Monday, 30 April 2012

who wants some Brrr?


Last week I showed you this quilt that is in the current issue of Fat Quarterly (Issue 9, Kids). Ginger (he's 6) and I made it together as a gift for his teacher. I also mentioned I'd be giving away a bundle of the same fabrics, didn't I?

Many Hands

I suppose I should get on with that giveaway, shouldn't I?

One person will win a FQ stack of the whole Brrr line, courtesy of Robert Kaufman Fabrics. It's not even in shops yet, it's out in June, so you will be one of the lucky few that get their paws on it early (geddit? Like polar bear paws. I kill myself with my hilariousness).


Laurie designs awesome fabric. This is technically a Christmassy line, but so unlike any other Christmassy line I've seen before. There's nothing that really screams Christmas about it, except the red and green, and the polar bears hint towards winter. The lacy doily print looks like snowflakes, but really wouldn't look out of place all year around. And the retro Scandi looking flowers are just awesome.


So, for your chance what do you need to do?

Heck, just leave a comment. I'm not one for hoop jumping. Maybe tell me what you'd make with it, or which of Laurie's fabrics do you love best? I'm rather fond of her newest line, Next Stop London. Maybe that's because I'm English? I've got a pile of that waiting to be made into some gifts for my roomies at the Fat Quarterly retreat (that gave the game away, didn't it? It's ok - they don't read my blog, I'm almost sure of it. They're sick to death of me on a daily basis via email, so they sure as heck don't want to listen to my droning on over here as well).
So there you go - leave a comment, just the one, for a chance to win the FQ bundle. Make sure there's a way to contact you in the comment too, and I'll let the random number generator pick a winner in one week (Tuesday May 8th)

Giveaway closed!!!

Good luck!

zakka style winners

Thank you to everyone that entered the zakka style sew along giveaway, I really hope I've inspired you to go and buy the book, because it is such a useful little book to have.

We have 3 winners. Number 113 and 175, which are Raddness and Kathy have each won a sampler pack of Aurifil threads. Shoot me an email with your address ladies and I'll get those in the mail to you pronto!

And the winner of the sampler pack of Aurifil thread and a sewing kit is number 88, Mascanlon.

Take your pick of the one you like best and I'll pop that in the mail to you too!

Well done to those winners, and thank you for playing along!!!!

Sunday, 29 April 2012

let's try again, the desperate housewives quilt block...

So, after my somewhat disastrous attempts at making a block for Jane's Desperate Housewive's Quilt we shall try again, still using thangles and half square triangles (HSTs) because they are both so flipping awesome.

Rather than talking you through the whole process of thangles yet again, I'll refer you back to this post and this post where you can learn more about the awesomeness that is the world of thangles.

For each of the 8 block options shown below (oh yes - I'm showing off after I messed up before) you will need to make 16 half square triangle units - so you need to cut;

3 strips from your background fabric - each strip 2.5" x 10"
3 strips from your printed fabric - each strip 2.5" x 10"
you will also need 3 size 2 thangles papers.

(This will yield 18 half square triangles, each of them 2.5" unfinished/2" finished you need 16 for an 8" finished block)

Go back and read this post or this post for how to assemble your HSTs using thangles. (It'll open in a new window, so you can just come straight back when you've finished reading).


Now, you can arrange them in a whole heap of ways. The humble HST is so versatile it is really mind blowing (I said it before - I really don't get out much)

How about this way, a perpetual pinwheel pattern...


Or you could make these diamond squares (the little corner triangles would make cute little patchwork on-point squares if you made a quilt using this block)...

diamond square

How about this omega-ish looking block? (set it on it's side and it looks like a fish, I think)...


This block of stripes would look best if each HST was a different fabric...


Sometimes you can't beat the simplicity of triangles...

lots of triangles

On-point squares, this is another one that would look cool if the HST were different prints...


A star (of course, you have to make a star using HSTs). This one would have those cute little corner on point squares too, if you made a quilt with it. I love those...


And the ever faithful zig zag...


These 8 block layouts are just the tip of the ice-berg - the half square triangle has got to be the most useful little thing ever. What blocks can you think of using 16 HST units? Wouldn't it be fun to make a whole quilt just using different HST blocks? I bet you could think of 100. If you add in the occasional solid square your choices are even greater.
There's a book proposal for you - 'having fun the HST way'. Off you go, write it up and send me some royalties.

Thank you to Jane for inviting me to be take part in the Desperate Housewive's Quilt. I hope I've inspired you to have some fun with thangles too! (by the way, in case you're wondering I am not sponsored by thangles in any way, they have no idea who the heck I am and I haven't mentioned to them that I've blogged about their product 3 times in the past month. I just have a heap of them and I think they're fun, and they're also a really simple and accurate way of making HSTs, so if you're a little cautious you should give them a try).

Thursday, 26 April 2012

desperately daft housewife block

Jane asked me to contribute to her desperate housewives quilt blocks feature, which I excitedly set about doing before reading any instructions or paying any attention to to what size the block should be.

Hmm. Mistake.

Instead of making an 8" finished block I assumed a 12" finished block was the way to go.

You know what assume does? It makes an Ass of U and Me.

Now, I could resize my block but it'd involve highly confusing weird measurements and so I'll share it here instead (and I'll make something else that works for Jane - sigh).

This block has the exact same half square triangle units as the scythe pillow I posted a little while ago. I wanted to show how versatile the humble half square triangle is, and how much fun you can have with just a little bit of playing around.

Can you spot something wrong in this picture?

Top left hand quadrant & bottom right quadrant? Not facing the same way?

desperately daft housewife

Yep - that's better;


Currently my diet of coffee and not enough sleep isn't serving me well.

First up you need 2" thangles*, a fat 1/8 of 2 different prints (I'm using vintage modern by Bonnie and Camille) and a FQ of background fabric (I'm using pure elements in ash by Art Gallery) (you will have plenty of leftovers)
*You can get thangles from here (US) or here (UK)

Follow the directions on the thangles packet and cut strips, layering your fabrics right sides together and pinning the thangles paper on top.

You need to cut;
3 strips from fabric 1 (2.5" x 10")
3 strips from fabric 2 (2.5" x 10")
6 strips from background fabric (2.5" x 10")
4 squares 2.5"


If you lay your light fabric on top of the darker fabric it means when it comes to pressing you'll automatically press to the dark fabric. Cool, huh?


Reduce your stitch length, because you're sewing onto paper. Sew on the dashed lines, and cut on the solid lines. Press to the dark fabric, and trim off that little dog ear.


Tear tear tear your papers off.


Arrange your HST units like this....


NO! That's the scythe pillow block!

Arrange them like this!!!


See - same units, different layout = lots of fun to be had (I don't get out much, do I?)

The block is made up of the same unit 4 times, like this;


Set your stitch length back to normal. Sew each unit together in rows and press your seams open to reduce bulk;


Alternatively - sew the 2 different fabrics into 2 different units, like this -

A; (as above)


and B;


All you've done differently is flip the HST in the middle of the unit the other way. One tiny little change, and you have a whole new look;


Or (of course, you can accidentally sew the block up wrong like below...and not notice until 2 people point it out to you. And then spend about 5 minutes trying to see where you went wrong).

desperately daft housewife


You can use regular pieced half square triangles too - you need to cut 8 squares from fabric 1 (3" each), 8 squares from fabric 2 (3") and 16 squares from your background fabric (3"). Plus the 4 corner squares at 2.5".
When you've made your HSTs simply trim them down to 2.5" each.

I'm off to make something for Jane that measures 8" when finished now. Silly me. One day I'll learn to read instructions before I dive straight in.

Or maybe I'll just go to bed earlier in future?

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Fat Quarterly Issue 9


Issue 9 of Fat Quarterly is coming this week. Subscribers should expect access to their copies in their in-box today and single issues will be available to purchase later this week.

The theme for this issue is Kids and Teens - creating with and for children and teenagers. It's perfectly timed with the end of school in mind - my project, above, was made with the help of my youngest's class. Everyone contributed a hand print that was then appliqued onto a simple bordered strip quilt. This quilt will be gifted to Ginger's teacher at the end of term, after he has helped write a label for it that I will embroider and stitch on to the back of the quilt.

I have never seen Ginger be so enthusiastic about sewing - he really isn't interested normally, but this project was something we could do together, which meant it did take forever to complete and the stitching isn't quite so perfect as I would like, but the bonus of creating it together means it will be a beautiful reminder of his teacher's first ever teaching post and class of children, and hopefully something she will treasure forever.

There are sneak peeks of this issue's projects on the Fat Quarterly blog all week.

All fabrics used were Brrr by Laurie Wisbrun for Robert Kaufman fabrics - to be released in June. Stay tuned for a superb giveaway featuring these fabrics next week!

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

this just arrived...

Ed Emberley for Cloud 9

A package literally just arrived with my lovely new mail lady, who was trying to have a conversation with me about tattoos as I was trying to push her out the door because I knew what the package contained and I had no time for her chit chat - I wanted to check this out.

Happy Drawing by Ed Emberley for Cloud 9 Fabrics. You know when you get that tingle inside when you see something you think is really special? I have that right now. Gender neutral, bright and cheery, primary coloured fabrics for children are tricky. They tend to be either overly twee and cutesy or licensed characters. Either is totally fine, my son is OBSESSED with Dr Seuss, so Kaufman doing Seuss fabrics = happy Ginger child in this house, but really good animals in really good colours? That is a rarity.
Ok, so technically this is still licensed, but in the UK we didn't really do Ed Emberley as such. And there's a huge difference between this set of characters and, say, Arthur or something.

I was way too excited to share pics with you to actually make this pile of fabric look good - so I just dumped it on the table and took pics. Check out the scribbles - how useful are they going to be? I want to bind everything I make in those alone. Forever.

Ed Emberley for Cloud 9

And please excuse the fact that I didn't iron the panel before showing you - but really, how could I have waited - I just wanted to show you. Look at the PANEL. It's a panel, yes, we should sneer a little like 'oh, I don't like panels, no, they're not for the likes of us'. Think again. This is the 2nd panel that I've gone crazy over in the past few weeks - both of which are by Cloud 9. The Monsterz panel is pure perfection as a whole piece, this you can cut up into different animals. Oh HELLO - who doesn't want to applique those animals onto everything they own? I'm a grown woman with (I'd like to think) a pretty good sense of style, even I want a giraffe appliqued up the leg of my jeans and a lion on my bum.

Ed Emberley for Cloyd 9

Happy Drawing is shipping shortly, sometime this Spring. It's organic. It's part of Cloud 9's price sensitive collection, which means it's only a squidge more expensive than regular quilting cottons. It's worth that extra squidge, and just like I said before with Monsterz, you need it in your life, whether you have a child, plan on having a child one day, act like a child, know someone with a child, have once seen a child in the street. Heck, even if you hate children, you need this - to keep it from the nasty children's grimey little hands. See?

I need to go make a quilt for Market out of these babies. I'm possibly a little too excited about them, I know, but tell me when you last saw gender neutral children's fabrics that were this good? (Ok - Summersville is excluded from that - BUT, OMG - SUMMERSVILLE AND HAPPY DRAWING TOGETHER, it's like I just accidentally stumbled into the nursery of the hippest baby EVER.) I'm going to have a lie down.

Monday, 23 April 2012

savanna bop & siblings together

savanna bop

savanna bop

Lynne and I have picked our winners (pop over to Lynne's to find out if you won there!) and my Mr Random.Org chose lucky number 9 - Linda.

I'll be contacting you later today Linda and will get your bundle off to you shortly! Congratulations, and thank you to everyone that entered and was willing to help out Siblings Together.

Shipping May!

(don't forget the Zakka Style giveaway going on right now! Enter for a chance to win Aurifil threads AND a sewing kit made by me!)

zakka style sew-along - week 4


Before I start to talk about my project for the Zakka Style sew-along I just wanted to tell you a little bit about the book. When I first saw Rashida's book I thought 'that looks nice' but left it at that. I've been a little bit blah about sewing and quilting books lately, I have a tendency to buy them and never use them, and so this year I decided I would only buy books that grabbed me by the throat and screamed at me to get them.
If you haven't bought Zakka Style yet, I really recommend you do. Hopefully as this sew along progresses it will give you the throat grab you need and decide it's actually one of those books that will be really useful. The projects are varied but none are too complicated that you couldn't make them, even as a beginner sewist, and on the flip side as a more experienced sewist, they are well set out, with clear instructions and many projects are super quick. It's great to be able to whip up a little something something in an hour, especially when it's a last minute emergency gift. When Christmas, baby showers or birthdays come around this is a book you can grab and whip up a little gift that is perfect.

So, onto my project - the sewing kit. I'm a huge fan of sewing kits I can shove in my purse and carry around with me. Bigger than a needlecase, but not so huge that it takes up the whole bag and with a handy pocket or 3. I like to have a kit for every hand-sewing project I have on the go - with appropriate needles, little scissors and the correct thread tucked inside. It makes it easier for me to grab on the way out the door.

I found the instructions really easy to understand, the only changes I made were to use double fold binding for the ties because I didn't have any leather (and didn't have the patience to wait for some to arrive!) and I used a vilene fusible fleece from Gone to Earth that I fused to the lining before I attached the pockets. This kind of fusible fleece is perfect for pillows and bags - it's lightweight like a cotton wadding, but really helps prevent things shifting about and once fused it's basted super firm - no need for pins. I use it for every pillow I make - I really can't recommend it enough.


I enjoyed making my first sewing kit so much that I made another...and another...and then couldn't stop until I had 6. They all came together so quickly and were such a pleasure to sew.


The fabrics I used are a black denim carolina chambray, (which is more of a charcoal grey) instead of the linen that was used in the original pattern. I'm not a huge fan of sewing with linen, by choice I will use something that has the look but behaves better. Carolina chambray is amazing stuff, it has such great texture and the colours are really wonderful. It can be tricky to find, but if you do find it, stock up on multiple yards because you will not be disappointed, I promise! (Fat Quartershop has a few colours in stock)
My printed fabrics came out of this bundle from Sew Fresh Fabrics (if it's showing as out of stock give the girls a shout and they can re-list for you!) - my coral stash builder. You know, I don't think I have any coral in my stash apart from these prints, which is a tragedy as it's such a fantastic colour. 2 FQs made 4 kits. The other 2 kits are made using some of Bonnie and Camille's new line for Moda, Vintage Modern (pre-cuts are available now) which also looks great with that dark linen-look carolina chambray.
I used aurifil thread in 50wt in a mid grey throughout all of these kits - it's colour 2625. Aurifil are sponsors of this sew-along, but this thread I bought, it's one of the 2 or 3 colours I have on hand all the time, and I buy through choice, not through being sent it and obligated to use it. 50 weight thread is my go-to choice as well. That's the orange spool. It's a great hand sewing thread, a great machine piecing thread and a beautiful thread for almost invisible quilting. If you're as rubbish as me at quilting, you need invisible stitches.


I have a little giveaway for you!

I've got some sampler packs of aurifil threads to send out. One for each lucky winner. Also, one extra lucky winner wins one of the sewing kits too (I'll even let you choose which one you want from those 6 up there) - just leave me a comment (making sure there is some way I can contact you, please! I don't want you to miss out if you win!), just one comment per person. I'll pick the winners in a week (April 30th). International entries are welcome! Good luck!
And don't forget to follow along in the sew-along, the full list of blog entries can be found here and the flickr group is here. Join in with us and sew along - if you have any questions along the way we're here to help out!

Just in case you wanted to use double fold binding ties for your sewing kit, I've put together a basic how-to below.

First up, cut strips 1.5" wide along the straight of the fabric grain (so that means running selvedge to selvedge). This is to make sure your ties aren't stretchy and nice and strong.

I made mine 18" in length which is a bit longer than the pattern suggested, but I just like a long tie.

Now fold your strips in half, wrong sides together, down the full length and press with a hot iron.


Open out and fold in each edge towards the fold, again wrong sides together. Press.


Fold in half along the length again and press


Using a straight stitch and sewing as close to the edge as you can, sew all the way along the length of the folded strip, and across the end too. (If you want a tidier finish you can tuck the end in on itself and press before sewing).


Repeat with the other strip and there you have it - super simple ties. These are great for all kinds of projects, such as drawstring bag ties, or for wrapping up gifts instead of ribbon.

If you make a sewing kit this week (before April 29th) link up for a chance to win a $30 gift certificate to Zip It. Link up over on Lindsey's blog - here

Sunday, 22 April 2012

public service announcement

As you are fully aware by now I am a little bit obsessed with modern extra wide quilt backing fabrics and my mission is to get a greater variety of choice and design from the manufacturers.

I spoke about the dotties from Moda a little while ago, and since then I have used them in a couple of quilts (pics of those to come in a future post!)

I was a little bit concerned about how the deep colours would hold up in a wash, and whether there would be any bleeding. This isn't any real concern to us that have the fabrics at home for quilting, it's easy enough to pre-wash fabrics before basting and quilting - but what about long arm quilters, or stores that provide a long arm quilting service? When I visit long arm Chris, she has a whole variety of backings for her customers to choose from, she cuts them and loads them from the bolt to the quilting frame and quilts away. 


Firstly I tested the grey by cutting a piece for the size of the quilt I was making (I used a 2 yard cut) and washed it on a warm, but not hot, wash without colour catchers, regular detergent and just a bit of white cotton batting. I'm happy to say there was no colour transfer from the grey to the batting. Not a tiny bit. Success! I am pretty positive that you would totally fine using the grey without pre-washing, so this is perfect for long arm quilters to stock for their customers. (NB - Brenda is out of stock of the grey right now, but is getting more in, shoot her a message if you want some and she'll hold it for you)

(did I take a picture? No - I didn't. Oops!)

Second up is the red. I am a stickler for pre-washing red fabric, it's such a tricky dye and so prone to bleeding.

Again, same length of fabric - 2 yards and washed on a warm, but not hot wash (40 degrees C, so 104 F) and I added a piece of white cotton batting to the load. 
This time there was some dye shed, onto the batting. You can't tell so much in the photo, because it is quite slight, but the white batting is now a very pale pink. As a precaution I would recommend you pre-wash this before using it, so it might not be ideal for long arm quilters to use on customer quilts, unless they're able to wash it first. 


I've still got the blue, green and the black to test - I'll do those this week and report back!

Now, before you are turned off by my findings let me just tell you some other points;

The fabrics wash amazingly well. The photo up there of the washed red backing is un-ironed, straight out the dryer. It hardly creases, and you know how you usually get those long tangled bits of thread that you need to cut off before you do anything? - none of that either, it hardly frays. In fact, I just taped it straight from the dryer to the floor and basted my quilt without ironing and trimming off the tangled threads, because there were no tangled threads to cut off! I got not one pucker in the back of my quilt, and I quilted it super densely. This is a quick snap I took as I was going along (the horizontal lines are spaced a half inch apart).

Quilting in progress

If you are a home quilter, or a quilter with a long arm machine in your home then don't be put off by the red dye, you can easily wash it first and then the excess dye comes out and there's no extra bleeding (I tested that too - my quilt is now finished, I washed it last night, no more bleeding, if the weather stays fine-ish I'll get some photos today). The quality of the fabric is really fantastic, and it's well worth using, it certainly hasn't put me off, I have another quilt to baste this week and I'll be using more of the red dottie.

I paired the red dottie with some Summersville (pre-cuts are available now from Lola Pink Fabrics!!!) and it's such a perfect match. 

I have spoken to Moda about this, in case it's something they can rectify for future print production, I guess what we have to remember is this is pretty new ground for them as well, and there's going to be a little bit of trial and error along the way.

Friday, 20 April 2012

thangles winner...

Is number 44...Elsy.

Elsy - I've emailed you (ok, I'm just about to) so let me know you're address and I'll get your package out to you!



Thursday, 19 April 2012

shipping now!


The official release date wasn't until May 1st, but our book is shipping early - so if you have pre-ordered you should be expecting your copy any day now. has the book in stock, whereas the UK site is still a little bit behind and showing the book as out of stock, but it should be shipping within the next week or so.

There are 60 blocks and 12 projects in the book, each chapter uses a particular shape as a theme and there are 10 blocks per chapter, and 2 projects - one of which is a large quilt, and the other is a smaller project.

Fat Quarterly Shape Workshop - the BOOK!

We worked so hard on everything, and hope you love it as much as we do. Personally I think there's a great balance between simple and more advanced blocks and projects - hopefully something for everything and every skill level.

shape workshop collage

This is one of the quilts I made - called orange soda. It doesn't look as big in this picture as it actually is, it's twin sized so that is a big wall it's hanging on.


You have no idea how excited I am to see my name on the cover along with 3 of my very best friends. It's like a fairytale, it really is. I feel so blessed to have these guys as my friends and to have this permanent piece of history to forever remind me of this time in my life.

I really do hope you love it too!

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