Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Quilt design inspiration in London Museums

One final post from our travels to the UK this summer, if you don't mind. It's so fun to find beautiful quilt and design inspiration where every you go, so I thought I'd share a few last pictures of some pretty design I came across on our travels. Above is the Museum of Natural History (literally across the street from where the Fat Quarterly Retreat was held. Such a gorgeous building and the carved detail on the gates out front was gorgeous with representations of different wildlife. I wish I'd snapped pictures of more of them.
One of my favorite things about London is the museums - in part because they're free (although a small donation is appreciated.) We visited a bunch of them while we were there. Though not specifically quilt themed displays, there was still great inspiration to be found. This is the Tate Gallery.
When I visited, there was a special exhibit of  beautiful "fabric paintings" by an artist named Andrea Buttner that reminded me of modern quilt designs. There was also a special Folk Art exhibit going on, but I didn't have the time to go through (or, sadly, the desire to pay the extra fee at the time.)
This tile floor at the Tate was another fun quilt design inspiration.
The British Museum is full of pieces from antiquity, but the modern sky light over the main hall atrium is one of my favorite features!
Strolling through the carvings from ancient Assyria (Iraq) was this beautiful carved "quilt". (Not really, but it sure looks like one!)
Here's a close up. I'm sorry it's hard to see - the lighting made it difficult to get a really good picture, but hopefully you can still see some of the gorgeous carved detail. Making a "stone quilt" sure means it's got a longer chance of survival.
The Victoria and Albert Museum in London is a museum dedicated to the "decorative arts" including textiles and clothing and interior decor, jewelry, sculpture, etc. It is huge and such a fantastic place. One of my favorite exhibits there is always the one displaying clothing over the last 600 or so years. It's fantastic! I don't know why I don't have any photos from that - maybe they weren't allowed. I can't remember.
Gorgeous tile designs from the period furniture and decor exhibits. I love getting quilt inspiration from tile patterns. Plus I'm always a sucker for blue and white together.

There was a gorgeous collection of original designs by William Morris, founder of the Arts and Crafts movement in the 19th century. He was a builder, furniture designer, artist - pretty much could do it all. I'm totally a William Morris fan and it was fun to see the detail and how much more vibrant are the original pieces.
This piece is called strawberry thief. Morris's prints also inspired some the first Liberty of London textiles. This one is still in print today!
I also snapped this picture of the tile floor at the V&S. I think I need to make a quilt like this.
More design inspiration around every corner. These massive doors were on a building along Embankment.
One highlight for me was visiting the Jane Austen museum in Chawton, in the home she lived in towards then end of her life and while her books were being published. This was my first ever time visiting Chawton.
This is an old quilt on one of the beds in the house. Red and white never goes out of style!
But the really cool part was to see the quilt that Jane Austen herself had made! I'd remembered hearing about a quilt made by Jane, but hadn't realized it was at this site! I'm sorry for the lousy picture. The lighting was not great and there was a glass wall around the bed. (Which was probably a good safety precaution against those of us who might fondle the quilt itself, or just walk off with it all together. You know how nutty those quilt-people can be!)
The fabrics and colors were beautifully preserved. I loved the dot fabric used for the sashing especially. I would love to know though, how much the colors have faded and changed over time.
Look at those hundreds of little baby triangles. I'm assuming this was English paper-pieced, but don't know. You can read more about the Jane Austen quilt here and here. As if I didn't love Jane enough - then to be reminded that she was a quilter too!

One final quilt from our journeys was at the Harry Potter Studio tour outside London. (If you're a Potter fan, it was absolutely worth the effort and the price to go. So well done.) This pic is from the set of Gryffindor tower and there is Ron Weasley's bed with this patchwork quilt of knit squares, obviously made by his mum. Loved it!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Modern Quilt-as-you-Go pattern book

I first tried quilt-as-you-go sewing as part of a Bee-swap a few years ago and REALLY liked it. Basically, it's piecing your fabrics directly onto the batting and then adding more quilting if you like. Basically quilting the quilt by blocks and then assembling the quilt blocks and adding a back. My Quilted Table Runner tutorial is a method of quilt-as-you-go piecing. The only thing I'd ever really done with q-a-y-g piecing was improv log-cabin blocks. 
So when Jera offered to send me a copy of her new book,Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern, I was intrigued to see what could fill a whole book with this method. I'm so glad she sent it - it is such a great resource! First of all, it's full of great information about supplies, techniques for quilting, piecing, batting, using fabric, etc. as well as clear instructions and multiple options for piecing the q-a-y-g blocks together, which is sometimes the trickiest part for me.
It also has 12 different quilt-as-you-go (q-a-y-g) patterns and projects to experiment and play with this method with multiple variation ideas for each project. Which means lots of inspiration.  I love this red, scrappy, improv log cabin look.
This is one I want to try - making a large-scale scrappy log cabin quilt.
The most inspiring part of the book for me was the way Jera took other quilt patterns and designs and made quilt-as-you-go options for them. I've seen lots of log cabin variations of quilt-as-you-go blocks, but was totally inspired by some new looks and options. This Emerald City quilt is going on my to-do list.
I was so inspired, in fact, I decided to start a new project my self. I'm continuing to try and push myself, not only out of my usual primary color palette, but to only pull from fabrics I have on hand. This is the colors I'm channeling for this project. Best part is that a lot of these are scraps! (Which is another great reason to love q-a-y-g = awesome way to use up not only fabric scraps, but batting scraps as well!) 
I think one of the reasons I like the quilt-as-you-go technique is that I am not a confident machine quilter. I love the look of dense, heavy quilting but I don't like the basting process and I tend to loose interest in quilting part way through a project, multiple times (like on this quilt that took almost a year to finish.) Making q-a-y-g blocks seems to hold my interest a little longer because of the piecing involved too.
Here's where I'm at so far. I'm thinking this will turn into a baby boy quilt. I'm itching to get more done.
So, if you're looking for more inspiration for quilt-as-you-go patterns, or just looking for a great resource with lots of helpful information to get started with this new technique, than I highly recommend Quilt As-You-Go Made Modern. I think it's a great buy for a really useful book!  

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Fabric + Shopping in London

I've already shared a couple of posts of fabulous fabric shopping locations in London - the Cloth House and Liberty of London. By no means am I the expert on all the great sewing shops in London, but I there were a few other shops and spots that I hit during my short stay that I thought inspiring and share-worthy.
Another great resource for Liberty of London fabrics is Shaukat in South Kensignton. (Thanks to all those who recommended it!) This was an easy walk from the Fat Quarterly retreat through a smart (posh) neighborhood in London.
The huge selection of Liberty fabrics was in the basement. The presentation is not the same as at Liberty itself, but the selection was just as good and the prices slightly less. Plus they would cut as small as a half metre (compared to Liberty which would only cut metre lengths and higher.)
The other great benefit there was they had a big stack of remnants and scraps. Liberty lawns are on the pricey side - but can go such a long way, so scraps are very useful. I had fun digging through the scrap pile with Cristina, Gunilla and Helene, who were also at the FQ Retreat, and found some gems.
I also splurged on 2 half metres of two of my all-time favorite Liberty prints. But so many good ones got left behind... Now to figure out what I'm going to do with these two.
Another favorite classic English stop was the Cath Kidston shops. I've been a total sucker for Cath's style for a while now and those shops are so full of my kind of color and inspiration.
 I love the haberdashery dept at Cath's. Lots of pretty fabrics and notions to inspire.

I did a little splurge there as well, buying a fat quarter bundle and a small piece of yardage. And maybe a new bag that I love. (Thank goodness it was Sale season in London!)
The pictures from this Cath (as well as the shop with crocheted sewing machine at the top) were taken on Marleybone High Street. Though I'd heard of it before, this was my first time visiting this part of London. And it was lovely! I little less hustle and bustle than other shopping areas of London with cute, quaint little boutique shops and restaurants.
Lots of adorable children's shops in that area. Maybe it's where the next royal baby's new wardrobe will come from. I'm kicking myself though because I missed The Button Queen and VV Rouleaux on nearby Marleybone Lane.
We passed the Orla Kiely shop near Covent Garden on our walk to the British Museum one day. My family was not in the mood to stop so I let them keep going. (This is the reason this shopping post is not super comprehensive.) I ran in just long enough to take a picture and feel inspired. It was still worth it  as Orla is one of my favorites. 
And finally, while in London you have to hit the big department stores like Harrods, Fortnum and Masons, Harvey Nichols, etc. I'm not much of a shopper for luxury goods, but they're still such a spectacle. We dragged our kids through the Harrods Food Halls. I'd forgotten just how gorgeous all the details were - even the tile ceilings and food displays were inspiring. We were tempted by the fancy chocolates and macaroons but settled for Cadburys from the corner shop near our flat for a fraction of the price. And it still felt plenty luxurious to us. :)
This list is by no means the be all and end all of sewing-inspired shopping in London, but it's a start. Feel free to add more in the comments so we can make this post a more comprehensive resource. And so I have a list of other places to be sure not to miss if (fingers crossed = when!) I get a chance to go back.

Post Edit: I didn't make it outside central London, but here is a great round-up of quilt shops in the greater London area from the London Modern Quilt Guild.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Playful Petals Quilts

Playful Petals by Corey Yoder : Fresh Lemons Quilts
I was asked a few weeks ago by Corey Yoder (who you may also know as Little Miss Shabby) if I would like to review her new book Playful Petals. I am a fan of Corey and her talent so I was excited to read Playful Petals.

This book is full not only of beautiful patterns and inspiration, but also some really great skills and information. All of the 9 quilt patterns (+9 mini quilt patterns) are created using the 'petal' motif, but there is a great variety of designs. 
I've always loved this shape in the traditional 'orange peel' quilts, but it was so fun to see Corey's unique designs and twists using this simple shape.
Corey goes into a lot of helpful information about and options for fusible applique. Her information is very detailed and useful. If you are looking for a good resource on fusible applique this book is great! Also helpful instruction on quilting basics, binding, using precuts effectively, and how to make a pillow in a variety of sizes.
Want to hear a confession? It's a crazy week around here and I originally was just planning to review the book alone. But as I read it, I was so inspired by the projects and motivated by Corey's instructions and encouragement that I suddenly had the intense desire to play with some petals of my own. I had a little mini Miss Kate charm pack and started to town cutting out pretty petals.
Here's my little mini quilt, inspired by the Corey's patterns. It was so fun and so quick! I totally see myself making more of these petal projects! I need to make more mini quilts in my life. They're such a fast, satisfying finish.
I stitched down the petals when I did the quilting to make it even faster. So many fun options!
Corey also has an adorable free mini-quilt pattern called Mini Buds she just released on her blog. Had I seen than be fore I made my own, I would have used it. Love it!

Be sure to visit Corey's blog Little Miss Shabby for links to other stops along the Playful Petals blog tour as well as a chance to win a copy of the book. You can find Playful Petals on Amazon or from your favorite local seller of find quilting books.