Wednesday, 1 April 2020

A MINI ADVENTURE

When I Met Tula! 

I don't think I ever told you about the time I met Tula Pink - major fan girl moment, I was really impressed with myself that I actually managed to get whole sentences out and they even made some sense!






There's always that worry that if you meet an idol or someone you greatly admire, they may not quite live up to expectations etc, but she really did! Tula was so kind and down to earth, she walked around the room before hand, talking to everyone, having a little sit down looking at the projects people had brought along, giving advice and just generally being lovely.








She then went on to give a brilliant lecture on how she started out in this business, what inspires her, her design process and thought process - the whole thing was wonderfully inspiring and a very insightful look at the fabric designing and manufacturing industry.

A couple of people asked questions about a fabrics 'life cycle', why certain fabrics are only made in seemingly small quantities and never reprinted, the responses I found quite fascinating as I've not got a great deal of experience in the manufacturing side of things. It certainly went a long way to explaining why the resale of some of her earlier lines is down right extortionate in some cases - I will add that this is through private sales and not something she can control.






What is the point of all this you are probably wondering? Not much, I simply adore Tula Pink and wanted to share my love of her fabric and creativity before I go on to show you a mini quilt I made for a Tula Swap. I found it rather difficult to cut into my Tula stash, especially knowing it was going to two other homes and not staying with me, but I got there in the end.








The only real request made from my swap partner was for the purple butterfly from the Eden collection to feature somewhere in the mini quilt, so with that as my starting point I set out a Tula colour wheel to see what jumped out at me. I knew I wanted a mix of prints and solids, but had no design in mind and opted for a more experimental approach of building the quilt as I went.









I had settled on some kind of New York Beauty and Flying Geese combo because I just love them and the endless possibilities there are when using the fabulous book, but that was it I didn't follow a specific pattern so they were both totally unique.







I played around with each section as I had only pinned them in place on my design wall - I often do this if I'm experimenting with a quilt design or playing with my own take on an existing pattern, rather than sewing it up and having to unpick it. When I am happy with a section and I know I won't be changing it then I go ahead and stitch it in place. 






I didn't want two totally identical mini quilts, so for the second I added in some fussy cut pattern matching. It was the first time I had tried it with facial features, it's not perfect if you look very closely but I'm happy with it for a first attempt and I can report that my partner who ended up with this one loved it.








There were so many patterns and varying prints to choose from that it did take a while for me to actually set this one in its final background, where I had used solids for most of the outer rings I wanted a striking print, eventually it was the lovely Deity elephant from Eden in Orchid that won. 






I really enjoy making mini quilts and have been in several mini swaps over the years, there is something quite satisfying about being able to make a quilt from start to finish is a day or a weekend depending on design, even if it is a mini one!

Happy Quilting
Kerry xx

Monday, 23 March 2020

WHY DO YOU QUILT?

A Question Often Asked




I've had this post rattling around in my head for a while, something has always stopped me writing it, I'm not sure what really but now in the midst of 'isewlation' due to this horrid Coronavirus outbreak it seems like a good time to finally get it out. For those of you that have read the dreaded 'C' word and immediately got put off - it is the only time it appears here.


What on earth are you doing? What's the point in cutting up perfectly good pieces of fabric into smaller pieces and sewing it back together? Why do you even want to do that?

Honest questions that I get asked all the time, mostly on holiday or on the train when I am desperately trying to grow my EPP project that should have been finished in May 2019:




Questions that are usually followed by 'oooh I just wouldn't have the patience'. Historically quilting was far more utilitarian born out of a need to keep warm at night but with little resource and scare supplies, so any small piece of fabric that could be used, was added to another until larger pieces were made and then turned into quilts. Nowadays though for a lot of people, this isn't the case, blankets can be bought in all forms and fabric is available in abundance - so why do we quilt?

I've long been of the opinion that buying fabric and making anything out of it, in my case quilts, are two entirely separate hobbies, unfortunately my poor husband is still very much in denial about this - the fabric collecting is something I will have to tackle in another post, #tulapink is all I can say!

I thoroughly enjoy the whole process of selecting a quilt block or pattern based on who I'm making it for or why I'm making it, choosing fabrics and colours that bring the quilt to life and then there is the making process - watching as each little section gets bigger and starts to take shape, eventually becoming a completed quilt top.


I've made all sorts of quilts from lap size to king size, machine pieced, paper pieced (my fav!), group quilts, baby quilts, wedding quilts and everything in between. I'm also lucky enough to have made several custom quilts and commissions, something I am very proud of and continue to do.

There are lots of creative things I could do though, so why do I make quilts? It's simple really - to combat loneliness, by somehow feeling connected to like minded and other fabric loving people like me.

I moved to the UK when I was 13 years old, I left my friends, my culture, the sunshine and everything I'd ever known on the other side of the world in South Africa, a severe shock to the system is an understatement. I started school in September 1998 in Year 9 - another severe shock to the system, where I'm from it's quite common to go to Nursery then move to Primary School and then to Secondary School without the people in your class, however when I moved here I learnt that more often than not everyone goes to the same Nursery then to the same Primary School etc so by the time I joined in Year 9 at the age of 13, many had already been together for a very long time. 

It wasn't that people were necessarily unfriendly but it was very apparent that they already had their friends and on top of that I was different, I spoke funny, I didn't know about the popular things or have the right sized waistline or celebrity crushes - PJ and Duncan could have been a takeaway place for all I knew, so it was both a daunting and lonely time.




  
My best friend lives on the other side of the world, she always has, thankfully we're both able to travel (as I am writing this draft I'm sitting in the glorious sunshine in her beautiful garden) and use WhatsApp, Facebook etc now but it's not the same, she's my person and I miss her everyday. We speak all the time but it is still very lonely, I've always felt lonely so I guess I was looking for something that would help me notice her absence a little less. 

I've long believed that any form of craft or doing something that makes you happy, is great for ones well-being and mental health and I think that this is even more important in today's society where so many people have forgotten how to simply be kind to each other.

I started my quilting journey by doing a beginners class where I met some fantastic ladies, a few of us went on to do a slightly more advanced course where we met a couple more and the five of us are still firm friends, meeting once a month for our own stitch and bitch. We even have our own mini retreats where we rent a beautiful cottage somewhere in the country - usually in the vicinity of at least one quilting shop and have a 'sew in' for four days, we've had three so far, this year marks our 8th as a completely mad bunch of quilting friends, we were a group of six but sadly we lost our friend Sue a few years ago.

These wonderful women who I am very proud to call my friends are so inspirational, I've learnt so much from them and continue to do so, they are supportive and encouraging and I honestly wouldn't be half the quilter I am today if it hadn't been for them.


Image result for why we quilt


So why do I quilt?

Because it feeds my soul, I love creating, I love learning and I enjoy spending time with like minded people, who despite what life might throw up enjoy making beautiful things to reflect their joy and colour. There are so many great books out there dedicated to why people quilt, looking at all aspects across many histories and I have read many of them, but most recently Thomas Knauer released Why We Quilt and I honestly couldn't put it down - cover to cover it is fantastic, the images are beautiful and each story is so wonderfully unique that each person who reads this book will relate to something in it.

So that's my story, that's why I love to quilt, if you'd like to share your story please do get in touch. You can see all my quilting adventures in pictorial from on Instagram @thatssewkerry 

Happy Quilting
Kerry xx 

Monday, 4 November 2019

SEW THE RAINBOW!

Travelling Quilt Bee 2019





A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to be part of a Travelling Quilt Bee it was an amazing experience for me, I made some great 'virtual' quilt friends many of whom I am still in regular quilty contact with, as well as being a great opportunity to try new things and develop my skills. This was largely due to the fact that back then I wasn't overly brave when it came to fabric choices, colour palettes or block/pattern choices and had a real tendency to stick to what I knew and whilst I still do that to a large degree, I've found that being part of something like this where you're making part of a quilt for someone else to their specific requirements, is actually rather liberating!

There are so many gorgeous quilts that come up on my Instagram feed (@thatssewkerry if you are interested) that have been made as part of Quilt Bees, a Round Robin and Travelling Quilt Bees, such as these below: 








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I really started to feel the calling again, having looked for inspiration and a group of like-minded people to join me, I set off on an adventure to create my own Travelling Quilt Bee - a daunting task as I've never been a quilt mama before or set up my own bee, but thankfully a well received plea meant that by the end of August I had 11 wonderful ladies set to join me for the next 12 months on a epic quilting adventure.

I wanted to try something completely different to the last one and to push myself out of my comfort zone, with this in mind I settled on 'Modern Rainbow' I wasn't sure what form this would take, but that's what I was aiming for. I'm not really modern when it comes to fabric choices or block choices so both of these together was definitely a challenge! I had bought the Aquamarina pattern quite a while ago, I take it out every now and again to look at and then put it away for 'oneday' so I decided this was the time. I had previously seen this version by Quiltmekiwi and just fell in love with everything about it, mostly because it is nothing like anything I've attempted before but also because it looks so clean, fresh and well modern!





With this as my inspiration I set off on my most favourite part of quilting - fabric buying! My intention was to source modern fabrics across the rainbow avoiding anything I would usually be drawn towards, I am very pleased with the end result although the same cannot be said for the bank balance or the husband.






One of the things I loved the most about this pattern was the fact that it is 90% foundation/paper pieced, which those of you who regularly follow my adventures on here will know is my most favourite type of quilt pattern, the other thing I loved about it is the giant New York Beauty element. With my rainbow set out and ready to go I had to decide on background fabrics, I knew I really wanted to include some kind of 'text print' - having said I'm not really modern in my fabric choices, I do have a slight obsession with low volume and text print in particular, but as for the rest I had no idea.






The rainbow fabrics are a mix of Alison Glass (all collections), Guicy Guice, Karen K Lewis and some Art Gallery thrown in for good measure and the background is More Paper by Zen Chic for Moda - one of my all time favourites that I really wished I'd bought several yards of instead of just the one (rookie mistake always buy at least 3 of the good ones!)I tested quite a few fabrics to use for the main background, again I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with it, I had accidentally tried out Fairy Dust by Tula Pink from her Pinkerville range (another one I have several yards of) and as much as I didn't want to cut up my precious Tula, I couldn't seem to move away from it, so had to give in and take the plunge.






I really love the way the birds subtly pick out the colours around my rainbow and blend in rather than overpower it, I also fussy cut the same birds for the arrow heads trying to match each sections colour way so it all tied together - I really love the detail you can get in a quilt from fussy cutting.





A bazillion flying geese later I had the borders almost ready and set about fussy cutting some corner squares, again with the Fairy Dust birds to finish off the first border section.








It was then a super quick run to the finish with the outer border and my giant centre block/starting block was done and ready to travel for the next 12 months!

I am really pleased with how it turned out, there are a couple of mistakes that hopefully you won't notice (but I really do!) but I challenged myself and stuck to the original plan of trying something new and modern. It was very daunting and I can't say that I enjoyed the whole process but I did learn a great deal and I am happy with the progress I made in my own quilting journey. 

The hard part now is waiting to see what all the other lovely ladies make to go along with it and having to wait a whole year to get it back. The blocks went travelling on October 1st so we've already made one lot of blocks for the next person in our chain, but that is a tale for another day.


Happy Quilting
Kerry xx




Wednesday, 28 August 2019

X MARKS THE SPOT

Treasure Hunt 




Treasure Hunt Block Tutorial

12.5" finished block
This block is part of the great series by Blossom Hearts Quilts called The Bee Hive there are 12 blocks in the series, all completely free. The template for this block can be found here.



Cutting:
A1 and A4 2 1/4" x 9 1/2" 
A2 and A5 2 1/4" x 7"      
A3 and A6 2 1/4" x 4"

4 of each is needed to make one complete 12.5" block.



Assembly:

This block is put together in 4 units very simply by foundation paper piecing.

I found it easier to write on each section the colour/fabric I wanted to use there, as all quadrants were a different colour. This was so I could get the effect I wanted for my X to repeat making a secondary square design across the intended quilt.





The assembly process is the same for all 4 units.

Unit 1

1. Place one A1 rectangle right side up on the back of the paper template (you will be sewing along the printed lines so need to see these at all times), place one A2 rectangle on top of it so that the right sides, or patterned/coloured sides are facing each other.







2. Turn the template over so the guidelines are now facing you and sew down the line joining A1 to A2.





3. Carry on in this way until all strips have been sewn together.






You will then have a unit that looks like this.







4. Repeat for the remaining 3 units and then trim down any excess so that all units measure 6.5" square.









Putting The Block Together:

1. Place the units into pairs and attached together, then sew the two rows together to form one finished block. Simply remove the paper on completion of sewing.








Finished block will measure 12.5" square which includes a 1/4" seam on each side.



Tuesday, 20 August 2019

SCRAP BUSTING

No Scrap Left Behind




This is something I actually started quite a while ago, the center or main body of the quilt is a simple Jelly Roll quilt but is a very effective and rather quick way to rustle up a fairly decent sized quilt in a couple of hours.

You will need a full Jelly Roll, unroll it and layout all the pairs of colours/prints so you can easily see what you've got to work with. Then sew every strip end to end so you have one extremely long, continuous length of fabric measuring 2.5" wide. Fold in half along the 'short' edge and sew all the way down one long(very long) side. Cut the short edge open along the fold so you can now open out your sewn jelly roll and lay it flat - it should now measure 4.5" wide. Repeat until your have reached your desired quilt top size/width.



It's dawned on me as I'm writing this that more pictures probably would have been useful - so I'll try to get a tutorial up here soon.

But back to Scrappy business and those border blocks. They are based on the concept of 15 Minutes of Play a brilliant idea by the fabulous Victoria Findlay Wolfe, she actually has an entire blog dedicated to it. 




It really is a great concept that is quick an easy, the results are practically instantaneous - something I particularly like! The idea is you start with a 5 sided shape, the wonkier the better, and then you add to each side almost in a Log Cabin style, growing your block one scrap at a time.

The starting shape doesn't always have to have 5 sides, as you can see from mine they all varied and each one took on a life of its own. 








No scrap was left behind, no matter how small! I found that this made the shapes, fabrics and colours far more interesting and really highlighted the 'scrappiness' of them.




I made 44 blocks in total all measuring 6.5" square for the borders of this quilt, then sewed them together in strips - 2 with 10 blocks each and 2 with 12 blocks each and attached them to each side making a happy scrappy border.




I then had the monstrous task of attaching the binding and finishing it off by hand, I wouldn't go as far as saying I enjoyed it but there does reach a point with sewing binding that becomes quite therapeutic.

This quilt was a present for my Gramps who turned 80 on Sunday, the scrappy blocks were made from fabric used in every quilt I've ever made for our family members, so he always has a piece of us with him.

If you follow me on Instagram you'll see a few more pictures of this quilt, along with all the other things I'm currently working on.

Feel free to get in touch, it's always lovely to hear from you all.

Happy Quilting
Kerry xx