Friday, June 29

From my sketchbook

For some reason I always end up sketching bears and hedgehogs and other critters but not today...(although there *is* a little reluctant bear lurking there on the left side of the sketch) I'd like to think that this is a little brave girl going on an enormously exciting (and perhaps slightly scary) adventure that involves meeting talkative squirrels and lonely sailor bears. And a happy end of course! I must admit that the thing she's holding there was supposed to be a torch but it looks more like a flower bud and I possibly even like that more than the initial torch-idea! Imagine petals falling off as they go, to leave a trail so they can find their way home...

Wednesday, June 27

Winter Forest Quilt nearly done!

I'm nearly done with what I call my Winter Forest Quilt. I started this quilt sometime last autumn, tried FMQ it in the beginning of this year (or maybe the end of 2011 I don't remember) but was a bit disappointed with my FMQ skills (non existent) and left it with only 5% of the quilting done... until last week! I would show more of the quilt but the weather is not cooperating to make a nice photo. This is what the quilt top looked like before it was quilted):

I had read so many positive reviews of the Aurifil quilt threads in the past year that I had to try it as well. I kind of hoped it had magical powers so I would instantly be a fantastic Free Motion Quilter! Of course that is not quite what happened but I do like the Aurifil thread. Also I had a whole quilt to practice on and some parts (see top picture) were not as bad as others. I made a crazy loopy design and despite some puckering (and even  a bit of un picking at some point) some odd angular loops, stitches that differ significantly in length etc etc I'm not unhappy with the result.  Now I need to decide on the binding. I think either a dark shade of blue or a mid-orange maybe? Any thoughts/advice on the issue is more than welcome!

Sunday, June 24

Satin dots

Carina and I are working hard to put the finishing touches to the new issue of &Stitches. As you probably know each Issue has it's own theme and I love how the theme of Issue 3 made me explore new techniques and subjects which definitely will leave a mark on some of my future patterns! Pictured above is a tiny sneak peek of the embroidery pattern I have contributed for the upcoming issue. Any ideas what it could be?

Saturday, June 23

Winner Christmas Stitches e-book!

Thank you for all your comments on the Christmas Stitches e-book giveaway! I was a little surprised that many of you are indeed already stitching things for Christmas. :) Anyway without further ado: the winner of the e-book is:

Congratulations to Sunflowerskies! Please drop me a line at followthewhitebunny [at] e-tropolis [dot] nl   within the next 5 days!  I have an extra prize (10$ voucher for my shop) for the first person who commented, because let's be honest, many people assume they won't win if they are the first to comment. So congratulations to Paula! Paula, send me a mail and tell me which patterns you fancy and I will send the patterns of your choice to you.

Don't forget that the special discount of 15% (use code CHRISTMASBUNNY) on Carina's Christmas Stitches e-book is still valid till tomorrow!

Tuesday, June 19

Christmas Stitches Giveaway!

It's not too early to think about stitching things for Christmas is it? At least not if you are as slow as I am in finishing projects! My stitchy pal Carina of Polka and Bloom is way better prepared than I am for these events and has put together a lovely e-book full of Christmas projects called Christmas Stitches.

There are tutorials for making fabric Christmas trees (small ones!), a mini sewing tin, a Christmas stocking and much more. Most of the projects involve a little bit of sewing but it's all very beginner friendly.  

The second half of the e-book is dedicated to embroidery tools and techniques (needles, transferring etc) and some lovely illustrated 'how to's' for embroidery stitches as well.  Here you will also find all the patterns you need to whip up those fabulous Christmas projects.

This week I"m giving away one copy (PDF) of Christmas Stitches! Be sure to leave a comment before this Saturday, the 23rd of June and let me know what's in your hoop right now! (I'm just curious that's all) Be sure to leave some kind of trail so I can trace you if you are the lucky winner.  Comments are closed now! Winner will be announced shortly.

Carina also has a great offer just for readers of this blog. If you use the code CHRISTMASBUNNY when you purchase Christmas Stitches, you get 15% off the regular price of $18.50. The offer ends this Sunday so hurry!

p.s. we have a fun giveaway over at the &Stitches blog of the 'New Crewel' book at the moment, do check that out as well!

Wednesday, June 13

Crazy for hexies

After my workshop two weeks ago I was nearly an English Paper Piecing convert. However the project that I was working on became a little bit frustrating. There was lots of unpicking, one sad looking paper pieced diamond and too much visible thread in the seams. My basting wasn't all that great either. I knew I had a small stack of paper hexagon templates in my craft stash and decided to give them a go before giving up on English Paper Piecing all together. I'm happy to say that it was the right decision! I love sewing these hexagons together and they don't look bad at all.

I don't have a plan for these yet, they are quite small (1.25 inch p/side) so I will need to sew lots of these together to make a quilt. If you love hexies too, be sure  to check out Katy's Hexy MF sew along. (named after a Prince song apparently. Katy has her own special way of giving beautiful quilts odd names) If you haven't done any English Paper Piecing yet and you're interested in learning, have a look at this tutorial (this is just one, google and you'll find many more). It describes pretty much how I make mine except that my stitches are a lot tinier. Not sure if doing many tiny stitches has an advantage but it's just the way I make them. :)

Monday, June 11

Exploring Satin Floss

photo courtesy of DMC

Earlier this year the nice people over at DMC Creative sent me a lot of their fine goodies to use in my embroidery design work. Not just the 'regular' Mouline six stranded embroidery floss but also Satin Floss. It sat in my stash for a bit, as I was a little apprehensive about using it. But...I used it recently for a new pattern (for the next &Stitches e-zine!) and I thought I'd share my first experience with Satin Floss with you all.

DMC Satin floss is actually the (improved) replacement of what used to be DMC Rayon floss. Like 'regular' floss it has six strands and they tend to separate really easy. Actually it's kind of hard to prevent them from separating once you have cut a length from the skein.

There is a range of different colours available (36 in total) and the numbers on the Satin floss correspond with that of the Mouline floss (see photo above). The thread is super soft and silky and above all very, very shiny.

I used a simple flower design to try out different ways of using Satin floss.

1. Satin stitch with a single strand of Satin floss (DMC S899) Soft, shiny and smooth result.
2. Satin stitch using two strands of Mouline six stranded floss (DMC 899) and one strand of Satin floss (S899) I was amazed that a single strand still made the petal look super shiny.
3. Satin stitch with a single strand 'regular' Mouline six stranded floss (DMC 899)
4. Satin stitch with a single strand of Satin floss (DMC S818) A really smooth and shiny result
5. Shading with one strand of Mouline six stranded floss (DMC 818, 899 and B5200) Not my best shading, but in my defense: it actually looks better in real life than on this photo!
6. Shading with one strand of Satin Floss (DMC S818, S899 and S5200) Again the actual embroidery looks better, honestly. :)

Satin stitches are the way to go if you are using Satin Floss. The longer stitches really catch the light beautifully. I can imagine it would look especially great when you embroider flower designs on clothing or household textiles for example. Admittingly, working with Satin floss is a little trickier compared to using Mouline floss but definitely not 'too hard' for a stitcher with a little experience. The stitches do not lie as flat on the fabric compared to 'regular' thread. On the other hand this also gives a nice padded effect.        Personally I prefer to use just one strand of this thread as it easier to 'control' and gives you a more refined result.

The Satin stitch (there are tutorials all over the internet) is not a difficult stitch to learn but it takes some practice to get a neat result. I find that it helps to start in the middle of whatever you are fill stitching and work your way first to the right (or left) and visa versa.  And maybe in a while you will be able to stitch something like this:

photo courtesy of DMC

Hope my exploration of Satin Floss was useful to you, please let me know if you have any questions! (I will then answer them in the comments)

Tuesday, June 5

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 (Part 2)

(This is my second post about the Retreat find my first post here)

It wasn't just hugs and a name sticker I received at the beginning of the retreat, there was an awesome goodie bag as well. It included some fab Robert Kaufman London themed fabrics, a Moda Petit Fours and various other sewing related goodies too (hello Aurifil Thread!). Also in the photo above some of the fabrics Carina gave me (she designed them herself, available at Spoonflower) and fabric I bought at the Tikki Patchwork shop on Friday. Sue Bone gave me the adorable pincushion. I won an American Jane Charm pack at the Raffle and (see yesterday's post) I also received a stack of Moda Petit Fours.

Ok..back to the Retreat. In order to 'break the ice' we did a kind of name bingo game. This involved a lot of staring at unfamiliar bosoms as most women were wearing their tag at that height. ;) After that it was time to get stitching!

Except for the fabrics and supplies I was told to bring to the Retreat (which varied depending on the classes you signed up for) I wasn't prepared at all for my classes. I had a vague idea that I would probably be ok with the Wonky Log Cabin Block class and the Purse class but I was a bit unsure about the Paper Piecing Classes. As it turned out I loved all the classes I did.

Believe it or not, this took about 3 hours to make. Obviously it's not finished yet!
Tacha (she was so lovely, I could have chatted with her for hours) taught me English Paper Piecing and I think I'm a convert now. It's a slow and precise process and perfect to take with you while you're on the go. I even did some on the Tube and plane home! It's kind of therapeutic too and I think it's something that some of you embroiderers will really enjoy. Tacha has a book out soon called Hexa-go-go you can find it for pre-order here.

My next class was with John and was all about making a Wonky Log Cabin Block. John is a wonderful friendly guy and it was great to have finally met him in person. I was too shy to have a 'fan picture' taken of the both of us though, maybe next time ;) During the class I also got to have a peek in his Pretty in Patchwork Holidays book (I think it's out in August) which was especially nice because I have two projects in the book as well.

I was a bit worried about using a sewing machine other than my own (I couldn't bring my own obviously) but I needn't have worried. The Pffaf Ambition 1.5 machines that were available to use at the Retreat were super easy to use and sewed like a dream.

My Wonky Log Cabin Block came together quite nicely. I mixed some new fabrics (Kate Spain's Good Fortune) with some older fabrics from my stash (Heather Ross Mendocino and Tula Pink Parisville) John talked us through the process which is really 'design as you go along' and involves very little measuring (yay!) and as much wonkiness as you like. One thing I know for sure now is that I need a 12.5' square ruler which makes squaring up the blocks a breeze.

Between classes I also got to a have a short chat with the very lovely Aneela Hoey. She was there to teach embroidery and I was glad to see that so many ladies attended her class. In the evening I went out for (fancy) burger and a well deserved (?) glass of wine with some lovely ladies from the retreat. Back at the venue we had a pub quiz but I think my team ended up in last place!

Me with my 1/4 Union Jack looking dreadful, Saint Lynne looking like Beyonce is standing behind me
After a night full of weird dreams about quilts and pub quizzes I arrived at the Baden-Powell house quite early, for my first class of the day, Paper Piecing with Lynne, started at 9. Lynne is a saint, she was so patient with me. I was totally confused about the whole process and kept on stalking her in class for about 2 and a half hours. Before the Retreat I thought I would be going home with a Union Jack pillow.  After three hours I only had a quarter of a Union Jack Pillow but learned lots.

Half finished purse with glue still stuck to the frame
My last class of the day was making a Purse with a frame with Katy. Somehow Katy and I didn't get to chat at all during those two days but I knew she was a wonderful person already and got to stare at her for a bit (she is really pretty) so all was well. Due to rescheduling me and two other Dutch peeps I was hanging out with (Linda and Muriel) missed about half of the class. I also knew I needed to get to the airport soon after so it was probably my least relaxed workshop of the retreat.  But...I'm now totally convinced I can make these purses at home too. With a lot of help I managed to leave the Retreat with a nearly finished purse.

In the pouring rain me and my suitcase made it to the Tube station and I arrived on the airport well in time before my flight was scheduled. While I was waiting at the airport I read (saw) on Instagram that the team that I was part of in the Iron Man challenge had won with this quilt top! Woot!

I had a FANTASTIC weekend in London and loved every bit of it. I was a little nervous before the retreat about meeting all the people and traveling alone but it all went so well. I find it amazing that a large group of people with so many different personalities, different ages, different levels of sewing skills etc etc got along so brilliantly. We all shared our tools/machines and knowledge and clearly everyone was so happy to be there. So a big THANK YOU to the Fat Quarterly team and their helpers! It's impossible to mention all the people I met, chatted to, shared lunches and dinners and cutting mats with but you know who you are: thanks to all of you too and hopefully see you all again next year!

Monday, June 4

Fat Quarterly Retreat 2012 (part 1)

Friday morning, very very early I traveled to London to attend the Fat Quarterly Retreat. My journey (car, plane, tube, walk) went exactly as planned and I arrived (somewhat tired) at my hotel at 9 in the morning! My room was actually a cupboard in the attic which they cleared especially for my arrival (just kidding, it was a single bed room in the Edwardian Radisson in Kensington) but I was quite happy with it. It was clean, quiet, had a good bed and an interesting view on a mew. Mew is also my new favourite English word. :)

I spent much of the afternoon with Carina and it was lovely to finally meet my &Stitches colleague in 'real life'. I found out she has the tiniest hands and apparently (according to Carina) I have a heavy Dutch accent when I speak English, haha. Carina gave me some lovely gifts (fabric, chocolate and ribbon) as well. I brought her some Dutch Stroopwafels. I treated myself to the cute Jubilee Cookie Tin you see pictured above.

Mid afternoon we thought we'd squeeze in a visit to the Museum of Natural History (that's me in front of it) but I was actually too tired by then to really enjoy it. So I must come back and visit it again properly because it is a beautiful museum.

In the evening there was a planned visit with some other Retreaters (is that a word?) to the very lovely Tikki Patchwork shop in Kew Gardens. Obviously I had to buy some fabric and I went for some 'classic' Kaffe Fasset fabrics (some grey Roman glass and Millesfleur) and a cute fat quarter of unknown origin. (photo in tomorrow's post)

I was up early on Saturday morning and after a not so wonderful breakfast in the hotel (slightly sad I missed out on a tasty full English Breakfast) it was time to go the Baden-Powell house (if I remember the name correctly). I was more than a little nervous about meeting some of the peeps there but as soon as I entered the building I was recognised (apparently my blog picture looks a lot like me) and warmly welcomed at the desk by the Fat Quarterly Team (which included hugs from John aka Quiltdad and Lynne from Lily's Quilts) so all was ok.  I even received a stack of mini-charmpacks (petit fours) because it turned out I was the very first person to buy a Retreat ticket! Fear of missing out on an awesome event/impulsive buyer, moi? ;)

More tomorrow about the classes, stuff I made (and didn't finish) and the fabulous people I met!