Thursday 14 August 2014

Instagram Mini Quilt Swap! #IGminiswap

Hello everyone!

It's been an age since I've blogged but life always gets in the way and media moves on.  I'm far more active on Instagram than I am here or on Flickr these days. You can find me there (and on Twitter) as @curly_boy1

And that's why I'm here today!  I'm setting up a mini quilt swap via Instagram, but I still needed someplace to have all of the basic info in one place.  So, here it goes:

First off, this will be the first swap I've ever set up.  I've been involved with them but only as a swapper.  Because of this I ask you all to be gentle, I'm sure there will be hiccups along the way.  I want this to be an International swap so you must be prepared to stump up the postage cost.  You may not need to depending on how the praticipants pair up but you should certainly be willing to.  I really have no idea what the interest in this swap is likely to be.  For that reason I'm initially limiting it to 100 people (well, 99 including me).  If there is substantially more interested then I may try and recruit some help in order to accommodate everyone, or I'll just run with the hundred.  Mostly I want this swap to be fun for everyone!  One path to this is to not get burdened down with rules so I have only 10:

The Rules-
  1. You must be on Instagram.  The tag for the swap is #IGminiswap
  2. You MUST fill out the registration form on Google Docs to enter.
  3. Quilts must be no larger than 24” in any dimension, and no smaller than 18” in any dimension.  Quilts must be quilted, bound, and labelled.
  4. Please use nice quality, modern, 100% cotton fabrics to the tastes of your partner.
  5. This is a blind 3-way swap.  Your partner will know who you are and make for you but you won’t know who they are until it arrives.  You will make for someone else.
  6. You will be supplied with enough info to stalk your partner and find out what they like.
  7. Deadline for joining is the 1st of September or 100 people, whichever comes first.
  8. Mailing deadline will be the 1st of December for International and the 8th for Local.  Let’s get the quilts home in time for Christmas!
  9. PLEASE do not sign up if you are going to blob!!  I will hunt you down.  If you DO sign up and unforeseen circumstances happen, please get in touch with me sooner rather than later.
  10. HAVE FUN! 
That's it, 10 easy rules for a fun swap.  

Hope you join up, I'm looking forward to swapping with you!

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The swap is filling up fast with 40 slots of 100 filled in just two hours!  Thanks so much everyone.  As soon as 100 is reached I'll start matching partners so every one will get a few extra weeks of stalking, planning, and sewing time! 

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The swap has filled so fast, 100 in just 3 hours, I've called in some help and am raising the limit to 200!  Thanks all of you for showing such interest! 

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Holy cow!  Due to so many more people wanting to sign up past 200 I've enlisted the help of a bunch of other folks to help so I have now reopened the swap to sign ups!

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Sign ups are now closing at 3pm UK time on Thursday the 21st.  Spread the word!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Steel Magnolias

Yes, yes.  I know.  It's been an age since I've blogged.  It's simply because I haven't made anything so I've had nothing to say

So, since I am writing a new post that must means I have finally made something!  Yea!  It has nothing to do with quilts and fabric though.

A few weeks ago was my 11th wedding anniversary to the lovely and wonderful Brioni, aka Flossyblossy.  It's been a truly amazing time and the best years of my life. 


 To be honest though, I had been getting a bit slack in the husbandy department and had been blowing off recent anniversaries.  This year I decided to make an effort.  First was a dinner out at an amazing Thai restaurant.  I picked Thai since we spent out honeymoon and 1st and 3rd anniversary in Thailand.  The problem was I had no idea what to buy her.  The traditional gift for the 11th is steel.  Steel?  Seriously?  All I found online were naff stainless steel photo frames and things.  Totally NOT what I was looking for.  I did see some nice flower vases and that gave me an idea... Steel Flowers!

The idea formed quickly in my head.  The first thing I needed was old fashioned tap handles.  I couldn't find any in the UK so had to source them from the States.  After an age this is what I got:

I bought 12 of them.  The top and bottom both looked very cool but I preferred the bottom shown in the left picture.  Next I needed to source the leaves and stems. 

It turns out I had this amazing 2mm copper sheet from years back.  It is mirror polished on one side and had a cool patina on the other.  This was perfect for the leaves since over time they should turn greenish like copper always does.

I took the sheet down to my cellar workspace.  It's quite a tip as you can see.

I bought 8mm steel rods from B&Q and cut them down to size with a hack saw.  I didn't want them completely uniform so they were random lengths between 460mm and 490mm.  

I also started cutting the copper with tin snips.  These were also fairly random with some having three "leaves" and some four.

 Next I had to drill and tap the ends of the stems.  When drilling steel it is best to start with a small pilot hole and then go bigger.  I started with a 1mm bit and moved to a 3.5mm bit for a 4mm threaded hole.  A tap (which I forgot to take a picture of) is like a drill bit but it has cutting threads which carve the grooves to accept a screw inside of a hole.

While this was going on I was painting the tap heads, washers, and screws.

The final coat was done outside in the sun to give the paint a bit of a bake.

By this time the project was about 6 weeks old.  It took nearly three to source everything and three more to get to this point.  I took advantage of Brioni being away at the Fat Quarterly sewing retreat to finally finish off the assembly.

I still hadn't decided which way up I wanted the tap handle so I tried one of each.

Much to my surprise the washer fit perfectly in the center of the tap when it was right way up.  I hadn't intended to do them this way but looking at it I absolutely had to.  Let the assembly begin!

 After they were all assembled they went into this lovely wood vase I bought. 

I'm happy to report the Brioni absolutely loved them!

Tuesday 2 April 2013

Small Blog Meet

Hi all!

This is just a quick post so I can link up with the Small Blog Meet over at Lily's Quilts. It's open to folks with blogs that have less than 50 followers and it's a great way to get your name out there.  

My last blog post was about giving away free templates to my prize winning mini quilt.

My next post will be about what I'm working on now for the fall Birmingham Festival of Quilts.

Come back soon to read all about it!

Saturday 30 March 2013

Insane Geese Posse Templates!

I have been asked by several people now if they could have the templates for my Insane Geese Posse mini quilt.  I have finally decided to say "Yes!" to that and make them available for free on my blog.

If you click on the link here you should be able to download the PDF.  

This is NOT a pattern!  I have provided no instructions, fabric calculations or anything.  It is just the templates needed to make the quilt.  You should have a basic knowledge of quilting and Foundation Paper Piecing.

If you make this quilt all I ask is that you give me credit and that you post pictures to the Flickr group here.

Thanks for visiting and happy quilting!

Friday 29 March 2013

Doll Quilt Swap Received!

As promised, this post is about the fab little quilt I received from the Doll Quilt Swap.  It was made by Teri Emerson, she goes by the name Craktpot on Flickr,  and you can see her stuff here and here.  I watched this quilt being made from start to finish in the group photos and it was one of only three or four that I really wanted.  I was so happy it came to me I shouted "I win!" when I opened the package!

Now how cool it THAT???  She got my love of bright colours and curved flying geese spot on!  I'm really impressed with the amount of planning and thought that went into it.  You can see some of the in progress pictures in her photostream here.  She even pieced the back!

Teri also sent along some fab goodies. 

Fabric is always good, biscuits are better, but the bag and little yo-yo's blew me away!  The bag is huge and has loads of pouches and zippered compartments inside.  She said she made it to rest out a pattern and I think it came out perfectly.  I'm not really a "man-bag" sort of guy but this will be perfect for when we go on holiday to Cyprus in a few weeks.  Thanks sooooooooo much Teri!  

Here's a close up of the yo-yo's...

She said they are made by a local disabled lady who sells them for some extra money since she can't work.  Apparently she was very excited about them going abroad to England.  Bless!

One last close up of quilty goodness?  Yes, please!

Monday 25 March 2013

Doll Quilt Swap

More catch up today!  My first swap of the year (and third one I've ever done) was the Doll Quilt Swap on Flickr.  Size limit on this was 20" square and I went for 16" square.  I knew my partner liked New York Beauty blocks and Denise Schmidt fabrics.  Brioni was kind enough to let me use her Fairview Chicopee with some others by Denise thrown in to give me some variety.  

Next I needed to find a pattern.  I trawled the 'net and there are tons of free patterns out there.  The problem is that I didn't like any of them!  Mostly I think they were just not complicated enough.  I like to make my life difficult.  My solution was to draw my own.  I started the old fashioned way...

I came up with something I liked and scanned it in to clean it up and do a few test renders.  I was also checking my Flickr stats.

After that it was cuttin' and stickin'!

I finally got to this point:

Next was quilting and binding, my favourite!  (not)

Here is the label I printed using my home laser printer.  I plan on getting some made by Spoonflower, but until then I use this tutorial.

Here is the finished mini quilt!

This quilt is not perfect.  It was a bit outside of my skill zone and it shows.  The curved piecing was a proper pain.  Some of the curves I had to unpick three times which left a few holes in the fabric.   The points don't line up as well as I'd like because I have an aversion to pins.  I learned a lot on this project though!  I like uber complicated things to challenge myself.  This is one design I'll never make again...

The last thing to do was package it up to post.

The end of this swap left me a bit disappointed.  The quilt I received was lovely and will be the subject of my next post.  That wasn't the problem.  

The first gripe is with the postal systems of the UK, the US, and Canada.  Both have recently raised their prices but service is appalling.  I had my pillow from the last swap take nearly 8 weeks to come from Canada and this quilt took almost 6 to get to it's home in the US.  This is shocking.  Post travels by air so there is no excuse for this at all.  With the rise in prices this could spell the end for international swapping which would be a shame.  

My second gripe is in some ways more serious.  The recipient of this quilt has had it for a week and a half before she contacted me.  What is worse is that she is a swap mama.  This sort of behaviour is reeeeally bad.  I'm a bit livid actually.  I had to find out she had it from the updated discussion boards. My swap mama forgot to tell me it was received as well.  I think the only reason she finally emailed me is because I asked my swap mama to have it shipped back to me if I hadn't heard anything in another week. How long would I have had to wait if I didn't say anything?  Who knows.  All in all not the best swap I've been in by a long shot.  The thing that made it worth while it the fantastic quilt I got in the post!  You can see that in my next post.

Friday 22 March 2013

Pillow Talk Swap

I've decided to catch up with everything I've been doing so I can get lazy with my posts again.  At the end of last year I took part in the Pillow Talk Swap on Flickr.  I knew this was a great way to start getting noticed.  Brioni got tons of attention when she swapped here and it in part led to her being a founder of Fat Quarterly.

I knew my partner liked bright rainbow colours and she was from Texas.  I decided on the Lone Starburst block by Six White Horses because I loved it and wanted to make one, and also because Texas in known as the "Lone Star State".

The block is 12" square and I wanted my pillow to be 16" square so I stupidly shrunk the pattern down to 75%.  I say stupidly because it was pretty tricky to make this small.  I think the end result was pretty spectacular though!

I really love how this turned out.  My points could have been a bit better but I learned a lot and they will be next time.  Quilting was a bit interesting.  I didn't know there was a guide for the sewing machine, so I made my own.

Quilting isn't what I like about sewing so I think I made a bit of a hash of it.  It was fairly wonky.  Everyone seems to think it's fine though.  The picture below has been making the rounds on Pinterest and it gets tons of hits daily.

Here are some pictures of the finished pillow!

Here is the lovely pillow I got from Liz!  I think it's perfect because while I love the minimal and simple design it is so not something I'd ever make.  Thanks tons Liz!