Give me Liberty!

…Or give me some other patchwork fabric.  That works too.  Yeah, I wonder how many times that pun’s been used?  Oh well!  :p  I seem to be failing hopelessly at not buying fabric right now, although at least a smidgen of it is for a commission.  I’m not sure if that makes it better or not!  A big contributor to my stash was the Sewing For Pleasure show at the Birmingham NEC a few weeks ago.  11 fat quarters for £15?  Yes.  HELL yes.  Please.  I may have gone a bit nuts at that stand!  Then there have been some more local purchases as well, including some lovely stripey shot cottons and some completely unexpected Liberty prints.

Sewing For Pleasure Purchases

The first stand to really suck me in and get me reaching for my wallet was Japan Crafts.  Anyone who reads this blog regularly will know that I’m rather partial to Japanese-related fabrics and crafts, so their selection of shiny fabrics initially drew me in.  However, it was the sashiko supplies that really hooked me.  Sashiko is something I have wanted to try for a while, and here was a stand selling nice bundles of everything needed to have a go!  And a flexible attitude to mixing and matching supplies helped, too.  I ended up walking away with two small and one large panel of pre-preprinted sashiko designs, plus a generously sized skein of sashiko thread.

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I have a feeling my bundle was supposed to include needles too, but either I dropped them somewhere at the show or they got forgotten in the purchase kerfuffle, so I had to order some more, which was a bit annoying.  🙁  Still, I’m pleased with the designs and looking forward to maybe sitting in the sun and doing some hand-sewing!

As mentioned, I found a stand doing a very good (by UK standards, anyway!) offer on fat quarters.  I did not hold back!

Many of these were bought with a quilt already in mind, so I don’t feel too bad about them finding their way into the house.  🙂  And I picked up plenty of yellows after discovering that it’s a really under-represented colour in my stash.

I also bought a few fabrics from other stands as well:

The Marvel superhero fabric will hopefully be the backing for a quilt for my cousin’s first baby, due in May.  Also, I clearly cannot stay away from Moda’s Modern Backgrounds – I couldn’t pass up getting a couple of half-meter chunks.  I’m just a sucker for equations on quilting fabric!  Then some random fat quarters – I really liked the leaves in two different colourways and I love a good blue.

That was about it for fabric purchases, the only(!) other things I bought were some thread and a(nother!) FMQ foot for the Pfaff – the dynamic 6D spring foot – after thoroughly quizzing the staff on the stand to make sure that it would work on the QE 4.2.

They agreed that it would be fine and indeed they were right; it’s the foot I used to quilt Poppy’s Flower Garden and it seemed to work well, even though I threw silly things like fleece at it.  On the right are some #8 pearl cottons, which I’ve wanted to play with for a while, and which have already been pressed into service, a random grab-bag of shininess from Oliver Twists that I just couldn’t resist and that does potentially have a project to go with if I ever manage to start it, and some Aurifil that I picked out for my sister’s wedding quilt, which is finally basted and ready to go under the needle.

Local Finds

First up, the most important thing – fabric for my latest commission, bought from Calico Kate in Lampeter:

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The solid is Moda Bella in Royal Blue, and the prints are from Artisan Spirit’s Shimmer range, which I adore.  The brief was for a royal blue/emerald green bed quilt and the  design will be diamonds, which will hopefully look like they’re floating against the solid royal blue.  It was a bit tricky to sort out designs and fabric choices with the client because she doesn’t live near me and she has no internet access, so I had to take photos and send them to a family member to show to her!  But these are the prints she particularly earmarked and they go beautifully together.  I wanted to try and get more green into the top in the sashing between the diamonds or by adding another print, but unfortunately every green we tried fought hard against the other fabrics.  However, the Artisan Spirit range also has extra-wide fabric in a really great emerald green that I’ll put on the back, and I may bind it with green, too.

While hunting down the above, these somehow fell into my basket and followed me home:

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Shot cottons!  I think these are from Rowan, although I’m not 100% sure.  I have two FQs each of the red/green, blue/orange, pink/silver and blue/gold, and just one each of the blue/silver and light blue.  I’d like to find a project that will really show off the stripey-ness and shimmer of these fabrics, they’re very lush.  Fortunately, they also go really well with a bundle of “plain” shot cottons I bought a little while ago, so I’ll probably combine them to make a decent-sized quilt.  I think shot cottons are becoming my answer to the fact that I like the concept of a quilt with solids but the range of solids actually available to me (without having to order online) is horribly limited.

Lastly, I mentioned Liberty, didn’t I?  And I haven’t shown off any Liberty yet, have I?  Well now!  Look what I found hiding out at Wheeler Fabrics in Machynlleth!

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They’re got a small collection of luvverly Liberty prints in at the moment for a great price, mostly on the bolt but some as fat quarters.  I’m afraid I have no idea what any of the prints are called, I just picked out the ones that really “spoke” to me.  I love the sketchy look of this print and when I realised I was cherry-picking FQs of it out of the box, I figured it would make much more sense to just buy a big bit, so this ready-cut bit is ~1.5m.

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So is this bit.  With so many colours, it goes with lots of other prints really well.  I’m sure I’ve seen it before online somewhere and I loved it, I just didn’t expect to find any practically on my doorstep!

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I thought this print was a batik at first, it’s got that kind of organic look that demands a second glance.  It’s rather darker IRL, but at least this picture shows the print on it.  I bought half a meter.

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Same print, different colourways.  Half a meter of each.

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And likewise here!  A half-meter each of these.  I love the bright version of this print, but there wasn’t much else among the bolts that teamed up well with it, other than the pixelly effort above.  Still, it demanded to come home with me!

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And these are three random fat quarters that just caught my eye.  (Well, that purple would catch anyone’s eye, lol!)  No real plans for these yet.  I know they don’t go together, or with the other prints.  That’s fine, they’re not expected to.  🙂

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Finally there’s this.  I didn’t buy this bit!  I found it loitering in a pile in my hopelessly chaotic craft room, so I suspect it’s from mum’s fabric stash.  It looks sorta-kinda a bit like a Liberty print but there’s no way to tell.  It has a similar feel and weight to the Liberty prints I just bought and I think I can persuade it to get along with that punchy floral print, so they may end up in a project together.  🙂

So, that’s my recent haul, give or take a bit.  And now I really ought to get back to work so I can justify all this wicked spending I’ve been doing!  *pulls self away from the Liberty Craft Blog*

And I’ll link up with Sunday Monday Stash over with Molli Sparkles, just ‘cos I can.  😉

A Shimmer and a Sparkle

I have been a bad, bad girl.

2016 is the year of adding to the stash, right?!  :p  Help me out here, Molli!  In my defence, I bought some of this before Christmas and the rest before I noticed all those stash pledges and manifestos popping up.  I’m sure I will buy more fabric this year, but from now on I’m going to try and make sure it’s (mostly!) just what I actually need to complete current projects!

Pre-Christmas Purchases

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This wasn’t what made me click through from the Craftsy email, but the moment I saw it I knew beyond all doubt that I needed – NEEDED! – to own this bundle of Van Gogh inspired fat quarters from Robert Kaufman.  And the fact that they were all gone when I checked last week has only confirmed how right I was to buy them when I saw them!  No definite plan for them as yet; I would like a pattern that will show off the swirls of texture and colour, possibly something with hexagons or equilateral triangles?  Still pondering.

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Moda Modern Backgrounds in Ink – assorted background prints in greys and blacks were something that I didn’t really have in my stash, and some of these have chemical structures on!  ALL the love!  😀 For the same reason, I couldn’t resist a 4-yard cut of one of the prints in Paper:

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Fabric plus chemistry = <3  😀  (Even if it is organic chemistry – I can’t quite shake the notion that Moda rummaged through my Year 2 Uni notes when creating this print!)

January Purchases

…and then I got really carried away!  I’m going to blame the 365 Challenge – such a neat idea, but I simply didn’t have enough fabric (within a given colour range/style) to make it.  (That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)  I’m probably going to use some of the Moda above, but when I checked the yardage I decided that I didn’t have enough, so I went rummaging for things that would (hopefully) work with the pattern – and be things that I would want around if I don’t jump in after all.

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A bundle of Shimmer 2 from Robert Kaufman was an early entry (the first Shimmer range skated right by me and by the time I noticed it and wanted some, it had disappeared off the face of the planet), but then I couldn’t decide between that and RK’s Sparkle range so, umm…

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…yeah.  One bundle of cool Sparkle and one of warm Sparkle, thank you very much!  In fairness, I love a bit of glitz and glamour and these are such glorious fabrics that I’m not worried about not using them!

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For more neutral goodness, this bundle of Blueberry Park by Robert Kaufman also fell into the basket.  I love the very graphic designs and they should go with the Shimmer and Sparkle ranges beautifully.  Again, I have the 365 Challenge in mind for (some of) these; we’ll see how it goes.

Last but not least:

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Oh yes!

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I have been very very curious about the Cotton+Steel prints but they simply don’t seem to be available locally, so when I saw then on Craftsy for a steal (ha!) of a price, they had to be mine.  There’s plenty of colours in here that I’m limited on, so it’s a good addition to the collection.  🙂  I’m hoping they will be fabulous for baby quilts, since I seem to need a never-ending supply of those!

So I have been completely profligate and irresponsible – until I remind myself that, even with postage and tax, these all work out collectively to cheaper (approx. £9-10 a meter on average) than I would likely pay for them here, assuming I could even find them.  So… win?

New Pretties, aka Don’t Eat Yellow Snow

I had a chance to go to Lampeter on Friday and visit the wonderful Calico Kate, always a fun experience although my bank account doesn’t agree!  However, I was quite focussed and I had a plan, so only a bit of “oooo, that’s nice!” fabric snuck into my basket!  Coupled with an online order I placed last week, I now have lots of new prettiness to coo over:

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Bali Pops in Taffy and Red Hots – I canNOT get enough of these things, I love them so much!  And these two are absolutely perfect for the Minecraft cushions I want to make for one of my cousins’ children – a Creeper and a Blaze.  🙂  The Creeper’s already well under way, a bit approximate because I’m dealing with non-exact matches and multi-tone colours, but I’m pleased so far!

Moda layer cakes – Cold Spell and Snow.  I’ll be honest, I thought “Snow” was going to be more, well, snow-coloured, rather than the very cream colour it proved to be.  That’s a bit disappointing, since I was hoping to combine these two layer cakes and make a Disappearing Hour Glass quilt for my aunt and uncle who so kindly hosted us while we were looking for somewhere to live.  But I don’t think there’s sufficient contrast for that here – the cream-coloured Cold Spell prints are just too close to the cream solid.  So now I’m thinking Irish Chain instead, although I think I’ll need another Cold Spell layer cake to make it work.  Hmmm.

More Moda, this time some scrap bags – it’s like a lucky dip for quilters!  No idea what range(s) all these are from, they just promise that the fabrics in each bag will blend with each other.  One set looks quite Christmassy, the other seems more traditional/US patriotic, but there’s a good cross-over of colours between the two packs.  They’re mostly not what I’d buy for myself, but useful to have.  Possibly also candidates for a scrappy Irish Chain – I don’t know why, but I have that pattern on the brain right now!

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Wait, how did you find your way into my basket?  Oh well, you might as well stay now…  Seriously, Oriental/Asian print fabrics are some of my favourites, and these should go well with the ones I already have.  These ones are from Kona Bay.  I love the ladies, they’ll look wonderful peeking out from a Garden Fence.  🙂

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…And this is the fabric I actually went in the shop for!  The red, blue, green and spots are all from (I believe) Moda, and the cream is from Andover.   Another cousin (I may have mentioned that I have a lot of cousins) has commissioned me to make a quilt for her children using some vintage curtains that have a particular meaning to her family.

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This is what she gave me to work with – cute, no?  The weight’s good, not too heavy for patchwork, but very in need of a wash and stained and torn in places.

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They all seem to go together really well, and I love the textured look of the “solids” (including the cream, although you can’t see it here), it really echoes the feel of the vintage fabric.  I’m still pondering the spots – on the one hand it ties in really well with the colours of the vintage fabric, on the other hand I’m concerned that it’s a bit too busy.

My mission is to rescue as many of those adorable lil boys and pandas as I can and quiltify them, ideally keeping the vintage feel but adding a lil modern flair if I can.  My plan is to fussy-cut out all the presentable images and sash them with narrow borders of red, blue or green (or maybe a sort of gold to match the boy’s hair?), then arrange the resulting shapes pleasingly and fill in the gaps with simple blocks of colour or cream (to lighten things up a bit).  The idea is to showcase the lil figures without lots of fussy patchwork or prints to distract from them.  It looks ok in my mind’s eye, but I’m going to have to test the theory to be sure!  This is one of those moments when I wonder if it wouldn’t be worth having a copy of Electric Quilt to play with.  When I get a moment, I’ll run up a small example and show it to my cousin to see what she thinks – she’s the one that needs to like it, after all!  🙂

Linking up, for the first time, with Sunday Stash over at Molli Sparkles.  🙂

A Busy, Quilty Weekend and Month

Sewing, Stashing

So, March eh?  It felt like it flew by at a million miles an hour, but at the same time it felt like forever.  What’s with that?  Skimming back over my posts for March, it seems like I’ve managed a lot this month, including making a birthday presentfinishing a major project, playing with triangles and making progress with my Marsala Challenge quilt, so I’m pretty pleased with this month’s efforts.

The weekend just gone is no exception when it comes to quilty busyness.  It started with Quilt Club on Friday, which I used as valuable piecing time to crack on with more Marsala Spice blocks.  That project is finally taking shape and I now have a much better feel for where it’s going.

We’re also still house-hunting, so after Quilt Club I threw everything plus dog back in the car and scooted up the road to Aberystwyth (Mum had already gone up on the bus), where we planned to stay at my sister’s house for a weekend of re-visiting some possible properties with my uncle and aunt, who’d come down from north Wales to meet us there and offer fresh eyes and second (third, fourth…) opinions.  My aunt and uncle are recently back from an anniversary trip to Oregon, and before they went I’d rolled my eyes, batted my eyelashes and begged them to maybe pop into a quilting shop while they were there to buy me some fabric.  For the sake of simplicity, I asked them to pick me up some pre-cut strips.  Their choice, I told them.  And I would be happy to reimburse them.fabric_0104_2And didn’t they do well?  😀  They bought me two as a very early birthday present, and I’m paying them back for the other two.  I think they made some superb choices.

Batiks!  In case it wasn’t clear already, I LOVE batiks!  And the colours are fab – those purpley jewel tones and the juicy rainbow-y effect are just delicious.

fabric_0104_5This is a much more floral affair, but I still rather like it – it’s got a very comfortable, graceful feel to it.  Would make a lovely throw for the living room.

fabric_0104_6And I’m thrilled with this!  I’ve been ogling these strip sets on t’interwebs but hadn’t quite stirred myself to buy any, so I was truly delighted to find this lurking in the bottom of the bag.  🙂

They also picked me up a nice little postcard pattern (the how-to is on the back), which I think is for the purple/jewel-tone batiks, though it would work with other colours too:fabric_0104_1And that’s the shop’s card there, too.  One thing that did surprise me was the fact that the prices of the strips were, mostly, pretty comparable to what we pay here (~$45/£30), which is why in the end I only asked for a couple of extras.  However, locally we’re pretty starved for fabric shops and those we do have don’t usually have much of a range of jelly rolls/strip sets, so just having some surprise extras to play with is really nice.

The Friendly Pfaff

On Sunday evening, I and all my sewing stuff travelled up from Aberystwyth to Brimingham on the train.  I’d booked myself onto a “Making Friends with your Pfaff” day through The Cotton Patch for Monday, and to be there on time I needed to stay over the night before.  Thankfully, the carry case I bought for the Pfaff just about fitted it, so my machine had some decent protection from the abuses of public transport and I had some wheels to haul it around on.  And I’d found a Premier Inn right up the road from where the course was being held, so it all worked really well.

The course was very interesting, with a cosy group of six students including me, all of whom were really friendly and welcoming.  It was run by Joy of Pastures New Quilting, and she did a really good job of introducing the machines (most of us had QE 4.2s) and walking us through what we could do with them and how to use the feet and accessories properly.Pfaff_day_0104_2These are the first samples we did, using fine chiffon and chunky denim to show off how the Pfaff handles such things and takes them in its stride, especially with the IDT system engaged.  (Although in fairness mine did a pretty nice job on the chiffon even without IDT because I’d loaded it with a size 70 needle and some fine piecing thread.)  We followed this up with an introduction to using the automatic buttonhole foot (OMG, awesome!) and trying out some machine applique and some of the nifty effects with the decorative stitches and sequences:

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Finally, we tried quilting, first in a straight line with the IDT (no worries there) and then (le gasp!) with the sensormatic foot that comes as standard with the Pfaff QE 4.2 (and other models, I believe).  I’ve had my reservations about this foot since I’ve had some serious arguments with it.  However, with the settings Joy suggested (a pivot height of -2, a tension of 4.6, and a medium speed), it WORKED!  (Though my improved choice of needle and thread probably helped, too.)

I found myself doing a version of my “cloud” stippling, mostly because I’ve just done loads of it on the Japan Fan Club door curtain and it’s still in my muscle memory, then I tried a bit of a meander and some leaves, plus some pebbling (I’m not great at pebbles yet).  And it all worked great, and the back looks tidy too.  Maybe I can learn to love (or perhaps even just like) the sensormatic foot after all.  🙂  It would be fair to say that I’d discovered or looked up a fair bit of what we covered in the class because I’ve been using my machine a fair bit since I got it in December, but there were certainly plenty of things that I hadn’t found out about or needed to use yet and it was great to try things out and have someone to ask when things didn’t work out quite right.

After the course was over, I couldn’t resist nipping a couple of doors down the road to Cotton Patch’s shop.  In any case, I had a shopping list from my Quilt Club friends, so I couldn’t disappoint them!  😉  The actual shop is smaller than I expected (I think they do more online), but very orderly and well laid out.  I picked up stacks of wadding and some bobbin boxes for the Quilt Club, and some more crib-sized wadding and basting pins for me.  Under the circumstances, I think I was VERY restrained!  😀  (In fairness I didn’t have that much time to browse, which was probably just as well.)  One of the other ladies on the course very kindly offered me a lift to the station, which I was hugely grateful for given that I was laden down with all my sewing stuff AND all my purchases.  All in all it was a tiring but fun trip, and I would certainly consider going back for another course there, especially if there’s something FMQ-related.

Looking Ahead

So that was my weekend (and month) just gone.  I can’t believe it’s April already.  As well as working on Marsala Spice and perhaps finally starting the quilting on my sister’s quilt, I have at least one baby quilt I’d like to get done this month, plus FrostByte needs some love.  Oh, and we’re STILL looking for somewhere we’d like to live.  April’s looking pretty busy already!  😮

Linking up with the Fresh Sewing Day over at Lily’s Quilts.  🙂

Creative Oozings #15 – Coin Stack, Heart Attack and Retail Therapy

So it’s been a while, but I haven’t been completely idle!  I’ve been away and then busy with work, but I have squeezed a few crafty things in here and there.  Below is the little coin stack top I made:

Coin stack

I bought a big budget pack of charm squares and some marble charm squares and made this up quite quickly (for me!)  It was originally going to be a quillow, but in the end I decided that it was fine as a regular quilt.  I’m annoyed that my “coins” don’t line up exactly, but it’s quite fun anyway.  I have some red starry fleece to back it with, I just need to get on and baste and quilt it.  It’s a good size for a baby quilt at ~ 36″ by 48″, and people keep having babies at me at the moment so it seems a good idea to make up some appropriate quilts!  I don’t really hold with gender stereotyping of colours, but this does feel more like a boy’s quilt than a girl’s quilt.  Mind you, depends on the child!

Continue reading Creative Oozings #15 – Coin Stack, Heart Attack and Retail Therapy