I intend to keep, I will share some better photographs in better lighting.....

Last weekends work in progress

My husband accuses of quilting being "never ending" for me....  and from reading my posts lately it does look that way, but honestly it is not all I do.... LOL  and while you have a family of boys who like watching Top Gear and playing X Box, you do have to have a hobby !!!  otherwise in the winter and the weather is bad, it would be very easy to get bored....  So I think it was last weekend that I managed to finish up the second strip pieced quilt with the Aqua solid.

It won't get quilted for ages though.... as I want to custom quilt those solid areas... and maybe add some borders too.  So here it hangs - waiting ...

From the leftover pieces, I cut them up into a bundle of half square triangles and made two smaller pieces - now I could make them both a bit bigger and make more half square triangles, or I could make maybe a cushion or two, maybe even a bag...  who knows... but for the moment, they are just stuck up on the wall.....  waiting for inspiration to strike.  Each leftover end piece yields 3 2.75 inch and 3 1.75 inch triangles....  I have yet to sew the tiny squares together yet though, so may not be too successful yet...

Fast piecing, and fast quilting.....

I basically pieced this quilt in a couple of evenings, because  it was such a fast method to use.  Although I have used the tube method before in a previous quilt,  I originally picked up the tube technique from I think it was Eleanor Burns when I was a beginner quilter, however, I recently came across the method again from Joan Doan at the Missouri star quilt company, and I just had the urge to make a quilt using this design.   I grabbed a jelly roll by Moda called "simply colour" which I knew was nice bright colours, although it wasn't until I fully opened out the jelly roll that I discovered that the solid coloured strips were graduated in colour, which is great.  I wish I had some yardage in those colours too...  I used a natural cream (wide width backing fabric by moda actually) for the solid.... 

Basically to make the quilt you make two strip sets using jelly roll strips.  One set has solid, print, solid, the other print, solid, print.  The two 3 strip strip sets are then placed on top of each other right sides together, and you sew them together along both edges thereby creating a  long tube. 

This tube is then cut into triangles using the 45 degree angle of a square ruler along the seam line.  The triangles then miraculously open up into a square, and ta da the block is made.  Each strip set makes 6 square blocks with a bit of leftover pieces which I intend to use for a smaller project.

I have 72 blocks in this quilt making it about 66 x 75 finished size.  I was going to add borders, but as it is just a sample of the pantograph for my studio, I didn't want it to be too large.

I quilted it using a pantograph that I have not yet used, called "swirls and such" which has not been chosen by customers yet due to it looking so close together.  However, I personally like close together quilting so I thought I would give it a test.  It went surprisingly fast considering how close together it was.

It was a test piece all around, as I also tested out a new wool wadding that I have in stock that I have not quilted with before called supersoft wool by sew simple.  I have yet to test washing it, but it quilted up great... it is light yet lofty and gives a great quilting definition.  I'll keep you posted how it washes...  I also tested a thread I have not used before called Magnifico by Superior threads, which is very similar to the Glide threads that I use alot of.   It was a lovely thread to use and has a great sheen to it much like the Glide thread - they were both as good as the other I felt.

Usually my quilts that I piece at home take a long time to reach the quilting machine, but this one I wanted finished so I managed to sneak off to my studio while my family were busy and quilted it up.  I bound it from home in the evenings following...  I normally bind while the quilt is still on the longarm,  but as I had customer quilts to put back on my frame byMonday morning,  (I know I shouldn't feel guilty when I work on my own projects in my own time, but I do when I have customer quilts in the queue to be quilted)  So I took it home to attache the binding using a wider than I normally use binding.  I used a 3 inch strip rather than a 2.5 inch strip

Anyway, I like this method so much, I am already piecing another quilt using the two ranges of Art gallery fabrics I recently purchased which I cut into jelly roll strips and have mixed with an aqua solid (by moda)  I have already made all of the blocks and am now piecing them altogether this weekend when I can....  I love making quilts...  this one is going to be gorgeous colours when it all fits together.

Art Gallery Fabrics - Modernology

Look at the scrumptious fabrics that I received this week...  "Modernology" by Art Gallery Fabrics, which I had my eye on a while back.  I have some great ideas for some future projects for this fabric.  I have a couple of 20 x fat quarter bundles also for sale in these gorgeous fabrics and a free quilt pattern too.  The quality of the cotton is fantastic...  I also have the "Floressence" range which I used in the triangle quilt a few posts back....  in fact I might mix the two range up for another quilt some time soon.   I need to make some small samples to quilt some sample pantograph designs on, so that I can show them to my customers as it helps them to decide on the quilt design for their quilts.

I have my customer Marie to thank for introducing me to Art gallery fabrics after she bought me one of her gorgeous quilts to quilt which had some art gallery fabrics and she raved about the quality and how great it was to work with.... I am so broke .... LOL

Update on my hexagon quilt

When I blogged about my hexagon quilt last week, it spurred me on to get it finished this weekend (well pieced at least) It was a pretty quick quilt to make once I get going, the blocks are fairly big.  So in my pile of quilts to be quilted it goes...  I think it may get an allover design, or maybe some freehand swirls, we'll see when the time comes how I feel at the time... LOL..  After a few days of some pretty intense custom quiltingon a customer quilt who is entering it into a show, I am looking forward now to quilting some all over pantograph designs on the next batch of quilts that I have in to be quilted,  before working on another custom quilt job.

Mama said sew hexagons WIP

After a stressful January, I thought I would take some therapeutic time for me, and spent some time the last few weekends working on my own projects.  I very quickly cut and pieced the hexagon quilt using a lovely moda fat quarter bundle called Mama said sew which is still in progress up on the design wall, waiting for a few more hexagons to be sewn together at home.  Its not quite there yet and I haven't been in the mood for it this week but I love looking at it whilst I work - and I just love the design wall it is so cool.  I really need to sew them together though, as each time I hoover my studio it blows a few off the wall.....

While I was making it though, I had a gorgeous delivery of some Art Gallery fabrics, which I very easily became distracted with, and very quickly put together a small quilt with large triangles to showcase the fabrics which was fast to make.  I seem to like making very geometric shape quilts just lately.   I have used some larger sashings so that I can quilt some lovely modern quilting on that solid grey. Although I think it will be quite some time before I have the time to quilt them, so off to the "to be quilted" pile they go. 

You may notice the asymmetry of this quilt, which I did not really take account of when I just threw it all together, and I really don't like it to look at so I think that I will be adding some appliqued half triangles to the large grey side areas on each side to balance it up.  Next time I will remember I need to have an odd number of triangles in each row to keep it symetrical ....  LOL - so watch this space with this one as I may just leave it and make use of those large areas for something different.  I already have some fun quilting ideas for this one too.  If you like the fabrics used on this quilt, I have some fat quarter bundles for sale too.

Leftovers.... don't throw them away...

My quilting friends and my husband too, laugh at me when I save the little pieces from when I am cutting out a project.  Well at the weekend, I decided to quilt them all up into small projects and bind them.

So never throw those pieces away, as there is always something you can make with the leftovers.

I had some fun this weekend.  After putting our Christmas decorations up we didn't feel like the trek into town in the rain for more Christmas shopping so I had some fun with  my sewing machine instead.  (I know I should have been Christmas shopping though !!!)

They weren't 100% straight strips that were left over from my Christmas quilt, but I sewed them all together and trimmed it into a rectangle, and made a larger pouch.  It is about 8" x 9" and it took me a while to think about what I could put in it...  and decided that I could use it for my laptop cable !!!  it is always getting tangled up in my laptop bag.  It was also a good tester for some new variegated thread in a thicker 30 weight before using it on a large project.  It would have had a better effect on solid fabric though as it blended over these fabricsIt did show better on the darker green smaller pouch though.  I got a bit carried away and tested a bit more .... and ended up with a couple of smaller pouches too which were good for practice freehand pebbles and feathers too.  They were still quilted on my longarm machine though and the binding probably took longer than the piecing and quilting combined...

I also managed to finish piecing my blocks for my Christmas quilt too which are now up on my design wall waiting to be pieced together once I am happy with the placement...  which I keep changing now and then... I wish I had paid more attention to the four patch colours...


As part of the beginners classes that I taught in November, we made a small project alongside a larger quilt project as a practice piece to give some experience of quilting a quilt sandwich. 

Although my students quilted either in straight or curvy lines over their projects, I quilted mine with freemotion pebbles and made it up into a cover for my Kindle.  It is such a simple project, and ideal for beginners and good practice to get a feel for quilting through 3 layers.  Instead of sewing my binding down by hand, I decided to use a heart embroidery stitch on my Juki, which rarely sees any more action than a straight stitch !!!

I used the modern vintage moda fabric leftovers from the larger beginners project.  Although the only button I had at home was this metal floral one, but may change that to a pink or red one when I find another suitable one at my studio.  These pouches are so versatile and can be made in all sorts of shapes and sizes to accommodate all kinds of gadgets and gizmos...  I have my tens machine in another one that I made years ago,  makeup in a third, and am currently making a smaller one for a bank security card machine which I keep losing in my handbag, in nice bright colours which can easily be seen in the depths of my bag.   (Well that is the plan at least !!)

This is the larger beginners project that we were working on, and although I have not added borders to mine, as I have the intention to make this a larger quilt at some stage.  My ladies added a 5 inch border all around their quilt tops, and they all did a fantastic job....  I hope that they will send me photographs very soon of their finished quilts.

Christmas project

I have had a productive time lately quilting customer quilts and I will share photos of them very soon, but this weekend was playtime for me...  I had bought a layer cake and jelly roll by moda called "ready set snow" which is a cute Christmas bundle which I found at a very reasonable price online, although really the only fabric in it which is relating to Christmas is some Christmas tree fabric, the others being swirly, snowflakes checks, stripes, spots.  It has a very modern feel to it - just what I wanted. 

I have used a soft blue as a background, which was actually rather a quick decision when I grabbed a solid bolt which I thought might work,  from my shelf on my way home after my beginners classes at my studio on Saturday morning, just in case my fabric had arrived when I got home, which it had - yey !!  I hadn't even seen the new Christmas fabric in real life !!  but luckily I think the blue as a background looks great!!

So I had in mind to makesome flying geese units  using my Eleanor burns flying geese ruler, (after having some hit and misses with a regular ruler recently whilst making flying geese.. )   I used Eleanors two square method to make them.  To achieve a 3x6 finished size geese, (3.5"x6.5" cut size) I cut down the layer cake 10 inch squares to 9 inch squares and cut  7.5 inch squares for the background fabric.  This method is so quick and easy, and very speedy sewing...

I ended up making all of the flying geese units pretty quickly, I think it took longer to trim them, than to sew them !!    The centre 9 patches are cut from the jelly roll.

I haven't really a pattern in mind for my quilt (I rarely do)  but I saw this cute block recently online somewhere I can't recall where, and thought how the corners might look great when the all meet to form 4 patches with a small border surrounding them.....  and lots of solid fabric for quilting in too...  I might try my hand at some "modern" style quilting - whenever I can find some time !

I ended up with all of these little snippets !!! which my husband could not believe I would not throw away !!!  he found it more amusing to stuff them down my T-shirt !!!  Anyway, I hate to throw fabric away - however small, and I have boxes and boxes of snippets and squares - Idecided though that instead of adding them to those piles I would actually sew them together now...

So all of those little snippets sewn together and trimmed into a 3.5 inch strip added to a bit of background fabric will make a cute makeup bag !!!  and it only took 10 minutes to sew them all together !! 

Some may say I have too much time on my  hands, but when you have a family of boys who play X-Box (hubby included) on a weekend when a new game has just been released - need I say more???  Shame about the housework though ....

Poppies on moda prairie paisley II

This quilt is a small sample quilt of mine that showcases the "poppies" pantograph, which I have quilted with a variegated thread in reds, blues, greens and yellows. 
I love the poppies panto, and although I am not really a big fan of variegated thread,  I am pleased that it does look OK and I certainly want to experiment more with some fantastic threads available - this one is by superior threads called Rainbows.  Sometimes I feel that a variegated thread "breaks up" the quilting design, but a bright variegated thread does look great on dark fabrics especially black. 
Recently I also found this great company in the US www.spoonflower.com who will print your own fabric from any digital design, which basically means that you can design your own fabric, so using a photograph of one of my quilts overlayed with my name and addess details,  I ordered some labels to be able to attach to the back of my quilts dating and detailing my quilts.  Something I confess that I have never really done before as most of my quilts are either on a bed, or a sofa or in my studio for a sample, or have been given away...  next time I order them I will make them a little larger with more space inbetween so that I can either piece them into my backing, or needle turn applique them onto the back of my quilts.  At the moment they have a fusing strip around the edges, but the fabric has frayed a little more than I expected that it would..  fun though.. and I can see lots or other ways of using this service other than for labels.

Moda prairie paisley II

A while back I had bought a layer cake and was wondering what I could make with it, and after starting to make a star block, I quickly realised that two layer cake squares would make only an 8.5" star block with a couple of pieces left over, so I decided that my layer cake would not go as far as I would like.   Lucky I only made one block before cutting my fabric up, and decided I didn't want to waste that much in the seam allowances...  I don't normally worry, but I only had the one layer cake!!
Anyway, after being inspired by Nicolas fig tree quilt, I made up a brick style quilt in my moda prairie paisley II fabrics, into a small quilt ready to quilt on a pantograph sample for my studio to show to customers when they come and choose their designs.   I would love to have every design that I offer quilted out on a quilt, and that was always my intention to do so, one of these days I may find enough time in the day to quilt a small quilt in every design.
I  need to trim up the edges, and ... confession time - my quilt is not very squared....  as I piece at home sometimes in my "home and me time" I have two of alot of things for home and my studio, such as rotary cutters, mats, rulers etc....  you will no doubt laugh when I say I forgot I had taken my home pins to top up my pins at the studio when binding a large customer quilt recently, and really could have done with them when sewing my strips together and lining up my "bricks"  I am too impatient, and I really couldn't wait until the next day as I was on a piecing roll and taking advantage of a night at home when hubby was out, and it really was so simple to make...  but it is only intended to be a sample, so I don't mind too much .....
Now what to quilt on it ???????

My sticks and bricks quilt waiting to be pebbled ????

I have been seeing some great modern style quilts in various quilt magazines and online recently, adding to my motivation to piece, I have been piecing a "sticks and bricks" quilt designed by Amy Walsh and instead of cream background like her design, I have subsituted it with a pale grey.  The sticks and bricks are moda "Sophie" fabric range of which I used 35 fat eighths and surprisingly about 5 metres of grey background, although I do have a few blocks for the  back.  I think it is slightly too big at 97" for our bed, but allowing for a little shrinkage when washed it should be fine.  When you consider a 3-5% shrinkage on most waddings, that can be 3 to 5 inches off a 100 inch quilt.
My absolute favourite tool ever has to be my June Tailor Shape cut plus which is a laser cut plastic cutting ruler which has 1/2 inch spacing, which gives very accurate results, and as I knew I would be slightly inaccurate in piecing strips of equal lengths I slightly oversized the length, and trimmed them down to size making them more accurate and straight to attach my sashings.  After seeing this tool in use years ago on one of Eleanor Burns quilt in a day shows and knew that it would save me tons of time.. I was so right.. although you do used marginally more fabric and takes slightly more trimming time, for me the accuracy is more important for this style of strip quilt and helps when attaching the sashings and borders.
I just need to add the final outer border, then it is all ready to be quilted.  I have had some thoughts of freehand pebbles and circles quilting, but will need to invest a  good few hours of quilting into it, and being from the front of my machine freehand rather than the back of my machine (pantographs) it is alot tougher on my back too, but it has such a modern feel to the quilt, I think it needs some modern custom quilting on it too.  I will have to wait til my back is having a "good" day...  I need some strong painkillers without the drowsy effects .... good thing the quilt is just for me...  so there is no rush.

Piecing fun ........

Taking advantage of a rare reasonable day for my back, I decided to finally finish my long standing work in progress, which has been on my design wall at the studio for months, and it only took an hour to complete in the end.  Actually I am not quite sure it is finished yet, as it is quite small.  Ignore the top left hand corner, which is just pinned on and the pieces floating around it.  I still haven't decided if I want to add them to each corner like planned, I'm not sure I like that effect.

So some time when I have some free time I will quilt it up, more than likely freehand and something different in the cream borders.

Then as I was on a roll, and armed with a new Layer cake "Trade winds" by moda,  I was in the mood to piece, so I started my next piecing project (even though I have many in progress and should be working on my small jubilee project for Septembers local quilt show).   I am always frustrated with the cut of layer cakes though, as they are rarely accurately 10 inch squares and I am not keen on the pinked cut edges - they always make such a terrible fluffy mess everywhere too.

With the white additional diamonds, a layer cake will make a quilt about 62 inches square.  It makes 27 blocks, (It would have made 28, but I miscut one) so unless I can find similar fabrics in my stash to make another 3 blocks to make it a little longer then it will stay at 5 x 5 blocks, with 2 leftover.

Although just a couple of hours and I am certainly paying for it now !! off to find some painkillers .....

More scrappy blocks finished

I now have a few more blocks pieced this week, which are extremely fast once you have the half square triangles all made in a pile....  The design is evolving quite nicely, maybe I will get some time on Sunday to make a few more blocks.  This will make a great sampler quilt for a pantograph design.

Scrap quilt workshop

I attended a wonderful workshop with Katharine Guerrier on Saturday completely out of my comfort zone making scrap quilts and half square triangles...... focusing on light and dark block variations.  I felt like a complete novice again as I struggled with the measurements and maths and my 1/4 inch on my machine which was also misbehaving with tension too, but after adjusting my needle to the right a couple of notches, all was accurate again....  I didn't think I had that many scraps until I searched through my stash....  and spent Friday evening cutting up some 4 inch squares in preparation.... I quickly realised I have barely any light fabrics, and most are mediums or brights and lots of pinks and purples, but it is amazing how the light and dark combinations create the dynamics of the quilt, and although I tried to be random, I still found myself matching things too much maybe for the scrap effect.
I had a great day which flew by way too fast, and although I only managed to accomplish two blocks on the day (maybe I talk too much !!!) I continued a little on Sunday and now have 4 blocks finished and it will look so much more effective when I have more blocks - I have a pile of half square triangles all made up ready to be made into blocks ....  I am going to have to try not to make this yet another unfinished project.....  but things are busy at the moment and there is not much spare time for piecing projects.   I like to be busy though and am not complaining about that...  there is not as much time for blogging either...

Tablet design

I have been busy not only with customer quilting this last couple of weeks, but also I have been attending an online course in the evenings by Carla Barrett known for her "quilt whispering" techniques, which teaches the use of photoshop elements software and tablet design where you can draw and doodle on photographs of quilt tops on your computer for seeing possible quilting choices before actually quilting your quilt.  I have learned alot of new skills with regard to cropping and editing photographs along with a whole host of new ideas for custom quilting design.
So this original photograph of my quilt top on my large design wall  in my studio gets some photoshop editing including skewing and cropping, and drawing on for my intended quilting layout.    Of course this is only an idea, how I decide to quilt my quilt in the end will depend on how I feel at the time I quilt it.  I may decide on a pantograph design too.

Another quilt pieced (well almost .....)

I have  been busy this weekend again piecing a quick big block quilt.  I found this pattern in the McCalls Quilting "America loves scrap quilts" and it was designed by Geri Robinson.  I immediately liked the colours in the quilt, and luckily managed to source some fabrics (as per my earlier post)  The layout is at the moment identical to the pattern, although the fabrics are slightly different but the same range by Moda used in the magazine.  I intend to add two more borders to it though, as it does not feel complete yet for me, plus I would like it to be a little larger.
It has no intended purpose other than a sample for my studio.  I haven't yet decided how I am going to quilt it and I will think about that, but it will either be a sample of one of my latest pantographs - "Twinkle" may look kind of nice, or maybe some freehand swirls and flowers so that I can quilt something different in the pinwheel intersections.
I have been pampered today on Mothers day,  had some lovely presents from my boys and I even don't have to do any cooking today as my husband will cook instead, it is always a nice day when that happens !

I have had a busy quilty weekend (but the ironing isn't done !!!!)

I have had a busy quilty weekend, which has been the first one in a while that I have spent so much time piecing and marking.  First off on Friday night, I decided that I must make the time to pluck up the courage to mark my wholecloth quilt from my pattern which I had designed some time ago now.
It was very tricky and part way through I thought to myself that maybe a cotton silk fabric was not really the right choice for this project, as it was very slippery and not easy to mark.  However, armed with my fine line blue marker I very clumsily marked up the fabric.  Quilting it of course is a completely different story for when I get some free time to do it when I have a free full weekend.  It was easier to mark on paper than fabric that is for sure. 
I hope that when I do finally come to quilt it that I can see the lines, and that I can smooth out any roughness in my markings....  I am still not yet convinced that I can accomplish this with any degree of success..... 
I went to the Chilford quilt show on Friday  afternoon as a flying visit really, and only spent 3 hours or so there (in a bid to spend less !!!)  I bought various marking pens (for my wholecloth), a bias tape maker, an add a 1/4 inch ruler for foundation piecing,  and a 6 fat quarter set in blacks and creams which was a little bit out of my normal colour choice, anyway look what I have achieved since then.....  I had planned for it to be a very simple quick quilt to quilt as a sample, but it kind of evolved into this.....  I just made it up as I went along, which is probably not the best of plans, and honestly this is probably my most inaccurately pieced project ever and is not very square .....  I should have trimmed down my triangles to make sure that they were all exactly the same size before trying to piece them all together...  I am pretty sure I will be needing to starch and steam at least one of my wavy borders too when I come to quilt it.  I purposely have added wide borders because I want to try something different in them when I come to quilt it.  I have stretched 6 fat quarters a very long way adding a half metre of red and a metre of wide width black marble.  This is not in my normal colour schemes of quilts I tend to make, but overall I am fairly pleased with the outcome and look forward to quilting it some time in the future.

Another piecing project

I have started another project - yes I know I have umpteen unfinished projects, but after seeing this project in a magazine recently, I just had to get it started....  sometimes you are just in the mood for something new.... the fabric range was a little hard to find, and some of the range was no longer available, but because it was the fabric in the pattern that I liked I sourced it out from a couple of quilt shops online.  (And don't even get me started on shops who overcharge for their postage compared to the actual cost of postage!)
One of my favourite parts of a new project is the rotary cutting, and as this is just squares and strips, I managed to cut it out in an evening fairly quickly using my June Tailor lasercut shape cut pro which allows you to cut multiple strips at a time, a true timesaver.
This is piecing together very nicely and has been quite quick so far so I hope it will become another "flimsy" ready for quilting very soon.  I may even fit in a little more piecing time tonight.

Double wedding ring - first try !!

I have quilted a double wedding ring quilt before, but never pieced one, so I thought I would give it a go.  I had cut it out with the accuilt die, hoping to sew it on holiday with my featherweight, but as my featherweight didn't arrive on time, I didn't take this project on holiday. 
I take a day off a month and attend a local quilt group, so I started piecing it there on Wednesday, and after a slow start (mainly because I was chatting too much !!!) it is starting to come together after spending a little time on it at home too.
I really should be finishing up the Kansas troubles blocks, but it is too autumn/wintry colours and really not my colours,  I wanted to work on something brighter !!!
It is quite tricky, but is coming together quite nicely now.  Although I have yet to put any rows together yet, and suspect that may be a little fiddlier.


Last week I finished my recent project using the accuquilt diamond die, which I bordered around in these gorgeous moda fabrics and added a pale moda marble border to enlarge it slightly.  It won't be quilted in a while though, as I have a few customer quilts to finish first, with a rush order of two single quilts to be quilted this week.   This will give me some time to think about how I would like to quilt it too.  It will probably have a pantograph allover design for a sample to show customers choice of designs available. 
I also had my lovely large cutting/work table delivered last week which I had to wait for 5 weeks for delivery.  It is large and sturdy and a perfect height for measuring customer quilts and cutting fabrics.  My studio is coming together nicely, although it is clear that I am digging myself rather a large hole as it is becoming increasingly difficult to down size and move back home if I need to in the future, or to fit into a log cabin in our garden!!
Our two boys have had very exciting times too, with my eldest son Ben leaving secondary school and attending his school prom.  Here he is with his girlfriend all dressed up for the prom.
And here is Sam all dressed up for his Hollywoods nights party which was his leaving primary school party.  Don't they look smart.  I feel so old, as they are growing up so fast.  Both have big years this year, with Ben going onto college, and Sam moving up to Secondary school.

Sneaky peak !!!

Well here is a sneaky peek of my latest personal project !!!  I had forgotton about a moda fat quarter set that I had ordered called "Strawberry Fields" which I fell in love with when the moda rep came around last, I had only planned to order backing fabrics, but you can probably tell from my posts, I am a sucker for new fabric !!!!
I cut the centre diamonds with my Accuquilt GO, and bordered each one, now I need to get a design wall to colour place them all as my back just can't take crawling around on the floor and bending forward over patchwork, since my car accident last year.  So I am going to fashion some kind of portable design wall which I can take up and down at home so that I can arrange my project just how I want without having to bend too much.
I try not to talk too much about my back because it is depressing to hear about, but I had a very frustrating appointment at the pain clinic yesterday and came away from it quite upset, maybe because I was hoping for that miracle cure I suppose, maybe because I felt like I wasn't being taken seriously too.  After a very very brief examination and a quick read of the complicated confusing form they ask you to complete, he came to his opinion, that my back pain is not bad enough for facet joint injections or further investigation (although I am somewhat relieved as I didn't fancy the injections) and he has arranged for me to have a tens machine which I will have to wait to arrive in the post some time in the future.  I have heard of a tens machine but I thought they were just for pregnant women, anything is worth a try to keep the pain more manageable.  He also wanted me to take a low dose of anti depressants (as did my GP a few months ago) which apparantly also helps with pain signals to the brain, but after reading about the side effects and addictive nature of the drug, I have chosen not to take them.   Although if my pain is not improved with the tens machine, I should perhaps consider taking them at my next appointment in 3 months  !!!   OMG - 3 months .....  I will have to get back to the chiropractor or find an osteopath before then, this seems to be the only relief that I am able to get and since stopping another course of physiotherapy in May (you only get 6 on the NHS) and trying to see how I go with no treatement at all, I think I should get back to the chiropractor next week as the no treatment approach is not working. 
Luckily for me quilting helps my pain for the most of the time, and because I stand up and walk around the frame whilst quilting, it keeps my back mobile more than it would be if I were sitting down at a PC for example.
Anyway, I am sure this pain will ease in time, I am just worried that it might not and is going to be with me forever !!!  how depressing is that????

Kansas troubles

I have been working on some foundation piecing - which is a method I have not used before, but I thought I would try it for fun.
Now I am not entirely sure I am sold on this method as it is a fairly slow process, but so far the results are fairly accurate even for a beginner foundation piecer.  It is definitely slower for me than regular piecing, but more accurate.  I think as I get faster as I progress I may think better of it.
I had prepared this for last weeks quilt group meeting at Langham, for something to work on, however I did not really get much sewing done, as I chatted to the other ladies about quilts and showed some ladies who had requested to see the accuquilt GO cutting machine.
Tina and Freda had a quilt that I had recently quilted for them for show and tell, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that my name had been credited for the quilting on the label.  This is the first time I have seen this on someone elses quilts, and it was a pleasure to see.  "Longarm quilted by Janette Chilver Colchester"  thank you Tina !!!
Tina also gave me lots of tips and tricks about foundation piecing, which I have been putting into practice!   I am getting a little faster with the method, and I think if I get some thinner paper it would go even better.  These are my blocks so far .......
It is a more traditional block and more traditional fabrics than I have used of late, but I love to make many different types of quilt - I am already jumping ahead to the quilting stage in my mind - although that will be a long time off in the future !!!

French Braid Quilt

Over the weekend, I have been busy piecing a throw for our dining room sofa which my hubby has been commenting that I have not yet done - although I make and quilt other quilts that we don't need !!!  His words - not mine !!  Anyway, I thought he may be right, so having an excuse to use my Accuquilt GO cutting machine again, I decided to use the "chisel" die, and make a french braid quilt.  I have had for some time,  a stash of fat quarters by Daiwabo (Japanese taupes) in mainly browns, but as there were plenty of dark fabrics with a few lights, I never could decide exactly what I wanted to do with them.  Anyway the chisel die was the inspiration for the braid quilt, and it was so quick to cut, one pass of the die through the machine cut me out 8 chisel pieces, I cut the squares normally with my rotary cutter and ruler.  It was pretty quick to piece too, although I did take some time placing the fabrics (and the whole of our front room floor all Saturday afternoon!!!).  There is a rogue green fabric in the same range, but it looks OK so I left it in the quilt.
I didn't have any dark brown fabric for the strips between the braids, so off we went to Braintree craft centre to buy some on Sunday - hubby wanted an excuse to drive in his new (to him) car and I jumped at the chance !  Although I would never usually spend as much as £10.50 / metre for standard width fabric, but it did mean I was able to finish the quilt on Sunday - so now it is a "flimsy" waiting to be quilted.  However, I suspect it may be quite some time before I can quilt it, as I have 6 customer quilts coming in this week alone so far, added to the ones I am already working on.  It is nice to be busy, and I am certainly not complaining !!!  
Ready to be quilted !!!
And once that I have finished quilting my quilt on the frame, it is customer quilts for the rest of the next few weeks. 
My weekend work also included my quilt, which I have been quilting with rulers, and just have the red star blocks to quilt now and then it is off the frame !!!  quickly followed by a customer quilt on the frame !!
I can't decide what to quilt in the stars though.  I have been waiting for a new ruler, ordered last week, which I had hoped to do some curved crosshatching,  but it has not arrived yet, so may have to save that one for another quilt, and it may just be a plain old circle in the middle.    I may even take it off the frame, do my customer quilts, then add it back to the frame when my new ruler arrives!!
This is exactly what my husband means about making quilts we don't need, because this quilt has no intended recipient, or intended use, it is purely a bit of fun for me !!!  and of course a little bit of skill building with using rulers as guides.

What I have been working on this week !

Well it has been a pretty horrible week, as I have been laid up with flu for the most of it, last Friday, Saturday and Sunday disappeared in the oblivion of my duvet as I slept through it !!  Monday through Thursday not much better and I was tucked under my quilt on the sofa with just about enough energy to watch some TV and DVD's !  On Wednesday I was called to my 10 year olds school to collect him as he was also unwell, and we spent most of the afternoon cuddled up on the sofa together.  It is not very often we have this luxury, and this is a very bad time of year to be ill with Christmas just around the corner !!  Luckily he seems to have bounced back alot quicker than I did !!  I spent most of November with one cold or another, the doctor said I probably just have lower immunity at the moment !!  GREAT !!!!
On Saturday I finished quilting an allover design "Sunny Days" on a lovely pastel customer quilt which is a promised Christmas gift, and I even did a little piecing of my own which is something I have struggled to find the time for of late, as my quilting services have been so popular. 
This is what I have been working on tonight !!  I love the Makower range of teatime fabrics, with the cute little cupcakes and pastel colours, and I wanted to use a curvy ruler for the first time, which recently caught my eye !! 
I wanted a bit more pop than just pastels and have added some red stars in the sashings, which I hope will lift it a little as the curved blocks are a little bland on their own !!
After a deluge of snow this weekend, and my eldest son coming down with the same flu bug, we have not been too far from home today, but luckily managed to buy the Turkey and trimmings so if more snow comes, we are all set for Christmas dinner at least !!!  I am hoping the snow thaws in the next day or two as I still have lots of Christmas shopping to do.  At the moment, my poor husband has nothing to open !!!  Although I have the feeling that this could be the case for me too !!!   Christmas is after all mainly for the children, but it is nice to open a couple of small things !! 
The next customer quilt on the frame is a large 98" square which I hope to get quilted before Christmas, as I have a few more quilts booked in next week and early January !
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