26 June 2015

Farm Girl Vintage Sew Along: Fresh Pears

Welcome to week nine of the #FarmGirlFridays sew-a-long! Hello, if you're joining me for the first time via Fat Quarter Shop, I'm Jessie! But can I just start off saying - I looove this Fresh Pears quilt block! I specifically chose this block to make when joining with the other bloggers because it's so fun, and so Lori. I even cut into my very prized and very small collection of vintage feedsacks to make one of the pears. 

It sits perfectly in my kitchen, and having just scooted over to Lori's blog today, I see she has made four more blocks and arranged them in a clever rotating way. I might have to copy exactly and have a little wall-hanging in my kitchen, what do think? It would go nicely with my apple mini quilt I made from Quilty Fun! 




If you're not aware of the Farm Girl Vintage sew-a-long (ahem, where have you been?! ;-) It's an online quilt-a-long to make the sampler quilt featured on the cover of Lori Holt's newest book Farm Girl Vintage, which you can buy from Fat Quarter Shop here, and for those of you who would like to purchase in the UK - you can find it in my shop online at Sew and Quilt. Each Friday two bloggers are making two blocks from the quilt, this week it's me and Kerry; who's making the Feed & Seed block. You can find the full schedule and all the details here if you've missed anything so far. There are 45 blocks in total that make up the quilt, but you can change them up and make all sorts of different quilty projects with them. Kimberly from FQS has posted a video on YouTube on how to turn the blocks into potholders, with an interesting method of using the backing fabric to also bind your quilt. I must try this. Have a nose at the #FarmGirlFridays hashtag on Instagram too - that will certainly give you a few ideas. 

20 June 2015

Pour l'Amour du Fil 2015 - Part 3 | Exhibitions

I'm back with my third instalment on my trip to the Pour l'Amour du Fil quilt show in Nantes (finally!). Quilt shows are about the exhibitions, and the Quiltmania team of organisers did not come up short at this years show. There was so much talent in one space it took me a while to take it all in, and looking at the pictures again to write this post has made me remember how beautiful they all were. Enjoy!





This was the stunning collection of New York Beauty quilts as compiled by collecter Bill Volckening. Do you read his blog? You must. It's great. It was a real stop and stare moment when I saw these beauties. There were over 50 quilts on display and they filled the space magnificently. He's collected these very rare quilts for almost 20 years, with the earliest quilts dating back to 1850, but what's also interesting is the more 'modern' day quilts from his collection - all very unique and each telling a very different story I'm sure. You can purchase the book that accompanies Bill's collection here. What a wonderful coffee table book that would be! It's on my Christmas list...



Tomie Nagano was a 'new to me' quilter, who I discovered at the show, and turned out to be one of my highlights. Her quilts were absolutely incredible and I'm thrilled to have come across her work. I couldn't get over the scale of them, they were huge!  

This person in the shot below can help give you an idea of the size. 


Tomie is well known for her indigo quilts, so much so that it was also the theme for this years competition. 


Tomie has strong ties with Japanese culture, and became fascinated by indigo dyes 'noragi', which was worn by farmers many years ago. She inherited some noragi family heirlooms from her father, which started her indigo collection some 26 years ago and continues to collect antique indigo fabrics and Kimono's for her quilts. 

She has a collection of sixty quilts, all pieced by hand! I can tell you seeing her work up close was just breathtaking, so inspirational and the amount of workmanship, wow. Her quilts are very coveted art pieces now, so you can imagine the eye-watering prices some of her pieces sell for! Which apparently, only few collectors and galleries can afford to have. Some of her quilts are in a permanent collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. 
You can read more about Tomie Nagano here


Fumiko Nakayama was another new to me quilter at the show, and opened my eyes to the world of Mola. A technique originating from South America, which is also referred to as reverse appliqué. Instead of regular appliqué, building up small layers of fabric, Mola involves through three of four layers of fabric and needle-turning each layer to expose the underlying fabrics. My friend Sheilah, from British Patchwork & Quilting magazine will be teaching a class on Modern Mola at this years Festival of Quilts in August, so I would highly recommend it if you want to learn more about this intriguing technique. Fumiko is the world specialist on contemporary Mola, and created an amazing burst of colour at the show!





Kaye England was also exhibiting at the show, she is a well known quilter from the USA and has her own publishing company releasing books, patterns and DVD's, she's also popular on YouTube and has her own line of rulers and designs fabrics for Wilmington Prints. She is one busy lady! Not to mention travelling around the world for workshops and lectures. She was also super nice, so I snapped a picture of her in her house. 

Her collection of quilts are of a traditional nature using lots of chintz fabrics. I loved the country feel of them, and it made her 'house' feel very cosy indeed. I loved this basket sampler quilt below. I've has an idea to make a quilt with varying basket blocks buried in my head forever, so it was fun to see a real version! The quilt on the chair is the Fruit Chutney quilt she was teaching as a workshop class during the show. Unfortunately my timetable clashed with other workshops so I couldn't attend on this occasion. 


It was such a diverse show and I would highly recommend a visit for the 2016 Pour l'Amour du Fil show! Perhaps I'll see you there? 

12 June 2015

Grandmother's Flower Garden Quilt

An English paper pieced Grandmother's Flower Garden quilt has always been on my sewing bucket list. So I decided 17 weeks ago (thanks Instagram!) I would start a proper one. 

I sprained my ankle quite badly a few months back so I was completely laid up for a few days, so what better way to pass the time than a new EPP project! I've made tons of other hexagon flower blocks and different projects but I've not had a plan with them so they most often just end up stacked in my sewing room somewhere. Though with these flowers, I've had a plan


That plan being to simply use 1" Hexagons English paper piecesKona Solids for the outer ring, a matching print for the inner ring and a yellow centre. A truely classic quilt. My favourite kind. 

I'm 25 down, which is pretty good going considering I haven't worked on this for weeks and weeks as I've been working on a bunch of other English paper pieced projects. I'm not sure about the 'garden path' which will join the hexagon flower blocks, White? Snow? Perhaps another ring in a soft green, like this one on the right? I'm also considering mixing up different colour solid and printed fabrics within each flower block, as the one on the left (which you might remember seeing from my English Paper Piecing Basics series last summer - because I'm head over heels in love with it!).


Images: mingei.org


This is taking a backseat at the moment whilst I prepare for Festival Of Quilts this August, yikes did someone say it's less than two months away now! Deep breaths... I'm at stand F5 remember ;-) But this relaxing project will be right back up the list once I'm back on track. For now, it's a start. 

Also thank you SO much to all my wonderful readers who left such nice comments on my previous blog post about my new venture. It means so much, really. I apologise I haven't got round to replying to you all individually. xo

8 June 2015

Where I've Been.

I've been quite absent lately here on the blog, well I've been popping by but not really sharing what I've been up to, so I thought I would finally get you up to speed.



It may seem like I've not been sewing very much or doing anything but in reality these last few months have been incredibly busy, both personally and professionally. For the most part I've been getting my own brand of Sew and Quilt Paper Pieces off the ground! It's been such a long road to get to this point, and I had no idea when I first had the dream do this, it would take so long - or be quite so much work! So you can imagine my relief to see this all coming together now :-)






I began this venture to set up my own EPP brand of shapes because I'm hugely passionate about English Paper Piecing! It's been a real love of mine for some time now and as a shop owner, I was finding it impossible at that time (a couple of years ago?) to source some of the more unusual shapes and sizes. I was able to stock the more well-known shapes/sizes, but I really wanted to have a wide range so I could focus the shop as a 'specialist' in that niche EPP market. So here I am today! 

It's taken months and months and MONTHS of organising to make sure I got the product just right and ensure the costs were where I needed them to be. We also had some personal things to take care of like our wedding! and an unexpected family bereavement at the start of the year. So I've been needed outside the crafty/sewing world. 

It's still very much a work in progress, so I won't completely bore you with the details here. But to give you an insight, it involved a lot of Excel spreadsheets, percentages, geometry and basically all the maths stuff you could possibly think of, blah. All my worst talents, but somehow managed to get round (oh, perhaps Robin, my finance husband helped with some of that ;-) along with one or two very patronising phone calls from some businessmen I had speak to in order to get this going, because apparently I was "a girl, and sounded young". Ha! I gritted my teeth, and needless to say I didn't deal with them again. 

So there's been sleepless nights, tears and the usual anxieties of starting a new business, but of course there's also been excitable happy dances around my computer when things have gone to plan! (I love those!) I'm not exactly sure what it is, but I get an incredible rush when I sell things 'I've made' that have my name on. There has also been some fun stuff to plan like coming up with a packaging design, talking of which - do you approve?


Isn't it the best?! I worked with my girl Millie Wilkins (thanks Millie!) to come up with a new shop logo based on the EPP hexagon star block I wanted, and she came up with the perfect font and a new colour palette after I sent her this amazing quilt for colour inspiration. Perfect, right!

Things are really moving now and we've had a bunch of BIG deliveries arrive with new shapes, and we're still waiting on two more big drops. Along with re-stocks galore of the La Passacaglia paper piece kits! The house has been turned upside down in the process - I'm hopeful some day we might have a separate space for Sew and Quilt activities!? For now we have got ourselves a little more organised around here and getting on top of things, thankfully. 


A lot of work and effort is being ploughed in now as I will be exhibiting at the NEC in Birmingham this year for Festival Of Quilts! Yikes! I'm excited, but so nervous I can't even explain. If you're going, please DO stop by my stand at F5, I would be thrilled to meet any blog friends. 

I should probably point out in this blog post entitled 'Where I've Been' I should say I've also been 'at work'. As well as running Sew and Quilt, I also have two part-time jobs, so recently I've come to the realisation - I can't do it all, however much I try. I've quickly realised the Sew and Quilt paper pieces is a full-time job in itself. So I'm working on focusing my time on my business and my sewing pursuits now.


At the moment I'm making quilts for some future quilt kits with the Sew and Quilt Paper Pieces to display and sell at the booth. It's my first! quilt show I've ever done as I've always avoided them like the plague because they scare the hell out of me! But no more, I'm giving it a go, then I know I've tried! So here's a sneaky peek (more on these soon!). 



Here they are! You can find our growing range of English Paper Pieces - proudly made in England, I should add! :-) in the shop here. If you're on Twitter or Instagram, do share your projects made with our EPP shapes using the hashtag #SewandQuiltPaperPieces I'd love to see them :-)

Wow, you got to the end - thanks for reading! Exciting? Anti-climax? Was my title over-hyped? Did you think I'd been on a very exotic holiday travelling the world? Ha, sorry to disappoint! ;-) Feels good to get this story out there though. Here's to working towards our goals and dreams! Have a great week friends! 

4 June 2015

50 Fat Quarter Makes || Blog Hop || Featured!

50 Fat Quarter Makes: Fifty Sewing Projects Made Using Fat Quarters is a brand new sewing title by FW Media which I have been lucky enough to feature in!  It was definitely a *Pinch Me!* moment when I arrived back from my holiday a couple of weeks ago to find a copy on my doorstep - and seeing my name on Amazon! How crazy? Apparently it's entered the list of the 1,000 top selling of ALL books on Amazon, wowee. I've had to keep this veeery quiet for such a long time, so I'm really excited it's out in the world now...


I was contacted by Ame, the editor last September, I think? about contributing some fat quarter projects along with a host of some of my favourite sewers and bloggers. Of course I jumped at the chance, and quickly got to work. In total you can find six different projects from me, everything from kitchen linens, mouse pincushions (trust me - it's cute, not scary!), baby bibs and pillows, which are all 'FQ friendly'. And if you're anything like me, you're not short on them.



Last year I felt like I was turning into a bib-making factory around here because I had several friends baby showers to attend - and of course if you do anything sewing related, everyone wants a handmade gift, am I right? So in the book you will find the peter pan collared bib I often made for these baby showers, it's really simple to make and it's perfect for boys and girls alike.


I love the Country Contrast pilow! The publishers of the book also run a website Stitch, Craft, Create where they sell fabrics as well as books, so myself and the other contributors were offered fabrics from their site to choose from (how fun!?). I knew as soon as I saw those ditsy floral's and pretty plaid prints the muted colours would be perfect for my cosy living room, so a pillow it was.

Don't you just love the simple styling and photography used, it's what I love about a good sewing book. It just inspires you, not only the sewing projects but how to improve on my own photo's for my blog, website and Instagram etc.


This Denyse Schmit print is such a classic, it looks SO fresh here as part of the potholder and oven mitt set, I think good fabrics never get old - wouldn't you agree? I was inspired to make this set having worked for Anthropologie in the past (what seems like many moons ago now!) and coveted their amazingly gorgeous range of kitchen linens for as long as I can remember, so this was my simple DIY version. I can't wait to receive the samples back to showcase in my own kitchen now!


Of course, I'm not going to share all of my projects featured as I would want you to purchase the book ;-) and there are an array of brilliant patterns by other fantastic contributors who I'm privileged to be included with. One which caught my eye is the knitting project bag featured on the cover by Cynthia. It would be just as useful for fabric too, on the sewing list it goes.


I love a simple handmade bag, and this one is actually perfect. Definitely have plans to make one of these soon!


So as well as being jam-packed with 50 projects to make, you can also expect a ton of useful sewing information to get any beginner or more seasoned sewer's started.

Be sure to stop by the rest of the 50 Fat Quarter Makes blog-hop with prizes and giveaways going on!

Blog Hop Schedule!
Monday 1st June - Jo Avery -  myBearpaw 
Tuesday 2nd June - Liz Betts - BetsyBetts
Wednesday 3rd June - Ali Burdon - VeryBerryHandmade
Thursday 4th June - Jesse Fincham - MessyJesse
Friday 5th June - Louise Horler - SewScrumptious
Monday 8th June - Kevin Kosbab - Feeddog
Tuesday 9th June - Emily Levey - StrawberryPatchRamblings
Wednesday 10th June - Cynthia Shaffer
Thursday 11th June - Kaye Prince - MissPrint
Friday 12th June - Ame Verso - StitchCraftCreate

3 June 2015

Spinning Wheel Coasters || Sizzix Tutorial


Coasters, coasters, we never seem to have enough of these - how about you? These one's are really simple to put together, based on the traditional four-patch block, you can whip these up in a jiffy using a Sizzix Big Shot Plus machine! Honestly, I could cut circles on my Sizzix all day long! It's brilliant fun. You can find the tutorial to make them yourself over on the Sizzix blog today. Enjoy!