Sunday, 31 January 2016

Go Ahead, Treat Yourself!

Well I just can't help myself. I'm getting all excited about Valentine's Day because it's the day my fun Mystery Quilt Along  Sweet 2016 launches. Oh yes, I'm ready for bite sized blocks of fun each month. Something gorgeous, something fabulous and something that makes each installment feel like a fabric party. I can't wait.
Have you joined the monthly mystery party yet? 
The time to join is now!

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

WOW: Hazel & Moving with the Times

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays
I was never into Facebook. I must admit the whole FB "revolution" passed me by and I was happy about it. But now I see that it can serve some purpose other than being an annoying intrusion. Moving over to Facebook is the best decision I have made regarding my BOM Group and if you haven't come over yet, I encourage you to do so. Yes, I know the resentment many feel towards FB which is why I offer my block downloads right here on my blog each month too. But let me tell you; the support, conversations and networking over in my BOM Group is really incredible. The amount of creativity and connecting and image sharing has taken the Group to a whole new level. One that I'm really enjoying.

This blog will always be my home, but over in my BOM Group, the conversation never stops. So if you'd like to link up with others creatively, it's the place to be. I suppose you could say I'm moving along with the times.,.and not a minute too soon.

This 8 Point Star block is my Hazel centre and this is where I'm up to right now. I'm loving the Fassetts and think I'm content enough to leave it as is. I'll see how I feel after having it up on the wall for a few days. Today I'm sewing and photographing stages of sample blocks to show members next month.
What's Your WOW?


Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Hazel: Playing With Kaffee Colour

I know I said I wasn't going to make Hazel, but it looks like I've changed my mind.
I think it's the Fassett fabics that finally swayed me. That and making the samples - now that I'm making samples to show members how to make the blocks each month, it seems silly to stop. So, I've just been carrying on..

Do I have time for this? No I really don't. Have I found time to squeeze it in? Yes I have so far and now that I'm this far down, it looks like I will complete the top. I really didn't want to - I have other BOMs waiting in the wings that need my attention. But the Fassetts have been calling me and I couldn't resist. At least I'm using stash fabrics. And now the idea of having a Fassett around the house really appeals so I can't wait to finish!

What do you think of this blue? I thought it was a great zinger at first, but after having it on my wall for a few hours, changed my mind. It just clashed too much. I wanted a calm blue enthused quilt. I think the pattern really calls out for floaty fabrics and dreamy colours. But not my Hazel.
And the funny thing is, I didn't want a green quilt. I just didn't. And now it's happened and I love it. I really think it's gorgeous now. You can see these Fassett greens below just work so much better.
I'm still planning on using the stripes again for the corners. But you never know. Lately, I've changed my attitude about selecting quilt fabrics. I let the quilts decide up on my design wall. If it pleases my eye after a few hours (or days) on my wall, it stays. If it doesn't 'look right', then it has to go. This used to cause me so much anguish - especially after I painstakingly purchased so many specific fabrics with quilts in mind.
Still, I think this scheme is going to stick now and I can't wait for next month when I release the next block. I have loved Hazel from the moment I designed it, it just 'felt' right, but now I'm making it, I love it even more. I didn't think I'd be as keen about a pieced quilt, but I am and it's a really nice surprise.

This post is related to my current free BOMs 'Hazel' and 'Little Hazel'

To take part in my free BOMs, you simply need to be a member of my BOM Group
This 'Group' used to be on Yahoo, but last month I moved it to Facebook for technological reasons
My Facebook BOM Group is a huge improvement from the old Group format - uploading images and connecting with other members is easy now - it's really years ahead of the old platform.

If you were a member of the Yahoo BOM Group - you will need to move to my Facebook BOM Group in order to continue taking part in my BOMs. To do this, sign up to Facebook and then search for "Esther's Blog: Quilt BOM Group" OR simply click the image above.

For those of you who don't want to join Facebook, you will be able to download the monthly block installments right here on my blog.

                


Monday, 25 January 2016

Love Entwined: New Subscription Option

In response to requests from new members who have just found Love Entwined and my BOM Group and want a 'pay as you go' option, I have set up a 'Subscription' option for purchasing this pattern. This means you can start any time and will receive a pattern installment each month for just $9.95 per month. To take part, simply visit my online pattern shop, click here to go there now. So now anyone can take part in Love Entwined. What's stopping you?



Don't forget to join my BOM Group - it's where I share all my free patterns with enough variety to suit everyone. Remember, Love Entwined was free back in 2013 and each year I share a new, original pattern with existing members. Join today and you won't miss out on the next free BOM. 

Membership is and always will be free.

I believe that 'givers are receivers', so I always have a current free BOM available - and my version of free never means 'lesser'. All my free patterns have been beautiful, highly popular quilts, even years later. Once a BOM is finished, that's it - it won't be re-released. You can buy any missed blocks over on my website where I have an online pattern shop.

Once you're in my BOM Group, remember that some very popular quilts have split off into specific Groups to explore that individual quilt only. They're still part of the main BOM Group, but focus on single quilts. Right now, Lily Rose, Oma's Blues and Love Entwined have their own extra Groups, so if you're making any of these quilts, be sure to join up and share your work.


                       


Sunday, 24 January 2016

LE: Still in Love


Sometimes you design a quilt and can have no way of knowing that it's going to take over your life. Love Entwined is that quilt. I always knew it was going to be epic - the work alone is so significant (if you take on the entire quilt) that it really is one of those 'once in a lifetime' projects that takes on it's own personality, style and aura. That might be a strange word to use when describing a quilt, but anyone who's started this project can tell you that 'the quilt' decides which fabrics, tones and colour schemes it wants. And I've heard that so many times now that I believe it to be true. Once you decide that this is a project you want to make - you become the maker, but it's the quilt that takes on it's own style. Again, a strange thing to say about a quilt pattern, but I like to think that the collective style elements that make up the whole have an effect on each of us who take it on, step by step.

This is where I am up to. I have the centre done as you can see in the image above. I also have a lot of the applique pieces for the borders completed and tucked away, numbered, in envelopes. When I'm in the right frame of mind and have enough time stretched out before me to tackle it without interruption, I will complete the borders 'quickly'. At least it will look that way after my creative pause when it all comes together. I can't wait for that time to arrive,

Am I still in love with Love Entwined? Absolutely. In fact, more than ever. It's a quilt that grows on you. And, even though time is passing since that first excited post right her on my blog announcing it as a BOM - I feel that it's gained in importance just because a community of quilters out there are making it and starting to show it off for all it's beauty in their own corners of the world.

Who made it? Who was she? Why did she do it? Who taught her the mathematical equations necessary to design certain precise motifs? Where did she source her hard to obtain Chintz from in Georgian England? If she was a well connected lady in society, why isn't there any evidence of design motifs being shared amongst textiles works from that same era?  And, if she wasn't well connected in society, how on earth did she afford the time and textiles to create this project in the first place?

These are just some of the questions this quilt raises and I hope, in years to come, when hundreds of LE's are out there, that we will learn more of the original quilter who's legacy has been passed down to us. And it's my hope that we will be able to honor her with a rightful place in textile history. This is why I say - even if you only take an element and create a project from it, you are part of the legacy.

Through revival comes interest and hopefully in time to come, that interest will lead to answers.

But for now, we create. And wait...


LIVE LINK: click to go to the LE Group
If you're making this quilt or a project based on any of it's motifs, be sure to join the Love Entwined Quilt BOM Group. I've moved the Yahoo Group over to Facebook because it's so much easier to connect, share images and keep track of each other over there. If you found the Yahoo Group too cumbersome, now is the time to join us in our Facebook Group. It's modern, easy to use and photo uploads are oh-so-easy. See you there!

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Matilda's Own Polyfuse: fusible, water soluble tearaway

In the last 2 weeks, I've been asked so many times about which fusible I use and why that I'm re-posting this article. Back in June when I first posted it, I was selling this item over in my Etsy Shop. My primary motivation was to make it available for my students who were always looking for it. I no longer sell it as it simply wasn't worth my time, however it is available out there through good quilting shops, so ask locally. And yes, I'm always trying new products, so if I find one I prefer, I'll post about it when it happens!
Matilda's Own Polyfuse 
I use this product all the time in my applique. The method I use is that I reverse the pattern line drawing and then trace the reversed shapes onto the matt non shiny side of the fusible sheet. Then I cut the shape out on the line (without seam allowance). I iron it down on the wrong side of my chosen fabric and then add a seam allowance when I cut out the shape from my fabric (for edge turn applique) you could also cut the shape out without a seam allowance for raw edge, whatever suits you.

I now prefer to use Matilda's Own Polyfuse for when I draw my patterns down as you can see above. I have tried to put it through my printer for sheet printing (after cutting it down to A4 in size) but my printer didn't like it and I didn't persist. It actually spat out inky fluff balls and it damaged the head of my Epson inkjet printer (which now doesn't print) so I only use and personally recommend it for drawn patterns.

I think the best fusible for putting through a printer is actually Beth Ferrier's Wash-Away Applique Sheets (C&T Publishing) which comes pre-cut in a packet ready for printing. I don't actually sell  this product, I'm just recommending it for those of you who do intend to print through your laser jet printer. I find that it has a superior finish which is smoother and easier on your printer whereas the Matilda's Own is a bit grainier and like I mentioned above, ruined my printer.

Until very recently, I used Beth Ferrier's Wash-Away Applique Sheets (C&T Publishing) all the time, I shipped it in from America and it was worth the expense as far as I was concerned. But today, the Australian dollar is dropping and with the climbing cost of international shipping, I was happy to discover that there was a new fusible available to purchase locally and this is why I now work with Matilda's Own Polyfuse so much instead.

Deciding on which fusible will work best for you depends on what you want to get out of it. As I need my fusible for drawing, the fact that I don't use it in my printer doesn't matter to me, but it is something to keep in mind depending on your own preferred technique. For those repetitions I really don't want to draw out, I switch back to Beth Ferrier's printer friendly product. 

I will also add that the Matilda's Own is thinner and less noticeable on the finished applique piece whereas I have found Beth Ferrier's to be thicker (this has a place in your quilting, it just depends on the size, intensity and placement of your applique). Again, this is down to preference issues and you'll soon find out after a bit of experimentation which suits your current project better. They both have a place. But I think the fact that Matilda's Own is now here makes shipping products in from the USA less desirable (on our budgets at least). My decision to switch was because of ease, why wouldn't you buy a product available locally if you could?

I love tearaway water soluble fusible as it makes applique so much quicker and is a basic staple in my applique tool kit. 

Do you use fusible? 
What's YOUR favorite brand? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

WOW: BOM Love

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

January is really shaping up to be my BOM month. As well as releasing Hazel last week, I'm repeating Oma's Blues and Lily Rose is currently active as well. They're all over in my new BOM Group which has moved to Facebook. It's a fabulous place to host a Group - posting images is so easy and it's nice to 'see' who you're chatting with too. I love it over there. And that's a good thing because this year I've got some really exciting patterns on their way and I can't wait to share them with you.

Today I'm digging out gorgeous fabrics to use in my first quilt along block 'Sweet 2016' which starts on February 14th. I couldn't think of a more perfect day to start Sweet 2016 and I'm already smiling to myself even just thinking about it. It's a lot of fun and I'm so glad it's starting soon because the anticipation is really getting to me - I'm so keen to show off the first block!

Stay tuned and if you haven't already signed up, what are you waiting for?!

What's Your WOW?


Monday, 18 January 2016

Hearts Desire: an applique adventure

This week I've been re-loving a quilt I made in 2010: 'Hearts Desire'. Bunny, one of the Moderators over in my BOM Group, shared some of her images (and if you haven't seen them, you really should, they're exquisite) and that motivated me to dig out some Hearts Desire images of my own. 

If Love Entwined is an applique triumph (and I really do think it is), then Hearts Desire is an applique adventure. There's a bit of everything in this quilt and it's one of those projects that leaves you better accomplished and more skilled than when you started, 'just because' you made it. It's the repetition which forces you to make 'your best' your standard. It becomes a kind of second nature. And now, looking back, I recognize Hearts Desire as my most important applique quilt - it took me to the next level, technique wise and forced me to find new ways to consider traditional techniques. It's the quilt that sent me off exploring new ways to do old things - in fact, I started using the 'freezer paper applique method' because of it and that drive to constantly re-consider techniques has stayed with me, even today. In fact, whilst Love Entwined is one of those 'once in a lifetime' quilts, it's really Hearts Desire that enabled me to even consider tackling such a design feat.
 It's completely domestic machine quilted
and the more you look, the more you see
Some people think I'm exaggerating when I describe the sheer magnitude of fabric in my sewing studio. Actually, I mostly underestimate it! So please, excuse the mess in this flash back pic of me working on the central applique blocks. 
And here's the finished quilt. It's won a few awards. People always ask me how many awards I've won. It's over 40.  But you know what? In the last few years I've stopped 'showing' the way I used to. The longer I quilt, the less relevant awards seem to me. I've already accomplished everything I felt I had to prove as a 'quilter'. Now, I just quilt. 
Like it? Make it! 
Hearts Desire is available as a instant digital download, set to print at home on A4 paper.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Hazel: the 8 Point Star

This month, we're making the 8 Point Star. It's a nice start to the BOM and I've broken the central block down over 3 months so everyone can make it at their own pace - successfully. If you're daunted by stars, don't be. It takes practice and patience. And seeing how others make their own helps too.

Here's how I made mine.

First, I raided my Kaffee Fassett stash. I thought I'd only be making 'sample' blocks each month to show BOM members how to do them, but then I realized that, knowing me - I'll probably just go ahead and finish the top (if not the quilt). So if I have a quilt top just lying around, I'm  going to have to love it. That means random sample fabrics were out as an option. And that just left Fassetts. I have a stash - and a quilt top is better than a stash that's for sure. Also, the idea of a Kaffee Fassett Hazel really delights me, so that's how I made my choice. It also helped that my hand dyes fit in perfectly with my Fassetts (like the green you see above) so I'm using two stashes I love at once. So if you see a Fassett Hazel around, it's probably mine.
First things first. Make your templates and make sure that they are accurate. I was teaching a class last week where a student was explaining to me that a pattern she was working on just didn't fit. I took a look at it, and it turns out she was 'correcting' the shapes to create full angles. Don't do that. Simply use the Template exactly as they are.
You'll notice that the Templates have grain lines on them, indicating the grain of the fabric. Follow them. It makes a big difference when you are  piecing. I've even added a grain line for those of you using stripe fabric (just because I'm using stripes in my example and think it might help someone).

I've ironed and starched all my fabrics to make them a bit easier to use. Then I've played around with them just to confirm in my own mind, the shape the block will be taking.
This star blade is TEMPLATE B. 
When stitching TB, stop stitching just before your reach the side corner. Start stitching from the 'centre' (which is marked on your TEMPLATE) down. Always start stitching from that indicated center. Also, mark a dot (you can see that I have below) both left and right. This shows me where to stop stitching. Stop stitching 1/4 inch before the edge. 

This pin indicates where I stopped stitching. This is important because you need that allowance to insert the coming triangles (TEMPLATE A)
See the gap I've left?
Now, when I open my stitched TB, it looks like this
Press the seams down towards left
Stitch 2 x pairs, creating 1 half
Then sew the two halves together
Take extra care to join these together accurately.
Personally, I never pin when stitching these two sides together. I start  in the centre and start stitching from the centre out. Then I turn the block around and stitch from the centre again.
All the seams are 'turned' left, and this creates a kind of pinwheel looking seam which you open so they don't bunch together. Flatten this joined seam bunch as much as you can. It's important to understand how seams come together and how to flatten them at this point. I have not pressed in between sewing.
This is what my block looks like now that the star has come together. I never press between block construction - I only press the fabrics at the beginning (with starch) and then once again when the block is complete.
This is the front view
Now it's time to insert TEMPLATE A
It looks like this. I've used Floriani Stitch n Wash fusible on TEMPLATE A pieces because both left and right seams are on a bias (or cross grain) and no matter how much I starch, it will stretch and distort. The Fassett fabric I am using - the stripe- is a soft fabric and loosely woven. I need more stability - you probably won't unless you are using silks. 

Here's another reason why you might use fusible on this block and it's a great trick for perfect edges. As you can see, here is TEMPLATE A. I have cut TEMPLATE A from the fusible (without seam allowance) and that is the white you see here. The stripe fabric is TEMPLATE A which includes an allowance. So the fabric you can see here is the seam allowance. So, when sewing these shapes into the star, it's so easy to follow the fusible as a template to stitch the perfect curve - all without any markings, because you're simply stitching along to a high contrast guideline

So, I know that the white line below is actually my stitching line and the fabric you can see is the allowance. I knew that already, but when sewing on the machine, this high contrast makes everything so much easier.
To insert each triangle, fold the star in half and then open up the Y seam and position TEMPLATE A along the seam. One one side, I stitch from the centre of the diamond edge out, right next to the fusible. On the other side, stitch from the outside edge in. Pay attention to seam allowances. Repeat.
Once completed, set aside. Don't press. 
Next month we're adding rounds and you don't need to iron in between these stages. 


This post is related to Part 1 of my BOM "Hazel' and 'Little Hazel'
To join, click the image above

Friday, 15 January 2016

FREE BOM: Hazel is Launched: Part 1



Are you ready for a gorgeous piecing adventure?
Hazel and Little Hazel are launched today!

You can download the PDF pattern instantly by clicking on either image you see here below, which will automatically start the download. You can also download the pattern from the 'Files" area over in my 'Esther's Blog: Quilt BOM Group"

Before starting anything, please ensure that you have printed to A4 and have checked the 1 inch square test. This month, both Hazel and Little Hazel are working on the same block - the central 8 point star. Hazel is a diagonal quilt, with the centre block set on point. Little Hazel is a horizontal quilt. These quilts use the same size blocks, so if you get addicted to piecing these blocks, you can carry on and 'upgrade' to the larger quilt. Tomorrow I'll be sharing images of how I made the central 8 point star right here on my blog, so be sure to stop by and have a look!
This is an active link: click to download LITTLE HAZEL Part 1
This is an active link: click to download  HAZEL Part 1


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Now you've got your piecing BOM for the year started, 
how about some fabulous applique? 

I've just announced my latest applique adventure 
It's called Sweet 2016 and it's a lot of fun.

Why not join the fabric party?


Thursday, 14 January 2016

Join My 'Sweet 2016' Quilt Along

I don't know about you, but I feel like it's time for some serious fun. Of course, my kind of fun involves applique - the delicious kind and I'd really love it if you joined me. This BOM is like nothing I've ever done before and I have to tell you, I'm in love with it! The blocks are accomplishable in just a day or two and focus on enjoyment - I want you to really look forward to the installment each month. This BOM is do-able and gorgeous. Suitable for everyone who's passionate about playing with fabric and ending up with something fabulous to show for all those hours of fabric fun. It's my first Quilt Along and I'm already dreaming about perfect fussy cut patches from my stash.


‘Sweet 2016’ is a choc coated mystery

An Applique Mystery 

Released over 11 months: from February - Dec 2016

The pattern will be emailed to you directly on the 14th of each month

The finished size is 53 x 35 inches—a perfect wall hanging size and trust me, 
this is one quilt you’ll want to show off!

You already have the gorgeous fabrics and a fabulous sense of fun—make sure you get in on the mystery and brighten up your month, each month!

And that’s all I’m going to say about. It is a mystery, after all!

Sweet 2016 starts on February 14th which is the perfect start date for this gorgeous project

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

WOW: Digging out the Fassett's

WOW = WIPs On Wednesdays

Should I even be talking about my new BOM Hazel during WOW? Hmmm probably not. It is after all, a whole new WIP project and the point of WOW is getting WIPs done - not starting new ones.

But, I can't resist.

Here I am, sorting through my Kaffee Fassett stash. I've opted for Fassett's fabrics to make my run throughs. And I'm pairing them with my own hand dyes. Luckily a lot of my hand dyes really work with the Fassett's I have, so I can have some fun whilst I'm running up the blocks.

I don't intend on making the whole quilt - I don't have the time. But you never know, I might change my mind. And having a Fassset quilt in the house is a good motivator, so we'll see. Hazel is launching on Friday and I've got a really good feeling about it. Today I'm making up sample blocks to show how I make each month. This will serve as a guide for new quilters and show a lot more of my process - I know everyone is always keen to see process pics. In my last BOM Group, I had a lot of difficulties uploading images, but with the new improved BOM Group, uploading images are a breeze, so I'm more committed to sharing them than ever.

If you haven't already joined my BOM Group, now is a good time. Hazel and Little Hazel are launching on Friday and over in the dedicated Oma's Blues Group, I'm re-releasing Oma as a BOM too. And I still have some projects I'm finalizing this month for release this year, so  stay tuned, there'll be something for everyone. Including an applique BOM due for launch starting February. But, more on that later..

What's Your WOW?

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Would You Please Help Me?

Update 12 Jan, thanks for your help everyone. From now on, I'll be launching current BOM blocks right here on my blog as well as in my BOM Group over on Facebook. 
I need as many people as possible to test whether or not Google Drive is going to work on this blog to download PDFs. To help me, simply download my pattern 'Lily Rose' by clicking the image below. 

The complete pattern should open in a new window, ready to print

If it does, please leave a comment letting me know that it worked. Or not.
That's all. Thank you so much for taking a minute to help me out today!

the link has now been removed, thanks to everyone who took the time to help

I'm testing to see whether or not I can release pattern PDFs on this blog for those of you who don't want to use Facebook to download monthly BOM installments. You probably already know that my Yahoo BOM Group has moved over the Facebook and is therefore not called the 'Yahoo BOM Group' anymore but is now known as Esther's Blog: BOM Quilt Group. It's only been 48 hours, but the improvement for usability, posting pics and sharing is massive already. What a wonderful format. We're never going back. 

But...

There's always a but. No matter how well meaning you are, there are always issues. Some former members just don't want to move to Facebook and I just don't want to leave them behind. So, I'm happy to see if I can release BOM installments right here on the blog post each month. It should be possible, but I don't want to get people's hopes up without some kind of test first. This post is that test.

Thanks again for helping me out 
Please consider your downloaded Lily Rose pattern as my thank you gift