Thursday, 27 September 2018

Teeny tiny piecing - but oh so cute!!

Have you seen the scrap busting sewalong that Sugar Bowl Crafts are running at the moment?  If not maybe you should check out the #scrapbustingsewalong over on IG.  It's a great way to use up some of your scraps with the added bonus of a challenge each week.

Week 1 was how many squares can you fit in a 5" block - the answer for me was 100!  And I am totally in love ....

This was done by using interfacing to stick the squares too and then sewing along the columns followed by sewing along the rows.  I didn't have any gridded fusible so I used some dressmaking interfacing from years ago, which kind of worked but is a bit rough and ready.  I now have some gridded fusible and want to make another one or two or three ....

Week 2 was how many triangles can you fit in a 5" square?  I got all my bonus (scrap) HSTs out but then had to clear the decks to do something that actually pays the bills!!

Week 3 was Log Cabin blocks and although technically I am late, a new challenge is released each Thursday, I am going to call this done for Week 3 ....

Again I am totally in love!!  So much so that I knew before I had made this that I would want to make more so drafted a FPP template in EQ7.  I have it available as free pdf download so if you want to go teeny tiny to then the template is all done for you!!

Click here to download the Foundation Paper Pieced Template for cut&alter 5" Log Cabin - please do let me know if you have trouble downloading this because I am never sure whether I have done it right!

If you do use this then I would love to see what you make so be sure to tag me @cutandalter and use #cutandalterpatterns

Now I have to go and see what this week's challange is ......

Friday, 21 September 2018

365 Free Motion Quilt Designs - A Book Review

I had been eyeing up Leah Day's 365 Free Motion Quilt Designs for a while now and so was very happy to review a copy!  It is available through Search Press or on Amazon and also comes in a perpetual calendar form.

This book is not a reading book but rather a picture book - and what pretty pictures it has in it.  For the how tos on each of the designs you need to go to Leah Day's quilting design gallery where you will find short videos demonstrating each design.  These are really interesting to watch because sometimes the path of travel is not what you might think!

Do you really need 365 designs in your repertoire?  In all honesty you don't, in fact if you can master half a dozen designs, then the variations you can do on them and different scales you can use will probably be what you use the most.  But this book gives so many different options.  Since starting my longarm quilting journey and talking to numerous quilters from around the world I have realised that people generally have several quilting designs that they have a natural talent for, ie it comes easily to them.  My advice would be to play to your strengths and expand from there.  Designs 1 to 7 in this book might be your natural talents, your friend might favour numbers 8 to 15, and so on.  It is a great book to look and doodle from and given a little time you will soon find what designs work for you and take it from there.

You can see from the photos below how one design, Day 7 Echo Rainbow, can look very different depending on the size and curve of the initial arch.

You will also notice that certain individual designs belong to families of design, for example if you can quilt a paisley design then it won't take you much to be able to quilt the designs below.  They all use the same path of travel and the muscle memory you built up whilst learning to quilt a paisley design will soon kick in for these.  

Whilst all similar they will all give a very different finish on your block or quilt and a number of options for your quilting toolbox.

All of the designs are available for free online, at the link posted above, but I think the book is a great resource to have if you are interested in FMQ.  It has lots of designs in one place, it is easy to bookmark, it is easy to have on the table whilst doodling or quilting, in fact that is a real plus.  Although this book is not spiral bound it does lay nice and flat and remains open whilst you use it.

Having received this book during the summer holidays and then settling the girls into new schools and routines a couple of weeks ago, I have been frustrated that I haven't been able to stitch any of these out yet.  I have done lots of doodling so hopefully that will put me in good stead for when I can get to my machine .... fingers crossed at some stage next week.  So pop back if you fancy seeing how I got on using some of these designs.

If you are interested in getting yourself a copy it is available through Search Press or on Amazon and also comes in a perpetual calendar form.

The original idea was for 365 designs - but Leah hasn't stopped there!  To date there are 499 designs - to see them all head on over here.

Saturday, 15 September 2018

Upcoming Teaching Schedule

This year has seen me starting to teach and I am delighted to share my upcoming schedule with you.

First up, I will be teaching some sessions for Pinhole Quilting at their Foundation Longarm and Intermediate Longarm Workshops on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 October 2018.  

These courses are aimed at getting new and existing Handi Quilter owners really confident with using their machines and cover the all important TNT - threads, needles and tension, through to design, FMQ, rulerowork, marking a quilt, feathers and a lot more besides.  There are still a couple of places left so head on over to their booking page for more details if you are interested.  Whilst these two courses are aimed at Hand Quilter owners Pinhole Quilting does offer other activities for people who have other makes of longarm machines.

Next up, I will be teaching a Quilt Finishing School at The Quilter's Den in Warwick on Saturday 10 November.  The Quilter's Den is under new ownership and I was delighted to be asked to teach by Karen.  This workshop is for anyone who lovingly finishes their quilt tops but then puts them up on a shelf, under the bed, in a cupboard (delete as applicable!) and who would like to get them finished!  

We will be covering:
  • how to prepare your quilt for quilting
  • needles, threads and wadding
  • marking your quilt
  • quilting design
  • walking foot quilting 
  • free motion quilting.

If you like the sound of this then please do visit the booking page.  

If it sounds interesting, but you are unable to make this date then I am able to run this day course at any venue.  I am happy to talk about running this course in a group setting, at a retreat or even just for a day where you get a group of friends together.  Please do contact me via the contact form on the home page and we can see what we can work out.

Wednesday, 5 September 2018

Saturday, 1 September 2018

cut&alter Christmas 18 QAL :: it's nearly here!

Can we talk Christmas now that it's September?!!  

During that rather long heatwave we had in the UK this summer the cut&alter Christmas 18 QAL was launched.  The timing couldn't have been worse but now the summer holidays are coming to an end, the temperatures are dropping (hooray I can finally sleep under my duvet again!) and the days are getting shorter.  If you have yet to decide on your next project or would like to make a Christmas Quilt (in time for Christmas 2018!) then it would be great to have you join my QAL.

Finished quilt made in Makower Silent Night fabric

The QAL starts next week on Wednesday , 05 September, with a general introduction, fabric selection and cutting.  Then there is a Block a Week for 9 weeks followed by sashing, borders, basting and quilting with several catch up weeks included, because we all know that life can get in the way of quilting - isn't it so annoying when that happens?!  We finish on Wednesday 12 December with, fingers crossed, a lovely quilt ready in time for Christmas.

I love the house fabric from this range

There'll be lots of skills to learn or build on, a lovely group of quilters. maybe some random prizes and, of course, a quilt at the end of it - what more do you need?  The pattern can be purchased from my UKQU shop, upon which further information and a full schedule will be sent straight to you - make sure that email address is correct!  Then each week that week's pattern and instructions will be sent direct to your inbox.  If you don't want to make the whole quilt but like the look of a block or two then standalone patterns for each block will be released each week throughout the QAL.  These will be available to purchase in my shop.

Whilst I made my quilt from the Makower Silent Night range of fabrics, which The Cotton Patch have kitted up for this QAL, it can, of course, be made in any fabric - seasonal or not.  My pattern testers had free rein over their fabric choices and it was fantastic to see the blocks coming to life in different fabrics.

These blocks, made by Kim, show a different layout and a different block from the finished article.  They were test blocks after all and I did make some changes!

Tandy also made up all the blocks and these will give you an idea of the quilt in non seasonal fabric.

The pattern testers were invaluable for this process and I would like to thank each and every one - so a BIG thank you to Kim, Sue, Tandy, Rebecca, Tracey, Amy, Anneliese and Sarah.

For further information please head over to my Launch Post and if you have any question please just ask!

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

Festival of Quilts :: A year on ....

↓↓↓  For big news scroll down  ↓↓↓

Yesterday I dropped my show entries at the NEC for Festival of Quilts 2018.  It is always so funny to see it empty - a far cry from what it will look like on Thursday morning!

When I got home, my daughters said they remembered going there last year with their dad to drop my quilt.  It took me a little while to remember why they had gone and not me ..... oh that's right I had the little matter of a quilt to finish for the In the Spotlight Gallery, which I didn't have to hand in until the Tuesday evening and so it wasn't finished until the Tuesday lunchtime!

Where to Next?  in progress

I love quilting words onto quilts

I can't believe it's been a year already and soooo much has happened.  Last Festival was my first time demonstrating on the Handi Quilter longarm machines for Pinhole Quilting. Whilst I knew and loved my machine, I have to admit to being somewhat nervous at the thought of setting up and demonstrating at such a big show.  I needn't  have worried I really enjoyed the experience and signed up for more!  

My trusty Handi Quilter Avante - I love it!!

So I am back again this year and not only demonstrating.  A couple of weeks ago I received great news ..... 


I am thrilled.  I have started teaching at the Foundation and Intermediate classes run by Pinhole Quilting for their Handi Quilter owners and I love it.  It has been fabulous to help these people on their own longarm journey, which actually never stops, and to see that 'ah-ha' moment when something really clicks.  Further teaching news will be up here shortly!

I have met some wonderful American HQ Educators and Ambassadors over the last year, Debbie Brown at FoQ 17, Laurie Tigner last November when she taught 4 days of classes in Worcester, and Kimmy Brunner and Kelly Cline, who were the tutors at the UK's first Longarm Quilting Academy held in February.  It was a pleasure to be the classroom assistant for their sessions and I learnt so much.  I would highly recommend any of the teachers above if you ever get the chance to take a class with them.

I have written my first quilt pattern, which is available over here, and I am running a QAL for it starting on 05 September - wow that's only 4 weeks away!!!!

On the family front, we have done our first full academic year of school, after years of home education ..... and we survived!  There were lots of sporting fixtures, a Y6 residential for a week to North Wales when there was still snow on the ground, productions, SATs, leavers activities and much more.  It has been wonderful to see how the girls have settled into school and made great friends.  My youngest goes up to secondary school in September so we have more big changes coming our way!

It is always good to look back at what you have done because more often than not, whilst you are in the midst of it, you don't really appreciate all that you have achieved.  I am looking forward to September and the start of a 'new year' to refocus after this hot, hot summer, make plans and put some long held ideas into practice.  I hope you will join me! x

Friday, 13 July 2018

create your own improv quilts - A Book Review

Wow - what a book!  I have to say I sat and read this whole book over a weekend and am including in my book tally for 2018 because of that.  I do mean read - this is much more than a pattern book and is the first time I have read such a book from cover to cover.  You could also dip in and out of it but I think you may want to read it all.

I have been drawn to the improv quilting style over the last couple of years but have still to relinquish control and go for it!  It is hard coming from an engineering background and loving the perfection of perfect points to let go of the rulers and measuring and to not match seams!  I also thought that improv should surely be improv - you don't get it from a book do you?  Well I was wrong and, as I said, this is much more than a how to book.  

The subtitle is Modern Quilting with No Rules and No Rulers which is just perfect.  Rayna explores some of those 'rules' that have sprung up around Modern Quilting, such as no batiks are to be used in a  modern quilt, the use of highly patterned fabric over all solids and even improv paper piecing - a contradiction in terms surely?!

There are several technique sections which talk you through the process and give you exercises to do to get you improv quilting.  As a newcomer to this technique, I think they would prove very useful and the great thing about this is that a whole group of people could be given the same fabric and technique and the resulting pieces would all be unique.

There are lots of quilts to look at, both Rayna's and other quilters and towards the back there is a gallery containing information on others such as Catherine Whall Smith, Cindy Griselda and Debbie Anderson to name a few.  Rayna talks about her inspiration and as I am someone who sees quilts in almost every thing I see I totally get that.  I have not yet translated these thoughts or visions to fabric but this book has really sparked something in me.

In fact, before I even finished reading the book, I went and searched through my drawers of scrap fabrics and found some scrappy improv pieced blocks which were, one day in the very distant future, destined to a scrap vortex quilt.  However, I now realised I could do something different with them and taking huge inspiration from this piece of Rayna's, I set to with putting them on my design board and then started to fill around the edges with white Kona.

I had a most enjoyable few hours over a couple of day and LOVED the process - then real life and prior deadlines called and it has been at this stage ever since.

create your own improv quilts by Rayna Gillman is published by C&T Publishing and is available from Search Press or Amazon and if you haven't realised by reading this review I would DEFINITELY recommend it for anyone who may be interested in improv quilting or who is looking for some inspiration for their next quilt.

Teeny tiny piecing - but oh so cute!!

Have you seen the scrap busting sewalong that Sugar Bowl Crafts are running at the moment?  If not maybe you should check out the #scrapbu...