Well it isn't really a fail. I just haven't managed to finish it for the final link up.  It is however a hugely significant piece to me. Thanks to Jen Kingwell's beautiful pattern - I have discovered hand sewing! And I LOVE IT!
I had attempted hand sewing before but gave up as it was slow and didn't look as good as my machine work. As I had joined up with a quilt-a-long and I had the encouragement of the wonderful community on Instagram I  pushed on. The result was once I got over the awkwardness I first felt, I began to see the benefit of having something small and portable. It is more social. I can sew while my kids play in the paddling pool. I can sew while my hubby watches his shows in the evening.  I can sew while popping over to my sister's for a cuppa and now that school is back I have something to do while I sit in the car queue outside the school. 
I love hand sewing so much that I have started another hand sewing project. This is also by Jen Kingwell and is call 'Green Tea and Sweet Beans'. I am debating whether or not to do it entirely by hand as opposed to MATO where I only did the applique by hand. It is a huge revelation for me - I am a born again quilter! Ha ha.  
Take care and try and do a little of what you love each day. 


PS where did January go? 
Lately I have been enjoying making cushions (or pillows to my American readers). I have also been enjoying playing with a new toy. My Slice Fabrique cutter cuts the cutest little applique shapes, though what I got it for was the fonts. I have many ideas for projects for children (cushions and wall hangings) and like the idea of putting the child's name on it. The Slice cutter cuts the letters in a variety of sizes and is a welcome toy to my craft stable. 
To cut the shapes fusible web is applied to the back of the fabric and once it is cut the shapes is fused to the background and stitched down by machine. I hope the gorgeous children these are intended for enjoy them. I had fun making them and have quite a few more ideas in mind for other young friends.
I also have used the Slice cutter to make some little gifts for my Mum and sister. 
Take care and try and do a little of what you love each day. 

Wow! Where did 2013 go? Did anyone else think the year just flew past? One year ago I started this blog. I have really enjoyed sharing my quilting adventures with anyone kind enough to drop by. I set my self a challenge of a quilt a month and I am happy to say all the tops are finished. I am yet to quilt some of them and am well behind in blogging about them. I will catch up on blogging over the next few weeks and hopefully will have pictures of fully completed, quilted and bound quilts to share. I do have pictures of a few projects to share though. 
2013 was my oldest son's first year at school and it was the best possible start to his education. The reason he had such a brilliant year was down to the care and efforts of his wonderful teacher. As a token of how much we appreciated her efforts I made her a table runner. I had so many idea and really struggled with what to make. I happened by chance to spy a charm square pack at my local quilt shop and that was it. I knew what I wanted to make. 
At the beginning of the year, Mrs Dunn gave all parents a lovely poem about how she would care for our babies and attached to the letter was a little butterfly. At the same quilt shop I happened to spy a butterfly stencil and knew I needed that too. I quilted this simply the straight lines except for the butterflies. I hope you can see them in the photo. 
The picture above is a quilt I quilted for the lovely Angie of GnomeAngel. It is a gorgeous quilt. I was so anxious about quilting for someone else, although it is a direction I want to go in. I still have great doubts about whether what I did is good enough but it was honestly the best I could do. I quilt on a home domestic sewing machine and I like doing it that way. The problem is that big patterns like these circles are hard to keep smooth as I have to pause and re-position my hands often. In hind sight I should have done a smaller pattern so it would be smoother and less 'organic'. I probably also should have done something I had done before and knew I could do well. Saying that, I think the quilting looks like I imagined it would and I will use this pattern on one of my quilts in the near future, possibly my 'Scrappy Trip-A-Long'.  I was aiming for the circular rippling pattern that rain drops make in a puddle - circles to contrast with all the squares. 

Welcome 2014!  May you bring lots of sewing!

I haven't blogged for a few weeks. Life has just been a bit ... bleurghh. Nothing major - just feeling tired and lacking motivation. I have managed to do a bit of sewing though and would like to share my progress on my Midnight at the Oasis quilt. I am a little behind many of the others in the quilt-a-long but I am looking forward to lazy days over the next few weeks and catching up. 
I didn't follow the instructions for the applique border. Normal technique would involve doing the applique and then attaching the borders. I was disappointed when I attached all the orange peels (read here) as it didn't look like I imagined. So I attached the borders and then arranged the applique pieces as I didn't want to have a similar reaction when I put it all together. I used the same method I did for the orange peels to prepare all the shapes for the circles and flowers and attached then with applique basting glue (Roxanne's). It has taken me weeks but all the pieces are stitched down and now it is time for the churn dash border. 
These blocks are 3" finished. So tiny and so cute. I was worried about them but they are addictive. I used my AccuQuilt 1" HST die to cut corner blocks and then made the rest using strip piecing and a centre block. 

They are tiny and so easy to mess up if your 1/4" isn't spot on. I used a thin thread and smaller than normal needle to help improve my accuracy.  The truth of the matter will be revealed though when I attach all of them when they are done. 

I have had some issues using the die. A lot of threads weren't cutting properly. This is the first issue I have had with any of my (rather numerous) collection of dies. I did try another method to make the churn dash blocks and have to admit to being rather chuffed at how they turned out. I though I'd share the method I used as a bit of a tutorial. I should admit I didn't come up with this method but can not remember where I first saw it done. Sorry, anyway this is what I did. 
I made pinwheel blocks using my 2" finished HST die. I chained pieced 4 pairs and then joined them together. If you were cutting this normally you would cut a 2 7/8" squares in half (you need 2 squares or 4 triangles of each colour).
Then I made 1 1/2" cuts horizontally and vertically across the blocks. These cuts gives 9 little blocks measuring 1 1/2" each. A little rearranging of the blocks makes a churn dash block with a extra tiny pinwheel block in the middle. 
Amazingly making the blocks this way measures 3 1/2" (unfinished) and even more surprisingly they are the same size as the other ones I made. I swapped the centre pinwheel around to make it a little more interesting and to contrast with the rest of the block so the churn dash stands out more. 

I have been sewing a few other things but will leave them for another post. I hope everyone is well and managing to do a little bit of what you love each day. 

It is only a quick post this week as it has been one of those weeks. Sick child, new puppies and husband away for work. No point complaining as I still managed to sew a little. Recently I got the new hunters star die by AccuQuilt and just had to try it out. I love it and can see a quilt using this pattern in my future. It was so fast and went together perfectly. Months (possibly years) ago I made a Dora the explorer quilt for the cute daughter of a friend. I kept meaning to give it to her but wanted to make something for her brother as well. As soon I found this robot fabric in my stash I knew this would be it. 
The red solid fabric and the black and white chevron fabric seemed just perfect together. I quilted it using a pattern of interlocking squares. I have done this pattern before and love the texture it gives. It went well with the robot fabric as it looked a little like a circuit board. I quilted this using my walking foot, pivoting with the needle down and turning 90 degrees. I would not quilt a bigger quilt using a walking foot as it would be too hard to turn the quilt so often. I have done this pattern using a free motion foot successfully, though it was a little harder to get right angles and straight lines. I used my new love 50 wt Aurifil in silver. Love, LOVE this thread. To make it a little more special I applique Kyle's name on the back. I have heard from the children's parents that they like the gifts which makes me very happy. Incidentally printed panels (like Dora above) make great free motion practice pieces.
Hope you are all having a good week and finding time to do a little bit of 
sewing or whatever it is you love to do. 

Take care 
The topic for this weeks blog past is another little project. It is not a cushion this time but a little table topper. I have written in the past about how much I love my Go! Baby die cutter by AccuQuilt. So when I got some new dies this week I just had to make something. You know how it is, sometimes you just need to start something new, regardless of how many other projects you already have on the go or how much housework needs doing. 

I did this all by machine, hence it was quick and easy. I also got to try out some new thread. 100% cotton mako by Aurifil. I am in love! It is so smooth and has a beautiful sheen. I used it for both the piecing and quilting. It was a dream.  

I also tried a new method for finishing it. Rather than bind around so many corners I decided to stitch the backing face down on the top, stitch around it, leaving a small gap and then turn inside the other way. Like a pillow case.

I marked a small flower in the centre of the hexagons and then using my new love - Aurifil, I stitched around the design. In the outside ring of half hexagons I free motion quilted a feather using the seam as a spine. I found on the first ring that when I completed the ring the last feather plume can look a little awkward where it joins with the first one.  I have had this problem before when quilting feathers on borders of quilts.  This time I found though that if I started with a half plume (think half heart shape) that when I complete the ring it was easier to make a smooth connection.  
I am linking up with Gemma again (see her I-quilt-linky party button on side bar). Take care and try and do a little bit of what you love each day. 

It is Thursday and I am linking up to Pretty Bobbins I Quilt linky party. I have just read Gemma blog post about confidence and it has got me thinking. Why are we out own worst critics? 

Recently I have been working on my Midnight at the Oasis. This quilt has been a journey and I am only one border in. I managed to keep up with the QAL and finish 20 orange peel blocks by hand! I have attempted hand applique before but had never even finished one block, so I was a bit chuffed. I was even starting to enjoy handwork and was congratulating myself on a job reasonably well done. That is until....I started sewing them together. My heart sunk, I felt like crying. It just didn't look nice. My orange peels didn't meet up nicely and I felt like giving up. I probably would have done just that, if the lovely peeps of Instagram hadn't encouraged my by their kind comments and likes. 
When I look at this picture I realize my aversion to this quilt it isn't as strong now. I think the problem is in my head. I have a strong idea of how I want my quilts and projects to look and when that doesn't happen, it can be disappointing. It doesn't necessarily mean it doesn't look good though. I have had projects in the past, that half way through I don't like but when I persevere I start to like them again. In fact more often than not I have a crisis of confidence mid way through a project. My hubby is very good as encouraging me to keep going, just another reason to love him. I have had a few days off from my MATO and I am almost ready to start the next border. I will link up with the QAL on Friday (button in my side bar).

When a project is a gift the confidence problem can even be worse. The sunshine cushion above was made as a gift for a friend. I personally love handmade gifts - they cost more than money in a way. They contain time, energy and emotions. But when I am the one giving the gift (Gemma mentioned this too) I worry that it isn't good enough. It helps though is I like something and I happen to like this little cushion.
This cushion is made from parallelograms (I love saying that word) cut quickly and easily using my AccuQuilt Go Baby. I quilted it at first using my walking foot. I echoed the seam lines using the edge of the foot as a guide. I then filled in the spaces between with some of my favourite fillers all inspired very much by the work of Angela Walters.  It is hard to see in the pictures - I used spirals, pebbles, feathers and dense back and forth lines. I have said it before (and not doubt will say it again), cushions (pillows) are a great way to increase skill and boost confidence. I have a few others on the go. They have both been quilted using my walking foot, I just need to make the backs and finish them off. 
Take care and enjoy what you do. If you have fun making something, don't criticize it - love and enjoy it. 

I have really been enjoying linking up to Gemma from Pretty Bobbins weekly I-Quilt Linky party. It has helped me get out a blogging rut. I have gone from once a month to once a week and soon hopefully even more frequently. I have enjoyed very much looking at other peoples quilting and reading all the hints and tips especially those that come from Gemma. I am delighted that a few weeks ago Gemma featured my post (and pictures of my cushions) on her blog.

I have been following Gemma on Instagram and really love her work. It is funny the week she wrote about stippling I had thought about doing a post on stippling. Then this week I thought I'd write about how I have grown as a quilter. Lo and behold Gemma's post is about growth! (great minds....)
I'd though I'd share some pictures of my FMQ practice pieces. Some are very cringe worthy but I don't mind sharing. We all have to start somewhere and I am so glad I discovered my love of quilting. I honestly love it and find myself wanting to volunteer to quilt other people's quilts. 

At first I used slubby old thread from my dressmaking stash and nasty unbleached calico to practice on. Then I read you should use the best materials available to practice with. It made sense - why learn to stitch with thread I'd never use on a quilt top. So here are some pictures of some of my practice pieces. Enjoy the uneven stitches and lots of very jagged curves. I have included some more recent pictures so hopefully you can the see improvement. 

The following is the same motif done 3 years apart. I know which one 1 prefer. 
I now tend to mark my quilts a lot less, especially for more modern quilts. I also don't so as many practice pieces and just start stitching straight on to a quilt top. Being prepared to rip out the stitches if necessary, unfortunately this is more often than I'd like to admit. I also have made some of my better practice pieces into something useful, like the mini quilt following which I use as a dust cover for my machine. 
Take care and try to do a little of what you love each day

I am so excited. I have decided to participate in a 'quilt-a-long' for the beautiful Midnight at the Oasis  by Jen Kingwell. The picture on the left is Jen's beautiful quilt. The pattern is available from Amitie Textiles. It is also published in Quiltmania magazine (issue 96).  It is being hosted by Jess of The Elven Garden and Sharon of Fabric and Flowers. 

I am loving looking at all the different versions of this quilt. All of them are gorgeous and colourful but very different. I have chosen orange as my background fabrics and a palette of greens, blues and yellows to go with it. I think this quilt would also look great in traditional, more subdued reproduction fabrics. Hmm. Maybe I will make a repro one next time but for now I will stick to my brights. 

Jess from The Elven Garden has written a great post on the different ways of doing the orange peel blocks. I tried a few different ways including needle turn applique like Jess (the Sarah Fielke method) and the freezer paper method. What I found worked best for me was heat proof mylar templates and spray starch. 
At first I tried using a thread to pull up the fabric up around the template but that was a bit hit and miss with the corners. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. I then simply painted some spray starch along the outside edges and pressed one side over the template and then the other. Finally I folded the corners in. I really like how they turned out and it was so easy. I would recommend a dry iron as your fingers do NOT want steam anywhere near them (ask me how I know). The biggest tip I could give, is to make sure you cut the orange peels so that the sides are on the bias, it makes it much easier to get smooth curves. 
I am plodding along slowly with this. My hand stitching is slow, but it has been nice to have something portable and to be able to sit outside while my sons play or sit beside hubby in the evening. I am linking to the Midnight at the Oasis QAL. See the cute button on my side bar.
I thought I'd also link up to Gemma from Pretty Bobbins. She has some great tips on thread and tension issues. I thought I'd share somethings I have learnt. Like Gemma and Jess I use a Bernina 440QE. I don't often have tension issues but when they do happen, often all that is needed is to thread the machine again (with the foot up - thanks Gemma).  Sometimes, though when using a fine thread (Bottom line by Superior threads 60W) and doing tiny filler stitches, I find I need a tighter bobbin tension. The easiest way to do this on machine is to thread the bobbin thread through the little hole in the top of the hook on the bobbin case (see pics). 
I have been sewing lots lately, so should have some lovelies to share soon. Wishing Gemma all the best with her move.

Take care
Hello. Hope everyone has had a good week. I have managed to finish up a couple of quilts and excitingly will try to sell them. I thought I should also catch up on my self imposed 2013 quilt challenge. Seeing as it is October already, seriously where has this year gone.

I have thoroughly enjoyed making different quilts and sharing them on this blog, instagram and pinterest.  Even more than that I have enjoyed seeing the same patterns made up by others. It is amazing how fabric and quilting design can make a quilt look completely different. 

I thought I check in on my 12 quilts in 12 months challenge

January : Groove - completed finished and framed and on the wall in my family room - It is 10 months too late but I will do a post on this soon with lots of pictures. I had fun with lots of different FMQ patterns
February : Scrappy Trip Around the World - Top done!
March : Swoon - completed and on my guest bed
April : Dancing Stars - completed and gifted to my mum and currently living on her wall
May: St Louis 16 patch - completed and snuggled under on cold nights
June : Retro Rubies - err, umm IN PROGRESS
July : Scrap Vomit top done, second scrap vomit half done! I love LOVE this pattern
August : City Blocks - completed and gifted
September : On a Whim - completed - pictures in this post 
October : Granny Squares - completed - sneak peak in this post with more to come soon. 
November : don't know yet!
December : 'Midnight at the Oasis' by Jen Kingwell. This one is going to be a challenge to complete on time but it will be a great one to finish the year on. It has hand stitching! 

September's Quilt

September's quilt was 'On a Whim' by Camille Roskelley of Thimble Blossoms. I didn't use Camille's measurements. I wanted to cut the pattern using my Go! Baby by AccuQuilt so my blocks were 12" instead of 15". I love how easy it was. This is such a pretty pattern. I would love to see it in reproduction fabrics as I think it would look great. I chose some on my Denyse Schmidt prints and Kona White which I bought by the bolt of from Green Tangerine Quilts.

Right from the start I thought I would quilt this using a grid of wavy lines like the border fabric. Well. I started it and didn't like it. Good lesson in being ready to change your mind. After ripping it out. I decided to stipple!!! I used lots of exclamations marks because I don't stipple. Can't stipple. It is funny, I can do feathers and all sorts of free motion designs but have never managed to stipple which for many is the first FMQ design they do. It just doesn't look right when I try it. This time, it worked and I liked it. It gives a softer texture than some other designs. Actually the quilt is rather snuggly. 
The secret I discovered after 4 years of trying was to work out my scale and stick to it. I tried to keep the pattern just over 1/2" apart. I think it was a Leah Day video in which she said to use a guide to keep the scale even. I used my thumb, which very conveniently happened to be nearby. My problem with stippling though has been direction, or rather lack of it.  I'd meander off in a direction and get lost. When I returned to fill in an area the stippling just looked wrong and not at all attractive.  

This time I never stitched more than my thumb distance from another line of stitching. This meant I didn't get lost. Kind of like keeping your right hand on a wall when you are in a maze. Because I kept a constant distance from previous lines of stitching I didn't end up with awkward moments. I also tried to picture ginger bread men and fat alien fingers when quilting. Hmmm. Not sure that makes sense. Sorry.

October's Quilt - Granny Squares

Using the same fabrics as my 'On a Whim' quilt and my Go! Baby again to quickly cut the squares - I finally made my 'Granny Squares' quilt. This pattern has been on my challenge list since the beginning. I am not sure who originally came up with the pattern, or at least who started the on-line popularity of it. It is really quite a simple block and I have seen antique variations of it. I love how some blocks are timeless.  My blocks are 12" with 2 1/2" sashing. 

I have doubled up this post showing two quilts because I am.......(drum roll) putting these up for sale in Etsy store. It has been ages since I have tried to sell something. I really need to sell something to try and recoup some of the money this hobby drains. I keep telling my sweet, lovely, wonderful and generous husband that I can run a business doing something I love. So far, funds have only be going out! I am not expecting to make a fortune but I would like to fund my next project at the very least. So it you know anyone who'd like a lovely little quilt (or 2) please forward on my details. More details on my shop page. 
I am linking up to Gemma at Pretty Bobbins like last week.  I was going to write about threads as suggested but had to finish these up first. Sorry Gemma. I will write something for next week.

Take care and do a little of what you love each day

The Elven Garden