Wednesday 31 December 2014

Presents finally given and plans for 2015

The problem with making presents for Christmas is that you can't show them off until they been opened by the recipient. Now we've arrived in Germany to spend New Year with our good friends in Hamburg, I can reveal the three quilts that have been keeping me busy over the last month.



I found these gorgeous floral prints buried in Doughty's dress fabric shop, and thought they'd be perfect for two little girls I know. The first quilt is a variation on my Chanteille design, made with strips sewn together then cut into triangles to make up half hexagons. These are sewn into rows, then sewn together to create full hexagons, avoiding any Y-seams. Bonus!


I started the second quilt as an EPP project in the summer, I do love my hexagons! In the past I've only made flowers, but decided to sew the hexagons into four-piece units, and then into rows to create a wave-like effect across the quilt, added to by my current favourite machine quilting technique.


As I made quilts for the girls, I thought I really should make one for their parents... Of course I decided this about 2 weeks before Christmas, as you do! I've been looking at half-rectangle triangles for a while so thought I'd have a go and make this zigzag quilt. I love how this has turned out, and plan to make more in the new year, with the pattern to go with it.



I've got a lot planned for 2015, including much more quilting of course, but also a collection of comprehensive patterns, both for the beginner and the more experienced, following on from my free online tutorials on sewmotion.


At the end of this year, I started designing and making a new cushion collection, currently available on Folksy. I hope to develop more designs, as well as a bespoke service to create personalised cushions to give as gifts.

There will be more on this in the New Year, plus in February I'm off to Quilt Con in Austin, Texas. So I'm sure to come back with millions more ideas and plans!



Saturday 15 November 2014

Free Quilt Patterns

Wow, its been a while... I have been busy.. honest! Sewmotion now has three new quilt patterns and they're absolutely free!! As you hopefully know by now, my website is designed to help those wanting to learn the wonderful and highly addictive hobby of patchwork and quilting. My Beginner Quilt series is designed for those starting from scratch, while these new patterns are intended for those ready to move on and develop their newly learned skills.

Obviously the patterns are also for those more experienced quilters who love a new project to get stuck in to... my first pattern is All Squared Up.

This quilt involves simple cutting to create a 'square in a square' block, which you then sew into rows, then together into one unit, add a border, then quilt as you wish. As with all my patterns, there are clear, comprehensive instructions with great pictures to help you at every stage - even the quilting!

My second pattern, Fox in the Nine Patch, is based on one of the oldest blocks in quilting, the nine patch. When designing this quilt, I started with six quarters I had recently bought from Lewis and Irene's Fox and Friends range, I then approached by stash in the hope of finding the 14 more fabrics I needed, I can't tell you how happy and slightly overwhelmed I was by the wonders I found in my stash, I really can't remember buying half of it! I do think this has been the first quilt I have made from my actual stash, rather than going out and buying the whole lot new. This will be the first of many, I assure you!

My third pattern, Novelty Nine Patch, is actually one I designed when working at Doughty's, but I thought it would be an easy follow on from the Fox pattern. This one is based on a charm pack and really shows off the versatility of these pre-cuts.

There will be many more patterns to follow, and hopefully some kits in the New Year.

When not designing quilts, I am also creating items for sale on Folksy - purses, pencils cases, make-up bags... if you're looking for a special little pressie, or a stocking filler for a lovely little girl, why not have a browse :)

Thursday 9 October 2014

Introducing... Sewmotion

As some of you know, this has been in the works for quite a while now, but I feel I have developed the new website enough now to share it with the world!

Sewmotion is replacing Handmade By Louisa, and I intend for it to be a resource for those new to quilting, as well as the more experienced. While working at Doughty's in Hereford, I came across so many people wanting to learn to quilt, but who didn't find the American accents on YouTube very inspiring. So now I'm free to work on my own business, I want to be able to share the knowledge I seem to have picked up over the years... I still can't believe I wrote nearly 1,000 words on wadding the other day, where did that come from?!

So, on Sewmotion, you will find a breakdown on the basic equipment you will need to start you off on your quilting journey, as well as some tips on other products along the way. You will also find my Beginner's Quilt series, this is something I started in the shop, but I've developed it further and I hope it will encourage more people to pick up this amazing (and addictive) hobby.

In the near future there will be lots more free quilt patterns to help develop skills, sections on different techniques and lots of inspiration in my gallery section. There is a long way to go though, so please be patient with me!

In the meantime, as my walking foot decided to crumble in my hands yesterday, I have had the chance to complete some items to sell! Yeah! I have decided for now not to have a shop on my website, but to sell through Folksy - if you haven't visited this website, then you must. Similar to Etsy, they pride themselves on only selling handmade items, and some of the lovingly crafted items on sale are truly beautiful. Plus, its British and deserves our support just for that really!

Friday 12 September 2014

Some Louden magic

I can't believe it's been a month since blogging, disgusting I know, but I have a good excuse! I am very pleased to spread the word that I am now working with John Louden & Co fabric company, designing and making fabric goodies to highlight their gorgeous fabrics, as well as providing full illustrated instructions to help you lovely crafty people bring these creations to life.
Those of you who know me will know that I have always been a fan of Louden's fabrics and have made many a quilt for my old employer Doughty's to display in the shop. In fact one of my favourites, the Chanteille Beauty, came from Louden's!
So, the first project made using Louden's Christmas Scandi range...

I do like the idea of a Christmas wall hanging, and I think the shape of the branches in the tree makes the most out of the linear design in these fabrics. I particularly love the rows of cute snowmen and penguins! I also fussy cut around these images to make up the four-patch border. I used Aurifil threads to have some fun with parallel lines, echoing the tree's branches, horizontal on the background, and then cross hatch on the border. In fact I used Aurifil on all these projects, it is lovely to use and the colours are perfect!
This Scandi range also comes in red, which would make these Dresden placemats very eye-catching on any Christmas table. In the first placemat, I echo quilted the Dresdens, and have more horizontal lines across the background. In the second placemat, I echoed the centre circle to quilt lines 1/2" apart out towards to edge, I do love this effect!

I was also asked to make a non Christmassy quilt out of these gorgeous fabrics, and I decided to stick with the Scandinavian feel and use a simple heart block with an hourglass block to create this quilt that could be used all year round. This one's a biggy, bare in mind that's a king size bed!
In my last project with these lush fabrics I decided to have a play with the Cathedral window block, and came up with this cushion. Quite cute isn't it.

I was also given one of Louden's new blender ranges to play with, and after some block browsing, I came across the whirlwind block, very easy to put together, and as you turn and twist the triangles as you sew, I thought the fabric's stripy design would add to the design.
I made so many blocks for this, I had enough for the back too...

The instructions for all of these projects, except the cushion, will soon be available to download on Louden's Facebook page, as well as their website through your local fabric shop.

Tuesday 19 August 2014

What a fortnight!

Just when I didn't think life could get any busier, the Festival of Quilts comes along. Because I love Doughty's so much, when I left the shop, I promised to come back to do the show with them, and I enjoyed every second, though my feet are still recovering.

As Doughty's have sooo many stands, we spent two days setting up four of them, then the next four days cutting and selling fabric to lots of lovely quilters and sewers. I must admit, I have missed talking to customers about their quilting projects, and it was especially nice to see customers from Hereford who came to say hello.

We decided to incorporate moving our worldly belongings from storage in Hereford to Middlesbrough with doing the NEC, so we had our own van, it was all very complicated in the end, but it worked! This is us building the cut pieces stand, just one of the four!


As you can imagine we don't really get much of a chance to walk around the show quilts, but I did manage to snap a few, probably on the way to the loo! I was very impressed with this beautiful pictorial quilt, if memory serves, I think it won the best in it's category. The quilting is sublime.



One of my favs, Phillippa Naylor, achieved another win with this beauty.


These are a few more that caught me eye...

The last one of Amsterdam is lovely!

Sunday was a very late night, unloading vans til after midnight, then on Monday we loaded our own van with the rest of our 'stuff' and headed back up north.

And now the next chapter of our lives begins, we got the keys to our new flat on the Thursday, which meant getting yet another van on Friday and moving all our stuff yet again, but this time, into our own place! And what's more, I have my own workroom!!!


While I have enjoyed unpacking everything out of storage boxes, and finding a place of it all, it has completely shocked me the amount of stuff I actually own! I really am going to have to use some of this stash, get the hang of scrappy quilts, and stop collecting every piece of spare wadding!

So workroom all set, bring on the quilting!



Tuesday 29 July 2014

When I'm not quilting....


I've just been to my very first music festival!

This weekend extravaganza is in it's fourth year and was packed with comedy and music talent, both international and local, and they all did the town of Stockton-On-Tees proud.

My weekend in the glorious sunshine, yes, even up north (!) started with Hyde and Beast, a band I wasn't familiar with, but I loved their soulful sounds with a 70s vibe. Next up was probably my favourite of the weekend, Motown icon Martha Reeves and the Vandellas - she was absolutely amazing, and worked the crowd like a true professional. You can't get much better than dancing to a legend, beer in hand in the heat of the afternoon sun!

Tracy Hyman Photgraphy

Saturday night's headliners were The Happy Mondays, who were as mad as ever, and as Jus dances like Bez on a normal day, he was in his element.

Our second day started off with Smoove and Turrell, a funk and soul duo from Newcastle, again, not a band I'd heard of, but will definitely be looking out for their album. The next legend up was former New Order and Joy Division bassist Peter Hook, who along with his band, that included his son, performed some old favourites. Now, I have to admit, this wasn't really my cup of tea. To me, he sounded like an angry old man... But I am reliably informed he fell out with his old band, so maybe he has reason to be so angsty! And he'd cut his finger... He son was also amazing on the bass guitar.

Another band I will be adding to my 'to buy' list is Reverand and the Makers, they were amazing, I loved their energy and the constant shout outs to Stockton and Teesside, awesome. The crowd's bouncing to Heavyweight Champion of the World must have been felt in the Boro!


Tracy Hyman Photography

And for the finale, and what absolutely made Jus's weekend, the one and only Public Enemy. Again, I wouldn't say hip hop is my favourite genre, even though Justin has tried to educate me over the years, but I have to say, I was well and truly impressed. Along with the multi-talented hype man of the band Flavor Flav, frontman Chuck D, DJ Lord, and the S1Ws were also joined by Khari Wynn, a truly awesome guitarist from Memphis. We were treated to lots of old tunes such as Don't Believe the Hype, Fight the Power and Bring the Noise, which they certainly did - the whole place was bouncing!

Tracy Hyman Photography


Saturday 19 July 2014

Life has become very busy!

There are many reasons why I haven't blogged in a while, honest! Having recovered from our 'camping expedition' and a lovely sunny weekend in Amsterdam, we are now back in the north-east staying with family while we look for our own place. Meanwhile, as I have my sewing machine, I have been sew happy, pun intended!

I made this reindeer cushion for a dear (sorry) friend's birthday, I obviously couldn't share it until I have given it to her, but she was very pleased with it. Inspired by my Icelandic adventures, I chain stitched these two reindeer onto a linen base, then used one of my treasured 1930s prints for the border, which I quilted. I also used the same fabric on the back with ties - quite pleased with these as this was my first attempt.

I've also been spending more time watching my backlog of Craftsy classes. As I've said before, I cannot recommend this site enough, the classes are so comprehensive, yet easy to follow, and the tutors are inspirational and a joy to listen to. This mini quilt starts with Carol Doak's 'Mastering Foundation Paper Piecing' - I was over the moon when I finally cracked this technique and look forward to creating my own designs.

Then I moved on Leah Day's 'Free Motion Quilting a Sampler' - Leah's class is amazing, full of so many quilting designs, and she encourages you to just have a go, practice, and enjoy! My most recent class has been Jacquie Gering's 'Creative Quilting With Your Walking Foot'. Again, another inspirational class, Jacquie was one of the speakers on the series of lectures from the last Quilt Con in America - free to watch on Craftsy - and she was so emotional, she really touched my heart with her passion for modern quilting. These two classes helped me plot and quilt my first mini quilt.

My most recent quilt is this novelty nine-patch cot quilt. When I worked at Doughty's I developed a couple of fabric packs, including this charm pack from Nancy Halvorsen's Mischief and Curiosity's ranges and I've designed this quilt for the Festival of Quilts in August. The instructions will be available on my website soon.

This is such a quick peicing method, you start with nine-patches, which you then cut into four, and re-arrange. Magic! The quilting is my first attempt at Jaquie Gering's pencil quilting, the lines are half an inch apart, and are really affective.

Sunday 22 June 2014

Our European Vacation

Not quite the Griswolds thankfully, but not far off it at times!

So we started off with a week with our dear friends in Hamburg, they were moving into their new house, which is gorgeous - huge rooms, floor to ceiling windows, beautiful modern kitchen, and balcony on the top floor, everything you come to expect in a German home. So the week included the necessary trip to IKEA, and hemming curtains, with lots of love, fine food and drink thrown in.

Hamburg is a beautiful city, even though it has one of the busiest docks in the world. On one day we went to one of their city beaches, having driven past numerous huge merchant houses on the way, you get the idea that Hamburg is quite wealthy city. The manmade beach was a favourite with the locals, as was the bar on a sunny Saturday afternoon. The views across the water sum up what Hamburg is all about.



Recently we have been thinking of purchasing a campervan or caravan, having hired campers in New Zealand and Australia and enjoyed them, but they were in warmer climes than here, where you can sit outside and relax, not be cooped up inside out of the torrential rain! So before taking the plunge we thought we would try out the tent we bought years ago and where better than our favourite country of the Netherlands. We drove from Hamburg west to Groningen in the north of the Netherlands where we pitched tent for the first time, and managed not to look like complete amateurs.



How cosy does this look, complete with quilt?



On our second day, I managed to get talked into hiring a bike and cycling into Groningen. I was totally up for it until I sat on the rock hard saddle and tried to set off. Dutch bikes do not have handbrakes, but instead have pedal back brakes, which means the pedals don't move round freely for you to get ready to move off. With bad balance to start with, this caused me all manner of problems. I suppose the good thing to come out of it is that my bike at home should be easier than ever to get the hand of. I would just like to add, this was only my second time on a bike in 30 years!




Groningen is a student town, which made cycling all the more chaotic! The town itself is lovely, like a mini Amsterdam with its cobbles streets, tall terraced houses lining the canals, and the town square with a great food market selling local produce.





Yesterday we packed up the tent in the rain, both looking forward to a proper bed in warm dry hotel room! I don't think camping is for us! We are now in Amsterdam, we love Amsterdam and feel like it's our second home. We are also hear to meet another dear friend, who amazingly has cycled from London to Amsterdam for charity, and we wanted to be there at the finish line...



We are so proud of him and the rest of the gang, we left them to have a much deserved drink, and rest and went for a Argentinian steak, a must in Amsterdam. Today we plan to enjoy the sights of this stunning town, and we have sunshine at last!!