Through the Garden Gate Blog Hop begins - enter to win the signed raffle quilt

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Welcome to the 2017 Fall mystery blog hop! I am so excited to be starting this blog hop off and to tell you about this project.

For those of you here for the first time, my name is Sheila Christensen and I am a quilt addict - so much so that I bought the shop! I have been the owner of Quilters' Lane in Masterton, New Zealand, since 2011. In 2012 I designed my first Mystery Quilt.

How does the Mystery work?

  • We offer a choice of colourways and sizes.
  • Each month for ten months you receive a pack of perfectly cut shapes and instructions for sewing them together.
  • You can follow the clues as people post them on facebook in our friendly group.
  • In the tenth pack you get instructions for putting the quilt top together.
  • Mysteries start in February (New Zealand and USA) and July (USA only).

I love seeing all of the different mystery colourways coming together, and our facebook group is a great way for Mystery Quilters to interact and share the buzz! Anyone can join the group and it is a great way to see what the mystery is all about.

You can see photos of my previous Mystery Quilts by clicking on the Mystery Quilt category on the right. This is one of the 2016 quilts.

Stone and Moss Lisa

The Mystery has become so popular here in New Zealand that last year I contacted Kim Moos, President of Cotton Cuts to see if she would be interested in offering the same program in the USA.

We met up in Houston at Quilt Market and hatched the plans, and now Cotton Cuts are offering not just one but two Mysteries each year.

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Here with are with Jennifer Sampou, designer of the 'Snowdrop' colourway fabrics.

Kim is working with Valley Industries to produce the packs for my second Mystery quilt of 2017, which I have called Through the Garden Gate.

Valley Industries is a sheltered workshop in Hazelwood, Missouri, whose mission is to  provide dignified, meaningful employment for adults with developmental disabilities, while providing outstanding quality and service to their valued customers.

 

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Here is Lemarr working on cutting fat quarters for Cotton Cuts monthly subscription boxes.

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Jackie is folding fabrics to go in the boxes.

Cutting and packing all this fabric is a huge job, and I was so happy when Kim told me she was planning a Blog Hop to support this great organisation.

During this Blog Hop, we will be making up one of the Mystery Quilts, and the quilt will be raffled to raise funds for Valley Industries.

You can have a chance to win the quilt by entering the raffle Each of the bloggers will sign their blocks, so this really will be a one of a kind quilt!

Enter the raffle

Each blogger will make up one of the clues and send it to Kim who will complete the quilt. Here is the list of blogs where you will be able to follow the quilt being made:

 
August - Yvonne Fuchs (www.quiltingjetgirl.com
 
September - Teri Lucas (www.terificreations.com)
 
October - Wendy Welsh (www.wendysquiltsandmore.blogspot.com)
 
November - Nicole Young (www.lillyella.com)
 
December - Chris Dodsley (www.madebychrissied.blogspot.com)
 
January - Amy Smart (www.diaryofaquilter.com)
 
February - Sam Hunter (www.huntersdesignstudio.com)
 
March - Cheryl Sleboda (www.muppin.com)
 

Each Mystery Quilt I design comes in a range of colourways. The colours for 'Through the Garden Gate' are named after flowers - Violet, Rose, Geranium, Foxglove, Aster, Zinnia, Hydrangea and Snowdrop.These are four of the colourways still available - Aster, Snowdrop, Geranium and  Zinnia.

Snowdrop

Geranium

     Zinnia

 

 

 

#TeamZinnia (2)This is all the information you get at the beginning to see what you are in for (apart from the size)!

For the raffle quilt we decided to join #Team Aster. We are using Carolyn Friedlander's beautiful 'Friedlander' range from Robert Kaufman.

So, here is the first clue. In the pack is a colour chart, a set of instructions and all the pieces perfectly cut and ready to sew.

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Kim has made up this first clue and she sent me these photos. I love these fabrics and it's going to be so much fun to see all the clues as they are assembled by our bloggers.
 
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If you would like to take part in this Mystery, some of the colourways are still available from www.cottoncuts.com 
 
Do head on over to enter the raffle and read about the great work that Kim is supporting at Valley Industries.
 
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If you cannot take part in this one, don't despair as there will be another Mystery starting at the beginning of 2018.
 
A big thank you to all of our bloggers who have agreed to help us with this Blog Hop and Raffle Quilt. Don't forget to visit www.quiltingjetgirl.com  next month for the next installment!
 

Starting to Quilt my Circle of Stars Runner

Last week I made a new table runner, Circle of Stars

 

Circle of Stars

I used traditional Christmas fabrics, but I can't wait to see what other colours people will pick for their own runners.

I am busy working on the pattern and will release it soon, as well as teaching the class on August 18th. For now I am getting started on quilting my sample, so I thought I would share the process with you.

I am using fusible cotton batting from Hobbs. This batting is perfect for smaller projects as you can iron it in place, eliminating the need to spend ages pinning.

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Use plenty of heat and maybe some steam to make sure it stays in place. I also put a few pins just around the outside. The fusible is not permanent, so if you get any wrinkles you can pull it apart and iron it down flat again.

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I put all the layers together and then gave it a good iron - being careful not to twist.

The next step was to choose a thread. I love variegated thread so I picked this cotton one from Gutermann that highlights the gold tones in the fabrics. When picking thread, pull a little out and lay it down to see what it will look like. This is something we always do when helping customers in the shop.

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For the back, I am using my favourite Aurifil thread. I usually recommend the same type of thread top and bottom and these two are both cotton - mixing cotton and polyester often ends in tears!

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Next I set up my machine with a 3.5mm stitch length and the walking foot. A walking foot helps feed all the layers through at once and avoids creating wrinkles and pleats.

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Notice I have set the needle position at 0. That's because I am going to use the seams as a guide and with this machine I can run the edge of the foot along the seams to keep my lines straight.

Before starting, I test my setup on a scrap piece of fabric at the edge of the project.

IMG_6545Looking good, so let's get ready.

I am marking the runner with two different markers - a Sewline  ceramic marker for the dark fabrics and a Frixion iron-off pen for the light ones.

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I decided to quilt 1/4" away from the seams of the star shapes. Afterwards I will decide where to fill in the spaces and what pattern to use.

To get started, I position the needle where I want to begin and draw up the bobbin thread by holding the top thread and turning the manual wheel of the machine.

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This will stop the bottom thread forming a nest on the back of the work. I will tie these ends in after I have finished.

Now it's time to follow the lines, not too fast, and making sure to keep the weight of the work on the table, not my lap. When I get to an outside star point, I am using the lock button to do a few stitches in one place, this helps keep my points nice and sharp.

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More when I get this one completed ....

 

If you would like to make this runner, I will be releasing the pattern soon so look out for an announcement..

 

Sheila


Charity Quilt Blog Hop

The quilting world is full of people with great ideas, and I love the way quilters work together to make them happen.

As you may know, I am working with Kim at Cotton Cuts to offer my Mystery Quilt designs in the USA. Kim is  running two of these Mysteries this year, with the next one starting in August. Kim has such great ideas and she has decided to make one of the quilts up and auction it off for charity, raising funds for the sheltered workshop where all the cutting for the US quilts is done.

Each of the clues will be made by different bloggers, and Kim is going to finish the quilt.

This is the colourway that Kim has chosen, featuring Carolyn Friedlander's fabrics:

Aster

This colourway is called Aster, and Kim has given each of the colourways a team name - so the bloggers will become part of #teamaster .

One of the bloggers making clues is Yvonne @quiltingjetgirl. There is a lovely article on her blog today about her taking part in this charity quilt. Go to www.quiltingjetgirl.com to read more, and do follow along with the blog hop.

 


Fussy Cutting Hexagons with 2 cuts!

This week I have been fussy cutting hexagons for the new triangle blocks I designed. I wanted to share with you the really easy technique I came up with. I'm sure this must have been done before but I haven't seen it around.

For the new blocks I released last week I have decided to use Tula Pink fabrics. There are so many wonderful motifs just perfect for fussy cutting and I wanted to explore this for the triangle based pieces in my quilt.

Here's the hexagon I cut out with just two cuts:

Hexagon

Isn't it cute?

So here is how I did it:

Step 1:

My hexagon needs to have a finished height in the quilt of 4". I cut a 4 1/2" strip, fitting in the pattern I wanted:

Cut strip

Step 2:

Fold the strip of fabric in half - note, the fold is at the bottom of the photo.

Fold in half

Step 3:

Place your 60 degree ruler on top of the strip. Line up the centre line of the ruler with the centre of the pattern you want to fussy cut.

If you have a ruler with a tip like the C&T ruler here, put the 4 1/2" line on the fold.

Put on ct ruler

If you are using a Creative Grids ruler which has a cut-off tip, place the 4 1/4" line on the fold:

Put on cg ruler

Step 4:

Cut on both sides

Cut both sides

Open out, and voila!

I measure my hexagons from flat edge to flat edge, so this one is 4 1/2" from top to bottom.

Done

 

I used my hexagons in this block I called 'Balance'. Its one of the new add-on blocks available for my Modern Triangle Sampler pattern.

Balance block

You can get the pattern for this and all the other blocks in the Modern Triangle Sampler in my Craftsy store. All the blocks are cut with a triangle ruler and the piecing is easy by machine (no y-seams!)

Sheila

 


A Block Party and Bluebell Woods

This month I have been visiting family in England, and while I am here I have been teaching my Triangle Block Party class.

My walk this time doesn't include a quilt, but look at these beautiful native bluebells that adorn many English woods at this time of year

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When I was a child, we would gather armfuls of bluebells to enjoy, but these days it's not allowed, and really so much better to see them in swathes in their natural setting. My sister, great niece and I loved our adventure in the woods, and the added bonus was a beautifully built wooden playground.

After a bit of catch-up time, I was off on the train to Huddersfield. Nestled in the Peak district in the North of England, Huddersfield was at the heart of the wool trade in the nineteenth century, and many mills have now been converted for new purposes. Four trains from Bedford, I arrived in the village of Slaithwaite (pronounced 'Slawett'), and met Justine and Lisa, who run Simply Solids. It's a great shop stocking a fabulous range of modern fabrics, with a popular online following as well as the local clientele who keep them very busy.

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The Triangle Block Party class was loads of fun and the ladies worked really hard. By the end of the day everyone had completed at least four blocks for their Modern Triangle Sampler - jewels, hexagons, triangles and more were appearing!

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I had loads of fun and really enjoyed meeting everyone

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Making the Most of Summer

This year's southern hemisphere summer is drawing to a close, and it's been a bit underwhelming. Usually we get weeks on end of long, hot days when all you want to do is lie under a tree and take a nap, but this year there has been rain, and days when the weather has blown in a big chill from the Antarctic.

Officially we are now in Autumn (New Zealand classes its seasons in complete months - in England it wouldn't change until the equinox). However, this weekend we had blissful summer weather - not too hot to go outside, it was just calling me to make the most of the warm weather.

The quilt taking an outing this weekend was Candy Drops. I designed this quilt for our Shop Hop last year, and the pattern was published this week in the digital magazine Make Modern, Issue 15.

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It's surprisingly easy to squish a quilt into your backpack - this is quite a small pack that my Mum bought me for a significant birthday. It holds all the necessities - emergency kit, spare layers, lunch, tea making equipment - and quilt.

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Off I went - 20 minutes from home I reached the turn off for the Mikimiki Road. I have walked from Kiriwhakapapa to Mikimiki and back before, but never started from Mikimiki, so that was my adventure this time.

To get to the track, you have to drive through a bit of farmland - which means a gate to close. A bit of a pain for me as my car has a habit of locking itself when you close the door, so I had to turn the engine off when I got out to open, and then to close, the gate, so I could keep the key with me!

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The sky was a perfect blue with a bit of a breeze, but that didn't worry me as I knew once I got into the bush I would be protected from the wind.

After driving down a fairly long track, I parked up and set off hiking. The first part of the walk is surrounded by imported weeds - blackberries, dandelions, huge daisies and long grass are what I am used to in England, not so much in my New Zealand tramping, but I soon reached the Forest Park and plunged into the cool greenness of the bush.

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The path passes along an old track built by loggers, and there are still a few imported redwoods that they planted in an effort to grow trees to replace the ancient natives that were removed. After just over half an hour I reached the stream and set up camp.

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Candy Drops was a nice protection from the bumpy rocks and stones

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The water in the Mikimiki stream is pure and clear, I grabbed some in my billy and put the gas stove on for a cuppa.

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Lunch over it was time to brave a very cold and quick dip in the swimming hole - it looks really shallow in the photo, but it was deep enough to stand up to my neck.

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Laying back and looking up at the clouds rushing across the blue sky through the tree canopy, I remembered doing the same thing in infants school. I think this is my idea of ultimate relaxation.

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All too soon it was time to pack up and walk back to the car. One the way back I spotted a wasps' nest , fascinating to look at but these are European invaders that do a lot of damage, so I hope it will get destroyed.

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Candy Drops was made from Moda Grunge fabrics, using the vanilla colourway for the background. I quilted it using straight line machine quilting with Aurifil and added big stitch hand quilting details in the colour blocks using Sue Spargo Eleganza thread . The backing is from Philip
Jacobs' Botanica range. The quilt top was pieced by Linda Graham. Pattern available in Make Modern magazine issue 15.

Join the Grunge Club and the Eleganza Club at Quilters' Lane to build your stash!

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Photo 11

 


A walk - and some triangles!

The #totallytrianglequiltalong has started! It is so much fun to see the blocks that are being made. I hope you will join in. This is my first block, the Triangle Nine Patch.

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You can see other blocks in the triangle quilters facebook group - anyone can join even if you just want to take a look for now. You can also see them on Instagram.

I will be posting more blocks on here as well as some tips for sewing with triangles as we get further into the quiltalong.

It can be a bit scary trying something new, but everyone who has tried these blocks seems to get into them really quickly and enjoy making them. You can get the pattern from Quilters' Lane, or from my Craftsy store. Why not have a go?

Though you may feel a bit like I did when I got back into going for walks in the bush last year, and was faced with walking across this swingbridge for the first time....

Swingbridge

 

....just take a deep breath, be brave, and you never know what fun is to be had on the other side.

Swingbridge lonestar

Here's my Lonestar quilt sitting on the other end of the bridge. This track takes you through the beautiful Atiwhakatu valley. After the swingbridge there is a place where you can sit and dangle your feet in the clear water, and take a drink from the stream.

Atiwhakatu stream

I found the perfect place to take a photo of the quilt

Lonestar fern

Later on I reached the Atiwhakatu Hut. Our Department of Conservation builds and maintains these huts in the back country, along with various groups such as our local tramping club. For a small fee, you can stay in the bunk rooms. Mattresses are provided but you have to take all your own bedding , cooking supplies and food.

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Lonestar bunk

I think Lonestar wanted to stay, but I needed to get back to do some sewing!

 

 

 


Announcing the Totally Triangle Quiltalong

2017 is going to be my year of the Triangle! Will it be yours too?

Triangle patchwork blocks are so much fun to cut and sew - they come together really quickly and are a lot easier than they look!

I'm also excited that the Sampler quilt has been accepted into Quiltcon, so if you are going to Savannah in February do look out for it.

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To celebrate the launch of my pattern, I am running a Quiltalong on Instagram starting on January 7th 2017. See further down this entry for details.

The pattern for the Modern Triangle Sampler is now available in my Craftsy store here and also from Quilters' Lane at www.quilterslane.co.nz. I will have physical copies available in the shop also.

The pattern is about 80 pages long and includes detailed instructions on how to cut all the shapes in the blocks, 25 block patterns and also finishing instructions for putting together a sampler quilt.

Pattern and rulers

 

Welcome to the Totally Triangle Quiltalong!

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 Join me on January 7th 2017 for the start of the Totally Triangle Quiltalong.

 Follow me on Instagram at @mysteryquilter

You can also follow  my facebook page at www.facebook.com/mysteryquilter

 I will be doing some giveaways during the quiltalong, so make sure you post your blocks in Instagram with the hashtag #totallytrianglequiltalong to be in to win!

What do I need to join in?

  1. Your own copy of the Modern Triangle Sampler pattern, downloadable from my Craftsy store or www.quilterslane.co.nz (or buy a physical copy from Quilters' Lane).
  2. Fabric – see pattern for requirements
  3. Tools:
  • 60 degree triangle ruler – preferably 12” C&T Clearview or 12 ½” Creative Grids
  • Recommended: C&T Corner cut 60 2 in 1 tool
  • Rotary cutter, mat and 6” by 24” quilting ruler
  • Sewing machine and usual sewing notions

There are no templates or paper patterns to print for this project – everything is cut using rulers only.

Block Schedule

The 80 page pattern includes twenty five triangle blocks as well as the instructions for cutting the pieces, and for putting your quilt together at the end.

Here is the schedule for posting photos of your blocks on Instagram.  Of course you can make the blocks whenever you like, this is just the schedule for posting photos if you wish to follow the Quiltalong. Use the tag #totallytrianglequiltalong when posting your blocks.

Date                                      Blocks

January 7th                         Triangle Nine Patch

January 14th                        Bunting

January 21st                                Egg Timer

January 28th                        Arrows

February 4th                        Campground

February 11th                             Propellor

February 18th                     Evening Star

February 25th                     Tararuas

March  4th                          Bow Tie

March 11th                           Chevron

March 18th                           Rimu Tree

March 25th                           Diamonds are Forever

April 1st                                 Gold Medal

April 8th                                 Hexagon Delights

April 15th                              Down in the Valley

April 22nd                              Soccer Ball

April 29th                              True Love

May 6th                               Hex Nut

May 13th                               Triple Gem

May  20th                              Whirlybird

May 27th                             Bowl of Cherries

June 3rd                                     Twinkle Twinkle

June 10th                              Tricorn

June 17th                            Woven Ribbons

June 24th                              Trillium

 

Here’s to 25 weeks of triangle fun and sharing!

Sheila

@mysteryquilter

 

 


Quiltmarket - Making Connections

This year I went to Quiltmarket in Houston for the first time ever. Wow, what an amazing event - there are so many designers, manufacturers, exciting stalls and new fabrics.. it was hard to know where to begin.

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Quiltmarket is an event for shop owners, designers and people in the business of quilting. It goes on for three days (plus a day of 'schoolhouses' at the beginning), and then the whole area is cleared out to make way for Quilt Festival, which everyone can attend.

I was just in seventh heaven, going to presentations by designers I have become familiar with over the years of running the shop, seeing all the new designs and meeting lovely people.

One of the main reasons for attending this year was to meet Kim Moos, founder and CEO of Cotton Cuts. Kim and I have been talking for a while about taking my Mystery Quilt programme to the USA, and it was so much fun to meet up with her in person. Kim is doing a great job, working with a disabled workshop in St Louis to cut the fabrics for the 2017 Mystery Quilt. So now, you can buy the precut Mystery in the USA as well as from Quilters' Lane in New Zealand!

We visited lots of stands Tula Pink's (see photo above) was amazingly bright and colourful, and then we went to see Jennifer Sampou, who designed the fabrics for three of last year's Mystery quilts.

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I love Jennifer's style and her use of natural colourings and motifs in her fabrics.

We also got to visit some other fabric designers, some of these may be appearing in future Mysteries!

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Jackie McFee of Camelot

 

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I was so happy to get to know Kim, and I am really looking forward to working with her and Cotton Cuts to bring the fun of the Mystery Quilt to the USA!

 

About Kim

Kim Moos

Hi, I'm Kim and I'm the Chief Fabric Enthusiast at Cotton Cuts! I've been married to my best friend for 15 years and we have two boys, Lincoln (6) and Dominic (4). We live in St. Louis, via California, Arizona, New Orleans and Boston.

I've been quilting since I was 13 years old. It was a formative year - not only was I able to learn how to use a rotary cutter (life changing), but it was the same year I obtained my first hunting license. There were some basic tenets of my mom's teaching - no scrap left behind, no need to backstitch, press early and often, cut as few times as possible, always use 1/4", only use pins if you have to. I made my first quilt for a friend in high school. It was a quillow (remember those quilts that used to fold up into pockets to make a pillow?) I love to make baby quilts because they are quick to sew and can be done in a weekend - perfect for my busy go-go life.

I started Cotton Cuts earlier this year because I was looking for a new source of inspiration for my own quilting. I was stuck in a rut with the baby blankets – I could only do the same thing for so long. With many of the local quilt stores near me closing, I went online and found site after site of fabric stores but felt overwhelmed by all of the options. Wouldn't it be great if someone could help me navigate all of those options and provide me fabric that I might not buy for myself but would actually love? Cotton Cuts was born!

I recruited some friends to be fabric enthusiasts and to help with all things member care, while I focused on operations. I knew that I wanted to outsource all of our cutting and folding, but it was important to me to invest in my local community and keep all the work close to home. I discovered a workshop for disabled individuals that was willing to take on our project and knew I had found the perfect partner. I had used workshops for other projects and knew the capabilities of these very talented folks. Every Cotton Cuts purchase contributes towards supporting local jobs.

A few months ago, Sheila reached out to me about her Puzzle Mystery Quilt.  I was taken from the first introduction - I am a sucker for quick, fun and new projects.  This wasn't another block of the month and it wasn't a heavy lift for the quilters involved.  It keeps you guessing for 10 months, we do all the cutting AND you get your choice of colors?  It fits so well with the vision and mission of Cotton Cuts, I had to say "Yes!"

It has been my vision that every Cotton Cuts (boxes and Mystery Quilt) delights your inner quilter and challenges you to step out of your comfort zone to try something new.  I hope that we deliver on that vision every month!
 
To sign up for the 2017 Mystery Quilt go to
 
New Zealand: www.quilterslane.co.nz
USA: www.cottoncuts.com
 

Shifting Strata - when grey isn't just grey

It was time to go for a walk .....

The last couple of months have been so busy, I needed to take time out and stretch my legs. My quilt companion is Shifting Strata, a small quilt I made based on Wendy Williams' Crossing Paths pattern back in 2012. I named it after the Christchurch earthquakes. Here's my quilt

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And here is Wendy's original

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Given the recent shifting of the earth under our feet, it felt like Shifting Strata was a very topical quilt to bring. This was one of my first 'improv' style quilts, and also my first attempt at big stitch hand quilting. It was also one of the first to win me a ribbon, at the Capital Quilters exhibition later that year :)

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Having done very little walking over the winter, I took it fairly easy this time. From Kiriwhakapapa campsite there is a loop walk that passes through a grove of redwood trees - these were planted way back before we realised that messing with mother nature is not necessarily a good idea. Now they make a beautiful cathedral, and the native bush is growing up inside, rata vines clinging to the trees and epiphytes growing in the high branches.

The sounds of birds singing and streams flowing with meltwater are so much more soothing to me than the tinned muzak in the shopping malls that we usually get at this time of year. It seemed like everyone else was frantically making their preparations for the big day, as the bush was so quiet I only ran into one like minded soul in two hours of walking. She was headed up to Blue Range Hut - a 700m climb I will have to work up to over the coming season!

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Although the path up towards Blue Range is pretty steep, there are some great stopping points. I laid the quilt out on the ground beneath a massive Totara tree

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Time for a nice morning tea break, hoping the earth doesn't start shaking and bring the tree down on my head!

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There's not a huge amount of showy colour in the bush - no bright flowers or bird plumage. But there is an enormous variety of shades and tonings, and there are some beautiful surprises. Look at the wonderful bright green on this moss covered rock

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These leaves stood out amongst the duller colours too - see how the dark green ones behind sit right back - a lesson for colouring our quilts!

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The interesting shades I observed reminded me of choosing the colours for Shifting Strata. When I made this quilt, I wanted to do it all in neutrals, so I started with greys, taupes and a little bit of brown. It sat on the design wall in the shop and I would keep looking at it every time
I passed. It seemed dull - how could I add some colour and interest without making it garish?

At the time I was reading and soaking up as much information as I could about colour. One of my go to books was Gloria Loughman's wonderful book Quilted Symphony. From this book I had learned that there is really no such colour as grey or brown - every grey is just a shade of one of the hues on the colour wheel, and brown is just a version of yellow. I realised I could add other yellows to go with the brown, and I played with the greys which had purple tones, and added some purple hits as well. All of a sudden the colours began to work!

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After climbing back down the steep track, I carried on around the loop track. This area is full of streams and is always pretty wet and muddy, only drying out in the real heat of summer

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I ended up washing my muddy boots in the sparkling stream

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This is such a beautiful area, a lovely walk and a bit of a work out for me, I can't wait till next time - now which quilt shall I take?

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Wendy Williams is at www.flyingfishkits.com.au. We stock many of her patterns at www.quilterslane.co.nz and can get any that you like into the shop.

Gloria Loughman is another wonderful Australian quilter, see www.glorialoughman.com. We also stock many of her books.

Both Wendy and Gloria will be teaching at the New Zealand Symposium in Christchurch in October 2017. See the link to Creative Construction on the right hand side of this page.

To learn more about colour in quilts from me, sign up for my Patchwork and Quilting techniques class at Quilters' Lane, starting again in 2017.