Thursday, 17 January 2013

Puppy Park

One Saturday during the late summer of last year I met up with a group of friends for lunch.  Being girls in the middle of town on a Saturday afternoon we couldn't pass up a few shops along the way.  Laura Ashley was having a sale so naturally we had to go in.  Amongst the scented candles, half price wallpaper and full price cushions my friend Sarah spotted the most beautiful multi-coloured girl fabric.  It was a remnant of 1.8m on clearance.  My other friend Mary had her little girl Maeve with her in the buggy (my Godchild by the way) and when she wasn't looking Sarah and I headed to the counter thinking it would make a lovely baby quilt backing.    

So I bought the remnant and then went about looking for baby fabric that would match.  Well I kind of got carried away with Riley Blake fabric on and bought a Santa's Little Helper Layer Cake which matched the sherbet colours of the Laura Ashley fabric.  Of course I couldn't just buy 1 layer cake so I bought Puppy Park and Joy by Kate Spain as well.  I kind of got carried away. 

All was going well until I received the fabric.  I opened the package and Puppy Park was on top and I just love it.  As you can see from the title above we have two dogs.  Maeve has her own little dog Millie and Maeve’s Nana has wait for it …four dogs!  So with all those dogs between us I just couldn't not use the puppy park layer cake.  The Laura Ashley fabric which inspired the whole quilt for Maeve idea was relegated to the plastic bucket of stash to be used another day.

So fabric on hand I decided I wanted to keep as much as the puppy squares together to show off the design so I picked the disappearing 9 patch.  With layer cake size squares this went together in no time.  I chose the solids for the centre squares as they would get cut twice into quarters and kept the patterned puppy fabric as the outer squares which don't get cut in this design at all. 

Again I made a mock up using Photoshop Elements of what I thought it would look like to test the combination of fabric and design.  I added two borders and thought some of the Navy I had left over from my Whipstitch quilt would be nice against the cream. 

Things always change in practice though!  The puppy park layer cake has 22 in total 10" squares.  I made 2 different 9 patches and cut them both as above to get 8 disappearing 9 patch square blocks.  I wanted to do a 3 x 3 configuration so from the remaining 4 layer cake squares I made one more patched block keeping a solid black as a rectangle as I wanted to embroider some text on it. 

Well I made a mistake in my colour layout.  After making the first 9 patch I should have checked for variation before making and cutting the second one.  It turned out to be quite difficult to lay out the 9 blocks and not have colour clumping and too similar designs together.  My mum has a good eye for colour and she helped enormously.  We eventually got a layout we liked and I sewed the 9 squares up that night.  Adding two borders would have made the quilt too big for a child so I settled for one off white border using Moda's Bella Solids Neutral Jelly Roll.  We laid it on the sofa and took a step back.  There was too much solid brown in it that I didn't like so I decided to lift it with some cream doggy inspired machine embroidery.

I also couldn't resist adding the letters Woof in the solid black.  I bought this embroidery design and paw prints from  The Binding was bought at my LQS who helped me pick out this Vintage Modern print, by Bonnie & Camille for Moda, that works perfectly with the quilt.  Quilting was simple: all straight lines. 

I know in the picture above it looks a little too blue and green for a little girl but the yellows and multicolours offset this in natural light.  I absolutely love this quilt - who can resist puppies?  And it made the perfect birthday present!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Whipstich Essential Quilt E-Course part 3

This is the final blog of a 3 part series documenting my blocks made while taking Whipstitch's e-course Essential Quilting over at .  The previous two posts covered my blocks made with strips, squares, half square and quarter square triangles.  This final post shows the centre block and the quilt assembly.   

When I saw that we were doing a Dresden plate block I just knew I wanted this to be the centre of my quilt top.  In terms of weight it just seems to draw the eyes attention and I felt it unbalanced the quilt in every position but the centre where it now resides.  

I used mostly scraps for the blades and decided again I had to use the mustard colour to balance the other blocks. 
I cannot believe how easy this is and how complicated it looks! Seriously I have great plans for a laminate blanket for the summer holidays using this block. 

So to make sure I was happy with the layout I used the spare bedroom and laid them all out on the bed.  (I originally envisaged this quilt living in this space but I love the end result so much it's found a home in the living room to snuggle under while watching TV).


Layout decided, the next question was to sash or not to sash?  My fellow students helped with than on Flickr and sashing was the way to go.   I had an idea of dark blue maybe to use and not having much stash and no real confidence in the colour choice I decided I needed help from the professionals.   So off I went to my local quilt shop and Maeve at was a great help.  I brought six of my blocks with me and we laid them out in the middle of the shop and tried a few different colours.  I stood on a chair to give some distance and struggled between a lilac print and this navy.  We eventually decided the navy set off the Dresden in the centre the best and as it’s the focal point to go with this.

Backing fabric chosen was Ikea signature numbers  - great value and great with all the colour of the quilt top. I pinned and quilted in the ditch along the sashing.  I also quilted in the ditch for the log cabin and chevron but used outline quilting on all the other blocks bar the Ohio star and the double pinwheel which I hooped and used a flowery pattern on the embroidery adapter for my machine.  I have to say the outline quilting is my favourite.

I found the whole 6 weeks very enjoyable.   We had two live chats, video lessons in quilting, and support on the Flickr group and I can honestly say I would not have this vibrant wonderful quilt if I hadn't taken part.  The e-course and the choice of Karavan FQB really pushed me to see the colours in the bundle and try colours I wouldn't normally be drawn to.  I learned lots and am more confident as a result especially when it comes to cutting into that beautiful fabric.    I could do with lots more practice in the actual quilting (I even tried free motion quilting one block - forgot to drop the feed dogs - another lesson learned!).  All in all for a second quilt I am absolutely thrilled to bits with it!

Whipstitch Essential Quilt E-course part 2

Yesterday I wrote about taking Whipstitch's Essential Quilting e-course last summer (Whip stitch fabrics ) and how I got on with the material selection and the first four blocks.  Today I have more finished blocks to share. 

Deborah's class covers 10 different blocks and I made 9 for my quilt.  First four were strips and squares : log cabin, rail fence, modern herringbone  and double 9 patch (see previous post).  Next up:  triangles!

I had learned half square and quarter square triangles on the Craftsy BOM 2012 February class where we made 12" blocks.  These blocks are 18" and I found the bigger size really easy to work with.  We learned pinwheel and the variation double pinwheel.  I enjoyed the pinwheel so much I made both!

Again I tried mocking up the block before cutting and surprisingly I discovered the placement of the half square triangles in the double pinwheel really affected the movement of the block.  Had I placed the dark pink on the other HST it wouldn't have worked as well. 

 And the result:

I really like the pinwheel blocks.  I saw a giant pinwheel as a bed cover in a craft book and really liked the look of it.  Definitely on my list of to do's.

For Quarter Square Triangles we had the Ohio Star.  I love this.  There is something about star shapes that is so pleasing.  Maybe it’s a hangover from school if you got all your spellings right you got a gold star!  I kept the centre area all the one colour and I just love this pink material.  Seriously this collection is just gorgeous.  I can see a giant version of this being really cool too!

Last of the triangles was the Card Trick.  This was straight cuts with bias edges showing, no HST or QST here.  I was worried about distorting these during sewing and pressing so I starched them within an inch of their lives and pinned as much as I could. 

As this block has lots of parts overlaying each other I thought it's be cool to use one of each colour from the FQB of Karavan and mocked this up. 


Luckily though before making any final decisions for this block I laid out the previous blocks and tried to ensure I had a balance of colours.  I found I had a lot of blue and pink and not so much of the curry colour-way.  So to balance some of the blue blocks on one side of the quilt I used a blue background and added the red and mustard colours in the cards.

Sorry about the angle of the photo!  You can see I kept the light blue and dark blue background but added in more of the curry colours.  Looks odd on its own like this but up against the other blocks it works better!

See elephant on the wall that I bought on holidays in Thailand - bit of a theme going on here!

Up next the centre block : Dresden plate.

Whipstitch Essential Quilt e-course part 1

Deborah Moebes over at Whip Stitch Fabrics offers  e-courses in sewing skills including a Quilting course.  I had signed up for the Craftsy block of the month 2012 (brilliant by the way - check it out at and see further post upcoming ) and only having made one charm quilt I really wanted to learn about quilting basics and some new blocks.  So last year I signed up for Essential Quilting. 

The e-course was  run as a 6 week course over the summer with limited places.  Unlike the Craftsy BOM this was not free but a paid course covering cutting techniques, choosing fabric, quilt construction and basic blocks to curve and Y seams.  I really enjoyed it and Deborah's videos were succinct and super instructional.  Here's how I got on:

I chose to buy a fabric collection and use this to create the sampler quilt we would be working on.  Just getting started in quilting and not having a stash it seemed the most economical way to approach the projects.  I chose a 30 Fat Quarter Bundle of Karavan by Valori Wells that I got from Etsy.  I love, love, love her elephant design and just couldn't wait to buy the collection - so having a project that in my head allowed me to justify the purchase was great.  Guilt free spending!

So material on hand, inspiration and instructions coming at me from the course web page I had to be brave and cut into this lovely fabric.  Karavan has three different colour-ways, a peacock blue, a pink and curry line.  

I  just love the blues and pinks not so much the mustard colours of the curry so material choices from time to time I found a bit challenging.  For example I had no idea what to do with the fabric on the bottom right until I placed in next to the pink.  Against this pink it co-ordinates beautifully.  

So first block: Log cabin
I learned about the significance of the red and yellow hearth at the centre of the cabin and construction of light to dark.  Choosing colours was tricky and I didn't have enough colours in just the pink and curry colour-ways so I added the blue and made a mistake on my first block.  I added the strips in the wrong order and had to start again.  Oops!

Eventually got there with a bit of fudging!

The next blocks came easier.  Still obsessing with colour I played around with the swatch images from the free spirit website to see what I wanted for the rail fence and double 9 patch.  I couldn't believe it - I actually cut up the elephants (not all though - I kept one whole one for a matching cushion!).

Rail fence uses a light, a medium and a dark strip cut into rectangles.  I tried one from each colour and found this too garish

so went with all pink! 

Next came a block I did not get on so well with : Modern herringbone.  Similar to the log cabin this involved using strips built up to create a v instead of a square.  Oh how torturous this was.  I made a ton of mistakes and even ripped one seam out.  After all the pink of the rail fence I decided to use the blue and curry colour-ways with a tiny dash of pink and the material choice was great.  I just found trying to determine the lengths to use for each strip a pain.  I persevered and managed this:

Double 9 Patch gave me a chance to actually show more of the print.  I tested it out with swatches before - still not trusting myself with colour or cutting.

And I love it!

So that's the first four blocks - more tomorrow!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

My First Quilt

I made a quilt!  I never thought I'd be able to tackle sewing but thanks to you tube and I actually made a whole quilt - ok its a small one but it's so pretty!

I always liked decorative stitching in school but had no patience for hand stitching aprons, peg bags or drawstring duffel bags.  I did try patchwork every now and again with templates for diamonds and even bought a fat quarter bundle from ebay for a broken dishes pattern.  I was never brave enough to cut into the fabric (still have it!).  I tried playing with scraps and didn't get on with it.  Then I bought a Lervia beginners machine in Lidl for 69 Euro with the best of intentions and it sat in the dining room cupboard for a year or two.  Then I started knitting.

I made lovely, chunky, warm, wooly hats, cowls and mittens with patterns found on and gifted them to family and friends.  I saw a craftsy course on introductory offer for custom fitting knitted tops with Stephanie Japel.  I signed up and loved it!  So I thought I'd try patchwork again.  I signed up for Quilting Quickly with Jenny Doan and bought 2 charm packs of Jennifer Paganelli fabric.  Well it was all cut up so that was that hurdle already tackled.  I learned 1/4 seam, pressing to the dark, nesting seams and made this small lap quilt:

Just two charm packs laid out to break up matching patterns and a bit of contrast between blocks quilted simply in the ditch with diagonals through the corners.  I had never tried binding before and so my wonderfully talented Aunty Pat finished the binding for me.  I love it!  So happy how this turned out. It has found a permanent home folded on the Roman chair above.  This one I am hanging onto.

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