Monday, 22 December 2014

Meet Blossom Heart Quilts

As the Christmas and New Year’s holidays are usually crazy busy with fun things, not all sewing related, many people take time off from blog posts.  Still, for those of us that like to read during our time off Angie @ Gnome Angel came up with a way to provide something to read that doesn’t rely on actual sewing time.

Some of us from the from the facebook group Quilty bloggers and Instagrammers support group  have been given 20 questions, and asked to answer at least 10, to showcase different quilters from the blogosphere.  For this week and next I’ll be posting our answers and hoping you guys will enjoy meeting and reading more about other quilter bloggers.

Firstup is Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts!  Alyce can be found at:

The Questions:
  • How did you come to be a quilter?
I had always been vaguely intrigued by quilting, knowing that it existed, but I really realized what it was when a mum in my local mums’ group showed off the quilt she had made with her own mum! It was gorgeous and I decided to make one each for my kids, maybe when they were 5 years old… They were 1 and barely born at the time! I started reading up about it, when one day in Spotlight, my husband told me to just buy a machine already while they were on sale. So I did. And Ellie the Elna 1000 and I have had such adventures since!
  • What is it that you love about being a quilter?
The colour play. The choosing of fabrics. The math of making the designs coming together properly. The community.
  • What are you most proud of from your quilting experience?
On the actual quilt side of quilting experiences, my latest quilt is definitely my proudest achievement. Eternity was not only the biggest quilt I’ve quilted myself, it’s also the most detailed that I’ve done.
In other quilting experiences, I’m definitely proud of the writing opportunities that have come out of blogging – Make Modern ( and Craftsy blog (
  • What’s the one piece of advice about quilting that all new quilters should know?
Experiment and try everything once. That way you’ll be able to find your style much more easily!
  • What’s your 3 favourite quilts that you’ve made that reflect who you are as a quilter?
Well, we’ve already covered Eternity, and I’d be remiss to mention the original Bright Sky quilt. 
It was such a fun journey to get to the final design, and very precious to me as it was a gift for my best friend. 
I think I’d have to pick Tea For Two ( as my third one, as it really reflects my love for quilt math and sneaky-cool repetitive patterns.  I have sketchbooks full of designs like this, that work on simple blocks repeated to make an effective, complex design. I’m excited that many will finally see the light of day next year!
  • If you weren’t a quilter, what other creative endeavour would you like to master?
Well, I dabble in cross-stitch and Project Life scrapbooking, but I don’t know that I’d want to master either of them… I guess potentially scrapbooking? I have always loved beautiful paper and stationery! So really, living in Japan is truly the best place for me with all the fabric and adorable stationery everywhere!
  • What is your favourite kind of pie?
Apple or cherry for sure. Or both. Both is good! Chapple pie, anyone?
  • What holidays, traditions or religious occasions do you celebrate in your family at this time of year?
We are all Christmas, all December. We put up the tree roughly December 1st (or for the past couple of years, the weekend nearest, anyway), we sing carols, we eat fruit cake, and now the kids are at last old enough to fully enjoy the Advent calendar I made a couple of years ago! This year, they will find a piece of the 24-piece Nativity scene puzzle, a Bible verse and an activity to do together.

  • Do you listen to music, watch television or prefer the hum of the sewing machine when you sew?
I frequently try to watch videos/TV on the iPad while sewing, but I just get too distracted – I either sew away and suddenly realized I haven’t paid attention for 5 minutes, or I realize I’ve just spent 30 minutes to do a 5-minute task because I was watching the show instead. Ditto for podcasts! So music is definitely my best companion while sewing.
  • What are your favourite types of blog posts to read?
I love stories. It’s so easy to see images everywhere else – Instagram, Pinterest, etc – but this is why blogs aren’t really dying. Words. Nowhere else can you find the stories, the tips, the tutorials, the behind-the-scenes information that take us deeper than that snapshot into your sewing room.
  • If you had to pick any designer to sit down and chat or work with for the day who would it be and why?
Kate Spain. Anyone who knows me for even a few weeks would know this already! I just love her designs. While some other designers have the most amazing uses of colour in individual prints that might make my heart sing more, it’s her actual patterns that get me and the way her colours work across the whole range. Each line takes me to a different place! Cuzco and Terrain are definitely my favourites, and her Christmas lines are always so fun but also full of good blenders for use any time of the year.
  • What’s your favourite colour combination to work with and why?
It changes every few months! 2013 was the year of navy, pink, yellow and teal green. These evolved into a more saturated palette of navy, coral, rich/golden yellow, aqua and/or teal. Currently, I can’t bear to put this autumn-inspired pull away.

These aren’t usually my colours – hello, brown?! But it’s gotten under my skin and I know I need to use it somehow.
  • Do you have any quilting goals for 2015, what are they?
I have some big goals I’m already working towards! There will be a year-long quilting series on my blog, and several patterns to go along with it. I also want to make at least 2 full-size original quilts, plus it would be good to chip away at a few UFOs lying around before we move back to Australia in 2016.
  • Do you prewash your quilting fabrics?
Nope, ain’t nobody got time fo’ that! Especially all the ironing afterwards! I only prewash flannel if I don’t want it to shrink, or fabric for garments.
  • What’s the best quilting tip you ever got?
A quarter inch seam really does make the difference. So does pressing seams – my Clover finger presser is my best sewing friend!
  • Do you have any favourite tools that you love to use?
Clover finger presser is obviously at the top! I also love my little pink scissors for trimming thread tails, and my red Clover seam unpicker is one of those tools you need but hate but love. Also red and awesome are my Clover Wonder clips. I’ve got 30 of them, and I’d love another 30! They’re awesome – not just for binding or holding bulky layers together, but also long paper piecing seams.
  •  What are you hoping the festive season will bring for you?
Well, my chances of getting that new Juki sewing machine are about as real as Santa, so I’m quite happily settling for some beautiful family times with our five guests visiting us here in Japan! My cousin/sister-from-another-mother is one of those, and oh boy, I have late night chats and sing-alongs and crazy dancing sessions already lined up!

Thank you Alyce for sharing with us!

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Library Project - A Finish

Last January, Adrienne @ Chezzetcook Modern Quilts had a great idea for a monthly link up party.  We were to pull from our shelves the craft books and magazines that we had been hoarding and pick 4 or more projects to make.  Instead of thumbing through our Library, put those books to good use!

I picked 4 projects initially and then added 1 more to give me 5 to aim for.  I managed to get 3 made from these two books over the course of the year.
This is my last of the 3 and I forgot to blog about him finished!  I've written about my work in progress on this little 30 x 40 inch quilt here and here but forgot to share him as a finished quilt.  This is Wilbur our Basset Hound, who apart from sleeping and eating (his favourite pastimes), likes to pose for photos.

So I had the bright idea of making a Ticker Tape quilt version just like the elephant in the Scrap Happy book.
I used scraps from the Karavan range by Valori Wells, as I thought the colours were quite Basetty, and things were going well  until Gordon commented that he looked like one of those butchers cartoons showing the cuts of meat.  Close your ears Wilbur, don't listen to him!

The process is to sew an outline shape, (I hand sewed with perle cotton), layer and baste your quilt sandwich and then add the pieces to fill the space (I used fusible paper) and stitch them down through all three layers.  I preferred a zig zag over a straight stitch and added wavy line quilting all over.  I love the texture it gives when washed.
I was given advice in our local quilt shop to wash first and then add binding and this worked out a treat!

From the Creative Quilting special edition magazine, I also made my first bag from charm squares which led me to tackle what I consider my first proper bag the Bye Bye Love bag by Sew Sweetness.

And I made a quilt from gingham charm squares too.

And tried my hand at free motion quilting clamshells and figures of 8!
Thank you Adrienne for a great project to work on this year.  I tried and learned new things and completed 3 projects I am very happy with!  How about you guys?  Any inspiration or projects lurking away in hidden books you might want to try next year?  I still have these two from my list to get to!
From Best of Fons & Porters Baby and Kids Quilts
From Hand Quilted with Love by Sarah Fielke

Linking up to Thankful Thursday, Finish it Friday and for the last time
Chezzetcook Modern Quilts

Monday, 8 December 2014

A Finish - Modern Irish Quilters Swap

Today is the postal date for our Modern Quilters Ireland swap!  This year, we have been making Christmas cushions, for our assigned partner.  It's a secret swap and my partner doesn't know I am making for her but I hope she'll like this as much as I do.

I had great fun with this little project!  I was going to hand quilt it but then changed my mind.  I wanted swirly quilting in the white to suggest a bit of a snow storm and once I had that on, the hand quilting didn't feel right.  I put a bit in the blue star points but you can barely see it!

I also changed my mind on the backing fabric.

I was going to use the Folk Art Holiday fabric but then thought it would be better used to bind the cushion and frame the star, so I dug into my Ikea 2014 Christmas print.  I have a few yards of this home decoration weight cotton to make into a table cloth.  I really like it as the backing!

The Folk Art fabric worked really well then for binding front and back.  I used two 2.5" strips x width of fabric and a 3/8" seam to have it even both sides of the cushion.  Clover wonder clips held everything in place (love them!!!) and then zig-zagged it all down!

The star burst was quilted in straight lines using a walking foot and the star and ray were quilted in the ditch too to make them stand up a bit from the background.

Lastly, to accompany the cushion, we were to make a small Christmas tree decoration.  Mine was made of scraps from Joy by Kate Spain as was the red in the cushion above.

So all done and another tick off the Christmas list - getting there!  Just have to put up our tree today now so I can hang my decoration from last years swap!  Love this little touch and hope it will be a yearly tradition!
Mum saw this finished yesterday and given her track record of swiping cushions,  I had to tell her hands off it's spoken for!  So this is going in the post today - hope you like it partner!

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts and

Friday, 5 December 2014

Night Sky Update

Well, all the Flying Geese are made at last and up on the wall!  The blocks are still not yet pieced but I think Jana might be extending the Quilt-A-Long, so I might get this top together before the 25th.  There are a lot of Flying Geese in this pattern.  My small verison has over 90 and the full version of the quilt over 170 of them!

Camille Roskelly uses the stitch and flip method in this pattern.  You cut 2 squares for every one rectangle and place one of the squares right sides together on the rectangle, sew a line along the diagonal corner to corner and trim the excess 1/4" away from your sewn line.  Do the same again with the other square on the remaining side.  This means a lot of scraps! 

There are other ways to make Flying Geese, specialty rulers like Fons and Porters, paper piecing or the make 4 at a time from a larger square.  During the angled on line class with Rachel @ Stitched in Colour the pros and cons of each method was looked at and the Fons and Porter ruler got the thumbs up and the 4 at a time method, the thumbs down (harder to keep 1/4" at the centre seam and 3 usually turn out ok and 1 a little off!).

I made mine using the stitch and flip method and still got 3 good ones to 1 wonky one when I chain pieced them.  Next time, I will slow down and pay more attention!  Still now that everything is up on the wall, I know what Christmas fabric I have left in my stash for other projects (mum wants a table runner!)

As for the scraps, they are the perfect size for my Cushion and small decoration for the Modern Quilters Ireland swap.  I made a tiny 3" star from the leftover triangles of a small star and used the Red, White and Aqua triangles below from 2 of the larger stars. 

Adding some layer cake squares and some Kona Snow for background fabric, I have a shining star!  Hope my swap partner likes it!

Now just to quilt it! 
Happy weekend everybody! 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Christmas Stocking Challenge

Finished ahead of deadline!  Our branch of the Irish Patchwork Society issued us a challenge to make a Christmas stocking, or a Wine Bottle cover, for our meeting this Friday.  Thinking a stocking would be more fun to make, I pulled out my Folk Art Holiday fabric, I bought from Fluffy Sheep Quilting, and some Kona white and flicked through lots of magazines to get some ideas. 
I found some images in card magazines belonged to mum and traced the outline onto some parchment paper to transfer to the fabric.  Rudolph is from Crafts Beautiful 2013 and in this month's Simply Homemade I found these three snowmen.  I gave them bodies and some snowflakes and a song to sing.  They are singing the song about Santa asking Rudolph to guide his sleigh and Rudolph proud as punch to be lead reindeer for the night!
If I was to make this again I'd not have this section so square.  Rounded to suit the shape of the stocking would be better I think.   I also had a problem with limescale build up on my iron and it made a yellowish mark on my crisp white fabric.  And I have blue chalk lines still showing, difficult enough to remove without washing!  A fun project though and I really had fun with the embroidery.
I managed to get it all sewn together as a stocking on Sunday afternoon when the light was quite dark and foggy so I had to wait for this morning to get some natural light photos.  I thought about staging it on Wilbur's kennel but Wilbur wasn't having any of this.  He was in his uncooperative, I'm going to jump at your head until you pay me attention mood.  Even Bonio treats weren't working today. 
Wilbur getting ready to jump!
For the back, I used the same print in the white colorway and a sparkly dot white fabric for the cuff.   So that's one ticked off the Christmas list at least, lots to do yet on the others!  Looking forward to Friday evening, when we get to have a party, eat the sweet and savoury dishes people have brought and get to see what everyone else has done!
 Linking up to Finish it Friday and
Sew Cute Tuesday
Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, 28 November 2014

My Happy Mosaic!

Chelsea @ Patch the Giraffe challenged us today to make a mosaic of things that make us happy and share it with you all.  This was great fun!  I made my mosaic on Big Huge Labs which for some reason is not pulling in the source info this morning.  Apart from my own photos these were found on Pintrest.

Things that make me happy:
  • Tea, tea and more tea (love my morning cuppa!)
  • Dogs, our Wilbur and Charly especially.  
  • Tigers are beautiful and scary, (wrote an essay about one in school that got me an A, thanks Teach!) 
  • Books.  I love reading and learning and just getting lost in a good story.  I'm a Science Fiction Fan mostly and love Doctor Who and books by Ursula K LeGuin
  • Penguins.  Who doesn't love Penguins?  Gordon, my family and friends are represented by the penguin on the bottom offering free hugs.  G is still wearing the crazy beard.  Trust me I am protecting you all by not sharing that picture! 
  • Hobbies.  Apart from quilting B&W photography is Hobby #2 though it's taken a back seat to collecting camera fabric lately!
  • Paddington Bear - just love this little guy and his adventures.  I love to travel too, I've lived in Seattle, Frankfurt, Cork and Limerick and travelled outside of Ireland every year, with work or to explore new places on holiday, but my most favourite place, so far, is the West Coast of Ireland.  That's the Atlantic coast of Clare in the middle picture.  My favourite holidays are walking the dogs every day on a different beach working our way up the coast!  
So what are you thankful for?  What makes you happy?  Want to join in the fun and answer the Chelsea challenge?  Here's to a happy filled weekend!

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