Tuesday, 12 July 2016

sun, sea, sand and sewing

Our wee family were on holiday last week.  We visited a lovely cottage called Penkiln Cottage just outside the lovely (small) town of Newton Stewart.  It was the most relaxed I have felt in a loooong while and it was bliss. 

We did the usual trips to the local ( stunning) beach, a huge country walk around Knockmann Wood, lunches out, book shopping in Wigtown and barbecues back at the cottage.  The kids even saw the sheep on the farm and all the surrounding fields being sheared.

Mossyard Bay

sheep waiting for haircut
A coo

I have been sewing too and working on something just for myself.  I started this medallion quilt last year for my patchwork class students and I am finally adding some stars to it.

I also finished a Quilt for a magazine commission and can only show you the binding sadly but will give you the full run down once it is published.
So there you go! Sun, sea, sand and even sewing!  Oh and sheep shearing too!  That was fun to watch but hard work for the guys doing it.
Mucho love
Collette x

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

absolute beginners


I don't think I have ever shared my journey into quilting with you.  Please correct me if I am wrong!  I have been thinking about this recently and the creative process and journey in general.

My journey into the world of quilting began 9 years ago, while reading an American blog, and coming across beautiful patchwork quilts.  My wee girl, Emma was around 6 months old and Jacob, a toddler.  I needed other things to do like a hole in my head!  Yet I think quilting found me!  I think, with hindsight, I had a desire to recapture a part of myself that wasn't just 'mum' and all that entails ( you know the drill mums and dads).

My first proper big quilt with lots of non matching points
So I surfed the Interwebs ( this was before Pinterest, people!) and googled quilting and I was like a rabbit caught in the headlights.  No joke!  The fabrics, the colours, the patterns, the everything. 

There was just one thing - I couldn't sew!  I knew how to thread a needle and stitch a button on, you know the basic stuff, but I had never used a sewing machine since my mum tried to show me when I was about 12.
a very early quilt made with a layer cake(precut fabric)

During that time there wasn't such a great selection of fabric shops here in the UK.  Online or bricks and mortar. Or maybe I just hadn't discovered them all yet!  (There weren't many magazines around then either; that I knew of.  I did discover British Patchwork and Quilting which I still love and holds a special place in my heart).    So I bought my first Charm pack from Crosspatch (in Wales I think) online and eagerly awaited it's arrival.  I didn't have a machine but assured myself that I could hand sew the squares together, which I did!  Soon though, that wasn't moving fast enough for me and I "needed" to get a hold of machine to make my piecing faster.  Of course, I had no idea at this point that it was even called piecing! Lol. 

pssst.........I still feel like the little girl in the photo! (pinterest)

My first sewing machine was a mini Janome for around £50 quid.  It was slow as treacle, but that suited me perfectly because of my inexperience.   You tube and Google were indispensable to me to start with.  I had no time or money to go to a proper quilting class (there were none locally anyway).  So to be able to google questions and see videos of how to do things was amazing!  I quickly moved on to a full speed, proper, grown up machine.  I remember my excitement when the delivery came.  I was like a little kid waiting on Christmas day.  I could have kissed the delivery man!  The machine was fast!  To me it was like a formula 1 racing car fast.  It surprised me how quickly I got used to it though! And from there I just kept making, and making and making. 

Now why the hell am I telling you all this I hear you ask?  If you have stuck with me so far then, hooray and thank you!!

I just want to say that we were all beginners at one time or another.  Yes, even those super famous quilters we all know and love who are all over Instagram, facebook, blogs and so on.  WE ALL HAD TO START SOMEWHERE!  I made mistakes!  Plenty of them!  I tried using polycotton for piecing, (didn't work out well at all), I used the cheap, fluffy, polyester wadding that is ok but nothing in comparison to proper quilt wadding be it poly or cotton or a mix, I used cheap as chips thread on my machine and wondered why does it keep breaking?!  I frequently did not sew a quarter inch seam allowance and then scratched my head when points wouldn't match.  Ten years on and I am still learning all the time!

What I am trying to say is that if you are a beginner quilter, if you have just started one of the many classes now available (thank goodness), or if you have picked up your first copy of one of the fabulous Quilting mags now available, do not be intimidated or overwhelmed!  I remember feeling like this at the beginning.  Many of my students did too when they were total beginners.  Do not let feelings of self doubt creep in or comparison.  I am still guilty of them, but I have learnt that we need to develop the attitude of "feel the fear and do it anyway" as Quilters.  It is how we learn and grow and gain that invalauble experience.  You can't buy it!  New Quilters today have the world at their feet and so many fabulous beginner friendly resources.  It is awesome!  Truly.  We are surrounded by some of the most amazing talent in the quilting world and sometimes this can be a bit scary and initimdating too.  Don't let it be!  Yes, admire and love the work of others on Instagram and facebook but do not think you lack anything because you do not produce the same work.  We are all at different stages on our journey as a quilter and it is good to make peace with that. 

Mucho love!
Collette x

Thursday, 9 June 2016

sun, horses and fabric

Well what a stunning spell of weather we have been getting here in Ayrshire.  We have had the hottest temperatures (for us) so far this year and even the kids Sport's day at school went ahead as scheduled with idyllic conditions!

So what have I been up to these last few weeks?  I have been out with Emma on the bike, soaking up some rays and meeting some new horses.

Making pouches with fancy pleats using this amazing video tutorial by Patty doo.

My Carkai Mini Quilt has been featured in the latest issue of Quilt Now, which is always exciting.  This is a fun project and teaches you how to tackle partial seams!

Staying with the Carolyn Friedlander fabric theme I even made myself a pencil case from this orphan block I used to experiment with Lu Summer's porthole technique.  I also experimented with some "bubbly" free motion quilting! I love it!
I treated myself to some fabric splurges too from The Village Haberdashery and Eclectic Maker.   
Aren't those mermaids and seahorses precious?
 Oh and I received two amazing blocks for #TheNoQuilt from an awesome IG friend called Miss Gerda.  The pink is NO in Hindi and the green is NO in a Japanese script.  These are just amazing and I will begin assembling the quilt really soon.  I am just waiting on a few more blocks from excellent quilters who have posted them off! We have Persian, Maori and Arabic to come!

So there you go!  Busy times but quilty times!  
Until next time 
Mucho love
Collette xx

Thursday, 19 May 2016

easyepp english paper piecing tutorial

Today I want to share with you how I English Paper Piece.(EPP)  I began experimenting with this technique early on in my Quilting life and fell in love with it! Here is how I do it and I hope this inspires you to give it a try as it is super easy and great fun.

I started with hexagons and still love them.  They are a great starting point for EPP and allow you to learn the basic technique.

You can buy ready made paper templates from the UK from the lovely Jesse, owner of Sew and Quilt or in the US from paperpieces.com.  Alternatively you can create your own, by creating your template and then printing it off onto copy paper and cutting out.  I tend to use this method far more because I can get the exact size and shape of template I need and it is free! Incomptech is a great site for creating hexagons and other geometric shapes.

  1. Using a template, cut out the fabric you need leaving at least a quarter inch seam allowance around the template.
  2. Basting - is when you attach the template to the fabric either by washable glue or using a large tacking stitch taking care NOT to go through the paper template and just catching the fabric.  I use both methods but when I have a large pile of templates to baste I always go for a prittstick of sewline glue pen.  
  3. Once all your templates are basted, it is time to join them.  Traditionally, the stitch used for this is called the "Whip stitch".  It is quick and easy and if you use a good quality thread, the stitches can hardly be seen on the right side.  I like to use Aurifil 50wt thread as it is strong, cotton and fine.  Experiment until you find the right thread for you! With this stitch you just want to be catching the edges of the fabric and NOT going through the papers as this will cause problems removing templates when finished.  I made a little (ropey) video to show you the basic stitch in action.
  4. You continue to use the whip stitch to join all the edges to your central hexagon and then return to join the remaining unsewn edges together.  DO NOT BE AFRAID to bend your templates here.  They will forgive you! and tend to bounce back into shape nicely!   Sometimes bending them is unavoidable.  
  5. A wonder clip is a great little extra hand when your hands are feeling tired with gripping so try that out too.
  6. And basically that is it!  Once your project is finished you can remove all your paper templates usually.  
  7. If not too distorted, these templates can be stored and re used if you wish.

Now wasn't that easy?  I hope I have encouraged someone to give it a go and if you have then please feel free to share on Instagram if you follow me using the #easyepp
Much love
Collette x

Friday, 13 May 2016

JFK, a sewing machine and hexagons

An odd combination I hear you say!  Well yes but they are all linked and I will explain how.

This past week has seen the most beautiful week of weather.  This has meant tidying the garden in between my usual schedule of sewing and classes.

I have managed to get some hand sewing on the go again.  I always like to have a little hand sewing project ready and waiting to pick up and lay down easily in between dealing with daily life and madness.

So on Monday evening I grabbed some free tiny hexagon paper templates I got with a magazine, and some of my favourite fabric, and just sat and cut, basted and sewed.  All very slow and all very soothing!

On Wednesday I was teaching in my local sewing shop.  The girls have been learning how to Quilt As you Go and the other group are delving deeper into foundation paper piecing to make their own sewing themed mini quilts.

This gorgeous machine was handed into the shop by an elderly gentleman.  It belonged to his late wife and he wondered if the shop could maybe sell it for him.
The machine is immaculate inside and out.  It is in full working order and stitches beautifully.  The original manual is with it too.  If anyone knows anymore about these machines then please get in touch.
We don't really know much about this machine other than that it was made in Australia and weighs a ton!  It had a date of purchase written on the back of the manual and it was the day after John F Kennedy was assassinated!  What a history eh?
So I think there may be a lady interested in this beautiful machine.  It deserves to go to a loving and caring home to continue the excellent maintenance it has had over the many years.

So there you are!  An interesting week in my little world and next week watch out for a little English Paper Piecing Tutorial from me.
Collette x

Monday, 2 May 2016

Making a statement in any language

A while back I watched a shocking television programme on Rape Culture and the prevalence of this all over the world.  A particularly unsavoury man called V Roosh was featured greatly in the programme.  He has written many books on how to " Get Laid" in European countries and has some extremely derogatory views towards women to say the least.  Google him if you want to find out more but be warned, he is an unpleasant asshole of a guy. 

For years I have been thinking of how to bring more of my artistic and political side into my quilts.  I have thought about how I wanted to add meaning to them. I mean quilts are full of stories and meaning anyway as we quilters all know.  However, I have been feeling an increasing urge to use them to get a message across more and more.

So out of the blue, a eureka moment as they tend to be, came The No Quilt.  A quilt made up of blocks that say NO in all the many languages all over the world.  Initially I put the word out for anyone to make a block in their native language.  I have had so many wonderful people come forward and make blocks for this quilt so far. 
Here is a photo of what I have so far! 

We have Greek, Hebrew, French, Flemish, Dutch, Indonesian, German, sign language and much more on the way.

This quilt is being made to bring attention to several things - the worldwide ( topically India) problem of sexual violence and issues of consent, making a huge statement no to mean different things - no means no in any language( especially relevant to that Roosh guy who has wrote horrific guide books to sex in different countries), no to rape culture in the west (which I will be exploring in future quilts) and no to the horrors of this type of violence all over the world and especially during times of civil wars etc. 
I am also working on a series of mini quilts to draw attention to the issues above along with others and am hoping to show them in conjunction with the No Quilt once it is ready to be revealed. 
Keep tuned in for further updates folks! If you want to be involved drop me an e-mail to poppypoochie@gmail.com
Much love 
Collette x

Where have I been?

I wonder if anyone still checks in on my blog?  Hello? Is there any life out there?  I must apologise for my lack of blogging since January.  Those that know me will remember my mum passed away last November.  So to be fair on myself I have been dealing with that and my lonely dad.

I have been busy plotting and sewing though! The bills won't go away after all!  You may have come across a few of my latest projects in your issue of Quilt Now.

A super cute pouch with thread spool blocks on the front and lovely mini table runner for your kitchen or coffee table when having friends over for coffee or tea! 

My Dear Doe quilt, which now lives on Jacob's bed and is loved dearly!  Such a great boy's quilt.
My Origami Table Runner also now lives with the kid's!  Emma loves the blue fabric in it!

As well as my magazine work, I have still been teaching during a Wednesday daytime.  Later in the week I want to share some of the many projects the ladies have completed and you will see how far they have come.

I have also been busy decorating the kids' room as it was literally falling to bits.  It took forever, was a hard slog but was well worth the effort.  I even managed to make some storage pods for them,using the great pattern by Love From Beth which can be found over here.

I am planning on spending more time returning to blogging as I find it helps me clarify my thoughts on sewing and quilting and why we do what we do!
So watch out for some more posts over the next week.  Topics featured will be more of my classes work, a political Art Quilt I am collating and maybe a little free tutorial along the way too x
Collette x