Tuesday, 29 January 2013

{Tutorial} Selvedge Spider Web block (for QCA bee #2)

The inspiration for this block came from Tallgrass Prairie Studio, but having just made a selvedge string block for Alex in the QCA bee #4 group, I really liked the way Pleasant Home constructed their block using single sided interfacing. So here's my take on a selvedge spider web block:

You will need:
13" square of single sided fusible interfacing
A fat quarter or approx 20cm x WOF "Light Grey" Prima Homespun (from Spotlight)
Assorted selvedges

Step 1:
Cut the 13" square of interfacing in half diagonally to create two HSTs. Fold each triangle in half and finger press at the centre point. Using a pen (I used a frixion pen) and an acrylic ruler mark 1/4" up from the edge of the interfacing at the centre point (mark this on the non-fusible side). Also place a mark 4" from the top point on both sides. (see marks on image below)

Step 2:
Place the acrylic ruler so that the 4" mark and the centre base mark line up along the 1/4" mark on the ruler. Mark this line (this is where you will line up your fabric for a 1/4" seam, and the dots are where the seams should be). Do this for both sides.

Step 3:
I used my interfacing to trace the kite shapes onto my "Light Grey" background fabric. I lined up one of the (red) lines that I'd marked with the straight edge of the fabric, then used my acrylic ruler to cut along the "top corner" of the fabric. Using my frixion pen I marked the points where the remaining red line starts/finishes. I then removed the interfacing (or you could fold it back, but be careful not to cut it!), matched up the two marks with my ruler and cut. Your kite shaped fabric should fit exactly into the kite shape you have drawn on your interfacing. I also confess that I CAREFULLY pressed part of the grey homespun onto the interfacing so that it didn't move around. You don't want to press too close to the edges though, or inadvertently touch the interfacing with the iron.. just saying!

Step 4:
For both of the triangle sections, choose two selvedges that have atleast 3/4" of fabric design (1/2" will show after seam allowance). Place one selvedge right side down with the fabric edge aligned with the "Light grey" background fabric. Sew 1/4" seam. Gently finger press the seam open (or again, CAREFULLY press with the iron, but make sure that you only do along the seam line as you will need to be able to lift the edge of the seam to place the next selvedge under it). Take the second selvedge and repeat on the other side of the kite.

Step 5:
As per Pleasant Home, gently place a selvedge with the fabric edge underlapping the selvedge edge. Make sure that there is enough fabric underlapping, especially on selvedges that have the fuzzy ends. Keep underlapping selvedges until you get close to the end of the triangle. use a scrap piece of fabric to cover each end (also underlapping the final selvedge). Now you can use your iron to press all the selvedges down onto the interfacing to hold them in place.

Step 6:
Top stitch along the edge of the selvedges. Make sure that you have caught the fabric edge of the selvedge underneath. Once all the selvedges have been secured you can turn over the triangle, align your acrylic ruler with the edges of the interfacing and trim down your block. You should now have two gorgeous selvedge triangles!

Step 7:
Place the two triangles right sides together, making sure to match up the grey kite points. Sew 1/4" seam, making sure to pass through the points where the kite points intersect. Fingerpress seam open, then press with your iron from the right side. You will now have a finished 12.5"  selvedge spider web block (12" finished in a quilt top). Don't feel that you need to trim the blocks down to 12.5" as I am happy to do that once I've received them.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Do you Craftsy?

I discovered Craftsy at the beginning of this year when I read about the free Block of the Month they were running. Free? Sign me up! It just so happened that I'd gifted myself a fat quarter bundle of "Delighted" by the Quilted Fish for Christmas, so I was even fabric'd up and ready to sew. I also managed to convince two of my girlfriends to join me, so we've spent the year making blocks, trying new things, sharing success and failure in equal measure. Sadly, my quilt top is still in 5 rows.. but atleast it's in rows, not individual blocks! I had "more important" things on my pre-Christmas agenda, but completing my Craftsy BOM quilt will be high on my list in the new year. Belinda & Phillipa both managed to complete their quilt tops, and Belinda (who was embarking on her first quilting project) was optimistic that she could get hers completed by tomorrow. Last Friday it was still basted and waiting to be quilted. We'll see!

Needless to say, being the obsessive compulsive collector that I am, it wasn't long before I was signing up for other Craftsy classes left, right and centre. I think I've spent a couple of hundred dollars on classes... and I'm yet to *actually* do any of the classes that I've paid for... yet. I've watched the video tutorials for some, but I've had so much to do that I just haven't been able to commit to putting another project on my plate.. (haha, aside from the "quick" things I decide to do last minute!) That's another one of my resolutions for 2013.. finish my 2012 UFOs and unstarted projects that were on my To Do List, and take my Craftsy classes ;)

So far I've already signed up for Quick Strip Paper Piecing (which I've been watching and itching to try out.. it makes a New York Beauty seem so achievable!), Beyond Basic Machine Quilting, Machine Quilting: Free Motion and more, Quilting Big Projects on a Small Machine, Inspired Modern Quilts: 7 Small Projects with Big Style and some free workshops including Creative Quilt Backs, Sewing Machine 911 and of course the Craftsy Block of the Month! I'm going to be busy in 2013, aren't I?!

Unfortunately for me, Craftsy continues to tempt and tantalise me with new, exciting classes! AND they're having a SALE! Oh dear. I'm already trying to decide between Free Motion Quilting a Sampler (for ideas on how to quilt my BOM quilt), Big Techniques from Small Scraps, Color Play for Quilters and Hand Quilting: Heirloom Design & Technique. I hope Santa knows that he can get me a Craftsy class to put in my stocking!

Daily Quilting Deals at Craftsy.com

Disclaimer: I am a Craftsy Affiliate, which means that I earn a small commission if someone signs up for a class after clicking on a link from my blog. I also received a free class for signing up as an affiliate (or rather, I will once I can decide which one I want!). If you'd like to participate you can Join The Craftsy Affiliate Program Now!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Quilts for Weddings and Babies..

A long time ago, before we were even dating, my husband and I moved into a share house with another one of our really good friends, Bryden. He has been friends with both of us, independently, for a long time (I met the boys when I was 15) but I generally think of him as my husband's best friend (although sometimes I refer to him as "our" best friend). Bryden has been like a brother to us over the years, with both of our families considering him part of the family too. He was there in the waiting room when we had baby #1, and before he met Carley, I spent many a night making sure he ate "real food" (because an iced coffee and a Mars bar is not really my idea of an acceptable daily meal!).

After dating a number of ladies that weren't quite the right fit, he met the lovely Carley. It wasn't long before they moved in together, and over the next 5 years they adopted a lorikeet and an eclectus parrot, bought a house, adopted another lorikeet and finally got engaged at our wedding. (Naturally Bryden was our Best Man.. and with our blessing he surprised Carley with a proposal at the end of his speech!) For their wedding present I decided to make them a quilt, and I asked Carley to choose some fabric that she liked. Being a girl after my own heart, she fell in love with Kate Spain's Cuzco line (it's those peacocks!) and chose the Hidden Stars pattern from my copy of Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts by Pam & Nicky Lintott. 

The completed quilt top, ready to baste.
 Carley's favourite colour is orange, and I found the perfect homespun at my local Spotlight store in their Organic Cottons section. There's nothing shy or quiet about this quilt!

I decided to emphasise the stars by hand quilting (also my first time hand quilting..) them using a variegated 12wt Aurifil thread #4648. I also machine quilted in a large cross hatch between the stars using 28wt Aurifil #2150 on the front, and 50wt Aurifil #2130 on the back. The stitching is virtually invisible, but you can see the outline on the back.

 The quilt in backed with a smooth lemon yellow minkee with white spots. It's super snuggly and warm. I did learn a few things about working with minkee though.. 1. Pin basting didn't work for me. I had to unpick all of the quilting I'd done (and I thought I was nearly finished the machine quilting part too.. I was devastated!). 2. Spray basting plus pin basting works a treat.. that sucker didn't move or pucker or pleat again!

I bound the quilt with the same orange homespun, and machine bound it using Aurifil 50wt #1133. I machine embroidered a label and then hand stitched it to the back of the quilt using the 12wt variegated thread. I them popped it in the wash with a couple of colour catchers just to make sure the colours didn't run, and it was good to go!

If you look closely you can see the stars on the back

Ready for wrapping!

The bride and groom
The wedding was beautiful. Bryden's mum was the celebrant who officiated the wedding, and it was held in her gorgeous garden. The weather was perfect for the ceremony, although it rained all through the reception! Thank goodness for portable gazebos and carports! I'm very pleased to say that they were thrilled with their quilt, and took it on their honeymoon with them. I hope it brings them many years of warmth and comfort.

I was also asked by one of my good friends, Linda to make a baby quilt for a friend of hers who was expecting her first baby. Linda is very crafty, but has never jumped into the quilting pool (yet!). I happened to have a charm pack of Deb Strain's "Meadow Friends" that was perfect for whipping up a quick baby quilt. We kept it simple with white sashing and binding. I backed it with a Denyse Schmidt print I had in my stash, and then straight line quilted it 1/4" out from the charm squares.

It was very well received at the baby shower, and I've since received photos of the beautiful baby enjoying her first sleep at home, wrapped in the quilt. It warms my heart to see these quilts being put to good use :) I'm also ready and waiting for my husband to gift the blue and white quilt from my previous post (well, 2 posts ago) to his friend, and then my quilty heart will be full of joy ;) I think those will be my 3 final 2012 quilt finishes, but I've got a couple more lined up for early 2013 :)

Monday, 17 December 2012

Aurifloss giveaway winner

Thanks to everyone who stopped by and entered my Aurifil Aurifloss giveaway. I really enjoyed reading about all your experiences with hand tying :)

The giveaway has now closed, and I'm pleased to announce the winner, Marie W. who said "I have a patch quilt in bright colors that I want to hand tie. It will be my first. I was glad to see your tutorial."  Congratulations Marie!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Aurifil Aurifloss Review {& Quilting Gallery Blog Hop GIVEAWAY}

Blog Hop Party with Give-Aways

The Quilting Gallery is turning 5, and to celebrate they're hosting another Blog Hop Party with Giveaways! Last time there were over 200 blogs participating, with some incredibly cool giveaway items on offer.. make sure you don't miss out this time!

I recently completed a quilt for one of my husband's friends as a thank you for helping us when we moved house. He spent a few days welding framework together for some custom desks that my husband installed in his office, and my husband asked me if I could make him a quilt as a thank you gift (Sure, no worries love! Let me just whip that up for you!).

I'd been dying to try out the "Raspberry Ripple" pattern out of Pam & Nicky Lintott's "Layer Cake, Jelly Roll & Charm Quilts" book, which I'd received as a Mothers' day gift. This is the third pattern I've made from the book (and I've now made 4 quilts using patterns from the book, but that's another post!).. anyway, considering the book was an incidental purchase I'm very impressed with it!

My husband's only directive was that "Fritz likes blue".. so straight away I knew that Deb Strain's "Spa" range would be perfect. Not my personal style, but I am SO pleased with how the quilt top turned out. Having said that, I'm not sure that I'd make this pattern again because it felt like I was piecing FOREVER and it wasn't until the very end that I had blocks that were larger than 6.5". It was enormously satisfying to complete, but it seemed to drag on and I think next time (if ever!) I wouldn't bother making all the 9-patch blocks first and I'd just make large HSTs instead. (The effect of the 9-patch blocks is stunning, don't get me wrong.. I just prefer to see tangible progress within a few of hours of piecing, not what took me DAYS over WEEKS of piecing.)

But enough whinging, I really love this quilt and I'm a bit sad to be giving it away.. luckily I know it's going to a good home that will appreciate all the time, effort and love I've put into making it!

Once I completed the quilt top it was time to move onto the larger issue of how to quilt it? My domestic machine has a very small throat space, so the thought of anything other than SLQ was far too daunting, and even that would have been struggle town. I decided to think outside the square and try something I'd never done before.... hand tying!

Being an Aurifil convert (this quilt was pieced with Aurifil 50wt #2024) I contacted the rather debonair face of Aurifil, Signor Alex Veronelli to see if I could try out some of his new Aurifloss stranded cotton.

Aurifloss is a 6 strand embroidery floss made from long staple cotton that is gorgeously presented on a wooden spool. It's suited to all types of needlecraft including cross stitching, embroidery, crochet and applique as well as scrapbooking and hand tying quilts (and many other things I'm sure!).

Alex very generously sent me three spools, and despite this quilt being 64" x 80" I didn't even use a whole spool! So I'm giving one away for one of you to try out :)

Pinned, basted and ready to go!

Having never hand tied a quilt before, I watched a number of youtube videos, googled a few blogs and referred to a couple of books to get a general idea. From there I went with the method where you take a small "bite" of fabric approx 1/4" apart with your needle (I recommend using a wool needle), and then do a little back stitch move where you take a second "bite" (as shown above).

I left "tails" of approx 2-3 inches, which I then tied using a surgeon's knot (which my research suggested was more secure than a square knot). The Aurifloss was a delight to work with. It didn't twist and knot itself while I was trying to feed it through the fabric. It was easy to knot and none of my knots have magically undone themselves - always a good start! I look forward to trying out Aurifloss in my cross stitch and embroidery projects (I just need to stop quilting for long enough to get back to them!).

A close up of my (untrimmed) hand tied knots.

And a closeup of the trimmed, completed ties.

This quilt exceeded my expectations - it turned out exactly how I envisioned it would. I love the clean crispness of the blue and white, it makes me think of Wedgwood china! I think the hand tying was the perfect way to "quilt" it so as not to detract from the overall design, while still keeping the layers secure. As an added bonus, hand tied quilts are supposed to get softer and snugglier as they're washed so it's sure to keep Fritz and Margot warm and cosy on these cold Summer nights (oh wait, you mean it's meant to be warm in Summer? hmm.. I don't think Perth got the memo this year!).

Finished just in time for Christmas...
Now that you've made it to the end of my post, I think you deserve the chance to be rewarded, don't you? I'm offering up a charm pack of Summersville by Lucie Summers and a spool of Aurifloss so that you can try it out for yourself. The giveaway is open from the 10th December until the 17th December (Perth time). The giveaway is open internationally, although I can't guarantee that you'll receive it before Christmas!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Jacky-Oh! Something Wicked This Way Comes..

I'm pleased to introduce you to my friend Jacky-Oh! He's a jack-o-lantern that has come to visit for the Something Wicked This Way Comes blog hop!

I was participating in Kristy from Quiet Play's Practically Paper Piecing blog hop when I heard that Soma from Whims & Fancies was organising a Halloween themed paper piecing blog hop. The catch? You had to design an original block. No worries... I'd just received a copy of EQ7 for my birthday from my husband, how hard could designing my own block be??

I knew straight away that I wanted to do a Jack-o-lantern block.. after all, carving pumpkins is one of our favourite Halloween traditions.

I found a free stock photo of a Jack-o-lantern, imported it into EQ7 and threw myself right in the deep end! It took a few tries, but eventually I came up with a block design worth testing:

He turned out ok, but highlighted the fact that very small lines in EQ turn out to be large lines in real life (the part where the left eye isn't actually a triangle - it's not my bad sewing, it was a design flaw!) So I went back and tweaked the pattern a few more times, adjusting his eyes and his teeth..

Alternate tooth position
 I printed out my new pattern, tested it out and voila! A delectably scary Jack-o-lantern!
 I decided that my two blocks would make fantastic snack mats for Bean and Blossom, so I backed it with some super cute jack-o-lanterny goodness (Dem Bones, Carol Eldridge for Andover Fabrics) and ditch quilted it with some Aurifil 28wt thread. I regularly use Aurifil 50wt (this was pieced with white #2024) but I'd never tried out the 28wt.. As luck would have it, I had a spool of orange #2150 from a sample pack that I won some time ago.. and it was the perfect Halloween orange! The 28wt was an absolute delight to sew with, and while it's not super obvious in the quilting (because it's quilted in the ditch), it looks amazing on the binding. I chose a decorative stitch that reminded me of candy corn, to match the candy corn fabric that I used as binding. Seriously, this snack mat is good enough to eat!

 Jacky also looks super scary when he's backlit by the setting sun. No evil spirits will be visiting here!
To be safe around the children though, we might just illuminate him with our faux candle lantern that Grandma brought home for them.

If you like Jacky-Oh! and would like to make a pumpkiny friend of your own, you can find the pattern for free at Craftsy :) There is also an "Extended Edition" available for purchase that has additional templates to create a range of different pumpkin personalities!

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Let's Get Acquainted!

Hi! Today's my turn to "Get Acquainted" with you all in the Plum & June "Let's Get Acquainted!" blog hop. I'm sharing today with Megan from City Stitches, so don't forget to pop over and get acquainted with her too! 

Plum and June

My name is Tracey and I'm from Perth, Western Australia. I'm a stay at home mother of two great kids who never cease to bring me joy and frustration in equal measure ;) I love to quilt, embroider, crochet and bake (fortunately the first 3 are calorie free!). I love to be crafty in general and I've tried most things along the way. I'm really lucky to have a great group of crafty girlfriends (we all met through playgroup when our kids were tiny) and even though our kids are now going to different schools we catch up atleast once a week to sew, craft, eat and chat!

Here are a few "fun facts" about me..

How long have you been quilting
I've been sewing for as long as I can remember, but I only started quilting 5 years ago.. I made 2 quilts, and then had a 3 year break before taking it back up again last year. Now I've got a project list long enough to last me until I die! (It gets longer every day!)

Favorite quilting tip(s)
People always say to measure twice, cut once. I cannot emphasise enough how important that is! But I also love spray starch. I discovered starch a couple of months ago and it has improved my accuracy quite a bit! And it smells pretty.

Favorite blogging tip(s)
Have fun and stay true to who you are. Don't write what you think people want to read. Write what you'd want to read.

Favorite fabric (or wish list fabric)
I am a huge fan of Kate Spain and Bonnie & Camille. I've always coveted "Terrain", but I don't actually have any in my stash - I only "discovered" designer fabrics as "Good Fortune" was being released. 

Favorite craft book
I love Joanna Figueroa's "With Fabric & Thread", although I've made quite a few quilts from Pam & Nicky Lintott's "Layer Cakes, Jelly Rolls and Charm Quilts" book.

Favorite book
My favourite authors include Diana Gabaldon, Stephanie Laurens and Julia Quinn. But I'll read virtually anything, and I practically devour books! I'm currently reading "The Scarpetta Factor" by Patricia Cornwell.

Favorite children's book
I love Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway tree books. I have two of them from when I was little that I read to my children. They love to hear about the Land of Presents, the Land of Goodies and the Land of Take What You Want the best!

Favorite quilting tool
Of course my sewing machine would have to be my favourite quilting tool of all time.. but my Accuquilt GO! cutter is pretty high up on my list!

Favorite music to listen to while quilting
I don't often listen to anything while I'm in my sewing room as I need to get some portable speakers.. occasionally I'll remember to take headphones in with me, but I'm usually too lazy! This last week I've been using my sewing machine on the dining room table so I could have the quilt top laid out on the floor as I put it together, and it was so nice to sew with the TV on, or the radio. I think I need to ask Santa to bring me some speakers for Christmas! I love to listen to Pat Sloan's APQ Radio podcasts in the car though.

Binding - by hand or by machine?
My first two quilts were done by hand, but when I got back into quilting last year I saw a fab tutorial for machine binding using a decorative stitch (sew binding to back of quilt, then fold to front and secure with a pretty stitch) and that's how I do all my quilts now.

If I'd only known - what you wish you knew about blogging before you started your blog

I've noticed that a lot of people have said they wish they'd known more about Blogger vs Wordpress, but to be honest, I still don't really get the difference. I mean, I understand that Wordpress has more customisable functionality.. and I'll confess that I actually signed up for both. And I think I even posted my first couple of posts on both. (Although that might have been for my other blog, Needles in the Haystack) But I found Blogger easier to wrangle, and I don't have any plans to change (at this time). 

I wish I'd known that there was this awesome quilting blog world earlier. Like when I first started quilting. I've had other blogs in the past, but I never knew how much great stuff was out there. I wish I'd had more of a clue!

I'll have a brand new tutorial for you in a couple of days - it'll be my turn to show you my paper pieced block in the "Something Wicked This Way Comes" blog hop on Friday! I'm pretty excited to do the whole big reveal.. so stay tuned! In the mean time, there are a few tutorials on my Tutorials page to keep you busy ;)

Don't forget to check out the other blogs that are participating in the "Let's Get Acquainted" blog hop - this week we have:

Oct 23
         Tracey from The Peony Teacup (you are here!)
         Megan from City Stitches

Oct 25
        Kerstin from Sunset Sewing
        Jenniffier from Jenniffier's Sometimes Creative Life

Thanks for stopping by xx
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