Friday, January 30, 2009

Time for a Monster

Bird was feeling pensive and thoughtful. Maybe this was because he was named after the most violent character from The Wire. Maybe he couldn't live with that, or perhaps, he was just busy thinking about wanton violence.

Bird is a homage to Nicky's great cheeesy-shops who I think rocks. I had to make one for myself to love... only I forgot the ears... d'oh. I might make him a pink companion. I am quite into American Apparel sports socks.

See my new labels I had made! I do love a good label.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Part Five : Designing a Quilt

How about a simple project to get you started? The first quilt I ever did was just made up of squares. It's simple, but it always looks good. First, work out what size you want it, then think about splitting those measurements into blocks. A block is just a unit of squares. You divide your quilt into 3x3 blocks (a nine block) You then make up each series of squares into your blocks, then you sow all the blocks together. It's just easier and more accurate than creating long strips and doing it row by row. Blocks come in all different units, but nine is very common. Blocks are often talked about in terms of finished size. This is not the size you cut them as you add on seam allowance which is always 1/4 inch.

For example, I decide to make a cot quilt that's 26" x 38" because I can easily split this up into a grid of 8 x 12 squares or 4 x 6 squares. Here are some simple ideas.

Quilt A
96 x 3" squares. 3 1/2" inc seam allowance.

Quilt B
12 x 6" squares. 6 1/2" inc seam allowance.
108 x 2" squares. 2 1/2" inc seam allowance.

Quilt C
12 x 6" squares. 6 1/2" inc seam allowance.
48 x 3" squares. 3 1/2" inc seam allowance.

Quilt D
12 x 6" squares. 6 1/2" inc seam allowance.
36 x 2x6 strips. 2 1/2" x 6 1/2" inc seam allowance.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Part Four : Patterns

So either you decide to measure and make up your own quilt, or you buy a pattern which will tell you how much material you need, what to cut, some even supply the material if you're willing to pay for the privilege. The patterns I like are mostly from Sunflower Fabrics. I have made the Country Quilt here and the Little Stars for Granny here and I am about to make the Rose Gold Quilt.

Books and magazines are the best sources of patterns as they are always very thorough and talk you through every step, but below is a list of pattens I found online which I like.

Free Patterns

Amy Butler's Mid Modern Quilt Look in the free patterns section
Olive Rose Quilt Pattern

Almost a Flower Garden
Merry Go Round
Some block patterns which you put together
Here's a long list of free patterns, most though, are not my kind of thing

Sunflower Fabrics Patterns
Floral Dreams
Tikki Patterns

Patterns with material
At Waters Edge
Decorator Quilt

Usually whatever quilt is on the cover has a pattern inside.
Australian Patchwork & Quilting
Contented Cat
The Quilter

But what if you just want to design your own...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Part Three : Buying Material

So material comes in different shapes and sizes all sold in yard increments. The smallest amount is usually a 1/4 of a yard square which is called 'A Fat Quarter'. I often just buy random fat quarters as they are inexpensive, but if you are doing a large quilt, then a fat quarter only goes so far hence it's often good to have a pattern in mind with some fabric dimensions. There is a good book full of projects which all use fat quarters, called Fast Quilts from Fat Quarters.

There are other styles of selling material. There are bundles of fat quarters which are often hand picked to all go together. I think Apple Roses is very pretty, so is September Blossom and Flirt. You could make a nice simple cot quilt with those if you just got something matching for any border or backing.

Here are some places to buy Bundles
Pink Chalk
The Fat Quarter Shop
Quilters Cloth
Sunflower Fabrics
Stitchin Post
Cotton Patch

You can also buy pre-cut material which makes life a lot easier. These come in the form of Charm Packs and Jelly Rolls. A Jelly Roll is when strips of the same width are wound together and sold as a roll. There are some very simple ways to use them. You can just sow the strips together, cut them randomnly, then keep sowing them together until you have long strips of materials which you sow all together. This pattern is an example of this, but to be honest it's so simple, you don't really need a pattern. For complex ideas you can buy books such as Jelly Roll Quilts which have more innovative ideas. I might make the Friendship Braid or the Daisy Chain using the Grand Revival Strip Roll or the Mary Rose Strip Roll. Another roll which is expensive is Yuwa Retro Roll.

I did a day school in our local patchwork shop in Cambridge where you chose from a huge pile of Jelly Rolls and made a quilt top in a day. It was great fun and I learnt loads and left with this! Kim at Washed and Worn makes beautiful Jelly Rolls and even has a free pattern on her site. She's at Chilford every year if you want to see all her rolls.

Here are some places to buy Jelly Rolls
Washed and Worn
The Quilt Room
The Bramble Patch
The Cotton Patch
Quilter's Haven

Material also comes pre-cut into squares which means you can just start sowing the together! These are called Charm packs. Here is a free pattern for charm packs. I quite like the 5" Neutral Charm, the 5" Heather Bailey Charm or the 5" Ava Rose Charm Pack Pack. If you can't see a picture of the squares then usually you can find that range of material in the main material section so you can see what you're getting. So the Heather Bailey is also a Jelly Roll so you can see what the fabric is like and so is the Ava Rose.

Here are some places to buy Charm Packs
The Quilt Room
The Bramble Patch
Imagine Fabric
The Cotton Patch

In general though, you can just buy material on its own in increments of 1/4 yards. Fabric often comes in ranges created by designers. But it's a bit like fashion. Ava Rose by Tanya Whelan is everywhere at the moment but it might not be in a few months so it's best to have more than less. So perhaps deciding on your pattern before you buy makes more sense...

Monday, January 26, 2009

Part Two : Where to get Supplies

Getting the idea. Well ideas comes from all sorts of places, but in general I work on a 'I see it, I want it' basis. I find shops and shows and magazines a good way to see quilts I want. Usually the once a year show in my home town is more than enough to fill me to the brim with projects. Nearly every quilt on show is promoting a pattern and a range of material so it can be relatively simple to get going. The two shows I am hoping to go to this year are:

Chilford Hall Quilt Show - Cambridge - 13th - 15th March 2009
The Festival of Quilts - Birmingham - 14th to 17th August 2009

Other places to find inspiration closer to your fingertips is via books, magazines and online resources so below is a list of good things to get you going.

Quilter's Complete Guide
I made this Durham quilt from this book. There's no patchwork, it's just one piece of white sheeting that you quilt designs over. It's great for learning how to hand quilt, but it takes an age.
Fast Quilts from Fat Quarters Quick and easy. More on what a fat quarter is later.
Around the Block with Judy Hopkins This book is great because it shows you various blocks and all the different measurements you need to make them your size.
Vintage Fabric Style Very tasteful and retro
Last-minute Patchwork and Quilted Gifts Small projects
Quilts! Quilts!! Quilts!!!
The Encyclopedia of Quilting and Patchwork Techniques
Quilts Galore: Quiltmaking Styles and Techniques
Traditional Patchwork Quilt Patterns with Plastic Templates
Jelly Roll Quilts This is only useful if you buy Jelly Rolls. More about them later.

Quilt shops in and around London
Lady Sew and Sews, Marlow, Bucks
The Quilting Bee, Enfield, Middlesex
Just Between Friends, Buckhurst Hill, Essex
Creative Quilting, 32 Bridge Road, East Molesey, Surrey.
Tikki Patchwork, 293 Sandycombe Road, Kew Gardens. A dedicated patchwork shop
Liberties, Great Marlborough Street. A small range of patchwork material, some of which is very nice
John Lewis, Oxford Street/Sloane Square. A small stock of patchwork material, most of which is pretty grim to be honest
Fabrics Galore,
54 Lavender Hill, Battersea. This is the place for contemporary fabric. I get a lot of spotty and stripey material from here.Here is a huge list of other places

There are also many online stores selling material. I can be a bit hit and miss as it's always easier to see material in the flesh but it's a very quick way to get stuff. There are too many to list so below I have just listed my favourites. There is so much material out there, some of it is harder to find than others. I find modern fabrics harder to come by so I have listed a few more of these.

UK stores
Sunflower Fabrics
The Quilt Room
The Fabric Room
The Cotton Patch
Quilters Cloth
Sew and sos
The Tabby Cat

Worldwide Stores
Reprodepot. Lots of vintage fabric
Pink Chalk
Sew Mama Sew. A great range of contemporary fabric
Purlsoho. An excellent range of modern designers
eQuilter. A monstrous cavern of every kind of material under the sun
Phat Fabrics
Sew Loves Fabric

Mail Order
Strawberry Fayre. A great system for buying plain fabric. They send you a bundle of swatches. You choose the exact colour you want and send the swatch back to them.
Quilt Direct. Their catalogue is full of everything you might ever need.

Other supplies
Creative Grids Everything other than material. If you don't use templates, the other way to cut material to size is with a cutting matt and a rotary cutter. This a great place to get them from. They also sell a plethora of inch rulers like you see in my pictures. A good wide, long one over 18" tall, a matt over 18" tall and a cutter are the best investment you could make. They even do an A2(in inches) starter pack for £26.79

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Part One: Getting Started

So you want to make a quilt. What for? A bed? A cot? Your bed? Your cot? If you have a purpose is mind then the first thing you need to work out is what size it should be. The easiest solution is to just measure where you want it. Measure your mattress then ask yourself:

Will the quilt just fit the top of the bed?
Will it hang over and by how much?
Will the quilt have to cover pillows at the top?

There are two confusing things to know here though.

1. The weird thing about quilting is that it's all measured in yards and inches. You might find this annoying, you might live your life in cm and insist on that, but once I changed over I never looked back. It's all sold in yards, it's all talked about in yards, nearly every pattern is in yards so it can often be easy just to cave in and embrace the inch.

2. The internet is full of sizes and they're usually all different, even the terminology differs. A kingsize bed in the UK is a Queen in the US. Wiki will give you basic mattress dimensions across the board which are pretty standard, apart from slight variations depending on your geographical location.

Mattress sizes (so just covering the top)
Single/Twin 36 x 75"
Double/Full 54 x 75"
King/Queen(USA) 54 x 75"
Super King/King(USA) 76 x 80"

Me? I have just measured my king size bed. It's 60" across the mattress, then there's a 12' drop on either side to cover the depth of the mattress. If I wanted a pretty quilt covering my mattress I would probably round it off to 80" wide. I might decide it's going to be square so that way length is of no importance. Right, that'd be me done.

I wouldn't really suggest your first quilt is a huge one as it just takes longer than a small cot quilt. That's why I make so many baby quilts. They are so quick and easy that you don't end up getting bored of them. Cot sizes are all different. I often just guess mine as unless you know the cot you're never going to get it right and they probably use sleep bags anyway so it's all redundant. If it looks bigger than the baby then you're onto a winner!

Here are some sites which give you a range of dimensions

Crib - 50" x 53"
Single - 75" x 98"
Double - 83" x 106"
Queen - 90" x 106"
King - 107" x 108"

How to Make a Quilt

Someone asked me the other day about quilting. They knew nothing much about it but they wanted to get started. I'm not an expert in the slightest, my mum is, but it got me thinking about the process so I thought I would do a stream of blogs about my latest quilt from start to finish so someone could see how I go about it. Obviously my mum would do it perfectly, in some whizz-bang way with no mistakes, but I am not she. I can only show you how I muddle through it all and pass on a few links to books and websites. So prepare thyselves for Step One: Getting Started... coming sooon

Monday, January 19, 2009

Big Knits

After looking at Yokoo's great Etsy shop, I fell in love with her grey and yellow cowl.

If there wasn't a credit crunch it would be mine. Maybe for my birthday it still can be. But in the meantime I thought I would have a go. So off I went and bought the largest needles John Lewis had.

They're so huge they feel like comedy needles! I could barely hold them. Giant knits seem to be all the rage on the catwalk and I have been seeing some jolly mice giant knit scarfs on the streets of Hoxton. So I embarked on a test mission. It's so rewarding as even the slowest knitter in the world like me can create something like this in an evening! Ace.

After completing this test, I am now ready for attempt number two! I think I might accentuate my rib by doing my tea cosy design and maybe using some slightly smaller needles this time. Then I might try one with a fancy cable.

I still plan to put some buttons on my existing one but it still seems to be stretching out everytime I wear it. It is very warm though.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Baby Quilt

I finally finished my latest baby quilt inspired by the Amy Butler material I bought at the Birmingham quilt show.

First I drew out a pattern. I wanted it to seem quite random with no strong pattern running through it like the last one so I based it on a simple 16 block design.

I taped all the layers down to the work surface and tacked it all together.

I didn't buy a pattern for the quilting so I cobbled this one together on the computer based on one I saw in The Quilt Room catalogue. The stencils are really great, they save loads of time but I was working against the clock this time. It all worked out really well in the end though.

And there is the finished item I completed over Christmas.

Here's the backing.

And the final boxed item ready to go to baby Nell. Done. Maybe it's time for a few monkeys now.