Friday, 27 March 2015

The Paper Pieced Home Winner


Random number chose comment 31, Beth.  I've emailed you Beth, congrats!  And thank you to all who took part and shared their favourite design eras.
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Interview with Jen Kingwell, author of 'Quilt Lovely'

I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to interview Jen Kingswell, author of ‘Quilt Lovely’ as part of the book's release and promotion. As regular readers here know, I have been a fan of Jen’s since her Amitié shop block of the month patterns, ‘Green Teaand Sweet Beans’ and ‘Gypsy Wife’, started to pop up on quilting blogs a few years back so you can imagine how quickly I replied to the request and started drafting my interview questions. 


I met Jen at her hand piecing and appliqué master class during last years Fat Quarterly Retreat and she was a generous and inspirational teacher so to review her book is an utter pleasure.  From her previous work I just knew it would be jam packed full of scrappy goodness and inspiring creations and of course, it absolutely is!   There are 15 projects: 9 quilts and 6 pillows, and a huge variety of designs and techniques I cannot wait to try, but first let’s find out a little more about Jen and her quilting style.

Congratulations on your ‘Quilt Lovely’ book Jen!  I love the mix of designs and techniques from repeated block quilts like ‘Flea Market Dash’ to the medallion style ‘Simply Red Centre’ quilt and the hand pieced ‘Daisy Do’ quilt.  Where do you find your ideas and inspiration and how you go about designing a project?

"Most of my quilts are made using traditional block. I love vintage quilts. I'm an "organic" designer. Not sure how else to describe it. I rarely start with a complete or set idea. I quite often change my mind as I progress. Sometimes things I start take a little vacation in the bottom of the wardrobe, then I'll get an idea, dig it out and it will head off in a different direction. A design wall is a great tool. Projects take on a different perspective when you can stand."



It’s hard to pick a favourite out of 15 stunning projects but, in the face of fierce competition, I would pick the Glitter Quilt.  It’s beautifully photographed and I know it would make the perfect long-term project, as although it’s made of 152 blocks I would only ever have to think about cutting out, preparing and sewing one block at a time!  What are your favourite projects in the book?


"Glitter is my favourite as well. I think you have hit the nail right smack on the head Kerry. It's a great way for anyone to start if they are not confident with scrappy quilts and mixing fabric genres or colour. As you said, you only need to think of one block at a time and three fabrics. Easy!  Once you've made all those blocks, and you will be happy with each individually, play with the placement of them. You will find they all play together beautifully.  Daisy do is probably my second fav."


Hand sewing is an integral part of your work from the piecing through to the appliqué and even the quilting.  What are your top tips or gadgets for hand sewing?

"The beaut thing about hand sewing is you don't need a lot, which makes it quite affordable for beginners. It's all about personal preference for me. Most of the girls who work at my store all like slightly different things eg the thread and needles they stitch with etc. My advice is listen to what different people like, try some and see what works for you. I love a fine long needle to stitch with, both piecing and appliqué so I use a straw needle no 11.  I stitch with a 50wt thread which is finer. The best tip is slow down and enjoy the process.  Or at least give it a go!"


Your projects have an amazing sense of colour combined with traditional quilting blocks and an eclectic and unexpected mix of prints that always gel together.  I love the contrast between the vibrant ‘Clam Bake’ pillow and the calm taupe tones of the ‘Home Run’ pillow.  Lots of quilters panic over colours and combining fabric.  What advice would you give to those who want to add more colours and a scrappier look to their projects but don’t know where to start?

"This is a really interesting question as I don't use any formula or templates such as colour wheels. I know what I like and that's what I run with.  Start one block at a time. Use some favourite fabrics then add an unexpected print or colour and stretch the boundaries. I think if you like all the fabrics and colours you should like the blocks and therefore the quilt. Take a risk, be brave and you never know where this may lead you. I guess the only rule I follow is it's my quilt so I make it the way I like it and you should do the same."


After many years in Australia working and developing your Amitié shop and quilt design business, you’ve been living in the United Arab Emirates for the last few years.  Has this experience of living in a different country and culture brought new influences into your work?

"Everywhere feeds my interest and influences my being. I think living in a completely different culture has opened my eyes and mind to many things. The one thing I noticed often was the different light. Colours were different. I found it fascinating."


You travel extensively with your teaching work as well as promoting ‘Quilt Lovely’, your new fabric line ‘Gardendale’ for Moda and your patterns.  How does quilting fit into your life when you are you travelling?  What sort of projects do you pack to sew on the move?

"The beauty of hand piecing! I prep work to travel and on long haul flights I stitch and stitch. I've never been stopped with a needle and 3-4 pins. I just declare them in a zip lock bag. I can get quite a few blocks sewn between Abu Dhabi and Melbourne or Australia to the US. It's also a very welcome distraction when flights are delayed or cancelled. A small portable light is handy in hotel rooms if you can fit it in your luggage - hotel lighting is never quilter friendly!"

Thankyou Jen.  Such helpful  advice and I love the idea of taking a portable light, what a top tip!  I couldn't resist starting a Glitter quilt of my own, just one hand pieced block but this is going to be a long term project.


In the interests of disclosure, I was kindly sent a free copy of the Quilt Lovely for the purposes of this interview.  I only chose to review books that I think I will like and are relevant to my sewing style.  I like this one so much that I don't think anyone can prise it out of my hot little hands, but if you are really lucky and live locally, I might let you have a look inside ;)

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Monday, 23 March 2015

March at Plush Addict

I've noticed that Kellie has had some new deliveries in at Plush Addict, so now seems like a good time for my monthly visit and take a good look at what's in store!  I am a big fan of Urban Chiks who design for Moda.  I loved Swell, Dream on and 1974 and I am very much liking the look of Nomad.


Big feather prints are always popular and Plush Addict have natural, aqua, ...


 peach and black feathers from the Nomad range and I think they will fly out of the shop (see what I did there ;).


 I really like this Aztec geometric print from the same range - this is the Natural colour way.


It is also available in peach and aqua.  And this herringbone stripe print  is perfection!


Can you tell how much I like this range!  Precuts also available: jelly roll and charm pack.
Certain images are make great summer prints- Pineapples, Lobster and Flamingos all come to mind, which takes me to Riley Blake, 'Lula Magnolia Flamingo Orange':


If you like the flamingos, you may also like these Zebra prints from Michael Miller- this is the mint colour way:


Also available in coral,

You know I love a good text print, and this one in particular is a great background fabric, Riley Blake 'Cottage Garden Newspaper Print in gray'.


This is another good text background, from Lori Holt's Flower Patch range, Flower Patch Words in Pink:


Dashwood are putting some great print ranges out- I feel especially pleased that this is from a British company too. Street Life reminds me of the 1950s/60s Christmas prints with families and cars on but instead transported to Spring with a zesty bright colour palette.


There's a good mix of feature prints and more abstract designs.     This is 'Cars':


And this is 'Map':


You can find a bundle with eight prints from the 'Street Life' range here.
Also from Dashwood is this laminate 'Rain or Shine' fabric- perfect for spring in the UK.


You can find coat and outerwear patterns for all ages here as well as tote and bag patterns which could be a great use for a shower proof fabric.  And if you like the print but don't want laminate, find a bundle of the Rain or Shine prints here:


Enjoy your browse around Plush Addict!
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Friday, 20 March 2015

Blog Hop: Lion Block from The Paper Pieced Home

You can find my review of Penny Layman's The Paper Pieced Home here. This post is number six on the blog hop for the book.  In the interests of disclosure, Penny sent me a copy of her book and I don't offer even the slightest pretence at a lack of bias. I am totally biased,  Penny is a super talented designer, I am happy to work in partnership with her in Sew-Ichigo and a to call her a friend. Taking all that into consideration, even if I barely knew her, The Paper Pieced Home is amazing and should be in every foundation piecing fan's personal library.  Her designs constantly make me smile and that's what I look for in great design. 


I like simplicity in paper pieced designs.  I don't like over engineered blocks or hyper realistic imagery, instead I look for character, wit and humour.  Paper piecing has a lot of limits- curves and Y seams are tricky to achieve and some details are better added using embroidery or appliqué rather than a tortuous number of seams.  The skill when designing a block is to capture the essence of the item you are trying to represent and construct it as simply as possible: the design is taken to the bare essentials and given a twist or quirk to make you recognise and love it.  Nobody likes a bulky cluster of tiny seams all coming together at one point or five sections where there could be two. The best designs have all their section lines and seams in just the right places, to enhance the design, not detract from it.


I mentioned how much I liked this lion block when I wrote my review so naturally, this was the block I chose for the hop.  All the designs are avaible on a CD included with the book so no need to faff with a photocopier or scanner.  This is a 10 inch block which prints on two sheets joined together. Some of the sections spread on to both sheets with an overlap to join together so I printed out both sheets and traced the design on to velum with a Pigma micron pen so that the main horizontal seam would be evenly spread between both bits of paper and avoid joining sheets of paper.  It worked really well.


After that, the piecing was very straightforward.  There are a lot of sections but the design flows logically and there are only four fabrics involved, and they were all either solids or ditsy prints that worked in any direction.  


There are plenty of tick marks to align the seams and no seam rippers were called for!  The background floral is from Ayumi's Lighthearted collection for Kokka and the orange floral is a vintage 60s fabrics found at a bootsale!  I love the final block.  One of my top tips for paper piecing is to make the block edge seam allowance much bigger than you need so you can trim the block down to the perfect size.  I think I will make it into a sewing machine cover for my Bernina with lots of vintage style prints and some linen, although all the blocks in the 'Playtime' chapter would make a wonderful child's quilt/playmat. 


You can find the book details  below:
By Penny Layman
Interweave/F+W; $26.99
The  publishers also have a copy of the book to giveaway-  a physical copy for a USA winner or a PDF digital version for a winner outside USA.  For a chance of winning, leave a comment below- how about telling me your favourite design era?  1970s, Edwardian?  Whatever it is, let me know!  Make sure I can contact you by email via your profile or comment.  Winner will be chosen by random number generator a week today. 

Enjoy the other stops on the hop!

The Paper-Pieced Home

Blog Tour Schedule

3/16       McCall’s Quilting / Sewing Machine Block
3/17       Love of Quilting / Review
3/17       Sandi Sawa Hazlewood  of Crafty Planner / Watering Can Block
3/18       Quilty Pleasure (Quiltmaker blog) / Review
3/18       Imagine Gnats / Rotary Phone Block
3/20       Verykerryberry / Lion Block
3/21       Artisania / Cast-Iron Skillet Block
3/23       Where the Orchids Grow / Lamp Block
3/24       Katie Blakesley of Swim Bike Quilt / Layer Cake Block
3/24       House on Hill Road / Oven Mitt Block
3/24       Lee Heinrich of Freshly Pieced / BBQ Grill Block
3/26       Pink Penguin / Allie-Gator Block
3/26       A Happy Stitch / Giraffe Block
3/27       Bijou Lovely / Jar Block
3/27       Two Little Banshees / Saucepan Block
3/27       Charise Creates / Espresso Mug Block
3/30       Karen Lewis Textiles / Couch Block
3/31       Poppyprint / Clawfoot Tub Block
3/31       One Shabby Chick / Stack of Books Block
3/31       During Quiet Time / Sleeveless Dress Block
4/06       Pat Sloan The Voice of Quilting / Author Podcast Interview

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Thursday, 19 March 2015

Spring Fever Pattern Set

Penny and I have a new pattern set available from today at Sew-Ichigo.  'Spring Fever'  features blooms and birds and the designs are available in one big set or as single patterns.

 When we design pattern sets for Sew-Ichigo, we like to offer a range of options- both in designs and complexity.  The easiest pattern in this set is TulipsX2.  There are two variations and the short tulip is a great beginner foundation piecing pattern.  Penny is making a gorgeous mini quilt using the tulips in combination with the hovering birds.  All the bird blocks are 6 inch square and the tulips are 4 x 6 inches so they work together easily.


We couldn't resist a little chick with Easter so close.  The 'Hello Chick' design was made very much with children in mind and would be perfect for a little drawstring bag or a fabric basket for Easter egg hunts.  It is sewn in three sections and is suitable for a beginner with a little foundation piecing experience. 


The 'Flighty' patterns are a pair of hovering bird blocks were inspired by origami designs.  I wanted to include birds from different countries and Penny has sent me many pictures of humming birds who visit a feeder at the back of her house.  They are a fascinating bird and seem rather exotic- no Hummingbirds in the UK!   Hummingbirds come in lots of vibrant colours so there is a lot of potential for combining prints and colours in this block.


I chose a chaffinch for this block because it is a common bird in the UK and hovers in flight.  These colours are for the male.  You could easily adapt this block for other birds and either leave out the areas shown in brown or use other colours. 


I love this swan, 'Dawlie', that Penny designed.  I live in Devon and a nearby town, Dawlish is famous for its black swans, hence the name!  


We have some more patterns coming very soon in an exciting collaboration.  More news soon!

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Tuesday, 17 March 2015

March at Village Haberdashery

There is never a shortage of things to write about in my visits to Village Haberdashery, Annie always has new stock arriving!
The first thing that grabbed my attention was the new Hello Bear  collection by Bonnie Christine for Art Gallery Fabrics.


From the look book imagery, this is heavily aimed at young children as well as quilts but to me, the fabrics- the knits in particular are great for adults too.  Great colours- easy to wear and the patterns offer a mix of the pastel calm of Firefly in Sign, the bolder Buck Forest in Mist and my personal favourite Adventure in Springs.  Art Gallery knits seem to get better with each collection.


They are a cotton spandex blend so have great spring back when worn- no baggy bottoms or elbows- and they seem to wash better than they used to.  The Jungle Avenue black dot that I used a while back faded quickly but subsequent prints like Cottagely Posy have washed really well.  You can also build a bundle in all the quilt prints seen in the Look Book:


One option for the Art Gallery knits could be the new Sewaholic Davie knit dress pattern,

From the Art Gallery knits, these three fabrics would all work well.  From the top:
Geometric Bliss Knit- Spherical buds in Aqua, the very beautiful Petal and Plume- Panache in Portfolio (that's a lot of alliteration!), and finally Katy Jones' Priory Square- Cottagely Posy.
Another recently arrived dress pattern is the By Hand London Sophia dress.  
This dress offers a floaty flared godet skirt or a sleek pencil style option as well as interesting dart placement and a collar option.  For fabrics, I have a few suggestions which may depend on your budget and the style that you opt for. 


Enormous blue tulips voile- good for the godet option.  The skirt takes lots of fabric so the lower price point helps cushion the wallet.
Dear Stella Ludlow collection which is a shirting weight cotton so I imagine it would need lining for the sheath option and the bodice.  I've been waiting ages to see this collection in the UK, I think I first saw it online last summer and it feels like it's taken forever to get here!  I think this print, Rosebuds in Navy is my favourite:


It's also suitable for quilting, read more about it here.
You know my weakness for chambray and yarn dyed fabrics, especially for garments- my wardrobe is full of various shades of indigo and grey!  The Manchester yarn dyed fabrics by Robert Kaufman are a new arrival and look like a great transition fabric with a little more weight than the floatier chambrays.  I like Marine best but Steel is a very pretty grey too.


Enjoy looking at the new arrivals.  I am planning for spring but I have a couple of Linden sweatshirts to sew up first whilst the weather is still on the cool side.

sib blog

Monday, 16 March 2015

Block Appreciation

Another successful meet up on Saturday for Southwest Stitchers, the informal local sewing group that meets up every 4 months or so.  We hire a large, warm, well lit space with a kettle and tea cups so a bunch of stitchers can talk fabric, patterns, clothing is so great and the more we do it the more it is like meeting up with old friends.  Helen and I got out our blocks and compared quilts-to-be:


I am four blocks off the total for my Bring Me Flowers quilt.  This was the block of the month and I mixed in a few of my own too.  Mostly hand sewn although I'll join the blocks on the machine.  I've enjoyed it so much, part of me doesn't want it to end- although I am pretty keen to see it in quilt form.


These are Helen's from her Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt.   Again, her's is mainly hand pieced and many of these blocks were made as a travelling projects whilst Helen is on the road in her camper van.  A beautiful range of colours, lots of fabrics from friends and a clever use of cheater prints which are perfect for projects like this where more is more.  Like me, Helen is a fan of the intricate and also slow sewing.  These Jen Kingwell quilt designs are perfect if that is your preference.  You are only ever working on one block at a time- no need to cut fabric far in advance.  Perfect for a long term project on the go.


Whilst I was at the meet up, this arrived,  Jen Kingwell's book, Quilt Lovely.  I collected it from the sorting office yesterday and every spare moment has been spent reading and planning.  It was sent from USA as I am reviewing this book in a couple of weeks time and it isn't due to arrive in the UK until late April, but I am sure you won't mind me saying that is you plan on ordering Quilt Lovely, it won't disappoint.  It mixes hand sewn projects with machine sewn, long term slow sewing with some quicker quilts and pillows.  I already have my project planned for a life post Bring Me Flowers.

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