Saturday, June 29, 2013

Going on retreat

On Sunday night I am going on a quilt retreat for several days.

I'm so excited. I'm looking forward to nice meals not cooked by me. The splendid company of fellow quilters. And top-notch workshops delivered by well-known quilters.


In the middle of the excitement there will be a few swims and some strolls around the place. I've heard that the retreat location is quite beautiful.

Most of what I'm excited about though will be the ability to switch off and just focus on my sewing and what I'm learning. No distractions, no obligations. Sounds perfect to me.

I might get the chance to update you about what I'm learning. Or I might be too tired and sore at the and of each day. But I will try.

I'm leaving all my show quilts behind - I will finish them when I return from retreat, when I'll be rested and full of ideas for the next quilts I will make.

Retreat - don't you think that's the best word ever?

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Quilt as you go patchwork bags

Have you ever done a Craftsy course?

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I have. Well, no. I haven't really. I've bought heaps of them over the last year, but most of them are half watched*.Until last weekend, that is. I was lucky enough to do a course by Tara Rebman - quilt as you go patchwork bags! And it hooked me from the get-go. I sat there all Saturday morning, fueled by coffee, laughs, and buckets of inspiration.

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I learned all about quilting as you go. About potholders. About that insulbrite stuff. About using scraps, and making bags.

And about not being so precious about your precious fabrics - just use them! Seriously, just this bit of encouragement has change the way I look at my stash.

I asked some questions, Tara answered them. And then I went out that afternoon and bought some of that insulbrite stuff, some calico (utility cloth) and some interfacing. I've already practiced on a potholder, as Tara showed in her course. I used the precious fabrics I purchased at the Sydney Quilt Show on Wednesday. I still have to round the corners, back and bind it, but people - I love it. GUESS WHAT EVERYONE IS GETTING FOR CHRISTMAS?

Potholder in progress

And a side artsy fartsy profile. I didn't know my Bernina could quilt that good!

Potholder in progress

I am dying to make the bag, but with the exhibition coming up I need to be a bit careful with my time. But I do intend making one in time for the exhibition - it will be perfect for four days of presidential duties gazing at the quilts and shopping, and the bike ride there and back each day!

Anyway, Tara has generously allowed the readers of this blog a 25% discount off the course. I honestly can't recommend this enough. You'll have fun and you will definitely learn something!

* Which is a whole other blog post of it's own.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Free your mind

I have started improv piecing more and more lately and I'm finding it completely freeing.

It's like with improv piecing I'm allowed to be a crap quilter. Which, if you've been around here long enough, you'll know I have always embraced the wonk that happens when I quilt. But now the wonk is legit because I'm improv piecing. It all started with this quilt from last year (which is still in pieces).

Stitch and flip HSTs - on the design wall

Then moved onto a class with Victoria Findlay-Wolfe a couple of months ago.

15 minutes of play quilt workshop

Then another quilt which I can't really show you because I'm being a secretive git and it's for the exhibition and I'm also a little paranoid because HOLY CARP it's amazeballs (in my own mind, anyway). But here's the back of a block (it's pretty).

Back - improv

Jenny and I decided that I would demo some improv piecing at modern quilt group this week. I'm currently having an off-the-grid (no-Instagram or phone or email) lazy long weekend but that's just given me heaps of time in the sewing room. Here's what I made by way of samples this afternoon.

Improv blocks for class

These two 10 inch blocks have 1.75 inch strips inserted in a cross formation. I really like the thicker strips - I've been working with 1 inch strips and it's a nice change. I know some people like to have those strips match up at the intersection, but it doesn't worry me. If you're one of those people who do, you'll need to get over it when looking at these photos. Sorry.

Improv blocks for class

I've gone back to 1 inch strips for these blocks (which end up at about 10.5 inches). I like the big blocks - you can pack a lot of "sticks" on there without getting into too much strife with intersecting pieces. Yes, I have plans for a pick-up sticks quilt down the track.

Improv blocks for class

And this is a smaller block (7 inches I think) with different strip thicknesses.  I could imagine a whole scrappy quilt made like this - just three strips each block, all prints.

I'm still not finished with the samples. Just a square of fabric and some scrap strips and you can do so much and in such little time and most importantly have SO MUCH FUN. And I reckon if it's not fun it's not worth nuthin'.

But now I'm back to my off-the-grid weekend.  See you sometime soon!

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Winners are grinners

Sorry for the delay in drawing a winner. As usual life got in the way. It really needs to stop doing that.

I put all the entries into a Pyrex dish (giveaways always taste better in vintage Pyrex).

Congratulations Sally! I'll be in touch and post your book off to you.

Sunday, June 2, 2013


I half heartedly decided to join my friends Bron and Ange in making a Scrap Vomit quilt at the end of last year - I participated in a 2.5 inch square worldwide swap, and swapped with some local quilters ... but I still wasn't really feeling the love.

Scrap Vomit Quilt

And then, I dunno. Something happened and I slowly fell in love with it. And then Bron and Ange and I decided to show our collective vomit at the Canberra Quilters exhibition in August this year.

Scrap Vomit Quilt

I got my centre blocks sorted out. I decided on a Suzuko Koseki honeycomb print, charcoal Sketch and citrus Sketch fabrics.

Scrap Vomit Quilt

This photo was taken before I pieced all the blocks together. It took forever - mainly because I'm a pinner.

Scrap Vomit Quilt

The quilt show entry forms are due this Friday, and I need to submit a photo of the top, and some fabric samples. This afternoon was the last chance I had to have photos taken in natural light - winter in Canberra usually means the light is gone by the time I get home from work in the afternoon. It was a rushed affair - Scott had been digging storm water trenches all afternoon and there was a LOT of mud after the weekend's rain.

Scrap Vomit Quilt

And it was really windy. I stood in front of the most protected spot, which also shows off a breathtaking example of our current storm water solution. Just keeping it real, people.

Scrap Vomit Quilt


Scrap Vomit Quilt

Hooray for tall husbands with long reaches (and very muddy boots. Sigh.)

The quilt heads off to the long armer next week. And then it is going to get a very thorough soak in the tub.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

A giveaway

This is my 690th post. I've been blogging for 8 years and 11 months. Really, there is no milestone to today's giveaway, but I bought two of the same book by accident and it's really too good a book to not give someone else a treat.

25 patchwork Quilt Blocks

The book I speak of is "25 Patchwork Quilt Blocks" by Katy Jones. Do you know Katy? She blogs at I'm a Ginger Monkey, is a co-founder of Fat Quarterly mag, the creator of the scrap vomit, and an all round top sort. I think I might have a teeny crush on her. And she has written a really good book, and I only need one of them.

I love the way Katy has set out this book. The blocks are all 6 inches square, or 8 inches with borders and I could imagine making a really cool little sampler quilt out of these blocks. It would be a great way of increasing your skills at cutting and piecing, and there are even some cool new applique blocks in this book (Moustache, anyone?)

25 patchwork Quilt Blocks

I love the shoo fly block. It's such a simple block, and I made one as a beginner quilter many years ago. Imagine a whole heap of these blocks together in the one quilt though! So effective.

25 patchwork Quilt Blocks

The Contrary Wife block is lovely. It's like a simple Jacob's Ladder. Or not. Anyway, I really like it. Once the show quilts are OVER I am going to make one of these blocks.

25 patchwork Quilt Blocks

And this is probably my favourite in the book - Aircraft. it's like a fancier Birds in the Air block - a block I have always loved but never attempted.

So now for the giveaway. I'm afraid it's for Australians only - sorry! I just don't have the time at the moment to stand in a lengthy post office queue, and Australians always get ripped off when it comes to books on our soil anyway.

If you would like to go in for a chance to win this book, comment below and make sure your email is attached to your profile, or include in the comments so I can contact you if you have won.

Just let me know what your favourite block is - doesn't have to be in this book! And you don't have to have ever made it either.

My favourite block of all time? 54-40 or Fight. Have always loved it, and for some reason it's always scared the wits out of me. Silly I know. I play with it on my iPad quilt apps all the time - I should just knuckle down and do it!

54-40 or fight - design

Entries close Monday night 3 June at midnight Canberra time.  Good luck!