Saturday, 18 March 2017

Modern quilting ....

Last September I attended the inaugural meeting of the Oxfordshire Modern Quilt Guild.  Whilst it's not particularly local to me, it was a chance to meet and sew with other people who shared a love of modern quilting.  I had been thinking about setting up a group in the Midlands for a while so when I saw a post on IG I jumped at the chance.

Best in Show
Pieced and quilted by Katherine Jones
Chigwell, Tasmania, Australia
Tasmanian Modern Quilt Guild
Last Saturday we had our March meeting and of course the topic of QuiltCon came up.  I had dearly hoped to attend this year and we had even tentatively planned a family holiday around it but then the girls decided to go to school ..... oh well there's always next year and the year after that and the year after that .....

Group and Bee: 1st Place
Direction Optional

Pieced by Stephanie Ruyle, Leanne Chahley, Karen Foster, Hillary Goodwin, Marci Debetaz, MR Charbonneau, Felicity Ronaghan, Debbie Jeske, Anne Sullivan, Kari Vojtechovsky
Quilted by Christine Perrigo Denver, CO, United States
Denver Metro Modern Quilt Guild
I have really enjoyed reading some accounts of QuiltCon and thought I would share the links here for you if you care to read them.  Also please let me have your links if you have read a good account.

Kitty at Night Quilter

Jessica at Quilt Habit

Small Quilts: 2nd Place
Pieced and quilted by Paige Alexander

Easley, South Carolina, United States
Greenville Modern Quilt Guild
Whilst, of course, the event is all about the quilts the overriding feeling I get for the event is the people.  We are such a diverse group of people spread far and wide geographically so to be able to meet and mingle with so many like minded people must be amazing.  We have lots of Quilt Shows in the UK, see here for a list for this year, but nothing to rival QuiltCon in terms of the modern aspect.  Excitement is starting to build about Festival of Quilts in August, entry forms are out, workshop and lecture booking will soon open.  For the first time last year they had a Modern Category which was great.  I am hoping more people will enter this category this year and make it a permanent fixture. I wrote a review about FoQ last year which you can read here.

The other Quilt Show with a dedicated Modern Category is the British Quilt & Stitch Village.  I visited for the first time last and have decided to enter a modern quilt this year.  It is based on the block I designed for the Cloud9 New Block Blog Hop last year.

The top is done but has yet to get quilted - I am hoping to get this on the frame this weekend with a view to quilting it next week.  In other MQG news I am off on retreat!  At FoQ last year I met a lady who had pattern tested for me and she is involved with the Jersey MQG.  She invited me to their retreat and that is where I am headed next week.  I am very excited to be going and looking forward a wonderful few days of sewing and quilting amongst others.

The pictures in this post come from the MQG website where there is a full list of all the winners.  Of course, winning is not everything and quilt shows would not happen with people entering their quilts.  Jess, from Elven Garden Quilts, recently wrote on the subject, On quilts shows and ribbons, wihch is really worth a read.

Hope you all have a great weekend! 

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

2017FAL :: Meet the Host :: It's me!!

Back in November I was surprised and delighted to open an email from Rhonda inviting me to become one of the global host of the 2017 Finish-A-Long.  There are 13 of us in all and over the course of the year we'll be introducing ourselves.  Nicky from Mrs Sew and Sow started off in January followed by Jess from Elven Garden Quilts in February and now in March it's my turn.

Hello, my name is Abigail and I blog here at cut&alter.  I found the FAL late on in 2015 and couldn't believe how it motivated me to get things finished.  I have always been a list maker and the FAL is no exception.  My lists are somewhat larger then most people's, although I have certainly seen longer aswell!  I know that I will never get everything ticked off within the current Quarter but it does give me 1) accountability 2) a reason to tidy up and reorganise my studio each quarter to find those projects which have been languishing on shelves and at the bottom of boxes 3) it brings projects to the front of my mind and a lot of work goes on in my mind even before I get in the studio 4) if a project has been rolled over just one too many times I can then see that it's probably never going to get finished and I can pass it on (does that count as a finish?!!).  Last quarter I had a particularly low completion rate and this one is shaping up to be the same but I have a few finishes and some projects are considerably further on!  

A current quarter finish
I live in Stratford upon Avon  with my husband, who is from New Zealand, our two daughters and a black and white cat.  We have been back in the UK for just over 4 years and prior to that we lived in Otaki, New Zealand.  We have been called gypsies before now due to our constant moving, and usually not within the same area.  This is the longest time I have ever lived anywhere!  (Can you keep a secret?  Maybe, just maybe, my feet are itching again!)  Some of the other places I have lived are:  Nottingham, Leamington Spa, Sydney, Wellington, London, Waihi Beach, Cambridge, Tauranga, Rowington, Shirley, Waitarere Beach and Feilding.  The whole idea of living here (the UK) or there (NZ) was the inspiration for this quilt.  I was delighted when Should I Stay or Should I Go? was awarded Best Piecing in Show last November in Bristol!

Up until January this year I home educated the girls, which was brilliant.  I always felt honoured to have as much time with them as I did and whilst it certainly was tiring and had its moments we had a lot of fun along the way.  They have now started school, primary and secondary, and have settled in really well.  We have a new rhythm in our lives which, for me, is taking some getting used to.  I thought I would have all the time in the world, that I would have time to sew, quilt, go to the gym, make lovely healthy food ...... oh silly, silly me!!  You don't actually get much done in the six hours between 9am and 3pm do you?!!  One thing I have done is learn to do improv curves - I love them!!!!

I have been sewing since a child but, like a lot of women, I came back to sewing when my first child was born, although I had been making curtains for our houses every time we moved!  Little children's clothes are such a pleasure to make - fitting is not important, they don't use much material and they are quick (although when sleep deprived they sometimes didn't seem to be that quick).  I had made a puff patchwork quilt for my eldest soon after she was born and then made a simple square quilt from vintage Laura Ashley soft furnishing fabric from our various childhood houses.  These two quilts are well loved and well worn!

It wasn't until 2010 that I 'learnt' to quilt.  I took a 6 week night class in NZ and a passion was born.  I joined my local quilt club and I listened to the other ladies of my group talking about all their WIPs.  I was horrified!  I vowed that I would never have projects sitting on my shelf - I would start and finish one before embarking on another.  Oh how naive I was!  Needless to say I have lots of projects on the go all of differing ages.  Last year I finished my most long standing project - ANZAC Hearts, it was on my FAL2016 Quarter 2 list!  This was a Bee quilt and I love it - luckily as much now as when I started it in 2010!

Back in 2015 I made the decision to purchase a longarm quilting machine and I totally love it!!!  I bought a Handi Quilter Avante and it brings me a lot of joy.  With the girls at home I did not have the time I would have liked for learning and practising but I am getting there.  I have done a few customer quilts and hope to do more this coming year.  Before then I have a backlog of my own tops that are waiting to be done.  This was the first quilt I quilted on my machine ....

Wow - this has become a longer post than I thought.  When I first sat down to write this I did wonder what I would write!  So, here's a quick 10  9 other things about me to finish  (I got stuck on No 10!):

1.  I make quilts for Project Linus

2.  I am a member of the Oxfordshire Modern Quilt Guild

3.  I am left handed

4.  At 25 I spent a week in Coober Pedy, having read about it as child of 12 - it was awesome!

5.  I love salads

6.  I have only ever spent one night in hospital and that was with my daughter when she was 3 and had to have her tonsils out

7.  Both my children were born at home - one in NZ and one in UK

8.  I will go to QuiltCon ...... one day!

9.  I would love to go to Alaska

There you have it!  Remember there's just a couple of weeks left for you to get your Quarter 1 list project finished.  The link up opens on 26 March and will remain open until 01 April.  Be sure to link up because there are amazing prizes to won (and I should know because I have won twice before!!)  I look forward to seeing all the finished projects this quarter. x

I am also linking up to Lorna's Let's Bee Social today!

Friday, 24 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 5 :: Confetti Swan Quilt

So having stated on Tuesday that I don't usually like what I come away with from workshops, see the post here if you fancy, this I do like.  In fact I like it very much!!

On the last weekend of January I took a workshop with a local quilt club member who was showing us how to confetti quilt, I blogged about it here where you can see progress shots.  It sat at that precarious stage for over a week before I realised I had to get quilting!  I placed a sheet of Solvy over the swan which was to ensure all the little bits didn't get snagged in the foot.

I free motion quilted the swan on my domestic machine which was certainly a learning curve.  I have not done much more than straight line quilting on my DSM and so it was good to learn a new technique and one I felt I improved at from the beginning of the swan to the end.  At that stage I trimmed the Solvy around the edges and put her aside whilst I decided how to quilt the background.

I then decided that I wanted to quilt the background on my longarm machine and it was easy to load it up on the frame even thought there was already quilting done.  I have got to the stage where loading a quilt is second nature to me and for that I am really thankful because it makes things go much quicker and smoother.

The sky got a swirly pattern across it ....

and the water got waves!!  I was really happy with how this quilting turned out and the texture it gave the water.

She then needed to get wet - as a swan does!  The Solvy dissolved easily and then I rinsed it with the shower hose.  Having never done this before I think I may have been a little heavy handed.  There is considerable fraying on the pieces which in one way adds to the feather texture but also makes it look a little bit messy!

I had thought I was going to do a facing for the edges but then I decided to try something new and learn how to do a two coloured binding, with the change of colour at a specific point.  The seam ripper was used a couple of times but third time lucky the binding colour change matched up with the quilt colour change.  It did involve more stopping and starting and joining than a one colour binding but I definitely think it was worth the extra effort and time.

Would you like to see the swan's backside?  Well here it is.  I like it.  I didn't change the bobbin colour when I changed the top thread for the different shades of feathers on the front and now I wish I had because I think it's quite a beautiful piece from the back.

And for any of you who are still here - ta da!!!!  In all her glory and a rare moment of decent weather to get outside.  Initially I didn't know whether this technique was for me, but I do love the result and have some New Zealand birds in my head that would look fantastic created with this technique.  Watch this space to see if they take flight!

This wasn't an item on my 2017 FAL Q1 list - gasp - it feels so good to start and finish a project within a month.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 4 :: Cloud 9 Sample Block #2

It could seem like Groundhog Day here today - here's another sample block form the Cloud 9 New Block blog hop just like yesterday.  Obviously you can see the difference in the fabric and the quilting but pretty much everything else was said yesterday!!

This is another finish off my 2017 FAL Q1 list.  I offered this up as a prize for a giveaway I recently ran on instgram to celebrate the milsetone of 750 followers!!  I am blown away by that number and the encouragement and conversations that happen over there - if you're on IG let me know your name and I'll look you up!  So this little mini quilt is winging it's way over to Sydney, Australia.

Tomorrow I have another finish for you. I did say it was going to be a week of finishes, but the difference is it is not on item that is on my Finish-A-Long list - this is a started and finished project in less than a month!  Isn't it good when that happens? x

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 3 :: Cloud 9 Sample Block #1

Up today is No 13 from my 2017 FAL Q1 list!  Back in September last year, I took part in the Cloud 9 New Block blog hop and, before making the block in the gorgeous Cirrus solids, I made a few sample blocks.  This was one of them.

This block is not actually the foundation paper pieced block that I finally did for the Blog Hop, but a rotary cut and pieced block.  I know that some people don't like paper piecing and so I was trying out an alternative to it.  Whilst it works OK, I wasn't happy with some of the sections and so plumped for the paper pieced version.

I had already quilted one of these to become a wall hanging for a swap at my local quilt club and so I knew how I wanted to quilt this one - just the same!  Even so it can be daunting when it's all loaded up and you haven't made that first stitch yet ....

I straight line quilted two quadrants with a gradual increase in the space between the lines and then free motioned quilted with a paisley motif in the other two quadrants.  I used Glide thread in light turquoise which I really like.

I decided against a traditional binding for this and went instead with a facing.  I followed Victoria's tutorial again, and it worked well.  This finishes at 14".  The fabrics used were Kona white, Bahama blue and cyan and then the reds were FQs I had picked up at a show so not sure what they are.

I like the abrupt change between the geometric straight lines and the swirls of the paisley design ....

and another, just because I can and I love this design!!

I am going to be linking up with Lorna over at Let's Bee Social. x

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 2 :: Pears (Gillian Travis workshop)

No 11 on my 2017 FAL Q1 list is finished!!

Now, I'm not sure I really like this but a finish is a finish.  Let me explain.  My local quilt club had organised for Gillian Travis to do a workshop (January 2015) and, having seen her work at Festival of Quilts, I signed up.  It was the Pomegranate Workshop, but the technique is the same for any shape.  I had wanted to do my own shape but then, under workshop conditions, I realised I could spend far too long coming up with a shape that works for the technique and then run out of time to get anything done (it does happen!).  So I went with one of Gillian's shapes - pears!  

The requirement list called for batiks, which I had never used before and had none in my stash.  None of my local shops stocked batiks and I had to send away for some.  I liked the look of this charm pack, Moda Fire and Ice if I remember correctly, and they duly arrived in time for the workshop.  But do they really say pears?  No, not really but you have to carry on because you are at a workshop and I had nothing else to work with.

Whilst I love workshops for the teaching, camaraderie and, let's face it, having a day to indulge in your passion, I don't usually like what I come away from the workshop with.  Does that happen to you?  I enjoyed the day, I enjoyed the process of Gillian's teaching and I quite like the technique but do I like this piece?  No, not really.

However, I decided to quilt and finish it.  It was good practice for free hand guided quilting, some pears worked better than others for this!   Now, what to do with it?!!!

Monday, 20 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 1 :: Granny Square Blanket

As some of you may have seen before there can be quite a while between finishes being blogged about here and then suddenly there is a flurry.  Well it's happening again - I have just totted them up and I have a week's worth of finishes so thought I had better get them written about!

First up, No 29 from my 2017 FAL Q1 list, is a crocheted Granny Square Blanket.  All this needed were ends darning in - why did it take me so long to do?????  Well there is a reason for that ....

This was started at least seven years ago, when we lived in New Zealand.  Blankets, of any sort, were a necessity for me in New Zealand because none of our houses had central heating and I really wanted a woollen crocheted blanket for warmth. 

At that time we lived inland in a place called Feilding and had a bach at Waitarere Beach.  We had no TV connected at the bach and certainly no internet connection so I decided to have a hand project on the go for when we were three.  The local town had a great wool shop and so I decided to make a Granny Square blanket - no pattern to forget if it was a long time between visits and I could decide when it was big enough.

Fast forward a few years and we left New Zealand within 3 weeks after a house sale completed and things were put into storage.  (Although why it wasn't finished before then I can't quite remember!).  That storage returned to the UK last July and I was reacquainted with this blanket.  It was so lovely to sit for a couple of evenings in the New Year and remember the times when I was working on the squares.  There really is something to be said for 'slow work' - it does imbue the article with history and a story before it is even finished!

So it now resides in our lounge and is giving the warmth that I had hoped it would - I just no longer need it on my bed!