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!




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