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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.
If you want to have a play around using that rough formula, then go for it, but if you need a little more help then we're going to get on the computer (or your phone or tablet) and head over to Adobe Color. There we're going to click on 'Extract Theme', which I've highlighted below with a red circle. On a phone you click on 'Image', so I'm sure it will be one or the other of those on a tablet as well.
Once you click, the window below will appear. This is where we're going to upload a swatch file. You can upload any kind of image here – a photo you took on holidays, a pic of an interior you like, or a fabric swatch. It will pull all the colours from the image for you and help combine them with others.

Today though, we're starting with a solid, so I'm going to head over to a fabric website and find myself a solid swatch, specifically blue, as I haven't really done a mockup with blue as the highlight colour yet. 

All I have to do is click and hold on the swatch and drag it to my computer desktop. Then I find it on the desktop and drag and drop it into Adobe Color as shown below. If the swatch doesn't drag to your desktop you can always do a screen shot (Google it if you need to) of the colour and drag that into the window below.
Once the swatch is loaded, click on 'Color Wheel' up the top next to the 'Extract Theme' button. Your screen should now look like this. Down the left hand side of the screen you'll notice a series of radial buttons for things such as 'Analogous' (colours that are next to each other on the colour wheel), 'Monochromatic; (essentially adding various amounts of white or black to the colour of choice), 'Complementary' (colours that are opposite on the colour wheel), etc.
You could click on any of these radial buttons and pretty much choose any of the colours suggested and they'd look good with this blue.

Today though, I'm going to start with the 'Split Complementary' button, shown below – and use the three colours there that look more 'mid' tone.
On the Handloomed it often works well to have the two similar colours on one side of the colour wheel separated by the colour on the other side of the colour wheel, so let's colour that in on my colouring sheet. You can do this on the computer if you know how, you can print the sheet and colour it in, or even just line matching fabric or colour card swatches together on your work surface.
The next step involves choosing lighter versions of the three mid tones we've just coloured in. I don't go back to Adobe Color for this. If you're on the computer, you can usually add white, change transparency levels etc. If not, you can colour in your sheet using less pressure or just go through swatches or your stash to find something lighter.
For the horizontal bands I really like that dark blue on the left of the 'Monochromatic' page, so I'll put that and its paler version in first.
Then for the last dark colour I think I'll use that reddish brown on the left of the 'Split Complementary' (already shown above), which allows me to do the last of the colouring in. How good does that look? It makes me want to get in and make another one already!
There are a few other colourways I've played around with over on my Instagram feed, along with versions that have already been made, but I hope this post gives you a little more confidence in branching out and choosing your own palettes for all types of quilts!

Please note this is not a sponsored post – Adobe Color is free for anyone to use.

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...