Thursday, 25 August 2016

How to grow your creativity

Does this seem familiar?

or this?

If so, then join me next week for my first blog post on how to grow your creativity.  I want to share with you how I grow and nurture my own personal creativity and how you can do the same.  Whether an enthusiastic beginner in your creative journey or a seasoned pro, I promise to share what keeps me going and creating and hope to help others flourish in the process! 
Next Thursday, it's a date! 
Collette x

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

knitting a hitchhiker shawl

I love quilting.  I do.  It is a huge part of my life.  However, sometimes we all need to switch gear a little and do something completely different.

I am not a "natural knitter" but I do love the rhythm and soul soothing nature of the craft.  I adore sheep's roving, spun and turned into yarn.  I love the colours and the feel of it.  I sometimes think I would be quite happy to just knit and knit giant squares ( but my elbows would protest I am sure!).

This is why I am loving the Hitchhiker Shawl pattern available on Ravelry.  It is well worth the money and if I can do it anyone can!  I love using this self striping yarn and the effects it creates keep it quite interesting and surprising.  It isn't a hard pattern at all and is great if you really are not a "pro knitter" like me and enjoy dabbling now and again.  If you are intrigued by the name of this pattern then check out the wonderful designer's story behind it on Ravelry.

my first attempt smaller due to heavier wool love it though!

Collette x

Monday, 22 August 2016

Modern double wedding ring mini quilt

Here is my double wedding ring mini quilt class sample!

My lovely Quilting class have a expressed a desire to make a Double Wedding Ring quilt as soon as possible.  I thought it may be better to give them an introduction to curved piecing and the basics of constructing the double wedding ring quilt before tackling such a huge, but fun, task!

Hence the mini quilt pictured! I used foundation paper piecing to make the Rugby ball shaped sections.  This was a fantastic scrap busting exercise and I used all scraps for those sections.  The middle of each Rugby ball and the centre section were all cut from one fat quarter of fabric.

I quilted with an all over grid design using Aurifil 50wt thread.  My go to thread for piecing and quilting.  This provided the texture I wanted. I then found some leftover binding from a previous quilt and thought the black and white was perfect for this mini.

My class are very excited about tackling this project and I am looking forward to seeing and sharing what they produce with you all! 
Collette x

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

sun, sea, sand and sewing

Our wee family were on holiday last week.  We visited a lovely cottage called Penkiln Cottage just outside the lovely (small) town of Newton Stewart.  It was the most relaxed I have felt in a loooong while and it was bliss. 

We did the usual trips to the local ( stunning) beach, a huge country walk around Knockmann Wood, lunches out, book shopping in Wigtown and barbecues back at the cottage.  The kids even saw the sheep on the farm and all the surrounding fields being sheared.

Mossyard Bay

sheep waiting for haircut
A coo

I have been sewing too and working on something just for myself.  I started this medallion quilt last year for my patchwork class students and I am finally adding some stars to it.

I also finished a Quilt for a magazine commission and can only show you the binding sadly but will give you the full run down once it is published.
So there you go! Sun, sea, sand and even sewing!  Oh and sheep shearing too!  That was fun to watch but hard work for the guys doing it.
Mucho love
Collette x

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

absolute beginners

I don't think I have ever shared my journey into quilting with you.  Please correct me if I am wrong!  I have been thinking about this recently and the creative process and journey in general.

My journey into the world of quilting began 9 years ago, while reading an American blog, and coming across beautiful patchwork quilts.  My wee girl, Emma was around 6 months old and Jacob, a toddler.  I needed other things to do like a hole in my head!  Yet I think quilting found me!  I think, with hindsight, I had a desire to recapture a part of myself that wasn't just 'mum' and all that entails ( you know the drill mums and dads).

My first proper big quilt with lots of non matching points
So I surfed the Interwebs ( this was before Pinterest, people!) and googled quilting and I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.  No joke!  The fabrics, the colours, the patterns, the everything. 

There was just one thing - I couldn't sew!  I knew how to thread a needle and stitch a button on, you know the basic stuff, but I had never used a sewing machine since my mum tried to show me when I was about 12.
a very early quilt made with a layer cake(precut fabric)

During that time there wasn't such a great selection of fabric shops here in the UK.  Online or bricks and mortar. Or maybe I just hadn't discovered them all yet!  (There weren't many magazines around then either; that I knew of.  I did discover British Patchwork and Quilting which I still love and holds a special place in my heart).    So I bought my first Charm pack from Crosspatch (in Wales I think) online and eagerly awaited it's arrival.  I didn't have a machine but assured myself that I could hand sew the squares together, which I did!  Soon though, that wasn't moving fast enough for me and I "needed" to get a hold of machine to make my piecing faster.  Of course, I had no idea at this point that it was even called piecing! Lol. 

pssst.........I still feel like the little girl in the photo! (pinterest)

My first sewing machine was a mini Janome for around £50 quid.  It was slow as treacle, but that suited me perfectly because of my inexperience.   You tube and Google were indispensable to me to start with.  I had no time or money to go to a proper quilting class (there were none locally anyway).  So to be able to google questions and see videos of how to do things was amazing!  I quickly moved on to a full speed, proper, grown up machine.  I remember my excitement when the delivery came.  I was like a little kid waiting on Christmas day.  I could have kissed the delivery man!  The machine was fast!  To me it was like a formula 1 racing car fast.  It surprised me how quickly I got used to it though! And from there I just kept making, and making and making.

Now why the hell am I telling you all this I hear you ask?  If you have stuck with me so far then, hooray and thank you!!

I just want to say that we were all beginners at one time or another.  Yes, even those super famous quilters we all know and love who are all over Instagram, facebook, blogs and so on.  WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE!  I made mistakes!  Plenty of them!  I tried using polycotton for piecing, (didn't work out well at all), I used the cheap, fluffy, polyester wadding that is ok but nothing in comparison to proper quilt wadding be it poly or cotton or a mix, I used cheap as chips thread on my machine and wondered why does it keep breaking?!  I frequently did not sew a quarter inch seam allowance and then scratched my head when points wouldn't match.  Ten years on and I am still learning all the time!

What I am trying to say is that if you are a beginner quilter, if you have just started one of the many classes now available (thank goodness), or if you have picked up your first copy of one of the fabulous Quilting mags now available, do not be intimidated or overwhelmed!  I remember feeling like this at the beginning.  Many of my students did too when they were total beginners.  Do not let feelings of self doubt creep in or comparison.  I am still guilty of them, but I have learnt that we need to develop the attitude of "feel the fear and do it anyway" as Quilters.  It is how we learn and grow and gain that invalauble experience.  You can't buy it!  New Quilters today have the world at their feet and so many fabulous beginner friendly resources.  It is awesome!  Truly.  We are surrounded by some of the most amazing talent in the quilting world and sometimes this can be a bit scary and initimdating too.  Don't let it be!  Yes, admire and love the work of others on Instagram and facebook but do not think you lack anything because you do not produce the same work.  We are all at different stages on our journey as a quilter and it is good to make peace with that. 

Mucho love!
Collette x

Thursday, 9 June 2016

sun, horses and fabric

Well what a stunning spell of weather we have been getting here in Ayrshire.  We have had the hottest temperatures (for us) so far this year and even the kids Sport's day at school went ahead as scheduled with idyllic conditions!

So what have I been up to these last few weeks?  I have been out with Emma on the bike, soaking up some rays and meeting some new horses.

Making pouches with fancy pleats using this amazing video tutorial by Patty doo.

My Carkai Mini Quilt has been featured in the latest issue of Quilt Now, which is always exciting.  This is a fun project and teaches you how to tackle partial seams!

Staying with the Carolyn Friedlander fabric theme I even made myself a pencil case from this orphan block I used to experiment with Lu Summer's porthole technique.  I also experimented with some "bubbly" free motion quilting! I love it!
I treated myself to some fabric splurges too from The Village Haberdashery and Eclectic Maker.   
Aren't those mermaids and seahorses precious?
 Oh and I received two amazing blocks for #TheNoQuilt from an awesome IG friend called Miss Gerda.  The pink is NO in Hindi and the green is NO in a Japanese script.  These are just amazing and I will begin assembling the quilt really soon.  I am just waiting on a few more blocks from excellent quilters who have posted them off! We have Persian, Maori and Arabic to come!

So there you go!  Busy times but quilty times!  
Until next time 
Mucho love
Collette xx

Thursday, 19 May 2016

easyepp english paper piecing tutorial

Today I want to share with you how I English Paper Piece.(EPP)  I began experimenting with this technique early on in my Quilting life and fell in love with it! Here is how I do it and I hope this inspires you to give it a try as it is super easy and great fun.

I started with hexagons and still love them.  They are a great starting point for EPP and allow you to learn the basic technique.

You can buy ready made paper templates from the UK from the lovely Jesse, owner of Sew and Quilt or in the US from  Alternatively you can create your own, by creating your template and then printing it off onto copy paper and cutting out.  I tend to use this method far more because I can get the exact size and shape of template I need and it is free! Incomptech is a great site for creating hexagons and other geometric shapes.

  1. Using a template, cut out the fabric you need leaving at least a quarter inch seam allowance around the template.
  2. Basting - is when you attach the template to the fabric either by washable glue or using a large tacking stitch taking care NOT to go through the paper template and just catching the fabric.  I use both methods but when I have a large pile of templates to baste I always go for a prittstick of sewline glue pen.  
  3. Once all your templates are basted, it is time to join them.  Traditionally, the stitch used for this is called the "Whip stitch".  It is quick and easy and if you use a good quality thread, the stitches can hardly be seen on the right side.  I like to use Aurifil 50wt thread as it is strong, cotton and fine.  Experiment until you find the right thread for you! With this stitch you just want to be catching the edges of the fabric and NOT going through the papers as this will cause problems removing templates when finished.  I made a little (ropey) video to show you the basic stitch in action.
  4. You continue to use the whip stitch to join all the edges to your central hexagon and then return to join the remaining unsewn edges together.  DO NOT BE AFRAID to bend your templates here.  They will forgive you! and tend to bounce back into shape nicely!   Sometimes bending them is unavoidable.  
  5. A wonder clip is a great little extra hand when your hands are feeling tired with gripping so try that out too.
  6. And basically that is it!  Once your project is finished you can remove all your paper templates usually.  
  7. If not too distorted, these templates can be stored and re used if you wish.

Now wasn't that easy?  I hope I have encouraged someone to give it a go and if you have then please feel free to share on Instagram if you follow me using the #easyepp
Much love
Collette x