Monday, May 31, 2010

Flickr Feature - Doll Quilt Swap

The sign ups for probably the biggest and one of the best, if not the best, swaps on flickr has started.

The Doll Quilt Swap is just about to start its 9th round and if you haven't heard of the Doll Quilt Swap then go and check out the amazing number of inspirational quilts that are made each round.

We caught up with Susan a.k.a Chickenfoot, the Head Mama in the Doll Quilt Swap to find out more.

How did you start quilting? What inspires you?

I started quilting about 3 years ago with the first doll quilt swap. The bug bit and I haven't surfaced yet! I draw a lot of inspiration from flickr. There are so many awesomely talented people here. I also work in a local quilt shop, so I am constantly seeing new projects and am surrounded by fabric all the time. Its a good place to be! I like clean modern quilts but also have my foot stuck in the past and adore the quilts of the 30's and 40's.

So what is the Doll Quilt Swap all about?

Its a swap for flickr users. We generally get about 170-200 swappers each round. I believe it's the best swap on flickr, but then I'm biased! It's simple, you make a quilt for your partner and you receive one in return. Easy peasy.

We also have a blog here.

How did you get involved in the swap?

I joined the group in the first round as a member. Lisa (losabia) started the group after seeing, I believe, Hillary Lang's (Wee Wonderfuls) doll quilts for a wall in her home, and thought, hey that looks cute! Then in the second round and thereafter I was either a swap mama or the head swap mama. I have been the head swap mama for the past few rounds.

Some of the quilts Susan has made for the swap.

Tell us a bit about what goes on behind the scenes of the swap.

It is quite involved at the beginning of each round. In round 9 there are 10 swap mamas including me. Kimmie, Laura, Lucinda, Anita, Susan, Lynne, Solidia, Sødeste and Tacha will all be involved in running the swap with me.

The swap mamas have a separate group for behind the scenes discussions. Each round we make the running of the swap more streamlined. We have a couple spreadsheets where we keep track of everyone (200 people is a lot!) We take sign ups and then once we have everyone I separate them into smaller groups and give them to their mamas. The mamas then match up partners based on preferences specified in their sign up. It takes about a week and a half to get all that done. Then once the swap is under way it's just a matter of checking in every so often to keep the bebes on task.

What makes a good swapper?

A good swapper in our group is one that is on flickr on a regular basis. Uploading pictures of projects, fabrics, and just life in general. They are involved in a number of groups. They check comments on their pix, and comment on others photos. Generally just being a part of the flickr community, not just popping in at the beginning and ending of the swap. Also a good swapper is someone that responds promptly to emails from their mama, but most of all, a good swapper is one that sends their quilt out on time. It should be a quilt that you would like to receive yourself, not put together at the last minute.

What for you is the best part about being in a swap?

That is a tough one. I love every part of this swap, otherwise I wouldn't put myself through this every time!!! Everyone involved with this swap is just so great. I have made some great friends, and I get to see all these gorgeous little quilts! We even have a member (Mamacjt) that makes a number of angel quilts each round, she just loves to make them and is very generous.

Some of Susan's favourite minis from the doll quilt swap

Is there anything people should be careful of when signing up for a swap?

Careful of? Hmm, really just to make sure you can commit to it. Please don't sign up for something you don't feel you can finish.

If one of our readers wants to take part in the swap what should they do?

Join the group! If they are a regular flickr member, they shouldn't have a problem. If they aren't, start now. There is always next time.

So run don't walk and go and sign up for the swap!

Quilting Bee Blocks

Are any of you involved in online quilting bees? All of us are a member of at least 1 bee. In fact most of us are members of multiple bees as we just can't get enough!! It is so much fun playing with different fabrics and being able to make such a wide variety of blocks!

If you are either in a bee or are thinking about being in a bee then you really want to check out Quilting Bee Blocks

This site is an extension from the flickr group Quilting Bee Blocks where you can check out which bees are up and running, sign up for new bees and ask people to come and join your bee.

And the flickr group is a fantastic source of inspiration. Jam packed with amazing blocks made in the countless bees held in flickr.

Click over to Quilting Bee Blocks to see which blocks were our favourite last week. Then head over to the flickr group to see which blocks make you squeal!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Pretty Little Pillows Book Review

Are you taking part in Pillow Talk Swap or inspired to whip up a pillow? You might want to check out this great new book from Lark.

Pretty Little Pillows is new in the series of pretty little books from Lark. With 29 varied pillows there is lots to fire your imagination and get your creative juices flowing.

The book starts with a chapter on basic sewing techniques and some more specific tips about making pillows, including how to make different types of pillow backs and how to make pillow forms.

The book is then divided into 3 categories.

Creative Stitching has pillows with embroidered or appliquéd details.

"Flying dreams are the sweetest. Let this little work of avian-inspired art send you soaring to slumberland with wings outstretched."

Pillow designed by Kajsa Wikman.

"Smocking, a traditional technique for gathering fabric, makes a stylish comeback with these exquisite pillows. Heavily patterned fabric adds another decorative dimension to these not-so-square designs."

Pillow design by Amanda Hanley.

Pretty piecing and cute quilting focuses on how to bring your pillow to life through patchwork and quilting designs.

"If you’re the type who just can’t decide on one fabric, you’ll enjoy this project that puts a happy dozen in the spotlight. Circular designs, spiraling surface stitches, and an easy grid pattern bring everything together."

Pillow design by Malka Dubrawsky.

"Enjoy a taste of chocolate now and then? So do we. These delectable pillows feature sweet, little truffle shapes and dark-chocolate-dipped color. Yum!"

Pillow design by Amanda Carestio.

Surprising Spins has unusual shaped pillows such as a cunning pillow box hideaway perfect for storing your sewing supplies out of sight.

Other contributors include Elizabeth Hartman, Aimee Ray, Ruth Singer, Jennifer Cooke, Yvonne Eijkenduijn and many others.

It is a book that gets you thinking outside the box when it comes to pillows. Even if some of the pillows might not be to your taste the creativity behind them will certainly spark off your own ideas.

Stay tuned to find out how you might be able to win a copy of this book for yourself. In the meantime let us know are you a pillow lover, are you taking part in the pillow swap, what type of pillows do you like to make?

Pillow Talk Swap 3 Update

The Pillow Talk Swap on flickr is in full swing and almost every day a new finished pillow pops up in the photo pool. Some fantastic pillows have been made so far.

Created with fd's Flickr Toys

1. The Pillow Talk { Swap } finished....,

Rosaechocolat has made this fabulous heart shaped pillow. Some great raw edge applique there!

2. Finished Pillow - Front PTS3,

Wonderful bright colours in this pillow by RapidChipmunks.

3. Pillow Talk Swap 3,

Just "love" this cathedral windows pillow by Burntfingers!

4. Circular logic ~ PTS3,

So many teeny tiny pieces in this pillow! Unbelievable! by Trillium Design

5. Pillow #1 - Pillow swap,

Hope Valley really pops against white! By valmiller

6. Pillow Talk Swap Pillow Done,

Look at this cute hexagon pillow! So creative by Jewel's Arm Candy

7. pillow talk swap finished!,

Fabulous pillow by our own Katy

8. original birds on a wire,

Cute scene from Nanotchka

9. verna dresden garden,

Just love Dresdens by traceyjay

10. Flying Scissors Front,

Check out that quilting by bettycrockerass

11. Pillow Talk (swap) 3,

Swirly circles by Elisa Bernarda

12. pillow swap 3-complete 3

Simple but so effective by suddenly I see

Which is your favourite?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Magazine Competition Winners

It is time to announce the winners of the Issue 1 giveaway's.

The winner of Kathryn Schmidt's - 'Rule Breaking Quilts' goes to: Michele Duffy!

Michele said: 'The types of books I would like to see reviewed are any "modern" quilting books such as this one or marsten's collaborating again. anything modern, really because so many quilters are also making clothing, dolls, pin cushions etc. However, I did notice at the last quilt guild meeting that everyone was interested in a color workshop yet no one offered to be the instructor. this leads me to believe that color is a difficult subject to wrap around so color books would be welcome as well.'

The winner of the 'Simply Sweet' fat quarter pack is: Maeve Binder

Mave said: 'I would like to use this fabric to sew quilts for some ladies in a nursing home that is a lonely place out in the country. These fabrics are so bright and cheerful, they would make such "happy" quilts for some of these ladies. Thank you for the opportunity to enter the giveaway.

BTW, the new emag is fabulous! Love the patterns, all the color, the new ideas, etc. Great job!'

and finally, the winner of Jane Brocket's - 'The Gentle Art of Quiltmaking' is: Karen Richards!

Karen said: 'I know this isn't the answer to the question you are asking just yet but i have to say that i ADORE the title of this book, The Gentle Art of Quilt-Making, it so appropriately describes my lifes passion, the passion that helps me unwind from the everyday stresses and the hustle and bustle of life and work.

Now in answer to your question, I would have to say say the 9 patch, i love the simplicity of it and yet the diversity of the arrangements when you put together a disappearing 9 patch, the quilts come together quickly and yet have a modern appeal without being too "grandma'ish"'

Congratulations ladies!

We have loads of giveaways planned for Issue 2, be sure to get your copy when it is released at the end of July for your chance to win.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Agony Aunt - Lynne

Dear FQ readers,

this is Lynne from and I need your help with a quilt that has gone wrong.

I had decided to make one quilt for each of my kids and the other quilts had gone according to plan. I had made this quilt for one of the twins:

This quilt for the other twin:

And this quilt for one of the boys:

But when I came to make quilt no. 4, it all went downhill.

We decided he wanted something a bit like this fabulous Natalia Bonner /Whitnee North quilt (

But didn't want the cream fabrics or the green fabrics or anything with flowers or dots and also wanted some plain black. And now we've ended up with this:

Which we both think is just kind of blah or even worse than blah. I don't mind ripping it up and starting again, adding some more colour, adding in different strips, cutting it up somehow and re-piecing. I just need ideas of where to go next.

He's 12 and into football (Manchester United so red could feature) and guitars and he did like the big initial on the original so that's a possibility. He's keen not to have anything on it that might vaguely be interpreted as being girly (hence no flowers and no dots...!). HELP!!!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Featured Crafter - Chawne

Our featured crafter this week is the very talented Chawne, if you are in need of some inspiration - look no further!

FQ: I cannot get over your creative output! You’re like a stitching dynamo! Have you always been this creative? Where did it all start?
Chawne: It all started as a kid. My extended family has always been involved with textiles in some way. Seamstresses are most prevalent, but my father's side had several quilters. Ever seen those Gee’s Bend quilts?

Yep. Those were the kind of quilts I first encountered in our home. My favorite was a utility quilt made of old dungarees and holey gingham shirts. The "batting" was just residual fluff gathered after the cotton pickin' was done; the quilts are filled with seeds that poke you sometimes. I managed to make my own version. Anyway, my dad told stories about his childhood job to sit under the quilt frames and catch needles during his aunts' bees. He loved the job because he got to hear the gossip of the day.

My parents were quite crafty in their own ways after work in the evenings and on weekends; my father was a musician and my mother whipped up crocheted blankets in the blink of an eye. They fostered creativity and indulged our interests whenever it was clear that we were committed. We were all deeply involved in music; in addition, my sister is a great sketch artist and my brother made money on his macrame (it was the late 1970s). We were encouraged to practice, practice, practice and value quality of construction first and foremost.

I found my own love of sewing after taking a home economics class in high school. We each made a shirt and a pair of pants and I loved learning about the architecture of garments. Thereafter I made all my own formal dresses and even tailored a suit for my mother. That all got put on the back burner during college and graduate school, but five years ago while stressing out over my tenure application I rediscovered the relaxing nature of crafting. Late at night, I’d make tons of practice blocks trying, for instance, to find strategies for reliably matching points and managing all sorts of angles in piecing. It was the perfect diversion at the perfect moment.

FQ: You quilt, crochet, knit, embroider .Is there any craft you’ve tried that you didn’t like?
Chawne: There’s no need to discriminate. Every craft has its purpose and you never know when a technique will come in handy. It’s just great to learn new things!

FQ: In your flickr profile you describe yourself as a quirky knitting, spinning, cross-stitching and quilting math chick, do you see any link between the appeal of these creative arts and that of maths, which is after all, also comprised of patterns (only of numbers)?
Chawne: Because I use crafting as a way to reduce stress from work, I don’t tend to pursue mathematical ideas in it...yet. But it is important to note the universal nature of math—it is about much more than numbers and, in fact, is about finding and studying patterns in nature. Textile designers use mathematical principles of reflections, translations, rotations, and glide reflections to create patterns and to generate the manner in which the patterns repeat across the fabric.

I must admit to analyzing fabric geometries using these principles in my decision-making. There is also a vibrant community of mathematicians who are textile artists and use the medium to illustrate abstract mathematical concepts in a tangible way. An example is the crocheted hyperbolic planes of the Institute for Figuring. I’ve made a few of those for my own teaching.

FQ: Tell us a little about your creative workspace, do you have a dedicated space? or do you use this space for other things as well?
Chawne: I am lucky to have a dedicated sewing room. It is the place where I escape and so I don’t use the room for anything else. Hand-quilting and all other crafting happens in a cozy chair in my living room.

FQ: Which sewing machine do you use?
Chawne: I have the cheapest most basic Brother model. It really isn’t durable enough for all the sewing that I do, but I am not afraid to take it apart and service it before each new project. A new machine is definitely in my future. I’d love to get a simple industrial model machine with just the basic stitches that I can continue to manage to fix on my own. Those fancy computerized machines scare me a little and aren’t really what I want or need.

FQ: Do you work from craft books (which ones), online tutorials, bought patterns etc.?
Chawne: I still enjoy stitching up practice blocks from time to time in order to learn new techniques or just to hone skills. For these, I use online tutorials and free block patterns like on">Quilter’s Cache. When it comes to making a quilt, though, I prefer to work improvisationally or to draft my own patterns creating my own designs. And really it’s only through constant practice and acquisition of new skills that I feel I have the ability to execute my designs effectively.

FQ: Who inspires you?
Chawne: I am constantly inspired and invigorated by all the great quilting that is shared online on Flickr and on blogs every day. In terms of well-known quilters, I will fail to name many whose work I have studied, but here are a few.

I find Nancy Crow’s work to be a fabulously intricate geometric romp; I love how Malka Dubrawsky uses her own bright happy hand-dyed colors in fantastically liberated ways; and I admire Anna Williams’ stunning use of small-scale scraps to form cohesive designs.

However, I think a more interesting question is “what inspires you?” especially as my patchworking ideas are now migrating over into the realm of “art” quilting. I am inspired by the work of graphic designers of the mid-20th century (mainly in advertising) and by all sorts of geometry and color-play found in contemporary photography. I have no idea how this will work out in my quilts-to-be, but it is fun to imagine the transference of imagery to other media.

FQ: What is the most favourite thing you've ever made?
Chawne: This is a bit like choosing a favorite child. I have made a few quilts and every single one has meaning to me. But if I had to choose one to share with you it would be this super scrappy improvisational quilt.
It represents to me the payoff of all my practice, the assertion of confidence in my sewing skills and fearlessness in use of color. With all those angles and twists and turns, to make this top be flat required constant vigilance with the steam iron and computations a few steps ahead of the next move. I was quite surprised and pleased to see it turn out okay.


The winner of the Fat Quarter Shop giveaway is:

Shannon said...

I think I'm in love with Fandango! I would love to get my hands on it!

The winners of the Aunty Cookie Apron pattern are:

Turning Japanese said...

The craft fair was great. I spent way too much of course but that is me through and through.

jmbmommy said...

What a great bit! Aunty Cookie always has the most memorable little people on her fabric, it is nice to hear from her. Thanks!

Chris said...

Great interviews and such awesome eye candy. I would love to win a pattern. thanks for the chance.
Chris Aiton

One Shabby Chick said...

What great interviews - love all those softies - so cute!

Mandy said...

Go Melbourne :-) Great interviews and a great giveaway.

Miriam said...

I am amazed by that selvedge dress!!!

Love all those softies!!

You can never have too many aprons!! :)

Marcia said...

Australia has great quilters and crafters. Please enter me in this giveaway. My favorites that Jodie has made in the softies are the owls and the girl dolls. I read the article in Down Under Quilts about Jodie and her selvedge dress -- and my Mom did too -- we were amazed. Thank you for the opportunity to win an apron pattern from Shannon. I love her philosophy about sewing in short time frames.

jodesmac said...

Great interviews. I love the humour that comes through. You all made me smile :)

Elena said...

Great apron! I've been dying to give one a shot!

Kelly Irene said...

Great interview! I love this quote, "Hopefully in five years I will be a better sewer, a more patient mother and someone with a better haircut." Very practical!

CONGRATULATIONS! If you could please email your postal details to:

Friday, May 21, 2010

Stitches & Craft Show and Giveaway

Earlier this month, the Stitches and Craft show landed in Melbourne, Australia. The show brings together retailers and designers, as well as craft labs for attendees to learn new craft techniques.

My favourite part of the show though would have to be the 'Incubator' section, which features independent crafters and designers from all over the country.

We are spoilt for choice in Australia when it comes to independent fabric desginers and I managed to steal one away for a quick chat - the very funny (& honest), Shannon from Aunty Cookie.

FQ: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic background?

Shannon: 'I remember it was pretty early on in primary school when I knew I was pretty OK at drawing! I used to make these quite elaborate headings for projects and even in high school it was the only thing I felt I was any good at.

I went on to study painting for two years and then completed a Bachelor of Fine Art at Victorian College of the Arts - where I majored in drawing.

But of course for those three years did very little drawing in my major works, lots of photography, wanky installations and text based stuff. Most of my stuff now has elements of text in it, similar to my artwork from years ago.

After uni I worked at a few dodgy jobs, not drawing or creating anything at all for atleast 6-8 year, mainly doing graphic design work. It was only when I had my daughter Lola (who is now 6) that I started working for myself and making again.

I never planned to be doing what I'm doing now - combining freelance work with running my own small business. I've kind of just kept plodding along - it suits my life at the moment so I guess I won't be doing much else for a while yet!'

FQ: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Shannon: 'Everything and anything. Magazines, blogs, movies, music, mates who craft - mates who can't craft, my dodgy attempts at making something, conversations I have in my head whilst schlepping the kids about.

I've got a little notebook I carry where I write down random stuff I like, stupid things I've heard. I'm not a sit in the park and stare at nature kinda girl, ideas will eventually come to me, I don't need to look for them.'

FQ: Can you describe to us your design process?
Shannon: 'Yep, it's simple. If it takes more that 20 minutes. I ditch it. I may have a basic idea or theme or shape I like, if it takes me too long and laborious to make, or draw or design I ditch it.
I'm a fast and simple drawer. I don't labour over things, I don't have time. I have small windows of time that are child free so if things are dragging out I get bored and they are binned.'
FQ: Which of your designs is your favourite and why?

Shannon: 'Most probably the LETTERHEAD design. It came together really quickly and I have been able to milk it and stretch it into so many products!!'

FQ: When you are not designing or creating for your label, what sort of things do you like to make for yourself?
Shannon: 'Badly made kids clothes. I am trying to be more patient and read things more closely, but I just always rush ahead when I'm making something for the kids, I just cut and hack and sew and hope for the best.
Following instructions or reading things properly hasnt never been a strong point, I just look at stuff and think ' oh yeah I can make that' and get started. Hence all my badly made, ill fitting kids outfits.'

FQ: Where do you see Aunty Cookie in five years?
Shannon: 'Still likely to be plugging along, whining about my lack of time and annoying kids, maybe making more - maybe stocking more ranges - maybe sleeping more. Hopefully in five years I will be a better sewer, a more patient mother and someone with a better haircut.'

You can see more of Shannon's designs here.

Other designers included, Kristen Doran, Ink & Spindle, Yardage Design and Pipi Joe. We are looking forward to featuring a few of these designers over the coming months.

The incubator also showcases some of Australia's independent crafters. It was great to put faces to names and meet some of the crafters whose work we have admired.

I was thrilled to finally 'meet' Jodie from Ric-Rac, her softie creations are awe inspiring and the selvedge dress is even better in the flesh.

FQ: When did you first start crafting and why?

Jodie: 'I can remember crafting when I was about 12 - I had a crazy idea that I could make some clothes. By the time I was at Uni (about 18 ) I did make clothes as well as loads of other things. I was the typical starving uni student so used to buy clothes from the op-shop and chop them up to make new clothes. I would like to say they were stylish and well-made but that would be a huge lie!

Of course once I had kids I went mad and made all sorts of hideous things for them to wear, with the odd tutu and super-hero cape thrown in for good measure. So I guess I started as a way of saving money and now...oh seems to have become the way I spend money!'

FQ: Your softies have real personalities, can you tell us how these little guys (and girls) come to life?

Jodie: 'Thats a hard question. Sometimes it's a complete experiment, like I might want to try paws and a whole animal develops from that and sometimes , like Ernst, a little doodle in the sketch book just becomes a complete little turtle-person with a story and a past.
Without sounding too much like a weirdo, those toys can sometimes haunt me a bit until they are made....I can't stop thinking about them and I doodle them everywhere and wake up at night with ideas that I am so sure I will forget I have to run to the kitchen to write them down.'
I find heads the hardest with softies and often make a dozen or more before I am happy - I am always amazed at just how much emotion can change with a change of shape or a bit of embroidery. Usually, once I have made a head that fits the personality I have thought up, the rest kind of follows and the story just unfolds.
I can remember making dolls for my nieces while I was at Uni and I wrote stories to go along with them , so I think the story-telling bit has always been around - Crazy isn't it? 

FQ: The selvedge frock is in one word 'inspirational', how did it come about?

Jodie: 'I have a serious obsession with text - particularly text on fabric and just half-heartedly began to collect my own selvedges because I liked the look of them. The frock came about after a series of smaller projects.
I started with a mini-quilt and got that real "heart palpitations" thing as I was making it. I then made a bag, followed by what should have been a journal cover, but I just loved how the selvedges came together that I could not stop sewing and the journal cover got longer and longer until I decided it would be a scarf. I wasn't sure that the scarf would work, but once it was finished and I put it on and saw that the "fabric" still had that drape for clothing - I was a goner ! I knew I had to make a dress and I knew it had to be 50's style full skirted shirt -dress.....
Of course I have to say the dress would never ever have happened if it weren't for the generosity of blogland - I had contributors from all the world send me their scraps to get it finished. (Even The Ginger Monkey herself.) I was really surprised by the reaction to the dress and the poor old dear now resides in a plastic bag in the cupboard, occassionally popping out to strut her stuff as requested.'

FQ: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Jodie: 'Can I whisper? *In five years I would like to have more time to make stuff* I'm not sure if that means I will no longer have a day job, or maybe my day job will be different...I just know that there is never enough time to make all the stuff I want to make.
Obviously I am going to be taller, thinnner and more beautiful by then, so yeh a bit more making time would make me very happy.
Oh I'd also like a crazy rich patron to give me lots of money so I can travel the world doing fabric research (and meeting bloggers).'

The show was a hub of inspiration and creativity and it was great to see so many different styles and crafts under the one roof.

Claire from Craft Schmaft with her stunning sock creations.

Lisa from the Red Thread with her unique softie kits and panels.

Shannon has very generously given Fat Quarterly ten of her apron patterns for us to giveaway. If you would like to get your hands on one leave a comment here.

We will draw the winners on Sunday 23rd May.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

New agony aunt feature

Today we are starting a new 'Agony aunt' type series of features and we would like YOU to be involved.

For each feature we will show you a query a fellow reader has come to us with and we would like you to help that reader out with your advice and opinion.

Our first query comes from Moira, who says

"This is my fifth ever quilt (2 finished and 3 WIPs). I finished the quilt top (picture #1) and want to quilt it using straight lines along the length of it using white cotton thread. I just can't work out what to do with the back. I'm trying not to run out and buy more fabric (currently my other half gets palpitations when the postie comes!) Colour and colour combinations is where I am least confident so I'm looking for some advice. Would it look with a plain cloth back (teal as in picture #2) with some odd patchwork squares or should I go with a patterned back? If plain cloth, will it look strange with the white quilting lines or should I use a teal bobbin thread?"

So what do you think? are you able to help Moira our with her plea?

Please let us know your thoughts!

And if you have a question or want an opinion on your WIP then send us an email to

Monday, May 17, 2010

Featured Crafter - Nettie (a quilt is nice)

Today our 'Featured Crafter' is Nettie from a quilt is nice.

Here she answers our questions about her quilts and inspirations.

How did you end up becoming a quilter and how did you learn to quilt?

I began quilting about 10 years ago, I had a coworker who quilted, and I wanted to make a quilt like hers so bad! My husband bought me a sewing machine for my birthday soon after, and I haven’t looked back since. My mother taught me to sew a little, so quilting was pretty easy to pick up. I definitely believe the more you quilt, the better you become. I don’t consider myself a perfect quilter--if perfect points are what you want, than I am not that quilter. I love the little “mess-ups” in quilts. I think they give the quilt so much character and make it look homemade.

Tell us a little bit about your creative workspace?

My creative space is not awesome, but it works for me. I have 3 small children and we are currently in a home that is just the perfect size for us...thus leaving little room for sewing. I have impeded on their “play space” and I think they like it. They like when I am close by, so while I sew they play. We have a pretty great relationship, and we have learned to work around each other. I don’t have a design wall, and probably never will. I use the ground and constantly have kids stepping and running over my designs. It drives me nuts, but the kids think it’s so fun. I am not much of a planner when it comes to quilts, I usually just throw them together, so I haven’t felt like I NEED a design wall yet. Maybe one day when I have more space. And I can’t wait to have more space, I currently kneel down to cut, yep my cutting table is actually an old coffee table.

Which sewing machine do you use?

I use a Pfaff 2027. I have had it for about 2 years and I am very happy with it. I do wish the arm was longer so I could fit more quilt under it, but so far I have no problems with it.

Who inspires you?

I am inspired by so many people. I have a sister in law who is an awesome quilter, and she definitely makes me want to be better, I am also inspired by many online friends, first Amanda Jean (crazy mom quilts) there are so many online inspirations I can’t even begin to name them all. I find inspiration all around. I love to look at children’s clothes and dishes for color inspiration. I look for patterns in everyday life and imagine it becoming a quilt.

Which is your favourite from all the quilts you’ve made?

Wow, this is really hard. I don’t know if I can pick a favorite...but currently my favorite is probably one I made for my nephew ('olives' - at the top of this post) using Denyse Schmidts Single Girl pattern. I also really like the star quilt I made, and my ultimate scraps quilt (below). I also have a quilt top (green and grey - above) that I think will be my all time favorite, if I ever get it quilted

How many quilts have you made? Who do you make quilts for? Do you store quilts at home or are they all in use?

I have probably made 75 quilts (maybe, that’s a pretty rough guess). My favorite quilts to make are for new babies, not only are they quick and easy to make, but they are always well received. Everyone loves to get a quilt. I usually make quilts for family members and friends, and some to keep. If I am to give away a quilt, I must know before I start it, or it is nearly impossible to give away. I definitely make quilts with the intention that they be used, and most of my quilts are in use at my house, or folded on a shelf with easy access if needed.

Do you work from craft books (which ones), online tutorials, bought patterns etc.?

I use all of these. One of the first quilt books I ever bought is “Sweet and Simple Baby Quilts” by Mary Hickey and I still think it is an awesome book. I also love “Denyse Schmidt Quilts” by Denyse Schmidt. I look online for tutorials all the time, and sometimes I buy patterns if I can’t figure it out on my own. More often than not, I try to figure out a pattern on my own, and I am always looking for shortcuts when making blocks.

What other creative pursuits interest you?

I love making hair things for my daughter (she has the most beautiful hair). I enjoy photography and taking pictures, but definitely need to spend more time with this hobby--I think when my kids are a little older. I also like to make pillows and decorations for my home. I especially like anything that involves fabric. I think fabric is my first love, then quilting, then everything else (when it comes to creative stuff).

Thanks to Nettie for answering all our questions, keep up with her crafting at a quilt is nice.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Windowpanes: 2 blocks, 8 ways

Thanks for all of your nice words about our Saffron Craig designer block challenge! The blocks were a lot of fun to make, and we have something special planned for them. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, I promised I would share my pattern for the windowpane blocks. I actually drew up two designs for the block, but only used the first one. The best thing about these blocks is that each one is really four designs, because you can rotate them 90 degrees at a time for a completely different look.

So the next time you've got some awesome prints to fussy cut, consider the Fat Quarterly windowpane blocks! And be sure to post them in our Flickr pool.

NOTE: all sashing strips are cut at 1.5" wide unfinished, for 1" finished sashing.

Windowpane block A:
Windowpane block B:

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Welcome Fat Quarter Shop ... and a giveaway!

The Fat Quarterly crew would like to welcome our newest sponsor, the Fat Quarter Shop! If you're a quilter that shops online for your fabric & patterns, surely you've visited the Fat Quarter Shop by now. Kimberly and her team run an amazing store that is recognized time and time again for its amazing selection, an easy-to-navigate site, super fast shipping and top-notch customer service. And don't even get us started on the shop's Coming Soon section, where we've been known to lose ourselves for hours planning projects for future issues of Fat Quarterly!

In celebration of the Fat Quarter Shop's sponsorship of Fat Quarterly, we're offering our readers the chance to win an amazing prize One lucky reader will win their choice of any jelly roll or layer cake available at the Fat Quarter Shop. We have our eyes on a few new & upcoming lines, like Poodle, Botany, Hunky Dory, Make Life, Plume, Modern Meadow, Pure and Fandango. Or, it might be tempting to get a jump start on some holiday sewing with Lumiere de Noel or 12 Days of Christmas.

What would you choose? Simply leave your answer as a comment to this post and we'll draw a random winner next Sunday, May 23rd.

Good luck, and welcome again Fat Quarter Shop!

FQ reader's designer challenge and a giveway winner

A timely reminder that readers of issue 1 have until 27th June to enter our 'Rounneries Layer cake giveaway'.

To enter, you must have purchased a copy of our first issue and will need to upload a photo of your version of a Fat Geese quilt block to the Fat Quarterly flickr group. Go check out the group also to see some of the fabulous blocks that have already been added (like the ones in our mosaic). The giveaway ends on the 27th of June.

Speaking of giveaways, the winner of the Saffron Craig 'Forest Elementals' fabric is........................number 5!!!

Katrina Hertzer!!

Congratulations Katrina!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Please could you email your contact details to

Just before we end today's post, remember to keep checking our 'Community News' tab (at the top of this page) to find out about events that may be of interest to our readers.

And please use the Community News tab to let us know of any going's on around blogland - swaps, giveaway's and anything else you think our readers should know about.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Saffron Craig - Designer block challenge

Here at FQ HQ, we set ourselves a fun challenge to see what we could each come up with by using Saffron Craig's new 'Forest Elementals' range to create a quilt block. Here are the results with a little explanation from each of us on how we went about creating our blocks.


When thinking about this challenge I wanted to keep the overall block very simple but I also wanted to feature a little bit of each print.The result is a strip pinwheel block that measures 12.5" square. This block is also a great way to use up some of those long, narrow pieces in the scrap basket.To make this block:1: Cut 2 x 7" squares from a solid.2: Piece 15 1.5" x 7" strips together, press.3: Then cut the strip piece into 2 x 7" squares.4: Construct two HST units (As per First Issue) which will give you 4 7" blocks and piece into a pinwheel.


I really love the refreshing colours of these fabrics - the purple and orange is such a change from what has been the norm lately.Although the darker fabrics have large scale designs I wanted to show that by cutting them up and using the colours rather than the designs you can still get a striking effect.

One of the great things about this collection is the range of tones from white through to dark purple and black. This is the key characteristic that makes all the blocks here work so well.For my block I used the light tonal value prints to cut 9 squares, then added in a curved corner from the darker prints on the top left and bottom right corners of each of the nine patches before stitching them all together. I've seen this done before with a triangle in each corner but I wanted to have a little fun and play with curved corners for my block.


I couldn't decide between making a traditional or a modern block. The colours in this fabric range are so bold and striking that they scream modern quilt. I love the deer and so he had to be framed! I used a strip of Heather Bailey Nicey Jane to balance the yellow/orange of the deer.But I couldn't get the idea of making a more traditional block out of my head. Rather than one large block I made 4 smaller Greek Squares and added in more of Heather Bailey's Nicey Jane and some black solid.

As some of the fabrics had a larger print i wanted a pattern that would showcase the fabrics as much as possible. The high contrast between the light and dark fabrics shouted "whirly gigs" at me.


FQ Design Challenge Block #1

FQ Design Challenge Block #2

Saffron Craig's fabric designs are, for me, the definition of inspirational! Something about them just makes me want to create something. With this particular line, I was immediately struck by the vivid colors -- I mean, those pinks and purples are vibrant! As lovely as they are, my mind immediately called for CONTRAST. So I selected a few coordinating prints in shades of green as well as the teal dots from the new "Freebird" line by Moda to try to balance them out. Another great thing about Saffron's designs are that they are PERFECT for fussy cutting. So I drew up this quick & easy windowpane design to really show off some of the illustrations. I'm happy to share the block design on a future blog post in case you're looking for a good block to show off some prints.

We would love to see what kind of block you could come up with from using Saffron's fabrics. Show us by uploading your own version to our flickr group.

Don't forget our Saffron Craig giveaway ends this Saturday.
Please see this post for details.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Designer Feature - Saffron Craig

Today, we are sitting down with Australian designer - Saffron Craig to talk about her latest range 'Forest Elementals'.

FQ: How did you come up with the idea for the latest range?

Saffron: 'Forest Elementals is my latest range, it started after a meditation. As I was meditating and a huge ancient Elk came up to me and spoke! I sketched him and built the range around that fabulous moment.' 

FQ: Where do you draw inspiration from?

Saffron: 'I get most of my inspiration from a place of stillness, but the Australian landscape has a huge influence on my designs.'

{Bags made and designed by - Mel from Selkie Smith Design}

FQ: Who are the characters in your design? Describe them a little to us.

Saffron: 'I have a lot of mythical creatures in my designs like fairies, but there’s also the birds and animals I encounter in nature, like my owls. And in my drawings my daughter comes up a lot.'

FQ: Which is your favourite print in the collection?

Saffron: 'Bird in Leaves in black, purple and magenta is my favourite. It’s deceptively simple but I find it has a real serenity to it'.

FQ: How did you decide the colourways?

Saffron: 'I work with colours that I am in love with at the time. Last year I had a thing for yellow, and still do, but this year I favour purple. I definitely like pure and vibrant colours. 

Based on that key colour I build up a palette starting with complementary colours, but this gets tweaked a lot and I go very much with my instincts. Choosing colours is a very intuitive process for me.'

FQ: How do you foresee your fabric being uesd?

Saffron: 'I can see the Forest Elementals range being made into quilts, bags, clothing, cushions, wall art, makeup bags, Manchester, magnet boards, anything really! I have even seen past designs made into jewelry. 

It’s my wish to inspire others so I get excited by what people actually do with them even if it’s to cover their folders or to make the book case look pretty.'

FQ: Can you describe to us your design process?

Saffron: 'I start with a moment of inspiration and spent hours sketching elements, redrawing and refining them. Then I create the main design of the range. When it is totally finished and I’m happy with the colour and scale I pull the strongest element out and create an accompanying design. 

From there the other designs evolve. I work with my drawings on the computer where I can play with the elements in so many ways. Sometimes I feel like the possibilities are endless and don’t know when to stop. Finally I tie the designs together with my colours.'

FQ: Tell us a little bit about yourself and your artistic background?

Saffron: 'I graduated with honors in fashion design from RMIT in Melbourne. After travelling extensively around Europe and the Middle East I ran my own fashion design label for a few years. 

I also used to paint and had a few local exhibitions before focusing on fabric design. I’m interested in all creative expressions, from books to art and music, so everything is an inspiration for me.'

FQ: What does the future hold for you?

Saffron: 'I would like for my fabrics to be sold everywhere and used widely. At the moment I am still relatively unknown and I’d really like to see it grow. I love the process and seeing the results and it’s such a buzz getting positive feedback from my customers.

Besides designing fabrics, I’ve just started a few design collaborations with clothing & bag labels and am working on an illustrated children’s book.' 

Drop us a line at and tells us what you would make with Saffron's new range, a winner will be drawn on 15th May. You will receive a 50cm cut of each print from the aquamarine colourway.

We have been working with some of Saffron's prints over the last few weeks, make sure you stop by this Wednesday and see what blocks we have created.