Thursday, 30 June 2011

Nadine's Etsy 101 (Guest blog post)

(reversible Quilt-as-you-go-Quilt)

First of all I’d like to thank Lynne for allowing me to plaster my ramblings on this blog, cos let’s face it, that’s what I do. I ramble on Twitter on Facebook and of course on the blog and send it out into the ether hoping somebody will read my often chocolate-tainted (sugar high!!) "wisdom", oh and more importantly, praise my creations, leave a comment and tell me, yes, it was worth spending my time on this quilt that almost broke my back when basting it and that cost me a fortune in the making.

So please come and find me on my blog and read some more ramblings or critique my quilts and I’ll love you forever. If that isn’t enough incentive then maybe a GIVEAWAY is? I am currently hosting a giveaway on the blog to celebrate my new ODD OWL collection which I have just added to my Etsy shop.

A collection of personalized plush baby taggy toys. I had the idea for those after one of my friends who is a new mum told me her daughter always turns clothes inside out to play with the tags. So I had a whole lot of fun making these Odd Owls and added them to Etsy in an attempt to sell cheaper items that might sell better on Etsy than expensive quilts.

And that brings me to my biggest rant of the day: ETSY.

I have joined Etsy on 15 May in an attempt to find good new homes for my quilts and other items. … that, and (let’s be honest here!) to help with my horrendously out of hand fabric addiction and space issues. Our flat is simply too small to host all these lovely quilts and we only have one bed, one couch and no armchair and it hurts me deeply to see the lovely quilts wait patiently to find a new adoptive family (all friends and family already have quilts so giving them as gifts is not an option anymore, not that many anyway). So I took the plunge and listed a whole lot of them on Etsy.

Most of my quilts are entirely hand sewn (I didn’t own a sewing machine until Christmas, yes it was my Xmas present from the other half :) and all of my quilts are reversible, why make one when you can make two, ha?.

This is a hand sewn reversible quilt:

This one is called Amy's Bridges on the top and Fassett Bridges on the back, also hand sewn:

I make a lot of reversible Quilt-as-you-go-Quilts and it took me a while to figure out how to do that properly on the sewing machine. But I managed it in the end. (The quilt at the top is my first successful machine made reversible QAYG quilt.)

This is a hand sewn reversible QAYG quilt:

So you can imagine the quilts are of course not the cheapest items, because I can’t get myself to give them away for nothing. Especially when I have spent several months making them and I paid A LOT for the materials, because those are just so much more expensive in the UK compared to the US.

Na├»ve as I was, I thought Etsy would be the solution to all my problems, but as it happens in life I am still waiting to sell my first quilt, and it can be very frustrating and disappointing and maybe even demotivating to keep waiting for that validating first sale. I know, I shouldn’t care so much about what other people think, if they like my quilts and if they see their value as I do, because it is what I do and I enjoy it tremendously. But when you wait almost 2 months and still no quilt sold you start to question it.

So Etsy is not that miracle online market where you can sell all your lovely creations and make some money, not unless you're very lucky. As I mentioned earlier it is much more expensive for us Brits to make quilts and I don’t think we could afford to sell our quilts for £35 or £50 like some American sellers do unless we the cost of fabric and the time and effort it took to make something.

90% of buyers on Etsy are Americans, most of my friends and family, even the ones who are crafters and into art, had never even heard of Etsy. In fact, the only people who actually knew what I was talking about when I mentioned my Etsy shop were Americans, so maybe it just isn’t quite as know in the UK and EU. But the problem is, most Americans will shy away from making larger purchases from abroad because of shipping costs and customs charges and if they also get quilts cheaper from US sellers why would they buy from the UK?

So I also try to sell smaller and cheaper items, such as placemats, pencil rolls and fabric baskets:

But Etsy is saturated with fellow artists and crafters and the general public, the customers we need to find to sell our wares, might shop elsewhere, possibly on ebay? If somebody wants to buy a quilt they might not know that they will find loads on Etsy. They might google ‘quilts’ to find something they can buy online, so for Etsy sellers it is crucial that they work on their SEO, Search Engine Optimisation. If google can’t find you, you depend on internal Etsy business and that is fairly thin. So Etsy sellers need to work hard on their marketing: these days I spend more time trying to market my Etsy shop on Pinterest, Stumbleupon, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the blog of course than I spend on making things.

So let me do just that, shameless self-promotion: Please come find me on the blog and enter my GIVEAWAY for an Odd Owl with a letter of your choice. You can find the instructions here:

And please come and mingle, that’s what all these social networks are about, sharing ideas, having a rant together and also helping each other out. You can do that on Facebook!/pages/Quilted-Bliss-by-Nadine/204707436234824 and on twitter:!/nadinesaupeart and if you want to see more you can also find me on Flickr and Pinterest if you check my profiles.

My latest (machine sewn) baby quilts on Etsy, I made 2 of those to sell as twin quilts with free personalization in case somebody needs quilts for twins:

Now I am coming to the end and I feel the urge to share a nasty secret with you, and I think if you actually stuck to this and read the whole rant you deserve a nasty secret.

So here it is: … I started quilting because of Winona Ryder (*blushes and ducks in shame*). Don’t get me wrong, I don’t really like Winona Ryder, but I fell in love with the quilts shown in her film ‘An American Quilt’ and I thought, I NEED TO TRY THIS. So that’s what got me into quilting. There, the skeleton if out of the closet. I had never even seen a quilt before that. So unfortunately, unlike some of you (I presume), I didn’t have a grandmother or mother ... who taught me to sew when I was little.

Actually, I’d love to know what got you into quilting. How did you start?

Sorry for the ramblings everyone, but I did warn you, didn’t I?

Lots of Love,

Nadine xx

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Layout time

Layout time by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts
Layout time, a photo by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts on Flickr.

16 25" QAYG blocks pieced and quilted. Ruby Star Rising, Kona charcoal and Kona coral with skinny frames in a selection of other Kona solids. Thoughts on layout anyone?

Want to find out more about Aurifil threads?

When I was at Sheena Norquay's free motion quilting class last week, she was telling us about Aurifil threads.  I also keep reading about them in blogland but don't know much about them.  I do know that my fabulous LQS, Quiltessential, is about to start stocking them.

But in the meantime, I want to find out more about these threads everyone keeps talking about, especially as I keep hearing them being mentioned across blogland as favourites for both piecing and quilting.  So I'm going to be investigating, trying out and reviewing the different Aurifil threads over the next few months and giving some of my favourites away but, in the meantime, I came across this free app for the iphone, ipod, ipad etc. (soon also to be released as a droid app).  Just type in "Aurifil" into the search section of the app store and it comes right up.

There's information on what the different Aurifil threads are used for which will be my starting point.  There's also a useful section to find online or bricks and mortar shops stocking the threads including one of those bits where you find the stockist nearest to your location.  I'm thinking this would also be a useful tool when on holiday or away from home to see if there happens to be a LQS just around the corner.

There's lots of other info on there too but I'll leave you to dig around and discover that for yourselves.  In the meantime, what are your go-to threads?  Have you used Aurifil threads?  Which ones do you go for and what do you use them for?  Do you use different ones for different types of quilting - straight line, hand, free motion?  I'd love to know because personal recommendations and advice from blogland are always the most useful for me.

Friday, 24 June 2011

FMQing to my heart's content

FMQ with Sheena Norquay by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts

Well, after nearly 18 months of quilting, I finally took the plunge and enrolled on a one-day course of FMQ with Sheena Norquay at Quiltessential, my wonderful LQS in Derbyshire. Sheena was both inspirational and also very kind and lovely and Ann, the owner of Quiltessential made the atmosphere warm, fun and friendly, as is always the case in her shop.  Here is a mosaic of my FMQ-ing yesterday, my favourites being the ziggy-zaggy lightning, the dry stone wall and the jigsaw puzzle. Thank you for all your support and encouragement before the big day - I had a ball.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

And piecing and quilting and piecing and quilting ...

16 blocks, each one different, each one 25" square, piecing then quilting as you go, three types of quilting, three colours of quilting thread.  13 pieced.  9 quilted.  Keep going keep going keep going.  All words of encouragement gratefully received.


Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Wish me luck...

Wish me luck.  On Thursday I am actually going to be taught to FMQ properly rather than making the sorry little scribbles I've managed so far in a real workshop in a real quilt store.  I'm so excited, I've packed already.  We have to take sandwiches to eat and sandwiches to quilt - it's quite complicated.  So I've bought my sandwiches to eat as my cookery skills don't even extend to sandwiches and I've made my sandwich to quilt and drawn on all the lines the leaflet told me to draw on and bought brightly coloured thread for prettiness.  The leaflet also told me to clean my machine which I did and there were whole flocks of sheep lurking in there.  Oops.

I've never been on a quilting workshop before so I'm a bit nervous.  Will the other ladies be nice to me?  Will I be the class dunce?  Will they laugh at the pink gardening gloves I use for quilting?  When we have to go in pairs, will anyone want to pair with me?  Do I need to have a quilted waistcoat and bag to fit in?  So many things to worry about.  I'm doing the course at my favourite bricks and mortar quilt shop, Quiltessential in Cromford Mill near me in Derbyshire.  Ann is probably the nicest LQS owner in the country so she'll look after me.  Sheena Norquay is teaching.  Anyone had a lesson with her before?  Does she tell you off if you're rubbish or if you talk too much?  I'll let you know how I got on and show you the FMQ-ing I do, however bad it is.  I promise.  

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Farmer's Wife QAL 25 blocks done, 86 to go

For anyone who hasn't noticed, half of the modern bloggers out there seem to be jumping on the Farmer's Wife QAL bandwagon and I'm no exception. I'm up to 25 blocks now so thought I'd take a step back and ask you a couple of questions. At this point in the quilt, what do I need more or less of?What ideas might you have for sashing and cornerstones?

Friday, 17 June 2011

Eeep and Tweet

Eeep.  This happened yesterday.
When I started this blog on 1 April last year (more fool me), I never imagined this day would come.  Thank you all of you, every single one of you. 

And, for those of you twits who tweet, I am now a twit too so please come and tweet me by clicking the little tweety bird right here.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Shabby Chic Union Jack Wall Hanging

I'm on Moda Bake Shop today! I wasn't expecting to be but an opening came up unexpectedly - please go and visit me over there if you have a moment and leave me a comment - usual rules apply, whatever you think of my post, just gush - gushing makes me feel good.   I've made a shabby chic union jack wall hanging from the wonderful upcoming Fa La La line from French General.

A closeup of the quilt shows the fabric is made up of a shabby chic patchwork of overlapping charms.

Moda Bake Shop close-up

When you ask your 12 year old son to hold up a union jack wall hanging for you in a public place, don't expect him to smile.   Your 11 year old neice might smile but your 3 year old neice will look on with slight distaste - kids, eh, they just don't get the wonder of my quilting.

Scrappy tiling - a tutorial

A few people asked how I made my rainbow tree block. To show you how, I have made another block and will take you through the process step by step.  I will first mention that the idea for this process comes from the wonderful book The Tile Quilt Revival.   In that book, the method takes longer and produces more formal and orderly designs. My method is quicker and easier and produces a more informal and scrappy look, hence the name scrappy tiling.

Scrappy Tiling Tutorial

1. Draw the outlines of the key elements of your design on a piece of paper the same size as the finished block.  Pin the background fabric onto the paper. Tape to a window if this helps you see the design on the paper. You will use the paper to align the details of your design.

2.   Draw the details of your design onto fusible webbing such as Bondaweb or Steam-a-seam but remember that these images will come out in reverse on the final block.

3. Number the segments of your design and cut out. If the design is very complicated, cut out as you go so you do not lose track of where you are.

4. Fuse each piece of fusible webbing to the back of the pieces of fabric you have chosen for your design. Once fused, cut out the shape but take a slither off the edge of the paper. I don't mean an 1/8 or an inch, I mean a real slither, like a millimetre or two.

5. Place onto the background fabric leaving a small gap between each piece but do not fuse into place until the section you are working on is all in place and lined up. Remember you are going for a scrappy look here so don't worry about perfect lining up - for this job, perfection is not required.

6. Once all pieces are lined up, fuse and then edge with the stitch of your choice. I chose blanket stitch on the flowers and straight stitch on the rainbow tree.

VIBees block for Tracy Jay

As ever, please let me know if you try this method, come back and ask me any questions and post pics in my Flickr group.

New dawn, new day, new button

Along with changing the look of the blog, I've created a new button.  Anyone with this button on their blog sidebar will get one bonus comment in the Fresh Sewing Day giveaway on 1 July.  Playing along in the Farmer's Wife Quilt-a-long will also get you one bonus comment.  You'll have to tune back in on 1 July to find out why.

Lily's Quilts
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Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Website under construction

I confess it's always kind of bothered me that, as much as I loved loved loved the re-design Julia from Little Girl Quilts did for my blog, it felt too close to the Orla Keily original designs and I feel like I need to come up with something of my own for my own blog.  But I have no idea how to do that so, in the meantime, I'll be playing around with the look of the blog and would love your input and suggestions.  Please also let me know if any of you know how to use any freely available software to design some kind of simple design for my header and buttons and icons.  I just don't know where to start and I don't have photoshop or any of those programmes.  Here's my new trial blog header for the time being anyway:

Trial blog header

Amitie BOM - 16 circles done!

Amitie BOM - 16 circles done! by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts
The sixteen circles in the Amitie BOM are now pieced.  My first circle was made exactly as instructed in the BOM instructions. In the second one I popped a few of my own fabrics in and by the time I got to about the fifth, I was mixing my fabrics with Amitie's fabrics on every block and re-designing or designing new blocks from scratch. It's not that I don't love the Amitie deisgn, it's just that I have more fun making up my own designs that following instructions. In my real life I don't have a rebellious bone in my body. In my alter ego quilting life, all that changes. Just as Beyonce has her on stage alter ego, I have my quilting alter ego, her name is Lily and she breaks all the rules. Finally, in my mid-forties my latent rebellious streak has found its voice in patchworking. My children could not be more proud.

Anyway, what I was really going to say was which of the 16 circles is your favourite and why. Like my children, I can't pick favourites myself but I'd love to know yours. I'd also like to know which you think work the best based on fabric choices and why. There's a whole mix of fabrics in here and some blocks work better than others but that doesn't seem to matter so much once the whole lot are together.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Army Star Block tutorial

Army Star Quilt Block Tutorial and Template

I will preface this tutorial by saying that the template is not user friendly and I took no pictures as I went so this is really a quick walk-through of how I made this block.  If you want to try it, please come back and ask me if you get stuck.  Here is the link to the template for the Army Star Block.  It is a fiddly complicated block and you already need to know how to piece curves, foundation paper piece and piece circles as the tutorial will not cover those.  Here is the finished block in close-up so you can take a closer look at how it is pieced as you go along.

Army Star for Meghan

And here are the step-by-step instructions:

1.   Print out seven copies of the template, two onto freezer paper if you have some.  If you are making a 12" circle as I did (which I then framed into a 16" block), you need to make sure that the templates have printed with 1" measuring as 1".

2.   First make cutting templates for the red curved stripe and the white curved triangle it attaches to.  Take the two pieces of freezer paper and add 1/4" seam allowance all around the curved red piece on one piece of freezer paper and cut that out.  Then add 1/4" seam allowance around the curved white triangle and cut that out.

3.   Iron these templates to white and red fabric and cut out five of each.  The freezer paper is ironed on for accurate cutting.  Once the fabrics are cut out, it can be removed.  Sew the red stripe to the white triangle.

4.   Using a lightbox or a window, pin the section you have made to the back of one of your five normal paper templates, right side facing away from the paper with the curved line on the sewn section matching with the curved line on the template.  Paper piece the rest of that piece of template as per the numbers - as if you had already pieced the red and white as 1 and 2.

5.  Piece the smaller triangle template - foundation paper piecing - as per the numbers and colours (you can of course change the colour scheme).

7.  Join these two sections together (look at the finished star to see where you need them to meet).

8.   Make five of these.  Join two together then join the remaining three together.  Sew the two sections together by sewing as far as the centre, re-aligning and sewing to the other side.

9.   Make an outer circle template by cutting out a piece of fabric as big as the finished block you are making and cutting out an 11 1/2" circle from it.  I made this outer circle template in four section and joined together but I have no template for this so you will need to make your own.  If you have got this far and this defeats you, let me know and I will help you.

10.   Piece the Army Star circle into the outer circle template.

11.   If you need help re-sizing this block, let me know and I will help you.

Please let me know if you manage to make these following these meagre instructions or if you get stuck along the way and please add any completed blocks to the Lily's Quilts Flickr group.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Pincushion gift from Judith

Pincushion gift from Judith by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts

Judith from Needles and Lemons sent me this wonderful little rice-filled pincushion which sits next to me at the sewing machine. Thank you Judith :-)

Saturday, 11 June 2011

12 down, 99 to go, advice please

12 down, 99 to go by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts

By the way, I will come back and tell you how I made the Army Star, I am also happy to make a template available to anyone who would like to attempt it but I am not going to do a tutorial because blood sweat and tears were shed making it once and I cannot put myself through that trauma again.

On a lighter note, here are my 12 blocks so far in the funnest quilt-a-long on Flickr right now. Based on Laurie Aaron Hird's wonderful book, the Farmer's Wife Quilt, hundreds of us over there are working through the 111 6" blocks that make up the quilt. It's worth popping over to the Flickr group just to see the variety of fabric choices being made. Some scrappy, some from specific fabric lines. Some modern, some traditional and lots of chat and support too of course. Thank you to Angela and Amanda for all the fun I'm having.

Dorky though it may sound to any non-quilters reading this blogpost (OK that'll just be my sister), Mandy, Katy, Justine and I have a Farmer's Wife day coming up soon. We'll all sit around the octagonal table in my dining room speaking in a Somerset accent and listening to Dolly Parton whilst our machines whirr away happily churning out little 6" blocks. Katy's going to being her dog so we can pretend he's livestock and herd him round the drawing room. I just hope my cats don't eat him given he's the size of a large rodent and they eat large rodents. I digress.

What I wanted to say was, given that I am colour and fabric blind, I now need to know what to do with the scrappy look I have put together so far. Do I continue on for another fifty blocks and then take stock or do I need to make some colour decisions now and, if so, what do I need more or less of? This stuff is easy for you lot but it's like a foreign language to me. Che?

Friday, 10 June 2011

Army Star

Army Star for Meghan by Lynne @ Lilys Quilts

In a new bee I elbowed my way into, Meghan asked for an army star quilt block or anything for a quilt for her husband who's in the army and is also airborne.  There is an army star quilt block but someone else is making that so I googled "army star" and found this star which used to be on the side of US planes in the second world war.  I split the star into dark/light triangles to look like planes to reflect the airborne part of his career.  I'm just curious - can you guess how I pieced this?

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Kati from the blue chair has, for some time, been one of my favourite current quilters. She has great vision, moves freely between modern and traditional designs, always putting her own stamp on whatever she makes and always with perfect taste and style. Sheesh, I'd never be a copywriter, I'm rubbish at writing this stuff but I am a HUGE fan of her work and nearly feel tearful looking at this. Is that weird?

Stash Quilt Side A by from the blue chair

I'm five blocks into LynneBobSquarePants and Kati has only gone and made 16 blocks and look how toe curlingly fabulous this looks.  Look at that one green block. I never think of stuff like that. And look how there are no extra sashings or borders - just the blocks then the binding. I know I'm going on and on so I will shut up now. But I love it. A lot. lot.