Thursday, 29 November 2012


I have recently come back from a trip to the American southwest with British Patchwork and Quilting.  I have made some lovely friends on this trip and met up with some 'older' friends from previous trips. Even though I have only been on 3 trips  with P&Q,  I am starting to feel like part of the 'family'.

The tour started in Santa Fe, New Mexico and then moved on to Colorado, where we visited Durango, Colorado Springs and Golden as well as a 2 day seminar with Ricky Tims in La Veta. We had plenty of stops at quiltshops as well as some wonderful trips such as the Silverton train and Pikes Peak Cog railway and the Mesa Verde and an unscheduled stop at Four Corners!  Other trips included Estes Park, Denver,  Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where there was the most wonderful quilt displayed in the visitor centre.

Some of us then went on to Las Vegas and then to the North rim of the Grand canyon and Zion National Park.  On our last day, we were given the Team Colorado challenge, with a deadline of 28th March 2013.  Being organised and not one for leaving things to the last minute, I decided to make a start on this last weekend and starting drawing out my designs.  I have all along known that I wanted to base mine on 'Kokopelli', a mythical figure, being the god of fertility and agriculture and now a major tourist 'souvenir' of the southwest.  We saw Kokopelli's everywhere, in New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona and Nevada and even in Utah.  The challenge is for a quilt 20" square, no theme specified, just to be a celebration of our trip.

Of course, once I started putting my mind to it, I couldn't switch off and decided there and then what colours to use and the layout and even had some sort of quilting pattern idea although that changed once I had the quilt pieced.

'Santa Fe colours'

My 'Kokopelli' all ready and prepared for appliqué

Started quilting on Monday morning

My inspiration was firstly 'Kokopelli' but also the 'Santa Fe colours', turquoise with earthy tones and as we have been to Las Vegas, I had to incorporate a little bit of glitz too.  I used curved piecing (thanks to Ricky) and have inset both the borders. The fabrics are all from Ricky Tims's studio.  My initial idea for
the quilting was to stitch  pictographs in the border, (Kokopelli is one of a number of symbols that can be seen carved in rocks in this area), but I decided against this as it would be more appropriate in just earthy colours and the bright colours in this quilt did not 'sit' well with this idea.  I decided in stead to use some of the Navajo symbols and shapes.  I have left 4 little squares in the corners of the inner border (in green), this is to represent 'Four Corners', which is the only place in America where 4 states meet at the same place.

I have just finished the binding and all I now have to do, is stitch a sleeve and label on the back.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Jewel box daisy

I am SO happy right now.  I started this quilt a month ago and finished it today.  Cutting out and sewing together all the blocks was so easy and was 'speed' pieced together in no time at all.  I knew I had a deadline to meet (today was my target date), so I needed to get on with the quilting.
Off course, nothing ever goes exactly to plan and when I started ironing my backing piece, which had been pre-washed, I discovered a red thread running through the white fabric, approximately halfway down!  I had specially bought this piece, which is extra wide backing, and now, when I am about to start quilting, I had to drop everything and go shopping for another piece in the same colour!  This was just not happening, we were about to go away for a long weekend with friends and I had no time for shopping, but I had a plan!
Having looked up where the nearest quilt shops are at our weekend destination, I started scheming how I was going to get to the quilt shops.  Lucky for me, my dear friend is also a quilter, so we packed the men off walking and shopping we went.  First quilt shop we got to had closed a long time ago (no updates on internet), so my hopes were on the second shop, which turned out to be set up in a residential area in someones conservatory!  Needs must so in we went.  Of course, no extra wide fabrics in stock, so I just had to buy some other lovely little fabric bundles that I fell in love with.  Don't they just look divine?  No idea yet what I will do with them.

I finally managed to track down some more backing fabric the following week, so set about to start quilting.  I didn't really want to do an all over pantograph design, even though for me, this would be the quickest way to get it quilted.  The quilt is a leaving present for someone that have been in our lives for the last 8 years and I wanted it to be a special quilt.

I wanted to separate the border areas of the quilt and make them frame the main body of the quilt, and this for me means freemotion quilting, so I started doodling my initial designs out on paper.  The fabric I used to make the quilt is from Moda and called 'Sunkissed'  and the fabrics included daisies, scrolls, circles and script.  This was my starting point.

I settled on large oversized daisies in the same style as the daisies in the fabric and then marked out where I wanted to quilt the daisies. In the open areas in between the daisies,  I decided to quilt scrolls, these would have to be done freestyle as the spaces between the daisies were not uniform.  The background was then filled in with pebbling.

The inner border was quilted in a scroll design, I did drew this out first so that I could be sure that it would fill the border space exactly.  The outside border was quilted with a pantograph, which consisted mainly of scrolls, but had some daisy petal shapes, which tied the whole design nicely together.

I have just ordered some new labels for putting on my quilts and these came this morning, which meant I could sew the binding in place and the quilt is now ready.

This quilt is all about sunshine and happiness so I hope that by giving this quilt, I can share all this with the person receiving it.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Christmas gift bags

Today I have managed to make 6 of these little bags.  It is such a simple pattern, which closes at the top with snap rods, made from carpenters tape, so no fixings required.  They are so easy to make and the possibilities are endless with all the lovely Christmas fabrics available now.
At first I wanted to stick to a theme and do them so that they all fit into the theme, but then I thought 'Maybe not, if we are going to use them every year, it might be more exciting if you don't know which bag you are going to get next'
The idea is that I will make lots of these gift bags in different sizes and we can re-use them every year.
With 4 kids and them all buying something for each other, we do use a LOT of wrapping paper, so this will be good for the environment!  Then it would of course be nice to have a few bags ready to give to  friends and family too.
The first few were made from a pattern by Stitchin' Sisters called Snap Happy 2.            
It was fine when I was making just one bag at a time, but when I decided to make a few, I modified the pattern so that I could have a 'production line' and this also meant I did not have to keep changing the colour of the thread on my machine.

On one of the bags, I had just enough fabric to cut out the outside piece, but not enough for the triangle tag, so I thought it might be nice to use ribbon in stead.  I had some red ribbon and as I played with it, it occurred to me that if I folded the ribbon into  a loop, I would be able to attach a gift tag to this loop. So, I abandoned the triangle tags and started attaching ribbons in stead.

On another bag, I used a directional print, and oh no, disaster, it looked lovely on the front, but the pictures on the back of the bag were upside down!  So, I decided to cut directional prints differently.  In stead of using one piece of fabric, I needed 2 identical pieces, which then get stitched back together so that the prints face opposite directions (this seam will not show up as it will be on the base of the bag).  Just remember to sew them together on what is to be the 'bottom' of the bag.
Of course, if it is a directional print,  you have to be careful how you cut it as you might end up with vertical stripes on your bag, when you wanted horizontal stripes, like I did in the picture below (LOL).

I am planning on doing some bags with a small thin ribbon loop next to the triangle tags, and will post a picture of these when I am done.
Today is my first ever blog, so it has taken hours of reading up on how to set up and then start the blogging process, I will learn as I go along. Hopefully, in the process I will learn a lot more about my computer and doing the 'blog' will encourage me to start more new projects and complete more of the famous UFOs.  I will also build up a record of what I do all day, so should anyone be so cheeky as to ask, I can point them in the direction of this blog.