Thursday, 29 January 2015

.: We Are Family + a sale! :.

Just popping in to share our latest panel design - the super gorgeous We Are Family penguin sisters that Vee designed to enter into a recent Spoonflower competition.

The twill-cotton panels arrived in the mail today and they are sliced up and ready in the shop now.

And while you're in the shop - all our 2014 panels (except for two!) are on sale til 27 February - so click through, look for 'SALE FABRIC PANEL' in the item listings and pop a bargain in your cart!  We haven't created a separate 'sale' tab, since nearly all our panels are on sale - and we thought it would leave the full-priced Penguin sisters, Priscilla and Finn a little lonely! :-)

We're nearly to the weekend - hope yours is a happy one.  xoxo cat

Monday, 26 January 2015

.: I Am, You Are, We are Aus-tra-lian quil-ters :.

The fabulous Angie from GnomeAngel has organised a little blog-hop in honour of Australia Day - today!

Angie emailed a bunch of quilty, crafty bloggers a couple of weeks ago, inviting us to share what it means to be an Australian quilter.  To celebrate, I've sewn up a half-size block of my friend Peta's brand new Australia! pattern.  Peta has recently launched her new pattern company - She Quilts A Lot - and the full-size Australia! quilt pattern will appear in the next issue of Fat Quarterly.  It's a gorgeous quilt, designed and pieced by Peta and quilted by the wonderful Jane.  The panel I've made will soon be sewn into a tote to take to QuiltCon! - clearly two weeks notice during the school holidays wasn't enough for me to actually finish the Australia! tote bag ...

[did you notice all the States are different colours?! - and I put an Australia right where Canberra goes-ish?!}
So what does it mean to be a quilter in Australia? - or even a keen sewist + fabric-lover in Australia?  Here are a few things that come to mind:

** being geographically isolated is something we don't really think about much (unless you're about to hop on a plane to fly further overseas than New Zealand ...).  I don't think Australian quilters have a unique aesthetic -  you can hardly look at a quilt or a block and snap your fingers and say "Australian!" - though you definitely can recognise particular quilters' work without knowing it's theirs.  We DO have amazing creative talent over here and a kind of bold desire to share that with the world.  We love colour, design, pattern, and are not afraid to mix them up and create something awesome.  Let's make a little noise and share that talent with the world!

** we are part of the quilting tradition - we sew, we quilt, we gather in groups to share ideas and things we've made - just like quilters all over the world.

** we do have to travel far if we want to to meet and engage with the international quilting community - but we aren't afraid to travel, and nowhere in the world is too far.  As one example, there are around 25 Australian girls (and at least 4 New Zealanders!) going to QuiltCon in Austin, Texas next month - for most if not all of us, that's two or three planes, a taxi, a bus, a lot of hours and a tonne of excitement.  I think Jess will be travelling the furthest in the world to QuiltCon, all the way from Hobart! - so yes, Australian Quilter, Will Travel.

** we have embraced social media like a limpet on a rock (I tried so hard to think of a good embrace-metaphor, and even googled 'famous embraces' and 'famous hugs' and just wasn't loving what I was seeing, so we are stuck with limpet) - instagram, Facebook quilting groups, Twitter, Flickr and blogs help us to connect with our quilting people, both here and overseas.  I especially love instagram, because it's easy and instant, and just such a fun, supportive place to be.  I'm pretty late to the Facebook party, but am growing to really like being there, especially in the various quilty-groups I'm in - and our Aussies in Austin Facebook page, for all the girls heading to QuiltCon? - so fun, helpful, idea-filled and excitement-inducing.  Just a great place to be.

** we are experts at online stalking of fabric shops, we watch the Australian dollar with rabid interest and our knowledge of international postage rates is unsurpassed.  Our geographic far-away-ness means we don't often get to see new fabric lines in person at our LQS until months after it's been released - and we want it NOW!  We can fill our cart while calculating the check out price in AUD not USD, and can exactly-fill a USPS envelope so that not an inch is wasted.  We've got mad skillz.

** we love our LQS's and though we can't always buy the latest ranges there, we are loyal and buy every other possible fabric, notion, thread and batting we can from there.

** it's hot hot HOT when we are sewing for Christmas pressies - WAY too hot to be sewing a single thing, let alone working your way through your most ambitious Sewing To-Do list for the entire year.  But we do it anyway, because us Australian quilters are made of tough stuff (or we are a little mad).  In December, our instagram streams are filled with gorgeous northern-hemisphere pics of snow, fireplaces, cosy lounge rooms with seasonal, homemade decorations, and festive tables brimming with delicious hot food.  But over here?  We're eating outside around the BBQ, with paper serviettes, slapping at mosquitoes and there's not a festive table-runner in sight.  Or maybe that's just me ... 

** which brings me to the end for now.  There are many, many more things that make an Australian quilter an Australian quilter - but each person is different and has their own set of sewing-circumstances.  Go check out what the other quilty-bloggers have said it means to them - I can't wait to click through and read their posts too:

** Angie from GnomeAngel
** Alyce from Blossom Heart Quilts
** Gemma from Pretty Bobbins
** Melissa from Ms Midge
** Jane, Kristy and Lara from Make Modern
** Raylee from Sunflower Quilting

It's like the Seekers' song says, we are one, but we are many - each person is different, has their own aesthetic and creates something unique to them.  

Let me leave you with another song that I am loving at the moment, and seems very appropriate to share on Australia Day - there's not a thing about quilting in the lyrics, not surprisingly - but here's Straya - you're welcome:

Did you watch it?!  You think you got it, oh you think you got it, but have you got a rock where there is nothing at aaall ...  What a lyric, oh so good.  Happy Australia Day to you, and happy last day of the holidays to everyone whose children go back to school tomorrow - I'm a fan of the endless school holiday, and would much rather have them home!   xoxo cat

Saturday, 24 January 2015

.: Teeny Weeny Swap :.

A few of the Brisbane MQG girls were lucky enough to score a spot in the Teeny Weeny Swap, which was originally just between Vancouver MQG and Greater Western Sydney MQG.

The main requirement for the swap was teeny weeny piecing - we could make tiny mini's, a spectacle case, needle book, or a collapsible thread-catcher.  My partner was Samantha and I was really happy  to sew with her preferences for a mini with plums, greens, teals, text prints, Amy Butler and AMH.  From memory (as this was before Christmas!) - Samantha also specifically mentioned that she liked Sew-Ichigo's strawberry - so my decision was very easy, as I love the strawberry too! 

The mini measures about 8 1/2 inches square, and is bound in an AMH print, with an Amy Butler butterfly on the back. 

I even made a little label, out of Terra Australis prints.

And this piece of gorgeous is what Samantha made for me!  Isn't it fabulous?!

I just LOVE it and couldn't believe it was mine, when the Teeny Weeny goodie box was opened up at our MQG end-of-year lunch in December.  It truly is a gorgeous mini, in my favourite colours + text prints, and is something I would have chosen to make for myself.  Just perfect.  Do you spy the teeny heart in the centre?  Thank you Samantha! 

And I thought I would share how I made the strawberry panel - since I never ever actually remember to take process-pics, but for some reason managed to take them this time.  The strawberry-body had to be made from teeny weeny pieces, and so I followed the Stamp Collection block tutorial on Elizabeth Hartman's Oh Fransson blog.

I made a templastic template for the 'body' of the strawberry - and you can see I've marked on the template, where the 'complete' squares would be, so I could double-check I wasn't cutting any particular fussy-cuts in half - because half-bodies and half-heads just drive me crazy!  Each square was cut *I think* 1 1/2 inches - maybe only 1 inch.  I laid them onto a piece of interfacing in a 6 x 5 grid, and slowly ironed them on. 

Once the interfacing was ironed on, I sewed each row together, and snipped the seams open (remembering this is all according to Elizabeth's tutorial - click on the link above).

And then the rows are sewed together running the other way, and seams snipped open.  Here's the completed panel from the back, with all seams snipped and ironed open. 

Here's the completed panel - I then laid the plastic template on top and carefully cut around it to create the strawberry-body, and carried on with the piecing. 

I made the leaves and stalk out of low volume fabrics, so the leaves could say "teeny strawberry", but then forgot to sew the background in greens + teals and just carried on with the low volume ... so the leaves don't pop out as much as I'd hoped.  The "teeny" comes from HappySewLucky Berene's "Improv Adjectives" Spoonflower prints - I was very happy to find "teeny" in this awesome fabric, as Berene (who was then in Vancouver MQG but is now in Toronto) was the original co-ordinator of the swap (along with Lorena from GWSMQG). 

I added in a little HST border to bring in the greens + teals that I had forgotten in the background. 

This was a really fun swap to be a part of, and some wonderful things were made.  We hadn't all realised that it was a direct swap - until we all opened up our little packages at our Christmas lunch - and that was such a happy discovery for everyone.  Thanks to Lorena and Berene for coordinating it, as well as Kelly from Brisbane MQG, and of course to Samantha for the gorgeous mini! 

xoxo cat
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