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 

 

Derivative or not?

 

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Here is ‘A Bit Derivative’ – my second challenge quilt for the Modern Quilt Group of the UK Quilters Guild. Like my earlier challenge quilt seen here…

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…it is on the theme of ‘black and white and one other (colour).  It will be exhibited at a quilt show  or two over the next year along with all the other entries. It is a very inclusive challenge, no juried entries, just the fun of taking part and stretching yourself. The only rule is it should be 20″ by 20″ so when exhibited together they have real impact. Other than keeping  to the theme the choice is yours!

For this piece I made many, many drunkard path pieces using my smallest template then it became a bit of a jigsaw to construct and numerous variations of layout were considered but we got there in the end.

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Why the title ‘A Bit Derivative’? You may have read the Modern Quilt Guild’s recent blog post about the need to ensure all quilts entered into shows are original and not derivative.  It sets out how you distinguish between the two whilst acknowledging it is a blurry line.

I think they are absolutely right to try to explain the difference but as always the devil is in the detail and boy is that line very blurry!! It has provoked a very lively debate, just read the comments to the post and you will see what I mean! To MQG’s credit they have responded to the critics with grace and patience. But it struck me as I read it that whilst the vast majority of my quilts are not shown these challenge quilts will be. I’m not sure the extent to which the same derivative rules apply to quilt shows in the UK. Indeed I’m off to the big daddy of UK quilt shows today the Festival of Quilts which for the first time will include a Modern Quilt section.  Whether or not the same principles apply, for the fun of it I have tried to determine the extent to which my challenge quilts from both last year and this are derivative.  Admittedly it’s a purely academic point but I think it’s a good way of trying to understand where the line is drawn.

The first one is easy. I used the stunning Painted Leaf pattern from Sarah Elizabeth at No Hats in the House blog for last year’s challenge.

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The theme was equilateral triangles so I played with the shapes a bit and simplified it a little but basically followed the pattern. It’s clearly derivative. I did let Sarah Elizabeth know I was using it to make a quilt for showing. She was positively  enthusiastic.

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With the current challenge quilt I came up with the design by pulling together a variety of ideas. I like curved piecing and in particular I like the drunkards path block. I wanted to stretch myself with small pieces and an improv layout. Whilst  I’d seen a number of quilts that had played with the placement of these blocks the design itself of this quilt was original, my main objective being a pleasing layout which avoided Y seams… The dense quilting in the background with raised elements is very common but does that make it derivitive? But the coloured thread aspect I shamelessly admit was a straight lift from the beautiful and very successful quilt by Cassandra Beavor shown at Quiltcon and juried into a number of other major quilt shows. Cassandra who blogs at The (not so) dramatic life is a very talented and innovative quilter whose work I find inspiring.

Interestingly my choice to use dense coloured straight line quilting was out of desperation!  I’d made a hash of trying to remove a stain on the quilt. Quite how the mark came to be there I don’t know but in a house of 3 children and two cats it’s busy and messy a fair chunk of the time. When I came to wash it with stain remover part of the stain on the Kona Snow fabric went bright white and the rest stayed muted yellow! Searching around for a solution the coloured thread idea hit me as a way of disguising these colour variations but also adding to the design. I’m quite sure Cassandra’s use of coloured thread quilting was deliberate and not a cover up!!

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So under the Modern Quilt Guild guidelines, if it were to be entered either competitively or as an exhibit into a quilt show I would need to be open about my inspiration and seek permission from Cassandra because that aspect was derivative. Or at least that’s my read of it.

Recognising another person’s talent and attributing the inspiration to their design Is a given and is in keeping with this generous community of quilters which Cassandra exemplifies. And in that context approaching a fellow quilter for permission to use an idea of their’s is pretty straightforward.

But what about my other challenge quilt where I’ve used a road layout for inspiration.

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There must be a road planner out there with soul who was responsible for this design but I suspect now long retired  as this goes back over 30 years. But who or what would I approach?  The UK Highways agency, the construction company which has probably undergone many changes since then, the local County Council? Surely it would go down as the most bizarre request received ever!

Whilst attributing inspiration is both respectful and in itself inspiring, in some cases as the MQG article says you need to apply common sense. It’s a thorny subject and one which I’m sure will invite further debate. In the meantime I’m writing to Cassandra!

Linking up with Cynthia for TGIFF at Quilting is more fun than housework (how so very true…)

Distraction from the essentials!

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Certainly this zip bag was not on my urgent and over long ‘to do’ list prior to our holiday departure. But I just couldn’t resist making something to keep all the sun cream and mosquitos sprays together. The excuse being I do try really hard to be organised when we are away as much of the time I am chivvying 3 teens which is like herding cats! So if I know where the essentials are then I have a fighting chance.

I made a similar bag with a large red Cross on it for first aid supplies last year which worked well and so what was needed was a complementary one for sun and mosquito spray/cream. And yes if I’d had time I’d done a bee motif.

imageI used raw edge appliqué – quick and easy. And crucially everyone got the symbol and know where supplies are kept.

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A few days in and it’s working other than of course making sure the sprays and cream  go back in the bag and are not scattered around our accommodation. Putting things away doesn’t appear to be in their skill set on holiday anymore than it is at home!

 

Hand sewing bag – Bionic Gear Bag no 3

Never would I have thought I’d actually need a bag for hand sewing items but to my surprise I’m really enjoying some slow stitching of Jen Kingwell’s glitter blocks and of course that calls for a new bag.

 

imageI ummed and ahhed about what type of bag from a simple draw string bag to one of the more complicated types but in the end I came back to my favourite, the Bionic Gear bag. The winning feature for me is the tray at the front which holds all the many bits you need to grab and keeps them from rolling off the table. I chose my current favourite fabrics,  this lovely AGF denim print, inside  a Denyse Scmidt print and the library print from Paperie another AGF fabric

 

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For those of you familiar with the design you will notice that I have reduced the number of zip pockets from four down to two. I wanted a large space for the fabric pieces themselves so I ditched the middle two zip pockets and with a bit of pattern adjusting it came out just fine.

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Skye is expanding her skill set is now a bag inspector as well as quilts. Looking for all those pesky threads…

I also reduced the amount of interfacing as I want it to be a squishy bag so it could come travelling without taking up too much space. The plan is this bag and its contents come on a long haul flight to the US for our family holiday. I’m really rather looking forward to the my teenager’s reactions on the plane when they see me get this bag out and start sewing. I would put good money on the phrase ‘soooo embarrassing’ being used!!!

In fact it won’t be the only bionic bag coming along for the ride. Fed up with all the multiple chargers, leads etc etc for all my electronic devices I made a version this time with 5 colour- coordinated zip pockets.  Green for apple, black for my camera, teal for the Fitbit, pink for some external batteries and white for meds. This fabric is another favourite and the horses are spot on as that’s what we will be doing and this time as Mum has more horseback experience than them they won’t be finding her ‘sooo embarrassing’!!

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This is first Q3 FAL finish from my target list here and my July One Monthly Goal  with Heidi at Red Letter Quilts.

Linking up with Jenn at A Quarter Inch from the Edge TGIFF , Amanda Jane at Crazy Mom Quilts. 

 

 

 

 

 

Glitter from scraps

imageI’ve loved the glitter block ever since I first came across it. This classic Jen Kingwell design, from her book Quilt Lovely, is just perfect for scraps.  In fact if you look at the original glitter quilt, which I have shamelessly copied below, I couldn’t begin to imagine how many fabrics are in there and on closer inspection some of them, frankly, are definitely on the ugly end of the scale! But somehow they all work together and it could really be that heirloom quilt.

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These blocks are not quick to make. Quite how the very busy and talented Jen Kingwell manages to do all this and all the other quilts she makes in addition to writing books, running a quilting business, designing fabrics  and appearing at every major quilt show is quite beyond me. Maybe, and I could fully appreciate this,  she involves friends. Or she’s discovered how to survive without sleep.  Admittedly I’m new to hand sewing and this type of cutting out, marking the seamlines and then putting it all together again, but I guess each one takes comfortably over an hour. And of course that assumes, unlike the block below, that I don’t keep needing to re-do seams!  As you can see the bottom left hand corner looks a little drunk!

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My glitter blocks are from a whole bunch of ‘warm’ coloured scraps left over from one of my many WIPs. I wanted a project that I could do sitting in the lounge with the children and it’s perfect for that and the #Saturday Night Craft Along on IG which is hosted by Lucy of Charm About You here in the UK, Rachel of Barefoot Crafter in Aus and Meg at Myteaandbrie in the US. How wonderful it would be to have the time to craft a-along through all the time zones!

Linking up with Mrs Sew and Sow for Scraptastic Tuesday 

Finish along – Quarter 3

Quick Q2 recap

Looking  back to start with at my FAL Q2 finishes I managed 3 out of 6. Not great but in fact I did lots of other projects over the quarter that weren’t even a twinkle in my eye at the time I drew up my list for Q2. This is because I’m utterly selfish with my sewing – I do what I want to do!! After all in the rest of my life that rule rarely applies, children have to be fed, clothes washed, things, so many things, put away, emails to write, meetings to attend etc etc… So when it’s my hobby I want to do what inspires me rather than what I have to do so not everything gets finished…or at least on time.

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The finishes for Q2 have been blogged here, here and here.

Q3 – what next.

These are some projects that I hope to achieve over the next 3 months but if my eye wanders forgive me!

1. A scrap quilt using a vast number of neutral scraps and playing with the drunkards path design. Quite a way to go.

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2. Easy peasy one that just needs the binding and then off to Project Linus. All scraps.

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3. Next up a long standing improv WIP started a few months back. I would say half of the piecing is done just needs to be pulled together.

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4. Another bionic bag (or similar) for hand stitching supplies.  Maybe these fabrics.

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5.  This is a long standing scrap project but needs doing and probably off to Siblings Together.

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6. Now this one is urgent. My next challenge quilt. Needs to be done for the Festival of Quilts. No, it’s not been selected to be shown there, I’ve not been brave enough to enter anything, but I’m handing it in at the Quilters Guild stand to be shown with others from the Quilter Guild modern group at a show in Bristol.

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7. This is a jelly roll of the lovely Violette by Free Spirit.   I’d love to make a quilt with this but this just may have to remain a twinkle in my eye…

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8.  And finally it would be wonderful to get this Urban Candy quilt done having used the Quick Curve Ruler. This is all for me in my newly decorated bedroom.

Bird’s eye view

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Believe it or not the above motif on this mini quilt is the interchange of two major motorways in the UK, the M4 and the M5 near Bristol. In fact when you are in the thick of this junction it looks chaotic as the motorways are stacked four high at one point but from a bird’s eye view it’s a very different picture. Road planners obviously have a soul!!

The annual challenge this year set by the modern quilt group of the UK Quilters’ Guild is to make a 20″ by 20″ mini quilt on the theme ‘black and white plus one other (colour)’. Such a great theme as who doesn’t have white and black in their stash and frankly every colour in the rainbow and we were given complete creative freedom – perfect. The only constraint being size because they all get hung together at quilt shows.

 

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Anyway back to the quilt, I noticed this beautiful design  as I was driving up from the south west of England I saw this wonderful shape on my sat nav display. As I had been toying with the idea of bias tape appliqué this fitted the bill completely. I’ve also been attending a six month FMQ course so I wanted plenty of negative space to play.  And as you can see play I did! As did Minty who found a new use for quilt clips as a cat toy!

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I learnt that making bias tape was a bit tricksy but doable. Preferred the Clover brand of tape maker.  I just glued them into position then sewed down the sides – quick and easy. The quilting took the time but was great fun.  I got a bit cocky by this stage and decided to FMQ lines freehand in the background to give it a sort of corduroy  look. Despite marking I just couldn’t get them as precise as I wanted. You can see here that the gaps are irregular and to me really jarred with the relative precision of the bias tape. It looked even worse than this picture!

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I couldn’t live with it but what to do? It struck me that as it was an appliqué piece I could just unpick the outer edges of the motif, close cut the background fabric then re appliqué to a new background piece. I then had the thought that if I quilted it before I appliquéd the motif than the background lines would look continuous. Well it worked and having put on the hanging sleeve this week it’s ready to be sent off.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF this week with Shelley at the Carpenters Daughter that Quilts.