Around the World Blog Hop!

Yvonne from Quilting Jetgirl ‘tagged’ me to participate in the Around the World Bloghop! I think of Yvonne as almost being a quilting machine (or even a jet!)! She updates with new projects regularly, and actually completes them which I admire a lot since we’re in similar situations and yet I tend to start things and ooh look shiny new pattern. You can read Yvonne’s responses to the hop, as well check out the other people she tagged to post today, over on her post from last week.


1. What am I working on?

I’m trying to make some updates to my blog! After finding out about the nifty Portfolio option on WordPress I couldn’t get it out of my mind and ended up switching my layout to the new one that utilises the portfolio function (the Sketch theme which actually does have a sidebar afterall). My header now resembles the quilt labels I’ve been making and using, though I’m trying to decide if I like it being so large. The font is definitely too large; I feel like I’m reading a children’s book, but I can’t change that :( Despite the blog updates, I’m trying to slow down my computer usage as blogging and catching up on other blogs eats into a lot of sewing time — not to mention actual ‘doing stuff around the house’ time (who needs clean dishes and clothes?) and balancing it all is proving difficult. I’m dreading the day I start working again, yikes.

As for sewing, I’m pretty sure 99% of my WiPs I’ve already shared here at one time or another, so here is something I know I’ve not posted about yet!

Riddle and {Whimsy} sunny dresden

After adding the border onto Sharon’s Possum Magic centre, I was inspired into wanting to make my own version and so I started. I’ve had a bit of a mishap with the dresden’s background, because did you realise that when you do pebbling it shrinks your piece and makes it not square so it’s not as big as you started and so your dresden is now a tight fit?! Oops! :D I had to cut off the original border  because it turned out wonky so I’m now trialling different fabrics to use in its place.

I’ve also been trying to be realistic about fabric purchases and my fabric needs so I started destashing over on instagram. Most of the fabrics have been sitting around for a long time for potential quilt backs (some are even amongst the first purchases I ever made so I ended up with way more than I need. 3 yards for binding is reasonable, right? :D) but I found I felt like I was trying to force myself into making quilts that would work “just because” of the quilt back and it was almost getting stressful, thinking that I had to make this many projects to actually use it all up! Realistically I don’t make as many quilts as I wish I did so I’m not likely to make quilts that use these  anytime soon. There are lots of other fabrics coming out that I would like to make something with instead though. I decided to trial buying what I need for a backing at the same time as the rest of the fabric if I have “a plan”. If I’m short, I can always substitute with a bit of a pieced back with something similar (or different is good too!). I like the theory around stocking up on quilt backs and maybe one day I can do it again but at the moment I don’t think it’s working for me. I’m sad to see some of the fabrics go because I think they would make fantastic quilt backs, but hopefully for those that have found new homes, they can actually be used; even if it’s not me using them!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

Even though I started to quilt a few years ago, I only finished my very first one about 18 months ago so I still feel like I’m learning and figuring out where I fit so I try to not peg myself into any holes. The most common definition of modern quilting that I see is the use of solids and negative space. That’s not me. I also don’t make anything specifically traditional. So far I don’t feel like I have a hole to fit into, so I’m not going to force myself into one. I just do what I want and make what I like. I’m a quilter. Do I need to be anything more than that? Maybe my work differs from others because I’m not trying to be one or the other. I’m not going out of my way to be modern and I’m not going out of my way to be traditional. Nor am I going out of my way to not be modern and not traditional.

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I’ve often seen blog writing described as “write like you’re talking to a friend” and I guess I try and do that. If I show a friend a finished quilt in person, I’m not just going to throw it at them and say “look”. I want to talk about it and tell you how proud I am of it (or how much I hate it!) so I try and write those thoughts into posts with quilt photos. I also try and think of my posts as a record for myself because in a year or two, I can look back to the quilts I’m currently making and then remember things and feelings and thoughts I had about them and I can see how much I’ve changed and grown. I might complain and be frustrated with how my FMQ is going right now, but where will I be in two years? I already look back on my first posts and am annoyed at myself for not having enough photos, or not writing enough about what I made!

In some ways, I also hope that by sharing some of my thoughts and processes, others coming across my blog might be helped in realising that they’re not bad at creating and shouldn’t give up. A lot of what we see on blogs, or even in books and magazines looks “perfect” and for me at least, it can be disheartening when you’re not at that ‘perfect’ place yet and you feel like you’ll never be (and then one day it all just magically clicks into place and you wonder why you ever struggled at all!). This is why I like seeing when people talk about these things and why I like talking about them. I’m not perfect so why pretend that I am?

I make what I do because I want to make it. I see something inspiring, whether a pattern or a fabric and I want to do something with it! My problem is I find too many things inspiring so I start more projects than I finish! This is kind of funny for me, because I find one of the most inspiring parts of a project is actually finishing it and knowing that if I just finished this, that and the other, that I will have all of these lovely things!

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

With my blog, I utilise the schedule post function a lot. This very post I started when Yvonne asked me to participate, and since then, I’ve been opening it up and editing what I’ve written and adding new ideas and answering sections that I left out. This way, I don’t have to sit in front of the computer at the last minute trying to rush out an answer, or a post, and I don’t even have to be here to publish it at the right time! There are times, especially with finishes, where I can be that excited about it that I want to post right away so I will! Scheduling posts works well for me because sometimes i do want to be on the computer (particularly later in the evening) and so I have time to write posts then whereas earlier on in the day I may want to spend that time sewing instead). Writing posts when I have the time, rather than forcing myself to make the time, lets me have a bit of freedom and makes blogging less of a chore.

My creating process can be random. I’ll see a pattern and put it on my to-do list and think about the fabrics I’d like to make it with. Sometimes I try and look “through” the pattern and see what I can get out of it. For example, Camille Roskelley’s Cheerio pattern is ‘just circles’ or the letter O. The pattern uses fat eighths, and I had a fat eighth of a Christmas line on my shelf, and by putting the two together I thought “hey it can look like Christmas wreaths!”. In a nautical or beachy fabric, it could be life saving rings! I’m using Basic Grey’s Aspen Frost, and have mixed in a couple of prints from their new Christmas line 25th and Pine to bring it up to 42 fabrics, as per the pattern (my bundle only had 36 prints in it). I’m loving the navy additions.

Other times, I might have a set of fabrics I’ve liked that have sat upon my hoarded shelf for some time and I will stare at them and admire them so much that what they look like is imprinted on my brain. Then when I see a pattern or some inspiration, my mind will go ding ding ding ding which is what happened when I found the ugly shirt that made me think it would be the perfect quilt design with Anna Maria Horner fabrics for my Triangle Quilt. The fabrics used on the clothing items just reminded me of AMH prints and colours (with a bit of Tula thrown in too).


I am supposed to be tagging three other people in this hop, but I’m a rebel and have four! All of these ladies are tagged to answer the above questions next Monday, 1st September!


My quilty confessions

I’ve seen a few people share their quilty confessions, including some of my favourite bloggers and friends Sarah and Chelsea. Since I am known to be opinionated, figured I’d throw mine out there too!

1. I don’t “get” Cotton + Steel hype; especially the hysteria about preordering before any designs are shown off and declaring its greatness before knowing what anything looks like. Some posts make me feel like I’m being transported back into a teenager trying to buy a new boyband CD…… (*NSync is better than Backstreet Boys; just sayin’).

2. Recently I’ve started using starch, and maybe I’m just stingy, but I hate how much of it I have to actually spray for it to make a noticeable difference on the fabric. I don’t want to have to buy a new bottle every week, yet apparently I need to if I want to actually benefit from the product. I do feel a sense of glee when I have a piece that’s nice and papery and easy to work with though!

3. I get bored following blogs where every quilt made is sent to a long arm quilter. Don’t get me wrong, long arm quilting is nice but I like seeing other people quilt and seeing their own progress — personally, it makes FMQ seem like an actual realistic goal that I can meet. The  quality created via long arm is unattainable unless I win lotto and can purchase a long arm for myself and I think some of my frustration in my own FMQ is that I’ve been comparing it to work made on a long arm (like pantographs).

(PS. I’m not against using longarm services and I’m hoping to use one when I eventually finish my Swoon — 100×100″ because it will be way too big for me to do alone!).

Just so there is a picture in this post, this is my lone Swoon block (15 more to go):

4. I hate paper piecing and think it’s a waste of fabric, paper and ink. Paper and ink or printing services can be more expensive than fabric and I don’t want to be limited in what I make by the stationery I have available! (see above: perhaps I’m too stingy!). I also hate improv for the same reason! Too much to-ing and fro-ing to trim, press, match up, repeat.

5. When I change my sewing machine needle, unless it breaks, I find it hard to throw them away when there’s really nothing wrong with it and I can’t say I’ve ever really noticed an old needle performing differently from a new one (and it’s still sharp enough it can draw blood and to me that’s still sharp!)! I do try and change it though just because I’ve been told I “have to”.

6. I don’t understand when Big Name Bloggers or Famous Designers make super basic quilts (eg. charm square/patchwork or just half square triangles etc.) and get treated like Super Special And Amazing Quilting God Geniuses when I’ve seen so many not-famous people make the exact same type of quilt and not get any recognition at all! Why is it better because a ‘famous’ person made it? I’d like to see more of the “little guys” getting comment love! I’m trying to make an effort to comment more on the blogs with few comments.

7. No matter how hard I try, I always end up ironing. Pressing is boring.

8. I don’t like making quilts that use the exact same fabrics as the pattern, and I don’t understand why other people do! I like to put my own spin and colours into a quilt and find it fascinating to see the same pattern in different fabrics and colours because each selection makes it look like a completely different pattern and design. I’ve been baffled by the amount of people making the Tula Pink City Sampler who are using every single identical fabric, including fussy cutting fabric in the same way, so it’s exactly the same as Tula’s blocks.

9. I’m honestly too lazy to make an effort to join the local MQG because it’s a bit of a drive away and I think of that as time wasted where I could be sewing (or spending time with my husband since he works more than fulltime and we only really have the weekends where we actually see each other).

10. Pulling fabric out of my stash is fun. Putting them away and back into my stash is not fun and they usually hang around in a pile that I trip over before I get fed up and spend some time putting them back which is worse than just putting away a small handful of fabric…

 

There’s an instagram mini swap with open signups and an awesome WordPress function!

Whenever WordPress updates with a new (free) theme, I always check it out because I’m open to changing my blog layout if it’s the right one. So far, only the one I’m using is what I need because I like the header space (though I do wish I could change the black without paying for an upgrade), the background (though I do wish I could have a solid background without the image showing through!) and the sidebar and footer areas. Basically, it’s what I like and what suits my needs the best out of what is available, even if there are things I would like to change.

Anyway, I always check out new theme updates just incase one comes up that fits me even more. The latest free theme update drew my attention to a part of WordPress I’d never known about before: Portfolios! I’ve just been playing around with it somewhat and love the idea!

So far, I have a Possum Magic portfolio, which I’ve linked in my menu bar. Previously, I’ve just linked to the boring old category so whole posts show up to scroll through when you click the link. Now with the portfolio, I can display the main picture with some info leading back to the page so the scroll through isn’t as long to find what you’re looking for. I’m going to start updating my Finishes into a portfolio as well, because at the moment they are just on a single separate page that I update manually.

The big draw for Portfolios is the ability to embed all of those posts into another post! Because the code for embedding a portfolio into a post is general, I’m under the assumption that every time you make a new post into a portfolio, your embedded links will update with the new additions. Here’s my Possum Magic portfolio embedded:

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Possum Magic Centre

 My centre – Border 1 (by Serena) – Border 2 (by Carla) Border 3 (by Jane) – Border 4 (by Rebecca) – Border 5 (by Alice) Border 6 (by Wendy) – Border 7 (by Sharon)

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Possum Magic Border 1 (Sharon’s Centre)

Sharon’s centre – Border 1 (by me) – Border 2 (by Serena) Border 3 (by Carla) – Border 4 (by Jane) – Border 5 (by Rebecca) Border 6 (by Alice) – Border 7 (by Wendy)

As I add Possum Magic rounds, I expect the above will show the extra portfolio updates, without me having to actually find this page and edit it.

Now, I bet you’re wondering why there are no photos? Well, it only seems to work if you upload photos to your WordPress gallery and then set a featured image when creating your portfolio project. I upload my photos onto flickr to save space (since I don’t want to end up paying for storage because I’m cheap) so I can’t set featured images; otherwise there would be an image for each project shown above. The other downside, is links do not carry over — ie. all text underneath “type: Possum Magic” is the project’s content and I have linked to other corresponding posts. So to get those links, you need to visit the project page which ends up being too many link clicks.

I just wanted to pass on this find to those of you who use WordPress because I do think this is an awesome function! I know some of you use the WordPress gallery so maybe you’ll find that this works for you! If I can figure out how to make links show up in the embeds, if they can at all, I’m thinking of making embedded portfolios into other pages to show off finishes etc. because I think it would cut down on a lot of blog up-keep time.

If you’re interested in making the Portfolio function work, you can find the details into activating it on the Portfolio support page which also provides links to other info, such as the Portfolio embed/short code. Do you already use Portfolios? If you figure out or know how to make the links in the content show up please share!

In other news, if you’re on instagram, there’s a mini swap happening!

It’s being hosted by @curly_boy1  and all the details and sign ups are on his blog! Because I’m super crazy, I signed up, yikes! So if you have an instagram account and want to do a mini swap, go sign up!! Maybe we’ll be partners!

Just clap your hands to this

This quilt is the one I submitted to Moda Bake Shop. I’ve had no response from them whatsoever, and I’m not sure how long I’m supposed to wait incase they do want it and haven’t gotten around to it? But I’m impatient, so I’m just going to share it here, their loss. It uses half a charm pack, so maybe I can use the other half to make up a tutorial post to post in my own blog instead.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Spare Change (front)

I know it looks “too simple” for a tutorial but after trying to find charm pack patterns to add to Ms Midge’s Charms Pin board when looking for a pattern for my Kate Spain charm swap quilt, I noticed it was somewhat hard to actually find simple patterns for charms that weren’t squares. Some of my first fabrics were precuts, and I think buying precuts is a great way for a beginner to buy some fabric for a quilt without having to buy a lot to see if they even like quilting. But what do you do with them if you can’t find a pattern that you can even do?!

I don’t even remember how I thought of this design, but it kind of revolved around the idea of  only using one charm pack + one yard of fabric. I then made it in my usual method of just making it and seeing what happens at the end… not always the best way but occasionally it works. I even googled around for various “Stacked Coins” patterns and didn’t see anything like this around!

The charm pack I used is Sweet Serenade by Basic Grey, and the background is a cream from Basic Grey’s Grunge Basics. In the end out of one charm pack and two yards of fabric, you can make two quilt tops :D

Riddle and {Whimsy} Spare Change (front) closeup

From the beginning, before I even started piecing, I knew how I wanted to quilt it — with matchstick quilting, and over the sections with the charms I wanted add in extra thread colours for oomph. I’ve never made anything with matchstick quilting before and ohmygosh the texture. It’s so crinkly and snuggly and I love it even if it took forever to do.

I wish I had a blue that matched the blue in Sweet Sereande but I only had dark and bright light blues, nothing blue-grey so I settled for just a light greeny-grey instead, along with a coral and dark grey thread amongst white the rest of the way.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Spare Change (back)
grr creases

On the back, I managed to piece in my label this time! And I just used the same white thread for consistency across the back. The binding is one of the herringbone prints from Sweet Serenade. I really love this line.

Riddle and {Whimsy} Spare Change (front and back)


Quilt stats

Pattern: Stacked Coins variation by ~me :D

Name: Spare Change

Size: approx 34″x36″

Fabric: Sweet Serenade (Basic Grey), Grunge Basics (Basic Grey)

Backing: unknown

Binding: Sweet Serenade (Basic Grey)

Thread: various brands I found that matched colours (coral, dark grey cream/white, greeny-grey).


Annnd cat!

Riddle and {Whimsy} Memory Catvent cat 19

This quilt is in my etsy shop, which I’m trying to advertise via my Facebook page (which I also use for blog post updates and instagram photo sharing). I have some thoughts on Facebook selling and promoting that I want to put together and share here because it’s an .. interesting place. At least where I go. I’ve also been stuck with a cold this week and haven’t done any sewing at all, wahh.

Border inspires quilt

Adding the border to the last Improvi Robin centre I received inspired me to make a quilt out of the same blocks — half rectangle triangles in coloured solids. I tried to resist, telling myself I have other things to work on instead, but I gave in and just cut out the pieces. With my handy dandy bloc loc ruler, making the rectangles was a breeze. I made the largest size of HRT — 4″x8″ finished. I used a bunch of solids in my stash that I was low on to help cull my stash pile down a little (why cut into a “fresh” orange, if I could cut all the pieces out of another half-used orange and use that whole piece up at the same time?).

Riddle and {Whimsy} HRT quilt (front)

While making it, I made it with the plans of wanting to sell it. I’ve been wanting to “get more serious” about selling quilts to make a little extra money on the side to help pay for my hobby so I’ve set up my etsy account again and renamed it RiddleAndWhimsyHQ, and I am trying to use facebook as a means to advertise on other pages. On my Facebook my blog posts are posted there (well, the links) and when I remember to hit the “share to facebook” button on Instagram, my photos go there too. Now with my etsy store up and running, when I add a new listing, I can post that to Facebook as well! I’m still trying to figure out how Facebook works for selling and advertising. I find it a little weird and almost outdated/unprofessional but if there’s a market, well, who am I to turn it away? If anyone has any tips on using Facebook for selling and promoting, please share…!

The hardest thing I’m finding in trying to sell is that I’m my own worst critic. Is anyone else? I see things in my head and they look amazing, yet because I don’t have the skill/talent/patience/whatever, so what I make never comes out to how my brain envisioned it and it often gets me down! These kinds of thoughts make me wonder if it’s even worth selling what I’ve made because if I feel bad about it, why would anyone else want it? I’m not saying what I make is bad and is horrible and that I should burn it because deep down I know it’s not that terrible, but because it doesn’t live up to my expectations, I feel so frustrated that I can’t make something “perfect”. It’s not just quilting I have this problem in… I’ve tried multiple crafts over the years and had the problem there too (trying to draw is a big one, ha). Even school work, back in the day, I’d be annoyed that my notes weren’t neat enough, and would rewrite them! Don’t even ask me how many times I would re-do some assignments because my poster didn’t look right or I didn’t glue this on properly in the right spot…

Overall, this is why I like to share mistakes/problems, and I like seeing other people post theirs as well — especially people who are “famous” for quilting. I think it’s important to share them. It shows your growth in whatever you do. It shows people just starting out, who may be frustrated in trying to get that matching point that professionals make these simple mistakes too so there’s nothing wrong with you if you haven’t worked it out yet, or if you can’t figure out how to do something yet!

Riddle and {Whimsy} HRT quilt (back)
The back may look boring, but…

One of the reasons I stopped quilting the first time I decided to try it for myself was because I struggled with my seams and my blocks weren’t “good enough”. Now I can make blocks just fine and I’m happy with the finished quilt tops. Now it’s the quilting part I’m stuck on. I’d love to have enough spare cash where I could just hand over my quilts to a long arm quilter to do for me instead, but even though I turn my nose up at my own work from time to time, I also like the sense of accomplishment I feel when I’ve finished a quilt; and knowing that I’ve made all of it myself. And that’s why I continue trying, trying, trying, even if I feel bad about it along the way.

Yes it’s nice seeing super amazing, gorgeous quilts but it’s also a nice  to see that other people have piecing, or quilting, or design, or thread snafus. And that when these problems happen to you it has nothing to do with you, or your talent, but it’s just the way things are. We all have off days. And that’s okay!

Riddle and {Whimsy} HRT quilt (front and back)
…look at the back up close!

After using this black and white fabric on the back, I wished (as always) that I bought more of it when I had the chance. The print is called Frogs Eggs and is by Sarah Fielke from a line that was available at Spotlight. I also used it as the binding since I thought all the black and white would help set off the colours.

I also added my new label! Elizabeth from And Pins helped by giving a rough idea of what I could do and then I used her idea and played with it (I seriously spent a whole day in front of Photoshop moving things around and printing on paper to see how it would look). On this quilt, I appliqued it onto the backing. I only printed one page of labels in case I wanted to change it, and now I’m wondering if I can somehow figure out the right measurements to make “triangle” pieces so I can do the triangle-in-a-corner method of attaching the labels because I found adding the label this way too bulky (and piecing it into the backing is too much quilty math for me!). I’ll save figuring that out for another day that’s worth wasting in front of the computer though ;)


Quilt stats

Pattern: n/a. Just some Half Rectangle triangles

Name: Half Rectangle Triangles (I’ve got nothing for this one)

Size: approx 31″x32″

Fabric: Bella Solids

Backing: Frogs Egg (Sarah Fielke)

Binding: Frogs Egg (Sarah Fielke)

Thread: Aurifil (various colours from the Fat Quarter Shop’s Binding Box)


Cat, anyone?

Riddle and {Whimsy} Memory Catvent cat 18