Friday, 23 June 2017

The birth of The Patchsmith's Sampler Quilt Book

What started as an ordinary thought (“I fancy fruit for breakfast”) led to a new block design:

From this one little watermelon block springs a big idea!

This fun watermelon block then led to the idea to create a Patchsmith Sampler Quilt Book and sew-along.   

At present it is just a thought but that is how my other five books got started.  (All are available in paperback via Amazon or click on a book below to go through to the PDF version available for immediate download via Craftsy)






It might take a month or two of some seriously hard work but I'm talking serious fabric playtime - surely that's gotta be worth it!  

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

English Rose Mug Rug

June is the month for roses here in England .......
English Rose Mug Rug

They come in all shapes and sizes.   Some large and colourful, others delicate and fragrant (the roses framing Jane Austen's cottage fill the little house with a beautiful scent).
June at Jane Austen's cottage at Chawton

My English Rose is based on the Tudor Rose associated with the Royal houses of York and Lancaster. The House of York favours a white rose whilst the House of Lancaster prefers red.
The English Rose makes a beautiful 6" quilt block

You will find this rose on road signs and maps throughout England - guiding the way to a place of historical interest.  And now you can have it on your table all year round - in any colour you like.
Mug rugs aren't just for mugs - they are great for vases too!

The English Rose mug rug pattern is available for immediate download for the royal price of just $1.99.  

So join with me and add a little touch of Englishness to your table today.  

Friday, 9 June 2017

Photographing your quilt items

Photography Mug Rug from my Hobby & Fun Pattern Book

People often ask about my photo taking skills.  I’ve got to say it has been one of the hardest things to master.  I've learnt by trial-and-error and I thought I'd share some of my top tips for taking good photographs:

1.         Use natural light –not direct sunlight just good daylight.
Farmer's Wife 1930s block no. 82 - Pharlemia

2.         Use a good camera.  Many phones now have excellent cameras but I prefer to use a simple point-and-shoot camera.  You don't need anything fancy - in fact the less gadgets and gizmos then the less there is to go wrong. (I am currently using a Nikon Coolpix camera which is three years old.)

3.         For small items use a soft white backdrop so that it doesn’t distract from the item.  I have a piece of board (3’ x 3’) which I painted white but any whiteboard will do.  The good thing about using a board is you can move it around depending on where the best light is.
Heart Banner Mug Rug Pattern

4.  For bigger quilts and runners you may need to go outside if you want to photo the whole quilt.  Pick a nice day - not a sunny day and take lots of photos so you can pick the best. If you need to take the photo inside try folding the quilt and taking a photo of a section of it.  
Farm Girl Vintage quilt laid on the grass.

4.       Try to keep your presentation the same or very similar.  Use the same background for blocks and small items and present the items in a similar manner.  People will then be able to recognise your photos before they read your blurb.  I normally take a picture at an angle with a little something to add interest in the top left-hand corner.
Courthouse Steps Block from One Block Mug Rugs Pattern Book

5.     My final point is about connection and learning.  Share your photos on-line.  It can seem scary at first but it is a great way of making friends around the world and also of learning photography skills and tips but seeing how others do it.  And you never know where it might lead - for me it led to the creation of The Patchsmith.
Bee Lori's Love Instagram Block

I started taking photos in artificial light on a wooden table - the wooden table soaked up any good light there was and it was often night-time as I was working in the day. Sometimes you have to work with what you've got!   
Coffee and Cake Mug Rug Pattern
If you want to see some more of my photos just head on over to my Instagram feed or visit my Pinterest boards.  

Until next time.......

Monday, 5 June 2017

Bigger Blocks

May's 'Dutchman's Puzzle' block

I have been joining in the “6 Designers – 12 Blocks sew-along” (6kopfe12blocke) this year.  

There are twelve blocks 12" traditional patchwork block - one a month.
February's Churn Dash Block

I have made four of the blocks to date as part of my 2017 BAD (block-a-day) project.
January's 'Rolling Stone' Block

I am going to put together a red, white and blue quilt using many of the blocks I make this year - hence my colour choices.
Just some of the Block-a-Day blocks I have made this year

Making larger blocks is not unknown to me and the tutorials are clear and straightforward (click on the photos to go through to the tutorial for that block).  But I decided it might be fun to paper-piece this month's 'Pineapple' block - such big pieces - such big fun!  

I shall of course be including my 12" Spinning Churn Dash block in the finished quilt ...
FREE 12" Spinning Churn Dash Pattern

....... together with my 6" Spinning Churn Dash block
FREE 6" Spinning Churn Dash Pattern

Both patterns are available FREE - just click on the photos or links to go through to Craftsy to download the PDF patterns.

Until next time ....

Friday, 2 June 2017

Tea and Cake Mug Rug


It is five years since The Patchsmith was launched and to celebrate I have decided to revamp my very first pattern to bring it bang up-to-date.
The Patchsmith's first mug rug pattern

If you have already purchased the Tea and Cake mug rug pattern then all you need do is go to your Craftsy pattern library and download it again. 
Country Tea and Cake Mug Rug

And if you haven’t yet purchased this functional mini quilt just click on the link below and, for the princely sum of $1.99, you can have immediate access to the PDF pattern. 


It is a great stash buster – use whatever fabrics you have to hand.  Make one for yourself, one to gift to a friend and another to keep on hand for a last-minute hostess gift. 
Tea and Cake Mug Rug Pattern.

In the meantime I thought I might share some fun facts throughout this month about how The Patchsmith got started:

Fact no. 1 – the name of my blog came about because my daughter was combining my love of words (wordsmith) with my love of patching.  I am so grateful – having such a unique name means I have never had to pay to be at the top of a search engine as I am easy to find (just Google ‘patchsmith’). 


Until next time .......

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Choosing Fabrics for a Sewing Project


Any quilter will tell you the most time-consuming stage of any project is choosing fabrics.  It doesn’t matter if it is a full-size quilt or a small mini project.  So how do you choose fabrics when you are new to quilting/sewing?  Here are some of the ways I pick fabrics:

1.         Use pre-cut fabric collections.  This may seem like ‘cheating’ but it is a great way to build experience of colour combos and fabric placement.  Pre-cuts come in all shapes and sizes, from 5" charm squares to one yard bundles.  I'm quite keen on the 10" x 5" Jolly Bars for mug rug making.
The more you use collections the more you get to know what selections and patterns you like. 

2.         Use a kit.  This is especially good for new quilters.  It will save waste and you'll know at the outset that your finished quilt will look good. 

It may seem an expensive way of starting out but you should end up with plenty of scrap pieces to use in other projects.  Which leads me on to my favourite option .....

3.         Make a mug rug.  Okay, I know this seems an obvious suggestion coming from The Patchsmith but a mug rug is the perfect size project for trying out new and unusual combinations.  

A mug rug is such a small item that, if you end up not liking your fabric selections you will only have wasted a small amount of fabric and you can use your mistake on your work desk until you hit upon a combination you do like.

4.         Make just one block.   This is a great choice if you are not confident and starting out on a larger project.  
This combination doesn't quite do it for me ....

Make any 6” block using your fabric choices and see if they work together.  If not try another block with different fabrics.    
but a slight change and it is perfect!

5.         Walk away. Lay out your fabric selections then walk away.  

Go make a cup of tea and return to see if the fabrics work together.  If you are still unsure then leave them out overnight and sleep on it.  In the morning you will know as soon as you look at them.

6.         Squint.  This is very similar to step 5. Lay out your fabric selections and then squint so that the patterns and colours are out of focus.  You should be able to see if the balance of light and dark, pattern and plain is right.  

Gradually you will find yourself mixing-and-matching different fabric collections and you will develop your own method for choosing fabrics for your next project.  But, no matter how experienced you become, it will always be the most time consuming part of any project!

Until next time ......

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Patchwork Fabric, Fun and Friends

Snapshots Block 2 'Sew on and on'

Every year the Fat Quarter Shop share a beautiful quilt pattern whilst raising thousands of pounds for the charity of their choice.

In 2014 it was the Wishes quilt-along in support of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Click on the photo for the Wishes patterns and tutorials

In 2015 it was the very popular Snapshots quilt-along that raised funds for St. Judes.
Click on the photo for the Snapshots patterns and tutorials

In 2016 it was the Crossroads quilt-along raising thousands for March of Dimes.
Click on the photo for the Crossroads patterns and tutorials

And this year it is the Patchwork quilt-along in support of the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
Click on the photo for the Patchwork patterns and tutorials

The block patterns are free but it would be lovely if you could support this year’s charity with a few dollars - just go to the Fat Quarter Shops’ Donation page to find out how.

I am joining in again this year with the Patchwork quilt-along but instead of a full size quilt I am making an autumnal table runner.  If you want to join me you will need lots of lovely autumnal fabrics....  
Despite its name I think this collection would be perfect for autumn.

....and you will need to make two of each block. I will be back next week to show you the blocks made so far but it isn't too late to join in - the blocks are quick and easy.  

Saturday, 22 April 2017

QAYG Butterfly Patch Mug Rug


Sometimes you need a last minute gift but you don’t have much time.  And sometimes you just don’t feel like quilting.  Don’t worry – I have just the thing - my Butterfly Patch Mug Rug pattern.  The pattern isn’t designed as a quilt-as-you-go (QAYG) pattern but it works beautifully.  Here’s how ....

1.         Cut your strips according to the pattern but cut them slightly longer. And cut your batting slightly larger too. (I cut my strips 6" in length and my batting rectangle 12” x 8”.)

2.         Lay the first strip on top of the batting - 1” in from the left-hand side of the batting with at least 1” of batting showing at the top and the bottom.  (Of course you could always start from the right-hand side if you prefer.)

3.         Next lay the second strip on top of the first.  Pin in place and stitch to the first strip using a ¼” seam down the right-hand side.

4.         Finger press open.  NOTE:  If you are using synthetic batting do not press with an iron as the batting will melt onto the iron. 

5.         Next lay the third strip on top of the first two, aligning the right-hand side of the strip with the right-hand side of the first two strips.  Pin and stitch using a ¼” seam down the right-hand side as before.  Finger press open.

6.         Continue adding all the strips in this way.
 
7.         Once all the strips have been stitched onto the batting trim the patched rectangle to the size of the finished mug rug (you will find this on the front of the pattern).  Try to keep the strips straight but don’t worry too much – the band and butterfly will distract the eye from any imperfections.

8.         Add the center band exactly as detailed in the Butterfly Patch pattern.  

9.         Decide which fabrics you are going to use for the butterfly and applique this onto the mug rug.  I couldn’t make up my mind so I made a couple of butterflies.  I went with the orange (I am saving the pink butterfly for another project).

10.       Once all applique and stitching has been completed you are ready to add the backing.  The best way to do this is lay the mug rug onto the backing rectangle wrong sides together. 

11.       Pin and stitch ⅛” all around the edge of the mug rug to secure the backing fabric to the mug rug before trimming the backing to match the size of the mug rug.

12.       Then it is simply a case of binding the mug rug to finish.  I say ‘simply’ but I find choosing binding one of the hardest steps when mug rug making.

And there you have it – the perfect gift for Mother’s Day, a birthday or any day of the year.  

 The Butterfly Patch mug rug pattern costs just $1.99 (which includes a 6” butterfly block template) and is available for immediate download HERE.