Thursday, 22 January 2015

A weekend at the New Zealand Quilt Symposium

Last weekend I did a hand quilting class with Sarah Fielke. I'm a novice hand quilter and who better to learn from than Sarah! The class was part of the five-day Quilt Symposium, held every two years in New Zealand. This was my first Symposium, I really had no idea what to expect. In the end I was only disappointed that I was there for just the weekend, five days of quilting classes would have been lovely!

Sarah's class was wonderfully relaxed, thank goodness because with soaring temperatures and no air-con in the classrooms it was a hot day! Sarah gave us an overview of the sewing notions and tools that she uses when hand quilting, then gave us a demonstration. If you want to see Sarah's technique in action, she has a free Craftsy video, detailing everything you need to know, there's a link at the top left on Sarah's blog. I may be referring back to that video for a refresher.

I made the mini quilt above to practice my stitches on. The pattern is from Little Quilts, another one of Sarah's books, written with Amy Lobsiger. To be honest, this quilt wasn't the easiest to practice on, all those tight corners and bulky seams. And I somehow forgot to choose contrasting threads, so my hand quilting barely shows up against the fabric. Maybe that's a good thing. Anyway, as Sarah kindly pointed out, it gives it texture.

I also did a little hand quilting on my Pack Patch mini.

Needless to say I have plenty of practice to do yet, but I'm really happy that I've made a start on my hand quilting adventure! I used Perle #8 thread as it's easy to find here. Sarah uses Aurifil Mako 12 weight, which is not quite as thick as the Perle cotton, I plan to look out for some while I'm at QuiltCon.

Another highlight of the day was seeing Sarah's quilt in the tutor's exhibition. 'I've got Sunshine' is from her upcoming book Old Quilts, New Life (coming out in October). It's a stunning quilt!

There is a huge variety of fabrics, from modern designer fabric to reproduction prints, and it all works. The sashing is an Alexander Henry stripe that pulls all the colours together and adds loads of interest. The hand quilting is so inspiring!

Of course I had to ask Sarah to sign one of my books...
The next Quilt Symposium is being held in Christchurch in October 2017. I've already registered, next time I'd love to stay the full five days and not just the weekend.

If you'd like to see more check out the #qsm2015 and #quiltsymposiummanawatu on IG.

Friday, 16 January 2015

Finish Along 2015: First quarter goals

I have loads of plans for 2015 but these are four projects that might actually get finished in the next three months...

Projects to Finish

1. Courthouse Steps quilt for a friend

Courthouse Steps quilt top

I'm hoping to finish this one before leaving for QuiltCon in mid February. It's currently a completed quilt top. I found a Florence fabric in my stash that will work for the backing, it's not quite big enough so I'll do a little piecing. I have three left over (mistake) blocks that I plan to incorporate into the backing.

2. Swedish Bloom quilt for Anna

Swedish Bloom quilt top in progress

I've been procrastinating on this quilt for months, stumped on how to make it wider. I've decided to keep it simple and have ordered more of the Wee Wander print to make two wide borders for each side. I may yet change my mind again!! I plan to send this quilt out for quilting so I really have no excuse not to finish it in the next three months.

3. Strawberry pillow for Anna

Three Strawberries
Oh dear, this one has been a WIP for nearly 18 months, crazy! It's just a pillow! I've made three strawberries, but I'm told it needs to be bigger so I'm planning on making six more strawberries. This is one of those projects that once I get started I should finish in a day or two.

4. Octagonal Orb quilt for Care Circle do.GoodStitches

Care Circle Octagonal Orb quilt top for do. Good Stitches
I have pieced the back for this quilt so it just needs basting, quilting and binding.

Four projects to finish up and two projects to start, because starting is way more fun!

Projects to start

1. A pineapple quilt similar to Melissa's pineapple quilt

Or more correctly, blatantly copied from Melissa's quilt! This is the block I made for Melissa, I've since started collecting a few more navy prints.

One #pineappleblock for you @clothwork Just need to decide on corner fabrics :)

2. A tobacco leaf quilt from the book Denyse Schmidt Modern Quilts Traditional Inspiration

I love this quilt so much I'm tempted to blatantly copy this one as well! I've started collecting a few fabrics for this quilt too.
Quilty plan for 2015

Linking up to 2015 Finish-Along with Adrianne at On the Windy Side. Click on the button below to see what everyone else is working on.
2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Courthouse Steps Love

My obsession with Courthouse Steps blocks started a while back after I saw this quilt by Melissa and this quilt by Audrie from Blue is Bleu. I really wanted to try this pattern! The Sewing Room Swap last February gave me the excuse I needed, my lovely partner, Carmen, had a Courthouse Steps Pillow in her inspiration mosaic and conveniently, Audrie had just posted this pillow tutorial. These mini blocks use 1 1/4" strips and each block finishes at 6 3/4".

Courthouse Steps

I really enjoyed making the mini and I knew I wasn't done with Courthouse Steps. Back in May I had a chance to do some selfish sewing, I made a few blocks using another one of Audrie's patterns, Lanterns in the City from the book Modern Quilts from the Blogging Universe. Then other projects got in the way and those few blocks were packed up and forgotten.
Courthouse steps WIP

Over the holidays I had a chance to pull the blocks out and give them another go. It was the perfect holiday project, I was able to spend several days working away on it.  I used the living area floor as my design wall. Using the floor is a good incentive to work quickly before the pieces have been walked over too many times! The blocks are 11" square, I made 25 blocks to make a 55" square throw-sized quilt.

I think I spent as much time deciding which fabrics went where as I did actually sewing the strips together. Not that these blocks are fast, there are 21 pieces in each block.

If you're thinking of making Courthouse Steps blocks, my best time-saving tip is one I picked up from Marla (SewHungry on Instagram)... take care to sew the first round of strips in the correct order, after that, it's all just mindless sewing. Thanks Marla! I had sewn 3 blocks incorrectly, by accidentally switching the first two strips, before Marla shared that tip!
To sew these blocks, I laid the strips out on the floor, then grabbed the 5 centre pieces from each block and sewed those together. I double checked that I had the fabrics in the right order by putting the pieced square back into place. The remaining strips were then just mindless sewing. To speed things up, I chain pieced three blocks at a time.

I'm giving this quilt to a friend so I'm already thinking about my next Courthouse Steps quilt, I love this pattern! Linking up with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.
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