Friday, 9 December 2016

English paper piecing tutorial and what's in the box free templates

As promised here is my little tutorial along with a link for the templates for my, ' What's in the box?' English Paper Pieced design. 

Some useful tips

  • It is very simple and can be enlarged or reduced in size as you see fit.
  •  To achieve the 3d look I suggest you choose a darkish toned centre and have at least one very light coloured section.  (Mine is cream in my example). 
  • Clover wonder clips are pretty handy to hold the pieces in place when sewing. 
Your templates are available to download here.  Please open with a pdf viewer such as Adobe Reader.  Remember to print at actual size and check the test square measures 1 inch.  
Cut out templates along the solid, black line.  When cutting fabric out for the templates, please allow at least a 1/4 inch seam allowance on the fabric. 

If you are unfamiliar with EPP (English paper piecing), please see my tutorial and video

1. Baste all templates to your fabric pieces using your preferred basting method.  I used glue basting for these shapes.
2. Take your centre shape and one of the top pieces and whipstitch together as shown in below photo a. 
photo a
3. Take the other top piece and repeat step 2.
4.  See photo b below and sew the two top pieces together where they meet in the centre.  Gently bend the centre section to allow for easier sewing.  
photo b
5.  Take one of your longer bottom section, making sure you have aligned this correctly with the bottom edge of the centre section.  Whipstitch in place as in photo c.
photo c
6.  Take the other long section and repeat step 5. 
7.  Sew both sections together as you can see in the photo d below.
photo d
8.  You have completed your first shape.  Layout as desired and stitch together. 

Collette x

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Latest reveals of published works

Finally I can reveal some projects that have I had been quietly beavering away on a few months back.  They have since been published and I am very honoured to share them with you!

First up I made a charm pack friendly table runner for British Patchwork and Quilting.  I used a Moda charm pack by Kate Spain, from her Aria fabric line.  The colours in this line are beautiful.  Lovely and soft greens, blues, reds and the prints are so pretty!  This is a beginner friendly pattern.  I love making patterns for beginners.  We all were in quilting at one point or another and it is great to have straightforward, achieveable patterns to start with.

I love the photography of the table runner.  It really shows off the beautiful fabric.

I was also fortunate enough to have two projects published in this month's issue of Quilt Now.  I made a table runner with  big and little geese and a quilt based on building blocks.

Both were fun projects to make and I was fortunate enough to use some wonderful fabrics for each.

The building blocks quilt is a great pattern for showcasing fussy cut prints or those precious fabrics we all have that we all find difficult to cut up into tiny little patchwork pieces!  It is fun and can be improvisational too. I love the greens in this fabric line!  Oh and being a frugal quilter I used the remainder of the fat eighths to make a scraptastic binding.  I love the quilting on this one.  I used my go to thread, Aurifil 50wt and a serpentine stitch.  I then added a little green/blue handquilting just because I wanted to!

Follow the geese is a large table runner using little geese and larger geese.  In this pattern I show you how to use a no waste method for making a large number of geese in the same fabrics.  The fabric by Cotton & Steel is perfect for this icy inspired blue look! I quilted this using, yes you have guessed it, Aurifil 50wt and this time I added a grid pattern which is fun and simple to do.

Apologies the photos are not the best.  I took them direct from the magazines!

I hope you like the patterns and might even try some of them out! If you do please feel free to share what you make with me.  If you have Instagram then tag me and I will pop over for a nosey! @poppypoochie.  (link in my sidebar).
Collette x

Thursday, 10 November 2016

slippers, scrap packs and teepees

Well what a few weeks it has been!  I have been ultra busy with quilting and have several deadlines looming.  More about those in a few months time!  I really hope you like what I have been working on!

scuse the odd socks!

I turned the ripe old age of 41 years too.  This was my first birthday since my mum passed away, so I felt a little sad.  These cute slippers put a little smile on my face though!

Of course all that quilting means a fluffy, oozy bobbin case in desperate need of several cleans.  I like to use the little brush that came with my machine, however, it doesn't get into all the little nooks and crannies.  So I will often get a cotton bud or two to get into those hard to reach areas.!

remember to remove your bobbin case when cleaning!

The wonderfully talented Lucie Summers was selling some of her gorgeous, screen printed fabric scrap packs on instagram last week.  I couldn't resist and bought two.  I am making something cute and fun with these.

I also managed to spend a Saturday evening playing with illustrator again.  I haven 't managed much pattern design or drawing lately due to deadlines so I enjoyed have this little bit of fun! I created a cute little teepee! 

Oh and of course, in other news Trump became president! But the less said about that the better I think!  
Collette x

Friday, 28 October 2016

My love hate relationship with social media

Do you have a love/hate kind of thing going on with social media?  There are times I love Instagram, facebook and Twitter.  I certainly enjoy sharing my process and my quilting work and love when someone admires what I do.  I really enjoy the sense of community there is on Instagram especially.  I have known many of the quilters I have contact with on Instagram for years, even although I haven't met them all in person (yet).  I loved watching Charlotte Newland's ( whom I was in a few quilting bees with) journey through the Great British Sewing Bee and going on to win it.  It was great to share in her excitement and success on instagram and facebook.  In fact social media has brought me many opportunities I would never have had if it didn't exist.

There are times when I really detest it all though!  There seems to be this underlying pressure (maybe in my head) to be very prolific.  The more you post the more engagement and interaction you receive.  However, personally  I find it very difficult to be prolific.  Many people tend to "appear" that they are making and creating ALL the time.  Their creative output appears intense and constant.  I say "appear" because, as we all know, social media is very deceptive.  Just because someone appears prolific does not mean I should strive to be that way or even that they actually really are!

Oddly enough, I watched the first episode in the new Netflix season of Black Mirror.  This episode was set in a future that doesn't seem all that distant from the world we live in currently.  Social media is everything in this story. People are rated constantly.  Interactions with other humans are rated.  Conversations.  Just living.  It was a chilling prospect of what we "could" become if we are not careful.

What are your thoughts on social media outlets?  Do you embrace them and love them?  Do you tolerate them? Or perhaps you take very little to do with them at all?  And if so why?  I would love to hear your views !

In other news I have been working on quite a few secret projects for a commission.  Sadly I can't share the finished projects yet.  I really hope they will be well received in the near future though!  Here is a sneak peek of the machine quilting.  Love this combination of Art Gallery Fabrics Linen and the Aurifil 50wt thread!
So all that machine quilting results in a very fluffy machine in need of a good clean.  It looks much better than this now!
Spot the fluff bunnies

I have been working away on my Liberty scrap hexies whenever I get a moment.  I have no idea what they will become.  I am just enjoying this purely for the process.  I bought two gorgeous scrap packs of Liberty and love the variety of prints.  So special and the detail is immense!
slow but sure progress
basting more

Oh and to keep things honest and real, I had a delightful session of ripping out quilting.  It just wasn't good enough and had to go!  
my seam ripper got a work out!

Collette x

Friday, 14 October 2016

What a week!

Well what a week I have had!  I had the most awful cold and cough which just ended last night.  I coughed and spluttered my way through teaching my patchwork and quilting class on Wednesday.  I spent most of yesterday in bed and lounging on the couch drinking Lemsips (bleugh).  Thankfully today is the best I have felt all week!

The students in my classes are currently working on Kaleidoscope quilts, learning about the importance of planning and colour placement.  They just finished double wedding ring mini quilts in our curved piecing course.  Here are a few of the finished pieces.
 Mandy's son(one of 4!)bought her this lovely bundle of fabric in oranges and greens, so she decided her mini would be for him!  How lovely eh?  She loves to hand quilt and chose to do so with a little kiss in the middle because she loves her boy. x

Sandra used Christmas sample swatches from the shop owner to make her beautiful, glittery, blingy mini table topper.  She even used metallic thread!  There were a few curse words I am sure when the metallic thread was playing up and breaking.  However, we both learnt that you can get a specific machine needle for sewing with metallic thread.  You learn something new every day!

On Monday we had a really sad event.  We lost our cat of almost 9 years, Tigger, to a blood clot.  He was a big, healthy and strong cat but it was just his time.  He was a character and will be sorely missed.  Poppy (our 13 year old cat) is still going strong so far and Spot, (our jack Russell terror) keep us company and we have been giving them extra cuddles.
Look at his wee white socks! x
I have also been learning more and more about illustrator.  Skillshare is an excellent resource for learning in bite size chunks and my attention span isn't the best.  I really enjoyed making this little design based on my fox illustration.  I scanned the artwork and then digitised it to create a repeat pattern and a free wallpaper for a desktop or laptop, (in my payhip store).  I really am enjoying the process and sharing my work.  I enjoy getting feedback on my work as it helps me grow creatively.  I am wondering what this one may be like on fabric! There is so much to consider between colours and lines, balance and flow of it all.
The Fox King
Oh and I received a lovely fabric order for a magazine commission!  Isn't it lovely? Can't wait to get the time to sew it!
Joie de Vivre Bari J for Art Gallery Fabrics

Until next time!
Collette x

Sunday, 9 October 2016

Embracing technology in patterns and artwork

Since I posted about my inability to focus, I have indeed been excelling in continuing to be really crap at focusing.  I have been a distracted magpie again by shiny objects.

Those of you that know me, will know how much I love drawing and creating images.  A passion for fabric and patterns has grown out of my quilting endeavours.  So it seems only natural that I would experience a desire to turn some of my artwork into something practical.

printed on fabric
In the contemporary world we are overwhelmed with technologies and ways in which to share instantly and create very quickly.  However, within me there is still a need to get my hands dirty and create in a very hands on, traditional manner.  I love to draw with pencil and pens, I am enjoying learning the process of lino cutting and printing,  I love to block print onto paper and fabrics too.  I do love everything that the digital world offers us creative people too.  The ability to scan my little drawing and prints and then transform them into a pattern or an image which I can then rapidly alter the colour scheme of, is honestly exhilarating to me.  It adds another dimension and flexibility to my art that I just have to embrace.
fish, fish, FISH!

lino print

Flight of the moths
So I have been turning some of my lino print art into repeat patterns.  It is a steep learning curve but one I am prepared to work hard at.  It allows me to maintain a hands on approach but then embrace the technology and flexibility the digital world has to offer.  My patterns are available as free desktop wallpapers and also for your mobile devices in my payhip store.  My goal is to actually get some swatches printed off from Spoonflower and use some of them to make some patchwork creations.  I then hope to eventually sell some of them too!
Feel free to download the wallpapers and I truly hope you like them!
Collette x

Spools 'n' tools 
block printed on fabric 

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

this last week in pictures (with a few words)

This week I have been quite thoughtful about the passage of time.  I suppose that is understandable as it will be my late mum's birthday soon and a year since she passed.

I had a lovely visit from my dad's amazing mum.  She lives in Ireland with family but wanted to spend some time with my dad.  She is 98 years young!  She looks like a 70 year old and is still pretty sprightly and reasonably healthy.  This was the first time my two kids had met their Great Grannie!  

My dad recently gave me my mum's old sewing box and last week I managed a rummage through it.  It was strange to find a little Liberty label, (I have no idea what the product was) but I have come to love Liberty fabrics so much which made it even stranger.  
I also managed some sewing and got a chance to test drive my free jumbo clips that came free with Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine.  

I have been really enjoying a bit of lino cutting too.  It is a steep learning curve but it is great fun.  I carved a little fish and tried block printing in a traditional Indian block printing way.  This lovely piece is winging it's way to Lucy from Charm About You.  

Speak soon!
Collette x

Friday, 30 September 2016

I am a magpie who needs to focus

Do you ever feel like a magpie?  Flying around going about your business then you spot a shiny thing!  Oh yes, something shiny, new, different and you are distracted.  That shiny thing lies on top of a whole bunch of other things that are lovely but not very relevant but you are a magpie, so you must have them!  Before you know it your day is gone with a nice collection of shiny things but little actual work done.

I am a magpie.  The shiny things can be physical objects but are more often distractions.  You know the kind.  The wormhole that is the interwebs is the main offender.  " I will just check my blog and maybe write a quick post......" the voice in my head says.  10 minutes later I am watching GIFs of cats in space or involved in a heated online debate on pressing seams in quilts. (yeah right! - #sarcasm).  

So in light of the above, this magpie is trying her best to focus on focus this season.  Autumn is in full swing here in bonnie Scotland.  The leaves and trees are turning and the winds have picked up.  The big jaikets are oot!

I have so much on the go workwise.  It sometimes feels like a juggling act and add on our personal lives and you get the picture.  Anyone who follows my wee blog knows how quilting is my first love.  I recently rediscovered my love of drawing again.  From this followed some other discoveries.  I suppose I need to prioritise too.  I have paid work that must be done or we don't get a holiday that year.  However, I really do feel it essential that I make time for the other endeavours too.  As I mentioned in my #how to grow your creativity series, learning new things and exploring other creative techniques all feeds into my overall creativity.

This is were you come in!  I would love to hear in the comments section or on instagram ( remember to tag me @poppypoochie), how you stay focused.  What do you do to ensure as that you stay on task, looking at the bigger picture and not flying off with that shiny thing?
p.s. - Giveaway winner from creativity series was drawn by random number generator yesterday.  Number 4 is Lucy Brennan of Charm About You and has been notified.  Yay Lucy!
Collette x

Thursday, 22 September 2016

how to grow your creativity last one!

So here we are at the end of our #how to grow your creativity series!  I hope you have enjoyed the journey and that my series has contributed positively to your creative journey.  Please feel free to share in the comments or the link up.

This week I wanted to talk about how we can sustain and nurture creativity in a work setting.  When I began quilting many moons ago, I never dreamt for a minute I would actually make an income from it.  If you had said to me I would have projects and patterns published and be teaching patchwork, well I would have laughed manically.  

However, here I am.  I work as a quilter.   Opportunities have arisen that did not exist when I began quilting.  
When you work in a creative field you are still faced with creative lapses and losses of your "sewjo".  When I quilted for a hobby, this was annoying, but not dire because I wasn't really working to deadlines or commissions.  Now I am faced with deadlines and briefs and need to try to sustain my creativity.

So here are the ways I try to maintain my creativity so that I can create on a regular basis.  I did not start off this way.  It has been and continues to be a journey of self discovery and growth.  

  • I try to approach quilting as my job now.  Not a boring job but one I love.  A passion.  Something I just need to do.  I wouldn't be a quilter if I didn't love it.  We have all heard of "do what you love" and I can honestly say that I do!  I love teaching, I love writing, I love making quilts.   I  have worked hard to get to where I am just now.  It didn't all just fall into my lap.  It has been and still is a journey.  One of success, failure, knock backs, rejection, elation, and joy.  A mixed bag.  

  • This means that I need to continue to put the work in.  By having a working day and a to do list, I expect to create and get the work done.    There are the days, of course, I just have no motivation, my sewjo has gone, or I am just being plain lazy.  Sometimes I can take a day off and just use it to do something completely different.  However, more often than not I need to work because of an imminent deadline.  This is where the point below comes into play. 
  • I need to ensure that I turn up at my desk and am ready to get some work done.  More often than not my creativity turns up along the way and off we go.  Even on the days I am not feeling it.  I can switch tasks and focus on say a different project, or just the pattern writing or preparing class notes.  By changing task this means I am still getting the work done in one way or another and when my sewjo reappears(which it always does) then I am ready to get going!

    • I work from home and those of us that do, know how hard that can be.  Self discipline is not a strength of mine, but I am learning.  I need to make the best use of those school hours when the kids are off learning.  

    • Distractions can be a personal pain.  The housework is all around me, always needing done.  So I usually try and get a few bare minimum  tasks out the way after the school run.  This frees up some head space a little for the work ahead.  I am way too easily distracted by social media and web surfing too.  So I try to allocate space in my day for specific tasks.  For example, in the morning my head is always clearer.  This is the best time for me to write patterns and blog posts.  I can then get on with practical sewing and cutting work as the day goes on. 
    • It can also be helpful to get out for a walk during the day.  I am in the house most of the day apart from when I am teaching.  I talk to myself and the dog A LOT.  I need to do a 20 min walk to school and back to collect Emma.  Most days I can't be bothered but I kind of try to view it as essential.  Obviously it is a bit of exercise which I definitely need  but also the fresh air, human contact, and sights and sounds refresh me and give me a chance to go over my work for the day (or sometimes lack of) in my head. 
    • Lastly please try not to compare!  I do this all the time.  I look at all the awesome, talented people around me and often think "I am not good enough".  It is really hard not to do this.  I get that.  With Pinterest, Instagram and such like everywhere it is a constant battle.  I need to tell myself that I do not know someones creative journey.  I only know my own and I need to remember that we are all at different stages.  You are exactly where you should be at this time.  You will be where you should be another 10 years from now.  We need to en(joy) where we are at now.  I don't want to lose the joy I get from quilting and creating by comparing.  I certainly don't want you to lose that too.  We are a community built on ages of tradition and mutual support and we should treasure it. 

    So there you go!  My thoughts on how to nurture your creativity if it is your job.  Please feel free to share your own thoughts, tips and such like in the comments here, on the link up or on Instagram using the hashtag #howtogrowyourcreativity. 
    I will draw the fabric giveaway next Thursday to allow anyone joining the conversation this week to enter.  
    Collette x

    Tuesday, 20 September 2016

    What have I been up to?

    This has been quite an exciting week for me.  I had my first project published in the October issue of British Patchwork and Quilting magazine!  

    This magazine was one of the first quilting magazine's I purchased way back when I was just learning.  There weren't as many wonderful magazines as are available now at my local supermarket.  I probably would have bought them all anyway had they been around!

    So to have a project published and beautifully photographed in there is a special wee moment in my heart.
    I used some lovely Moda Grunge fabrics in pink and blue.  The yellow was an organic cotton which I loved working with.
    The bag features a foundation paper pieced sewing machine and spool designed by myself.  It is an easy bag to make and very sturdy.  Perfect for travelling to classes with your quilting equipment!

    I was also lucky enough to have my zipper cushion tutorial published in the latest issue of Quilt Now magazine.  I loved making this cushion and gave it a concealed zipper on the back.  The fabrics are designed by Janet Clare for Moda and are a joy to use and look at!

    Remember and pop in this Thursday for the concluding part of our #howtogrowyourcreativity series.  I will be chatting about how to maintain and revive your creativity when you are creative for your job!
    Oh and remember the giveaway too!  Drawing the winner sometime on Thursday!
    Collette x

    Thursday, 15 September 2016

    how to grow your creativity - so you have lost your sewjo?

    It happens to us all.  One day we wake up and we just don't feel like creating.  We don't want to sew, don't want to draw, knit, make or do anything remotely intentionally creative.  We just feel MEH.  Or maybe frustrated, uninspired, lazy, too busy, and even inadequate.

    In my 10 years of quilting I have experienced many of these ups and downs. The first flush of excitement and joy we get when we are beginners can often be replaced by negative feelings of not being good enough,envy of other fantastic quilters, and thinking,  "what is the point"?

    This can be a torturous experience.  Especially early on in your creative journey.  Social Media is the main culprit.  We have so much ready access to be able to view the work of others.  It takes seconds to scroll through our Instagram feeds and be bombarded with the amazing work by quilters and creatives out there.  Pinterest is another culprit.  We have all been caught in that trap of " I will just have a look for 10 minutes" and 2 hours later we are left feeling robbed of our time and sometimes even less sure about our work!

    Tip time!
    •  We need to learn to stop comparing our work to that of others all the time.  I know this is no mean feat from personal experience.  It is a constant struggle for us all.  Why not take a social media  break?  Even just for a few days?  Perhaps when you are working on something really important or when you are feeling most overwhelmed by all the talent out there.  Take a few days out of facebook land and Instagram feeds and ban Pinteresting for a while and see how you feel afterwards.  
    • Change how you see the work of others.  View it as inspiration.  Not in a blatantly copying kind of way.  But say you have a quilting idol or similar.  It is helpful to view that person's work as a benchmark.  Perhaps one day you will achieve their level of expertise and seek to be inspired by them rather than comparing where you are now.  Remember everybody's creative journey is different.  We are all in different places.

    So what about the times we hit a brick wall?  The ideas are no longer flowing, the urge to make has vanished,  the enthusiasm and passion has buggered off leaving you feeling like an empty vessel.  
    Personally I go through cycles of this.  The first time it happened I was horrified and worried that that was me and quilting over.  Through. Finished for ever.  But then slowly, but surely something magic happened and my sewjo returned.  It wasn't a conscious thing in the early days.  It just happened.  
    Now though, I almost expect it to happen.  So when it ups and leaves I am ready to deal with it and here is how!
    • I accept it.  I go with the flow.  If I have sewing deadlines etc of course I need to work.  (more on this next week).  However, sometimes we just need a break.  Often coming up to our summer holiday, I find I slump a little with all the busy buzz of school and planning the holiday.  I often return from holiday inspired and raring to go and create.   We get so carried away and enthusiastic and I become almost obsessive, that I overdo it and then end up scunnered.  So I listen to my creativity.

    • Once accepted I do something else.  I procrastinate often.  Yes, procrastination can be a good thing for your creativity!  Sometimes doing something else totally different  to your main creative work opens the mind up to little eureka moments or inspired thoughts of how to do something differently.  Write those down as they are gems!
    • I experiment with different crafts and techniques.  Over the years my love of textiles has grown from fabric, to wools and printing.  I have tried spinning wool, ( fun but hard), felt making(loved that), needle felting(not so much), and lately lino cutting!  I love drawing too !  By opening myself up to something new and immersing myself in it, I am still creating but recapturing that spirit of the beginner again.  Enjoying for enjoyment's sake.  Learning.    There are tonnes of free on line courses out there (CreativeBug, Skillshare among others).    This all feeds into your main creative work and the ideas will flow again!
    • Learn a new technique in quilting or your chosen path.  Over the years I have used on line classes to learn foundation paper piecing among other things.  This links in to my previous point about challenges and learning.  Improvisational patchwork is also a wonderful, freeing technique with no real "rules" and just allows you to cut freely and sew freely too.  Have a bit of plain old fun with a box of scraps.
    • Selfish sewing - we love to make for loved ones and other people don't we?  This is awesome but sometimes just distracting yourself with a little project just for you is needed.  It could be anything!  I have often decided to make myself a cute wee pouch from a precious fat quarter just for me!  This doesn't have to be a huge project.  A quick, easy and selfishly satisfying make can be restorative.

    What about when your creative thing is your job?  You still experience some of the same issues whether we create for a living or a hobby.  Some of the tips I have mentioned are helpful in these circumstances but I have also learnt that having a creative job brings it's own joys and pains!  More on that and how I get through the blocks when I have no choice next week!
    Please feel free to link up here, share tips in comments, or on Instagram and share how you get over the humps of losing your sewjo!  If you share I will enter you into my lovely fabric giveaway next week!