Tuesday 31 October 2017

A Mystery Quilt.....Through the Garden Gate

Hello, and welcome to my blog, especially if you're a Mystery Quilter.  

If you're not a Mystery Quilter, but wish that you were, then you need to visit:  
www.cottoncuts.com in the USA or
www.quilterslane.co.nz in New Zealand.

How does the Mystery work?

  • We offer a choice of colourways (8 different options!) and sizes.
  • Each month for ten months you receive a pack of perfectly cut shapes and instructions for sewing them together.
  • You can follow the clues as people post them on facebook in our friendly group.
  • In the tenth pack you get instructions for putting the quilt top together.
  • Mysteries start in February (New Zealand and USA) and July (USA only).

Some months ago my friend Sheila Christensen from Quilters' Lane in Masterton, New Zealand, asked if I would like to join in the blog hop for her latest mystery quilt - Through the Garden Gate.  


So of course I said "Yes".

 The clue comes with the fabric perfectly precut and beautifully presented in its packaging.

It was quite easy to put the pieces together.

When I'd finished sewing the blocks together I couldn't resist trying some different layouts - even though I know these blocks probably won't sit next to each other in the finished quilt.  

The sewing did not take long at all. Less than an hour after I began, all the pieces were sewn together!

The idea is that a range of bloggers from all over the world each make one month's clues from the mystery quilt, and then send them back to Kim at Cotton Cuts in USA where they all get joined together. Cotton Cuts will sew the puzzle pieces together and then hold an auction for the finished quilt, with all money going toward the sheltered workshop for disabled people that they use for their fulfillment, Valley Industries. You can read more details about the fulfillment process and facility in Sheila’s recap from the July clue.

I intend to give my blocks to Sheila at our next Capital Quilters guild meeting, and she will pass them onto Kim from Cotton Cuts when they meet up at the International Quilt Market in Houston.  I wish I could take them myself, but sadly I'm not going to be there - maybe one day!

Kim supplied me with an pen so that I could sign one of the blocks for inclusion in the charity quilt. You can have a chance to win the entire quilt by entering the raffle (link below). Each of the bloggers will sign their blocks, so this really will be a one of a kind quilt!
Each blogger will make up one of the clues and send it to Kim who will complete the quilt. Here is the list of blogs where you will be able to follow the quilt being made:
I look forward to following along and seeing the other pieces that are sewn each month, and I’ll be sure to share final details on how the quilt comes together next year.

Friday 27 October 2017

Glitter class with Jen Kingwell at Symposium

On the last day of Symposium I had another class with Jen Kingwell.  This time it was for her Glitter quilt, which is a pattern I've admired for some time.

We had the option of machine piecing or hand piecing our blocks, but I decided to practice the hand piecing that I'd learnt in Jen's earlier Green Tea and Sweet Beans class.

I'm so glad I chose hand piecing because it was so relaxing.  I was at a table with three other friends from Capital Quilters guild, and we just chatted as we each slowly made some blocks.  Two of them were using the sewing machines, but hearing their occasional frustrations made me please I'd decided to hand piece.

Here's our table's collective effort for the day:

I only made two blocks during the class, but there was no pressure to go faster.  I'll need 152 blocks if I want a big quilt, so the difference between making 2 or 3 in class is negligible.

I've made a quite a few more blocks since I got home.  I unpacked my bags, and stood back from the table trying to decide which of my new projects I'd pick up first.  It was like trying to decide which of your children to hug first - I loved them all, but could only pick one.  I chose Glitter, partly because I really enjoyed the class, and wanted to continue that calmness that comes with hand piecing. 

Here's what I'm aiming for, but mine will be all grey and green to complement the new wall paper in our bedroom:

Jen's Glitter Quilt
Here are some close up photos I took of Jen Kingwell's Glitter quilt.  It's hand quilted very simply with straight lines down and across in Aurifil 12wt.  Jen said she still intends to add more quilting, but this is enough to hold it all together.  She uses Quilters' Dream Cotton Select batting so can leave up to 8" unquilted.  Jen tends to use very light backings like voile.

Monday 23 October 2017

Pickled Fish with Chris Jurd at Symposium

On the fourth day of Symposium I attend a foundation paper piecing class with Chris Jurd.  The aim was to make one block from her gorgeous Pickled Fish quilt.

Chris Jurd's Pickled Fish quilt

The borders and binding were interesting too

I've done foundation paper piecing before, but Chris had a slightly different method.  Fortunately she was fine with us using which ever method worked for us.

I made the pickles OK, but had trouble attaching the scallops at the edges - see below.  I sewed my scallops on, but I knew they weren't centred properly, so I've just unpicked them this afternoon and will try again in the comfort of my own home.

my block - before I unpicked the scallops and tried again

Here's all of the class blocks together on the whiteboard:

I do want to make this quilt, and have some beautiful fabrics set aside for it, so I will persevere and sort out my issues with sewing curves.

If you'd like to buy the pattern you can get it from Chris Jurd's Etsy shop here.

And finally, here's Chris's Road Trip quilt in the Tutors Exhibition.  It was very original, and clever too.  I loved the strong black lines, but also the colour and patterns in the other fabrics Chris used.

Friday 20 October 2017

Green Tea and Sweet Beans at Symposium

My first class at Symposium was Green Tea and Sweet Beans with Jen Kingwell. I enrolled in this class because I really wanted to learn Jen's way of hand piecing and hand applique. At the end of the two day class I felt very happy with what I had learnt, and knew I would get faster with more practice.

I don't know if I'll ever make a full Green Tea and Sweet Beans quilt, but the techniques I learnt will certainly be put into practice in other quilts.

On the first day I hand pieced two tiny Propeller blocks.  We learnt how to make our own plastic templates, and how to hand piece neatly and accurately.

On the second day I made a quarter of a Halo block.  I consider this a bigger achievement than it really is, because Jen was teaching the Halo quilt the next day, and I had already made a quarter of a block in my Green Tea class. I could go ahead and make a whole Halo quilt if I really wanted to, but I still find curves a little bit tricky.

I also hand appliqued some clam shells.  Again we made plastic templates, but this time we drew the stitching line onto the right side of the fabric.  I've previously English Paper Pieced clam shells, so this was also something new for me.

I loved using the new Aurifil 80wt for the hand applique. 

Jen had a suitcase full of her beautiful quilts to show us. She didn't mind us handling them to get a sense of just how soft they were.  Jen uses Quilters Dream Cotton Request batting in all of her quilts, and hand quilts them with Aurifil 12 wt.

Halo quilt
Queen's Cross

Queen's Cross

Queen's Cross

Glitter on the left
I also took the Glitter class with Jen, so I will write more about that next week.

Monday 16 October 2017

Free Motion Quilting at Symposium

As most of you know, I don't do Free Motion Quilting (FMQ).  Well, I didn't until I spent a day in Deborah Louie's class at Symposium.

We learnt lots of different patterns, and I now feel ready to start FMQ'ing some of my own quilts.  I won't be pushing huge quilts through my Bernina, but I will certainly feel more confident about tackling some of my smaller quilt tops.

Deborah took us through a class that she has taught many times.  She also covered thread choices and batting.

Deborah likes Matilda's Own 100% cotton batting because it's cuddly, but has a low loft.  Her second favourite batting is Matilda's Own 60% wool / 40% cotton batting.  It drapes nicely and is great for bed quilts.

Deborah explained how cotton and polyester threads are constructed differently. Her favrouite for FMQ is Mettler Poly Sheen because it sits flat and won't form a lump if you quilt over the same spot multiple times.

All of the symposium tutors were very giving with their time, and happy to give advice on other aspects of quilting.

Deborah's class is actually available to purchase on her website if you want to watch it at home.  Once you've purchased it you can watch it again and again forever! I might be buying it myself if I forget all she taught us.

Here are a few of my examples, all stitched by me during our six hour class.

Deborah bought along some great quilts to show us examples of the possibilities with different styles of FMQ.  I took lots of photos so I can use some of the patterns for inspiration in the future.

I really enjoyed this class and was pleased that I had chosen something outside of my comfort zone.  It would have been easy to pick comfortable classes, but I think it's good to chose at least one challenging thing when there are so many experts available to learn from.

Many of the tutors bought quilts for the Tutors' Exhibition which was on site at St Andrew's College. This is Deborah Louie's quilt.