Mighty Lucky Quilting Club 2016

After the #aussiemoderninstabee in 2014, I took a year off from year-long quilty commitments and have instead enjoyed jumping in on various one-off swaps  when it fit into everything else keeping me busy.

In 2016 I want to be a little more consistent in my making so I’ve just signed up for the Mighty Lucky Quilting Club run by Lucky Spool. Each month a different designer will set a design challenge aimed at guiding and inspiring participants to try new techniques and to stretch their own design muscles.

Mighty Lucky Quilting Club Member

You can purchase individual months from specific designers or jump in for the whole year like I am. With no mailing deadlines and a focus on developing my own design skills I’m hoping to be able to keep up and push myself to find my style.

It seems that year off extended into blogging as well, I partly blame instagram for that, it’s just too easy to share a quick glimpse and a few words on what you’re working on, but coming back to the reason for blogging in the first place, I wanted to have a record of the things I make and the stories behind them.

There was much more than what you see in here 2015 that I should catch up on, the 2nd annual Modern Quilt Show Australia was a hugely successful follow up to our first show last year. We’re so pleased that it will be brought to you in 2016 by Lorena Uriate and the Sydney Modern Quilt Guild. I also took part in a handful of swaps that I’m yet to share here, finished a few small projects and quilts, lead a zipper pouch workshop at the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild Retreat (so much fun!) and tried to make the most of my minimal sewing time.

Here’s to bigger and better things next year!


Getting back in the groove with a Social Tote

Earlier this year in June I was lucky to get a spot in a class to make the Social Tote, lead by Lorena Uriate and hosted at Material Obsession. I already owned the pattern by Carolyn Friedlander & Anna Graham (Noodlehead) but having read over it I wasn’t up to tackling it by myself. There are lots of additional photos on Carolyn Friedlander’s site to help explain the process if you’re not so lucky to have someone to show you through it.

Social Tote - a portable sewing caddy

The class was scheduled for a couple weeks after the Modern Quilt Show Australia held in May. I knew I’d be burnt out after the show and could use a kickstart to get back in to sewing & quilting so it was perfect timing.

Social Tote - a portable sewing caddy
Empty Social Tote

The inside configuration of the social tote, with and without all the fun stuff.

The social tote isn’t huge but is just the right size for carrying around your needles, threads, scissors and other small bits and pieces for a smaller project like EPP, or even just the little parts of a larger project. It sits on the arm of my lounge and acts as a thread catcher while I work and lets me easily move around. There are 2 smaller compartments and one larger compartment, perfect for a small kitten to climb into and then play with the built-in toys (clover clips & handles).

Social Tote - The perfect kitty basket with built in toys
Kitten Approved!

The pattern includes instructions for a pin cushion that fits perfectly into one of the smaller compartments. I like that it also helps hold the shape of the tote. One of the tips Lorena shared was that small scraps of batting are great for filling the pincushion and helping it hold its shape, I used a combination of batting scraps and polyfill for mine.

Social Tote Pincusion
Social Tote Pincusion

Both sides of the pin cushion – my favourite print (the paint chips) and a perfectly sized wedge circle!

There are two little side pockets between the handles which are great for adding small feature fabrics. For my Social Tote I used various fabrics from the Paint line by Carrie Bloomston. The outside is one of my most favourite prints, I love the “Not Pink” colour combined with newsprint. The inner bottom uses the paint brushes print and I picked a few complementary colours & prints for other parts. I saved the paint chips for my pockets and one side of the pin cushion and the multi-colour woven print was a perfect binding to tie it all together.

Social Tote using Paint Fabrics by Carrie Bloomston of SUCH Designs

If I were to make another I would probably try to make it a little deeper and I do wonder if it would be possible to add some kind of closure or lid for it so that I could put it in with other supplies in a bag for sewing events outside home. I’m really happy I went through the process of making this tote and am especially grateful for Lorena’s expert guidance, it was a great day out and I’ll be keeping an eye out for more workshops up at Material Obsession in future.

Graffiti Quilting Workshop with Karlee Porter

This past weekend I was lucky to have a place in a 2 day workshop, hosted by the Wollongong Modern Quilt Guild, we welcomed artist and quilter Karlee Porter to Wollongong for the final leg of her Australian  tour. Karlee’s signature style is called Graffiti Quilting, an approach to free-motion quilting that builds up a design from layers of elements, some which have been inspired by street art, some using common quilting motifs in a modern way.

On the first morning Karlee took us through 20 or so designs and techniques which we practiced in our sketch books, and then started to combine.

Graffiti Quilting Sketches
Graffiti Quilting Sketches

Left: Sketching designs, my leaves are terrible but I’ll keep working on them. Right: We all started with the same centre elements (black) then had 5 minutes to add our own ideas to kick off a design.

After lunch we put those ideas onto fabric with no real plan and only gentle direction provided by Karlee. My free motion skills were a little rusty but I slowly found a rhythm. I’d do a little bit and then stop and think about the next element, trying to pick something to suit the space or contrast a geometric design with a soft and swirly one, the whole while referring back to my sketch book and the fun analogies about the different designs.

Graffiti Quilting Day 1 Sampler
Graffiti Quilting Day 1 Sample – Aurifil 28wt blue varigated thread on black solid fabric from Spotlight.
Graffiti Quilting Class
Everyone concentrating hard on their quilt samples

That evening we were joined by more WMQG members for a trunk show where Karlee spoke about her background and a selection of her quilts, explaining the progression of her work, the highs and lows of entering shows and different experiments along the way. I particularly enjoyed hearing about her collaborations with other artists, having their designs digitally printed on fabric which is then quilted. Of course, cheese and wine with guild members and our guests made for a really enjoyable evening.

On day two we spoke more about materials, threads, fabrics and battings that suit this style of quilting and what situations they suit best. Karlee also took us through different layout options and then suggestions on how certain elements go together. I chose to try quilting in rows with a common circular element up the middle.

Karlee Port & I with my sample quilt
Here’s my sample at the end of the day, couldn’t have done it without Karlee’s encouragement

For my sample piece I’ve used black solid from Spotlight with 2 layers of cotton batting. The thread is Aurifil 28wt in a magenta colour and then a soft medium pink, the next two colours will be a light grey and then finally white. I found I really liked the geometric elements, particularly the columns and my curves were definitely improving with practice.

Graffiti Quilting Detail - Centre
The bottom centre circle turned out better than I could have thought possible, with just a few circle guides and I sketched the leaves first because I find them so tricky to get the curve right.
Graffiti Quilting Detail - Geometric Columns
Love those columns, they can be a city skyline, a stereo equalizer or local rock formations.

All in all I had a great time and really learned a lot from Karlee, she’s fun and genuine with lots of tips and tricks for creating our own unique spin on Graffiti Quilting. I hope to practice more and put together some smaller pieces that can be used for pouch & bag panels, and will most definitely keep sketching and drawing, I found I really enjoyed that part! Here’s a start on something in my sketch book…

Graffiti Quilting - New Sketches
A fresh page & textas, I no longer feel paralysed trying to envision the entire design, just add a bit at a time and the whole becomes much greater than the some of it’s parts.

Liberty Stars Quilt – In the beginning

Last year I signed up to Liberty Club #2 with Polka Dot Tea Fabrics, and I could not be happier with the variety of beautiful Liberty prints picked each month by Danielle and Jeannette. I’m getting fat sixteenths which measure approximately 10″ by 13.5″ (or 25cm by 34cm), the Liberty fabrics are 54″ wide so the cuts are more generous than your standard cottons. There are currently Liberty Club places available, you can sign up on their website.

Liberty Stars Quilt - Stars 001-008
Liberty Stars Quilt – Stars 001-008

I’ve been a bit scared to cut into my Liberty stash but I thought maybe just a little bit off each piece would be a good start and a great way to showcase my collection over time. I’ve been wanting to start a slow-go project to, particularly eyeing off 60 degree / 6 point English Paper Pieced stars. It’s a perfect match and so my Liberty Stars Quilt project was born. I’ll be posting progress shots on Instagram using #libertystarsquilt or you can follow me @pescapresents to.

Liberty Stars Quilt - Star 009
Liberty Stars Quilt – Star 009

I’ve chosen 1½” 60 degree diamonds, each side of the diamond is 1½” long, the angle of the acute (pointy) end is 60 degrees, and it takes 6 of the diamonds to create a full star: 6 x 60 degrees = 360 degrees, a full circle – woohoo maths! As shown in the picture below, the stars measure 4½” across and about 5¼” top to bottom (tip to tip through the middle).

Liberty Stars Quilt - 60 degree / 6 point stars
Liberty Stars Quilt – 60 degree / 6 point stars

I cut 2, 2″ strips (less than 1/4 of each piece) from which I could get 8 diamonds, you only need 6 for the star and I’ve saved all the spare pairs for more mixed stars.

Libery Stars Quilt - Stars 010-012
Libery Stars Quilt – Stars 010-012

I cut the fabrics for my first 20-30 stars and pieced the first 8 stars while away for a long weekend in December 2014, it’s a nice easy take-anywhere project and it’s intended to be a slow project, just a few here and there and while I’m away. I haven’t decided on a layout or background fabric yet but I’m sure that will come with time, I don’t even know what size I’m aiming for, something decent between large lap and bed-ish size I guess but I haven’t done the math to calculate any rough requirements yet. I’m just enjoying making stars and having a close look at each and every one of these beautiful Liberty fabrics.

Liberty Stars Quilt - Stars 013-016
Liberty Stars Quilt – Stars 013-016

I wish I knew what each and every fabric was, I don’t have it to hand but if there’s one in particular you like I should be able to find out.

Juki Update

Almost two years on and I’m still completely in love with my girl Suki, a Juki TL-98P. Seems I’m not the only one either, my previous post from when I first got this machine has been the most popular post on my blog ever since.

Juki TL-98P drop in table

She gets plenty of attention when we go out to, every sew day there’s someone who wanders over… “Oh, so this is the Juki!” and I tell them all about how awesome she is. She’s not light to carry around but now that I’m used to sewing with her it’s worth the effort. At home she sits in my “proof of concept” aka hacked together drop in table, more on that and my new sewing space in an upcoming post!

I’m now lost without my knee lift when I jump on another machine (though I kind of wish it was a little bit further to the right, and maybe not so low). I’ve also mastered the knack of the needle threader, yeay! All in all, she’s awesome and we really understand each other now.

Juki TL-98P drop in table

As a follow up I contacted Juki to ask if there was any update on the possibility of an equivalent to the TL-2010 Q (available in the US) being released for those of us on a 240V power supply, but unfortunately there are no plans for one (I’m getting better with pedal control but would still love the speed limiter).

That’s ok, the TL-98P is still a great machine and I’d buy a new one in a heart beat, hopefully when I do Suki can go to someone else who wants to try the Juki without committing to the full purchase price of a new machine, and they’ll fall in love with her to.

The rep from Juki Singapore (a Juki subsidiary and regional HQ covering Oceania and Asia Pacific) was really helpful and also let me know they would be at the AQC Show in Melbourne this year, April 16-19 2015. They’ll have the Juki TL-98P there to see, and will be introducing the TL-2200QVP (a long arm quilting machine), along with their other machines. If you’ll be there go check them out.

If you can’t make it to the show, the official dealers in Australia are:

I have it on good authority that Capron Carter in Sydney also sell them and I’m in the process of contacting some other stores to find out where else you can get a Juki TL-98P, the most common thing I hear is that no one has ever seen them in a store. It’s true they’re not readily available but it’s worth the extra effort to find one.

If you have a Juki, I’d love for you to get in touch, leave a comment or shoot me an email. If you have questions about the Juki TL-98P, just pop them below and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

Edit: I’m so happy to hear that Juki now have an Aussie Brand Ambassador, my friend Molli Sparkles, who’ll be down at AQC to help demonstrate the TL-98P and all their wonderful machines!