Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 (Phew!)

2014 has gone by in an utter blur. I've worked too hard - not spent enough time (in my little mind at least) with my adorable children and I've had some big break throughs (in my little mind at least.)

So here is a little recap.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Charity Quilt for Quilt Con

This was a challenge set by the Modern Quilt Guild. There was a particular color palette set & a style of quilt set - to play with grid work. (I found the post on Grid work pretty interesting on its own.)

I always enjoy reading the information that comes through from the Modern Quilt Guild. So when this challenge was announced I pretty much expressed interest in quilting a quilt for the charity challenge immediately (I do wonder that I perhaps mentioned too many times that it was only the quilting I was interested in!)

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Memory Quilt: Toddler Dresses

Just to recap these toddler dresses were given to me to make a pillow. I couldn't bear to just cut chunks out of the dresses without using up all the material given to me - so I suggested a quilt as well.

I have had this idea of having an actual dress sewn to the middle of a quilt - as if in a picture frame for a while now. This quilt is for a 4 year old girl - the youngest of all the sisters who have worn these dresses.

The back of the blue dress was so pretty with its buttons and wide bow -  I knew that was the dress to use.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Moroccan Tile Quilt

This is a quilt that I am making for a very dear friend of mine who has broken my itty bitty heart by moving away from New York to Indiana. As we get older I find it gets harder to make friends whom you identify with fully, whom you can cry on or tell off - an unconditional sort of friendship - warts and all.

I used in this quilt a pashmina that this friend had unceremoniously thrown at me saying "perhaps you can recycle this into something." So when she said she had to move away I thought maybe I could recycle into something just for her. I forgot to take a picture of the whole pashmina before I began cutting -  but here is a glimpse of what it used to look like. It is full of pretty pinks and aqua blues.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

I can't recycle that!

When I'm talking with the families who come to me to turn clothes into quilts we often have long conversations about what sorts of fabrics can be used for the project. My plain answer is that there is no limit to types of fabric or sorts of clothing - no maximum no minimum - send it to me and I will put every effort into turning into a beautiful quilt. I do however ask them to think about whether they want to hold on to any pieces that are more than special to them - because sometimes something can be so special that they should just be quietly kept.

I had this moment recently and it took me by surprise.

I am preparing the back to my first portrait quilt. I mentioned already in that post that I am using all Bunny #1's old pajamas - here is a sneak at the stack.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Tutorial: Santa Sack

I wanted to revisit a tutorial that I made back in November 2011 for home made Santa Sacks.

I don't know what your Christmas was like as a child - but one of my highlights was the stocking. The arrival of Santa (Father Christmas) and the stocking was huge. The stocking was one of my father's thread bare socks (it was not at all attractive.) So when we had children I knew that the stocking was going to be one of my little Christmas obsessions.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Tutorial: No Sew Hanging Tent for $20

We took our basic $20 hanging tent (tutorial below) and jazzed it up into a Frozen Hanging Tent with another whopping $6!

 What you will need
- 1 hula hoop (mine is 65")  - purchased from the Dollar Tree $1
- 3 packets of Ikea Lill curtains - $12
- Ribbon (not too thin) - two lengths of around 54" - mine are from my recycled ribbon bucket - but lets assume you can find something at the dollar store or JoAnn's bargain bucket $1
- 1 yard of fabric - $6
TOTAL = $20
(In this price I am assuming you have a small amount of some sort of glue in the house at hand.)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Scottish Flag Quilt

This quilt was a commissioned by someone who had seen my Union Jack Flag quilt. She wanted to give the Scottish flag to her husband for his 44th Birthday.

In terms of complexity (and perhaps execution) this is probably some of the best quilting I have done to date.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Two Metallic Threads for Quilting that won't break

I have wanted to quilt with metallic thread for ages - but I've been scared of the potential disaster that could ensue with constantly breaking thread or large rats nests at the back or various other possibilities.

Recently I have discovered two brands of metallic threads that are extremely strong and will not let you down while you quilt.


Monday, November 3, 2014

Ode to Foot Quilt

This is another top made by Earamichia. The top was made as she was recouping from breaking her foot after running a half marathon! Respect enough for the running - but also for a lovely top.

The top is quilted in So Fine #50 in #504 Silver Screen the bobbin was Bottom Line in Silver. (Batting is my favorite Hobbs Heirloom Wool batting.) Quilting the whole top in grey was a big move for me - usually I would change threads however many hundreds of times - but I'm trying to be braver ....

I love the main motif in this quilt. It is a idea I had seen on one of Judi Madson's quilts - I was eager to try it on this quilt.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Memory Pillow: from Toddler Dresses

You might remember that I was given a beautiful array of toddler dresses from a mom who wanted a pillow made for her bed. A pillow isn't very big. So to make something little that showed the material from all 7 dresses in an interesting way - had me stuck for a bit.

I looked at endless pictures of cushions (I think I would now get top marks in any cushion quiz!) and finally decided to make a simple flower cushion.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Memory Pillows: Friendship Pillows

This is a tale about four sisters who recently left -  
their friends, school & town quite sad and bereft.
Made from cloth that their friends all wrote upon
with bright colored sharpies (they really wrote a ton.)
I took the cloth and quilted each letter, each picture, each word.
It took quite a time - my vision is now blurred!
Four purpley pillows being sent through the mail
carrying the oodles and oodles of love they exhale.  

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Firefighters Family

I was given a large amount of material for these quilts. These quilts are made for two 5 year old twin boys whose father (a firefighter) passed away.

In the basket of materials I was given were t-shirts, mens white vests, bandanas, football jerseys, sports shorts - a whole lot of materials that you would perhaps never dream would go so well together into a quilt. I mixed all the different materials together in their color groups and they look amazing.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

My First Portrait Quilt - in progress.

I have wanted to make a portrait quilt for a long time now - but how to go about it? I have books - but it has seemed totally intimating. But thanks to Luke for guiding me through the initial steps look what I have made - I'll show you how it all came together.

Here is the photo I wanted to use. 
I know it is blurry and it is an old photo - from June of 2012 but I love it. I love the look on Bunny #1's face & I love the movement in her hair.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Keep a Scrapbook: Ideas & Sketches for Free Motion Quilting

When I find a quilting pattern I like I scribble a version into my sketch book (emphasis on scribble - if anyone saw my sketchbook their opinion on my artistic talents would be very poor!) - beside my scribble I put the name of the designer, book and a page number if applicable. As well as my scribbles I also cut out designs I see done by other quilters and stick them in.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Scrap Buster: Splatastic Scraps

One of the things I wanted Luke to help me with was how to make the materials I use (old clothes) become more interesting - for my designs and quilts to be more innovative - and perhaps on occasion less traditional. I started unloading my huge stash of clothes waiting to be recreated into something wonderful - when Luke asked if I kept scraps - me? keep scraps? - you could almost see him gag when I showed him how much of my scraps I kept! His theory was why use the good stuff when we could use the scraps.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Luke Haynes

I haven't made much progress with any of my projects because I've been too busy hanging out with this guy (Luke Haynes) who has take a few days to come and give me some guidance. His quilts are VERY cool - you can see more of his work on his website

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Flora & Fauna

"Fauna is all of the animal life of any particular region or time. The corresponding term for plants is Flora." - so Wikipedia tells me.
This is a quilt I have been thinking about making for quite some time - not so much the flora & fauna aspect of it but the big colorful initial in the center and then detailed flowing quilting all around on the white fabric. 

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Four Must Have Books for Beginner Free Motion Quilting

I have a lot of books on free motion quilting. I buy as many as I can second hand for a couple of dollars - you can find a lot of second hand books through sellers on Amazon now - or on e-bay. Books are great to have and browse through looking for new ideas and new approaches to old designs.

Here are my favorite books for someone who is looking to start free motion quilting beyond the basic stipple.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Groovy Curvy Quilt

This quilt top was put together by the lovely Maria. You can see some other of Maria's quilts here and here. Maria's quilts are a dream to work with. Her piecing is wonderful, the colors she works with are amazing and her backs and put together in a way (1/2" seam allowance pressed open) which makes me as a longarmer swoon with gratitude.

This is a quilt pattern called "Groove" by Carolina Patchworks.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

C- in Social Media

I am a bit busy these days. Busy with my three bunnies, a good sized house and busy trying to building up a charity dedicated to memorial quilts and my longarm quilting business too.

I want to be good at social media - I want to promote myself, my talents & my ideas - but I just end up having very little energy or time for it. I also find myself (not yet 40) feeling and looking confused and often stating 'I just don't understand!' I feel like my parents when we first got a VHS video player!!!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

What your parents teach you ....

Like every child there times that I found my parents embarrassing. I'm a bit mortified that already by 5 years old I'm being spoken back to and being told to stop doing what I'm doing because I'm clearly being just too silly .... (Moi? Jamais!)

After having had my own children I developed a new sense of appreciation for everything my parents have ever done for us - granted they still do stuff I don't quite understand - but I get that now because I am constantly doing things that my kids don't understand at all! It occurred to me the other day that my love of recycling fabrics and things does come from a lifetime of my parents recycling and remodeling things into beautiful toys and things for us too. They taught me to look beyond a paper roll or potato and turn it into something else.

Here are some examples.

This is a quilt that my mother made for me when I was very young. It is a twin quilt made out of recycled clothes. I think a lot of them are her old clothes - but the light blue gingham border & name is made from our old summer school uniforms from when we were very young.

I have to be honest Mummy - I'm not sure what the rat and the worm are about ;-) ...

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Best Beetle Ever

There are some really special moments when I hand over the quilts to the families I have been working for. 

I was sad not to be able to hand this quilt to Asia & S in person because they live some distance away. I was so utterly thrilled to hear their response to the Bess Beetle quilt was more than positive!

To quote the adorable little S - "This is the best quilt ever. I love Bess Beetle's babies there are so many of them"

Monday, August 18, 2014

Kids Outdoor Activity: Hedgerow Hair

We have been in the UK visiting family & friends. It is a tough job to travel transatlantic with 3 small children under 5 - away from their routine, toys and home comforts. Not to mention my withdrawal from my beloved Bernie & Freddie.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Kids Art Quilt: Bess Beetle

There are few things I am more passionate about than turning clothes into quilts - but making quilts from kids art work is probably up there too. This was a quilt that I took some 8 days to longarm - that is about 64 hours of non stop quilting - which for a good sized twin sized quilt is a pretty decent amount. This quilt has some fun surprises in it too. The original drawing of Bess Beetle can be seen here. 

To begin with I began Googling 'beetles' to get some ideas. Beetle tracks popped up - and I liked that idea. So there are beetle tracks all over the quilt. I made my beetle tracks with a round foam brush and black fabric paint. Once the paint was dry & heat set with a hot iron it was time to load the quilt onto Freddie and begin quilting around those beetle tracks.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Men's Cotton Shirt Quilt

This is a quilt made for a family whom lost their father. Their father loved to wear bright colorful shirts.

I don't often see patchwork patterns that I immediately want to make but when I saw this pattern called Simply Woven by Jessica Kelly - I knew that it would make an amazing quilt from recycled materials. I made my quilt a little larger (it is probably around a king sized quilt) - I had so many shirts I didn't want to waste them!

I also added a border to my quilt as the family have more traditional tastes and I think formal borders always make things seem a bit more traditional in style.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Tutorial: Four Simple Hooded Capes for under $15

This Hooded Cape (and the variations you will see below) is a really really easy & quick project to make. It is a fabulous addition to your kids dress up box. You can make this cape to any size (even for adults) in under an hour.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Labels of Love

Often I add labels to the quilts I make - often I use the tag line 'handmade with love' those who know me well know how true this tag line is. But for the Kilt & Coat Quilts - these have a different label.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kids Art Quilt: Sun Paintings

I have been working on the last Kids Spin Art Quilt and a quilt made with Bunny #1's first fabric line - I should really finish & quilt them .... and I can make all the excuses in the world to why we haven't completed them yet - but it seems a fact of life these days that my personal projects seem to take a back seat these days.

So like any insane person - I decided to add another project to my 'to be completed list'. This was a really fun & easy project to do with my young bunnies. I wish that I had taken more photos of the kids doing the project rather than the end results - but between fabric dye flying around, helping them cover the fabric, food stuffs being thrown everywhere & there being 3 of them and only one of me - it was a tad hectic - really fun but a wee bit hectic.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Coats & Kilts - Quilt #4

This is the final quilt in a series of 4 quilts made for a family with deep Irish roots. The father would travel to Ireland over the years and bring back Irish kilts and traditional dresses. All these garments were kept alongside some gorgeous childhood coats.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Coats & Kilts - Quilt #3

This is the 3rd quilt that I made for a family of three sisters and one brother from a box of childhood coats & kilts that their mother had collected. You can view the first quilt here and the second quilt here.

This is the 3rd quilt I finished - it is another Drunkards Path pattern.

But I hope I have given the traditional pattern a little twist. I quilted this quilt in straight lines using blue, red & white threads - I tried to mimic a sort of tartan pattern in terms of the lines placement & order.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Kilt & Coat Quilt #2

This is the 2nd quilt that I made for a family from a box of childhood coats & kilts that was discovered in their mother's attic when she passed. You can view the first quilt here.

This time I'm sharing the back of the quilt first - because it is kind of fun, modern & minimal. Can you guess what the front design is?

Monday, June 30, 2014

Memorial Quilt: Kilt & Coat Quilt #1

I have been working on these quilts - four in total - for a long time. I am excited to share the results with you.

The quilts are made from kilts and coats that were in the families mothers attic. There were kilts, coats & traditional Irish dresses from their childhood. The fabrics, textures and colors were bright and beautiful - a mixture of wools, velvets, cotton (and maybe some mystery blends.) 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Mix and Match Quilting Designs

I love the idea of throwing lots of different quilting motifs together into negative space on quilts.

Here are two little baby quilts I put together using various different motifs. The motifs for some reason took on a beach theme. With shells, swirls, waves, pebbles, ripples and can you spot the attempt at a razor shell type shape?

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Working Hard

I have been working hard on a number of projects. I have five Memorial quilts that I am really excited to share with you - but not yet because the families have not yet seen them.

Meanwhile I have been trying to fit in progress on various other projects.

Detail of Baby Playmat. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Teachers Appreciation Gifts: Hand Print Pillows

I can not believe that the end of school is nearly here again and I found myself yearning to make me all time favorite project - hand print pillows. You might remember that we made them first for Mother's Day and for teacher appreciation gifts last year. 

This year we had 3 pillows to make. A total of 21 children aged from 18months to 5 years popped around at one time or another to let me paint their hands and print them on fabric. With the age of the kids you are working with you just have to embrace the imperfections and go with it. This year I used Jacquard Fabric Paints & painted the leaves & stems onto the pillows.

Quilting A Memory: Applications Open for Service Familes

I am pleased (and a bit proud if I am honest) to be able to say that I have raised enough money to offer some US service families free memorial quilts (to be completed in early 2015.)

Quilting A Memory is a charitable organization that I have set up to provide free quilting services to the families of fallen or lost service men & women using their clothes & uniforms. By working with the families I personally prepare, deconstruct, sew together and quilt unique detailed quilts which do not look like clothing or uniforms. Quilts that can blend into your home, can be used in everyday life - something beautiful, practical and filled with love and memories. (We have filed our 501c3 status with the IRS - and we have already been receiving donations.)

Memorial Quilt made from a Fallen Soldiers Uniform

If you know of a service family who has been impacted by the loss of a loved one and you think that they might appreciate this service please let me know. I can reach out to them personally or you can tell them of the services of this charity. I am happy to discuss with anyone the detailed process of making these quilts.

Memorial Quilt made from Ladies Shirts

I am really looking forward to working with more families and being able to make these quilts for them. The feedback I have received from families so far as been amazing.

Memorial Quilt made from a 9/11 Firefighters T-shirts

I am expecting additional donations during 2014 so if there are many families applying for quilts I will start a waiting list and funds will be allocated to a families quilt as they come in. 

Please forward this information to any families you think might be interested or you can contact me at for more details

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Quilt without Borders

Margaret is a lovely member of the NYC Metro Modern Quilt Guild and her niece - a quilter who lives in France and who volunteers for the International Festival of Extraordinary Textiles - asked Margaret for her help. 

Margaret guided members of the guild to create a modern quilt that will be used during a picnic in the Jardin Lecoq park. The picnic will be done "flash mob" style with people showing up, a quilt under their arm.  Then when a text message arrives the quilts will be opened and spread on the grass. After the picnic the quilts will be auctioned off to benefit Doctors Without Borders.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Tissue Paper Dyed Silk Pillow

Here we decided to revisit our success as dying silk with tissue paper but this time use the technique to make a pillow. This is a super easy & quick no mess project that you can do on your own or with your little one.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Baby Welcome Blankets

I have started a quilting group at my local church. Our aim is to make a little quilt for each new little baby that is christened at the church. I'm looking forward to using some of my scraps up and being able to practice my free motion quilting too.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mixing up Simple Free Motion Designs

Our guild is currently making baby quilts for charity and this was a top from Maria. Maria said that she had had this top for around a year so it would be nice to get it finished. The block is based on the Flatiron Partnership logo - which I think makes a really great block. It was such a great idea my Maria to translate this logo into a patchwork design. I read somewhere that you are a true quilter if you see a quilt in everything you see - and I don't know how many of you also walk around the world looking at things constantly thinking 'that would make a great quilt' .... my list of ideas & projects is seemingly endless these days.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

When Victoria ....

When Victoria Findlay Wolfe contacts you and asks you to quilt a quilt for her you do not say no. I shook in my slippers through out the whole process. Not sure I've yet recovered. Here is a sneak peek of some detail .....