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Thursday, 6 August 2020

Making the Checks and Balances quilt your own

Pictured above is the original Checks and Balances quilt. I don't know what it is about this pattern but for me it inspires play – I'm constantly coming up with new options for it.

I think I've made five or six versions now and I decided that instead of continuing to make them myself, I'd show you the ideas, so you can use them with the pattern as the basis for your own quilts and I can get on to other designs!

The original Checks and Balances works in vertical columns of colour that are randomly placed across the quilt. In 'I would be art', pictured below, there are two columns of blocks that change colour along the vertical. These columns are then repeated across the quilt. This variation is my Bauhaus version of the pattern, as it was inspired by the women weavers of the Bauhaus movement, specifically Benita Koch-Otte.
One version I've been playing around with uses a solid paired with an ombré panel, in this case Jennifer Sampou's Sky range, in Spa, Blush and Opal colourways.  You could simplify it even further by just using one ombré panel. I think a version like this would make a really lovely baby quilt.
Next is a colour block version mocked up in a variety of solids. I suspect I won't be able to stop myself from making a colour block Checks and Balances at some point. This mockup is really a wall-hanging size, but by adding a few extra columns and rows it would make a great single/twin bed quilt for a bright hit of colour in a kid's bedroom.
I was imagining this next one with the blue rectangles done in denim. I've seen a few quilts similar to this variation on Pinterest, but I thought I'd include it anyway. All the pieced blocks in this one have a red centre and the outside rectangles are improv strips of colour. I could imagine that even selvedge strips might work here.
My last mockup is done with Kaffe Fassett caterpillar and multi stripes paired with pieced blocks of shot cotton. Again, I suspect I might get around to making something like this one day... I just love the movement of colour up and down the columns in this one.
The last quilt pictured here is the simplest version of all, and it's the variation included in the pattern instructions, along with details for both quilt yardage and making with upcycled shirts.
When designing quilts I always ask 'what if?'. What if I tried the colour moving across the quilt rather than down? What if I made the fabric a solid instead of a stripe? What if I changed the order of some of the blocks. This is the kind of process I'm incorporating into the quilt design course I'm developing. If you're keen to hear more detail, sign up to my email newsletter at the top of the page.

Note that I've not done any of the yardage measurements for the mockup quilts (nor will I be, unless I make them myself), but they wouldn't be too difficult to figure out using the pattern as it stands.

OK, now that these are out in the world, I'm hoping they stop nagging at me so much to be made and I can move onto other quilt pattern ideas!

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Stitching my frustration on protest flags

Flag by Beka Hannah.
It's hard to believe it was only the beginning of this year our country suffered disastrous bushfires with many lives lost, towns destroyed and others covered in thick smoke for months on end. And still, in Australia, and across the world, climate change is treated as a partisan political issue and not the emergency it is.

Like many who have protested, donated, made lifestyle changes, written letters and signed petitions over many, many years I was at a loss as to what else I could do. In sheer frustration I started stitching a protest flag – maybe as a kind of therapy. I posted it online and others joined in – sending me their angry missives and heartfelt pleas.
Flag by Tal Fitzpatrick.
And then Covid-19 arrived...
For a lot of the time since then, continuing with stitching and quilt making has seemed pretty frivolous and in the beginning I was too confused, uncertain and worried to be able to focus on the flags – but life has a funny way of pushing you on regardless.

Having lost my normal work in March, quilt making really is my only income at the moment and so the quilt making continues. Then Sydney Craft Week announced their theme for 2020 as 'Change Makers' and so I determined to try and get the protest flags shown – the application went in yesterday.
Flag by Kerry Martin.
A goal to work towards made me think seriously about how to construct a cohesive piece from the flags. I've decided to stitch the flag tops between a header piece and backing fabric and then each of these blocks will be stitched together. This way the flag still hangs free and the whole work will form a banner of sorts. All the fabric pieces are upcycled shirts and the backing will likely be an upcycled blanket.
climate protest flags
From top left to bottom right: Tara Glastonbury, Diana Vandeyar, Tara Glastonbury, Anne Foy, Pip Porter.
My hope is that I'll largely be making the banner on site during Craft Week and would like to have materials there for people to stitch their own protests to add to the final piece.

In the meantime, if you're based in Australia, you still have time to stitch a flag and send it to me. The template can be downloaded here. Once you're done, email me at the address at the base of the blog or DM me on Instagram and I'll let you know how to get it to me.

To be clear, I don't think either side of politics has covered itself in glory on this one and a lot of the flags reflect the anger present during the bushfires – how you reflect your wishes for climate change is up to you – the more flags, the better!
Flag by Linda Knight.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Choosing colours for a quilt

For as long as I can remember I've loved combining colours. As a consequence I tend to work very intuitively when selecting colours for quilt designs. If that's not you though, never fear! Choosing colours and combining them is a skill you can learn and there are so many tools out there to help you now.

Today we're going to choose colours for my Handloomed quilt pattern and I'm going to walk you through the steps to create your own perfect colour combination. Of course you can use this approach to combine colours for any quilt project.

Let's start by looking at the pattern. The vertical pairs on the Handloomed quilt are three mid colours combined with lighter versions of those same colours. The horizontal rows are two dark colours combined with mid versions of those same colours. That's roughly the formula anyway...  In terms of fabrics, you can use any types of solids – standard quilting fabric, khadi or shot cottons, or even fabrics that read as solids.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Catty Corner is good to go!

Finally, I have another pattern out in the world! My Catty Corner quilt pattern is available as a pdf download over on my Etsy store now.

It feels like a lifetime ago now, but in early 2017 I travelled to Eswatini (formerly Swaziland) on an Ace Camp – what an adventure! Of course, given it was largely a textile trip, I came back with fabrics, specifically shweshwe. Originally shweshwe was only available in indigo – the patterns created with a method of acid discharge – but now it's available in all the colours of the rainbow.
I had seen very few quilts made from shweshwe but those I had come across were quite traditional in design and I didn't think they suited the bold, vibrant colours of the fabric, so of course I decided to design my own. Insanely, I'm still quilting that version, while one I've made from upcycled shirts is about to hang at Quiltcon, and pattern testers have been busily finishing off versions of their own.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Time to let go a little – a call for pattern testers

If you've been following along on Instagram this year, you'll know that I was out of action for large chunks of it due to a back injury – an injury that was partly caused by a quilting marathon.

Naturally this has me reassessing things for 2020 and instead of trying to make all the quilts myself, I'm putting the call out for pattern testers.

Skimming Stones quilt pattern
If you've made a quilt before then you're welcome to sign up – just fill in your details below.