Quilters’ Blog Festival 2016 – second entry (but am I cheating?)

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I’ve decided for my second entry, after much cogitation, to enter my favourite quilt I’ve made this year, this beauty….. The original post is here

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But there lies the rub, it’s not really my quilt in that aside from assembling it by adding the sashing and making a few of the blocks and of course doing the quilting it is in large part, certainly the beautiful scrappy part, the result of the hard work of my fellow bee members of the Siblings Together Bee 2.  This wonderful charity provides quilts for children at special camps which bring together children in the UK care system who are separated from their siblings.  The holiday gives them a chance to bond and create happy memories and the quilt is a reminder of that time….and because we have such chilly evenings even in Summer!!!

I’ve seen other bee quilts in the festival so I don’t think I’m breaking any rules but be assured any prizes will be used for the charity.

I’m entering it into the scrappy category because it is just that, wonderfully scrappy. There are over 50 fabrics in this quilt, some beautiful, some well not so beautiful but when they come all together the magic happens and it becomes something really special.

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It was my first time as mama and I had great fun picking on a quilt design and block. I found this free pattern called Fieldcrossing by Cloud Nine. It had the perfect bee block really simple to make and ideal for scraps. Blues and greens always work for me and is my teens’ favourite colour combination so has universal appeal, I hope!

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I love to think that somewhere in the UK some child or young person is tucked up with this and feel it’s theirs as children in care often have very little that is exclusively their own and certainly not hand made. Being part of is bee with its lovely people and making a contribution to this charity is a privilege.

Thanks again to Amy of Amy’s Creative Side for all the organisation and hard work of running the festival. It is such  a celebration of quilting and a highlight of this weekend for me, when the entries are closed, is catching up on all those quilts. I hope my children don’t expect me to cook, clean and chauffeur this weekend – they are going to be disappointed!!!

 

 

Quilters’ Blog Festival 2016 – first entry and first time entering…

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I’ve been quilting for two years now and an absolute favourite of mine has been the twice yearly quilters’ blog festival.  This is a virtual quilt show where bloggers can enter two quilts under various categories. It’s run by Amy of Amyscreativeside

Running the festival must be a vast undertaking – marshalling categories, organising voting and then finding prizes for winners but Amy seems to blend this in with everything else she does. It’s a well oiled machine I tell you. But of course the real fun is seeing everyone’s quilts, finding out how the voting goes (its not easy to call at all!) and that wonderful inspiration and eye candy all in one place. Just great fun.

In fact this year Amy changed things up to reflect the fact that there are fewer bloggers and more Instagrammers so the Spring festival went on Instagram and there was a wonderful response. But the autumn is just for bloggers which means you get the eye candy but also the background to the quilts and its construction. It’s well worth a view particularly when all the quilts have linked in which is at the end of this week.

Ah so which quilt to chose and then which category?  I’m still agonising about my second quilt but my first entry is this sumptuous  red quilt, all mine and very warm it is too. The obvious category is large quilt and at 75″ by 85″, it’s certainly on the larger side.

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I’ve blogged about it here but you may recognise this as the Urban Candy Quilt by Sew Kind of Wonderful.  I wanted a scrappy look so picked out just about every warm toned fabric I possessed and then was understandably compelled to buy a few more…. I was after more prints and fancied some of the warm small scale prints of Denyse Scmidt’s older ranges so the search was on.

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Using the Quick Curve Ruler really lived up to its name. In no time did I have a mound of warm toned pieces and the corresponding plain Kona Oyster. The sewing was easy too but the trimming…..that was more tricksy. If the quilt was to be gifted I’d have resewn a fair few but perfection isn’t my bag.

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It took a fair bit of trial and error to get the right mix of prints depending on scale, colour and tone but we got there. The quilting was a relatively easy on my Pfaff 4.2. and I used the forgiving  ‘loop the loop’.

 

But my main requirement was that it would be warm and cosy and big enough. It’s getting chilly here in the UK and I wanted one that was more than just a token quilt like a bed runner. It’s an ample size for me  and best of all with a wool batting and cosy flannel backing it’s lovely and warm. Just what I wanted.

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Do pop by the festival, I know it’s only the first day but there are already some stunning quilts. If you go down towards the bottom of this post the categories in the grey boxes take you straight to the quilts in that section of the festival. Enjoy!

Charity begins at home …. and with scraps

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You get the impression that some charity quilts are regarded as second best, to be considered when a quilt hasn’t worked out as planned.  Whilst I’ve tried hard with the gifted quilts to produce quilts I’d like to keep this one I fully admit was a long standing WIP made from the left over strips from a jelly roll of Marrakesh by Irene and Lewis about which I had my doubts….

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I’d extracted the pinks and greys from the jelly roll for a quilt for one of the children’s teachers who had got No. 1 son through a crucial maths exam. For that very significant achievement I would have cheerfully made her a king-size quilt but as a baby was on the way this seemed a rather more practical gift. It uses the Three Dudes pattern which is one of the many excellent video tutorials by Jenny Doan at the Missouri Star Quilt Company. The pinks work well together and the rather soft palette is suitable for a baby girl when you don’t know the nursery colours or preferences of Mum and Dad

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But for the ‘left over’ quilt which mostly came  together at a Project Linus quilt day run by Joy Edgington who, aside from the dubious pleasure of being my go-to quilting teacher, is the local coordinator, I really wasn’t sure about it. The strong yellow and blue just seemed to be overpowering it. Thanks to ironing fairy Lynn and Mariana who sewed some it with me much of the top was finished by the end of day.  But now it’s quilted and bound the magic has happened and I rather like it.

I have to say that I wouldn’t recommend this pattern for a quick quilt finish. There are a lot of seams which take up fabric of course and per block it’s quite fiddly. This is in contrast to the quilt I made it last years Project Linus day which was chosen specifically because it looked to be a very efficient design and perfect for a jelly roll that got rejected for being too pink! Designed by Amy Friend, who I think is one of the most talented and original quilters out there, it’s called Interlock.

The next Project Linus quilt is this smaller cot quilt that was originally a FMQ practice piece for a FMQ course I went on led by Joy at New Pastures Quilting.

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I’ve been on some excellent quilting courses run by Joy and they have been so useful. Poor Joy is however is quite used to me having a slightly different approach in her sessions as I like to make what I want to make but she’s fab and very flexible. This was supposed to be a charm square sewing machine cover with us practicing motifs in the squares. But a baby quilt it became …..  I used available scraps, mostly Horizon by Kate Spain, a range I love and a batch of  Kona ash squares I miscut for another project. Obviously I’ve not been listening well enough in Joy’s quilting classes!!

I’m not sure you can make out the motifs but there are unintentionally grumpy cats at the top, some hearts in there, the word love and finally upside cars on the bottom. I guess you  can see why I need quilting classes!

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Linking up with Nicky for Scraptastic Tuesday.

Selfish sewing

imageThis is an entirely selfish quilt! It was made for my newly decorated bedroom and replaced  a very tatty bed runner that was made by me years ago  from spare curtain material and used an old blanket as wadding. This was before I started quilting proper. It looked okay but of course the cats’ claws have been working on it and pulling threads so a new one was needed. After all everyone else in the house, including the two cats, have their own quilts.

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The Quick Curve Ruler (QCR) made by Sew Kind of Wonderful, has been one of those rulers I bought ages ago and it has just been gathering dust.  I doubt very much if I’m the only one who does that! But I had bought the Urban Candy pattern at the same time having  seen quilts on line in this design which appealed to me. My main requirement was for a large, warm and cosy quilt that had rich warm colours, plenty of contrast and frankly not too much work.

I’d been much influenced by the very scrappy nature of a quilt for which I’d been Mama Bee for the charity Siblings Together.  The blocks contained over 50 fabrics, many of which, if I’m honest, were not that attractive but together, what a quilt.  The scrappiness gave it a depth and level of interest  that I wanted to try and recreate. So I pulled all the fabrics in warm tones I had, eliminated some because they were too samey or I truly didn’t feel they fitted, then did a bit of shopping….I was particularly keen to get some Denyse Schmidt fabrics in her older Franklin and Katie Rope Jump fabric ranges which had the blend of colours and scale I was after.  In the end I had this collection, not quite 50, but over 25 as a few more might have snooked in…. For the background, given the fact all the warm fabrics were prints, I went for a plain off white, Kona Oyster to be precise, to go with the very neutral tone of my room.

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In fact the QCR lived up to its name because you really do cut those curved pieces very quickly. I have heard of some cutting disasters with the QCR but as long as you follow the very clear instructions  then its fine. The assembly was pretty easy too and I’ve done a fair few curved quilts now so sewing curves isn’t too scary. Mind you I do like using the curve master sewing foot which helps. In fact these curves are really very slight compared to some  I’ve done but maybe pride comes before a fall as when it came to trimming them it was a very different matter!

Sewing curves particularly when you’re not starting on the straight  like you would do with the drunken path block invariably leads to a little bit of distortion which then needs trimming. Whilst reasonably clear instructions are given and there is even a video which makes it look very easy, try as I might I could not get my curves sewn accurately and/or trimmed well enough to achieve joins that were always smooth. The ones below went pretty well. Trust me they didn’t always end up like this! But as it was a quilt for me and perfectionism has never been my thing and really who is going to be judging the quilt in my bedroom anyway (! ) then I didn’t bother to resew many.

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I was bemoaning the fact in a recent post that my quilts have a tendency to be too small and too thin. And I certainly wanted to rectify that with this quilt. So instead of cotton I used a woollen  batting for the first time and a flannel backing. To cut to the chase I’m really pleased with this combination. It has made a really cosy quilt and just the right weight for a Autumn/Winter quilt.  It’s got a lovely drape and good loft so that FMQ shows up beautifully.

Mindyou when I come to wash it I may well rue the day I chose that combination! Hobbs’ instructions are a delicate cool wash and low spin, OK I can do that and I will add numerous colour catchers first time round (all those reds….) then apparently it needs to be aired dryed. With the existing cats’ flannel quilts they go straight into the dryer but they have a fleece background and come out soft and cosy every time but they’ve no wool in sight. I’m hoping when the quilt is almost dry a quick tumble in a coolish dryer will be enough to soften the flannel. As a precaution whilst I didn’t pre wash the batting I did pre-tumble dry it just to check nothing dreadful happened.  It didn’t. I’m going to wait until it needs washing rather than do a preemptive wash!!

Other than the usual basting challenge, quilting it proved to be reasonably easy. Even if my quilt helpers were doing anything but helping with quilting! Indeed Minty the grey cat, although you can’t see it too clearly, at the point he was sitting on the quilt was absolutely sodden from a very wet afternoon out!

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It was a bit of a marathon session to hand sew the binding but I was determined to sleep under it that night! And a very warm sleep it was until the alarm went off…

Linking up to Heidi at Red Letter Quilts as this is my September One Monthly Goal. Also linking to Amanda at Crazy Mom Quilts and Sarah at Confessions of a Fabric Addict  

This is also a 2016 Q3 FAL finish – see here for my FAL list of targets 

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One Monthly Goal – September

I’m afraid the August OMG , run by Heidi at Redletter Quilts, rather passed me by partly because we were away up in the Rocky Mountains for the critical link up and with no wifi, no cell and amazingly no moans from my teens it wasn’t going to happen! But also it was a no goer because my sewing room looked like this….

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This is what happens when you agree with your daughter she can put stuff in your sewing room whilst she is redecorating her room.  The proviso was I still had to have space to sew.  Well unless I learned to levitate that wasn’t going to happen! Anyway her room is now finished, loads of junk has been chucked  and her room looks great but best of all I have my sewing room back so no excuse for my September OMG which is to complete the Urban Candy quilt by Sew Kind of Wonderful using the Quick Curve Ruler.

The curves were easy to do but the trimming was not. Maybe my curve sewing wasn’t accurate enough. Just as well I’m not a perfectionist as there are quite a few less than smooth joins.

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Here it is at the block laying point. This was my quick and fun submission for the pets on a quilt competition over at Lilypads Quilting. As you can see I’ve gone for the scrappy look, all warm colours but different colour values and scale. The sharp eyed will see a mistake in this layout.  I always love it when quilters show mistakes and then let you seek and find…

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Fortunately I found the mistake as the top was being assembled so it was easy to correct.

Apologies for night photo but it’s biggish and will be chunky because it will have a wool batting and flannel backing so basting will be a pain.  But I’m so looking forward to having it on my bed because this one’s all mine….and our nights are getting decidedly cooler.

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Too thin and too small

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This was my no 2 son’s rather brutal verdict on the quilts in the house in particular his own and the one that lives in the lounge. I have to say I agree – his first quilt at 50″ by 60″ (am I the only UK quilter that embraces the use of imperial measurements over metric?) was more of a bed runner. It was the first pieced quilt for a person as opposed to cat  I made and I didn’t even know about 1/4″ seams at that point. But it looked good and suited his room but he’s shot up and wants a quilt he can wrap himself up in. He also says he gets cold in the night which I find odd as he has the warmest bedroom in the house and open windows aren’t his thing.

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To be fair this verdict had been gradually dawning on me over the last few months  as I’ve also found the quilts on the thin side.  I know the argument for the traditional quilt of all cotton or wool is they can be heirlooms for the future but I want them to be used and loved in the here and now,  giving comfort and warmth when that’s needed.

Take the lounge quilt, this was a design I loved  and fabric colours went well in there. I saw this as something you could pull over you when it got chilly and it was too much effort to light the log burner. But although it’s a bit bigger it is all cotton using the more lofty ‘Select’ cotton batting from Quilters Dream  and yes I have to admit it is not a snuggly quilt at all.

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It is however the perfect quilt for a hot night when you want something to cover you but not too warm, but in the UK we get few of those. I’m wondering whether my family are so used to thick duvets as a covering that quilts don’t stand a chance by comparison in the snuggly stakes. However I’m still on the search for the perfect combination of batting and backing that will make it cosy but not too weighty. Something that provides warmth without the bulk of a duvet.

I tried a thick polyester batting (Quilters Dream – Dream Puff) in the recent charity quilt for Siblings Together. Given how light it was it  was surprisingly warm and had a great drape.  It felt rather like a sleeping bag, but without the nylon/polyester slippery feel, but I’d have preferred more weight.

 

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So the search resumed for a snuggly warm quilt, not as heavy as a duvet, but nevertheless with good drape but a feeling of warmth about it. In fact the only quilts I’ve made that might meet this are the cats’ quilts which use flannel and a fleecy blanket and possibly now my eldest son’s and my daughter’s which both have a good quality fleece/minky backing. Together with a poly/cotton mix batting (Hobbs 80/20 blend) these are definitely warmer and snugglier. They both get a lot of use and abuse – a true test of their acceptability.

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Certainly as to size that’s more easily fixed even it brings with it more ‘fun’ with the basting part. What has worked for both the children’s quilts is to go for the approximate size of their duvet. I’ve also kept the quilting simple. Partly because I’m wary of it affecting the drape and snuggly requirements of the children if it had been too densely quilted but also partly because both quilts were eagerly awaited and simple walking foot quilting was quicker.

But is that combination the holy grail of snuggly quilts? I’m still experimenting. My own new quilt for my recently redecorated bedroom is in process. It’s from the Urban Candy pattern by Sew Kinda Wonderful using the Quick Curve Ruler.  The top is now assembled and the plan is to use wool batting. I didn’t want a minky backing so I’ve gone for a flannel backing. I know there is criticism of flannel becoming harsh and/or bobbly after repeated washing but that has not been my experience with the cats’ quilts. So I’ve bought the same fabric as before  and now I just need to get on with basting and quilting to test the latest combination.  I will let you know the verdict. In the meantime if you have a favourite combination for a quilt do share.

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Pets in/on a quilt

No you are not seeing double. This is the next and last link up to do with the fun annual pet show Snoodles of  Lily Pad Quilting organises.

Now this entry is my attempt at capturing Skye, our lilac tonkinese cat (the colour is platinum in the US I understand) on/in a quilt. She is a lovely sweet natured cat, quite dog-like in her need to be around people, well at least be around the women in the family – the boys are too lively and unpredictable.

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The quilt uses the confetti technique. I’d wanted to have a go at both this technique and trying to capture Skye’s portrait. The opportunity came along when Kim of Persimon Dreams, as part of her weekly challenge quilts earlier this year, offered up the word confetti as her week’s theme. Normally I don’t have the capacity to do a quilt, even a mini quilt, in a week but when I saw this theme I thought the time had come and set aside a few hours to get this done. In fact it is quite a quick process and the very nature of dealing with confetti fabric (which is basically normal fabric cut up into very small ‘confetti’ sized pieces) means that doing it in one chunk of time certainly saves on mess.

The method involves using your confetti size pieces like paint or collage and then using the different colours layer them up to make the image you’re trying to copy. I should really have taken photos but once in the zone it’s hard to remember but there are YouTube videos where the technique is shown. Holding everything together is a layer of organza which you lay over the top and through which you quilt the  finishing details and of course it helps to keep the whole thing together.

In more detail I started with the following picture.

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Skye is not an easy cat to capture in the sense that she often looks startled and I’m told the best portraits come from photos  when they’re looking into the camera. The problem is that seeing something like a camera or ipad between me and her clearly unnerves her. I shall have to get cleverer, probably enlisting my daughter.

The next step was to use photo editing to simplify the colours and then select some appropriate fabrics. I chose solids but I think with the benefit of hindsight using tone on tone or batik type fabrics would have given the varied fur colour  more depth.

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Using a pale fabric background (Kona snow) and tracing the picture on to that marking out the various colour variations I started doing the eyes. I was much influenced by Barbara  of Cat Patches who I came across in last year’s pet quilt show. She writes a hugely entertaining daily blog where her cats feature quite significantly. She has developed a very clever and effective way of doing cat pawtraits  as she calls them and she starts with the eyes. Her technique is to use appliqué and probably the best portrait of many beautiful ones she’s done is also in the show, this time of her new cat Sadie.

Eventually after much readjustment and moving the tiny pieces around, blending them together where possible,  the organza was laid over the top and I could start to quilt the details like fur and shading. It came together quite quickly and then I cut out the head and appliquéd that to the background fabric.

Not sure what Skye thinks of it….

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But be assured I will be doing another this time using the appliqué technique of Barbara’s  – does it surprise I’ve already been shopping for the fabrics?

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Pets on a Quilt

How could I resist this link up with Lily Pad Quilting’s annual pet show. This is a fun link up for quilters with rather too much fondness of taking pics of their four legged friends  but if pets or cats in particular aren’t your thing then skip by. You can offer up two entries so there will be a double dose…

Anybody who follows social media will see pampered pets in any number of photos. In fact often more so than children. Certainly my teens would extract a very significant bribe in order to appear in photographs and certainly any that were going to be published on the Internet!  My cats come free, well if you exclude the food, vets bills, insurance but they are worth every penny. So here is my first cat on a quilt – Skye looking like butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth  however whilst I struggled with the layout  she was banned from the room. But she snooked in…

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Because last time when left alone with a scrappy quilt where the layout was being played with this is what happened…

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Everyone says it but there is something about a quilt, I guess it’s the new fabric and the fact they are squishy,  that seems to draw cats from all corners of the house. Even small quilt blocks get the same attention.  This picture is a good example, I’d gone to the top of the house where there is a sky light window overlooking a small landing – a great spot where the downward light sorts out a multitude of problems if it’s not as neat as it could be!!  But almost immediately given the 2000+ sq feet of space they have to choose from in the house they chose the very same 6 square feet I’m photographing!!  Now onto the next post – pets in a quilt….

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Fresh winds – Festival of Quilts

It was my third Festival of Quilts and undoubtedly the most enjoyable from my perspective although not one at which I spent hugely. Having at last introduced a Modern Quilt section amongst the numerous categories of quilts on show, in my view, this made a huge difference. Prior to that the show, which is in part, I understand run by the UK Quilters Guild had a Contemporary Quilts section, which incorporated modern quilts but also encouraged quilts that included other media. But this year we had our own slot and it was the first quilt section out the blocks as you entered and from my observation the busiest.

This isn’t going to be a post with a myriad of pictures just the ones of very many that were beautifully designed and technically stunning that appealed to me. I’ve strictly limited myself to 6….

First up,the quilt of Abigail de Straffe  ‘Shall I stay or shall I stay’

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Next to it is  Sunflower Quilt by Jenny Haynes. Both Jenny’s and Abigail’s quilts I’ve seen gradually come together on IG. What you can’t see so well in photos ( which suits me just fine with my less than perfectly constructed quilts) is their technical excellence, every block lines up and those pointy ends on the curved pieces, which are so hard to get to meet up, fantastic. And I guess that distinguishes a show quilt from well the rest like mine…

imageA quilt called Off Centre Medallion made by the very well known and incredibly prolific and original Jo Avery. I’m off on a retreat with her and others next January. I haven’t told the children this or got a teen sitter in tow yet!

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Another from IG and Jenny Haynes is Slalom.  You get a close up of how she’s produced this very original quilt. Clever.

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I loved this one.  It’s a fairly standard maple block design but in those saturated colours of Alison Glass with their quilt motifs it stands out. This was by Sarah Hbbert called ‘ Taliesin Leaves’

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And the final one from the Modern Quilt  show ‘colour an exploded view’ by Jennifer Letchet.  Made with hundreds of half square triangles, again Alison Glass fabric, the clever placement sets it apart

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The Quilters Guild also have a competition for all its members on a theme which can be interpreted any way.  This year’s theme was ‘On the beach’.  The well deserved winner was this huge curved quilt 4.5 m long taken from the panoramic photo of a beach scene taken on an iPhone.

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The construction of this amazing winner  is very well documented by the quilter Laura Kemshall (although I think artist describes her better as she creates using many media and techniques) on her blog (linked above). There is one photo on her post that had me quite shocked.  After some 250 hours of quilting, followed by printing and other processes there’s a picture of her hosing it down on her lawn….. It’s worth a read. Good for the judges to give the accolade to such an untraditional quilt in every respect.

And my purchases? Well I would have bought a set of Oakshott Ruby Reds but they aren’t due for delivery until later this year and I didn’t want the full set but just to pick and chose. It will have to wait. I have a little (cough) fabric to get along quite nicely until then. I did purchase some tulip pins for a cost I daren’t mention for fear of shocking my mother! And a FQ of this denim fabric.  So quite modest really. There’s always next year….

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More glitter blocks

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More glitter from scraps…..these wonderful glitter blocks from Jen Kingwell’s design continue to be addictive. Which is just as well as having done only 16 out of an estimated 70+ needed I’ve a long way to go.

I’m still marvelling that I’m enjoying hand stitching them. I’d have scoffed at the idea a few months back. After all what are sewing machines for! But being tucked away in my sewing room with the noise of the machine isn’t always conducive to family life. Ie it makes my teens moan that I’m not around to watch films etc. So I started and haven’t looked back even making a new bionic bag for supplies. The project even went on the plane with us.

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As I beavered away very predictably my 13 year son next to me was soon whispering it’s ‘sooo embarrassing’. Embarrassing or not, it was highly productive and would have been more so if BA would have allowed me to set up an ironing station on board!!

Linking up to Nicky and Leanne at Scraptastic  Tuesday