One of the great things about blogging is that it gives you the opportunity to connect with people from all over the world - people that you would otherwise never have the chance to meet. Jane isn't one of those people. From the ages of 12 to 18 I saw Jane nearly every day of my life. We were best friends at high school and while we don't see each other very often any more it's still lovely to be able to connect with her over all things creative. Thanks for visiting Jane!
Thank you so much for having me here Caroline and Maryanne, so I can talk about one of my favourite things, my fabric collection.
I have been quilting on and off for 17 years now, and it should be noted that it’s all Caroline’s fault, since she’s my high school best friend and I’m sure it would have taken me much longer to find quilting if I hadn’t spent all those sleepovers tucked under one of her mother’s beautiful quilts. Her mum also took me under her wing when I decided I wanted to learn to quilt, fielding numerous phone calls that started with the words, “No, I don’t want to talk to Caroline, I have a quilting question...”
After many years of quilting, I have a sizeable fabric stash. I really do try and keep my fabric spending in check, but seriously, it’s fabric, peoples! Whilst I suppose, in theory, I could buy fabric as I needed it for a particular quilt, the reality is that’s not going to happen any time soon – and if I did it this way I probably wouldn’t be able to find what I want.
I LOVE having a big fabric stash, and I find it makes my quilting process so much easier. I don’t tend to make quilts using one particular range of fabric, I prefer to decide on a colour scheme and go from there. So when I decide I want to make a particular colour quilt, it helps that I already have quite a collection of that colour on my shelves. I might top it up with new purchases, but for the most part I don’t have to. This means I can start quilts on a whim, without having to wait for international parcel delivery or hoping I can find the right fabrics in the fairly paltry local offerings.
Since I quilt by colour, I stash by colour too. I am very fussy about my stash. I prewash and iron everything, then fold it just so. My scraps are also sorted by colour, pressed and waiting in their little boxes. (At this point, Caroline, who always laughed at my alphabetised CD collection in high school, is rolling her eyes.)
This may be a little more high maintenance than the bung-it-all-in-the-cupboard approach, but it works for me, for a few reasons. Because it’s on open shelving (not in direct light), I can see what I have at a glance. It makes it easy to pull fabrics for a new project and it serves as a reminder (sometimes) that I don’t need to buy anything. Sorting by colour is critical for me, both for when I need to pick fabrics and so I know what colours I need. For example, I could go a lifetime without buying pinks or blues, but purples, greys and yellows are in demand. So if I’m topping up an order (to make the most of flat rate postage), I’ll stash build those colours I don’t have much of.
When I’m stash building, I don’t tend to buy full ranges or busy, many-coloured prints – because my quilts tend to feature one or two colours, prints with lots of colours in them don’t work for me. But I am a sucker for blenders, big time. These useful prints are the foundation of a good stash, regardless of what you’re sewing. Spots, stripes, geometrics, squiggles, I love them all. And usually, I’ll buy every colourway in a range if I can. The simpler the print, the better it will work as a stash builder.
The advantage of stash building by colour is that you’re going to have much of what you need on hand when you start a new project. I recently started cutting a new quilt that required 100 different blue/aqua/green prints. I’m almost embarrassed to say I could do this without buying a single piece of fabric! But if I’d had to find 100 blues/aquas/greens locally, there is no way I could have done it at once and found prints I like. With fabric ranges changing so quickly, it is good to buy versatile, timeless prints when you can.
My inspiration for new quilts often starts with a fabric, and I build a colour scheme around that. The Sunshine and Shadows quilt started with a bundle of yellow/grey/black and white prints I purchased, and I built on it with more prints in the same colours from my stash, so it’s cohesive but not too matchy matchy. The Lattice Windows quilt started from the teal and lime lattice print my son took a liking too – we built the rest of his quilt around this colour scheme. The Diamonds in the Sky quilt grew from an interest in the high-contrast orange and blue colour scheme.
Whenever I’m working on a quilt, colour, and my colourful fabric stash, is my best friend.
If you’d like to hear more about my creative adventures, pop over to my little blog at http://wherejanecreates.blogspot.com.au/
I have to say the piecing of the star was so much easier than I expected and fitting the white squares and triangles so much harder than I expected. I must ask Mum how she does it. I just made it up!! More and more I am working out with patchwork - there is an easier technique. I just didn't know it this time.
I think it is lonely and needs some friends.I was thinking about playing with this collection of fantastic stars and making a red and white star sample quilt
. I'll keep you posted.
PS I know... I'm still playing
But I promise I am working on our great blog series Beyond The Basics
. Caroline has got me on a timetable so the play has got to stop!!
I have had a long and busy crafting season - Christmas sewing followed by Mum's 70 squares (She loved it!). Over the last two weeks I have really enjoyed aimlessly wandering from crafty project to crafty project, just playing. Sewing for no other reason than because it is what I feel like doing right now.Here's a few things I've been up to...Nova's Liberty Scrap Challenge
I used the no sew bunting to decorate the girls new writing area.
And the Liberty wire words for our new "work in progress" sewing area.I have also really enjoyed playing with the new Prints Charming fabric range. I would describe it as a light home dec weight. Perfect for bags and cushions but I have also seen a beautiful quilt made with it too. Beautiful colours and simple designs
make it perfect for embellishing with hand embroidery. I call this my bath supervision project!
I've also been dabbling in patchwork.If you have ever wondered about online courses you can try out the Craftsy Block of the Month
which is free. The format is great - video tutorials, an opportunity to take notes, ask questions and display your finished block. Here is the January block I did:
I have also been playing with a great technique to make a Lone Star from Quilt Smart
. I am still very much a beginner quilter and this technique is so easy to get fabulous corners every time.
One day this may be a centre piece for a new quilt for Rob and I. But right now, I'm not too fussed about that...
I'm just playing.
2011 was a quilty Christmas for us and a quilty Christmas has got to be a good Christmas.
I made my brother Tim (who occasionally makes cheeky comments on this blog) and his wife, Holly a quillow. I haven't made them anything before and so was keen to make them something special. I started with this collection of fabric I bought at Purl Soho (Sorry I couldn't resist that name drop! I just had to remind myself that Caroline and I spent 10 days together in New York with out kids and it was fantastic AND we went to Purl Soho TWICE!!):
I added a few blues so the fabrics reminded me of the sea - perfect for Tim, Holly and the boys, who spend all their spare time on or in the water - swimming, sailing and surfing.
A quillow is a nifty thing - half quilt, half pillow. It is perfect for snuggling under on a night spent on their boat and equally good folded up ready to go for a picnic. And if a quillow is nifty, so too are these instructions
for how to make one. Nova (from A cuppa and a catch up
) obviously has a verycleverbrain and made the construction very easy.
You can see the pocket in both pictures. The quilt all folds into here to create a useful little pillow with a take anywhere handle:
So I hope it wont be long before I find this quillow a little bedraggled, crusty from salt spray, pocket filled with some sand and maybe even a few red wine stains from the last picnic. I know it will have served its purpose.
Pippa was very excited to receive a quilt from Granny (my Mum). The main panel is a piece of fabric from Kaffe Fassett, beautifully hand quilted. It's hard to say which is the front and which is the back. Mum has appliqued some very sweet Matryoshka dolls on the other side.
Mum is not precious about the things she makes, she just wants them to be loved. This quilt obviously is.
Madeleine was feeling a little left out when I was taking these pictures. She thought that I should show you some pictures of the quilt that Granny made her a while back.
Her justification went something like this:
"Well, Pippi and I share a room. So I think you should show people my quilt so they know how well they all match"
I have decided to oblige her:
The 6 blocks are beautifully hand appliqued and embroidered.
Here are two up close:
I think both quilts are well loved!
I was also so excited to receive a gorgeous quilt for Christmas. Caroline has made me a fabulous quilt. The fabrics in it make me want to sing - scraps from the clothes she has made and the classes we have taught together. I would love to show you pictures but it's not quite finished yet. I was a little mournful when I had to return it. (Cara, I hope you are finding this motivational!!) I can't wait to snuggle under it and show it to you.
So after months of thinking about my Dear Jane project, I finally got it together this weekend and made six blocks. I only had a chance to photograph four. I found a new technique using freezer paper and I have to say was quite proud of the results. The corners turned out quite squarish and each block was surprisingly close to 4 1/2 inches when completed. Certainly an improvement on some of my earlier attempts!
Some of you may notice that I have been using the past tense. There is a very good reason for that. You see, they have gone. I only realised they were missing this evening, when I couldn't find my bag of sewing I had taken away for the weekend with me anywhere.
So I know the chances are tiny, but if anyone has seen a large black tote bag sitting on Mackerel Beach or Palm Beach Wharf with a weekend's worth of clothes that need washing, Rob's beloved Blundstone boots , six treasured patchwork blocks and an expensive to replace library book, I would love it back. (Don't worry, I won't be holding my breath!)
For the record:
1. Old Windmill. The scraps were from a little tunic and bloomers I made for Madeleine's first Christmas. It was the first time I had sewed with an Oliver and S pattern. Unfortunately these were the last scraps, so I wont be able to make it again.
2. Kaye's Courtyard. I still haven't finished the Amy Butler Liverpool Tunic I am making for myself in this fabric. Plenty more scraps so definitely reproducible.
3. Doris's Dilemma. Again not reproducible. I used this fabric in some folders I made as a farewell gift for Madeleine's class when she left earlier this year.
4. Field of Dreams. I used this fabric in a shirt for Madeleine. It was the first Japanese Pattern I had used. I can still remember the brain strain as I traced that pattern off! I may be able to find a few more scraps if I dig around.
I know in the scheme of things it is a very small loss, but I am going to let myself be sad for an evening and then start again tomorrow.
PS I would like to publicly apologies to my ever patient husband Rob, when before I knew my patchwork was in the lost bag, I told him he should just move on and buy himself a new pair of boots. I now know exactly how it feels to walk in those beloved boots!
Here is Mum's Cathie's Campfire:
And for me, this block was a reality check.
I think my confidence was running a little high after block one! After 2 hours, lots of miss cut triangles and lots of stitch ripper action I have ended with a rather wonky Cathie's Campfire. My Cathie is no girl guide! But I have decided I must be honest and show the good, the bad and the ugly.
The fabric is from the Amy Butler Soul Blossom range, I used in a peasant dress for Pippa. I have worked out now that the print is much too large for a 4 1/2 inch block. I am sure I could have cut it far more cleverly and made it look a whole lot better if I had thought it through but I didn't!
In our sewing classes, I often say if you cut right you will be alright. I also say that everything is fudgable - fabric has stretch! I am now realising in patchwork, if you cut right you may be alright and that fudging is sometimes not an option.So what else did I learn?The best instructions for me are ones like these
, where they give you a formula to determine the size you need to cut pieces based on the final size you want your pieces to be.If I miss cut pieces, throw them out
. If they stay in my work space, I will inevitably sew them to a correctly cut piece and create a patchwork disaster.Trim my threads as I go,or else I will end up with the world's most hairy quilt.Simple is often good...So for Block 3 we will be doing a very simple 9 patch!
PS If you would like to read more about the background to this project and Dear Jane quilts in general,head on over to Whip Up
where I have written a guest post
I really enjoyed this little project. It took me about an hour and a half to choose some fabric, read about nifty ways to piece triangles
and sew the block. More and more I am finding that large projects broken into small manageable pieces fit into my timetable right now. I have to grab the time I have rather than wait for a morning or more amazingly a day to open up for my sewing. I have to say, I am quite pleased with the results - one wonky corner, but for a newbie quilter I am quite pleased with my results.
I used scraps from a tunic I made for Pippa. I have now realised that I was dreaming to think that this quilt will be a scrap buster quilt. It really uses such tiny pieces of fabric.
Since the first post I wrote about this project, I have had some time to think about a colour scheme. (I have to admit I put the post up while my motivation was high, because I knew if I thought it through too much I may never have started.) The colours are going to be dictated by my scraps, but what I am aiming for is lots of white with a rainbow of pure colour pops. I don't want any muddied or greyed off colours. I want the reds to be reds, the pinks to be pink and the turquoises to be turquoise. I also want to stick to one fabric and white for each block but I may have to be a bit flexible about that.
Here's Mum's block:
It took her 30min from start to finish! I will show you the quick way she made the little triangles that make up the points of the star soon. I haven't had a moment to sew it and take the photos.
Mum has decided to mix things up a little and clear out some little projects she has started and not completed along the way. All her blocks will be finished at 6 inches but she may use some borders to bring small blocks she has already made up to this size. She is also going to use a nifty quilt as you go technique.
So for block two, I thought we would try one of the Dear Jane quilt originals called Cathie's Campfire.
is some information on cutting and sewing the flying geese part of this block, that looks pretty helpful.
You may have noticed, we haven't been around very much lately. It's not through lack of desire or lack of ideas. It's more like the stars aren't quite aligning. Sometimes I just don't find time to sew. Other times I find time to sew and then I don't find time to take the photographs. Sometimes I have time to take the photographs but it's raining or my children can think of lots of other fun things to do rather than model for their Mum's blog. Anyway, we know the posts have been pretty thin on the ground, so thanks for sticking around while we ride the bumps. So to a post...While at the recent Craft and Quilt show in Sydney, I loved several of the quilts called "Dear Jane Quilts". They were new to me but having done a little research now, I realise they are not new to quilters.
You can see the original quilt that inspired all Dear Jane Quilts here
. It was made by Jane Stickle during the American Civil War. She signed her quilt "In War Time 1863." It is an amazing quilt of 169 4 1/2 inch blocks surrounded by fifty-two 8"x5" triangles and four corner triangles.Many quilts have been made that replicate each block and each triangle. They are truly breath-taking.
Well, here goes. I'm going to try and make one. I am no quilter, but having mentioned that I loved these quilts to my mother, who is a passionate quilter, there is no going back! She has already found enough white homespun for me to make at least two of these quilts and given me a book called 501 Quilt Blocks. Dad's looking nervous. He can only cope with one quilter in his life.
So here's the plan:
This project won't be about replicating Jane Stickle's quilt block for block. It is more about the inspiration - 169 little squares, all stitched together, with some yet to be determined triangular border. Let's think of it more as an email to Jane - not as formal as a letter but certainly more effort than a text.
I'm going to commit to one block a fortnight. So not including the borders or quilting, it's going to take me 6 1/2 years!! I'm not going to get overwhelmed by that, being the person who wants to turn around most sewing projects in an evening. This is about the journey as much as the destination. Stay tuned though. If all goes well, I may push myself to one block a week - then I'll have this quilt made in a flash. OK - let's revise that, 3 1/4 years.
I am not going to buy anything new for the top of the quilt. I have four huge bins of scraps that are too small for larger projects but I can't bare to throw out. This quilt will also be about preserving all the fabrics I have chosen for my children's cloths and the gifts I have made as well. It may also be a little bit about raiding my Mum's rather large fabric collection.
Mum is coming along for the ride. I was going to say she will match me block for block, but in reality she will be stitching me in circles. She will be my inspiration and font of all knowledge. Mum says she knows her limitations and will make her blocks 6 1/2 inches finished. I am blissfully oblivious to my limitations, so I am going to stick to the original 4 1/2 inches.
I don't have the skills to run a Sew Along but if you would like to sew along we would love you to join us. I will post a picture and name of the block we are doing each fortnight. If I can find a link to a tutorial describing how to make the block, I will also post that too. At the end of the fortnight, I will post some photos of the blocks Mum and I made. If you would like to email me photos of your blocks I will post those as well or you are very welcome to link to the post.
So for the first block - I feel like there should be a drum roll...
Block 1 Ohio Star
(It seems appropriate for July 4th)
I found these instructions
on how to cut and sew a 12 inch Ohio Star, so my first step will be to work out how to make a 4 1/2 inch square. Wish me luck! (I don't need luck - I've got Mum!!!)
PS I saw a Catalog Card on the Haby Goddess
website today. I loved it. Jodie was kind enough to send me here
so I could make my own. Thanks Jodie.