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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.
The pattern I've created consists of four large log cabin blocks sewn together and then sliced and diced to create the final top. It can be made in cot/crib, throw or queen sizes.  The quilt would suit an advanced beginner, but if you're planning on making the queen, having a little more experience under your belt would help. Accuracy of cutting and piecing at scale are needed.

The quilt also suits a variety of fabrics. You'll definitely need some that read as a solid colour, but stripes and small prints work really well too. I've been really lucky with my pattern testers in that they used a great variety of fabrics so you can see how much is possible. Stacey did a fabric pull from her Cotton and Steel collection, while Mary got most of her fabrics from her local Austin Creative Reuse – how fabulous is that?
Except for the two solids, my cot-sized Catty Corner was created using upcycled shirts.
Stacey's Cotton and Steel selection. Note how she's used a different fabric (but the same colour) to create her blocks
Except for the Philip Jacobs Japanese chrysanthemum, Mary's fabrics are from Austin Creative Reuse.
I'm a pretty slow maker, maybe because I'm often designing as I make, but I did have a feeling this quilt would come together fairly quickly. Katy however, blew my mind with how fast she pulled off this perfect throw specimen, even incorporating the cut-offs into the back while she was at it! I also really like the stripe Katy has included which she's then matched with coordinating fabrics that read as solids.
Detail of the back of Katy's throw.
Stacey opted for a slightly longer version of the quilt, not cutting as much from the top. And then created a whole new masterpiece repeating some of the log cabin shapes for the back.

My favourite photo from Mary shows an individual block hanging out in Texas. Mary put her hand up to make the queen, and this pic really show the scale of the individual block size you're working with for this version.
Detail of Mary's queen sized Catty Corner top.

I have been so very grateful to my three pattern testers! They've made my first foray into pattern testing an absolute delight and it's been really interesting for me to see how others might see and approach a quilt compared to the way I do. If you get a chance, head on over to their feeds on Instagram to check out what else they're up to.
Katy – whatkatydid_handmade
Stacey – craftylilmouse
Mary – atxquiltfarmer
PS And thanks to Mum, as always, for being my pattern editor extraordinaire!

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.

When my next pattern is ready (early January 2020) I'll send a call out to everyone who's signed up. That email will include:
  • a picture of the quilt
  • the size options available for testing
  • a description of the techniques I used to make it (so you can assess the difficulty and work needed to make it)
  • a timeline
  • image requirements (ie pics I'd like you to provide) and an image release form
You then decide if you want to make the pattern, and if so, email me back with the size you'd prefer to make. If I get a ton of responses I'll choose a couple for each size, and then choose different testers for the next quilt so everyone gets a go.

You probably already know this if you've been following me for any length of time, but a lot of my quilts use upcycled fabrics including denim jeans, business shirts, bed sheets etc. I will note on the call out what fabrics I've used, and while there won't be restrictions on you to do the same I'm always keen to see what people can do with what they have to hand.
Handloomed quilt pattern

What I'm looking for in a pattern tester

First up, you'll need to make the pattern within the timeframe (approx 3–6 weeks, but I'll note it in the call out).

Next, you'll need to provide honest, constructive feedback on the pattern. Was there anything you didn't understand? Could something be worded a different way to make it clearer? etc

Last, you'll need to post a number of pics to Instragram using the hashtag I'll provide. I'd also like to have the images emailed to me so I can use them on my blog and pattern page.

What you get out of it

If you pattern test for me, I'll be giving you a payment towards fabric (just because it might be from your stash doesn't mean you didn't pay for it!) and a number of my patterns (already existing, the one you test and/or subsequent patterns). The amount and number of patterns will vary according to the size quilt you're making and will be included on the call out.

Naturally I'll also be sharing your work and handle on my social media feed and blog (such as they are).

Pattern sign up

This email list will only be used to contact you about pattern testing opportunities. You must fill out all the fields to be added to the list. A confirmation email will be sent to you once your details are added.

Thanks so much for your interest and I look forward to being able to release more patterns in 2020 thanks to you!

Sunday, 3 November 2019

Blue Giant cushion kits – how to go into production without going into production...

I've spent a long time trying to avoid going into production on any of my patterns. It's not that I mind making the pieces again – especially if I can give them a new twist, or take a slightly different approach – it's that I mind making them over and over and over again. My favourite part of the process is really the designing after all.

So, when the pile of jeans for upcycling was starting to look a little threatening, I decided a kit for the Blue Giant cushion might be worth exploring. That way you can all make one instead! You can find them in my Etsy store here.
I also know that not everyone has a stash of old jeans lying about to get all the shades of blue that show this design off to best effect, so why not share some of it around?
The kit contains everything you need to make a 22" (55cm) cushion cover. Enough fabric for both the front and back – in various shades of blue denim – as well as some lovely mud-resist indigo-dyed cotton for the binding, a zipper, the full instructions for the Blue Giant quilt (as well as some extra notes for the cushion back) and the cushion template pieces.
I do have a few other denim upcycling projects on the go (which is partly why the stash is out of control). They will eventually become patterns, but I need to find a few added extras before I can finish them off and show you. These patterns are as much for dealing with the T-shirt waste I've accumulated (125kg!) rather than the denim waste. Intriguing hey?

Here's a sneak peek...

Sunday, 20 October 2019

What happens when your whole apartment becomes your sewing room

My absolute favourite thing about having the studio in Sydney, was that when I was done for the day, or more likely was really in need of dinner, I could shut the door on the mess and walk away.

Right now, it feels like my entire apartment has become my studio and yesterday, to amuse myself, I decided to take a picture of all the little quilts-to-be piles dotted around the place.
This quilt below for instance, is one I started in Maria Shell's class, but I'm adapting to make a version of my Strip Weave quilt...
Sitting on the bookshelf next to it is another little pile that I have ideas for, but haven't quite got to the point of testing. Realistically, these jelly rolls need to go in a drawer for a while.
These shirts are going to become a queen sized version of my new Catty Corner pattern, but I'm kind of thinking about tinkering with over-dyeing to get two of the other four colours I need in the set, and I'm not sure how realistic me doing that any time soon is. Still, these are going to sit on the table for now. Maybe I could at least cut this lot up?
The pic on the left below is actually made up of two quilts-in-progress and they're both pure fantasy at this point. I'd almost forgotten they were there until I looked up to the top of the bookshelf and found them staring down at me. The pic on the right was me just matching up shirts to a fabric I had an idea for – it will get made, but definitely not until 2020 so this also needs to go in a drawer.
Next we have an actual, real live quilt-in-progress. This is another variation on my Strip Weave pattern and is about a quarter done for a single bed quilt. This one will actually progress this week so it's staying hanging over the spare room door.
And this is so close I can taste it! I just need to bind this one. It's a wall-hanging version of my Catty Corner pattern and I'm thinking a faced-binding. Fingers crossed this also gets done this week and can be photographed and moved from the couch arm.
I think I need to document this more often! One, as it's made me write down some of the ideas so maybe now the fabric can get put away, and two, it's freaked me out slightly about how many projects are lying about the place. This snapshot for instance, doesn't include two textile art projects I'm also working on, nor the personal clothing knitting and sewing strewn about the place.

So, what did I do in the face of all this mess? I started another quilt... I kid you not.

I think I'm off to do a bit of a tidy up!

Sunday, 28 July 2019

Handloomed quilt pattern – the khadi collaboration

Earlier this year I was reading instragram posts by Liz – from Woven Stories Textiles – as she travelled around India sourcing fabric. One of her suppliers in West Bengal was lamenting that he needed to find new markets for his textiles. I loved the vibrancy of the fabrics that Liz had been posting and there's something about a textile tradition that has been carried out for generations that really speaks to me – possibly as someone who has very tenuous roots both personally and culturally.

So, it sparked an idea, and I contacted Liz to see if she would be interested in a quilt collaboration.  Wonderfully, she said yes. We communicated back and forth online and settled on a pattern.  Liz sent fabric samples, but in the end, I decided I really needed to see and touch ALL the fabrics, and so I boarded a flight to Perth. I'm so glad I got on that plane as Liz's fabrics are divine.
The quilt design is made from khadi cotton. To be true khadi, the fabric must not only be handwoven, but hand spun as well. This is the local, everyday fabric – it has texture, rich colour and the hand of the weaver woven into every piece. I live quite close to the place where I studied textile design, so I spent quite a bit of time researching the textiles of West Bengal, and India more generally, in their library. One book that particularly interested me was about modern Indian designers who were taking their textile traditions in new and exciting directions (Tradition and Beyond: Handcrafted Indian Textiles). In the end, that's what I decided to do – not do a design based on a culture that's not my own, but rather a quilt that honours the weavers as a modern take on the weave structure and makes the most of those vibrant colours.

I made a sample, that I took to WA with me, but once confronted with all the colour choices, things became difficult – honestly, how to narrow things down to just a couple of colourways was a killer. Thankfully, my lovely Instagram followers helped out, and in the end we settled on 'Flower Market' – bright pinks, oranges and yellows – which I made the throw in, and 'Spice Alley' which has the red- and yellow-browns and became the cushion.
The quilt pattern comes in throw and cushion sizes and is sewn together in strips, forming columns – rather than the usual rows. The sets of strips are then cross cut and sewn back together to form the woven pattern.
I quilted the cushion following the lines of the warp and weft pattern design, but used a diagonal pattern meeting in the focal point of the large solid square for the throw. Either way, the texture comes up brilliantly on the khadi.
Liz will be at the WA Craft Show on 2, 3 and 4 August with the throw and the cushion, along with kits she's made up in both colourways that include the pattern. Naturally, if you want to make up your own colour combination, you can buy the pattern separately. Liz's online store is here if you want to take a look at the other colours she has in stock.

The pdf pattern will go live from Monday 5 August and I'll come back and pop the link up when it is. I can't wait to see what you all do with it!

#handloomedquilt #stitchandyarnquilts