Friday 26 February 2016


Believe it or not, I haven't done any quilting this week.  I've been busy with work, and taking my oldest son to Auckland to start university.  Here are some photos from my mum's garden that you might enjoy, and her beautiful la passacaglia quilt top.

mum's la passacaglia, with the borders on now

Although Auckland is only 650 km (400 miles) north of Wellington, the climate is quite different. Auckland is quite a bit warmer than Wellington on average, and as a result, different plants can grow there. My mum loves her garden and I took quite a few photos while we were staying with her at Christmas.  Here's some photos of her garden:

I certainly can appreciate a lovely garden, but unfortunately the Wellington climate is quite challenging, and I would rather spend my spare time on quilting.  As a result we mainly have bushes in our garden like camellias.

Friday 19 February 2016

Oh! Christmas Tree

Yes, it's February and I'm working on a Christmas Quilt.  I started this quilt at a quilt retreat back in September 2015 (here) but I didn't get very far due to other competing priorities - namely la passacaglia. So I put it high on my list for 2016 and I got it out again about 2 weeks ago.

The pattern is by Wendy Williams of Flying Fish Kits.  It's available directly from her website here, or in Issue 3 of Simply Moderne published by QuiltMania.

If you love the look of this quilt, but don't know where to start, my good friend Elizabeth Eastmond of Occasional Piece Quilt blog is running a quilt along for this quilt right now.  Her introductory post is here, and she'll be posting step 2 on March 2.  I've sent Elizabeth some tips and photos because I've been making Wendy's patterns for a few years now, and I have some experience with wool felt applique.

there's still some holes to be filled in

Here are some closeups of the flowers for my Christmas tree.  I try to use a different thread and a different stitch on each one. I mainly use DMC Perle 8, but I've also started using some beautiful Wonderfil threads, including the new Sue Spargo Eleganza threads.

You'll see that some of my flowers have fabric in the centre.  That's where the applique bit comes into it.  I collect fabrics like this when I see them, and use them for this type of work.

double click to enlarge the photo if you want to read the selvedges
I made the red triangle border over Christmas, but I couldn't resist pulling some fabrics for the stars this week.  I think it's going to look like this:

We're enjoying a great summer here in New Zealand.  I was at a local beach at the weekend and took some photos.

I feel very fortunate to live in New Zealand.

Thursday 11 February 2016

My Small World top is finished

After spending way more hours on this than I expected, the top of My Small World is now finished.  I really feel that I've sewn every piece of this quilt at least twice.  It certainly was a challenging quilt to make, and I wouldn't recommend it for beginners.  However, I'm really pleased with how my top has turned out, and the effort all seems worth it now.

I tried to use more of the types of fabrics Jen Kingwell used in the original version, but I just kept choosing bright fabrics over the more muted fabrics.  The process taught me even more about myself and my love of all things bright.

If you'd like to make this quilt, I suggest three things:

1. buy the pattern which is now available directly from Amitie Textiles in Melbourne, Australia
2. ask Sew What Sherlock for a copy of the FREE paper piecing templates - they really make all the difference
3. read all the tips and hints posted during the Quilt a Long by Kerry at Very Kerry Berry blog. Of course you don't have to do everything they recommend, but it's always useful to know what others have done.

If you're struggling with Part 5, you're not alone.  I fiddled around with the rainbow and sunburst for about a week.  I used English Paper Piecing, but I then had trouble getting them to sit straight on the quilt.  Anyway, they are on now and I won't dwell on the days of fluffing around it took.

I love all that green in the farm scene. If you want to see more close ups you can see my previous post here.

I'm going to hand quilt it myself with Perle 8 and Aurifil 12wt because I want to accentuate certain aspects of this quilt (and because I need a bit of hand quilting practice before I start on my la passacaglia).

For those who asked - Yes, I did show my la passacaglia quilt to Kaffe and Brandon.  They said very nice things about it, and noticed all the Kaffe Fassett Collective fabrics in it.  They mainly commented the use of colour and pattern, but also asked about the English Paper Piecing.  Here's very grainy photo of Brandon Malby looking at it.  Thank you Sue for the photo.

Also - I've received quite a few comments from no reply bloggers lately.  If I haven't replied to you, it will be because you're a no reply blogger.  I suggest you google how to fix that, or include you email address in the text of you comment so I can get back to you if you're asking a question. Thanks.

Friday 5 February 2016

Kaffe Fassett class in Wellington - January 2016

Last weekend I had the great pleasure of attending a Kaffe Fassett class in Wellington.  I've been a big fan of Kaffe Fassett fabrics for quite some time now.  I just love the rich colours in his collections.  The class was a great experience and I would highly recommend attending any of his classes if you get the opportunity.

I was fortunate to have my good friend Sue along for the ride.  Sue and I met about five years ago at Nancy's Stitch Studio, where we both attended embroidery classes.  Three years ago Sue moved to Dunedin so I don't get to see her so much now, though we do keep in touch via email.

My friend Sue designing her quilt at the workshop

We started the weekend by going to Kaffe Colour Lecture on Friday night at Expressions Gallery in Upper Hutt (organised by Thimbles and Threads).  It was a very interesting and entertaining lecture where Kaffe talked about his love of colour, his career, and how he designs new fabrics - with a paintbrush, NOT on a computer.

On Saturday morning we left home at 8am for the full day workshop organised by Busy Bee Quilt Shop of Wellington.  We both had a great time because we went with open minds, and were willing to try anything Kaffe or Brandon suggested.  We didn't cut any fabrics before we went, and were pleased that we hadn't.  Kaffe started by explaining what we should aim to achieve with the pattern, and we all went off to cut large hexagons for an hour.

Brandon thought this beautiful piece of fabric would make a good dress for me.  He even took a photo and put it on facebook.

About 11am we moved onto the star points.  We all trialed many fabric options until we found the perfect fabrics to complement our beautiful hexagons. I kept hearing Kaffe and Brandon say "you won't know til you try it - cut some and put them up".

 After a while I removed the star points just below the zig zag block on the left. They were too "flat" when viewed from a distance.

Then I removed the star points at the top right - they were "too black".  I'm beginning to sound like Goldilocks, but Kaffe and Brandon really make you study every fabric once it's in place..  Close enough is not good enough, but I now see why their quilts work so well - they put a lot of thought into the placement of every single piece of fabric.

I'm fine with that approach because I hate being rushed and having to make fabric decisions under pressure.  I like to stand back and be really sure before I move on.  As a result, I got less up on my design wall than some other people, but I love what I have done, and feel confident I've absorbed their messages and can finish building the quilt at home by myself.

The rest of the day was spent filling in our design walls as much as possible, and even thinking about possible borders. Brandon thought the teal blue would make a good skinny border for my quilt, but I'm not 100% convinced yet.  However, because the suggestion came from Brandon Malby, I'll continue to mull over it.

Then Kaffe went around the room and made comments about every quilt.  He even gave some tips for possible future steps - what to accentuate, and what to be wary of.

It would have been easy for me to work in the blues, greens and purples in the book (because they are my favourite colours), but I wanted to push my own boundaries and try something new.  I'm so pleased I did, because with Brandon and Kaffe's help I've started a great quilt. It will be totally different to any others I've made to date.

I took all the above fabrics along because I loved this orange quilt which was on display at the Kaffe Fassett booth at the UK Festival of Quilts 2015.  (not that I was there - this photo was all over Instagram)

I thought I would do orange blooms with the black / purple spot for star points. However, once Kaffe explained how to make the most of the pattern, I knew the black / purple spot would be too dark.  Fortunately I had some greys with me, and I've ended up using them for the star points.  Kaffe described them as "mens' suiting" greys which seemed a very appropriate description.

This was the first time I'd used a design wall, but the day after the course my kind husband went to Bunnings and bought a wooden rail and cup hooks so I could hang my design wall in the hall way.  It's perfect because I will just put it up when I need it, but I can stand a long way back and ponder my choices.  Kaffe spent a large amount of time just sitting on a chair, studying the quilts on the design walls, so I'm going to do that too in future.

a wooden rod 16mm thick, and 3 big laminated cup hooks

And some closing memories of a great day:

Sue's quilt in the centre

If Kaffe and Brandon come to New Zealand again I'd be sure to do another course with them.  It's not so much about the pattern chosen for the class, but about everything else you pick up from them during the day.  I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to attend.