Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Big Congratulations for New Year honours!

I was stoked to read this morning that two ladies I have a huge amount of respect for have been awarded the Queen's Service Medal in this year's honours list for "services to prisoner rehabilitation programmes"

Janet and June run the Shut-in Stitchers programmes at Arohata prison teaching ladies how to quilt. They do fantastic work, giving women a creative outlet, a new skill, a new way of networking with other women when they get out of prison. They help strengthen bonds between mothers and the children they are apart from as these women are able to make something tangible to send home to their loved ones.

I am in awe of the time that they have dedicated to such a fantastic cause (over 20 years now), and have had the privilege of being involved with the program myself this last year working with them and several other talented selfless ladies do this important work.

It takes a special type of person to be able to go into a prison environment week after week and foster an environment in these classes that is free of judgement and mistrust and is a positive encouraging space to be.

The full honours list can be found here.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

The happiest/busiest time of the year

So how did everyone's Christmas go? Was it relaxed? Madness? Still rolling along in eggnog fueled bliss?

As you can probably tell from the lack of posting lately, I've not had a heck of a lot of time to myself. I need to get more organised again. I started off so well this year, but I've let it slip and now I have so many projects on the WIP and To Do lists that I'm starting to loose track of them.

So a quick update on what has been happening.

I have been getting photos back from some of the lovely ladies from the Going Dotty quilt I have been teaching. The first was from just before the course I took at QuiltWorks in Lower Hutt.

Student #1 used all bright novelty prints and played with the layout
 Next is the first of my QuiltWorks ladies to finish. H was a heck of a lot of fun to teach!

Student #2 used her stash of gorgeous butterfly prints
I am confirmed to rerun this course at Quiltworks in February - the start of the new school term. If you are interested, it will run on Monday nights for 4 weeks (7pm - 9pm). For more details, contact the lovely ladies in store.

In other news, I will also be teaching this quilt as a single all day class through the Wellington Quilters Guild in March. That one will be a MUCH bigger class - woohoo!

The shortest critic is now getting to an age where I can play dress-ups now. Busy little bee walking and running around, but still young enough that she will usually put up with what I put her in. She is already showing preferences though. Thankfully for me, she is drawn to bright colours not just girly pink. So it was well past time to make her a party dress. Well done Kelly. First item of clothing you choose to make in years and you pick something that has toddler sized armbands and 19 individual pieces!

Hand artfully covering Mummy's booboo
Have you seen the lovely modern Christmas tree wall hangings? The ones that have a highly stylised tree made of dots or swirls on a plain pale background? I love them. I wanted one, but I wanted one with a bit of a Kiwi flavour. So I made my own.
Kiwi Christmas #1
This one is my first attempt. And yes, I am a geek. I finally found an excuse to play with electrically conductive thread! I took it with me to the December guild meeting and it caused a wee bit of a reaction during show and tell. It was reasonably well appreciated when it was held up for show and tell. I think that my modern without being stark style is quite liked by a number of the ladies. 

I had someone at the back turn the hall lights down for me to show this quilt's secret. Under one of those presents is a little switch that turns the Christmas lights on:
Kiwi Christmas 1 - lights on
The 2nd version of this is almost finished now (I'll take it along to the January meeting). It has twice as many LEDs hidden inside the quilt and a pre-programed chip that makes groups of the LEDs randomly turn on and off so they look more like twinkle lights.

The pattern for that one is going to be fun to write! I'll also have to import more parts in bulk so I can make some kits up. That one is a project for the new year though. 

I have two important projects on the machine at the moment that I can't go into just yet that have to be finished first.

That's me for now, catch you soon


Monday, 25 November 2013

What a busy month!

Hi everyone.

I know I have been quite on here lately, but I have definitely been busy behind the scenes. 

The best news for me is I completed my class out at Quiltworks in Lower Hutt.  I ended up with Two lovely ladies L & H in my class who were both real characters.

They haven't quite finished their quilts but are both nearly there and have promised to send me photos to post up here when they are done

I've been looking at the pattern I have been teaching them and have been tossing around ideas using the same technique but for a completely different pattern. One that is completely mine.  No pictures yet but I'm looking at stars!

What I do have pictures for is this:

My new little Christmas wall hanging. That hides a little surprise. Under one of those presents is a teeny little switch. That turns on all the little LED Christmas lights that are hidden inside the quilt.

I'll get a night time photo with all the lights on later tonight and get that posted too.

Post again soon!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Last night...

Last night I fulfilled a long-held dream of becoming a professional (i.e. paid) quilting teacher.

I have a small class running at QuiltWorks (Their facebook page) in Lower Hutt. It is a small group in a small space, but they are lovely ladies and all left smiling, pleased with themselves having already made great progress on their Going Dotty quilt.

Now I have to kick myself into gear to get the three new patterns I've been working on finished and onto Etsy.

No more excuses!

Monday, 23 September 2013

What do you do when it is all packed?

I feel all out of sorts at the moment. All of my sewing and quilting gear is packed away in boxes in preparation for our move. So not only do I not have the results of my creative energy in piles around me, but what do I do in the evenings now until the weekend?

I know it is for the best, and in the new place I will have a DEDICATED SEWING SPACE {swoon} but in the meantime... Giving me free time can be dangerous... But before I packed everything away I took a couple of happy snaps:


Table dreaming finished, and ready to quilt
Home is where the heart is - wall hanging, currently being quilted
New idea - RAWRRR!

Monday, 19 August 2013

Wee bit M.I.A.

I know I have been very slack in the last month or two keeping this blog updated - I'm really sorry!

Things have been haywire with lots of big things happening.

Both little things in the house have been sick too which makes getting progress on the big things just that little bit harder too.  So what is news that I can share?

Well, in a word - LOTS!

One of the most important to me is a project I hoped to start a long time ago. I finally got my clearance to join a fabulous group of ladies that I have respected and admired for a long time. Our mighty leader even appeared in the local rag recently: Stitched-up inmates quilty as charged

I can't wait to get back in there to see what the ladies have managed to achieve since my last visit. I would dearly love to be able to go weekly, but that is not going to happen with a young family and other commitments .

Remember this?
Going Dotty 1 - Now living with her new owner in Auckland

Well it has been the main reason I have been missing in action here.

A new quilt shop opened recently reasonably close by. This is a branch of a gorgeous shop in Levin that I LOVE, so I decided to be a bit cheeky. I have been chatting with the lovely Ms L and now have my first proper paid teaching job. I had to re-create my dotty quilt as a store sample. So next month I will be teaching a 4-week class.
Going Dotty #2, mmmm love Japanese Indigos!

Going Dotty is for confident beginner/intermediate level quilters, Starting Monday 7th October for 4 weeks, held at QuiltWorks in Lower Hutt.

I have now finished my entry for the Wellington Quilting Guild challenge, but still can't show that until after out October meeting, and now that the big project is finished I can get back to doing things for me.

Next time I should have lots of photos of bits and pieces to share, instead of bits and pieces to right after Helper #2 has been at them!

But this is how they belong Mum!


Monday, 15 July 2013

Progress report for July

I got very little done during June - It is the middle of the coldest wettest windiest winter that Wellington has had in years and you know what that means - Flu season!! Add to that critic #1 breaking their arm and critic #2 having a birthday, I was a busy little housework bunny (BOO HISS).

Not many pictures this month either as a couple of projects are a bit secret squirrel at the moment.

Finishes (3)

Greek Candy Pops Throw. Done. Just stitching down the binding.  I can't post pics of this yet as I need to bind it, then get the pattern finished. It is soooo close to being up for sale and then I can get stuck into the next pattern...

Colour Me Dotty QAYG lap quilt with my stitchy Saturday ladies.  I had a fantastic reaction to this one when I took it to guild.  I had a collective "oooh" from the ladies and was fair mobbed by curious quilters afterwards. A couple would really like me to teach them properly how to make it after symposium which I am quite excited about. Hopefully that will add another little notch to my bow. I am considering trying to convince a local quilt shop to let me at their students to teach it too, just have to check a few wee details first. I can't post a finished picture yet as it will be going to a new home soon. But that does mean I must remake the pattern (like, yesterday) so I can keep one for me - hopefully as a class sample.

2013 Guild challenge. All done and dusted! Weehee I'm ahead of the game for this one, just need to get the entry form filled out and I have a month and a half to do that. Again, shhhh secret squirrel so no final pics yet :(

WIPs (3)
Home is Where the Heart is wall hanging. I'm back with little squares. I have half of this one pieced now. It will be the next pattern for my Etsy store after the throw.

Table dreams. One setting block done, one to go. Then I can get it all pieced together. Can't wait to start quilting this baby.

AQS Competition. Just need to get a good photo of me to send off for the entry form and that one is in the machine, gears turning.

New Projects and ideas (1)

I have been doing lots of doodling and have pulled some back-of-the-mind-percolating ideas out for ideas. The time has come for a few of them to become a reality, and then become a pattern.

To make up for a lack of stitchy photos, have one of opening presents birthday chaos:
Oooooh Shinies!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Papercut Shadows

So, the world ended for me on Saturday - My sewing machine broke.  And my back up sewing machine has a faulty foot pedal. So no sewing this week. Which is kind of a good thing. I've been organising my to do list and writing the patterns for the next patterns to go up on Etsy (hopefully in the next 3 weeks if I get my machine back quick).

I have been following a fantastic romanian quilter by the name of Geta Grama for a while now. She does fantastic shadow trapunto work and handbags.  Last year I was delighted to learn that she put out a book for her shadow trapunto technique and bought my copy as soon as it came out!

Shadow Trapunto Quilts, Geta Grama
For an experienced quilter, her technique is remarkably easy to do and gives such spectacular results! Rather than jump straight in to one of her big projects I decided to make one of my own designs on a smaller scale to practice. I made a paper-cut snowflake and used that for my design.

This is the second one I did:

A bit more complicated and looks gorgeous.

This now has a happy home with S in Auckland.

I love the book, nice and clear instructions, great photography and some stunning quilts to try. It is was first time in a long long time that I was interested in making someone else's design as is. I usually can't bring myself to do more than the general idea of the pattern and adapt to fit my own style. But these are so lovely. I think the next time I'll still do my own design but...I'll also add one of her original designs to the to do list too!

In the meantime I'll just pore over the book a few more times

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

The wheels grind slowly

What feels like a long time ago now, I joined my Quilters Guild. I wanted to reach out to my own "kind" and learn from peers.  But I also wanted to find a way to use my skills to help others and I know the guild is very active in charity work.

I looked around at the work they did and saw the big group of ladies that work on quilts for the neo-natal ward of the hospital, and the ones that make quilts for Women's refuge and they are awesome causes, but are already well staffed.

One that wasn't and was crying out for more volunteers was the dedicated group of ladies that work in the local women's prison teaching the ladies there how to quilt.

Well after a long time waiting for the volunteer co-ordinators to sort the paperwork out, I finally did my induction course on the weekend. As soon as my ID is done, I can start helping.

Going through the metal detectors was no different from catching a flight, but walking through the "sally port" where one gate slams behind you and you wait for the next to open in front of you takes the cake as one of the most surreal experiences in my life.

Friday, 7 June 2013

Progress Report for June

Progress report for May

Wow May was a busy month, but I didn't get nearly as much sewing as I would have liked done.

Finishes (2)
Libby's blanket.  Finished, bound and given to a happy little girl for her birthday.  Even better, her mum loves it too.

Happy 2nd birthday little lady

Greek Candy Pops.  3 cushions completed, and (available individually or as a set) for sale on
Hehehe Mum's couch is famous!

WIPs (5)
Greek Candy Pops Throw. Unstitching to be done. I got careless with the last panel of the throw quilt and now have some seams to unpick and re-do as that panel ended up nearly an inch bigger along the side than the other panels (DOH).  I also had a lovely volunteer sew the final cushion for me and I have just received it back.  Unfortunately one row of the pattern of that one has been stitched wrong so I need to do a quick fix up for that too.  Having a wee break from piles of tiny squares though. On the plus side, I have the instructions for the throw written, just waiting on me to quilt the dratted thing and get the last few photos.

QAYG lap quilt with my stitchy Saturday ladies (no name yet). 4 blocks completed, 12 blocks pieced, remainder waiting on yet more binding. This is fun! But man does it chew through the binding.  I have to keep stopping and making more.  I'm really glad that it is a bright scrappy coloured quilt so I can just throw in another colour and keep going.  If you cut your curves carefully it pieces back together really well.  I had been experimenting with a random layout, but I think that with the riot of colours it needs the quietness of a more orderly layout.  What do you think?
Or more orderly?

Table dreams. No progress this month. This is still up on my hallway wall to walk past every day.  I will get back to this one soon.

Colour me Dotty.  No progress this month. I have cut one of the squares, but the template I was given by one of the ladies has some of the curves a bit uneven.  I need to remake it before I do any more cutting.

2013 Guild challenge. No progress this month. Have to make more bias for the outside edge.  Really really sick of making bias at the moment!

New Projects and ideas (1.5)

I am going to make my first attempt and fulfilling a long-held ambition - entering an American quilt show/competition.  Of course I'm not going by half measures.  The American Quilting Society is having a "modern quilting" section of it's Des Moines quilt week.  Steamy Dreams appears to fit the entry criteria so I'm going to submit it for consideration.  No guarantee that it will even be accepted for the competition and even less likelyhood it will win anything, but I'm going to give it a go.

Not quite new project, but I'm finally going on my prison teacher induction course this weekend!  I'll finally be able to join my guild's group that teaches quilting at the local women's prison. 

Friday, 31 May 2013

I did it!!!

I'm officially out there!

I have opened my shop and have just finished uploading my first set of patterns.  I present to you the first part of my Greek Candy Pops range:
Available on NZ$6.00 each
At the moment, each of those three cushions are available individually.  I am just finishing up the fine details on a pattern that is the full set.

I also have a sofa throw to match that I am working on at the moment, and when that is done, it will be available as well as part of a bundle with a bonus forth cushion pattern that won't be for sale individually.

So these were going to be in the royal blue/white colour combination of traditional greek tile mosaics from which they were inspired, but I like my brights too much! And when I stumbled on the polka dot brights jelly-roll at my local spotlight store my colour decisions were made for me. These are really great patterns for using up left-over strips from a jelly-roll you love or raid your scrap bin for a more shabby-chic look.

Sneak peak of the sofa throw to come:
Just a wee bit of the sofa throw
Now these do have a pile of little teeny tiny squares, but there is an awesome shhh secret squirrel method included in the patterns that keeps them all in order and keeps all your seams nice and straight.

So in short:  SQUEEE!

Time to have a much needed glass of wine then start quilting the throw.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Combining my two loves...

Quilting and random geekery!

I've been playing with ideas about combining fabric/dressmaking with glow in the dark threads and paints for a while.  I have a lot of ideas that one day I plan to get out of my head and into a WOW (World of Wearable art) creation.  In the meantime, I have stumbled across awesomeness on instructables:
Now this wall quilt combines conductive thread and all sorts of neat tricks.  Stuff trying to stitch wires to the back of your work, this stuff goes straight through the machine! YUSS!!!  

Now I will give kncjdavis all the kudos in the world for the mad creativity for figuring this stuff out.  But I hate to say it, the quilt itself is a wee bit beginner-level for me.  So, no photos to post yet, but I have a new wall-hanging for Christmas now on my projects to start list.

In other news I have 3 of the four cushion samples completed thanks to the wonderful blisters, and I'm working through the sofa throw for my first set of patterns!  I hope to have the patterns available for sale very very soon.  
Sneaky peeky

And if you look closely there is a little hint for the likely theme for my next set in there.  I'm about 1/4 done for the sofa throw and the last cushion is being made by another friend.

 Helper #2 is posing beside my stack of QAYG blocks for my Saturday Stitchy ladies quilt.  Now to hack them apart and stick them back together again!

If I ever get a creative block and need some more inspiration, I don't need to look any further than any piece of paper my enabler has been at.  He is a visual person as well and doodles all the time.  I have to actually sit and make an effort, he just absent-mindedly comes out with some really cool intricate sketches.  Check out his shopping list:

There are several designs on the front and back of that I am seriously considering stealing!

Luff luff


Tuesday, 14 May 2013

I am very excited here.  I am *this* close to having my first set of quilt patterns completed and ready for sale.  Over the next couple of weeks, the samples will have been finished by the lovely people testing out my patterns for me, I'll get the photography for the patterns completed and get my Etsy store open. 

This is big for me, and comes on the back of the honour of having my Steamy Dreams quilt published in issue #83 of NZ Quilter magazine.

It is also REALLY scary putting yourself out there like this for the first time.  But at least the feedback I've had so far is that my patterns are cute!

Stay tuned....

Monday, 6 May 2013

Progress report for May

I know it has only been a couple of weeks since my last progress report, but I'm determined to make a habit of tracking this.  It gives me a big kick up the bum to make the effort to do something each week, no matter how small.

Finishes (1)
Mustard Mayhem!  It is done!  One and a half years after HH gave me the challenge, I have finished it.  And despite how sick of the sight of mustard yellow I was by the end of it, I love love love it.
Mustard Mayhem. Needle-turn hand applique, machine quilted

Mustard Mayhem back view

 WIPs (5)

Libby's blanket. Binding made and ready to sew on.  That's it. I have three weeks until LD's birthday and I'll have it finished in plenty of time for that.

Colour me dotty. No progress. This one has suffered a bit from not being constantly at hand as it has been cleared away to make room for the work I've been doing on other projects.  This one is a longer term project anyway.

Table dreams. Have started filling in the centre gaps. This is still up on my hallway wall to walk past every day.  Now that I've managed a big finish, I can spend some more time piecing rather than just quilting.

QAYG lap quilt with my stitchy Saturday ladies (no name yet).  8 of 24 squares quilted and trimmed. I have cut one of the squares, but the template I was given by one of the ladies has some of the curves a bit uneven.  I need to remake it before I do any more cutting.

Saturday Stitchers Quilt-As-You-Go

2013 Guild challenge. Resized the Karen Wishart pattern "Christmas Celebrations" to fit our size requirements. Fused the top and bias.  Have to make more bias for the outside edge.

Busy button-holing away...

New Projects (2)

A touch of Greece.  My first set of patterns!  I have got off my butt and actually drafted and written the instructions for my first set of patterns.  These will eventually be for sale on here.  Now I need to make samples and my sister has kindly agreed to be guinea pig to test the instructions for me.  Aren't the colours cute?

Looking into the possibility of using electrically conductive thread in some of my art quilts.  This is still an idea that is percolating so I'll have some more updates later.  Got to move more of those WIPs into Finishes first!

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Why do you create?

What is it that drives you as an artist?

Do you enjoy the accolades from friends and family?  Have to do SOMETHING with the stuff you collect? Have to get the ideas out of your head before you go crazy?

Well those are my three anyway (in reverse order).  It is well known in my social group that if I don't do something creative every couple of days, I start to go a little twitchy.  If I leave it longer I start getting a bit silly on it and come up with backwards Wednesday where we eat dinner on a picnic rug on the floor with our clothes on backwards and food in glasses and drinking out of bowls... Give it a week and I get frustrated that I cant just DROPEVERYTHINGANDWRAPTHATTREEINPINKANDORANGESTRIPEDDOILLIES!

Deep breath.

And this is my my enabler will gently steer me in the direction of the sewing table as needed.


So about a year and a half ago, one of the ladies in my regular sewing circle challenged me to make a Baltimore Album styled quilt.  She had a lovely William Morris machine applique quilt she was planning on making and we decided to have a bit of a race. 

So I started researching block patterns for what was going to be my lovely baltimore.  I had high hopes.  I adore baltimores.  One of the ladies in my quilt guild does exquisite ones like this:
Fyvie's Baltimore Album VIII at the 2012 Stonestead outdoor quilt festival
Then I realised that all of those carefully chosen and beautifully balanced colours one that lovely clean white background would drive me nuts - and be expensive as I don't have a lot of those "traditional" fabrics just lying around.  So I bought some mustard yellow background fabric, assembled a mix of cross blocks from a lovely book (cant find the name of it right now, will update later) and tradition blocks I'd drafted and got out my scrap bins. If the piece was big enough to fit then that was my patch.  Blow trying to plan colours!

One year later:
Mustard Madness several blocks quilted
I quilted each block individually and then sashed them together:

And almost finished!  I'm on the final stretch.  I can't wait to get this finished and some outdoor shots to show the colour properly.

Yay! Binding!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

Starting a progress checklist

I have discovered after years of not knowing which way my head is screwed on, that I need to keep track of what I'm working on and make myself accountable otherwise I have a habit of  forgetting about a WIP and it quickly becomes a UFO.  I am determined not to create any more UFO's this year.  So far so good.

But I think, that once a month or so I need to keep track.  Plus it is an excuse to post photos!

Current Stats (progress this week in italics)

WIPs (4)

Mustard mayhem.  Hand applique, alternate quilted wreaths.  QAYG. 11 blocks finished of 15. 2 blocks being quilted and 2 not started the quilting yet.

Libby's blanket. Top finished and sent to the lovely Sue B for a quick all-over design. Will still need to bind it.

Colour me dotty. 5 more dots sewn. Only a couple of hundred left to go.

Table dreams. All of the blocks are done and have to work out the filler blocks now

Finishes (1)
Libby's blanket (it's finished as far as it can be while it's on Sue's long-arm!)

New Projects (2)

QAYG lap quilt with my stitchy Saturday ladies.  Fabric purchased.  Desperately want to start, but refuse to until I have at least got all my blocks for Mustard mayhem quilted and joined in rows.

2013 Guild challenge. I have finally settled on what I want to do for my challenge quilt, I now have to check that it is going to fit in the required dimensions.

Helper #2.  Helping.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Hello World!

So every journey starts with a first step.  Welcome to my little adventure - inflicting my scatterbrained creative urges onto the world.

My 2 x short critics, 1 x enabler and 2 x "helpers" are all well and good, but it is nigh on time I shared with the nameless ether.

Helpers #1 & #2

I will be getting more content on here soon.  I am hoping to share what I am currently working on as well as using this blog to filter my creative process from now on.

If I don't post at least weekly, someone kick me in the rear?  Please?

Ta muchly.