Saturday, 28 April 2012

Modern Minimal

A week or so ago, I was sent a digital copy of Modern Minimal by Alissa Haight Carlton, to review.

You all know how I love my quilting books don`t you?  Well this book has been in my amazon wishlist since I first saw that quilt on the front cover.  It`s full of designs for bright modern and graphic quilts using solids.

Alissa has included 20 gorgeous designs in total from baby quilts to a 90 inch beast over 5 sections - White Negative Space, Colorful Negative Space, Improvisational Piecing, Monochromatic Quilts and Baby Quilts.

Each design is clearly explained with instructions and diagrams in a highly visual way.   Alissa gives lots of great and easy to find tips about how to vary the design and also colour value which is really important when working with solids. Unlike some other quilting books, Alissa also gives you 2 ideas for quilting (usually 1 straight line and 1 free motion quilting) for each design so that`s a whopping forty ideas in total!
There is a section at the end of the book entitled `How to Make a Quilt`, where Alissa goes through all the basics (tools, piecing, basting, quilting and binding etc.,), which is great for a beginner quilter. 

This book is full of eye candy for those who love contemporary and graphic designs. The quilts are simply beautiful.  As a newbie to solids, using them more in my quilting and using lots of negative space is something I really want to do more of. I don`t think I would ever follow a pattern to the letter but would rather use the book as inspiration and put my own spin on it. However, if I was a beginner quilter interested in modern quilting, this would be a great book to start with!

When I am next vacillating over which binding to use or wondering whether my quilting is good enough, I shall remember the advivce - the best kind of quilt is a finished quilt!

My first all solids and improv.pieced mini
So you`re all wondering how I got my hands on this book hmm? A week or so ago, I saw an interesting post on Amarette`s blog about how she reviewed books for C&T Publishing as part of their Creative Troupe.  C&T are responsible for fabulous titles in quiltmaking, embroidery, sewing, fibre arts and their stash books, which I love - titles such as Block Party - The Modern Quilting Bee, City Quilts, Modern Blocks and Elizabeth Hartman`s soon to be released, Modern Patchwork!

I emailed the Creative Troupe, heard back within a couple of hours and had received my first book for review the next day - sent to me digitally. You can choose whichever C&T book you want to review.  Once you receive your book, you have 20 days to write your review and then you can ask for your next one.  How cool is that?

I could have chosen Zakka Style by Rachida Coleman Hale, and joined in the Zakka Style Sew Along, or Modern Mix by Jennifer Levitt or any other of C&T`s publications.  There are other perks too including product testing and discount offers. In fact now I have belatedly jumped in the Sample Swap for the FQ Retreat, I better get my hands on Zakka Style so that I can whip something up!  Off to email the Creative Troupe to get my copy.  Why don`t you give them an email too?

Friday, 27 April 2012

The World`s Postal System In Harmony

This is my 298th post and I have over 300 followers.  Surely we need to have a giveaway soon!

The postman returned yesterday.

Fabric enabler Di, or Super-Di, who lives in sunny Southern California offered to pick up some Denyse Schmidt fabrics and send them to me.  I said yes please, she did and they arrived! Thanks Di!

If you don`t know Di`s blog you should.  Hop over and say hi.  There is eye candy of all kinds over there. I only wish she was able to come to the retreat in June.
There were also X and Plus blocks from Kat and Kris in Australia for the Care Circle of do.Good Stitches.  There are 11 people in the Care Circle. These blocks are contributions from 4 of us. So we are well on the way to making a big quilt or 2 smaller ones. This quilt will be given to the Siblings Together charity, which you can read about here. Here`s a group photo of the new blocks with mine and Cindy`s.  They look very happy together!

A few weeks ago, an incredibly generous woman called Jennifer (Bessiemae on flikr) put a whole load of fabric stacks on flikr, which she was prepared to post anywhere in the world to people who had the time to make quilts but perhaps not the stash.  I quickly snapped up this pink and orange bundle and it finally arrived.  Thank you so much Jennifer for your amazing generosity! It will hopefully be backed with some fabric which is winging its way from another incredibly generous person, Katy!

I am responsible for piecing another Katy`s quilt in the round robin bee, Stitch Tease and she sent me her starter blocks, which are just so cool. Katy is after blocks which replicate the vehicles in her chosen fabric in yellows, teals, oranges and grey.

Katy`s block for the Stitch Tease bee

Katy`s block for the Stitch Tease Bee
How I`m going to do that in batiks and Civil War fabrics, I`ll never know!
Katy lives in Glasgow where my mum`s side of the family come from.  Knowing my love of Highland Toffee but unable to find any, Katy sent me some tablet and Edinburgh rock.  Tastes of my childhood.  As I said in an email to Katy last night, having teeth is seriously overrated. I couldn`t include the sweeties for technical reasons.  Uh em.

My winnings from Kati (yes, another one) arrived - These gorgeous cards based on Kati`s designs.

...and I whipped up this little Curious Nature pochette for a friend.  Why is it that one end is okay and the other is squishy?  Is there a sewing law that I`m unaware of?


Thank you for all your suggestions for the Curious Nature stained quilt - I think I`m leaning towards a mustard colour for the binding at the moment...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Scrappy Stained Man (Quilt) With a Curious Nature

Ta dah!

Curious Nature by Parson Grey
 Okay, it`s a semi-ta dah moment as this is only the top but I finished up the Stained quilt top today. Sarah did an incredible job with the instructions for 4 different blocks of which multiples were made.  I`m a visual learner and Sarah`s wonderful diagrams enabled me to make this quilt top pretty quickly although I cut for every block, which isn`t very factory production like is it? I`m pretty pleased with the colour placement as I didn`t plan at all - just cut away merrily hoping I would have enough fabric and that the colours would look well spread.

Here it is chilling on the kitchen floor. To make it a little bigger, I added a 5 inch border of the Herb solid (I wish I had gone slightly bigger) and then I just had to add a scrappy border.  You know me - I love a scrappy you can see from my header!

So there you have it. It needs a good press and a lot of threads pulled out. There will be a brief hiatus on this one as I have no batting or backing fabric for it and may take it with me to England next month.  There`s no worry.  It`s hotting up here and as this is for the hubster, he won`t be using it until the end of October at least! Any suggestions for the binding?  I feel it needs a pop.  A manly pop.

I`m waiting on so much post you wouldn`t believe.  Bee blocks, fabric, lovely winnings...the usual.  I did however have a lovely start to the week with a win over at Lynne`s yesterday...

 ...a set of Sew-Ichigo kitchen classics patterns by Kerry and Penny.  Thankfully, I didn`t have to wait long as they plopped into my inbox today!  Thank you so much Lynne, Kerry and Penny. Now I really do have to try out paper piecing....KATY???????

Friday, 20 April 2012

Man With a Stained Nature

Block 1 of the Stained Quilt using Curious Nature
After all this talk of dressmaking and enbroidery, did you think I`d abandoned quilting altogether?

I`m so late to this party, everyone is either stumbling in to a taxi or home and enjoying a hangover but today I hacked in to my Curious Nature FQs and ever so slightly belatedly joined Sarah`s Stained Quilt QAL! She`s very lovely and I`m hoping she`ll still have me.

I`ve been looking for a manly quilt design (is that an oxymoron?) and thought of Sarah`s design.  I had enough Herb solid and FQs and I`ve loved seeing my blogging friends show off their stained quilts.

This is a secret project for my husband.  Well I say secret.  I`ll be able to sew it in front of him, ask him to hold it while I take photos and he`ll still be none the wiser when he`s presented with the finished quilt. He lets me get on with my quilting.  Don`t hold his disinterest incurious attitude against him.  I would much prefer that than him clucking around asking if he can help! My mum will be reading this and thinking to herself, that isn`t going to happen in a million years!

This is the first of Block 1.  There are 3 in total and Block 1 is the largest.

I haven`t really read through all of Sarah`s very thorough instructions yet and haven`t done all the pre-cutting.  I`ve just gone for it.  No zip lock bags or Post Its here! Here`s hoping I don`t regret the planning stage!

Stained QAL

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Les Brodeuses

Okay, so it`s no masterpiece but I think I`m improving.

Like a good student, I took on board all your positive words, encouragement and advice for which I am very grateful! Aussie Susan thought the floss I was using may be too thick and suggested I buy some stranded DMC and use just a couple of strands and use cotton as opposed to linen.  Weirdly, DMC stranded cotton is available here at a third of the price it is back in England and so yesterday, Zaki and I made a trip to our sad little sewing shop and bought some.

I used my new book Doodle Stitching by Aimee Ray to learn the stitches, and used this doodle from the book as my inspiration.

 Having not bought any red DMC, the poppies quickly became fantasy flowers.

The fact that I should have been practicing my letters for the name tag swap has absolutely nothing to do with anything!

I`ll leave you with some real embroiderers from Morocco in 1920, and look it wasn`t just for girls!

Les Brodeuses, Mazagan, 1920 Geraud
...and just because , some Talking Heads for you after I heard this song on a film Zaki was watching - Open Season 2?, and I was immediately transported back to 1985.  Ahhh, the eighties....

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

I Have (a) Curious Nature

Firstly, I`m loving all the positivity about the dressmaking plans.  Thank you for all your comments. The books are ordered and a pattern too but they are going to my mum`s so not much will happen before we go back towards the end of May for you.know.what. We`ll be back in England for 3 whole weeks and just can`t wait!

Anyway, with pre-school hols there hasn`t been much sewing at all.

The postman made a welcome return today with this little package of loveliness.  I knew as soon as I saw Parson Grey`s Curious Nature that fabric diet or no fabric diet I had to have me some. I bought these 12 FQs from The Fat Quarter Shop and it came with a coordinating Kona Solid in Herb. I`m thinking a man quilt for my man and perhaps I`ll use my curved ruler.

Curious Nature by Parson Grey
Yesterday, I made a couple more x and plus blocks for the Care Circle of do.Good`s my month as quilter and the quilt(s) will be donated to Siblings Together.

...and the postie delivered a couple more from Cindy who hangs out on the emerald isle, and they fit in very nicely. Thank you Cindy!

Cindy`s blocks (top middle and bottom left)  

I`ve been playing with embroidery stitches. I hope to be able to embroider my partner`s name on her tag for the FQ Retreat.  It`s definitely harder than it looks. I`m sure I must have embroidered initials on a felt purse or needle case as a young child at school, but I`m counting this as a first attempt so be kind.

I was rubbish at back stitch.  How could that be?

I was better at Stem Stitch.

Passable French knots

Star stitches

A wonky lazy daisy

and there were attempts at letters of the alphabet but that would be telling...

That`s all for now - hope you are having a great week!


Monday, 16 April 2012

If You Snooze, You Lose.

 *Both swaps are now full*

The adorable Sunni and Jenelle are hosting a couple of mystery charm swaps.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

I always want the bad news first. Sign ups opened today. Sunni`s - a Mystery Polka Dot Charm Swap is full already!

The good news is that there is still time to sign up to Jennelle`s.

Orange / Aqua / Grey Mystery Charm Swap

Here`s the low down.
  • there are 27 spots open on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Jenelle will be selecting the orange, aqua and grey fabrics from Pink Chalk's amazing online inventory.
  • she will cut, sort, and mail the charm packs all under the utmost security. ;) The actual fabric choices will remain a mystery until the charm packs arrive.
  • this swap is open to international participants.
  • participants will buy in via PayPal.
  • sign-ups begin today and run through April 30th.
  • Jenelle will announce on her blog once each swap is filled.
  • Charms will be shipped before the end of May. 
Costs of the swap (including all shipping costs):
  • $15 - U.S. residents
  • $16 - Canada
  • $20 - International
If you snooze, you lose...

Friday, 13 April 2012

Thinking Outloud

I`ve been thinking quite a bit about my quilting recently and it dawned on me what a crazy hobbie it really is for a climate such as Morocco and particularly Marrakech.  I`m sure it`s a thought that has crossed many a visitor to this blog. You see, in the winter it`s way too cold for a quilt and in the summer, a sheet is way too hot let alone a quilt.  They are good for the `demie seasons` but sometimes the cooler weather only lasts a short few weeks.

Add into the mix the cost of importing fabric, notions and so forth, it`s expensive too.

My first sewing love was dressmaking, which I did quite a bit of as a teenager...knocking up eighties style skirts over night and wearing them to college the next day.  I even made ball gowns for `dos` at university - think hot pink, big shoulders, sweetheart neckline and leg o` mutton sleeves and a big full skirt.  It was the `80s.

Claire Hummel, Ariel
 I really want to try my hand again at making some clothes..I want to be able to take accurate measurements, make adjustments and perhaps...just perhaps make my own patterns.  The secret apparently is that you have basic blocks and then adapt each one to change a style. It`s just a question of knowing how.

So recently I found the most fabulous one on one tailoring and pattern cutting course with an amazing woman in London but fabulous courses come at fabulous prices, and for the moment this has to go on the back burner.

I`ve always thought of myself as a lifelong learner and have often usually had to rely on the self-taught method and now is no exception. So today I ordered two books, which have great reviews on amazon.

This one (which has the longest title known to man)  - How to Use, Adapt and Design Sewing Patterns: From Shop-bought Patterns to Drafting Your Own: A Complete Guide to Fashion Sewing with Confidence by Lee Hollahan available here

and this one  - Patternmaking for a Perfect Fit by Steffani Lincecum available here.

Don`t get me wrong, I`m still going to make quilts - I have a bucket list of things I still want to try but practically speaking I would like to try my hand at something I haven`t tried in a while and perhaps make something to wear for the FQ Retreat! Probably from a shop bought pattern. Of course, if it all goes wrong, we won`t mention it! We booked our flights to England I really can get excited!

Watch this space.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Third Time Lucky

4x5 Modern Quilt Bee blocks for Hive 4
With the little person on his school hols, there hasn`t been much sewing time. I have however squeezed under the wire with my 4x5 Modern Quilt Bee blocks for the 1st quarter - the Four Acres block from Modern Blocks. These are my last blocks for this bee for the time being.  I haven`t signed up for the 2nd quarter as I have enough going on but who knows, it may be something I shall go back to later in the year.

The postman made a welcome return after a week or so`s absence.  I seem to be waiting on lots of stuff at the moment, and when I returned from lunch out with hubby and said little person there were a couple of packages waiting.
Quick Curve Ruler
 Jenny`s curved ruler showed up.  The third to be exact. You may recall the first arrived cracked.  When I told Jenny, she immediately emailed back saying she had already posted another. Well the second arrived - cracked in exactly the same place.  When I told Jenny about the second one, she immediately responded saying she had sent another and would keep sending them until one arrived in the perfect condition it was sent. Well butter fingers in the mail room must have been on his hols and nothing to do with Jen`s harder to get into than Fort Knox packaging but the third has arrived in pristine condition. Her rulers are beautifully packaged and are marked `Fragile` more than once.

As I opened my ruler today, I thought to myself, if this baby is broken I`ll just tell Jenny it`s okay.  Phew.  I was saved from having to fib.  This is beyond amazing customer service from Jenny.   Thank you so much! She even snuck in her Urban Birthday pattern.  Thank you!  I can`t wait to make something using the ruler.  There are some great designs coming out of the Designer Challenge on the Fat Quarterly blog here using Jenny`s rulers.

We Bee Modern Too Lemons & Limes block for Caroline
Here`s April`s block in the We Bee Modern Too bee - the Lemons and Limes block for Caroline. That pink stripey fabric is so pretty.

I also received this book in the post today, which I ordered after seeing it on Katy`s blog. I`m hoping it`s going to teach me some embroidery stitches for my partner`s name tag in the FQ Retreat Name Tag Swap.  I have known about my partner for a few weeks now but have been like a rabbit in headlights.  Let`s just say she is funny, uber talented and very generous.  I know - it seems like that description could just about be anyone right?

On the subject of the FQ Retreat, which is now only a few weeks away, I`m hoping to book my flight tonight and then it really will seem like I`m going!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Saturday MashUp

Zaki broke up from school yesterday for a 2 week holiday.  The children were asked to wear fancy dress.  There was only one solution.

Dinosaur fancy dress
For those of you who read this blog regularly, you may remember the saga of the dinosaur costume, which we bought for mildly dinosaur obsessed Zaki as a Christmas present.  The sales assistant at the dinosaur shop in the Natural History Museum left the security tags on. After contemplating buying tag removers from ebay or smashing the no doubt permanent ink filled tags,sanity prevailed and The Natural History Museum in London were super helpful and removed the tags and reimbursed the postage. Best friend Louie came as a pirate, Mia as a bee and Yacout was a cat.

It`s not a holiday here but it felt a little like one.  Perhaps it was because of some gentle sewing while watching High Society on Channel 5.

While I appreciate Parisville is so last year or even the year before, I feel about Tula Pink`s Parisville like many people feel about Denise Schmidt`s Flea Market Fancy.  My scraps are diminishing and a pouch is a way of having your own portable collection of personal eye candy so yesterday, I made a little pouch. It was the first time I used interfacing as opposed to batting, and I really like the more streamlined finish it gives,

Parisville scrappy pouch
When your children are young, you witness development on an almost daily basis...yesterday I came downstairs from making lunch to find that scribbles had turned into drawings.  I had become Mummy Potato Head. "Look mummy, you have your arms above your head!"  I love being Mummy Potato Head.

Zaki`s drawing

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Case of the Abandoned Grannies...

has a happy ending...or rather a happy middle bit...(who am I kidding? I`m not even a quarter way there yet) with another 5 happy scrappy grannies joining the group. They are reminding me of golf jumpers.

I know you have heard a gigillion times before how great these are to make.  Well that`s because they are.  Here are a couple of my favourite blocks so far.

This muted blue and green one.  The first grannie I made.

...and I`m fond of its neighbour, this green and orange one too.

The lazy side of me is tapping me on the shoulder and suggesting that I lay them in a chequerboard design like this...well almost like this...blogger has turned the photo round.

...with perhaps a fun solid...what do you think? This is a happy scrappy quilt...and I`m thinking something fun.  Any suggestions?  No immediate decisions needed yet as I have a way to go yet but it`s fun playing!

Monday, 2 April 2012

Supersize Me - Siblings Together

No please don`t supersize me.  I`m supersized enough thank you very much.

It`s my turn to be head honcho of the Care Circle of the do.Good Stitches group this month. I was struggling to come up with a cohesive plan and then in a serendipitous moment, I saw this post by Lynne at Lily`s Quilts. I immediately knew I wanted the Care Circle to do their bit.

That clever Lynne at Lily`s Quilts had gently pushed a small pay it forward snowball which quickly turned in to an incredible avalanche across blogland.  She had put a call out for quilts to benefit a charity called Siblings Together.  It helps children in the care system who are separated from their siblings.  A staggering 81 per cent of children in the UK care system are separated from their brothers and sisters. Amongst other initiatives, Siblings Together arranges for some of these separated siblings to go to camp together.

Lynne`s idea is that children attending camp will go away with their own special quilt. Something that is theirs. You can read about the camps here.  The next one is in July and this is where you could come in.  Can you make a block or two for the group projects which have started on flikr here and here?  Do you have the stash but no time and could donate fabric?  Do you have a quilt which you could donate? Are you living in the UK and could turn a quilt top sent from abroad in to a quilt?  Then check out the flikr group here.

So the Care Circle - a group of amazingly giving and talented women scattered across the globe, will do their bit by making supersize X and Y blocks. Using Amy`s tutorial for construction, the blocks measure 11 and 3/4 " unfinished unlike the original 8 and 1/2" of Amy`s blocks.

Here`s my first two blocks but as I`m hoping we might be able to make 2 quilts, I shall make some more.  Excuse the wonk - they really aren`t wonky. Promise. This block is great fun to make and comes together quickly and easily.  I`ve asked for scrappy gender neutral blocks but I`m thinking we will inevitably have one more masculine than the other. Hopefully for a brother and sister.

Quilts for Siblings Together

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Fresh Sewing Day - April Fool`s Day Edition

1. My Beautiful Mini Package, 2. Block 1 for my Stitch Tease quilt, 3. A4 Notebook Cover, 4. Not available, 5. Kaffe Fasset Selvedge Pouch Zipper Ends, 6. Block 2 for my Stitch Tease quilt, 7. March Block for Heather, 8. FTLOS2 Mini and front of Matching Pouch, 9. Block for Amber, 10. My Swap Package, 11. Block for Leigh, 12. Scrappy Grannies

Well I guess I shouldn`t be too disappointed as there were the usual block makes for bees including the big HST block for the Care Circle of do.Good Stitches and my starter blocks for the Stitch Tease bee, a notebook cover for Sunni`s Farmer`s Wife in Your Life series, some scrappy grannies, a couple of pouches and the interviews for the My Modern Muse series.

I cheated a tad by including the two beautiful swap makes I received from Ali and Jeanette. As Hadley said last week as we were astride our mules trekking through the Ourika Valley, for those people who just look at the photos, they`ll think I made them!

How did your month go?

Linking up to Lynne`s Fresh Sewing Day. It`s a great place to check out what others have been up to and grab some inspiration.  You can also check out Lynne`s Small Blog Meet and follow a few smaller but no less inspirational blogs.

Lily's Quilts